Last week something weird happened. Two weird things actually. I discovered somewhere to eat in Hammersmith that is a) better than good and b) I hadn't previously discovered (I've lived near Hammersmith for more than five years now). This makes me happy, but also sad that I've only just discovered it now. The Stonemasons Arms is a five minute walk from Hammersmith station, towards Ravenscourt Park and is part of the Fullers group. It's a cosy pub - a real pub with uneven wooden floorboards, a big bar, local and guest beers, a ridiculously good wine list, and the food is phenomenal. Having spotted pictures of their food on Gary's Instagram I followed up on an invite from Fullers to review one of their pubs and headed to The Stonemasons Arms with Julie for a Wednesday evening catch up over some serious food and wine.

There's an evening set menu (£23 for courses or £29 for three - you'll want three) with wine suggestions for each dish, or a la carte. We mixed it up between the two menus, choosing carefully so we could sample as much as possible. Before our chosen starters we were presented with an "amuse bouche" of charred sweetcorn, cylinders of confit potato, paprika popcorn and tarragon, all brought together by a delicious homemade mayo. With a pouch of warm bread and caramel butter things were off to a very good start, and we hadn't even properly started.

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I'm the first to admit I'm not a natural photographer, but I can normally get an ok shot of dishes I want to tell you about. With some exceptions. Including these. Normally I wouldn't bother writing up a review when my photos are so terrible, but I can't not tell you about Chick n Sours new site in Covent Garden. So bear with me and my dark and dingy photos! I reckon you should go to the restaurant and see (and taste) the food for yourself!

I've been a fan of Carl Clarke's food for a good few years now, and have reviewed pop ups he's done before, and interviewed the man himself, so I'm not quite sure how I've never made it to his first Chick n Sours site in Stoke Newington (maybe it's the fact it's about 90 minutes away from where I live). Anyway, he's now opened a second site in Covent Garden, and I headed there with Lucy to right the wrongs of not having tried this ridiculously good food yet.

Cocktails are a very good place to start in the basement room that is Chick n Sours new site. The "Sours" part of the name refers not only to the vinegar laced marinades and pickles in the dishes, but also to the sour cocktails, which we tried most of. The winner for me was the Earlham Zombie, made with white, dark and overproof rums, absinthe, orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and citrus. I'd say you probably don't want more than one of these if you want to walk home in a straight line, but that's no fun, so you might as well get stuck in! And you'll eat so much food that it should absorb some of the booze anyway.

So, food. Lucy and I like to sample as much as humanly possible so ate waaaay more than we should! But it's all so good I can't really say there's any dishes worth missing. Just go hungry and wear your stretchy trousers. And start with the sticky disco wings, which are coated in a tangy, spicy sauce that clings to the wings and is lip lickingly good. 

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Sometimes this little old blog of mine throws some super exciting opportunities my way - activities I wouldn't do normally end up being evenings so well spent. Like a couple of Mondays ago when I headed to Le Cordon Bleu cookery school for an evening masterclass with Michelin starred chef Pascal Aussignac, the Norwegian Seafood Council and Great British Chefs. Pascal is of Gascon fame and has several restaurants across London including his Michelin starred original site, Club Gascon. 

After being welcomed with a glass of bubbly and some nibbles it was straight in to the state of the art teaching kitchen to get cooking. We started with the "basics" - Pascal's crunchy grapes. A quick and easy showstopping canape idea, we made caramel from sugar before adding crushed seeds and nuts then rolling our grapes in the sticky crunchy mixture. A really fun idea for a pre dinner snack to impress your guests.

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I'm going through a bit of a dim sum phase at the moment. These delicate, flavour packed mouthfuls, steamed to perfection are becoming a favourite (again). I ate a dozen of them at Chai Wu where I went for afternoon tea in Harrods (more on that soon) and another dozen or so at Mango Tree when I visited to check out their menu in Harrods the week before. 

Harrods has various restaurants, most of which are located within the ground floor food hall and are counter top dining. I've previously written about my visit to Pan Chai there, which is next to Mango Tree. I'd been to the Victoria branch of Mango Tree but was yet to go to the Harrods one, so ate all the things when we did go so I could tell you what to order if you visit.

Polly and I headed to Mango Tree Harrods on a Thursday evening. They don't take reservations and it was full when we went, so I suggest going early, or for lunch, if you don't want to have to wait. Once you are seated though service is swift. 

