Monthly Archives: May 2012

Meter Bar & Eatery

Meter-Bar

Pizza is a long-time staple in my diet and although there are no shortages of places in London serving up the doughy stuff, as soon as I heard about one combining meter-long pizzas accompanied by creative-looking cocktails, I headed over to Old Street to sample such a delightful pairing.

The laid-back restaurant is located on City Road and as it’s lacking in any form of recognisable branding or signage from the street, it could easily missed. In fact my sister Jessica and I walked past several times before we even realised where it was and we’re generally quite knowledgeable about this area of London.

It’s fair to say Old Street has never been particularly attractive and the towering grey concrete blocks are a real eyesore. However, after a bit of perseverance you’ll be rewarded as nestled among the oppressive building structures you’ll find some tempting venues, such as NightJar or The Golden Bee, where you can experience just how much the East End has
evolved from a concrete slum to a quirky neighbourhood with a sprinkling of high-end dining establishments.

The design of Meter, the brain child of local DJ James Priestley, is very East London and fits in well with the low-key, trendy ethos of the area. As you might expect, the place has a very minimalist décor made up of effortless unfinished wooden floors and stone brick walls akin to the likes of The Book Club down the road.

However, despite the exterior, Priestley has managed to introduce a place which caters to both lovers of thick-rimmed glasses and pain-inducing skinny jeans and those which don’t live in the area but are coming in search of appealing, good-quality Italian dishes.

Starting off the cocktails are a must. I tried the Sultry Nectar, a fruity burst of rum, mango, basil and chilli, sweetened with sugar and lime. Basil in a cocktail I hear you cry? Yes, the waitress informed me it worked and I blindly followed and she wasn’t wrong.

Jessica went for the Fashioned 1976 – a new twist on the classic Old Fashioned with treacle, caramelized apple and brown sugar (£12) which Don Draper would be rolling in his grave to try. Both were simply served in jam jars (again with the East London theme) but impeccably executed setting the evening off on a high mark.

Many people in the bar were there just for the cocktails but it’s a real test not to give into the wooden boards piled high with fresh cheeses and meats which cleverly floated past our table several times before we picked our meals.

As I have no will power I immediately went for some deep-fried smoked provola balls with a hint of honey and also a board of antipasti with a healthy serving of salami and prosciutto with foccacia to mop up the olives and sweetened tomatoes. The food is fresh, colourful and a perfect mix of everything you want to wet your Italian appetite before the main course.

Next, it’s onto the pizzas and a word of warning, unless you’re really hungry don’t go for a starter as well as the pizzas are big enough for even the most enthusiastic fans of the Italian classic dish and are really suited for sharers.

Chef Valentino Fontana from Naples has managed to create some simple yet seriously delicious pizzas and we shared a creamy mix of sausage, broccoli and chilli in the Broccoli e Salsiccia and a Cotto e Patate, another creamy one topped with prosciutto and potatoes (there was a lot left over for breakfast the next day).

There are also tomato-based pizzas such as the Melanzane smothered in aubergines, ricotta, tomato and basil or classics like the Fiorentina and Napoli.

In reality you’re probably not going to be able to tackle a meter-long pizza on your own so bring some friends along. After the dough-challenge if you’ve not passed into a food coma at this stage there are a few puddings on offer such as the Affogato which is basically a steaming espresso poured over ice cream or a slice of Tiramisu, to finish off the night.

Or, like Jessica and I, you could just head back to the cocktails again.

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Rock and Rose

When you come across Rock and Rose in Richmond prepare to be hit with an explosion of glitter, hearts and retro punk glamour.

From enormous chandeliers and roses on every table (as the name would suggest), to glamorous throws and cushions, the theme runs throughout the restaurant.

However, don’t let this put you off. The theme may be a little OTT but the food menu is one of the best in Richmond and the restaurant has been successfully created into somewhere a little different from your average gastro pub.

Starting off I had the beautifully presented (and tasting) spicy tiger prawns (£8.95) with a healthy dollop of wasabi aioli. However, just when I was bathing in the glory of choosing such a delicious dish I tasted the restaurant’s signature glazed baby back ribs (£6.95). These are heavenly as the meat is cooked to perfection and is smothered in a sweet, but not sickly, sauce – a word of warning, ask for a hand bowl to wash your hands after as these are not pretty to eat and don’t choose this one on a first date.

Next up was a warming dish of lamb massaman curry, with Thai spices, peanuts and sweet potato (£16.95). It’s the perfect combination of rich meaty flavours with a light, spicy sauce to top it off. If you want something more refreshing and less sleep-inducing the seabass with chilli, ginger and spring onion (£18.95) is a winning choice.

The dishes are generous and if you get full easily you might not be able to cram in a pudding but my advice is push through this barrier and go for the pavlova with mixed summer berries (£5.95). It’s light, fruity and the right mix of chewy, sweet deliciousness topped up with enough fruit to make you feel slightly less guilty.

If you can’t break this barrier go for a espresso martini (£7.95). It’ll wake you up while giving you the satisfaction of having something sweet at the end of the meal.

Along with the food there is a wide range of cocktails on offer and a small but well-picked wine menu. Arriving on a Sunday afternoon I wasn’t expected the restaurant to be busy, especially as it’s a little way away from the main high street in Richmond. I was completely mistaken and in fact it was packed, so make sure you book early to get a table.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack. 

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Free books At The Carnaby Exchange

Are you looking for your next great read? Look no further as the Carnaby Book Exchange offers a huge range of free books waiting to be picked up.

Around the world there are more than 130 million books and the average person gets through one book per week. That’s a lot of books and if you’re not happy shelling out for a new title on a regular basis why not take advantage of this great new scheme.

It’s a lovely space in Carnaby Street for people to relax and read with a vast array of books on offer from great fiction novels to fashion, travel, music or history titles – it’s completely up to you what you decide to lay your eyes on.

To take part all that’s required is for you to leave a book behind for another book worm to pick up. It’s that simple – leave a book, take a book.

As well as reading the books, you can also leave your thoughts and feedback and recommendations for other book lovers evolving the swapping process away from just books to memories.

The whole thing has been thought up and created by the MA Fashion Curation students at the London College of Fashion, just off Carnaby Street.

The creators say it’s “an incubator for passion shared” and if you like us can’t wait to get involved, get yourself down to the ground floor of Kingly Court. It’s open at the weekend from 8am – 6pm on Saturday and 12pm – 6pm on Sunday.

Image: Guardian Books

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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W Lounge

W Lounge

The W Lounge, which is found in the W Hotel in Leicester Square is smart, sophisticated and the perfect place for spotting celebrities.

Ok, so it might not be the likes of Brad Pitt, but this place has an air of exclusivity and is a world away from the busy streets outside and is the perfect place for lovers of people watching.

The lounge is relaxing and chilled out, with a long, light seating area and central circular bar down one end. You need to book an area first (which can be done on the website), and despite the laid-back atmosphere most people looked like they’d spent quite a while getting ready.

So, once you’re sitting (or lounging) the serious business of cocktail drinking can begin. The menu changes all the time and is prepared using seasonal ingredients and themes.

I tried the Lady Chatterly (£12.50) which tasted as good as it looked and was a mixture of vodka and raspberry with a lovely hint of lime and vanilla to finish it off.

Pudding Lane (£12.50), is also one to try if you’re looking for a warming dark drink as it’s formed around vodka, figs and passion fruit to create a homely traditional cocktail.

If you’re not into cocktails there’s all the usual drinks available and if you’re sitting down you’ll get table service.

The bar is open until 2am but if you get bored, or are after some dancing, the hotel’s night club is a short walk (stumble) away.

This piece was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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