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alfresco dining

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, Stay, The Netherlands

The Pulitzer Hotel, Amsterdam

March 18, 2017
The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

Amsterdam has changed hugely in the past few years when it comes to hotels.  The iconic Amstel and De L’Europe have been pushed aside with the openings of new, better, glitzier or more contemporary hotels like the Waldorf Astoria (stunning all round), the W (I love the bar here) and the Hoxton (great for brunch).

The Pulitzer Amsterdam has been around for years, but shut for a massive refurbishment.  It re-opened in August 2016 and wow, it’s a stunner.  I’d never been to it before the renovation, so I don’t have much to compare it to.  But I was impressed not only with the look and feel of the place (a little Soho House-esque in terms of design and quirky touches) but also by how despite the hotel having 225 rooms, it still feels like a boutique hotel.

The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

It looks small(ish) from the outside too, but it’s actually 25 (!) canal houses put together, and connected by wonderful gardens and terraces, which will, I’m sure, be very popular in the summer.  The lobby stands out upon entering, with lots of colour and art.  And I love their cafe Pause, where we had tea and a delicious banana cake.

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

While we only saw one room, I loved the look of it, under the beams, which is so quintessentially Dutch.  And it’s this mixture of classic Dutch design and a touch of the eclectic (and eccentric) which works so well here.   Some of the suites look amazing too.

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

My favourite part of the hotel was the Pulitzer Bar, so slick and beautiful and inviting and of course open to locals too.  I will be returning their for one of their signature cocktails.  Their restaurant Jansz also looks great, and can be accessed from the Reestraat (one of the nine ‘little streets’ / Negen Straatjes).

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

In short, all the Amsterdam old-timer hotels and even the new kids on the block need to watch out, as the Pulitzer provides a more affordable five star option, which will especially attract a younger, trendier crowd.

The Pulitzer

Prinsengracht 323,

1016 GZ Amsterdam

Rooms from EUR 275 a night

Photo credit: Pulitzer Hotel (apart from the photo of the bar)

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

September 5, 2016
The Ninth, Fitzrovia

It might seem like a bit of a cheat writing a blog about a restaurant where I’ve only had pudding*.  But this pudding is so good it deserves its own blog.  Even though I had it 3 weeks ago I cannot stop thinking about it.  I’m plotting when to return.

Let’s rewind.  Having had a delicious dinner at Bao Fitzrovia, which fully lived up to expectations, I decided I wanted proper dessert and a proper (large) glass of wine.  Being right by Charlotte street we were in no better area to find both items, and so we strolled along until we got to the Ninth.  I’d read good things about this place, no less regarding its attractive Japanese celeb chef Jun Tanaka, but mainly about the food.  It also, like most Charlotte Street restaurants (another reason why I love it so) has a little terrace outside, with, in our case, empty tables.

The staff were ever so charming and more than happy for us to enjoy dessert and wine outside.  The dessert menu had some very appealing options and I was almost tempted to go for the Tarte Tatin.   But the (lovely) waiter insisted I try their famous ‘Pain Perdu’, which sounded like my sort of thing.  Best decision ever.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

It’s really rather pleasant sitting on their terrace with the heaters on, watching Charlotte Street go by, sipping a good glass of French (obvi) wine.  But life got just that little bit better when a loaf of beautifully caramelised French toast was placed in front of me.  With wonderful vanilla ice cream.  The loaf was soft and warm on the inside, but with a slight caramel crunch on the outside.  It’s quite a lot of pudding, but scary how quickly and easily that vanished (my Instagram photo below).  Don’t get one to share, it’s too good for that.  And while a portion that size might leave you feeling sick, it wasn’t overly sweet so I felt just fine afterwards (if slightly on a sugar high).

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

The great thing is that since I didn’t actually have dinner there, I have an excuse to go back (the menu looks good, and prices reasonable).  Inside was also appealing, dimly lit, buzzing without being noisy, the ideal date place perhaps.

If the rest of the menu is anything like the Pain Perdu, then it will certainly be a dinner to remember.

**Since writing this blog I actually went back for lunch in the sun with my father.  We enjoyed two of their delicious salads/ceviche and their oxtail croquettes which were delicious.  To finish, we had the Pain Perdu, of course!  Couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

The Ninth

22 Charlotte Street

Fitzrovia

Photo credit: The Ninth

Blog, South Africa

Maison Estate, Franschoek

December 28, 2015
Maison Estate, Franschoek

A night or two in the wine lands around Cape Town is a must. I didn’t have time to go to Stellenbosch, but did manage to see a few wineries in and around Franshoek.

As mentioned previously, I fell in love with Babylonstoren, a winery/Cape Dutch farm in the winelands, in between Paarl and Franschoek.  But I’d say my favourite winery in Franschoek was the Maison Estate and Kitchen.

Maison Estate, Franschoek

Driving up to the main building, known as the ‘Kitchen’ (which now also has a Deli), it seemed small and unassuming. Walking in however, I was surprised by the spacious interiors – all light woods, a roaring fire, modern lighting and at the back a huge glass sliding door leading to a large terrace and views of the vineyard, gardens and the mountains.  While Franschoek is known for its beauty, I will still taken aback by the breathtaking view here.

Maison Estate, FranschoekMaison Estate, Franschoek

We had booked lunch elsewhere, but had heard that the food was very good here, so decided to stay for a glass of wine and a starter. Rob went for the beef tartar and I went for the duck salad. But before that arrived we were brought a basket of warm fresh bread and a cabbage tapenade which was excellent.  Our ‘starters’ too did not disappoint.  Nor did the wine.

Maison Estate, FranschoekMaison Estate, Franschoek

For those of you staying in Franschoek, I recommend taking the wine train which will also stop here. A nice way of seeing as many of these beautiful wineries as possible. Or if time is precious, then you can still pop into Maison Estate and visit their newly opened Deli, with amazing jars filled with jams or pickled vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, funny souvenirs and wonderful wines of course for sale. It’s about a 10 minute drive from Franschoek itself, so well worth it.

Maison Estate, Franschoek

Best though is to book a table for lunch – outside on the terrace. You won’t regret it.

Other recommended wineries are La Petite Ferme and Mont Rochelle.

Maison Estate

R45, Franschoek

Cape Town, 7690

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