Sunday, 10 February 2019

Rice Republic, Streatham High Road, South London

More relaxed than many of the Chinese restaurants in the west end, The Rice Republic serves respectable staples at reasonable prices. To kick off, the crispy aromatic duck (£9.50) with pancakes, soy sauce, cucumber and spring onions, is competent and quite generous, while the prawn dumplings (three for £4.20) are delicious and the duo of steamed pork buns (£3.90) makes for a hearty appetiser. For a main course, the chicken in satay sauce is best avoided. It is a bit short of flavour, while the meat is a tad rubbery. The king prawns with ginger and spring onion (£9.50) are far better, while the crispy fried shredded beef is sweet and satisfying. Steamed rice (£3) is nicely done, but a tad pricey, while the egg fried rice (£4) is lacklustre. You can probably do without a small bowl of prawn crackers for a couple of quid.  On the whole, the dishes are good value, but the extras and sides soon rack up, particularly if you are drinking beer (£4 for a 330ml bottle of Tiger) to wash down the spicy food. Still, service at the Rice Republic is very smooth and the ambiance is appealing. A large mural of the Great Wall of China and the light shades that look like bird cages are among the eye-catching adornments. 7/10

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Thames from Deptford Creek, South East London

From the cycle path hugging the U-bend in the Thames near Deptford Creek, there are fine sweeping views up and down the river, taking in Greenwich, the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Steak Night at the Prince Regent, Dulwich Road, South London

On a Thursday night, the Prince Regent pub has turned its menu over to mouthwatering steaks. A hefty and delicious 9oz sirloin steak (£18) arrives with some decent chips,  a crisp green salad and a moreish Béarnaise sauce. Served in the elegant and well-heated Victorian dining room, you can enjoy your hunk of meat with one of the fine beers on tap. Although the service can be a bit haphazard, it is well-meaning and welcoming. 8/10

Monday, 14 January 2019

Pollen Street Social, Pollen Street, Central London

At any Michelin-starred restaurant in London, a three course lunch for £37 is a bargain. At the expertly-run Pollen Street Social, it is almost a steal, particularly if you steer clear of the pricey wine list. Although there are only three choices for each course, the waiting staff also bring a steady stream of extras, so your taste buds will be well and truly stimulated. These memorable morsels include an afternoon-tea themed mix of appetisers, featuring caviar, smoked salmon, cucumber and a mini-Victoria sponge cake. The miniature mushroom soup, which appears before the main course, is also delicious.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Foxcote House, Ilmington, Warwickshire

A Grade II-listed early-eighteenth century mansion, Foxcote House is now owned by Victoria's Secret founder American billionaire Les Wexner. Although the owner is reputed to value his privacy, a public footpath runs close to this grand house on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Lunch at the Ebrington Arms, Ebrington, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

An unspoilt Cotswolds pub, the Ebrington Arms serves decent food at punchy prices in convivial surroundings. The menu can be aspirational (duck breast, pommes anna, carrot & star anise puree & Russian kale for £24), but there are also some cheaper staples, such as fish and chips with mushy peas (£15), and beef burger and chips (£17). The portions are fairly generous and the food is hearty fare with plenty of flavour. There are also some smooth ales, such as Yubby, on draught. The service is pretty attentive and chirpy, but some of the rooms can get smoky when the open fires are going strong. 7/10

Friday, 30 November 2018

I'm Not Running, The National Theatre, the Southbank, Central London

Images from the National Theatre web site

For a contemporary play about the tense and multi-layered world of British politics, I'm Not Running is too slow, laid back, disjointed and detached from real world events, which right now are more absorbing and profound than the fictional events covered in David Hare's new play. His focus on the NHS and healthcare seems narrow and dated, given this play was written in the era of Brexit, nationalism, Trump and Corbyn. Even the staff shortages in the NHS, which are being exacerbated by Brexit, don't warrant a mention, while the collapse of the political centre, the civil war in the Tory Party and the battle for the soul of the Labour Party are also ignored. In an apt metaphor for the script, the set, which is basically two revolving walls and some furniture, fails to fill the expansive stage of the Lyttelton Theatre.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

City Hall, Praça do Municipio, Lisbon

Lisbon's neoclassical City Hall was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, after a fire destroyed its predecessor, according to It is the most striking building in a beautifully-tiled square, which is also adorned by a spiral column built from a single block of stone in the eighteenth century, symbolising the enforcement of justice.