Friday, 11 January 2013

London's Most Booked Restaurants Of 2012: A Pictorial

According to our stats, these were the top 10 most popular restaurants, in terms of bookings, in London in 2012. It's easy to see why.

(1) The Brasserie at The Tower

(2) Babylon at the Roof Gardens
(3) 1901
(4) Cafe Des Amis
(5) The Brickhouse
(6) Boyd’s Brasserie
(7) The Terrace Grill and Bar at Le Méridien
(8) Blueprint Cafe
(9) Le Pont de la Tour
(10) Kettner’s

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sober In London: Detox & Unlimited Booze Is A Medieval Mix

By Christian Rose-Day.

Giving up alcohol for January to allow the body to move passed the evils of Christmas and New Year’s Eve is hard enough for any frequent London drinker.

I can up that ante. I work for Fluid London and we are commonly referred to, in the industry, as ‘a ripe old bunch of lushes’. We drink at, eat at, review, and tweet about London’s best bars, pubs and restaurants because that’s what we’re expected to do. To us, abstaining from booze for a month is like losing a vital organ.

Regrettably, I’ve made the rash decision to up the ante even further. Since downing that final glass of celebratory port at roughly 5.30am on New Year’s Day, I have so far remained steadfast in my resolve to tackle the unimaginable: stay dry until after the 2013 London marathon in April; which is still 14 weeks, 2 days, and 11 hours away!

I can report that, thanks to a prescient special offer on Beck’s Blue alcohol-free lager at my local Sainsbury’s, Week 1 has proved reasonably manageable. Well, it was until I scheduled my first restaurant review of 2013, at The Medieval Banquet in St Katharine Docks (a suitable excursion for the Russian guests I was entertaining recently), where included in the price of the £49.95 ticket was UNLIMITED ALE AND/OR WINE! And when they say UNLIMITED, they mean UNLIMITED.

Great jugs of the stuff was frequently brought to our table by our buxom waitress for the evening, and in the unlikely event of requiring a refill, we were encouraged to bang on the tables with our thirst-angered fists hailing, “WENCH! Fetch me more ale!”

Not an ideal setting for a recent dryathlete such as myself.

And so it was that a flagon of the sweetest apple juice ever to grace the shores of Great Britain was placed in front of me and I dutifully gulped it down like a good little T-totaller.

Thankfully, the various contortionists, jugglers, dancers, prancers and singers providing the entertainment for the evening distracted me just long enough so that I could escape, full of belly, but only through the charms of food (and apple juice), not booze.

This is going to be a long, onerous winter.....

Monday, 7 January 2013

The great home cooking revival

Eating out at a fine restaurant will always be one of life’s great pleasures, but for many people there are distinct advantages to rustling up a great meal at home. These include:

Saving money
Saving money is perhaps the most obvious benefit to cooking for yourself. The economic downturn of the last few years has fuelled a real resurgence in home cooking as squeezed consumers look for ways to save money without compromising on enjoyment and nutrition. This has boosted sales of kitchenware and cookery books and has seen a mini boom in the number of cookery classes available.

Supermarket chains have been quick to support the home cooking trend by providing thrifty shoppers with partially prepared ingredients that can be as quickly and easily assembled into a meal. Unusual ingredients and exotic herbs, spices and seasonings, such as those provided by the Schwartz range, are now far more readily available in major supermarkets than they were even a decade ago.

Family benefits
Spending more time with your family is another clear benefit to cooking at home. Sharing good food has always been a way of cementing bonds between family members, and sitting down together for meals on a regular basis may signal a return to more traditional family values. Preparing meals at home also provides parents with a good opportunity to teach their children how to cook, a skill that will stand them in good stead throughout life. If your children are fussy eaters, getting them involved in the preparation of food will make meals more fun and less of a battleground.

Health benefits
Good health is another sound reason to shun convenience food in favour of home-cooked meals. Wholesome, fresh ingredients are generally more nutritious than processed ones and if you cook your meals yourself you can control exactly how much fat, salt and sugar goes into them. You are also less likely to be tempted to buy unhealthy treats if you are eating satisfying home cooked meals.

Home cooking as a hobby
Many people pursue cooking as a serious hobby. It’s messy, it’s creative and the results can always be shared with an appreciative audience. Learning the cooking styles of different world cuisines is a great way of boosting your culinary expertise.

Traditional Chinese cuisine is a firm favourite among home cooks. Different styles of Chinese Recipes originate from the different regions of China and are influenced by factors such as climate and geography. Cantonese cuisine is probably the best known tradition outside of China. Soy sauce, spring onions and rice wine are very characteristic of this style of cooking. If you’re hosting a Chinese-themed dinner party, you can add chopsticks and bamboo mats for an authentic feel.

Greek cuisine is another popular tradition with a long history and many different styles to offer. Greek Recipes tend to make wide use of olive oil, aubergine, courgettes, okra, feta cheese and dried oregano. A little plate smashing can add a fun element to a Greek-themed dinner party.