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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Rum Kitchen

Why go here:

If you feel like eating at a Caribbean beach hut.

What it looks like:

It looks like a wooden shack with colorful lights, cheerful posters and a reggae soundtrack. There’s definitely that vibe that you’re out on a holiday in the Caribbean.

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The food:

You can try all sorts of Caribbean classics and fun all-rum cocktails (hint’s in the name) at this Soho eatery. I went all out and ordered the Double Jerk Chicken Burger which comes partnered with a scotch bonnet-flavoured mayo. The chicken was spicy and juicy and the skin was caramelised to just the right level. The sweet brioche buns and the fresh tomatoes offered a good balance to the heat of the chicken.

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My friend ordered the Jerk and Ting Chicken stack which is a better option for those with a lower tolerance for chillies since the rice, peas and slaw served in the dish help offset the spicy scotch bonnet better.

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The cocktails were nice and refreshing but were pretty generic in my opinion. I would have expected to more Caribbean themed, tropical cocktails on the menu but the found it to be lacking on the adventurous and experimental side of things.

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Verdict:

Go here with friends, order the jerk chicken and tuck in, if needed with your hands. This really is some finger licking good chicken!

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.

Yauatcha

Why go here:

It’s the only Michelin starred Dimsum restaurant in London and sister restaurant to the sexy, Michelin-starred Chinese, Hakkasan.

What it looks like:

A Taipei tea house that has been styled into a sleek bar and restaurant with deep blue spotlights producing a starry-sky like ceiling, frosted glass walls and a giant fish tank used to separate the dining area from the kitchen.

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The models of sheep, adorning the bar and corners of the dining area, did seem a little random initially but we realised eventually that this was because the restaurant gets styled each year in line with the Chinese calendar and year 2015 happens to be the Year of the Sheep.

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The food:

We started with drinks at the bar. I tried the Lalu which was made with Belvedere Vodka, Oolong Tea, Lychee and Lemongrass. The drink was very refreshing and you could taste every single component.

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Getting onto food, we started with Pork and Prawn Shui Mai and Char Siu Cheung Fun.

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The dishes were both carefully prepared and very delicious but my favourite was the dish I had next – the Pork Wontons.

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These were sweet and spicy and were served in a bowl of tangy garlic and peanut sauce.  The roast Duck and Pumpkin Puffs with Pine nuts, one of Yauatcha’s signature dishes, were also very delish- the pastry was sweet and crispy and the filling of warm, roast duck and crispy pine nuts had great texture and flavour.

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Verdict:

While Hakkasan may remain my favourite of these Michelin-starred sisters due to the more extensive and experimental menu offered, Yauatcha is a must try in every right because the Dimsums here are beautifully crafted and some of the most delectable ones you can find anywhere in the country.

La Roux at the Landau

Why go here:

This is the newest partnership of  the duo that established London’s acclaimed 2 Michelin-starred French restaurant, La Gavroche. Dine here before it becomes as hard to get a table here as the former.

What it looks like:

Housed in the famous Langham hotel & next to one of London’s best bars, the Artesian, you enter the restaurant via a corridor lined with an extensive collection of wines from around the world.

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The dining room is a circular hall with gilded timber walls, Vera Wang designed China-ware, brass chandeliers and fresh roses adorning every table, all of which leads up to making it one of the most elegant venues around in London.

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The food:

Unlike most other restaurants whose only freebie is fresh-baked bread, we started off here with complimentary blue cheese souffle which was just glorious and melted on my tongue in a fraction of a second. How I wish there was more of it.  I wanted the taste to linger in my mouth for just a bit longer.

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Thankfully, my starter arrived soon after to distract me from dreaming about the souffle. I had ordered the Roast Cornish squid which was served with a salt-cod brandade. You will be a bit surprised when you see the dish because your fried squid is served in an unusual colour- navy blue! This is due to the use of squid ink in the preparation of the batter. But beyond the unusual look, this was a simple dish albeit done perfectly. Squids were cooked well and the brandade, which is a buttery emulsion of salt cod and potato in olive oil ,was luxuriously silky.

