When it comes to the world’s favorite cuisines, Italy is up there. I mean, they did give us pizza and pasta so it’s not hard to figure out why Italian food is so popular. But with the popularity of Italian cooking there’s also been compromise, adaptation and copycatting – and not in an ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ way either. I think any Italian would run a mile if you tried to serve them up a gloopy plate of spaghetti carbonara or a pizza topped with canned pineapple and dry pieces of ham. For this reason I’ve become very mistrusting of Italian restaurants. That was until we stumbled into Briciole.
The slogan of many a Texas barbecue joint (sub BBQ, Bar-B-Cue, barbeque − I’m not trying to upset any of the barbecue factions here) is this: “You don’t need teeth to eat our meat.” And right they are. Proper barbecue should be melt-in-the-mouth, tender, moist pieces or, more appropriately, hunks of meat served up in large portions with delicious and plentiful sides. And I expected no less from Texas Joe’s BBQ.
Well, once again Giles Coren has pointed us towards a winner. Briciole in Marylebone grabs your imagination as soon as you walk in. The Italian deli counter, gelato cart and shelves of wine and pasta transport you immediately to a small trattoria in Italy − at least they transported me there. Once through the front bar area, the place takes on a more London look; a bit more shabby chic than Italian side street, but still charming.
On a hot summer’s day, there are few things quite as refreshing as a cold glass of white wine. When we went to The Quality Chop House in Farringdon, it was roasting. The hottest day of the year, in fact, and as much as I would have liked to indulge in a ‘kick-you-in-the-teeth-red’, as my husband has decided to call our ‘style’ of red wines, it was just too darn hot.
The Quality Chop House is a building of two parts: one half wine bar and wine shop, the other half dining room. The building has been called The Quality Chop House since 1869, although several different businesses have been run under the name, and the current owners are working to keep the original spirit alive. With all the original fixtures and nice touches like vintage plates and cutlery, the atmosphere of the Grade-II listed building is one of quiet elegance. It is unimposing and unpretentious, but what you’re offered once you enter this humble space is nothing short of exquisite.