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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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.

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.

Inamo

Why go here:

For the interactive, touch screen tables that allow you to order dishes from your seat, play games while you wait for the food to arrive(great distraction for awkward dates) and even order a cab and find nearby bars!

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Touchscreen tables you can play games on!

The food:

Inamo serves fusion food, wih primarily Japanese flavours. For starters, we ordered the Seared Salmon Maki and the Hosomaki. The latter was good but the blow-torched salmon in the former wasn’t as flavourful as we’d imagined, most likely due to the fish not being quite as fresh.

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Seared Salmon Maki

For mains, we got the Rainbow Trout with Yuzu and the  Berkshire Pork Neck. For those that haven’t had Yuzu before but enjoy experimenting like us, a warning:- Yuzu, the special ingredient of the dish is a rare and expensive citrus fruit which happens to be so sour, it heavily dominates the rest of the dish and the completely masks the flavour of the rainbow trout.

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Rainbow Trout with Yuzu

The flavours in the pork neck dish on the other hand, were beautiful.   The spicy chocolate sauce complements the succulent grilled pork meat very well and the contrast offered by the crushed wasabi peas helps enhance the sweetness of the meat.

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Pork Neck with chocolate sauce and wasabi peas

Verdict:

A must visit, if not for the fusion Japanese then for the unique experience. Great place to take a date or family members since you’re guaranteed that there won’t be a moment of boredom!