The Big Easy


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The Big Easy classes itself as a BBQ and lobster shack located in the Kings Road and Covent Garden. Having been to the Kings Road location, way back when, we decided to try the much newer Covent Garden restaurant.  They do great deals that change depending on the day of the week which is great for students and end of the month places to eat.

As you walk in, the noise level rises by a few decibels. There is a sense of organised chaos which suits the place; friendly, buzzing and full of life. This is not the place where you would go for a quiet catch up.  We were early and seated at the bar which is full of the most amazing liquor. We sat on one of the 1920’s brass bar chairs and ordered a couple of nigroni’s. The bar was one of the highlights for me.

We were seated by some very enthusiastic waiters, so enthusiastic that I felt a little tired after they had run through the drinks, special offers and al a carte options. Phew. The menu is extensive showing off a lot of great BBQ shellfish and steaks. We hoped it could live up to the menu!

We ordered a sharing platter which included half lobster, giant shrimps, crab claws and dipping sauces. This was served in a huge iced bowl that was elevated on metal stands. It did look impressive and tasted great – although a little messy. For main course we ordered the sirloin steak and the lobster roll. Although the place is ram packed there was not an excessive wait and the service was so friendly we couldn’t help but smile in admiration of their energy. My steak was over cooked and had a lot of fat on it which meant that I left a lot of the meal. It was served with creamed spinach and fries. The lobster roll looked good, the meat was well cooked and was apparently very tasty.

We ordered the bill pretty sharpish as the noise level is only so much you can bear for so long. The food was good but the food did not live up to my hopes and was expensive for what we ordered – however I am sure that if you do order the daily specials then it is much more wallet friendly. The service is very enthusiastic, which is sweet but again can be a little too much; asking us ‘how we are getting on’ at least three times throughout the meal. Atmosphere has a fun buzz and there is often live music which is always a plus. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

             Food                              Service                  Atmosphere

3 Stars4 Stars3 Stars

Chinese Cricket Club


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We’ve heard good things about this place but having never been a fan of Chinese cuisine we’ve given a miss, well until now obviously.

I have to say since the visit I have a better opinion of the cuisine but again I’d argue this is one of the best places to chow down – excuse the pun.

Chinese Cricket Club is part of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Blackfriars, which is swanky and centrally situated. Usually restaurants in hotels have a bad rep but this goes against the stereotype.

The restaurant itself is uber modern with green leather seats, bamboo entrance and subtle nods to the cricket theme. Well played.

They have a selection of menus including the express lunch – which is handy for a business lunch- but we went for the al a carte option.

We ordered the steak fillet in black bean sauce and the crispy soft shell crab along with egg fried rice to share.  The fillet was beautiful, it melted in the mouth and the sauce was spicy and salty. Just perfect. The rice was a far cry from the egg fried rice you find at you’re local take away, light, fluffy and subtly flavoured. The soft shell crab on the other hand was very dry, to the point where it honestly felt that there was no meat left. The batter was all that seemed to remain. It was a shame as on the whole we were very satisfied.

In terms of atmosphere, people seem to dine later in the afternoon and, unsurprisingly based on location and price, it’s more often than not filled with loud city types. It’s not cheap here but quality reflects this (despite the crab dish). Apparently the thing to order here is a whole crispy duck. We might try next time.

This place is definitely impressive and worth giving a go if you like Chinese cuisine that’s more upmarket than China Town however this comes at a price and the occasional oversight from the kitchen lets it down.

Food                            Service                        Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars3 Stars

Aqua at the Shard


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We went for a business lunch at Aqua which is situated in the Shard. We had been to Oblix at the Shard a year before and were a little disappointed by the service. I expected the same as you do pay for the views, less so for service and cuisine.

Saying that the menu looked well thought out with a mix of Asian/fusion dishes. At lunch you can order a set menu which is at a wallet pleasing price or the al a carte option which is substantially more – yet arguable no more superior.

There was a little confusion in the main entrance as we were told the wrong floor and when we arrived at the Oblix reception. We were seated at one of the larger booth seating areas that was set back from the windows but still had sweeping views over the city. A tip from me; if you want a really great window seat you are much better to dine with just two people as the majority of window seats are for a cosy duo only.

We had a very cheery waiter seat us and was very attentive so I began to think my worries of poor service were unfounded. For starter, we ordered the foie gras and chocolate, the burrata and tomatoes and the market salad. We were feeling quite smug with ourselves as we had ordered ahead of a large group so hoped that we had missed the wait – we all had only an hour and a half for lunch – but there was a good twenty minute wait. To be fair when the food arrived we were impressed, the food looked like a painting; striking, creative and colourful. It tasted damn good too!

