A birthday afternoon tea with the family at St Ermin’s 

Afternoon Tea, Dining with the Children

I do love an afternoon tea, last birthday I went with my husband and children to a local hotel and spa for an afternoon tea in Kent and was really not impressed. We daren’t attempt it again so this year I wanted to tea in London. I didn’t want anything too extravagant but I did want something a bit special. Most importantly it had to be child friendly.

So my husband did his research and we agreed on St Ermin’s Hotel. They offered a children’s tea menu, which is an obvious sign they welcome children, and they also had a special offer for the adults.

IMG_3593

We arrived by taxi to my sons excitement, my son is obsessed with all different modes of transport. The doorman welcomed us in, and we sat in the lobby whilst we waited for the tea area to open. Staff and guests were making a fuss of my daughter, especially of her sparkly silver shoes.

IMG_3599

We were shortly shown to our table. The afternoon tea dining area was situated on a balcony which looked over the main reception area. We walked up the beautiful staircase and were shown to our table. It wasn’t very busy, probably because our reservation was for 12, which is very early for most people, but for those with children you’ll know that 12 is lunch time.

IMG_3595
The table settings were really pretty. My daughter thought it was a play set so I had to move all the cutlery away from her so she didn’t start drumming the plates.

IMG_3606

We sipped on our complimentary glass of champagne (an offer though the booking website at the time of booking) The children were offered a choice of fruit juice and we were given a tea menu.

IMG_3610

First to arrive, after our drinks, were the scones. I have had many afternoon teas and have never had the scones first but my children aren’t fussy about what order the food arrives. So we devoured the scones.

IMG_3611

My favourite were the gingerbread, I only got to sample a tiny piece of the triple chocolate, daddy is a fan of anything sea salted so he ate those ones. A perfect family selection of flavours I thought.
FYI I’m a cream first then top with jam kinda girl.

IMG_3612

Next came the exciting part the sandwiches and cakes! We had to tell the children that they were to eat sandwiches first. They were served three flavours of sandwiches chocolate, jam and egg . Which are fun treat flavours for children. Think it would have been nice to have a cheese and/or cucumber too. We, the adults, had turkey and cranberry, (it was still mid Jan so still festive) cucumber and cream cheese, salt beef and horseradish and smoked salmon and caviar. All really nice sandwiches.

IMG_3619

IMG_3617

Onto the cakes!! My children couldn’t stuff these in their mouths quick enough! The remains were smeared all over their faces!

IMG_3623

IMG_3629

IMG_3624

I thoroughly enjoyed the cakes, the peanut butter macaron was divine! I liked that there were two of each as with some teas there are only one of each cake. It was great not having to share.

IMG_3621

The childrens tea was honey bee themed as the hotel produce their own honey, they have a bee hives up on the roof and a bee hotel. We did pop up and have a look after our tea. I think this is a lovely idea and a great feature for children, my son was excited knowing he was going to visit a Bee Hotel. Not that we saw any bees. They were all sleeping.

IMG_3634

IMG_3635

After our plates had been cleared I was presented one last treat on a plate with happy birthday written in chocolate, such a lovely touch, the lovely lady who brought it out even sang a solo happy birthday, my husband was fetching the kids who had got fed up and started wandering about. Luckily it wasn’t very busy and they didn’t bother anybody.

IMG_3633

I can not recommend St Ermins enough, it’s a gorgeous hotel in a great location near Westminster, we did actually go to the London Aquarium after as it was only across the bridge.

The service was fantastic and we were made to feel so welcome, it’s always a bit nerve wracking to take the kids out to eat as they’re so young and they do get restless, but they were well behaved and absolutely loved their bee themed tea.
The teas are a bargain price too, almost half of what I’ve sometimes paid. So if you want a special afternoon tea, suitable for children that doesn’t break the bank consider St Ermins Hotel. I will certainly be back with my family.

IMG_3630
Tea Lounge - St Ermin's Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tipsy times at Mango Tree

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

My friend and I recently had a limited edition wine pairings menu which included 5 wines and 5 small dishes. Wines were matched up with a particular dish to enhance flavours.

