Last working week: winding down for Christmas, right? I wish. No time for full individual reviews, I'm afraid, but a few thoughts on a diverse range of places all over the capital I've been to in the past week.
Dinner last Thursday at The Greyhound in Battersea. Never been before but recommended by a few SW types in the office. Now recommended by this SE type too. The menu is classic and seasonal, a definite step up from standard gastropub fare, with one or two deliberate international touches. Dinner is priced at £31 for three courses (£27 for two), which feels about right. The food was very good indeed. I had "calves head roulade" (calf's head, surely?), a clear choice for me, not only for its offaliness but also because it came with quails eggs - I'm a sucker for anything with egg. Similar reasoning made the Herdwick mutton loin with a separate mutton pastie jump out at me too. Both were great. Jo had (I think) the beetroot and goats cheese combo followed by John Dory fillet (no eyes to stare back, thankfully!). Also put away with gusto. We had some puds, too, I think: I really should pay more attention.
My only complaint about the Greyhound (apart from the fact that they had no rabbit or hare on the menu, which would have had all sorts of comedy value) was to do with the wine: ironic, as this is supposed to be a strength. There's an impressive selection available at what looks like pretty good value. Slightly bewildered, I needed help and got it from, I think, the owner, who I confess I didn't immediately warm to. I may have chosen unwisely, therefore, but more importantly than that was the way the white was served. Perhaps because of the huge selection they don't keep any wines chilled, instead using some alchemy or science to chill each bottle on request. This meant the wine arrived after we'd been given our starters. We'd been warned this might happen but it still rankled, especially as the starters were basically cold, give or take an egg or two. Worse, though, was the policy that involved leaving the red on the table but the white on a side counter to be tended to by the waiting staff while it returned to room temperature. Very odd. Top meal, though.
A break from Oxford Street madness on Saturday when I met up with Steph for lunch at Ping Pong. The usual range of dim sum offerings in a smart and comfortable environment. Less formal (and less expensive) than the slightly over-engineered Yauatcha, although admittedly somewhat less creative in the range of food. Great quality, though, and very tasty, all washed down with a decent value Poilly Fumé. The ideal antidote to the Christmas crowds. Slightly disconcerting loos, though, for the chaps, at least.
More grazing yesterday lunchtime at Yo! Sushi in Islington. A relatively recent convert to Sushi, this was my first conveyor belt dining experience. A lot of fun it was too. There is clearly higher quality sushi to be had in London but there are a few unusual offerings (I liked the seared beef nigiri and the octopus balls) and the overall experience was intensely satisfying, and bloody good value, especially if you go as a group. We seemed to rack up dozens of empty coloured dishes but walked out having spent well under £20 including service (presumably for oiling the belt).
Finally, last night an 'authentic' South African dinner at Chakalaka in Putney. Live guitar music described by Mark as "not awful" was an unchallenging accompaniment to a pretty decent meal of slightly unusual goodies. On the advice of our charming SA waitress I started with