Brunchin' in Balham


A Second Serving reviews Gazette in Balham...

If you're out and about in South West London and fancy a slice of rural France in food form then you really must pay Gazette a visit. The stylish and relaxed restaurant, which is just a five minute stroll from Balham station, offers a range of seasonal French delicacies on a large all day menu. In the summer, the front part of the restaurant opens out onto Balham High Road, making it a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, continental style. I visited for brunch at the weekend and found the restaurant to be bustling, yet not too busy, with a mix of customers, old and young.

Heaven in a saucepan

Why go?

When I first glanced over the menu, which pays homage to Gallic bistro greats from foie gras, snails and moules mariniere, I initially felt a little overwhelmed by all the fancy French words. Fortunately, the breakfast, when it arrived, was as sophisticated and refined (unlike me!) as it sounded. After a recommendation from my friend who'd visited before, I went for the cocotte meurette which turned out to be AMAZING. The dish consisted of three fried (yolky, yes!) eggs and French toast garnished with pancetta and mushroom in a red wine sauce. It came in a cute rustic cast-iron pan, so not only did it taste bloody delicious, it looked the part too. The French toast in particular was crispy, greasy yet oh so more-ish. My friend chose a similar dish but with parmesan grated on top. Each dish cost just £6.50 each, which is an absolute steal in my opinion.

The mushroom and parmesan alternative


I'm going to sound super fussy but I'd have liked a bigger pot for my tea! Ridic I know, in the grand scheme of things, but everything else about the breakfast was pretty much perfect. I will definitely be back soon for another fancy French dish. Bon appetite!


100 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW12 9AA.

London's longest restaurant!


A Second Serving reviews Counter in Vauxhall...

Counter, which is officially known as London's longest restaurant, is an all-day bar and brasserie that serves up a refined American and French menu. Nestled in a 200ft long arch underneath Vauxhall station, it's a smart and ambitious addition to an area that will only get bigger and better in the future. The beautifully designed space, which is full of grey booths, pretty mirrors and warm, yellow lighting, really is worth stopping off for and should definitely be put on your 'to do' list.

My delicious starter

Why go? 

The food really is pretty damn amazing. For my starter I opted for the tostada after a recommendation from the waiter. It was made up of stone bass fillet (ceviche), corn tortilla, avocado, yuzu vinaigrette and black sesame, which all gelled together brilliantly. The dish felt fresh and healthy and the soft fish and avocado really stood out against the crunchy tortilla. For my main, I went for the lamb rump. It was served pink (exactly as I like it), and came with artichokes, baby aubergines and confit tomatoes. My partner, who had the southern fried chicken, couldn't stop raving about it. Not only was it a huge portion (and no bones) it was much healthier than it sounded as it came in a light batter with spring greens and a sweet potato puree. For dessert, I had rhubarb panna cotta and this was probably up there with the best panna cotta I've ever had. It was creamy, sharp and sweet… just perfect. While the food was delicious, the service was even better. When our waiter saw we weren't sure what wine to go for he paired up a glass of white and red with each dish and this felt like a really special and personal touch.



Frustratingly, the atmosphere of the whole place seemed a little lacking. We visited on a Thursday night, so you'd expect it to be busy, but it was still pretty quiet. This is a shame because Counter really should be noticed for the great place it is. Hopefully in the future more people will stop rather than just travel through the area.


Arch, 50 S Lambeth Pl, London SW8 1SP

Mad about Mexican!


A Second Serving reviews Cielo Blanco in Exmouth Market...

This recently opened taco and tequila inspired restaurant has a relaxed yet vibrant vibe and is set in the ideal location, just 10 minutes walk from Angel tube. Describing itself as, 'bringing Mexican social eating to London,' Cielo Blanco focuses on tapas-style sharing plates, which means it's the perfect place to meet up with a group of mates and get stuck in. The menu is varied and large, the staff are super friendly and the baby-back ribs are TO DIE FOR. Go, go, go!

