I’m not very well. I’m aching and coughing and goodness, my limbs hurt. I was up in the night three times taking painkillers and trying not to cry in case I woke the kids up. All I wanted was my Mum to come and make it all better. But that doesn’t happen anymore. I momentarily lost the memo that I’m the Mum and I needed to Mum-up. Anyway. You don’t want to hear about this. You want to hear about this fabulous Negroni cocktail and where to find it:
I ordered it at The Whip, which is a misleading name for a bar as it’s actually above The Running Horse which is a proper after work London pub full of men smoking outside and girls sharing bottles of wine in the drizzle (again to smoke) and well, just a lot of people have a right raucous time. I almost didn’t dare go in. I felt a bit out of sorts, a bit alone. I should have known then I was getting ill as I never give two jots about sitting in pubs or bars alone. In fact, I quite like it.
The Negroni was good. It was strong and icy, icy cold. I liked it. If you wish to try The Whip then do book and don’t worry about fighting past the crowds of drunk posh boys. Head high, push through and straight up the stairs. Barely any braying up there at all.
After my friends had joined me at The Whip, we hot footed it to Kitty Fishers for dinner. Now, this is not a place to just rock up and expect to be squeezed in. Oh no siree, this is Nigella Lawson’s favourite restaurant and you would look like a fool if you jst expected to be seated without booking 16 weeks in advance. I exaggerate, but you do need to book in advance. It’s worth it for the facade alone. Look how romantic it is! I felt like I was in Dickensian London, expecting women in petticoats to offer me their services of the night. (This DID NOT happen, I have watched a lot of BBC period dramas in my time though which would explain it).
The dinner setting was as I would expect from Nigella’s favourite haunt. Look at that stitching.
Now if you are claustrophobic (as I used to be, but seem to have grown out of), then do not book into Kitty Fishers. There’s barely enough room to swing a cat upstairs and silly people who forgot to book insist at sitting at the bar and clogging the place up. Downstairs is also similarly cramped. I actually found this quite charming but I had enjoyed more than one Negroni so make of that what you will. This is upstairs:
Behold the menu. I felt like a total git taking this photo but I’m afraid I don’t have such a great memory these days so need to behave like a heathen for then I can wang on about food I have enjoyed properly. Don’t thank me, it’s okay.
Now I do think you can tell a lot about an establishment by the quality of their olives. Kitty Fisher’s olives were respectable. Meaty, juicy, just right.
I ordered the burnt onion butter to ensure it wasn’t as horrible as it sounds. It wasn’t. It was delicious. Whipped and light leading me to believe it was sensible to eat double a regular portion. This is why I am not a size 10.
The burrata and beetroot starter:
Crab starter. Oh it was perfect. I was scared about the main. I hate it when a starter outshines the main. It’s as if they don’t know their place.
I was worrying unnecessarily. Here’s the lamb main. This was so good I stopped the waitress from removing my friend’s plate after realising she’d left a morsel of lamb and some ‘jus’. If alone I would have licked the plate.
My friend ordered the seabass. Lucky for me she isn’t a fan of mussels. I can tell you, happily, that they were plump and proper.
Here comes pudding. I am afraid this is my only criticism of Kitty’s. I do not like to see deconstructed crumbles. It smacks of laziness to me. Perhaps that’s unkind and unjust. It looks pretty though. I didn’t try it (out of principle, and also because my friend didn’t offer it to me). I’m not bitter, honest.
Burnt cream. An oldie but a goodie. We all approved of seeing this on the menu.
And last, but by no means least, my cheese board. Which was, I tell you, cracking. It took me a long and very enjoyable time to eat it.
Kitty’s was not cheap. It really wasn’t. We barely drank and still the bill was south of £70 each. But I’d rather eat once at Kitty’s than 10 times somewhere else. I loved it. Special mention goes to the service. The woman who served us was both down to earth and also reserved which is nigh on impossible to achieve. The maître d’ exuded a warmth that managed to flow down a phone line during the booking process and then seep from his pores whilst busily working the floor. Some people have it naturally, some people even let their warmth catch; this man had both. Hurrah for Kitty Fisher’s for being fabulous and expensive and quite rightly a treat. I can’t wait to go back.
