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London dining at its most gorgeous? That’ll be Bronte then…

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Bronte is a beauty of a restaurant. Designed by British brand Tom Dixon – worth a swoon for their bowls & platters alone – every inch of the restaurant is a dream of brushed gold lighting, emerald leather banquettes and a cotton candy pink bar.

Sat squarely on a corner of the Strand, the bar gives you the opportunity to sit inside watching denim shirted bartenders mix a little magic or perch outside for al fresco cocktail drinking as you watch the world go by in Trafalgar Square. The sweet & smoky mescal heavy ‘Mirage’ is laced with pineapple, cactus fruit liqueur & passion-fruit and comes served in the sort of heavy crystal tumbler that makes you feel as though you’re getting a real drink; with a lick of heat & a kiss of blackberry, it’s a perfect way to start your evening.

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Stuffed butternut squash with freekeh, goji berries & feta…

Squash and I kinda have a thing going on. I love her flavour, her texture and her voluptuous curves; she loves the fact that I chop her up, splash her with oils & spices and roast her in the oven until she’s scorched and golden.

Ok so the first part of that is true, however if all the edible characters in Seth Rogen’s upcoming film ‘Sausage Party’ are to be believed, then the good lady butternut is probably not gonna be too thrilled with the fate I have planned for her today although you definitely will be. This is a simple vegetarian dish absolutely perfect for days when you want the oven to do the bulk of the work for you and it’s ridiculously easy to pull together, subbing in and out the things you’re maybe not so keen on for the things you really really are. Read More

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A pizza of convenience at Joe Public…

Sometimes you hear about a place through friends and you trust their judgement so you visit, enjoy and congratulate yourself on having such awesome pals with such great taste and sometimes you walk past it in the street and literally have to stop yourself from doubling back and ducking in for lunch because err, it’s 8am and ‘I’m sorry I’m late for work but I stopped and ate an entire 20” pizza on the way over’ is probably not the best thing to say to your boss on Monday morning. Fine on a Thursday FYI.

Joe Public falls squarely into the latter camp. I’m not a Clapham native so finding myself there for work over the past fortnight has given me plenty of time to peruse the neighbourhood for sweet spots to add to my ever expanding list of London must-eats.

Word to all future restaurant owners of the capital here: stepping out of the tube to find I have to exert only as much energy as it takes to swivel to the left before I can be sat at a picnic bench ordering a slice & a beer is a guaranteed way to make me like you. Yeah, I’m that shallow and you know deep down, you are too.

Making admirable work of a former public convenience with wooden stools, white subway tiles, cutlery in recycled tinned tomato cans and old skool diner napkin dispensers make this is as close to the sort of place you could imagine sharing a pizza stateside with Ross, Joey & Chandler (‘And then I kissed her’, ‘Tongue?’, ‘Yeah’, ‘Cool’) as I think you’ll get in London.

Serving California style pizzas – lots of toppings on sourdough bases – that can be bought by the slice or as a BFG snack sized 20” version, the menu boasts gluten free options for most bases and an array of ingredients to sit atop them from sausage & bacon to purple potato & artichoke, although given its West Coast inspiration, I was surprised not to see avocado on anything.

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I’m a total groupie even for anything vaguely Middle Eastern when it comes to eating out so a Braised Lamb, Cumin Aubergine, Goats Cheese & Sweet Potato Base convinced me to Deliveroo my first taste of Joe’s rather than sit in as this was a flavour variant not available in house.

The base was full of sweet potato flavour which I loved and it was hot & crispy without being overly stodgy so full points for a super speedy delivery. Aubergine chunks were plentiful and nicely spiced but sadly the generous hand that dealt out those bad boys didn’t appear to want to do the same for the lamb which was a tad sparse.

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Did it rock my pizza world? Not really and hand on heart, I’m not wholly convinced that this won’t end up being a place that runs on ‘novelty factor’ rather than the best pizzas this side of Naples however, if you find yourself stumbling out of a nearby pub on Saturday night, hungry for something to soak up those BOGOF Aperol Spritzes that taste so good in the sunshine, then I’m pretty sure the neon sign and cheap & cheerful value of Joe’s will be most welcome.