Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Another reason I had a great weekend (other than the discovery of the Dirty Bones Mac and Cheese Burger) was that I went to the theatre to see Jersey Boys. I don't go to the theatre as often as I'd like to, probably because it is super expensive once you factor in drinks and supper, so when we do go, it is a real treat. I know it would be more sensible to do a "theatre dinner" but I had other ideas and instead Pascal and I went to try Chop Shop. It has been opened exactly a year and I have wanted to go since before it even opened.

It is a steak house bought to us from New York - and as a American fanatic, I thought the whole thing looked great. It has a very relaxed atmosphere - you can pop in for cocktails and bar snacks, share various "planks" (such as a cured meat platter) or "crocks" (such as chicken wings) or "jars" (such as liver mousse). Then there are also salads on the menu, steaks, chops and even pasta. I had absolutely no idea what to have!!!

We started with a cocktail - I am never sure that I don't prefer just a gin and tonic but I decided to be adventurous and so ordered a Royal Blush which was Absolut vodka, mint, fresh lime and morello cherry sparkling wine. I was a bit dubious about it but it was yum - not too sweet and very refreshing.

If you have drinks at the bar you can order "The Butcher's Platter" which looks awesome - think a combination of scotch eggs, cheese and oxtail croquettes etc however as we were sitting at a table we weren't allowed it. Pretty disappointed. However we rectified the matter by ordering 4 starters!! We ordered the cotechino scotch egg with salsa verde - this was very good, meaty but with a perfectly runny egg. The salsa verde was also yum however I prefer it with mustard.

We also ordered the pulled pork sausage roll which was served with a bacon and tomato relish - absolutely delicious. Moist stuffing, light pastry and the relish was incredible….I guess it is what bacon jam tastes like (something I have always thought was seriously weird)!

Crab is one of my all time favourites so I had to order a jar of crab cocktail, avocado and marie rose sauce served with sourdough. It was so flavoursome - a perfect combination of all the ingredients. Pascal doesn't like crab so I was very happy to polish the lot off by myself!!

Our forth and final starter we ordered was the prosciutto and mortadella meatballs baked in tomato sauce. These were great although definitely lacked in Parmesan (they only had the smallest of sprinkling). However they tasted fantastic with the tomato sauce and crusty sourdough bread.

For mains I was tempted by the beef patty sandwich / burger but we decided to share the Cumbrian aged bone-in sirloin (with béarnaise sauce) along with some fries and a salad of baby gem, creamy Gorgonzola, pancetta and marinated string beans.

The steak was huge and perfectly cooked blue in the middle for Pascal and rare on the edges for me, it was really appetizing. However the béarnaise sauce was a real disappointment - they need to work on that, it was basically just creamy with no flavour whatsoever.

The salad was delectable - really good - I wish more restaurants did a blue cheese salad. It had a great amount of sauce, fresh lettuce and crispy pancetta….the beans were a good addition but not really necessary.

Finally the fries were great but by this time I was fit to burst so I could only fit in a couple…..unfortunately!!

It was an incredible meal - staff were very helpful and friendly and I noticed they could do some big group bookings too which is always helpful to know. They also have live music and can hold large parties in the basement. Despite the disappointment of the béarnaise sauce, everything else was top notch. It was definitely worth my year wait and I will definitely head back again - even if it's just to sample this butcher's board and more cocktails! PS I have seen on Facebook they also have a burger of the week….I "need' to try that too!

Chop Shop

66 Haymarket,
Tel: 020 7842 8501
Email: enquiries@chopshopuk.com

Chop Shop on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Monday, 29 September 2014


I had the best weekend ever this weekend and went to two new restaurants that I had wanted to go to for ages. Pascal knows the way to my heart is through my tummy and he now has a very happy wife.

Dirty Bones has been on my list since it opened - a good friend of mine who works in the restaurant business and so obviously knows her "stuff"- told me it is the best mac and cheese she has ever had. I HAD to go. To make life even better for the next few Sundays, Dirty Bones has joined up with Tommi's Burger Joint for a special Sunday menu and I finally made it there and it was AWESOME!

On a Friday lunch time, Dirty Bones has a hot dog stand, however in the evenings (Tues-Sun) there is a super cool basement restaurant and bar. The menu normally focuses on hot dogs and "bones" such as chicken wings or ribs.

We started off with two cocktails named The Little Hobo which were Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and wild wood cider. It was delicious and it slipped down very nicely indeed while we looked at the menu.

The menu for these next few Sundays is slightly different and I literally could have ordered EVERYTHING! In the end we ordered the chicken wings and ribs to start, a Tommi's burger dog, a dirty mac burger and two sides of mac and cheese along with a lovely bottle of Provence rose.

The chicken wings are seasoned with lemon, chilli and spring onions. Chicken isn't my favourite and I don't like "bones" but I thought hey, let's give it OK. OMG. So tasty, the chicken was so tender and full of flavour, we adored them.

Ribs are something I never order either but, when in Rome and all that. The sticky pork ribs arrived smothered in the house BBQ sauce. Wow! The meat fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. Pascal and I were so obsessed we were practically gnawing at the bone at the end just for one last morsel! The photo doesn't do them justice.

We could not decide between the hot dog or burger so we shared and had half and half.

We ordered the Tommi's burger dog which is a Tommi's burger, served "doggy style" with confit onions, Dirty Bones short rib, crispy shallots, dirty cheese sauce & dill pickles. This definitely takes hot dogs to a whole new level!! Everything worked so well together, each mouthful was slightly different, my only gripe was I only had half. It was really good. I have always loved a hot dog but you don't have them in restaurants so often - this needs to change (or I need to move into Dirty Bones).

The Dirty Mac burger was a Tommi's beef patty with Dirty Bones steak glaze, charred lettuce and topped with Dirty Bones mac and cheese. Even though burgers and mac and cheese are two of my favourite things, I have never tried a mac and cheese burger before but now I want one regularly!! It was phenomenal - it was worth every single on of those calories.

We also had a mac and cheese on the side - I am so pleased we ordered our own individual portions - it was one of the best I have ever had - cheesy, creamy and with a little kick. I could have eaten both portions on my own, it was Heaven.

I want it all again now. Unfortunately due to my over indulgence I have had to start the 5:2 diet and today is a 2 (500 calorie) day - so not as fun as yesterday. As I write this Arabella is checking out my pictures and is green with envy - I am thinking maybe we need to go again next weekend (and the weekend after). Even Pascal, who is so bored of my burger and mac and cheese obsession, was bowled over. A fabulous meal - reasonable prices, great cocktails and extremely friendly and attentive staff - my new favourite place!!

20 Kensington Church Street
W8 4EP
Tel: 020 7920 6343
Email: info@dirty-bones.com

Dirty Bones on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Monday, 22 September 2014


My brother is a member of the East India Club which he joined after he left school and it is described as being a "gentleman's home from home". My brother stays there when he is in London and has always raved about the Dining Room - how it is very proper and English, great service and fantastic food but also very old fashioned (the club opened in the 1850s). Women aren't allowed to wear trousers, you cannot use your mobile phone and only the "member" can pay. I can't believe I haven't taken advantage of this before to be honest! 

Anyway my brother has recently got a new girlfriend and so we went out for supper to celebrate both Pascal and my wedding and to meet her. As James had organised the meal, he chose that we finally ate at the East India Club….I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.

We met for drinks in the American Bar which looks very "countryside" and we had a couple of strong g&ts with twiglets while we looked at the menus. The member is the only one who receives a menu with prices….I liked this place immediately! Even though you aren't allowed phones, I was sneaky!

I knew immediately what I was going to have - the Classic Potted Brown Shrimps with Pickled Cucumber and Malted Brown Bread. Potted Shrimps are a favourite of mine, my dad always used to make them for dinner parties many years ago.

They didn't disappoint and went very well with the pickled cucumbers. Delicious.

Both my brother and Pascal had the Forman's Famous 'London Cure' Smoked Salmon.

They both wolfed it down with the shallots and some brown bread and butter and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Genevieve went for Crab and Brandy Bisque with Caraway Seeded Cheese Straws. She was kind enough to give me a mouthful and it was very flavoursome and warming.

For mains we all went for the Roast Chateaubriand of Scottish Beef with Fondant Potatoes, Claret Sauce and Bearnaise. I shared with my "husband" and so had to go very rare….I put my foot down at blue!

Meat, potatoes and vegetable is normal my meal hell as it reminds me of roast as a child but I have obviously changed (finally grown up) as this was the most delicious plate of food - the beef was so tender and I devoured it with the Bearnaise sauce - it was all cooked superbly.

