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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:


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)



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



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



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.



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.



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




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


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)



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



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, Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech: the Medina and Beyond

August 1, 2013

Marrakech: the Medina and Beyond

At Dusk

Walking onto the famous UNESCO World Heritage square Jmaa El Fnaa will have an effect on you – whether you like it or not.   During daylight this vast expanse of space is relatively empty; the ever-present orange-juice stalls line one side, carpets are rolled out around the square on which toothy Moroccans have laid out a selection of woven ‘sun hats’, dusty trinkets and shiny plastic sunglasses.  Three old men sit in the middle of the square in front a few snakes coiled around each other, basking in the sun.  A slight hint of interest by a passer-by will trigger the men to grab their flutes and play a song.  The snakes seem disinterested.  I only see one react and move to the music, like a teenage boy unwillingly dancing at a school disco.

At night the square truly comes to life; out of no where hundreds of stalls appear, selling anything from snails, to lamb shish and steaming tagines.  Huge crowds of locals and tourists alike crowd around entertainers.  Covent Garden is nothing compared to this.  On our first night we were so overwhelmed by how many people there were we asked a local whether there was a particular special occasion.  He laughed kind-heartedly and told us it was like this every night.

People are divided on what they think of Marrakech.  More often than not people almost gave me a pitying look when hearing I was off to Morocco for a week.  I loved it six years ago and loved it once more upon my return.  But I can see how the busy souqs, the hectic but proud salesmen, the winding maze-like medina alleyways and the heat can get to you.  Ideally you want to spend a few days at most in the medina and then find some peace and quiet in the Palmerie, the Atlas Mountains or the Atlantic Coast further a field.



Where we stayed

In the Medina

Riad Joya €€€

Derb El Hammam, Marrakech

+212 52439164

An oasis of peace in the heart of the bustling Mouassine area North West of Jmaa El Fnaa.   This stunning riad is not easily found, but once there you won’t want to leave.  The style is Moroccan Milanese – stylish as well as traditional.  Each room is different, from ‘Arabe’ to ‘Zanzibar’ themes, some with small fireplaces, others with huge metal bathtubs.  We stayed in the Ambre Gris room, ‘grey’ the key word.  The room radiated a sense of calm, from the vast soft bed to the large shower with plenty of potions and lotions to cleanse you of the medina dust.  The manager, Noubine, is always around, always ready to help you and advise.   The roof terrace is expansive, you can have your (delicious) breakfast there or sunbathe if you can take the heat. One of the pricier riads in the medina, but also known as one of the best.

Riad Joya

Riad Joya's Roof Terrace

In the Palmeraie 

Dar Zemora €€

Rue el Aandalib, Marrakech

Not so much a hotel as a very charming English-owned home.   With only three rooms and three suites, this beautiful house is surrounded by the most beautiful garden.  You’d never think a lawn could be quite so green having passed through Dar Zemora’s dusty surroundings.   Arriving here from the hectic medina is (literally) a breath of fresh air.  It is no surprise that so many birds and bees have made this place their home.  The style is very Moroccan, the standard rooms a good size, simple but comfortable.  The suits are large, very large. We stayed in the Perla Suite and were overwhelmed by the size!  Especially our roof terrace was incredible, with our own pagoda.  The pool and area around it is beautiful and peaceful, the service excellent; bringing you cold water and a cold towel every so often.  I would definitely recommend you stay for either lunch or dinner (or both) – fixed prices for a fixed menu.  The drinks menu also has very reasonable prices, unlike most other Palmeraie/5* hotels.

Dar Zemora - our private terrace

dar zemora



Where we ate

Les Terrace des Espices €€

15 Souk Charifia Sidi Abdellaziz

Beautiful setting, wonderful vibe.  We found Cafe des Espices and believed this was it. The waiter shook his head and led us into the deep and dark souqs until we finally found the sister restaurant.  The ‘terrace’ is worth getting lost for – huge, atmospheric, with nooks to lounge in.  While it does not serve alcohol you come here for the food.  It is exceptional. We went for the Moroccan salads to start (fresh and tasty) and then had a lamb and prune and a lemon chicken tagine.  The best tanginess we had all holiday. And all for a very reasonable price.

