The Clarendon Royal Hotel, Riverside Gourmet in Gravesend

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Invitation only! PR events, Non Michelin Restaurants, Uncategorized

Gravesend, Kent, home to a clock tower, Pocahontas statue, the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, New Tavern Fort and the Tilbury-Gravesend Ferry to name a few.  Gravesend is a river side town and has witnessed rejuvenation since the introduction of the High Speed 1 rail service.

Now Gravesend is not somewhere I would usually choose to eat out, to be honest I think my Gravesend eating experiences are limited to a sausage roll from Greggs after visiting Primark.
I received some Insta love from The Clarendon Royal Hotel.  I returned the love and had a look at their pictures.  Wow, really delicious looking food, I looked at their bio, located in Gravesend! No way!
The Clarendon Royal Hotel were reaching out to Kent based bloggers via Twitter to try out their restaurant and being a fifteen minute drive away from home I responded.  Me and hubby were booked in for dinner.
I drove to the venue which fortunately has its own car park.  We were warmly greeted and shown to our table.  The manager Stephen greeted us and told us all about the visions for the hotel and restaurant and raved about how talented and passionate his chef was.  We were impressed of his restaurant knowledge and felt confident the food would be of a ‘foodie’ standard.
We browsed the menus and chose our starters.
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Drinks. A delicious Virgin Mojito & Hop House 13

While we waited we wondered whether the food was going to be as good as it appeared on Instagram.  When the starters arrived I was pleased to see that they were photogenic but what did they taste like?  Bloody good!
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Ham Hock &Pig Cheek Terrine, Cauliflower Puree, Black Pudding Bonbon, Piccalilli, Popcorn Crackling

 

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Goats Cheese on Croute, Honey, Beetroot Puree, Pear Puree, Rosemary, Honeyed Walnuts, Frisee Leaf

 

I chose the Ham Hock, mainly because it was served with a black pudding Bonbon.  The Bonbon was as good as I hoped and I loved the popcorn crackling.   I was impressed that the piccalilli was homemade.  We also went for the recommended goats cheese on croute.  The flavours were great.  Beetroot and goats cheese is always a winning combination
My husband and I exchanged approving nods and smiles, so far we were really impressed with the food.
Next came the main courses of a twist on fish & chips and medallions of lamb rump.  Again, we were just so impressed by the standard of food. The portions are huge, much bigger than the usual London fine dining portions.
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Bawley Bay, Butter Poached Cod Fillet, Driftwood Chips, Gin Vinegar Batter Pebbles, Samphire, Clams, Mushy Pea & Cured Bacon, Pickled Cockles, Tartar Sauce

 

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Medallions of Lamb Rump, Puled Lamb Stack, Chorizo Dauphinoise, Pea & Mint Puree, Baby Carrots, Broad Beans, Petit Pois, Jus

 

The fish and chip dish was fantastic, such a clever and creative dish inspired by the river Thames which can be seen from our table.  As well as tasting amazing it was so beautifully presented.  I loved the crunch of the gin pebbles.  Such a fun plate of food and the flare and creativity of the chef really was showcased in this continuously evolving signature dish.
The Lamb was equally good, I liked the chorizo hidden between the layers of potato in the Dauphinoise.  The lamb portion was very generous and the Jus was gorgeous.
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The choice of desserts was hard to make.  I was torn between the cheesecake and fondant. Fondant won!  Hubby was torn between the soufflé and chocolate brownie, the brownie won for him.
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Both desserts were delicious.  We had been sharing each other’s plates but I begrudged sharing this one.  The molten chocolate lava was encased in a crisp shell and spilled out perfectly when broken open with the spoon.
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Black Forrest Fondant, Chocolate Fondant, Sour Cherries, Ice Cream

 

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Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream

 

We just had three amazing courses, over looking the Thames, a fifteen minute drive away from home, in Gravesend. It’s exciting to have experienced such high quality food made with love and passion so close to home.  As I mentioned earlier Gravesend is known for a lot of things but not its food scene,  but with the town slowly receiving a breath of new life through regeneration I’m excited for The Clarendon Royal Hotel Restaurant’s future and eagerly anticipate the tasting menu that will hopefully be launched in 2017.
Thank you to Stephen Ruffle for inviting my husband and I for dinner at The Clarendon Royal Hotel .
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Hot air ballooning.  A Birds eye view of the garden of England 

