London: The Palomar, Soho

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The Palomar in Soho is a snug little restaurant serving up dishes from the Jerusalem of today and has been around for a while. It’s still as popular as when it opened and I had a fab dinner with my friend Felicity here quite a while ago that I’d like to tell you all about.

Arriving on a weekday after work the small restaurant was of course full (always expect a popular Soho restaurant to be full unless you go very early or very late) so we put our names on the list and when in search of a drink.

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About an hour later our seats at the bar were ready and our enthusiastic water welcomed us and started to recommend dishes from the menu. The kabaneh, a Yemeni pot baked bread with tahini and a tomato sauce was a must and we loved dipping the fluffy bread in the different sauces.

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Next we had a special for the day; crispy Jerusalem artichoke with tuna rillette and duck fat which was amazingly good. Loved loved loved this one!

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The burnt courgette tzatziki was another favourite. It also pairs very well with the bread!

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Another special, the bonito carpaccio, savoury cookie crumble was also really nice! And full of freshness.

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The Jerusalem style polenta with asparagus, mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil was pure indulgence (I wish I could cook polenta like that!!) and a real treat.

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But the deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon and harissa disappointed us a little. It was still nice – but lacked a bit om oomph compared to the other dishes.

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So did The beets go prawn with smoky beetroot, labneh, prawn jus, basil and chilli but it was still a nice plate of food. Just lacking a bit of wow factor.

All together we had a fantastic evening here, chatting with our waiter, the people next to us and of course each other, enjoying some excellent food and lovely wine! This is what Soho is all about for me; the informal yet amazing dining experiences.

The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN

Barcelona: cocktails at Old Fashioned and late supper at Bar Mut

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After our fab (but early; we sat down at 7pm) dinner at Bodega 1900 we found a nice cocktail bar called Old Fashioned to chill in. It was small and cosy, had nice music on but you could still talk and an extensive cocktail list. Lovely! Also, all the staff were bearded men with white shirts and suspenders. Cute!

I went for a Gin Tonica, the Spanish version of gin and tonic served in a large glass on a stem. I tried one with strawberry notes and it was served with a dried strawberry slice. Really nice!

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Emma asked for a fruity drink and received one with strawberries and raspberries. It was good fun sitting here chatting and people watching for a bit.

Old Fashioned, Calle Santa Teresa nº 1, Gràcia, 08012 Barcelona, Spain

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Until we got hungry again and headed to nearby Bar Mut that I was drying to try. I so love that the restaurants here are open late.

At Bar Mut there’s no printed menu, but some dishes are written on the board and your waiter will tell you the rest. You can also choose your fish and shellfish from the iced counter. Everything’s fresh and seasonal. Simple, but not too simple.

We started off with white asparagus that were perfectly cooked, and served with a light mayonnaise, nuts and leaves.

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I’ve never been able to resist croquetas and this time was no exception. These big ones with iberico ham were amazing!

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Our last dish (I mean, we had had a proper dinner earlier that evening) was a this lovely beef dish with morels and a delicious sauce.

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We walked out happy and full, heading back to the hotel in our taxi for another full day of exploring Barcelona the next day.

They don’t have Uber here but other similar taxi companies (the one we used had its own fleet and all cars had free water and wi-fi – so good!) that we used a lot, especially in the evenings when we were tired from walking all day.

Bar Mut, Pau Clarís nº 192 (Diagonal), Barcelona, Spain

 

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

Copenhagen: four course dinner at Uformel

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The highlight of our day in Copenhagen was definitely the four course meal with matching wines at Uformel. It was my first time visiting the restaurant and we thoroughly enjoyed everyhing from the relaxed atmosphere to the quirky details (black cutlery!) and of course the delicious food.

We started our meal with a glass of bubbly each and some snacks; pork scratchings with sourcream dip. Pork scratchings are actually more popular in Denmark than in the UK and they’re sold in every supermarket. The supermarket varieties are nice but these were amazing, especially together with the dip.

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Then we started our four course meal with lovely sourdough bread and delicious butter and this first course consisting of scallops, pickled green strawberries and olive oil. It was a nice fresh start to the meal, but didn’t blow me away.

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But the next course certainly did! This was how it was presented, and the thinly sliced mushrooms made me think of woods and earthy flacours.

