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My favourite restaurants of 2017

December 29, 2017
Le Dali, Le Meurice, Paris

This year blogging has taken a bit of a backseat as I’ve had to prioritise other things.  But below is a summary of all the restaurants I loved this year, from London to Stockholm to Marrakech:

LONDON

Neo Bistro ££

One of my top 2017 favourites is this slightly under the radar bistro, set up by the ex-Harwood Arms chef and the owner of Anglo. Ignore its slightly dodgy location right by Oxford Street as this cosy restaurant offers a fantastic tasting menu at great value: six courses for £45.

Neo Bistro, London

Serge et le Phoque, The Mandrake Hotel ££

Well this certainly was a bit of a showstopper.  Not just the restaurant, but the Mandrake Hotel itself.  It’s certainly ‘out there’ in terms of decor and design; fun, over the top and daring.  The restaurant is more toned down, with a real focus on the food.  Which is very good.  Also, the bathrooms are very cool.

Serge et le Phoque, Mandrake Hotel, London

Magpie £

Magpie is the new restaurant by the guys who opened the very popular (Michelin star) Pidgin in Hackney.  Its very central location on Heddon Street means no excuses not to go, and 100% worth it.  Fun vibes, with trolleys of small plates zipping by, ensuring you can try the full range of their delicious dishes.   The tartare in particular was excellent.

Magpie, London

CUT at 45 Park Lane £££

An oldie but a goodie.  You can’t go wrong with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, but it’s been an age since I’ve had meat as good as it was here.  The perfect place for a spoiling dinner.

Wishlist: Southam Street, Clove Club, Lyle’s (yes, I know I’ve very behind)

 

UK COUNTRYSIDE

The Mash Inn, Buckinghamshire 

It’s only been open for a year or so but it’s gone from strength to strength.  This pub with rooms, less than a 30 minute train ride from Marylebone, is ideal for a quick London getaway.  Especially for foodies, their 9 course tasting menu (£65) is phenomenal.  And the homemade breakfast in bed is the best wake up ever.

The Mash Inn

The Bull Inn, Cotswolds

One of my favourite countryside getaways this year was at the adorable and beyond cosy Bull Inn, a beautiful pub with rooms in the charming village of Charlbury.  Every room is carefully designed with a lovely use of colour and different wallpaper, and it was close to impossible leaving their cosy fireplace.  Their restaurant offers well priced, hearty British dishes and the staff are wonderful.

The Bull Inn, Charlbury

 

ITALY

Piano Strada, Rome

A new favourite in a city which keeps on giving.  This restaurant, run by four blondes, ticks all the boxes. Great location, cool interiors, excellent food.  We’ve booked to return in January.

Piana Strade, Rome

Apollinare, Spoleto 

Should you find yourself in this quiet but very pretty Umbrian town, make sure you have lunch at this brilliant restaurant.  It was the first lunch we had of our holiday, but safe to say also the best.  Book a table on their terrace and eat pasta to your hearts content.

Apollinare, Spoleto

 

STOCKHOLM

Oaxen Slip

Our favourite restaurant in the city with a lot of good restaurants.  Charming service, lovely setting, and excellent food. Obviously go for the fish dishes, you are in Sweden after all.

Oaxen Slip, Stockholm

Rosendals Tradgard

The only place for a picnic lunch in Stockholm’s summer months.  No prettier place to be than in Rosendal Park, eating the cafe’s delicious sandwiches and cafes. Affordable too (for Stockholm).

Rosendals Tradgard, Stockholm

More recommendations for Stockholm can be found here.

 

MARRAKECH

La Famille

Like stepping into an oasis of calm and green, in the middle of Marrakech’s hectic medina.  If you need a break from tagines then La Famille is the answer, offering incredible salads and pastas and cakes in a beautiful, bohemian setting.

Le Famille, Marrakech

Wishlist: La Table du Marche

More tips for Morocco can be found here.

 

PARIS

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

The most sparkly, beautiful breakfast imaginable.  I can only imagine what dinner is like here.

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

Le Dali at Le Meurice

There are few more eye catching restaurants than Le Dali, in one of the most iconic hotels in Paris.  And *those* deserts! Not to be missed.

Le Dali, Le Meurice

Wishlist: Carbon, Balagan

 

AMSTERDAM

Entrepot

Located in up and coming East Amsterdam in the iconic Entrepot dock, this brand new restaurant is not only beautiful to look at, but the food is good too.  And not your standard fare either, often seasonal products are used, mostly cooked on an open fire.  I love the service here, who greet you with a handshake and were exceptionally friendly and helpful all evening.

Entrepot, Amsterdam

Bureau

Despite its odd location, just outside the city along a motorway, Restaurant Bureau is a unique restaurant with an incredible rooftop terrace and a well priced menu.  It’s not the place for first time Amsterdam visitors, but if you know the city well, this is the ideal place to try something different.

Bureau, Amsterdam

For more Amsterdam tips, click here.

Wishlist: Choux, Marius, Vinkeles (at the Dylan)

 

OMAN

The Japanese Restaurant, the Chedi

The most romantic setting for dinner, sitting at the candlelit Long Pool of this beautiful Muscat hotel.  Phenomenal Japanese food.  More tips on Oman can be found here.

The Chedi, Muscat

 

VIENNA

The Palmenhaus

The Palmenhaus has been around for years, and I still remembered it from my time of living in Vienna almost 20 years ago.  It’s a beautiful, airy, old tropical house, perfect for a coffee and an excellent cake, or for lunch or dinner, overlooking the Burggarten.  A special place.