IMG_3735

All the dishes were really flavoursome. I especially enjoyed the spicy prawns. The wine pairings were great, a good selection of red and whites and a delicate desert wine, all matched well and were poured generously. I had to drive later that evening so I was only tasting the wines and passing my remaining wine to my friend.

IMG_3728

Scallops and Prawns Spicy

IMG_3734

Beef salad, Lamb rack & Chicken salad

By the time we got to the dessert course my friend had now had lots of wine and was very tipsy. She was getting food envy ( think she was at kebab craving drunk now) so before our dessert pairing she decided she wanted to order some additional dishes.

We ordered tempura soft shell crab and tempura lobster, I really enjoyed these. The crab was served in 3 pieces, I would have preferred the crab was left whole as I think it looks more impressive but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. The lobster was really good too.

IMG_3738

 Tempura soft shell crab and tempura lobster

The dining room was very busy and service was surprisingly attentive considering the large amount of diners. The dining room felt huge.

IMG_3739

Mango creme brulee

I had a really fun evening, my friend did get a quite tipsy and to my amusement attempted to exit through the cloakroom, the attendant politely ushered her out and directed her to the door. This was after she had hugged various staff on her way to the exit in appreciation of her great night.

Overall a great experience, good flavoursome food with a buzzing atmosphere.  My tipsy friend provided great entertainment.

Valentine’s Menu 2014 Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Three Michelin Star

in 2014 I was fortunate enough to eat the most romantic meal of the year, in one of the best restaurants in the UK.  Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

IMG_2739

They offered a special Valentines Day Menu, with some very romantic offerings

IMG_2740

IMG_2742

Foie gras ravioli, delicate duck consommé

IMG_2744

IMG_2743

Salad of warm Scottish lobster, coral vinaigrette

IMG_2745

IMG_2746

Fillet of beef, Swiss chards and ox cheek ‘gratin’, truffled jus

heart

How the dessert looked before I tucked into it! (I forgot to take a photo)

IMG_2752

A heart for two

IMG_2751

Petit Fours

Such a gorgeous menu, in a beautiful dining room.  This is an amazing restaurant and because of its opulence a meal on any day would feel romantic.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!

Fond memories of Soho at the House of Ho

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

This was my first Vietnamese dining experience. The restaurant is located on Old Compton Street. Before I settled down I used to have many post work drinks around Soho so it was nice to be back as I have some very fond memories.

I had won a competition through last minute on twitter and my friend and I were able to choose three dishes each from a set menu. As there were six dishes in total we chose all six to share.

The menu was as follows

Fresh Vegetable Rice Paper Rolls with Vegetable Noodles served with a Peanut Sauce

IMG_3702

Stuffed Tofu with Mushrooms Cellophane Noodles & Herbs

IMG_3707

Grilled Chicken Wings in a Spicy Chili Glaze

IMG_3714

Bobby’s Duck ‘a la Banana’ Blossom Salad

IMG_3709

Braised Pork Cheeks

IMG_3717

Lemongrass Chicken in a Fish Caramel Sauce

IMG_3715

I really enjoyed my first Vietnamese. The flavours were great. Bobby’s Duck Salad packed a punch, all the different textures were great and my throat was on fire from the chillies, it was pleasurable though.

The braised pork cheeks were so soft they could be cut with a spoon, the chilli glaze on the chicken wings was delicious. I really enjoyed every dish.

Tofu is not something I would ever really order as I’m a carnivorous meat eater but I enjoyed the tofu nonetheless. My friend adored the fragrant lemongrass chicken. I really enjoyed all the flavoursome food and even got to show of my chop stick skills, although I did start using the fork so I could get bigger mouthfuls.

IMG_3712

My friend and I has a fabulous evening, I even saw Bobby chin as I was shown to my table, my friend isn’t a foodie so didn’t even recognise him, even though his face was plastered all over the cookery books around the entrance.

This menu is usually £16 per person available 12 – 6:30 Monday – Saturday, for three dishes with a glass of bubbly and a side of Jasmine rice, an absolute bargain in my opinion!

