OXO Tower

Meal courtesy of OXO – Harvey Nichols 

Written by Vicky Dalton-Banks

Afternoon Tea at the OXO Tower, South Bank 7I love an afternoon teas. However, it is a saturated market and it’s hard to stand out; there are numerous different menus on offer all over London and it can be hard to know which are worth your well earned cake hours. I recently tried the afternoon tea at the OXO Tower Restaurant and I think this is definitely one you need to add to your list!

In all my years of living in London, I can’t believe this was my first visit to the OXO Tower. Walking along the South Bank on a sunny day is a delight, and after finding our way to the tower we took the lift up to the restaurant. Offering panoramic views of London’s skyline, the bright and airy restaurant is a great spot to enjoy an afternoon of indulgence!

Sometimes restaurants like the OXO Tower, where there are beautiful views of London or, like at others where the most beautiful of settings lure you in, the food can end up being pretty average. Well that is most certainly not the case here – the menu includes interesting flavours and beautiful, delicious food.

The Food
We started with a glass of champagne and toasted to the beginning of Spring! The views from the restaurant are stunning, and offer a great perspective of The City with St Paul’s being a big feature of the view.

First come the savouries with five different and delicate looking finger sandwiches. At one end is cucumber and anchovy on beetroot bread and at the other is smoked salmon, dill and crème fraîche on rye bread, almost creating a rainbow effect of breads! There is also egg and cress on onion bread; ham, watercress and mustard on English farmhouse and finally a cheese and chutney sandwich on tomato bread.

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I thought the range of breads worked really well. They were paired perfectly with their fillings and made each one interesting to taste.

There was also a selection of delightful little savoury bites. My two favourites were the mini Yorkshire puddings filled with beef and horseradish and the Dorset crab choux buns. They were so light! The smoked salmon Scotch quail egg didn’t really work for me, it was just too rich.

After a little break from the food to finish our bubbles, a beautiful assortment of sweet treats arrived with our teas.

Mini Bakewell tarts, dark chocolate mousses and pots of lemon posset came alongside the fluffiest and lightest scones I can ever remember having!

The lemon posset was fresh and very slightly tart but a touch too creamy with all the other treats out in front of me. The Valrhona mousse was rich and decadent whilst being light as a feather.Afternoon Tea at the OXO Tower, South Bank

I have to go back to the scones, after all these are the backbone of any afternoon tea! They really were so light and with just a touch of crumble and sweetness. I would go back for these alone. Pair this with glorious views of London from up high, it really is the perfect spot for Afternoon Tea in London.

Afternoon Tea at the OXO Tower, South Bank 6
Overall
I thoroughly enjoyed the Afternoon Tea at the OXO Tower restaurant. There is not a dry bit of bread in sight and the menu is built up with interesting flavours and the most perfect scones. And of course I can’t forget the views of London! All of this makes it a great option for afternoon tea in London.

The menu is served Monday to Saturday 3pm – 4.30pm and Sunday 3.15pm – 4.30pm. It’s £35 per person or £45 with a glass of Champagne.

 

Smith & Wollensky

Meal courtesy of Smith & Wollensky

Written by Verna G

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“Brunch”, probably one of my favourite words in the history of existence, especially on a Sunday, when one is recovering from a deadly hangover. A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to be invited to try out the new brunch menu at the newly refurbished Smith & Wollensky, situation along the Strand, in the ever-so-grand Adelphi building in Central London.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were greeted by the white and green theme colours, our coats collected, and led to our table. The interior of the place is very grand, the lights slightly dimmed to a warm yellow and the patterned flooring completing the very American-esque feel of the place.

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In the spirit of trying everything, we first decided to cure our hangovers with a much-recommended Bloody Mary. Despite never liking the drink every other time I tried it, I actually really enjoyed it this time – they were well-mixed and perfectly seasoned (is that a weird way to describe a drink?) with the ideal level of pepper and not too sour with the tomato juice, which was great for waking up our hungover souls. And if like me, you decide to go for an alcohol-free version, they are referred to as the Bloody Shame ;).

image004Food wise, we ordered the Eggs Oscar, Braised Beef Hash & Poached Eggs, and also the Black-Rye Reuben SandwichBagel. Of these three dishes, my personal favourite was the braised beef hash with poached eggs. Why? Let me explain.