Palmenhaus, Vienna

More recommendations for Vienna can be found here.

Blog, Eat, Healthy, London

My favourite spots in London for healthy eating

January 10, 2016

Yes, January has come round quickly.  Last year I wrote about my favourite eight healthy places in London (see here), and some have made a re-appearance in this blog on 2016.  But there are also new ones which made the cut:

Ethos – the vegetarian buffet option

I’m not usually a fan of vegetarian restaurants, especially not ones which have a help yourself buffet and where you pay for the food by its weight.  But Ethos – with it’s cool Scandi design, large range of seriously delicious dishes (warm and cold, all gluten free) was a definite hit with me.  During the week they serve breakfast/brunch (avocado on toast/pancakes/scrambled eggs) and it’s a shame they don’t offer this on the weekend, but my Saturday lunch there was sublime (highlight: the zucchini and cheddar fritters).  Watch out how much you pile on your plate though, it can add up quite quickly.

Ethos, Oxford Circus

Farm Girl – the trendy Notting Hill hot spot

Just off Portobello Road, this hidden away gem, with stunning design (still loving their dark green tiles), offers the ideal healthy brunch.  THeir berry pancakes are the dream, everyone raves about their BLT (expect smoked coconut is used instead of bacon), and you may catch a glimpse of the live in and adorable grey French Bulldog. While the service can be a bit haphazard, I think the food and atmosphere make up for it.

Farm Girl, Notting Hill

Little H – my trusted local

I love everything about Little H, from its quirky California-esque design, to its well-priced cold-pressed juices (£3.90 for a small, which isn’t that small) and delicious chia pots.  Even if it’s raining outside, stepping into this tiny space, with its friendly service and array of (healthy) delights on the counter, will cheer you up any day.  If you need something more substantial, you’ve got big sister Hally’s across the road, which also never lets you down.

Little H - Parsons Green

Andina – for a South American twist

Ceviche’s sister restaurant in East London but not be your obvious choice, but here they offer South American food with a healthy twist.  Expect lots of quinoa, super foods (the first time I tried Lucama was here), cold-pressed juices and more. For breakfast they offer ‘safe’ healthy options like avocados and eggs on sourdough, but you can also try their more original Huevos Q’apachana (poached eggs with spicy potato puree, spinach and mushrooms).

Andina

Snaps & Rye and Lundenwic – for your healthy Scandi fix

Both Snaps & Rye (Golborne Road) and Lundenwic (Covent Garden) are great options for healthy but delicious breakfasts and lunches.  While Lundenwic does a wonderful porridge for breakfast, and hearty soups, cold-pressed juices and good sandwiches for lunch, at Snaps & Rye you should really try their ‘smorrebrod’ offerings with fresh herring or cured salmon.  Superb.

Snaps & Rye, Notting Hill

Tanya’s Cafe – for the superfood cocktails

OK so being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out alcohol all together (I am not partaking in Dry January).  At Tanya’s Cafe you can have the best of both worlds: delicious, fresh, raw food and superfood cocktails.  My favourite was the combination of one of their raw cheesecakes (to die for) and one of their sugar free cocktails.

Tanya's Cafe, Chelsea

Good Life Eatery – the original healthy cafe

Having started in South ken, you can also find the Good Life Eatery in Marylebone, and news is that they will soon be opening in Belgravia.  Which is good news for everyone, because this cosy (if pricey) cafe offers your perfect healthy options.  I love their gluten free scones and brownies, and their juices are delicious too.

Good life Eatery

Apart from the above, the Detox Kitchen (who have just opened a new branch in Kingly Court), Nama, Crussh and Juice Baby are all great alternatives.

With all these options there’s no excuse not to at least try and be healthy this month!

Amsterdam, Argentina, Blog, Italy, Lisbon, London, Marrakech, Morocco, Portugal, Puglia, South Africa

Best of 2015: My favourites

December 29, 2015
city turtle

2015 has been a busy year in terms of travel, I’ve done numerous city weekend breaks in Europe (Amsterdam / Lisbon / Barcelona /Krakow), some relaxing, foodie holidays (Puglia / Bordeaux / Cyprus) and some serious ‘wow’ trips (Argentina / South Africa).

Here are my 2015 favourites: 

The Show Stopper: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town.

No wonder it’s been awarded South Africa’s number one restaurant for the 4th year in a row, as well as the best restaurant in Africa.  We were so lucky to have dinner here and try their incredible 10 course Tasting Menu.  We sat at the kitchen bar, which I highly recommend, as it is truly one of the best experiences watching these top chefs put together the most incredible food.

Runner up: La Colombe, the sophisticated and much-loved restaurant in Constantia, the exclusive suburb of Cape Town.  With beautiful views, delicate food and perfect service, I can completely understand why people rave about it (and why it was voted South Africa’s 2nd best restaurant).

Test Kitchen, Cape Town

Most spectacular Hotel: Eolo, Argentina.

I was completely blown away by this fantastic Relais & Chateaux, nestled in the Patagonian hills.  This is a simple, elegant and intimate boutique hotel – which is all about the views, the fantastic service, the beautiful Argentine design and the excellent food.  By far the best place I stayed in Argentina.

