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Flat Iron, Covent Garden & Soho

September 25, 2016
Flat Iron, Covent Garden

Flat Iron is not exactly new to the London dining scene, and its original Beak Street restaurant is a bit of a Soho institution. Known for excellent steak and excellent value, Flat Iron has been popular from the outset.  I had heard about the long queues of patient fans, who, because of the typical Soho no-booking policy, were more than happy to wait in line for a juicy steak for a tenner.

I don’t have the patience for long queues, and so, when the newest (and by far the largest) Flat Iron opened on Henrietta Street (December 2015), around the corner from where I work, my interest was renewed.  Taking colleagues out to lunch posed as the perfect opportunity to try this place, and we were all very impressed.

The menu is short & simple, and their signature Flat Iron steak for £10 is what you should order.  Yes, they had specials (a burger in our case), but I’d seen the beautifully pink sliced steaks come by and knew what I wanted.  It comes with a side salad, though you can of course order triple cooked chips, or other vegetables with it.  They also offer sauces (£1) – from an excellent Bearnaise to the creamy horseradish I went for.  The steaks came quickly, were perfectly cooked, and tasted divine.  Lunch was all over in under 45 minutes.

To top it off they offer a complimentary salted caramel ice cream upon departure.  The ice cream was almost (almost) better than the steak.

With friendly staff, attractive interiors and incredible value, I can completely understand the appeal.  The bonus of the Henrietta Street restaurant is that it is large enough to head there for lunch without queues.  I shall definitely be returning for dinner…

Flat Iron

17/18 Henrietta Street

Covent Garden

With other restaurants in Soho on 17 Beak Street and 9 Denmark Street

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

September 5, 2016
The Ninth, Fitzrovia

It might seem like a bit of a cheat writing a blog about a restaurant where I’ve only had pudding*.  But this pudding is so good it deserves its own blog.  Even though I had it 3 weeks ago I cannot stop thinking about it.  I’m plotting when to return.

Let’s rewind.  Having had a delicious dinner at Bao Fitzrovia, which fully lived up to expectations, I decided I wanted proper dessert and a proper (large) glass of wine.  Being right by Charlotte street we were in no better area to find both items, and so we strolled along until we got to the Ninth.  I’d read good things about this place, no less regarding its attractive Japanese celeb chef Jun Tanaka, but mainly about the food.  It also, like most Charlotte Street restaurants (another reason why I love it so) has a little terrace outside, with, in our case, empty tables.

The staff were ever so charming and more than happy for us to enjoy dessert and wine outside.  The dessert menu had some very appealing options and I was almost tempted to go for the Tarte Tatin.   But the (lovely) waiter insisted I try their famous ‘Pain Perdu’, which sounded like my sort of thing.  Best decision ever.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

It’s really rather pleasant sitting on their terrace with the heaters on, watching Charlotte Street go by, sipping a good glass of French (obvi) wine.  But life got just that little bit better when a loaf of beautifully caramelised French toast was placed in front of me.  With wonderful vanilla ice cream.  The loaf was soft and warm on the inside, but with a slight caramel crunch on the outside.  It’s quite a lot of pudding, but scary how quickly and easily that vanished (my Instagram photo below).  Don’t get one to share, it’s too good for that.  And while a portion that size might leave you feeling sick, it wasn’t overly sweet so I felt just fine afterwards (if slightly on a sugar high).

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

The great thing is that since I didn’t actually have dinner there, I have an excuse to go back (the menu looks good, and prices reasonable).  Inside was also appealing, dimly lit, buzzing without being noisy, the ideal date place perhaps.

If the rest of the menu is anything like the Pain Perdu, then it will certainly be a dinner to remember.