Hungry now?

Why go? 

If you're looking for flavoursome Mexican cooking, (which isn't just a greasy burrito slathered in cheese), then this is the place for you. We went for the street food experience deal which meant we could share six items for just £13.50 per person. This is unbelievably good value as the portions are huge and really hit the 'I need a Mexican meal right now' spot. The chicken tinga tacos came with guacamole and some really zingy slaw and the ground beef quesadilla had some crunchy chargrilled onions and jalapeno ketchup on top. We also tried the veggie wild mushroom and garlic flauta (a crispy rolled corn taco) as well as the achiote-marinated baby-back ribs. These are a must - we had a big portion but I could have eaten even more. Service was top notch and we were even given a shot of tequila 'to get the full Mexican experience.' I'll definitely be going back.

Instagram worthy pics!


I genuinely can't find one. Food, service and surroundings all got a ten out of ten from me - I just wish there was a Cielo Blanco closer to my neck of the woods.

Tequila makes you happy


55-57 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QL

Boozy brunching


A Second Serving reviews a boozy brunch at the South Place Hotel, Liverpool Street... 

The South Place Hotel is a modern, upscale hotel and restaurant just minutes from London Liverpool Street station. For brunch they offer a set menu – two courses for £22.50 or three for £27.50 - and you can get unlimited drinks (Prosecco, Bellini or Mimosa) for an extra £15 when you dine with two courses. The decor is cool and classy and there's a jazz band playing right next to you, which creates a fun filled atmosphere.

Copyright: The South Place Hotel

Why go? 

This would be the perfect place to go if you're looking for a lively brunch with friends. I went with eight mates and we had a great time. Menu wise, there was a good selection of dishes, from traditional breakfast (eggs benedict) to lunch (fish and chips). I went for the chorizo sausage and fried duck egg on toast to start. It was surprisingly filling and the chorizo really lifted the dish. For my main I had the Croque Madame, York ham, fried egg, Montgomery Cheddar, bechamel and chips. This was delicious too (god knows how many calories!) but I realised afterwards that I'd probably gone for something too similar to my starter. Duh! My friend who had the sausage and mash said it was delish... so I might have to go back for that. Drinks wise, the staff were polite and attentive and good at topping up your glass, too good in fact as I had eight or nine glasses (yes, I lost count).

Copyright: The South Place Hotel


If you're a bit of a boozer like me and want to get the most of your drinks in the two-hour window then stick to the Prosecco as the waiter will top up your glass quicker!


South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London, EC2M 2AF.

Cluk-ing chicken!


A Second Serving reviews Cluk in Shoreditch… 

Cluk is a brand new pop-up nestled within Hoxton Seven, a cool and quirky bar in the heart of Shoreditch. They serve a bunch of simple chicken dishes with a hint of Caribbean and Latino flavour. The bar itself is pretty funky… there's a gigantic bear on the wall and all manner of odd objects hanging from the ceiling, but that's what makes it so appealing. We grabbed some happy hour drinks first, a Bramble and a Passion Mojito – two cocktails for a tenner – and they were sweet and boozy, just how they should be.

Oh, hello....

I heart pretty cocktails

Why go? 

It's a pretty simple menu – you pick a type of chicken and a dip to go with it – then get stuck in. If there are two of you, I'd try a couple of chicken dishes with two or three sides. The chicken wings were by far the best dish. They were sticky, sweet and the meat really fell from the bone. After much umming and errming we went for Nina's chicken sauce and this had a real punch and was exactly what the wings needed. The chicken tenders (deep fried chicken breast strips with a light batter) were pretty damn good too… and only £7.50. Of course, any meal in London wouldn't be complete without a side of mac & cheese. Often, it can taste a bit rich but Cluk got it just right as the dish was well seasoned, cheesy and stringy. The sweet potato fries went down really well too, in fact my boyfriend declared them as the best he's ever eaten. To be honest there was barely room for dessert but we couldn't resist sharing the New York cheesecake with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. Amazing.


