Browsing Tag

lunch

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam East

April 29, 2017
Bar Botanique, Amsterdam East

Bar Botanique was another drinks/brunch/lunch place on my list, which I had been wanting to visit for a while.  Again, unsurprisingly, it was a little out of the way from where I was staying (West).  But ‘long’ distances in Amsterdam are all relative, and we happily cycled the 20 minutes to this tropical cafe in the East of Amsterdam (just past the Artis Zoo).

We got lucky because as we arrived the sun came out, and so we were first to grab a table on their spacious terrace (they have two).  But inside is also most definitely worth a look, and as its name reflects, it certainly is a bit like an oasis in the city.  I love the vibe here, laid back, buzzing and, of course, very green.  The huge windows let in all the light, so sitting inside is as nice as outside.

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam East

We were starving and craving some good Dutch carbs, so we went for two massive Croque Madames (with a fried egg on top, as you do), and Mol went for scrambled eggs with truffle and a side of trusty avocado.  Since it was Easter and we were in a good mood, we ordered a bottle of bubbles to accompany lunch, and enjoyed a few glasses in the sun.  The staff were super friendly and helpful too, which really added to our experience.

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam East

In short, Bar Botanique is not only a place to head to for a drink, but also for a long lazy lunch.  As the weather gets better I know the terrace will be the place to be in East.

If you’re in the area, it’s also worth visiting de Plantage, for beer lovers the Brouwerij t’Ij in an old windmill, and for another pretty cafe check out de Tropen Grand Cafe (part of the Tropen museum).

Bar Botanique

Eerste van Swindenstraat 581
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1093 LC

 

Amsterdam, Blog, Eat, Healthy, The Netherlands

Benji’s, Amsterdam East

April 17, 2017
Benji's, Amsterdam

Instagram has its uses, one of which is spotting good brunch places.  I’ve seen photos of the very pretty Benji’s come past quite a few times, so I decided to grab my chance and go and check it out myself.

Benji’s is in East Amsterdam on the Wibautstraat, very close to one of my favourite Amsterdam hotels the Volkshotel (it’s worth also having a drink on their roof terrace).  It’s not the most central of places (i.e you will need a bike to get here) but it’s worth the ride.  There have been quite a few cool openings on this street, like the Breakfast Club and roof terrace NEST, but Benji’s is the place that was top of my list.

Benji’s is very aesthetically pleasing, with huge ceiling to floor windows, and countless plants hanging from the ceiling and plant pots in every corner.  It feels a little like you’ve walked into a trendy greenhouse.

Benji's, AmsterdamBenji's, AmsterdamBenji's, Amsterdam

The guests here are as cool as the place itself, with bloggers typing away on their MacBooks and groups of gossiping friends sipping flat whites.  The staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful. All day breakfast/brunch/lunch is their thing, and their food has a definite health focus.  They are known for their yoghurt ‘bowls’ like the ‘Love Bowl’ I had (soy yoghurt, chia, berries and coconut) but they also offer incredible salads (Mol had the burrata salad) and great toasties.

Benji's, AmsterdamBenji's, AmsterdamBenji's, Amsterdam

The vibe is super laid back here, and very easy going, which makes it the perfect place to wake up.  I loved the coffee here too, which gives you that extra kick ready for a day of exploring Amsterdam.

Benji's, Amsterdam

Benji’s

Wibautstraat 196

1091 Amsterdam

Blog, Mexico, Tulum

Mur Mur, Tulum – EAT

February 19, 2017
Mur Mur, Tulum

Mur Mur wins my award for most Instagrammable place of Tulum.  We passed it a number of times as it’s in a great location near big hits like Harwood and Arca.  While it’s set back from the ‘main strip’, it’s very eye catching (and there are some pretty – though extortionate – boutiques surrounding it).

Mur Mur, Tulum

So one day we tore ourselves away from the beach and cycled to Mur Mur for lunch.