We started off with a portion of lobster popcorn - deep fried pieces of lobster topped with a spicy mayo dressing. It was good, but there was better to come. 

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Cocktails and canapes on an autumn evening in a beautiful setting sounds like the dream, right?! Restaurant Ours is Tom Sellers (of Restaurant Story) not-so-new-but-I-still-hadn't-been-there spot in South Kensington. We visited one evening last week to check out The Living Room at Restaurant Ours, which is the mezzanine level bar and lounge area. It's a gorgeous spot, full of velvet furniture, a bar serving excellent cocktails and live plants in every corner, nook and cranny. 

There were three of The Living Room's signature cocktails to try, so I started with Straight Outta Brompton - a delicious concoction of gin, campari, lemon and triple sec, and I'm guessing some egg white too from the frothy top of the drink. It was a lovely cocktail, with the perfect balance for me of sharp, sweet and fruity. 

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When I think of Tuscany the first thing I think of is food. Rich meat dishes, coarse liver pate smothered on toast, unctuous bowls full of pasta, delicious olives and artichokes, glasses full of deep red wine and everything with a good dose of the best olive oil you can get - it's like the Autumn of Italy if that makes sense?! So when I was asked to come up with a recipe that was inspired by Tuscany I knew exactly what I wanted to make - a rich wild boar ragu made with liver for added flavour and served on homemade pasta with deep fried artichoke leaves to give texture, combining all my favourite Tuscan foods. 

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So many restaurants, so little time! I've eaten out a fair few times over the last month or so - places I've been to before and can't help myself going back to over and over again, new places I've been invited to review, and long leisurely dinners with girlfriends. Here's a quick round up of where I've been and what's good. Starting with my favourite....

Kricket, Brixton

I've been several times now, and will go again and again. The small plates of Indian inspired food are right up there with my idea of food heaven. I'd heard rumour of a new menu so headed to Brixton with Emily and Lou to eat one of everything on the menu, as we always do when we go to Kricket. And as always, not a single bad dish, but highlights included crab meen moiliee with bitter leaves, curry leaves, coconut and peanut; Lasooni scallop with green chilli, garlic, poha and seaweed, and Goan sausage fry with red onion, peanut, coriander and pickled fennel. Look out for their new site opening opposite Brasserie Zedel in Soho in November. 

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There's some restaurants I go to which I know I'm going to love before I've even been. Their menus read like a dream, and when I hear someone like Emily, who I have very similar tastes to (apart from the skinny bitch cali maki incident), raving about it then I know it's a sure fire thing. What I don't expect though is to end up eating the best dish I've tried all year, possibly even ever.... A bold statement, I know. But it's true.

Ormer Mayfair is the London version of Shaun Rankin's Michelin starred Jersey restaurant and it officially opens on Tuesday next week. I popped in to try their menu during soft launch, and am going to have to stop myself going back there weekly for the food. Ormer is in the Flemings Mayfair Hotel and has all the classic feels of an old school, luxury hotel restaurant, in a good way (apart from for food photos as you'll soon see). Service was attentive yet not overbearing, and the food.... Well the food was something else. 

I'm not sure if it's just for soft launch but I was welcomed with a glass of 2009 Nyetimber, which as the sommelier rightly said, has a creamy finish to it having been aged for five years in the bottle. This came with an amuse bouche of the poshest lobster roll I've tried - a great hunk of lobster encased in soft, sweet homemade brioche. 

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There's a few restaurants I've been to that I sort of forget about.... not because they were bad or I didn't like them, but I just get so swept up in all the new openings and going back to local favourites that they slip through the net. So when I woke up one morning at Wilderness Festival declaring that I needed raw fish for lunch, everyone looked at me like I was crazy. But it was all I wanted and what I was determined to have, so off we went in pursuit of sashimi. And we found it at Kurobuta's stall in the restaurant tent. And then I remembered really loving the food at Kurobuta proper in London, so I booked into their Marble Arch branch for dinner with Emily and off we went.

I'd only previously been to the Chelsea restaurant, so it was nice to check out their Marble Arch one. It's lighter and brighter and we nabbed an outside table before working our way through as much food as we could eat. We nibbled on sake, lemon, butter and salt flamed edamame while we read through the quite long menu and sipped on delicious Made in Provence rose, a bottle of which had come free with our meal as I'd booked a table for before 7pm through OpenTable. 

