review gaucho london
It’s New Years Eve. You’re at home reading my blog. As a public service, I must demand you head to
Gaucho Piccadilly.

Recently, and with absolutely no intention, I had the most amazing and gluttonous evening at this rather luxurious steak shack. Having dragged my carnivorous partner through painfully brisk London air to sample their new ‘Beef in the Bar’ charcuterie menu, a few cocktails turned – rather rapidly – into a feast.

Having nibbled our way through a delectable platter of Aberdeen Angus air-cured bresaola, beef & chilli salami, and chimmichurri cured salt beef, we climbed a staircase or five and nestled into the main dining room for the long night ahead.

Between seductive sips of Malbec, we kicked things off by splitting two beef empanadas (hand-diced beef, red peppers, Spanish onion and aj√≠ molido) and Gaucho’s faultless fillet steak tartare (served with toasted sourdough and rocket). Having not dared to touch an empanada since my very inept but wonderful friend ruined a batch in high school, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying Gaucho’s interpretation. It may not be fillet steak tartare, but the pairing of the two served as glorious pre-steak nibbles.

From my previous experience of rib-eyes at Gaucho, I was more than happy to split a medium-rare rib-eye and fillet steak between us. Heaven comes in many packages, as far as I’m concerned (Gaucho’s butter-brushed baked and grilled sweet potato, beef dripping-cooked chips, and roasted field mushrooms in white wine, garlic and thyme only further prove my point).

Before letting food fatigue sink all the way in, we managed to order the dessert sampler and sneak a bite of the hazelnut and rosemary tart, dulce de leche cheesecake, and orange and apple crumble to pre-empt a very necessary towel throw-in.

On our way to the coat check, I overheard two individuals on two different floors saying ‘this is my favourite restaurant’. That about sums it up.

review gaucho london
review gaucho london
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foxcroft and ginger london
Having spent so many years parading around the foodie haunts of London, it is surprising how often great little cafes blur into the backdrop of busy commutes and meeting-hops. My latest not-so-hidden discovery? Foxcroft & Ginger on Berwick Street. A – dare I say it – hipster paradise.

In between beanies and bedheads, F&G’s small Soho space is overrun with chopping boards of ‘tortilla chips and…’; burgers, sandwiches, salads, et al. For the partner and I’s lunchtime trial, we opted for shared bites of the Sticky Duck Burger (a moreish mix of chutney and chilli) and Foxcroft & Ginger’s Chicken Burger (while the menu tantalised with kimchi, citrus mayo and cheddar, the restaurant’s choice of chicken patty over chicken breast left both of us cold).

I have yet to meet a chicken patty that doesn’t remind me of eating rubber.

With a stellar duck burger and latte already consumed, we chose to forgive the chicken misstep and carry on towards some cheeky midday desserts. For the gentleman? A bitter chocolate brownie. And the lady? The best carrot cake I could dream of. Fluffy and flavourful in a way that every failed attempt of my own wishes it could achieve.

Avoid the chicken burger and Foxcroft & Ginger might just become the best lunch of your year.

foxcroft and ginger london
foxcroft and ginger london
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peyton and byrne 1
Having spent most of my adult life freelancing in one way or another, I have come to know the cafes of Londoner better than most yummy mummies.

And the yummy mummies know their cafes. The proof was in my first visit to Peyton and Byrne in Greenwich. As soon as I walked through the door I was met by a sea of suspiciously fuss-free pushchairs and worried my long working lunch might turn into a scene from Children of the Corn.

A misconception, of course; as it turns out, a harem of mothers is the sign of a genuinely lovely cafe.

With no initial intention, my partner and I shared one of the best vegetarian lunches to memory. For him? A lusciously creamy parsnip soup served with a two giga-slices of fresh bread. And for myself? A mushroom-packed savoury tart (just the way I like it) alongside a fresh goat’s cheese and aubergine salad.

In fact, we were so pleased with our rustic veggie lunches that we got stuck in to two hours of client work without leaving our seats.

It’s not like we were going to leave without trialling the bakery’s treats.

With digestion on the horizon, we paused for a pot of green tea, a silky latte, a ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’ fairy cake (a light vanilla sponge topped with smooth strawberry cream cheese icing and milk crumbs), and a classic treacle tart. I have a particular abhorrence to the sticky stuff but the treacle-loving gentleman thought the home-made bread crumbs took the tart above and beyond.

Survey says? You’ll find me with the yummy mummies. Peyton and Byrne is a gem.

peyton and byrne 1
peyton and byrne 1
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shake shack london
Since New York’s most infamously queued burger joint moved to London, I have spent more than a handful of lunchtimes at the Shake Shack in Covent Garden.

Most recently, I headed to the market building to sample the SmokeDog and Pumpkin Pie Oh My Concrete on their limited edition Halloween menu. Because nothing keeps an American from pumpkin pie.

Though I was craving a Shack Stack – their all natural cheeseburger and Shroom burger (a crisp-fried Portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese) topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce – on the day of this visit, the Manfriend’s SmokeDog – a flat-top dog topped with cheese sauce, chopped cherry peppers and Wiltshire cure smoked bacon – was more than worthy of permanent menu residence.

After polishing off a perfect little bucket of crinkle cut cheese fries, we decided to wrap things up with a Conrete procession. My choice – the ‘Pumpkin Pie Oh My’ – was a starred and striped extravaganza; rich and creamy vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of pumpkin pie from Cocomaya. A swoon and a half. (The gentleman’s Sticky Toffee Concrete – a blend of vanilla custard, paul.a.young chocolate chunks, chocolate toffee, salted caramel sauce and malt powder – also received a rave review, though I may have been too engrossed in my own cup to dip a spoon in).

Today is the very final day the two Halloween specials will be available, so in the most American way I can offer, I suggest you haul ass to Shake Shack, like…now.

And for the foodies who miss the menu by a day or two – never fear! Next Sunday (November 9th), Shake Shack Covent Garden are collaborating with acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura (!) to release the limited edition ‘Emilia’ burger. There will only be 500 burgers available, but with the first 100 completely free, the burger made of a 100% Aberdeen Angus beef patty ground with cotechino sausage and parmigiano reggiano (and topped with salsa verde and Villa Manodori balsamic mayonnaise), AND Massimo himself in attendance, it is a burger journey well worth taking.

shake shack london
shake shack london
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latelier joel robuchon 9
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.

latelier joel robuchon 8
latelier joel robuchon 13
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