Top 10 Food shows: #9 TopJaw

TOPJAW

TOPJAW is a superbly entertaining YouTube show that sees two mates, Jesse and Will, escapade around the globe: living, breathing and eating the food of the best restaurants, markets and street vendors on offer. That they manage to truly convey the ambience of so many places, in such little time, is remarkable and rarely achieved though this type of content.

What’s particularly innovative about the show is their expertly curated choices of places to visit. There’s no Michelin stars here or cliched Easyjet in- flight-magazine recommendations. No, they explore places that in- the- know locals love, or would love, to go.

The show was born out of a short film attempting to find what was London’s best burger in 2015. A patty-pilgrimage saw them test Boom Burger, Five Guys, Meat Liquor, Dip & Flip, Burger & Lobster with Patty & Bun eventually crowned the winner. The show has since evolved into a legitimate food and travel guide. And one you actually trust.

Will and Jesse are clearly ‘living their best lives’ making the show which makes it all the more enjoyable to watch. Jesse, the presenter, dances, jockeys and jokes throughout, working off the ridiculous volume of calories he consumes at each stop. There are shades of Man vs Food in the sheer quantity he’s able to devour in their 48 hour trips. That he shows so much excitement towards every place he visits, with such a full belly, shows a huge heart and hollow legs.

AA Gill once said that the most endearing quality in people is enthusiasm, even if their passion isn’t your cup of tea. TOPJAW create films that epitomize enthusiasm and this seeps through the presenting, the eating and the film production. Ultimately this show makes you want to live, to have fun and to eat with a smile.

 TOPJAW  – YouTube , @TOPJAW,

Top 10 Food shows: #10 One Bite Pizza Reviews

The Top 10 food shows on YouTube : # 10 Barstool Pizza.

My first viewing of One Bite Pizza Reviews (with Dave pageviews)’ reminded me of watching Spinal Tap for the first time. This was clearly a paradigm shifting take on the cliched camcorder food review. There were so many layers on what was ostensibly a pizza review, that my brain was sent into overdrive, craving immediate satirical enlightenment: ‘What does that reference mean?’ ‘Is that a joke within a joke?’ Is this guy really an irreverent millionaire, in leopard swim-shorts, eating pizza on 54th street?’ Dave’s swagger was all Jagger and he’s reviewing pizza!?’

It was like joining a conversation of cock-sure Oxford grads at a party, where you were never sure if they’re talking in the meta, beta or alpha, but you nod and laugh along anyway.

Hugh Grant, Dave Portnoy, Matthew McConaughey

One Bite Pizza Reviews is the flagship YouTube show of the uber successful Barstool Sports pop and culture blog (worth an estimated $450 Million), founded by Dave Portnoy, who presents.

The basic premise of the show is deceptively simple: Man reviews pizza across America, of all shapes and sizes, scoring the ‘pies’ a number between 1-10 (no even ‘rookie’ even scores allowed). Dave tells stories about his encounters with the owners, engages with any onlooking public and spouts his opinions on the local football team. But this is so far from pizza-review takeaway trash. Dave, and camera man Frankie, have Malcolm Gladwell’ed the format, with over 600 reviews to date, sprawling across every nook of the upper and underbelly of the United States. They’ve even reviewed the pizza at the Ascot races in England, earning their stars and stripes, credibility and clout.


The more you watch the more idiosyncrasies are revealed. The reviews take place outside the pizzerias, often with the chef or owner looking on nervously. Everyone on the street seems to recognize him, whatever town they’re in, gathering round for pizza and selfies. The show’s catch phrase ‘one bite everyone knows the rules’ is never adhered to and yet it’s a vital part of the brand. And the show truly is a brand with a presence so big that A-listers join for pizza on the street to promote their latest film.

Dave is tough with his scoring and the viewers love him for this. He is amusingly unintimidated by any situation; whether the owner of the restaurant is part of the mob or he’s rinsing Tyson Fury for drowning his pizza in chilli oil, he never flinches.


