London: a night at the Opera (House)

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Having lived in London for more than ten years it was about time I visited the Royal Opera House. I have been to the opera and ballet in London before, just never at this venue, so when I got invited to see The Nutcracker in January I was absolutely thrilled. And it certainly was a magical evening.

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A party of four we arrived with plenty of time to enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants beforehand. 

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We toasted in champagne and then tucked into our starter. Mine was a lovely mushroom soup with a dollop of creme fraîche in the middle. The menu was as classic as the surroundings. (In a good way, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

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Next we tried the main course. I loved my generous portion of delicious smoked salmon with a side of creamy potato salad and all the trimmings (creme fraiche, chopped shallots, roe, horseradish, capers and bottarga). Such a treat!

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The restaurant was so efficient we had time to chat and sip wine before making our way into the theatre. I was mesmerised from the start and enjoyed every second.

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In the interval we made our way back to our table in the restaurant were puddings had magically appeared! My pineapple bavaroise was creamy and delicious and a perfect ending to the dinner.

After the second interval I reluctantly left this beautiful space and walked across the street for a night cap. I just wanted to savour the evening for as long as possible.

Royal Opera House, Bow St, London WC2E 9DD

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London: amazing dinner at Hutong The Shard

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What a splendid evening! The birthday dinner (for somebody very dear to me) in The Shard was just as special as I had hoped.

From the moment we were through the metal detectors on the ground floor we were looked after really well! It was a quick lift ride up to the 32nd floor and up a flight of stairs and we had reached our dining spot; Hutong. The interior with dark wood, red lanterns and low lighting felt very cosy and inviting but as we were shown to our table what caught my eye the most was of course the incredible view.

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Hutong has a whole floor to itself so it’s a large restaurant, but it’s very cleverly divided into smaller sections. Not just a bar area and a restaurant area but smaller sections within those areas making it a very intimate dining experience. Out table was facing St Paul’s and after enjoying the breathtaking view for a moment or two (honestly I could look at it all day long) we turned the attention to the menu and our lovely waiter who came with a few good suggestions. The portions are very generous and with his help we didn’t over order.

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We started off with champagne and the dim sum platter. The dumplings were all lovely and nicely presented with their pastel colours. My favourite was the prawn and champagne dumpling but the others (cod; cabbage and mushrooms; prawn and XO sauce) were delicious too.

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The food was served very quickly so almost straight after the dim sum we got the next dish; their signature dish red lantern (I assume the name comes from the lantern like chillies that accompany the crab). The soft shell crab was fried to perfection offering that perfect mix of crunchy and soft with a subtle chilli kick to it. Absolutely delicious!!!

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Next we had lamb ribs off the bone. Another generous portion and deliciously prepared, although I had expected them to covered in a sticky glaze but it was more of a dry seasoning. Still delicious!

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The side dish we chose was egg fried rice with pickled vegetables. So moreish and delicious!

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This was the perfect amount for two people, although we couldn’t finish it all, it was nice with the variety of both meat and seafood and less wouldn’t have been enough. So make sure you come here hungry!

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After all that lovely food we took a break before pudding to drink wine, chat and of course, look at the amazing view some more.

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The Shard has 95 floors and although the restaurants are only on floors 32 and 33 the view is still spectacular.

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We could see Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and more. Just amazing!

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After our little break we had pudding; sesame dumplings with apple and cinnamon and a complimentary mango pudding for the birthday boy!

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After a nice long dinner we moved to the bar area to enjoy the slightly different view from there. And a nice drink.

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It’s simply impossible to leave – you just want to linger some more and take it all in.

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We sat down at one of the tables by the window and just enjoyed the scenery.

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The intrior is beautiful too, with all the lanterns and the dark colour scheme.

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I even lingered in the ladies room; taking in the view from there!

The whole evening was just amazing. Not just the view, but the food, service, wine and interior. The staff looked after us incredible well and made it feel like the special evening it was. Because this is not a place where you pop in for a quick bite; it’s a place for celebrations and special evenings!

