Sunday, 26 February 2012


The Christian Liaigre-designed ground floor tea room
Although it was purely a coincidence that I arranged to have lunch at Yauatcha on the day when all of nearby Chinatown was celebrating Chinese New Year, it felt rather fitting that I should be eating there on a day when all thoughts were on new beginnings. 

I'd been to Soho's swankiest dim sum restaurant before, on a couple of occasions, but due to no fault of theirs always left with a sense of melancholy; I won't labour the point but let's just say unrequited romance was involved and I'd come to feel that Yauatcha and I were jinxed. This time I was with my purely-platonic pal Eliot, so there was no danger of me leaving with a heavy heart, and could appraise the experience rather less partially than on my previous visits.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Elliot's, Borough Market

Penicillin. Post-It Notes. The Negroni Sbagliato. Me. All wonderful, all indispensable to modern life (to anyone who might beg to differ about the cocktail, I say: Try one) and all of us happy accidents. Fleming's slovenly lab hygiene, Spencer Silver's failed glue, a barman not knowing his Prosecco from his gin and the power cuts of September 1975 all resulted in something quite unplanned but with hindsight, extremely welcome.

A few weeks ago I had a very happy accident of my own, when my friend Gay James (as distinct from Straight James, Posh James, Fat James or Baby James) managed to get off the bus a few stops too early for our assigned meeting place and called to say that he was in Borough, not Bermondsey, and lost.

It was easier to go to him than to try to direct him to me, so we found ourselves on Borough High Street, late-ish at night and with no idea where to eat. I figured that if we wandered towards Borough Market, somewhere would still be open; somewhere was, and it was Elliot's, which turned out to be fabulous.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

34, Mayfair

For those of us, and we are many, who follow the movements of London's lively restaurant scene with the devotion of a celebrity's stalker, the last few months have offered particularly rich pickings. From former food-trucks graduating to permanent premises to world-famous chefs popping up for blink-and-you'll-miss-'em residencies in department stores, the pace and variety of new openings has been thrilling and dizzying.

Of the lot, the one that's had me most excited - which is saying something, as despite what the existence of this blog might suggest I generally don't get all that excited about new openings - is 34. By my own admission
 something of a Caprice Holdings fan-boy, from the moment it was announced early last year that 2011 would see the first new UK restaurant from the group since their relaunching of Scott's in 2006, I'd been looking forward to going.

Alas, delays with the lease and fit-out meant that 34's projected Autumn launch slipped back to early December, when I was being good and saving up for Christmas; by the time January, and with it the gnawing poverty and seemingly interminable wait for the new year's first pay-day that typifies that month, 
loomed, it felt that I would most likely have to wait as long again to actually eat at 34 as I had for it to open. But Santa must have been spreading the word about just how good a boy I'd been, because lo and behold a couple of weeks into the month an invitation came to dine at 34 as their guest; I was there as fast as you can say "Taxi to Grosvenor Square!"

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