Kent: Michelin star luncheon at The Sportsman

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This Michelin star restaurant has been on my to-eat-list (yes, I have one of those…) for quite some time and I was thrilled when my Kent-based friends Helen and Pete suggested we go there for lunch together. We booked it several months before and finally went in May this year (sorry it’s taken me forever to do the write up!).

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Quite unlike most other one star places The Sportsman is really relaxed and rustic. You place your order at the bar (while looking at the daily changing menu noted down on the black board next to it) and go sit down.

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The food takes a similar approach and is really well prepared out of the best ingredients but with a rustic no-fuss approach. Which people love! Especially chefs, who vote this as their favourite restaurant year after year.

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I obviously like the approach too, and from the get-go it’s pure perfection. The three different types of bread are all very good, the olives are of the buttery kind and the butter is just heavenly. A good start.

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Pete and Helen are just as excited as I am, although they’ve been here before and Pete and I can’t resist the oysters, which were served two ways and both delicious!

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It was only also Pete and I who ordered starters, but we shared them at the table. The terrine with mustard, pickles, grilled sourdough and crispy scratchings was so nice. Everything was just perfectly executed.

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My tomato, burrata and pesto may look simple, but it was perfectly put together and had the best pesto I’ve ever tasted.

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Helen had the beef and Yorkshire pudding which was pure perfection as well. Just look at that plate.

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My pork was incredibly tender and was served with a deliciously fluffy mash and a mustard jus. Just perfect.

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Pete had cod, again cooked to perfection, with asparagus and a delicious chorizo sauce. It’s classic food, but still with a few twists.

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I was quite full after my pork but would not turn down pudding in a place like this and so ordered the rhubarb soufflé with rhubarb ripple ice cream. It’s was amazingly good. Strong but subtle flavours and the softest soufflé!

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Helen’s warm chocolate mousse with with salted caramel and milk sorbet was equally dreamy and although familiar flavours, the fun texture is a great addition.

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The whole lunch was really relaxed and cosy, with two well-behaved children, and such a treat! Afterwards we went out into the sunshine and down the beach to look for sea shells and fossils. Such a wonderful day – and lunch!

The Sportsman, Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP

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Eating NYC: the wonderful Minetta Tavern

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I can’t remember where of from whom I heard about Minetta Tavern the first time, but when I asked people for restaurant recommendations leading up to my holiday everyone told me come here. So of course I did.

This extremely cosy one Michelin-starred restaurant in Greenwich Village was just as nice as I had hoped it would be. It gives you the impression it’s from a different time with red sofas, lots of mirrors and soft lighting.

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Considering the size of New York portions, we started our dinner with a drink (espresso Martini for Sinead and a glass of tatty for me) and then went straight for the main courses. Sinead had the roasted chicken with Swiss chard and fries. It was super simple but stunning!

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A decent portion of fries, as you can see.

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I decided on the steak frites, but substituted the fries for pommes Anna, and received one of the best steaks I have ever had! Just amazingly good!

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Not a small portion of pommes Anna either… but very good!

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We ate as slowly as we could to savour every bite but also to be able to eat as much as possible, so we were more than full when they cleared the table. But after some wine and a breather we decided to try the chocolate caramel tart with sea salt our waiter so highly recommended. And I’m so glad we did. It was pure perfection! I’m not even a pudding person but this was to die for. You simply must order it when you go.

Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal St., New York, NY 10012  (Betw. Bleecker & W. 3rd Street)

Dinner at Matbaren, Stockholm

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I chose the dinner restaurant for the Stockholm trip carefully; I wanted it to have amazing food (of course), have food my non-foodie friends would enjoy and a nice atmosphere and I think I did very well choosing Matbaren from those parameters. The restaurant is a contemporary bistro with one star, and more casual than chef Mathias Dahlgren’s two-starred Matsalen.

When we were showed to our table (starving after having danced around Carina’s flat to 80s tunes) the menu as well as a paper bag with three types of crispbread and butter was already on the table.

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We then ordered a bottle of wine and after having finished the crispbread we were served nice sourdough slices. The concept here is small plates and the staff recommend you order one at the time, which worked really well; the kitchen was utterly efficient (it’s the Swedish way!). My first dish was amazing. Smooth potato purée, 53 degree egg (which means it’s super creamy), crispy potato sticks and shaved black truffle.

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Carina and Emma both chose the aubergine purée with delicious beetroots and sesame seeds. They both really enjoyed the dish, but the pricing was a bit off as quite expensive but not containing any fancy ingredients.

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Our first courses were quite filling and Carina was full already, but Emma and I needed (and wanted) more food, so we decided to share two dishes. The first one was the above chicken kebab in a Chinese steamed bun with yoghurt sauce. Fun fusion and so very delicious!

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We also shared this plate of Swedish sashimi. It was pretty as a picture and absolutely amazing. The oyster crème in the middle was to die for and the fish just melted in the mouth.

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We were very content after these dishes and asked for the bill, skipping pudding. And I am glad we did as this big bowl of sweets were put in front of us. The madeleines with almonds, lemon and poppy seed were fantastic and the peanut fudge was lovely as well. Such a nice way to end the meal!

I really enjoyed Matbaren, just as I thought I would. The menu was nice and varied, the dishes interesting and modern (and of course very well executed), the ambiance nice and the service friendly and efficient. The only thing I can’t seem to get to when eating out in Sweden is the wine prices, but that’s not the restaurant’s fault.

Matbaren, Grand Hotel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6, 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden

Lunch at Marchal, Copenhagen

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I have a long list of Copenhagen restaurants I want to try, but they were all closed for lunch on New Year’s Eve. But that was lucky in a way because that made us discover Marchal, the one Michelin-starred restaurant in Hotel d’Angleterre.

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The lunch menu was really nice, but a little tricky to figure out which dishes were starters and which were main courses, but I think we did alright. Claes and I had poached oysters with potato and root vegetable balls, crispy potato, horseradish sauce and dill oil. Such a great dish – subtle flavours in absolute harmony.

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Emma had a chicken salad with crispy chicken skin and loved every bite.

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And Linus had confit pork breast with onions, apples and jus. Also really, really nice!

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The portions were not very big, but still felt quite substantial so it was perfect to follow it up with two plates of cheese (with fried rye bread, figs and strawberry conserve) to share. It was a fine balance to eat enough to feel full and content but not too full as we had a quite large dinner planned for the evening.

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We had a nice Sancerre with our dinner, recommended by the sommelier, and I must say the service was really good over all.

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Marchal offered exactly what we wanted for our New Year’s Eve luncheon; some flair and big city buzz but still a relaxed ambiance. And of course wonderful food! We’ll be back.

Marchal, Hotel d’Angleterre, 34, Kongens Nytorv, 1050 København K, Denmark