Tag Archives: Shoreditch

London Slant: The art of the dinner deal

Summer is traditionally open season for London restaurant deals. It’s the time of year (along with January) for swanky dinners without fear of fainting at the bill. So, come August, I was off, grabbing all those special offers while the sun shone.

We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Nor will you get a value menu at a decent (let alone great) restaurant at 8pm on a Saturday night. But 6.30 pm on a Monday is fine by me. And I’ll happily have my post-prandial espresso in the lounge if the table needs turning for those with pockets deeper than mine.

London Slant -Savoy Grill

The famous hotel sign just above the entrance to the Savoy Grill.

So, first up was the Savoy Grill. Well, wouldn’t it have been churlish to ignore Gordon Ramsay’s £26 three-course dinner with champagne?  I knew it was going to be fun the minute I stepped inside and into what seemed like a glamorous 1920s film set. The bubbly sparkled, and dull-sounding dishes (root vegetable salad followed by ravioli) sprung to life in my mouth with unusual herbs and spices, delicious dressings and flavoursome sauces. A millefeuille with crunchy-crisp wafers layered with luscious fruits and cream brought the evening to a decadent end.

I loved the retro decor of the Savoy Grill, but was less enthused by the recent makeover of the rest of the hotel. Where they got some of the artwork from (a Far East factory?) I dread to think. Much more to my my visual taste was my next port of call: Tramshed in Shoreditch. I do like to see a pickled cockerel and cow above my table (thank you, Damien Hirst) when I’m dining out on chicken salad and steak frites. And especially when a cocktail and Ronnie’s amazing apple pie are thrown in for £16.

London Slant Tramshed

Damien Hirst’s pickled cockerel and cow dominate the carnivorous carnival at Tramshed, Shoreditch.

Scanning the menu I spotted all sorts of nifty prix fixe treats year-round. So I plan to return for more simultaneous eating and art appreciation. I’m fired up to try Indian Rock chicken curry, for instance, and more of Ronnie’s puds. Then there’s the Chapman Brothers’ wallpaper and the Cock n’ Bull Gallery in the basement downstairs . Even the staff’s T-shirts are a collection of works of art.

But now here comes the good news. We’re well into September, but the deals haven’t stopped. If anything, they’re popping into my inbox even faster than before. I’ve had a free bottle of Prosecco to celebrate my birthday at Pizza Express  (I recommend the crispy-thin Da Morire Romano pizza – truly to-die-for – in their Coptic Street branch, a former dairy with patterned tiles).

Maybe some geek inside my laptop has marked me out as a sucker who can’t resist a tempting offer. Whatever, next week I’m off to the Cinnamon Club (a 3-course Indian menu, with cocktail, for £24). It’s adjacent to the Palace of Westminster and is known as a haunt of Lords and MPs. Could the parliamentary recess possibly have any bearing on my deal?

I found my deals via Time Out, Top Table and direct from Pizza Express.


When I asked a friend to join me for an outlandish cultural event she replied, somewhat hesitantly I thought, that she would, but only because nowadays “only the weirdest experiences will do”. Given that I’ve recently paid to have a black hood thrown over my head and be driven in a van around Shoreditch as if being arrested by government forces in Syria, I can see what she means.

On the black hood scale, this week’s art outing was rather tame. But the Rain Room at the Barbican does have its dark side. You walk into a low-lit chamber shot with streaks of lights that dazzle in the gloom. One minute you’re inside the Curve Gallery and all is normal. The next you’re stepping into a monsoon downpour, which is thoroughly strange when you know you’re inside a huge hall. Then, as you gingerly step beneath the streaming water, “knowing” you’re about to get soaking wet, the streams of rain miraculously stop and all you feel are little errant splashes. It’s truly bizarre. Moses may have felt like this when the Red Sea parted.

For all this, the show didn’t move me as much as The Weather Project in the Tate Modern turbine hall a few years back. Then, a giant sun beamed down from on high and had visitors basking under its rays. I guess it just points up the difference between sun and rain. A glowing sun has you drifting around and opening up to the people around you, whereas rain makes you recoil into yourself — even when you know you won’t get wet.