Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The last few weeks have not, for me at least, been a very happy time in which to be a restaurant blogger. Criticism of the activity - as if all those doing it form some homogenised entity all writing for the same reasons and to the same ends - has become increasingly vocal and, at times, personal. Calls for bloggers to 'learn to write like journalists' and adopt journalistic standards (an oxymoron some might say in the light of recent scandals) have been hailed as A Good Thing, ignoring the fact that being paid to write for a newspaper or website is quite different from setting up a blog and writing, unpaid, for fun.

When bloggers  - certain bloggers - responded by introducing a table of disclosures '[placing] us at the leading edge of blog transparency', the clear implication being that anyone who didn't follow suit must be a deceitful bounder, I felt that the very heart of my hobby had been ripped out and that it was becoming more of a chore than a pastime.  The almost-final straw came when an article slating restaurant bloggers appeared in a respected publication, written by someone not only who I knew and liked but who had also been my host at a free event for bloggers some months ago. Et tu, Brute? 
I thought, and started very seriously to question whether the game was worth the candle.

And then I went for lunch at Brawn, and in the space of a couple of hours of near-perfect food, fantastic wines and the most exquisite company, I was reminded why it is that I do this. Not for freebies - though I won't deny they're a nice, occasional bonus - nor for any perceived credit for being the first through the door of a new restaurant to write about it, even if my hastily-written 'review' is so poorly constructed as to be barely intelligible. No, I do this because eating out, when it's as good as this, is so bloody pleasurable that to then relive it through writing about it - even if no-one reads the result - is almost as joyous as having the physical experience all over again.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Quaglino's, St James's

Quaglino's in St James's was imbued with an indelible glamour the moment when, in an early episode of Absolutely Fabulous, Patsy set out to Eddy their itinerary for the day as:

"...a little mosey down Bond Street, a little sniff around Gucci, sidle up to Ralph Lauren, pass through Browns and on to Quag's for a light lunch."

Patsy's choice of lunch spot was understandable; in its Nineties heyday, under Sir Terence Conran's ownership, Quaglino's was about as fashionable as restaurants got. It will come as no surprise that it was the first place I rushed to eat at when I moved to London in 1994 and loved it.

These days, Quaglino's is part of the vast D & D London restaurant empire and is, if not exactly unfashionable, unlikely to figure on many a Londoner's must-go list. This is, I have to say, a terrible shame, as it's still, well, absolutely fabulous.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Opera Tavern, Covent Garden

Recent raves on this site about The Fat Delicatessen and Capote y Toros will have left readers in no doubt as to my fondness for tapas, and ever since Opera Tavern in Covent Garden opened to almost universal acclaim last year I've been meaning to get along to sample its take on small-plates. So when my lovely friend and sometime dining buddy Will treated us to tickets to see Butley at the Duchess Theatre just a few metres away, Opera Tavern was the obvious choice for our pre-theatre dinner.

The imposing battleship-grey building on Catherine Street offers two dining areas, a buzzy informal ground floor bar and a more restrained first floor dining room. We were seated in the latter, and although very attractive - high-ceilinged, with a fabulous chandelier and some striking art - it felt a little awkward to be eating an essentially casual cuisine in such smart surroundings.

Opera Tavern's website describes their offering as 'Italian and Spanish-influenced tapas' - the latter part of that description surely something of a truism - and this translates into a menu split roughly 50/50 into traditional Iberian specialities and more modern small dishes using fashionable ingredients. It's an attractive proposition, offering plenty to appeal to the casual diner as well as excite the more adventurous eater.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...