Category Archives: English

Chick’n’Sours

Fried Chicken you say? Don’t mind if I do. There has been an increase in what I would like to coin as ‘gastro’ fried chicken places over the last year and you know how we love our chicken.

Chick‘n’Sours in Shoreditch is a hip and trendy chicken place which offers an almost oriental twist to fried chicken, we would like to say that they don’t advertise to having an oriental twist but the flavours used suggest so.
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Being a fried menu we decided to balance out this evil by having a fresh and zesty summer salad to begin with. I doubt it did any good as we also whooped down a selection of pickled goods that were rather unique to our vocab like the pickled watermelon. Strange but nice.

IMG_1510IMG_1512For mains it was simple, chicken. Elena and I had the House Fry which consisted of a huge drumstick and thigh piece and came with some more pickled watermelon. The meat was plentiful and so tender that it flaked off the bone. Now, when we have fried chicken we love it to be heavy on the batter as it’s pretty much the best bit of the process, the amount of batter you get on this chicken is a wonder. It’s super thick and tasty. However, we did find a few health and safety issues with eating it. It was so hard and crispy that it actually scraps your palette as you struggle to get through it leaving you a tad sore. It also becomes a chore to eat with all the effort that you have to put into biting through the hard batter. So a food heaven became a bit of a food hell very quickly.

IMG_1509Our friends tried the Tender which is boneless pieces of chicken in the same batter so there were consumption issues there too and they also tried the Spicy Disco Wings which were grilled so easier to eat as they didn’t have the coating.
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The homemade elder flower soda was so yummy and refreshing that we each knocked back three glasses. They change their drinks daily depending on the ingredients they receive so ask what’s on offer.

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The place gets backed very early so expect a que after 7pm. It’s not a huge place so expect people to be waiting behind you, this can be a tad annoying.
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It’s not really all we had hoped for but the drinks were nice at least. One day we will fond the perfect fried chicken place.

Chick’n’Sours
390 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA

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Konnigans

Brunch, our loved meal on a day off. I have been attempting to explore Battersea more as I get into the grove of working in the area. My friend Adam kindly offered to show me the brunch places on offer in the Wandsworth area and I was shocked to see a whole street dedicated to brunching.

01820e39e4fd2fba5fabb6750a70652da14834a991Konnigans can be found on Old York Rd with a whole host of other delicious dines. Konnigans classes itself as being a contemporary British restaurant so in other words a bit of everything, eclectic.

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I fell in love with the old cluttered interior of Konnigans. It reminds me of an old English country kitchen with lots of different nook and crannies to sit in.

The drinks menu ranges from naughty shakes to English beers to cocktails. Naturally I refused them all and asked for a glass of prosecco. I think my friend slightly disapproved at the fact I was drinking at three in the afternoon but I used my common excuse of ‘I’m on holiday’.

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I went for the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and it was lovely, perfectly cooked egg on a soft brioche bun, you know how much I love my brioche buns. Strangely it came with a side of fries and a grilled tomato. I wasn’t going to complain as the chips were amazing. More please.

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My friend went for a mammoth chicken, avo, bacon and Brie salad. There was no way that it was a light salad at all. I was slightly jealous.

Konnigans is such a cosy place that we just sat there for hours chilling. Parking is amazing in the area as it is free past 4:30pm so great for an after work hang out.

I can not wait to come back to this place but also come back to this street, what an amazing find.

Konnigans
344 – 346 Old York road
SW18
http://www.konnigansrestaurant.co.uk/

Afternoon Tea at Sketch

With a striking back drop Sketch makes every girl feel like a fairy tale princess. Afternoon Tea here is no standard English affair, in fact one would go as far as saying it is a magically event straight out of a surreal Tim Burton movie. You know this is worthy of the two Michelin stars that it has been awarded with its new again French cuisine.
Behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford St and in the heart of Mayfair sits Sketch, most of you will know it as the old house of Dior which it is most known for.

