Thursday, November 25, 2010


My first meal at Arbutus had been a very long time coming. I had walked past the quaint facade of the restaurant many times before and wished that I had been one of the convivial faces bunched up inside the warm interior. Even though it is set amongst a myriad of great restaurants on the same street (and not to mention in the wider Soho area)...there is something about Arbutus that sets it apart.
For this occasion my friend Miss C decided that she wanted to come on one of my ‘adventures’ and try a “really nice” restaurant. I suggested Arbutus. She booked it for four. I dragged along some old friends that I hoped would add value...and they did. My account of our evening at Arbutus subsequently follows x
Where: Arbutus, 63-64 Frith St
When: A Tuesday night 7:30 -10:30pm
What: A much lauded restaurant for its quality dining in relaxed and informal surroundings. This restaurant had been on my must visit list forever, so we booked weeks in advance.  Arbutus is part of the team also behind Wild Honey in Mayfair and the recently opened Les Deux Salon in Covent Garden (Both also on my list). The chef and co-owner Anthony Demetre cooks modern British cuisine with a European/French twist to a very high standard-michelin star standard to be exact
Who: A banker, A forensic, A lawyer and I (A fox)
Food: Starters: The banker chose: Veal bolognese, olive oil, parmesan and fresh parpadelle. The forensic and I chose: Salad of young beetroots, fresh goats curd, lemon and honey vinaigrette. The lawyer chose: Braised pigs head (without moustache), potato puree, ravioli of caramelised onions

Mains: The forensic chose: Traditional bouillabaisse. The banker and lawyer chose: Grilled bavette of beef. I chose the risotto of red wine, radicchio and taleggio

Drinks: On arrival I sat at the bar and waited for my guests to arrive. The bar tenders were extremely attentive and friendly.  To make the start of their evening interesting, and to entertain me whilst I waited, they offered me a degustation of wines to try. The extensive wine list made it hard to choose...but I settled on a chardonnay and it was delicious. It was a pity that once we were seated our waitress was not as attentive as the boys at the bar had been. Eventually my guests were treated to some Scottish and French beer, Miss C started with a pear and prosecco aperitif and we all shared a delicious St Emilion red to accompany dinner. This red was suggested by a waiter we hailed from another table.
Price: Our bill came to 200 pounds...We certainly could have spent more than that but as it was a Tuesday night and we were limiting our alcohol intake, the bill was manageable.  Nor did we have dessert of coffee
Service:  The service on entry was impeccable as was the attention I received whilst I sat and waited at the bar. We were also given a table in the window overlooking Frith St, which I presume is a perk of reserving so far in advance. It was a pity that we received a waitress who was a scattish. Her service was all or nothing and if she didn’t present us with the bill we could easily have confused her as another random diner. I can’t say she added any value to our evening. Other diners seemed to be getting more seamless service.
Clientele: The clientele was refined and sophisticated. Three dapper boys shared the bar with me before my guests arrived. There is something good about being surrounded by nice looking people when you eat.
Ambiance: A really nice ambiance- However if I was on a date I would have wanted the lights to be dimmed down a notch. Actually I think date or no date the restaurant would have had better ambiance if the lights were dimmer
Saw: No-one of interest...perfect
Bathrooms: I was disappointed with the bathrooms...I would liken them to that of a rural rugby club. Except for the presence of loccitaine hand products. They have always been a favourite. 
Would I go again?  Yes I probably would as it is one of the better restaurants in the theatre district and it has a very dynamic menu.  It is also one of those rare restaurants that can balance between being a nice place to regularly go for dinner and also a place to go for special occasions
Also of note: As we were paying the bill Miss C and I saw the desserts arrive to the table next to us. Envy sunk in and we immediately regretted not ordering. We will be back.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I had heard a lot of about Saf over the years, so when I had a vegetarian friend in town we jumped in a taxi and headed over there...35 pounds later we arrived at Saf in Shoreditch for a vegetarian feast.  