Runner up was Rattrays, Mala Mala in Sabi Sands.  The most beautiful colonial lodge, and the best base for wildlife viewing in South Africa. Runner up 2: Babylonstoren, South Africa, the most wonderful Cape Dutch farm and hotel in between Franschoek and Paarl.  I could not fault the design.

Eolo, Argentina

Favourite new discovery: Puglia, Italy.

Italy is, and will always be, my favourite country.  And I know it quite well.  But 2015 was the first time I traveled to ‘the heel’ of Italy, to Puglia, and I was taken aback by how much I adored it.  So different to the rest of the country, I loved its dark red earth, the hundred year old olive groves, turquoise seas, the white-washed hill top towns, the brilliant food and wine, and the incredible value for money.  Read all about my favourite places in Puglia here.

Runner up: Krakow, Poland.  Who knew Poland was quite so beautiful?  I absolutely loved this pretty and well-preserved Medieval city.  Wonderful architecture, great dining options, and super affordable.

Controcorrente, Ostuni

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Favourite new London restaurant: Shackfuyu, Soho.

Fans of the Bone Daddies restaurant group will not have missed their Soho pop up, which received such high acclaim (especially its Kinako french toast with green tea soft serve ice cream) that it has now thankfully become a permanent fixture.  My favourite dish was the aubergine with babu aruru, that alone is a reason to return.

Runner up: Taberna do Mercado.  While Nuno Mendes’ new Spittalfields restaurant has divided opinion, I loved this cosy, down to earth Portuguese restaurant, with hearty ‘grandma-style’ dishes.

Bone Daddies Shackfuyu, Soho

Favourite new London bar: The Gin Parlour at Mr Fogg’s Tavern, Soho.

I was already a fan of Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, and so was delighted when Mr Fogg’s Tavern opened at the end of the year.  While the Tavern itself is often heaving, upstairs you’ll find a much quieter and more sophisticated Victorian Gin Parlour, with delicious (albeit expensive) cocktails.

Runner upCahoots . While it’s a nightmare to get a booking, I thought the interiors and the Underground theme was incredible (and the cocktail prices reasonable).

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

Best value hotel: The Capaldi, Marrakech.

If you’re looking for a sunny but short break away from London, then Marrakech is the perfect option.  Just a 3 hour flight, but where the weather is infinitely better and where there is an astonishing array of five star hotels.  While the likes of the Amanjena, the new Mandarin Oriental and Kasbah Tamadot are luxurious but very expensive options, the Capaldi offers the best of both worlds.  It’s a beautiful hotel, set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, half an hour drive from Marrakech’s medina, and a complete paradise.  Best of all is that rooms are from £100 per night, so totally affordable.  I loved it.

Runner up: Hotel Ormes de Pez, in the Medoc area of Bordeaux. With only a few rooms, I loved staying at this very comfortable, traditional French Chateau boutique hotel, where you are beautifully looked after by Gilles.

Capaldi, Marrakech

 i

Favourite new London hotel: The Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone.

The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell is a London favourite, but the new Townhouse in West London is giving it a good run for its money.  With quirky interiors, a very cosy sitting room/bar/lounge and rooms with the comfiest looking beds I’ve seen – this is British design at its best.

Runner up: the very modern Mondrian Hotel at the Sea Containers on the South Bank, where I especially loved the views and the cocktail bar.

Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone

Favourite Amsterdam new-comer: Cafe Panache, Amsterdam.

This laid-back, stylish cafe-restaurant had such a fantastic vibe, I thought I was in New York.  The food is good, but the main reason to come is for the atmosphere, and the bar filled with locals, which stays open until late.

Runner up: The W Hotel, Amsterdam.  While I’m not a massive fan of the W group, I must say I completely adored the new W’s ‘Lounge’ bar on the top floor, where the views of the Dam Palace are out of this world, and where I’d pay good money to have a swim in their pool with a view.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

Most original bar: Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires.

It doesn’t get more original than when the entrance to a bar is a fully functioning flower shop.  This bar has been repeatedly voted one of the world’s best bars, and I can totally see why.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires

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Favourite healthy option: Pluk, Amsterdam.

Too pretty for words, this newcomer to Amsterdam’s beloved Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) is the perfect girlie health haven.  Pick a juice, a salad and a detox shot and you’re good to go.  I love their Instagram feed too.  If you’re looking for something more substantial for brunch, then their sister property Ree 7 (on the same street), is also worth checking out.

Runner up: Flax & Kale, Barcelona. I was really wowed by this healthy ‘flexitarian’ restaurant, which combined stunning interiors with a delicious, unique menu.

Pluk, Amsterdam

 i

Best bottomless brunch: Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell.

2015 was the year I fell in love with Exmouth Market, a new part of London I had shockingly never been to before.  B&H Buildings is around the corner, and it’s colonial, bright interiors makes it the ideal place for brunch (try and get a table in their green house).  Best of all is that they offer bottomless Bellinis (£16) or Bloody Mary’s (£15) for weekend brunch.

Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell

Favourite local: Hally’s and Little H, Parsons Green.

Fulham gets criticised for being slightly on the dull side when it comes to restaurants and bars, but one thing it can get right is brunch.  Hally’s remains one of my favourite Fulham locals, and with the arrival of its smaller and healthier sister property Little H (with a Cali twist), I couldn’t be happier.

Runner up: St Clements, toward Eelbrook Common, is also a great option if Hally’s is fully booked.  Manuka Kitchen also remains a firm favourite.

