Food corner

"Significantly, the charge (if it is a charge) has been levelled at the gastronomic essay and the 'learned' cookery book that they have an affinity with pornography. Certainly, both gastronomy and pornography dwell on pleasures of the flesh, and in gastronomic literature as in pornography there is vicarious enjoyment to be had." 

Stephen Mennell

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Entries in London (17)


The height of good taste

One word: surreal.

This time yesterday I was suspended from a crane quaffing white wine waiting for a Michelin-starred three-course meal cooked by this guy:

In the sky.

Yes, really. 

Daniel Hutchens (Speyside Glenlivet), Jacquie Bance de Vasquez and Leigh Farmer
(Sustainable Restaurant Association)

I was invited to attend London in the Sky by the good people at Speyside Glenlivet. They were also responsible for keeping me sober - important at this dizzying height. (I am a klutz and a dropped knife, fork or glass is a regular occurrence when I dine with wine; much more dramatic at 100 feet!)

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Pollen Street Social

“I just love dining like this. It’s fabulous isn’t it?”

Yes, Mum, isn’t it? I do hope she remembers quite how much she enjoyed it. The venue was Pollen Street Social and she was referring to the tasting menu.

“I love that it just comes and you just don’t have to think about it. And everything is so well thought through.”

Yes, I quite agree. Hold on, aren’t I supposed to be writing the review?

For our birthdays my dearest Dad let us choose a restaurant in London to spoil ourselves in. I sent him a list of suggestions in various price ranges and was pleasantly surprised when he responded with this:

“I had a look at the Pollen Street Social site. It has some very good drinking to be had for under 50 quids a bottle. I didn't think it looked too pretentious and the tasting menu at 80q's sounded OK. I don't know how it compares with the others you mentioned … so go for whatever floats your boat.”

Permission to do the tasting menu and a £50 per bottle budget for wine. Sold! To the salivating girl on cloud nine.

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Truck Stop

A couple of weeks ago I went to Truck Stop with my Mum and a friend, Shaun. It is a summer street food event at Canary Wharf organised by Street Feast and Tweat Up to bring together “over 20 of the UK’s best food trucks”. (There were probably 21, and of varying quality, but who’s counting?)

The pick of the bunch appeared to be the kimchi burgers from Kimchi Cult, judging by the line which at peak hour snaked all the way across the site and back again. I didn’t try them; after an hour wait you are only going to be disappointed.

We arrived early, which was lucky. It was massively oversubscribed so lines got out of control from about 7pm. Fortunately we had already started on the trucks we were most interested in.

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Chez Bruce, a perfect lunch

I am particularly partial to long and languorous lunches, there is something special about eating a fine meal over several hours while the sun is shining, preferably on you, but at least outside. This lunch was made more special by the fact that it was my birthday and so I was being treated.

The lunch was on my Mum, her only prerequisite that she didn't want to go anywhere poncy. I had wanted to go to Chez Bruce for some time and it fit this criterion perfectly. Chez Bruce oozes sophistication and class, without feeling stuffy and formal – a difficult balance to strike. The dining room is stylish but understated. The service is smooth, efficient and knowledgeable with a little bit of charm for good measure.

The waiters could see we were going to be hours and gave us the space to chat, open presents and drink our champagne. This is a mark of good service – being able to tell when a table is ready; the chat tends to stop, menus close or are put down, someone tries to catch your eye. Some tables are more relaxed and need coaxing, but it is always clear if a table has been nattering so much that they haven’t had a chance to look at the menu and they will not welcome the interruption.

I digress…

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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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