The Eggs Oscar (£20), described to me as the amped up version of Eggs Royale, where the usual smoked salmon is replaced with shredded crab and asparagus really caught my attention. However, when it was served, I must say I was a little disappointed. Despite looking the part, it was a little under seasoned, and most importantly, the poached eggs on top were over cooked… The yolk was no longer runny! The asparagus, though it sounded great to be paired with the crab, was actually a bit too chewy. Personally, I would have selected asparagus tips to be served with the delicate crabmeat and not the stalky parts that I was presented with.

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The second dish we were served with was the Braised Beef Hash & Poached Eggs, and you would be happy to know that the poached eggs here were runny and perfect – made up for the lack of runny yolk in the previous dish. The beef was also very tender and well seasoned, and the hash potatoes seemed to be a great match with everything else on the plate. The only thing I wished was that there was more of it, as the price of this dish was not cheap (£18) and it was listed under “Big Plates”. It certainly was not what I consider to be a big plate of food and left me still hungry…

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Lastly, the final main we ordered was the Black-Rye Reuben SandwichBagel, served with skinny fries. I have to add, this was served quite late, as the waiter seemed to have missed this dish when we first ordered, so we had to reorder it and it took a little time to arrive at the table. Nonetheless, I did enjoy this SandwichBagel mashup, it was quite special and the black-rye bread was a nice touch in terms of flavour. Though, as ever, I just wished there was more filling, as this was also not a cheap dish for essentially a sandwich (£15), so I’m a little hesitant on whether I would fork out money from my own wallet for this.

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Overall, the three mains were not too bad, but I was definitely not blown away with anything. In addition, somehow I felt the service was a little too slow? Maybe I was just super hungry so I was more than aggitated, but it took around 45 mins before any food reached our table. And when food was served, the overcooked poached egg just added to the disappointment that I desperately didn’t want to feel. Maybe things would have been different if I was reviewing their famous steaks, instead of the brunch menu? Or perhaps I simply went for the wrong dishes, despite being told about them specifically…

I guess the highlight of my visit was when the Beverages Manager, Scott, did a tour with us around the restaurant. Scott did a great job showing us the gorgeous venue, telling us the story behind Smith & Wollensky, and also showing us his beloved wine cellar and the special US wines on offer, as well as telling us all about their renowned steaks and how their maturing process enhances the flavour of the meat, despite being an expensive way of curing beef to be served as steaks.

In case you were interested, here are two cool facts I learned about S&W. 1) Did you know that the name came from the owners picking two random names from the Yellow Pages and combing them? And 2) did you know that the owners’ most successful chain of business is actually TGI Fridays? Yeah no me neither!

All in all, I enjoyed my visit, but felt a little let down by a few aspects of the place. Might have been our luck on the day, but the service was too slow for me, as even the fruit platter we ordered as dessert took ages to be served… In terms of food, I think next time I visit, I would definitely be trying the famous steaks instead of anything else. When I watched others around us dive into their meaty and juicy steaks, I was very not-so-secretly jealous of them… #thestrugglewasreal

Counter Kitchen

Meal courtesy of Counter Kitchen

Visited and reviewed by Vicky from Vicky Dalton-Banks, published by Steph

Counter Kitchen is a beautiful bright space located on Goswell Road. It is airy, relaxed and comfortable meaning you could happily sit here working away if you wanted to. We arrived just after midday with a few people sat on their laptops and by the time we left all the tables were full of people eating lunch before heading back to work. There was a real buzz.

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The Food

The menu at Counter Kitchen aims to keep things simple to allow the natural flavours to shine through. From breakfast through to lunch, the seasonal menu celebrates produce at its finest.

