Wolseley

Why go here:

There is a book about Breakfast at The Wolseley that’s sold thousands of copies worldwide. Wolseley is a bit of a British phenomenon.

What it looks like:

Housed in the grand European Tradition Hotel, Wolseley describes itself as a cafe restaurant but it really is far removed from your standard road side cafe. As you step in, it is hard not to be amazed by the grandeur of the dining hall. The high ceilings decked with crystal chandeliers, the black-gold-creme colour scheme, the spiral, gilded stairways and the marbled flooring all add to the classy look of the venue.

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Combine this with the waiters in their bell-boy uniforms, the 24 hour bar serving more than 13 types of Champagne and handsome guards standing by the gate to welcome you in and you have the ideal celebrity breakfast joint.

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The food:

We chose to go for some of Wolseley’s specials from the famous all-day menu. We were tempted to order the Beluga caviar with blinis and cream but the price tag of more than 250 pounds seemed a bit high and we settled for the significantly better valued Chopped Liver dish and the Jonah’s Toasted Chocolate Sandwich.

The Chopped Liver was zesty and buttery and fluffy too. It was served with crackers, gherkins and a garnish of slivered chives, onions and thyme.

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The Chocolate Sandwich was unlike anything I’d ever had before. It was apparently invented by Wolseley’s chef Jonah for his son. It consisted of freshly made chocolate brioche slices that were oozing with a rich velvety chocolate sauce, all served with a dollop of creme fraiche. The sandwich was so big that my friend and I, in spite of being major chocoholics, struggled to finish it all.

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My friend also ordered a latte which came with a shot of sparkling water. Not being accustomed to drinking authentic Italian Expresso, we didn’t realise that you’re supposed to drink it before drinking the coffee and spent the entire meal what to do with it and ended up washing the spoon in it. Utter fail.

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Verdict:

Breakfast at the Wolseley feels like an indulgence. Their simple menu has dishes cooked to perfection and the stylish, decadent venue and your celeb fellow diners make breakfast more of a celebration than just a meal. For all you chocoholics out there, don’t forget to order the Jonah’s Toasted Chocolate Sandwich

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City Social

Why go here:

For a sophisticated, luxurious dining experience with stunning views of the City.

What it looks like:

Overlooking the Gherkin and housed high up on the 24th Floor of Tower 42, the old Natwest Tower, the restaurant is an embodiment of sophistication. Leather booths, spotlights being shone on tables and overlooking London’s landmark skyscrapers.

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The bathrooms were particularly cool, with dressing mirrors and comfy stools set right by the all glass wall panels, so that you can enjoy the panoramic views while touching up your makeup!

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The food:

The dishes here are mostly works of art- in terms of ingredients, techniques and presentation. The Chestnut Tagliatelle with smoked chestnuts and butternut squash came with a silky sage-infused with veloute. The tagliatelle was the softest, most flavourful I’d ever had.

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The seafood linguine was dished with an abundance of fresh seafood and their tongue tantalising juices formed a beautifully fragrant sauce.

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The ‘Navnon’ of lamb was a bit surprising since I had expected a big bowl of lamb casserole with seasonal vegetables. Instead, I was served a juicy lamb fillet with a drizzle of mint sauce and caramelised shallots, all topped with a crispy bacon crumb.

You have to get the desserts here. Every single item on the desserts menu looked great but based on recommendations from the waitress, we went for the Peanut , Banana and Chocolate ‘Old-fashioned’ and the Lemon & Vanilla Tart. The Old -fashioned came with an utterly scrumptious peanut butter parfait and a rich dark, chocolate ganache and freshly made banana ice cream.

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The lemon and vanilla tart was sweet and not too tangy and the fennel in the accompanying yoghurt sorbet had an unusual flavour but complemented the lemon tart well.

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Service was also very attentive with our glasses and bread baskets getting topped up seamlessly.