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For mains, I had the monkfish dressed in pistachio and continuing the theme of unique colors, the dish came with a black curry and an orange saffron & pomegranate biryani. The highlight of the dish was surprisingly the black curry, which I am yet to figure out the components of. All I can tell you is that it had a mild spicy and smoky flavour which was well complimented by the sweetness of the pomegranate and the warm saffron in the biryani. The fish was fresh and crispy-skinned without being oily.

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My friend ordered the butter roasted beef sirloin which looked less exciting than my fish but was well cooked. The ox tongue potatoes on the side were particularly scrumptuous and the green garlic butter topping it all added to the taste.

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Moving onto dessert, we had to go for the Chocolate Millefeuille, the star dish featured on the website. And when it arrived, I realised how much better it looked in real life than in pictures! The chocolate glaze on top was shinier than a mirror- I swear I could see it reflecting the chandeliers on the ceiling (or maybe I was a bit tipsy at this point). The chocolate filling side were little globules of deliciousness. The maple ice cream on the side was also good although I would have preferred it to have a stronger flavour.

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We ended the meal with a final round of complimentary goodness- a platter of freshly made petit fours including blood orange jelly, berry macaroons, artisan cheeses and more.

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My only complain was with the service which seemed a bit unfocused due to there being too many waiters on rounds at the same time and all of them taking turns to serve us.

Verdict:

This is a glamorous venue with food that parallels Michelin-starred restaurants in quality and presentation, so that the prices do seem pretty justified. This is one of London’s best contemporary French restaurants and is definitely set to impress your date, your client or your Mum.

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.

Archipelago

Why go here:

To try exotic meats – there’s kangaroo to alpaca to crocodile on the menu.

What it looks like:

The restaurant is filled with cultural artefacts from all over the world. There are antiques like wooden giraffes, peacock feathers, Moroccan wall hangings and other random knick knack in every nook and corner of the place.

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The food:

You’ve got to be adventurous if you’re coming to eat here. While the menu does include some ‘safe’ dishes like the Massaman Chicken or the Malaysian-style Confit Duck, I was intent on trying the dishes I couldn’t get anywhere else. So, going in with that mindset, I ordered the Crocodile in Vine leaves and the Python Carpaccio for starters. The Crocodile meat was soft and flaky and was served with honey poached plums and pickled samphire, a crisp vegetable that grows in coastal areas.

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The Python looks like banana slices and tastes like chicken except much tougher. The accompanying green tea and wasabi crackers with olive puree were definitely the easier to digest components of the dish.

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For mains, we tried the Kangaroo Skewers and the Jerked Alpaca. The kangaroo was marinated in an Israeli sauce made of peppers and garlic and was served with candied beetroot and a red onion farofa, which happens to be a Brazilian dish made with maize-flour couscous. I found the kangaroo meat to be similar to lamb and quite succulent from the marination.

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The jerked alpaca came wrapped in a leafy bowl and topped with a cornmeal slice. There were plantain chips or Patecones on side along with a slab of buttermilk jelly, which tasted very much like Tofu. The alpaca was pretty fiery but the heat was offset pretty well by the creamy cornmeal slice and the buttermilk jelly.

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While we couldn’t brave the love-bug salad, we did order some coconut rice with a sprinkling of ants on the side, which were  surprisingly nice and crispy and tasted almost like breadcrumbs.

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Dessert was the Medieval Hive, which consisted of brown butter ice cream served with a beautifully silky honey and butter caramel sauce and all topped with a baby bee, the latter of which I very kindly let my friend enjoy all to himself. The ice cream and caramel sauce were to die for though!

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Verdict:

This place is a gem for all the adventurous foodies out there. The fusion of cuisines and the use of understated and unexplored ingredients makes the food here all the more fun. Dining here is definitely an experience and it explains why the restaurant has been referred to as one of London’s most romantic settings.

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!

Burger and Lobster

Why go here:

If you want to eat an entire lobster at a pocket friendly price, this is the place to be. Plus, everyone in London keeps talking about it, so you want to be able to chime in.

What it looks like:

There will be a massive queue. In spite of being a chain, each branch of Burger & Lobster is always packed with diners. What stands out the most when dining here is the number of fellow diners that are tourists and also how all of us grown ups are sat there in our bibs as we tucks into the juicy lobsters. This is not the place to come in your cocktail dress and killer heels in. You or someone else will manage to get lobster juice on your outfit, even if you do wear the bib.

