Brasserie Zedel

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We love the cocktail bar which is part of the restaurant and fabulous cabaret and have been there often (to often to admit), so we thought it only appropriate to visit the 1920’s inspired restaurant Brassiere Zedel which is very Parisian chic.

The restaurant is huge and grand with gold edgings on the overriding white restaurant. Service is spot on. Very professionally friendly and less brisk than some ‘try hard’ Parisian brassieres. We ordered the grilled hanger steak with shallot sauce and the pan fried chopped steak with a pepper sauce.

We were served warmed bread and lots of water (I was on a detox at the time – very dull) and served the steak in good time. Our steaks were slightly over cooked but it was busy – no excuse but still. We ordered steamed spinach which lacked seasoning but was well cooked and the shallot and pepper sauce were delicious.

We loved the décor, the service and food menu however the dishes themselves lacked some flavour. We would definitely recommend as a get away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus.

Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls would certainly visit again but would not compare to cocktail bar which gives higher expectations. As a result we give this place:

           Food                                 Service                      Atmosphere
3 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Clock Jack‏ Rotisserie

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clockjack

Regular readers will know that we love a good rotisserie restaurant. This new restaurant is based in Piccadilly and surprisingly is only frequented by locals – maybe as it is unassuming frontage. The restaurant is small and very low key with striking red and cream walls with cartoon scribbles of chickens.

We were seated on a wooden bench type table and ordered glasses of sparkling. The waiter was not confident and the orders were taken a little rushed – which led to a couple of confusions with our dishes.

We ordered baked bread and the chicken and chorizo skewers. These came out quickly and were piping hot. The chicken – although slightly over cooked – was marinated in the chorizo juice therefore was fairly tender. The chorizo was spicy with a nice heat to it.

For main course, we ordered two quarter chickens and the roasted vegetables. The chicken was juicy, well cooked and generous however half of the Mediterranean vegetables were cold and some warm. We complained about this but were told that it was normal. So why were some of the vegetables luke warm?

The chicken was served with a cup of the jus which lightens the heavy protein packed dish. As stated the service is nervous yet efficient, food is tasty and well priced and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed. As a result; Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

             Food                             Service                     Atmosphere
3 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

 Clockjack-Oven-Chicken

Le Coq

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Grown-up Chicken Rotisserie is here in London officially and it is far from the idea of Nando’s. Le Coq is beautiful little place is based in Angel Islington and gives you the option of two starters, one main and two deserts. Unsurprisingly the main course is otisserie chicken but the starters, sides and desserts change bi-weekly and are all seasonal. Fabulous!

The décor is very plain with white tiles on the walls and crisp wooden furniture, which reflects the simple menu. The kitchen to the side shows off the rotisserie fire. The service has the feel of a start up  – friendly, simple and passionate about their dishes.

For starter we chose the Swiss raclette with figs and gurkens as well as the duck hearts – you have to be adventurous right? Well okay I admit the hearts looked like little human hearts, which was slightly off putting and tasted of liver – not my favourite – but were  lovingly paired with balsamic  vinegar and roasted onions. The raclette was salty, savoury and oaky – absolutely delicious. The dishes are ideal for sharing being simple and hearty.

The chicken came out with de-boned breast (win!) legs and thighs. Again this was plated to share and allowed those to choose the part of the chicken they most prefer (I am a breast girl if you want to know). This was served with a light green salad and a really tangy hollandaise sauce. Perfection.

For dessert they usually offer ice cream/sorbet or a tart- again changes bi-weekly. I ordered the lemon sorbet and my fellow dinner ordered the lemon tart. The tart was rich and creamy and the sorbet was light.

We love this place, the staff are down to earth and pleasant, the food is simple but top notch and the atmosphere is casual and trendy. Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

lecoq1

The Oyster Shed‏

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The Oyster Shed is part of the Gernoimo restaurant pub chain that has recently set up residence in London. These pubs focus on good quality, English food at a good price. The Oyster Shed is located near Cannon Street on the Thames – directly opposite the Mayor of London’s offices. They serve a wide selection of hot and cold dishes and have a good selection of beer and wine.

This place gets very busy at lunch and after work especially in the summer as the terrace area is perfect for sun lovers. The restaurant is spacious with a second floor balcony with additional seating at the top. This place lacks any real personality but is modern, clean and has a fantastic location.  We booked a table in the main restaurant and checked out the extensive list. We ordered oysters to start with (rude not to in a place named after these delicious treats) which came out on a bed of ice. The dressing was tart with a little spice working well with the creamy meat.