So because we blew the budget at Kitty’s, we stayed at the QBic near Stepney Green tube. We did come across a few less than savoury characters on the short walk from the tube to the hotel but hey, I used to live in London, I can handle it. You aren’t a proper London inhabitant until you’ve run for your life across a common at night. (Not that we had to do that I hasten to add).
The cafe in the foyer:
Unusual cut price lighting in the foyer:
A standard twin room – the cheapest they had, with no windows. This suits me down to the ground as excess lighting when trying to sleep drives me potty. You can read about my obsessive quest for a hotel room without any light pollution in other reviews. I am literally, obsessed. I quiz everyone about it when they say they’ve found a new and wonderful hotel. Anyway, this room did not have an American tourist in it wearing a baseball cap, that’s part of the natty ‘art’.
The loo, with a serious shower and free, more-than-adequate shower gel. Big ticks from me on both these fronts.
Lunch was at Arabica Bar & Kitchen; another gratuitous menu shot for you, but this time I felt less of a git as I was in a busy lunchtime cafe/bar in Borough Market. Now it ain’t no Kitty Fisher’s, but then the prices were also not in the same realm. It was very reasonable and we left full as the fullest things. They also managed to service us in just over an hour. No mean feat in a busy bee place like this.
Obviously we tried the whipped feta. I was already in the mood after the whipped onion butter of the previous night:
Deep fried goodness in the form of potatoes:
Everything was on the cleansing side; it felt like a good set up for sightseeing and feeling more than a little worthy before the inevitable boozing of the evening. I liked everything except this sweet potato monstrosity, which I felt was just an excuse to get sweet potato on the menu without caring about the execution. Meh.
So off we jolly well went to the Old Operating Theatre Museum. All I will say, so as not to ruin things for you, is this: go. But do go on a Saturday and do book into the 2pm talk. The woman who gave the talk gave me a massive girl crush type flush. She just knew so much! Here’s a scary photo of some of the displays:
And the actual operating table.
Obviously, after an operating theatre talk, one should buy a penicillin toy.
You really can tell I spent some time in the NHS given that I genuinely found this toy cute and ‘educational’. If you too find it cute and educational you can buy one here.
Obviously after listening to tales of blood and gore we decided it was time for a cocktail. (Well, I say decided but to get into The Social Eating House – that’s Jason Atherton’s boozer, you need to book ahead).
The cocktails are a little on the unusual side and very strong indeed. I had two and felt a little, ahem, well, under the influence. Here we all are, 16 years since meeting. Not looking a day older, naturally.
The Social Eating House is not cheap, but it is exclusive feeling, so you feel, well, a little special. It’s also in the very heart of Soho. Ask for a window seat and you get to the see the great and the good below you without the grub.
After cocktails, here:
Ah now Blanchette was a recommendation to me from an instagram pal. I wanted somewhere not too loud, not too expensive, with great food and based in Soho. A tall order? Yes. Did Blanchette deliver? Yes. But wait. More on their delivery later.
So the menu sounds divine. You order – and the food just trots along and arrives at your table in no particular order, which I rather liked. This baked Saint-Marcellin was naughty but nice:
The mussels with cauliflower and leeks? Saltily good.
Cheese beignets. Yes, there was a cheese theme to our ordering.
Hot, burn your fingers fries.
A comte salad, that whilst looking droopy and sad, was anything but. (More cheese, yes).
Smoked haddock croquettes, which for me, sum up all that is great about French cooking.
This sausagey thing. I did not like. I did like the pickles and potatoes though.
Now if there is one thing the French can be relied upon to keep old-school, it’s puddings. They do not mess with their puddings. They care not for trendy, deconstructed presentation. Oh no, they go all out 80’s in their glory. I give you passion fruit vacherin:
And a proper chocolate dessert:
Though I do wish restaurants would stop brushing chocolate across plates. I can’t stand it. It looks, well, I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Here’s my beef with Blanchette. It was romantic. The food was en pointe. The location was a Christmassy dream. But the service? Pah! So bad. Petulant, forgetful, verging on rude. How disappointing. But then you really can’t have it all. I know that now I’m closer to 40 than 30.
Here’s a gratuitous Oxford Street pic to leave you with.
NB: I starting writing this review weeks ago. I am no longer unwell but couldn’t be bothered to change the intro. I can only apologise for misleading you.
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