THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: The Restaurant Club

On your first birthday you don’t normally host a traditional Argentinian asado (that’s a BBQ to me and you) but then again, the Restaurant Club, who has just celebrated their one year anniversary, aren’t like any other one year olds I know. On one of the hottest days of the year, it seemed as though Kate and Louisa, founders of The Restaurant Club, had been given a heads up as they decided to host a gorgeous asado on Gaucho Hampstead’s outdoor terrace.

Gaucho Hamstead

The Restaurant Club started life as a Facebook group, set up by food and travel writer Louisa Walters, which was a place for London food enthusiasts to share experiences about different restaurants they had tried out. The emphasis was then, and still remains, on smaller, independent restaurants. Very soon, restaurants started to notice surges in attendance due to the ever growing Restaurant Club Facebook group. At 20,000 members, Louisa brought restaurant enthusiast Kate Posener into the business and together they set up a loyalty card scheme- think Tastecard but with specially handpicked restaurants, suggested by London’s keenest foodies. With the loyalty card, diners get up to 50% off at nearly 200 of London’s best independent restaurants which have all been vetted by the Restaurant Club team. The Restaurant Club’s website is beautifully designed and easy to use, with handy categories like ‘Doggy Friendly’, ‘Pre/Post Theatre’, ‘Midweek Treat’ and ‘Worth Getting Dressed Up For’ to name a few.

Gaucho

Gaucho was the perfect location for the Restaurant Club’s first birthday celebration – although it is a chain, the restaurant has not lost its soul – which is exactly the type of establishment you find in the list of Restaurant Club participating restaurants; you could tell that each piece of exquisite steak or sausage was cooked with finesse by the wonderful Master Griller, Fernando Larroude. Beautifully fresh tuna ceviche, divine empanadas, exquisitely cooked pieces of different cuts of steak and Gaucho’s own sausage all featured at the asado (as well as on the regular menu) and were accompanied wonderfully by different wines, as suggested by Gaucho’s Director of Wine, Phil Crozier. Dessert was either a dulce de leche ice cream, or a Malbec sorbet (for the more adventurous attendees!)

Congratulations to the Restaurant Club on its first birthday. If the success of the past year is anything to go by, I expect that there will be many more birthday celebrations to come.

The Restaurant Club have an offer for TMM readers which allows you to get a Restaurant Club card for just £10 (normally £30). Just use the code GAUCHO20 at checkout. Code expires 31 July 2017.

Written by Angelica Bomford.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Wolf II, Finsbury Square

As a second generation Italian, I’d like to think I know a bit about Italian food but I’m (sometimes unreasonably) sceptical about eating anything other than my family’s home cooked fare. So when Milly asked if I’d review the new WOLF II in the city, I was a little dubious but I’d heard great things about the original so off I went in the blazing sunshine into the depths of the city.

Wolf II

The restaurant is situated in the shiny new Finsbury Square nestled amongst other similar venues and towering office blocks. There are a few tables inside, but we chose a table outside in the sunshine. Don’t expect to have a table to yourself though. The outside area is shared with neighbouring food outlets and understandably gets very busy, especially around lunchtime.

We started off with a couple of Aperitivi: A classic Aperol Spritz and an “Inglese” a cucumber-based gin and tonic with San Germain, both of which were delightful.

Wolf II

A ‘May’ salad and a Burrata starter came swiftly after ordering. The salad was light and full of flavour, a little sweet for me, but the pickled rhubarb was a nice addition. The burrata was lovely but then again, burrata is very easy to love and it sounded much more exciting on paper than it actually was (with pomegranate molasses, balsamico, new seasons olive oil, dehydrated and fresh tomatoes finished with iced basil).

We also ordered two of the four pasta options, an orichette with parsley root and tenderstem broccoli and a wild boar pappadelle. The orichette was quite pleasant, the parsley root gave a lovely earthy quality and the broccoli was well cooked. The pappadelle was, sadly, a let down. The flavour of the ragu was good but it lacked sauce and had I suspect had been sitting around for a while before it was served to us as it had started to dry out and stick together.

Wolf II

By far the star of our lunch was the wonderful polenta cake. Moist, just the right amount of sweet and bursting with orange flavour, it was a delightful end to an otherwise rather average lunch.

If you pay a visit to Wolf II expecting Wolf original standard food at cut prices, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed but it’s a perfectly acceptable place for a quick lunch.

More information about Wolf II here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Miss, Giovanna Ryan.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: La Tagliata, Spitalfields

There is something uniquely comforting about good, honest Italian cooking. Cliches are cliches for a reason, and so it goes with the traditions of Italian cuisine – bowls of flavour, boards of unassuming simplicity, two or three ingredients getting along joyfully on the plate.

La Tagliata

La Tagliata (nestled in the backstreets of Spitalfields) chimes with a lot of what’s good about cooking from across Italy: quality produce treated properly, a family-inspired menu, and a decent wine list to accompany. Starting with the antipasti for two, our table became a whistle stop tour of the Italian mainland – spicy Roman sausage sat alongside Lombardy bresaola and Sicilian salami. The accompanying focaccia did what focaccia does, namely soak up olive oil (this one a fruity Gustaldo variety from Puglia).

La Tagliata

Tagliatelle with prawns and courgettes was light and well-seasoned, the shellfish sauce adding depth, and “La Sublime”, rare steak thinly sliced and served with truffle salt, rosemary, and balsamic was very close if not right on the money name-wise. A warm chocolate cake made every effort to upstage its predecessors, but didn’t quite do enough. The Maldrino Montepulciano went down a storm, however.

The spaces in La Tagliata itself is refined, relaxed and airy – no mean feat considering the tight footprint it occupies. With the menu drawing on childhood memories from the team of Italian chef/owners, La Tagliata is perfect for those who want their trattoria experience a little grownup, but still with the same comfort flavours.

More information and book a table at La Tagliata here.

Written by James Bomford.