Monday, 23 September 2013

The Crazy Bear - Fitzrovia

Sushi Supreme.

I found it. Not that I will discontinue my search, this journey has no end. For now at least, I can safely say that I have tasted the best sushi in London. Welcome to the Crazy Bear in Fitzrovia and prepare to chain yourself to the kitchen if they try to make you leave. The extent of my sushi love can get a little out of hand at times. 


The Crazybear group has character bursting restaurants dotted around the country. In fact, it was actually their Stadhampton branch that first inspired me to start my restaurant writings in the first place. For all the men out there looking for somewhere to whisk your lady off her feet, Crazybear Stadhampton is the one, (potential suitors take note). Back in Fitzrovia and through the forest lined door is where my evening's magic began. Booking in advance is essential and know where you're going before you set out because there is a certain air of mystery behind this much sought after and somewhat hidden dinner venue.

You really can't get much more magical than this if you try. 

Take a peek into the ridiculously oversized menu and prepare to want absolutely everything.

15 minutes later, we were still deciding what to eat...
  


Having made our choices, we admired the smooth mushroomy lamp in the centre of our table and sank into the leathery surroundings.

To our delight, the prawn crackers arrived with a deliciously sweet chilli sauce and we proceeded to inhale the crispy wonders. 

Duck spring rolls complete with plum sauce and roasted cashews were placed in front of the hungry mouths. They had the most perfect duck to pastry ratio with enough sauce to be able to dip and soak and not run out!

But oh the sushi. Such tiny mounds of perfection. My words cannot do them justice, you will just have to try for yourselves!


The sweet and sour chicken knocked all other sweet and sour chickens off the map and for someone who orders sweet and sour chicken at .. let me think .. every chinese restaurant I am ever in, this is a serious victory. Lets just say sweet and sour chicken again for good measure. Sweet and sour chicken. Right, enough.


On a little jaunt downstairs, we cruised past this leather bound DJ booth fully equipped with DJ.

Our experience at the toilets was intriguing to say the least. After trying to look cool and sophisticated while gently shoving the mirrored walls in search of a door, we entered a glass cavern. After another blind search for the cubicles we moved towards the sink. We were met by a miniature waterfall in front of a mirror but as we moved our hands towards the water, we got the fright of our lives when large and hairy hands got their first. It was not a mirror, but the mens on the opposite side. Avoiding the urge to grab or high five the appearing hands opposite, we laughed it off and took pictures of ourselves in the shiny shiny room. Yes, very mature.
  

On our way back upstairs, we paused to absorb the wonders of the bar. A return trip is in order methinks.

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Obika

The Mozzarella Bar.

This is a concept which I will endorse to the ends of the earth and back. A perfect addition to the delightful Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, Obika stands out as an effortlessly stylish Italian restaurant. The added bonus is that they serve up fresh Mozzarella in their bar, created specifically for this purpose where you can watch the chefs at work. (Pizza dough twirling will never cease to entertain)!

We had been waiting with bated breath for Obika to open and so hurried on down for their very first day. Through the sleek black door we skipped and prepared to fill our stomachs to bursting point.


The bar was well stocked and shining, a lovely place for a lunchtime glass of vino I think.



The gorgeous Penelope and my number one partner in mozzarella love, wearing a seriously fabulous jacket (here).

Time to choose. We went for a sharing plate because we couldn't! Take a look at the menu here too.

For our first little treat we were presented with these teeny jars of red and green pesto with mozzarella, a delicious surprise and a great way to wet our already heightened appetites.

The spoons were picked up and we dug in. Deliciously creamy and an absolute dream for those of us who place pesto at the top of the condiment list.

Opposite us was this lovely alcove which gave us some fun mozzarella related facts and showed where the different types originated from. We all know that knowledge is power, even if it is cheese related in this instance.  

Which wine 'tipples' your fancy? There are plenty of wonderful bottles to choose from here.

Our sharing plate arrived laden with grilled vegetables, mozzarella, burrata, pesto and sliced meats. Neither of us could keep our hands away and we tucked in with some serious gusto. 
    


Focaccia couldn't be avoided and that too was delicious, crispy and warm.

So many combinations on one plate, I wholly recommend choosing this when you visit. 