Perhaps it’s the combination of their palm tree printed arm chairs, moss green sofas and distressed wooden furniture that give Mur Mur the ultimate laid back but stylish vibe.   The sofas are so comfortable that getting up is the last thing you want to do, so inevitably you end up spending hours here, sipping a cold beer or glass of white wine and savouring the peace and quiet.

Mur Mur, TulumMur Mur, Tulum

This is the perfect place for breakfast or lunch, more cafe than restaurant – though they do have a cool cocktail bar (of course), which is also open in the evening.  Fancying a change from the Mexico cuisine overload, we opted for their sour dough sandwiches with side salads.  I went for the grilled vegetables and Rob for the chicken.  Expecting something far less refined, I was very impressed by the standard of the food.  It’s all locally sourced and you can tell how fresh the produce is.

Mur Mur, Tulum

The service here was slow, and they took their time with our order, but sometimes you need to remind yourself that you’re in Tulum not London and relax.  Having said that, our waiter was excellent, friendly, and knew his stuff – recommending beers and wine to us.

In short, while Tulum is not short on excellent restaurants, Mur Mur is a great day hang out.  Even if you’re not hungry, grab a beer and enjoy some time out of the sun in this delightful little establishment.

Mur Mur

Quintana Roo 15,

Tulum

Mexico

Blog, Italy, Rome

Atelier Canova Tadolini, Rome – EAT

February 18, 2017
Museo Canova Tadolini, Rome

While I always try my hardest to be as ‘un-touristy’ as possible, especially when in Rome, where I like to consider myself almost a local (shame I don’t speak the language!), sometimes it’s quite fun to do something a little touristy and a little naff.

Having lunch at Atelier Canova Tadolini is one of these things worth doing.   We had a hilarious time, eating between the various classical busts and statues.  It was surprisingly quiet when we had lunch there, and made it almost feel like we had a private dining experience, were it for a charming French family who sat next to us.

Atelier Canova Tadolini, RomeAtelier Canova Tadolini, Rome

The staff were lovely, smiling at us as we took the mandatory photos of us having lunch.

And the food was surprisingly good.  I would stick to the ‘primi’ dishes – the pasta and risotto options – which were very rich but delicious.  I opted for the zucchini flower risotto which was a real hit, and my other favourite was the pecorino and black pepper home made pasta in the parmesan basket which is very typical of Rome.  The prices are also very reasonable.

Atelier Canova Tadolini, RomeAtelier Canova Tadolini, Rome

We left after a strong espresso to give us more energy to continue exploring the city.  While this isn’t on my top places to eat in Rome, I would recommend it, even if you just stop by for a coffee, because ultimately it is a fun and different experience.

Oh, and book ahead.

Ristorante Atelier Canova Tadolini

Via del Babuino 150/A

0039 632110702

Blog, Date Spot, Do, Drink, Eat, London

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond Park

January 3, 2017
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Going for a walk in Richmond Park is something I don’t do enough.  And every time I go I remind myself how beautiful it is, how tame the deer are and how it actually feels like you’re in the countryside [for a little while].  And now I have another excuse to keep returning: Petersham Nurseries.

Richmond ParkRichmond Park

It’s one of those places where I wondered why on earth I hadn’t come sooner.  First and foremost it’s a garden centre, which doesn’t sound hugely appealing in itself.  But then you get there and you understand what all the fuss is about.  Even in early November, when it gets dark early and Richmond Park is soggy and your hands are freezing, Petersham Nurseries is like a flowery fairytale.  Everything is ridiculously pretty, without being kitsch.

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond park

But flowers aside, there’s a lot more to Petersham Nurseries.  Namely the restaurant and cafe, both in glasshouses.  In fact, it reminds me a little of a British version of South Africa’s Babylonstoren.  Arguably without the sun, the winelands, and the Cape Dutch architecture, but Babylonstoren does also have a cafe and an excellent restaurant (Babel) in glasshouses.  There’s something about eating in a glasshouse that clearly appeals, I for one love it.