There is a vast dessert and cheese trolley but I was very much looking forward to Welsh Rarebit which came with bacon and a mushroom (I kid you not) - more like a breakfast than pudding but I was not complaining. It was incredible.

What a successful meal - I can't believe I was so dubious and resisted my brother's invitations to come here before because I will certainly be coming again. The food was great, the service was extremely attentive (my wine glass was never empty which I take as a very good sign) and the atmosphere was fun and buzzy….totally not what I was expecting as I thought it would be full of old farts. I admit I was wrong. 

I hope my brother invites me here again very very soon!

The East India Club, St James

16 St James Square,
Tel: 020 7930 1000

Sunday, 21 September 2014


Hally's is a Californian style cafe that opened in Parson's Green in 2013….I have wanted to go there for a year but it's always busy. So at the beginning of the month I arranged to meet my darling friend Lucy there for lunch at 12pm - that way I would definitely get a table. Arabella came too.

As I am sure I have mentioned several several times I am a wannabe American (I still dream of living in 90210) so this place suits me down to the ground - on the website they say the place is "all about innovative, fresh food, expertly made coffee and a relaxed vibe"and it is based on all the great places the owners came across while on a road trip in the Golden State.

The place is decorated like a Californian beach house (I kept hoping I would see Luke Perry on the next table) and they serve breakfast from 8am-11.30am and then lunch from 12pm-4pm but the place is open til 6pm. The brunch menu at the weekend changes weekly and they do take away of coffees, pastries and cakes.

We were there for lunch and there was a lot I wanted -  the menu is fabulous - but as it was one week before my wedding I thought I should go for a salad.

I had the lentil, halloumi, butternut squash, avocado, rocket, sun dried tomato and chorizo salad. To be honest it wasn't a diet salad at all and was absolutely delicious.

So yum and full of flavour and literally all my favourite ingredients - I will definitely be having it again. I could have added a few of extra tomatoes (I feel about tomatoes the way I do about cheese). Arabella very kindly bought me home a tomato from school lunch the other day - I found it in her pocket all squished and dried up a few days later - I guess it's the thought that counts!!

Arabella went for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. A favourite of hers and this certainly didn't disappoint - I didn't even get a bite.

Lucy had the steak sandwich with horseradish and fries. It looked incredible and tasted it too. The fries were thin, crispy and amazing. I think Pascal would be a fan of this - soft crusty bread and medium rare steak.

It was all delicious and service was prompt, relaxed but with a smile.

I was impressed - it wasn't the Peach Pit American Diner where the 90210 lot used to hang out, it was a fresher, healthier, more mature version…plus there is still a burger on the menu. I will definitely be back…and quick…my only complaint is the all of Fulham know about it…so get there early to get a table!!

Hally's, Parson's Green

60 New King's Road,
Tel: 020 3302 7408
Email: info@hallysparsonsgreen.com

Hally's on Urbanspoon


Arabella and I are having a weekend home alone and it is bliss - yesterday we went to the Museum of London and today we relaxed, watched TV, Rainbow-Loomed and then went over to the West End to BRGR.CO for afternoon tea. Not a normal tea - a burger based one!

I have never been to BRGR.CO before but my old flatmate from university read about the burger afternoon tea they serve and mentioned I might be interested - hell yes!!

Arabella and I trekked over to BRGR.CO (via Selfridges) - we were 15 minutes early and even though it was 3.45pm, the place was heaving. A combination of people having the tea and others having a late lunch. Service was very friendly and the waitress managed to find us a seat immediately which was a relief as we were starving and it was starting to rain. We ordered the tea and the drinks came first - the £17 price includes a Bellini for me and orange juice for Arabella (they didn't have apple) and two iced teas.

I am afraid to say the only iced tea I like are Long Islands and Arabella is not a fan either. The Bellini wasn't great either - very mass produced - I think they would be better just doing a glass of prosecco.

Despite not the best start, the food soon arrived and it looked great.

We immediately started with the beef burger - it was very good, the best bun I think I have ever had, so unbelievably soft and the meat was cooked medium rare. It was delicious although definitely lacked in cheese.

