Welcome to Louis WAGS It! A monthly review of Zahra and Louis’ top restaurant picks from the WagIt platform.
After studying cookery and food sciences for over 5 years, Zahra decided to settle down with someone who has impeccable taste when it comes to dining out. That someone is Louis. On this blog, they will combine their food expertise to review WagIt’s restaurants and give you the lowdown on where to eat and what to order.
Each month, they will break down a selection of venues with Louis’ WAGS.
W for Where – All you need to get there
A for Atmosphere – What makes this place special?
G for Grub – Zahra’s passion and domain
S for Service – Louis tells all.
Louis WAGS It – Tis the season
Guess who’s back WagIt followers? Louis and I are returning to tell you about our culinary adventures of this past month. October started off so busy but pictures of dogs in adorable Halloween costumes and whispers of Christmas plans in the air reminded us of the upcoming festive season! Buzzing with excitement for the few months ahead, our appetites began to grow. We decided away with the wallowing and off we went to WagIt.
Jose Pizarro is a chef that’s been at the forefront of bringing traditional Spanish tapas to London for over a decade now. He comes from a background of farming and focuses his restaurants on simple and authentic Spanish cuisine. I’ve been meaning to try the chef’s flagship restaurant Jose for so long but the thing that kept me away was the no booking policy and having to wait in a seriously long line! One day I saw Jose Pizarro’s name on WagIt and realised I could book at Jose’s sister restaurant Pizarro, just a few doors down from the chef’s original restaurant. It was a no brainer – finally being able to try Jose’s popular food with no line and no issue with dogs! The dream.
Where – Jose Pizarro now has four restaurants in London. His first, Jose, fits right into the vibe of Bermondsey street – trendy, small and offering up simple tapas on high tables. A few doors down is Pizarro, a bigger restaurant with an open kitchen and sit down tables. Then, he opened Jose Pizarro in Broadgate serving up a similar menu to Pizarro and now even has another restaurant surrounded by pieces of art at The Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.
Atmosphere – Sleek, classy and light. The perfect ambiance for sitting around for hours endlessly sipping on wine. As a matter of fact, we did just that. We came in for lunch and happily enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant till people began coming in for an early dinner. The mahogany wooden walls and tables, open kitchen and elegant design of this establishment absolutely made the meal!
Grub – Regrettably, I’ve got to say that after years of anticipation, we were rather disappointed with the food we ate at Pizarro. It was, no doubt, high quality food and very well prepared, but we didn’t feel that anything stood out in terms of flavour. As expected the Iberico jamon croquetas were crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Apart from this, the other tapas didn’t blow us away. The grilled squid was cooked well and was delicate in taste. A well made dish but nothing to write home about. Sadly, the toasted tomatoes, burnt onion sauce and nuts paella was overall just too sweet. The onions were far too caramelised for our liking and the dish lacked a strong savoury component. Surprisingly, the most memorable dish of the day was the chocolate tart dessert. I wasn’t expecting a dessert to steal the show but I must admit every morsel was delicious.
Service – Mummy, this is a very nice place, are you sure I’m allowed here? The smiley waitress brought me a bowl of water right away and there is so much space for me to sit around the table. I’m very pleased I got a haircut for this special occasion!
Overall – 4/5
Chucs Cafe Chelsea
Since 2014, west London has seen numerous blue canopies popping up bearing the name Chucs. What really lies behind this cute Parisian looking brasserie/cafe? First thing to know is that, contrary to what I thought for many years, the Chucs chain offers a traditional Italian menu and there’s nothing French about it! This month, I finally thought I’d see what all the fuss is about and what do you know, Chucs is also dog friendly. This place really surprised me!
Where – There are Chucs restaurants and then there are also Chucs cafes. I didn’t realise there was a difference between the two until I stood at the wrong branch trying to figure out why they didn’t have my booking. I got the branches confused and when I eventually realised I was at Chucs restaurant Belgravia instead of Chucs Cafe Chelsea (just 7 mins walk down the road) I was reassured that this mishap is quite a regular occurrence with the chain’s customers. There are 4 restaurants in London and 2 cafes. Not much difference between them except the cafe has a smaller kitchen and a slightly limited menu.
