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

 

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New Year’s Eve luncheon

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I know a lot of people think NYE is a real anti-climax, but I really enjoy celebrating it. Any excuse to dress up and drink champagne works for me!

Growing up, my parents and their friends made it special, always making it an occasion. Us children got to play with each others new toys (one NYE turned into Super Mario tournament), but also celebrate with the grown-ups, cheering with alcohol free cider instead of champagne, watching the fire works through the windows (to this day I still don’t like to go outside in the cold on the stroke of midnight), and watch the speech and the countdown on Swedish Television. It felt magical and that’s the feeling I carry with me now on New Year’s Eves with friends.

Nowadays the food make it special, and we really enjoy the Kalix roe, lobster and fillet of beef, but we have also realised that it’s really nice to do something on the day. So we prep as much as we can the day (or days, depending on the ambition) before NYE, so that we have the day free to hang out together until it’s time to get ready and cook dinner.

 

 

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This year, we thought a lunch in Malmö would be ideal. We went to Copenhagen last year for lunch and although lovely it felt a little rushed. But, it turned out, no restaurants in Malmö were open for lunch on New Year’s Eve. Maybe it’s un-Swedish to go out for lunch before a big evening celebration, who knows?! Luckily, after a lot of googling, we did find ONE restaurant open for lunch so we quickly booked a table and enjoyed a nice French lunch.

La Bonne Vie is a cosy French restaurant in the middle of town, just on Davidshalls Torg, and when we arrived for a late-ish lunch the restaurant was full up. And, just like us, most guests were drinking bubbly.

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The lunch menu was classic French with a few Swedish touches and very affordable. Emma and I both had the Toast Skagen with a very generous portion of prawns with mayonnaise and dill on butter-fried bread. Delicious!

Claes had the moules frites and also received a very generous portion of mussels, nice crispy fries and rouille.

We had a lovely lunch and will certainly be back this year too. Thank you for staying open!

La Bonne Vie, Davidshallstorg 7, Malmö, Sweden

Dinner at Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell

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It’s not often I go out to eat on Sundays, but when you’re friend works in the restaurant herself, there isn’t much choice, but looking for a place to go I realised most restaurants are closed for dinner on Sundays. Not surprisingly as Sunday lunches are a big deal in Britain, but still disappointing.

Luckily there are nice restaurants open, and we went to Bistrot Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell. As the name suggests the food served here is French bistro cuisine, which we very much enjoyed. There aren’t any twists or much innovation here – but in a good way. Instead the food is traditional and very well executed. It is not easy cooking simple food well!

Helen started the meal with the rillette which was quite plain, i.e. no twists, but still very good.

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I chose the pig’s head and got this wonderful big croquette and a sauce with eggs, capers, mayonnaise and herbs. Very good!

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We both had the bavette with chips, salad and bearnaise sauce for our mains and it was very good. In fact one of the better bearnaise sauces I’ve had in a restaurant! It was thick, not too acidic and lovely!

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RJ