Friday, 31 August 2007

HOT: Sitaraay Indian Restaurant, 167 Drury Lane, Soho

Introduced my former secretary and her husband to an extremely satisfying Indian 'tapas style' meal, meaning lots of little morsels brought to you until you ask them to stop! Especially loved the naan.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

NOT: $ Grills & Martinis, Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell

Exmouth Market is a nightmare to navigate on a cold rainy evening if you're not familiar with it, so I was grumpy to begin with. Inside didn't help matters - slow service and uninspiring food. My burger with 'sweet potato, feta cheese, rocket and herb polenta' ended up being a burger bun with a patty containing said sweet potato, feta cheese etc, plus some limp iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

HOT: Locanda Locatelli, 8 Seymour Street, Marble Arch

I like a restaurant with cream leather booths and flattering lighting, especially when I'm having a bad skin week. And the cooking certainly isn't bad either - oxtail ravioli, roast pigeon with lentils, garlic puree and truffles, chocolate degustation with pine nut icecream. Happy Birthday Swino!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

HOT: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, BFI Imax, Southbank

I love Harry Potter books and I can normally grit my teeth through the films (Hermione is particularly annoying). So the latest Harry Potter movie on 'the biggest screen Britain's ever seen' was something I couldn't miss. The corridors of the Ministry of Magic, giants in the Forbidden Forest and Lord Voldemort came alive in front of my Edna Everidge style 3D glasses. Ooooh scary.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

NOT: Selfridges Oyster Bar, Oxford Street

French champagne - tick. Large freshly shucked oysters - tick. Swanky department store - tick. But unfortunately that wasn't enough for me because the Oyster Bar is in the food hall of Selfridges, a stressful madhouse of shoppers. Not the relaxing luxurious place you want to be sipping your glass of Laurent-Perrier (from 10 - 15 pounds!).

HOT: Tea Palace, 175 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill

A white-tableclothed cafe to rest weary shopping feet after tramping around Portobello Road market and the Notting Hill shops. Sherryl and I had a delicious light lunch there (salmon cakes for her, grilled courgette and feta parpadelle for moi) accompanied by special tea tonics, selected from their tea library. Apparently they do great high tea there at half the price of the big hotels (as we were leaving peope were putting their names on the waiting list) so I'll have to give a follow up report.

HOT: Gail's Bread, 138 Portobello Road, Notting Hill

Gail's Bread was opened by Gail Stephens, founder of Baker and Spice (another HOT entry) and you can tell from the quality and the display of the delicious baked goods. The pastries were buttery and flaky, the omlette sandwich was filled with a bright yellow organic egg omlette. Best of all was the green olive loaf I took home - I polished off 4 slices slathered with avocado and tomato for dinner! Plus if you buy their reuseable canvas bread bag for 5 pounds (it comes attached inside a larger carrier bag, very cute) then you get 10% every loaf. What a fantastic idea - I'll definitely be going back, bag in tow.

Friday, 17 August 2007

HOT: Saint Joan at National Theatre

It amazes me that sometimes it is cheaper to see world-class theatre than it is to go to the movies in London. For 10 pounds I went to see George Bernard Shaw's Nobel Prize winning play Saint Joan (about Joan of Arc), 3 rows from the front, right in the middle. The elegiac music was ghostly, the use of chairs as furniture, drums, dance props and a burning pyre was incredibly imaginative and effective and because I was so close I could see every spray, every little twitch of expression. I was particularly impressed with the supporting actors - the Dauphin, the Inquisitor, the bastard son of Duke of Orleans. The play wove themes of religion, state, nationalism, politics, ambition, justice and truth into the fascinating story of Joan of Arc leading the French Army to her execution as a heretic, burned at the stake. A richly rewarding Friday night.

Monday, 13 August 2007

HOT: The Simpsons Movie, Electric Brasserie and cinema, Portobello Road, Notting Hill

This is the place for the ultimate dinner + movie date. Breezily hip on Portobello Road (where everyone is glamorous), delicious unpretentious food (pork belly with waldorf salad, tuna nicoise, chips and peas to share) and they'll get you to your movie next door with a smile. The cinema is a small treasure, with super comfortable single leather lounges and individual footstools. The movie is negligible to the whole experience - I fell asleep halfway through The Simpsons Movie.

Friday, 10 August 2007

HOT: Picnic at Kew Gardens

Where to go on perfect sunny Sunday? Trip down the District Line to Kew Gardens, one of the world's leading botanic gardens. You have to pay (12.50) but inside there are conservatories, hot houses, random temples and pagodas and of course lush greenery to enjoy. I was so inspired I came home with a tomato plant, a bay leaf plant and a carnivorous plant (named Audrey, of course). I'll be going back to enjoy the sculptures of Henry Moore from September - there is one already installed which I loved.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

HOT: Frontline Club 13 Norfolk Place, Paddington

There's nothing more warm-fuzzy than eating a 3 course dinner where the profits go towards charitable work. No, not another Jamie Oliver project, but Frontline - a media club where the profits of the restaurant go towards promoting independent journalism and freedom of expression. If you care about press freedom and the world's conflicts, you might as well indulge in delicious British fare in a beautifully lit brick dining room as well. It's all good for the soul and the stomach.