Thursday 08th December

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Chez Mal, EC1M: restaurant review

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Heading below ground to escape a bustling Clerkenwell simmering from one of the hottest days of one of the hottest years felt like blessed relief.  Darkly lit apart from some mildly jarring neon pop art motifs and empty other than a pair of early evening diners, Malmaison’s Chez Mal restaurant was only an ample air conditioning unit short of Shangri-la.

The contemporary New York-style dining room – as with many spaces that day – was a touch too warm to hinder hidrosis and so, disappointingly, was the #nochill Mamaku Sauvignon Blanc.  Fortunately, that warmth spread elsewhere, to the service of our host Emanuele and to the collective culinary cogs – mostly residing in the noggin of executive chef John Woodward – that whirred in preparing such a balanced and sumptuous summer menu.

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Category: Restaurants

The Sherlock Holmes, Northumberland Street WC2


By Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr, Jonny Lee Miller … whether you’ve been glued to the big or small screen, Sherlock Holmes’ cachet has never been higher.  So what better time to relaunch a Sherlock themed pub in the heart of the city?  

That’s precisely what The Sherlock Holmes, just off Trafalgar Square, did on 2nd February 2016 to a very positive reception.  And this isn’t some johnny-come-lately jumping on the zeitgeist.  The historic pub is steeped in Sherlockian tradition.

Even looking beyond the fact you’re drinking a pint of Sherlock House Ale, eating Inspector Lestrade’s Favourite Ploughman’s Lunch and surrounded by an eye-watering amount of memorabilia, being in this pub feels like you’re very much part of something special.  In an increasingly competitive London eating and drinking scene, that goes a long way.  Elementary, my dear What’s On readers.  

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Category: Culture
The Cake and Bake Show 2015
The Cake and Bake Show 2015

What’s on London visits the Cake and Bake Show: Preview

It’s official baking fever has taken over the country, and this year’s Cake and Bake Show at the London Excel Centre aims to showcase our best baking talents. The Cake & Bake Show, the UK’s biggest baking show announces for the first time a Great British Bake Off Live Stage at this year’s shows, where visitors will be able to see contestants from the current series as well as former champions Edd Kimber, Jo Wheatley and John Whaite whip up an array of sweet treats LIVE on stage!

This year What’s on London will provide you with an in-depth review of the Cake and Bake show. But to whet your appetite on what will be a great bakery weekend, here’s a Q&A and an exclusive recipe from the Great British Bake-Off’s 2012 champion John Whaite.

Q&A with John Whaite

He can’t wait to get demonstrating at this year’s Cake and Bake Show – it’s John Whaite!

You have a law degree and you’d worked in banking. Do you ever wonder what you would be doing now if you hadn’t done Bake Off?

I do sometimes, yes. I think I’d probably be enjoying it and working hard but I just can’t imagine myself doing that now. I couldn’t see myself choked by my tie in an office. Now I have the complete opposite to that: I work at home, never wear a tie, and I’m director of my own company. It’s weird how things work out – I do consider myself very lucky indeed, but I do work hard at this career.

You’re about to open a cookery school in the Lancashire countryside aren’t you?

Yes, we’re hoping to open in mid November. The location is a converted 400-year-old barn on the family farm where I grew up. It’s very poignant for me because it’s a real family affair, we’ve all created it together. My brother-in-law helped me pull walls down and clear the barn out, and my sister is going to be the washer upper! I’ll probably be heading up north every weekend for classes and then if I I’m teaching during the week I’ll stay up in my old bedroom. It’s like regressing – going back to my roots – but I love being around my family.

You enjoy demonstrating at The Cake and Bake Show don’t you?

I love the demonstrations. I used to do drama and dance and stuff – I’ve always been a bit of a performer – but in demonstration it’s a two-way process. Not only can you get a buzz from the crowd, but the audience can learn a great deal from you, too. That’s what’s great about it; it’s not just about me going and stage and having a laugh and a giggle, it’s about me sharing a passion with two or three hundred other people. That’s the biggest buzz there is.

Last book was the best-selling John Whaite Bakes at Home. Do you enjoy trying out new recipes for the books?

