A tale of two taverns

Londoners are so lucky right now.  The quality of eating out options in this city has never been better – from toasted cheese sarnies in south London to posh food like my mate Marianne serves at her new 14 seater in West.

Two new and fantastic restaurants have opened up in the last month alone – one in the east and one bang in the centre.  Make that two ‘Taverns’ in fact – though both are such sophisticated offerings they’re not what one would associate with any bawdy tavern of yore.

Merchants Tavern in beyond-fashionable Shoreditch is a joint venture between the wonderful Angela Hartnett, chef Neil Borthwick and the guys who run the chain Canteen.The room is beautiful, grown up, sexy and intimate, with a fabulous wine rack that I feel would work very well in my bedroom.

Highlights of our meal were these ridiculously tasty, crunchy deep fried oysters with ginger and chilli

Cauliflower croquettes

and this more than ample Paris Brest

Muchos healthy, I’m sure you’ll agree.  Almost as healthy as my meal at Berners Tavern in the new Edition Hotel, just north of Oxford Street – and opposite possibly London’s shittest shopping mall, The Plaza.

Still, the Edition Hotel is drop dead beautiful and the dining room is one of the loveliest spaces I’ve eaten in for a very long time – incredibly high ceilings, fantastically grand finishes, the walls crammed with paintings, a magnficent bar.  It has a genuinely glamorous feel to it – New York-ish without feeling like a try-hard copy of New York.

I had a burger – perfect proportions, terrific bun, great fries, excellent vinaigrette on the salad.

Some outstanding roast carrots with smoked garlic (see, that’s 2 of my 5 a day, and I wasn’t even counting the chips.)  And then 3 puddings.  (People never believe me when I say I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.  I really don’t.  But I’m researching puddings for the latest novel: THIS IS WORK, I swear.)

Anyway, the first was a warm chocolate doughnut with an intense almond sorbet:

Second up was a Caramel apple and Calvados eclair with a lush cream filling and terrific salted caramel ice cream, topped with gold leaf (though I have to say, I find the whole eating gold thing a touch over-rated – emeralds have far more umami.)

And the killer of the lot – warm almond brioche, pear compote and ginger sorbet, served in a jar with a warm creme anglaise poured over the top.

All very, very very good indeed.


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