1. v. The act of writing a weblog or 2. n. Toby’s weblog.

Pour manger à Paris

A friend of mine is visiting Paris over the New Year and I mentioned a few restaurants that I enjoy going to there. Since then she has asked if I wouldn’t mind if she passed on the list so I thought I’d put it up here!

Café Latéral – it’s very near the Arc de Triomphe but most tourists don’t go down Avenue Mac-Mahon so it’s only French people there and as such the food is really good. It is both a traditional french bar / brasserie but there is a slightly less hectic restaurant in a small room in the back if you prefer something slighly more spacious / quiet :)
4, Avenue Mac-Mahon 75 017 PARIS. Tel: +33 1 43 80 20 96

Le Louchébem – Louchébem is french Butchers’ slang for Butcher. If you really want to eat good meat then this is a great place to go. They serve loads of different cuts from lots of different animals. You may have to book; it was very busy when we went.
Corner of 10, rue des Prouvaires and 31, rue Berger 75001 PARIS. Tel: +33 1 42 33 12 99

La Rotonde Bastille for a funky modern bar serving good snacky food near Bastille. Bastille can be a bit overwhelming and this bar with friendly staff and a chilled out atmosphere (there’s cool art on the walls and funky music in the background) is a good spot to get away from the madness!
No website, but here’s the google info page on it. 17 Rue Roquette, 75011 Paris +33 1 47 00 68 93

Café Grand Corona: it’s a good stopping point if you’re walking towards the Tour Eiffel (and are following the river) and it has amazing hot chocolate – they give you a jug of melted chocolate and a jug of milk. It’s up to you how you mix it!
No website, but here’s the google page on it. 3 Place Alma, 75008 Paris. Tel: +33 1 47 20 70 27

Chez Yanick* for Crêpes. You’re unlikely to see a non-French person here and it’s always packed full of Parisiennes. Make sure (if you like bacon) you have one with Lardons on. Mmmmmm.
No website, but here’s the google page on it. 33 Rue Annonciation, 75016 Paris. Tel: +33 1 46 47 70 34.

Brasserie Bofinger for a good upmarket french dining experience. The food is excellent, the dress code is relatively formal (the waiters are all in black tie) and most people there are french. Booking essential.
3 Rue Bastille, 75004, Paris. Tel: +33 1 42 72 87 82.

La Bar a Huitres It’s in the same area as Bofinger, but is a very modern dining experience focussed mainly on seafood. Excellent food, upmarket design and very good service. Google page

Update 2014-05-29 I’ve heard that Chez Yanick has closed.

Davin's Dublin Tour

When Theo and I went to Ireland for the wedding we decided to spend a night experiencing Dublin before traveling on to Galway. Davin, the bride’s brother gave us a text message guide of Dublin’s bars which avoids the tourist-filled awfulness that is Temple Bar. We had a wicked time, so here is The Tour!

We were staying at the Jury’s Inn on Parnell Street so the tour starts there:

Exit and turn left, walk 5mins down Parnell Street to Capel Street. Turn left and walk south towards the River. Nealons on your right is just before The Liffey, lovely Guinness.

Next cross the river to Parliament Street, passing Zaytoon (great kebabs). Thomas Read’s is on the corner of Parliament & Dame.

Turn left out of Thomas Read’s down Dame Street. Eventually on the right is a small back street that runs parallel to Dame Street called Dame Lane. Here is hidden, on the right, a place called The Stags Head. Just after that is 4 Dame Lane with flames above the door which stays open late.

We enjoyed every single one of the bars, and Zaytoon fed us with, frankly, the best kebabs I have had.

Published on 2007/09/14 at 10:53 by Toby, tags , , , , , ,

Lose yourself

To celebrate nothing in particular other than the fact that his bride to be was out and he had an afternoon free Alex decided on a whim to introduce me to Lost Society (caution nasty flash based website ahead). The fact that it is Winner of Time Out London’s Best Bar 2006 gave me cause for concern; I don’t trust these awards as far as I can throw them – we have a coffee shop underneath my office which happily proclaims ‘City AM Best Coffee Shop 2006’ but makes the most tasteless brown mulch known to mankind. I am very happy to say that this bar lived up to its expectations and more.

The sumptuous interior follows a Darkness and Light motif with dark black and red themes interspersed with open white blue and silver themes to wonderful effect. The trendily dressed staff were exceedingly good: friendly and knowledgeable without being intrusive.