More about me, personal posts

For my mums 60th birthday in 2015 I booked us on a hot air balloon. Unfortunately due to the weather the flight was postponed. So I rescheduled another flight. Postponed again. Unfortunately this happened approximately 10 times due to the deceiving weather and now it’s June 2016. My voucher was soon to expire and I’d almost given up hope. I’d received a text on Monday lunchtime there were 2 spaces remaining on that evenings flight, which was guaranteed to fly, so I thought it’s now or never. I called my mum, asked her if she was available, she said yes, I replied to the text and we were booked on. At 2 o clock I rang the flight confirmation line which gave me the launch pad details. There are 7 different Kent locations in total. I jotted the details, Mercure hotel in Maidstone to be there by 7pm.  
It was quite a mad rush getting home from work, saying hello and goodbye to the kids, quickly gobbling down a sandwich and getting changed. Then I had to collect my mum from the train station and head straight to the launch site, which was about a 30 minute drive from my house. 
We arrived at the hotel and saw a signpost for outdoor activities so we followed it round. I spotted the spitfire minibus and knew that’s where we were to meet.  
We handed over our vouchers, were ticked off the list and were given a safety card to read of dos and don’ts 


We headed over with the group of fellow flyers and watched as the crew prepared the balloon. We also got a safety brief from the pilot Michael.  


The balloon took longer to prepare than I imagined. I thought it would inflate quite quickly like a bouncy castle but no. It had to be filled with cold air from noisy petrol powered fans. Then topped up with hot air from the even noisier burners. This took a while, it’s great to see though. The balloon was so much bigger than expected. Once ready we were given our allocated spaces. The basket was divided into 5 compartments, 1 in the middle for the pilot and the remaining 4 for the passengers. There were 16 passengers in total. To get in and out of the basket there are square holes in the side, these are to be used as a ladder. I was the youngest person on the flight and didn’t find it that easy to climb in, but there was help at hand if needed. 


Once on board we practiced our landing position. Which was to sit down on the padded bench inside the compartment, shoulder to shoulder and hold onto the rope in front. We were ready to go. The burners flames were roaring, the ropes were untied and we were off, floating into the sky. It’s quite a strange feeling as there isn’t really any effect on the body. It didn’t make my tummy somersault, there was no G force. It was just a gentle rise into the air. If you shut your eyes you wouldn’t even know you were moving. There was no sensation at all. What surprised me was the speed at which we rose, and how everything looked so small so quickly. The view is like looking out from an airplane window. It’s like being a giant looking over a tiny lifelike train set.  


So many people ask wasn’t you scared. But the answer is no. I know it’s completely insane to be up so high in the sky and so vulnerable in just a basket and a balloon full of hot air but it never occurred to me that I wasn’t safe. The pilot talked us through the whole experience and he was such a funny and friendly man I guess everyone felt at ease. It didn’t appear that anyone was at all anxious. It’s so quiet, tranquil, serene and literally heavenly up in the sky you can’t help but feel at peace.  


You may or may not know that you can’t steer a hot air balloon. Only the height can be controlled. The wind steers the balloon in the direction it chooses. So whilst up in the air Michael was radioing the crew in the minibus of his predicted landing site. He was also getting them to do certain checks to know what sort of landing we were in for too.  


I think our flight lasted approximately an hour. One of my favourite moments was when we came down low to the fields to check the wind and then climbed back up again. We also brushed a tree top and some passengers were able to grab a leaf or two for a souvenir.  


Whilst up in the air Michael showed us a very impressive trick, he threw a piece of grass from the floor of the basket out into the sky…………..it rose up?!? The reason it went up and not down as anticipated was because we were descending faster in the balloon than the grass was falling to the ground.  

Kent ballooning have an arrangement with some Kentish farmers who have given permission for them to land in their fields, some in exchange for a bottle of champagne. Not a bad deal.  

We had traveled approximately 9 miles up in the sky and we could see the spitfire van waiting for us. We were expecting a good landing. We landed in a field of sheep, after Michael had cleverly rotated the basket to fit through a gap in the trees. Metres above the floor we took our landing positions. There was a small bump, nothing violent, and then we moved slightly along the ground as the balloon settled.  


We clambered out one by one alternate ends to keep the basket balanced. Getting out was equally hard, but all passengers were helping each other. Some of us hung onto the basket to keep it weighed down whilst the others exited the basket.  
Once everyone was out, the basket was put onto the 4×4 and the deflated balloon needed to be packed up. We all took part in packing it away. The balloon, I believe, is worth £40,000 and is sponsored by spitfire. The basket is worth another £20,000.  


We all helped to roll the air out while Michael rugby tackled the balloon and packed it into a narrow strip. We all then grabbed a part and helped lug it into the basket. It’s a lot lot heavier than expected.  
Once the balloon was packed up we toasted our successful flight with a glass of champagne, or spitfire. It’s actually tradition to do this as it was thought that travelling through the sky was alien back in the day so the pilot carried champagne to prove he was human.   


