London: Kettner’s champagne bar

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There are bars, and then there are bars. The champagne bar in Kettner’s Townhouse falls into that latter category; it’s a bar that’s far more than a bar.

It’s dark and cosy (and open late!) and it has that old school glamour that makes me think of a lost time when women wore pearls and fur and gloves.

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Add to that a fantastic list of champagnes, both NV and vintage, to order by the glass (or bottle). To me this is the epitome of luxury; to go here, sit down at a cosy table with its own table lamp, on a comfortable sofa and order a glass of delicious vintage champagne, served in a coupe glass.

The interior has an art deco vibe that I love and the whole townhouse is wonderful. I must plan a staycation here soon. It’s obvious in the details that Kettner’s is part of the Soho House Emporium, but it has a different vibe and feels smaller and more intimate. And a little more decadent.

It’s a treat every time I go here and I will keep coming back. This is hand’s down one of my favourite bars in London!

Kettner’s Townhouse, 29 Romilly St, Soho, London W1D 5HP

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London: Champagne + Fromage, Covent Garden

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Having lived in London for 10 years now (eek!) I have accepted the fact that I will never ever feel up to date on restaurants regardless of how hard I try. There are simply too many restaurants opening and changing for me to keep up. Especially since I want to go back to my favourites from time to time too.

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So I love when my friends suggest a new place to try. I had completely missed the arrival of these cute French Champagne + Fromage spots all over town, but luckily my friend Mary-Lou had spotted one so that’s where we went one evening.

We arrived without a reservation (big mistake) but although the place was packed the staff eventually managed to find us a table. That’s great service!

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Other than that the concept is pretty clear; this is where you drink champagne (we tried a lovely Blancs de Blanc that was the wine of the month) and eat cheese. We had a cheese and charcuterie board with lots of bread which was lovely, but there are also some lovely cooked food on offer. The table next to us sampled about half the menu and it all looked amazing!

Champagne + Fromage, 22 Wellington St, London WC2E 7DD

 

London: relaxed dinner at The Ninth

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You have to search far and wide to find a more relaxed Michelin starred restaurant. In London at least. But that’s also what I love about The Ninth; that it (and its staff) seem so relaxed without losing the professional edge. That just sets a perfect ambience for the guests and you feel like it’s just your table there although there are other guests and staff surrounding you.

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It probably helps that The Ninth is situated in Charlotte Street; still central and an area for dining out, but without the worst hustle and bustle of Soho (and yet – it’s still within walking distance).

Arriving a little late, and flustered, for our dinner here – due to the sometimes terrible London traffic, it was like stepping into a calm oasis. We were seated at our table, felt like we had all the time in the world to decide on the wine and study the menu and immediately we lowered our shoulders and took the time we needed.

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Which wasn’t all that much; the only problem was narrowing down what to eat as we’d happily eaten our way through the entire menu had we been able! Instead we started with a light snack of barbajuan, little parcels filled with spinach, pine nuts and cheese (if I remember correctly). They were very good and the perfect start to our dinner.

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Next we had pasta; orecchiette with an egg yolk and PLENTY of black truffle which I love. This was a lovely dish. So simple but perfectly executed.

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Our next pasta dish was fried gnocchi with mussels, which was also very nice but slightly overshadowed by the truffle feast. In the background lovely baked root vegetables with Fourme d’Ambert. Delicious!

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The piece de resistance here was not the pudding (we were too full to even consider it!) but the main course, a beautiful duck breast cooked to perfection, with rhubarb, rainbow chard and granola. The crispy Belle de Fontenay potatoes and the root vegetables were the perfect accompaniments.

It was such a lovely dinner – and evening. Instead of pudding we had champagne at the nearby Charlotte Street Hotel and then ventured into Soho.

The Ninth, 22 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2NB

Stockholm: fika at Mr Cake

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On the top of my to-do-list for the long weekend in Stockholm was, of course, fika. And not just anywhere, but at a recently opened café by Roy Fares, incorporating American pastries with Swedish fika.

It’s a concept that totally works, and it’s nice to find things like American pancakes on the menu, as well as deliciously looking doughnuts and more traditional Swedish buns.

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We came here on the Sunday morning, rather late as I’d had to work a bit, and after a chaotic few hours it was so nice to sit in the sunshine and enjoy our (very) late breakfast. We had some bread rolls with ham and cheese, American pancakes with maple syrup (so yum), smoothie, juice and of course some sweet pastries.

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The piece de resistance here is definitely the red velvet croissant. And it’s utterly amazing. Imagine flaky pastry filled with the cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake. It’s butterly, sweet (but not too sweet), flaky and creamy all at the same time. Yum, yum, yum!

We also shared a rhubarb and strawberry custard bun with crumble on top that was lovely, but nothing could beat the hybrid croissant of dreams. This place is a must for anyone visiting Stockholm.

