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John Hawkins
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John Hawkins

General discussion  - 
 
I wonder if anyone can recommend a high end / upmarket Chinese restaurant which has really great vegetarian options (and not just one or two vegetarian dishes on the menu, I mean at least 10!).
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I would highly recommend Yi-Ban for the menu range, quality dishes, the venue itself, riverside location (and City Airport view in the distance), DLR connection, bike lock bars, polite waiters/managers and importantly great value all-round {}^,...,^}

It may not seem 'upmarket', but find Yi-Ban better than most we've tried []^,...,^]
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John Hawkins
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Dressing  - 
 
Whilst the cupboard I recently acquired is not a thing of beauty in itself, finally having a dedicated space for its contents has proved rather satisfying. This only leaves the delightful ponderance of how to organise one's jackets - by hue, by weight of cloth, chronologically, by seasonality, autobiographically...?
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A particularly well executed vegetarian "fish" and chips (deep fried halloumi in batter) at +The SmokeHouse in Folkestone which I enjoyed last week.
1 Back Street, Folkestone CT19 6NN
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Bad halloumi tastes like salty rubber; good grilled halloumi is heaven!
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Penguins at London Zoo the other day.
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Miscellaneous Pursuits  - 
 
Continuing my exploratory forays into clubland, today I took luncheon at the City University Club, which has reciprocity with my club. It's an interesting little outpost of clubland in the City, which has reciprocal arrangements with no fewer than 16 other London clubs, including many of the famous names in St. James's like the Carlton, the Oxford and Cambridge, and the Reform Club. 

I assumed it would probably be considered poor form to take photos in the dining room, so instead I present here for your delectation the doormat, and the gents. You may be pleased to note actual bars of good honest soap in the gents - none of those infernal soap dispensing contraptions, and possibly not visible here were a reassuring set of brushes with accompanying shoe polish should a chap have scuffed his brogues on Cheapside on the way here.

I also rather enjoyed the pleasingly quirky ordering system - forms are left on the tables for you write down your selections, presumably so as not to disrupt the flow of conversation. These are then to be carried to a small hatch to pay on completion, which was gratifyingly efficient.*
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* It could well just be me, but one thing I find maddening in many restaurants is how long it takes to just pay the bloody bill at the end of a meal. Five minutes trying to get the waiter's attention, then five minutes actually waiting for them to bring the bill, then they always bugger off immediately after depositing the damned thing on the table, presumably because they think I want to mull it over for another five minutes, and then they return and seem completely caught off guard that I may want to use a credit card to pay the £900 bill, and then they have to go and look for the machine, but there's only one, and another member of staff is using it, and then they say it never works properly this far from the window, and then it runs out of paper...
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John Hawkins

Ask a Local Guide  - 
 
Does anyone know an official opening date for the summer season for Franks in Peckham? As of today the website just says "OPENING SOON", and on their Twitter feed all I could find is this retweeted tweet from @MelodieCarre which suggested it was 42 days from April 14th:
https://twitter.com/MelodieCarre/status/587963049434357760

So  that should mean Tuesday May 26th - can anyone confirm that? Thanks!
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6.30pm - then there is a Curator tour/talk from 7pm.  I  won't get there till 7:30pm, will be taking the no. 78 bus from Tower Bridge Road.  It's direct...!  20min!  No Boris Bike stands there unfortunately. +Robert Wallis 
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Has anyone tried the The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych's twist on a Negroni?

I'm unconvinced that the addition of strawberry jam is a good idea.
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John Hawkins

General discussion  - 
 
Is it just me, or is anyone else (possibly as a result of being vegetarian like me) a bit underwhelmed by recent new restaurant openings in London? I was in the mood to burn some money the other day and wanted to try something different from my usual set of fallbacks, but despite a few hours of research just couldn't get excited about anywhere I hadn't been to before.

New restaurants of late all just seem so samey, all unimaginatively following the same tired (mostly US based) food trends, and mostly are disappointingly meat heavy - burgers (yawn), barbecue (yawn), hot dogs (yawn) "pulled pork" (yaaaaaawn) and so on.

Am I missing something?
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Totally agree with you +John Hawkins - I usually check Hot Dinners for cool new restaurants but right now I scroll through and few seem to catch my eye... I'd love to see more Grain Store type places opening up.
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Miscellaneous Pursuits  - 
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Isn't it just?
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We lost our daughter's teddy bear on +P&O Cruises Azura A514 cruise to Norway last week. So upset! Can anyone help find him?
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Found one on ebay....http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MOTHERCARE-MY-FIRST-TEDDY-BEAR-BABY-SOFT-TOY-MC397-BIEGE-RED-NOSE-BLUE-DOTTY-/151709659849?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item235299b2c9
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John Hawkins

Discussion  - 
 
Had the vintage Negroni at the Ritz last night - they've managed to find bottles of Gordon's Gin, Campari and Martini Rosso, all dating from the 1950s. It hadn't really occurred to me these would still be drinkable, but the vermouth in particular was really interesting - like a vintage port infused with botanicals. Possibly a fanciful notion but I felt like I could detect wormwood in there (from which, of course, vermouth takes its name - but I believe most modern vermouths no longer use it).

As an aside this was also the single most expensive cocktail I've ever had!
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My guess is that none of these would have necessarily improved over time, but the thought of an unopened 65 year-old vermouth is intriguing. Great, now I want a Negroni.
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My parcels arrived today, and I made my first alcohol free Negroni (Fauxgroni?).