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The interior is just breathtakingly beautiful. Playing on fantasy and dream worlds, each room has its own theme which is communicated so well. We were having our session of Afternoon Tea in the gallery room or as I have renamed it ‘the bubble gum’ room. The gallery exhibits the work of David Shirgley, one of my favourite artists during my college years. You could spent hours reading his work on the walls and never get bored. Quite the entertainment.

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The Afternoon Tea is on another level of class altogether in comparison to anything we have had so far. With sandwiches filled with caviar and quails egg, fit for a princess. As we arrived we were served the most blissful cocktail ever created with hints of vanilla and raspberry. Yum.

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The tea cake tray arrived with so much food and to our amazement it was all on an unlimited serving basis but trust me, you do not need to get seconds as there is just so much to be eating (okay we tried and ended up with left overs).

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The sandwich selection was to die for and I’m not a sandwich person. There was one warm sandwich which was a toasted pesto and mozerrella sandwich which was heavenly. Actually everything was heavenly so I might as well drop that work. Each sandwich had a different type of bread so never did it feel repetitive like the sandwiches at regular afternoon tea can get.

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The cake level was out of this world, with lemon cake, chocolate cake, strawberry tarts and a profiterole. All so light and airy. All tasting like nothing we have had before as the all seemed to have a surprise after taste for example, the profiterole had a raspberry filling and the lemon cake almost had this egg custard quality.

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As soon as there was space we were brought our fresh scones served with clotted cream, strawberry jam and fig jam. One word, lovely.

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The top layer of macaroons and cheesecake was the death of us and we found it hard to reach the end. £39 is a sum I would gladly pay again as its not just the food you are paying for but the overall experience.IMG_1460
The staff are lovely and attentive. They continuously monitor your trays to make sure everything is always looking fresh and full. They clearly love their job making the service even more outstanding.

We managed to get ourselves a great deal with the Open Table app. So we paid £39 for the Afternoon Tea set but we also got a free £15 cocktail upon arrival. Open Table is a great app and has given us some amazing deals over the years so check it out.

On to the next Afternoon Tea session.

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Have a peak at the mus-see bathrooms

Sketch
9 Conduit Street, London
https://sketch.london

Bob Bob Ricard

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Bob Bob Ricard came as a natural choice when picking a venue to celebrate my Russian friend’s upcoming nuptials. What a perfect excuse to wear a cocktail dress, pop on some heels and head to Soho!

Opulent – good word to describe the interior. Huge flower bouquets spilling out of their vases on every corner, mesmerizing glistening tiles that adorn the floors, mirrors and bright coloured leather in the dining room. It’s oligarch’s dream and quite possibly the most good-looking restaurant i have ever been to. A lot of time has also been spent in the lady’s room admiring black bird print wallpaper and the gold accessories. Perfect backdrop for the classic ‘bathroom selfie’.

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British/Russian menu is no short of oligarch dishes like caviar and lobster. On the same page you will find uber traditional dishes like Russian vareniki (which we all ordered with no exception) and British cottage pie.

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I am not sure you can translate traditional Russian dishes to the microscopic modernist portions without losing it’s original heartiness and feel good factor. The whole point is that in Russia we love to eat and always serve dinner generously, so when I was presented with there tiny dumplings i couldn’t help but have a little chuckle with my friends over the fact how ridiculous that looked. But no matter the portion size, food was absolutely delicious.

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We have thoroughly enjoyed our mains and side dishes. constantly poking our forks into each others plates. My beef onglet with onion, watercress and truffle puree was dreamy. 28 day aged scotch beef was like butter to slice.

The others ordered salmon tartare which was season to perfection, lobster macaroni & cheese which was too hard to resist and grilled lemon sole, that was a chunky piece of fish perfected by brown butter.

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No special occasion is ever complete without desert, and so all five of us tucked our spoons into Dulce de Leche creme brûlée, trio of sorbet and a chocolate fondant.

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Of course we couldn’t resist pressing THE BUTTON. We wondered what will happen when we do…Will there be fireworks? Will there be music?

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As soon as we let go of the button, our waitress with speed of light appeared handling a bottle of rose Champagne. How fun!…and that’s pretty much it.

