August round-up: Chinese food and Gin cocktails

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How did we get to September already? It felt like August, my birthday month and therefore my favourite month of the year, just slipped by in a food and wine indulgent daze. I’ve been at it again, eating, mostly out, a lot. The poor husband didn’t know whether I was coming or going and baby, who is no longer a baby but now a toddler, has got comfy in all sorts of restaurant high chairs.

There were highs and lows this month, most of which I’ll gabble on about below but first *drum roll* here’s a little something I put together on my trip to Chelsea stalwart, Hunan for London’s leading concierge service – Bon Vivant. Have a peek and see what happens when a planner-holic decides to traipse across to Pimlico, to a restaurant with no menu. Also, I must add, if you are wondering why the quality of images has suddenly shot up, it’s not because I finally upgraded my phone but instead chose to call on the far better technology and expertise of my dining companion, aka foodie frappy (Thank you dear!).

And that’s just the start of the month. To save your patience and my time, I’ve assembled the rest of my musings on my dining expeditions into an easy what’s hot/what’s not barometer. You know the kind you’re used to seeing in all manner of lifestyle mags. Hope you like it!

What’s Hot

*Sundowner drinks at Aqua Shard

Try the skilfully concocted Battenburg martini in place of a dessert. It’s like drinking cake! Beware though, there’s a reason for the slightly longer than usual wait for your drink and you’ll soon feel it!

*Bermondsey Street Gin crawl

Rediscovering local surroundings is always fun and last month I had the pleasure of going on a bit of a pre-dinner gin crawl, as you do. First stop was the new Rose Pub on the corner of Snowfields and Weston Street, from the people behind the popular Woolpack on Bermondsey Street. A stones throw away from London Bridge station, this understated pub has been completely gutted and beautifully refitted with reclaimed wood and copper bar/table tops. You’ve got your trendy craft beers, a good selection of wines by the glass too, but its the cocktails that are worth shouting about. With spirits aged in oak barrels for at least four weeks, cocktails like the Snowsfields come with a real punch.

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Next stop was Bar 214 underneath Antico at the bottom of Bermondsey Street. This cosy little gin den oozes a buzzy atmosphere within a darkly lit room. I wondered how the bartenders managed to see what they were making but one sip of my elderflower martini suggested I stop wondering and start drinking! 214 boasts one of London’s largest gin collections and there are even a range of gin flights to choose from. As an avid gin fan, I’ll certainly be back for more…

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*The Blonde recommends Sushi Tetsu

You may recall my fellow mummy friend, the blonde, from my mummy lunching reviews. Well, the other week she sent me a text raving on about some sushi place that is the bomb. Apparently I’d have “died and gone to heaven in this restaurant”. As she knows me well (and I suspect you too are slowly getting to know how I tick), I can only think it really must be something amazing and therefore worth a mention here.

The place in question is called Sushi Tetsu, rated highly in the Observer recently. Getting a table might be a bit tricky though, with only seven seats and two sittings a day. There’s no menu. Chef will decide what you will eat. Expect a succession of small dishes. Oh and if you do manage to get a seat, the blonde reliably informs me that the fatty tuna was the standout dish and not to be alarmed when chef brings out the blowtorch (unless you’ve left some food on your plate or said something untoward).

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What’s Not

*Inconsistent service Grr…

I almost don’t want to admit it by saying it out loud but you have a right to know. Our third visit to our lovely local Italian, Zucca, left us feeling rather disappointed and disillusioned. A restaurant we had so much respect for, both for its food and service, unfortunately let us down on both accounts. Overcooked turbot and undercooked lemon tart pastry were my main cause for a grumble. Whilst lack of service towards the second half of our meal meant having to pour our own wine twice. To top that, the husband saw our waiter being berated for this but no apology was made to us. This blow was rather ill-timed too, as we were celebrating the seventh anniversary of our first date. Soppy I know, but I can assure you Busaba Eathai did a much better job of keeping us happy back then.

Having also had a disappointing re-visit to Hutong at the Shard (again, I had to pour wine for the table, endured a long wait for mains, seated in a no-mans-land section adjacent to rather loud private dining rooms…), I am contemplating sticking to a no-revisit rule, tough as it maybe.

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*The Pearson Room, Canary Wharf

From the creators of Marlyebone favourite, Trishna and the ever popular Bubbledogs, The Pearson Room has burst onto the scene along with several new restaurants hoping to strike it lucky in the wharf. Two visits and I’m afraid I’m not convinced. I was an ardent fan of the Reebok restaurant, it’s predecessor, from my not so long ago working days in the wharf. When I heard it had been replaced and with what, I just had to make a trip back and drag a few equally curious ex-colleagues with me too. However, shoddy service, forgotten drinks orders and a surprisingly under seasoned and over tomatoey Smoked Mozzarella & Purple Aubergine Parmigiana made it clear as day for me. I don’t want the Pearson Room. I want the Reebok back. I’d like my trio of fish with spicy pearl barley cous cous back and I’d like the ever helpful manager Jon Flower back. Old habits die hard I guess, but I won’t let this put me off checking out the group’s latest venture; Gymkhana. A tribute to the old gentlemens clubs in colonial India. The bar is already touted to be a real find.

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