Out of all their reviews only a select few make the upper echelon scores. The top-rated pizza are: Lucali’s, Best Pizza, John’s of Bleecker Street, Sally’s Apizza, Johnny’s Pizzeria, Prince Street Pizza, Pizza Shackamaxon and Chad’s Pizza and Restaurant.

Dave Portnoy


Dave is brash, wears football tank tops and yet conversely erudite. His delivery is deep dish deadpan with extra abstract musings: “When I try to get my brain to work I just see palm trees with coconuts, senoritas and sweet breezes. I’m trying to think what does this pizza remind me of and all I see is a seagull and a coconut.” He makes no sense, until you watch more, and he makes all the sense in the world.


One Bite Pizza Reviews will polarise opinion. Frat boy humour or something more profound? You decide. I still don’t know if the joke’s on me, but frankly when it’s this fun, I don’t care.

Alright Frankie, let’s watch another one.

Best of Barstool Pizza Reviews 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrL2T8w68RU

Tommy Banks 1 – Daily Mail 0

Critics vs chefs have slugged it out since the caveman times. The greats like AA Gill and Fay Machler fought publicly with Gordon Ramsay, Tom Sellers and many more. As harsh as Gill could be, he was always greatly respected by most in the industry, in spite of this. By way of their entertainment value and clout, critics can get with proportionally more. As in life the funnier you are the more you will be forgiven. That’s just how it works.

Critics will always exist to serve consumers and keep restaurants on their toes but something felt off key about Sudi Piggot’s review of top restaurants ‘make aways’ in the Daily Mail.

Restaurants are notoriously difficult to make work. Over 90% close down in the first year. Some deserve to and others don’t. But this Darwin-esque landscape has intensified during the pandemic. Restaurants deserve more support and we can all play our part. In the current era of ‘eat out to help out‘ scathing reviews are unnecessary and cruel. Suppliers and workers jobs are already on the edge. So why not leave the review out completely if you honestly didn’t enjoy it? As Tommy says:

“Roots, our restaurant in York, is a 100-cover restaurant. We’re down to 50 covers there.

So starting this third busines has allowed us to move an awful lot of our staff we would have struggled to employ into a new business, and keep everybody in jobs, which has been massive.’

But thankfully Tommy is going to be just find as the public response to this has shown. Made in Oldstead is one of England’s finest restaurants. A friend of mine has been to over 100 starred restaurants and tried many of the ‘make-aways’ recently. He knows ALOT about good food. I texted him to find out what he thought of Made in Oldstead’s ‘make-away’.

Room Service

There is a unique sense of surprise and elation when a friend pulls out a talent you never knew they had. I thought I knew everything worth knowing about my pal Temi when, out of the blue, he sat down to play the piano. Now, Mozart he wasn’t, but somehow his brief tickle of the ivories was both impressive and mysterious. He was Freddie Mercury for a few fine minutes. A musical mirage.

Though I always knew my pal Will could cook, my mind was about to be blown – again. He set up Room Service in 2015, as a pop-up in a pub. I salivate at the memory of their ‘Club Sandwich Luxe’ – which was an extravagantly haute version of the classic club sandwich. Think Daniel Boulud’s Rolls Royce burger.

Will is now the chef-owner of Room Service which has evolved into a catering and design collective that produces food and experiences for the likes of Nike, Spotify, Propercorn and now my group of mates.

Impressive as all this is, nothing could quite prepare us for what unfolded last weekend, in a tightly secured private dining establishment, in the once-beating heart of Shoreditch.

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Asking a friend to cook a boys’ lunch is one thing, but to do it in place of a restaurant, serving lots of intricate dishes to a (mostly) discerning crowd, is a daunting prospect for everyone. Questions will be asked: From the punters: ‘What if it isn’t any good? ‘Do we tell him?’ ‘Do we get our money back?’ And from the chef: ‘why am I here?’ ‘are these even my real mates?’

This was a lunch to reunite eight hangry men after 3 months of lock-down watching barstool pizza reviews. We were celebrating our group’s new fathers, engagements and returns from abroad. The joie de vivre of old fashioned, famished friends.

table

Will was given the challenging brief of ‘high-end Tex Mex’ which in the wrong hands spells a boy’s lunch day of the dead. Instead he delivered a reminder of how good life is.