Once refreshed we got into the mini bus and travelled back to the launch site. Here we were presented with our certificates. I was very proud of my mum, as she’s not good with heights. I was proud that we’d actually managed to get up in the sky after almost a year of failed attempts. But it was worth it. Obviously this is an activity that is weather permitting because people’s safety is paramount. The weather is studied to know if it’s safe and to know where the best sites are to launch and land. 

This was an amazing experience and it’s something I think everyone should do in their lifetime. It’s a real bucket list thing to do and I’ve done it! I love the Kent countryside. It’s beautiful, it’s my home and it really is the garden of England and I’ve been lucky enough to get a birds eye view of it.  

A disappointing wedding anniversary on the 52nd floor.  GONG Bar, Shangri-La

Afternoon Tea, Dining with the Husband

I received a virgin experience days voucher for The View from The Shard and Afternoon Tea at the 5* Luxury Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard for Two in the GONG Bar on the 52nd floor.
I used the voucher to celebrate my wedding anniversary.  

We arrived on the 52nd floor and were shown to our window seat. Great!………. Oh actually not so great…. Window seats are quite close together, as we were about to sit, the table next to us were dominating the air space with their conversation. I discreetly asked for a more private table but my request was denied. We sat and tolerated trying to talk over the next table for about 10 minutes but then my husband got up and asked to move.  

  
We actually got a better seat. Not right next to the window but a sofa against the wall with us both looking out onto the view.  
We were offered champagne but as we had a voucher we asked if there was a supplement we could pay to upgrade to the champagne afternoon tea. This was denied and instead we were offered the wine list. The difference between a champagne afternoon tea and a standard afternoon tea is £8 but the cheapest glass on the drinks menu is £19. We declined the champagne.  
The tea was served with pre packed sugars. I know this might come across a bit snobbish but sugar cubes in packets? I’ve never come across this before in a London afternoon tea. It would look more elegant loose out of the packet.  
We were given an amuse bouche of gazpacho and it was absolutely delicious! Lovely flavour and a lovely spicy heat. I couldn’t wait for the food now. So we waited. 

  
After getting quite fidgety through waiting we were presented our afternoon tea. We had checked the menu before coming and were expecting to be blown away.  

The sandwiches were cold, so I presume they were taken straight from the fridge. The beef sandwich had a thick layer of hard mustard butter which was not very pleasant.   

The rest of the sandwiches were really nice, especially the chicken. The truffle egg mayo was also really good. We did ask for another round of sandwiches but the temperature spoils the overall taste and texture. I really dislike fridge cold bread. Our hearts were beginning to sink. What a disappointment.  
Next we tucked into the scones. There were two fruit and two plain. My ‘fruit’ scone contained 2 pieces of fruit. My husband had no fruit in his. They were ok but lacked fruit.  

  
Before we moved onto the cakes I wanted another pot of tea. So I managed to get a staff members attention and ordered another pot of earl grey. I waited but it didn’t arrive. We were due up at the view so I didn’t bother to chase it up as we didn’t have time.  

We ate the desserts and I stole a cup of hubby’s tea.  

We were given an apple crumble and custard dessert in a shot glass, but had no cutlery. I ate mine with my dirty tea spoon but my husband refused to do that. He would have asked for a spoon but it was so hard to get anyone’s attention. We’re not used to such inattentive service.  

  
The cakes were nice especially the lemon meringue and the lovely little dessert in the shot glass. Which hubby through stubbornness didn’t sample.  

We got up to leave and got our coats. We told the staff member about the tea not arriving and she apologised.  

Whilst we were talking about our disappointment in the lift a different staff member interrupted us as he was concerned about our negative comments. He took my contact details and within a few hours I had an email with an apology and an offer of two complimentary glasses of champagne.  

I know I am a food snob and I am used to eating in Michelin star restaurants and I’m accustomed to incredible customer service. I had gone to The Gong Bar expecting high standards but unfortunately they were not met. I can’t say I would recommend this afternoon tea. The cocktails did look amazing and obviously the views are incredible, even on a rainy day, but in terms of value for money, well, I’ve been to quite a few afternoon teas in London which have cost similar amounts, and the food and service has been far more superior.  

I don’t believe in writing bad reviews but I feel really disappointed with my experience and it was done for my Wedding Anniversary, which wasn’t even acknowledged.  

I have been offered a drink as an apology which does soften the blow I just hope that I’m not disappointed again on my next visit.  

