In the past I’ve found the London Restaurant Festival a little overwhelming.. ridiculous I know but there’s so much going on, offers, events and tours and being someone who struggles with the smallest decisions, it all seemed too much. Until this year that is!
I was invited by the lovely Sheepa at Zomato (also of Food That Makes You Smile) to experience one of the restaurant tours that are arranged by the LRF, with the aim of #RestaurantHopping – experiencing a variety of venues with a small dish and a drink in each, around the same area. It’s a great way to go to places you may never have been, and tick 6 restaurants off the list in one night.
Our tour was Victoria, I used to work in the area and hated it, it was a permanent building site with chainy restaurants and horrible pubs, so I was interested in the itinerary. Along with Sheepa and Tim of I’m Wandering and Positive, we toured the area covering a variety of venues, eating, drinking and being merry (well I was fairly merry anyway!) You get a ‘passport’ in the first venue that entitles you to whatever the 6 restaurants are offering for the event and off you go! Here’s where we got to:
44B Pimlico Road, SW1W 8LP
A gorgeous farm in the Cotswolds, Daylesford also have several shops/cafes around London. We started with a sample of two of their cold pressed juices, The Balanced and The Vibrant – both delicious and fresh tasting. We were also given a choice of super greens broth and beef marrow bone broth – I chose the bone broth, obviously. It was rich and meaty, with perfectly cooked veg and barley – a great healthy start to an indulgent evening!
8 Gillingham St, SW1V 1HJ
I was certainly looking forward to a glass of wine at this point (long day) and Tozi did not disappoint. Neither did the burrata which I LOVE. Served with heritage tomatoes and basil, it was a simple but very effective dish, with the creamy centre oozing into the peppery olive oil. Mmmmmm I could’ve inhaled it all over again.
68 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SQ
Croquettes are one of my favourite Spanish dishes and Iberica’s version are perfectly crisp on the outside and rich, soft and creamy in the middle. They had no vegetarian option on the tour menu but the chef made up a special dish for Sheepa of asparagus and manchego with sweet onion chutney on toast – lovely.
Adam Handling at Caxton Grill
2 Caxton Street, SW1H OQW
They had an area sectioned off for the tour at the Caxton, the home of former Masterchef champion Adam Handling. There was one big table that all participants shared. This worked well except for a particularly amourous couple next to me who I think should’ve just saved time and headed home! The food was interesting, certainly a lot more experimental than the other venues. I had celeriac with apple, truffle and egg yolk – it worked well but I do think a lot of places go a tiny bit overboard with truffle. But it was the best looking dish of the evening.
46 Grosvenor Place, SW1X 7EQ
I used to work at Mango Tree and knew the food would be good. The others went for signature dish and Thai favourite mango sticky rice but I couldn’t resist the soft shell crab. It’s fried in crisp light batter, and the crab is generous and meaty. The chilli sauce is just hot enough and not too sweet. YUM.
20 Chesham Place, SW1X 8HQ
I’ve been wanting to go to Pont St for a while, I remember Exec Chef Sophie Michell from years back on Cook Yourself Slim with Gizzi Erskine, and was keen to see her restaurant. It’s gorgeous, with slick but welcoming décor and helpful, friendly staff. I had the venison with butternut squash puree and it was delightful – rare and tender and the perfect way to end.
The London Restaurant Festival runs until 31st October and the next tours are this evening, but run through the month. Have a look here for more info and to book. And massive thanks to Zomato and LRF!