On the Roof with Q. Selfridges rooftop, 400 Oxford St. London

Only accessible by express lift from the fragrance department on the ground floor, this long rooftop space is a welcome addition to the dearth of decent highrise restaurants in the area. Don’t expect a view, though: its design doesn’t allow a hint of the chaos below on Oxford street. The menu is exciting, even if portions and execution are just so-so. The peppered tuna was bland despite a dollop of wasabi avocado on each tile, but the violet artichoke bruschetta (steep at £8) was richer and more like a modern Spanish tapa. A side of spicy creamed corn was great as comfort food, and a small bag of Cornish hen wings (£5.50) was another dude food option as well as what looks like a decent hamburger (£13.50). But we weren’t so impressed by the dessert special which was a deconstructed chilli chocolate cheesecake with queso fresco which definitely didn’t add up to the sum of its parts.
Apparently this pop-up has been so successful that it could be here to stay past September; Selfridges shoppers must be aware though that there are better dining options in St Christopher’s Place just 50 metres away. So it seems that being up on a discrete rooftop has its charms, even though service is flaky and reception can be a little dishonest about how busy they really are – it’s bad form to lie about 5-7 week waiting lists when you have a quarter of the tables free by 3pm.
Saying that, I may be back to try their Q burger or pit-grilled ribs in the evening.

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Tramontana Brindisa. 152 Curtain Rd, Shoreditch. London

Location is a problem for this Spanish wine’n’tapas joint: stuck amongst the bars of Shoreditch heaving with their dolled-up suburbanites and badly-behaved Essex lads, it just about manages to keep its head above the fray. The patatas bravas is a fantastic beer-sponge, the sauce made with extra paprika, and much better than most versions I tried after years in Madrid; the tortilla was small and lacked the cake-density of the traditional classic. The wine selection is good, and service is mostly friendly. We’ll have to come by again to try their wider selection of offerings or stop by for a copa de vino anytime except Saturday night.

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Byron. 4-5 Langham Place. London

This was a popular burger joint even before the chancellor of the exchequer misguidedly tweeted a picture of one of its takeaway offerings, sparking tabloid pieces about ‘posh burgers’. There are numerous branches, and we can’t really fault the one that we went to which was a stone’s throw away from Oxford Circus. Service was quirky and friendly, the fries and patties, buns and sauces are all decent and not ludicrously priced, and my chilli burger was a real winner – sliced green chilli peppers with a chipotle mayonnaise, raising the heat to dangerous levels. They have a selection of bourbons, as well as some pricier bottled beers. Chocolate brownie for dessert was functional, hardly that special. Fairly average in general.

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Room Service. 690 9th Ave. Hell’s Kitchen. New York

If London’s Crazy Bear had a branch in NYC, this is what it’d look like: a slick, trendy setting for good Thai food. But the big surprise in this Manhattan eaterie are the very reasonable prices: curries and noodle dishes averaging $12 and appetizers for under a tenner. Our Massoman Curry was passable, but the Pad Thai was definitely above average. We loved the furni, decor and ambience more than anything though, and the Thai bar staff are elegant and efficient. In an area chock-full of Asian restaurants, Room Service stands out for style and glamour, even if the food is just decent. For this kind of value, you’ll definitely want to stay a while and order more drinks.

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The Frying Pan. Pier 66 W 26th St & 12th Ave. Hudson River Park. Chelsea. New York City

Location, location, this one’s all about location. With a view of Hoboken and Weehawken on the Jersey side, this Chelsea bar pulls in the afterwork crowd and the sunset gazers. Many locals start their night off here, and with a range of cocktails, pitchers and some bottles of wine priced fairly reasonably, an eclectic crowd descends on this permanently anchored lightship. Views are best from the top deck of course, but most drinkers find themselves anywhere they can bag a little space; an essential Manhattan summer spot.

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Shawarma Khalifa. Avenida Jimenez #4-47. Bogotá

A Palestinian-run joint that is more than just an upscale kebab shop, Khalifa will have you licking the plate clean, especially if you order one of their fantastic platters: almond or lentil rice in perfectly small quantities with kibbeh, warrak, tabbuleh and baba ganoush, high quality shawarma chicken and lamb and thin khubz bread. It is all pretty authentic, and the decor – Quranic verses translated on Arab designs – and music – devotional chanting – make for a mix of religious clientele jostling with the indifferent.

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