My foie gras was cooked to perfection; jelly like, it was just set and melted in the mouth. It was served with what looked like a chocolate pudding that once sliced oozed out into a rich creamy chocolate sauce. It was so rich and not one for those watching their waistline but my god it was good. The burrata was colourful; the creamy cheese worked with the slightly bitter fruit and oily olives. The salad, despite being by far the dullest option on paper, looked like something from a fairytale garden. It was incredibly colourful, with flowers, nuts & seeds and unusual leaves.

It took a long while to clear away our plates – we assumed that this was because there was a busy service, but  really our main course took a ridiculous amount of time to arrive. It was made worse as we knew we had to leave. Twenty five minutes after finishing our starters the main courses was served. We got a swift apology from the waiter who originally was very enthusiastic – as I assume he saw that we were not best pleased.

The main courses were lovely but the wait really did put a dampener on things. We ordered the black cod, steak tartare and lamb. The cod was a little overcooked but it did have a tasty sticky sauce. It was served in a spicy herbed salsa. The tartare was nice, with fine meat strips served with a rich egg yolk, although the meat could have been slightly spicier for our taste. The lamb was the star dish, served medium rare it was served with root vegetables that had been beautifully sculpted and a rich sauce, delicious!

Our dishes were cleared and we promptly asked for the bill. The food was fantastic, we thought out, beautiful and tasty. The skyline views speak for itself but the service was incredibly slow, confused and a little OTT at the start. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

Food                       Service                      Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars4 Stars

The best kept secret

I was recently asked to be a guest food blogger for Big Fish English blog, who provide language learning skills for those looking to improve their English. Check out my first blog post that hopes to bust the myth that British cuisine is lagging behind the rest of Europe in terms of gastronomy:

Fazenda UK


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Fazenda is a little cafe run by an Italian husband and wife team based on Leydon Street by Petticoat Lane. Located off the main drag and rather unassuming from the outside, regulars  come here for good coffee, home made food and service so friendly it feels like a family.

The cafe is small based in a tall slim townhouse and easy to walk by.  As we walked in we were immediately welcomed by the son (I assume) and sat down on a small table in the corner of the cafe. We were immediately given water and bread before being asked to come up to the counter to make our selection. We were asked to choose from the ten or so dishes that are home made in the kitchen below. We had an option of a pasta bolognaise type dish, braised cabbage, roasted peppers, roasted aubergine, pasta salad, apple and feta salad and beef in a creamy sauce. It is a rather nice concept as we were encouraged to try a wide selection of the dishes on offer. The baked aubergine was stuffed with cheese that was soft and creamy against the rich smokey aubergine, the pasta bolognaise was not in a thick sauce but more with chuncks of rich meat that stuck possessively to the pasta, the roasted peppers were served in really good quality olive oil and had a distinct smokey flavour and finally the apple and feta salad included sweetcorn and raw peppers – delicious.

I do need to mention the coffee and cake too before I wrap up. There are coffee sacks placed on the stripped back wooden floor, which are bought in from Rome. You can see the owner grinding the coffee throughout the day so that it is fresh for all the customers no matter what time they crave a caffeine kick. My Americano was delicious. They serve a good variety of cakes – again homemade – the huge Victoria sponge with strawberries caught my eye.

The owners are passionate, funny and treat you like family. The food is all made to traditional Italian recipes and always home made on the day. The prices are pleasing too. Since the first time I was introduced here I have recommended to colleagues and friends and all have fallen in love like I have. But please don’t tell everyone, this place is a delicious secret. I can’t recommend this place enough!

Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

Food                                Atmosphere             Service

5 Stars4 Stars5 Stars

Gourmet Burger Kitchen


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I really do try to avoid chains, not only because I find that the food and service lacks much creativity but also because I like to support the smaller, local restaurants in whatever area of London I am in at the time. However when my friend invited me to lunch in Spitalfields Market and proposed Gourmet Kitchen Burger – mainly as there didn’t look to be a queue – I agreed.

I like burgers but will only usually eat them if I make them myself so I was a little hesitant. On the menu, there were a good thirty burgers to choose from. You are asked to go to the counter and order and help yourself to free peanuts. This seems a little unnecessary to me but its seems quite popular looking over at other diners gnawing on them in anticipation of their meal. It’s a bit like a posh McDonalds in format.  I ordered a naked burger which is served without the bun with salad and sweet potatoes fries. My friend ordered the burger with cheese and bacon.

The food was served quickly and the burgers were very thick and tasty – so I know realize why this place caught on. The sweet potatoes fried were lovely but the regular fried were like matchsticks which we prefer a little thicker. Again just preference. It’s never going to be a local for me but I would not be adverse to trying again. I think if there was a waiter service throughout, they called the burgers for what they really are, rather than ‘hip’ names like ‘The Don’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ and scrapped the complimentary peanuts – just seems a little try hard to me- I would rate even higher. But hey the food was quick, tasty and good value so I can’t complain.

           Food                              Service                           Atmosphere

4 Stars2 Stars3 Stars


Lazy Bones


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Lazy Bones is a hot dog and burger restaurant in Farringdon with trendy bare brick spot, tucked back from the main street in a small courtyard. It is an unsuspecting place from the outside but once you step through the floor you can see this is a gem if a place.

