Review: Wormwood Restaurant

‘…there’s a new Wormwood/In our hood/Gotta try its so good/Chef Rabah Ourrad/He’s a chef-rapper/Who loves his Lobster. 


Wormwood Restaurant

16 All Saints Road

London W11 1HH

0207 854 1808


(All Photos courtesy of the internet for this post)

Food: 4 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Service: 4.25 stars

Value/money: 3.75 stars

Design: 4 stars

Overall: 4 stars

The Restaurant

The latest foodie addition to Notting Hill is Wormwood, a Mediterranean restaurant in what some people call the dodgier part of NH/W11. I have been meaning to try this restaurant for quite some time now, having read very good reviews, the most recent from Giles Coren last Saturday, who highly rated the food, less so the concept of ‘sharing plates.’ All Saints Road is having somewhat of a revival, from the Rum Kitchen to the Wormwood Restaurant, and is becoming the Hollywood Road of the North; a quiet road with an international restaurant across from a rowdy, rustic Italian. ‘Wormwood’ really is a tragic name for a restaurant though, didn’t the owners know that Wormwood Scrubs is a prison just a few miles away? Or is it purposefully a commentary about the dream of two Algerians who now co-own their restaurant, proving that the underdogs can come out on top? (Chef Rabah Ourrad has an interesting background of a young Algerian-in-Paris-rapper-turned-chef with stints at Momo’s, Sketch and the Ledbury. I would like to sit in his kitchen while he raps ‘Le Micro Brise Le Silence’ over his truffle emulsion).


In any case, it is a light and airy restaurant with colours of green, blues and white patterns with some olive trees in its terrace to keep it, well, very Mediterranean. The crowd is quite grown up looking for an exciting change from ‘Michelin star’ type restaurants, which do get repetitive after a while (I must admit that my experience of Marianne’s of Masterchef fame down the road was disappointingly underwhelming, hence why I have not reviewed it). The concept here  is keeping high standards of cooking techniques in a more relaxed ‘sharing plates’ style, ‘elegant yet relaxed,’ as it likes to be described. There is a lovely back area, which can be privatised, and also acts as an art gallery.


(Smoked Aubergine)

The Food

Sharing plates is the hot trend of the moment for restaurants, and Notting Hill is no exception; Polpo, the Shed and Mazi are just a few of the recent openings in the past few years. Mazi, a nouveau-Greek, showed how simple Greek food can be elevated to sophisticated food, using ingredients like Rice Paper for the Souvlaki instead of your regular old Gyro bread. It is international cuisine with a twist. Wormwood to me is the Morrocan version of Mazi, trying to create nouveau Moroccan inspired dishes. If you like Mazi, you should try Wormwood. The lobster couscous with lobster bisque is delicious, the beetroot salad cleanses the palate and allows space for the foie gras which is another distinctive dish. There is pork belly tagine, sea bass dishes, and lots of aubergine. The cauliflower truffle combo is becoming my new craving, which I also found here at Wormwood, almost as good as the cauliflower and truffle mousse from Nuno Mendes’ Chiltern Firehouse. At some point though, it felt as if my palate wanted just two or three ingredients per course, rather than 6 ingredients per plate, with 10 plates for four (Example: Scallops ceviche with redcurrant dressing, coriander cress, and homemade limoncello gel. That means 60 different ingredients in one sitting).


(Lobster Couscous)

The menu offers inventive and unique dishes blending Morrocan, French, Spanish and Lebanese influences, and bringing unusual ingredients together. But it all rather works. The dishes are quite sophisticated in their presentations and have more ingredients than necessary (he just couldn’t resist showing off his jellies and mousses) that they turn out quite foodie but difficult to share. The service was excellent and we were impressed by our waitress’ poetic memory of all the dishes and ingredients per plate. It felt as if the rapper Chef wanted to prove his fine dining skills and creativeness while ‘keeping it real,’ which suits All Saints Road perfectly.

The Verdict: The older, more sophisticated brother of Mazi restaurant for those who are tired of Michelin-star restaurants formality. Great for a grown-up dinner with ‘couple-friends’ who don’t know each other very well. If there’s a break in the conversation, the food is always a conversation starter.





