eating out with abby

it’s been an exciting few months for eating out. i kicked things off in july by stepping into the kitchen, running an american-style diner at a fundraiser which raised over £2,300 for the southend hospital bosom pals appeal (make your donations here – they were wonderful at looking after my grandma, who sadly died later that month).

there was then the opportunity to try several of london’s recent openings – roganic, the slightly-disappointing-to-me-but-loved-by-everyone-else pop up from simon rogan of l’enclume, a fabulous meal at medlar and a second visit to jason atherton’s pollen street social which was much better than the first, back in march.

david and i also revisited the curlew, which won a michelin star earlier this year and blew us away when we originally ate there last summer – once again it was stunningly good. the other stand-out meal for this month was at the roundhouse’s café – made in camden – which serves wonderfully imaginative dishes (fennel with feta and salt caramel anyone?!?) .

at the more casual end of things i’ve continued to enjoy brixton village’s renaissance and the street food on offer at broadway market (the falafel man (i think the stall is called arabica) and gujarati rasoi are my two favourite stalls).


abby’s diner, essex – i managed to nibble around the edges of a beef burger which fell on the floor (and who thought being a chef was glamorous!) and thankfully managed to have one of the fabulous (at least i’ve cracked the modesty aspect of things) roasted mushroom, aubergine and halloumi veggie burgers.

roganic, marylebone – i was so excited about eating here but was so disappointed. not because the food was bad but because nothing wowed me. my favourite dish was the one signature dish that has made it to london from l’enclume –potatoes with onion ash. which, given i’m not a big fan of potatoes, says a lot.

kaosarn, brixton village – this little café received a rave review from jay rayner in the observer, shortly before we were there, which meant things suddenly got very busy. delicious, simple, homestyle thai cooking in a casual setting.

hardy’s, marylebone – average pub grub but with tables outside on a quiet street

pollen street social, mayfair – second visit, second time of having the lunch menu (£23.50 for three courses) and it was excellent. sadly the gimlet with fizzy gin jelly was no longer on the cocktail list.

villiers terrace, crouch end – pub grub, very average

bar boulud, knightsbridge – the burgers have been much hyped so david and i decided to check them out – a piggie burger for me and a yankee burger for david. delicious but not as good as hawksmoor or the meat wagon. less filling though, which can be a good thing!

turners, birmingham – this has to be one of the most incongruous settings for a michelin star restaurant – a non-descript high street surrounded by charity shops! nice enough but not memorable. fabulous company though!


medlar, kensington – fabulous!

the hop garden, isle of man – if the sun is shining this pub’s garden is where you want to be. portions were huge – my fresh sardine starter was four good-sized fish! i was very grateful to have only ordered a salad to follow

the velvet lobster, isle of man – a cute little café but the food was overpriced and a bit odd (david’s lamb noodle salad was tiny and the combination or lamb and vermicelli was just odd). the deli a few doors down looks like it would offer much better value

the garrison, isle of man – dreadful inauthentic tapas. perhaps stick to the non-tapas items – the steak and fish n chips people ordered were apparently great.

pierre victoire, soho – this has to be one of the best early-evening supper deals around – for £10 i had crab cakes (a bit dry but plenty of flavour) and a lovely chicken and bacon ceasar salad. friendly, buzzy, noisy and busy.

the curlew, bodiam – fabulous food, i love this place!

cellar gascon, clerkenwell – this bar is attached to club gascon and if you are there on a monday or tuesday you can order any of the wines which are priced over £50 and get a 50% discount. tapas bar dishes were all good except the foie gras which was flavourless. best of all was the most tender squid i have ever eaten – tentacles and all were melt-in-the-mouth silky soft.

amico bio, clerkenwell – the website for this vegetarian italian restaurant made it sound great, sadly the food was flavourless and overly dependent on the stodge of pasta, potatoes and rice rather than any sort of showcase for vegetables.

galvin at windows, mayfair – great views, great food and a fabulous value lunch menu.

made in camden, chalk farm – this café is attached to the roundhouse and serves absolutely fabulous food and cocktails (apparently their brunches are good too). the dishes are creative and the flavour combinations imaginative. we shared a selection of small plates - particular favourites were the pan-fried fennel with marinated feta, pistachio and salted caramel; braised ox cheeks with white polenta and an apple and sour cherry salad; and sea bass with tahini and orange. i can’t wait to go back.   

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