Berner’s Tavern, Berners Street, W1T

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Jason Ahterton is a name that is quickly becoming one that we all want to know. Now having 4 eateries over London, his culinary empire is forever growing, and we are embracing it with open arms. Head chef at Berners Tavern is Phil Carmichael, who used to be Jason Atherton’s senior sous-chef at Maze restaurant in Mayfair.

Having eaten at Social Eating House, we knew to expect wonderful things when we visted Berner’s Tavern recently. From the moment we entered we knew we were in for a treat.

Having arrived slightly early, we were warmly greeted by the Maitre’D who kindly asked to wait at the bar while they got our table ready. We didn’t need to be told twice! The lovely bar with its extensive list of wines and spirits kept us busy. Settling for Gin and Tonics we sat at one of the cosy tables and took in our surroundings. high ceilings, dim lighting, gorgeous artwork surrounded us. A level of grandeur that we were very much intoxicated by.

Our table was ready within 10 minutes and we were shown to one in the corner of the restaurant close enough to see into the kitchen, but far enough away to still enjoy the bustling dining room.

We moved onto wine, red of course, to go with our food, opting for two glasses of their 2012 Argentinian Malbec.

Now the food. What can we say but, simple divine. For starters we had Ironbark pumpkin risotto with crispy quail egg and kale and the charred mackerel with fennel, carrot and orange salad. Firstly the risotto, it is one of the best we have ever eaten. The risotto was cooked perfectly so still had a bite to it. The quails egg added a depth and the kale finished the dish with an earthy flavour that leaves you wanting more. The fish was also fantastic. Mackerel can be an acquired taste but when cooked like this we have no problems recommending!

For mains we chose the Wild mushroom Orecchiette with pickled trompettes ad the Roasted Goonsnargh Chicken Breast with Bacon, mashed potato, smoked garlic & salsa verde and a coq au vin sauce.

We have to say the pasta was lovely. It wasn’t as outstanding as we had hoped after sampling some gorgeous Mac n Cheese at Social Eating House, but was still very tasty. The star was definitely the chicken. Tender melt in your mouth with a gorgeous sauce and some of the fluffiest mash potatoes we have had in a long time. We couldn’t get enough of it!

We saved some room for dessert and opted to share their caramel apple eclair with salted caramel (on the recommendation of our waitress who said it was her favourite). Each mouthful was more delicious than the previous. The pastry was light but was still able to hold the apple and cream. The accompanying ice cream was one that we would happily have had a whole bowl full of.

Overall we had a great dining experience at Berner’s Tavern. The service was smooth and friendly but not so over bearing that you felt rushed. It can’t compare to SEH, only because we had a completely different experience there. One thing we do think is slightly missing is the connection with the kitchen. It would have been great to actually see food coming off the pass and into the restaurant, showcasing the many talented chefs’ work first hand.

Another great restaurant Mr. Atherton. Thank you!

Berner’s Tavern
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP

Dip & Flip, Battersea Rise, SW11

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With the weather turning cooler, at London’s Dinest we tend to turn to comfort food. You know, gravy, anything with melted cheese, pies and burgers etc. Now what if we were to tell you that putting the former and latter mentions together, brings you one hell of a meal!

After a few days abroad and eating poor attempts at burgers and fries, we headed on down to Dip & Flip just near Clapham Junction for a meal of extremely messy fingers and cheesey (quite literally) grins. Once you head on in to the restaurant, you’re greeted with bare brick walls and a view into the kitchen. We could see the head chef preparing some fresh beef into their amazing patties. The staff are great and it wasn’t long before we were sat down and having a look around at other people’s tables and the variety of food on offer.

Dip & Flip is a Canadian way of doing burgers and we have no complaints at all! The premise is such, pick a burger, pick your version of fries and never forget your selection will come with gravy. (We are firm believers that gravy makes everything better!). There are a few options in terms of burgers, with bacon and chilli as well as a selection of sandwiches. However the reason to be here is for the Dip & Flip burger which comes with roast lamb or roast beef on top, which is also dipped in gravy. You’re probably thinking it’s a little messy and that’s why there’s a full roll of kitchen roll to make things right. The burger itself is cooked to perfection and we liked that we weren’t asked how we wanted it cooked, giving us faith in the chefs knowing how to cook a good burger. Topped with mustard, ketchup, pickles and that aforementioned roast beef, this is one of the best burgers we have tasted in a long time. A side of cheesy (mozzarella) fries smothered in more gravy was fantastic and the milkshakes are delicious. Utilise that extra bowl of gravy they provide for dipping and you’re on to one hell of a meal.

We left Dip & Flip extremely full and welcomed another great burger restaurant in this glorious city. Well done.

Dip & Flip
87 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HW

Afternoon Tea – Cake Boy, Battersea, SW18

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When it comes to eating in London, we are lucky to have so many different ways to enjoy good food. Afternoon Tea is just one past time that where we can indulge in some gorgeous cakes, sample lovely pastries and devour fresh sandwiches.