I'm not sure there really is one! If you want value for money, tasty food and fantastic service (shout out to the lady with pink hair who served us – she was very friendly), this is the place to go.

Always room for dessert, right?


66-68 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3JT

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Love lasagne? This is your place!


A Second Serving reviews Mister Lasagne in Soho...

If you're craving carbs then Mister Lasagne is the place to go. The new restaurant, which is slap back in the heart of Soho, serves nothing but your favourite Italian dish, in fact they offer a whopping 21 different varieties. You then choose from five complimentary sauces to add on top. Nom nom nom! All ingredients are carefully sourced, from the lasagne sheets to the vegetables, meats and cheeses. With a healthy doze of pizza choices in London, this is a welcome change in Italian dining.

Why go?

The food, which you pick up yourself at the counter when you walk in, is good value for money and very filling. I went for the trio of lasagne, which cost just £7.80 - so this would be a great place to go for a quick lunch. I chose the chicken and chorizo, the four cheeses and the vegetable aubergine with the traditional bolognaise sauce recipe on top. My partner went for a different selection with the creamy béchamel sauce. While the home-cooked feel of each lasagne came through, it was hard to pinpoint a fave... but I certainly got my lasagne fix! Despite being very full, I somehow managed to tuck into the tiramisu for dessert. Oops!

When is there not room for dessert?!


While the downstairs décor was cute (the tables are dotted with cherry tomato plants and chilies growing on the vines) the TV on the wall was playing some random show and seemed a little out of place. In my opinion, music in the background would create a better atmosphere.


53 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 7PH

Burgers and bottomless bubbles... what could go wrong?


A Second Serving reviews Grand Union, Farringdon...

First things first, if you step inside this place it's highly likely you will wake up with a hangover the next day (guilty as charged!) We went to try out their Burger & Bubbles offer where you select a main from the menu and enjoy 90 minutes of unlimited Prosecco for just £25. They also have a decent selection of cocktails and a great happy hour - 2 for £10 from 4-7pm. The margaritas were spectacular.

Why go?

If you're looking for somewhere in central London with a real party atmosphere this is the place to book. It's great for big groups as you all pay a set price so there's no faffing about with the bill. The décor downstairs is pretty cool and the bar staff are very good at topping up your glass without prompting! I went for the Fully Loaded burger, which came with two hand pressed burgers, cheese, bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, tomatoes and mayo. The food was actually pretty good and better than expected - perfect for lining your stomach! All in all, good value for money.
The margaritas are pretty damn good


This isn't the place to go if you want a quiet drink or romantic meal for two. It's loud, messy and full of people who are in the mood for a big night.


55 Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HA

Willy Wonker: Not just for kids


A Second Serving reviews Willy Wonker Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel, Mayfair...

An Oompa Loompa cupcake... a fizzy lifting cake... a cranberry flavoured popping candy drink... these were just some of the delights on offer when we stepped into the wonderful world of Willy Wonka at the Chesterfield Hotel. And while it might sound like a menu for kids, it really wasn't, in fact there weren't any children in sight on the busy Saturday afternoon that we visited. (Phew!)

Why go?

As I tucked into the themed finger sandwiches, chocolate dusted scones and desserts I was pleasantly surprised by the range and depth of flavours. While I've been to loads of different afternoon teas before, there were a few extra quirky twists with this one which made it quite different (I won't give any of the surprises away!) The portions were very generous, too. When the waiter asked if we wanted some extra sandwiches we said yes and got a whole new plate. We could only eat one or two more but ended up taking the rest home. Perfect! After a little persuasion I gave the specially blended chocolate tea a try too - it had a subtle flavour and wasn't too rich.


While the staff were top notch the service was a little on the slow side although it was busy when we visited.

Value for money?

At just £36.50 per person for a snazzy afternoon tea (with an extra twist!) you really can't go wrong. Add to your 'to do' list ASAP.


35 Charles Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 5EB