You know when you’re watching a talent show on TV and you think the act is terrible yet they get a standing ovation, or the opposite happens, your favourite act is booed and you wonder if you’re watching the same programme? At the end of the day everything we experience comes down to personal preference, this also applies to any restaurant we eat in. Of course each of us have expectations or standards when it comes to food quality and service (even more so with that ‘discretionary’ service charge which has pretty much become a mandatory on the bill), but as novice writers (or dare we say bloggers) we still believe that a review of any restaurant should be written fairly, leaving the reader to make up their own mind.
An article on the recently opened Spring restaurant in London, by Camilla Long for The Sunday Times magazine ‘food and drink’ section, had so much venom in it (she even went as far to insult the 1547 historic building the restaurant is located in) that we had to wonder how hers and our dining experience could differ so greatly…could she really not have enjoyed Spring that much to give it such a bad critique? Truth be told we only got three quarters of the way through her article as by the end of it she was cleverly trying to fill space with meaningless words and pointless dribble. So, like Ms Long, Elldrew have an opinion and a platform to voice our views and with that in mind we would like to stand up, push back our chairs and give Spring a standing ovation, because we think it deserves it!
For years Elldrew’s ‘local’ pub in Kentish Town NW5 was less than 100 metres away, but we never dared enter in fear that we might not make it out alive. You see, The Grafton was a run down pub that attracted the wrong crowd, and as far as we knew, it was kept afloat via behind-the-scenes criminal activity (if it wasn’t then it sure did a great impression that it did).
A traditional cornerstone pub in an upcoming area of Kentish Town on the borders of eclectic Camden (well Elldrew did live there after all), it was only a matter of time before someone threw some love (and a bucket of paint) at the old girl, taking on board the current gastro pub ‘style’ and ‘etiquette’ that we have all become accustomed to, so that The Grafton could re-open and breath new life through her doors.
It’s been a busy eating week for Elldrew; we’ve lunched at old favourite ‘The Wolseley’, suppered at Bruno Loubet’s ‘Grain Store’ and last night we had the pleasure of dining at the newly reopened Quaglino’s. And despite The Wolseley retaining its crown as Elldrew’s favourite dining spot, it’s Quaglino’s that gets the honour of our attention and review.
Quaglino’s has to be one of the grande dames of the London dining scene. Currently celebrating her 85th birthday, she’s been “in” and “out” so many times that she’s rather like one of Soho’s less salubrious residents, and Elldrew remembers Quaglino’s well, from her last revival and hey-day in the nineties. Back then she was an airline hangar of a room; the jewel in Conran’s fledgling restaurant group. She was white and bright, vast and opulent, and symbolised all the decadence of the early nineties and optimism of the approaching millennium. But she withered and floundered, struggling to attract the crowds in the noughties as the new hip, young and trendy joints around the London restaurant scene emerged – like every elegant lady of a certain age she long ago needed a little bit of, errm, “cosmetic maintenance”. Fortunately for Lady Quaglino, D&D Group came to her rescue and treated her to a full workout and makeover, reopening mere weeks ago with a fierce new look and a drinks and food menu to boot!
“Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it will be this hard, I’m going back to the start” (The Scientist, Coldplay).
As we think about our 100 Happy Days Challenge and rewind back over those days, these lyrics seem entirely apt. Oh how we laughed at the thought it could be difficult to find a happy moment every day. Oh how we scoffed at the 71% of people who have failed to complete the challenge. Oh how wrong we were. It was hard, a real challenge – there were just days when work had been busy, it was bucketing down outside and you’re heating up leftovers in front of a bad TV movie…no matter how hard you try there just isn’t a moment that makes you feel particularly happy!
But hey, we did it, and for the last 100 days we have snapped a moment that made us happy! 100 days ago we were just back from a holiday, summer was here and we were enjoying the long days. Roll forward to now and autumn is well and truly upon us; the days are shorter and the weather’s wetter. But that’s not to say we haven’t had a good time. We’ve been to two weddings, and to the theatre twice. Booked two holidays, and went on one. We’ve been to restaurants in North, South, East and West London; some were Michelin starred, some just dirty take-away. We celebrated a year of not smoking and we treated ourselves to some new jewellery. One of us swapped glasses for contact lenses and the other got new frames. And we watched a lot of TV. But what did we learn? We learnt that our life may not be as exciting as some of our social media posts have lead our followers to believe, but do you know what? Life is pretty good and it’s nice to take some time out to not only reflect, but appreciate that. It’s something we don’t do often enough but are going to try and do more of in future! Maybe we’ll even go for another 100 days!?!?
Anyway, here’s a very brief video of our 100 happy days, summoned up in 1.5 minutes.
Everyone loves a cupcake, but who would decline the chance to sample different mini cupcakes without feeling ‘calorie’ guilty? We do! And that, in a nutshell, is why Elldrew have become fans of mini cupcakes (oh, and they look cute too).
Turning to one of our favourite cupcakes books for inspiration, the Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days when we need ideas for some delicious desserts to end a meal with friends and family. Recently, we chose a selection from the “Hot Drink” range, settling on a menu of Earl Grey, Espresso and Hot Chocolate mini cupcakes. Having experimented with various recipes in the past, we are always amazed how many mini cupcakes one can get from a single mixture, but this time we needed to stretch ourselves, and our batter, to not only cater for around 25 people, but we needed to make sure we delivered quality as well as quantity. Read more for recipe instructions.
We have a dear Argentinian friend who has never dragged us to an Argentine restaurant so, after visiting La Patagonia, we have come to the conclusion that she has wanted to keep this delicious cuisine to herself!
We naturally are huge fans of Argentine Malbec wines, and had heard that the steak is some of the best in the world, so during an Autumn downpour that saw us held-up under the shelter of a local tube station awning till it eased, we made a dash through the doors of La Patagonia and straight away were greeted by the welcoming aromas of the restaurant, and of course the friendly smiles of the staff.
So our first visit to Chotto Matte was a love/hate relationship. Yes, you will mingle with the hip, the trendy and of course the glamorous at this London Soho restaurant, and you will eat superb food – Chotto Matte combines the best of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine – but at a price (and we don’t just mean the bill).
Looking for a delicious schnitzel & spritz this weekend in central London? We recommend you head to Boopshi’s for the great taste of Austrian cuisine. A trendy little restaurant with a fantastic vibe serving delicious cocktails, schnitzels, sausages and of course traditional sides. Perfect for a catch-up with friends or just to satisfy your carnivore cravings, lunch or dinner.
After spotting this little beauty on a few wrists recently we had to corner the wearer and ask them for the details! The Fiji Friendship Bracelet by Monica Vinader comes in a range of metals, each with adjustable coloured cords, with prices starting from £99. A British jewellery brand that celebrates individuality and offers beautiful designs across bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants and rings…all you need to decide is whether to purchase a gift for yourself or that someone special? Just another thing to add to our wishlist. Thankfully Christmas is nearly here.
We do love to look out for our monthly hotel and destination eshots from the likes of Tablet and Mr & Mrs Smith…we are always interested to find our next hotel getaway ideas either locally or abroad. One of the latest offerings is the boutique B&B hotel The Reading Rooms in Margate.