Unexpectedly, I have obtained a lot for not very much this month. Rather than bore you with several overly-adjectivised posts, here is a brief run-down of my swag:
24th April – two free tickets to Chivas Regal Open Row
- Won via a Facebook competition, tickets (RRP £15) included two free cocktails, a tour of Savile Row’s dressmaking rooms, historic collections, cocktail masterclasses (albeit for a raspberry mule). My highlight was a tasting of Chivas Regal’s collection of blended malts – 12, 18, and 25yrs. The 18 was my favourite; smooth enough to hold in the mouth, yet intense enough to be interesting.
30th May – Mezcal tastings and supersized cocktails at El Nivel
- Obtained by sitting at the bar and criticising other establishments. Full review here.
1st May – Pulled Pork and Burned Bits at Bodeans, Balham
- Thanks to being hawk-eyed and finding a 20% voucher prior to the branch’s opening. Pulled pork is no longer a new phenomenon, and Bodeans is already one of the cheaper eateries with a good reputation, but the glee of finding something reasonable and not overly “young professional” (I mean, it’s basically Tooting) was welcome. Pitfall: Their drinks are very good, so it’s easy to accidentally spend £40 on them while aiming for a cheap night out.
2nd May – Free cocktail at Coco Momo, Marylebone
- Through being a member of their mailing list and taking advantage of a “Free cocktails due to the tube strike” offer”. Their Coco Berry Julep was remarkably strong (tbh the whiskey should have been stirred in rather than poured over), which was a pleasant surprise when compared to the watered-down offerings you get at London Cocktail Week.
10th May – free brunch for two at Jackson & Rye
- Won through a twitter competition. Online reviews for this place were mixed but our experience was nothing but flawless. The offer entitles you to £40 worth of food, and we had the Angler’s breakfast, Avocado Benedict, Pancakes, two rounds of coffees and health juices with more than £7 to spare. Our waiter, an attentive but not intrusive francophone, made the whole experience incredibly pleasant.
17th May – Free champagne and snacks at Rivea, Bulgari Hotels & Residences, Knightsbridge
- Found via a newsletter. Inspired by the French and Italian seafront, Rivea offers tapas style small plates with a largely seafood and nut base. Samples of what we ate are below. While the recommendation is to have 4-5 plates, we were full with 2-3 (including our free tasting of the Rivea salad – similar to a nicoise) but couldn’t help trying the Thin gianduja palet (a light and satisfying chocolate and hazelnut praline) for dessert alongside a couple of cocktails (The Conqueror and Cherry and Pistachio Bellini, pictured). Being of seaside heritage, we were impressed by the tenderness and flavours of the octopus, red mullet, and sea bream dishes. The bill came to £83 including service despite our freebies, but given that this is an Alain Ducasse restaurant, the damage could have been a lot worse.
Elsewhere this month:
City Social – Sincerely beautiful view of London, with a very classic black and gold decor (even the toilets have floor to ceiling windows with 30s style beauty stations). The bartenders know their stuff, even when ordering off menu. However, I fear its location will cause it to degrade over time due to the prevailing clientele. Get in to try the goats cheese churros before this happens!
Q Grill – We ordered unconventionally here, choosing one of every starter with a pair of cocktails. Everything from the asparagus tips to the steak tartare was moreish. Despite eating with abandon, we managed to stay low carb (diet points) and come away with a bill – after drinks and service – for £35 each.
The Lost Angel Battersea – Fantastic roasts and Proper Cocktails for a fiver, Sundays here are fast becoming a favourite
Grain Store – From the people that brought you the irreplaceable Zetter Townhouse, it’s refreshing to see a menu that cares as much about its vegetarian clientele than the rest. The cocktails are as adventurous as at ZTH (mustard martini and green tomato margarita) but the service can either over or underwhelm
The Black Heart – Metal music and really well made Old Fashioneds in a laid-back bar…in Camden, unfortunately.