Bryn Williams at Somerset House

It feels special walking into Somerset House, the grand courtyard entrance and charming architectural features make it one of my favourite places in London. Skye Gyngell opened Spring restaurant here a few years ago and now celebrated Welsh chef Bryn Williams has opened his first central London eatery within the iconic cultural venue’s South Wing.

Bryn Williams

The long restaurant is made up of a series of stylish dining rooms, each with culinary still life photography by Allan Jenkins. The decor is warm and luxurious and suits the location well, with a little nod to Williams’ Welsh roots (herringbone flooring, Welsh-printed upholstery and brown leather banquettes). From the window-facing tables you can look across over the River Thames.

Bryn Williams

We got comfortable on the nicely cushioned benches and prepared for a feast. Both my guest and I were starving and excited by the prospect of a menu that champions fruit and vegetables. Every dish sounded delicious, focussed recipes showcasing the best seasonal British produce.

Bryn WilliamsBryn Williams

Meat and fish fans need not fear as there are still plenty of hearty dishes to choose, rib eye steak and grilled red mullet were both on the menu when I visited. However I urge you to try the vegetarian dishes… Grilled Leeks with barley, buttermilk, Burford Brown egg and mushroom was a fresh recipe for spring, buttery and divine with a carefully cooked creamy egg yolk and herby dressing. My guest loved the simple but elegant Wild garlic soup with pink fir potatoes and crème fraiche and I really enjoyed the Pickled radishes with black garlic, apple and pork belly. Though this dish involved wonderfully rich pork, the radishes, crunchy fried sage leaves and black garlic puree stole the show.

Bryn Williams

There was only a short list of desserts to choose from, but even still we struggled to narrow it down. The waiter eventually insisted on the ‘very photogenic’ Lavender meringue with lemon posset, lavender & blueberry ice-cream and the Chocolate pavé with almond and blood orange. The lavender dessert was a delight, delicate and subtle, it was the perfect contrast of citrus and floral notes. I was pleased to find the chocolate pudding quite light and again matched with a seasonal citrus fruit. The blood orange sorbet was particularly delicious.

I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Saturday in London than wandering round an exhibition at Somerset House before settling for lunch at Bryn Williams.

More information and book a table here.

Guest Review: La Traviata, ENO

Verdi’s La Traviata is a firm favourite of many opera lovers: rich, languid music narrating a tragic love story of sacrifice, separation and sickness.

These themes are perfectly encapsulated within the painfully beautiful overture, and in this production the curtain remained down throughout, allowing the audience to enjoy the shimmering clarity of the orchestra undistracted. From the start these musicians brought subtle flair and diversity of colour to their rendition of the score, following the singers with sensitivity and assurance.

La Traviata

Making his debut as Artistic Director of the ENO, Daniel Kramer has attempted to update La Traviata, bringing the setting forward 100 years to the early 20th century – but when specifically is unclear. Loose, visual references to the last century obscure the plot, which relies on a specific cultural context for coherence. Modernisation of the narrative backdrop lacks nuance, and supposed signifiers for the 20th century are muddled, over-sexualised and jarring with the story of a love forbidden by 19th century social convention. A successful updating of La Traviata requires a careful socio-historical understanding of this 19th century setting and how it can be coherently converted into a specific modernised equivalent. There doesn’t appear to be any artistic or intellectual reason for Kramer’s recontextualisation, and the darker themes of vulnerability and isolation present in the opera are overlooked in favour of lavishness and vulgarity, which alienate the audience, preventing full emotional sympathy with the protagonists.

La Traviata

Irish Soprano Claudia Boyle gives a controlled, virtuosic performance as Violetta, manoeuvring the score with dexterity, and her voice possesses a soft youthfulness, at times perhaps too muted, but at others appropriately sweet and gentle. Her onstage counterpart, Lukhanyo Moyake is vocally powerful as Alfredo, but had moments of technical instability, and together they lack chemistry. There was a sense that the three-dimensionality of their characters had not been fully explored, and therefore their love story was deficient of profundity and poignancy. Despite this, there were instances of great atmospheric impact, such as in the third act, where a dimly lit, mostly empty stage is filled momentarily with carnival goers. Darkly clothed figures emerge and surround the dying heroine before disappearing again into the shadows. It is a conceptually strong and visually beautiful innovation from Kramer, showing what can be achieved when the material is well handled.

This production of La Traviata was at times moving and rousing, but it is unfortunate that the emotional impact was dampened by some clumsy aesthetic and directoral decisions.

La Traviata continues at the ENO until 13 April, book tickets here.

Written by Eloise Kenny-Ryder.

Meraki, Fitzrovia

Greek food is a cuisine I rarely crave… but feasting at Meraki made me wonder why. I came to the conclusion that good Greek food is hard to find in London, which is why this new Fitzrovia eatery should be on your radar.


Meraki was opened in summer 2017 by Peter Waney, a restauranteur who started managing restaurants 15 years ago with his brother Arjun. Their foodie journey began with Zuma in Knightsbridge, followed by Roka and La Petite Maison. More recently, the Waney family acquired and revamped award-winning, internationally-recognised The Arts Club on Dover Street. They have also opened Oblix at The Shard, Coya on Piccadilly and Coya Angel Court in The City. So I think it’s safe to say Peter and Arjun know how to create and run a successful eatery in London.


Upmarket and stylish Meraki is found on Great Titchfield Street amongst many other great foodie spots. The staff are instantly welcoming and the restaurant has a smart professional look, decorated in shades of gold and cream.

The menu is split between cold and hot mezze, fresh and raw fish dishes, salads and sharing dishes. We decided to share a selection of the mezze, which all sounded very appetising. First up, a wooden platter of Greek dips, authentic taramasalata (white in colour, not fake pink!), smoky aubergine, and a richly flavoured and coloured spinach and feta dip.


Our waitress offered tips on what specialities not to miss. Delicate and vibrant Octopus Carpaccio, devilishly indulgent Mastelo cheese with a tangy tomato & chilli chutney, wonderfully light Courgette and Aubergine Tempura with a touch of spice and paired with a contrasting tzatziki. I also loved the meat dishes, particularly the Lamb kebab spiced with Meraki’s secret spice mix, they were soft with a crispy exterior and perfectly seasoned.


Head chef Athinagoras Kostakos kindly made a selection of mini desserts for us to sample. The stand out was the Orange-Agave syrup cake with white chocolate namelaka, crispy filo pastry and clementine sorbet. It was moist and satisfying, sweet but light… my guest and I both agreed it was one of the best cakes we had every eaten! The Lacta Chocolate fondant with olive oil ice-cream was also tasty, a more dense and rich pudding for those that can still fit it in.

For stand-out Greek food in London I cannot think of a better restaurant than Meraki. Delicious dishes, an atmospheric dining room and welcoming service. Tick tick tick.

More information and book a table at Meraki here.