**Since writing this blog I actually went back for lunch in the sun with my father.  We enjoyed two of their delicious salads/ceviche and their oxtail croquettes which were delicious.  To finish, we had the Pain Perdu, of course!  Couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

The Ninth

22 Charlotte Street


Photo credit: The Ninth

Blog, Drink, Eat, London

Samarkand, Fitzrovia

August 31, 2016
Samarkand, Fitzrovia

An Uzbek restaurant might not be your first choice on Charlotte Street, where you have a vast array of excellent international – and British – restaurants to choose from.  But I was curious, no less because of the promise of craft vodka and a dish called Jizbiz (I know…).

I rarely write bad reviews, mainly because I don’t want to waste my time writing about places I would simply not recommend.  The only negative one I wrote was about Restaurant Ours, because there was a hype for no reason, the prices were inflated and the service was appalling.  The problem with Samarkand is that I genuinely quite liked the restaurant (and bar), I thought the interiors were appealing and – most importantly – the service was really good.  So I feel for them a little, writing this review.

Samarkand, Fitzrovia

But there is one big problem with Samarkand, and that is, very unfortunately, the food.  Arguably we enjoyed the 50% soft launch offer, which made for a very affordable and fun dinner.  However, the prices of the food cannot be justified without it.

To start with we ordered the beef and lamb ‘Manti’, Uzbek dumplings.  I’m always a bit of a fan of dumplings, but not of these.  Soggy, falling apart and bland, even the sauce which accompanied it resembled a Dolmio tomato sauce.  Maybe that’s the Uzbek way, but if it is, I wouldn’t put it on the menu.

Samarkand, Fitzrovia

Next came the Shashlik (grilled skewered meat).  We ordered the Wagyu Beef with Truffle and a Buttermilk Lamb one.  Bearing in mind that the beef shashlik (one skewer – albeit 100g) costs £24, you’d expect some seriously good meat.  But it just didn’t do it for us (though the lamb was better than the beef).  The biggest mystery of all was the truffle clearly resembled truffle shavings but tasted of, well, nothing.  Nor did it smell of truffle.  It just looked like it.  When questioned if it was perhaps Uzbek truffle (if that exists) our very charming waiter said he’d check with the kitchen, and returned adamant it was Tuscan.

For the main course we decided to order the JizBiz, since a dish with a name like that surely can’t be ignored.  This was a rack of lamb with a potato cake.  It was fine, but not more than this – and just could have been so much better if they had properly grilled the lamb so the fat was crispy rather than soft.

Samarkand, Fitzrovia

We moved to the bar area (which I really liked) after dinner to try some of their vodka.  They recommended two kinds: a sugar beet and a malt vodka – both completely new to us.  We couldn’t dine at an Uzbek restaurant and not have a vodka.  But then to our complete surprise we were served British vodka, two types of craft vodka made in London in fact.  I just couldn’t understand why a restaurant from an area famed for its vodka would serve British vodka.  Totally bizarre (I did like the Uzbek tea cups the vodka was served in).

Samarkand, Fitzrovia

Samarkand’s not all bad, as I said above.  I really liked the staff, who were attentive, enthusiastic and clearly proud to be working at there.  The head barman could talk for hours about the vodka we were drinking.  Some of the cocktails we had afterwards were good too (though the Whisky Sour could do with more whiskey).

This is not a place for a summer’s day (it’s underground), and should be better in the winter, where the British vodka can warm you, though the truffle with still mystify.  So in conclusion, I’d grab a pre or post-dinner cocktail here, but choose one of the plethora of other excellent restaurants on Charlotte Street (Roka, the Ninth, Barn Yard) or Bao around the corner for actual dinner.  If Uzbek cuisine wants to make its mark in London, it’s going to have to improve dramatically at Samarkand.


33 Charlotte St,

London W1T 1RR

Photo credit: Samarkand

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, Eat, London

Bronte, The Strand

August 19, 2016
Bronte, the Strand

I’ve found my new favourite post-work drink place.  And it’s not just because it’s about 2 minutes’ walk from my office.