Great place to come and ‘share’ a meal.

Happy Birthday to Me! Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

I celebrated my birthday in January and my husband surprised me with a lunch reservation at Le Manior Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire.

IMG_3553

We sipped on champagne and nibbled canapés as we browsed the menu and relaxed.  The reception and lounge area reminded me of The Waterside Inn, the conservatory dining room reminded me of Midsummer House, where I had celebrated my last birthday.

IMG_3555

There were quite a few birthday celebrations, so I was in good company.We opted for the 5 course tasting menu with an additional cheese course and an additional dessert, well it was my birthday, hehe!

IMG_3549

First course was a pumpkin soup with a perfectly cooked langoustine.

IMG_3557

Next course was a mackerel dish which I opted to substitute for a mushroom risotto, which is my favourite dish of the year so far and will take some beating, It was amazing, it was creamy, rich, the rice perfectly cooked, the truffle generously coated the top. This dish was absolute perfection. Top marks!

IMG_3562

IMG_3558

IMG_3559

Next course was slow cooked hens egg, to be honest I only really eat the burnt fried kind but I actually enjoyed this far more than anticipated. I really enjoyed the different textures of this dish.

IMG_3563

The main course was Jacobs ladder, melt in the mouth tender as expected, looked beautiful on the plate too.

IMG_3565

Next we had cheese from the cheese trolley. I chose 4 different types but my husband greedily ordered the remaining cheeses I hadn’t. We do love a cheese trolley, the staff serving the cheese were very passionate and very generous with the portions.

IMG_3569

First of the desserts was citrus. And this was a gorgeous pallet cleanser for the rich millionaires shortbread which followed.

IMG_3570

I was very excited to see that my dessert had been pimped up with a happy birthday plaque and a candle.

IMG_3574

We were full to bursting so I took a mint tea in the lounge in front of the open fire, very romantic. My husband shocked me, he was so full he did not even touch the petit fours! Now that’s a first, all the more for me!

IMG_3578

This was a perfect choice of restaurant by my husband to celebrate my birthday. I really enjoy the traditional formal dining and getting dressed up and being in company of others that have made an effort. I really did have a very happy birthday indeed.

IMG_3576

The start of a happy new 2015 -Stelle di Stelle at Harrods 

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

We kicked the new year off in style, lunch at the Italian pop up Stelle di Stelle located in Harrods. Our resident chef was Enrico Crippa of the three Michelin starred restaurant Piazza Duomo which is also number 39 of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

IMG_3421

The restaurant was located within the store which was a concern before I arrived as I did not want to be dining in a fish bowl. As we were seated I was pleased that it was in a quiet part of the store and it was set out really well.

IMG_3418

IMG_3424

IMG_3419

We were first served a plate of cheese and ham, I’m not accustomed to eating parmesan in a chunk so I found this quite novel. The focaccia bread was delicious.

IMG_3422

IMG_3423

The amuse bouche was a huge bowl of salad with sesame seed dressing. I was really surprised with the flavours that emerged from this, it was very pretty too.

IMG_3425

1st course was veal in tuna sauce. The veal was served cold and the tuna sauce, I’m pleased, wasn’t fishy, it was lovely and creamy. I ate the dish with the focaccia. It was like eating a posh beef and horseradish sandwich, gorgeous.

IMG_3429

2nd course was pasta filled with three different types of meat, served with their juices and topped with truffle. OMG this dish was amazing! Who doesn’t love a generous shaving of truffle? I thoroughly enjoyed this course the pasta was succulent and the filling was so flavoursome, this pasta was absolutely the best I’ve ever had, perfetto!

IMG_3430

IMG_3432

Next course was braised beef and polenta. The beef was so tender and the red wine sauce really complimented it. I enjoyed the polenta as it’s something I rarely eat, mainly because I’ve had home cooked attempts and found it so bland, however this was not bland at all.

IMG_3433

To finish was a dessert of hazelnut cake with zabaglione (which is a type of custard) this was really yummy the cake was crumbly and tasted amazing, the sight of it really did not do it justice. Great dessert nothing fancy just delicious cake and custard.