Here's my first stab at the ingredients.
50ml Sanbitter
40ml Palermo Rosso (alcohol free vermouth)
25ml Monin Gin syrup

...and the results? Far too sweet! It became a bit more drinkable once the ice had melted a bit, and it was sufficiently chilled / diluted. I think the gin syrup may have been the main culprit even though I used a lot less of that than anything else.

The Palermo Rosso is quite pleasant to drink by itself, over ice, and is sort of reminiscent of vermouth.
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London
Previously
The Midlands - Tokyo, Japan - Reading, UK - Leicestershire, UK
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Pretending to be posh.
Introduction
Interested in old pubs and bars, architecture, London history, Savile Row, bespoke tailoring, vegetarianism and the occasional bit of contemporary art.
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Software engineer
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St. James's seems to lack a place for a decent coffee, I optimistically thought I'd give this place a go, ordered a macchiato to have there. What I got was burnt coffee in a takeaway cup with far too much and far too hot milk. I threw it away after the first sip. Come on guys, you're supposed to be Italian, make an effort!
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
Hackett do a good job of finding the sweet spot between classical and contemporary style. I've bought a few items here over the years including a much loved cotton herringbone summer jacket. Service is a bit of a mixed bag though. On my most recent visit I bought probably one of the most expensive items in the shop, a non-sale item during the sale season, on a weekday morning when they had no other customers. You'd think I'd have been lavished with attention, but I rather felt they were just going through the motions in the fitting, and seemed pretty disinterested in the whole thing. When splashing that kind of cash it's nice to be given the illusion of being an important customer, a bit of flattery and chit chat, perhaps some feigned interest in the occasion that the suit is for would be nice. Also why does it take a week to get a pair of trousers finished? It's a ten minute job for their tailor. Plus it seems a bit cheeky they add a tenner onto the bill for this, on top of a £750 suit, the fact that the trousers are unfinished is a convenience for the retailer to reduce the amount of stock they have to keep - why is the customer bearing the cost of that?
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Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
This modern, upmarket fish and chip place was (like Folkestone in general to be honest) a pleasant surprise. Smart, clean, nice interior design, pleasant staff, nice spot down by the harbour which on a sunny afternoon was really lovely with the doors open and the warm sea breeze wafting in. ...and most importantly for me they had a vegetarian "fish" and chips on the menu - halloumi in batter, which I've had in a few places before, but I thought it was particularly well executed here. Albeit that this was on their specials board, so not sure it's a permanent fixture on their menu (I also liked the sound of the deep fried asparagus, also on the specials board, wish I'd been greedy and tried that too!). On a reckless whim, I actually said yes to their suggestion of mushy peas to go with it - I've never been a fan of mushy peas, but this was yet another pleasant surprise - theirs were fresh tasting (probably helped by the mint) and rather good. I found out subsequently that they typically fry their chips in beef dripping, and it says on their website they can fry in vegetable oil on request - fingers crossed as I ordered an overtly vegetarian option they will have just done that for me. (the food did take a while to arrive so let's hope that's why) Some reassurance or advance warning on that front would have got them their fifth star from me.
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Public - 3 weeks ago
reviewed 3 weeks ago
I've used one of the other Apex hotels in Edinburgh a couple of times, but on this particular occasion it had a minimum 2 night stay, so I thought I'd give this place a go. It's a pleasingly grand building from the outside at least, and very convenient for the station (there's a special entrance for getting to and from the station, which you probably won't find when checking in, but is much easier to find when you're checking out), and you can get from reception to the platforms in 5 minutes. Inside, the rooms felt a bit bland and generic perhaps, and I'm not sure it was really great value for money at close to £200 a night.
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Public - 3 weeks ago
reviewed 3 weeks ago
1544 reviews
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Slightly mixed feelings about Boggi and this branch in particular. On the one hand I like the style of a lot of their clothes, and being an Italian company they're a good place to go for garments designed with warm weather in mind. However I now slightly regret my most recent purchase, a lightweight summer suit, mostly as I had quite a lot of trouble with the trousers - at least three visits to get the adjustments done correctly initially, I think at least partly because I got passed around between several members of staff and never seemed to get 100% of their attention. Then the second time I wore the suit just a few weeks after buying it, the button came off the trousers and some stitches came loose as I was putting them on. Not very impressed. I took it back to the shop and of course they repaired it for free, but again the shop staff were all over the place and I didn't ever get the feeling I was being fully paid attention to.
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Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
The term "home away from home" gets bandied about perhaps a little too much, but in the decade or so I've been a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society I've made about 3 or 4 trips to Edinburgh, and pretty much unfailingly the visit to the Vaults is the highlight of the trip. Yes, technically, you can find the same selection of the society's whiskies, give or take, at the Queen Street venue in Edinburgh, or the bar down in London, but the atmosphere here is so much more special than either of those two places - some combination of a private member's club, a favourite pub, a cosy lounge in a country house hotel, and a favourite relative's sitting room. I always regret having to leave at the end of each visit, and always wish I could stay longer.
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Public - 3 weeks ago
reviewed 3 weeks ago
Didn't really work for me. I'm not really a convert to the craft beer "movement" but nonetheless well done to them for finding something modern and a bit experimental to pair the food with. The menu looked promisingly quirky and creative, but neither of the dishes I ordered were particularly great. The "Bubble and Sikh" in particular was basically a rather dry and unremarkable version of sag aloo.
Public - 3 weeks ago
reviewed 3 weeks ago