Bronte opened a few weeks ago, right by Trafalgar Square.  An odd location, you might think. A place which will probably attract a lot of tourists, was my first thought. But actually, no.  Either tourists haven’t clocked on yet that there is this rather glamorous (yet still very welcoming) bar and restaurant a moment’s walk from London’s highlights. Or perhaps they just prefer Pizza Hut and Garfunkels (fine by me). Because Bronte seems to be full with mostly locals and people like me, who head here for a welcome glass of wine after a long day’s work.
Bronte, the StrandBronte, the Strand
Tom Dixon – famous for doing the interiors of the wonderful Sea Containers – has also done the design here.  His style is recognisable: bright colours in the form of a stand out pink granite bar (love it), and green banquettes.  Quirky but attractive lamps hang from the ceiling and large pot plants add a slightly exotic feel to the place.  My favourite though, is to sit on their spacious colonnaded terrace – which feels remarkably calm, despite the busy Strand happening all around you.

Bronte, the StrandBronte, the Strand
But this is not just a bar. The food is good too. Admittedly I’ve only tried their snack menu (their crab summer rolls are very good), but if it’s anything to go by, the rest of their menu should be delicious.  And pricing is reasonable too.

Some praise must also go to their staff. Every time I’ve been there the waiters have all been exceptionally friendly and helpful, mostly Italian and very upbeat gentlemen.

Bronte, the Strand
I’m not one to keep returning to places, especially in a city like London, where new places open every day and I get serious FOMO if I don’t jump on a soft launch or new opening. However, I might make the exception for Bronte, which, with its good looks, convenient location and (usually) free tables, is the perfect place for a mid-week drink and a bite.


Grand Buildings,

1-3 Strand,

London WC2N 5EJ

Photo credit: Bronte

Blog, Eat, London

Bao, Fitzrovia & Soho

August 19, 2016
Bao, Fitzrovia

Funny how little pillowy white buns can be talked about (and Instagrammed) so much.  But these ‘bao’ (Taiwanese steamed buns) are no ordinary buns.  Perhaps you only understand the hype once you’ve been, which means fully dedicating yourself to ‘the queue’.  Which is always substantial, and always a guaranteed long wait, because the Lexington Street Bao is tiny.  Except now, with Bao’s second opening in Fitzrovia, which offers a much larger space (this is all relative of course), the queues are also much more manageable.  Or maybe I got lucky, as I only queued about 15 mins (on a Wednesday evening at 7pm).

The flagship Bao opened last year to rave reviews (though they still have a permanent stall at Netil Market), and while desperate to go, my few attempts were immediately aborted having seen a row of people snake around the corner with no end in sight.  I’m impatient, and while I’m always willing to wait for food which is clearly off the charts delicious, there are limits.  The 15 minute Fitzrovia wait was more than manageable, and I was very surprised as we were ushered in so quickly (yes, I felt quite smug).  My speedy entrance made the food taste even better.

Bao, FitzroviaBao, Fitzrovia

The three of us ordered a good section of the menu, and only left things like duck hearts which pushes the boat out a little too far for me.  But we did dare try the crispy prawn heads (which were indeed crispy, and tasty), and the raw langoustines (which were very slippery, but also delicious).  We opted for two bao each, the classic of course (pulled pork, heaven in a mouthful) and then the black cod for Steph and the lamb for Emily and I. They were both delightful – but I can totally see how the Black Cod has become one of their most popular dishes (it’s photogenic too).  Apart from that the sweet corn dish with surprisingly good, I loved their aubergine and rice (too moorish for words) and their octopus was succulent and fiery.  It was all really really good.

Bao, Fitzrovia

The service was excellent, friendly, quick, helpful.  The (Austrian) house wine surprisingly fine (though the tiny glasses do add up price wise).  And the décor, simple with clean lines, is given the food you’re eating.

I’m going back, though unfortunately I know I won’t be the only one.

