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  • Meeting my dear friend Jo Barnes, the restaurant PR about whom I have seldom heard a mean word spoken, we want to be somewhere central and decide on Jason Atherton’s Little Social in Pollen Street off Hanover Square. I’m not sure if Atherton is still one of her clients, but the fact that later in the evening, he emerges in chef’s whites from the kitchen of Michelin starred Pollen Street Social opposite – his Socials are worldwide – carrying a tray of beauteous petits fours makes me think he probably is. We have had exemplary service from a surprising number of staff (for these difficult days) but we also get and pay a bill. Lots of dishes treading lightly, celebrating summer, amongst which sea rainbow trout tartare stands out.


  • Opening Up, Freedom Day or whatever it may get called has not put too much of a crimp in the restaurant delivery services created during lockdown. Customers for ordering in are now accustomed to something better than a jumble of lukewarm plastic boxes and want to continue adding the sizzle and finishing touches at home. Dishpatch (geddit?), who deliver nationwide from a list of establishments compiled by someone who knows and appreciates the business, deliver on a Friday with food prepared and packaged to last the weekend. This is how my sister Beth and I come to be enjoying native breed pulled pork from David Carter’s notable east London barbecue restaurant Smokestak – where smoking meat reaches new heights and depths – while watching in an intermittent sort of way the Euro 2020 final.

    dishpatch.co.uk, smokestak.co.uk

  • The historic French connection to the state of Louisiana makes perfect sense of relishing Bastille Day at Plaquemine Lock overlooking Regent’s Canal in Islington where traditions of Creole and Cajun cooking drive the menu. Owner and guiding spirit Jacob Kenedy is the great grandson of Carrie B Schwing and Jacob Hortenstein, builder of the original lock, and incidentally also chef and owner of the excellent Soho Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo and the delectable ice cream company Gelupo. The party menu leads with oysters in every guise including Rockafella and follows with duck and oyster jambalaya. My one ‘dietary’ is oysters – a baddie once did for me – and so I have shrimp with horseradish mignonette and then rabbit jambalaya. Son of a gun, we have big fun on the Bayou…


  • When I mention The Wells in Hampstead I can get accused of nepotism, but if a girl can’t go to her darling sister Beth’s pub on her own birthday, then I don’t know what the world is coming to. My daughter Alice joins us with her friend Harriet, Harriet’s daughter Nikita and Harriet’s mum Vera who lives nearby. A family affair. I start with a new dish on chef Greg Smith’s menu, the first course of pork belly with celeriac and coriander coleslaw and Bramley apple sauce. Crunchy crackling, luxe meat, tart notes from the Bramleys; nothing not to like. I’m saving space for dinner that evening so go straight to sharing chocolate fondant with particularly good pistachio ice cream – almost Sicilian – which happily arrives with a candle flaring.


  • I first met Manoj Vasaikar when he was working at Chutney Mary in the 1990s when the restaurant was in Chelsea. Sponsored and enlightened by the Mathrani family of MW Eat Ltd he went on to fulfil the ambition of most chefs, to do their own thing. One outcome is Indian Zing in Hammersmith, a restaurant my late husband Reg came to love where he and Manoj bonded over cricket as well as food. The menu for my birthday party held in the tented patio at the back of the premises featured Reg’s Chicken Jalfrezi, his favourite, as well as specialities from Goa – where we had spent our honeymoon – such as chicken tikka cafreal and pork vindaloo, both with profound base notes of vinegar. Sweet staff cemented the enjoyment of a day one can sometimes sort of dread


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