Head to Joe Allen’s, London, for gourmet burgers and chic cocktails

Joe Allen restaurant London

A New York-style brasserie, with a mighty-meaty American menu

Originally opened in the seventies, this theatre-loving, bustling haunt is where actors, producers, directors and West-End stars would habitually hang out supping on cocktails devouring the classic American fare. It still maintains that element of drama and sophistication, with crisp white linen table clothes, waiters clad in long, knee-length aprons with white shirts and black ties, a singing pianist, sultry, ambient lighting and walls adorned with theatre posters from old musicals and images of iconic American stars.

Joe Allen's restaurant - London restaurants - restaurant reviews - foodThe restaurant itself is has a New York/Parisian brasserie feel, with exposed brick walls and wooden floorboards. Very New York and very cool. Not surprising mind you, seeing as the restaurant itself is styled on its original New York venue, so there’s an aura of the Big Apple’s downtown-chic that emanates throughout. I envisage a swarm of Broadway stars herding into the restaurant to serenade the audience with classic show tunes accompanied by a debonair bow-tied gentleman tinkling on the piano.

We’re sat on a romantic table for two, subtly amused I sit opposite my lovely friend Di, and not on an intimate date with sexy man. To help whet our appetites we quite literally dive into a couple of tongue-tingling old fashioned tipples. I opt for the ‘Bitter Queen’, a combination of gin, Dubonnet, rose lemonade with a subtle hint of orange and aromatic bitters. As a Campari lover, this is just the cocktail for me, and of course helps whittle down our choices from the mouthwatering menu.

Joe Allen cocktail - London restaurant reviews - foodIf you’re feeling famished, Joe Allen’s collection of finger-licking American treats will absolutely hit the mark. We’re both ravenous, so if I’m honest, everything looks good, but catching my eye in particular is the creamy lobster macaroni. Who could resist? And then there’s the choice between succulent fillet steak, spiced baby back ribs or half a grilled chicken. What’s not on the menu we notice are the signature burgers, but we spot the waiters gliding through the restaurant gracefully carrying towering sliders filed with bacon, crisp salad, chunky pickles and bubbling cheese. We simply can’t miss out on sampling the restaurant’s definitive dish. We decide to share a steak and burger following our starters of lobster macaroni and crab salad.

Crab salad bloody tomao dressing - Joe Allen restaurant London - restaurant reviews - foodThe crab salad is divine. Delicate flakes of fresh crab with slices of avocado dressed in a tangy Bloody Mary tomato dressing. Refreshingly light and flavoursome, and the perfect entrée before tucking into a mammoth burger. The mac and cheese unfortunately did not quite live up to expectations. I was expecting a thick, cheesy sauce with chunks of exquisite lobster. Instead I bite into a mouthful of macaroni, that has a runny, milky consistency and I’m forced to play ‘hunt the lobster’. A few tiny chunks surface from the mounds of macaroni. It was ok, but certainly nothing nothing to rave about.

Macaroni and cheese - Joe Allen restaurant London - restaurant reviews - foodOur mains are swiftly presented to us in no time at all. I have a glistening fillet steak cooked in the restaurant’s signature steak sauce, accompanied by a delightful slightly spiced chipotle hollandaise sauce – an absolute taste sensation when smothered over my juicy steak.

Steak with hollandaise chipotle sauce - Joe Allen's restaurant London - restaurant reviews - food

Di is presented an impressive burger piled high with crisp salad, slathers of cheese, sizzling crispy bacon rashers and chunky pickles in a toasted brioche bun. Instantly I have food envy but lucky for me we decide to share! As a true burger buff I’m very particular about my sizzling sliders – but this one ticks every box.  The meat is perfectly pink and meltingly tender, the crispy bacon is covered in gooey cheese and the salad and pickles are crunchy and tasty as I bite into the sweet brioche bun. Heavenly. The chipotle hollandaise tastes great with the burger, alongside the spicy steak sauce, to add a cheeky little kick.

Joe Allen burger - London restaurants reviews - foodTo our surprise both plates are literally licked clean, without a leftover in sight. We have to roll ourselves out of the restaurant from a little over indulgence but overall Joe Allen’s gets a big thumbs up. Great burgers, quirky cocktails and a bustling atmosphere. Definitely worth a visit.

For more information on booking a table at Joe Allens, and to view a sample menu visit www.joeallen.co.uk

A blissful massage at the Thai Square Spa, Covent Garden

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If like me, you’ve been lucky enough to experience Thailand first hand, you’ll be only too familiar with the idyllic vision that comes to mind; crystal clear waters that glisten in the sunlight setting the backdrop to white sandy beaches surrounded by vibrant tropical plants and flowers. From the heart of the rainforests to the beautiful islands, Thailand really is a place that will remain a picture of paradise in your mind that you’ll want to revisit again and again.

Having spent a month travelling around the country myself, I wholeheartedly admit I’m a bit of a Thai-junkie. I love the food, the culture and of course the divine (if not sometimes slightly painful), traditional Thai massages. So if you’re looking for a treatment inspired by the traditions of Thailand, Thai Square Spa is the ideal spot to relax and unwind after a hard day at the office, or a serious day of shopping.

Located in the heart of trendy Covent Garden, Thai Square Spa is a tranquil retreat tucked away from the chaos of the square’s famous street performers and bustling shops. As I walk into the building I’m instantly transported into an oasis of calm, greeted by relaxing, soothing music and lavish décor. Towering, carved Buddhas lead the way through softly lit walkways of exposed brickwork, hanging copper lanterns and exotic lotus flowers.

There are seven treatment rooms, all offering a range of decadent massages, facials, beauty treatments and traditional ritual therapies that work to cleanse and restore the body’s natural balance. I opt for the Body Bliss Ritual massage that gently works to calm the nerves and relax the muscles using aromatic, sensual oils. A sublime massage focusing on relaxtion, but vigorous enough to gently work out any uncomfortable knots. An hour’s treatment left me supremely relaxed and my mind in a state of calm, with stress merely a distant memory.

After my massage I’m taken to the relaxation area where I’m given a refreshing jasmine tea to slowly savour whilst I prepare myself to step back into normality. With friendly staff, wonderful soothing treatments and a luxurious setting, this spa really is a treat that you won’t want to miss out on.

Thai Square Spa is at 25 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9HW. 020 7240 6090. For a full list of treatment options visit www.thaisquarespa.com/coventgarden