IMG_3435

I was now rather full, the courses were huge and hearty, the ingredients simple and humble but the flavours were incredible. This food was definitely all about the flavours and I can still taste them now. An authentic taste of Italy in the heart of London.

 

2014 – My year in restaurants

Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Dining with friends, Dining with Mum, Dining with the Children, Dining with the Husband, Food Festival, Michelin Star Restaurant, Non Michelin Restaurants, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience, Three Michelin Star, Two Michelin Star

2014 has been a year of amazing restaurant experiences for my husband and I.  Halfway through the year I decided to start documenting my meals on WordPress to share with fellow foodies and to remind myself of the delicious plates of food that have been sat in front of me.

January
The year started off with my birthday meal at the Midsummer house.  As we approached the restaurant, walking over the bridge, the beautiful fairy lights looked magical.  The food I encountered was also magic.  I loved this restaurant, it was very romantic and felt special, the food was incredible and a perfect destination for celebrating my special day.  I loved the BBQd beetroot.  

February
Birth month for my husband and we dined at the Ledbury for his special day.  The service was amazing we had the tasting menu.  We were actually allowed into the kitchen and got to meet Brett Graham who was very welcoming to us.  

We also got to celebrate Valentines day in style at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

IMG_2743

IMG_2746

IMG_2752

March
I took my Mum for Mother’s Day to The Skylounge at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Tower of London.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the champagne and cocktails went down a treat!

IMG_3083

Me & my Mummy

IMG_3085

April
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and stayed at Penny Hill Park and we dinned in their 2 Michelin Star The Latymer.  This was an incredible evening away, the hotel upgraded our room, the spa is the best I’ve visited and to have this incredible restaurant located in the hotel made it perfection.

 IMG_3327
Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

IMG_3322

Beautiful roll top bath

May
We ate at the highly anticipated Fera, hubby was desperate to get a table for the opening week but had to settle for the opening fortnight.  I loved this meal.  I loved the excitement in the dining room, I loved the way Simon Rogan presented us one of our courses and I loved that it’s so much like L’Enclume (another of my favourite restaurants).

During May I also experienced the John Lewis Garden Room pop up restaurant, twice

IMG_0508

IMG_0599

IMG_0734

IMG_0763

And attended the ‘too many chefs’ event at the Drapers Arms in aid of action against huger.  10 chefs, 10 different courses.

IMG_0720

 

I also had a catch up with a dear friend at the two Michelin star restaurant Hibiscus. We ate from the amazing value set menu and had such a lovely time before we knew it we were the last two people in the restaurant.   I loved the ‘Pork Pie’ dish.

June
We attended the best food festival London has to offer, Taste of London.  I have been to most of the London food festivals this year and in my opinion this is head and shoulders above the rest.

IMG_0957

I also had a fab girly night at Shaka Zulu, Camden

IMG_0995

IMG_1001

I attended a meet the makers event at Bread Street Kitchen with Gonzales Byass Sherries.

IMG_0812

July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

IMG_1288

We took the kids to The Big Easy

IMG_1190

Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

IMG_1227

I made marvellous macarons at Jenius Social, which was really good fun, and hard work too!

IMG_1232

IMG_1230

August
I visited the lovely Tamarind of Mayfair, where I had my first taste of lobster in the form of a masala and I particularly enjoyed the Papdi chaat.  This is a fantastic restaurant the staff are lovely, it’s like being in your local Indian, but they have a prestigious Michelin Star.

This was the month I also faced my fear trying Sashimi at Yashin ocean house and actually enjoyed the experience.

IMG_1540
One of the best and most underrated restaurant I visited this year was Launceston Place.  I was certain this would get a second Michelin star as the food and service we received certainly deserved it!

IMG_1760

September

I dined 100ft high in the sky with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
London and Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

IMG_1903

IMG_1937

I also experienced a kitchen takeover Glynn Purnell at Nathan’s Outlaw’s at The Capital

IMG_2021

October
We visited the sophisticated Alyn Williams at The Westbury, my second experience of Alyn Williams’ food but with my feet firmly on the ground.