  

Delicious dim sum at Ping Pong Southbank 

Dining with friends, Invitation only! PR events

I was given the opportunity to write a blog post for Ping Pong.   Ping Pong are group of restaurants serving Dim Sum, cocktails and Chinese teas. The essence of Dim Sum culture is sharing among family and friends. 

I’ve only dined at a couple of Dim Sum restaurants before and they are featured in the Michelin guide (if you’re familiar with my posts you’ll know I’m a sucker for Michelin recommended restaurants) so my Dim Sum standards were set high. My dinner guest adores Chinese food and this was her 4th Chinese meal in the space of a week.  

We were quickly seated in a very busy restaurant. The branch I visited is located on the Southbank I could see the London eye from my seat. This is an extremely popular restaurant, people who had walked in on the off chance of getting a table happily waited for a table to become available, this is always a good sign. Fortunately I had a reservation, I’d highly recommend booking prior to visiting, I went on a Monday evening and it was very busy.  

 We were sat down, tables are quite close together, which is a good way to get a sneak peak of the food on offer. As it was our first visit the menu was explained. Dim Sum is prepared as small bite-sized food. Plates are small and Ping Pong encourages sharing so dishes have been created for this purpose. It was recommended to order 3 dishes each. I got my pencil and ticked off all our food choices.  

Nibbles and sauces I ordered black sesame seed prawn crackers with spicy mango sauce. Although surprised by the colour they were delicious and not at all greasy like the usual ones you get free with a takeaway.  

  
From the soups and salads I ordered the classic chicken wonton and noodle soup. Not the most elegant dish to eat with chopsticks! We had an abundance of sauces on the table so I added some chilli sauce to this dish to give it a kick. When I managed to get hold of the slippery wonton I really enjoyed it.  

  
From the rice dishes I ordered honeyed chilli chicken and mushroom rice pot. This was one of my favourite dishes the sauce covering the chicken and mushrooms was lovely and sweet and sticky and very comforting.  

  
From the special and signature dishes I ordered fire cracker chicken roll. These really were like little fire crackers! The pastry was so crisp and the filling was certainly fiery as was the dip. The touch of pomegranates gave a pretty colour to the dish and a slight relief to the chilli.  

  
Fried and grilled was a tough choice but I went for prawn toast with sesame seeds and chilli beef parcels. The prawn toast was amazing! A huge juicy prawn on toast beautifully presented in a sesame coated done. I could have eaten a whole plate of these to myself, but it wouldn’t be very Ping Pong like to hog them all.   

  The beef and chilli parcels were really good too, lovely and crispy.  

From the steamed I went for the char Sui bun and chicken and cashew nut dumpling. The bun was not a bun as I had imagined. It’s a little gathering of clouds encasing a delicious honeyed BBQ pork. I don’t think I should have ate the backing paper though?! 

  
The chicken and cashew were an accidental choice as I ticked the wrong box but I’m glad I did as they were lovely.  

  
I was really impressed with all the food. The service was quick and the food came as and when it was ready, which was good for us as there wouldn’t have been enough room for all our dishes. The servers were great too, really friendly and helpful, even though I did knock almost an entire bottle of soy sauce over! Sorry! 

I arrived at Ping Pong with the dim sum bar set high and they definitely reached it. There is so much more on the menu I would love to try. So I’m considering revisiting for LAZY SUMDAYS – ALL YOU CAN EAT DIM SUM!!! 

Ping Ping offer Unlimited dim sum for just £22.95 per person, or £11.50 for your under 12s. Available on Sundays and Monday bank holidays only. Drinks, seasonal specials, set menus, special dishes and desserts are not included in this menu. 

With Easter Sunday and a bank holiday Monday coming up its a perfect excuse to go back.

   
 Thank you to Ping Pong for inviting me to write this post.  

VIP Box Experience of Cirque du Soleil at the iconic Royal Albert Hall 

Uncategorized

My husband was amazingly lucky and won a competition with the Evening Standard for a VIP box experience with behind the scenes access to Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall.
We arrived a few minutes late as my husband had taken us on a detour (got lost). When we arrived we put on our VIP lanyards and sipped on a cucumber and mint mocktail while we waited for our tour guide.  

Our Royal Albert Hall tour guide greeted us along with the stage manager from Cirque du Soleil and we began our tour of the iconic Royal Albert Hall. We were shown the empty hall from all perspectives. Standing at the stage looking out at all the empty seats was quite an experience. 

   


One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the royal areas, we weren’t allowed into the actual royal box but we were allowed into the royal lounge area. This is where the royals enter the hall and hang out during the interval. It was very plush with lots of royal portraits hung proudly on the walls. 

