Sunday, 7 December 2014

Jamie's Italian, Piccadilly, Denman Street, central London

A multi-storey, mega-restaurant, this branch of Jamie's Italian tries to bring an edgy east-end feel to the touristy and more salubrious west end.  With brick walls, distressed wooden furniture, exposed vents, wooden floors and metallic tables, Jamie's Italian has the well-honed hallmarks of a Shoreditch eatery. But the clientele is more Highgate than Hoxton. In crisp white shirts, the young waiting staff are cooler-than-thou, but seem a little world weary.  On the menu, the bread basket (£3.95), which contains rosemary focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough and grissini sticks and comes with an addictive olive tapenade, is tempting and tasty. But you might only get a mouthful of each variety. Among the main courses, the sausage pappardelle (£11.95) is pleasant and satisfying, but nothing special.  The prawn linguine (£13.50) gets better reviews, while the beef burger (£13.95 with chips)  contains a large and filling slab of meat topped with smoked mozzarella. The side dishes are nicely-done, but modest for the price tags. The rocket salad with parmesan (£3.55) is delicious, but sparse, while the market vegetables may just be a plate of finely-sliced courgette doused in garlic. For desert, the chocolate brownie (£5.45) is best avoided. Although the brownie is warm, soft and sweet, it may be served with a jarring frozen yoghurt and topped with sickly caramelised popcorn. To drink, the Crystal beer - a cool, flavoursome lager - is excellent. 7/10

Monday, 24 November 2014

Street Art, Bellenden Road, Peckham, South London

Anderson & Co cafe, Bellenden Road, Peckham, south London

A gourmet cafe on Peckham's prosperous Bellenden Road, Anderson & Co. offers an array of tempting cakes, pastries, sandwiches, quiches and breakfasts. Although the front area can be crowded on a weekday lunchtime, there is more seating at the back, overlooking the kitchen, plus a conservatory. Anderson & Co. produces delicious scrambled egg, nicely seasoned with olive oil, on sourdough toast.  If you are hungry, you can order it with four small chorizo sausages, for about £6.50.  The coffee is also decent. Although Anderson & Co. isn't cheap, the fine food, the stripped back white decor and the alluring ambience makes it a major cut above the average cafe. 7/10

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Poppies, Tower of London, central London

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation progressively filled the Tower of London's moat with 888,246 ceramic poppies. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, the temporary installation attracted tens of thousands of visitors. In a ceremony every evening, the Last Post was played at sunset, followed by a reading of the names of some of the fatalities from the Commonwealth forces.

Friday, 7 November 2014

The view from Peckham Library, south London

The view from the front: An autumnal sunset over Peckham's gritty High Street.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Barbican, central London

Built on a site devastated by the Blitz, the Barbican is a vast landscaped post war housing estate-come-theatre complex in which three towers rise out of the seven-storey blocks of flats below. A fine example of so-called brutalist architecture, the Barbican isn't too everyone's tastes, but it is an absorbing anomaly in an area dominated by glass and steel office buildings.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Reflections on the city of London

Glass, steel and London's greatest church