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.

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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!

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Me & my Mummy

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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.

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Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

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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

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

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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.

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

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

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July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

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We took the kids to The Big Easy

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Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

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

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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.

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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!

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September

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

 

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Alyn Williams at The Westbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Langoustine/lemongrass/chilli/coconut/cucumber

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

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Gnocchi/heritage carrots/wild herbs/walnuts

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Mackerel/miso glaze/beach vegetables/truffle

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

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Foie gras semi fredo/sand carrot/liquorice

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

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Belota Iberica/pickled damsons/parsley mousse/cob nuts

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

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

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

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Welsh lamb/herb crust/onion/kale

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

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

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Aerated white chocolate/candied fennel/lime

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Berries/cheesecake/granola

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

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

This is a beautiful restaurant and service is fantastic.

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

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

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

The penultimate finale dinner in the sky cooked for by Alyn Williams

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

I was lucky enough to win seats for the penultimate finale dinner in the sky, courtesy of Speyside Glynlevit water. The chef tonight was Alyn Williams, holder of one Michelin star for Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

My husband and I arrived promptly and checked in for our flight, our faces were instantly recognised and the advantage of a second visit were we knew the best seats. We requested seats 3 and 4, we chose these seats purely because they are situated directly in front of the chef, slightly stalkerish I know. We were given our numbered red discs, collected our Taittinger champagne and perched on a stall excitingly watching on while the restaurant prepared for our dinner. As this was our second time the anxiety wasn’t there, it was pure excitement and desire for the food.

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Champagne and seat numbers

After a quick briefing we were strapped into our seats. As we lifted off the ground I saw some nervous faces, I did feel a little smug. It’s such an amazing feeling being lifted up into the air feeling the wind blowing and seeing the sun begin to set.

Our first course was already sat in front of us, weighing down the menu.

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Belota iberica, cauliflower, soused beach vegetables, cobnuts

I had never had a cauliflower dish like this before, it was very enjoyable. I loved the contrast of textures, smooth and crunchy.

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Mersea island crab, watermelon, wild herb coleslaw, gazpacho cucumber

This was as good as it looked, and the highlight on this dish for me was the coleslaw, it was delicious. Obviously the crab was good too.

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Confit cod, coco bean casserole, Alsace bacon, autumn truffles.

The coco bean casserole was soooooo good, I had to resist licking the bowl clean, this was served with a very generous grating of truffle.

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Cumbrian rose veal, braised brisket, sweetbread crumbs, brassicas

Highlight on this plate was the brisket, it was perfect! Also loved the sweetbread crumbs, which are not suitable for vegetarians! 😉

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Cornish cows curd cheesecake, spiced figs, gingerbread crisp

Gorgeous dessert, another plate licker!

It was an absolute pleasure to be sat in front of chef Alyn Williams and his assistant Rory. I guess it’s a great opportunity for them too. Not for me to be sat in front of him, but to be so close to the diners and get instant feedback. This intimate setting is such a fantastic way to interact with the chefs, the couple sat to my left were asking lots of questions, and my husband and I had the opportunity to speak with him and tell him that we were actually going to be dining at his restaurant in two weeks. My husband made the reservation before we knew our fate. When I told him how I bagged my seats for tonights dinner he shook my hand and congratulated me. He’d seen my name appear on twitter quite a few times! Hehe! I asked for my menu to be signed and before we knew it we were back on the ground. We’d gone up into the sky in daylight and came back down in the dark.

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It really was a privilege to be part of Events in the Sky’s Dinner in the sky, I’d taken off at the opening weekend and landed on the finale weekend I really felt part of the journey. Both nights were very special and I will always cherish the memories of such a unique dining experience.

I look forward to trying out the tasting menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury with my feet firmly on the ground in the luxury of a warm dining room. If the food was this good served 100ft in the air in the freezing cold wind then I know I’m in for a real treat! Maybe I’ll get the chance to stalk, I mean meet, Alyn again and get my menu signed.