Category Archives: Pubs, inns and bars

Pubs, inns and bars reviewed by

The Botanist: posh pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

The Botanist, Sloane Square was packed at 7pm last Thursday as the pre-theatre crowd were getting a few swift ones in before heading across the road to the King’s Head Theatre.

Thankfully the restaurant itself was rather quieter as we were here on a very serious quest: to sample London’s Most Decadent Pancake.

botanist sloane square review
The Botanist, Sloane Square, is promising ‘London’s Most Decadent Pancake’ for Shrove Tuesday

The publicity blurb – it’s possibly the first pancake I’ve heard of that has its own PR agent – heralded it thus: ‘The super-indulgent £32 pancake contains beautiful chunks of fresh lobster, morel and chanterelle mushrooms and a creamy, smoked garlic bisque – something to be savoured rather than scoffed!’ Continue reading The Botanist: posh pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings: a hidden culinary gem

It is located in the no-man’s land of offices and parkland between Exmouth Market and Clerkenwell Green, but Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is well worth the detour.

Opened just a few months ago by the team which also owns the subterranean Goodge Street drinking den Rev JW Simpson and Fitzrovia bar Bourne & Hollingsworth, the all-day restaurant and bar occupies a vast corner of a building which has housed various short-lived venues over the years including a sports bar, an Argentinian restaurant and an Indian curry house.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings restaurants in exmouth market
Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is stylish, foodie and welcoming – but somewhat off the beaten track

However the charm, style and excellent food offered by Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings should hopefully be enough to lure people off the beaten track.

The interior is designed around shabby-chic, members club meets country house-type lines with a grand piano, stripped white floorboards, a roaring fire, squashy sofas and a central bar.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings restaurants in exmouth market
It’s cosy, bright and the perfect place to spend a cold January evening


We propped ourselves up at the bar and got stuck into the inventive cocktail list, going for a West Indies Gimlet (£9.50) with Navy strength gin (which gives it a kick at 57 per cent ABV), Caribbean syrup falernum, lime and bitters and the signature cocktail Hollingsworth Fizz with thyme-infused peach liqueur, gin and soda topped with lemon (£8.50).

Continue reading Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings: a hidden culinary gem

Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar: lunch with a view

Long-time London dwellers still remember County Hall, across the river Thames from the Houses of Parliament, as the Greater London Council building on which Ken Livingstone used to hang banners to annoy Margaret Thatcher.

However the impressive building has long since fallen into private hands. As well as some fairly diverse attractions including the London Aquarium and and London Dungeon, part of the building houses the five-star London Marriot County Hall in which the Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar, one of many good restaurants in Waterloo, can be found.

The County Hall building restaurants in waterloo
The County Hall building used to be the offices of the Greater London Council but now houses the London Aquarium and the London Dungeon as well as the Marriot hotel

I’ve long been a fan of the bar for not only having great views of the Thames but for having a fabulously well-stocked bar and staff who are both extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

I spent a lengthy evening before Christmas there working my way through a variety of cocktails both on and off-menu, and was served the best negroni I’ve ever had, made entirely from English spirits from the Hampstead-based Sacred Spirits company.

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The bar at Gillray’s serves an impressive range of cocktails

However until now I’d never ventured into the actual restaurant and on arrival was evident that not many other people were doing either – just one other table was occupied in the sizeable dining room which made for a fairly subdued atmosphere. The location, right by Waterloo station, the London Eye, Westminster and so forth, should have made it perfectly sited for both tourists and business types but that wasn’t the case this Wednesday lunchtime. Continue reading Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar: lunch with a view

One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

There was a lion right outside my hotel room. Well, to be more accurate, a Lion King.

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The view from my bedroom at One Aldwych hotel in Covent Garden

The Lyceum theatre in Covent Garden, which has been home to the hugely successful Lion King musical for more than 15 years, was about 10 metres from my bedroom window. I peered down on the crowds as people started gathering for the evening’s performance, safe and unseen in my warm sanctuary…that is, until I realised that I was being spied on in turn, by  people peeping out of their window at the very top of the theatre. It was time to stop people-watching, and retreat to the spa.

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One Aldwych is right at the heart of London’s West End

One Aldwych hotel is situated right on the corner which marks the beginning of of the Aldwych semi-circle which also houses the Australian and India High Commissions and Bush House, once home to the BBC World Service. As a Central London location it is hard to beat, with not just Theatreland on its doorstep but Covent Garden, the Strand, Holborn, the South Bank and Somerset House all just a few minutes walk away.

In spite of being on the corner of one of London’s busiest streets, the hotel itself is an oasis of tranquility, particularly in its subterranean spa which includes an 18-metre swimming pool. Continue reading One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

Aperitivo in the heart of (rather noisy) Kensington

‘Location is everything’ so the saying goes – but when it comes to the afternoon drinks and Italian nibbles at the Baglioni hotel in Kensington, it seems location can be a double-edged sword.

I was invited to come along and spend the evening in the sunshine (yes, it was one of those gorgeously warm summer evenings which sadly seem to have ended…) on its outdoor ‘Bellavista terrace’ which, said the hotel, ‘is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch, dinner or aperitivo after work.’

This all sounded a rather lovely way in which to slide from the working day into a pleasant evening. As a former inhabitant of Rome and Florence I used to love the tradition of having a glass or two of something in the early evening, along with some delicious olives, bread, freshly-sliced salami and wodges of strong cheese.

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A lovely evening setting just across from Kensington Gardens….but where has the traffic gone?

The Baglioni’s aperitivo menu, available from 5.30-7.30pm every day, costs £15 and included, according to the hotel, ‘a sparkling glass of Bellavista sparkling wine or a delicious Italian cocktail accompanied by a selection of antipasti, salumi or cheeses.’

So one beautiful summer’s evening I gathered some friends and we walked from the Mail’s offices in Kensington High Street for all of three minutes before – how handy is that? – we arrived at the Baglioni. Continue reading Aperitivo in the heart of (rather noisy) Kensington