Wow, we can’t believe that this is our 6th annual festive restaurant feasting roundup! For reasons both professional and personal Elldrew were a little quieter on the blog front in 2019, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking we haven’t continued to eat our way around London; and no more so than during the traditional season of bulking. With a new year’s resolution to blog more in 2020, let’s get on with this edition of our festive review.
Oddly, the year-end saw us visiting some old favourites, starting with Yauatcha, for some palate cleaning dim sum. The desire for a ‘lighter meal’ at an old faithful left little room to try any new dishes, so we instead stuck firmly to the tried and tested. Venison puffs were as excellent as ever, as were the prawn and bean curd cheung fun, which could conceivably qualify for our “death row meal”. The Wagyu beef puffs were a little disappointing, a more runny curry-ish taste and texture than we remembered, but still a busy, buzzy restaurant with excellent service. Credit to our waitress who struggled to contain her amusement that Ell had a kiwi allergy (allegedly her go-to daily beauty ritual is eating a kiwi)!
The following day saw us having a casual brunch at the German Gymnasium with friends. Not having been since Christmas lunch in 2015 we were keen to revisit and see what had changed. For one, it’s a whole lot busier; no doubt fuelled by the growth with the Kings Cross Redevelopment. The brunch menu was extensive, struggling to choose a meal to accompany our Bloody Mary’s, we eventually agreed to share the Vienna schnitzel and ‘GG’ (pork, not horse) hot dog. Ell thought that the hot dog, full of mustardy-dressing and crispy onions, was excellent. Drew preferred the schnitzel with its tangy side potato salad, although he wasn’t sure it was worth the hefty price tag. We weren’t wowed but we’d go back, it’s again buzzy and lively as a lunch spot and the huge Christmas tree made us feel a whole lot more festive than Yauatcha’s cherry blossom decor.
Christmas Eve found us repeating our biennial tradition of watching the latest Star Wars instalment with Papa Elldrew, eschewing a real meal in favour of massive tubs of popcorn. Ell’s critical view was that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a fitting end to the nine movies spanning his lifetime (Papa Elldrew saw the very first movie with Mamma Elldrew when she was pregnant). God knows what we’ll do Christmas Eve 2022!
Christmas Day, the highlight of everyone’s eating calendar, saw us revisiting the Dean Street Townhouse. We thoroughly enjoyed our family Christmas lunch here in 2017 and liked it so much in 2019 that we may well rebook for 2020; a traditional Christmas fare with all the trimmings and big enough portions to send you into a food coma. Bliss. We also loved dining in the main seating area as it had a more upbeat vibe, but it still felt nice and homely with a welcoming edge, something that the Soho House Group does so well.
Having crossed the globe from the East (Yauatcha) to the West (Dean Street Townhouse), a spontaneous stop, mid-sale shopping, saw us touch down in the Americas for a margarita and tacos at Casa Pastor in Kings Cross. It suited us well with a selection of Tostadas, Tacos and their signature Ensalada El Pastor. The pulled pork taco rocked our world with Ell left seeking out a jar of their La Maya pineapple & habanero salsa, so delicious he reckoned he’d eat it by the gallon.
A day later, we took some out-of-town friends to Brasserie of Light, within Selfridges department store, for a glitzy and overwhelming new-year’s-eve eve meal. Sitting at a fabulous table right under the 24ft crystal encrusted Pegasus statue created especially by Damien Hirst, we enjoyed mingling amongst the fashionistas and sales shoppers. Another from a previous festive feast blog, we can confirm the chicken dumplings were still as good as we remembered and whilst there was high praise across the table for the various dishes ordered, special mention must go to the generously sized and beautifully cooked sole goujons. We also noticed that even after a year since our last visit the staff still don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves, even if all the patrons were!
Finally, several pounds heavier, we arrive at New Year’s Eve. We decided, for our final meal of 2019, that we would head back to our all-time favourite restaurant, Coal Office. Reviewed twice in 2018 as we liked it so much, Coal Office didn’t disappoint – even for a last minute early bird supper, it was a lively and noisy start to the celebrations. With a special limited menu for the day, we were glad to see some signature dishes, like the mouthwatering Machneyuda’s polenta and Shikshukit lamb and beef kebabs, and we welcomed the opportunity to try some new ‘test’ dishes. Of note was the outstanding duck Baklawa starter; slow cooked duck in delicate layers of filo pastry with honey and pistachio. Coal Office, if you’re reading this, please put this dish on your permanent menu! Sublime!
So, reading this blog back, it’s a bit like A Christmas Carol with restaurants of Christmas past! Regular readers will know that the festivities don’t end until early in the new year due to Pappa Elldrew’s birthday, so we get to spend a final pre-detox evening somewhere fabulous. We are ecstatic to let you know that we hit one of London’s hottest openings, Amazonico, which was a delectable feast. So much so that it deserves its own post!
We say goodbye to 2019 and would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2020 – there’s no way to make the Year of the Rat sound glamourous, but in Chinese culture it is a sign of wealth and surplus (let’s hope we can shift some of the festive calorie surplus) so we hope it’s a year of wealth for all. Thanks for reading.