Tag Archives: restaurants

exmouth market – all day ideas

12 Apr

For a number of years I had the joy of my place of work being located a stone’s throw from Exmouth Market.

Photo credit: Alan Stanton

You might think “joy” is a slightly exuberant word to use to describe a street, but in my opinion it’s one of the few streets in London that you can visit at any point in the day or any day of the week and go somewhere interesting, independent and of a good standard (also fitting that my office is now based right on Leicester Square.. which is a long way from joyous).

Exmouth Market is in no means a hidden gem, but it still surprises me how many people haven’t visited.. I think it probably has something to do with there not being a tube stop in the close vicinity (Angel, Farringdon and Kings Cross are a 10 min stroll away).

So here’s the His and Hers recommendations of spots in the vicinity, by time of day and activity.. this is in no way exhaustive (unfortunately we’re going to miss some spots, otherwise this would be the longest post ever..)

Weekend Breakfast & Brunch: Starting with the obvious here… one of the more recent additions to the market is Caravan (which we recommended here). Run by a group of antipodeans it’s the spot to get breakfast and top notch coffee (lets face it, there’s two things you can expect Kiwis to be great at, coffee and beating everyone in rugby). Tip: If you don’t like waiting, turn up early, or in pairs.. if not, prepare for a bit of a wait.. it’s popular.

Weekday Lunch: Not technically on Exmouth Market but just around the corner, Clerkenwell Kitchen, frustrates me. Mainly because it’s so good and I don’t get to go there as often as I’d like (it’s only open weekday lunchtimes). With a real focus on sustainability, the team that run the kitchen change the menu daily. If it’s sunny make sure you sit in the courtyard out the back (bordered by the kitchen’s herb garden).

Weekend Lunch / roast: Again just off Exmouth Market on a very quiet residential street (this post should possibly be renamed “Side Streets around Exmouth Market”), The Easton is a gastro pub, which, due to its slightly hidden location, will always guarantee you a spot even if everywhere else is rammed.. which maybe implies it’s a last resort, but it definitely isn’t, especially based upon the quality of the Sunday roast we had there recently.

Early evening with friends: Cafe Kick – The spot to have a post work beers and then get way too competitive on their table football tables.  You reserve and pay for the time on the tables, as opposed to sinking quid after quid into hungry machines, which makes things a little less expensive.. but the likelihood is that you’ll probably spend the equivalent on beers working up a competitive thirst (no halftime oranges here)..

Evening – “Catch up with friends” dinner spot: Morito is the little sister restaurant to possibly my all time favourite restaurant Moro (it’s next door). Unlike its bigger sibling which is probably for more special occasions, Morito is all tapas, you can’t reserve a table and there is a very relaxed vibe to proceedings.

Due to its pedigree and no reservations policy, it is always extremely busy from opening. However, due to patrons’ keenness to eat, I’ve actually been a couple of times a little later in the evening, Spanish style (maybe after a game of table football/beer or two), and never had to wait… however the danger of this approach is a tendency to get carried away with the ordering… “7 plates per person yeah?”

I could carry on with recommendations but I won’t, so go explore for yourself – you might even find “The Secret Pub”.. and this place is infamous.. the one with the best beer garden, cheap drinks, great food and no crowds.. I’m not going to tell you where it is here, but if you invite me for a drink.. I may just show you.

Exmouth market – from central London (Charring Cross Rd / Tottenham Court Road) take the 38 bus and it’ll drop you right at the end of the end of the market in about 15/20 mins

caneli café, helsinki

10 Apr

A lot of Helsinki seemed really quite closed over Easter, but we were lucky enough to run into Galih, who opened up his coffee shop just for us. Apparently very popular with visiting Melburnians (we do seem to have a knack for sniffing out great coffee), Caneli Café serves the excellent Johan & Nyström coffee from Sweden.

We spent a great hour or so listening to Smokey Robinson and chatting to Galih, who moved to Finland from Indonesia with his family in the 1990s.

Caneli Café only opened in March, but already seems pretty popular with the local hipsters (we obvs fitted right in!).

Caneli Café: Iso Roobertinkatu 46C, Helsinki, http://www.facebook.com/canelicafe

a trip to the garden centre..

30 Mar

Not your typical garden centre, Petersham Nurseries in Richmond has been on our must visit lists for quite sometime. With a soft spot for gardening, and a quite obvious weakness for great food, its a dream location for this half of the His and Hers.

With the planets aligning perfectly bringing together a day off work, great weather and a table for four being available at short notice, someone was obviously smiling on us.

There’s not a great need for me to do much writing in this post, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

With the restaurant famous for its fresh, seasonal produce, to begin we made sure we chose the young veg with houmous – one of the subtle fusions of what has made Petersham famous and the influence of new head chef Greg Malouf, who is renown for his middle eastern food.

Fresh mixed leaf salad with Violas

Grilled poussin with persian spices – I need to learn how to make Bhatura (the bread) it was delicious.

The Almond Pannacotta with Rose Syrup & Yorkshire Rhubarb made my dining companion very happy..

From my rather extensive documentation of our meal, you probably don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that I was a very happy diner.

With its greenhouse setting, being surrounded by all the new spring plants, flowers and greenery (and especially on such a nice day), its hard not to be bowled over by Petersham.


If you haven’t seen enough photos of our trip to Petersham, there’s more here on our Flickr

abu zaad

29 Mar

Ollie’s mum arrived in town tonight but alas Ollie had a prior engagement with Paul McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall (I’m sure we will hear more about this).

