The decor at Berenjak - plants climbing the walls

Berenjak, Soho (“grilled meat – it’s life”)

Berenjak is very easy on the eye. After navigating the throngs of post-work drinkers along Soho’s streets, our table at the back was like an oasis, with tangled greenery climbing up the brick walls. Sun was streaming into the cosy courtyard-like space, and the coppery-coloured tables gave a everything a warm glow. Also, I may […]

Continue Reading
The exterior of the Ox Club

Ox Club, Leeds (deliciously chargrilled everything)

Dining with Emma has come a long way from our student days, when—after cooking chicken to several levels beyond desiccation—she would make us drink shots of vodka as a chaser, “in case it wasn’t cooked through”. No vodka on this occasion. Instead, apéritifs: Aperol Spritz and a nutty Manzanilla, to begin a night out in […]

Continue Reading
Harissa chicken

The Palomar, Soho (Loud, and very enthusiastic. But great)

The bar seating around The Palomar’s open kitchen – brightly lit and buzzing with chatter, cooking and music – looked both fun and LOUD. I was decidedly happy instead to be shown to the small dining room at the back. [Let’s hear it for back support and impending middle age.] The dining room was a […]

Continue Reading
Bread with lardon butter

Kudu (Lardon butter for a Lardy Lady)

I’m the most amateur of amateur bloggers, and months go by when I get caught up with my (utterly unrelated) day job, fail to write anything, and probably lose any readers that I have. In this way, I am nothing like an actual restaurant critic, and so it probably isn’t reasonable to be a bit […]

Continue Reading
The bone marrow pudding

Native restaurant (is there a mole on the menu?)

Tasting menu dilemma: was course four an actual mole? Or Mexican mole? Native serves “the country’s best wild food.” We just didn’t know. I’ve had squirrel casserole before – how different could mole be? After much discussion, three of the four Lardy Ladies were up for mole, of either kind. Alex not so much: “No […]

Continue Reading
Chengdu jiaozi

BaoziInn (dumpling delectation in Soho)

BaoziInn, housed in a converted Soho townhouse, was a haven of colour and light on a cold January night. As I entered from the pouring rain, customers were clustered around small tables in a room dominated by tall windows, with splashes of red from the scattered cushions, flickering tea lights, and carved wood. But not for me: […]

Continue Reading
Interior of Casa do Frango

Casa do Frango (My simple neighbourhood favourite for grilled chicken, cauliflower, chorizo and chips)

When Casa do Frango opened, on the top floor of a long-boarded up old building at the end of my road, I was entirely distracted by its better-known new downstairs neighbour, Native. But Native was first horribly booked up, and then when my reservation finally came around, closed by a power cut. Harrumph.  In the meantime, […]

Continue Reading
paneer, kebabs and aubergine

Chai Ki (“modern Indian soul food”, even worth a trip to soulless Canary Wharf)

Canary Wharf is just the worst. Corporate. Soulless. Impossible to navigate. Even with the experience of 16 months working there (very unhappily, and thankfully not since 2014), I still can’t get out of the shopping mall of doom without asking directions. But my friends were skating at the Canary Wharf rink, so the location was […]

Continue Reading

Rao Deli (Vietnamese food joy, but where are the other customers?)

I’d assumed booking wasn’t necessary. The absence of a single other customer proved me right. This was my second meal at Rao Deli and it was as empty on a Friday night as for the late Sunday lunch slot. I fear having a good Vietnamese cafe on my doorstep may be a short-lived joy. But […]

Continue Reading

Gymkhana, Mayfair (“I’m dying from the heat … I keep going back for more!”)

“What excellent value at such a fancy restaurant”, I thought.  “Just £24 for a bottle of Portuguese red”. When I came to order it, though, it turned out to be £24 per glass. My shocked response – “Jesus Christ!” – caused the sommelier to run away. I felt better about this interaction for the fact […]

Continue Reading