(Homemade Cocktails)
Wormwood Restaurant on Urbanspoon


London Film Festival 2014: Foxcatcher & The New Girlfriend


Q & A with Francois Ozon, Director of the New Girlfriend, at the London Film Festival 2014. NHYM. Copyright 2014. 

The London Film Festival ended last Sunday but I still managed to fit in two Premieres in my busy schedule. It is less about red carpet glitz and glamour (which lasts about 10 minutes), and more about the love of film and showing off London’s creative enthusiasm for indie, international and art house films. I chose two films to see this year, Foxcatcher and The New Girlfriend, from two very different directors; Bennett Miller who makes a movie every four years (Capote, Moneyball) and Francois Ozon (The Swimming Pool, 8 Women, Jeune et Jolie), a prolific French director who makes approximately one movie per year. Miller took eight years to make this project reality and found it difficult to find funding for this movie since Hollywood these days is more about Blockbusters than making great films. Ozon proudly doesn’t make high budget films so that he can have full creative control of his films. The Q&A sessions with the directors and actors is my favourite part of the festival, providing insight into the motivation and passion behind the making of these films.The London Film Festival is a place for talented directors to showcase their creativity and share it with cinephiles like myself who prefer to watch ‘proper’ films rather than action-film/ marvel-comics/Blockbusters.


Rating: 4 stars

My Oscars prediction:

– Best Actor: Steve Carrell (must win)

– Best Director: Bennett Miller (nomination)

– Best Soundtrack: Foxcatcher (hope it wins)

Foxcatcher is a dark, disturbing, drama based on a true story about a pro wrestler who finds himself in a twisted and uncomfortable partnership with one of America’s richest men, John E Dupont, played by Steve Carrell, who attempts to create ‘the best wrestling team in America’. The movie looks into the cringeworthy and gritty life of a pro-wrestler, Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum, who despite having won a Gold Olympic Medal in wrestling, lives a depressing, tortured life in America, in the shadow of his greater, older brother, Dave Schultz, played by Mark Ruffalo, the more charismatic, charming and intelligent brother that spends his life looking after his younger brother. One of the early scenes of the movie shows the two brothers wrestling like two deer fighting, showing the physicality and imbalance of their relationship. Channing Tatum is perfectly cast as Mark Schultz, the naive, influenceable, not-so-intelligent, hulk-like, younger brother with cauliflower ears full of vulnerability (Tatum brilliantly plays the part, but it is difficult to tell whether he is really acting or whether he is just playing himself).

For those who have read my article on the SuperRich, this movie looks into the life of one SuperRich man, John E Dupont, who grows up a social misfit, trying to constantly prove himself to himself and to his mother, and convinces Mark Schultz to wrestle for him, by using his intellectual and financial superiority. He  probably uses him to get to his brother Dave Schultz. Steve Carrell, who plays John E Dupont, is superb and unrecognisable as the actor you previously knew him as. No longer the funny-man, Carrell transforms himself into a lonely, unsettling, socially awkward, yet powerful John E. Dupont, who manipulates people around him to do exactly what he wants. Carrell is looking at an Oscar nomination (for sure), and possibly a win (he will deserve it). I would watch this movie purely for Carrell’s performance, which gives us an insight into a disturbed SuperRich, who never has to achieve but feels the need to make his mark, and that wants sympathy when he says his only friend growing up was paid for by his mother, but does not know how to be a friend.

The breakdown of the relationship between Mark Schultz and John E Dupont could have been better developed in my opinion, leaving the viewer unsure exactly happened. The movie slows down towards the end, at points I found it too long, and I would have wanted more of a build up to the climax. And then, like life, the movie completely changes in an instant, the foreshadowing too evident, and it ends too depressingly for words. This is not a movie of words and dialogue, it is a movie based on reality, on unhappiness, and therefore by definition, is not a Hollywood movie.

Verdict: This is a dramatic and dark film worth watching for Steve Carrell’s Oscar-worthy performance and transformation and to see Channing Tatum finally turn into a real actor. 