As we were getting ready to leave atmosphere was getting more party-like and crowd more rowdy.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to dance in their new club room. I am sure that’s a lot of fun, especially if you are pressing for champagne.. all night long!

Photography by Nata Nova.
Follow her amazing work here:
https://instagram.com/romanovadesign

Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James St, London W1F 9DF
www.bobbobricard.com

Emerald Street Brunch

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Being greeted with a glass of Cava at the entrance (okay, would have been much happier with Prosecco) is my kind of festival. Kerb and Emerald Street have teamed up for this event and when you know these names you know you are in for a treat. The Twenty-something team should really take lessons from these guys.

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The festival was held in the new up-and-coming, hip location of Lewis Cubitt Square in Kings Cross. It celebrated our new love of brunch. It’s true, on your days off breakfast is too early and lunch is too late so brunch is the perfect combination of the two.

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There are so many places offering amazing brunches and Kerb our street food specialists selected a few to try at this brilliant event with amazing prices. Nothing really cost more than £5 and the portions were pretty decent.

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Obviously our eyes and stomachs wanted it all. We started off our fun with a visit to the Tongue and Cheek stall. Elena ordered the ‘Improved’ BLT Sandwich, the improvement being that it had pork belly instead of bacon. I had the poached egg, on parmigiana waffle and sour dough bread. Both were lovely but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the flavours but it hit the hungry spot.

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We then quickly moved onto the Stax Pancake stall. We were like little children as we decided exactly what we wanted to eat. We finally agreed on the Bourbon Pancakes with Bourbon and maple syrup. It was amazing. Just enough sweetness and the bourbon wasn’t overpowering at all, just a happy after taste.

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By this point we had finished our second free drink of Aperol Spritz, yes free and something as lovely as a traditional Italian aperitif. So we were basically thirsty again so headed to the Soda stall so I could get myself a pineapple, grapefruit and lemon soda, the flavours very much reminded me of drinking lilt as a child but clearly this was much healthier. So refreshing, almost makes me want to buy a soda stream. Almost.

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Elena decided to quench her thirst with an iced coffee from Decatur. This was no ordinary iced coffee, no, no, no, it can be better described as an iced slush puppy. It was amazing. I think I drank most of it on my ‘try’ sip. Now, Decatur were making the most amazing fresh doughnut things which we were building up to trying but unfortunately by the time we got there, which was 15 mins before closing, they had finished.  We will most definitely be making a trip to their store soon to give those bad boys a try.

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This festival was so well thought out with games and activities to make it more layered and interested rather than ‘you go, you eat’ kind of thing, which we usually have no problem with. They also had craft stalls, a free hair braiding stall by Rush hair saloon and temporary tattoo for every visitor by Rosie’s Tattoos.

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Elena and I don’t like to class ourselves as conservative (OK we so are at times) but we got so excited about the tattoos that apparently lasted a week by Rosie Wonders, love the idea we can be inked for a short space of time. Well I’m on day two and it’s still going strong.

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This event was such an enjoyable event and it was so chilled that we could have been there for hours.

01bbb7ebbe2f3771d17ecb02788b6e66239d3ae39eKerb are at this location on weekdays during the whole of this summer between 12-2 pm exhibiting 6 different traders daily. Great if you work in the area or fancy a nice, chilled no fuss lunch is a nice location. We highly recommend it.

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We haven’t even mentioned half the traders that were exhibiting at this event but there was just so much to eat and such little tummy space. A few that have gone on our list to try are: The Good Egg, Poke and Claw over the next couple of weeks so watch this space for their reviews soon.
http://www.emeraldstreet.com

Caravan

We ended up dining at Caravel by mistake, we were on our way to Dishoom around the corner but were told that there is a hefty 2 hour wait for the table. In search of a place with a more reasonable waiting time we found our selves at the doors of Caravan. Popped our names on the list and went straight to the bar.

By that point I was really hungry and it felt like eternity for barman to even notice us, only to be told that he is unable to serve us cocktails since we will be taking them outside. Our only choice was to pay £6 for a small glass of prosecco served in a plastic cup, go outside and wait for the table.IMG_1170

Baking in the evening sun with sound of fountains behind our backs we spent almost an hour watching other people waiting for their tables. Caravan is surely a popular place! Located in the new built Granary square it is a meeting point for the hip and cool crowd. Half of which are students from the near by Art’s college, other half is young professionals who came to chill by the canal after work.