33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY

London: The perfect neighbourhood restaurant; Home SW15

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I find myself in Putney more and more lately, and Home SW15 has after only a few visits become a firm favourite of mine in that area.

We had brunch here one Sunday morning and although I was beyond hangry when I arrived I immediately like the space. It’s airy, nicely decorated and felt very welcoming. I also really liked the brunch menu.

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I was tempted by every single item but considering my hangry status I went for something I know I always like; Eggs Benedict. Here there was a slight twist with ham hock instead of ham, which I liked as it made the dish more substantial and it really worked well with the hollandaise and poached eggs. My brunch companion had the blueberry pancake with Greek yoghurt and honey and it was really lovely as well!

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Another time we came for dinner and I had the most delicious shrimp burger (giving Bill Granger a run for his money) with a spicy mayo while my dinner companion had a really delicious pie.

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We’ve been here a few more times and I really like this place. So much so that I wish it was near my flat and not my second London home. But maybe they could open another branch?!

Home SW15, 146 Upper Richmond Rd, London SW15 2SW

London: wonderful sushi at Sushi Atelier

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When it comes to sushi restaurants, by best source is my colleague Matt. He introduced me to Yashin ages ago and earlier this year he suggested Sushi Atelier in Marylebone.

My first impression of the restaurant was that it was quite Nordic in its interior with a lot of light wood (birch perhaps?) and not much else. Like the interior was taking a step back so guests could concentrate fully on the food experience.  The food presentation was also rather simple, but in a good way; most of the time less really is more.

 

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We ordered a few different dishes, but I couldn’t resist ordering a classic salmon and avocado roll. I love them and this one was definitely among the best I’ve had.

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The nigiri was amazing as well. Especially the butterfish with truffle, but they were all delicious.

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The rainbow roll was another favourite and almost a work of art!

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But my absolute favourite was the California roll, with crab, avocado, tobiko and Japanese mayo.

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I came here with my friend Therese when she was visiting, but a dear male friend of mine came along as well and since he doesn’t love sushi as much as Therese and I do, we also ordered this more meaty dish. And I suppose we should be really grateful to him for coming along as this dish was utterly amazing and I’m not sure we would have ordered it if it was just us girls.

This divine thing was Iberico pork served on a piping hot cast iron plate with the lovely sauce still bubbling away. It had it all; amazing flavour, lots and lots of umami, wonderful meat and sweet mushrooms. Loved it! And it was really nice to finish off the sushi with something different. Yum! Top marks all round!

Sushi Atelier, 114 Great Portland St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6PA

London: tapas at Rambla, Soho

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The summer is always really hectic for me, especially since I go home to Sweden for two weeks in August, and that’s why this blog post is so late; I’ve been playing catch-up since then.

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The last week in July is also extra busy because it’s both my own and my dear friend Gaby’s birthdays that week. Just before I go home!

The Friday night was Gaby’s night (and her actual birthday) so after doing my last errands for my trip it was so lovely to arrive to Rambla in Soho and have a nice dinner with the girls!

Rambla is a fairly new tapas restaurant in London, with mainly Catalan food and we were all very excited to try it!

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We started with bubbles – always appropriate when there’s a birthday to celebrate! The cava was really nice, so I recommend you all to think of something to celebrate when you go here. IMG_2096.jpg

Then we ordered a bunch of dishes for all five of us to share around the table. First off were the classic padron pappers. They never disappoint with their saltiness!

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Next we had these delicious croquetas with spinach and pine nut. Yum!

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And chorizo! It was all about the classics to start.

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Then we feasted on crispy fried artichokes with saffron aioli and the most tender octopus with fried garlic and herb sauce. Delicious! I so love to eat this way; picking from plates, trying little bites of everything while chatting away with friends sipping cava.

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One of the favourites of the evening was this hearty and cheesy (yum!) oxtail canelones with navat cheese and caramelised onions. Drool!

