Dirty Bones, Shoreditch

The new Dirty Bones in Shoreditch is a grown-up, more glamorous alternative to the other branches in Kensington and Soho, though there is still a hit of grunge in the dark decor and DJ set up. The all-American restaurant has taken over a gorgeous Grade-II listed building in central Shoreditch and has smart leather seating and a glitzy bar to lure you in. Known for their strong cocktails and indulgent menu of US classics, the offering here has all the same recipes with a few extra dishes (like Cheeseburger Dumplings) added.

Dirty Bones Shoreditch

I visited on a Monday lunchtime, bringing along my brother to help with the inevitable feasting. Totally overwhelmed by the large menu we let the waiter pick his favourites for our meal. His choices were flawless, a nice mix of meat and veggie dishes which complemented eachother well. Our favourites included the Beef Short Rib with salted caramel & burnt onion sauce, crispy shallots and spring onions. The tender meat fell easily off the bone coated in a sticky sweet-smoky sauce and topped with tangy spring onions. The blissfully simple but wonderfully tasty Crispy Lamb Fries were also a hit, flavoured with a spicy sauce and a hint of miso with a scattering of crunchy lamb bites.

Dirty Bones Shoreditch

I was beginning to tire of burgers, until I ate ‘The Mac Daddy’ an extravagant bun filled with a 6oz patty, pulled beef short rib, mac & cheese and homemade BBQ sauce. Juicy and moist with a rich cheesy sauce, it was as good as it looks.

For dessert I recommend ordering the Milk & Cookies, a simple pudding with a chewy chocolate cookie and refreshing creamy milk ice-cream. We loved all the cocktails that were put in front of us, but the winner had to be ‘Mutt’s Nuts’, a perfectly balanced short drink with Woodford Reserve bourbon, cinnamon & vanilla infused maple syrup, Angostura bitters, lemon and apple.

Visit Dirty Bones for a quiet weekday lunch to really relish the food, or head there at the weekend when the music adds a fun atmosphere to the venue.

More information and book a table here.

‘Artistry of the Ultimate Gin & Tonic’ with Bombay Sapphire

Gin & Tonic is my new favourite aperitif, refreshing and perfect for a summer evening. So I was excited to join a group visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery in rural Hampshire. After a long coach journey getting lost in the countryside we arrived at the impressive historic Laverstoke Mill.

It was a unusually sunny day and the distillery shone magnificently. After a quick G&T we were off on a tour round the site, stopping by the exceptional Thomas Heatherwick greenhouses which are home to many of the botanicals used in the gin making process.

Bombay Sapphire DistilleryBombay Sapphire botanicalsBombay Sapphire botanicals

Then, it was time for the big reveal. With great anticipation we stepped inside a dark room which dramatically displayed six cocktails, gin and tonic reinventions from select bartenders from London’s top cocktail bars. The project, named the ‘Artistry of the Ultimate Gin & Tonic’, is a programme of discovery that celebrates the artistry behind the Ultimate Gin & Tonic serve.

Bombay SapphireBombay Sapphire

The drinks were beautiful, each uniquely presented telling a different story. The mixologists, hailing from Chiltern Firehouse, Cocktail Trading Company, Gilbert Scott, Heddon Street Kitchen, Peg and Patriot and Sager & Wilde have worked tirelessly for weeks to create a delicious gin drink to be sold in their bars showcasing the important features of the Bombay Sapphire spirit. Inspired by the ten exotic botanicals found in every drop of the carefully crafted liquid and the unique vapour infusion process that allows for gentle absorption of these aromas, each avant-garde creation celebrates Bombay Sapphire’s artistry credentials and explores the future of this most-loved drink. Ensuring core elements of the recipe were maintained, each mixology artist created an expression that plays with the classic compounds of the gin & tonic using their trademark, innovative style.

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

Dean Shurry (Chiltern Firehouse) ‘Gateway to Bombay’

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

Andy Mill (Cocktail Trading Company) ‘Birth, Life and Death’

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

Dav Eames (Gilbert Scott) ‘G & Ice-T’

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

George Simmons (Heddon Street Kitchen) ‘Nature’s Yield’

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

Constanca Corderiro (Peg & Patriot) ‘Ariana’s Garden’

Artistry of Gin and Tonic

Marcis Dzelzainis (Sager & Wilde) ‘Nettle Beer Collins’

Artistry of Gin and TonicArtistry of Gin and Tonic

We tried each of the cocktails, learning about the techniques each mixologist had used, before heading back to the coach to sleep it off on the long journey home.

More information on Bombay Sapphire Distillery here. You can try the six special gin & tonic cocktails in the participating bars now until the end of the year.

Talli Joe, Shaftesbury Avenue

Many consider Benares to be the best Indian restaurant in London so when chef Sameer Taneja left the two-star kitchen to start up his own eatery, everyone was watching. Talli Joe (Talli is the Hindi translation of tipsy) offers ‘half plates and full drinks’. Located in the heart of theatreland on Shaftesbury Lane the vibrant restaurant offers tasty authentic dishes and exotic cocktails.

Lack of natural light means the venue feels more like a bar with food than a restaurant with drinks, but Sameer’s culinary creations are definitely the star of the show here. In fact I found the cocktails too saccarine sweet, but they were helpful when the spice from the food got too much for my delicate tastebuds!

Talli Joe

There are around 20 plates on the menu, all designed for sharing and priced reasonably between £3 and £10. I recommend visiting with a group of friends and ordering one of each, as you won’t want to miss out on anything.

The ‘Truffle Ghee Kulcha’ is fast becoming the menu favourite, an addictively good freshly baked naan stuffed with cottage cheese and brushed fragrant truffle ghee. I loved the Southern Indian style ‘Chicken 21’, tender pieces of chicken in a crunchy coated with crispy curry leaves and a lovely mix of spices. Like in India, Talli Joe’s make a range of great vegetarian dishes too, ‘Kale Chaat’ is a version of the popular Delhi street food, crispy kale, potato and pomegranate with sweet yoghurt.

Desserts were a hit at our table, unusual ‘Black Gajar Halwa’ (heritage black carrots with salted peanut brittle) was a comforting and sweet pudding, while ‘Berry Malai’ (Baked yoghurt with seasonal berries) was a light and palate cleansing option.

Big flavours and lots of fun, Talli Joe’s is an example of great quality Indian food conveniently located in the very centre of town.

More information and book a table at Talli Joe here.