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!
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.
Elldrew adopted this Japanese restaurant as our local after the Hi-Sushi in Hampstead changed it’s menu and went a bit wacky…yes, even we frown at ourselves for sometimes eating the same food every time we go to a local favourite. But, in all fairness, we do tend to try most dishes on a menu then work out which dishes we liked the best, ordering a selection of these each visit, depending on our mood. Elldrew are more into sampling a variety of dishes vs one main meal so Spanish Tapas, Japanese, etc are the restaurants we will frequent most.
Summer holidays are over, which means the diet’s also over and Elldrew can get back to Sunday afternoon baking (although our new policy is to share the goods with our colleagues and thereby minimise the impact on our personal waistlines!). This week’s treat was Donna Hay’s decadent Caramel Crunch Brownies but with an added Elldrew twist to make them a more grown-up affair, and we took a sneaky shortcut to speed up the process. Read on for the recipe, and our tips (including a nifty trick for rescuing a split ganache).