The guide had told us how The Royal Albert Hall is actually a registered charity held in trust for the nation’s benefit to promote the Arts and Sciences. It is not funded and the income is generated from the hire of the hall.  

We were taken all the way up to the top of the theatre and shown the ‘mushrooms’ which dangle from the roof, these are the resolution to the bad acoustics created by the dome in the roof.    

   

  

We were then taken downstairs backstage and had a sneak peak of the star of the show limbering up for the performance in the make shift gym.  

When the doors opened up to the public we were shown to our own private box and provided with a full hospitality experience which included Pre-show canapés, a bucket of champagne, wine and beer all served by our own waiter! After we had been waited on the waiter left our box whilst we enjoyed the first half of the show, he returned during the interval to serve more food and delicious dessert canapés then left again so we could watch the second half.    

  
  
Cirque du Soleil are celebrating their 20th anniversary at the Royal Albert hall and are premiering their show AMALUNA, which is about a Mysterious Island Ruled by Goddesses, the cast and the band are made up predominantly of women, as appose to the majority of their shows being made up of mostly men.  

It’s basically a love story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. Queen Prospera causes a storm, after her daughter Miranda’s coming of age. The storm results in a group of men washing up onto the island. A love story begins between Miranda and a washed up brave young suitor. There is also an element of comedy through the show as you witness the relationship blossom between the male and female ‘clowns’.  

   

The performers are incredible, their strength is phenomenal. Each performer had me on the edge of my seat with their breath taking acrobatics. The artists performed a variety of stunts swinging by their necks from Aerial Straps, jumping as high as my house and somersaulting on a teeterboard. Synchronised swinging on the uneven bars and beautifully swimming and balancing around aWaterbowl. One of the performers did an amazing performance of balancing varying sized sticks, thetheatre was pin drop silent nervously watching on hoping that the stack of sticks did not fall…….. and they didn’t until she prompted them to.   

At the end of the show our tour guide and the stage manager joined us once again and escorted us backstage to meet and greet two of the cast members, they were so tiny! Well I am 5ft 11 but the performers seemed really small to me. It was great to be up close and see their intricate make up and costumes.    

 
After meeting two of the beautiful performers we were taken to the stage and got to hold some props, the balls the juggler had skillfully used and the sticks from the balancing act.    


We then went to wardrobe and looked closely at the costumes which have to be washed daily. So even after the performers have gone, backstage crew are still washing and drying their costumes. Each performer also applies their own make up, they use the brand Mac, both Cirque du Soleil and Mac inspires each other for new trends and colours.   

This bought our tour to an end, what an incredible end to the most amazing VIP experience. If you get the opportunity to see the show (even if it’s not VIP) I would highly recommend.

The great Italian feast at Gatti’s CityPoint

Blog post by Restaurant, Invitation only! PR events, Non Michelin Restaurants

I was invited to one of the famous #ZomatoMeetUps by the fantastically lovely people of Zomato. Zomato is an online restaurant guide, which is made up of a vast and diverse community of foodies, including me, who share their restaurant experiences, with the aim of helping others make more informed restaurant choices. Have you ever thought “oh I’d love to look at the menu for the fancy restaurant on the high street”!? Well look no further than Zomato. They have literally scanned on thousands of menus so if you have one of those thoughts you can peruse the menu online at your own leisure, and that was the inspiration of Zomato!! A #ZomatoMeetUp is an event held for an invited selection of active Zomato users. It’s almost like a reward for being part of their community.  
So the meet up was at Gatti’s Restaurant. Ever heard of it? No neither had I. But it’s a real hidden gem, nestled at the bottom of the CityPoint skyscraper. From the window you can see a very impressive bar, with a few tables but hidden away downstairs is a huge dinning room. Which seats up to 130 people and can even offer a private dining room for 10.  

  
When I arrived I was greeted with a glass of champagne and canapés of lovely little blinis topped with smoked salmon and lobster. I mingled with the zomato team and fellow bloggers.  
Once everyone had arrived we were shown down the stairs, past the impressive collection of varying sized champagne bottles and to our tables.  
Awaiting us proudly on the table were a selection of bruschette including cured ham and artichokes, porcini mushroom and roasted cherry tomato and basil.  

  
The first dish of the night was rigatoni pasta with organic tomato sauce and fresh basil. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce was full of flavour. The sprinkle of parmesan made it all the more moreish.  

   
 Next was the fish course salt baked sea bass. The chef proudly wheeled out the fish whilst the blogger paparazzi took photos. I always find this so amusing! A pappazzi taking photos of a trolley of food! I’m so guilty of doing it but still see the comedy in it.  