Starters; Pinto bean Puree, Burnt Corn and grilled polenta.

Giant fat polenta chips are an indulgent way to kick off your lunch and we indulged with aplomb. These were offset against a perfectly acidic pinto bean puree. Burnt corn was creamed, charred and delicious, setting us up perfectly for the next dish. Round 1 to Will.

Course 2: boneless chicken wings with a Piquillo pepper relish. Having the bones taken out of your chicken wings is a Caligula-like luxury, though if someone’s offering, then that’s OK! These were supreme bites. But what really stood out what the Piquillo pepper relish. This was perhaps the only sauce I’ve ever tried that beats Franks. Piquant perfection.

Next up; wild seabass ceviche, mescal, avocado with a cucumber escabeche. This was executed extremely well and perfectly zesty for a hot summer’s day. With ceviche the freshness is paramount and this tasted like Will had caught it himself that morning. A banging little fish-dish.

And then along came salt marsh lamb.

This was a barbacoa shoulder of lamb served with, salsa verde, roasted garlic crema further accompanied by homemade flour and goose fat tortillas, charged broccoli, almonds, chilis, isle of wight tomatoes, pickled onions and jalapeño.

The main dish is so often a disappointment when the starters have been so good. But this was without doubt the star of the show. The boys were fascinated and so Will spoke (at length) about how he had achieved the results…

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He had brined the lamb shoulder for 5 hours before marinating for a further day in a blend of cumin, allspice, onions, chicken stock, oregano garlic, anchovies, Mexican ancho, guajillo and serrano chilis. Then he Barbacoad it – an ancient way of slow cooking meat over fire with tantric patience until you can basically eat it with a spoon. The lamb had been wrapped in banana leaves which, other than adding a natural smoke and earthiness, is a splendid way of revealing the prize at the table. Will took the presentation up a further notch with the addition of Hickory Liquid Smoke. Available at all good camping shops.

lamb2

We all greedily fought for our share, devouring the unctuous beauty in minutes. Then a primal silence followed before a post-coital group sigh. More silence.  Finally, encouraging comments such as ‘fucking hell Will’ , ‘wowzers Will’ and ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter, Will’ were heard.

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We finished with salted chocolate ganache, pineapple, lime and pink peppercorns. The only way I can describe this is Nutella on acid. Crunchy pink peppercorns in chocolate was a euphoric eureka moment.

menu

What makes Will’s food so enjoyable is the creativity. Nothing here is dull or something you’ve seen churned out on MasterChef year after year. He marries flavours like a culinary vicar, combining indulgent and multifarious ingredients that sit against each other perfectly. Will structures a menu like a jazz composition. Each course complements the last, building up to a crescendo and winding down with a soothing coda. It was a brilliant assimilation for the senses.

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Like a group of seedy Shoreditch angels in sartorial cahoots, most of the gang turned up in the same white T-Shirt and N-95 mask. I missed the brief but, as you’re asking, I wore an elegant pastel pink linen shirt with black shorts, ice white socks and Air Jordan 3’s. High five emoji.

For someone who’s never been to Mexico this meal virtually transported me to the beaches and bays of Juárez, Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta. And that’s what the best food can do.

Restaurants aren’t really restaurants for now and this style of in-house dining with friends is the truly the way to go.

The time had come to leave. My belly was happy, full and plump. I fell asleep in my cab and woke up smiling as I arrived at home. In these strange times, it’s never been more important to reach out to old mates. Who knows, they may even surprise you.

www.getroomservice.co

@getroomservice

A Lot Of Chop makes the LA Times!

Very pleased that A Lot of Chop was referenced in the LA Times.

Full arctile is here:

https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-xpm-2014-mar-08-la-dd-forget-about-good-service-some-restaurants-cultivate-rudeness-20140307-story.html

The Top Ten Pizza in London

In truth, there could be 50 pizzerias on this list. We’ll likely do a part 2 soon.

1) L’Antica Pizzeria, Stoke Newington

The best.. The greatest pizza of your life.