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The birthday girl divided it evenly, although I think most of us would happily have had one each. But it was too rich. Especially since we had more yummy cheese to eat…

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This whole baked Navat cheese with crudités and bread to dip was divine too! We were scraping the bottom of the dish in the end, never letting a morsel of good cheese go to waste.

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The classic patatas bravas arrived late as an after thought (I think they forgot them to be honest) but we happily mucnhed our way through these lovely crisp potato bites.

The food here is excellent (especially the octopus and the oxtail canalones!) but the service was a bit of a let down. Some things were forgotten and we had to keep reminding the waiters. After two bottles of cava they didn’t have any more cold ones so we had to swap to rosé cava instead. It’s all little things, but things you expect to run smoothly, and since it was a birthday celebration it was very unfortunate.

With this in mind I’ll still highly recommend Rambla – the food is worth it! – and hopefully they’ve sorted out these kinks by now. Race you to the baked cheese?!

Rambla, 64 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4QG

London: amazing pasta at Sorella

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Some restaurants just has that little bit extra, that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that makes you like a place straight away. It’s a bit like clicking with someone on a first date; you can’t really pinpoint what you like about the person, but there’s something.

That’s the feeling I (and I think my dinner companion too) got when we walked into Sorella in Clapham. Something about the ambience felt nice, the staff was friendly and the food amazing.

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The menu consists of snacks and sharing plates as well as a few main courses, that are also perfect for sharing. To start off with we ordered some bread (much needed when you’re verging on hangry) and a starter to share.

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The restaurant made ricotta with the softest pea purée and a flavoursome oil was a delicious start. Smooth, soft and subtle but still with lots of flavour.

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Then we moved on to what we came here for; the pastas. The tagliatelle with a slow-cooked ragu was heavenly.

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But it was soon overshadowed by the dreamy linguine with morels cheese and heaps of truffle. IMG_6469.jpg

I still of dream of this dish, that’s how magnificently delicious it was. I hope this stays on the menu forever.

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After the pasta we had a little breather before getting started on the main course.

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We had perfectly cooked cod with Swiss chard and a lovely jus.

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And on the side the crispiest potatoes I’ve ever come across. Wonderful!

But what really stayed me were the pasta dishes. It’s hand to heart some of the best I’ve had.

Race you back?!

Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6BX

London: New York dumplings at Red Farm

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One Saturday night with no plans, my friend and I after a few texts suddenly had made dinner plans; to meed about 40 minutes later in Covent Garden. Even though I like to plan ahead most of the time, I find it so refreshing to make plans last minute. Especially when I live in a city like London with lots to offer.

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My friend Ro suggested a new place, that still was in it’s soft-launch place, as she’d been to the New York restaurant and loved it. Always keen to try new things I thought that was a great idea and was really happy when we got a table on arrival (although now that they’re properly open I would recommend making a reservation beforehand).

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Located next to another New York satellite, Balthazar, I definitely think Red Farm is here to stay. I really liked their concept of yummy but fun food and wish more restaurants would be creative in that way.

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Like these pork and crab soup dumpling size XXL that comes with a straw! It’s a genius way of eating it, first drinking the soup and then eating the dumpling. So yummy! My only criticism was that the dumpling spoons were a little bit small for that dumpling size.

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Their most iconic dish though, is probably this one; Pac Man shrimp dumplings complete with different coloured ghosts! So fun and very well executed.

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One of the best dishes was this starter though; the marinated and grilled pork belly. It had sweetness, lots of umami and a nice crunch. So moreish!!

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The scallion pancakes with smoked bacon were also really nice, but a little rich.

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Another favourite was the wide rice noodles with roast duck. Again full of umami (seems to be their thing) and lots of earthy flavours. We also had some broccoli on the side, and although nice, it’s not really the vegetables you come here for – it’s the rich satisfying umami dishes, perfect for the autumn ahead!

Red Farm, 9 Russell St, London WC2B 5HZ