Joseph Pearce’s is a great find for Brunch, it is a quirky and relaxing venue just a short walk from Princes Street, far enough away to avoid the usual tourist traps. The menu has a strong Swedish influence that is just right for the Scottish weather.
Locals tell me that this is a lively bar in the evenings, especially in the Summer.
This gastropub has only been open a few months. It is certainly going to be my place of choice next time I am trying to escape the crowds on Oxford Street. It’s refreshing to visit somewhere modern that does not feel like part of some huge souless “All Bar One” style chain.
The Adam & Eve is part of a chain though (Geronimo Inns), however it somehow managed to feel like a one off.
Admittedly it was a quiet Sunday evening when I visited, so I can not judge how good it will be at busier times, but the staff were friendly and efficient. They had a good selection of wine, beer and spirits. The Food menu was inviting. I had a very tasty Pumpkin and Onion Tart with some fresh salad leaves. The burger also looked really good.
The Hide Bar is one of my favourite bars. They take drink seriously here, i.e., they do not do any old wines, beers or spirits. They focus on the “good stuff” and design a lot of their own cocktails. They also do regular wine, beer and spirit tastings in the back room.
We popped in for a quick drink at Halloween:-.
They have a pretty basic food menu, and serve some food during the tasting events (normally selected to match the beverages, e.g., Oysters and Champagne, Beer and Sausages, Armagnac and Cheese). The food can be a bit hit and miss – occasionally very good, but more often fairly ordinary.
Marks out of 10
Service 7 (Bar service and waiter/waitress service)
Age & Sons is actually more than just a restaurant. It is spread over 3 floors, the top floor is the main restaurant, the ground floor is a more casual dining area (laid out a bit like a french kitchen) and the basement houses a cosy rather stylish cocktail bar. It is not the easiest place to find. We arrived on an off season Saturday night to a fully booked restaurant whose clientele consisted of well heeled locals, out of towners, people from the yacht club and foodies like us. I particularly like this places eccentricities – the eclectic range of “Granny” style side plates, the squeaky cheese trolley. It is definitely not one of these manufactured venues with catalogue decor, it has it’s own style.
I started with sweetbreads and damsons. While full of damson flavour it did religate the sweetbread to merely a texture rather than a taste. For main course I went for Kentish lamb and my companion went for the pork (as far removed from the pork I had in Harveys earlier that day, as it is possible to get). The portion sizes were huge so this was more comfort/hearty food than any pretension of fine dining.
What is also refreshing is that in such a busy place the service was professional and friendly. Taking the time for example to enquire how we enjoyed some of the more unusual cheeses in our cheese course. On that front we particularly enjoyed the whiskey flavoured variety from Snowdonia.
On leaving we noticed just how buzzing the downstairs was. This really made for a great ambience and one that most restaurants would kill for.
Marks out of 10 – October 2009
UPDATE : July 2010, Age & Sons now have a much larger outdoor space for drinks and food, it’s a good spot to relax in the sunshine. It even does tea and cakes (not a big selection – they only had muffins on our visit, but they were actually rather good, especially the marmalade and ginger one). They were also selling jugs of Pimms and Ginger Beer, which makes for a nice change from the normal Pimms and Lemonade option.
UPDATE : August 2011
We had a late lunch out in the lovely courtyard. Age & Sons has really upped its game. My Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli was particularly good.
In celebration of chocolate week, Almeida has joined forces with chocolatier Paul A Young to create a unique three course “chocolate” menu. Each dish being combined with a complementary chocolate. So basically instead of wine matching, it’s chocolate matching!.
The whole concept of a chocolate menu seemed a bit of a gimmick, so I was pleasantly surprised just how serious this food was.
The meal began well with a very nice goats cheese appetizer/canapé.
Then I had a stunning foie gras dish (described as pan fried foie gras, chocolate and orange – 64% Dominican Republic chocolate with a balance of sweetness and a delicate nutty, smoky taste.) I thought this dish was very subtle with great flavour combinations.
For my next course I went with the pork (braised suckling pig, creamed savoy – with Paul A Young’s Ras el hanout spiced chocolate), again it was a dish that was beautifully complimented by the almost savory chocolate sauce. We even asked the waiter for the recipe and to his credit he went out of his way to get it for us.
One of my chocoholic companions decided to forgo the main course and have two desserts instead. No problem, they just provided him with a “jumbo” sized dessert as the main course. For the rest of us, there was a choice between two desserts. A chocolate souffle that was not so well received and a stunning dessert called Chocolate 3 ways, which included some lovely fudge.
On the wine front to match the chocolate theme, we went for a rather nice Portuguese red.
The only low mark here related to the wine service where the waitress kept overfilling glasses, which meant that the wine was not evenly distributed and forced us to get a second bottle to make up the short fall. (We would have gone for a second bottle anyway, but would have preferred to do it in our own time).
We then finished the meal with coffee and petits fours.
The layout is very well designed with a distinct bar area and a dinning area that consists almost entirely of round tables. I love round tables in a restaurant, they work so well for both groups of two (both dinners can face into the room) and groups of 6 (much more sociable as you can have cross table conversations with everyone). The acoustics were also very good, we could not hear anything from the neighbouring tables.