We visited Eric Lanlard’s Wandsworth based cafe,  ‘Cake Boy’ after pre-booking their champagne afternoon tea. For those of you who don’t know, Lanlard is a celebrity chef who has produced cakes for the Beckham’s, Madonna and even the late Queen Mother! We knew we were in for a treat!

Upon arrival at the cafe we were greeted by a friendly waiter who already knew we were hear for tea, which led us to believe this is the main reason why people visit the place. The decor of the ‘tea room’ is far from traditional, with large arm chairs and quirky tables in bold colours of pink and black. Very different to likes of the Ritz or Claridges, but still very comfortable nonetheless.

The waiter took our drinks order (Lattes and teas) and also brought over our glasses of champagne. Then out came the sandwiches and cakes. What a sight! The waiter explained all of the sandwich fillings and described each delectable cake in detail. We were also supplied with a small menu outlining everything too.

The sandwiches, again not your traditional finger on white or brown bread, but large overfilled rolls consisting of mozzarella and roasted veg, parma ham, and houmous and salad. All of the breads were freshly baked and were delicious. We polished off all the sandwiches rather quickly!

Onto the stars of the day. The cakes. Lanlard’s inventive streak was certainly on display through each little beauty. Below is a photo of the menu describing each in detail.

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All of the treats were unique in taste and simply divine. When thought has gone into the creating of  individual cakes like these, you really can appreciate the skill level of the talented chefs behind the scenes! Our favourite was the Dark Chocolate square. The mousse was the lightest we have ever tasted and the cherries were a great addition and complemented the dark earthiness of the chocolate.

We would recommend a visit to Cake Boy if you live south of the river and are around Wandsworth/ Clapham. It is slightly out of the way, but we like that. Means it is a secret between us and Eric, for now any way!

Cake Boy
Unit 2, Kingfisher House, Battersea Reach, Juniper Dr, London SW18 1TX

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte, Marylebone Lane, W1U

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Steak frites is a European staple but there is one restaurant that outdoes all the others in the city and that’s Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte. Being taken there for the first time in Geneva, it was clear to see that this concept works: 1 dish, no menu and a sauce to die for.

There are now three L’Entrecôte restaurants in London: Canary Wharf, Bank and Marylebone. It is the Marylebone branch we are focussing on, mainly because it was the London original. You’ll find a queue for dinner (due to a no reservation policy) so be prepared to wait! The restaurant itself is distinctly Parisian and even the waitresses are wearing signature French outfits. The service here is some of the best around and once you’re finally sat down you’re promptly asked if you’ve been before. The concept is thus: There is no menu (other than for select wines and dessert) and you’re asked how you like your steak. There’s no in-betweens so it’s either rare, medium or well done. Once you’ve chosen and also picked one of their fantastic wines (go for the house red, it’s really that good) you’re presented with a walnut salad and some sliced baguette. The  classic French mustard on the table is great for this. The salad is fresh lettuce leaves topped with walnuts and a classic mustard vinaigrette and is a welcome start to the meal. The waitresses always have an eye on your table and as soon as the salad is finished, your steak is ready.

If you keep a keen eye on your surroundings you will have noticed that the steak and frites were already waiting on tealight burners to the side of the restaurant. Your plate arrives with slices of Entrecôte steak and their signature sauce. This sauce is one of the greatest we have sampled and it’s a very well-kept secret. It’s green in colour and buttery with a plethora of herbs we couldn’t imagine to even guess. Many have tried and failed to recreate and it’s the reason we’ve been here so many times! The waitress then comes with the frites and she piles them high. Another tip here is to ask for some more sauce, you’ll thank us later. The steak is perfectly cooked and while it might not be the best cut of meat in the world, the sauce changes all of that. The frites are quite special too in that they’re not oily and totally moreish. Once you’ve devoured what’s on your plate, the waitress is by your side ready to give you another serving and this is the main reason we love this restaurant. Don’t be shy in wanting more sauce or chips here either but make sure you leave room for dessert!

There’s a menu for this and we’d highly recommend the selection of cheeses, Le Gateau du Relais and the crème brûlée. the latter being one of the best we’ve ever tasted! You’ll leave this restaurant very full and like us, quite tipsy! The steak frites and salad is only £23 so for price to taste ratio it can’t be beaten. Out of the three London destinations this is our favourite one so come hungry and be ready for a wholly excellent dining experience.

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte
120 Marylebone Lane, London , W1U 2QG

Pimlico Fresh, Wilton Rd, SW1V

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Breakfast; the most important meal of the day. If you have a good breakfast your day is already set on the right track. We headed to Pimlico Fresh, just behind Victoria station for what we have been told, one of the best brekkies you will have!

The quaint little cafe with a warm inviting feel has a couple of large wooden sharing tables which you can park yourself on once you have ordered what you want from their main counter. A huge blackboard along one wall helps you to decide what what you want. The friendly staff are also on hand to give their recommendations!

For breakfast options, they only do eggs scrambled. Didn’t bother us, but if you are after eggs benedict, this isn’t the place for you. We settled upon their Scrambled Eggs with Smoke Salmon and their Veggie Scrambler (Spinach, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Parmesan) for Herbie.  Teas and coffees were also ordered.