Amazing Roof Terrace Restaurant/Lounge

Amazing Roof Terrace Restaurant/Lounge

Cafe des Arabe €€

184, rue Mouassine | Medina, Marrakech 

Owned by an Italian, this chilled out restaurant/cafe/lounge is ideally located minutes from Jmaa el Fnaa and near the souqs. It is the only place in the heart of the medina which has an alcohol licence, which means it attracts quite a few tourists.  Again, the roof terrace is ideal for a lunch in the shade, the food a mixture of Moroccan and Italian. Great place to come for a cold beer as a welcome break from the hot sun.  Also lovely in the evening.

Wonderfully shaded Roof Terrace

Wonderfully shaded Roof Terrace

Villa Flore €€€

4 Derb Azzouz, Marrakech (around the corner from Riad Joya)

Trip Advisor reviews perhaps give this place a bit too much flattery.  Or perhaps we just went for the wrong courses.  Yes, it is a beautiful riad (I would have been interested to check out the rooms) and the court yard, where there restaurant is, is sophisticated and welcoming.  But the menu is limited.  The lamb – much raved about on Trip Advisor – was super expensive so we went for a tagine and the duck instead.  Portions were small. The food was good but nothing special.  It was perfect for us though as it was round the corner from our riad.  So we did not get lost that night.


Dejeuner a Marrakech €€

24, Place Douar Graoua, Marrakech

I loved this place!  Slightly removed from the centre of the medina, but actually quite easy to find from Jmaa el Fnaa, this tall terracotta building has seating areas on each level.  The best is, of course, the roof terrace, with views across the medina.  I really liked the menu – a mixture of Moroccan and more international cuisine.  Their salad options were good – a duck and goats cheese salad, a chicken with tarragon salad and a smoked salmon and dill blinis salad.  I got excited by the idea of blinis so went for the latter which I actually wouldn’t advise as the salmon was still a little frozen.  Loved our experience here though and would definitely come back for dinner.

The views of the rooftops of Marrakech

The views of the rooftops of Marrakech

Other places we wanted to visit but did not get round to:

Mama Tilee

13 Derb El Arsa, Riad Zitoun Jdid, Marrakech

Meant to have fantastic set menus in a nice setting.  A little bit out of our way so we chose restaurants closer to us.

Beldi Country Club

A hotel, restaurant and country club, all rolled into one – this is the ideal retreat to head to if you’re staying in one of Marrakech’s riads and need a cooling dip and some fresh countryside air.  Beldi is only 6km form the pink city, so it’s easy to come here for the day to lounge by one of their many pools, have lunch at their amazing restaurant, or enjoy their spa and hammam.  Rooms from £140 per night.

Beldi Country Club


Where we drank

KosyBar €

47, Place des Ferblantiers, Marrakech

This was our first ‘destination’ in Marrakech and we were not disappointed.  Situated in the mellah (the Jewish area), it is a max 10 minute walk from the Jmaa El Fnaa.  Ideal to come here as the sun is setting over the medina – the views from the roof terrace are beautiful.  You can see stalks nests high above and hear children laughing and playing in the square below.  The cocktails are pretty good and an average price for Marrakech (around 90 Dirham, or 7 pounds).   A good place to start your evening.


Mamounia €€€

Sidi Mimoun, Marrakesh

For those who want to have a glimpse of this iconic hotel – where Churchill stayed and loved it so much the bar was named after him.  The bar is super swish, the cocktails truly excellent and you are minutes walk from the medina but yet surrounded by beautiful gardens.  The only draw back are the prices.

Sky Bar €€ 

89 Angle Bld Zerktouni et Mohamed V Gueliz (above Renaissance Hotel)

We didn’t make it here but I heard good things about this cool bar.  Again, nice roof terrace, average priced drinks and a pleasant atmosphere.  Close to Jmaa El Fnaa and Un Dejeuner a Marrakech.

The Medina

We were lucky enough to get an Abercrombie & Kent guide to take us round the main highlights of the medina.  There is not a huge amount to see, it is by no means Rome or Paris.  But just walking around, bartering for a leather bag and having a drink at a local cafe is part of the experience.

If you’ve had enough of the noises, heat and smells of Marrakech then the place I suggest you visit is Essaouira – a beautiful, small, breezy, beachside town.  My experience there will be the topic of my next blog, including tips on where to stay, eat and drink.

Marrakech's spices

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