Saturday, December 10, 2011

Three meals out...

I’ve been eating out a lot lately and was interested to read John Lanchester’s article in the Guardian last week about how the London restaurant trade seems to be a self-contained bubble, and it’s still really hard to get into the good places. This is certainly my own experience.

First up, the Riding House Café. A bit of a misnomer in my view, as it’s not exactly a café, but we’ll put that to one side. This place was very buzzy on a Saturday night, and the tangerine seats were certainly lively. I was impressed by the large windows which look as though they may date back to the 1930s and give the place a very open feeling. They do “small plates” instead of starters – I think the idea is to share, but I selfishly kept all mine to myself, as it was very small. I actually mistook it for a small bowl of relish to accompany the main event, before realising it was the actual starter. The food was very good but the pre-prandial martini was a little on the watery side. A return visit would be in order for further exploration, and it has the advantage of being in Fitzrovia i.e. within walking distance for me.

Second, Chabrot, Bistrot d'Amis. This is a French place in Knightsbridge and wasn't previously on my radar, but we went there to celebrate a historic birthday last Sunday. I memorised where it was, rather than bringing a map, and envisaged Knightsbridge Green as a leafy, green square, but after wandering round the area for 20 minutes we eventually came to a seedy alley bearing that name. Perhaps it was a combination of drizzle and building works that made it so unappealing. There was nothing seedy about the restaurant itself though. We were in the upstairs room which had a long table with a cheery red and white tablecloth. ACC provided the wines en magnum and O has kindly allowed me to use her photo of them – much more arty than my efforts! The Y was particularly exciting. This is the incredibly rare dry white wine made by Chateau d’Yquem. It smelled like a sweet wine but was dry on the palate and very complex and fascinating, a real treat.

And finally, to the Hawksmoor Guildhall which is the latest in what seems to be becoming a chain. It’s quite similar to the Hawksmoor Seven Dials as it’s in a basement – you go down the stairs to a bar and beyond that is a very large and noisy room full of City types scoffing steaks. On a Monday night they charge £5 corkage so we took them up on that offer, as I'd say 99% of the other people there were doing, and a very good deal it was too. We had a large piece of beef to share and I was finally able to work out the difference between the triple-cooked chips and the beef dripping chips, as we had a horizontal tasting! The former are chip-shaped while the latter are more like mini roast potatoes. Both are excellent in their own way but the consensus was that the beef dripping chips have the edge. Essential info to be stored away for future reference. The marmalade pudding also deserves a mention, and went very well with T’s Chateau Guiraud.

I guess the diet starts on Monday!

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