Portland is always a good bet for an elegant, delicious dinner, but it was next-level good to taste new dishes before they get onto the menu. From a stellar line-up that included steamed Cornish squid buns and crispy chicken skins with liver parfait and candied walnuts, Lazy Susan was particularly taken by Aylesbury duck glazed with mead, introduced then off to be carved and served with a duck pithivier. (So taken, in fact, that she took some home in a doggy bag.)
With Sager and Wilde, Morito and The Marksman all sharing the Hackney Road you’re never short of choice. It was the latter The Dumbwaiter chose this weekend. A tranquil terrace, curried lamb bun and 6.5% Marksman Fine Cider is surely one of the only ways to start a Saturday. A bowl of lovage and cider dowsed mussels, preceded by perfectly balanced cod’s roe and all the essential accoutrement for £22 make this a firm favourite.
If The Dumbwaiter were asked what constitutes a perfect night out in London, last Friday’s celebrations make a pretty good blueprint. The evening started in the bar at the Connaught with martinis poured generously from the trolley into ice cold glassware. Then, glowing slightly, it was across town to dinner at St. JOHN where a buzzing dining room and a welcome glass of champagne awaited. The Dumbwaiter had a terrifically good terrine to start (and bone marrow on toast to share, of course) before a main of sea bass with green beans dressed with anchovy. Dessert was a gooseberry Eton mess and half a dozen madeleines. All of it absolutely perfect.
Aside from the day jobs, there’s a healthy crop of chef talent at CODE HQ and on Tuesday it was editor Lisa Markwell’s turn to don her whites for a one-night-only appearance at the J Sheekey pass, for their Atlantic Bar guest chef series. With a Markwell Martinez in hand, The Dumbwaiter snacked on delicate beetroot and goats cheese macarons and mini fish finger sandwiches before a beautiful dish of beetroot-cured salmon and quick-pickled veg. Then it was onto crab trifle, monkfish tortellini and a duck and watermelon salad before dessert of roasted almond panna cotta - all a perfectly pitched antidote to the summer heat.
It was the first visit to Untitled for The Dumbwaiter this week - the bar and restaurant in Hackney by Tony Conigliario. Dinner was enjoyed in their recently refurbished moon garden. The whole menu can be ordered for £26 per person - but make sure to also order the oyster hot dog.