IMG_2208

Booked almost a year prior to the visit we eventually visited Tom Kerridge’s famous pub The hand and flowers.  It was great and the food was fantastic particularly the desserts.

IMG_2349

Drakes restaurant Woking was a lovely treat and with no expectations I was very pleasantly surprised.  Great feel to the dining room and fantastic food really liked way the cheese course was presented.

IMG_2561

November
This was a casual month where I dined with friends.
I dined at the The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington and it definitely is the best fish and chips I’ve had.  I loved the quirky decor too.

IMG_2749

IMG_2756

Another place I visited was The Remedy wine bar, a fantastic little gem. Real cosy place offering great  charcuterie and cheese boards and quality wine.   My friend and I had a fab evening here. I will definitely be revisiting in 2015 for more catch ups with friends.

IMG_2930

We attended Taste of winter for the first time.  Had loads of fun and I tried food from Kurobuta London and it is a restaurant I look forward to visiting in the new year.

tw3

IMG_3013

I also attended a SPIES event at South Place Hotel and had a fantastic magical mystery evening.

IMG_3032

IMG_3036

December
For the second year running I enjoyed a festive afternoon tea with my friends at the Conrad Hotel, Westminister.  With free flowing champagne for £45 I think this is an absolute bargain! I’m sure to be back again next December.

IMG_3132

So that’s a round up of my year, what a great year it has been too!  Thank you to my hubby for taking me for all these incredible meals and thank you so much to all the restaurants for the incredible food and service received.

Here’s to 2015!

 

Taste of Winter 2014 

Food Festival

With a VIP pass hung round my neck I walked into the buzzing tobacco dock.  This was the opening night for Taste of Winter.  We had arrived later than anticipated as we had walked from Westminster and as we approached to cross Tower Bridge it opened for an illuminous gummie bear to pass under?! I know, Random!!!!

IMG_2945

Tower Bridge opening

IMG_2948

Gummie Bear?

Turns out it was Nicole Scherzinger promoting Candy Crush

Anyway, we headed straight for the Electrolux chefs secrets theatre hoping to get a place on the cook along and luckily there were a few spaces left! The chef hosting the cook along was Rakesh Ravindran Nair from the cinnamon club.

IMG_2972

Me & Rakesh Ravindran Nair

IMG_2952

We made lamb kebabs with mint and cucumber yoghurt.  This is something I often make at home so it was good to be instructed by a professional and to get some tips.  This was really good fun, my husband and I were quite competitive, even though we were cooking together, we both think we’re head chefs! Haha!

tw6

IMG_2961

tw8

tw5

The host was John Quilter, The Food Busker and he was really fun and a great motivator as he walked round poking fun at everyone’s efforts.

tw7

Chef with Food Busker John Quilter

 IMG_2971

Our efforts were judged and the winner was rewarded a bottle of Vodka, it wasn’t us, but we were all winners as we got to eat our delicious kebabs.

Next stop was the VIP lounge to collect our complimentary glass of champagne and a copy of The Incredible Spice Men cookery book.  The Assado stand was directly outside the lounge so we got our books signed by Cyrus Todiwala, who was a pleasure to meet.

IMG_2974

Me & Cyrus Todiwala

IMG_2975

Belly of Pork

IMG_2976

Ostrich Bhuna

We ordered the Belly of Pork Assado on Shredded Red Chilli Risotto and Ostrich Bhuna.  The chef even came over while we were eating to see if we were enjoying our dishes, which we thoroughly were.

Whilst walking about we saw DJ BBQ, who I recognised from Food Junkies and Alex James, one of my husbands idols, more photo opportunities!

IMG_2979

Alex James with Hubby

IMG_2980

Me & DJ BBQ

My husband went to the Hixter stand and ordered Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers.

IMG_2981

Yorkshire pud & whipped chicken livers

Next stop was Club Gascon one of our favourites! We ordered the Duck & Dog and the Squirrel Terrine.  Chef Pascal Aussignac served the dishes, and posed for a pic.  The duck and dog was my favourite dish of the night, this restaurant frequently win best in taste award at these events, this was my winner.