Hally's Parsons Green

Favourite City Break: Lisbon, Portugal.

It was my second time visiting the Portuguese capital this year, and I liked it even more than the first time I went.  Lisbon combines excellent weather with beautiful architecture, an innovative foodie scene and incredible value for money.   Take an extra day off work and give yourself a day on the beach to add some proper R&R to this city break, and you’ll feel like you’ve been on a proper holiday.  Read all about my Lisbon highlights here.

Runner up: Barcelona.  This Spanish city never fails to disappoint. With wonderful tapas bars, fantastic rooftop bars and the beach (with its brilliant beach bars), I could return again and again.

Lisbon

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Blog, Drink, London

Three great London rooftop bars

June 25, 2014
rooftop bars London

These days London seems to be all about its rooftop bars and restaurants.  Which is totally understandable considering London’s amazing sky line, which is constantly changing, with brand new sky scraper landmarks popping up like daisies.  Now is the best time to go, with summer well on its way and the weather finally showing its kind side.

roof top bars london

This week I was lucky enough to visit three, which had been high on my list (no pun intended):

Radio Bar, ME Hotel, the Strand

The press went mad when the ME Hotel, part of the famous Melia brand, opened on the Strand at the end of 2012.  And you can see why.  The ME’s real ‘wow factor’, the Radio Bar, photographs exceptionally well.  From the slick design to the wide terrace with 360 degree views, you can’t not be tempted by the photo below.

Radio Bar, ME Hotel

So what did I think of it?

The View: Well, the view is as good as it can possibly get.  Everything in London worth seeing is visible from up here.  It covers all the London landmarks.  And it makes you feel just a little bit proud to be a Londoner.

Radio Bar London

THE VIEWS

Radio Bar London

Drinks: A bitter disappointment.  I thought I’d treat myself to an (expensive) cocktail.  They are all £12.50 – just about doable.  But then they add an astronomical service charge of 15% to it (and the service is definitely average).  So that quickly adds up to £14.30.  That better mean a very good cocktail. Which it wasn’t.  I ordered a Grapefruit Cooler, which sounded good – Bombay Sapphire, ginger, lemon grass, grapefruit.  Except it turned out to just be Gin with a grapefruit sparkling mixer which tasted similar to Fanta Lemon.  Nicht cool.

The Vibe: It’s a super busy, even on weekdays.  If you come here spontaneously (like we did), be prepared to stand.  Big spenders come here to flash their cash and make a lot of noise.  Girls are tarted up to the maximum.  If you want to book a table there is a (high) minimum spend, so it’s hard to come here with a group of friends unless you want to spend a fair bit.  There is loud music and on the weekend it’s open until 3am, so you can party till early in the morning with views of a beautifully lit up London.

Radio Bar London

Verdict: Go for a drink (steer clear of the cocktails and just go for a beer or a glass of wine), because despite the high prices, it is totally worth it for the view.

Radio Bar

Me Hotel

336 – 337 The Strand

Aldwych

 

Coq D’Argent, City of London

A little green oasis in a hectic city, which also tends to be a famous bankers hangout (but don’t let that put you off!) – mainly due to it’s location (a minute walk from Bank Underground).

Coq D'Argent

GREEN GREEN GREEN

So what did I think of it?

The View: City-based means City heavy views (i.e lots of glass sky scrapers, and quite a few cranes). I love it.  You can literally see East London transforming if you go every couple of months.  The ‘garden’ (not to be taken to literally) means there is a bit more space to stand and have drinks, though the grass can be quite muddy if it’s busy (which it tends to be). 

Coq D'Argent

Coq D'Argent

SPOT THE WALKIE TALKIE


Drinks: They have a very reasonably priced cocktail menu for £10 a pop, and they don’t automatically add service charge, which I like. Great thing is, if you’re broke you can just go for a glass of their house white, which at £4.50 is a bargain for the City, let alone a rooftop bar in the City.

Coq D'Argent
The Vibe: While predominantly banker heavy, a real mix of people hang out here. Most people come post work, though it’s busy for breakfast and lunch too. Most men are suited, the women all look pretty stylish.  There are plenty of tables/benches/places to sit or stand, so it does not feel jam packed, but reserve if you want a guaranteed seat.  The restaurant is meant to be really good, though fairly pricy.  If you want to eat, definitely book a table.

The Verdict: Go!  Perfect for an after-work drink, the earlier in the week you go, the less busy.  Prices are reasonable considering high drinks prices in the city.  And the views are cool.

Coq D’Argent

No 1 Poultry

London EC2R 8EJ

Coq D'Argent

TOTALLY AFFORDABLE

Skylounge Bar, Hilton Double Tree Hotel, Tower Hill

I only recently heard of this bar, situated on the roof of the Hilton Double Tree Hotel, right by Tower Hill (and, more importantly, Tower Bridge).   Since I am a West London girl I rarely get to see Tower Bridge, which remains one of London’s true icons and a reminder of its interesting (if a little gory) history. So for the best views of Tower Bridge, this is the place to come.

So what did I think of it?

The View:  As above, the view of Tower Bridge is breathtaking.  For the best views of this, opt for the smaller terrace with a long narrow table and stools in a row which look right out at it.  Not great for a group, but perfect for a couple.  For general views of the City of London and its glorious skyscrapers, the other terraces work perfectly, with lots of tables big enough for large groups.  You could probably also see Tower Bridge from here but there was a lot of scaffolding up which blocked our view.