Verdict:

You should go to City Social if you’re looking to try food that looks like masterpieces of art and is of Michelin star quality, while enjoying spectacular views of London in superbly luxurious settings.

Quo Vadis

Why go here:

For Modern British food. It’s also one of the few places in Soho that has put as much effort into its decor as its food. Many people come here mainly for the head chef – Jeremy Lee, who is given credit for the success of the famous Blueprint Cafe in the Design Museum and was its headchef for 18 years.

What it looks like:

Unlike Soho’s standard eateries that are small and minimal decor, Quo Vadis offers an airy dining room decked with leather banquettes, stained glass window panels adorned with vines and a cute menu with illustrations that even includes a weather report!

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The food:

With its daily changing menu, the restaurant offers various seasonal, modern British plates of minimal clutter and maximum deliciousness. The theatre set menu is pretty good value and is offered all day long but due to the choice of dishes being limited, we opted for the al-a-carte. My starter of baby gem, broad beans and wild garlic aioli salad was fresh, crunchy and had the right hint of mustard which worked well with bitterness of the Radicchio.

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For my main course, I had the hake, served in a bowl of creamy chowder with kale and spinach. The crisp skin of the hake together with the crunchy kale and blanched spinach offered a range of textures to enjoy.

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For dessert, we had the St. Emilion Au Chocolat which was divine- it might even be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. A rich, dense chocolate tart with a base of crushed macaroons, all served with a generous dollop of some high-quality Chantilly cream.

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The cocktails served at their award-winning bar are also pretty good, specially the Martinis. I thoroughly enjoyed my drink- the Jockey Club, made with Monkey Shoulder, Chocolate Bitters, Maraschino and Sweet Vermouth. It was short, sharp and sweet!

Verdict-

Definitely a must try for those wishing to give modern British food a go. They say the head chef has a keen eye over every dish going out of the kitchen. The attention to detail given to the simple dishes is reflected clearly in the taste and presentaion. Don’t forget to order the St. Emilion Au Chocolat and also to grab a cocktail at the bar, if you get time!

Plum + Split Milk

Why go here:

Gourmet dining option situated in the heart of King’s Cross station.

What it looks like:

The restaurant has received an award for the Best Interior Design and it definitely succeeds in making an impression within seconds of walking in. There is a wavy, leather couch running along the length of the restaurant which is ideal for individuals and couples as well as smaller semi-arched couches for bigger groups. There are several, panelled floor-to-ceiling windows and statement chandeliers resembling hundreds of wine glasses strung together with fairy lights.

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The food:

The menu is quintessentially British and offers a mix of simple and elaborate dishes so you can either enjoy a quick-lunch if you’re waiting to get on that next train or have a long & relaxed, sophisticated dinner.

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I turned up for a quick-lunch prior to my train to Cambridge and opted for one of the Plum + Split Milk classics- the Dressed Dorset Crab and true to promise, the dish was presented to me within 10 minutes of ordering and what a beautiful presentation it was! A crab shell had been washed and dried out and was used as the serving dish.  The freshly dressed crab meat was melt-in-your-mouth and served with homemade sourdough bread and garlic aioli. This was certainly exemplary of a simple dish being executed well.

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While they didn’t have a menu for hot beverages, they readily whipped up a rich hot chocolate for me. Service was overall very good and the staff were paying a lot of attention to each guest and was fast without compromising on quality.

Verdict:

For all solo or bored travellers, make sure to give this place a visit next time you’re stuck waiting for a train in King’s Cross, instead of opting for that usual Pret sandwich. Quality British food served in lavish settings less than 100 metres from the station, makes this the perfect destination to hang out in between trains for all the foodies out there.

Oxo Tower

Why go here:

To have modern European food while enjoying one of the best rooftop views that London has to offer.

What it looks like:

The restaurant does have a bar but the focus is clearly on the dining. The tables are set in long straight lines, parallel to the all glass walls which offer killer views of the city.We could see St. Paul’s and other surrounding iconic structures from our table.