IMG_2993

My Husband with Chef Aussignac

IMG_2996

Duck & Dog

IMG_2997

Squirrel terrine

We took our dishes into the Electrolux Taste Theatre to watch a demonstration by Atul Kochhar of Benares Restaurant.  He was cooking with Brussel sprouts.

tw1

Atul Kochhar

To be honest we left early as time was running out and we had loads of crowns to spend!

Kurobuta was the next stand we visited, this was the most popular stand, but they had a very organised system.  So after a short wait I received my BBQ pork belly in steam buns with spicy peanut sauce and Miso Grilled Hot Wings, the food was definitely worth the wait.

tw2

Pork Belly Bun

tw3

Miso wings

We made a return visit to Club Gascon for the Gascon Mess, Chef Pascal was in a playful mood and greeted me through the ‘O’ hanging from his stand.

tw4

Gascon Mess

IMG_2991

We were both absolutely stuffed now, so we frantically went round trying to use up the crowns on our cards but unfortunately the stalls we has visited did not have the terminal for the taste club cards.  Some were only accepting cash too.  Fortunately now you can apply online for a refund for any unused crowns, which was not possible with the paper crowns.  The card is a much better way to pay and it made the transaction quicker, rather than having to stand counting out the paper crowns.

So the time had slipped away, the session had flown by, tobacco dock is a great location although it did take a while to get to know the layout it was very cosy and really suited the winter theme.  There is so much to do and get involved in, so many food outlets and stalls to browse.  There are lots of free samples too, so it can be as expensive or as cheap as you want, it’s great for foodies or just a great night/day out.  Its a great way to meet and interact with the chefs.  Taste of London and taste of winter, as a foodie, are by far my favourite food festivals.  So I look forward again to the summer and Taste of London in Regents Park.

Alyn Williams at The Westbury

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

This was quite a spontaneous lunch, we had a G&T experience arranged in The Westbury’s Polo bar but we thought whilst were at The Westbury hotel we may as well take the opportunity to eat at their Michelin star restaurant Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

We had been privileged enough to actually meet Executive Chef Alyn Willams and have him cook for us at an exclusive event called Dinner in the sky, I have previously written about this in my diary. I was excited to try his food with my feet firmly on the dining room floor without the wind battling my hair.

The restaurant was beautiful. Very elegant and classic, it reminded me very much of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Next to our table there was a private dining area, either side of the entrance doors were temperature controlled cabinets displaying wines. I found this a really attractive feature, what a great way to show the wines they have to offer.

IMG_2208

IMG_2210

As we knew we’d be drinking gin and tonics after lunch we asked if it was possible to share a wine pairing with our tasting menu. Although we felt a little embarrassed with our request it was not a problem. I had even substituted some of the dishes with the vegetation menu and the wine was still paired accordingly, what excellent service.

Shortly after we were seated we were presented little cheese profiteroles, Gougères. These are one of my favourites, so addictive, they definitely do the trick of leaving your mouth wanting more.

IMG_2212

First course was langoustine which was absolutely delicious, the langoustine was so succulent and the flavours worked so well. I sometimes find lemongrass a little over powering but these flavours were perfectly balanced. Gorgeous dish. I really liked the presentation too.

IMG_2213

Langoustine/lemongrass/chilli/coconut/cucumber

Next course was mackerel. This is a food I don’t think I could ever learn to love. So I substituted for the gnocchi from the vegetation tasting menu. Gnocchi is not something I’ve ordered before, I have made it at home but it was nothing like this. It was awesome, Alyn’s not mine. So crispy and fluffy, my four year old son would have adored these! Now I know what to aim for if I attempt to make gnocchi again.

IMG_2215

Gnocchi/heritage carrots/wild herbs/walnuts

IMG_2217

Mackerel/miso glaze/beach vegetables/truffle

Next course was Foie gras semi fredo. A signature dish. Semi fredo is Italian for half frozen and is typically a dessert. I was surprised by the temperature but as soon as it started to melt in my mouth I completely understood why it was half frozen. Foie gras has a creamy texture, so to add the melting element was very clever. This dish was also served with a really sweet dessert style wine which was unanticipated but made sense and really did compliment the dish.

