Visby: dinner at Donners Brasserie

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We arrived Visby in the afternoon, having been up since 5am, so we were quite happy just walking around the town for a bit (taking some photos) and then have an early no-fuss dinner.

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We ended up at Donners Brasserie and sat outside people-watching (so much fun when most people were dressed in medieval attire). You could tell it was the end of the season as none of the restaurants were full up but at least we were not alone dining here.

The menu was quite simple and although the smoked prawns for a starter appealed we were all hungry starving and went straight for the main course.

Mother had arctic char with potatoes baked in tin foil and served with a coriander mayo. Not ground-breaking but it was cooked well.

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I had the steak with bearnaise sauce and fries. The meat was slightly over-cooked but still nice.

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Father had the largest portion (so generous!) of lamb racks I’ve ever seen, with sautéed vegetables and a potato salad.

The food was nice, and not very elaborate but I can see it appealing to the crowds in the summer. It was all fresh and cooked well just lacking a bit of oomph.

Donners Brasserie, Donners plats 3, 621 57 Visby, Sweden 

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Sweden: dinner by the beach at Badhytten

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My first night in Sweden was sunny and glorious and I spent it the best way possible: with dear friends having dinner at the beach.

This restaurant, bar and nightclub is our favourite place to go in the summer as the setting is beautiful and the place has a fun atmosphere. In recent years it’s been rebuilt, so although the charm from when I was younger is gone it feels a lot more modern and grownup in it’s current design.

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We all enjoyed our meal here, it’s not a place where you come just for the food, but combined with the decent wine list, helpful waiters and lovely atmosphere it’s a lovely place.

For the starter, we all ordered exactly the same, the Scandinavian classic Toast Skagen. It’s essentially prawns in mayonnaise and dill served on toast. Here the toast was brioche  (nice!) and it was nicely presented with a ribbon of cucumber holding the prawns in place. Extra plus for the generous size!

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For our main courses two had the cod loin with pea purée, new potatoes and carrots, two steak and fries with bearnaise sauce and one fish stew.

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We were all pleased with our choices, and although the menu is very similar to last year, it’s consistent. My only remark was that my steak was rather overcooked, but still nice.

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After the two courses each we were far too full to have pudding, so instead we moved to the lounge area of the restaurant to finish our wine and have teas and coffees. Then later on we hit the bar and dance floor upstairs!

Badhytten, Skanörs hamn, 239 30 Skanör, Sweden

Meat feast at Zelman Meats, Soho

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The team behind the amazing meat restaurants Goodman (and Beast and Burger & Lobster) opened a new meat restaurant in the space where the fish restaurant Rex & Mariano (also owned by the same company) used to reside. In fact, they still use the Rex & Mariano crockery.

Zelman Meats (after the founder Mikhail Zelman) is a mid-market steak restaurant offering “All we do is beef, and we stick to what we know best” according to the website.

The menu is simple, with just a few starters, four different cuts of beef, sides and a few puddings. I like this simple no-fuss approach, which also makes the ambiance relaxed. It’s not white table cloths like Goodman, just good steak and sides in a relaxed restaurant.

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This is where to go to pig out on great steak, because the bill won’t be that bad and the meat is just as nice here as at Hawksmoor or Goodman. Take your date or a group of friends and just let your hair down. The staff is really friendly and relaxed but with a sincere passion for steak so they can guide you through the cuts and let you know what’s best served rare or medium.

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I came here with two colleagues for lunch, and as only one of us has a big appetite we ordered modestly to begin with, some delicious picanha and amazingly smoky and tender short rib. Once that was demolished we ordered more of the same and enjoyed it with crispy chips, salad and the two sauces on the menu. It was great and even the least meat eater out of the three of us (obviously not me) loved every bite!

Zelman Meats, 2 St Anne’s Court, London W1F 0AZ 

 

Smith & Wollensky, The Strand

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When a famous New York restaurant opens its London restaurant a mere stone’s throw from the office you certainly want to check it out. In fact, I think everybody at the office have been there at least once.

Smith & Wollensky is a very good steak restaurant, which of course the prices reflect (in fact, I would be scared if the meat here was cheap!). But the lunch menu offers a few smaller steaks, as well as burgers, pork chops and plenty of other nice things, so it’s a good idea to go here for lunch.