The Spectator agrees: The best pizza in the world is in… Stoke Newington

2.) Made of Dough, Peckham Rye

Neapolitan Artisan Sourdough Pizza – winner of London’s best pizza at London Pizza festival

3) Osteria Basilico Notting Hill

Simply the best Pepperoni pizza I’ve had in in London.

4) Sodo – Clapton

Sensational sourdough pizza. A personal favourite is the Lorena: mozzarella, butternut squash, feta, pine nuts & rosemary

Read Vice’s brilliant review here: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/bjvey4/this-pizza-is-like-an-edible-version-of-london

5) Crate brewery, Hackney

Pizza of this quality served by the river is a must experience for anyone who hasn’t tried

.https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/bars/crate-brewery-bar-review-8095554.html

6) Voodoo Rays, Dalston

New York Style Pizza. An institution. Perfect pre or post night out slice

https://craftandslice.com/pizza/pizza-reviews/pizza-in-london/pizza-in-shoreditch/voodoo-rays-a-pizza-slice-of-shoreditch/

7) Santoré, Clerkenwell

Traditional pizza perfection in the greatest restaurant postcode in London

8) Lardo, Hackney

LARDO Menu shoot February 2015

The best date spot for a pizza in London.

https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/restaurants/lardo-restaurant-review-8159314.html

9) Farina, Notting Hill

Like Pizza Express on steroids. nice review here https://www.theinfatuation.com/london/reviews/farina-pizzeria-napoletana

9) Mimmo La Bufala, Hampstead

Post walk or swim on Hampstead heath, if you can’t get a table at the The Holly Bush, then go here

Review:

https://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restaurants/mimmo-la-bufala_1521

10) Pizza pilgrims, Everywhere

Now nationwide and they deserve it. Interesting pizzas such as the house pulled stracciatella cheese, datterini tomatoes and basil pesto and the 8 cheese (above)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10652047/Pizza-Pilgrims-London-restaurant-review.html

My entry for The AA Gill Award for Emerging Food Critics

My London: P Franco and PattyandBun.

The earliest memory I have is with my mum at Megatron, a spaceship themed restaurant on the A14. Little Chef meets The Jetsons if you will. A robot took your order and the food miraculously appeared moments later. It was simultaneously the future and the past. NASA nibbles on Perspex plates. My parents had not long separated and this was the introduction to my new step family. As tragic as this sounds, I loved every minute, and remember it vividly. It wasn’t just the junk food or the novelty. It was meeting my step brother and father. And, possibly, Street Fighter 2 on the arcade machines.

Megatron

Keith Ferrazzi’s book ‘Never Eat Alone’ isn’t about food but is a philosophy on the importance of sharing these experiences with others. Arnold ‘the omelette’ Bennett might have disagreed but eating with others transforms the experience, ripening and punctuating the memory. What makes a restaurant your favourite? People will say it’s the chef, the familiarity, the clientele or the langoustines. But it’s not. We love our restaurants for the way they make us feel. The romance, the nostalgia, the heartbreak and the joy can resonate forever. The langoustines? They’ll come again. Like losing your virginity, restaurants don’t need to be flawless. Imperfections can galvanize the experience, etching it indelibly in our minds and gasping for an encore. P.Franco and Pattyandbun are random strangers but they are meaningful to me for the people I went there with. It’s the alchemy of food, friends and lovers that can make restaurants the most magical places on earth.

Two years ago I visited P.Franco, Clapton, with an old friend. Both recently single again, we’d watched Swingers with awe and inspiration. ‘Time to get back on the horse’, one of us said. ‘Swingers’ is a coming of age film for my generation. It’s ‘Clueless’ for dudes. Set against a backdrop of sleazy LA night spots and sleazier Vince Vaughn lines, the film is ultimately about friendship, the male psyche and the healing of time. Heartbroken Mike is dragged by horny Trent from bar to bar, his loyal encouragement falling on deaf ears. Bars represent failure and desperation in American cinema but they don’t have to be this way

… P.Franco is an intimate wine bar resembling Parisian caves à manger with antipodean swag, cosmopolitan clientele and a Chinese cash-and-carry sign. That it can be all this with such insouciance signals Clapton’s rise from the murder-mile ashes and an owner joyfully creating his own rules. These include only selling wine the staff love and rotating chefs on six month residencies. Inside it ‘feels like a mate’s home’. There’s a solitary central table and a tiny two-ring induction hob.  Behind these culinary decks they’ve had: Tim Spedding (formerly Clove Club), William Gleave (Garagistes), and Túbo Logier (current).The owner is Phil Bracey who reflects: “It’s almost like having a new restaurant every six months which I think is great for the community”.

