2014: the best of the rest

Happy belated New Year! I hope your transition into 2015 was nice and smooth, or, at the very least, you didn’t throw up on anything expensive. James 1 and I had a last-minute get-together at our flat where I accidentally paused the Jools Holland live stream without noticing, subsequently missing the countdown and only realising my mistake when the octogenarian merrymakers in the pub over the road started going mental. (“For fuck’s sake,” said James 1. “You had one job.”)

After that, we had a drunken and indelibly eye-opening game of Never Have I Ever, during which I drank an entire bottle of champagne. I’m a lightweight at the best of times, so nobody was surprised when I had to be put to bed at 2am after crawling up the stairs screaming something about climbing Everest. Or so I’m told; it’s all just a bit of a haze, to be honest.

I digress. Sometimes in London I go to places that don’t end up getting a whole blog post because they’re too similar to something else I’ve reviewed, or because the pictures were crap, or because I got too drunk to remember what happened. (See above.) But some of these places still deserve a mention, so here are a few of the ones that got away:

Roka, Aldwych

We went to Roka Aldwych with work just before Christmas and had the eight of us had the £79/head tasting menu. The restaurant is beautiful and the cocktails were all excellent – I would recommend the bar as a swish pre-dinner date venue – but, for me, the food was a bit hit and miss. Roka Aldwych review sushi Japanese restaurantSome items, like the black cod, crab and crayfish dumpling, were nothing short of sublime, but others were disappointing, especially considering the price. The sushi certainly didn’t live up to expectations; the tuna, which should be almost tasteless if fresh, was far too fishy, and the prawns seemed a little frozen inside.

Roka Aldwych restaurant review Japanese sushi

At least the sushi was pretty to look at, though.

Roka Aldwych restaurant review Japanese sushi

Fat scallop skewers with wasabi and shisho.

Roka Aldwych restaurant review Japanese sushi

Smoked duck breast and with barley miso and kumquat – mixed reviews from the group, but I really liked it.

I don’t think anyone could deny that the dessert platters were anything but magnificent, though.

P1060984 (1280x960) P1060988 (1280x960)

Foxlow, Clerkenwell

Foxlow was one of my favourite restaurants this year, but probably because I chose a steak, and the restaurant is run by the same mob who does Hawksmoor.

Foxlow Clerkenwell restaurant review

Deckle steak with bone marrow (£21.50).

Carla was disappointed with her all-day breakfast burger (£10) though, and the sweet potato and kale hash (£3) she ordered was…well, just slightly mashed up, underdone sweet potato. D+, must try harder.

Foxlow Clerkenwell restaurant review

Andrew’s ten-hour beef shortrib with kimchi (£17) was, however, reportedly excellent. And top marks for starters, which were both delicious and generously proportioned:

Curried Brixham mussels (£8).

Curried Brixham mussels (£8).

Crispy five pepper squid (£8).

Crispy five pepper squid (£8).

Ozz, Marylebone

I went to Ozz with my dad after my mother bought me a Groupon for it. It was a fantastic deal, but it still wasn’t exactly a cheapy. (I think in total we spent about £120 including the voucher for two people. The list price for the 9 course tasting menu is £75pp, plus extra for paired wines.) The food was absolutely spectacular; I only didn’t blog about it because the service was so poor. Our waiter was surly and aggressively upsold at every opportunity, offering us extras as though they were part of the deal when, in fact, they were not. He also threw the mother of all grumps when I politely declined to pay the whole £30 tip that’d been thrown on the bill.

Sunchoke Saké Soup celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke and cauliflower velouté topped with coconut

Jerusalem artichoke and cauliflower velouté

Don’t let the shitty service I got put you off though; it’s a genuinely fantastic fine dining experience, and I’m sure I was just unlucky with our arsehole waiter.

Pan-fried organic Scottish salmon, fricassee of broad beans, broccoli puree and truffle sauce.

Pan-fried organic Scottish salmon, fricassee of broad beans, broccoli puree and truffle sauce.

La Fromagerie, Highbury

A few months ago my flatmates and I hosted a cheese-tasting evening (read all about it here), and we sourced our mystery cheeses from La Fromagerie in Highbury.

Highbury La Fromagerie

There’s a cafe that sells homemade cakes and pastries, and a cheese room at the back with literally hundreds of different varieties, all looking at you with their big, sad eyes, imploring you to take them home…

...I mean, sort of.

…I mean, sort of.

They’re also one of the only places in London to sell Stinking Bishop, which is sort of like the cheese equivalent of sambuca: pungent and polarising. Make sure you give it a go when you stop by. (Pro tip: it doesn’t taste as bad as it smells.)

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.