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Once we stay down we swiftly decided what we were going to devour, however the restaurant was so busy that it took us a while to catch waiters attention. First to place our order, then to ask for some tap water, then to order more drinks and finally to ask for a missing fork…. what a mission!

I almost never let bad service overshadow experience of eating out, i think the food is still the main reason we go to restaurants. But at the Caravan it was so bad that it almost made no sense to queue for an hour only to wait some more to catch waiters attention.

One thing I couldn’t fault was of course the food.

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For starter we had soft shell hairy crab – absolutely delicious. For mains we couldn’t resist pizza, and my was that a great choice. Unlike Pizza East these babies had been covered with sauce from end to end.

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A little something sweet had to be chocolate tart with chili and basil ice-cream. I loved the taste of all of these elements separately but at first wasn’t too sure about the combination of flavors. But after a few spoonfuls i was totally hooked and almost licked the plate clean.

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All and all if you are not bothered by the waiting and the service then definitely do give Caravan a try as they are delicious!

CARAVAN
Granary Building, 1 Granary square,
London N1C 4AA
http://www.caravankingscross.co.uk

Healthy Eating Special: Lunch BXD

I have already been on a rant about how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet while working in the city, you read read all about it here. So moving onto the next installment of ‘Healthy Eating Special’ I’d like to introduce you guys to Lunch BXD.

I came across this company as I was sitting at my desk, searching for food delivery service that can provide something different to your usual burrito or a pizza. I wanted something tasty, fresh and healthy, delivered to my office, was that too much to ask for?

Turns out not!
London BXD does exactly that.

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Freshly prepared lunch delivery company was started by two girls that met in a culinary school. They used to make lunches and bike them across London themselves, but now with kitchen in Waterloo, where they employ a number of skilled chefs to put together innovative lunch boxes.

Whether it’s butternut squash in satay sauce with noodles or smoked salmon with spelt risotto – it’s guaranteed to be at your desk by 1pm. (as long as you place your order by 10am that day)

And it really is that easy. Delicious and nutritious!

My colleagues and me agree that ‘Take away’ is no longer a dirty word.

http://lunchbxd.com/

Coffee Break: The Mock Turtle

Contrary to the name The Mock Turtle has nothing to do with turtles but everything to do with the best tea and scones that Brighton has to offer.

Every time we come to Brighton we always have an afternoon tea session at The Mock Turtle. It is always heaving with people inside and out and for good reason too. With scones the size of my head, cream and jam as sweet as nectar (in my head I think nectar is really sweet) and tea as heavenly as something you can only get in heaven, The Mock Turtle is the place for high tea whether you are a tea person or not.

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This high tea experience is not pretentious at all which is the general connotation people get whenever it is mentioned. It is a very cool and chilled out experience and to be fair everything in Brighton has that similar laid back feel to it.

The interior is rather quant with lots of ‘old skool’ fine china on the walls, the ones with the blue paint work that you see on antiques road show. As you enter there is a table with handmade cakes on cake stands, displayed in a similar fashion to a church fair. The clientele is so eclectic; teenagers, the elderly, young professions, children and mature adults all smiling and enjoying a cup of tea with a scone.

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The scones are the biggest we have ever seen and you can choose from a range of different one from plain to fruit filled. We always go for a platter of plain scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and english breakfast tea. The scones are so filling that we can never muster dinner after it (but we do as we try and find a good gastro pub to dine in on the way back into London).

It’s an incredible experience this high tea business and I don’t think we will ever not pay a visit to The Mock Turtle when we are in Brighton. Make sure you get your fill of scones the next time you visit Brighton, maybe we will bump into you there.

The Mock Turtle Tea Room
4 Pool Valley, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1NJ

The Paperworks

The pop up bar/restaurant/music venue of the summer. Set in between warehouses and the train tracks of elephant and castle this is the perfect venue for that Friday feeling.