Sky Lounge, Double Tree Hilton

Sky Lounge, Double Tree Hilton

Sky Lounge, Double Tree Hilton

The Drinks: The drinks are not cheap in any way or form, but it is a hotel bar after all.  The cheapest bottle of Rosé (which we drank all evening) was £30, which is doable.  But it was a good Rosé.  They also serve excellent sharing platters for £20 – £25, which complement the drinks nicely.  For more of a bargain, there is a summer pop up on one of the terraces at the back (which has the less good views and no evening sun) called Cuervo’s Cantina, where they serve jugs of Mojito’s for £20, as well as some classic Mexican nibbles.  We wanted to go there to try it out too, but at 8pm they said they were shutting, which was a disappointment.

Sky Lounge Bar

The Vibe: I liked it.  There is a huge amount of space for a roof terrace, and while it was busy we never felt cramped.  There is music but it’s in no way loud enough to drown out your conversation.  Yes, there were a few drunken groups of friends towards the end of the evening, but it was Saturday evening (and the end of a beautifully sunny day).  The bar shuts at 11pm, so it’s not really a late night party place, but a fantastic place to start the night and a good base from which to head to Shoreditch or other East London areas.

Sky Lounge, Double Tree Hilton

Sky Lounge, Double Tree Hilton

The Verdict: Surprised how much I liked it considering it doesn’t have the name that the other two have.  Great location (which was new for me too) and just loved seeing the sun set and Tower Bridge turn pink.  Plus you don’t have to book but you should still get a table (we did at 7pm on a Saturday).

Sky Lounge Bar

Double Tree Tower of London Hotel

+44 20 7709 1043 · 

7 Pepys Street

Tower of London

 

Blog, Eat, London

Barnyard, Fitzrovia

June 3, 2014
Barnyard

When I told my colleagues I was going to Barnyard for dinner, they laughed and scrunched up their noses. One of them even put on a Farmer Giles accent. They clearly had never heard if it. But when I explained this was Ollie Dabbous’ new(ish) restaurant – A.K.A famous owner and chef of Dabbous – they suddenly I had a bit more respect for my dinner choice. Especially when I told them the prices were no where near those of Dabbous.

Barnyard

Yes the name makes you think of a farm. Of hay bales. And of chicken.  No, it doesn’t make you think of trendy, bustling Charlotte Street (which has become one of my favourite London streets) just North of Oxford Street, where this fine little restaurant is located.  That makes it all the more cool; to have effectively made the inside of a terraced Charlotte street house into a corrugated iron barn, complete with wooden planks as tables and tin jugs with wheat bouquets.

Barnyard

Barnyard
I spotted Barnyard from afar – a scuffed white picket fence surrounding the entrance and their small terrace.  Huge wide open windows, revealing a very busy restaurant.  I was convinced, since it was Monday, that the no-booking policy wouldn’t affect us. I was wrong.  There was a waiting list for the next table.  Luckily my friend Halael had got there before me and bagged us two seats at the bar where, since the bar men/waiters were so charming, we decided to have dinner too.

Barnyard

Barnyard

Barnyard

DELIGHTFUL HARVEY – BLINDED BY THE LIGHT


The menu is divided into your different farm animals – Pig, Cow, Lamb & Chicken (and Egg, but that’s boring). With your classic American sides: Cornbread, Corn on the cob, Fries, Cauliflower cheese.  The idea, our friendly waiter Harvey explained, was to order about 3 dishes each.  Seemed like a lot to us, so we ordered 5 between us.

Barnyard

We were recommended (and thus dutifully ordered) the following:

Chicken wings.  Our number one favourite. Loved the smoked paprika, lemon & garlic paste, which set it apart from your usual greasy chicken wings.  That said, it’s hardly fat free!

Barnyard

NOT YOUR STANDARD FRIED CHICKEN

Barnyard

 

Roast Beef on toast wth horseradish buttermilk.  The beef cooked rare but not bloody, the warm horseradish buttermilk giving that extra wow factor. Loved the presentation, and the original way horseradish was used.

Barnyard

Barnyard

 

Sausage roll. Perhaps my least favourite. We were told it was good, but also warned it was pretty much just a sausage roll (a big one!).  Nothing compared to the rest but at £6 not going to break the bank.

Barnyard

 

Cauliflower Cheese. I never usually order this and found it creamy and delicious without being too much.  Real comfort food but full of flavour.

Barnyard

 

Corn on the Cob. Which they kindly cut in half for us and gave us each a mug (see photo).  Sautéed in salted butter and meadowsweet and then whacked on the grill.  The meadowsweet made it taste almost caramel-like and resulted in bringing the classic corn on the cob to a whole new level.

Barnyard

Drinks-wise, I’m on a detox for a few days.  Halael had the house white, which was good, apparently.  I opted for a simply fizzy elderflower drink, as I fancied something fresh and light.  But next time I will try one of their Shandies, the best drinks on the menu according to Harvey.  And I do like how they come in milk bottles.

Barnyard
Barnyard
By the time the menu was placed on the table once more – this time for pudding – Halael and I felt like two stuffed chickens.  

Barnyard

A BARN FEAST

Despite seriously persuasion from the boys to go for the Popcorn Ice cream, we decided against it.  But then – thanks to Matt the manager – they gave us a taster. And a shot of toffee sauce too.  Might actually have been the best ‘taster’ of the night.  The toffee had a smokes taste (because of the smoked butter used) which gave it a savoury touch.  Simply delicious and a fantastic end to a delightful evening of excellent service & a surprising, flavoursome version of your classic fast-food menu.

