The Grill at Smiths – Steaking a claim

Smiths’ bar + café (ground floor), cocktail bar (1st), grill (2nd) and restaurant and terrace (3rd and 4th) have a busy but spacious home in a recently refurbished Grade II listed warehouse sprawling from 67 to 77 Charterhouse Street opposite the main Smithfield meat market on the north side.  The long established restaurant complex was acquired by Youngs a year ago and has since undergone some extensive refurbishment and menu changes. This is a massive venue with huge open plan rooms (which makes it feel spacious) and each floor has a different flavour, whether you are meeting a friend for … [Read more...]

Barbican on Fire

Barbican ON FIRE Casual dining in the Barbican Centre On the mid level in the Barbican Centre (below the Library level but above the Lakeside level) you will find Bonfire.  You’ve probably noticed it.  You may even have visited it.  We used to take our kids there for burgers when they were in their teens, but it never seemed anything out of the ordinary and so it never became a regular haunt for us as a family.  Indeed, when it first opened there was much criticism of the fare and its presentation. But a couple of recent visits were very positive – not obviously for gourmet fare, but for … [Read more...]

Bib Gourmand Restaurant on Charterhouse Street

Comptoir Gascon, north side of Smithfield, is a long-time Barbican gourmet bistro neighbour (opened in 2001). It is also one of Michelin starred Pascal Aussignac’s Gascony eateries and has held a Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2008 (‘Bibs’ are awarded for simple yet skilful cooking under £28). With so many new bars and restaurants opening around us it’s easy to be distracted from established classics such as this. Highest quality ingredients are sustainably sourced from small Gascony producers. Poultry is “Le Comité Renaissance” certified (highest standards for ethics and … [Read more...]

A Taste of the Middle East in Clerkenwell

Sarona is a modern, stylish restaurant honing in on fresh middle-eastern cuisine.  Yet another restaurant only a short walk away on Clerkenwell Road, the easiest way to get there is go walk down to Smithfield, turn right onto St John Street and turn left onto Clerkenwell Road. The frontage is branded with awnings, tables and chairs all in bright orange so it is easily noticeable after you turn the corner. Outside seating on Clerkenwell Road The pavement in quite deep here and so the hustle and bustle of the main road doesn’t intrude as much as you might expect.  The large windows … [Read more...]

New Italian restaurant on Whitecross Street

Da Giua is the new Italian restaurant you may have noticed which has just opened opposite Waitrose on Whitecross Street. There was a short-lived tapas bar (Sabor Iberico) before that and another fairly long established and well-regarded Italian (Alba) prior.  The short life for the tapas bar is a little worrying with respect to the location, but the new owners have the experience, for sure, with 2 other successful restaurants in London already established. The interior has undergone some refurbishment. Interior of the restaurant There is also plenty of spacious seating inside, … [Read more...]

Mid-range French fare at Brasserie Blanc

Mid-range French fare at Brasserie Blanc Heading down Moorgate towards Bank, turn left behind the Bank of England, and a couple of roads on, you reach Brasserie Blanc Threadneedle Street which is another venture from the world-renowned chef Raymond Blanc as part of a chain of similarly-named mid-priced eating establishments in the French brasserie-style.  There is certainly competition in this style of restaurant with the Cote Brasserie and Café Rouge chains both offering something similar in style and pricing.  However we would rate the Threadneedle Street Brasserie Blanc highly among … [Read more...]

Afternoon tea French style in Tower 42

What a treat!  That was my companion’s comment after visiting the Tower 42 venue for le Restaurant de PAUL in Tower 42 in the City for a decidedly French take on the English afternoon tea ritual.  Indeed it was sans the traditional British pot of tea which might disappoint the purists, but in tea’s place were unlimited glasses of the restaurant’s house sparkling wine from Gaillac - Ky Procco  - to wash down a three-tier serving of sandwiches and pastries – all French style. Le Restaurant de PAUL is through the Tower 42 main entrance on Old Broad Street Indeed afternoon tea options … [Read more...]

A True Taste of France off Charterhouse Square

The Café du Marché, off Charterhouse Square, is a true Barbican Life favourite. Immaculately white painted brick exterior with blue awnings and smartly tended window boxes may belie the spacious auberge-style main dining areas within, but reflects the care, vision and dedication of an over 30 year old independent family run French restaurant and still employing some of their original staff.   The restaurant’s attractive exterior in Charterhouse Mews The restaurant is tucked away in a tiny dead-end cobbled Mews next to the Malmaison Hotel and given that it thus cannot attract passing … [Read more...]

Good and Generous Dishes at the South Place Chop House

Good and Generous Dishes at the South Place Chop House The South Place Chop House can easily missed.  It comfortably covers half the ground floor area of the South Place Hotel nestled between the HSBC bank and Marks & Spencer and the Red Lion pub as you walk from  Moorgate to Liverpool Street.  Personally, I’ve had one or two G+Ts at the rooftop Angler Terrace in the summer sun and we’ve also reviewed the outstanding Michelin starred Angler mainly seafood restaurant at rooftop level, but this is our first review of a dinner at the Chop House.  The restaurant is thus only a short … [Read more...]

The Refinery Citypoint

The Refinery Citypoint is on our doorstep over the road from Willoughby House and is an all-day dining bar & restaurant which makes it flexible enough for those looking for breakfast through to an evening meal – or drink. The main entrance is in the atrium between Moor Lane and the City Point branch of Pret and the Rack and Tenter pub.  It is a long open plan room with the bar at the Moorgate end and the restaurant and lounge section at the Willoughby end.  Only the two ends of the room have much natural lighting from outside but the warm, stylish but still informal lighting inside … [Read more...]