I am a self-confessed wine snob, slave to the humble grape, worshipper of the vine. Yes, I can knock back a cheap party plonk like the best of them, but probably one of my favourite things to do in the Big Smoke is curl up in the corner of a cosy wine bar, slurp my way through exquisite tipples and people watch. Here are the first in a series of my preferred London spots for combining both these activities – excellent wine drinking, and the not-so-subtle observation of the human condition… Continue reading
“Ah, l’odeur inconfondable du garlic!” Entering Brasserie Zédel is like being smacked in the face by a baguette-wielding, breton jumper-wearing stereotype hawking garlic around the Tour de France. It’s Art Deco, it’s bustling, it’s as close to Paris as you can feel without setting foot on Eurostar. It serves celeriac remoulade and grated carrot salads as starters – this is retro like you haven’t seen since spam fritters made a gourmet comeback.
I have been coming here regularly since it opened. A go-to, ever excellent wow factor venue. In fact, this review has been sitting in my drafts since my first visit in 2012. I was spurred by Grace Dent’s homage penned just after the Westminster attack praising the Zédel for its perpetual fun factor. Yes. Zédel is tons of fun. Stepping down the staircase into the atrium, all smokey travertine, art deco columns and marble and big, bold chandeliers and light fittings you feel like breaking into a Singing in the Rain routine in shimmering velvet. Continue reading
Photo credit to Drink Up London
“This place looks a bit like a mini Toasted in Dulwich” – I exclaimed upon perching on my stool beneath two groaning shelves of French natural wines in the teeny, tiny, ultra-cosy 161 Food + Drink, Sydenham. Cue owner Alex flying right over to justify my observation. Indeed, there is a connection – he formally worked at Toasted with then Chef Matt Osborne, who also worked at my other favourite, Terroirs in Covent Garden. Part of London’s clearly incestuous natural wine scene, which is expanding at a rate of knots into these leafy South London suburbs, 161 Food + Drink is like your friend’s cost front room, packed to the rafters with wine and a book case upon which rests an Italian charcuterie slicer. Continue reading
Hey hep cats, word is out, I have moved back to my favourite neighbourhood! The old Crystal Palace once again enjoys the patronage of Itinerant Epicure (and boy she does love it so..)
The good news is, in the 2 years during which I have been exploring other pastures, there has been a crop of exciting new openings, and none I can rave more about than The French House. The original cafe/brunch/all day eatery opened in West Dulwich and has now found space for a second wave on Westow triangle.
The best kept secret in London? You can book a table for two at Hutong‘s delicious bar – whizz up 33 floors, purchase two cokes and save yourself the £32 ticket for View at The Shard’s tourist viewing deck. You know – if you’re a cheapskate, Sarf London-dwelling hobo like myself. (Although… Cokes? Whatever, I’d be dropping the plastic on a silly bottle of wine…) This modern Northern Chinese restaurant atop The Shard is the sister outpost of an original restaurant in Hong Kong, operated here by Aqua Restaurant Group.
Stepping into Hutong is how I picture Goodfellas if Scorcese reimagined it in 19th century China – all opium dens and Shanghai triads. You’d need the income equivalent of a drug lord to be coming here for your weekly noodle fix – a single dim sum here costs the equivalent of Set Meal 1 at Lin Hong Garden – but as a one off treat, it’s hard to say no to sky-high dining pleasures with the blanket of London splayed out before you. Continue reading
Kiki reaches into the fridge and cracks open a curious bottle of Pinot Grigio. Except far from “grigio” this one is a gorgeous shade of pale, blush, apricot – a result of skin contact – and a taste of it reveals juicy, fruity notes and even a whiff of white peach. It is 10pm and although the Wine Wednesday pop-up tasting finished half an hour ago, the good folk of Tooting attending this casual foray into grapes and wine are in no hurry. In fact a solid hour of chin-wagging has begun as more bottles are opened and more stories told of grape journeys, grape discoveries and even the best wines to pair with Gogglebox or Eurovision. We are at Unwined in Tooting. Not your average wine bar. Continue reading