Bao Fitzrovia

31 Windmill St,

London W1T 2JN

Photo credit: Bao

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Oklava, Shoreditch

August 15, 2016
Oklava, Shoreditch

While Istanbul and in fact, Turkey in general, are massively struggling at the moment, Turkish food in London seems to be flourishing.

The very popular Babaji Pide opened in 2015 (another one of Alan Yau’s venture), and then Le Bab (serving gourmet kebabs – what’s not to like) opened earlier this year to rave reviews.

But perhaps the most talked about opening has to be Oklava (modern Turkish food), by Selim Kiazin – a young, hungry and exceptionally talented Turkish chef.  She wowed throughout her stint at Carousel, and was so loved that she set up on her own in a quiet Shoreditch side street.

Oklava, Shoreditch

The result is rather satisfactory.  It is a lovely little restaurant, with a busy open kitchen (and a kitchen counter to watch the chefs at work), large windows which open widely and a few seats outside too.

We arrived early and grabbed some of the outside seats to enjoy the warm Friday evening (and later moved inside to their kitchen counter).  I tried their sumac and pomegranate Martini – am always a fan of a vodka cocktail –  especially if they keep it quite simple.  Sumac might not be your cocktail ingredient of choice, but it’s actually quite sweet and worked really well.  We then moved onto the wine – all Turkish – which originally we (mainly Rob) were sceptical about.  Until we tried the wine the lovely waitress recommended, and that shut us up.

Oklava, Shoreditch

The menu is quite succinct, with everything sounding as mouth-watering as the dishes looked as they were prepared in front of us.  A must try is of course their ‘pide’ (flat bread), prepared in their special wood fire.  We went for the ‘traditional’ lamb one (Lahmacun), but their potato, leek, mozzarella, tulum cheese and fresh truffle one looked incredible too.

Oklava, Shoreditch

Our culinary journey here started with fresh Baharat bread and date butter – superb.  They were followed by whipped feta and pumpkin crostinis which were slightly disappointing, not taste-wise, but size-wise (and at £2.50 a pop, not worth it in my opinion). The courgette, feta and mint fritters came next, and while they also looked quite small, they were wonderfully filling and one of my favourite bites of the night.

Oklava, Shoreditch

After the pide we were suddenly feeling quite full, but then came Rob’s beef short rib which was melt in the mouth delicious, followed by my pomegranate glazed lamb breast with yoghurt. Both excellent.

Oklava, Shoreditch

In a city where restaurants are competing for attention, to properly ‘stand out’, Oklava does.  The price can add up (as tends to be the case with sharing plates) but it is totally worth it.


74 Luke St,

London EC2A 4PY

Photo credit: Oklava (and the Instagram ones are mine)

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Oldroyd, Islington

August 13, 2016
Oldroyd, Islington

I used to really like Polpo.  Until it became a chain restaurant.  Dinner there, while the food was still good, became a less special occasion (the one in Notting Hill gate is large and impersonal, contrasting massively to the tiny original in Soho).  So it’s perhaps no wonder that then chef-director of the Polpo group Tom Oldroyd packed his bags last year and opened his own restaurant on Upper Street.

Oldroyd, IslingtonOldroyd, Islington

Oldroyd has buckets of what the new Polpos now sadly lack: charm.  It’s much ‘cuter’ than Polpo (I promise the comparisons stop now), and its bright and airy disposition lends well to a long and boozy Saturday lunch.  Which is what we did, after accompanying my sister to try on some wedding dresses down the road.  Summer dinners could work too, as they have a few tables outside on the street, so you can enjoy lively Angel vibes while having dinner.

Oldroyd, Islington

Tom Oldroyd clearly knows what he’s doing.  The food is excellent.  Small sharing plates, seasonal fresh ingredients, interesting flavours.  We had huge fresh prawns, crisp light salads and phenomenal ‘vegetarian’ meatballs.  Pudding wasn’t quite so light, with warm rhubarb almond tart and tiramisu, where plates were licked unabashedly.