The lunch menu serves a mix of soups, hearty bowls and nourishing salads. Honestly, when I was looking through the menu I didn’t know what to order because I wanted to try it all!

img_6850On a recommendation I ordered the Kimchi Culture hearty bowl. Wow, did the kimchi pack a punch! A bowl of stewed beef is served in a beef broth with house aged kimchi, tofu, pak choi and served with black rice.

At the time of my visit I had a stinking cold so this really felt like the best remedy. It was great to see they weren’t stingy of the portion of beef either, I enjoyed every mouthful swimming in the broth. I didn’t want the bowl of goodness to end!

As well as the main menu there are two specials each day so we decided to try the Tarka Dal. And again it didn’t disappoint! This lentil and chana dal stew was served with salad, yoghurt and again, black rice. This had lovely warm spices running through it and was really quite filling!

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In order to up the vitamin intake we also ordered a salad. The La La Land salad of coconut roasted broccoli, shredded kale, raisins and seeds was ordered with an addition of the miso salmon. How do I say this. It was awesome! Firstly, miso salmon. Love. But the salad mix was so moreish and delicious, I’m definitely going to try and recreate this salad at home.

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We squeezed in a mini gluten free brownie and a little chocolate crisp bite. Unsurprisingly, both were good, but I liked the cherries going through the brownie keeping it lovely and moist.

Overall

Prices start at £4 for soups and go up to £9 for the ‘Hearty Bowls’. The salads start at £6.50, but it’s likely you would want to add some kind of protein to them. It is not cheap. But, in my opinion, you get what you pay for here. Everything we tried was fresh and made with good ingredients. The Kimchi Culture bowl actually came full of beef!

I really enjoyed the food here and it’s a beautiful space. I’ll definitely be back to try some other salads and hearty bowls!

Ma’ Plucker

Meal courtesy of Ma’ Plucker

Attended and written by Vicky – http://dalton-banks.co.uk/

Fried chicken has really taken off in London. And I definitely like the trend – I am always happy to eat chicken! To continue my research I recently went to try what Ma’Plucker in Soho’s had to offer.

We walked in on a heaving Friday night and once the drinks were ordered (frozen raspberry margarita for me and boozy ice tea for him) we started the deliberations on what chicken we would try.

The Food

Ma’Plucker promises to bring the Deep South to London’s doorstep with their signature 3-way chicken: Buttermilk Fried, Chipotle Roasted and Slow and Low Pulled Chicken. You pick your chicken, choose your ‘base’ (brioche bun, house bun, maple waffle or salad) and then decide which sauce to top it off with – MP Chicken Skin Gravy, Chipotle Chilli Sauce, Kansas, BBQ, Herb dressing or Maple Chilli Glaze! The sauce selection makes me happy. I am definitely a condiment girl.

There are also a few other options including the chicken caesar salad or buttermilk fried patty. We were here to eat chicken and we most definitely were not here to eat just salads!

We wanted to try their signature way of doing things and so opted for the chicken 3-ways. Having decided to order the buttermilk dipped chicken and the rotisserie chipotle chicken, we asked the friendly waiter which way he recommended we have them.

And so the feast was ordered…

maplucker-chicken-soho-3maplucker-chicken-soho-8Crispy coated thighs (they’d run out of wings!) were ordered on top of the maple waffle base with the chicken skin gravy – I ordered an extra little pot of maple syrup on the side because sweet and savoury loving. We went for half a roasted chipotle rubbed chicken on a simple salad with the Chipotle Chilli Sauce but ordered fries, coleslaw and one crack n cheese please on the side.

When the food arrived we both looked at each other as if to say ‘woaaaah, we’re never gonna finish all this’.

We did. It’s chicken after all. It’s like dessert – separate stomach.

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The crisp-coated buttermilk chicken thigh was a little over cooked with the coating being a bit crunchy in places. But the flavour was great – the lightly spiced coating went great with the chicken skin gravy, as recommended.

