After travelling for most of the day on trains, planes and automobiles I was starving and really looking forward to dinner at The Frontline Club, located in Norfolk Place, near Paddington train station, with a group of friends and a business colleague. I booked this in advance as it is difficult to find a table in a good restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays in Central London.
I found this restaurant by chance online and what attracted me to it was its proximity to our central London hotel. Apart from the great reviews online I liked the fact that a lot of their produce was promoted as being seasonal and sourced from their own farm in Norfolk. Also I wanted to try a restaurant that focused on British classics.
Although the restaurant was not yet full on arrival at 7.30pm but still the place was buzzing with a lovely old world type of atmosphere. The décor was very Olde English and the wooden tables reminded me of the kitchen table the staff eat in TV’s Downton Abbey! Once seated, the waiter came over and explained the menu in detail. He then helped us to decide on the best dishes.
On the menu:
Starters: Two of us had scallops with fennel purée and pancetta – the scallops were cooked perfectly. The fennel puree was not something I have tasted before but tasted absolutely delicious and brought the whole dish together.
Two of my friends had, Parma ham with balsamic onions and caperberries. This was gorgeous and the caper berries were deliciously sour and a perfect combination with the ham.
The mains: As the main courses arrived the restaurant was, at this stage, completely full and a great atmosphere!
Myself and one of my other friend opted for pan fried cod aubergine puree, pardon pepper and chorizo. This was a beautiful dish and nicely balanced, the cod was fresh and tasted great with the chorizo.
My business colleague went for the haunch of venison steak, red cabbage and mashed apple and celeriac. I tried this and to be honest it is not my favourite type of meat as I find it a bit chewy but this is a personal taste my colleague loved it.
Another friend opted for the rib-eye on the bone with béarnaise sauce. This was amazing. The steak was really juicy and tender. I am a big steak fan and this is up there as one of the best steaks I have had (even though it was cooked well done!)
Although quite quite full after my starter and my main(s) one of my friends ordered a pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream. I asked for a taste – and wow, it tasted as good as it sounds.
The damage (including 3 cocktails and wine): £249.79
The food was great and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, the waiter was attentive and great at answering any questions or giving recommendations. It was on the pricey side. It does go to show the good value we get in Ireland for our beautiful produce. As for the more generous portions served in most Irish restaurants I can honestly say we are spoiled for choice in Ireland.
Breakfast in Central London
Most breakfast haunts in London tend to be cafés serving croissants and other bakery choices. So for traditional English Breakfast where do you go? Well the Valerie chain of restaurants is definitely a good choice and judging by the amount of tourists it’s no wonder they are full every day. There is definitely a demand for a good traditional Breakfast when you are not prepared to pay outrageous prices for Hotel breakfasts.
The damage: Bacon & Eggs came to around £7.50 per person plus the price of Coffee. Full traditional breakfast costs around £11 (compare this to £19-£22 in most Hotels in London).
Harrods Food Hall
On your next trip to London a visit to the Harrods Food Hall is a must. Even if it is just to browse.
A food lover’s paradise, the best way to describe it is that it is a large mall featuring lots of specialty food stalls, shops and small restaurant bars.
There were different sections for poultry, meat, fish, deli and the most obscure food, which are difficult to find in Western Europe. My favourite of all was the chocolate section. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time so we did not get a chance to eat here but we did get a chocolate macaroon – gorgeous!
One of the most interesting aspects is the fact that restaurants are featured in the Harrod’s Food Hall as miniature food bars and eateries covering every type of cuisine imaginable. For example
Thai – The famous Knightbridge Thai Restaurant, The Mango Tree,has it own food bar serving snacks and lunches.
The Rotisserie – For mouth-watering flame roasted chicken, cooked before you on a roasting spit the Rotisserie is located in the Meat Hall and is decorated in turn of the century style. They also offer a range of kebabs.
For fish and seafood lovers book a seat at the Caviar House Seafood Bar. All menus are served with a choice of wine and Champagne. You have to queue for seat at the bar but it is worth the wait.
