It may have been a Monday night and the weather not quite what you would have expected on the 16th of July but nothing could put a dampener on the first of the Graze events held in Exmouth Market last night to celebrate the start of this year’s London Restaurant Festival.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect as I walked up to the registration gazebo at the entrance to Exmouth Market. But I was given a warm welcome by the London Restaurant Team and handed my Graze tour list of restaurants, along with my key ring, London Restaurant Festival events calendar and the plan for the night ahead was unveiled.
The concept is similar to a progressive dinner party. There is a list of 6 restaurants all offering a small dish and a perfectly paired alcoholic drink for just £6. You work your way through the list, dining and drinking as you go. Don’t worry, you don’t have to dine in all of the restaurants, but knowing I was probably going to write a blog post and tweet about my experience, I felt it was my mission and obligation to complete the street – well someone had to do it!
Restaurant 1: La Porchetta
So where better place to start than at the beginning ; La Porchetta restaurant number 1 of 6.
Here, I enjoyed a mini pizza; the Porchetta with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, handmade Italian sausage, Italian minced pork and honey roast ham accompanied by a crisp, chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.
Restaurant 2: Bincho
Next it was a short walk around the corner to Bincho. First impressions were good as the waitress took time to explain the importance of generosity by ‘over-pouring’ the clean and fresh tasting Sake.
This was accompanied by some delicious little yakitori. Apparently yakitori stands for a dish of bite-sized marinated chicken pieces grilled on skewers with yaki meaning roasting and tori meaning bird. We had 5 mini skewers in all from chicken skins to chicken livers and they were all delicious.
Restaurant 3: Medcalf
After Bincho, we visited Medcalf for (as it turned out) one of my favourite dishes of the evening; mini portions of Lamb chop with butterbean mash and steak with chips. The atmosphere was relaxed with 1920’s music playing softly in the background and the service friendly and attentive.
3 restaurants down and I am starting to feel pretty full and yet I’m only half way through!
Restaurant 4: Moro
So next on the list was Moro. The restaurant was very busy when I arrived so I gladly accepted the offer of a seat at the bar. Once settled, and sipping on a nice glass of Sherry I was offered a dish of spiced tuna kofte with gem lettuce and pistachios, a fresh palate cleanser that came at exactly the right time.
Restaurant 5: Morito
Restaurant 5 out of 6 was Morito, located next door to Moro and of the same owners. This Moorish-inspired tapas bar was vibrant and very busy, I had a fantastic seat in front of the grill, watching all the action take place as I enjoyed chicharrones de Cádiz – pork belly with cumin & lemon, accompanied by a beetroot borani with feta & walnuts and a fruity glass of Merlot.
Restaurant 6: Caravan
Last but by no means least, we moved onto Caravan. Struggling to walk at this point, you may think it would have been impossible to eat or drink anything more but so delicious was the mini dish of quail breast on a bed of hummus, accompanied by a glass of Pinot Noir, it was actually surprisingly easy to eat it all.
It was the perfect conclusion to a great evening. I really enjoyed the experience of visiting so many different restaurants and tasting so many different cuisines in one night. It was also really sociable as you talk to others who are also blazing the ‘Graze’ trail and get to hear of their thoughts and recommendations.
The good news is there are more Graze events over the London Restaurant Festival dining period of 1-15 October in Marylebone, Brixton and Soho. So why not blaze a Graze trail yourself?
Details on the Graze events and how you can purchase tickets are available on the London Restaurant Festival website along with all the other events and festival activities.