The chipotle roasted chicken doesn’t, in my opinion, look like the most appetising chicken but let me tell you, the flavour of this juicy chicken was amazing. Oh and it really is half a chicken, just look at the size of it! I am so glad we ordered it with the leaves! The Chipotle Chilli Sauce was like mayo perfectly spiced and slightly smokey.

maplucker-chicken-sohoThe coleslaw was creamy and the fries nice and skinny though at £3.50 for a ‘mug’ of fries I thought it was on the expensive side. The crack and cheese comes served as a huge ball of deep fried mac n cheese goodness. Again quite small for £4.50 but really very good.

maplucker-chicken-soho-4maplucker-chicken-soho-5We were restrained and decided not to order two desserts but just order the one slab of cherry pie with ice cream to share. Boy, is Ma’Plucker’s cherry pie good. Thin layers of pastry packed full with juicy cherries.

maplucker-chicken-soho-7Overall

Ma’Plucker is a really fun spot in the heart of Soho for a Friday night bite to eat. They had a wicked playlist of old-school tunes, frozen margaritas that actually tasted like they had tequila in, and the place was full to the brim.

The buttermilk fried chicken was not completely faultless and I think it’s something they need to master but overall we really enjoyed our meal and if I’m in need of chicken when in Soho I know where to go.

Squirrel

Meal courtesy of We are Squirrel

Event attended and reviewed by Steph (@cameraeatsvegan) and published by Steph (me!)

Salad Bar

History & Background:

Squirrel assures that it is ‘Nuts about Health’, and champions a provision of healthy and fresh alternatives for the ‘Grab and Go’ market. Its location is a 2 minute walk away from South Kensington Station, and already seemed very popular despite its recent opening – the place was buzzing both from people queuing up for freshly prepared food, as well as from people passing by admiring the unique décor (described to be ‘natural surroundings that even a squirrel would feel at home!).

Interior

The Meal:

The Ginger Spice grain bowl that I tried was a vegan-friendly option – tofu, quinoa, beetroot, sweet potato, avocado, spinach all tossed together with a ginger miso dressing. Despite my initial hesitance at ‘ginger’ (they assured me that there would be no whole pieces of ginger in the food), its addition really made for a refreshing lunch. Enough of the miso dressing was provided to generously coat the greens in the bowl, and a mix of different textures provided a satisfying meal from just one bowl. Also, the sweet potato and tofu really bulked up the ‘fullness’ of the meal – the bowls are generously portioned so I ended up taking away my leftovers!

[The other picture is of Oh My Cobb’, a salad containing chicken, egg, kale, quinoa, avocado, sweetcorn and a spicy cashew dressing. Didn’t try this, but Caroline couldn’t finish it, as they are very generous with the kale!]

Oh My Cobb Salad

Noticing the ingredients of the other grain bowls (every ingredient is displayed clearly on their menu board), the other dressings sound as if they would also provide an interesting mix of flavour.

Perhaps following the journey of the ingredients from the salad bar in front of me to my bowl played a part, but I did notice the freshness of the flavours (Squirrel pride themselves on offering a transparency between their food and their customers).

Nuts yoCarrot JuiceAsides from grain bowls, other food on offer includes House Salads, soups, and also a breakfast menu, to takeaway or eat-in. What is also interesting is their nut/dried fruit bar where you can decanter a selection of healthy snacks into a pot to take-away.

Service:

Although recently opened, the service is fast and true to the ‘grab-and-go’ market that Squirrel is aiming to cater for. You can also customise ingredients according to your taste or dietary preference, and staff are both very friendly and enthusiastic in showing customers what Squirrel has to offer.

Price: £

 

Clutch Chicken

Clutch Chicken (4 of 31)
Clutch Chicken, fried chicken the new trend!

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Clutch Chicken

Clutch Chicken is a restaurant with true wit, chicken jokes on blackboards and puns aligning the menu, enticing you to grab your chicken fix for the night.

Joined the craze in 2014 with a hub in Haggerston, Brits continuous love for fried chicken have now transcended to making restaurants specialising in just that. Though the interior is somewhat unique, lined with mirrored tables that make seemingly awkward glances at ones own appearance…

There were floods of Deliveroo and Jinn deliveries whilst I spent my evening there, a seemingly more popular option for a night with fried chicken that a sit-in.

