Housewife’s choice

Indigo

Our son Ethan, 16, was most disgruntled when Mum and Dad went to a cool place in town, leaving him to ‘revise’. This only added to our pleasure of the Thursday night treat that was a trip to Indigo at One Aldwych.

This sophisticated restaurant is gluten and dairy free, an added bonus along with the tasteful decor, attentive yet unobtrusive service, and delicious food. In a first for the British hotel dining scene, chef Dominic Teague (l’Escargot, Sandy Lane Barbados) quietly cut gluten and dairy from the menu a few months ago, and diners haven’t noticed. He uses almond milk, coconut oil, buckwheat flour, olive oil and rice milk to maintain creamy, buttery flavours and light textures. The concise menu has good options for those who don’t eat meat.

Once seated in the very comfortable armchairs, the waiter came to talk wine. He would bring us some whites to try. I nipped to the loo, but two flights down didn’t make for a quick trip and, by the time I returned, my husband/driver had already sent back the Sauvignon Blanc for being ‘sour’ (it’s ‘dry’, Tony). Nor was he keen on the Pinot Gris. At this rate, we would be having Palwin No 4 with our soup. Not for the first time, I told him to butt out and by our main course we were happily drinking a rather cheeky Chablis.

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

The onion and samphire bread with rapeseed oil was cakey in texture and very tasty. I ventured out of my comfort zone for starters and ordered watercress soup with a poached egg. I was expecting a pale watery affair, so was totally blown away by the deliciously thick, verdant broth. Tony’s cured salmon was also a hit.

For mains, Tony went for posh fish and chips and I chose turbot with roast cauliflower purée, grapes and wood sorrel, as it’s not something we often have at home.

We happily stole dessert off each other’s plates – lemon cake with hazelnut praline; caramelised banana, custard and chocolate sorbet. No gluten, no dairy, no problem.

A delightful evening and if Ethan gets all A stars in his GCSEs, we’ll happily take him there. As well as the a la carte menu, there are great value set menus for lunch and pre theatre – it is, of course, the ideal location for eating before a show. Angie Jacobs

Indigo
1 Aldwych
London WC2B 4BZ
T: 020 7300 0400 W: onealdwych.com

New Place in Town

Ostuni

Movie sequels and book sequels often fall into the ‘not as good as the original’ trap, but this is rarely the case with restaurants. Of course, everyone loves an original, but when I went to the newly-opened second branch of Ostuni in Highgate earlier this month, I knew immediately I was going to love it just as much as its quirky parent restaurant in Queen’s Park.

Ostuni has taken over the site formerly occupied by Zizzi. It’s a great space – large with lots of natural light, buzzy but not too noisy. Plus it’s easy to park. Owner Robert Claassen is so passionate about authenticity that he ordered white stone to be shipped over from Locorotondo to line the walls of his Italian restaurant, which makes for a beautifully rustic interior.

Ostuni

Ostuni

And now to the food. This is Puglian-style Italian cooking, which means it originates from the south of the country and it’s not your usual veal Milanese/ lasagne/penne arrabiata menu. It’s much, much more interesting.

The antipasti are designed for sharing, although I rather wanted to keep the burrata with aubergine, pepper and tomato to myself and, to be honest, hubby was pretty selfish with the crispy baked salt cod and the mini calzone with smoked mozzarella. He did let me try his grilled veal chop, and I was generous to him with my whole sea bream baked in salt crust (it was huge!) and we shared a portion of the most terrific courgette.

As always, no room for dessert and, as always, we succumbed anyway. I’m a tiramisu fan and there’s no saying no to Ostuni’s version, while
the semifreddo with bitter orange and chocolate was a must-have for hubby. The wine list focuses on Puglian table wines, plus fine Barolos from Piedmont, Brunellos from Tuscany and Pinot Biancos from Friuli.
I have a hunch Ostuni is going to do very well in its new home.

Ostuni
1 Hampstead Lane
London N6 4RS
T: 020 7624 8035 W: ostunirestaurant.co.uk

The restaurant club

A Facebook group with 11,000 members is always going to be lively with differing opinions.

So a simple ‘Where’s the best place for afternoon tea in London?’ request ends up with 100-plus responses. The Ham Yard wins hands down for best-value London hotel tea.

With its plush surroundings, quirky own-brand china and really interesting sandwiches and pastries, it’s hard to beat. The Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Sanderson wins in the themed tea stakes, and when it comes to elegance and tradition, Claridges and the Ritz are joint front runners,
with the Langham getting lots of mentions too, especially since the fab refurb. This week, there was a request for recommendations for tea in
Norfolk and even this garnered lots of responses. Who knew that a north London-based group could be so resourceful?

On the side

Show stopper!

The new Teatro restaurant and bar at The Radlett Centre is fast becoming a much-loved destination in the locality. Managed by brother and sister Robert and Sue, it’s a favourite with visitors to the theatre and those looking for a place to meet up. Check out the superfood salad and delicious healthy smoothies, plus indulgent dishes such as baked camembert and mouth-watering cakes. There are also egg dishes, a great range of sandwiches and salads, plus filled jacket potatoes.

Bake expectations

Michelle Eshkeri recently relocated her Lavender Bakery from her home to stylish new premises on East End Road, in East Finchley, complete with seating area. The totally vegetarian Margot Bakery (named after Michelle’s and her husband’s grandmothers) offers a daily-changing menu of soup, sandwiches, salads, bread and cakes, with excellent coffee. The babka and sourdough challah are not to be missed, and Michelle also makes fantastic celebration cakes.

Margot 2

Welcome addition

Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood has a new chef, which means a fabulous new menu. Michele del Monaco has worked in Rio de Janeiro, Sardinia and Tuscany, and is bringing some Mediterranean and European flavours to his dishes. To celebrate summer, the restaurant is also running Happy Hour Monday – Friday 4pm to 7pm, offering two cocktails for £10, beer at £2.50 a bottle and great offers
on wine and spirits.

CROCKERS FOLLY 3

A foodie festival

Gefiltefest lands at JW3 this Sunday, with a mind-blowing schedule of talks, demonstrations and stalls, all based around food. Lots of restaurants are featured on the day: Palomar chef Tomer Amedi is performing a demo assisted by Masterchef finalist Emma Spitzer, The Spectator restaurant critic Tanya Gold interviews Daniel Morgenthau, co-owner of Portland, while Or Golan (Soyo) will demonstrate how to make heavenly desserts using halva.

A few tickets are still available. (kosher) gefiltefest.org

•Restaurants not kosher unless stated