I'd been itching to try Dandelyan, the bar in the newly opened Mondrian Hotel on the South Bank, for a couple of reasons. One, because it serves alcohol (naturally) and two, because it's housed in the old Sea Containers building where, aged 14, I spent a week's work experience in the now defunct Police Information Technology Organisation. So on a chilly evening before a rather disappointing evening at The Breakfast Club and The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town I dragged S in for an aperitif. All seductive greens and purples, Dandelyan is nothing if not decadent. The cocktail menu's split by the base ingredients rather than the type of alcohol and there's a nifty little graph at the back that charts the suitability of the drinks against the time of day. I was in the mood for something mischievous so chose the Concrete Sazerac - Martell VSOP cognac, fermented Peychaud, absinthe and concrete - perfectly smokey with a slightly ashy aftertaste, this was just what I needed. It also comes with edible stones; a nice little addition to scoop out part way through or once you've consumed the last drop. S went for the Puffed Grains and Chocolate which was less chocolatey than we were expecting and much lighter than mine. Friendly staff and a buzzy atmosphere meant that this hotel bar's a keeper.
Some hangovers call for orange juice whilst others shout for Full Englishes. We had one of the latter so battled an epic fifteen minute walk to the high street to revisit Stokey Stop. An all-day diner type place, I'd had a decent 'Johnny English' before so was relishing the thought of a guilty pleasure to wolf down. I ordered what turned out to be the worst Bloody Mary I'd ever had (it won't be featuring on my Bloody Mary Blitz, that's for sure) - watery, tasteless and spiceless, I was too chicken to complain. The Johnny English itself wasn't bad - Cumblerland bangers, a (tasteless) roasted tomato, fried mushrooms, black pudding, a hash brown, two fried eggs, two rashers of bacon and Heinz beans - but we just couldn't bring ourselves to finish it or stomach the £30 bill at the end.
It was love at first sight with me and L'Entrepot back in February last year. One of Borough Wines' Easterly outposts, it's a charmingly little French place that oozes atmosphere. We went for a pal's birthday and were quick to order the £3 a glass house red and keep them coming. Prosecco's £4 if you're after bubbles and half pints of beer are £2.50. So far so good. Daily specials are chalked up (and framed by 'Je Suis Charlie' when we went) and hard to resist - a cheeseboard with Comte, Livarot and Bleu de Causes went down very well with the pear chutney but the baked camembert with raffle potatoes and cornichons was a bit disappointing. Perhaps it's my own fault for ordering something I regularly make at home but the potatoes were under done, the cornichons tasteless and the cheese could have been a little more loved. The steak tartare suffered the same fate too, criminally underseasoned and lacking that bit of bite from anchovies and capers, but a decent portion nonetheless. A bit hit and miss this time, I'm hoping that the third time's the charm.