Then our real food started coming, and apart from the first and last dish we had, everything else was spot on. The first dish wasn't bad, there just wasn't enough of it to really tell if I liked it. Salmon gravadlax and avocado tartare, dill mayo, rice crunchies and fresh yuzu zest was light, but at about one forkful each I couldn't tell you much more than that. 

But things drastically improved here on in. I loved the miso grilled hot wings that were all umami and spicy and sticky and plentiful. 

We ordered the sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts as Emily is something of an aubergine fanatic, and it was a great choice. The twice cooked aubergine was indeed sticky and so full of flavour, with a nice texture added by the walnuts. 

Another dish I have to thank Emily for was the octopus doughnuts, which I wouldn't have ordered myself but were truly delicious. Big chunks of tender octopus were covered in the lightest, crunchiest batter and doused in creamy and miso dressings and chopped chives. 

The skinny bitch cali maki with snow crab, avocado omelette and yuzu mayo were fantastically fresh and light. Emily hated them though so I got the whole plate to myself. I loved the crunch of all the raw veg and the lack of rice, which is one thing I don't normally like about sushi as it fills me up too much which equals less stomach space for raw fish!

From the healthy to the less so, the black pepper soft shell crab tempura. I enjoyed this but would have done more so if it was served whole with a side of sauce rather than chopped up like it was. 

The last dish was the one we shouldn't have bothered with. Tea smoked lamb with smokey nasu and spicy Korean miso arrived a full hour after the rest of the food, didn't really do anything flavour wise, and cost £15.50 for two tiny cutlets.... The chicken wings we had earlier for £6 for a whole plate full. 

Our meal came to £60 each, and we had the free bottle of wine. It's not a cheap place to go but we did eat a lot of food and have a couple of other drinks. Despite a couple of duds, Kurobuta is definitely back on my restaurant list, and I will be back soon, particularly for more of their raw dish options. Kurobuta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Last weekend I headed West for a little adventure and to see my nephews, take my mum out for lunch and catch up with friends in Bristol. I booked River Station in Bristol for lunch with mum, hoping for summer sunshine and a lovely meal overlooking the river. Sadly British summertime had other plans and it absolutely bucketed it down, but we headed to River Station anyway and had a brilliant meal. I wasn't really planning on writing about it but it was so good that I need to tell you in case you're looking for a very reasonable and tasty lunch in Bristol.

River Station have a fixed price lunch menu where you can get two courses for £13.50, or three for £16.50 (or £14.75/£18.50 if you go in the evening). There are three options per course - one meat, one fish and one veggie. We went for the two course option and had a starter and main each, but not before I snuck in a Negroni and some delicious gordal olives while I waited for mum to arrive.

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Casita Andina is the newest offering from Martin Morales, who already has two Ceviche restaurants in London as well as the original Andina on Redchurch Street. Casita Andina is on Great Windmill Street in Soho and serves up Peruvian inspired sharing plates. I headed there with Lou to check it out and we loved most of what we tried. There's ceviche plates, salads, nibbles and hot food. Being one of the hottest days of the year we bagged a table on the upstairs terrace and got stuck in, starting with excellent pisco sours.

Food wise we ordered a couple of nibbles to munch on while we perused the menu - avocado fritters with panca chilli and anchovy salt were nuggets of deep fried avocado in the lightest of batters, doused in chilli and salt. Absolutely delicious. As were the cruditos - lightly pickled vegetables including baby carrots, asparagus and courgettes, on top of a wonderful broad bean puree. Such a tasty and healthy dish, I would order this just to have with drinks even if I wasn't eating there. 

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Cuisson are back! A sort of semi permanent pop up restaurant who've done various residency stints at venues across London, appearing for a few weeks or months, then disappearing again. You might remember I went to their last pop up at The Vaults in Waterloo and had a lovely meal there with Milly. Well, now they're back, in a building right in the heart of Borough Market, this time with an Asian inspired offering. 

Again, the menu changes regularly so the one I'd read online wasn't the one we had on the night, so do be careful to let them know of dietary requirements when you book if you have any! As it turned out, I actually preferred the menu on the night we went to the one I'd read. Tickets cost £45 and include a welcome cocktail and the five course meal. 

We kicked things off with oyster, wasabi roe and soy gel - a plump, juicy, raw oyster topped with green wasabi pearls for a kick and delicate soy gel that didn't over salt the taste as I worried it might. 

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