Oldroyd, Islington

While the place is tiny, this is no bad thing (if you book well in advance).  I love small restaurants.  They offer something more intimate, and also give you a sense of smugness for having managed to get a table.

So full marks for Tom, who’s given me yet another reason to return to Angel.


344 Upper St,

London N1 0PD

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, Eat, London

Foley’s, Fitzrovia

August 13, 2016
Foleys, FItzrovia

Palomar is still up there with one of my all-time favourite London restaurants (and I also really loved its new sister restaurant the Barbary).  It’s not surprising therefore that Palomar’s Sous Chef Mitz Vora has opened a restaurant which blew me away, rivalling Palomar in standard and flavours.

I might be a little biased as I rocked up to the restaurant on a high (and a little merry) from a long afternoon at the wonderful Pergola on the Roof, in a very good mood. This was definitely helped by cocktails from the ‘outside’ bar at Foley’s, which I loved!  A further 50% off the food because of the soft launch meant that we all got very over-excited and ordered everything on the menu.  I think the only thing we missed off was a random salad.

Foleys, FItzrovia

Everything else we devoured completely.  Our favourites?  The ceviche endive tacos with tuna and octopus (heaven), the aubergine with pomegranate, quinoa and feta, the lamb and the beef.  But to be honest, I’d happily have all of it again.

Foleys, FItzroviaFoleys, FItzrovia

We finished it off with a few Espresso Martini cocktails (and again, moved outside for that – one has to take advantage of a warm summer’s evening).  These are not cheap, but are most definitely a way to emerge from any food coma.

A special mention should also go to the décor and the feel of the place.  It’s one of those restaurants with such a fun, upbeat vibe.  Unpretentious, down to earth, cool but not achingly (painfully) trendy.  The open plan kitchen is always welcome (next time I’ll sit at the kitchen counter, but a table is better for groups).   And it’s in Fitzrovia, which is just ideal in terms of location, not heaving with tourists, and a short walk into Soho if you’re looking for more after dinner party time.

Foleys, FItzrovia


23 Foley St,

London W1W 6DU

Photo credit: Foley’s


Blog, Eat, Healthy, London

Casita Andina, Soho

August 9, 2016
Casita Andina, Soho

Clever clever Martin Morales.  Introducing affordable (and delicious) Peruvian food to London (Ceviche)?  Check.  Expanding into Shoreditch with a focus on the Peruvian Andres (Andina)?  Check.  And now, the last master stroke: opening a completely gluten free, super healthy (but still Peruvian) new restaurant in Soho.   Enter Casita Andina.  Andina’s little sister restaurant but with an increased focus on health, without of course sacrificing on taste.

I went for the soft launch last week, at lunch time.  The staff were clearly still a little confused with what was going on.  One lovely girl didn’t really understand the menu, as hard as she tried.  I got a call from the reservations team twice after I had left, asking me if I was still coming for lunch.  But this is all completely forgiven because a) it’s a soft opening, so these problems are inevitable, b) the food makes up for it all.

Casita Andina, Soho

They offer a great lunch time deal: two plates for £10.  I suggest if you’re dining with someone (which I hope you are), that you choose four different dishes between you.  One of the ceviche dishes (I’d go with the classic) is an obvious must.  Super delicious.  We also had the croquettas with a twist (pork and liver, with chilli jam) – unusual and surprisingly moorish.  From the hot plates we chose the Salmon Scabeche (perfect, and I love the sweet potato with it) and the Aji de Gallini (chicken with botija olive and a quails egg).  I’d never had chicken quite like it, it looked almost like scrambled eggs (without wanting to put you off) but was delicious, if not for everyone.

Casita Andina, Soho

The place itself is super cute, great location, small but with so much charm.  The Peruvian theme is of course very apparent, like at Andina, but without it being too naff.