I was here with my colleague Max, who likes meat, so we tend to go to steak restaurants of nice burger places for lunch. Max actually chose the burger here too, a huge one ground in house, with cheddar and bacon. Delicious!

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I chose the steak on the lunch menu, fillet of beef, cooked to perfection, served with bearnaise sauce (very good), nice crispy fries and creamed spinach, that was also very good.

I really like this place, and I recommend going either for lunch or for a real splurge. And if you have room for pudding, the chocolate cake is pure perfection.

Smith & Wollensky, The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam St, London WC2N 6HT

Lunch at Goodman, Mayfair

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There’s steak and then there’s STEAK. Goodman serves the one in capitals; the type of steak that is full of flavour and melts like butter in your mouth.

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As you can see, this is proper steak. Perfection.

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Good steak is one thing, but the sides are almost as important. Almost. It is so disappointing when you have a nice proper steak cooked to perfection but with average side dishes like slightly soggy chips and an awful sauce. But Goodman has got it; the chunky chips are utterly crispy on the outside and wonderfully fluffy within. The truffle chips I ordered also had a nice truffle taste, from oil, but still.

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The spinach was also nice and the portion generous and the mash was velvety and delicious.

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And the sauce past the test too. The bernaise sauce was thick and a nice acidity. Det ultimata testet är ändå alltid bearnaisesåsen.

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Goodman, 24-26 Maddox St, London W1S 1QH

For more steak, have a look at my Hawksmoor review.

Lunch at Flat Iron, Soho

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I love the rustle and bustle in Soho and that there is such an eclectic mix of restaurants. A new-ish restaurant I tried a couple of weeks ago has a very limited menu but offers, as the name suggests, flatiron steak. One of my favourite cuts; quite grainy fibers but very tender meat.

Like a lot of Soho’s restaurant, this is a first come, first serve type place with no table reservations. Arriving in the middle of the lunch rush we were lucky to nab the last two seats at one of the communal tables.

As soon as we sat down water and a bowl of popcorn appeared at the table. Awesome!

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The menu is sparse with only the flatiron steak and sides or today’s special; a slowcooked beef stew. My colleague and I both went for the steak, cooked medium-rare as suggested by the waitress with chips, bearnaise sauce and a side of creamed spinach to share.

The steak was really nice and the chips crispy. The bearnaise sauce (which I am extremely picky with) got my approval, although it had a tad too much vinegar in it.

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I really like this place. It’s unpretentious and what you see is what you get. And the food is well-prepared, very tasty and not expensive at all. It makes perfect sense to start this type of restaurant in recession. Good steak restaurants in London are, let’s face it, quite expensive and so many places offers very disappointing steak although for a better price.

To instead specialize in just one cut (but a great and affordable one) to keep the costs down is in my opinion, brilliant.

Flat Iron, 17 Beak St, Soho, London W1F 9RW

Dinner at Antika, Stari Grad, Croatia

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One of that last night on the yacht we decided to all eat together in pretty Stari Grad, at the Antika restaurant, recommended by our skipper.

It was a cosy courtyard restaurant full to the brim with guests so it was pretty buzzing, but we also noticed there was some kind of children’s play on at the square just adjacent, which created a bit of extra noise. We could have coped with that but then the spectators thought it was fine to stand around us between the tables to cheer and take photos. Needless to say we were rather unimpressed.

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Eventually the play ended though and we could finally enjoy our dinner conversation. The food however was very good. Most in our group had the breaded and baked feta salad as a starter. It was huge (consisting of a whole block of feta, breaded and baked plus salad items) so although it was very good I was glad I saved myself for my steak.

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From the moment our skipper had mentioned the word steak I knew what I was having and it was probably the best priced piece of fillet steak I’ll ever eat. Very tender too and the creamy gorgonzola sauce with dill was lovely too. Perhaps nor local cuisine, but very good.

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Gaby had the seafood in a white wine and tomato sauce which was also delicious. And we even ‘met’ a new type of mullusc. It looked like a cross between a muscle and an oyster, it was cooked like the mussels but you had to open it yourself (i.e. it didn’t open itself while cooking) but neither the taste nor texture was that nice; it was rather chewy and bland. Fun to try though!

IMG_5303Antika, Duonjo kola, Stari Grad, Croatia