The bar is worth a visit on it’s own, we mainly indulged in yummy Chocolate Martinis, but there are some other cocktails on the menu that are worth trying. One of the champagne cocktails, “The Morgan” (Morgan’s Spiced rum, gomme syrup, cranberry juice and champagne) was very nice too.
The restaurant has 2 AA Rosettes, which it certainly merits. It is also off course an ideal pre-theatre venue for the Almeida Theatre. I certainly plan to return, even without Chocolate week.
Apparently “the luxury consumer’s desire to climb skyward is most strongly felt in dense, heavily populated urban metropolises”. I can not disagree with that, so when you get the right weather, it’s good to find a venue with a view. Here are a couple of our favourite Roof Top Bars in the urban metropolis that is Barcelona.
The Majestic – Gourmet Bar
The Majestics pool bar has stunning views, it is a beautiful location, however it does have a few negatives :-
Drinks are expensive and served in plastic glasses!
The drink selection is limited
The staff seem more concerned with keeping the place tidy than serving customers.
No idea on the food front as nothing offered on the menu that we could see, just rather plain crisps delivered with our drinks.
Here is a short video:-
The Claris Hotel – La Terraza del Claris
Views from the Claris Hotel are not as good as the Majestic, but the bar service and food choices are a lot better. It’s a more laid back venue. The prices here are also very expensive so prepare to nurse that drink and make the most of the view.
This is pretty much our first stop after getting off the plane in Barcelona. Moovida is the bar of the Hotel Omm, so its menu covers bar food, but that description just does not do it justice, as the quality is unmistakable. We started with a stunning veal sandwich (actually more of a burger than a sandwich), then added in a cheese course to extend the meal and finished off with a delicious apple tart with ginger ice cream.
UPDATE: May 2010 – Revisited Moovida, we had exactly the same meal. There was no dip in the quality. The menu is more extensive, but when you find something you enjoy it’s hard not to do repeats.
5th View Bar & Food is a standout for a cafe/restaurant.
Surprisingly it is also located in a book store. It does really good inexpensive cocktails. We spent a couple of hours there relaxing over cocktails, sharing a meze plate and finishing with coffee and cakes (the carrot cake has to be one of the best I have had – sweet, light and moist).
The menu choice is limited, but what they do provide is simple, good quality, nicely presented food.
There are two dinning areas, one of which has a lovely view over the roof tops.
The City Inn’s restaurant is called City Cafe, it has an attractive covered outside seating area, great for the summer, even when the evenings get cooler as there are plenty of heaters.
A large screen TV is usually wheeled out for Wimbledon and other major events. The food is above average for a Hotel Chain Restaurant and reasonably priced. It has 2 AA Rosettes, which sounds about right. It was also recently featured on Celebrity Master Chef.
There are two bars, one next to the City Cafe and the main one on the first floor, the Millbank Lounge. The Millbank Lounge has waitress service and focuses on whiskeys and pretty good cocktails, food there can be a bit hit and miss.
I love the fact you can actually use the excellent Tate to Tate boat service as a means of getting to/from this hotel.
Marks out of 10 – for City Cafe
Food – 5.8
Marks out of 10 – for Millbank Lounge
UPDATE : November 2010 – The City Inn has been rebranded and is now the Mint Hotel.
UPDATE : January 2012 – This hotel has now been rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel,
UPDATE : May 2013 – Not sure if Hilton are paying much attention to the restaurant now, when I have passed by it at lunch times during the week and weekends it has been completely empty.
One of the highlights on the culinary front, in an area sadly lacking in good places to eat, is Miles Cafe Culture. It is in a prime location overlooking the harbour. It is open all day/every day. It has a very good breakfast menu, much better that the usual greasy all day breakfasts a lot of the places in Ramsgate do. The handmade sausages being a highlight.
The kitchen is pretty much geared up to provide an opportunity for all day food grazing, should you find it hard to leave! On our last visit we were especially impressed by the “fresh” Calamari* rings that were made to order.
It’s also a good venue for a relaxed Sunday Lunch too. I would suggest booking for that, as there is limited space in the Restaurant section and this is popular among the more well healed locals and London visitors.
The wines are also of a good standard, from about £40 for the Amerone to about £13 for the Riddle Riesling-Gewürztraminer.
Marks out of 10
UPDATE – December 2013 : We paid another Visit to this vibrant bar, but were very disappointed when we ordered the Calamari*, it had been so lovely on my last visit, I just assumed it would be again. No such luck – something had definitely changed. It was like eating elastic bands. I love Calamari when it is done well and hate it when it is like this. So much as I like Miles Cafe, I think I will restrict myself to just ordering drinks in future.
If you fancy a trip to the Seaside or have recently moved to this beautiful part of the UK, here is some guidance to help you find some of the better places to eat, drink and shop in East Kent/Isle of Thanet. The information provided is based on local knowledge and should help you avoid tourist traps.
The Gun is a rather special pub in the Docklands. I have had drinks there on more than one occasion. It’s quite hard to find, but well worth the trip. It has great river views and is certainly a good vantage point for viewing the Millennium Dome. However what is really special about this place is the River Room. This private dining room is accessed from behind the bar, you go up a narrow set of stairs and then you are presented with this amazing hidden room.
The room is very elegant, and has a telescope you can use to take in the stunning view. The food is not spectacular but it is good enough to make this venue a real treat.