Monday, 30 May 2011

Charlotte's Bistro, W4

Photo: Paul Winch-Furness
As well as the many trends in food to have emerged in the last year or so - gourmet Scotch eggs, historic British dishes redux, goat's curd with everything, three-meat blends - something of a fashion has sprung up for giving new restaurants names which don't quite do exactly what they say on the tin.

Thus, Bar Boulud is not a bar but a seriously upscale burger joint, Riding House Cafe (more of which at a later date) isn't a cafe but a buzzy all-day brasserie, and Charlotte's Bistro isn't a bistro but a...well, here's the thing. I'm not quite sure what it is, or rather, what it wants to be. 
Whatever it is, it's very good, with mostly terrific food, a pleasant room, efficient service and a clearly extremely talented - not to mention charming - chef. The problem, if indeed to anyone but me it is one, is that the whole is not quite the cohesive, knock-your-socks-off sum of its parts.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Capote Y Toros, West Brompton

Within a few doors of each other in West Brompton, the leafy little stretch of Old Brompton Road that's posher than nearby Earl's Court but not quite South Kensington proper,the same proprietors operate Cambio de Tercio - reputed to be one of London's best Spanish restaurants - Tendido Cero, a traditional tapas bar, and now Capote y Toros, a ham and sherry bar to which I was invited - you might say 'summoned' - recently by my good pal, Spanish food buff and culinary girl-about-town Rachel McCormack.

Let's just contemplate the beauty of that concept for a moment: a ham and sherry bar. A bar specialising in Spanish ham - the really good stuff, from pigs fed on acorns so that their flesh becomes all fat and nutty and sweet - and sherry, dozens of different varieties of it from the palest dry Fino to treacly dark Pedro Ximenez, as well as an all-Iberian wine list. In addition to the (amazing, silken) jamon, there's a list of about twenty tapas, most of them using sherry as an ingredient. Even in Spain such places aren't all that common, so for one to pop up in London is a rare treat indeed.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Fat Delicatessen, Balham

One of the many great things about living in London is that we are absolutely spoiled for wonderful local café/delis, where we can enjoy a quick, delicious snack or light lunch and then, if so minded, buy the ingredients to make it at all over again at home. As well as well-known mini-chains like Ottolenghi, small but flourishing independents populate many of the 'villages' which, cliché would have it, make up our fair capital; locals love to think of each as being their 'little secret'.

Apologies to the locals of Balham then for blowing wide-open this particular little secret, the absolutely  delectable, worth-the-fare-to-zone-3 Fat Delicatessen. I'd walked past it numerous times on the way to and from visiting a friend who lives round the corner and always meant to go in; having finally done so for a lunch with said friend (let's call him Matthew, as that is in fact his name) and Alyn recently, I'm extremely glad I did.

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