Friday 20 July 2012

'Back In 5 Minutes' by the Disappearing Dining Club

Those lovely people at the Disappearing Dining Club have just opened their first permanent restaurant which is hidden at the back of a designer clothes shop on Brick Lane. It's cleverly called 'Back In 5 Minutes', and I recently had the privilege of checking it out. With only three tables accommodating up to 30 diners, 'Back In 5 Minutes' is a discreet, intimate restaurant with a sharing approach and offers different dining styles depending on the day you attend.

Wednesday is the Dining Club with a set 3 course sharing style menu served at 7.30pm. Diners share tables with friends and strangers alike. Dinner is £30 per head including a Grey Goose Le Fizz cocktail.

Friday & Saturday it opens as a normal restaurant taking bookings from 6.30pm, offering a simple a la carte menu at £25 for 2 courses or £30 for 3 courses plus a welcome glass of Grey Goose Le Fizz.

Sundays you can tuck into a traditional 3 course roast lunch at £30 per head. Think slow roast shoulder of pork or rump of spring lamb served with hearty salads and big desserts. A perfect way to while away a cosy Sunday afternoon with a few glasses of wine and some good friends.

Throughout the rest of the week, the venue is available for private lunch or dinner hire, or even drinks parties. It's an ideal place for a celebration, work function or just getting friends together to wine and dine with a twist. A simple wine list along with a range of tantalising cocktails are available to quench your thirst-buds.

When I went, it was for a Wednesday Dining Club evening. I loved the secrecy of nipping into 'Ante', an unassuming clothes shop which you walk through to the back and down a few steps through a black curtain and into the hidden world of 'Back In 5 Minutes'. The decor is very retro, like dining in someone's front room from the 1950's. As for the food, haute cuisine it ain't, but it is very tasty and well presented. Being a sharing style vibe, there are lots of wooden boards going on. We had an array of poultry starters (which certainly weren't paltry) including chicken liver parfait, chicken hearts and smoked chicken pieces, served with rye bread and pickles. The main course was slow-roasted pork served with asparagus, Jersey Royals & prawns with a lemon & parsley dressing. Plus excellent crackling! It was classic Jam Roly Poly for pud which was disappointingly dry, but luckily there was loads of yummy custard to go with it.

For those unfamiliar with the Disappearing Dining Club, it's worth checking out their other events too. They host a dinner/dance for around 150 guests in an unusual location on the first Saturday of each month, as well as long weekend supper clubs in Devon, and the popular Scandinavian-themed Norse by Norsewest monthly dinner party. I attended their 'Too Much Is Never Enough' dinner held in a disused illegal gun shop which was great fun. A Disappearing Dining Club night is a memorable night!

Back In 5 Minutes
(hidden behind 'Ante' clothing shop)
224 Brick Lane
London E1 6SA

Sunday 15 July 2012

The London Particular

There's a wonderful cafe near where I live, called The London Particular. It's like a rose between two take-away thorns and has definitely put a positive feather in New Cross's cap. Offering classic English fare with a modern twist, it serves hearty, wholesome food made with fresh ingredients sourced from small, independent suppliers. Primarily a cafe by day, it's an ideal pit-stop for lunch or an afternoon pot of tea and slice of homemade cake. But on Friday and Saturday nights, it opens as a restaurant which is fantastic, especially as the area is crying out for a decent place to eat which doesn't involve pub grub or a greasy kebab. And it's worth bearing in mind that the entire venue can be hired out for private dining. It is a licensed premises too, so you can enjoy a cold beer or a carafe of wine whilst you dine.

The weekend menu offers various interesting and tasty brunch and lunch dishes such as delicious baked eggs with chilli and chorizo; poached kippers with roasted tomatoes; savoury brioche pizza or a warm banana & cranberry loaf. The menus are lovingly and thoughtfully created by the founder and Head Chef, Becky Davey who runs The London Particular with her partner Kanji and their trusty team.

I went to a Japanese-themed private dining event there recently. Not only was it a sell out, but it was also a knock-out! It served really interesting, creative dishes including slow-cooked oxtail; oysters with sea cucumber, and something unusual called Okonomiyaki which is a traditional Japanese snack originating from Osaka. It is essentially a pancake and contains a variety of ingredients such as shrimp, pork, shredded cabbage & kimchi, and is topped with Japanese mayo. We sampled three different varieties and they were all delicious.

