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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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

Spring and a rather decadent Saturday night

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As soon as the snow melted spring arrived. Hallelujah! I’ve swapped my ankle boots for ballet flats and it feels so much lighter.

The snow disappearing certainly put me in a good mood for the week and I’ve had a lovely one. I had some time to do chores at home (love to get organised!) but also made it to the cinema to see Red Sparrow (it was alright but not as good as I had hoped) and had a girlie night in with Ro and Gaby watching rubbish TV, eating a lovely pasta dish that Gaby cooked and some pampering in the shape of gold (!) face masks.

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The weekend was quite packed as well with after work drinks at Gordon’s Wine Bar on Friday, outside but under heaters. Saturday I got some more things done at home and I finally feel back on track, before going out for a lovely dinner in the evening.

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I finally made it to a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while (review to come) and after a lovely dinner there we carried on with champagne at The Charlotte Street Hotel and Kettner’s Townhouse in Soho. It was such a treat! I just love discovering new places in this amazing city!

Malmö: dinner (and wine!) at Bastard

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I know, you’re probably giggling at the headline, but that is the actual name of a restaurant in Malmö. A very nice restaurant in fact. It’s been around for a few years now and is always busy which is a good sign.

The atmosphere is best described as cosy meets big city, as it definitely feels the restaurant would work just as well in London or New York as in little Malmö. The focus of the food is on meat and unusual cuts and they have the same menu in the bar area and restaurant.

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When I came here with my friend Carina one evening between Christmas and New Year we hadn’t booked but we came early enough to get a table after just a ten minute wait in the bar. We started off with a glass at the bar; champagne for me and a glass of white for Carina.

Sitting down we both had a lovely white burgundy (La Châtelaine 2015) that we stuck to the rest of the evening. We also had the charcuterie board which I would say is compulsory here. It’s more mixed than Terroirs, but just as nice.

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After a while we decided we were still hungry and ordered the burrata (mainly for Carina) and the sweetbreads (mainly for me). The burrata was really nice and the oranges and pomegranate seeds balanced the creaminess very well.

The sweetbreads were cooked to perfection (such a joy!) and the sauce was incredible too, but I found the carrots as a dull pairing. I would have liked something with more acidity or bite to balance the heavy sweetbreads.

With that said we really enjoyed the meal and our evening here. I love that every single waiter or bar staff we spoke to were so passionate about the menu, wines and the business in general.

Bastard, Mäster Johansgatan 11, 211 21 Malmö, Sweden