Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

tree

I work in Covent Garden, so it takes a lot to drag me back there on a weekend and battle with the tourists and spray painted human statues.

We’re here today due to an electrical fault back in December that prevented the restaurant from opening. Safety first and all that.

Four resourceful women that we are, we ended up at the Ivy Market Grill that day and all was good. So the four of us are back to try Clos Maggiore on our second attempt.

I can’t review here without mentioning it has been voted the most romantic restaurant in the WORLD. It’s seen numerous marriage proposals and on entering the place I can kind of see why.

If you do go here, book a table in the back area because that’s where it’s really something. A roaring fire sits in the middle of the room and a glass ceiling (retractable for the summer) floods the dining area with natural light. Plants climb the walls and a cherry blossom (not real but looks it) covers the entire ceiling. You forget you’re in tourist hell and suddenly feel like you’re on holiday in Tuscany or Provence (inspiration for the menu).

There’s an upstairs too which also boasts an open fire. Flowers, plants and French artwork add stylish touches throughout yet everything feels relaxed and unstuffy.

Due to the unfulfilled booking in December we are massively looked after today so for transparency I’ll highlight what we did and did not pay for.

Onward then…Well if you like wine you won’t be disappointed. There’s over 2,500 on offer on a list covering 100 pages. Keen to try Japanese or Canadian wine? Well you can here. Yes you can spend more than a couple of months rent on one bottle, but there’s some options I spot at the £27/£3o mark so not unreasonable at all.

Our ridiculously lovely experience starts with a bottle of Rothschild champagne – complimentary. It’s gorgeous and we’re off to a flying start.

Nibbling on some delicious Parmesan focaccia we choose our food from a £34.50 a head set lunch menu which I can say now I’ve tried is excellent value. (£39.50 with half a bottle of wine).

To start I choose a venison and Iberico pork terrine, followed by organic sea-trout with crab and mussels. We all had different things which I won’t list, but no one could fault anything that they ordered.

There’s a 5 course tasting menu available too plus a vegetarian version for non meat eaters. A stone’s throw from theatreland – they also have pre and post theatre menus too just FYI.

Between courses one of the many charming and hilarious waiters arrived with four bowls of fresh pappardella pasta with wild mushrooms and Parmesan. Another complimentary touch that contributed to our rapidly expanding waistbands. I forgot to mention this stunningly simple dish was finished off with a more than generous amount of fresh grated truffle.

My sea-trout was fresh and delicious – perfectly matched with a generous amount of seafood. I was relieved to have chosen something light to offset everything else.

I’m not really a desserty person, but the Tiramisu sounded amazing and it was. Often a sweet cloying pudding, this was different. Punchy coffee ice cream and an almost brownie like coffee sponge underneath.

Begging for a gastronomic rest we have a little break to recuperate and catch a breath. Coffee – yes that’s what we needed. Annoyingly that came with hand-made chocolates. These were divine too.

I’m writing this at half nine at night and still feel happily full. Reflecting on our meal I haven’t had such a lovely dining experience in ages. You quickly forget your location, and the food and excellent staff surpass many far more expensive restaurants I have visited in the Capital.

Whether you’re after romance or not – book a table (under the tree) and you won’t be disappointed.

*Desserts, coffee and a bottle of white wine were also complimentary. Thank you CM!

BabaBoom – Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction doesn’t exactly scream glamour for a girls night out – but it’s a Tuesday (Pancake Day to be precise) and the bestie is coming into town from far off lands (otherwise known as Surrey). CJ offered a handy halfway point which we knew had more than a handful of eateries.

I won’t lie, BabaBoom wasn’t our first choice. We’d earmarked somewhere else on Battersea Rise, but seeing a queue snaking out of the door we quickly changed our minds.

My friend had also heard about Bababoom as they had recently come second in the newcomer category at the British Kebab Awards. Who knew?

So yes this is a kebab restaurant but rest assured not the spinning elephant leg variety which in all my 40 years have not had the pleasure of sampling.

This is a charcoal grill kinda place – small menu, high quality/high welfare ingredients and generous portions.

The decor is cosy and relaxed. It’s not a huge place and are people perched on high and low tables throughout. The open kitchen sits in the middle so you can see the grilling action while you wait.

As a keen interior nerd I think I recognise Tom Dixon lighting which makes me very happy.

Your meat/protein can be served on a deliciously soft Persian flatbread (made by clearly a talented man called Afif) or a fattoush salad.

menu-bb

Not drinking, I go for a homemade lemonade and my friend sups a jealousy inducing mojito. The lemonade is really tasty and not too sweet so we order some more.

Food time and I predictably choose lamb – rotisserie cooked served with onions marinated in pomegranate molasses. My friend (not a veggie) picks the broad bean falafel and hummus which she says is fabulous.

Everything feels fresh and dare I say healthy. Flavours are zesty – packed with herbs and spices – soft breads contrasted with crunchy bright salad. Homemade dips are perfectly matched too – one herby and one smoky – both awesome.

The lamb is tender and packed full of flavour and there’s plenty of it. We both order sides – me dukkah fries and my friend smashed aubergine. If I’d have known how substantial the portions were going to be, I may have forgone the fries but I force them down. For the record they are lovely.

Service was faultless – hats off to our waiter who had his first shift that night. An incorrect bill was dealt with quickly and painlessly.

They offer a lunch and brunch menu, serve Caravan coffee and some interesting beers and ciders – so there’s plenty to go back for.

Twenty pounds each and we’ve eaten well and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

No longer will Bababoom be our second choice.