Mr Cake, Rådmansgatan 12a, 114 25 Stockholm, Sweden

 

Stockholm: dinner at Hillenberg

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Saturday night in a sunny Stockholm. After a long day walking around the beautiful city we had a little breather in my friend’s flat before we got ready for a night on the town. It was actually a relief for my tired feet to swap my flats to heels, and taking a taxi to the restaurant obviously helped too.

Hillenberg, the restaurant I had booked, is the more relaxed one of Niklas Ekstedt’s (quite the frequent guest on Saturday Kitchen in the UK) two restaurants and I was super excited to try his cooking.

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On arrival we were shown to our table (with a sofa each to sit on) and started to study the menu. The service was a little slow at times, but that meant I had enough time to translate the menu and plenty of time to ponder it too.

Although I would have liked to try many things, I couldn’t resist the classic Toast Skagen, which I expected would come with a little twist. And indeed it did, as it was a deconstructed version. It was really lovely and I especially liked the dill dust on the side. Amazing mayonnaise too. Yum!

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My dinner companion had the nettle soup with äggost (a type of curdled cheese) and trout roe. Delicious!

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I was really indecisive when it came to my main course and so let our waiter influence me to try the monkfish bourguignon. It was really delicious and the “meaty” fish worked well with the powerful flavours. But the highlight was almost the velvety potato puré that was served alongside it. So rich, but beautiful!

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My dinner date had the lamb and was presented a very generous portion with lamb rack, artichokes and aubergine. Really lovely as well!

Unsurprisingly, we were too full to even be tempted by pudding. Instead we sat back (loved those sofas!) and finished our bottle of wine and just enjoyed life. Very content we weren’t completely finished with our night out and so walked around the corner to Riche for another glass of wine and lots of people watching.

Hillenberg, Humlegårdsgatan 14, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden

London: Taco fever!

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Tacos. It’s quite easy to get some decent ones to eat in London, there are chains everywhere, but finding some really good ones is much harder. But the search is over. Breddos Tacos (you can find them in Soho and Clerkenwell) serve up some lovely tacos and lots of nice dishes too!

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I met my friend Daisy here for dinner one night and decided to start off the evening with margaritas. That’s always a good idea, right?!

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This one with passion fruit was absolutely delicious!

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But we were hungry too and ordered some snacks. This corn and n’duja dip was amazingly good!

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And so were the baja fish tacos! This is the real deal, but my easy homemade ones are pretty good too.

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Next we had barbecued onglet which was so tender and full of flavour. Loved this! The charred spring onion and sauce was a nice accompaniment.

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I can never resist aubergine and seeing as it’s a healthy vegetable I think that’s a good rule. This grilled aubergine with tomatillo and almonds was a real delight. Soft and light but with some charred notes from the grill and acidity from the tomatillo.

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We also had the crispy pork belly tacos that were recommended to us, but I didn’t think they quite measured up to the fish ones. Can’t wait to eat my way through all the different tacos. And next time I think I’ll try the crab and bone marrow nachos too. Great menu!

I love all these smaller (although it has two levels so not tiny) restaurants in Soho where you can eat really well without breaking the bank. Most of those have a first come first serve policy but luckily Breddos Tacos take bookings, which I’m so grateful for. Queuing when hangry is hard…

Breddos Tacos, 26 Kingly St, London W1B 5QD

Málaga: Jamon for breakfast and exploring the Alcazaba

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Holiday for me is all about relaxing and not waking up from alarms, but, being a night owl, that means missing breakfast at the hotel every day. So instead I’d get ready and venture outside for breakfast.

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Luckily I had a nice café near my hotel, it’s a chain of cafés in fact, offering everything from sandwiches to cooked food, pastries to cakes and even a delicatessen with cheese and charkuterie.

This ciabatta filled with a general helping of Jamon Iberico was a perfect start to the day and set me up for my day of sightseeing.

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I’m quite choosy on what I spend my time on, but for the the Alcazabar was an absolute must!

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This impressive citadel, overlooking the city and its harbour is very well preserved and an absolute dream to discover.

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It was built in the 1000s and is still standing firm offering incredible views as well as beautiful gardens and amazing architecture.

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I mean, look at this view – incredible isn’t it?!

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And the details to the building. Especially dating back that far is rather incredible.

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But my favourite part was the gardens. So beautiful and serene I could’ve spent all day here.

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But I didn’t, as I had more things to explore.

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Like the ruins of a Roman theatre just below the Alcazaba. It’s been around since the first century BC and is still part of the city landscape. At night it’s lit up beautifully and during the day one can just walk in, sit down and take a break.

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Surrounded by the hustle of bustle of modern life, I find it amazing how this old ruin is a part of modern day Malaga (and not closed off).

Alcazaba of Málaga, Calle Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain