Monthly Archives: July 2016

2Cocktail #2. Old Fashioned
The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock

1 Lump Sugar
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Glass Rye Whisky

Crush sugar and bitters together, add lump of ice, decorate with twist of lemon peel and slice of orange using medium size glass, and stir well. This Cocktail can be made with Brandy, Gin, Rum etc., instead of Rye Whisky.

Old Fashioned.001

Nairn’s London #1
French Ordinary Court

THEN: Number 42 Crutched Friars, near Fenchurch Street Station, is one of the best eighteenth-century houses left in the City, with a swagger steak-and-oyster doorway. Beside it a hole leads into French Ordinary Court, neither French nor ordinary. It is in effect a big and very dark wedge-shaped room carved out under the railway tracks, full of mysterious and seductive smells (spices? scent?) from bonded warehouses. A fine and private place; but, as the notice says ‘Commit no nuisance’. A footpath runs through from one corner into Fenchurch Street.

NOW: No spices. No smells.No sign. But still a seductive and secluded spot, a stone’s throw away from the Tower. And Nairn’s not wrong – the Crutched Friar is a fantastic boozer, with a long arched entrance and layered floorplan.

Nairn's London 1

Nairns London #25
Westminster View

THEN: St Paul’s can be reached in a hundred ways: this approach to Westminster needs to be calculated to the foot. Take an eleven or seventy-six bus from Victoria and get off at the stop called Great Smith Street, or ‘the Abbey’. Walk on twelve paces from the bus stop and what meets you is a set of four verticals, evenly spaced like a great major chord; Big Ben, St Margaret’s Tower, the Crimea Memorial, and the north-west tower of the Abbey. In terms of distance, they fire 1-2-4-3, rather like a car engine, folding the sequence in. As Gordon Cullen once said: ‘View? It is more like organ music!’

NOW: Rather hard to track down. Pretty sure I got it right, but times have changed. The pavements are busy, the trees are bushy, and buses block your view every ten seconds. Organ music, but muffled.

Nairn's London 25

Nairns London #13
Spiegelhalters, Mile End Rd

THEN: Messrs Wickham, circa 1910, wanted an emporium. Messrs Spiegelhalter, one infers, wouldn’t sell out. Messrs Wickham, one infers further, pressed on regardless, thereby putting their Baroque tower badly out of centre. Messrs Spiegelhalter (‘The East End Jewellers’) remain; two stuccoed storeys, surrounded on both sides by giant columns a la Selfridges. The result is one of the best visual jokes in London, a perennial triumph for the little man, the bloke who won’t conform. May he stay there till the Bomb falls. (A bleak thought is that, if Messrs Wickham’s problem had arisen today, smooth lawyers and architects could probably have presented a case for comprehensive redevelopment, and persuaded the council to use their powers of compulsory purchase. Big deal; fine democracy.)

NOW: I’ve a feeling Spiegelhalter’s has entered its final days. It’s been gutted. It’s been boarded up. And it’s now flanked either side by heavy duty scaffolding. There’s a chance they’re shoring it up. But I’m not holding out hope. Lunch in the restaurant next door was a little sadder for it.

Nairn's London 13

Restaurant: Shackfuyu, Old Compton St
Time: Saturday lunchtime
With: Wist
Stand-out dish: Kinako French toast with soft-serve matcha ice cream
Notes: Cool spot on Old Compton Street. Service was slow and inattentive at times. But the food was glorious. The wings are sticky, the pork pluma melts and the seabass ceviche is fresh and light. Ate far too much.


Restaurant: Roka, Charlotte St
Time: Wednesday lunchtime
With: WAB
Stand-out dish: 5 piece sashimi selection
Notes: Light and airy restaurant. Table concealed near the back; almost certainly to blame for us hiding out there for 4 hours. Conspiratorial staff. Lovely wine. Beautifully fresh food. Expensive afternoon. Many thanks to WAB.


Restaurant: Sexy Fish, Mayfair
Time: Tuesday evening
With: Wist
Stand-out dish: Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass
Notes: More misses than hits. It’s full of friendly and attentive staff. The crispy duck with watermelon pairs well. And the miso glazed sea bass is fantastic – it melts in your mouth. But the space is littered with gaudy art and try hard punters. The small plates are inconsistent and overpriced, the maki is bland. A place to be seen, not to savour.



I’ve decided on my challenges for 27.
I’m pretty excited about this year – I think it’ll be a good one.

Building highlights of London

I’ve recently read Nairn’s London: a punchy and unapologetic view on the architecture of London in the 1960s. It’s a book of emotion over theory – in Ian Nairn’s own words, “a record of what has moved me between Uxbridge and Dagenham”. Full of sharp, pithy reviews, it showcases all of London’s highlights, including churches, markets, pubs, cinemas and stations.

This year will probably be the last I live in central London. So I’m going to tick off 27 of Nairn’s city highlights. As he published the book in the 1960s, most of the sites have disappeared or changed considerably. Nonetheless, I’m going to try and track down 27 of them.

I’ve constructed a fixed list. But as some of the sites are going to be hard to tick off, I’m going to swap things in and out as required.

  1. French Ordinary Court
  2. St James Palace
  3. Red Lion, Duke of York St
  4. The Economist Building
  5. Law Courts, Strand
  6. All Saints, Margaret St
  7. Long bar, Henekeys, Holborn
  8. Soane Museum
  9. Chiswick House
  10. Shepperton Village Square
  11. St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, West Ferry Rd
  12. The Gun, Coldharbour
  13. Spiegelhalters, Mile End Rd
  14. St Barnabas, Shacklewell Ln
  15. Cutty Sark
  16. Dulwich Art Gallery
  17. St Michael, Poplar Walk
  18. Red House, Bexleyheath
  19. 39 Frognal
  20. All Souls, Station Road
  21. Harmondsworth Tithe Barn
  22. Granada, Tooting
  23. The Ritz
  24. The Wellington
  25. Westminster View
  26. The Hoop and Grapes
  27. Kingston Upon Thames Marketplace

Whilst tracking his down, I’m also going to have a go at constructing my own record of 27 buildings and spots that have moved me. Between Uxbridge and Dagenham.

27 Japanese Restaurants

Over the last few years, I’ve grown to love Japanese food. This year I’m going to try 27 different Japanese restaurants. I’m going to try for a mixture of proper restaurants, street food vendors and lunch takeaways.
I’m keeping this as an open list – there are so many places I want to try, but I’ve only got a limited budget, so will have to play it by ear.

27 Homemade Cocktails

I’ve worked with a number of booze brands over the years, which have provided the perfect excuse to try lots of different cocktails. But I’ve never had to make them. So this year, I’m going to learn how to make 27 cocktails – from the classics, through to some more obscure and new-age twists.
As with the Nairn’s London challenge, I’m going to try and stick to a list. But will inevitably stray due to circumstance.

  1. Bloody Mary
  2. Old Fashioned
  3. Manhattan
  4. Negroni
  5. Margarita
  6. Corpse Reviver #2
  7. Black Russian
  8. Martini
  9. Tom Collins
  10. Whiskey Sour
  11. Singapore Sling
  12. Sidecar
  13. Algonquin
  14. Cosmopolitan
  15. Long Island Iced Tea
  16. Brandy Alexander
  17. Mojito
  18. Daiquiri
  19. White Lady
  20. Zombie
  21. Sazerac
  22. Brooklyn
  23. Aviation
  24. French 75
  25. Martinez
  26. Vieux Carre
  27. Gin Fizz