FOOD&DRINK London Lite Wednesday, 30 September 2009 29 Litebites Foodanddrinknews Normansitethatllconqueryourpalate THIS library-like restaurant nestles within the recently launched Kensington Hotel, four grand old Victorian townhouses joined together. Its glitzy-chic, mirrored champagne bar is a destination in itself. The staff, however, make even the un-bling (us) feel at home, indulgently permitting tastings of the high mark-up vinos. The restaurant has the feel of an old-style gentlemens club -- green leather banquettes and shelves of books -- but with a confusing oriental twist of strange, Buddha-themed ornaments. Its named after Aubrey de Vere, the Norman Old-school: Aubrey has the plush but tasteful dcor of a traditional gentlemens club in the heart of Kensington who was granted the estate of Kensington by William the Conqueror for bravery in battle, but the menu is staunchly British. A trencherman portion of warm black pudding and potato salad with asparagus, crispy bacon and a soft poached egg (6) made up in size for what it lacked slightly in delicacy. Rare smoked breast of Gressingham duck (8) boasted a delicious accompaniment of confit leg croquette. This steak is just perfect! exclaimed my guest, slicing into her melt-in-the-mouth 26 fillet of 21-day dry-aged Scotch beef, though I was less wowed by my slightly dry Scottish salmon and sea bream in a too-slight shellfish broth (17). The test of any English restaurant is pudding... and Aubrey didnt fail. Roasted English rhubarb and apple crumble with thick cream (6) hit the spot, but we loved the strawberry plate (6) best, a childishly pleasing platter of tart, sorbet and milkshake. Its real comfort food -- not worth crossing town for, but if youre at the Royal Albert Hall nearby, its a handy one to have in your back pocket. LARUSHKA IVAN-ZADEH AUBREY 109-113 Queens Gate, SW7 (020 7589 6300). Three courses with wine, 100 Race dos a winner HORSE RACING pundit John McCririck hosts a charity Night At The Races at Frankies, Stamford Bridge on Thursday 8 October. Its set to be a fun night with horse races screened throughout the restaurant so guests can place bets as they tuck into a three- course Italian meal. Tickets cost 50 (with food, wine and bets for the night) for Help A London Child. Reservations on 020 7957 8298 Ice cream dream COCORINO in Marylebone is a blissfully simple concept: a tiny caf that pretty much serves only focaccia bread and Italian ice cream. They have great sandwiches to eat in or take away alongside authentic gelato in such dreamy flavours as Greek yogurt with honey, and mango and pink peach. Cocorino, 18 Thayer Street, Marylebone, W1 (020 7935 0810) Venetian delights TAPAS is so last year, darling. Were now all snacking on cicheti, the Venetian equivalent, at Soho newcomer Polpo. Choose from a menu of small plates such as marinated sardines and flank steak ribbons served tapas-style. Head chef is Tom Oldroyd, latterly of Sohos sensational Bocca di Lupo, so expect big things. Polpo, 41 Beak Street, W1 (020 7734 4479) Non-stop scoffing THE first London Restaurant Festival kicks off on Thursday 8 October. Anticipate a greedy week of foodie events, special menus and non-stop eating. Highlights of the culinary jamboree include the biggest ever Sunday roast, a chefs versus critics quiz and over 500 top-value special menus at restaurants across town. londonrestaurantfestival.com HILARY ARMSTRONG Wellequipped Chalkboard jars THESE ceramic storage jars with chalkboard labels are a perfect way to keep your ingredients organised and your doodling urge satisfied. Starting at just 5, theyre a bargain, too. Simply update your labels as required and add pictures, expiry dates and the like. Just be careful youre not tricked by others switching the labels -- nutmeg really isnt a good substitute for cocoa. Available from Heals, heals.co.uk tastes c**p), so you just deposit 50p for a proper cup. The Espresso Room, 31-35 Great Ormond St, WC1 (07760 714 883) Fernandez&Wells BARISTAS speak of Fernandez & Wells in reverential tones, not because of the trendy Soho cafs phenomenal success (three branches and counting) nor how they charge 2.20 an espresso, but because the Beak Street and St Annes Court branches both boast Synessos -- the Lamborghini of the coffee machine world. No sitting at the espresso bar, so make like the Italians and neck your espresso as you stand. Fernandez & Wells, 16a St Annes Court, W1 (020 7494 4242) Climpson&Sons AT THE heart of the indie coffee bar scene, Climpson & Sons is a pioneer. Its USP, apart from quality long blacks and flat whites, is roasting coffee from scratch. Head barista, Matthew Dessaix, is a perfectionist: We wont serve a bad coffee. Wed rather throw it away. Packed on Saturday market days, the rest of the week its a chilled-out spot to eat (cinnamon toast with cream cheese and honey, 2.20). Take home their signature espresso blend, 4 for a 250g bag of beans. Climpson & Sons, 67 Broadway Market, E8 (020 7812 9829) BeasOfBloomsbury PASTRY chef Bea Vos devilish temp- tations jostle for your attention here with the brews of head barista James Watson and his trusty La Marzocco machine. This was the first caf to stock beans from cult roasters Square Mile, and the new autumn blend espresso is now in stock (yes, they really change with the season). Cupcake, scone and a selection of mini desserts with cuppa costs 8. Beas, 44 Theobalds Road, WC1 (020 7242 8330) Baking news: Ginger & White, above, and Beas of Bloomsbury, inset, accompany the finest coffee with delicious cakes and treats toast(cinnamoneattospotchilled-out 2.20).honey,andcheesecreamwith espressosignaturetheirhomeTake temp-devilishVosBeachef (yes,stockinnowisespresso latte,Starbucks! index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html48.html49.html50.html51.html52.html53.html54.html55.html