For main course we ordered the grilled halloumi sandwich, the flat iron steak and the salmon filled with red pepper and samphire. Once we had finally got the attention of the waitresses – who was rushing around due to the busy service – the food came out quickly. The halloumi sandwich came out first and we were all shocked at the size of it –  it was delicious. The flat iron was cooked medium – juicy and well seasoned. The chips that came with it mopped up any of the runaway juices. My salmon was light pink in the middle; just cooked, and worked well with the sweet red peppers and salty samphire. We were satisfied with our dishes but it did take a long time to get the attention of the waitress again. Unfortunately they do not seem to have waiters for dedicated sections so service is a little messy – although polite.

We would certainly recommend this place for a casual lunch or dinner on a warm summer day. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

              Food                              Service                   Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – Cat Cafe Review

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Our roaming cosplay loving Becca Moriarty reviews Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium here:

cat cafe

On Sunday I visited hipster cat heaven at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium located in the depths of Shoreditch on Bethnal Green Road. The café is easily walkable from Liverpool Street, Shoreditch or Bethnal Green; easy to find it has an open glass pane window so passers by can actually see the cats wandering around from outside! Similar to that of a pet shop, when you can see new kittens through the window and everyone peers in with excitement!

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is the UK’s first cat café, based on those first made popular in Japan ten years ago (there is also one in Paris – café les chats) I was very excited to check it out. I booked in March, not finding a suitable available date until November – those cats are in demand *I thought this day would never come!* Having discussed this with many friends some baffled by the notion, others sharing my excitement, I can see both sides but either way it is definitely something to experience!

As we arrived staff explained the rules to everyone in the same session;
◾Do not pick up the cats (stroking/petting is fine)
◾Do not disturb the cats while they are sleeping
◾Do not feed them your food and drink
◾No flash photography
◾Sessions are 1 hour 30 mins

All of which are pretty basic and reasonable, I don’t recommend giving any cat a latte…

Before entering you are also required to wash your hands, there are additional hand sanitizers laid out on all the tables for all the germophobes, ensuring that you can still play with the cats then clean your own paws before eating! For reassurance, the cats are not allowed in the kitchen so you needn’t worry about finding any cat hairs in your food!

Layout wise, the café is two levels; the first floor has a garden theme; pale blue with lots of stairs built on the wall for the cats to climb, hammocks and white garden chair style seating for customers. The lower level has a vintage vibe, with sofas and arm chairs provided for visitors with added decor such as an antique bookshelf. Unlike everyone else, my aunt and I spent most of our session upstairs which worked in our favour as a lot of the cats got bored downstairs and wondered on up to see us, which meant we had them all to ourselves!

Food is simple and classic. I selected ‘The Kitten’ a platter served on a wooded board compiling of hummus, flat bread, balsamic vinegar and a selection of vegetables (£6). While my aunt chose a ham and cheese bagel, accompanied by side salad and crisps (£5). Nicely presented, we were both satisfied with our meals, most importantly they were quick and easy which meant more time to play with the cats and explore the venue! It really is not the place you would want a long three course meal as you would spend all time eating and no time with the cats! Although I didn’t have one, the emporium has a selection of cakes and scones which looked devine – especially the red velvet! Please note on top of your food bill £5 per person will be added as an entry fee, this is described to cover the cost of the cats (food, insurance etc).

Regarding the treatment of the cats, the staff clearly adore them and are more than happy to tell you what the cats like and stories of their adventures! For example, we found out that most of the cats living in the Emporium are related, there favourite spots to be stroked and their favourite toys – despite having a whole collection of brand new toys, their favourites were a bit of blue ribbon and being dragged around on bubble wrap!

Each cat is soft and well groomed, staff have even left brushes on the side so that you groom them yourselves! Anyone worried about their wellbeing, needn’t be – there probably the most looked after cats in Shoreditch! I don’t think I have ever felt such a soft fur of coat on a bunch of cats!

What does Lady Dinah’s need? MORE CATS. Speaking with staff it seems they plan to get some kittens in! I am sure these will be a hit – especially if they like to play! Although the cats look more than content, I am sure they get bored of all the attention and photographs (what a hard life!) I think some new lively mischievous kittens will liven things up!

I do wonder if the cat café is the start of more Japanese influences- perhaps a bunny café will be hopping up in London sometime soon….

For more info about the cat café visit their website.

Have you been to the cat cafe or plan to? What do you think?