  
The chef cut the salt crust to reveal a cloud of steam and a beautifully cooked whole sea bass. 10 years ago I would have run a mile from this but I’m much more accustomed to fish now. So when the plate was placed in front of me I wasn’t at all hesitant to tuck in. I actually really like sea bass, this was really lovely. Soft, succulent, with a gorgeously meaty texture and considering that it had been cooked in a tonne of salt, not over salty. It was explained that this impressive dish is available if ordered in advance as it takes a lot of preparation.

   
 Next course was roast beef with all the trimmings. Again the beef was wheeled out and the paparazzi jumped up to get their shots.  

  
This was a rather impressive hunk of meat. It was picture perfectly presented on my plate too. The beef was cooked to absolute perfection. Perfectly seared and pink in the middle. Also perfectly cooked were the Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes. It’s so hard to get a roast where all the components are well made, but Gatti’s definitely succeeded in this! Best roast dinner I’ve had in a long time and I love, love, loved the gravy! 

  
To cleanse our pallets we received a deliciously refreshing sorbet of lemon and Prosecco. My mouth was salivating for dessert now, even though my stomach was feeling rather full! This was my ‘treat night’ so I was determined to eat as much as I could! 

  
A selection of desserts was the grand finale. Home made tiramisu, profiteroles, panna cotta and cheesecake. Each dessert was really good but I have to say the home made tiramisu was amazing! So much so I had no reservations when my fellow dinner offered me hers! It was lovely and moist and the flavours were well balanced and not at all over powering.  

   
 I have to say the food here is very simple but delicious and well portioned. It’s probably hard to find this type of informal Italian good quality restaurant within the city. But even more impressive than the food was the incredible service and hospitality shown by Giulio who kept topping up the wine and making me smile, and also the lovely Jenny the owner of Gatti’s. It’s a very welcoming restaurant and I can see them having a lot of repeat custom due to the lovely service and modest food. It really is a hidden gem here and you’d be hard pushed to find something like this round these parts. You really can’t beat good customer service. I’ve been to so many restaurants where service is so formal and I wouldn’t remember who served me but I definitely wouldn’t forget Giulio. He really is a huge part of the Gatti’s experience.  

  
So if you want to escape from the city and experience an informal relaxed and highly welcoming dining room with simple but delicious food then head here.  

Thank you to Zomato for inviting me and to Gatti’s for your generosity and fantastic service.  

Gattis City Point

1 Ropemaker Street

Moorgate

London

EC2Y 9HU

Food perfection at Brasserie Chavot

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

Brasserie Chavot offers a French inspired menu created using the finest produce from the British Isles and France.

The Parisian inspired dining room has white tablecloths, red banquettes, a beautiful mosaic tiled floor and extravagant chandeliers.

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Executive chef Eric Chavot is highly acclaimed and has worked with iconic chefs  including Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc.  He opened this Michelin star Brasserie in 2013 and It’s conveniently located on Conduit Street, Mayfair, which is just off of Regent Street, perfect for a pre/post shopping spree slap up meal.

My husband and I were on a date night.  We had already decided what we were eating before we had even got to the restaurant.  Brasserie Chavot is famous for their soft shell crab.  I love soft shell crab too so there was no doubt I was going for this.  My husband and I always tend to order different dishes, I’m not sure why, I think we like to compete for food envy but my husband was already envious before we’d even ordered so he too went for this as a starter too.

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Deep-fried soft shell crab, whipped aioli
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So was it as anticipated? Omg yes! Deep fried Light crunchy batter on a succulent soft shelled crab served with gorgeous whipped aioli, the ultimate food porn, smartly served on a grease proof French newspaper, c’est magnifique!

For our main course we both chose the classic Brasserie dish of steak frites! Again my husband didn’t want to risk food envy, because If you’re ordering steak and chips from a Michelin star kitchen you know it’s gonna be très bien.

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The Beef ribeye comes with either a choice of echalotes (shallots) or bearnaise sauce, but we went for both.  The steak is also served with a side of watercress.  Pommes frites were ordered separately and we also ordered an additional mixed leaf salad.

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The steak was cooked to perfection, as expected gorgeously pink and tender.  I spread the softened shallots on top of the beef and dipped each cut into the bearnaise.  We were also  offered ketchup and mayonnaise, which I’m ashamed to say I used for my chips.  My husband is a condiment-a-holic he will literally have some sort of condiment with every meal eaten at home.  So to have all these lined up on the table was a real pleasure for him.

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The watercress side was coated  in a Roquefort blue Cheese dressing, it was so delicious.  The chips had been triple cooked so were soft inside but crisp and crunchy.  Quite honestly this was the best steak,  chips and salad I’ve ever had!

