In Review: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, London

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I have been thinking about this review for a number of hours. Fretting, almost.

The jist of the matter is not-so-simply that L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon showed me the best meal I have had all year, and putting something like that into words is never an easy feat.

Every single factor a restaurant could be judged on was inarguably faultless – even when presented with the ‘challenge’ of my vegetarian, alcohol-free, and nut-allergic girlfriend. Though we are both knowingly aware that her list of ‘can’ts’ throws up a challenge or two, the manager, chef, and kitchen team took it completely in their stride. And then some,

Opting to dine around the counter area on the ground floor (the first floor is a tad formal for a catch-up between two expressive women), we nestled in alongside our Michelin-loving countermates and gawked through the bar as we watched the chefs creating a flurry of meticulous masterpieces.

Variety may be the space of life, but I’m not sure anyone could convince me to sit away from the action.

Juiced from the arrival of a berry-filled mocktail and glass of champagne, we decided to leave our food choices up to gastronomic fate (while informing the chef of my dear accomplice’s food restrictions) and sat back to let the chips fall.

And this is where the review gets tricky. Something about chef Xavier Boyer’s menu feels sacred…experiential in a way that begs for trial. Some of the less extravagant-sounding dishes ending up becoming real highlights and pinnacles of innovation (rather than an afterthought, as I’ve experienced in quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants). I wouldn’t dare to review dishes on their own; the menu is ever-changing, seasonal, and merits fresh, explorative eyes.

(Though I will say you’d be a pesca-fool to miss out on the caviar-topped salmon tartare.)

As far as its Theatreland locale is concerned, L’Atelier is the only restaurant you’ll find where dinner is the show.

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In Review: Dirty Tommi’s at Dirty Bones, London

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From the very day my male best friend and I met, we bonded over an appreciation of ‘dirty’ food. In fact, for a woman who sings the praises of kale and spirulina to anyone who will listen, I have a penchant for massive dirty feasts whenever we catch up.

The second I found out about Dirty Tommi’s, he was guaranteed an invite.

Dirty Tommi’s, you see, is a limited time Sunday pop-up collaboration between Tommi’s Burger Joint and Dirty Bones. Being held at the latter, the pop-up combines some of Ross Clarke (Dirty Bones) and Siggi Gunnlaugsson’s (Tommi’s) most celebrated dishes alongside some special creations.

The evening went a little something like this:
– Oozing over my dining partner’s Dirty Bounty hard shake (Bacardi gold rum, Wood’s overproof rum, coconut cream, chocolate ice cream, milk, chocolate sauce) while sipping a rather dangerous cocktail of my own.
– Glazing my face in the homemade barbecue sauce of the sticky pork ribs and trading one for a lemon, chilli and spring onion-covered chicken wing.
– Diving headfirst into the incredible creation that is the Tommi’s Burger Dog; Tommi’s burger served doggy style with confit onion, Dirty Bones short rib, crispy shallots, dirty cheese sauce, and dill pickles
– Wishing I had the appetite to go for my companion’s Dirty Mac Burger; Tommi’s beef patty, Dirty Bones steak glaze, and charred lettuce, all topped with Dirty Bones mac and cheese
– Managing to get halfway through an order of Sloppi Dirty Fries before realising there would be no way I’d have room for the milk and cookies I had targeted on my earlier menu perusal…
-…but knowing that triple cooked fries covered in Tommi’s sloppi joe mince, Kimchi sauce, spring onions, and gravy (optional) was so worth it.

Dirty Tommi’s is open – for now – every Sunday (that’s tomorrow!) for lunch between 12-4pm and for dinner between 6pm-11pm. I urge you to go so I can keep Burger Dogs in my mealtime inventory.

dirty tommis at dirty bones
dirty tommis at dirty bones
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In Review: Afternoon Tea at Hotel Cafe Royal

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I have frequented Hotel Cafe Royal a number of times over the past two years and each visit – inclusive of afternoon teas, dinners, champagne and caviar excursions, et all – has been a pleasure.

