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!
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.
So the final leg of our Mallorca holiday was spent mostly poolside at the Melia Victoria Hotel, situated on the Paseo Marítimo seafront palm-lined promenade and marina, a few minutes taxi drive from the town centre. The old town is a wonderful spot to just walk and let yourself get lost. Jostle with fellow tourists as you take in the cobbled backstreets filled with tapas restaurants (there are a great range of bars and restaurants that offer alfresco dining, either in hidden courtyards or on street corners and squares), or pop into one of the many clothing boutiques or bespoke art galleries. Also an ideal place to people watch. We headed 15 mins walk west to the borders of the old town, away from the main tourist area, and found a street (Carrer de Sant Magi) offering a great choice of international restauarants…a spot of Japanese was well needed after a week of tapas and pasta. Not to be missed is a tour around the massive and striking Gothic cathedral, with its adjoining palace and gardens. And just a few minutes drive along the coast why not search out a spot for sunset cocktail in one of the many quaint village harbours and ports. We will be back, hopefully soon.
When on the west coast of Mallorca once must stop at Deia; a quaint little village high in the hills that has attracted the rich and famous for many years. The exclusive La Residencia Hotel is a favourite destination for Hollywood celebrities and European royalty. Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones, as well as Pierce Brosnan, have a holiday home in the area (our driver pointed out Pierce’s). Elldrew recommend, after a leisurely stroll around the town (and a few tipples to wet the whistle), that you dine at what has to be one of the most perfectly located restaurants, seaside, in the world…sip on refreshing wine whilst you tuck into the catch-of-the-day at Ca’s Patro March. We couldnt find their own page on the web so just read reviews from others. Bookings essential, but we guarantee you will not be disappointed on food, atmosphere or the views. Add it to your bucket list!
Summer to most offers the chance to explore new and exciting holiday destinations…so Elldrew recently spent a week with friends in a townhouse in the traditional village of Soller, North-West on the Spanish Island of Mallorca. A beautiful village to relax and enjoy the sights, which also provides a tram connecting the village to the more bustling Port, about 20 mins, providing even more restaruant and bar choices (with the hotels comes the tourists), but it is the most perfect spot to watch amazing sunsets. We hope you enjoy a few of our holiday snaps. We will be returning to this blog regularly just to remind ourselves that bits of paradise do really exist when it all gets a bit too much ‘daily grind city living’.