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 .

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.  

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

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