The New Girlfriend

Rating: 4 stars

Francois Ozon is the French answer to Pedro Almodovar, so if you don’t appreciate Pedro, there’s no point in reading any further. He has directed 15 feature length films in 16 years and is one of the most prolific French directors of our time. He often delves into themes of sexuality and gender roles, and pushes the boundaries as far as he can. He directs his films in a similar way to Almadovar, fantasy-full, unbelievable and filmed through rose/orange/purple-tinted lenses. For this film, as Ozon mentioned in the Q & A session, he wanted it to be a modern fairy tale about unexpected love. I will keep the twist to myself, as the film is best seen undistracted.

The first 10 minutes of the film are my favourite part of the entire film; it is a montage of the beginning of a friendship, a love between two friends and death that tears them apart. I was in floods of tears after those five minutes, and to me, this could have sufficed as a short film on its own. It reminded me of the more elaborate, longer, more melodramatic ‘Beaches,’ a story of friendship and love, which remains to this day, close to my heart. I am a romantic in all kinds of love, including the beauty of friendship.

The movie is about a young husband’s reaction to grief of losing his wife in a most unusual way and how he deals with being left to care for a small baby, played by Romain Duris (who is rather good and comfortable playing this role). He asks his wife’s best friend for help and advice, played by Anais Demoustier, who becomes embroiled into his secret, and isn’t sure where to turn. Romain Duris (The Beat that my Heart Skipped, Heartbreaker) plays a wonderful protagonist who is easy and fun to watch, against Anais Demoustier, an expressive and likeable actress whose name you will hear more of in the future. The film is mostly endearing because of its actors, but it feels at times confused, and quite convoluted, but I still enjoyed it nevertheless.

Verdict: If you love Pedro Almodovar, you will love Francois Ozon’s films, so check it out.  




In the Press, Reviews

VIP Collector’s Preview Day Frieze Art Fair 2014 & PAD 2014


(All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM Copyright 2014)

I was lucky enough to get invites to both the VIP Collector’s Preview Day at the Frieze Art Fair 2014 and the VIP Collector’s Preview Day at PAD Art + Design Fair this past Tuesday October 14th 2014. Two fairs, one person. What to do? A bit of Art hopping and hobnobbing was in order. Not that I am Art expert or a major Art collector to deserve the honour. For those who may be intimidated by the whole ‘Art world,’ and view it as inaccessible, abstract, cultural elitism, don’t be  fooled. Frieze is just about creativity as it is about the economic Art market. An auctioneer once told me that the big auction houses are just like vultures, when a big art collector is dying, the auction houses circle around until the last breath and then pounce. The condolence cards could just as well read ‘We are very sorry for your loss and will happily find buyers for your collection.’


The Fair

Frieze week has become more than two Art fairs (Frieze and Frieze Masters) in Regent’s Park. It is one of the cultural events of the year, with gallery parties, openings and shows all over town, auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctioning away, and this week attracts some of the biggest Artists, Art dealers, Art collectors, gallery owners and Art lovers coming from every corner of the world. The Frieze VIP Collector’s Preview Day is one of the hottest tickets, reserved for serious collectors, gallerists, Artists, Art dealers, a few celebs, the press and a few onlookers like me. This year, after 11 years of practice, the fair seemed cozier than usual, more mature, and less souk-like.


The People

I arrived at the Frieze Preview Day late afternoon, where I met Mr. X, and entered the fair at the same time as Sienna Miller, who was sporting her baby-accessory on her right hip, along with her husband, on the other hip. For just a split second, I had baby envy: no, not hers, I wanted my little one with me hanging off my hip, bringing her around to hip events like the Frieze. That thought quickly was banished from my mind, imagining myself dragging a toddler around an Art fair who would be more interested in deconstructing the art, rather than appreciating ‘art deconstructionism.’

The ‘Arterati’ provided excellent people watching, as usual, from the green haired up-and-coming artists, the proven artists (Tracey Emin spotted), the leather and fur wearing collectors, and many, many dealers. This year’s preview felt overpowered by the dealers rather than the collectors, brokering deals with their clients over their Android phones.

