Thursday 25 August 2011

7.5/10 - Clerkenwell House, Hatton Wall, London,

Clerkenwell House is nestled in a suitably incongurous side street, Hatton Wall, which runs tangentially to Hatton Garden, a street so packed with jewellers that happy couples meander down its stretch on their search for the perfect engagement ring (women smiling, towing their men who follow, glancing nervously at the prices), and Leather Lane, where ubercool clerkenwell types, and less cool city types hustle and bustle for a lunch time burrito at Daddy Donkey, or a classy coffee at Prufrock.

The restaurant itself is a glass-fronted, multi-level, multi-room hotch potch of clashing styles and décor, that genuinely shouldn't work, but totally does!

Outside a single sign in the shape of a globe, the letters 'Clerkenwell House' cut out of the metal, announces it's presence in a street otherwise almost totally devoid of character. We dined here on a Monday lunchtime, and the restaurant was pretty quiet which meant we could have a table by the glass front onto the street, which was lucky as there was a really interesting white van parked in front of us for the whole of our meal... I dined with an old friend and ex-colleague who here will be fondly referred to as 'The Redhead' (on account of her mane of strawberry blonde hair).

Friday 19 August 2011

Soft Launch: Ben's Canteen - 140 St. John's Hill, Clapham, London

Ben's Canteen officially opened on 1 August 2011. It was shortly after this, during the ubiquitous soft launch to ensure staff and kitchen are up to speed with the new menu, that I made my debut visit, having followed the build up to the launch on Ben's blog.

Ben's Canteen has a simple whitewash and blue exterior, fitting in perfectly alongside the boutiques, and independent restaurants on St John's Hill. Inside, the tables, chairs and decorations deliver an eclectic mix which all combine to give a comfortable, neighbourhood cafe/restaurant feel to the place. 

Friday 12 August 2011

6.5/10 - Malmaison, 18-21 Charterhouse House Square, London EC1M 6AH

Malmaison London is tucked away in the heart of the City, set back on Charterhouse Square, which is one of those rare green havens tucked away where you least expect them in the city. The Mal is set into a row of grand, terraced houses, and upon walking into reception, a spiral staircase to the right leads guests down to a lower ground floor dining room. In the brasserie, the pure white tablecloths provide stark contrast to the dark wood and muted lighting, though ground level skylights let in a significant amount of light.

My dining companion and I dined alone for the whole service, maybe this was understandable, as lunch was taken in the middle of the weirdness marking the #londonriots, and few were clearly feeling in the mood to eat out.

The Mal Burger, a 1/2lb-ish bacon cheeseburger with chips - £13.95.

Excellent. The Mal Burger is presented on a wooden board, complete with a Mal branded pot of french fries, a salad garnish, mini copper saucepan containing a homemade burger relish, and a giant steak knife. The burger itself was stacked high with the ubiquitous wooden stick stabbed through its heart holding the delicious looking package together.

Sunday 7 August 2011

#AdmiralCodringtonBurgerSwarm - Admiral Codrington, 17 Mossop Street, London SW3 2LY

For those of you slightly less geeky than me, let me induct you in the world of the burger swarm. To give you an idea of what we're talking about, here's a definition:

Swarm noun [Swawrm]
A great number of things or persons, especially in motion

Which really sums up very nicely, exactly what it looked like when 13 hungry burger lovers descended on the Admiral Codrington for Chef Fred Smith's burger tasting menu. The #AdmiralCodringtonBurgerSwarm.

The first Wednesday in August happened to be a rather fortuitous occasion for a visit to the Admiral Codrington on Mossop Street. The fact it was a burger swarm, and my first, made it an incredibly exciting event to look forward to. The day had been gloriously hot, and the evening was warm and sunny. For those who haven't eaten in the restaurant at the Ad Cod, on sunny days the roof is peeled back to open the tables up to the skies, in a Roman atrium style, giving diners a peaceful window to the open air, surround by classic South Kensington suburban architecture, so it's well worth a visit just for 'calm in the heart of a city' feel.

On this particular evening, my fellow burger swarmers were Jools, Ian, Gav, Pete, Tom, Hayley, Anthony, Steven, Dave, Holly, Alex, and K, and by the time I made it to the Admiral Codrington, they were all seated and tucking into their starter snacks...

...but I'm getting ahead of myself, let me take a moment to show you the menu for our burger swarm, which Chef Fred Smith thoughtfully put together upon hearing about our intentions to swarm his restaurant:

The menu comprise three major sections.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

6/10 - Jamies, 1 Fleet Place, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC4M 7RA

Jamie's Wine Bar and Restaurant is set back from the main drag of Holborn 
Viaduct, in the courtyard that takes you to the entrance to the Thameslink station. A favourite city haunt for lovers of fine wine, Jamie's is first and foremost a winebar (and I might add, one that I love as it introduced me to one of the best value Californian wines I have tasted, and 6 of which are now sitting in my wine cellar at home!) Part of a chain of around seven square mile wine bars (and part of the Kornicis company which owns Smollensky's and Henry J Bean's among others), Jamie's Fleet Place has more of an independent feel. 

Our visit took place over a weekday lunchtime, with three dining companions. Three of us ordered the burger, and the fourth plumped for fish and chips. I was very excited with what they had to offer, as I regularly have a glass of wine in the bar, and have shared some of their platters before, which are great.

Guinness burger with chips, £9.95. Extra toppings (max. 2 - bacon, cheese, jalapeños, onion rings), £1.50.
Delivered on a large wooden board, the burger arrived (lid off) with chips and little pot of coleslaw. The patty looked hand-made, and the cheese was nicely melted over it, the bacon was then perched at a jaunty angle finishing the base off. On the lid of the bun curly lettuce and salad tomato resided under a splash of salad dressing.

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