Sunday, 12 June 2011

A ripper of a night out

The work to life balance has been a bit unbalanced lately hence I have been struggling to write much over the last few weeks. With this in mind, The Wig and I have booked a holiday to Turkey so that we can have a nice relax in the sun. I think one of the bonuses of being freelance is that you can have more control over things like holidays but it is very difficult, particularly when you are enjoying where you are working, to take a break. But I have found during the last couple of weeks that my tolerance levels have decreased so I know that I should take some time off if I want to have any friends left by the end of the month.

Even though work has been pretty full on (I've also had to turn down 3 freelance job's this month which has done wonders for my self esteem), I have still managed to squeeze in a few nice dinners under the disguise of 'client entertaining'...

First up is Cafe Boheme on Old Compton Street, or Old Condom Street as a gay friend once called it.

Cafe Boheme is a French Restaurant, which I thought was an unusual choice to take some Americans we were working with on their first night out in London. I thought they would much prefer going to a Traditional English restaurant such as a Berni Inn or The Little Chef in Ripley but sadly those suggestions were not convenient or even acknowledged. Anyway, it was a very pleasant evening although the food was not great. My starter of scallops presented on a puree of pea and broad bean was quite tasty but the main course of fish cakes were a real let down. They were so dry that I couldn't eat them, which is unheard of for such a gastronome / greedy pig as moi. It was also very dark (none of my photos really came out) and the music was very loud which was quite a distraction when you are trying to schmooze clients with suave, wit and wisdom. Therefore, I would rate Cafe Boheme 5 onions out of a possible 10 and suggest that if its French food you are after, try Cafe Rouge.

The second 'client dinner' on the Americans last night in London, was however much more successful (and my idea...). We started off our evening walking past the Spittalfields goat (still no idea why its there) with a swift lubricator in The Ten Bells on Commercial Street, EC1.

I love this pub, not only because its old and I love all old things, but because of its association with Jack The Ripper. I obviously don't love Jack the Ripper (that would be extremely odd) but I do love history and particularly creepy history. Apparently it was at this pub that The Ripper's victims used to drink so it is a widely held belief that this is the pub where he met them and lured them off down dark alleys. CREEPY!

Anyway, its recently had a bit of a refurb whereby the bar has been moved from the back wall to the centre of the pub which makes getting a drink, much easier than it used to be. Even though, its had a little revamp they have kept all the old fittings which is part of what makes this pub special. Definitely worth a sniff if you are in the area.

After a drink, we then headed over the road to The Luxe, which I was very excited about. Firstly, I was excited because I've never been before and I like trying out new places, but more importantly, its because  John Torode from Masterchef owns it and I have a huge crush on him. The enormity of my crush on  him far exceeds the crush I used to have on Anthony Worrell-Thomson.

Our table was on the 1st floor restaurant opposite the open kitchen which always reassures me that the food is going to be good. There's no where for the chefs to hide and if anything gets dropped on the floor you know it wont end up on your plate. Not only was the food delicious (salt and pepper squid followed by a fillet steak) the decor is very good too. Its a sort of mixture of loft apartment and grannies boudoir. Lots of exposed bricks but also a smattering of stuffed hummingbirds and embroidered wallpaper. Seriously, embroidered wallpaper, what attention to detail! I bet that was John Torodes idea.

The other bonus of the night was seeing this bag, up close.

Its an Alexander McQueen clutch bag which costs £1500.00. Obviously it wasn't mine but belonged to someone at the dinner who had bought it for his wife. Lucky wife!

So my night at The Luxe was great. Super food, patient staff, excellent company and the chance to see up close the most amazing and impractical bag I've ever seen. The Luxe also has a bar downstairs which opens late but sadly I am not permitted to reveal the events that took place down there. I would highly recommend The Luxe and score it 9 embroidered birds out of 10.

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