For a real insider’s guide to the Art World, read Sarah Thornton’s ‘7 Days in the Art World:’

The Art

The question around Modern Art is always, ‘What constitutes Art?’ ‘And when does something become a piece of art?’ A shoe in a glass case. A cereal box. The Thomas Dane gallery, who is credited for starting Steve McQueen’s career, had on display supermarket crates as a piece of Art. Can anyone tell me the meaning/expression of supermarket crates? Did I just miss the point of it? Does it mean consumerism, waste or just that someone forgot to return the crates after they were done unloading the Art?

My equations of Art:



Art+Collector=Lots of Money. 


Victoria Miro Art Gallery exhibiting the likes of Kusama Yayoi.


UNITED GALLERY. One of the most talked about exhibits, the famous Fukushima soup, ‘Does this Soup Taste Ambivalent?’ from the United Brothers, is a soup made by their mother from radishes from Fukushima. It defies the viewer to try the soup, which may or may not be radioactive. Needless to say, I did not see a line of people waiting to try the soup.


Frieze Project: Nick Mauss ‘Living Stage.’ Performance Art featured highly at this year’s Frieze like this ballet performance.


Another performance, this time involving the public, who seemed to read off a script for what looked like a Film audition.


Playful children’s themes, like Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, Cereal boxes and stuffed animal displays brought a light side to the Frieze.



This B&W photograph of books was one of my favourite pieces of Art at the Frieze. To me, it evoked my love of books, and my personal feeling and emotion of comfort and safety from being surrounded by books.

PAD: Pavilion of Art + Design Fair, Berkeley Square

If the Frieze were a colour, it would be white; white tent, white paths, white walls, whereas the PAD Art+Design Fair would be Black, black walls and blackouts (there were about 6 blackouts throughout the preview day). Despite the blackouts, the fair was a sleek, sparkly and shiny, furniture-heavy event. There was a mix of ethnic, contemporary, jewellery and design pieces. An aquamarine necklace was on sale for £400,000 and had its own personal jewellery bodyguard. There were some great light installations, sculptures and an art deco table that I could see in my house. There were more pieces at PAD, in my opinion, that I could live with than at Frieze.


A furniture display that could easily fit in my home.




Alexander Calder.

We finished off our night at the Arts Club, where we saw Beyonce and Jay Z at the Upstairs bar. I am pleased to say that I was feeling on trend, wearing black leather trousers and a black blazer, just like Beyonce. I must be recovering from my Fashionitis ;).






NHYM on the Front Cover of the Saturday Times Magazine 11/10/14





NHYM made the cover of the Saturday Times Magazine (UK edition), 11/10/14. I was asked to write an article on the lives of the SuperRich, purely for entertainment and informative purposes. So here I wrote on being a BWAG, why we are a dying breed, why I am mistaken for the nanny and why I am a SuperRich man’s pauper. Here are the first two pages. Contact me for further information….




In the Press, Reviews

Top 10 Art Events in London, October 2014


Bertrand Lavier Fountain at the Serpentine Gallery


October should be renamed ‘Artober‘, as the line up of Art this month in London is extravagant and impressive, from the Frieze to the London Film Festival, the entire Art World will be descending unto London, competing savagely for exposure, clients and prestige. From Modern Art to Film, to the Frieze masters to fountains out of garden hoses, there is something for everyone who appreciates Art. The private view invites have been stacking up in my e/mail, enticing me to all of them but since I won’t be able to tele-transport myself to each and every one of them, I have chosen my Top 10 picks that I would go to, if a tele-transporting machine existed. I will review my Top 3 over the next few weeks.

Below are my TOP 10 Art Events going on around town this October:

1. British Film Institute London Film Festival: 8th to the 19th of October. From Channing Tatum as a wrestler, Benedicte Cumberbatch at war, a ‘Fury’ Brad Pitt, and a ‘Wild’ Reese Witherspoon, the red carpet promises to showcase some of the best emerging as well as experienced acting talent.

2. Frieze Art Fair Preview day and VIP Collectors Preview:  Tuesday, October 14. Open to the pubic: 15-19th October.

3. PAD London Art+Design Fair: Preview & Collector’s Day Tuesday October 14th. Open to the public 15-19th October.

4. Sigmar Polke: Alibis. Opening at the Tate Modern: Private view Wednesday October 8th. October 9 – February 8 2015.

5. Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery: Private view Tuesday 14th. Open to public October 15 to January 18, 2015.

