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Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in gastropub (5)

Wednesday
Sep112013

The Sportsman, Kent

This is exactly the kind of pub I would usually drive straight past. That is, if I hadn’t driven for two hours to get to it. Not to mention that I’d booked two months before and had been planning the outing since April.

Yes, I am a food snob and this does not look like an enticing place to eat:

I might feel differently if they turned it inside out:

Or displayed those little seals of approval more prominently:

Or put the menu board outside:

But they don’t need to do any of this. With a Michelin star and a two month wait for weekend bookings, they can go on doing exactly what they’re doing. They are doing it very well indeed.

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Monday
Jul302012

My restaurant recommendations: North London

We have finally reached North London, the place I call home. This is where I dine most often so I have plenty of recommendations.

I noticed when writing this that almost half the suggestions are pubs. I would like to think that says more about the type of place one chooses to dine locally than my drinking habits. When you eat locally you are usually looking for something easy, convenient and good value with a relaxed atmosphere; a pub is generally all those things. 

For the most part, the restaurants included here also fit that description; all are good value and convenient if you live locally, but some of the more popular venues require booking in advance which makes them less ‘easy’ though certainly worth the effort. None of the restaurants are as relaxed as a pub, but none are stuffy and formal either; even the romantic, candlelit Bistro Aix is without pretention.

There are six venues that I haven’t included at this time, which are worth mentioning. Selale and Hala are my favourite kebab houses on Green Lanes, but I have only ever eaten the take away; Isarn was my favourite Thai restaurant for a time but was disappointing on my last visit and I haven’t been in a while. Mosaica at the Factory, Seasons and The Oak and Pastor were all great first time round, but I’ve only been that once so need a repeat visit to decide. I will revisit all these in time and include those I feel confident recommending.

These are my tried and tested local favourites. Get stuck in.

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Friday
Jul132012

My restaurant recommendations: East London

We are getting closer to my home turf and with that comes some more tried and tested favourites.

All of these restaurants are cheap to mid-range and some even let you bring your own alcohol, which brings down the bill significantly. You will notice that Vietnamese features heavily; well it is one of my favourite cuisines and London has some great stuff to offer. Further down the Kingsland Rd there are lots of good Turkish restaurants to choose from. I am yet to include any as I am still trying to decide which are best, but they will come in time. 

I hope you will enjoy these restaurants as much as I have.

Next stop North London, the place I call home.

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Tuesday
May172011

Sunday lunch at The Nut Tree Inn

The boyfriend loves a good freebie. Actually, that’s a lie – he likes any old freebie. He once entered an online competition 3 times to win a Mars football; he doesn’t play football and they sat in the bottom of the cupboard for a year, along with all the mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner that he pockets when he stays in a hotel, until he realised he could get a few quid for them on ebay and sold them (the footballs, not the toiletries, which are still there despite my attempts to shift them).

I had thought that nine months working for a company who not only provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner, but free snacks, 20 per cent free time to spend on whatever he likes, free booze on Friday afternoons plus stock options and big bonuses would have cured him of this obsession, but a fortnight ago we went for a weekend away in rural Oxfordshire and what do you think was the first thing he did when we got to the hotel room? Yep, that’s right; checked the cupboards and bathroom to see what he could loot.

Another of the many perks of his job is that he has two memberships for the National Trust. This is a blessing and a curse.  Don’t get me wrong, I like visiting nice country estates and gardens every now and then, but I do not want  to visit every National Trust property within 100km of London simply because I can do so for free. On the other hand, a trip in the car to a country estate inevitably means pub lunch and, as it turns out, the home counties are choc-a-bloc with great places to eat.

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Thursday
Aug052010

Sunday lunch at The Drapers Arms

A rather unappealing and geeky habit of mine is buying the latest good food guides, reading them cover to cover and marking venues according to how much I want to try them out. It all started out quite casually with my marking a venue of interest with a small asterisk, but I soon had so many asterisks that they became meaningless and I had to invest in a more rigorous marking system:

  • A star with a circle around – absolutely must go, life depends on it
  • A star – may self harm if miss out
  • An asterisks – yes but no but
  • A dot – not going to lose any sleep over it
  • Nothing – does this really have any place in the guide?

I now apply this to all my guides, although to save some face I should say that I have only got as far as reading and marking the North and Central London parts of the Which? Good Food Guide 2010 (it covers the whole of the UK, I am not that sad!) and the corresponding chapters in the Michelin London Restaurants and Hotels 2010.

This is the first year that I have bought the Michelin, always having assumed them to err on the side of pretentious and pricey, so I was pleasantly surprised to see so many entries for gastropubs. One such pub is The Drapers Arms, a recommendation corroborated by the Good Food Guide and further substantiated by a star with a circle round in both books (consistent starring and circling on different occasions with no memory of having done so equals extra credibility).

So it was that when my Mum and I found ourselves at the end of a very long line for a table at Ottolenghi, we said a collective “blow this” and headed to The Drapers.

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