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.