Quality Chop House
This place has been slowly gathering momentum, and after a few stonking reviews from proper restaurant critics I suspect getting a table might be pretty tricky soon. Separated into two areas, the bookable main dining room operates a set 4 course menu for £35 while the no-reservations wine bar has a daily-changing menu to choose from. Sea urchin (pictured) were unadulterated, while lamb ribs cooked in mint sauce were crispy, tender and ridiculously addictive. You can rack up a fair old bill in the bar but apparently the wines are very interesting, says those in the know. We drank a very nice Albarino. I think.
94 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA
I was invited to the preview evening of Jason Atherton's new place, Little Social which is now open proper. He's a busy man this year what with opening up this Parisian-style bistro, as well as the larger Social Eating House later this year in Soho. Oysters from Fowey to start were briny and plump, though my date's slow-cooked egg with butternut squash and parmesan soup overshadowed them, as any slow-cooked egg would do. A cote de boeuf was a beast, served on a wooden board to share - well marbled, well charred and well seasoned, the meat was served with decent peppercorn and bearnaise sauces. Buzzy and bustling, the place will do well - at £15 for steak & frites, it's affordable Atherton cooking.
5 Pollen Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 1ND
The Drapers Arms
I've written about The Drapers Arms a couple of times before, but mainly in a 'special event' sort of way. I've visited 3 times since Christmas now (which, given it's in North London, is actually pretty frequent for me) and it's quickly become a favourite. Definitely on the gastro side of the pub spectrum, I've had one-on-one's (beautiful and generous poussin dish), girls' night at Valentine's (an enormous steak), and, most recently, a ridiculously delicious veal lasagne (pictured) at leaving drinks. Truly a pub for every occasion.
44 Barnsbury St. London, N1 1ER
Fino's 10th Birthday
I'll admit that I've never visited Fino, but after their 10th birthday lunch they are firmly on my radar. Crab empinadas, braised ox tongue, pigs tails slow cooked with prawns, the above carabineros (red prawns) and the rest of the menu we were treated to were a masterclass in skillful Spanish cookery and careful ingredient sourcing.
33 Charlotte St, London W1T 1RR