6. Damien Hirst new exhibit ‘Schizophrenogenesis’ at the Paul Stopler Gallery. October 9- November 15th 2014. A pill-popping exhibit, which attempts to keep Damien Hirst relevant.

7. Bertrand Lavier Fountain Opening on Wednesday October 13th at the Serpentine Gallery. This artist uses everyday objects which he turns into art, in this case, ‘jets of water emanate from an unruly mass of garden hoses’.

8. Tracey Emin: ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’ at White Cube Gallery. October 8- November 16, 2014. The Last Great Adventure is You, is her latest work, and initially started as ‘a reference to the ‘other person’; however, over the two year period since she began creating this body of work, she came to realise that the implication was once again coming back to the self’.

9. Steve McQueen at the Thomas Dane Gallery. Tuesday October 14 – November 15. The award-winning film maker and artist shows two works, a film based and an object based work which, ‘hovers between the specific and the universal, the literal and the abstract, evading definition and multiplying experiential and interpretive possibilities’.

10. Self: Bacon, Hirst, Koons and Picasso at the Ordovas Gallery. October 14 – December 13, 2014. Self ‘looks at the interpretations of self-portraiture of four of the greatest artists of the 20th century, spanning the modern and contemporary eras’.





Review: Private Member’s Club, The Arts Club

Quote of the Day: ‘Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?’

Arts club (Photo courtesy of NHYM Copyright 2014)

The Arts Club

40 Dover Street

London W1S 4NP


Food: 4.25 stars

Design: 4.5 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value for Money: 3.5/4 stars

Overall: 4.25 stars


(Ground floor restaurant. Photo courtesy of the internet)

Lately, I have been going to the Arts Club on a weekly or biweekly basis, after not going for almost a year. But then all of a sudden, everyone seems to want to go; guests from out of town, girls dinners or those wanting to try Kyubi, the – relatively – new delicious Japanese on the roof, which is now one of my firm favourites. Perhaps it’s a backlash to the Chiltern Firehouse craze and just wanting the simplicity of an easy reservation made on Friday morning for Friday night, and a predictably good meal (which is not always the case at Chiltern). The great thing about the Arts Club is that you never know what kind of night you’re going to have or who you’re going to sit next to, which creates a never-ending curiosity. Last week, I had Lionel Ritchie sitting next to me. I had to stop myself from singing ‘Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?’ and telling him all the great memories I’ve had with his songs as a young, hot-blooded teenager. With celebrities, you always feel a familiarity and intimacy that they of course  sense as ‘obsessive crazy fan.’ Luckily, I stopped myself just in time. In any case, at the Arts Club, you never know if you’ll have a night of octogenarian, zimmer-frame grannies & grandpas, arms dealers from somewhere far East or South, Russian billionaires, Mark Francis Vandelli of Made In Chelsea (actually, he is there nightly, usually at the ground floor bar), Naomi Campbell or some kind of HRH Beatrice/Eugenie/Philip/Harry.

The Club

The Arts Club is housed in a beautiful building on Dover Street (home to Mahiki, Mayfair Club and the new Victoria Beckham store). It was co-founded by Charles Dickens in 1863 and has had a myriad of artists and patrons guests and members over the years such as Turgenev, Rodin and Degas. It is currently over 4 different floors: the basement Club Nouveau Nightclub has heard impromptu guests like Gwenyth Paltrow and Ronnie Woods performing and is now advertising private concerts with performers like and Lauryn Hill. The ground floor restaurant, the Brasserie, is a glamorous, art deco room with a clientele mix of everything from Joan Collins, Roman Abramovic to Pamela Anderson look-alikes. There is a lot of trout here, no, not on the menu, just in the form of trout pouts. The outdoor seating area is a garden of delight, for balmy summer evenings.


(Outdoor garden. Photo courtesy of the internet)

The bar on the first floor is a rounded bar leading to another dining area, with a similar but shorter menu from the ground floor restaurant. It tends to have a slightly younger crowd, full of girls dinners, hedge fund managers, and women wearing more porn-than-prude clothing. My inner granny self wants to cover them with a pashmina and tell them to go home to a nice cup of tea. Finally, the rooftop is home to Kyubi, a Japanese with offerings similar to Nobu/Zuma. The best part of this restaurant is the roof-terrace area, which takes you to a rooftop Riad in Morocco. Except with sashimi instead of tagine.