Where: Saf - Shoreditch - 152-154 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AT
When: Sunday lunch 3-5pm
What: A restaurant perfect for vegans. It is mainly a raw food restaurant with hardly any dishes heated over 48 degrees
Who: Myself and another vegetarian fox went to scope it out
Food: Some of the dishes have obvious names like pad thai, but don't think they will arrive as you would normally expect. I had the pesto au poivre (cashew cheese, sage pesto, crushed pink peppercorns, dehydrated tomato and balsamic reduction, flaxseed crackers) and he had the pad thai (courgette noodles, enoki mushrooms, mung sprouts, tomatoes, thai ginger, chilli, chipotle and almond sauce). This was then followed by some delectable desserts...chocolate ganache torte and ginger cheesecake

Drinks: Saf does some really good cocktails (all designed by the lovely mixologist Joe Mccanta). As it was a Sunday and I had overindulged the evening before, I chose an apple juice and he chose a pinot grigio
Price: 60 pounds
Service: Despite the restaurant being half empty, the service took a while to kick off. The waitress was slightly weird and vague, the interesting and tasty food made up for her lack of attentiveness
Clientele: Hip Shoreditch types
Ambiance: The restaurant felt more like a cafe 
Saw: Stylish East Londoners...mainly couples enjoying a healthy afternoon out
Bathrooms: These were down a set of stairs and weren’t very tidy
Would I go again? Probably not unless I was in the area and was with someone that really wanted to try it. I thought the food was really well presented and tasty, however the overall concept of the restaurant was a bit gimmicky
Also of note: There is a terrace at the rear where you could enjoy alfresco dining in the summer. There is a wellness studio behind the restaurant where they hold regular yoga classes and also they host ocassional cooking classes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Broadway Market

I met some friends for lunch on Saturday at the Broadway market. It was a tough decision as to whether we should eat at one of the restaurants that lined the marketplace, or grab something to takeaway and eat in the park nearby. We chose the latter and it didn't disappoint.
Where: In the Hackey area. The closest tube is Bethnal Green. The market runs from the Regent's Canal down to London Fields with an extension market in London Field School's yard
When:The market is open from 9am to 5pm every Saturday and there are also probably about 30 shops that line the market stalls and are open all week
What: A vibrant Saturday market, which is home to over 80 of the some of tastiest stalls in London 
Who: I went with some friends and we loved the variety and quality of the food available
Food: The stalls are mostly abundant with tasty treats...but you can find anything from vintage fashion to home-made tortellini and fudge. We chose to have wraps from a Lebanese stall. I can’t remember the name of the stall, but the wraps were filled with small disks of either beetroot and cumin or potato and dill and this was accompanied with grated carrot, cabbage and yoghurt and chilli sauce. We all agreed that these were delicious and not to mention healthy. This was however accompanied by one of the best chocolate brownies I have ever tasted from a stall called The Cinnamon Tree. My friend had a rock salt cookie from the same stall. Who would have thought that salty and sweet could go so well together

Drinks: There are plenty of drinks to be had in the bars lining the street
Price: Cheap and cheerful
Service: The stalls were all manned by friendly proprietors, most of whom offered for us to try small morsels of their delicious goods to lure us into purchasing
Saw: Loads of people enjoying a chilly Saturday afternoon strolling through the boutique marketplace
Bathrooms: Hmmm...not that I could see, but there are lots of cafes and restaurants you can go into
Would I go again? Yes. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon
Also of note: We were so full that we walked towards home (West London) for a few hours along the Regents Canal. It was a lovely stroll, and of course girls being girls, we were never short on conversation

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lunch at Zuma

FINALLY! I made it to Zuma. I love Japanese food and I have been itching to get my bushy little tail into Zuma for a long time now. Did it prove to be as good as I expected? Yes yes yes. If only this place could be my local.

Where: 5 Raphael St, Knightsbridge, SW7 1DL
When: Lunch on a Monday
What: Japanese izakaya style dining
Who: Myself and another friendly fox
Food:  Westernised Japanese cuisine with authentic flavours from its eastern origins
We chose a variety of dishes. - Zuma kapi maki, steamed edamame, vegetable tempura, courgette skewers, yakitori, and a sobacha brulee for dessert. Delicious!

Drinks: We tried the Zumanuka cocktail…A Zuma’s creation made from 42 Below honey vodka originating from New Zealand. After a few of these I was not really caring about the food- wow!