We started with a Classic Mojito each which I can safely say was probably the best I have had. Not too sweet and not too minty in flavour it was a pleasure to drink. A couple of glasses of wine followed with the food – to their credit their wine by the glass is pretty good. I had the Chicken Supreme which was excellent, a definite suspicion of Brie gave it that extra something that a lot of Chicken dishes lack. Alex had the Duck which was perfectly cooked: it fell apart and melted in the mouth.

We then attacked their excellent selection of desert wines starting with the Elysium Black Muscat which, if you haven’t tried it, is one of the best desert reds out there. Next up was the Botrytis Semillon which, although good, wasn’t up to the Nectar of the Gods quality of Nobel One (which is sadly difficult to get hold of these days). Finishing off with a Port like drink (by this time my memory is getting somewhat fragmented so god knows what it was… Alex?) we paid the bill and left having had a wonderful afternoon’s food, wine and conversation.

Time Out is right. What a great bar.

Published on 2007/02/21 at 18:35 by Toby, tags , ,

Alas poor Novelli

The Royal Exchange

…we knew him so well.

Underneath the Capital Club in London used to be one of the City’s better kept secrets: Novelli in the City. Sadly it is no more. I took my good friends Alex and Derv there to celebrate the announcement of their engagement expecting a good feed. It was always going to be a bit of a risk as when I had initially phoned the restaurant had been fully booked. They also told me that it was no longer a Novelli restaurant, but that the food was the same. Disappointed, I booked elsewhere. On the morning of the meal I got a call from the Capital Club telling me that they had had a cancellation and would I like to take a table. I said yes and cancelled the alternative.

The evening started well as we managed to get a table at the Royal Exchange (unheard of at 6:30pm on a Friday night particularly as Christmas is just round the corner) for a pre-dinner bottle of 2004 Sancerre. This bar is one of my favourites: the staff are always friendly but not too attentive and the location is fantastic. I have spent many a fond evening there.

Happily warmed up we walked the short distance to Abchurch Lane, left our coats at the front desk of the restaurant and took ourselves downstairs to the restaurant which, at first glance, had not changed at all.

Unfortunately the front desk had been misinformed when they told me that the food had not changed: it has. The Fois Gras starter was dull and lifeless – although the texture was just right – and the steak was good and cooked to order but it was nowhere near the heavenly, perfectly cooked steak that I have had there in the past. I have been known, in my more effusive moments, to describe the steak that I had at Novelli’s as ‘the best steak in London’. This is no longer the case – I think that that honour currently goes to Mon Plaisir, although I am always searching. Derv’s Scallops were good but not numerous and could have done with something more to them.

Finally, the puddings: Novelli’s deserts were amazing. I have seen girls tremble at the knee at the memory of his chocolate platter. These no longer exist. The desert selection is sadly reduced and there is nothing on it which particularly inspires.

So, we paid up (the restaurant is still reasonably priced for it’s location) and we went to 1 Lombard Street where I toasted what was Novelli in the City with their excellent Belvedere Vodka Martinis.

RIP Novelli in the City – what has replaced it isn’t bad per se, it just isn’t as good.

The photo is of the bar at the Royal Exchange and is © Toby Bryans 2006

Published on 2006/12/03 at 13:29 by Toby, tags , , , ,

When service goes bad

On Friday night I was at a friend’s birthday party in the basement of a pub in Notting Hill. The pub itself was full but not packed: the bar queue was never more than one layer deep. The first couple of rounds gave me no indication of how awful things were to get; I always got served quickly. I should have realised that things were starting to go wrong when Alex came back from the bar with a bottle of wine having been away for twenty minutes.

Half an hour later I decide the time is right for another bottle. This turned out to be the incorrect decision. I stood at the bar for thirty minutes whilst the other, frankly rude, punters queue jumped. I watched some of the worst bar service I have ever seen, and yes, I have worked behind busy bars; I know how to do it properly. I watched the bar staff give incredible deals on drinks to many people who seemed to be their mates.

When I finally managed to get one of the three woefully slow and disorganized bar staff to serve me it turned out that all five of the wines that I had chosen as acceptable from the wine list were not in stock. Why not let the customer know in advance by, oh I don’t know, crossing them off on the chalk board? Wouldn’t that be useful? Apparently not. Why not have enough stock for Friday night? I have heard on the grape vine that it is quite common that people go out on Friday night, so why not make damn sure you have enough stock? It is just Not That Hard. Not only had I queued for thirty minutes, put up with obnoxious behaviour by certain other members of the public, but also I had put up with this for no gain. All of this marred a perfectly good evening.

There is no excuse for a popular pub in central London to have such atrocious service, I shall not be going back.

Published on 2006/11/06 at 15:43 by Toby, tags ,

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