10 Places We’ve Loved Reviewing In 2018

By Phil Clarke, Editor of The Handbook website Phil Clarke |
28th December 2018

Okay, so Kate Adie might be reporting amid a hail of Taliban bullets, I get that. But reviewing Michelin starred restaurants for a living gets pretty hairy too. Like, Emily, in the office, had a diabetes scare that whisked her to the doctor’s just yesterday, while Lottie once missed her last train home. These are genuine hardships. Have you seen how much an Uber from Mayfair to Clapham comes to after midnight?

So in the name of journalism, here are the top ten places we visited this year. Do remember the hardship we’ve endured to bring them to you. To see all 160 reviews, click here. Otherwise, read on…

Chicken At The Connaught

I’ll kick this one off, because it really was one of the most stand-out meals I’ve ever eaten. Hélène Darroze is one of London’s most talented chefs, and she brought all that to bear on perhaps the most boring meat out there. Chicken. The only good thing about chicken is that other, more interesting things (frogs’ legs, cobra, human flesh and so on) always “tastes like chicken”. Well if one person could turn that around, it would be Hélène Darroze. And boy did she. Le Poulet du Dimanche lunch was outstanding, over a never-ending stream of chickeny dishes, Darroze’s family armagnac along with some of the best wine pairings I’ve enjoyed in ages.

Read my review here…

Review In The Strand At Simpsons In The Strand

Emily reviewed one of London’s most incredible meat restaurants this year. The very idea of Simpsons In The Strand (and why’s it IN?) makes me want to go all William Sitwell on any passing vegans because it’s just so carnivorously delicious. Emily checked out the new dining room, which comes with an updated menu, and scoffed down a Sunday roast despite it being a Tuesday night (oh the woe!). In-between stuffing her face with potted shrimp she wrote up her experience. Enjoy.

Read Emily’s review here…

Adorable Photos Obligatory At The Chesterfield

If you’re not a sucker for cute kid pictures, then look away now. Lottie and Elly both managed to end up at The Chesterfield’s afternoon tea, which became a toothbrush-free zone for the summer. The Chesterfield isn’t necessarily known for its restaurant or as a foodie destination, but when the sweets are in town that all changes. The Mayfair hotel put on a spread that sounds like the sort of extravaganza that would directly lead to root canal. Earl Grey was replaced by fruit salad candy tea. Those fiddly cucumber sandwiches without the crusts? Forget about it, there were chocolate chip scones, fizzy apple cake and Reeses-style cake. Elly’s kids loved it; so did Lottie.

Read Lottie’s review here…

Brilliant Benares!

Back in March Elly visited one of London’s finest Indian establishments (for a list of some of the others, check out this link) and she was, needless to say, suitably impressed. She even threw in some Mark Twain quotes for good measure. The lobster biriani and Champagne Bellini were a huge success and although the restaurant has famously parted ways with their head chef, this remains an Indian establishment very much at the top of its game.

Read Elly’s review here…

Dr Alex’s Favourite, Zuaya

Not going to lie, I got so into Love Island this year. Went mad for it. Which is a great reason to buy a wall calendar, but perhaps not such a wonderful one to head down to a restaurant. But it turns out that Dr Alex not only has impeccable taste in swimming shorts and hawaiian shirts, when it comes to choosing restaurants he’s pretty much on the money too. Which is the completely vacuous reason I went to Zuyaya, the new opening on (or, rather, just off) High Street Kensington. I dreamt about the Lamb Purple Taco the other night.

Read my review here…

Bob Bob Ricard, The Veganning Of Some Excellent Puns

You know how the best thing in the world is a bad pun? Well Lottie’s The Veganning of Something New at Bob Bob Ricard cheered me as I read it back on a rainly late December morning. Not as much, it seems, as Bob Bob Ricard’s new vegan menu pleased Lottie. The English/Russian menu seems to have taken Lottie’s fancy, with the gimmicky Press For Champagne doing its job (please can we get one in the office?).

Read Lottie’s review here…

Catch The Cool Cats At Kaspars At The Savoy

When I asked Emily for her best couple of reviews for this roundup she suggested Simpsons In The Strand (why is it IN, still?) and Kaspars, in The Savoy. I was like ‘but that’s basically the same place’ and she (rightly and) indignantly explained that it’s not at all, they’re next door and share a proprietor, but the Savoy is something sacred. Which it is, and so, it would seem, is Kaspars, the restaurant within. Which looks splendid and Emily enjoyed it. And with Emily’s life advice ringing in my ears ‘It was date night central when we visited on a Friday night, so choose your bae’, I’m going to find a companion and head down.

Read Emily’s review here…

Tell All Your Friends To Make It To Chelsea

Frankly, it wouldn’t occur to me to go for dinner at a Made In Chelsea star’s new restaurant (I know, I know, I was raving about Love Island just a couple paragraphs ago; hopelessly inconsistent), but Charlotte did and lucky she did because by all accounts (well, by Charlotte’s) it was jolly good. As the office vegan Charlotte is always the first to get her herbivorous teeth into a vegan menu and MIC’s Lucy Watson has provided the ideal location in Tell Your Friends. As Charlotte puts it, ‘people that want normal, vegan food that’s also delicious’ and this is exactly that.

Read Charlotte’s review…

Michel-Indian, Trishna

Fran headed over to try Trisna and. I’ve got a theory that the rise of London’s posh Indians is really a thing, and Marylebone’s Trishna was one of the places that kicked all this off. And earned a Michelin star for it. Fran enjoyed scoffing her face with seven courses of the finest Indian fare and washing it down with gin. So fair to say that it got a thumbs up.

Read Fran’s review here…

Park Chin-Phwarrr

Emily E-Dawg Gray proved she’s even cooler than that nickname (that I just made up) by heading down to one of London’s most fashionable restaurants, Park Chinois. The posh Chinese, which serves bowls of £35 rice, is a bucket-list visit, apes the decadence of 1930s high-class Shanghai and the interior is splendid. As is the cuisine, which Emily seems to have lapped up despite mixups on the order. Drama!

Read Emily’s review here…

Nothing Sketchy At Sketch

So we didn’t review Sketch, but we did hold our Christmas party here, and on that basis the quirky restaurant makes it onto a list of favourite places we sent reviewers, because all our reviewers were there tucking into some of Mayfair’s finest dishes, with not a notebook in sight. The loos are, famously, eye-catching, as is pretty much everything the restaurant has to offer. The sunken cocktail bar is unmissable, not to mention the visually stunning Glade. The 2 Michelin Star restaurant (I mean, how many Michelin stars do you need?) upstairs is  second to none (or, at least, few) while The Gallery, bathed in pink is extraordinary.

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