Monday, October 20, 2008

The Real Greek, Bankside - 19 Oct 2008

We were trying to find somewhere after the theatre at the National on the South Bank that did some decent vegetarian food and stumbled on The Real Greek. Apparently there's another branch at Hoxton. It was good! Service was great, we asked for some comfy seats as one of our number was pregnant and her back was aching after sitting through three hours of theatre, and reserved seating was rearranged to accommodate us. Food was quick to arrive, and very tasty indeed - I can recommend the calamari (grilled) and the big cannellini beans in tomato sauce. And the food all arrives on a tiered cake stand! For someone who adores afternoon tea, this phenomenon entertained me hugely.

Bill for four of us, inc drinks, came to £62.

Units 1 & 2, Riverside House, 2A Southwark Bridge Road, London United Kingdom SE1 9HA
Tel: 020 7620 0162

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Il Bordello, Wapping High St - 20 June 2008

I seem to have turned into that sad person who never gets out for lunch any more. Work is taking over. So this business lunch was a welcome reprieve! I am obviously working for the wrong department...

We were instructed by our host, a master in old school business lunches, that this was to be a POETS day (piss of early tomorrow's saturday). So we started as we meant to go on in the Captain Kidd pub.

The last time I was in Bordello's was about six years ago when several friends lived in and around Docklands. It's hardly changed at all, still fresh and buzzy - you still get pizza the size of dustbin lids and vast troughs of pasta. As a consequence the pudding menu is a little uninspired but we were quite entertained by the crèmée brûylée or some such on the menu.

This is a very good Italian restaurant, the food is unfussy, tasty and confidently done. It seems to be the in place for City bods to escape to at the moment, but equally good for the locals in the evening and weekends. We had calzone, two seafood linguine, asparagus risotto and mushroom tagliatelle, assorted standard desserts, four bottles of wine (the house wine is very drinkable and apparently better than a lot of the other stuff on the wine list), then limoncello and grappa (don't ask). I didn't wave my company plastic but I think it was about £250 inc service.

7.5/10 - a little hard to get to, puddings need a boost, and the grappa gave me a hangover. *:) The pasta was delicious though.

75-81 Wapping High St, Wapping, London, E1W 2YG
Tel: 0871 2238032

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe - 25 April 2007

Gosh it's been a while since our last BWL afternoon. In fact this is only the second to feature on this blog. We did actually go to Brian Turner's at the Millennium Hotel before this blog started, and that was *excellent* let me tell you. The Boxwood had a lot to beat.

So, this restaurant is joined to the Berkeley Hotel, in a rather natty location in Knightsbridge by Hyde Park. It's smart, but it's downstairs, so you don't get natural light for the majority of the tables. However the decor is very well done - tasteful bold dark wood, leather, cactusy table decs, well chosen silverware. Extremely well trained staff (ten points for them) who were unobtrusive but there immediately you needed them.
We were a little early so had a quick snifter at the bar, which gave us time to check out the place, including the facilities. As Magoo says, they are always a giveaway of a place and these were splendid. *:)

Right, I suppose we should discuss the food. Starters were fresh asparagus with peas and broad beans for Magoo, and queenie scallops for me. Mum grows asparagus in the garden so I know when it's fresh, and this stuff was absolutely excellent - sweet and tender. My scallops ranked a 9 on the toe-curlingly good scale - in their shells on a cast iron dish of pressed sea salt, under the grill with a cheesy sauce, with little slivers of apple to give it sweetness and freshness... Mmm mmm.
Mains - Dedham Vale beef was 'top dollar' (I quote), tender and succulent, and roast suckling pig, two golden slices with perfect crackling, was scrumptious (although the grain mustard sauce was poss a little salty for me). We loved the entry in the bill for mine (excerpt below):

Yes I am that greedy guts.

Pudding... oh, pudding. Magoo had vanilla and gingerbread cheesecake, I went for the chocolate fondue. Cheesecake light and fluffy but bijou portions, fondue was a little cauldron of dark melted chocolate sauce. Oh yes, all for me. With marshmallows and fruit and biscotti to dunk in it. Oh for a larger stomach.

So, all in all an excellent lunch, well done Gordon and all involved. Great flavours, extremely well planned restaurant (down to the enth degree - just watch them change a table cloth!), relaxed atmosphere, great location to wander out for a post-prandial around the Serpentine.

9/10 Well worth a booking.