When I get richer I intend to go to Dabbous, where an 8-course tasting menu is £59.  Because if Ollie Dabbous can give fast food a hint of sophistication, I wonder what he can do to fine dining.

Barnyard

Barnyard

18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia,

London W1T 2LY

 

Blog, Eat, London

CHICKENliquor, Brixton Village

May 24, 2014
Wishbone

Brixton Village is one of the best places in London for cheap eats.  With the likes of Franco Manca (Pizza), Khao Sarn (Thai) and Seven (cocktails for a fiver) – you can’t go wrong here.

Wishbone

WISHBONE ON MARKET ROW

Wishbone (now CHICKENliquor) might be the most talked about fried chicken place amongst my friends and colleagues.  So with fellow blogger Nina from HYHOI  and a few others, I decided to delve into the world of Deep Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese (the most ‘famous’ of their dishes) and a pile of (free range) chicken wings.

The owners are also responsible for the grease dripping burgers and unreal chilli cheese fries of Meat Liquor (hence the change in name).  So expect a delicious, but not a healthy meal. It’s less grungy than Meat Liquor though, no blasting music or blood red scrawls on the wall.  Simple design, a wooden bar, some quirky touches (the loo doors say ‘cocks’ and ‘hens’).

Wishbone

But you don’t come here for the interior. It’s all about the food.

It’s a simple menu of ‘Wings’, ‘Boneless’, ‘Burgers’ or ‘Haloumi’ – with different options of ‘flavours’, like ‘Korean’, ‘Buffalo’, ‘Thai’ and ‘Chicken Shop’.

Wishbone

FOOD MENU

The sides are pretty epic too – with the Deep Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese and the Hot Mess being the favourites.

We were served everything on one big tray the size of our table.  And what a tray it was. Spilling with piles of fried chicken, a burger, the pots of Hot Mess and the paper bags of Mac n cheese.  This is not for the faint hearted.

Wishbone

ET VOILA

Wishbone

HEART ATTACK ON A TRAY

The chicken was good – especially the Buffalo option. If you fancy the Thai chicken, go for the boneless rather than the wings variety as I found the wings a little dry.  Have heard mixed reviews about their burgers so try them at your own peril. The Hot Mess was…a big mess:  mashed up hash brown with cheese, gurkins, jalapeños. It was good but nothing on the Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Served in three deep fried ‘pieces’, one bite and melted cheese oozes out.  It is probably the most calorific thing I have ever eaten, but while doing so you feel no remorse.  Bottom line is you can’t come here and not try it.

Wishbone

THAI WINGS

Wishbone

BUFFALO WINGS WITH BLUE CHEESE SAUCE

Wishbone

DEEP FRIED MAC N CHEESE

And the drinks? Either a beer or cheap wine. Or a cocktail, like a ‘Wishbone Sour’.  The cocktail menu a bit like a salad bar (just nothing healthy about it): where you choose your base (type of alcohol), and then the add ons (egg or no egg, on the rocks or straight up). And they add the ‘dressing’ (their special mix of homemade syrup and fresh lemon juice).  For £6.20 you get a delicious sour drink.

Wishbone

DRINKS MENU

 

Wishbone

COCKTAILS GALORE

Don’t come here if you’re gluten free or vying for a bikini body. Do come here if you want a fun evening and the best value, delicious combo of fried chicken and mac n cheese.

CHICKENliquor

Unit 12, Market Row,

Coldharbour Ln,

London SW9 8JX

Blog, Drink, Eat, London

The Brown Cow, Fulham

April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday calls for a special lunch.  So Rob sweetly decided to take me out for a local Fulham lunch.

It was raining but the dog needed walking so we thought we’d just walk to the Fulham road and see what we came across.  And hoped the dog would be allowed in too.

Luckily for us we found the Brown Cow – a gourmet pub Rob had been before and I had actually always wanted to go to.

The Brown Cow

SPRING SPIRIT

My fear was Matsu would not be welcome since it looked too nice inside to allow soggy dogs, but by some miracle they were more than happy for her to come in.  And even had a jar of dog biscuits on the side, so she was clearly no exception.

The Brown Cow is an example of what the Brits do well: a cosy, warm and welcoming pub.  Big windows which let in plenty of light, a busy bar (with plates of tempting sausage rolls and jugs of Bloody Marys on display) and lovely wooden floorboards which give it a homely feel.  Large blackboards boast the specials of the day.    Trinkets hang on the walls.   And weekend newspapers and magazines are free to read.

The Brown Cow

THE BAR – TEMPTED?

We decided to share two main courses (since we both suffer from serious bouts of food envy) and opted for the obligatory Sunday Roast (Roast Welsh Black Beef) and for the Leek macaroni cheese with avocado & tomato salad.  Food came quickly.

The roast was excellent – the beef nicely pink, the roast potatoes crispy, the Yorkshire pudding large and fluffy.  The accompanying vegetables of broccoli, carrot and mashed sweet potato were good too.

The Brown Cow

DELICIOUS BEEF ROAST

The macaroni cheese perhaps lacked seasoning, but the texture was good – creamy and cheesy without being oily.  And I really liked the addition of the leeks.  It gives you that false hope that there is a degree of healthiness about it. The avocado and tomato salad was a nice accompaniment – but I’m biased because I like anything to do with avocados.