The chicken and eggs are free range and are fried in groundnut oil.

The meal:

We were served a bit of everything, from their coleslaw salad to their buttermilk fried chicken.

A very satisfactory meal but nothing particularly impressive. It was not the best fried chicken I’ve had but it made a good meal, in particular, with an alluring cocktail and drinks menu, it would be perfect for locals craving decent fried chicken with a bunch of friends.

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Put a wing on it – honey and sesame  £12.00

We had some Love Me Tenders, (breast fillets), the lemon and parmesan flavour and sweet soy garlic. An oriental asian kick to the sweet soy garlic and very saucy.

Pictured above, my favourite was the Put a Wing on It, honey and sesame, aromatic and crunchy but maybe slightly too sweet.

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Sweet Beak Brownie £5.00

The biggest surprise was it’s brownie. Served with an oozing center, the brownie is served hot and absolutely moreish. Definitely a second serving to take home kind of dish.

Bits and bobs:

  • 30% off on Mondays
  • Weekly Instagram competitions!

Price: £

The Cavendish

35 New Cavendish (8 of 12)
Credit: photos taken by Ed

Meal courtesy of 35 New Cavendish, JPR Media Group

Attended and written by Ed from @onehungryasian and reviewed by Steph

100 layer lasagna? 100 layer lasagna?! 100 layer lasagna! That’s pretty much how my reaction played out when I heard about chef Douglas Santi’s signature dish at 35 New Cavendish, where he’s recently taken over and brought his mix of quality Italian cooking with refined touches to the masses.

We were invited to a bloggers dinner to show off their new menu, featuring not only the 100 layer lasagne, but a whole host of luxurious and comforting food. Think lobster and avocado rolls, beef sliders with jalapeño mayonaise, prawns with quinoa and steak tartare.

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‎Proceedings kicked off with a welcoming negroni and our first dish, mini lobster and avocado brioche buns. Absolutely beautiful to look at right? One thing’s for sure, chef Santi has an eye for beautiful plates! The lobster was fresh and succulent but lacked a little seasoning and the brioche was unfortunately dry. Still, they were a pleasure to eat and they disappeared fast. Hot on their heels were beef sliders with cheese and a jalapeño mayo, and these were perfect. Cooked with a special grill that sears them instantly (I didn’t get the name as I was stuffing my face), these burgers were right on the money! The jalapeño mayo was lost in the flavour of the beef sadly but this is just a minor fault.

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The dishes that followed though were similar stories to the lobster roll. Great ideas, but would be even better with improvement. The croque monsieur was sadly not particularly flavoursome and the steak tartare needed a little more seasoning. The prawns and quinoa‎ didn’t quite seem so fresh and could use some more acidity. The tuna and avocado dish was a nice touch but the avocado overpowered the dish, tasting mostly of avocado. Again, meat took the crown with a ribeye steak as a standout dish with incredible depth of flavour. The triple cooked chips were overcooked and very crunchy.

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And the 100 layer lasagna? Douglas Santi showcases this dish with a bit of a twist, a lasagne – instead of pasta sheets, he uses essentially, crepe, for layers. An innovative idea indeed, though the crepe came off  eggy and instead of making for a lighter lasagna texture, it had the opposite effect and turned it quite dense. Still though, the quality of the meat here shone through and the red Bolognese sauce was fantastic.

The mini desserts that finished off the meal were little parfaits and cheesecakes that catered for those with sweet taste-buds!

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All in all, 35 New Cavendish has a solid menu that reads and looks like a dream. Steak, pasta, burgers and all the comforting foods that make you want to order everything at once. Big shout out for the meat, which was clearly of high quality, and was allowed to speak for itself in its burgers, steak and tartare. With a bit of fine tuning, great potential to what is a brilliant place for relaxation, drinks and catch-ups.

Price: ££

Square Meal