Next we both had the southern fried chicken and coleslaw slider - once again a really soft bun, tender crispy chicken and coleslaw - no surprise to hear I think it should have had cheese in it, but we both really enjoyed it. I definitely need to have southern fried chicken more often.

The final "burger" was lobster, crayfish and mayonnaise - this had a real kick to it, far too spicy for Arabella so I swapped hers for my chips which she adored (they were yum)!

For the sweet part of the tea - there was a delicious vanilla milkshake, a bite size brownie, a mini salted caramel donut and a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake. I currently don't have a very sweet tooth but I demolished the whole plate - it was all incredible - especially the cheesecake.

I had thought we might have some room for some cheesy chips but we were stuffed. I am pleased we came - Arabella liked it but preferred the Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley Hotel (snob)! I enjoyed it although if I went back I would go for an actual cheese burger and cheesy fries rather than the tea as I do prefer savoury.

I don't think it would be Pascal's "cup of tea" - it was really noisy and crowded, plus the tables are tiny - Pascal would need to book a table for 6 to fit in the amount we eat. It is next to Stringfellows though, so I could always bribe him with that!! However they are apparently opening one on the King's Road so I think I will have to pop along there sometime, even if it's for a table for one - I need to see how a burger with extra cheese tastes right?!


187 Wardour Street
Tel: 020 7920 6480
Email: brgrologist@brgrco.co.uk

BRGR Co. on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Saturday, 20 September 2014


I got married a couple of weeks ago - it wasn't the most sociable time - 9am on a Monday morning but it was the perfect day and the perfect way to start the week. We celebrated over brunch with friends at The Botanist but I was too busy in my newlywed state to take photos. 

However Pascal then whisked me away to the new Shangri-La hotel at the Shard - AMAZING. I love views and here they are spectacular - everywhere you look. The hotel is situated from the 34th - 52nd floor of the Shard, there is a restaurant Ting at level 34, the bar Gong at level 52 as well as an infinity pool and then rooms and suites in between.

The hotel knew we had just got married and so welcomed us with gorgeous flowers and chocolates.

We had booked to go to the bar in the evening - it was heaving - a real party atmosphere, music, low lighting but like everywhere in the hotel, the real focus was the view - London during the day is beautiful, London at night is stunning. We had a couple of drinks - and nibbles - service was very friendly.

Then it was to Ting for the most important part - the meal! The restaurant has fantastic tables by the windows where you are seated at a slant to make the most of the view - you really don't get tired of it. 

Obviously I had already checked out the menu and knew what I was going to eat. The food is modern European with subtle Asian influences using locally sourced ingredients.

We started with gorgeously fresh bread and butter (no holding back today)!

Then I went for the risotto with langoustines, chorizo, smoked paprika and Parmesan. 

It was delicious - big juicy langoustines, there was a slight bite and kick to the risotto, and it was fresh and flavoursome. I could have had it for a main as well!

Pascal had tuna with spring vegetables, red radish, yuzu and soy sauce - it was phenomenal and all very seasonal.

For mains I ordered the monkfish with teriyaki, green spring vegetables, citruses and lemon balm. It was very good however it wasn't exactly what I expected - very lemony and I couldn't taste the teriyaki - I enjoyed it but my starter was far superior.

My husband (!) ordered the Cotswold free range chicken with pea puree, dried kalamata olives, Chinese spice and gribiche sauce. To be honest I should have ordered the same as him as this was excellent, a strange combination but it really worked.

We had a side of fries (why not) and these were without a doubt the best chips I have had in my life & tasted brilliant dipped into my sauce!

Even though we were fit to burst we had to have cheese and I am pleased we did - it was a great selection and served with biscuits, grapes, apricots & celery.

To round the meal and day off we went back to the bar for one more drink and were presented with a congratulations plate of petit fours.

It had been our ideal day and the Shangri-La went out of their way to make everything as special as possible - it is the perfect place to celebrate a memorable occasion and I think we will be back again and again - even if it's just for a drink in the bar.

PS I feel I have to mention the breakfast too - best we've ever had - I had three courses, dim sum, noodles, then English breakfast with eggs Benedict and then bread & hummus!! Diet starts tomorrow...

Ting by Shangri-La

The Shard
32 London Bridge Street
Tel: 020 7234 8108
Email: ting.slln@shanghri-la.com

Ting by Shangri-La at The Shard on Urbanspoon Square Meal