IMG_2218

Foie gras semi fredo/sand carrot/liquorice

I diverted onto the veggie menu for the next course. I had dined in the sky with Chef Alyn Williams a few weeks prior and had a dish that I thought read quite similar so didn’t want to eat the same dish again. It was actually nothing like I ate before. I was still happy with my choice though. Its great that you can pick and choose from the different menus, another sign of great service.

IMG_2219

Belota Iberica/pickled damsons/parsley mousse/cob nuts

IMG_2221

Jerusalem artichoke royale/kohl rabi/orange/parmesan/truffle.

My husband’s plate of food was very pretty and colourful and not actually how I imagined. My dish was a fluffy, foamy custard and covered in grated truffle. It was lovely and light and the orange was very refreshing.

Ready for the mains, my husband went for the lamb and I went for the beef. Hubby’s lamb was incredible, well the tiny nibble I actually got to try! He devoured it!

IMG_2222

Welsh lamb/herb crust/onion/kale

IMG_2223

IMG_2224

Ruby Red Devon beef sirloin/braised cheek/turnip/croutons

My beef was also served with a side of mashed potato. Absolute perfection! The braised cheek was beautiful and I loved the croutons. This was a flawless course and the reason we avoid cooking beef and lamb at home as we can never do it justice. This is the standard of food you expect to receive when dining in Michelin star restaurants and that’s exactly why I have a tendency to choose Michelin star restaurants over restaurants without, guaranteed quality.

IMG_2227

Aerated white chocolate/candied fennel/lime

IMG_2226

Berries/cheesecake/granola

Desserts were really lovely. Very simple but they were fresh and light and were a great finish to a wonderful tasting menu.

We declined coffees but were presented petit fours in a little cardboard box, which we enjoyed the next day when I discovered them in my handbag. Don’t you just love it when that happens! 😉

This is a beautiful restaurant and service is fantastic.

We went through to the hotels Polo Bar. We sat up at the bar and worked our way through the entire Tanqueray No Ten Botanical Brew Experience menu. (Six varieties) The bar tender was great. He talked us through the exciting range of infusions and pairings, as he mixed them. We felt very comfortable in his company and were sharing lots of laughs. I must admit I was quite drunk after five glasses of wine and three Gin and tonics. We finished our drinks thanked the bartender for his hospitality and then we stumbled into a taxi.

IMG_2663

IMG_2664

IMG_2665

Blurry pictures taken at the Polo Bar on Husbands phone, I think the blur is due to him being drunk hehe!

Alyn Williams - The Westbury Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Hand & Flowers, LUSH!

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

I recently came here for a Saturday lunch, the table had been booked nine months in advance.

Our booking had coincided with head chef Tom Kerridge’s new TV show Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes on BBC2. I imagine you have to wait a lot longer than nine months now to get a table on a Saturday.

My husband checked their website out of curiosity whilst the programme was on air and it had crashed.

I’m a huge fan of Tom Kerridge and I had the pleasure of meeting him last October at a cooking the books event at Sonny’s Kitchen. He cooked a three course lunch inspired by recipes from his first book, Proper Pub Food.

IMG_2287

Meeting Mr Kerridge at Sonny’s Kitchen event November 2013

I was very excited, unfortunately I had to drive as getting there by train would have taken forever, the positive of this was that I got to experience the best Virgin mojito ever!!!!

IMG_2303

Me

The booking was for 12:45 due to an incident on the M25 I left far earlier than I needed and we arrived very early, but luckily managed to bag a parking spot. We sat in the bar and had an aperitif and some bar snacks.

