Unlike the famed Covent Garden original, The Ivy‘s new Tower Bridge restaurant is tempered, brasserie-style rendering of all that the holding company have earned their reputation on; notoriously attentive service, beautifully British comfort food, and an arguably more fetching
potpourri of patrons.
Determined to put the restaurant through its paces on opening night, my dinner date and I headed for the south side of Tower Bridge and settled into their undeniably handsome new digs for a fully-fledged menu investigation.
Perusing the selection over chilli, coriander and lemon-sprinkled Gordal olives and Prosecco, we eventually decided on Atlantic sea scallops (with pea purée, broad beans, lemon zest,
sea cress & crispy shallots) and Yellowfin tuna carpaccio (with tomato, watermelon, ponzu dressing, miso mayonnaise & toasted sesame for less than £10 – an absolute steal for both the quality and area).
Diving further into their moreish Yellowfin offering, I then opted for their seared and sesame crusted fillet (with shaved fennel, edamame, wasabi sauce and daikon cress) while my date gushed over her 7oz grass-fed English steak; a covetable border to truffle & parmesan chips, green beans & roasted almonds, and Béarnaise (natch).
As the evening chill approached, we wrapped ourselves in the alfresco terrace’s complimentary blankets and ate dessert (crème brûlée and frozen berries) as a stunt aerialist bathed herself in a sea of Tower Bridge-ogling tourists beside us.
Before this meal, The Ivy has felt – dare I say it – predictable to me. Tower Bridge is exactly what the brand needed to shake things up and get a new generation of London-loving foodies through the door.
I spend an obscene amount of time and money eating less-than-pleasing boxed salads between meetings. For all that is health conscious, it is a necessary but grating evil and one that had me so outrageously bored last week I decided to pop in to wagamama for something a little more flavourful.
As casual dining goes, they are a quality-focused go-to of mine so I was delighted to see they had launched a selection of incredible-looking Summer dishes while I’ve been in the States.
To start, my lunch date and I nibbled on beef tataki (lightly seared marinated steak) over a few sips of sake. The tataki – served chilled and dressed with citrus ponzu & japanese mayonnaise alongside pickled beetroot and coriander – rivalled some of my infinitely more expensive London restaurant favourites and braced us for our respectively delicious mains.
My date went for their seared nuoc cham tuna steak (on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion, peppers, and garnished with coriander) while I went for the nutrition-packed pad thai salad. The salad blends ginger chicken and prawns on a bed of mixed leaves, mangetout, baby plum tomatoes, shredded pickled beetroot, carrot, red onion (I’m allergic so went without), and fried shallots. Then serves it with a side of peanuts and a nuoc cham & ginger miso dressing.
For the time and money it would have taken me to source a sub-par boxed salad, the restaurant more than deserved a rave review. Thanks for keeping my culinary sanity in check, wagamama.
If I’m raving about fried food after four months in America, you know someone’s doing something right.
In this case, it’s Wing Wing – London’s answer to the ever-growing Korean trend of ‘Chimaek’ (translation: chicken and beer) restaurants.
While it crispy Korean-style wings and drumsticks are their calling card (and available in a soy garlic, hot, or liquorice glaze), I rate their Katsu bao as one of the city’s best. With a lightly fried bao bun, they are a unique take on an Asian favourite and delightfully dirty.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Chimaek experience without the beer and Wing Wing’s spectacular ‘bottoms up’ beer system (which pours an ice-cold pint in four second from an upwards-pouring spout) doesn’t disappoint.
Alco-free? Their ginger beer slush is a sweet and principled substitute.
Impressed with Wing Wing’s eponymous offering, my dinner date and I decided to delve deeper into the menu; seaweed fries, onion bricks, yuzu meringue bao nuts (their creme filled bao-utilizing ‘donuts’), and a strawberry granola ice cream which felt bizarrely healthy after all the aforementioned.
While the counter-serve restaurant may lack its Holborn-based neighbours’ sophistication, it is – after all – a fried chicken restaurant. Go with a group, try a little bit of everything, and try your darnedest not to order some hot drumsticks for the road.
Sunshine is to London what I am to sitting still.
Even rarer? Having my camera in tow on a sun-soaked day where my schedule allows me to sit still for once.
With Rossopomodoro right around the corner as the stars aligned, a spontaneous lunch feast seemed too timely to pass up.
I had never been to any of the Italian chain’s British outposts, but my discerning Turin-raised confidante had sung their praises enough to promise much more than wannabe pizzas.
Clinking a duo of Aperol Spritz-filled glasses over menus far larger than expected, we settled on a selection of dishes to make up my perfect Italian meal. To start, my undying love (Burrata) served on a whole-wheat focaccia with sliced tomatoes & grilled vegetables alongside a selection of Napolitan street food; Calamari e Zucchine (fried calamari & fried courgettes zeppole with a lemon dressing) and Arancini (rice balls with tomato, mozzarella, beef, peas and basil).
I was impressed, to say the least. Making the choice for all their ingredients to come from Campania-based
producers may up the costs for them, but the consumer prices are as affordable as food of this quality gets.
As each restaurant’s expert Neapolitan pizzaiuoli prepare their dough daily (slow-matured to make the pizzas light, full of flavour and easy to digest), we couldn’t leave without trying one so paired a gargantuan salad with The “Massese” – plum tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy spianata salami and basil atop the aforementioned dough.
For a woman that only learned to like pizza in the last few years, it is endorsement and a half to say I’m already looking forward to the next…
Get ready for a super sexy weekend feast, London friends; I am about to introduce you to the Queen of All-American brunches.
The weekend before returning to the US I had managed to whip myself into full-force stars and stripes mode, thus deciding the best way to cure Saturday’s hangover was to take my similarly fragile brunch date to Shoreditch for Dirty Bones‘ New York-style comfort food.
Dirty Bones – all heigh ceilings, casual elegance and cool kid vibes – is brunch goals epitomised. Starting with spiked iced coffees (triple espresso, Courvoisier VSOP cognac, Mozart Dry Chocolate spirit
& cream), we decided to split an order of Avocado “Shoreditch” Crumpets (toasted with umami butter, poached eggs, hollandaise, avocado & garlic guacamole, and Sriracha hot sauce) while we made the intensely difficult choices between brunch mains.
While my date opted for the short rib hash (14 hour slow-cooked pulled short rib finished with caramelised shallots, mustard seeds, potatoes & two sunny side-up eggs) I couldn’t refuse my pervasive Stateside fave: chicken & waffle.
As I no longer eat meat at home, I was hesitant to select chicken – in all its basic glory – as the heart of my meal out but could not have been more pleased with the waffle-topped result. Their free range chicken is 6 hour brined and 6 hour sous-vide cooked for extra tenderness and flavour. So much so I took a under-crust photo for proof, below, between maple syrup-dipped mouthgasms. (Not that our shared just-in-case crispy candied bacon was left behind…)
Stupidly, we planned to share Dirty Bones’ matcha custard french toast for dessert but were convinced otherwise by very full and happy bellies. Bookmarking the dis for my return trip, I settled for a dirty Chai (just the way it should be) while my companion swooned his way through a Butter Baby milkshake – creamy butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, milk, and a shot of Ketel One.
That’s what you call recovery food.