Another month, another selection of restaurants that for one reason or another - I think mostly that I didn't find any of them to be destination restaurants, ie they're fine and good if you're in the area but I wouldn't necessarily travel far to eat there again - aren't getting their own post but worthy of a mention all the same.


Having been to neither Kiln, nor it's bigger sister Smoking Goat, Rhea and I rectified half of that situation with a trip to the former on Friday. Kiln is in the middle of Soho and like so many of the good ones, there's no reservations. So I whizzed down there straight from work and got our names on the list, then met the girls at Bar Swift where I'd booked a table for our unavoidable wait. Luckily Kiln run a "text you when your table's ready" system so we relaxed and caught up over martinis til we got the text to say there were seats for us at the restaurant. I think it was around an hour and a bit wait, and I'd put our names on the list at Kiln at ten past six. 

Kiln is a thai grill, seafood and claypots cooking restaurant which is lively and buzzing. There's counter seating upstairs where we sat and bigger tables downstairs. Go in a small group and then a) you have to wait as long and b) you'll get the counter seats which is where all the magic happens. We worked our way through a big portion of the menu and sizzled our tongues along the way. Highlights for me were the aged lamb and cumin skewer, and smoked sausage with turmeric, as well as the grilled Tamworth pork loin. Clay pot baked glass noodles with pork belly and brown crab meat was lacking in both meat and fish for me, and Rhea's made up version of the monkfish curry didn't really hit the spot, but then we shouldn't have swerved from the menu like that! Our bill was around £70 a head so not overly cheap, though with SO many excellent places open and opening in London I'm not sure I'll be rushing back to Kiln often. 


You can't wrong with the classics. I spent a raucous evening at French brasserie style restaurant Balthazar with a few friends on a winter's Saturday night eating snails and oysters, drinking delicious French wine and laughing til our cheeks hurt. Service is brusque, food is excellent value for the quality and location and you can easily wile away a night here. The steak tartare and sea bass ceviche were some nice non-shelled additions to our selection of food and absorbed some of the booze we seemed to be guzzling away!


"A neighbourhood restaurant championing British food" according to their website, and one that had been on Lucy's and my list for far too long. So off we went for a Friday night, per cinema catch up. There's an open kitchen and slightly odd booths in the front of the restaurant that face the kitchen directly so you end up sitting side by side, and larger tables down some steps in the back of the restaurant. With high expectation comes more disappointment and although Hereford Road was good it didn't blow either of us away, so I don't think we will rush back. Having said that, everything was very tasty and really well cooked - my duck livers with green beans and tarragon was excellent and mains of guinea fowl, greens and red wine sauce, and Lucy's hake and fennel were good, but both were dishes I could easily make at home so just didn't wow us. Despite not being overly impressed we had a lovely evening and service was friendly and attentive. 


El Pirata is a fun, lively and authentic tapas joint just behind Hard Rock Cafe, and the least likely type of restaurant you think you might stumble upon in Mayfair. We had a fun and food filled evening there, eating what felt like half the menu while drinking delicious Spanish red wine and vermouth. Highlights for me were the jamon iberico pata negra which is ham from acorn fed pigs and literally melts in the mouth. Padron peppers were verdant and salty as they should be; I loved the rich, fishy flavours of the squid ink rice which was just cooked (in a good way) so nutty and delicious and punctuated by tender pieces of squid; prawns in olive oil and garlic came bubbling away in a pot and in a portion divisible by two; and chorizo in red wine was smokey and rich and so moreish. Sadly the patatas bravas didn't work for me with the two sauces mixed together, and nor did the chocolate cake pudding (but I don't like puddings so maybe an unfair judgement), but I wouldn't worry about the small misses with 54 tapas options plus a few more substantial plates to choose from on the menu. 


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