The name London Particular derives from the name given to the thick London fogs in the 1800's which were also nicknamed pea soupers due to the thick, greenish consistency of the smog. A creative and fitting twist for a creative cafe. The decor and style of The London Particular is simply decked out with a large wooden communal table (including one outside), mismatched chairs, vases of fresh flowers, chalkboards, bar stools, random artefacts and exposed brickwork. It has a friendly, happy ambience, the staff don't rush you, and you feel comfortable just hanging out and watching the world go by.

The gang at The London Particular also do private catering and on Saturday mornings, you can find their stall at the Brockley Farmers' Market. Is there anything these brilliant people can't do! If you find yourself in South East London, you really should stop by and check them out. You won't want to leave.

The London Particular
399 New Cross Road
London SE14 6LA
020 8692 6149

Mon - Thur 8am til 5pm (Fri til 10pm)
Sat 10am til 10pm & Sun 10am til 5pm

Sunday 1 July 2012

Evans & Peel

I do like a speakeasy, but with so many popping up left, right and centre, I was starting to wonder if the speakeasy appeal may perhaps be starting to wane a little. That was until I went to the terrific Evans & Peel recently which instantly dissolved any possible appeal-waning! Firstly, Evans & Peel is located in Earls Court, which makes a refreshing change from most speakeasys which tend to congregate East side. Secondly, looks can be deceiving, as it's much more spacious than most and has a no-standing policy which makes it a very civilised establishment to while away an evening without feeling rammed. And thirdly, I've got a bit of a thing for detectives. Poirot, Columbo, Morse, Holmes and Clouseau. I love 'em all! What have detectives got to do with it I hear you ask? Well, Evans & Peel is in fact a detective agency. Or is it...

Like most detective agencies, you'll need to make an appointment. Once you find the agency door with its Poirot-esque font, you'll need to ring the bell and wait for Detective Peel to buzz you in. Enter quickly and quietly and ensure a subtle left and right glance to make sure no one on street level suspects a thing. Discretion is key! Once inside, you'll notice that you have slipped back in time to a land of gramophones; old-fashioned typewriters; vintage luggage and dusty bookshelves, as a very dashing Detective Peel greets you in his office. You are now ready for your appointment.

Having exchanged all the necessary welcome pleasantries and discussed your case with Detective Peel, as if by magic, he will transfer you into a dimly-lit bar, full of candlelit tables. Handsome, attentive bartenders escort you to one of these tables where once you've adjusted your eyesight, you can peruse the menu and settle in for an evening of imaginative cocktails and interesting snacks. I tried an 'A&T' cocktail (which doesn't stand for Arse & Tit) which was concocted by one of the barmen and was hugely refreshing. It was then time for wine. My friend prefers white, whilst I was in more of a red mood, so a carafe of each, wrapped in a brown paper bag, was the perfect solution. A cut-glass decanter of cucumber-infused water was a welcome touch, as was the giant warm pretzel with salsa.

There is a resident smoker at Evans & Peel known as 'The Flapper'. I'm not talking about an old moustachioed man in a pinstripe suit chugging on a fat cigar. I mean a food smoker, so many of the dishes on offer include tasty smoked delicacies. It took a lot of willpower to avoid ordering the inevitably delicious mac cheese, so we opted for a couple of sliders (mini burgers) made with delicious fillings such as pulled pork, salmon and chorizo. Even though it's not a full on restaurant, if you're drinking, then eating is a requirement at Evans & Peel, even if you just have a couple of snacks. And it's oh so worth it. Also, as mentioned, Evans & Peel like their clients to be seated for their consultation and quite right too

We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Evans & Peel and I have an inkling that I'll be making many more appointments there in the future. As far as detective agencies go, this has surely got to be the best in London.  Thanks to Detective Peel, the elusive Detective Evans, and all the Agents for a splendid evening.

310c Earls Court Road
London SW5
020 7373 3573

To make an appointment, email:

Open 5pm - 12am Tue - Thur (12.30am Fri & Sat)
Closed Sun & Mon

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