The Dumbwaiter has long been a fan of beer and charcuterie haven Friends of Ham, so it was with a great deal of curiosity that he paid a visit to their sister site Ham & Friends, further uptown on the pedestrianised Merrion Street. Much more than just a restaurant space, there’s also a natural wine bar, a mini food hall (replete with cheese room), and a mezzanine level wine shop. The Dumbwaiter selected a bottle from the shelves to enjoy with some excellent small plates from the kitchen. Smoked poacher dumplings with butternut squash and sage, and the nduja meatballs were particularly good.
Despite being criss-crossed by a muddle of multi-carriageways, Leeds’ Northern Quarter is quite the place to be, counting Belgrave, The Greedy Pig, Brewdog and The Brunswick among its residents. But The Reliance has been holding fort on North Street the longest. The Dumbwaiter had already been in on Friday night for some dessert and a nightcap but went back for a birthday dinner. The starters of Yorkshire haloumi with sesame and heritage beetroot with labneh sound simple but were perfectly executed.
The Dumbwaiter never really needs an excuse to visit the Quality Chop House, but after a spiffy new kitchen was installed, chef Shaun Searley and patron Will Lander invited industry folks to admire the kit and taste the tweaked menu. “Those” legendary confit potatoes are still there, thank goodness, but we can imagine the languostines with langoustine mayonnaise become just as much of a cult hit.
In a time where it can be hard to keep up with the pace of change in London's restaurant scene, it's comforting to see a new opening that isn't really new at all. Joe Allen, now in its new home on Burleigh Street, just off the Strand, has all the charm and atmosphere of the original. New, lighter, dishes inspired by new persona 'Josephine Allen' (we're reliably told by co-owner Lawrence Hartley) are interspersed with old favourites, including the glazed baby back ribs and chicken Caesar salad enjoyed by The Dumbwaiter and Lazy Susan. It's good to have you back Joe (and welcome Josephine).
It certainly has an interesting name but this new Japanese canteen on Wardour Street in Soho is certainly worth a visit. The menu focuses around burgers and ramen but they all have a twist. The Dumbwaiter enjoyed the wagyu beef burger spring rolls (his new favourite snack) followed by a selection of Ichibun burgers including the chicken katsu burger – panko crusted fried chicken, beef tomato, Japanese coleslaw and mayonnaise.
The Dumbwaiter is a big believer in the philosophy that if it is broke, fix it, which is exactly what has been done with this site on Middlesex Street. Out goes The Holy Birds and in comes London Fields favourite, Wringer + Mangle - the kind of place you could imagine popping in to for a drink and staying for dinner and more than a couple. The Dumbwaiter enjoyed rich braised beef cheeks with red cabbage and celeriac puree and a warm blackberry rice pudding, befitting of the autumnal weather of late.