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.
img_5182

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!
img_5210

Ham Hock &Pig Cheek Terrine, Cauliflower Puree, Black Pudding Bonbon, Piccalilli, Popcorn Crackling

 

img_5211

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.
img_5213

Bawley Bay, Butter Poached Cod Fillet, Driftwood Chips, Gin Vinegar Batter Pebbles, Samphire, Clams, Mushy Pea & Cured Bacon, Pickled Cockles, Tartar Sauce

 

img_5212

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.
img_5214
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.
img_5204
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.
img_5200

Black Forrest Fondant, Chocolate Fondant, Sour Cherries, Ice Cream

 

img_5201

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 .
Advertisements

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.

IMG_7996

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.

IMG_7966 IMG_7961 IMG_7969

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.

IMG_7980

Manchego ewe cheese & quince jelly

IMG_7981

Crispy fried baby squid & alioli

IMG_7977

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.

IMG_7984

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!

IMG_8028 IMG_8029

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.

IMG_8003

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

IMG_7999

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.

IMG_8007

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

 IMG_8001

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.

IMG_7269

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.

IMG_7301

 

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.

IMG_7266 IMG_7267

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

IMG_7328

Provence-style vegetable caponata

IMG_7275

Buffalo mozzarella, courgette and basil

IMG_7326

Garden pea soup, ewe’s curd

IMG_7277

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.

IMG_7283

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.

IMG_7287

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.

IMG_7292

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

IMG_7295

Apricot and pistachio contemporary vacherin

IMG_7294

Then

Chocolate tart

IMG_7296

Tiramisù

IMG_7297

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

Tasty Tasting menu at Northbank 

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Non Michelin Restaurants

I was given the opportunity by squaremeal to write a blog post about Northbank. The prize included a cocktail on arrival, 6 course tasting menu and paired wines.  
Northbank opened in 2007 and offer modern Cornish influenced British cuisine. Ingredients are sourced from Falmouth and surrounding areas of Cornwall. And the daily delivered fresh fish is sourced off the Cornish coast.

Northbank is located near the Millennium bridge. I had walked from Victoria so was quite parched and welcomed my recommended cocktail of the week, an Amaretto Salisa. My husband had a Pear of the Caribbean. Both cocktails were absolutely delicious, they were so good they were gone in less than 60 seconds! Priced at £8.50 I think that’s very good value for such a great tasting drink. 

  
We were seated at a romantic table for two at the window. Northbank have a prime riverside location. From our table we had a great view of the South Bank, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, The Shard and Millennium Bridge. This side of the river definitely has the better view.  

  
I adore the wallpaper here, it’s a modern twist on the willow pattern (the old fashioned blue and white painted porcelain). The print is on the menu too. The green images remind me of the lyrics to Lily Allen’s song LDN.  

  
We were given bread and an amuse bouche of carrot, honey and ginger soup. The bread was freshly baked and so lovely and warm.  

   
 First course of the tasting menu was Devon red beef carpaccio with red wine braised octopus and sweet baby onions

  
Traditionally carpaccio is thinly sliced raw meat. This was a generous chunk. The braised octopus was beautifully soft and served as a whole tentacle. I love the way you can see each little sucker. Baby onions were spot on. It was a great modern twist on a surf and turf.  

Second course Pan fried Seabass with cockles, clams and seaweed crumb.  

  
The skin on the fish was incredible, perfectly crispy and crunchy I almost thought I was eating chicken skin. It was amazing! Seabass is one of my favourite fish as it’s not overly fishy. The addition of the cockles gave it the fishy kick, I must admit I sneaked these onto my husband’s plate as I’m still a bit fussy with seafood.  

Next up Confit rabbit, foie gras and chorizo terrine with fennel salad and vermouth cream. 

  
The terrine had a very meaty texture so the cream on the side made the texture smoother. The foie gras was quite subtle but the chorizo had a lovely tingly heat. This was a really good dish, it’s nice to see rabbit on a menu as its such a great ingredient but not seen that often.  

Next course was the Cornish catch of the day! Consisting of Sea trout and crab gnocchi.  

  
The fish again had a perfectly crispy skin. The gnocchi was delicious. The crab gave it such a lovely sweetness. Definitely a highlight of the meal.  

