We had our 2nd year university house back together for dinner on Tuesday last week. The venue was Ciro’s Pizza Pomodoro on Beachamp Place; the Neapolitan restaurant with the motto “Expect the unexpected”.
Imagine Goodfellas (a Scorsese film about Italian gangsters) – the restaurant scene post dinner. The guys are joking around, smoking, drinking, laughing, some drugs then a bottle is smashed over the waiters head and a gun gets pulled out right in someones face. Silence falls and then it’s back to hysterical laughter… madness. This is exactly the kind of scene which I imagine to be a nightly occurrence Ciro’s.
It’s an underground restaurant. Tables are jam packed together, there are literally thousands of photographs of celebrities literally staring at you from every crevice (Ciro’s special friends I hear), its very dark and there’s a lot of red leather & mahogany. European waitresses seem nervous (also Ciro’s special friends) and the chef’s look angry.
At around 9pm there was live music from a sassy silver fox playing live music, the theme of which was hard to place – somewhere in-between Spanish flamenco and classic jazz. Uncomfortable. Though he was popular with one particular lady who hit the shoebox-sized dance floor imminently. Her face was so inflated with Botox she looked like she had bloaty head (Theme Hospital?). Honestly she looked like another species. Again, uncomfortable. I would class the clientele as white Lamborghini driving/Harley Street Clinic types. It all makes sense when you recall the location.
Food wise, don’t look alarmed when you’re served a pizza smaller than your HAND, which will cost you £16. Seriously here’s proof:
And don’t think you’re allowed to create your own pizza. Alex fancied goat’s cheese & tuna and was told ‘chef says no’. To be fair, chef was probably right – what a dreadful combination.
We ate and drank on having a brilliant time between the 6 of us and in fact the food tasted great, there wasn’t a single complaint. I should mention the complimentary shots for our table, which were appreciated. I imagine people have all sorts of fun in Ciro’s cellar, but for me it was just a really creepy place.
We probably wont be visiting again, but thanks for the entertaining experience Ciro.
Fitzrovia’s Salt Yard was one of the pioneers of the Spanish food scene in London back in 2005 – and what a standard they set! With awards under it’s belt, it now has three sister venues: Dehesa, Opera Tavern and most recently Ember Yard. Salt Yard was my 3rd visit to the group following cracking dinners in Dehesa and Ember Yard.
On Thursday last week Salt Yard was as packed. We’d booked three weeks in advance and were seated in the basement – not the best seat in the house but we were serviced brilliantly by very passionate staff.
To drink, the restaurant manager suggested the Montepulciano d’abruzzo, which was shockingly only £30 for how delicious it was – big appreciation of the humble recommendation.
We chose three starter plates between us: classic Padrons, quails eggs with smoked paprika & toasted breads, followed by three main plates each.
For me the Seabass was the highlight of the main course – delicate but meaty fish with salty samphire & sweet carrots.
The dish of the night for my diner friend was easily the Slow Cooked Pork Cheeks on Celeriac Purée, I quote: ”Phenomenally good – the sweet prunes with the rich meat were sublime,”. After choosing three meat dishes which were all very rich and heavy, he did regret the lack of veg… (he ordered badly…). Tip: for the Salt Yard package – go for one meat, one fish and one veg plate for the best of Italy’s land & sea.
And our final dish in this cosy abode was an extremely indulgent Chocolate Ganacha perfectly paired with a light, sweet hazelnut mouse which I JUST managed to squeeze in before rolling onto the street and into a taxi.
Thursday 21st August was the official VIP launch of Embargo Republica, where the newly roughed-up Cuban doors opened to a glamorous Chelsea crowd for the very first time.
I was treated compiling a guest list of 20 to come along and enjoy the night. We entered through a themed cuban cigar shop, then treated to complimentary Champagne and exotic rum cocktails. Various waitresses dressed up in Cuban military uniforms and floral dresses handed around delicious canapés; scallops with avocado puree, crab & salmon balls and sliced venison topped with dill.
Partners of the event included London jewellery designers Whistle & Bango, Ibiza Polo Club, the Countryside Alliance and Dundas London. There was live Latin music (think salsa & tango) followed by commercial classics (top 40!). Live music, DJs & acoustic acts are to become the theme for Embargo Republica which will make a nice change from the old Embargo 59.
One of the highlights was the huge outdoor terrace complete with Caribbean flowers, palm trees, a large bar, heat lamps and striped cushioned seating, in keeping with the Cuban beach theme.
The drinks list is really fun boasting more than 20 rums from around the world, but don’t get too carried away, cocktails are on average £13. Everyone has such a great time, so a big thank you to Embargo Republica is due, we will certainly be back.
The dress code smart but funky, casual but clean. Be sure to get in touch and get on a guest list before you go, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Lima Floral is the baby sister of Michelin-stared Lima Fitzrovia; created as a more affordable option. We’re talking £18 a main rather than £25, but still, we appreciate the gesture from creator Virgilio Martinez. We patiently await your basic range before we become regulars – like Tesco finest versus Tesco value. Restaurants should do that.
Again, Lima Floral is Peruvian themed but with less fuss, slightly friendlier pricing and a wonderful basement bar. I among many am very pleased about this opening, particularly because I’ve not been lucky enough to visit the flagship.
At Lima Floral, you get to experience the work of a supreme chef for a bargain £45 per head. You’ll eat food you’ve never tried before and discover unique flavours from stunningly presented, perfectly served dishes. It fits the first date category, whilst Lima Fitzrovia sits more with anniversary material – a reward which takes a lot more leg work.
Downstairs in the bar (for brilliant pre-dinner drinking), the staff helpfully chose all of our cocktails as we were a bit clueless to the Peruvian classics. We guzzled sour Pisco Classico’s & Maracuya’s, zingy Chilcanos Clasico’s & Maracuya’s, delicate Fifth Flowers, and a very sweet Frutas de la selva and my god they were superb.
Food wise, the hot sea bream in ‘tiger’s milk’ with sweet potato puree was the best dish we had, whilst the rare sliced beef sudado swimming in a quinoa and coriander sauce came in second. A lot of effort and detail goes into the food, the service was also excellent. You’ll notice ‘tigers milk’ is used a lot – I learnt this is a citrus-based ceviche marinade, for all it’s worth…
The ceviche style in general (hot and cold) was something new and different to try, and the desserts, although heavily pisco-influenced were sublime.