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond park

We came here for tea, having walked our on-loan dog Amiga through an autumnal Richmond Park.  Dogs are allowed too (in the cafe).  Even in the winter this place gets busy, and the restaurant is always fully booked (so book ahead).   The cafe is teaming with life; from dogs barking, children laughing and friends gossiping.  The cakes are so good you could sit here for hours and work your way through the (considerable) selection.  They – of course – also have a large range of teas, from mint to English Breakfast, and also serve more casual, hearty lunch options like quiches and roasts.   It’s cosy and warm and the best place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Petersham Nurseries’ more formal restaurant made a name for itself when chef Skye Gyngell (who since left to set up Spring) became Head Chef, and it was awarded a Michelin star.   I’m yet to eat here, but I’ve only heard good things.

But quite honestly, Petersham Nurseries was one of my 2016 highlights.  And I look forward to returning many more times in 2017.

Petersham Nurseries

Church Lane, Petersham Road,

Richmond TW10 7AB

Photo credit: my own and Stephanie Wolff’s photos

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, London

Thomas’ Cafe at Burberry, Mayfair

December 31, 2016
Thomas' Burberry Cafe, Mayfair

When fashion designers try and do restaurants or bars or hotels they can get it wrong (par example the Versace Hotel in Miami), but trust Burberry to get it so right with their first Café opening: ‘Thomas’’ (names after the founder, Thomas Burberry).

It is beautiful, undeniably so.  With dark walls, dim lighting and a welcoming fireplace, it feels like you’ve walked into someone’s very sophisticated but cosy country home.  And while it’s clear that the interiors are well thought through and stylish, it’s done in an understated, unpretentious way.  Nothing flashy, or too polished.  A bit like the brand itself.

Thomas' Burberry Cafe, Mayfair

Finding somewhere to go for coffee is difficult around Regent Street, unless you’re happy to settle with Pret or Café Nero and a bunch of tourists.  So Thomas’s is welcome for more than one reason.  Also, you can book, which means no unnecessary and tedious queuing for brunch.  And lastly, while you’d think it would have the same eye-watering prices as Burberry itself, you’re wrong.  It’s not cheap, of course.  But it’s reasonable.  And everything, from the beautiful presentation of the eggs with soldiers, to the tea with its own hour glass timer which tells you when the tea leaves have brewed to their optimum, is delightful.

Thomas' Burberry Cafe, MayfairThomas' Burberry Cafe, Mayfair

I could happily sit there for hours, sipping my cappuccino, watching people come and go, until it’s cocktail hour and then gently move on to one of their G&Ts.  There is no rush to leave your table (or if there was, we never felt it).

You are so well looked after here, by young, good looking, could-be Burberry models. Who are exceptionally polite and accommodating. But my favourite thing about the place is the soundtrack, which I recognised from their impossibly glamorous Christmas advert casually starring Siena Miller and Lily James (and which I still wish was a trailer to a 2 hour long movie).

Thomas' Burberry Cafe, Mayfair

And so, with January around the corner, this is a place that will make you embrace winter.  And be the perfect refuge for your post sale shop.

Thomas’ Cafe

Burberry

5 Vigo Street / 121 Regent Street

 

Blog, Drink, Eat, Healthy, London

Brompton Food Market, South Kensington

October 29, 2016
Brompton Food Market, South Kensington

I love it when you come across places which you never knew existed, but have walked past a million times.  South Ken is tricky for brunch.  It’s either super touristy (Muriel’s Kitchen) or a bit chainy (Comptoir Libanais, Aubaine, Pain Quotidien).   And then you get this cute, unassuming Deli/Cafe with a secret garden which is perfect for a summer lunch or an autumn brunch.   We were actually en route to Aubaine, but then passed the Brompton Food Market with it’s inviting ‘secret garden’ sign and thought we ought to have a look.  Let’s just say Aubaine never happened after that.

