Food blog: Alwyne Castle; Skylon; The Alchemist; The Diner; Cuervo Cantina

By Jon Massey on August 29, 2014 11:02 AM |



★ Flavour Spy | Alwyne Castle

Alwyne, I believe, comes from the story of a warring Saxon baron famed throughout the ancient fiefdom of Aisling. While his name has faded from history, the legend of a warrior titan victorious in every battle, endures.

His shock of white blonde hair peeking over the crenellations of his castle was a familiar sight to the residents of Aisling Town, who held their champion in high regard.

In the capacious space within his fortification's walls, the baron's off-duty armies regularly held fairs, tempting the locals present to take part in simple games and handing out tawdry prizes to all.

This is the origin of the phrase "everyone's a wynner". It's not, as some now contend, a reference to the rise of TripAdvisor and a tribute to the late lamented Michael.

I digest. Everyone ain't a winner at the pub. Those who triumph enjoy an excellent, comprehensive range of drinks in pleasant surroundings. They're the barons.

But stop inside for a bite and you'll wind up like his sorry opponents, skewered on the lance of disappointment.

I received dry toasted white bread as part of chorizo and foccacia (£6.25), pictured. Woeful.

Equally melancholy, a mac and cheese side (£3) came cemented by overcooking into its ramikin.

I won't bore you with the rest; suffice to say a "medium rare" steak and a "rare" burger were both warmly congratulated in the kitchen prior to service. Tough patties, although the desserts were okay and the wine fine and well-priced.

There's a £10 for two-courses menu but, if my experience was typical, you don't exactly get what you pay for.

Go for drinks, the extravagant outside space and a long pompous chat with an aimiable buddy.

But don't stay for dinner no matter how enticing the baron's soldiers have made the menu.


The Alwyne Castle, 83 St Paul's Road, London, N1 2LY,

★ Brunch Buddy | Skylon

Come September 7, the Royal Festival Hall's most tonally muted restaurant will be offering a new Sunday brunch menu and associated cocktails.

Available from 12-4pm (some would argue this actually makes it lunch), the usual suspects of eggs Benedict and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (both £9.50) will grace its riverside tables.

Drinkers can marry these with an unremarkable collection of cocktails (Bloody Mary etc.) for £9.50 or the newly designed Brunch Martini with shaken Bacardi Oakheart, fresh orange juice and maple syrup.

Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX,

★ Openings | The Alchemist | The Diner

A couple of names for the radar if you're the sort of person who drools over the words new and opening.

■ Firstly The Alchemist - a micro-chain with branches in Manchester and Leeds - is offering all day dining and a lengthy cocktail list in the shadow of the Gherkin.

The Alchemist is to be found at 6 Bevis Marks, London, EC3A 7BA, 020 7283 8800,

■ Second is another expanding brand. American-theme chain The Diner, already successful in Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Covent Garden and Islington, has decided to colonise Dalston.

Expect burgers, shakes, cocktails, and cawfee.

The Diner can be found at 600 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AH,

★ Masterclass | Cuervo Cantina at Skylounge

Keen to find out a bit more about tequila other than (when consumed responsibly) it makes everything more fun?

Wharfers who want to dive a little deeper into the bottle can pop over to Tower Hill for Jose Cuervo's master class on September 9 at 6.30pm.

£16 buys you the expert's information and two cocktails so you forget everything he told you. To ensure it's erased, each attendee also gets a 50% off voucher for the round after the school bell has rung.

Buy tickets here

Cuervo's Cantina, Skylounge, 12th Floor, 7 Pepys Street, London, EC3N 4AF.