eating out with abby

i remember thinking, at the end of last year, that i'd been terribly good at being a bit more frugal and had cut back on eating out. then i looked at the list of restaurants at which i'd eaten during october, november and december and i realise that i had moments of frugality, not whole months!

there were some wonderful meals. new places discovered included atari-ya, a little sushi cafe round the corner of my office which serves fabulously fresh fish. lovely places for special occasions were richard philips at chapel down which is set in the vineyard and had wonderful food and wine - i really want to go back in the summer and sit on their elevated terrace - and galvins at windows. i read mixed reviews of g@w but we had a really wonderful meal, looking out over hyde park (the restaurant is on the 28th floor) and it was a great way to kick off the festive season. 

old favourites which continue to delight include magdalen, arbutus and busaba.


magdalen, southwark – this was a wonderful meal, i particularly enjoyed our starters. i had scallops which were served with loads of garlicky butter and little toasted breadcrumbs. david had a really flavoursome rabbit terrine which came with armagnac prunes which were the best prunes i've ever had! lethal amounts of booze in them though!

busaba, west end – a steaming bowl of spicy clam tom yam to clear away the cobwebs and send my cold on its way.

caldesi, marylebone – i’ve heard good things about caldesi but had a very mediocre seafood and swordfish linguine which was dripping in buttery juices (which is often a good thing, not on this occasion though).

portrait restaurant, national portrait gallery – the best thing about this place is the view across trafalgar square and the good value pre-theatre meal deals which provide you with standard bistro fare.

the pond cafe, isle of wightlovely

pizza express

chowki, piccadilly circus – i still love coming here and ordering one of the ever-rotating regional feast menus (a bargainous £15 for 3 courses). today the highlights were the deeply earthy dal from the bombay menu and the minted flatbread from my madras menu.

great queen street, covent garden – sitting cocooned in the deeply coloured interior of gqs, eating a hearty mutton stew with mash and buttered savoy cabbage, i almost didn’t mind that london saw it’s first snow of the year. in october!


atari-ya, west end - fabulous fresh sushi made to order for take away or eat in. this is in danger of becoming a weekly treat for lunch.

buenos aires cafe, blackheath – great steaks, huge portions

cafe rouge, blackheath

arch one, waterloo - i kicked off with a chorizo and monkfish starter which was too big and thin slices of chorizo rather than nuggets, david had cod croquets with a lovely orange salsa. mains were reliably okay rather wonderful – a gelatinous oxtail stew with cauliflower and a game pie with baby carrots. most intriguing was the sweet tomato cheesecake david had for pudding which tasted exactly as it sounded – weird!

giraffe, marylebone - good value lunch of burger, chips and oj for £7. expect the compmay of many, many babies and children though!


the chelsea arts club, chelsea - good quality bistro-style food at this lively bohemian members club which was founded in 1891 by whistler.

yming, soho – i’ve wanted to visit this soho chinese for ages, having heard many good things. sadly it seemed to be nothing more than a standard, albeit good quality, chinese restaurant.

atari-ya, west end

arbutus, soho – a fabulous birthday meal and having eaten a la carte but watched our neighbours eat the pre-theatre set menu at £x i would happily return for the cheaper offering rather than have to save up for a special occasion

the bickley, chislehurst – 5 minutes from the station this modernised pub served good gastro pub food in a buzzy setting. prices are on the high side though and service was very slow.

richard philips at chapel down, tenterden, kent – fabulous food in a beautiful vineyard setting - i had crab and fennel risotto followed by pork belly and david had a wonderful wood pigeon and beetroot salad followed by lamb, red cabbage and rosti. the wine menu is predictably good and it's a very family friendly setting.

galvins at windows, mayfair – very delicious food and fabulous views across london. a perfect choice for a special christmas eve meal.

strada, west end

abby dysonComment