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Walking into the venue you almost feel like you are at some sort of music festival which is so not my thing. However, with the crowed being young urban professionals like myself I was safe in the knowledge there would be no mosh pits or beer spraying. Instead I was knocking back prossecco like it was going out of fashion.

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There are a number of bars and food stands dotted all over the venue. My attention went straight to the lobster grill which had a long cue. I had to find out what the fuss was about. For half a lobster, salad and chips you pay £15 and have the food prepared in front of you. I was uber excited to watch my lobster sizzle away on the grill.
One thing I hadn’t really thought about was how I was going to eat this thing. There are some bench seating options which unfortunately for myself and my friends were taken up on this night. We ended up sitting on railway sleepers and eating off our laps. The next hurdle was how to eat the lobster with only a plastic knife and fork. I realised very early on that there would be a lot of wastage as there was no way I would be able to get all the meat off it with those. I have to admit it was a lot of fun trying.

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The lobster itself was not the freshest thing I have eaten nor was it meaty. The chips were the largest I have ever seen and were much better than the lobster. The salad was a bit of a waste as it wilted from the heat of the other food. Not worth the £15 price tag.

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Despite the food The Paperworks is a cool and chilled out venue. People sitting on the floor having a chin wag, bodies dancing in free spaces, live music blaring and every under the London Sky.

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Calm and happiness are the two things I will link to this little pop up. Great for a summers evening.

Ladies, word of warning, this is not a place for heels or suede shoes. You will be facing a range of different terrains: gravel, grit, stones and dirt. Play safe and stick to flats. I learnt the hard way.

The Paperworks
48-50 Newington Causeway, London
www.thepaperworks.co.uk

Sawyer & Gray

I love no meal more than breakfast! My perfect weekend consists of a lie in followed by a trip to Saint Espresso. With their mini cup flat white in hand I head to Chapel market to get freshest ingredients for my most important meal of the day.

There is something quite luxurious about taking time to prepare breakfast. Lots of love goes into the process and I enjoy the fact that afterwards I can kick back on a sofa without feeling guilty.

But obviously not every weekend is the same. It was a bright Saturday morning, I got up unusually early. With gym session scheduled for 11, it gave me just enough time to grab some breaky with my really close friend.

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She is also quite a foody and told me that I absolutely have to meet her at Highbury & Islington so she can take me to her new favourite coffee house – Sawyer & Gray.

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As you walk in you are charmed at the door step with the eclectic interior. We chose a cosy booth downstairs, perfect for a little gossip over coffee.

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Even though breakfast was followed by a session at the gym, I failed at making a healthy choice and went with their most scrumptious breakfast on the menu – Avocado on toast with poached eggs and bacon.

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I am a sucker for food being served on a wooden plank. It’s such Instagram classic!

Food was yummy, my only wish was for more avocado, which I’m sure they would have given me if I wasn’t too lazy to ask.

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Coffee was true to form, delicious! Service was really friendly, efficient and laid back. Five stars to Sawyer and Gray for capturing a great weekend spirit!

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Sawyer & Gray
290 Saint Paul’s Road, Islington, London N1 2LH

http://www.sawyerandgray.co.uk

Stoke Park

Stoke Park is Europe’s leading 5 AA star hotel, spa and golf course and I found myself there a few times for different occasions. What I have always loved about UK’s hospitality standard is that when they say 5 star, they mean 5 star. Stoke Park’s service is impeccable, you feel at home and it’s one place where i have truly been able to forget about the world I have left behind in London.

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Stoke Park is an oasis of parkland, lakes and gardens, located just an hour away from London. I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful landscape! I was lucky to see it both in full bloom of summer and in stunning autumn palette.

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My most memorable time here was for Father’s Day 2014. My father is a brilliant golfer who is travelling all corners of the world with the game. Stoke Park was on his list of courses to play, so when I heard he was visiting London, I knew exactly the place where we could go for a treat.