(But I'm going to give the Millennium a 9.2)


Two G&Ts in the bar

Baked queenie scallops with sea urchin butter, bittercress and apple
Special asparagus, garden peas and broad beans

Roasted loin of suckling pig with garlic roasted potatoes and grain mustard sauce
Red wine braised shoulder of Dedham Vale beef with mashed potato, roasted carrots and baby spinach
Green beans with walnuts
Australian red - Heartland (can't remember the grape but it was great - cherry fruity and oaky at the same time)

Vanilla and gingerbread cheesecake with berries
Valrhona hot chocolate fondue, marshmallows, biscotti and bananas
Tea - English Breakfast and Jasmine Green
£161 inc service

Boxwood Cafe
The Berkeley, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
Tel: 020 7235 1010

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hamilton's, Leadenhall Market - 20 April 2007

We were escorting Lloyd for a pre-marathon carbo-loading pasta-fest. Well that was our excuse anyway. Hamilton's is split in half - posh and expensive upstairs and cheaper and cheerfull-er downstairs. Linen napkins vs lino tablecloths. You get the idea. So, being a quick lunch, we were downstairs, of course.

We shared lovely light crispy pizza-based garlic and tomato bread for starter, with two Pimms and a still water (can you guess who had the water?). Then three dishes of pasta: canneloni, penne with salmon and pappadelle with chicken and mushrooms, all delicious.

This all came to £51 inc service.

7/10 - delicious food, good value, needs some redecoration downstairs and less dictatorial waitresses. Upstairs I'd rate 7.2/10 - ace food, better service, but rather cramped and could do with a more exciting wine list.

28 Leadenhall MarketLondonEC3V 1LR

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tas, Borough High Street - 10 Feb 07

A large group of us went to Tas for a late lunch / early dinner following visiting Vinopolis (which I would definitely recommend, either as a fun drinking sesh with friends or for an Improving Viticultural Experience if you actually want to take time and read and listen and learn stuff about wine, gin, beer, absinthe and whisky).

Anyway, the food in Tas is Turkish and was great - very fresh, good portions, good variety, lots of vegetarian options. To make life easier for groups there are set starters - hummus, falafels, tabulleh, yoghurt with garlicky broad beans and so on, and then you pick a main. Tas Special was good tender lamb, several mixed grills got good reviews, someone had a mountain of calamari which was excellent. Service was great, we had several waiters looking after us and they were friendly and speedy. The Turkish house wine was unexpectedly pretty good, although having come from Vinopolis we were all rather more critical than usual! And it was good value too - £24 each was pretty good considering the amount we drank.

Well worth a try. 7/10

72 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1XF
Tel: 020 7403 7200 or 020 7403 7277

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano - 15 Dec 06

Blimey it's been a dry old ship for a few months. Nothing to report! Well, I've been away in India and Hong Kong, but it's a bit far to go for a bite after work.

Anyway, Guiseppe's was the venue for the team Xmas lunch / afternoon slide under the table. We were very well looked after indeed. We had mixed starters at their suggestion (the calimari was perfect,) then variously pasta, escalopes and liver and bacon. The L&B is fantastic, cooked to a T. Veggies could use some similar inspiration it must be said.

Selection of cakes and so on - not their forte - for dessert. And drinks... the brandy / grand marnier combo tastes much better than you'd think, but the boys were suffering after two (two doubles in a glass each time - you do the maths), especially after the amount of vino consumed.

I don't even want to go into the subject of the bill, after all that lot...

Still, well worth a look in. Handy for the station and Borough Market too.


47/49 Borough High Street
(under the arch)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Leon - Spitalfields Market - 19 October 06

This is a good find. Cheap, quick, good food in a reasonably relaxing atmosphere with - get this! - space and decent tables! I had Moroccan meatballs with rice/seeds and freshly podded peas, Kirsty had cauliflower curry, free water (in London? blimey), £11. I'm told that they go for seasonal, organic and superfoods. Certainly was very tasty and a well balanced combo. Also the 'canteen' uses recycled fittings and stuff where it can.

Also on it's website they say that: 'it has been proved that as well as good food and good company the only other real way to make yourself happy is by stealing office stationery.'

Well quite.


Tel: 020 7247 4369
3 Crispin Place
London E1 6DW

Note: Since it's redevelopment last year, Spitalfields is well worth checking out. Lots of new bars and restaurants, trendy shops, and posh new area of market along the lines of Borough / Greenwich with food, crafts and textiles.

I should get a job with the tourist board, me. *:)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gaby's, Charing Cross Road, 12 October 2006

Gaby's seems to be quite well known, although when you look at it from the outside it looks extremely dubious. ('Salmonella emporium' always used to cross my mind as I walked past.)

Anyway, some friends of friends researched it, and it turns out to be not bad at all for a budget deli. Kosher middle-eastern food - vine leaves, pitta, kebabs etc - in bustling heart-of-London surroundings. Pretty cramped but once you are wedged in you are good to go. Comments that what you see on the laminated menu are what you get, are spot on. Cheap and cheerful, well cooked, and apparently there is a £3 pick-your-own salad bar too. Recommend the vine leaves and falafels, which were 'better than Waitrose' according to one of our party! Praise indeed.

Can't complain with the location - just south of Leicester Sq tube station, perfect for pre-theatre or before a night on the sherberts with friends.

£80 for five people, starters and mains, two bottles of house white wine.