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

2 Stars4 Stars3 Stars

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Maison Bertaux

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Maison Bertaux is London’s oldest patisserie based in Soho on Greek Street. It is a small unassuming cafe which is easy to walk by – but this would be a mistake. This traditional French patisserie makes a huge range of cakes and pastries throughout the day which are lovingly displayed in the counter window.

We came here after a lunch in a nearby restaurant as we wanted a truly satisfying dessert. It was a warm day so we managed to find a space on one of the tables outside of the cafe – these get busy on warm days – and we looked through the window deciding on our chosen desert. Inside there is a small counter and seating area and seats upstairs. This place is famous between the French ex-pats and now the British who adore continental deserts.

We ordered teas and coffee along with a vanilla creme, raspberry tart and the berry cheese cake. The vanilla creme was filled with fresh thick cream with a thick layer of sugared icing on top. The raspberry tarts were filled with cream and juicy plump raspberries on top. My cheesecake was thick and airy rather than the heavy New York cheesecake and toped with jellied fresh berries.

Atmosphere is relaxed and depending on the weather you really do feel like you are in the heart of France. It’s is not pretentious but relied on the quality of their cakes. Delicious. Sex Drugs and Bacons Rolls gives this place:

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

 

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The Hinds Head – Bray

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This is Heston’s pub which is situated next to the famous Fat Duck, although much healthier for your wallet. The pub is old fashioned with wooden beams and low ceiling, dating around 18th century I would imagine if not later. As we arrived early we were seated at the bar and ordered a cocktail which was included in the lunch offer we had pre-booked. The cocktail was nice – they do have a good selection of cocktails however they are pricey. The bar snacks, especially the huge scotch eggs looked divine and I would have tried one if we had not already pre-booked a three course meal ahead of us.

We were left waiting quite a while and were over looked as the front of house supervisor kept changing so the order of diners was lost after ten minutes. I was just about to get up and complain but the waiter came to seat us – I think he sensed this.

We were seated on the first floor of the restaurant which was a lovely area with high roofed ceiling as it was built around the roof. The trouble was it lacked the warmth and buzz of downstairs which was warm with the fire, wooden furniture and walls. Upstairs was plastered so although it looked fresh and new against the original beams, it was echoy and with no background music we were stuck listening to peoples conversations.

A young nervous waiter came to serve us and we could hardly hear him as he was worrying about what his next move would be – he must have been in training. We were serveda selection of bread and ordered a glass of white each.

There were three choices on each course. I went for the foie gras terrine which was served with pickled vegetables, this was rich and creamy. The texture was smooth around the outside but the vegetables gave a lovely crunch inside which worked really well. My fellow diner had the beetroot and goats cheese salad which looked incredibly colourful and perfect for spring. The beetroot was shaved thinly and curved over the goat’s cheese mousse. There was an incredible attention.

Nervously the waiter asked if we had finished (after looking over his shoulder a number of times to double and triple check). For main course we ordered the ‘land and sea’ fish pie and the shepherd pie. This was served with either chips or vegetables and we both asked for vegetables – carrots for me and broccoli for my friend. It was nice to get a choice of vegetables with this set menu.

Now my fish pie was brilliant in its presentation. It was serve on an iron bowl on a wooden plate and had really had pulled off the land and sea theme. There was a grainy, salty sea texture onside, with dried salty seaweed looking leaves and then a foam on the other side making it truly look like a seascape. Inside the pie was salmon, prawns and cod, which were literally just cooked to infuse the flavour. I am salivating thinking about it. The shepherd’s pie was rich, juicy and packed full of flavour. It was the best shepherd’s pie I have ever eaten.

Even though we were full from the two courses we both opted for desserts which were included in the set meal. Lemon pudding, we thought this was going to be heavy and stodgy but instead it was similar to a lemon crème brulee. The crème was rich and zingy and the burnt caramel was hard and made a beautiful sound to crack. We loved this and it was served with a scotch biscuit.

We were totally stuffed by the end of the evening, the menu options were well thought out and very memorable. The service however was clumsy. That’s not to say it was unprofessional but that it just lacking a bit of finesse. It was a shame as the food was so great but it didn’t dull the memory this. Note to self, ask to be seated the ground floor next visit which has much more buzz and feels much more comforting.

Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

5 Stars2 Stars3 Stars

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The Table Cafe

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Table Restaurant

This small, modern restaurant is based in Southwark -10 minutes walk from Waterloo does – great modern English classics with a twist. It prides itself on good quality ingredients. We have been to The Table before for an art event and wine tasting evening – it’s worth signing up to their newsletter to stay abreast of their latest events.

