Thursday, February 05, 2009

London Restaurants

Thurs 5 Feb 2009

We seem to have spent a lot of time in London this year so it's time for a quick scout around some of the venues in which we've spent our hard earned pounds.

So ... to begin, a revisit to L'Accento in Bayswater, first visited by me in summer 2007. I was impressed then and, in the interim, the restaurant seems to have produced a web site and got itself recommended in the Michelin Guide. More importantly - standards haven't slipped. This was a huge relief, since I'd recommended it for an impromptu dinner! L'Accento now offers a cut down menu of two courses for £17.50, but three of our party of four ordered from the à la carte menu. Everyone was happy. I started with the pumpkin ravioli with sage butter which, while a little on the sweet side for me, was still really good. I followed this with osso bucco served on risotto milanese which was fantastic. Also sampled were the calve's liver, the squid salad and the lamb shank. We washed our main courses down with Sardinian Cannonau: a light to medium bodied red wine that went will our combination of dishes (wine choice was complicated by a fish focussed main from the set menu). The wine list is a study in diverse Italian wines and I would have been quite happy to work my way through the whole lot. We also went for puddings and coffees and the final bill ... £45 a person. Bear in mind, this was no exercise in moderation and it would certainly be possible to dine at L'Accento for a lot less.

Next up, another evening meal, this time at The Mercer on Threadneedle Street. Recommended to me a while ago on the basis of its good quality house Champagne, we arrived shockingly late for our 9pm reservation. Having been at a drinks function already our palates might have been a little ... um ... jaded, but the Bruno Paillard Champagne was enjoyed by all before we launched into our food. I started with a smoked eel salad followed by scallops on artichoke puree, washed down with a glass of Albariño. What really stood out was that the service was flawless when we were far from perfect guests. We turned up as the kitchen should have been closing and we might have been a little boisterous but not once did we feel hurried or that we were imposing on staff who were, in hindsight, probably thinking they were going to get an early night. Again, a good wine list with a good by the glass offering. We didn't have pudding and we came out just over £50 a head poorer. Based on this experience, I would head back to the Mercer in an instant.

Finally, on Monday I had the misfortune to find myself in London. Yes, Monday, when snow closed the city. Having got up at 5am to catch the 6am train from Leeds, I was rather disappointed when day 1 of my WSET Educator course was called off. Not that I'd actually figured out how I was going to get from King's Cross to London Bridge with the tube cancelled! I spent the morning drinking coffee in Islington (walking distance, in the conditions) before thinking about lunch. My first instinct was to head to the Charles Lamb, but then I thought I should really try out somewhere new. I drew up a short list and, thanks to Krista's report from September 2007 (and the fact it was closest) I headed to Mucho Mas, even though I wasn't entirely sure I fancied Mexican. It's easy to find: it's on Upper Street, near the big pedestrian crossing. On Monday staff were busy grilling in the snow. As you do.

I ate inside. A chicken burrito is £4.95. The burrito is put together in front of you so you can specify which type of beans you want, and the combination of cheese, sour cream, salad, chilli sauce and guacamole (an extra 80p) that you desire. I also had a beer costing £3.40, so this wasn't the cheapest lunch known to mankind (even by London standards!) but it was very good. The burrito was very generous in size and very tasty. If you're having a normal day, you could easily eat one of these for lunch and just a snack for dinner (or vice versa). Again - I'd return without thinking about it.

Of course, while it was the worse snow in London for 20 years (or perhaps that is 19?) I probably should have been traipsing around taking photos of Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge and so on. However, I wasn't so you'll have to make do with this shot of Upper Street!

02022009565

1. L'Accento, 16 Garway Rd, London, W2 4NH, phone: (020) 7243 2201
2. The Mercer, 34 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AY, phone: (020) 7628 0001
3. Mucho Mas, 27 Upper Street, London, N1 0PN, phone: (020) 7704 2123
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7 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Would that Mucho Mas had been a fixture when I worked at St Paul's Road just around the corner. And (just to betray my age) I remember walking around London in the snow of 20 years ago, to visit a just-born niece...

9:08 am  
Blogger Joos de Littlemore said...

Crikey! Snow? Looks like an August morning in Starbotton (except for the taxis!).

10:03 am  
Anonymous Takeaways said...

£3.50 for a pint of beer, wowsers, almost as much as your burrito! I hope it was worth it. Would love to see my burrito being made that makes it a nicer experience I think.

4:54 pm  
Blogger Good Food Shopper said...

I was recently in London and went to Jin Korean Barbeque restaurant on Bateman Street in Soho. I would recommend a visit next time you're in London, it's very different.

8:14 am  
Blogger Alex said...

David & Joos - I think London is now up to the worst snow in something like 30 years! Shame not a lot of it is making its way to Leeds!

Takeaways - it was £3.40 for a 330mL bottle, not even a pint!!!

Good Food Shopper - I'll keep the Korean in mind for my next trip to London as I love Korean food!

10:59 am  
Anonymous Takeaway said...

Thanks for the tip about Mercer's but I think I will stay clear of the Eels.

4:17 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Takeaway - eel is lovely! If you ever get the opportunity to eat smoked eel - grab it with both hands!

8:32 pm  

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