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Golf break included one night stay at the hotel, a game of golf, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Between steam room and swimming pool we took a quick lunch at San Marco, Italian brasserie with tables situated on a leafy terrace. Weather was perfect – sunny with a soft breeze. I ordered a crisp tuna salad. Portion was very generous, but uber fresh and so delicious, I wiped my place clean, despite wanting a very small lunch. Atmosphere at San Marco is lovely, I love that guests were encouraged to have lunch and drinks in their spa robes.

IMG_6330 I loved the decor of the rooms, unlike the rest of the resort, this room was an eclectic take on classic British. Who can resist a little leopard print?!

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As my father left for a game of golf, the rest of my day was filled with more steam room, swimming and sunbathing sessions.

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For dinner we booked a table at Stoke Park’s 3 AA Rosettes Humphry’s restaurant. It was the perfect setting for a special occasion. Restaurant offers panoramic views of the estate and the lake. l can only imagine how stunning weddings here must be!

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We opted for ‘a little bit of everything’ kind of dinner.

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Honey Goat’s Cheese with Beetroot Textures, and Celery Leaves

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Roasted Duck Breast with Apple and Celeriac Rosti, Caramelised Apples and Calvados Jus

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Pan-roasted Sea Bass with Petit Ratatouille Stuffed Courgette Flower, Chorizo and Broad Bean ‘Ragout’, Martini Velouté

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Dorset Crab and Avocado Tian with Cucumber Jelly, Soft Boiled Quails Egg and Pink Grapefruit Salsa

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Bitter Chocolate Box filled with Caramel and Chocolate Mousse, Spiced Cointreau Gel, Clementine Sorbet, Hazelnut Tuile and Caramel Sauce.

This meal was fabulous from start to finish. Each course flowed perfectly into the next and flavors were both delicate and surprising. Service was impeccable and we have thoroughly enjoyed our evening. I would highly recommend visiting Humphry’s if you find yourself in Stoke Park.IMG_6370

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I loved Stoke Park so much I got massive blues on my taxi ride home. Little did I know it would only be less than 4 months and I’d be back! Yes!

Stoke Park
Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, SL2 4PG
http://www.stokepark.com

Fera at Claridge’s

As we dismounted from horses (Uber cab), we were greeted like princesses by the staff of Claridges, exactly how we love to be treated after a Sunday morning heavy gym sessions.

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The interior of Claridges is a timeless example of Art Deco excellence. As you walk through the twirling door you are transported into the glamour of the 1920s and you can almost hear the echoes of jazz coming from the ballroom. For design freaks like us we really appreciated this architectural heaven in Mayfair.

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We came for a Sunday luncheon to Fera, one of Claridges restaurants. We thought we deserved a treat as I was feeling a tad down about work over the last couple of weeks and this was definitely mood lifting. Upon arrival we felt the five star luxury service with the warm genuine greeting by all. As we looked through the stunning menu we were served wafers with cheese foam and flowers. It was crisp and creamy and there were different flavours popping out with every tongue lash.

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Once we had ordered we were served a warm wedge of rye bread which was freshly baked, it was served with hand churned butter. It was all so moorish I could have eaten a couple of more wedges.

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For starters Elena had the Spring Velouté with Smoked Pork, turnips, ramsons and herbs. The Spring Velouté was theatrically poured around the dish in front of us. Every element of the dish brung its own flavour. The ramson, something we had never tasted (we think) brought a warm garlic flavour and the idea that we should really be using this ingredient in our own cooking.

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I had the Smoked Mackerel, Pickles Mushrooms, Dandelions and Apple Marigold. The mackerel wasn’t overly smoked but had a subtle undertone with every bite. The mushroom pickles were tiny and brought little pops of that vinegary flavour to the dish. The dandelion leaves brought a fresh and spicy twist to the dish. This truly was a feast for the taste buds.

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For mains Elena had the Cornish Cod, gem lettuce hearts and leaves, parley and jersey pearls. The cod just flaked away so easily and melted in the mouth.

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I had Reg’s corn fed chicken with BBQ leek, onions and celeriac cream. The chicken has a lushious crispy skin. The chicken tasted sweet throughout with was a lovely flavour indeed. The celeriac cream was smooth and rich and I could have eaten a whole bowel full.

