Tag Archives: restaurants

Clockjack Oven

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The craze for chicken restaurants is clearly not dying down and the latest addition is Clockjack Oven in Soho.

It’s minutes from Piccadilly Circus on Denman Street but seems to have (so far) avoided becoming a tourist over-spill.

The food on offer is all based around chicken (obviously) and not just any chicken. Fat, juicy rotisserie chicken which tastes so fresh you expect to see the birds grazing outside. It’s different from the likes of Chicken Shop in North London because the meat here is cooked with a Tudor method on an open-flame rotisserie which leaves the chicken succulent and tender with a deliciously crispy skin.

Instead of grazing on the not so green streets of Soho, the chickens are thankfully reared in Brittany on “high quality cereals” which it turns out makes them incredibly delicious to eat.

The menu is small but nicely put together with the rotisserie chicken being the main event and I’d recommend going in a group so you get to order several of the beautifully arranged salads and sides to go along with the meat.

When it comes to the rotisserie chicken, you can get in three, four or 10-piece dishes, depending on how hungry, or greedy, you’re feeling.

I also fell head over heels in love with the Clockjack torpedo which if decency allowed I’d probably include in my daily diet. It’s a thick sandwich made of a fluffy buttermilk bun filled with chicken bites covered in ranch dressing (an obsession of mine).

Better yet – you can (and must) try the crispy chicken bites – tiny morsels of chickeny goodness fried in buttermilk and gram flour, perfect for dunking into any of the accompanying sauces.

The desert menu is minimal but perfectly adequate with the usual classics such as lemon tart and ice cream sorbets.

All in all I was pretty impressed with Clockjack. It’s a friendly place where the emphasis is on producing exceptional chicken.

It’s rare to find a good independent restaurant in this part of town which isn’t grossly expensive or rammed at the seems. Clockjack is a simple, straightforward place with, most importantly, really good roast chicken.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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The Athenaeum

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Walking down Park Lane you’re almost falling over yourself with five-star hotels to visit, be it for a cocktail, afternoon tea or maybe if you’re feeling plush or in charge of an expenses card, an over night stay.

As there are so many it can be hard to pick and as most menus require you to spend a month’s budget over one meal, it’s important to pick the right place. The competition is fierce but one which has managed to retain it identity without becoming outdated is five-star The Athenaeum.

One of the best things about the hotel is its whisky bar, serving more than 270 different varieties of the amber spirit. It’s lovely and traditional and as a whisky novice, I was a little out of place, but the staff are friendly and helpful and ready to help you pick out a good drink if you’re not a connoisseur.

After a warm-up drink in the bar, my friend Rav and I tried out the hotel’s restaurant last week. It’s an elegant room, with padded chairs covered in velvet and cushions making you feel a little like royalty. The room is also set out well for intimacy as each of the tables are cleverly placed in booths leaving you quite separate from your fellow diners.

The menu is simple but successful with classic British dishes cooked well. We had the onion soup, creamy and subtly infused but nothing too special with tuna carpaccio, which was brilliantly delicate with a slightly spicy edge from the peppercorn coating.

Onto the main meals, salmon parcels with a green salad and wild mushroom risotto. The salmon was fresh and juicy wrapped in flaky pastry with spinach squished into the mix whereas the risotto, possibly a bad menu choice on Rav’s part, was pretty bland.

By this stage, after sharing a bottle of Riesling and after our initial whiskey starters, things were beginning to feel a little unbalanced. To soak up the alcohol we ploughed on to puddings and went for a squidgy chocolate pudding and a beautifully light crème brulee with crunchy shortbread biscuits on the side.

All in all the night was pleasant but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s a classic place built on tradition and everything from the décor to the food served up is based on this idea. The average age of most of the punters is around 50, so if you’re not of this age maybe find some older friends or take your parents along.

If you’re looking to go somewhere traditional it’s a strong contender in Mayfair and you won’t be left with too much of a financial hangover.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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Sophie’s Steakhouse

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London has gone steak mad recently with restaurants popping up across the city promising to serve the best-cut steak in the UK or sometimes even on the planet.

However, one steakhouse which caught my fancy is Sophie’s which can be found in Covent Garden or Chelsea.

On visiting the Covent Garden branch I was pleasantly surprised to find somewhere which kept up with the oh so high standards for steak-eating in London and gave a little bit extra.

It’s a huge restaurant and generally packed on most nights with a mix of locals, suits and tourists but don’t let this put you off. There’s also a lot of good steak on offer, a lively and exciting atmosphere and the prices aren’t as ridiculous as some meaty chains will charge you.

Starting off there’s a small selection of mini plates, with nothing that out of the ordinary. I opted for the beef Carpaccio which pretty much melted off the plate and into my mouth in a delicious delicate way. My friend went for the scallops, which again were cooked to perfection and served with pea puree to smother on top.

Next up, the steak course. You can go for something else if you want but why would you.

There’s sharing dishes such as the chateaubriand, but as a greedy person I prefer to have my own cut and went for the fillet steak while my friend had the rib eye. Both were cooked pretty much exactly how we asked, if not a tiny bit over done, and were excellent cuts of meat served with thick chips to soak up all the delicious meaty juices.

Forget pudding, the list isn’t worth a look, and go for a cocktail. There’s an extensive cocktail menu and the Covent Garden branch is open until 1am so aim to try a few.

This is not a place for an intimate dinner, it’s an open setting and packed full of people so better for a large group. As Sophie (the founder) is the daughter of Jeremy Mogford, founder of Brown’s, you can slightly see the mass-produced similarities.

But although it’s a little chainy you can’t knock the steaks. It’s not a place for meat connoisseurs but somewhere to go and have some fun while enjoying a decent, honest steak and some amazing cocktails with your friends.

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Meter Bar & Eatery

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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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