The menu, although limited to hot dogs and burgers, has a variety of twists on the classic. All of the dishes are homemade so a little rustic looking – nothing wrong with that! We ordered a naked burger, a cheese burger and a halloumi burger with fries, salad and sweet potatoes chips.

Service was incredibly friendly, like any good East End hipster joint, and was incredibly efficient, unlike most hipster joints. The food came out within ten minutes of ordering and the quality of the ingredients really come through. Since our first visit, we have tried it a couple more times, who needs my five star rating?

If you like good quality meat, cooked how you like it for a very good price it is a must!

               Food                           Service                      Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars


Bull and Hide


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We wanted a change for a casual lunch around Liverpool Street  and decided to go this The Bull and Hide, a gastropub located a five minute walk from the station. The pub aims to provide patrons with high quality British food, worldly wines and a range of craft beers, ales and ciders.

There is a bar on the ground floor and the restaurant area on the first floor, where we were taken to dine. It was 12.30 but we were the only group upstairs which made a for an odd atmosphere until a few more diners turned up. The menu is simple showcasing seasonal British classics. We ordered the fish and chips, the cheese burger and the ham hock and champ. Please note menus change on occasion based on seasonality and chefs discretion.

Service was shakey as we seemed to have a newish waiter who was a little nervous but our orders all came out correct and in good time. The fish and chips were enormous and clearly cooked to order, the burger was cooked medium and was juicy and the ham hock and champ was the star of the show. The ham was tender and slightly salty which worked with the creamy mash. Delicious.

The décor was modern yet sticking to a  gastropub theme with duck egg blue walls, wide open windows and stylish golden lamps.

Food was great, simple, classic and seasonal. Service was a little inexperienced but fine over all and atmosphere was dampened as it was so quite.

              Food                               Service                 Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars2 Stars


Jamie’s Italian


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We are a huge fan of Jamie Oliver’s cooking – who wouldn’t be, he makes cooking sexy again and campaigned for kids to eat healthier –  so we thought we would give Jamie’s Italian a try. We went to the branch in Seven Dials on a lovely summer evening. We had a reservation but the majority of people just walk in and wait for a table, while having a drink at the funky little bar. I quite like that about the place, relaxed, simple and fun – just like Jamie’s cooking you could argue.

We were seated by the window and served by an Italian waiter – or at least he did a convincing accent – which made the dining experience even more authentic. We ordered a bottle of red and checked out the extensive menu. The menu sticks to the traditional Italian cuisine courses, antipasto, primo, secondo and dessert and offers hearty Italian dishes with a Jamie Oliver flair – simple yet tasty!

We ordered the cured meat plank to start which included mozzarella, prosciutto, pickles and chili jam and was served on top of two tomato tins – a really nice touch! The platter was great, not too filling but very moreish.

For main course we ordered the rib eye steak and the sausage ragu. My steak was cooked medium rare – just how I like it – and was thick and juicy. I ordered vegetables as a side instead of the chips, which were a little lighter. The pasta dish was hearty, served in a rich tomato sauce with a generous amount of herbed meat in it.

The place is always busy and gives a lively atmosphere to the lace. The waiters are always keen to talk you through the menu, the food simple yet creative and it actually sticks to authentic Italian dishes. A great place for a casual dinner with friends or even a date spot! As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

              Food                            Service                            Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars


Brew House Kitchen‏


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We came across The Brewhouse and Kitchen by chance on a cold an rainy day when we met for lunch ahead of a Matthew Bourne production at Saddlers Wells and were looking a quick and tasty bite – out of the cold – near the theatre. Our usual’s were packed , so we thought we would try this pub and hope for the best. We were impressed immediately, as we were warmly welcomed in and seated. We were given an extensive menu of homemade British dishes – anything from burgers, fish and chips to quinoa salads.

I was on protein only diet and the waiters did their best to accommodate my dietary requirements. In the end I went for a simple salad with a lovely piece of salmon on top. Rather than overwhelming it with dressing and ruining my diet they seasoned with an array of spices. Nice touch. We also ordered  ‘beer can chicken’, their specialty  beer marinated chicken that melts in the mouth and is served with chips and coleslaw. The waiters were cheerful and helpful in suggesting foods to suit our tastes. We went at lunch time and there was a nice relaxed atmosphere. I have been later in the evening and it has more of a pub feel but they still have an area reserved for diners.

This is the place to come  if you are after a great selection of beers and ciders. Unfortunately I don’t drink beer but their wine section was not half bad either. The bar is in the centre of the pub and restaurant and so is a focal point and also helps to split the drinking area from the dining space, which is needed when it gets busier in the evenings. With brick walls, lots of seating areas and even board games this place is the perfect place to go for a relaxing lunch one weekend. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

                 Food              Service                  Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars3 Stars




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