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Desserts were again so well thought out with each taste and texture on the dish. Elena naturally went for the chocolate option and had a stunning Smoked chocolate cream with pecan ice cream and verjus caramel. As your tongue wraps around the chocolate you get that initial chocolate taste we are all used to but then you get the smokey after taste which was lovely but took a few scoops getting used to. A very rich and decedent dessert.

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I had something more traditional yet equally as delicious. Bramley apple cake with cinnamon ice cream and pecans. The cake was freshly baked and warm, such a comforting feeling in the mouth. The pops of pecans added another dimension to the dish, delicious.

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As we paid for our for our stunning meal we were given some sweets to leave us with the sweetest memory. Marshmallows and fudge, small yet intense.

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A special meal for a special Sunday. There was a touch of class and luxury for every step of this meal, something we could easily get used to. We can not wait to have an excuse to come back to Fera at Claridges.

Fera at Claridge’s
49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR
feraatclaridges.co.uk

Hotbox Brunch

Elena and I came here a few months back and fell in love with the menu, staff and decor of this place.

Today we have returned to sample their brunch menu which is only offered at the weekend and is said to be rather heavenly so we thought we would put our forks to the test.

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Upon entering the place for brunch the place has a more homely feel to it. The benches are set with tea cups and China sugar bowls which makes it feel like a totally different place to the evenings.

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Being a Sunday morning I had to have a coffee of some sort to begin with before I could even look at the menu. I was intrigued to find out that Hotbox use Robusta beans and upon tasting it you can feel that these beans have a smoother, longer and richer flavour and I’m glad I found a place that does this blend rather than arabica which my taste buds have gotten so used to. The taste is not as full bodied as arabica but is sweeter on my taste buds. Not sure what my partner in crime would think of this as she is a strong tasting coffee kinda gal! The beans are purchased from a company called Black Sheep Coffee if coffee lovers are interested in getting their hands on some.

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After speaking to the incredible waiter (curly haired, young with a mustache) I was encouraged to try the Chicken thighs and Waffles as apparently only that morning had the head chef perfected the waffle recipe to complement the chicken to perfection and well I had to be part of this famous moment. I must admit that I was scared of trying this dish as in my head the combination just doesn’t work. However, when the dish was served I was so glad that I had picked this beauty. Crispy fried chicken with the most buttery and fluffy waffle. You didn’t really get much sweetness from the waffle so it was almost like a bun for the juicy and spicy chicken thighs, in my mouth it felt like I was eating a chicken burger. I was not at all tempted to smothering my chicken with maple syrup as my brain couldn’t handle the idea but I tried it with just the waffle and it was heavenly. Dipping out of sweet and savoury just felt like a dream and a sin.

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To accompany my dish I ordered that heavenly mac and cheese that we had gushed about last time. Last time we really emphasised the smokey flavour but during the brunch menu the recipe is changed so rather than smokey it had a spicy after taste. I think I prefer the one from the dinner menu even though this one is pretty good too.

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One of our friends decided they would try the liquid lunch deal which is an all you can drink for £25. You have a choice of Bloody Mary’s and Prosecco. Sounds like an amazing offer but our wonderful waiter helped us work out that it was only really worth it if you were to drink four drinks or more. Unfortunately, I was feeling rather delicate this Sunday brunch so decided I would steer clear but I will be back to try this ‘challenge’ soon.

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Huevous Ranchoros and Eggs Benedict were the other dishes our friends decided to try on this occasion. The Eggs Benedict is served with pork belly so there is a tad twist to it like most of the Hotbox dishes. I couldn’t help but try the black means from Huevous Ranchoros and OMG, so much flavour for a veggie dish. The guacamole was fresh and chunky and so tasty that they even sell it as a side.