The Brown Cow

LEAK MACARONI CHEESE

Best thing about the meal though?  The Brownie Sundae.  I’m not really a fan of Sundaes – too much cream and little else in my opinion.  But Rob felt like it.  And wow, am I glad he did.  Yes there was cream, but not too much.  The majority was chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownies and crushed orange biscuits.  Orange and chocolate go so well together and since we weren’t expecting the orange taste – it made this one of the best puddings I’d had in a while.

The Brown Cow

CHOCOLATE SUNDAE

And Matsu?  She was very happy watching people come in and out of the pub (we sat by the door).  The staff loved her.  And she loved the dog biscuit she was given.

All in all: everyone happy.

The Brown Cow

THE DEETS

The Brown Cow Public House

676 Fulham Rd, London SW6 5SA

http://www.thebrowncowpub.co.uk/  

Blog, Eat, London

Muriel’s Kitchen, South Kensington

March 18, 2014

I don’t know how many times I have walked passed Muriel’s Kitchen, a cafe/restaurant just around the corner from the South Kensington Underground.

Muriel's Kitchen

I’m not sure whether it is because it’s always so full of people who look like they’re having a good time, or whether it is simply its mouthwatering array of cakes and pastry in the window, but I have always been drawn to this place.  And yet, in all my years of living in London, I have never been.

THE TEMPTING WINDOW DISPLAY

THE TEMPTING WINDOW DISPLAY

RED VELVET CAKE TO DIE FOR

RED VELVET CAKE TO DIE FOR

PERFECT PEOPLE WATCHING SPOT

PERFECT PEOPLE WATCHING SPOT

 

So last weekend, having decided to meet a friend and my twin Jo in South Kensington for a coffee, we decided to meet there.  They too, both ‘Londoners’, had never been.  But were glad I had chosen it.

We were lucky, there wasn’t a queue.  We got a big table in the middle of the cafe.  The perfect place to admire the view, both outside and inside.

COLOURFUL AND WELCOMING

COLOURFUL AND WELCOMING

TEA, ANYONE?

TEA, ANYONE?

Muriel's Kitchen

LOVE IT

LOVE IT

It was busy, so the service was stretched.  But you could tell they were doing their best.

The girls just ordered tea and coffee.  I was having none of it, so order the Red Velvet Cake.  It was divine!!   Certainly gave its neighbour The Hummingbird Bakery a run for its money and didn’t feel as heavy as Red Velvet cakes often can.

'THE' CAKE

‘THE’ CAKE

Apart from cakes and pastries they also offer healthy salads, quiches and tarts, amongst other savoury dishes so it is the prefect breakfast, lunch and tea place.  Strongly recommend it in combination with an afternoon of museums in the South Ken area.

THE SALAD BAR

THE SALAD BAR

Muriel’s Kitchen

1-3 Pelham St, London SW7 2ND

Blog, Eat, London

Tartufo, Chelsea

February 2, 2014

After my last post, this one may seem a bit contradictory.  I’ve gone from healthy to, well, unhealthy.  But blissfully so. And in my mind it was just a Friday treat, one not to be repeated too often…

For those who love truffles, Tartufo is the place to go. A lovely restaurant hidden in the basement of trendy boutique Hotel 11 Cadogan, on the quiet Cadogan Gardens just off the Kings Road.

11 Cadogan Gardens

11 Cadogan Gardens

It was a little posher than I had expected – white tablecloths, impeccable waiters and dressed up couples having quiet conversations amid bites of truffle.  In walked the five of us – greeted by a waft of truffle – with table centre stage (literally, we got the biggest table right in the middle of the room), making too much noise. Overexcited about the idea of three courses of truffles. Who wouldn’t be?

Amuse Bouche at Tartufo

Amuse Bouche at Tartufo

The menu is succinct but you really want every single option from the primo, secundi and Terti menu.  Oh how hard choice is.

The great thing is that we all ‘chose well’. Because you can’t really go wrong here.

I opted for the Fois Gras Primo, because I can never say no to fois gras.  For the Secundi I went for the Truffle Risotto with brown butter, which looked like a bowl of rice pudding when it arrived. But it was the highlight of my dinner.

Truffle Risotte

Truffle Risotte

Lastly for the Terti I chose the Partridge with mash and pak choi. And truffles (of course).  A generous, delicate dish which was a lovely end to the meal.

Partridge

Partridge

The others who had gone for salads (and fois gras) to start, tortellini and ravioli as seconds, and venison or fish for their third course, were equally pleased. And the venison was a special success.

Truffle Ravioli

Truffle Ravioli

Venison

Venison

By 23:30 we had the restaurant to ourselves.  The waiters continued to be charming.  And the limoncellos went down a treat (though at £5 a pop perhaps not worth it).

It’s not a cheap restaurant. But it’s a bargain for what you get.  Three courses for £30 is not expensive, considering the venue and the kilos (ok perhaps an exaggeration) of truffles we ate.

Tartufo's Desert Menu

Tartufo’s Desert Menu

Could not recommend it more.

