Pastaio; a jewel in London’s pasta-obsessed restaurant crown…

Stevie Parle’s Clerkenwell based Palatino was responsible for one of my finest 2017 date night dinners. The venue perfectly straddled the cosy-stylish divide, the service was top notch and the food was flat-out fantastic. Carbs are taken as seriously as Trump in my house and their Gnocchi alla Romana is the stuff of dreams though it is, of course, quelle horreur for Atkins devotees.

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Opening a new, very centrally located place is something that’s always going to be accompanied by a whole new set of sky-high expectations as well as a new crowd of diners, for whilst EC1 is a barely-worth-putting-outdoor-shoes-on length stroll from my North London home, it’s considered something of a trek by anyone living elsewhere on the capital’s compass. This just-off Carnaby Street location is moments from theatres, cinemas & flagship stores so understand that you may well spot an M&M’s World bag or a Hamley’s survivor inside – you’ll recognise them by the look of shell-shock on their faces.

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Like a similarly named, no-reservations, South London counterpart, Pastaio specialises in fresh pasta and, apparently, drawing the crowds. During its recent soft launch, my attempt to feast on the cheap was rebuffed by a 2 hour wait, something my at-the-time growling stomach made quite clear was not going to happen. Returning a week later for a Thursday night, girl date supper we were seated immediately and the restaurant was quiet enough in the no man’s land time period that falls between finishing work & beginning to dine for us to fall a little bit in love with the place.  Long communal tables in beautiful flecked stone, an open plan kitchen constantly blurred behind puffy clouds of steam and a warm, mellow glow from the sort of lighting that makes everyone look that little bit more attractive. Read More

Pop your cork with absolute pleasure at Trufflesecco…

Prosecco. Truffles. Two things that have worked really rather well for our neighbours in the valleys of France & the forests of Italy over the past several hundred years and which I’m delighted to report are working equally well for the good folk of Camden town and beyond.

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Billing itself as a place in which ‘to celebrate everyday life in style with a glass of bubbles and a bite of truffles’ and inspired by a trip to the heart-stoppingly beautiful Florence, this newly opened bar on Camden High Street is the perfect place to go with colleagues on a Friday night, girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon or the one you love on a Sunday lunchtime.

Smaller inside than a spot of pressing your nose up against the windows outside might suggest, the interior is darkly lit with a burnished rose gold glow casting everything into bewitchingly intimate shadow; bulbs and vines twist down from the ceiling and row upon row of gleaming glass flutes hang at the ready, impatiently waiting to be filled with chilled golden bubbles.

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A row of stools at the bar make the perfect perch on which to nibble at a sharing platter while chairs at old wooden tables are practically begging for a first date to be sat round them. FYI, you would definitely enter the dating hall of fame if you brought someone here in the first round or two…

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Staff are kind, convivial and passionate about their wares with a menu that beautifully marries cheeses and meats together in a style that makes you long to run away to the continent and spend your time dining in a very Audrey Hepburn-Sophia Loren sort of way. Mortadella with pistachio and burrato with ribbon thin fragments of fresh truffle are especially dreamy and the platters are generous enough for two to split the cost but maybe not the entire contents of; the tallegio cheese dear readers, is worth fighting for every last crumb of.

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As the venue for a leaving do, it was a gorgeous send-off for a gorgeous lady. As the place for summer feasting, it will be every woman for herself to secure a seat at the bar and a heavenly sounding Bellini Popsicle. The sound of corks popping is an unbeatable way of lifting your mood…long may they continue at Trufflesecco.

Enjoying a birthday buzz at the Beehive, Marylebone…

Birthday meal number 3 rolls round as, quite frankly, so do I. Still, this is a legitimate reason to be eating and drinking on a par with Henry VIII minus the legs of mutton, tankards of beer and err, beheading of wives, so I’m all on board to take full advantage of it.

The Beehive Pub in Marylebone has been on my ‘to visit’ list for a while. It regularly pops up on Top Table which means it’s bargainous, the menu always looks good and the fact that it’s a mere 10 minute stroll from the office confirmed it as the location of choice for a dinner with the lovely C. Last year’s birthday dinner involved a lot of French food, a considerable amount of free wine and a ridiculous amount of giggling on the tube home, exactly the way it should be on a Friday night. Except it was a Monday and the following day was, unsurprisingly, quite horrendous. Therefore, definitely a year older and questionably a year wiser, we took it down a notch, and a set menu and bottle of bubbly was our reward for making it to Thursday which is nearly Friday which is practically the weekend so hurrah! Happy weekend feasting! Read More