Tag Archives: travellondon

The Piano Bar, High Street Kensington

What do the critics say?

If you like cocktails, cosiness and live music, read on.  Quoted as being ‘one of the best nights out in London‘ by Edward Sullivan from the Evening Standard, The Piano Bar is nestled behind a single black door opposite Kensington High Street tube station.  With live piano playing six days a week until the clock strikes midnight, this wee place is a hidden gem.

What’s the vibe like?

If you favour flamboyance over minimalism, this may not be your bag.  Characterised by its cosy bistro interior, The Piano Bar is understated, continental chic with the real treasure lying in the gastronomy, cocktails and musical magic.  Like me, you may find yourself staying far later than planned, mesmerised by classics like ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’ as you make your way through Vodka Martinis and Risotto Balls.

What of the menu?

The menu includes a range of treats from the Charcuterie Board to the mouth-watering Roast Pork Belly & Apple Slider on a Homemade Brioche Bun, with prices ranging from £5-10 for the Weekly Menu and £12 for the Buffet Menu (which must be ordered in advance). 

Do you need to book?

The only red flag is to book a table to avoid disappointment.  With no cover charge and a pretty special ambience, it’s no surprise The Piano Bar is popular. And if you get to hear Nick Reeve (aka the Pianoman) play, you’re in for a treat.

Contact:

Address: 106, Kensington High Street

Nearest tube: High Street Kensington

Website

Tel: 0207 938 4664

Hours: 

Tuesday-Friday, 5pm – midnight

Saturday-5pm – midnight

Sunday – 6pm – 11.30pm

Live Music:

Tuesday-Thursday 6pm – 11.30pm

Friday 6pm – midnight

Saturday 6pm – midnight

Sunday 8.30pm – 11.30pm

Duck & Waffle, London

Balancing atop the 40th floor of London’s Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle’s unique food and panoramic views give other city haunts a definite run for their money.

Inspired by broad European and British influences, the restaurant offers feast, fizz and fun 24/7 – from breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner through to late night menus.  And when I say 24/7 – it literally is open all night.  The all-day menu is served from 11am to 2am; the late night menu, from 2am until 6am; and breakfast, from 6am to 11am – hardly your average post-Disco venue.

With prices being generally medium-range (brunch or breakfast averages at about £20-£25 per head), it’s pretty affordable given its vertical appeal and designer vibe.  Though tempting to opt for your typical choices for breakfast or brunch, the restaurant’s name-sake dish – the duck and waffle – really is a must try.  Consisting of confit duck with fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup, it might sound stomach churningly rich, but is a real treat for the taste buds and a great sharing plate if you want to balance it off with your standard fry up; with other unusual dishes including BBQ spiced crispy pig ears, bacon wrapped dates, spicy ox cheek doughnut and pollock meatballs with lobster cream.

Finally, if you’re on the hunt for a great private room with outstanding views, the restaurant has possibly the best in the capital.  With capacity for 20 people and a minimum spend of £1,000, it’s pretty reasonable value when all’s said and done.

So if you’re not vertigo afflicted and want to experience unrivalled, panoramic views with dishes and choices to match, Duck and Waffle it up.

Contact

Address: The Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Phone: 020 3640 7310

Website

Del’Aziz, Fulham

Nestled behind Fulham Broadway station on Vanston Place, Del’Aziz is a sensory experience extraordinaire. Like stepping into a Moroccan souk, this restaurant/cafe is a treasure chest of colour, texture and whispers of faraway lands.

Dimly lit come evening with candles galore and a variety of spacious sharing tables to choose from, the relaxed deli area is the perfect place for a laid-back date while the elegant restaurant offers the more traditional dining experience.

Tagine-tastic

With Eastern Mediterranean and North African roots, Del’Aziz boasts a host of exotic dishes from Persian shish and mezze platters with fresh tzatziki to couscous and slow cooked tagines served in beautiful terracotta pots.

Pricing

Prices range from £5 for a small mezze dish to £8-15 for most bigger plates, with meal deals including a Sunday burger, fries and a glass of wine or beer for £10. Pretty reasonable for an unusual joint with unique selling points a plenty.

Cocktails, Jazz ‘n’ Belly Dancing

The cocktail menu is extensive, with Mojito Night every Thursday and Friday in the Fulham and Clapham branches (£3 a pop until 11pm).  For music lovers, there’s live jazz every Thursday from 7:30pm while the more risqué amongst you may enjoy the belly dancing displays most Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00pm. The Clapham branch also boasts the atmospheric downstairs Zahra bar, with club nights every Friday from 10pm till late.

Fit for Kids?

