They say you should never judge a book by its cover and I guess that goes for the title too. With the external look of a mid range café, and named after the second smallest room in a house (1930’s house at any rate), Kitchen W8 does not elicit Great Expectations.
A bull at the door is a welcome nod to Wall Street riches, and I only wish my shares were stampeding a little harder right now. But as a promise of what was to come, the comedy doggie doo left under the hindquarters of the statue was a more accurate entrée to the Bloomsbury branch of Black & Blue.
Dining fatigue. It’s a disease I never imagined would afflict my jowly, portly and contented frame. Yet I piled on a couple more waistline inches at Corrigan’s recently with little spirit and less joy.
I can’t fault the food and, at £27 for three generous courses, it stands up to the Sunday lunch value test, in London at least. The service is also impeccable, if a little sterile. I will take issue with the wine list, which is expensive to the point of leaving you with the distasteful feeling of having been ripped off. £44 for a low rent, screw cap, Blaufränkisch that stings of balsamic and glacé cherries is poor value, even at the “cheap” end of the list.
The decor is a little strange but I guess, in an area of London where you can buy a shotgun and a pair of plaid breeches, from a shop next door to one that sells 7ft high Ming vases, the locals probably feel at home. But I feel justified in my disappointment at the lack of game, and notably grouse, on this late August menu, in a place where dark duck feather lampshades shed amber light over dingy booths (which, a couple of districts to the east would have illuminated illicit poker games), and pictures of Hooray Henries pointing their Purdeys all over the shop with gay abandon adorn the walls.
Sitting eating in Corrigan’s I could have been randomly transmogrified, without even noticing, to The Ivy, Scott’s or The Boxwood Café (RIP), although at least the surviving brace in that list have some defining quirks: In the latter case, the Star Wars shellfish bar, and the former, Gestapo style service.
Talking of service, on vociferous enquiry, I discovered that the mandatory “optional” 12.5% goes to the house, so I hope that, like me, you will have that removed and leave a cash tip.
Apart from that foible, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Corrigan’s if you like this type of stuffy high end dining (and I am far from allergic). I guess I just expected a bit more craic from an Irishman.
If James Bond were to dine in London today, he wouldn’t take his Danish bird to Corrigan’s. I suggest that, unlike a review quoted on the Corrigan’s website, he might still prefer Scott’s down the road, where he might at the very least meet the ghost of his creator.
£125.40 plus service for 3 course Sunday lunch for two with wine and coffees.
I’m getting quite used to Opentable. I don’t always book through the website (or natty iPhone app) but it isn’t half useful for finding a table at short notice. Especially in London. Especially if you want to eat within a caber toss of where you happen to be. And I happened to be in Lancaster Gate, if you are posh. Or Bayswater if you are not.
Opentable threw up Angelus on Bathurst St. Was it to be an homage to a great wine, or a mare? (“Mayor” – see what I did there? Dicky daughters and all that).
When I visit London at weekends I like to scoff a proper Sunday lunch. Whether I take Champagne as an aperitif depends on whether my team has won or lost. On the occasion of 15 May 2011, I lunched at Foxtrot Oscar and the fizz, Raspberry Bellini, (OK I know it is Prosecco, not Champagne) was to celebrate rather than commiserate for a change. After a 35 year “hiatus”, Man City won a trophy, the FA Cup. And yet, I then went on to drink RED wine. And on the day after a certain team from East Lancashire won the Premier League!
I woke up with the sweetest hangover. The type that brings hazy memories of the day before. Not caused by alcohol. Oh no, something far more important. Football.
But, one has to eat, and drink, and get on with life so, in anticipation of victory, I had booked us into Barbecoa, Jamie Oliver’s new venture in Cheapside in the City. And as a hangover cures go, you could do worse than select from the “Bites” menu. The mountain of bread with home made butter was as filling as it was delicious. A “portion” of pork crackling (£4) was large enough to serve 16 Northern beer drinkers based on the size of pub bags when I was a nipper. And needless to say the flavour and crunch was in a new class, (but I am known as a bit of a porker).
In a very twee part of London, where, in more controversial political times Tone used to live, lies a pub. I wonder if this was a New Labour den at some point.
Keeping my lefty tendencies to one side, (I dress to the left), I booked through Opentable and consumed a pre-match meal. The glorious Man City made their first Wembley visit since 1999. I made my first visit to Islington since Morgan M‘s in 2008.
The Drapers Arms has a decent array of beers, a pretty and well priced wine list, and a menu that people of my age can read without glasses, which is all too rare. A bottle of 2009 Brouilly was excellent value at £31, and once given 10 minutes in an ice bucket was very drinkable. After only 10 minutes it was turned from flabby Bazooka Joe bubblegum to tight candy foam teeth and who wouldn’t prefer the teeth? But, why serve Beaujolais at 25 degrees in the first place?
I’ve been impressed by Café Anglais on a number of occasions but I thought it was famous for roast chicken, and not particularly great for solo diners. So, ever since they emailed me to say an oyster bar had opened I’ve been itching to try it.
Do you prefer penguins or skateboarders? Personally I am a penguin man, although this caused a bit of controversy when I reviewed Hawksmoor. I did, though, fall in love with the beef. But, having revelled in Hawksmoor’s meat, I felt obliged to sample what most London foodies consider to be the competition in the steak stakes, Goodman.
Last time I wrote about the London food bloggers’ beefy hero of Shoreditch, I was accused of snobbery. I was unkind to the waiting staff who I described as ‘skateboarders’ lacking coordination and worse, more dishevelled in appearance than most customers.
However, my steak was so mouth-wateringly, drool dribblingly, bib wettingly luscious, that Truly Scrumptious couldn’t have tempted me away from it, even if she had offered to blow my Toot Sweet in the back of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had to come back for another try.