The Steakhouse – Specialising in 21-day dry aged Angus fillet, T-bone, sirloice and ribeye cuts you simply choose the meat of your choice from the in-store butcher and they cook it from scratch before you. For surf and turf lovers just add a portion of Lobster.
Take-Away – The lunch take away salad bar is surprisingly cheaper than we thought and you can buy a mixed salad along with a crab fish cake for less than £10.
Apart from one Macaroon and a bar of chocolate we just looked.
We samples food in different sections – which you are encouraged to do, but unless you have deep pockets the Harrods Food Hall has to be approached as a tourist – look, browse, sample and enjoy!
Close to Regent street after an exhausting trip down Regent Street I found a cool fast food place called Leon which is also a chain but it is a healthy alternative to usual fast food joints. I had a chargrilled chicken super food salad, which was a perfect mid-day filler.
On the way to the theatre in the West End that evening we booked a great Thai Restaurant that offer Early Bird specials for as little as £19 (not easy to find in London) in Soho’s Greek Street.
Our table was booked for 6pm for a pre-theatre meal. Part of a global chain, Patara also has branches in Oxford Circus, South Kensington and Knightsbridge. Patara can be pricey but, if in a group, you can be clever an order four meals to cover five people or, as one of party did, opt for the Taste of Thailand tasting menu for £19.
We chose this restaurant as it was within walking distance to the theatre which meant we avoided a taxi ride after our meal where the traffic can be chaotic at theatre time.
This has to be one of the better Thai restaurants I have been to in London. There are others including the famous Mango Tree but this one is less expensive in my view but of the same quality but with a better décor and atmosphere.
The décor was chic and modern and the lighting created a wonderful Thai atmosphere.
On the menu:
Spring rolls in moist rice paper – stuffed with seafood and mouthwatering mix of vegetables served with a hot spicy dip
Tom Yum Soup (one of the best according to one of my guests a well seasoned traveller who has travelled throughout Asia and Thailand).
Mix chicken Satay
Braised beef (melt in your mouth, tender tasty beef)
Red Chicken Curry (presented in a red copper bowl placed on top of a matching copper flame base to keep the dish warm)
One of our guests tried out the Taste of Thailand taster menu for £19 which was good value and perfect for pre-theatre dining.
The presentation was excellent. The service was good but could have been better. My one gripe was that while most of us had finished our starter, two of my guests were still waiting for theirs. Also the drinks took some time to arrive, and this included jugs of water, which only arrived half-way through the starters. Patara is renowned for its service so I can only conclude that it was so busy at 6pm that they were not expecting the crowds, as there was a queue in reception for the next available tables. And it was only 6.30pm at that stage.
Sunday Pub Lunch
Traditional British Pub Lunches have come a long way in the last five years to such an extent if you don’t book a table in advance for Sunday Brunch you will be disappointed. London Sunday Roast Dinners have become a big draw for tourists not to mention local demand.
We choose Kennington, located in Central London, south of the River Thames and 2.4 kms from Charing Cross, as we had to meet up to a friend of mine. Kennington is better known for its Oval Cricket Ground and former home of Charlie Chaplin.
For a real taste of British Pub Sunday Brunch we visited the Camberwell Arms because it was one of the few where you do not have to book in advance. While not much to look at from the outside, once inside the restaurant part was almost full. We were lucky to get a table because most of the better quality London Pubs serving Sunday Lunches were booked out as we discovered.
Conscious of the time we decided we would order the spit roast chicken for 4 with the best traditional roast potatoes I have tasted in years, along with a plate of pork fat, cold meats for five of us.
The chicken arrived at the table and I carved up. By far the best roast chicken I have ever tasted it was so succulent and moist and the juices with the crispy roast potatoes tasted so good. Add to this one starter comprising of roast pork belly, with pancetta, spicy sausage and Parma ham and one bottle of British Cider.
The damage £66
Main photo credit via photopin