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Interesting Info: when I had first looked at the menu I had thought about getting the burger or the beef tacos but once I had spoken to the waiter it was like someone had shot me in the foot and told me Santa wasn’t real. He advised me that if I chose the meat dishes at the weekend I wouldn’t be getting the best of the flavours from them as the meat would be the end of the stock of meat that Hotbox had!!!! Basically according to the waiter the deliveries for meat come at the beginning of the week so all meat dishes are at its best during the week and especially at the beginning. Now, when we came here for the first time it was a Saturday as you remember and we were blown away at how amazing the meat was and that’s at its ‘not so fresh’ moment, so all I could think about was how much more amazing can it get at the beginning of the week. Well there is only one way to find out so I will have to tell you once I have done a Mon/Tue test soon. How I love my life. I better check Elena’s schedule 🙂

So there you have it folk. Hotbox is the place to go for the brunch at the weekends. Try the other dishes on the menu and let us know which menu you prefer, lunch or dinner?

Hotbox
46-48 Commersial Street, London E1 6LT
hotboxlondon.com

Pub Grub: The Crown

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Ignore what it looks like outside – The Crown is not an old man’s pub. It might have the traditional decor, but if you look closer it is actually a pretty great place to have dinner and drinks. Back room is decorated with art by up and coming illustrators, i think it’s a great way for them to gain exposure and perhaps sell some prints. I also saw a few shaggy friends in there which is a big plus in my book.

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The crown happens to be a local to one of my best friends, so I’ve met him here on a Tuesday night after work. What makes The Crown stand out from the rest of pubs in Islington is it’s extensive wine list, so when me and my friend came here for dinner we started that way around: wine first and food pairing after.

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We kicked dinner off with a bottle of Rioja and melt-in-your mouth calamari. Both worried that calamari might have been ‘rubbery’, we were pleasantly surprised as it was just perfect. For mains we got grilled sole with baby potatoes. I have never been one to shy away from fish because of the bones, but sole was extremely bony. I was not able to enjoy my meal as much as i was constantly stopping to pluck them out.

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Again the wine was the star of the course – glass of Merlot and a glass of Bordeaux, both full bodied and rich. And don’t let me forget the grand finale with Tawny port and an English cheese board.

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Dinner over, we stepped outside the pub and were reminded just how dead quiet Barnsbury can get! Great evening overall, we will be back to The Crown soon.

P.S. Did you notice that we have recently introduced a new feature called ‘Pub Grub’?
You can use our ‘cuisine’ search menu to locate all pub reviews with just one click!

The Crown
116 Cloudesley Road, Islington, London N1 0EB
http://crownislington.co.uk/

Borough Market: Sandwich special

It’s been almost six months that my office moved to London Bridge and for that whole time I have been waiting for the perfect lunch break to sample Borough Market’s finest treats. The time finally has come. It was a bank holiday Monday, the office was quite but the food market was buzzing. I took out some cash and clutching it in my fist started sifting the market row by row.
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If anyone that’s ever been to Borough market knows that depending which way wind blows, you might get a strong whiff of cheese. I traced this smell to Kappacasein and my my my it was a stand serving grilled heaven on toast.
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Mountain of grated cheddar cheese pressed between two slabs of Poilane (French sourdough) bread, with a touch of garlic, onion and leek it is toasted in most hardworking toasters I have ever seen. Queues so big you have to be given a paper ticket! Great way to avoid hungry squabbles.
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And queues don’t lie- this was the best cheese sandwich I have ever had. It was crunchy on the outside and oozing with cheese on the inside. Toasted perfection! I still dream of it sometimes…
Grilled cheese sandwich is £6 a pop, but for a taste of childhood it is definitely worth it!
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Because I have an appetite of a python and I am terribly bad at making food decisions, I have decided to use this opportunity to sample another delight of Borough a Market – Hot Salt beef sandwich by Northfield Kitchen.
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Mountain of fluffy tender beef is efficiently stuffed between fresh white bread. Spiced with a classic pickle it is a killer of a sandwich. Beef flavouring is delicate and whole thing melts in your mouth.
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Looking at the size of these babies for £6 you are getting a bargain! With a big smile on my face I headed back to the office. This was one epic lunch break. It is almost impossible for me to tell you which sandwich is best.
They both satisfied very different cravings and hit completely opposite spots on the palate. I will however have to give it another year before my liver can handle a repeat session of carbocide.