London: Hoppers (finally!)

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I almost went to Sri Lanka on holiday with two girl friends a few years ago. But the plan fell through for various reasons and I ended up going on a lovely trip to Cambodia and Vietnam with another friend instead.

But since almost booking that holiday the dream of Sri Lanka has stayed with me, so I was super excited when Hoppers open the first (at least that I’ve heard of) Sri Lankan restaurant in London.

I tried to go there multiple times but as the Soho outfit was tiny and the place seriously popular the waiting time was always too long for hangry me.

But since they recently opened a second restaurant, still in Central London, but not bang in the hustle and bustle of Soho, where you can BOOK tables I’ve finally been. Yay!

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In cold January I met up with my former flatmate and now friend Daisy for supper here. The restaurant was warm and cosy inside (especially compared to the sub-zero temperatures outside) and although we weren’t rushed the food arrived more or less at the same time so we felt a bit hurried to eat it and leave so they could have the table back. I get it – they’re still hugely popular and of course they want to be accommodating but it would have been nice if it was a little more chilled.

Anyway, we had lots of nice, but quite heave dishes! But while we were choosing from the menu we also enjoyed a really nice gin cocktail and plantain chips.

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First up we had the mutton rolls which were crispy and stuffed with lovely meat. Loved these!

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Next we had the really rather spicy calamari but it was also lovely and crispy!

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Our third dish was what I’ve been most eager to try; their bone marrow roti. Which turned out to be a bone marrow curry (so much yes!!) and the flakiest roti I’ve ever had. Just amazing! And so so filling. (This is where we started to realise that we had probably ordered too much…)

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We also shared two larger dishes, a seafood kari and pork ribs. The curry was again quite spicy but nice but the pork was more interesting with it’s multiple layers of flavours.

We were SO full after this meal and yet we didn’t finish most of the dishes. They were all quite rich as well (which I hadn’t expected!) so will definitely order less next time. Or order a few dishes, eat those and see if we could eat some more.

I will definitely come back for the bone marrow roti (loved that!!) but totally forgot to order the hoppers (which the restaurant is named after) and can’t wait to try one next time. They almost look like a bowl made of thin thin (almost see-through) rice flour dough and it often has an egg or something else in the bottom of it. They look really impressive!

Hoppers, 77 Wigmore Street, London W1U 1QE

London: meat and bone marrow at Pitt Cue

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London restaurants. There are seriously too many to visit, unless you’re a food critic, which sadly I’m not.

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I have so many restaurants on my list to try and it pains me when they close before I got to them. This happened with the very talked about Pitt Cue Co who brought BBQ to Soho back in the day.

But luckily they didn’t close for good, they opened a restaurant further east instead. One where you can book a table – which made it so much easier to go!

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The Soho restaurant was tiny and always had a long queue, which was the main reason I never went. I tried so many times but the waiting time was always around 2 hrs and that’s just too long when you’re hungry.

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The menu here looked great so it was rather tricky to decide on what to order, but I think we did a good job of it! Laura had the grilled aubergine with wild rice and almonds.

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And as you can see, she was very happy with it! Lovely dish!

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For me, the words ‘bone marrow’ jumped out at me and I just had to order the grilled sourdough and bone marrow.

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Look at that beauty! It was just gorgeous; pillowy, salty and full of flavour. Yum!

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For the main course Laura had the Aylesbury duck breast (cooked to perfection) with pickled endive and jus.

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I had the onglet with marinated tomato and it was just perfect! Love this cut of meat! It has so much flavour but is really tender at the same time.

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We also had some sweet potato to share, but half way through my steak I so regretted not ordering the bone marrow mash. (Mainly because I had already had the sourdough with bone marrow, but honestly that’s a silly reason when the food is this good. As somebody once said; you only regret the food you didn’t eat. So true!) So I gave in and ordered it and it was probably my best decision, like, ever. This mash (actually it’s more like a silky cloud of potato purée) is just heaven. The bone marrow on top is to-die-for delicious and I would have been so happy with just this for dinner (although the rest was delicious too!).

Moral of the story; do not not order a dish because you’re trying to be good or think there is such a thing as too much bone marrow. Order, eat and enjoy it and have salad the next day to balance it out.

Oh, and GO to Pitt Cue and eat all the deliciousness without queueing for a table!

Pitt Cue, The Avenue, 1 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YP

 

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

Malmö: dinner at cosy MJ’S

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One of the days before Christmas and New Year I met up with my childhood friend Therèse for dinner and drinks in Malmö.

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I was very curious to try MJ’S that I had heard so much about and Therèse is always up for trying new places so off we went. I actually got there early but checked with the restaurant if they could fit us in earlier and they could. In the meantime we had a drink in the bar and when our table was ready the waiter from the restaurant came to fetch us. Great service!

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The bar area is dark and cosy with big leather sofa and luxe details but the dining room has a very different vibe. It’s a large atrium with almost a Mediterranean garden vibe. Even in the middle of winter! It’s super cosy and pretty and definitely have a wow factor!

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So cute! Love the pink walls.

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The menu for the day we got there was very concise and consisted of only four dishes, either to order one by one or together as a menu. We were hungry and decided on the full menu. But with some dietary adjustments for me, which they handled very quickly and professionally. Did I say I liked the service here?

Anyway. My first dish (off menu) was this lovely aubergine with a spicy tomato mixture on top and with fluffy aioli on the side.

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The next dish was on the menu and Therèse and I shared it as planned. The perfectly cooked cod with fennel and beurre blanc was very nice but not as interesting as some other dishes.

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Like the pork cheeks with pumpkin and sea buckthorn. A very unexpected combination that totally worked. Loved this!

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The pudding course was this blueberry sorbet on blueberry compote with shaved white chocolate and nuts for texture. A nice ending to our meal.

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I really like MJ’S and can’t fault it one bit. Fine, the food isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s really nice and experienced in this lovely atmosphere it’s perfect. The menu feels accessible for all guests (we saw children and old people here as well as people our own age) – which is very important since it’s a hotel – despite being a little bit different. The service is impeccable and the ambiance lovely.

Yes, I will be back.

MJ’S, Mäster Johansgatan 13, 211 21 Malmö, Sweden

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

Taking it easy

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I was ill again last week. So typical. So I stayed in bed Monday and Tuesday but felt better on Wednesday and could go to work. So the rest of the week I just took it easy after work, to rest as much as possible. I really don’t want to get ill again between now and Christmas (or on my Christmas break!), too much to do!

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The weekend was quiet as well, which was nice. On my lunch break on Friday I went to Whole Foods to buy some nice things for the weekend. Love it there and it’s a treat to go now when I don’t have one close to me anymore.

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I bought mussels that I cooked that night with white wine, cream and potatoes. So yummy!

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On Saturday we slept until noon, had poached eggs for breakfast and then went for a walk around Wimbledon Common. It air was crisp but the sun was out and it was perfect weather for an autumnal walk.

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When we got backed we watched a bit of the tennis and some rugby before going for a drink at the local pub followed by dinner nearby.

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Sunday treated me to another lie-in and then I pottered around, making pudding for supper and prepping ahead. For dinner I made a lovely pasta dish I will post about later, and lemon posset for pudding. Then we cuddled up on the sofa watching The Handmaid’s Tale and when I couldn’t take it anymore, an episode of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

The next month will be busy, but I hope I can squeeze in another cosy weekend without plans. Sleeping until one wake up naturally is just the best!