Atmosphere – Everything about the design of Chucs reminds me of The Wolseley group mixed with The Ivy Collection. The famous canopied exterior, the curtained windows and all the staff in a formal, crisp, white uniform. It’s quaint, classic and I would never guess that I’d be eating here with Louis right beside me.
Grub – The food here held no surprises at all. It was everything we expected, pretty much bang average. We ordered a few cicchetti for the table – olives, focaccia and truffle arancini. The olives were off the shelf olives, the truffle arancini were crunchy and good value but the focaccia was stale, dry and sprinkled with some pecorino that wasn’t any help in hiding the poor dough quality. For mains we split a Chucs burger and ordered a bigoli cacio e pepe for the table. The pasta sauce was tasty (what’s not delicious about a cheese and black pepper sauce?) and very pleasing to the eye. It lacked salt but apart from that, I could see why the dish is splashed all over the Chucs Instagram page. As for the burger, honestly, you’re much better off going to a pub and saving your money. If I ever return to Chucs it will be to have a nice cocktail with one of my gal pals, enjoy the picture perfect atmosphere and order nothing but some french fries for the table.
Service – I’m a Chelsea dog and they know it here! I put on my fancy tweed harness for this lunch and I’m glad I did. It’s a smart place and I was welcomed warmly. I was brought water to the table and was even allowed to nap on the bench.
Overall – 4/5
What is it with traditional pubs serving Thai food? I’ve stumbled across a few places like this in London and never knew what brought this trend about. I turned to Nadia, WagIt Founder, for some answers. Apparently, in the 1990’s Thailand became all the craze as the new backpacker destination for young Brits. This led to cafes/pubs/restaurants, serving noodles, to spring up in inexpensive areas of London such as Stoke Newington, Camden and Brixton and cater to the young people who had developed a taste for cheap and flavoursome food. Public house owners who began brewing their own ale and serving up traditional British home food from the early 1800’s are rolling in their graves at the thought of this. However I, on the other hand, have zero complaints. You’re telling me I get to eat a delicious curry and spicy stir fry whilst enjoying a pint or two with my dog? Book me in please!
Where – Does the name not give it away? This pub is located on Latymer road about a seven-minute walk from Hammersmith station. It’s a large Fuller’s pub on the main road that cannot be missed.
Atmosphere – The Latymers pub is split into 2 very different sections. At the front, a large, vibrant pub room and at the back, a small, authentic Thai restaurant (which does not allow for dogs). Anyone with a fur pal can sit in the busy, bustling pub and order Thai food from the restaurant to be served at their table. The atmosphere of the pub area is what you would expect for a big boozer. It’s filled with young people, large tables and there’s barely anyone eating. Rather a shame.
Grub – We thoroughly enjoyed the food! The menu was extensive and included popular Thai dishes as well as other Asian favourites. We started with the crispy aromatic duck with hoisin sauce and pancakes. A generous portion which went down a treat. Next we tucked into a chicken Penang curry with egg-fried rice and a portion of beef Ho Fun noodles. Both were hearty dishes providing an explosion of flavours at reasonable prices. The food left our tummies full and plenty satisfied. I would eat this meal all over again.
Service – This is a very noisy and busy place mummy! I’m so glad they booked us a table with a bench where I could sit up next to you and wouldn’t get scared. The waitress from the restaurant seems to go out of her way to provide a good service to us both. She brought me some water, star shaped treats and even came to take mummy’s order which I don’t think they usually do for guests seated in our area. Everyone was friendly but it was just way too loud! Unfortunately, the waiters couldn’t see us sitting in the pub and we struggled to get their attention. This meant mummy did have to get up and leave me at the table to ask for more water. Perhaps we could give it another try when it’s not a Thursday night and is much less busy?
Overall – 3.5/5