The Brompton Food Market is actually also a butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer as well.  I.e really the place do all your shopping.  And the experience is ten times nicer than shopping at Tesco’s, I can promise you that.  It’s a beautiful shop with excellent produce.  You could spend hours looking at all the different jams and oils and cheese.

Brompton Food Market, South Kensington

Shopping aside, they have a great selection of wonderful salads and juices for those healthy-inclined, or a mouthwatering brunch menu with dishes like American pancakes with berries, eggs whichever way you want, the list is endless.  My cappuccino was the size of my head.  We sat outside, kept warm with sheepskin rugs and overhead heaters.

Brompton Food Market, South KensingtonBrompton Food Market, South KensingtonBrompton Food Market, South Kensington

This is the perfect place for a cosy, laid back and affordable coffee or brunch, in the heart of touristy London.  It’s ideal if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and local, and away from the tourist hordes.

The Brompton Food Market

33 Thurloe Place

SW7 2HQ

Blog, France, Paris

Brunch in the Marais, Paris

October 16, 2016
Brunch Marais Paris

The Marais is an area in Paris which you must visit when there.  The best time to go is undoubtedly Sunday, when much of Paris is closed but when the Marais comes fully to life.  Do not be stupid like me and think you’ll spontaneously find a nice brunch place here.  You might find many great looking places, but they won’t have a free table for you.  You really need to book for Sunday brunch.

Starting in the northern Marais, the more residential, local part of the area – there are plenty of wonderful places for brunch. Healthy hotspot Season (for other healthy options check out this post) has a terrace in the sun, as do a number of other lovely looking places on Rue Charles-Francois Dupuis.

brunch marais paris

Cafe Pinson and La Petite Table are both small but come very highly recommended.  There are always queues so, if booking is possible, book!  If you want to just grab a coffee on the go, I’m told that Ob-la-Di (so tiny it’s almost like a hole in the wall) makes the best coffee.

La Petite Table, ParisCafe Pinson, Paris

Walk south down Rue de Turenne, which for 5 minutes or so is a bit of a brunch waste-land.   Soon you’ll notice more people (tourists!) and more restaurants, more bars and more shops.  This is the heart of the Marais, around Place du Voges (a must-visit) and Rue Vieille du Temple.  It is a shoppers paradise, with plenty of vintage shops, as well as all your favourite French brands (Maje, Sandro, Claudie Peirlot, Cottonniers des Comptoir).

Place du voges paris

The most popular place by far seems to be Benedict.  I’ve never seen queues like it (not even in London).  They (apparently, I obviously wasn’t going to wait) serve an excellent French/American brunch.  I guess it’s popular for a reason!

Benedict, Paris

Les Philosophes is brilliantly located on Rue Vieille du Temple, with a fairly large terrace and thus ideal for people watching.  This is a bit of an institution, the food is as French as it gets (if slightly unrefined) and the prices reasonable (they rip you off though on the bottled water – 5 euros, opt for a carafe instead). The waiters are either friendly and upbeat, or over-worked and stressy (in which case you just can’t take it personally).

Les Philosophes, Paris

For something slightly more upmarket and quieter, try Jaja.  It’s set back from the Rue Saint-Crois de Bretonnerie, with a lovely courtyard and a small, more exclusive menu (more lunch than brunch).  Opposite, you will find the charming Au rendez vous des amis, which you again must book – it serves traditional French food and the staff are charming.  I was gutted not to be able to get a table here as it looked heavenly.

On the way to St Paul Metro station you must stop by Maison Georges Larnicol, for the best chocolate in town (and good as a snack on the Eurostar home).  You won’t regret it.

Maison Georges Larnicol, Paris

In short, there are plenty of options for an excellent brunch in the Marais, but just save yourself a lot of hassle, and book before you go!

NB I have not eaten at all the above recommendations.

Blog, France, Paris

Alcazar, Paris – EAT

October 10, 2016

Saint Germain de pres is one of my favourite areas in Paris.  Ever since my grandmother first took me to Paris, and we stayed there in a beautiful pied a terre, I’ve been enchanted by the area.