Roasted guinea fowl with smoked bacon, gem lettuce and broad beans was the next course.  

  
This dish tasted great and looked fantastic. The pink bacon and green lettuce look so good together on a plate. This was a great combination of flavours, colours and textures.  

Next desserts, there were two to choose from so we ordered one each.  

I had the Bakewell soufflé with cherry sorbet, hubby had the Perry jelly with summer fruits and elderflower ice cream.  

  
Perfect soufflé and a gorgeously cherrytastic sorbet. I loved this dessert. And after all that food it worked well as it was light and fresh. The jelly dessert was lovely too especially the accompanying ice cream.  

My husband and I declined coffee as we had a train to catch from Blackfriars, which is conveniently a five minute walk away.  

Our Northbank experience was fantastic. The staff are all so happy and enthusiastic which is reflected in the attentive service. Each of our courses was matched perfectly with wine. A wine paring is not offered with the tasting menu but can be arranged on request. I always go for this option as its a great way to try out new wines. The location is amazing, riverside in the city, what more could you ask for? On the opposite side of the river are the generic chain restaurants, I almost wanted to shout to their customers to cross the bridge for some decent food! 

  
Our tasting menu was priced at £55 per person. This is incredible value and the portions are huge compared to most tasting menus.  

I can’t recommend Northbank enough. Good value, great location, amazing food and attentive service. My husband and I were made to feel like VIPs.

Thank you to Square Meal and Northbank for the complimentary meal, this has no reflection on my option of the restaurant.  

The Ultimate Queensbury Kitchen experience 

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

Red kite PR had invited me to attend an event at The Queensbury Kitchen, North West London, a two minute walk from Willesden Green tube station.  The restaurant has only been open for a couple of months but they certainly look to be doing ok.  The Queensbury Kitchen is a bar and grill offering grill favourites made with fresh, specially sourced British ingredients.  They serve cocktails as well as craft beers and are open for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer brunch at weekends.

 I was one of the first to arrive just after 6:00 the event started at 6:30, well I would have been even earlier if it wasn’t for me attending the wrong venue!  The Queensbury kitchen actually have a sister, The Queensbury gastropub.  Very nice indeed, although I only stayed a few minutes until I was told I was at the wrong place and meant to be down the road! Oh dear! Not the best start.  

So I walked two minutes down the road in the opposite direction to the correct venue.  This is what happens when I don’t use google maps!

I walked in, nervously introduced myself and clambered onto a stall up at a communal table and fellow food lovers began to join me.  I had a good spot, right next to the bar.  To kick off I ordered a QK signature cocktail.  I was here for the ultimate Queensbury kitchen experience so it seemed obvious to choose a drink with the same name.  


Slush puppy red served in a martini glass with a stawberry balanced on the rim. It tasted as good as it looked.  

A popular choice was the Mango Chilli Caipiroska.  This had a real kick.  It looked really pretty too with the bits of red chilli against the chunks of mango.  

My personal favourite – Evergreen Avocado, but not as you know it.  This was delicious so creamy and I thought it had a similar taste to a key lime pie. 

So I sipped and chatted and I felt really comfortable.  Everyone was friendly and asking each other questions I had relaxed and felt at ease.  

The room was full of eager food enthusiasts and the food arrived.   Mini burgers, chicken wings, ribs, paneer kebabs, salmon, macaroni cheese, onion rings, chips, sweet potato fries, beans, salad, this was a full on banquet! 

The food was incredible and I was sure to tell the chef, Wayne as he proudly looked on at everybody devouring his delicious food. 


The crispy chicken wings were fantastic, lovely crunch to the skin.  


The ribs were also amazing.  They fell off the bone, were succulent and the sauce was soooo good.  


The paneer kebabs were a lovely tasty surprise the tiny little kebab packed so much flavour.  


I loved the mini burgers too, perfectly cooked petit burgers that were pink in the middle just like they should be.  The burgers here are served pink unless otherwise requested.  


The sides were equally good, the sweet potato fries were crisp and the onion rings were yummy, you could tell they were home made.  I love the cute cups and buckets they’re served in. 


The food is such a high standard, it is all homemade and ingredients are sourced by head chef Wayne Bumfrey.  You can really taste and obviously see that it has been made with love.  