Price:  £100 + for 2 people including drinks, but we weren’t on a budget last Monday
Service: The service is what defines this restaurant from its counterparts. I like it how the girl at the front of house commented on my coat and asked me where I got it. I also liked it that the waiter commented on how I had made a good choice when I chose the Zumanuka cocktail. They obviously have good taste too…ha ha
Clientele: It is always interesting to be out lunching in a mainly residential area. I always question what other people are doing there…why aren’t they working? Who knows. ..but it was a nice Monday to be lunching at Zuma
Ambiance: Lively but intimate at the same time. Much less chaotic than the real izakaya dining experience in Japan. Either way it was enjoyable
Saw: I love it how in every Japanese restaurant they line up sake bottles like they are a piece of decorative art, and usually they are backlit. Zuma didn’t fail to deliver on this unique offering

Bathrooms: Really lovely and clean bathrooms. The hand soap was Molton Brown, which is a personal favourite. My hands love Molton Brown
Would I go again? Yes! Japanese cuisine is a favourite of mine
Also of note: There are private kotatsu rooms that you can hire if you go in a group. They look really fantastic. Next time I will try and take 10 other foxes with me and we can sip on sake all night long in the authentic sunken dining rooms

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Coburg Bar at The Connaught - Mayfair

I was told on very good authority (by Jason Bailey...boyfriend of amazing mixologist and Grey Goose Ambassador Joe Mccanta) that the Coburg Bar is one of the best places in London to get cocktails. I must say, I haven't yet tried better so I might have to agree!

Where: The Coburg Bar at the Connaught, Carlos Place
When: Sunday evening 5-7
What: Cocktail Bar
Who: Myself and an old friend
Food: Hand cut crisps and fresh olives to accompany our drinks...delicious
Drinks: Mojitos, Cosmopolitans and Appletinis 

Price: A little pricey...but worth it
Service: Impeccable. The gorgeous waitress recommended the Appletini to me and it was devine
Clientele: Refined and sophisticated
Ambiance: Very intimate, warm and relaxed. This is the type of place where you can have a proper conversation 
Bathrooms: These bathrooms are in a league of their own. A maid opens the toilet door for you, and she also turns the tap on for you as you approach the wash basins. The bathrooms are very clean and there are great full length mirrors. To top it off, the products are all Molton Brown
Would I go again? I would love love love to go again
Also of note: Along with the yummy cocktails, the velvet wingback chairs make you want to stay all night

Friday, November 5, 2010


My foodie pal Lady Blonde recommended I try Sketch for my birthday last week... and so I did.

Sketch offers some really lovely drinking and dining spaces and it has a great ambiance. I can definitely see it as a great place to retreat on a cold winter's night. The front of house people whisk away your coats and make you feel very welcome. I had a really nice time whilst there, but came away thinking the food could have been better. Of note were the cocktails we had on arrival in The Parlour...and I loved the maitre d' who looked after us all night. His personality was a juxtaposition to that of the French waitress we had in The Parlour.

Where: Sketch - 9 Conduit St, London
When: 7-10:30
What: The Parlour: A high-tea room by day and a cocktail bar by night. The Gallery: In The Gallery you feel like you are part of an art installation, it is the more formal dinner dining area.
Who: Loads of French accents...and us.
Food: Modern French cuisine

Drinks: The cocktails in The Parlour were gorgeous. A pity about the sour waitress.  

Price: 50 pounds for mains and dessert
Service: Impeccable service from the main entrance through to The Gallery restaurant. The maitre de in The Parlour treated us very badly. I arrived with one other friend, and although there were five of us booked, instead of seating us at a table for five, she insisted on moving us around the room to different tables until all five of us were there.
Ambiance: Perfectly dimmed lighting. Very exotic
Saw: Every room had an interesting point of difference. At Sketch you can have many different experiences in one place
Bathrooms: The toilets were like space saving pods...very interesting. We liked the cleaner dressed as a cute maid and that upon closing the toilet door a speaker plays the commentary of an airport. Kind of odd, but fun
Would I go again? Tough one. It was nice, and it was quirky which made it fun, but personally I thought it may have been slightly overpriced for the quality of the food.
Also of note: Book in advance to get a table