Although we were absolutely stuffed we still found room for a dessert.

Surprise surprise we actually ordered different desserts.  I went for the Chocolate and pistachio pot de crème.

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Hubby went for the Baba au rhum with creme Chantilly

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The desserts were very generously sized.  We were both very happy with our choices.  My husband’s dessert looked huge, but he had no problem scoffing it in about 10 seconds, I barley got a taste.  I savoured mine, and it was a delicious combination of smooth rich flavours and textures.  As my husband and I are used to having small tasting menu courses we were pleasantly surprised by how big the dishes were, although we were almost in a food coma we definitely felt satisfied like we’d eaten a good meal.

We headed off and thanked the staff for their great service, they were very engaging and really passionate about the food and their chef, we did ask to meet him but to our chef stalking disappointment he was not in. So walked our happy bellies to the train station whilst reminiscing about the amazing food we just ate.

Brasserie Chavot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zomato Jamón masterclass at the swanky new Camino Bankside

Blog post by Restaurant, Invitation only! PR events, Non Michelin Restaurants

I was invited to my first #ZomatoMeetUp by the lovely people of Zomato.  Zomato is an online restaurant guide, which is made up of a vast and diverse community of foodies, including me, who share their restaurant experiences, with the aim of helping others make more informed restaurant choices.  A #ZomatoMeetUp is an event held for an invited selection of active Zomato users.

So for my first meet up I was invited to Learn the art of Jamón carving at Camino, BanksideCamino’s exciting new tapas bar which has just opened behind the Tate Modern at Bankside.

I arrived and as I walked into the restaurant I instantly saw the open jamón counter where the legs are proudly hung.  Dinners are able to sit here sipping cava, whilst enjoying traditional Spanish ham carved right before their eyes by the highly trained cortador de jamón.  So by the end of the evening I too was hoping to be a (slightly trained) cortador de jamón.

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The evening kicked off with the whole group gathered round a slightly eerie looking pig leg, hairy trotter and all.  We were given a demonstration in how to cut the ham.

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We were also informed all about the welfare of the pigs and diets of different types of hams, as a slide show looped behind us with cute little piggies, and no I didn’t fell guilty at all!

The group was split into two, whilst the other half carved my half sat and had a delicious selection of tapas.

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Manchego ewe cheese & quince jelly

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Crispy fried baby squid & alioli

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Pimientos de padron peppers

Now for those who do not know, eating these peppers is like playing a game of roulette.  The peppers are usually mild in heat BUT if you choose one of the godfather hot peppers you might notice your tongue tingle.  There’s no way to differentiate, its just pot luck.

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After mingling and munching with my fellow foodies we were called up to the leg.  I’m a generally clumsy awkward person with hardly any grace.  So I took the knife and attempted to carve.  I was very conscious of my other hand just hanging there and it naturally wanted to hold onto the ham, so I was given a small tong as a distraction.

Oh my goodness, I never knew that something which looked so simple was actually really difficult.  My hands were awkward, the angle of my knife was wrong, even the way I was standing was wrong, oh dear!

The pork is quite tough and the knife does not glide through the meat it has to be sawn through as if playing a violin. I did somehow manage to get a few good slices.

Here’s some pics of me carving, told you I had no grace!

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So after we had all had a go we all gathered downstairs at the ham counter and watched the professionals carve a variety while we got to taste them all.

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Jamón Teruel DO (20 months) – white ham

Jamón Iberico Cebo (24 months) – the ham we carved 

Jamón Iberico Bellota Etiqueta Roja (32 months) – red labeled ham

Jamón Iberico Bellota Etiqueta NegraCinco Jotas (36 months) – the black labelled ham

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The more mature the ham, the more expensive the cost.  I was already a fan of the black label though, these pigs are pure acorn fed and its incredible how strong the acorn flavour comes through.  I actually really enjoyed the white ham too as it was such a contrast in taste, a really subtle flavour.

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We were also served another couple of tapas bits of Pan con Tomate and Tortilla de patata

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Then it was time to say goodbye and head home.

So that was my first ever #ZomatoMeetUp, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I really enjoyed meeting some fellow Zomato users.  It was also my first ever carving experience which I did enjoy although I wasn’t very good at it.  Its a great thing to do with a group of friends as you can just ridicule each other while you’re sitting back and eating the ham that you have just butchered.

New Jamón masterclasses are held at the swanky new Bankside Venue starting September 23rd and are £30 per person where you will learn how to prepare, slice and serve Jamón directly from the leg.  (Hopefully better than me)  And as well as being able to take what you carve you can also purchase a leg of your own to show off your new skills.  Spaces are very limited, click the link to reserve your place here

Thank you to Camino and Zomato for your amazing food and hospitality.

