Thursday, 19 August 2010

Byron at The Intrepid Fox - W1

I always used to be a bit intimidated by The Intrepid Fox in Wardour St when it was a goth/metal pub - scary gargoyle hanging over the door, moody goths jostling you out of the way as they shuffled in, I was never ballsy enough to go in and see what it was actually like - which now I regret because it was a Soho institution that is no more (although they did move the crowd, the vibe and I think the gargoyle to that weird bar underneath Centrepoint - not quite the same).  Anyway - I thought it was going to be turned into flats (and maybe it is upstairs - I haven't noticed) but what actually transpired was that Byron, famed hamburger joint, opened a Soho outpost there.  Everyone raves about Byron's burgers and I had never been - given this location is a 5 minute walk from my work I'm not sure what has stopped me, perhaps because it is always so busy.  Anyway - today I went and man did I enjoy.  I had a blue cheese burger and it was SO good - it was lighter than most burgers and the meat was cooked to medium perfection.  The bun was great (often a let down) and I love a place where you get a pickle on the side.  The courgette fries were a nice touch and made me feel like I was edging towards that 5 a day.  The other half and I have been regular customers of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Battersea for over 6 years now and unfortunately we have experienced the quality go steadily downhill - particularly since it got bought and became a rapidly expanding brand.  It wasn't until I took my first mouthful of my cheese-burger at Byron today that I realised just how shite the GBK burgers are now in comparison to Byron's little beauties.  Whatever faceless conglomerate owns GBK now should be forced to dine at Byron so they can realise the many ways they are screwing up.  Anyway - go to Byron, it rocks (and you can drink a cream soda float with your burger, bonus!)

Byron on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Nude Espresso - Hanbury St E1

So after recently visiting the Nude Espresso guys at the Rapha pop-up store in Clerkenwell I finally got around to visiting their cafe in Hanbury St in Spitalfields.  And very nice it is too - on Tom's advice I tried some of their cakes and had a lovely friand (the fact I am getting comfortable with ordering friands says a lot about how I am mellowing with age).  The coffee was spot on and the whole vibe of this place is great.  So as expected, a winner and in one of my favourite parts of London - I am a sucker for the Huguenot houses and wish Tracey Emin or Gilbert & George would ask me round for tea.  Having said that (oh cripes - I feel a rant coming on) on my visit to Nude and my wanderings around the area on that day I couldn't help but feel that Spitalfields has lost something.  I know I rabbited on about this in my post on Fournier Street but it struck me anew last week - in particular as I was walking through the market and was confronted with a Gourmet Burger Kitchen, a Wagamama and a Real Greek.  Why did we need that?  Wasn't there enough food on offer in the market already?  I didn't mind when the Square Pie Company moved in but why did we need every chain restaurant to follow suit?  I dunno - it just made me a little bit sad and a little bit wistful.  Having said that the area still rocks and perhaps you just have to go a bit deeper into Shoreditch or Bethnal Green or Hackney to recapture the Spitalfields of old? 

Monday, 9 August 2010

Cafe at The Bathhouse EC2

Surrounded by high rise office buildings behind the lovely St Boltoph's church near Liverpool St station, The Bathhouse is a weird one (in a good way).  I haven't been down to the basement restaurant/bar but it sounds cool - would be interested to hear any reports.  I have however visited the cute cafe, which is the only part of the venue above ground.  This place is actually an old Turkish baths - one of those built in Victorian times all over London (now mostly gone with the two remaining being the Porchester in Bayswater and Ironmonger Row in Shoreditch).  I realy liked the cafe from the moment I walked in - Motown vinyl playing on an old turntable, a friendly barista making coffee and delicious looking biscuits on offer (I had a chewy, gooey Florentine).  The coffee was good - not amazing but good (the milk was too hot which is always a big no no for me).  The cafe sees oddly out of place with the suity/city vibe of the area and that is part of it's charm - it seems like a slightly hippyish impostor in stuffed-shirt land and as such long may it proposer!