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But hidden underneath was the most amazing steak tartare with mayonnaise and crispy bread. Loved this!

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Next up was this duck with grilled pointy cabbage (but in my case grilled little gem instead) and the most amazing sauce. it was proper minimalism on a plate but it really worked.

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The pudding with apples, crumble, custard and a frozen lid with apple was a nice finish to the meal and very refreshing. We also got some petit fours with our coffees but we were too full to appreciate them.

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But the fullness didn’t last that long as we didn’t have many carbs, and we’d been walking around Copenhagen all day. This is not a criticism however, if we hadn’t been walking around all day this meal would have been enough, but after some bar hopping especially Emma and I got hangry and we had to eat something more. Unfortunately all the pølse trucks were closed at this point so we had to go to Burger King (it was an emergency!).

And the wines? They were all nice and expertly paired with the dishes, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that. Both the food menu and with wine flight were very reasonably prised though, and the ambience in the restaurant nice and relaxed. Highly recommend a dinner here!

Uformel, Studiestræde 69, 1554 København V, Denmark

Copenhagen: lunch at Sticks ‘n Sushi

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In between Christmas and New Year my best friend Emma and I had planned a whole day in Copenhagen with her husband and his friend. We took the train across the bridge (yes, that bridge) and got to Copenhagen just in time for lunch at Sticks ‘n Sushi. For a chain, they have really good sushi, and I love that they have restaurants in London too.

We started off with roasted cauliflower snacks and spicy edamame, then we had some nigiri and maki rolls, a salmon tartare to share and some of the sticks. And wine, of course.

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The snacks vanished in seconds and then we got started on the sushi. All the nigiri (we had salmon, tuna and seared yellow tail) were nice, but the maki rolls are really really good. We shared a spicy tuna, crunchy ebi (prawn) and a pink Alaska (with salmon and cream cheese) and couldn’t decide which was the best one as they were all lovely.

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The salmon tartare was not very impressive and the sticks with emmenthaler cheese and bacon we didn’t even finish, but we did like the chicken teriyaki skewers, but the sushi is definitely the star here.

After lunch we went to a few bars, did some shopping and had a four course dinner, so stay tuned for more Copenhagen posts.

Sticks ‘n Sushi, Borgergade 13, 1300 København K, Denmark

Malmo: lunch at Kockeriet

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I’ve been wanting to try Tareq Taylor’s (a Swedish TV chef I adore) restaurant Kockeriet in Malmö and I finally did on the second day of the year. My London friends Nick and Janet were on a Scandinavian tour and when they stopped over in Malmö we met up here for lunch.

It was a really cold day so it was nice to step into the cosiness at the restaurant. The old exposed wooden beams and candles made it feel warm and welcoming. They had two lunch dishes to choose from (this is fairly common in Sweden, as the lunch menu changes daily); one meat and one vegetarian. Both seemed nice but all three of us decided on the meat option.

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But first we got some lovely sourdough and whipped butter and water carafes that were refilled a few times. Good service!

The pork with soft celeriac, onions and a creamy sauce was both fresh and comforting and perfect on this cold January day. It was a lovely luncheon and I can’t wait to go back and try the evening menu (and great looking wine list!).

Kockeriet, Norra Vallgatan 28, 211 25 Malmö, Sweden

Malmo: Bibimbap at Namu

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There were plenty of lunches, fika and dinners with friends and family when I was back home in Sweden for Christmas and one day I got to try the fairly new Korean restaurant Namu for lunch with my friend Helena and her baby.

It was still pretty quiet in town this third day of the year but an early quiet lunch was perfect with a baby present.

The lunch menu at Namu was short but nice and consisted of three dishes; bibimbap with either beef bulgogi or tofu or a Korean wok. We both decided on the first option and very much enjoyed it!

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I had mine without kimchi and kale as my stomach can’t handle it, but it was still really nice. The creamy 63 degree egg made it feel rather luxurious for a weekday lunch and the flavour of the bulgogi was spot on. We also got a bowl of soup on arrival and coffee or tea is complementary for lunch. Can’t wait to try their dinner menu next time I’m in Malmö.

Namu, Landbygatan 5, 211 34 Malmö, Sweden