The perfect lunch place, if not light dinner option.  I shall return.

Casita Andina

31 Great Windmill St,

London W1D 7LP

Photo credit: Casita Andina

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Spring, London

July 20, 2016
Spring, London

Spring is the prettiest restaurant I have been to in London.  Full stop.  The name seems apt – the interiors are inviting, light, enticing; a little like the season.  Feminine but not girlie.  You arrive with high expectations, and these rise the minute you walk in.  You can’t have bad food in a restaurant like this.

Arriving with any expectation at all is always dangerous, but I’d read so much about Australian born chef Skye Gyngell – from her success at Petersham Nurseries (Richmond) to rave reviews of her new venture, that I was curious and a little excited.

Spring, London

Her success with Spring is understandable.  It’s not just the beautiful dining room which makes the experience here so elegant and luxurious.  The staff are charming, knowledgeable and professional.  From the sommelier to the waitress to the front of house staff; we were looked after beautifully.

And then the food.  This is not your usual ‘let’s grab a casual bite to eat’ restaurant.  This is for special occasions, unless you’re smart and go for the lunch or pre-theatre set menu (two courses £27.50, three courses £31.50).  We did this, and it’s completely worth it.  The food is refined, light (barring the heavenly bread which does make a regular appearance) and skilfully cooked.  It’s not overcomplicated: good produce, cooked very well.  From the goats curd (almost whipped, it was so light and moorish) and sourdough bread to start, to the bavette steak with hollandaise sauce with deep fried courgette (again, the batter was light and crispy, not stodgy and soggy) – stunning.

Spring, London

Spring, London

To finish we had macchiatos as had a flight to catch to Rome, as couldn’t handle the journey in a complete food coma.  Spring really is a delightful restaurant, the perfect lunch or dinner date place.   Or should you be near the Strand, or visiting the Courtauld Gallery, then you can even just pop in for a coffee or drink at their leafy, more laid back, but equally pretty Salon (open 12pm – 11pm daily, Saturday until 5pm).  Highly recommended.

Spring, London

Spring, London


Somerset House New Wing,

Lancaster Pl,

London WC2R 1LA

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, Eat, London

Restaurant Ours, South Kensington

July 10, 2016
Restaurant Ours, South Kensington

There are certain restaurants which live up to the hype, and some which don’t.  To be fair, Restaurant Ours hasn’t had much time to get hyped up (it’s fairly new) – but with a celebrity launch party and being the sister restaurant to Michelin star (and very much liked) Restaurant Story, let’s just say I had high expectations for Tom Sellers’ new venture.

It started well.  I tried booking a table for a Friday night on a Wednesday, was promptly told they were full (fair enough) and was told I would be put on a waiting list.  Then Friday came and Brexit happened (that’s not the good part) and I thought I’d call again to see if there had been any cancellations.  And luck had it, there had been a cancellation, and the table was mine at 7:30pm.

I thought I’d take my Dad to treat him.  But then walked in and realised pretty quickly this was not really his ‘scene’.  There’s no denying the place looks good – it’s taken over the impressive space which used to be the Pan-Asian restaurant Collection – and so everything, from the Japanese style walk way to the olive trees mid-restaurant, to the rest of the décor, is rather beautiful.  But then you get the super loud music, which makes it feel like you’re in some sort of ‘lounge bar’ (to be fair, there is a cocktail area upstairs to which the music is more suited), rather than an exclusive restaurant.  I didn’t have the guts to ask them to turn it down, I knew what the response would be.

Restaurant Ours, South KensingtonRestaurant Ours, South Kensington

Don’t get me wrong, I think this would be the ideal place for a weekend cocktail.  It’s fun and it’s great for people watching.  David Schwimmer came and sat next to us (I clarify: not with us), and it seems to be popular with girls who don’t really feel like wearing any clothes at all (much to my father’s amazement).  The clientele are a complete mixture of local rahs, Euro trash, semi celebs and high end escort girls.  Entertaining, there’s no denying that.