Rating: 6.5/10

Gaby's, 30 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DB
Tel: 020 7836 4233

Friday, September 29, 2006

Simpsons (on Cornhill), 28 September 2006

I love Simpsons. It's an old gentleman's chop house, with good old fashioned English food. You sit in old wooden booths that seat six and you are more than likely going to have to share it. It's full of City types reliving their boarding school days - gammon followed by jam roly poly for example.

I always end up having the following when I go, despite being sorely tempted by just about everything else: chump chop with an egg on top, bubble and squeak, spinach and cauliflower cheese. With red wine in varying quantities. If there is time (and space) after that, either apple pie and custard, or stewed cheese on toast. Stewed cheese is best ordered when sharing a booth with Americans - the look of horror on their faces at your 'dessert' is brilliant and always makes me chuckle.

Other options are full roast dinner, steak and kidney pudding, oxtail stew, fisherman's pie, gammon, mixed grill, steak... you get the idea.

Simpsons have recently introduced two vegetarian options onto the menu and have started allowing table bookings.

Four of us had main courses and lots of veggie side dishes, a bottle of wine and a couple of soft drinks for £53.

Rating - 7/10
38 1/2 Cornhill
Ballcourt EC3
Tel: 020 7626 9985

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Livebait, Covent Garden 25 September 2006

I've been to Livebait before and was not impressed, but Ruth had a £15 off voucher and has been a few times so we gave it a go again. This time the aircon was not set to 'Blast Freezer' - hurrah. They charge you £1 for bread and a tiny pot of butter and fish pate, which I think is rather unfair. I hate cover charges. But, the food itself was good, and the service not bad either, although as it was a Monday it was pretty quiet.

I had Cajun fishcakes, Ruth had dim sum, then we both had Thai red fish curry. A glass of good white wine each (chenin blanc from SA), water and tea/coffees, less £15 voucher, plus service charge (automatically added to the bill - grr again) all came to £53.

Rating - 6.5/10

21 Wellington Street London WC2E 7DN
Tel: 020 7836 7161

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rules, Covent Garden, 25 August

Rules bills itself as London's oldest restaurant, but rest assured the toilets have seen a refit since they opened in 1798. It's the place to go if you are a certified carnivore, as they have an estate in Teeside supplying them with game in season. We were rather disappointed though as we visited after the Glorious 12th but there was still no grouse on the menu!

There were however things like Gloucestershire Old Spot Pork Belly with Crackling, Loch Duart Salmon, Highland Venison, Roast Rack of West Devon Lamb and Grilled Bream & Cornish Scallops.

We had:

Fuller's draught London Pride ale in silver tankards
Warm Wiltshire Rabbit Salad with Black Pudding,Globe Artichoke & Ham

Cornish Mussels with white wine
Irish Grass Fed Beef Matured for 28 Days. Rump Steak,Wild Mushrooms & Red Wine

Steak & Kidney & Oyster Pudding with Green Beans

Samphire, & Chestnut Mushrooms
Buttered New Potatoes
Leaf Spinach
Viu Manent Merlot Colchagua Valley (Chile) 2004
Queen of Puddings with Hot Apricot Sauce
Warm Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice Cream
Pudding Wine Chateau Rolland Barsac (Sauternes) 2001 (glass)
Brandy & Port

All this came to £160

The London Pride is nothing like the gnats piss they serve in the City. An excellent drop. My rabbit salad had a superb balance of flavours (if that isn't too poncey a way of putting it, but it did). Magoo hoovered up his mussels and used up all the left over bread for the juice, so I presume that met with requirements. His steak, kidney and oyster pudding has often been fondly recalled over the past week or so as well. I was pleased to see samphire on the menu, it's a great veggie and makes me think of seaside summer holidays! The Irish beef was OK, but I get to eat a lot of good beef so it would have to be pretty special to stand out. (The Rules website says that they get in Belted Galloway beef every so often, so that could be worth checking out. ) The merlot was smooth and flavoursome, and good value at £20.

Queen of puddings was -oh!- to die for. Have one! Magoo found the chocolate tart rather hard going after his steak and kidney pudding, pastry possibly a little on the heavy side. Pudding wine, which I have got rather addicted to recently, the perfect light, honeyish slightly floral complement to my pud.

Service - not bad, a little slow in places but polite and helpful. We did not feel rushed.
Venue - go see it, imagine you were there when Dickens or Betjemen was, with a haze of cigar smoke obscuring the stag's crowns and old portraits of bygone personages, while you quietly check out the other clientele in the enormous mirrors.

Rating 8.5/10
020 7836 5314
35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7LB

Friday, September 01, 2006


Welcome to blokeswotlunch. We take an afternoon off quarterly to give Lunch the full attention it deserves, and in between investigate the worthwhile options you can cram into an hour or so. Feel free to leave comments or suggestions of good nosh venues. We don't believe in small gourmet portions. We do believe in trying as much of the drinks menu as possible. If there is a stuffed deer's head on the wall, so much the better. Enjoy.