Phil Bracey

Bracey’s care for the ‘community’ is endearing and has spread by osmosis through the brilliant team. Community runs through the veins of P.Franco: the suppliers the neighbouring trade (Clapton’s Round Chapel, the walk-ins, the walk-on-bys and, of course, the regulars. Londoners rarely acknowledge strangers despite their ever-close proximity.  Passive aggressive manners are common. Restaurants, fun-bars and nightspots encourage safety in cliques or the morning-after pill. P.Franco is comparatively radical. It’s full of people gratefully meeting new people: steamy windows, loud, intertwining, conversations. There’s an energy here that isn’t the alcohol or the music. It’s the tempo – better yet the rhythm. Seductive and infectious. The community love it. The menu changes too often to suggest any dishes. You can expect variegated creations such as Spedding’s Brussels tops stuffed with pheasant, sea urchin Tajarin, and a clementine granita. It’s unlikely there’s a dish more on trend but I’m pretty sure it’s what James Franco would taste like. If he were a dish. Which I’m told he is.

My boyhood idols were less polished than Mr Franco. I liked Kurt, Tupac, Liam and Robbie from EastEnders. To me, they were raw and unrelentingly honest and it was easy to call out their contemporaries as phoneys. It’s the same with restaurants, you can spot the real-deals from the frauds a mile off. It was during these boyhood years that an era of Britpop-infused excess in London was born. Back then, eating out was not the preserve of the edgy cool youth (this came later with Wagamama). Either nothing tasted as good as skinny felt or you never really got round to eating.

But whilst the Primrose Hill set were experimenting with sharks and orifices (separately) something far more significant happened over the pond… Tarantino gave us Pulp Fiction. For some it was about Travolta’s comeback, its quixotic soundtrack or that mysterious suitcase. For me it was about Sam and his Big KAHAUNA burger. What was he eating?  We had prudishly been brought up on Wimpy’s neolithic, grey burgers served with a knife and fork.  Sam’s smutty hamburger looked other worldly. This was the remedial big bang moment for burgers as we now know them in London.

I first went to Pattyandbun three years ago with Will, a friend who makes incredible bikes. We’d been told this was the real deal place for the perfect, post beers, tête-à-tête, burger-off. PattyandBun is the brainchild of Joe Grossman who cut his teeth on the pop-up circuit for two years gaining invaluable customer insight. Here he fine-tuned his ‘Ari Gold Burger’, Confit Chicken Wings and ‘Lambshank Redemption’ gaining credibility and justified hype. This patient devotion to perfecting his vision reveals a respect that’s absent from so many derivative concept restaurants. Joe’s punters have paid him back. He now has seven hugely successful venues in prime spots across the capital.  ‘The best burger joint in London’ is a redundant argument deliberated only by spotty nerds. But if I had to choose, then PattyandBun would be in the top two. PattyandBun is on point with each constituent part; the music, the service, the concept, the atmosphere, the presentation and the variety. The only other that comes close is the seminal Lucky Chip in the Sebright Arms. Like a long lost lover, did it really exist?

The beautiful Ari Gold Cheeseburger

PattyandBun proves that something as maligned and ubiquitous as ‘dude food’ can still stand out as brilliant and beguiling when every element is made with love. It really is the difference. This is why even the finest Waitrose sandwich will only ever taste like it was made by a prostitute for her pimp.