And so it only seemed natural to return, this time for lunch.  I’d heard via via about the Alcazar, had seen on Instagram quite how pretty it looked, and heard about its ‘epic’ brunches.  We were not going for brunch, but Saturday lunch, and we arrived having walked through the city for a solid 3 hours that morning.

Alcazar, Paris

Arriving at a beautiful restaurant, with a mouth-watering menu, and being hungry, is one of my favourite things.  The minute a basket of ridiculously good bread was placed on the table I nearly inhaled the lot.  Which was a mistake as I still had lunch to eat.  They do a great lunch deal: two courses for EUR28, which is perfect.

Alcazar, Paris

To start Gene opted for the terrine and fois gras which was heavy (as predicted) but melt in the mouth.  I had wanted to go for the burrata, but it was finished, so I tried the ceviche.  It wasn’t particularly French, I know, but it was very well done.  For mains Gene tried the duckling, with butternut squash puree and baked figs.  The duck came a little too pink, but they whisked it away without a problem and returned it perfectly cooked.  I went for salmon tataki (again, not very French!) which was the perfect light main course (though a huge portion).

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

Apart from the food itself, the restaurant’s interiors need a little praise.  Visually it is stunning; it may be one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Paris  I love being surrounded by plants, and here it feels almost like you’re eating in a greenhouse.  But with elegant marble tables, and an extraordinary light installation.  It has two levels, the ‘balcon’ has a very cool bar and you get great views of the restaurant below.  Plus the staff are very friendly and helpful, which I still find a bit of a rarity in Paris.

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

We were too full to even consider pudding, and decided to walk to the newly renovated Les Halles for a coffee at the very cool Champeaux instead.  But seriously, if you’re in Paris, make sure you reserve time (and appetite) for St Germain, you won’t regret it.

NB If you come here for dinner and looking for a place for post dinner cocktails, head to the nearby Prescription Cocktail Club.

Alcazar

62 Rue Mazarine,

75006 Paris

 

Blog, Eat, Healthy, London

Casita Andina, Soho

August 9, 2016
Casita Andina, Soho

Clever clever Martin Morales.  Introducing affordable (and delicious) Peruvian food to London (Ceviche)?  Check.  Expanding into Shoreditch with a focus on the Peruvian Andres (Andina)?  Check.  And now, the last master stroke: opening a completely gluten free, super healthy (but still Peruvian) new restaurant in Soho.   Enter Casita Andina.  Andina’s little sister restaurant but with an increased focus on health, without of course sacrificing on taste.

I went for the soft launch last week, at lunch time.  The staff were clearly still a little confused with what was going on.  One lovely girl didn’t really understand the menu, as hard as she tried.  I got a call from the reservations team twice after I had left, asking me if I was still coming for lunch.  But this is all completely forgiven because a) it’s a soft opening, so these problems are inevitable, b) the food makes up for it all.

Casita Andina, Soho

They offer a great lunch time deal: two plates for £10.  I suggest if you’re dining with someone (which I hope you are), that you choose four different dishes between you.  One of the ceviche dishes (I’d go with the classic) is an obvious must.  Super delicious.  We also had the croquettas with a twist (pork and liver, with chilli jam) – unusual and surprisingly moorish.  From the hot plates we chose the Salmon Scabeche (perfect, and I love the sweet potato with it) and the Aji de Gallini (chicken with botija olive and a quails egg).  I’d never had chicken quite like it, it looked almost like scrambled eggs (without wanting to put you off) but was delicious, if not for everyone.

Casita Andina, Soho

The place itself is super cute, great location, small but with so much charm.  The Peruvian theme is of course very apparent, like at Andina, but without it being too naff.

The perfect lunch place, if not light dinner option.  I shall return.

Casita Andina

31 Great Windmill St,

London W1D 7LP

Photo credit: Casita Andina

Blog, Italy, Rome

Roscioli, Rome – EAT

March 25, 2016

When I lived in Rome, six years ago now, we used to walk past Roscioli all the time.  And sometimes pop in and buy something delicious from the Deli.  But we never ate here.