If it’s a tot-friendly outfit you’re after, the children’s menu for under 8s is a snip at £5.50 for chicken fillet with saffron rice or chicken nuggets with chunky fries.

Other Branches

Whether you want to eat-in, take-away or are looking for ready-made canapés, full-on dinner party delights or part or exclusive hire of a kooky venue for a special occasion, Del’Aziz covers every base.  With branches in Bankside, Bermondsey, Swiss Cottage and Clapham, this is an escapist adventure I would recommend to all.

Contact 

Address: 24 – 32 Vanston Place, London SW6 1AX

Website

Nearest tube: Fulham Broadway

Email: reservations@delaziz.co.uk

Tel: 020 7386 0086 

Jak’s, Chelsea

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jak’s is a sprawling underground club.  Having replaced the vast space that was ‘Public’ on Lots Road, that’s exactly what I assumed. Described by my sister as a ‘must-see, chilled underground bar’, I felt obliged to see for myself. The reality didn’t disappoint.

A completely unique concept, Jak’s is a treasure-trove of character.  Walking in is like stealing a peek into the Parisienne bohemia of the Moulin Rouge. Like peering down the kaleidoscope of an eclectic mind, one thing Jak’s is not is mainstream Kings Road chic. Second to the Walton Street branch in South Kensington, the Chelsea hideaway is much larger, more magical and feels like a well-kept secret known to few. Dim lighting illuminates earthy woods and rich leathers, vintage rocking horses and other circus-like trinkets – most un-yah.  

A jaw-dropping delicatessen runs the length of the main sitting area with gastronomical delights a-plenty. Whether you’re after a scrumptious array of pitta, humous and feta or zingy prawn kebabs, this is a feast fit for a prince. With a cocktail menu as long as your arm and old-school sofas in every direction, Jak’s is an escapist paradise you can really sink into.

One of its USPs is the juxtaposition of space and cosiness. Spanning the full breadth of the old club, you can choose from sitting in the vast lounge area, the candle-lit bar or the adjoining lounge with cosy seating hubs perfect for intimate catch-ups.

Despite its distinctively eclectic vibe, Jak’s maintains a refreshingly civilised ambience – something of a contrast to its more raucous predecessor. A wonderfully relaxed setting, it combines a sense of occasion with understated wow-factor. Big enough to dodge a wrong-un and intimate enough to woo a good-un, this would be a great venue for a first date – the visual extravaganza providing ice-breakers aplenty.

Open from 8am until late, with feasts for every palate, I really couldn’t rave more. The only note of caution would be to avoid eating here on a Saturday night. The club vibe awakens proper at the weekend and it’s fair to say that skimpy dresses, high heels and full-frontal cleavage merge less than seamlessly with a low-key evening meal… The knock-on effect is delayed service and slightly cool food.

That said, if you’d like a trip to the magical French capital but can’t quite stretch that far, this would be a pretty good second prize.

Contact:

Address: 533B King’s Rd, London SW10 0TZ

Nearest tube: Parson Green/Fulham

Website

Tel: 0207 751 4400

Capacity: 400 people

Free rental and wifi

El Pirate, Mayfair

This is a gem of a tapas restaurant not to be missed.  Located in the quiet back water of Down Street a stone’s throw from Green Park and Hyde Park Corner, the quintessentially English location belies this Spanish experience extraordinaire.

The buzzy restaurant and bar are full of character befitting the name (‘The Pirate’).  From the easy charm of the native waiters to the Mediterranean white wash walls and mouth-watering tapas, this is a slice of Spain you won’t forget.  Informal, inexpensive and above all authentic, El Pirate combines exquisite tapas and fine wine in a relaxed atmosphere.  The classics are there for the picking, providing a feast for the senses which is second to none – deep-fried squid, juicy chorizo, paella and tortilla to name but a few.  And with a set menu of 10 tapas dishes for £20.95,  El Pirate offers surprisingly good prices for such a swanky area.

There is a bespoke party room for up to 60 people with an offering of live music and two party menus (one is vegetarian) – ideal for larger parties and a great way to enjoy tapas.  With a whole raft of treats from meatballs and calamares to patatas bravas and pan-fried chicken for just £18.75 per person, this really is cracking value.

Reviews confirm the obvious with Nobu’s celebrity chef and restaurateur, Nobu Matsuhisa calling El Pirata “my favourite restaurant” and Brian May of Queen stating “El Pirata rocks!”

In the words of Gervaise Odell: “El Pirata offers me everything I look for in a restaurant. Fine food, excellent choice, comfortable surroundings, marvellous service and a bill at the end that doesn’t give me indigestion!”  I couldn’t agree more.

Contact:

http://www.elpirata.co.uk
5-6 Down St, London W1J 7AQ
020 7491 3810