As the plates were cleared I popped to the toilet.  Being a mum I did notice a baby change facility, which is fantastic, a sign that families are welcome.  The Manager, Stephanie Peel has customer service as her top priority.  The community spirit that she has witnessed grow while managing the sister pub seems to have spilled into The Queensbury Kitchen as there was such a mix of people when I first arrived and it felt so welcoming and relaxed.  

As I arrived back to the table the desserts had arrived! OMG! There was chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ice cream sundaes, cinnamon sugar churros with chocolate sauce and a bread and butter pudding.  


I’d missed my opportunity to take pics of everything but I did get to sample it all.  My favourite was the lovely rich chocolate brownie and I loved how the ice cream sundaes were served in the traditional tall glass.  


I was lovely and full and our evening had come to an end.  I thanked everyone and said my goodbyes and felt quite proud that I had attended my first blogging event and it had been a success.  What’s great is that I genuinely loved the place and will definitely return.  The communal table in the middle where we sat is perfect for large groups.  I look forward to coming here with a group of friends and enjoying another evening of gorgeous cocktails and food.  I’d also consider coming here with my husband and my two young children.  They’d be fascinated with the light fixtures and it will be great to eat homemade comforting food rather than the frozen kind other grill restaurants offer.  

So I attended my first media event as a blogger and this is my blog post! 

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.

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.

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!

 

Sashimi convert at Yashin Ocean House

Dining with the Husband, Non Michelin Restaurants

Yashin ocean house, in South Kensington, is based entirely around seafood.  It’s offers head to toe dining from roe to flesh to skin.  For someone like me this is a little bit scary, I’m not too keen on fish, especially the raw fishy kind!

So I took a deep breath and we walked in.  The restaurant is really bright, it’s elegant and contemporary, the main attraction is the volcanic stone counter where the well renowned chefs are on show for everyone to see.  There are seats at the counter to get a front row view, there is a terrace, great for people watching and there is also more formal seating areas which is what I opted for.

IMG_1526 Chefs at work

I had won a competition with sauce communications to sample the terrace menu. Which was a great opportunity for me to try sashimi for the first time.  I have eaten at the Fat Duck, at the beginning of my culinary journey, and the sound of the sea dish was my least enjoyable dish to be honest.  Four years on I am a lot more adventurous and hoping to get over my dread of raw fish.

We started with some sparkling Sake.  Mio which comes in a beautiful blue bottle.  It’s low alcohol, sweet, refreshing and very easy to drink.  A great alternative to champagne.

IMG_1527

Sparkling Sake

IMG_1530

Lucky number 7 place setting

Our first dish was cod cheek with chilli amazu.   This was really delicious, a great start to ease me in.  The sweet and sour amazu was really good and greedily slurped up by my hubby.

IMG_1532

Cod Cheeks with chilli amazu

Next was a Miso Cappuccino, miso soup with ginger tofu foam.  I’ve never eaten tofu, it was an odd texture, not how i had imagined.  Almost like a hard boiled egg/jelly texture.  It was nice and the other flavours were great.  The soup and the foam were lovely and I loved the presentation and it’s great to have tried something new in such an interesting way.

IMG_1535

Miso cappuccino

Moment of truth……… the Omakase Sashimi without soy sauce.  When it arrived at the table it really was a show stopper, presentation is fantastic!  I know the dry ice theatrics have been around for years now, but I always get excited when I see it, I love the table theatre and it makes the whole meal an experience.

IMG_1536

I followed my husbands lead, salmon first, he said this would be the one I least enjoyed.  I dug in, and chewed and realised that what I was eating was really not as bad as I had imagined.  We worked our way round the dish and ended with the tuna, I’m actually converted! The tuna was really good, I really enjoyed it.

IMG_1540

Omakase Sashimi

The experience was like eating a Charcuterie board, none of the fish was overly fishy, all the little jellies, dressings and sauces accompanying the fish were all so delicious.  It was a great experience, such a fantastic restaurant and I felt quite proud of myself that I had conquered my ‘fear’ of eating raw fish.  I really liked the restaurant and I would definitely go back here.  Great service, beautiful decor and amazing sashimi.

IMG_1525