When I returned in January, the delightful Bellini Travel recommended I try it for lunch.  And wow, what a lunch we had.  A table overflowing with delectable antipasto.

The stuffed oxtail stew courgette flowers deserve a paragraph of their own.  I’ve eaten a lot of courgette flowers in my time.  I love battered courgette flowers, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy (they do these brilliantly at La Quercia).  But this was in a league of its own.

Roscioli, Rome

The service is hit and miss here, perhaps a little typically Roman.  Their pastas looked amazing, but we stuck to fat balls of creamy burrata with baby dry tomatoes, large plates of cured meats (their prosciutto is insane) and a wintery salad of artichokes, carrots and rocket, washed down with a crisp dry white wine.

Photo by pbgastronomica.com

This was our first meal in Rome of the weekend, and what a perfect introduction to our favourite city.  After lunch here make sure you visit Piazza Mattei and see the Fontana della Tartarughe (turtle fountain), and afterwards wander around the Jewish Ghetto, check out the colossal French Embassy (also known as Piazza Farnese) on Piazza Farnese and walk down Via Guilia.  It’s a wonderful part of the city.

Roscioli

Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22

Photo credit: my own and pbgastronomica.com

Blog, Cape Town, South Africa

La Colombe, Cape Town – EAT

January 20, 2016
La Colombe, Cape Town

La Colombe.  It just has that wonderful ring to it.  It sounds French.  It sounds like fine dining.  It sounds like you can’t miss this restaurant when you’re in Cape Town.  Which you most definitely can’t.  

La Colombe and the Test Kitchen have been constantly battling for the number one restaurant in South Africa.  So far (according to the critics/awards), the Test Kitchen is winning.  But I was curious to see which one would win for me.  We went to the Test Kitchen for dinner on the Saturday, and then La Colombe for lunch on the Sunday.  Talk about how to stuff as many good restaurants into 72 hours in Cape Town.

La Colombe, Cape Town

I wish we’d had more time at La Colombe, so we could have properly taken advantage of the Lunch Tasting Menu, which not only looks phenomenal, but is also very nicely priced (9 courses for £36).  Sadly we had to return our rental car, and so had a time limit.  Which meant a starter and a main, and all the little tasters in between.  It was so worth it, despite the rush.

Location wise it’s quite special.  It moved to Silvermist fairly recently, and now it is truly a restaurant with a view.  Located quite high up, you have views of the valley and the vineyards.  It’s not a completely open view, but it’s beautiful.  While initially I was disappointed not to be sitting outside (it can get quite windy, they warned), if you sit right by the large windows, you can still enjoy the views no matter what.

La Colombe, Cape Town

It is a wonderful, airy and light restaurant, with a much more ‘fine dining’ feel than the Test Kitchen, but without being stuffy or stiff.  The service was very professional but incredibly friendly; they were clearly proud of where they worked.

And the food?  Out of this world.  From the beautifully presented tuna with mirin in a can (see the photo below before you turn your nose up), to the stunning lamb (which we both had as a main course) – I was blown away.

La Colombe, Cape Town

For starters Rob had the scallops with the pork belly and I had the beef.  They were exquisitely cooked, every mouthful a different flavour.  So much care and expertise was clearly put into every dish.

La Colombe, Cape TownLa Colombe, Cape Town

Verdict?  You can’t really compare La Colombe and the Test Kitchen.  They are both unique, and both a must do when in Cape Town (though getting a booking is easier at La Colombe).  But perhaps La Colombe is best for lunch, so you can enjoy the beautiful views.  And the restaurant seems at its best with the sun pouring in.  This is a restaurant I will return to  – given the chance – time after time (and yes, that means I am 100% returning to Cape Town).

La Colombe

Silvermist Wine Estate,

Constantia Main Rd,

Constantia, Cape Town, 7848

Booking essential

Photo credit: La Colombe & City Turtle

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