I also couldn’t really fault the food.  It was good, but not outstanding.  The (purple) vichy carrots were the only real let down.  The scallop (£12) and tuna for starters were delicious, but the portions so minute it was gone in seconds.  I think they had literally put one scallop on my plate and sliced it as thinly as possible to make it look like an actual portion.  My salmon for mains was good, as was my father’s lamb.  I was most excited about ‘Our’ chips, with pecorino and fois gras.  They were most definitely edible, but, like the rest of the menu, not memorable.

Restaurant Ours, South KensingtonRestaurant Ours, South KensingtonRestaurant Ours, South KensingtonRestaurant Ours, South Kensington

So now you’re probably wondering what’s so wrong with this place?  Sadly, the most important thing about a restaurant: the service.  I noticed the minute we arrived how many staff they had, and at first I was impressed.  Then I quickly noticed how inefficient and incompetent the staff actually were (and their uniforms are exceptionally bad too). When you’re at a good restaurant you usually have one or two people serving your table.  Here we had – no joke, I counted – 8 people.  They were all perfectly sweet and well-meaning but were also pretty useless.  One couldn’t open a bottle of wine, so my father did it.  The other didn’t know what a ‘carpaccio’ was.  Another didn’t speak any English at all really.  There was no communication or coordination between the staff.  It was a big mess.

Such a shame.  Perhaps if they sorted this the place would be worth the (extremely expensive) bill.  But, apart from perhaps a fun cocktail on a Friday night, I won’t be running back here any time soon.

Restaurant Ours

264 Brompton Road

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

The Barbary, Soho

June 20, 2016
The Barbary, Soho

I haven’t had been out for dinner in London for a while, and so perhaps that’s why I may have appreciated the Barbary even more than usual.

The place is tiny but so atmospheric. There are no tables, just one large kitchen bar, with 24 seats around it. The focal point is clearly the kitchen, where chefs cheerfully work away at creating beautiful, mostly grilled, dishes from Jerusalem and the Barbary Coast. I’d never heard of the Barbary coast (also known as the Berber coast), but it’s the coast off Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya. So expect a mixture of flavours from the Middle East and North Africa.

I was expecting a long wait, as this is no normal restaurant opening. The Barbary is the little brother of one of my all time favourite London restaurants: The Palomar.  But we only waited about 15 minutes, with a glass of rouge from the Languedoc (they have a range of European wines on offer) and a delicious lamb/pork mince in a grilled pitta with humous.

The Barbary, Soho

After 10 minutes the waitress suddenly bounded up to us with a bottle and three shot glasses.  ‘Sorry for the wait, guys’, she said, ‘this should ease the pain’.  And poured us all, her included, a shot of limoncello-esque liqueur.  Later we observed the whole restaurant, chefs included, do another shot.  It clearly contributed to the lively vibe.

Like The Palomar, the menu offers a range of small sharing plates.  We opted for the Naan e Barbari (mouth wateringly delicious),  a wonderful smokey Baba Ganoush, the Pata Negra Neck (such succulent meat), the grilled prawns (huge and juicy, but sadly just two of them), the Cauliflower Jaffa style (possibly my favourite dish) and the Kholrabi, Rocket and Peas, with feta sumac vinaigrette (super fresh and light).  Last we ordered the Jerusalem Bagel which was also excellent, and good to soak up all the juices and sauces (though only order if you love sesame seeds).

The Barbary, SohoThe Barbary, Soho
The price easily adds up, and it’s hard not to be greedy.  But the food is very filling, so be warned – there is no need to order more than 8 dishes.

This truly is the perfect Thursday night place, it gets you in the mood for the weekend, makes you forget work stress and more than satisfies your hunger (and tastebuds).  Go now before the word properly spreads.

The Barbary

16 Neal’s Yard

London WC2H 9DP

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