Yes, but it’s the photography I really like. We’ve got a really great team with the designer, the photographer and the home economist. We spend a week in this little studio in Acton, all eating pizzas for lunch and drinking beers, it’s so chilled. And then you see you recipes materialize as pages of a book and that’s the most rewarding thing. It’s such a proud moment.

Right now I’m working on my third book which is a general cookery book – but of course there’ll be a load of baking recipes in there, too. It’s one of my favourite things to do, because once the manic rush to get recipes tested is over, it’s just me, my music and my laptop, and I can work from anywhere I feel comfortable – usually propped up against coffee-shop counter, contemplating a croissant.

What are you making of the Great British Bake Off this year? Have you spotted any new stars?

I love it! I love all of them, but I particularly loved Sandy (sadly evicted) because she was just hilarious.


Favourite smell
Tom Ford Oud Wood.
It has a cardamom note, so that may be why I like it.

Favourite breakfast
My breakfast burrito – a tortilla with an omelette full of chorizo and baked beans

Favourite flower
Peonies, ranunculus and yellow roses.

Favourite cooking ingredient

Favourite dish
Lamb tagine – it’s sticky and gratifying

Favourite holiday destination
Paris or USA

Favourite drink
A proper margarita – no triple sec, just tequila, agave nectar and lime juice.

Favourite soup
Stilton and potato

Favourite TV show
The Great British Bake Off

Lemon Sherbet Cake: A recipe by John Whaite

Lemon Sherbert Cake. Photo credit Matt Russel.

Lemon Sherbert Cake. Photo credit Matt Russel.

The word ‘sherbet’ evokes memories of youth, but, ironically, I disliked sherbet as a child – I was a kid who needed a more toothsome, chewy sort of jelly sweet. This cake is perfect for baking with children, because the cake batter uses a ‘one mix’ method, so there is no need to go through the stages of making a cake, which can sometimes tire fickle little kids. And though it’s a simple cake to make, with a simple filling, the presentation takes it up a notch. This cake is a nod to all things youthful, but it is also absolutely acceptable at a sophisticated, child-free gathering.

Ingredients – serves 10/12

For the candied lemon topping
• 2 lemons
• 600ml water (in batches of 200ml)
• 100g sugar
• 100ml water
• 75g golden caster sugar

For the cake
• Zest of 3 lemons
• 4 eggs
• 225g golden caster sugar
• 225g stork
• 225g self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling
• 400ml whipping cream
• 500g mascarpone cheese
• 300g icing sugar
• Zest of 2 lemons
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 packets of lemon Dip Dabs (sherbet only)
• Icing sugar, to dust

Essential equipment
• Two 20cm/8-inch loose- bottomed round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
• Cake stand at least 20cm/ 8 inches across
• Disposable piping bag fitted with 12mm nozzle


For the lemon topping, use a potato peeler to pare thick strips of peel from the lemons – if you get any white pith, scrape it off with a knife. Chop the lemon peel into thin matchsticks, then place in a small saucepan with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then drain the water, place the lemon zest back into the pan with another 200ml water and repeat. Drain again then repeat – you should bring the lemon zest to the boil 3 times in total. Set the drained lemon zest matchsticks aside. Place the 100g sugar and 100ml water in the saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved, then return the lemon zest and allow to poach for about 5 minutes. Drain. Place the 75g caster sugar in a bowl and add the lemon matchsticks. Toss in the sugar then arrange on a baking sheet and allow to dry out for a few hours (overnight is better).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.

Place the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated and smooth. If you have a freestanding electric mixer, use the paddle attachment. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins, and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before removing from the tins and turning on to a cooling rack until completely cold.

Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream to very soft floppy peaks. Fold this into the mascarpone along with the sifted icing sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Then quickly beat in the lemon juice – though don’t overbeat, as you don’t want the mixture to split.

When the cake is cooled, and the candied lemon is dry, slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers. Place one on the cake stand. Fill the piping bag with the filling and pipe little blobs around the edge of the cake, then a spiral of filling in the centre. Sprinkle over a third of the sherbet, then top with another slice of cake. Repeat this until you have four layers of cake and three layers of cream and sherbet. Sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, then scatter over the candied lemon matchsticks.

Keep tuned for our review of the 2015 Cake and Bake Show!

