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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