Nothing, however, prepared me for this afternoon tea. Swapping the Ten Room for the gold-dipped Oscar Wilde Bar, Chef Andrew Turner’s newly-launched London High Society afternoon tea menu ticked every opulent box you could imagine.

I would endeavour to put the Oscar Wilde into words, but you simply have to experience it for yourself. ‘Royal’ is an understatement.

Settled in among a hidden congregation of fellow afternoon gluttons, The Manfriend and I cheersed our glasses of Veuve Clicquot and perused the tea menu before the amuse bouche was served. The ‘Low Sidecar Muffin’ was a fluffy and savoury delight accented by truffled cream cheese and a miniature pipette of jus.

Shortly thereafter, my pot of Queensbury (a refreshing, herbal infusion of lemongrass, fennel seed
and liquorice root) arrived alongside three tiers of savouries. For each person, there was a wild boar, crackling, pickled apple and mustard bun, a goat’s cheese puff with wine jelly, a Mary Rose prawn cocktail canape, a London Cure smoked salmon and quail’s egg pastry, and an artfully presented “Cucumber and cream cheese” sandwich…

…all preceeding a palate cleanser of chocolate marshmallows and a shot of fruit tea, of course.

Pausing to take a mid-tea teabreak (oh yes, there’s more) while the pianist tinkled the ivories to a few familiar melodies, we finished our pots and welcomed the sweets and scones with open plates.

Though neither of us has a particular sweet tooth, we are veritable SconeHeads so chatted, jammed, and clotted-creamed our way through the small basket of fresh scones between bites of the other fruit-filled treats.

High points: Absinthe green fairy macarons, edible flower pots, and individual tubes of lemon curd.

High society may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cafe Royal’s edible version is instinctively praise-worthy.

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In Review: St Moritz Hotel, Cornwall

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I am an overthinker of the highest degree. While it is probably one of the so-called ‘qualities’ that makes me a successful entrepreneur, overthinking has a real knack for taking away from the magic of travel.

Case in point: one is invited to the St Moritz Hotel in Cornwall, one overthinks as follows…
Cornwall is at least four hours from London isn’t it?
It is a beach spot…won’t it be dead in Autumn/Winter?
Oh God, the website is incredibly cheery…there are going to be children here.

Thankfully, Crazy Woman Brain was interrupted by the discovery of the food menu (JUST YOU WAIT) and the unexpected flood of hazy, saccharine memories – mostly searching for Merlin around the Cornish coast – as a child.

Cornwall was officially on the cards…

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In Review – Pizza Union, London

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Unlike most carb-eating humans, I am not a pizza person. The Manfriend, however? The Pizza Person. Since we started dating, my pizza intake (or pizza topping intake, rather) has increased by over 1000%.

All is fair in love and war, right?

Last week, to feed his pizza penchant and my own obsession with trialling new restaurants, we made a stop at Pizza Union in Spitalfields.

The draw was simple: instead of monstrous, doughy, greasy circles, Pizza Union do superfast twelve-inch artisan pizzas. All of which are priced at only £3.95-£6.50 (with a gluten-free pizza base costing only £1 more).

After perusing the menu and delighting in their implementation of the American pager system (I belong to the school of thought which believes waiters only belong in fine dining establishments), we settled in with some nibbles and waiting a few short minutes to be invited – via vibration – to collect our orders at the counter.

For myself? The Stagioni (tomato sauce, mozzarella, cotto ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, artichoke, black olives). And for The Pizza Person? Calabria (tomato sauce, mozzarella, mascarpone, n’duja sausage, rocket).

It took one bite of a swapped slice to get major food envy. While the Stagioni featured some lovely ingredients, it took no time for me to write mental love poems to the Calabria. The sweetness of the mascarpone against the fire of n’duja was beyond perfect; a pizza hater’s pizza, if there ever was one.

To wrap things up, we shared ‘dessert’ in the form of a warm dough ring filled with Nutella and mascarpone. The ‘Dolce’, though simple in concept, was metaphorical crack for mascarpone addicts and a gloriously sweet treat to share.

A pizza joint I’d visit alone? It must be good.

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