Tartufo

http://www.tartufolondon.co.uk/

11 Cadogan Gardens

London SW3 2RJ

Blog, Eat, London

Nobu, Hyde Park Corner

November 17, 2013

Nobu, Hyde Park Corner

A few weekends ago I took Rob (half Japanese and a big lover of his native food) to the famous Nobu on Old Park Lane for lunch as a treat.  I was excited but also a little nervous about the prices since Nobu is not only known for its impeccable Japanese cuisine, but also for its rather extortionate prices.   As soon as I arrived I decided to just stop worrying and enjoy it.  So I did.

Nobu was buzzing as we arrived on a bright autumn Saturday in October.  Families chatted loudly (some place to take your 3 year old for lunch), while well-dressed couples shared mouth-watering sushi platters.  The crowd was very international – two Greek ladies sat to our right and a Scandinavian couple sat to our left.

Studying the menu at Nobu

Studying the menu at Nobu

The advantage of going for lunch (or for a ‘pre-theatre’ dinner at 6pm) is that you have the option of choosing the Bento Box.   For a not unreasonable £35 you get a selection of small dishes, beautifully presented in a large Bento Box.  And this includes the famous Black Cod, which is one of the dishes that has made Nobu so renowned.  The waitress praised our order and warned us that there was no need to order any more food, since the Bento Box would be more than enough.  Rob wanted me to try the sea urchin sashimi – a delicacy in Japan (and apparently also an aphrodisiac) and so we also ordered one portion of that (for a whopping £8).

I’m glad we ordered the sea urchin.  It had a very particular taste and texture, very creamy and thick.  I could understand why it was a delicacy but could not have had more than half of the tiny piece we were presented.  Definitely not something for an every day lunch.

Sea Urchin Sashimi

Sea Urchin Sashimi

I was very impressed by the Bento Box.  First we were served a filling miso soup (which put my Itsu regular to shame) and then the box arrived.  The size of the portions in each ‘section’ were generous.  The Black Cod was good, but perhaps did not quite live up to the hype as much as we had hoped.  My favourite was the salmon sashimi – so fresh and light – and perfect with a mustard dressing.  The sushi was good too, as were the tempura prawns.   The Bento Box is the perfect thing to order if you want to try a number of different dishes without spending an absolute bomb (each individual course – while of a larger portion – is at least £20).

Nobu's Bento Box

Nobu’s Bento Box

I could barely finish the Box – so the waitress was right about it being very filling – and I almost felt uncomfortably full as we left the restaurant.

And the bill?  Not half as bad as I had expected, though beware of the 15% service charge they whack on (admittedly the service was excellent).

Bottom line?  Go for the Bento Box if you want to eat at a world famous restaurant without breaking the bank.

Nobu

http://www.noburestaurants.com/

1st Floor, The Metropolitan Hotel

19 Old Park Ln, London

Tel: 020 7447 4747

Please note the Bento Box is available at lunch and for a pre-theatre 6pm dinner only. 

Blog, Eat, London

Maggie Jones, High Street Kensington

April 4, 2012

Maggie Jones, High Street Kensington

Tucked away just off Kensington Church Street, a few minutes’ walk from High Street Kensington tube, you’ll find a delightful brick house with flower pots in the windows and ‘Maggie Jones’s’ cheerfully plastered above the front entrance. Entrée, s’il vous plait.

Maggie Jones's

Great photo, nicely cutting off the ‘M’

Ideal for a chilly grey day, which sadly I believe we still have ahead of us at the moment.  Come here for a long drowsy lunch or a hearty, warm dinner.  The restaurant itself is dark, with heavy wooden beams, bric-a-brac everywhere and old wagon wheels hanging on the walls.  It feels like you’ve wandered straight into a French village pub.

It’s not the trendiest of places to go – I’d say we were the youngest by quite a bit.  This may have been because it was a Monday lunchtime, but all meals are candle-lit and the booths are pretty romantic, so it’s a great place for a date.   Having said that, there is a huge table on the first-floor, which would be ideal for a large party.

maggie jones's, first floor

The large first floor table, from one of the booths

The staff are French. Very French.  Don’t be put off by the manager, whom you’ll meet first.  I asked him if there was any outdoor seating (it was a sunny day), he looked passed me through the windows pretending to look for any seating.  He then looked back at me with a cold glare and I was silenced.  ‘Three floors of seating is enough, madame’.  Alright, I got the message.  The other waiters were much friendlier and the service was quick and good.

Maggie Jones

While dinner is more expensive, you can’t really beat the prices for lunch. £5 for any starter. £7 for any main.  And there’s none of this ‘large plate, tiny portion of food’ rubbish which you get in fancy restaurants.  I also really love it when the bread basket comes round and the bread is soft and fluffy.  I had a delicious cheese and leak quiche to start, and Rob had the duck liver pate (the taste was more metallic than creamy: divine).  As a main course Rob went for the chicken in a cream tarragon sauce, he was not disappointed.  I chose the salmon steak (largest I have ever seen) and Hollandaise sauce (a bit too much like mayonnaise for my liking).  They came with generous portions of sweetened carrots, mushy peas and potatoes.  Of course it was all a little too obvious that the cook had been generous with his use of butter.  But come on, its French cooking. They’re good at that.

Having declined desert, we rolled out of the restaurant and blinked in the bright sunlight.  A delicious lunch and not even too heavy for a Ben’s Cookie on the way to the Tube…

Maggie Jones's, the stairs

The stairway

Two Course Lunch with soft drink and service charge for two people: £32

Maggie Jones’s
6 Old Court Place  London, Greater London W8 4PL  
Tel: 020 7937 6462
www.maggie-jones.co.uk

 

 

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