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There is seating at the bar but it is better if you are able to sit in the banquette since the tables there are more spaced out and you can tuck in more easily into your lobster without worrying about elbowing fellow diners in the process.

The food:

There is no food menu. The waitress simply recites the names of the only four dishes on offer i.e. the Grilled or Boiled Lobster, the Lobster Roll or the Burger and they cost the same – £20 each, which is really good value (that is, assuming you do choose the lobster and not the burger). I ordered the Grilled Lobster which came with a big portion of chips and salad.

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The lobster in itself was massive and could have easily weighed about a kilogram. It was served with a garlic and lemon butter which helped enhance the taste of the fresh, sweet, white lobster meat. The chips were light and crisp but the salad could have done with a bit more of a body. I found mine to be too leafy and with not enough crunch and bite. There were some good cocktails on the drinks menu. I ordered the Abfab (not sure it does anything good for my abs though). It was made with peach liqueur, lemon verbana, red wine and fresh strawberries and was very refreshing following my lobster feast.

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Verdict:

Must visit for all those who love lobsters or those who want to try it for the first time. This is definitely one of the best Lobster selling eateries London has on offer both in terms of the taste and the quality of the lobster. Morever, it is suitable even for those on a shoestring budget. But be prepared to queue and to get in there with your hands when devouring the lobster- the cutlery only gets you so far! On the same lines, this place is definitely not recommended for a first date, unless you are sure your date will be very impressed with your ‘cracking’ skills on the lobster claws (sorry about the terrible joke) or is into the whole I-am-a-super-messy-easter look.

Momo

Why go here:

For authentic Moroccan food at one of London’s oldest restaurants known for its ambience, cocktails and as Usher’s go-to place to eat.

What it looks like:

Momo includes the dining looking upon the traditional Moroccan open kitchen; a cafe with shisha and a cocktail bar. The whole place is kitted out with rugs, glass lamps and engraved brass vases. The seating in the restaurant comprises of low slung tables whereas the cafe has more comfy seating of cushioned mattresses. With the dim lighting, the music, the sweet smell of tagines and mint tea in the air and the intimate seating, this place is rightfully hailed as one of London’s most romantic.

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However, I did find the service to be a little lacking. They brought us the wrong dishes initially and kept interrupting our conversations during meals to check what else we’d like to order, even though we’d clarified that we weren’t intending to place any additional orders of food and drinks.

The food:

The menu is primarily Moroccan with some elements of other cuisines introduced to keep the offerings modern and interesting. But we were keen to try the traditional dishes, specially since we’d been to Morocco just a few months back and we wanted to compare how ‘traditional’ the dishes really were.

For starters, I had the Pigeon Pastilla, a pastry filled with a sweet and cinnamon flavoured mix of tender pigeon meat, almonds and marmalade. While this was quite tasty, I did find it a bit unusual since I am not used to such sweet dishes to kick off a meal.

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I enjoyed the  Fish Bourek better- a thin baked pastry filled with a mix of prawns, scallops and charmoula.

For main, you have to try one of the tagines. They really do match the Marrakech ones on quality and taste. I definitely felt transported back to my trip and to the roof top dinners overlooking the bustling central square. The only difference was in the price tag and also in the size- the portion sizes here are much bigger. My pot was filled to the brim with chicken, lemons, olives, caramelised onions and lemon couscous.

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My friend ordered the Couscous Berber that came with a glass of Labneh Milk, which was a bit like a salty lassi. The portion size was massive, but the dish did feel a bit dry. Maybe they could have incorporated some of the yoghurt into the dish to add some moisture instead of serving it on the side as a drink.

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The cocktails here are also quite good. I tried one of Momo’s signature cocktails- the Lavender Fantasy, which was really refreshing and went well with the heat of the tagine.

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Verdict:

Must visit if you want to try authentic Moroccan food. Good place for an intimate sexy date, that transports you to Morocco in the midst of London. Worth going for shisha to the cafe post-dinner, instead of the standard drinks.