This place is basically cube shape with a long narrow kitchen at one end, and glass windows all around. This gives the place a modern, light feel which suits the place.

We were seated on one of the large bench tables that are in the centre of the room – there are a few separate tables in the corners but these are few and far between. We came on a sunny day and there is seating outside at the back of the restaurant which was nice to see.

The waiter who sat us down looked stressed and slightly confused throughout; I was desperately thirsty and it took me a long time to get his attention despite it only being half busy. Once we got the water we ordered our brunch. I ordered the sweet corn fritters with the tomato salsa and poached egg, whilst my friend ordered the cheese burger. They had sold out of the smoothie that we wanted so we both decided on pots of tea.

Once we had ordered the food came out swiftly – it seemed to me that the kitchen staff were more efficient than the waiters – and there was clear attention to the presentation. My sweet corn fritters were delicious; crispy served with the limey salsa and runny egg. This combination just worked with the sourness of the salsa, the creaminess of the egg and sweetness of the corn. The textures were also a treat for the mouth. The burger was huge; held together with a wooden stick, it towered over the plate. The burger was cooked to our liking – medium rare – and the cheese bubbled over the filing. We have to say the menu really did stand out to us, as although it would entice the traditionalist, the team have gone out of their way to ensure that each dish is memorable and works in, taste, texture and presentation.

As mentioned the service is a little slow and lacks confidence – this may have been a new menu/new staff thing- but the food really stood out. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

4 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

TheTable042web

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Cafe Nécco

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cafe necco

Japanese café situated in trendy Exmouth Market. Café Necco is a cute little place hidden away from the hustle and bustle of East London. The café is probably not kitted out to be serving the range of food that it offers which is apparent when dishes come out. We ordered sushi for starter which was tasty but the rice a little over done and dry. For main course we ordered katsu curry which are poured out of a somewhat dubious looking hot pot. Again the rice is stodgy and the curry sauce is rich but lacks any real flavour.

The service is shy, slow and inefficient. The Japanese staff look very young and it shows in their inexperience. They also talk so quietly I ended up shouting in a hopeless attempt to increase their volume.

Don’t get me started on the bathroom, which is a small disabled toilet decorated with lots of lace curtains – rather like a granny’s bedroom. Very odd. The décor leaves nothing to the imagination – all very plain and simple.

We have to say they serve a great selection of cakes but we would recommend sticking to the sweet offering. Exmouth market is not short of great restaurants so you won’t go hungry. Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

2 Stars2 Stars Star

necco

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Cigalon

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cigalon

We went to a city restaurant called Cigalon due to location – but I have to admit I had not heard of this place before. There is a small subtle door in busy Chancery Lane which led into the light provincial style dining room. Seats are velvet green which stand out against the white background and ivy around the walls – very chic.

We were swiftly seated in one of the round sofa booth which is rather hard to get into as they cocoon around the table (especially if you are wearing a dress) – more stylish than useful I guess. We were served with drinks while we looked at the provincial menu which had fashionable well sourced dishes – perfect for light summery lunches.

We ordered the roast pumpkin velouté, ceps & aged ricotta and the provençal & corsican charcuterie platter for starter. The veloute was warm and silky. The ceps gave a deeper taste to the soup with the rich ricotta giving a luxurious edge. The meat platter was served with pickles and bread. Delicious.

For main course we ordered the roasted cod, figs, salsify & port sauce and the artichokes & marjoram ravioli, san marzano & pecorino. The dishes come out quite small but very beautiful – like a picture – with the ingredients well thought out. My cod flaked apart when touched with a fork and worked with the salsify, yet the figs and port sauce were a little too over powering for me. The ravioli were huge and we were served with three or four. The articoke marjoram was heavenly scented and tasted divine but we would have liked to see more on the plate – I realise it was lunch time but it was so delicious it felt a little disappointing.

Service was smart and professional – with small chat and a smile. We were regularly topped up with water (no fun drinkie poos) and asked only occasionally how the food was for politeness sake. We didn’t want a dessert but then we had a long wait before we could catch someone’s eye for the bill. A real pet hate for me is when waiters know you are finished so forget about you, which is very awkward when waiting for the bill.

The food quality is high but a little more generosity would not go a miss, the atmosphere was smart and relaxed and finally the service was smart and professional – if not little vacant.

            Food                       Atmosphere                     Service

4 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

ravaoli

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