I had a cheeky kent sparkling rose, and hubby had a pint of Hand & Flowers Ale. We ordered bar snacks of spicy nuts and pork puffs. I remember hubby making these pork puffs from the first cookery book, I definitely prefer the professional version. 😉

IMG_2306

Hand & Flowers Ale

IMG_2308

Balfour Brut Rose, Kent

IMG_2311

Bar snacks

As we took our last sip we were offered our table. We were shown to a cosy corner and we were very pleased with our designated table. It was nice to be able to sit next to each other in an informal dining room. The atmosphere was buzzing. Everyone here had been waiting as long as us for their golden ticket to dine in this two Michelin star pub.

My husband continued to drink pints throughout the meal, as I was driving I opted for water and a virgin mojito. The mocktail was was proper lush, I can only imagine what the real cocktails would have tasted like.

IMG_2317

White Bait & Bread

IMG_2332

Best Virgin Mojito EVER

We were given bread and white bait as we waited for our starters. My husband had planned his meal well in advance, I wanted to chose on the day and see what I fancied. My attitude to dining out has changed lately, rather than eat what I like and be safe I have started to order what I normally wouldn’t have. So I ordered lovage soup with smoked eel.

IMG_2322

Lovage Soup with Bramley Apple, Smoked Eel, and Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Hubby ordered crispy pig face.

IMG_2321

Crispy Pig’s Head with Spiced Date Puree, Apple, Blackberry and Pancetta

When the starters arrived I definitely had food envy. Mine was delicious, especially the tortellini hidden at the bottom, but hubby’s dish was something else. It was just perfect. I’m salivating just remembering the taste.

Next main course. Hubby ordered the duck, I ordered the grouse, I chose this as I’d only ever had this once before so wanted to try it again. The plates arrived and the portions were huge! I had ordered a side of chips too. I’m so used to eating smaller portions on tasting menus I didn’t realise how large the main course would be. I did have slight food envy again hubby’s research had definitely paid off.

IMG_2340

Yorkshire Grouse with Black Pudding Purée, Morello Cherry Ketchup, Frosted Almond and Game Pie

IMG_2334

Slow Cooked Duck Breast with Savoy cabbage, Duck Fat Chips and Gravy

IMG_2337

Mains & Sides

The chips were a-maze-ing, the pie was really delicious perfect puffed pastry top and lovey rich filling. There were two pieces of grouse but I was really struggling to finish so passed one over to my hubby.

The food so far had been incredible and now looking back I appreciate it even more. Living in kent I have eaten in little country pubs before but this was a class above any pub I’d ever been to before. Well two Michelin stars above to be precise. Although I was absolutely stuffed I always manage to have room for dessert. Sometimes Michelin star desserts are a bit disappointing but The hand and flowers’ desserts fulfilled and exceeded expectations. The dessert menu was very hard to choose from so we actually chose three. I couldn’t resist the soufflé, well it was the Parma violet ice cream that swung it actually. Hubby chose the chocolate malt cake, this came with a potent shot of reduced ale, and in addition to those, a malt gateau. All three desserts were as luscious as each other. I’d of loved to have worked my way through the entire menu. Trying three out of the seven wasn’t bad going.

IMG_2346

Blueberry Soufflé with Parma Violet Ice Cream and Lemon Verbena Syrup

IMG_2343

Sweet Malt Gateau with Malted Milk Ice Cream, Yeast Tuile and Crème Fraîche

IMG_2342

Hand & Flowers Chocolate and Ale Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream

IMG_2347

Table full of desserts

IMG_2350

The service here is great, very attentive, my water was constantly topped up and even though you are allocated a two hour sitting it does not feel at all rushed, it’s incredible how quickly the tables are turned and new guests are sat, such precision. Although it has been said that formal fine dining is dying out I have to admit I do prefer formal. I loved the hand and flowers and would definitely return as the food was outstanding but I prefer the traditional white table clothes and grand chandeliers and my chair being pulled out for me. BUT I have recently eaten in my local pub and now comparing the two it seems crazy to pay similar prices and receive such average food, now I can definitely see Tom Kerridge’s vision, it is not meant to be ‘fine dining’ this is just perfect proper pub grub!

(Now this isn’t something I usually take pictures of but I was really impressed with the flower arrangement on the toilet and the Hand & Flowers branded soap)

IMG_2323

IMG_2329

IMG_2330