The only way George and I could rival a night with that weirdly youthful Beatle was to take Ollie’s mum to Abu Zaad – one of our favourite neighborhood restaurants (which we recommended here). This is one of only a clutch of Syrian restaurants in London and we are very lucky to have it as one of our locals.

As has become something of a routine, we went crazy on the starters (three for six pounds), realised we’d completely over ordered when the colossal mains arrived, and nearly keeled over when our waiter offered us piles of baklava as a parting gift.

“You don’t get this in North Devon!”


let’s put those clocks back and have a perfect london weekend

25 Mar

Of a Saturday, Portobello Road is generally heaving with tourists toting their SLRs and asking for directions to a travel bookshop and blue door which featured in a certain 1997 romantic comedy. Head a little further north to Golborne Road (which we’ll talk about properly soon) and the tone changes for the better. (That is the famous Goldfinger building in the background).


We started with breakfast at Lowry & Baker – one of our favourite local cafes.


We then wandered down Golborne Road for some Moroccan tea, sharing a bench with some old geezers with opinions on everything and who had clearly set up camp for the entire day…


The sunshine was too good to waste so we moved on to an impromptu picnic in a secret garden…where we unwittingly wiled away a good six hours.


As the sun faded I moseyed into Central London to meet a friend for a quick retail recce, and was delighted to discover that Monki has opened a stand alone shop in Carnaby Street. As well as being a ridiculously fun shop, like many of the Swedish brands, Monki make great basics at a verrry nice price.Image

Onward to Spuntino (which we recommended here). This is a great hidden gem – there is no sign out the front, the door is firmly closed and all you can see from the street is a streak of soft light. Nervous of its infamous queues, it was uncharacteristically quiet and we were whisked straight to a seat. We ate like queens, got given some free chips(!) and pretended we were in the West Village.


A lazy Sunday was spent flying our absolutely rubbish kite in Holland Park…


…running into a couple of oddballs trying to blend into the foliage…


…and staging a pretty fierce colouring competition with the six year olds at the next table at Byron (we lost)…


…and home in time to watch Julian Fellowes’ Titanic. I wonder what’s going to happen in the end?!

i be man, feed me steak.

21 Mar

I’m not going to lie; when it comes to ordering food in restaurants I have a formula. It’s pretty simple, don’t order food that you could or would cook yourself. Eating out should be special, so don’t leave yourself thinking “I probably could have done that better”.

So generally speaking I’ll never order pasta, and my nemesis the soufflé is top of the list.

As someone who doesn’t eat red meat on a regular basis, when the possibility of a steak is on the cards, a reservation at Hawksmoor is a prerequisite (as well as a diary that says “busy” for the afternoon).

For those not well acquainted, what Lourdes is for Catholics, Hawksmoor is for fans of red meat. Plenty of column inches have been written eulogizing the virtues of the chain (that’s a nasty word for a group of restaurants so good), so I’m not going to try and add to whats already been said, so instead here’s my quick low down on making the most of a visit.

1. For me it’s all about Hawksmoor Seven Dials. The style of the interior (bare brick, gentle lighting and columns punctuating the dining floor), add to the atmosphere of its underground setting. You can lose hours and it seems to instill a very laid back vibe in everyone that visits.

(Photo: theHawksmoor.com)

Hawksmoor Spitalfields on the other hand naturally has a more city feel to it, a lot of suits ordering a lot of red wine, and as the main dining room is above ground, there’s unfortunately a greater reminder that at some point you might need to return to work.

2. If you take just one piece of this advice just make sure you order a “Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew”. Aptly described as “the turbo-shandy for the discerning drinker”, its mix of ginger beer, shandy and gin is the best sort of pre steak warm up possible.

3. Try a Sunday lunch. Not a lot more to add except you won’t regret it.

4. Enjoy the theatre of your meal. Get the low down on the steaks on the board. There aren’t too many places you’ll visit where you’ll feel as though you know your meals family ancestry, and having someone speak for 10 minutes so passionately about four different types of steak is pretty impressive.

5. And finally if you should go to the Seven Dials branch, regardless of which way you’re headed after, just never EVER turn right out of the restaurant and walk up Langley Street. Seeing ridiculously energetic, athletic dancers prancing around Pineapple Dance Studios isn’t a good digestive aid.

shabby chic

19 Mar

Mention North Devon to most people, and learning to surf and the Tatler magazine ‘hot spot’ Croyde beach will probably be the focus of their attention. However nestled around the coast, away from the wetsuit clad crowds is one of my favourite spots in the southwest, Ilfracombe.

A holiday hotspot for Victorian England, the town has fallen on harder times of late, but the slightly down at heel edge to the town adds buckets (and spades) of character to its truly picturesque location. The best way I can describe it is it’s like Padstow without the Jack Wills hoardes cluttering the pavements gnawing on pasties.

A slightly more famous fan of Ilfracombe is Damien Hirst, who after moving to the area opened 11 The Quay a few years ago. With its interior influenced by its nautical surroundings – note the ship’s hull inspired ceiling, the restaurant has more Hirst art in it than a retrospective at the Tate.

Within the spectrum of food available in North Devon it’s a pretty good standard, and fairly reasonably priced at that. What I can’t understand is that every time I visit is how there’s always space in the restaurant. I’ve personally never had a bad meal there, so I’m not sure why it doesn’t receive better patronage. Unfortunately I can’t help but feel as though if its owner wasn’t the highest earning living artist it may not have lasted as long as it has.

With the restaurant right on the working harbour with its fishing nets, lobster pots and bait boxed and ready for the trip out to sea, it can feel a bit like the inspiration for  ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”  is all around you…