Sandip Kana | @sandipkana

Category: Restaurants
Jammatology: Adam Hutchings and Chris Sav
Jammatology: Adam Hutchings and Chris Sav

‘Philosofood’ Book Launch


An excellent evening at The London Particular launched Adam Hutchings’ and Chris Sav’s first foray into publishing. ‘Philosofood’ is essential reading for any self-respecting foodie, an adult ‘Horrible Histories’ wandering into both faction and imaginative fiction. A friendly and accessible tome, as its title may or may not indicate, ‘Philosofood’ is jam-packed with titillating tales and titbits, with scandalous stories of Roman excess – all those famous characters we think we know so well. Plus the odd, sometimes very odd, recipe; culinary or otherwise.

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Category: Art
Redeveloped Leicester Square
By Romazur (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Blue: Got the blues, somewhat reddened too


Went to ‘Ruby Blue’ in Leicester Square on a Saturday night with seven female colleagues. Lucky man, you should think. I’d paid £40 in advance for: a small bowl of soup; a plate of pasta; a slice of cheesecake. A sprig of rocket here, a sprinkle of icing-sugar there, but you can’t disguise foil-marked pastry. No entertainment, an empty piano, and to say lack of service an understatement. The staff were indeed busy, chatting away at the desk; we garnered no less than four attendants at our table. Certainly no bargains on the painfully pricey wine list. Our first bottle was £29, an overpoweringly lemony Dashwood.

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Category: Restaurants
Flamin' ... the Navy Blue Blazer cocktail
Flamin' ... the Navy Blue Blazer cocktail

Hot Rum Shack

With tabloids screaming of an arctic ‘big freeze’ imminently hitting London, Soho-based bar and restaurant Floridita’s hot rum menu is perfectly timed to warm the cold and weary, and get them into the Christmas spirit.

The Drinks

Boasting the best rum selection in the UK, head mixologist Massimo has crafted a new menu with six rum-based cocktails ranging from £10.50 to £12. Explaining his inspiration, he said: ‘Almost everything has already been invented, so you go back to the classics and give them a twist.’

His favourite is the Hot Spiced Tai, a delicious take on the classic My Tai served with a palatable combination of three rums – Chairman Spiced, Chairman Reserve and Wray & Nephew Overproof with hot water, citrus peel, Cointreau, almond syrup and cloves syrup.

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Category: Music
Love Music Love Food
Juliette Lewis more than graces the cover of ‘Love Music Love Food’.

Rock Star Cookbook for Teenage Cancer Trust


Patrice de Villiers is a world-renowned and astoundingly artful food photographer. When we met at her book launch for Teenage Cancer Trust at Quaglino’s in Mayfair, she spoke candidly of her three-year journey photographing rock stars ‘in context’ with their favourite food. I began by asking how she got involved and she replied that “It’s actually my baby! I created it from having the initial kernel of the idea, in a very rock ‘n’ roll fashion! I was in a hotel bar late at night, having watched one of my favourite bands, Muse, chatted to them, and it turned out that the front-man was particularly into cooking. So, I thought, my passion is music and, obviously, I’m a food photographer, so why don’t I combine the two. And I thought what I really should do is do it for the Teenage Cancer Trust, I don’t want to just create a vanity project.”

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Category: Culture
The highlight of Gaucho's Chocolate Week offering
The highlight of Gaucho's Chocolate Week offering

Why You Should Order Chocolate With Your Steak

To celebrate Chocolate Week, Argentine-inspired restaurant Gaucho has created a special food and wine tasting menu that really shouldn’t be missed.


Phil Crozier- A man who knows him wine

Phil Crozier- A man who knows him wine

As the fifth largest wine producer, Argentina knows a thing or two about creating a tasty red. Phil Crozier, the Director of Wines at Gaucho, has matched three chocolates to bring out the intense fruity flavours of Malbec.

My favourite was the simplest – a 70% bitter dark chocolate. The reason was given a pseudo-scientific explanation: ‘the fat and protein from the chocolate softens the wine leaving a silky and velvety texture on the pallet.’ A coffee and vanilla chocolate was also a good match, highlighting the oaky flavour. Finally a sweet violet chocolate was a little overpowering for me, but apparently ‘highlighted the Malbec’s ability to tone down the strength of the chocolate whilst the chocolate lifted the floral side of the wine.’

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Category: Festivals