Camino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Date night @ Rivea London

Dining with the Husband, Non Michelin Restaurants

During the summer holidays my husband and I have taken full advantage of date night opportunities whilst our children stay with their grandparents. We are very fortunate that my husband’s parents are our childcare, and we couldn’t wish for any better than that.

So anyway, my husband had booked us a table at Rivea London. Found in the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge.

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Rivea London offers French and Italian small plates.  Inspired by food markets in Italy and Provence.

The Executive Chef is Alexandre Nicolas, who spent more than 10 years under the tutelage of the incredible Alain Ducasse.  So expectations were very high!

Rivea’s menu expresses the Mediterranean’s fresh and healthy cuisine with a focus on vegetables and their diversity of flavours and textures.

My husband had booked through bookatable which currently has a star deal of 4 plates and a glass of wine for £35 per person.  This includes 2 starter plates, a main and a dessert. I know, what an absolute bargain bonanza!

We were shown downstairs into the restaurant and I immediately noticed the tasseled curtain which instantly reminded me of the curtained private dining area at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.  The wooden interior contributed to the good acoustics, the subtle piped in music created an atmosphere even though the dining room wasn’t very full.

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We were given our menus and asked our preference of wine for the included glass, as the deal was such a bargain we decided to purchase an additional glass.  The sommelier was happy to match a glass of white and red to pair with our food choices.

Whilst I was in the toilet a plate of dips and breadsticks was served and,  can you believe it, my husband tucked in before I came back! Oh the indignity! But look at these, they look amazing, they came with an index card like you’d get in a box of chocolates, impressive.

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Plates are small and designed for sharing so we both ordered different dishes to get a wider choice.  To start we ordered

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Provence-style vegetable caponata

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Buffalo mozzarella, courgette and basil

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Garden pea soup, ewe’s curd

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Rivea salad wrapped in a socca

As mentioned before the emphasis is very much on vegetables.  The courgette and mozzarella looked beautiful.  The pea soup was also beautifully presented before the actual soup was poured onto the ewes curd.  The caponata was probably my favourite of the four.  A lovely combination of vegetables and flavours.   I really admired the actual dishes the food was served in, so pretty and I’m sure my mums got something similar in the cupboard from when I was a kid which she used to make up angel delight in!

For main I ordered the Corn-fed chicken breast, macaroni au gratin.

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I don’t often order chicken as I eat so much at home but I was intrigued by the macaroni au gratin.   Well, you could have knocked me down with a chicken feather! It was incredible.  I often make Mac cheese at home, which I think I make pretty well, but this was literally Mac cheese heaven! If only they did that as a dish I’d be all over it!

Hubby ordered Confit veal shank, Swiss chard and carrot.

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I had a small taste and it was good but nothing could compare to that gratin I was savouring.  Mmmmmmm, I’m actually salivating now!

Because my husband is used to spending a lot more on meals than the deal we were getting we decided to throw in two additional desserts and a cheese course.

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We had a small British cheese selection, to share which was good although slightly too cold, I would have preferred it at room temperature.

Now dessert time!!!! We were served two at a time.

Lemon shortbread, Limoncello sorbet

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Apricot and pistachio contemporary vacherin

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Then

Chocolate tart

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Tiramisù

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Desserts were fantastic.  All of them equally delicious.

So my verdict? Well firstly it’s incredible value.  But I think I had gone with the wrong expectations.  As I have been to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and his name is linked to this restaurant, I expected similar food, which is not what Rivea London is about.    It’s about basics and flavours.  I had gone expecting extravagance.  The food was still fantastic and I’m still raving about my main, and all of the desserts, but I was mistaken in thinking it would be the three Michelin star quality of the Dorchester.  But you cant get this incredible value there!

Click to add a blog post for Rivea London - Bulgari Hotel & Residences on Zomato

Reminiscence – The Fat Duck July 2011

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Food Obsessed Sam

I visited this mind blowing restaurant in July 2011. My husband and I had only just started getting into food and dining in Michelin star restaurants. The main reason being that we now had a child so drinking, dancing and grabbing a donna kebab on the way home in the early hours was not something we could partake in anymore. Not a bad alternative I know!

My husband’s new year resolution/challenge for 2011 was to dine in at least one Michelin starred restaurant a month for a whole year. I believe this was our first three Michelin star experience.  (We’ve since visited all the three Michelin star restaurants in the UK).  During our year of Michelin starred dining we would more often go for the set lunch menus, looking back this does not really do the restaurants justice as you just can’t compare a set lunch to an a la…

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