Our last surprise came in the form of a limoncello, vodka and basil cocktail. Surprisingly strong, although I'm not sure why I was so surprised considering its alcohol content!  



Don't hesitate before coming to Obika, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. The service was perfect, the food was faultless and I can't wait for an excuse to return.

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Drink Deck London

A bar lovers paradise.

One fine morning, I woke up to discover an incredible surprise awaiting discovery in my post box. Introducing Drink Deck, a bar enthusiast's travel and discount guide to London and my new best friend.

Upon opening the pack, I found a deck of raspberry coloured cards which, along with my little brown book are now a permanent fixture inside my bag.



With card table and camera at the ready, some playing around was unavoidable. Cards, cards, cards, cards, bars, cards, food, cards .. etc.

This lovely little pack contains 52 bars, pubs and restaurants to sample and enjoy AND you can actually play cards as well if you so wish. Having so many places I'd like to visit and being very aware of my wailing wallet, a Drink Deck is a shining ray of relief. Guilt, be gone! 



Grab a partner by the hand and drag them off to any number of these. The discount is usually around 20% or averaging £7ish so will add an extra large smile to the trip along with making you feel like a pro. 52 new places to discover? Imagine the fun to be had!


When you use your card, the bottom left corner will be torn off but if you take a snap of your receipt or you clutching your used card and post it on your social media platform of choice, then Drink Deck may get in touch and send you a replacement card for a return visit. This gift just keeps on giving. 

If you are more technologically inclined, or if your life is on your phone, then you can get the Drink Deck app instead. Either way, there really is no reason not to! Watch this space, you will probably see one of these cards hovering around in the background of many of my future posts. 

To the bar!  

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Boulestin

Faultless French.

"Food which is worth eating is worth discussing" (X. Marcel Boulestin)

Mayfair's newest addition to the fine dining scene pays homage to the pioneering writer, restauranteur and the world's first celebrity television chef. Joel Kissin introduces this legendary name to a new generation with the opening of Boulestin.  




One fine Sunday afternoon when London was grasping onto the last rays of sunlight, I had the pleasure of attending the soft opening of this delightful little French bistro.




Warmth radiated out of the bright white windows and as soon as we arrived outside the door we knew we would be in for a treat.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the perfectly polite Maitre'd and invited to take our seats. Having been presented with the extensive menu, we agonised over what to choose but before we could do so, a somewhat genetically blessed waiter, clearly having identified us as VIP's (...one day) asked whether we would like to move to a far superior table. Over we went to our new post for the afternoon and after a little more deliberation, decided what we were going to request from the chef.

First to arrive at the table were our little mouthfuls of light, creamy canapes anchois; a great way to wet our appetites.


While we were waiting for our next flow of food to arrive, we took another one of many glances around the beautiful room we were seated in. Within the centre was a large skylight through which sunshine poured and underneath was our luxury 60 seat bistro.

Around the walls hung delightful miniature black and white artwork which could provide plenty of distraction if your date is becoming tiresome. Luckily, mine was the opposite ... those friends who put up no opposition to dressing up and eating out are definitely keepers in my opinion!   

Introducing (not for the first time) the lovely Penelope Anne ... and a blue shirted, wine guzzling man in the background.

One of the many delightful waiters arrived at the table with our main courses.

Risotto with Girolles (wild mushrooms for the french-shy).

Cauliflower Soup.

Smoked Duck Salad.

All were perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious. Each dish was the perfect size for hungry stomachs wanting to be able to move after being filled, an element that I place high on my list wherever I eat.

On a little jaunt to the facilities, I discovered the private dining room downstairs. Doesn't it look inviting .. now to find an occasion to use it for!

The toilets were hiding behind an oaky, iron hinged door with an extra specially large wine case that had me more than a little distracted!

Back at the table, we had one more course to complete. The Tarte aux pommes was impossible to resist and was definitely worth the little extra preparation time. I'd recommend ordering this sticky, syrupy pastry perfection with two spoons since it is a little on the large size! 

Finally, we filled in our feedback forms with glowing reviews and tucked them inside their envelopes. All in all, our comfort levels had been so great that 3 hours had passed without us even realising. A four star experience and one which I urge you all to find an excuse to discover for yourselves when your purse strings aren't watching!

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