One by one our breakfasts arrived, hot gooey fluffy eggs on fresh sourdough toast. Boy were they good! Pimilco Fresh may only offer one type of egg, but they have got them down to a T. Generous with their toppings we struggled to finish.

If you are ever around Victoria Station and you need a somewhere to escape the crowds, this is the place for you. Their lunch time offerings of fresh salads, lasagne and tarts are also worth sampling. We will be making frequent visits just for their coffee cake alone!

Pimlico Fresh
86-87 Wilton Rd, Victoria, London SW1V 1DN

Balthazar, Russell Street, WC2B

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A few years back whilst on a trip in New York City we got talking to some locals on a tour bus. You read that right, locals on a tour bus! We found out that they use it to get around the city as it’s a cheaper way to do it and that’s just ingenious! They told us about the brunch scene in Manhattan and that we have to go to Balthazar without fail. Given that it was Sunday the next day, we went and boy was it good!

Thankfully Balthazar opened in London last year and it’s a carbon copy of the on in New York, from the entrance to the bar and to the staff uniform. Such a massive space with high ceilings, you can tell that Keith McNally had spent a good deal of money getting the decor perfect. His New York import came with a huge reputation and it didn’t disappoint. The bar with high stools and seafood bar are a sight to behold themselves.

After having a few drinks in Covent Garden we made our way over to see if we could get a walk-in. The Maitre’D was welcoming and unpretentious and within 10 minutes we were sat down (at 9pm on a Friday night!). This isn’t to say it’s easy to get a table at Balthazar, on the contrary it’s best to book and we were quite lucky! Balthazar is an all day brasserie that’s open 7 days a week, which is another plus point as you can go any time of day and get some great food. We ordered some white wine and moved on to the menu.

To start we had French Onion Soup and Salad Nicoise. The Soup was fantastic and you could tell that it had been slow cooked for a long time. French onion soup, when done well, is a great way to start a meal and at Balthazar they’ve created one that is definitely worth going back for. The nicoise salad was perfect. It was fresh, not too filling and the ingredients used were high end. The poached duck egg with the pieces of tuna worked excellently. Along with the various salad leaves and a dressing we’d love to know the recipe for, this dish was fantastic. To follow this their steak frites was ordered. On our trip in New York this was an excellent dish so it made sense to try it here also and again it was on point. The Sirloin steak was a great cut and cooked perfectly (medium rare) and the Maire’D butter was just lovely. Frites can be hit and miss and thankfully they were a hit! To finish we had petits fours (pictured) and ice cream followed by an espresso. The petits fours were a great dessert in the sense that each had their own individual flavour and it wasn’t heavy. The ice cream, a little on the expensive side (£7!) was top notch but that doesn’t excuse the price unfortunately. The espresso was made from excellent coffee beans and finished off the dinner very well!

Balthazar is perfect for any occasion and they have a menu to suit all. This makes it great for dates, brunch meetings, breakfasts or a family dinner. We love a place that can tick all boxes!

Balthazar
4-6 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HZ

Earlham Street Clubhouse, Earlham Street, WC2H

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Looking for great drinks and pizzas like you would if you were at an American student frat party? Then this is certainly the place for you. The decor of this underground bar consists of the walls being covered in vintage American beer adverts and road signs, and there’s a classic Wurlitzer jukebox in one corner to choose songs for the night.

We reserved a booth (Always a good idea if you plan on sharing the mammoth pizzas) and have to say the customer service was excellent. The witty email replies made us feel like one of the gang and gave us an insight to how our night was going to be.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a friendly waiter who pointed us in the direction of our booth. Sunken seats with dim lighting with no chance of being disturbed by the other patrons. ESC have made great layout choices with the venue; we like!

Onto the drinks. With names such as ‘Rolling with the Homies’ and ‘Cruel Intentions’ its clear they love American movies (so do we!). This theme ran through the pizza menu too with names such as ‘American Beauty’ and ‘The Ross and Rachel’. We loved this concept and it’s great to see that everything is thought about, not just the decor.

The cocktails were great. We sampled quite a few and its clear the bartenders know what flavours work. They even made up a few for us which weren’t on the menu. An added bonus!

For pizza you can go for an individual 10inch or a sharing 20inch. We also threw in a 20inch Calzone into the mix. Toppings included Plain Jane (Mozzarella, basil and tomato), American Beauty (Red onion, grilled courgette, peppers and mozzarella) and Vincent Vega (Spicy sausage, tomato and mozzarella). And they’re tasty; not Napoli-authentic like we have sampled at Franco Manca, but crisp, generously proportioned and loaded, just the thing to go with the good-time drinks.

What struck us about ESC is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s laid back, fun vibe made us want to sit there for hours sampling their drinks and sharing jokes with their staff. It’s refreshing to see a more fun side of American culture in London. Well done guys. Top night overall!

Earlham Street Clubhouse
35 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LD