The Heron, Edgware Road

The Heron off Edgware Road is definitely a case of substance over style. Down in the pub basement you will find a dingy little restaurant known amongst serious foodies for its authentic Thai food. You won’t find the standard Pad Thai or Green Curry here; instead this unusual eatery serves up Asian delicacies such as Spicy Salad of Boiled Pig’s Ears and Marinated Duck’s Tongues!

The shabby, dimly lit venue has become known amongst bloggers and journalists as THE place to go in London to experience truly great Thai food. Specialising in North-Eastern cooking the kitchen creates fiery spicy salads, sour curries, stir-fries and much more. Flavours are vibrant and seasonings are strong. The stir-fried soft shell crab is a must, our whole table fought over the final mouthful, a delightful mix of textures and tastes. Other highlights included the Grilled Chicken Wings, garlicky Morning Glory and Stir-fried Pork with Pepper. The food, though it took a while to arrive (the tiny kitchen also deals with take-away orders) was very fresh and tasty.

Cool down with a Chang beer or a bottle of chilled white wine, don’t scarper early as the real vibe gets going later on in the evening. At 9pm the two TVs go on, the microphones appear and the Karaoke tracks start blaring. Stuffed full of food we managed one Beatles song before staggering off home, promising to return with a big group of rowdy (and hungry) friends soon!

More information here.

Karaoke Box, Smithfields

Sometimes when I review I am granted a ‘plus one’, but never before have I been invited with a ‘plus eleven’! At Karaoke Box Smithfields the more the merrier… there are sixteen private karaoke rooms of varying capacities (the largest can hold up to 40 people). The privacy of the rooms encourages guests to sing their hearts out without the embarrassment of strangers sniggering at nearby tables.

It all seemed pretty high tech to me, with flatscreen TVs, surround sound, wireless microphones and dimmer lights. A red button can be used for waitress service and guests are able to control the sound levels themselves. The song selection is vast and varied… over 9,000 songs searchable by artist or title. Those not in charge of the Karaoke playlist can flick through a paper booklet to find their favourites. Later I found out, amazingly, that the songs are also available in French, Spanish, Swedish and German, and five select rooms even have a Japanese option… ideal for multilingual show-offs.

As a singer, and self-confessed diva, this review was ideal for me, but finding friends willing to partake was more of challenge; needless to say most downed a few beers en route to the Smithfields venue. The Dutch courage must have worked because everyone seemed to be in high spirits and fine voice when we arrived at our booth. The first Friday of 2013 and Karaoke Box was silent and empty when my raucous group turned up at 8pm. Located in the city, this club has most of its business during the week, Fridays are quiet in comparison. It suited us perfectly, exotic fruity cocktails and oven-hot thin crust pizzas arrived without delay.

We spent a fun-filled three hours in the booth, chatting, singing, eating and drinking. The staff were efficient and helpful throughout and made the whole evening run smoothly.
Highlights of the evening included: a punchy version of Vanilla Ice, the girls’ renditions of Beyonce, Spice Girls and Cher classics, and some brilliantly brave boys attempting Eminem and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. And then of course there were all the usual Karaoke favourites, a Grease medley and even a Christmas duet.

With some throats hoarse, at 11pm it was time to stop though I would have happily continued singing all night. With facilities this good and a menu of good grub and cocktails to match, Karaoke Box is the ideal venue for any party or celebration. Or better still, just an excuse to sing your heart out.

Room prices vary according to size. For an hour costs range from £20 for a four person room to £150 for the fifteen person VIP area.

More information and to book here: