London: vegetarian lunch at The Gate

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A Sunday in April when the rain was hanging over London like a thick grey blanket, we were meeting up with friends for lunch and to watch The Boat Race. It seemed like all of London was out this day to cheer on the rowers, despite the weather, so the pubs where we thought we would meet were all full and certainly not appropriate for our friend’s baby.

But somebody thought of this vegetarian place nearby, that I hadn’t even heard of, and that’s where they were gathered when we arrived, a bit late. It wasn’t really were we (five carnivores and a baby) expected to have lunch; I think we were all thinking about a nice meaty pub roast, but we were all very happy with the choice in the end.

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Personally I like vegetarian food, and cook it quite a lot at home (without even continuously thinking about that the food I sometimes cook IS vegetarian, I just like nice food) but I am a little bit limited to what vegetables I can eat, due to my stomach condition, so I was a little worried before I had browsed the menu. But luckily The Gate is all about nice upscale vegetarian food instead of super healthy vegetarian food (that’s the category I struggle with) so there was plenty I could have.

I really liked the starters, and ended up having three of them! Two to share with my boyfriend as we couldn’t decide which starters to have, and then a third as my main course because I can never resist aubergine at a restaurant!

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The first two starters; onion quite (top photo) and the mushroom Wellington (middle photo) were both great. Nice pastry, nice filling and certainly not too healthy!

The aubergine (above) was just as sticky and gooey as I had hoped so I was very content with my choices and too full for pudding. Instead we headed to the river and shared some rosé in the rain.

I think was my first visit to a completely vegetarian restaurant, and I really enjoyed it! It was a nice restaurant in general (i.e. nice atmosphere, staff etc.) that just happened to be vegetarian. And I’m sure my veggie friends would love it here, where they can have EVERYTHING on the menu!

The Gate, 51 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith, London W6 9QL

London: amazing sushi at Dinings SW3

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When my childhood friend Therése comes to visit she always prepares a list of what she would like to do, see and eat. As we both like to plan I thoroughly embrace it and it makes hosting so much easier!

One thing on her list is always the same; sushi. So I book a different restaurant each time. Last year we went to Sushi Atelier and this year we went to Dinings SW3 that’s been on my list forever (well, since it opened).

Dinings SW3 feels very established in a cosy mews near Walton Street and it definitely has that South Ken vibe. It’s on the swankier side, but I love that!

The menu is extensive and although the tasting menu looked amazing we preferred to choose our own dishes. We thought we had ordered a the perfect amount of food, but some of the maki rolls were a lot bigger than we anticipated so in the end it was a bit too much but we almost finished everything. We both struggle to leave good sushi, even if we’re beyond full.

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The first thing we ordered was the tar tar chips with scallops. We only had one each but next time I will order more of these. They’re so pretty and delicious!

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I love miso soup and couldn’t resist this one with lobster, tomato and chives. And to no one’s surprise it is definitely the best miso soup I’ve eaten.

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Next we had a steamed bun slider with tempura prawn each – also really nice, but probably my least favourite out of our spread.

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Then we moved on to the sushi. Wow! The nigiri with avocado and jalapeño mayonnaise was just amazing. And the semi-fatty tuna was equally mind blowing.

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The grilled miso aubergine was delicious too but almost too much to share between two. It was exactly how I expected it to be; soft and sticky with a caramelised flavour too it. So lovely!

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The salmon maki was another favourite, it just tasted so pure. I can’t describe it any other way.

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The next two maki rolls were the big ones. The first one with tempera prawns was amazing but rather filling.

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And the double crab roll was so impressive with snow crab in the roll and deep fried soft shell crab on top. It was huge and so good but we did struggle to finish it.

At this point the table next to us received the lobster maki and I got a small case of food envy, but it was good in a way, because now I know what to order on my next visit!

Dinings SW3, Lennox Gardens Mews, London SW3 2JH

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

London: amazing pasta at Sorella

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Some restaurants just has that little bit extra, that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that makes you like a place straight away. It’s a bit like clicking with someone on a first date; you can’t really pinpoint what you like about the person, but there’s something.

