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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