In a post ‘Masterchef – The Professionals – (Redux)’ world, it is increasingly difficult to describe food, flavours, and eating out with any originality. There’s a deep reservoir of McCopy out there. But food will forever reinvent itself. And we’ll always listen because it can be incredible. You’re only ever a Magnum away from Utopia. And restaurants? They’re where the action’s really at. They can be redemptive and restorative or reupholstered and ridiculous. London is seething with the best and worst in kind. They’re the last place standing we have conversations sitting down. I’ll always be fascinated by restaurants. Just make sure you take someone.

me mate Will

Top 10 most iconic chef’s dishes

1) Joël Robuchon’s ‘Pomme Puree’

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This is truly legendary. If you want it bangers and mash style that’ll be £75.

The ratio of potato to butter is 2:1. Get your spoon out.

Still, this was the man with more Michelin stars (25) than any other chef in history. 

“At a time when French chefs barely deigned to serve the humble tuber, Robuchon’s pomme puree were a revelation, if not a revolution.”

From ‘Great Grand and Famous Chefs’

2) Heston Blumenthal’s ‘Snail Porridge’

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I remember when Diesel brought out their deodorant stick which managed to be at first repellent then weird and finally addictive. Just like the diesel in a petrol station. Genius.

That’s exactly what this dish is. As Heston says ‘it’s all in the name’, which messes with what you think you will like. Though it sounds strange, the actually dish is classic French; Parsley, garlic , shallots, mushrooms, butter, almonds, Dijon. Albeit delivered with Heston’s precision. 

3) Nobu Matsuhisa’s ‘Black Cod’

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Japan’s most famous chef and namesake of the world’s top high end restaurant brand.

Yes, it’s bling food that footballers like to order. But it’s exceptional. 

4) Thomas Keller’s ‘Oysters and Pearls’

Has a dish ever sounded more sexual? Thomas Keller has been top dog in America for 20 years and presides over two of the world’s best, Per Se and The French Laundry.  Oysters, caviar and tapioca form this dish which begins every tasting menu he does.

5) Pierre Koffman’s ‘Pig Trotter’

Has a dish ever sounded less sexual? Copied everywhere, this is probably the chef’s choice and Koffman is certainly a chef’s chef. Perhaps one of the top 3 or 4 of all time.

6) Ferran Adria’s – ‘Exploding Olive’ El Buli

This dish so beautifully personifies Ferran Adria’s philosophy and approach. Adria is Picasso in chef’s whites, a shapeshifter that spherifies His creation, ‘the exploding olive’, is all in the shifting of expectation. Surprise and delight. Tease and tantalise.

7) Fergus Henderson’s ‘Roast bone marrow with parsley salad’ St John

To eat at St John is to visit the farm, breath in the air, and respect the ingredient. Fergus Henderson was nose to tail long before bone marrow became fashionable and thrown in as an afterthought to sex up second rate burgers. Potentially the simplest dish on the menu and one that you could imagine being eaten in medieval times. Unlike many of the dishes on this list, you can easily go and try the real thing right now at St John.

8) Albert Roux’s - ‘Soufflé Suissesse’ Le Gavroche, The Waterside Inn

When Michel Roux Junior took over La Gavroche from his father and uncle he wanted to put his stamp on it and updated the menu, replacing much of the heavier dishes including Albert’s iconic Soufflé Suissesse. La Gavroche has perhaps the most loyal and devoted customers of any restaurant in London and when they kept asking for this to be reinstalled, Michel acquiesced, repaying them in caloric perfection.

9) August Escoffier’s – ‘Oxtail Soup’

The godfather of cuisine’s Oxtail Soup recipe was first published in his Le Guide Culinaire in 1909. Gordon Ramsay has said it’s his favorite recipe and whilst it sounds simple, it’s as difficult to prefect as any of these dishes.

10) Hélène Darroze’s Armagnac baba

Regarded by many as one of the world’s top chefs, Hélène Darroze has several signature dishes from her deep French reservoir that could have made the list. Her (family produced) Armagnac baba is the flawless diamond at London The Connaught, where it is the signature of signature dishes there.

Bonus number 11) Marcus Wareing’s Baked Custard Tart

As with many things in life it’s all in the wobble. Wareing won the inaugural Great British Menu in 2006 and this was served to the Queen at her 80th birthday. A truly British desert by one of our our finest chefs.

