Winning in life – and at dinner – in the Wigmore…

The thing about the Wigmore is that it’s good. It’s really good. The fact that it’s barely five minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus – something which would normally put me off being anywhere near it – works in its favour here. You won’t quite be able to believe just how close you are to the part of London that makes normal people want to curl up in a corner and cry because it’s so beautiful and welcoming and soothing and buzzing and stylish inside. Those are adjectives never usually applied to a sentence containing the words ‘oxford’ and ‘circus’.

Decked out in shades of pistachio and olive, lit by glowing copper stemmed bulbs and offering polished wood, leather stools & the comfiest of armchairs, it looks for all the world like a cross between a movie-set court-room and the personal library of your Pinterest dreams. As someone with a bit of thing for bar-side dining, my tip would be to get there for an early-bird dinner and bag two seats on the back of the 360-degree bar. You’re on the quieter side of the space but perfectly placed within chatting distance of the very friendly bartenders. You’re also ideally seated for people watching, my favourite kind of acceptable nosiness.

With a menu from the pen and the pan of Michel Roux Jnr, the fact that it’s simple, elegant and exciting will come as no surprise. Certain dishes have, naturally, already become staples on London’s late 2017 Instagram dining scene – hello baby crumpets and giant toastie – whilst others are less showy but stonkingly delicious.

You can’t have a decent bar menu without chips. Here they arrive chunky as a Christmas lovers’ thighs come January 2nd when all that remains of the Quality Street are tooth shatteringly unlikeable toffee pennies. These chips are hot, crispy, fluffy and covered in an intensely sharp & moreish Bloody Mary Salt.IMG_4787Those afore mentioned crumpets are perfect two-bite canape inspiration and come topped with sweet crab meat, brittle slivers of seaweed and a smattering of paprika. Rich and fresh, this is the second time in as many months that I’ve seen these baby crumpets out and about and, as pugs & party food are proof that the world loves anything miniature, I’m just gonna place my bets and call them out now as something we’ll be seeing everywhere by the end of 2018.IMG_4793 Read More

The Mute Swan finally gets it’s voice…

Before you loyal and altogether lovely readers start to wonder if you’ve lost the plot, relax. You haven’t.

Or maybe you have, I don’t know, it’s been a long week and frankly, you do look ready for the weekend.

Anyway, yes I did write about the Mute Swan not too long ago and no I haven’t forgotten that. I just wanted to let you all know – namely because I know it’s been keeping you up at night – that on a return visit, the one thing that was missing from the first experience was there in bucketloads, namely fast, efficient and super friendly service. Now don’t misunderstand me here, on our first visit the service wasn’t unfriendly per se, it was just rather nervous and unsure, both of which I could empathise with but neither of which came off well.

Well this time, they simply knocked it out the park. As I raved so much about it last time, I’m not going to say it all again because repetition = snoozeville, however I will say this…

…setting and atmosphere? Splendid as before with an inviting and ‘thank-god-it’s-Friday-and-the-weekend’s-here’ buzz in the air.

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…food? Awesome and if possible, even better than last time with a gorgeously juicy bacon and cheese topped steak burger…

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ham, egg and chips built to satisfy the retro diner within us all or a Moby Dick sized portion of fish and chips to indulge in…

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…followed by dark chocolate, hazelnut praline tart with salted caramel ice cream or creme brulee and homemade shortbread…

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…versus homemade ice-cream or sticky toffee pudding to seal the deal with…

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There’s something so lovely about coming back to a place that was 75% of the way there last time but now has refined and improved themselves so much that going forward their only problem will be keeping the bar as high as they’ve undeniably set it now. If you fancy having your socks knocked off at a reasonable price in a great location – although that does sound scarily like something you’d see advertised in a Soho phone box – you really can’t beat this place, the bird that finally learned to sing.

Fast food done good at Byron, Westfield…

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After working 8 years in retail where you don’t get Bank Holidays off and where you wistfully watch customers come in and pick up nice food and drink to go out and enjoy together, I’m still at the stage of getting very over excited when one comes along and I can do the same thing! Now to be honest, a Bank Holiday doesn’t always equal sunshine – we are in the UK after all – but a day off work is still a delightful treat and this one, well this one just happened to turn into an awesome, ideal-for-a-12-year-old kind of day… Read More