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The restaurant ceiling is laced with neon blue lights which adds to the cool and classy element of the venue, although it did render the pictures of my food all blue…

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Service was fast and efficient and the waiters ensured that our wine glasses were always topped up.

The food:

The dishes are all elaborate and well presented but prices definitely feel skewed. I ordered a starter of canelloni made with crab, sweet potato and chestnuts. The flavours were good but the delicate taste of the crab meat felt somewhat masked by the strong and earthy flavour of the sweet potato. For mains, I ordered the Turbot served with a spiced crab box, kohlrabi fondant and choi sum.

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Again, I found the Turbot, which should have been the star of the dish, to be somewhat underwhelming because it was a bit bland. On the positive side, the crab box was utterly delicious – the spices were fragrant and warm and the crab meat was very tender and sweet. The marinated crab meat had been shaped into a box and then deep-fried to produce this crispy little delight. I didn’t feel that it tied that well with the Turbot though. The dish seemed disjointed overall.

The desert was definitely my favourite course. It consisted of 8 different components, all of which were made with chocolate and all made to perfection. There was a chocolate pistachio mousse, a chocolate earl grey fondant, a balsamic and chocolate ganache and a chocolate orange tart amongst others. The price tag for this dish was the only one that felt justified.

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Verdict:

Go here for the views and if you’re willing to splash the cash to impress that special someone. Not one for the foodies unless you’re only planning on eating desserts!

Poppies

Why go here:

This place got the award for the Best Independent Fish and Chips Restaurant in the U..K. The CEO of London’s popular Timeout magazine, which publishes reviews of all old and new things on offer in London, also declared it to be his favourite fish and chip joint. Surely you must be curious to check out if it is worth all this hype after all.

What it looks like:

Full of British knick-knack – vintage posters, a mini telephone booth and a jukebox help recreate the 1940s look when Poppies was first established. The waitresses were in red, Polka-dotted diner style outfits and headscarves. And if you choose to takeaway, you get served in faux newspaper cones!

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The food:

The fish is sourced daily from the Billingsgate market and you can taste the freshness. The batter was light and crisp and therefore didn’t overpower the taste of the fresh, flaky fish. The fries were chunky and the calamari had a good bite without being tough and chewy. While they do also serve some chicken dishes, their expertise lies in the fish. My Victorian lemonade was sweet and refreshing and was a great accompaniment to the fried fish – more places should offer the combo of lemonade with fish and chips.

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Verdict:

This place transports you back in time to a fish and chippy from the 1940s and offers some of the best quality fish and chips you can get in London without compromising on the prices.

Boisdale

Why go here:

To try out some great quality Scottish food with live jazz in the background and for some of the best whiskey, since this happens to be the biggest whiskey bar in the whole of Europe.

What it looks like:

The restaurant is nestled right in the middle of the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. You go up the elevators into the circular dining room, with ceiling to floor glass windows, lots of group tables with merry, dining bankers and with the aforementioned whiskey bar and the jazz band forming the backdrop.

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The food:

The dishes can be hit and miss. The Truffle Aberdeenshire rib-steak hamburger and the dishes from the Grill are slightly less exciting but all very well-executed. My starter of the ham hock and fois gras terrine was a bit dry and the presentation seemed to lack color and looked a bit disjointed.

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The salmon fillet in my main course was not seasoned well enough but the taste of the accompanying juicy shrimps, soft leeks and hot butter sauce definitely made up for it.

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My favourite has to be the dessert – sticky toffee pudding. It was warm, gooey and the most indulgent caramel-y toffee sauce and partnered with a scoop of home-made smooth, white clotted cream.

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Verdict:

You should go here for the steak or the burgers if you want to play it safe. Or you can try out some of the more adventurous Scottish dishes and be rest assured of the quality of the ingredients. The flavours may not always be as top notch but are usually very decent. Overall, if you’re looking to go to impress your clients and love jazz and/or whiskey, this is the place to go.