Want to know whether a bar, restaurant or club is suitable for that girly chat or romantic meal, check our reviews below. Each review has a talk or a dance rating rating out of 5. 


Tasting Room, Cabana & Woo Jung

Selfridges - The Tasting Room

With Christmas fast approaching, some last minute shopping was required and Selfridges is the best of a bad bunch in Oxford Street.

After an hour of fighting through the crowds a recharge is needed and we opted for the recently opened Tasting Room. A temporary addition to the Selfridges dining scene, it offers small tasting plates and afternoon tea.  There is a small selection of Champagnes starting from £12 a glass with champagne cocktails at £14. It is hidden away making it relatively quiet compared to some of the other outlets. To make sure you get there we were escorted to our table from the escalator.

We both went for a champagne cocktail, which is heavily pushed on you as you arrive. My friend went with a ‘Not your usual Xmas’ cocktail, which is gin based with Christmas flavours of figs and spice.  I went for the Ambrosia;  cognac, calvados and Cointreau and dash of lemon. They were both tasty and extremely strong (not that we were complaining). To eat we went for 3 savoury plates and a dessert plate to share. We were meeting a couple of friends for dinner so this was a snack. Expensive, but very tasty snack.  We had Truffle Gnocci, confit chicken with crispy skin and carpaccio of beef. Starter style plates which came to £21. All were very tasty, interesting combinations of flavours and plating ‘fine dining’ style.  The service was keen, maybe too much and was slightly irritating that when they bought us 2 truffle gnocci’s by mistake, they didn’t just leave the second one rather than take it back to the kitchen.  Overall the Tasting offers good food and cocktails with a relaxing ambiance if you don’t mind paying the Selfridges premium.

Talk Rating: 5/5

Cabana, 1 St Giles High Street WC2H 8AG

Between afternoon snacks and an early dinner there was time to meet friends for a couple of cocktails. We met up at Cabana, in a soulless new development with a variety of mediocre chains. Inside though the décor was cheesy but fun and the caprinha’s were  freshly made and reasonably prices £6.50. I didn’t try the food as I was not in the mood for all you can eat bbq meat fest.  Good for  a stop off.

Talk Rating: 5/5 (on Sunday likely to be lower on a Friday/Saturday)


Woo Jung, 59 Saint Giles High Street, London, WC2H 8LH

  Next stop was a more substantial meal which was only a hop, skip and a jump away.  We went to a Korean called Woo Jung, for cheap but reasonably priced food. I don’t know if we were lucky or not, but we did not encounter some of the poor service other reviews have commented on. Food was prompt and the starters of fried dumplings, kimichee and deep fried squid were all very tasty and fresh.  For mains the Bibimbap with raw beef went down a treat and was very tasty. It could have been improved if the beef hadn’t been cut up so thinly, as you lost some of the texture of the beef. We also ordered chicken and pork belly BBQ meats, with the chicken being preferred as much more flavourful than the fatty pork belly.

All this was washed down with some Korean beer, which tastes slightly weak. I would opt for the Japanese beer next time.  Service was good, not the most comfy but very good food for the price.

Talk Rating: 5/5


Bacchus and Callooh Callay

Bacchus bar and kitchen, 177 Hoxton Street  London N1 6PJ

I have been to Bacchus a number of times, firstly when the Michelin starred chef Nuno Mendes was in residence and more recently where it is now a Gastropub.  There were quite a few similarities between the both; the décor hasn’t changed much and the quality of food is still very good albeit different, the real downside to both has been the speed at which the food came out.  I think their Sunday lunch is one of the best ones around (around £16.50) and I have experienced smooth service but recently it took 3 hours to get a starter and main course.  One family walked out after an hour of waiting. Luckily we were catching up with friends coupled with a free bottle of wine smoothed the memories of it.  The best thing on the menu is the haggis scotch egg it is worth the calories. I have had mixed experience  of the ambiance; from very little people noise, but loud music to screaming kids, unfortunately that just goes with the territory of Sunday Lunch. 

Talk Rating: 3.5/5

Bacchus Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Callooh Calley, 65 Rivington Street , London EC2A 3AY

After a long lunch of roast and red wine a quick cocktail seemed like the way to go and only a short walk away was Callooh Callay. It has been on the Shoreditch scene for a number of years, noted for their cocktail expertise and the quirky Lewis Carroll inspired décor. We were ushered through the wardrobe in to the Jub Jub room for those in the know. It was empty when we got there but full by the time we left.  The cocktail menu was a designed as a paint colour swatches. I think they missed a trick but not colour co-ordinating the swatches by the base liquor.  It is also an extensive list which is great but hard to find exactly what you want.  The cocktails were all distinct and tasty, I had a Eldorado 12 year old fashioned which is always my go to sipping cocktail. The staff seemed very knowledgeable, discussing with my cocktail geek friend whether to have an absinthe or coffee rinse.   They also made some cocktails up there and then to match with his record label name. Ambiance was great in the ‘Jub Jub’ room slightly more rowdy outside; service was very good for cocktail bar.  Nose level was atmospheric but never took over.

Talk Rating: 4/5


China Tang, The Dorchester Hotel

 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA  map

What is better than a free dinner at the Dorchester? Free dinner and whisky tasting at the Dorchester. This was all courtesy of Glenfiddich, I had won a competition with 15 others and had been invited to have whisky tasting with food pairing, quite a novel idea.

I have been to the Dorchester before and do find the décor and clientele slightly gauche, so not a place I would choose to go for Chinese, but who says no to free food and drink. The China Tang bar is quite small but less showy than the lounge bar and more intimate, I would definitely come here again if in this neck of the woods. After a gin cocktail (I thought we would have enough whisky at the tasting) we went through to the private room.  Slightly strange room for a large amount of people where a presentation is taking place. It was very narrow, making it hard to see the screen and hear the speaker. The net result was that people drank rather than listening and it all got far more raucous than the organisers were expecting.

Whisky tasting with Glenfiddich at the Dorchester

After a quick presentation about the distillery, we went straight into the tasting. We had 3 whiskies before the food pairing. The 3rd being the £500 30 year old. Unlike most tastings the oldest, most expensive whisky was not left until then end , as they weren’t sure we would be able to appreciate it after a further 4 whiskies and wine.  All the whiskies were good and the differences were perceptible, but I am no whisky expert and so would be splashing out anytime soon on the 30 year old.   After 3 whiskies and a cocktail, everyone was ravenous.  Dim sum were then brought, it was all quite slow, I presume because we a large table of 34, but it did mean we were fighting for each one. The dim sum was excellent and went well with our fourth whisky.  We then had a crab claw with vegetables. It looked slightly better than it tasted, a little bit stringy for me. This was then followed by the meat course which was divine; the duck and beef were tender and extremely flavoursome.  The dessert was then served with the final whisky tasting, by this point I was full and had a fill of whisky so can remeber very little about it.

The service was attentive throughout, with particularly attention to our water glasses which was appreciated given the amoutn of whisky we had drunk. Ideally though I would have liked to have had more than one dim sum served at any one time, but presume this was due to the large group.  The acoustics were good and even though we were a rowdy group, it wasn’t deafening at any point. As usual the Dorchester came up trumps with some celeb spotting; on our table was a Hollyoaks star but more impressively Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster passed our table looking like they had just come from a wedding.
Very stylish venue with good food and wine, if you’re paying the cheque you may need not feel it is the best value.

Talk Rating: 5/5


China Tang on Urbanspoon

Liverpool Street Lunches

Fish Market, New Street

As I work really close to this new D&D operation, I was keen to try it out. It was also restaurant week so I could try it at lunch for the princely sum of £20 for 3 courses and a glass of Champagne even with the requisite 12.5% service charge you couldn’t go too wrong could you? Firstly the design is fresh and casual looking, not quite sure I agree with Jay Rayner that the place looks like the inside of a trawler, a posh fish counter would be more accurate. After seeing the New Street Grill it felt more welcoming and less stuck up for a non suited group.  There was no background music to speak of and even when busy it was easy to hear everyone.

The food was good, not amazing but solid, it is always hard to judge when eating a cut price menu. We did end up ordering an extra side of fries and I seemed to have got a great batch again not the same experience as Mr Rayner.  However the issue was the timings, we like most people get an hour or so for lunch and therefore want the option to finish within 1.5 hours. The leisurely affair took 2 and that was after some complaining and us paying before our desserts. They did take off one of the champagnes, my friend had ordered off menu and so the champagne was not included, not sure whether it was purposefully or a happy mistake.

I think it may take a while to get the service and food consistent; great whilst there is an offer on like half a lobster, fries and a glass of sparkling wine for £17.50

Talk Rating: 5/5

The Breakfast Club

Club SandwichThe Breakfast Club was somewhere I have wanted to try but been put off by a number of bad reviews, it is more of a brunch place although a Friday hangover lunch served me fine. The menu is typical American diner food with the ubiquitous English Breakfast options on there. Décor is grungy and as with the staff too cool for school. The food was perfectly good and came in a reasonable time.  Where is fell down was the music, lots of 80’s tracks at a Friday night bar level. As I ordered the waitress, who couldn’t hear me and I couldn’t hear he,  said ‘we need subtitles in here’ my response was ‘or you could turn down the music’. It became clear this was a place for students who had no intention of talking to each other but just wanted to look cool, I am so over that. It’s a shame that the noise is my lasting memory as the food and service was good.

Talk Rating: 2/5


Lake Como - October 12

As my website is primarily an aide memoir I have listed many of the places that we ate in to remind me and also to recommend places to others. I haven’t given a talk rating as all passed my test with flying colours loud music seems not to have caught on in Italy yet!

Starting in the city of como we went to Trattoria ScaldasoleVia Volta,41 22100 COMO.  Good meal if not the best we had during our stay , good value though at 30 euro for 4 course set meal with wine and coffee.  A massive amount of food, I think the 10 euro lunch deal would have been more suitable.

We were staying in a lovely 1 bedroom house right on the lake in Argegno,  it was far less touristy than neighbouring Tremezzo and Bellagio which suited us well.  It had fantastic views and a short walk to the 5 or so restaurants and the ferry which takes you to the busy places. We ate at La Piazzetta, Piazza Roma 6, Argegno, Italy a few times, one of the more expensive places to eat. However you can get relatively cheap Pizza take out.Hotel Russall 

  When we were out sightseeing we went for it at lunch and went to some far flung places. We were on the hunt for an Agroturismo and were recommended Grotto di Gusto. It is pretty hard to find but if you can bear the 30 minutes of twisty roads eventually turning into a dirt track then you’ll be rewarded with some great rustic Italian food.   For views the area of Rogaro above Tremezzo is amazing we went to both Al veluu, smarter food but with a price tag to match. We also visited Hotel Russal also has amazing views, even though  on the occasion we were there they would not let us eat outside.  The food though was amazing, large portions with some of the best ingredients we had had, not as fancy as Al Veluu but just as tasty.

Hotal Russell, most amazing pasta everHotel Russell - veal chop

Antipasto at Grotto di Gusto

Al Veluu - deer carpaccioVarenna was one of the only places that we went where evidence of the vacation slow down was immediately evident.  Quite a few of the restaurants were very quiet or not open at all.  We ended up in a hotel restaurant Albergo da sole. Food was great and my husband thought his pasta was his favourite of the trip.

Alebergo da sole - melon and parma ham

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