The Ten Best Food websites (UK)

1)) Great British Chefs

https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/

Beautiful website. Unrivalled access to the top chefs. Must see.

2) Hot Dinners

https://www.hot-dinners.com/

Right on the pulse with the latest news, openings and reviews

3) The Critical couple

http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/

Mind-blowing volume of insane reviews of the absolute best restaurants in the world.

4) The London Foodie

http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/

Reviews of an interesting selection of restaurants from high end to chains and cheap eats.

5) Her favourite food & travel

http://www.herfavfood.com/

Regularly updated website with really useful reviews, recepies and guides.

6) 5 o’clock Apron

http://5oclockapron.com/

Monthly columnist with the Telegraph. Great writer and inspiring recepies

7) Andy Hayler

https://www.andyhayler.com/

This. Guy. Has. Eaten. Everywhere. It’s. Amazing.

8) The Caterer

https://www.thecaterer.com/

The Mecca for all those who work in the industry.

9) Square Meal

Couldn’t not include this bible of restaurants in the UK. A classic.

https://www.squaremeal.co.uk/

10) The Picky Glutton

https://pickyglutton.com/

 London restaurant reviews to help you avoid needless gout & wasted money.

The Ivy

The Cure are the most romantic and evocative group of all time. If you’re ever having one of those days where you’re feeling cold or heartless, stick them on, and you’ll find your soul right there. ‘A Letter to Elise’ is the most ambrosial melody you’ll find in four minutes. Whether he knows it or not, it’s where Noel Gallagher swiped his most sublime solo from, on Live Forever. The greatest gifts humans bestow on each other are often subconscious, spiritual and inherited. And The Cure are the gift that keeps giving.

Their atmospheric harmonies, however, have a time and a place: Weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs all are fine. But handle with care during sex and, under no circumstances, after a break up. Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer will testify.

Like The Cure’s music, the best restaurants are uniquely atmospheric. They also have their own time and place. Picking the wrong one at the right time is the difference between your proposal’s ‘yes’ or ‘no!’. The risk of taking a first date to somewhere too brilliant is real. You wouldn’t take someone you love to KFC or someone you hate to Luca

But what about The Ivy? “The celeb-infested, shepherd’s pie place…. Cool in the 90’s” – you snear. No, you’re wrong. It might just be the perfect restaurant for any occasion. It’s Hakkasan without the brass and Nobu without the STDs. It’s always full. And it’s not a members’ club. It must be the only restaurant in London that can boast that.

The Ivy is over one hundred years old. And from the moment you walk in you are  transported back at least fifty of them. But not in an affected way. There are no experiential actors here. It’s more akin to James Cameron’s Titanic where eras cinematically melt into each other. The Titanic comparisons don’t end there: the plates, décor, seating and even the menu are firm nods to the great Unsinkable. There’s a beautifully written article on that here:

The celebs and glitterati have left for Chiltern and the crowd is now a mixture of luivies, cajan tigers, rubberneckers and, well these two:

ivy rich temi

The Ivy’s menu is a who’s who of greatest comfort food hits. (Now That’s What I Call a Menu 1970-2018.)

We ordered as much as we could. And you really can’t fault any of it. The signature Mark Hix Shepperd’s pie really is the best I’ve ever tried.

shephers pie

The Bang Bang chicken is, of course, …..

Deep-fried haddock, mushy peas and chips or Steak & kidney pudding will keep the hungover happy and hanging.

For pudding there is Baked Alaska, Golden pineapple and Chocolate steamed sponge.

But perhaps the best of all is Burnt banana & butterscotch tatin. Experiences you’re convinced you’ll hate, but are then blown away by, are powerful. Like watching Kula Shaker at the V Festival. (Naaat).

Nothing here is cutting edge. But that’s the point, stupid. Life is short. Too short for deconstructed pizza, keto diets and Fyre Festival sandwiches. The Ivy delivers. The proposal’s a ‘yes!’. We must savour these moments.

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And when all this is finished, and you’re feeling giddy driving home, ask your cabbie to play The Cure for a cold, hard dose of (beautiful) reality 🙂

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