That’s the feeling I (and I think my dinner companion too) got when we walked into Sorella in Clapham. Something about the ambience felt nice, the staff was friendly and the food amazing.

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The menu consists of snacks and sharing plates as well as a few main courses, that are also perfect for sharing. To start off with we ordered some bread (much needed when you’re verging on hangry) and a starter to share.

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The restaurant made ricotta with the softest pea purée and a flavoursome oil was a delicious start. Smooth, soft and subtle but still with lots of flavour.

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Then we moved on to what we came here for; the pastas. The tagliatelle with a slow-cooked ragu was heavenly.

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But it was soon overshadowed by the dreamy linguine with morels cheese and heaps of truffle. IMG_6469.jpg

I still of dream of this dish, that’s how magnificently delicious it was. I hope this stays on the menu forever.

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After the pasta we had a little breather before getting started on the main course.

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We had perfectly cooked cod with Swiss chard and a lovely jus.

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And on the side the crispiest potatoes I’ve ever come across. Wonderful!

But what really stayed me were the pasta dishes. It’s hand to heart some of the best I’ve had.

Race you back?!

Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6BX

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

Copenhagen: dinner at Bæst

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As you know I like to eat, and when I once a year have my day with friends (who luckily also likes their food) in Copenhagen, we make the most of it. Which is why we could fit in tacos for lunch (followed by some smørrebrød because why not?!), fika at our favourite place, wine and cheese pre-dinner at this nice little spot and then still had room for dinner. The August heat and the walking helped though.

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Bæst, our dinner spot for the evening was recommended by Daniel and all three of us loved it. It was laid back and cosy, and obviously a popular spot because it filled up as we sat there.

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The menu reflects the casual atmosphere and has the emphasis is on good local organic produce and sharing plates. Just what we like!

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The grilled courgette and kale salad what we started with was really nice. It had texture, a nice charred flavour on the courgette and acidity and freshness as well. It’s the kind of vegetable dish that makes you feel good.

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Next up we had a huge plate of chicken wings, covered in a herb-y finger-licking sauce. Delicious! And a lot fresher on the palate than regular buffalo wings (which I love, but this version was more interesting).

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After that we were ready for the main event; the pizzas!

Cooked in a 500C (!) oven these blistery, still soft but cooked just enough pizzas are to die for.

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Especially the classic margherita. With a delicious tomato sauce, their own (!) mozzarella and basil.

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I mean, look at this. Pizza perfection.

Bæst, Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N

London: New York dumplings at Red Farm

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One Saturday night with no plans, my friend and I after a few texts suddenly had made dinner plans; to meed about 40 minutes later in Covent Garden. Even though I like to plan ahead most of the time, I find it so refreshing to make plans last minute. Especially when I live in a city like London with lots to offer.

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My friend Ro suggested a new place, that still was in it’s soft-launch place, as she’d been to the New York restaurant and loved it. Always keen to try new things I thought that was a great idea and was really happy when we got a table on arrival (although now that they’re properly open I would recommend making a reservation beforehand).

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Located next to another New York satellite, Balthazar, I definitely think Red Farm is here to stay. I really liked their concept of yummy but fun food and wish more restaurants would be creative in that way.

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Like these pork and crab soup dumpling size XXL that comes with a straw! It’s a genius way of eating it, first drinking the soup and then eating the dumpling. So yummy! My only criticism was that the dumpling spoons were a little bit small for that dumpling size.

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Their most iconic dish though, is probably this one; Pac Man shrimp dumplings complete with different coloured ghosts! So fun and very well executed.

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One of the best dishes was this starter though; the marinated and grilled pork belly. It had sweetness, lots of umami and a nice crunch. So moreish!!

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The scallion pancakes with smoked bacon were also really nice, but a little rich.

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Another favourite was the wide rice noodles with roast duck. Again full of umami (seems to be their thing) and lots of earthy flavours. We also had some broccoli on the side, and although nice, it’s not really the vegetables you come here for – it’s the rich satisfying umami dishes, perfect for the autumn ahead!

Red Farm, 9 Russell St, London WC2B 5HZ