(Roof terrace at Kyubi. Photo courtesy of the Internet)

The Food

The menu at the Arts Club, created by one of the chefs from ‘La Petite Maison,’ offers some great staple dishes with great flavours. If you like La Petite Maison, you will most likely like the food here. The menu is extensive with about 12 starters, an entire section for shellfish (oysters and lobster), two types of tartares, and another 16 main dishes. This is a place you can come to over and over again without ever getting too bored too quickly of the menu, which is a plus for a member’s clubs. The food beats the Electric and 5 Hertford Street hands down purely on food. Some of my favourites are the escargots, yellowtail ceviche, and green bean starters, the steak tartare, the Club salad, and the herb crusted veal chop (delicious, the only place I actually allow myself to indulge in a poor-little-veal-meal). There are better-than-other dishes, so it’s just a matter of finding the ones that you fancy. It is piggy-bank-breaking expensive, so save those pennies.


(Toro. Photo courtesy of the Internet)

The food at Kyubi is also delicious, featuring mini taco-type starter bites which are divine, the tuna avocado one is definitely one to order. The new stream sashimi, with different kinds of salmon and tuna sashimi with yuzu and citrus flavours are all mouth-watering (really, my mouth is salivating as I write this). The lobster tempura is worth it just for the visual sculpture of fried-noodle coral. You just have to see it. The plain sashimi is not their best asset, so i wouldn’t boast too much about it. The vegetable skewers of asparagus and mushrooms are similar to the ones at Zuma, I could eat them as a vegetarian meal with a little rice on the side.

The Ambience

Ah, the ambience. Like I previously mentioned, it is a revolving door of multi-cultural nationalities and personalities. Arabs mingle with Jews, Russians compete with Americans for how loud they can be, the Chinese and Nepalese (or wherever they were from) are either dressed in jeans and T-shirts or Chanel, the Nigerians like the gospel Sunday brunch. Every Super Rich nationality in London is represented here. It is what you could call a global, moneyed club, that only requires connections and a plush bank account for entry. Let’s say it how it is. This club is mostly for Art Patron members these days rather than for artists. The club was renovated in 2011 when its membership and bank account was dwindling to attract a glitzier, glamorous, wealthy crowd to inject ‘modern money’ into the club. With Gwenyth and her friends promoting the club in 2011, it was guaranteed to attract attention. Still, the club offers lectures in how to collect art, private views to the Royal Academy or the Frieze, and talks about fine wine and fashion (I recently missed a talk by Diane Von Furstenburg). There are even events for children, like Easter Parties, circus and painting events.


(Club Nouveau. Photo courtesy of the Internet)

Apart from some wonderful events – that I always mean to go to but never go to – the people-watching is just conversation-stopping. Victoria Beckham just recently celebrated one of her 40th birthday dinners there with Gordon Ramsay et. al. Beyonce and Jay Z came as well last time they were in London. And then there are moments when you see the clientele and wonder ‘just where in the world are they from?’ There are women who are wearing not much more than Miley Cyrus on a good day. There are men who look like they are making some dodgy business dealings involving governments, commodities, arms and pipelines. It is a spectacle of cosmopolitan London, for those wanting to keep their dealings behind closed doors.

The Verdict

The Arts Club is an artfully decorated member’s club oozing glamour and coolness, in each of its restaurants, bars, and nightclub. The United Nations clientele provides endless entertainment, intriguing, beguiling and sometimes plain bizarre (Lady Gaga has been a guest). But the food is grown up and sophisticated modern European and modern Japanese at Kyubi. The best nights are during the week, in my opinion, with less B&T crowds. Soon, a 16 room boutique hotel will be opening to cater to the international overseas clientele who have memberships but don’t actually live in London. For a swanky and glitzy night out, the Arts Club rarely fails to deliver, so bring your out-of-town friends or parents for a night of people-watching and gawping, all for the cost of a small island in the Pacific.

Celebrities at the Arts Club, London, UK

(Lady Gaga outside the Arts Club. Photo courtesy of the Internet)