Year: 2017

VOC’s new small plates menu in King’s Cross

I’m loving discovering the new bars and restaurants tucked away in little streets and courtyards around King’s Cross where our new office is. Just over a year I reviewed VOC Restaurant, just a stone’s throw from the station in Varnishers Yard. During my last visit I was impressed by the cocktails and the steaks were very tasty – the restaurant was being positioned very much as a ‘grill’ style venue at the time. Last week I was kindly invited back to the restaurant to try the new menu. While it still has big meaty dishes on the menu for main courses, they have recently introduced a big selection of new ‘small plates’, which are categorised into ‘from the sea’, ‘from the land’ and ‘from the field’. This time I visited the restaurant with my friend Kelly and we tucked into a wide selection of dishes – Garlic Pan Fried Prawns with garlic, chilli and garden salad, Sea Farer Batativa Scallops with dutch gin, baby greens and tomato salsa, Five Day Air Dried Crispy Duck with …

Staying at The Forest Side in The Lake District

Despite growing up as a child in Yorkshire, I rarely visited The Dales and never made it over the border to the Lake District. I guess perhaps when places are close by you’re less likely to spend your free time there. On our holidays my Dad wanted to spend as little time in a car as possible (he did a lot of driving for his job) and as much time on a beach/by a pool as possible. Tim and I are the complete opposite of that at the moment – we spend most of our week at a desk, so ever since we got a car at the end of last year we’ve been loving being able to explore more. So over the May bank holiday weekend, we set off on our ‘staycation’ adventure in the Lake District and the Dales. It was an early start for us but we made it up to the Lakes by lunch time. We were staying at a hotel in Grasmere but not knowing if there would be much …

A light lunch at Mannion & Co, Helmsley

On a recent trip up to Yorkshire to see my Mum, we went for a light lunch at Mannion & Co in the quaint market town of Helmsley – the only market town in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. I’d been to their York restaurant a couple of years ago which I wrote about here and since then, the company has been going from strength to strength. The new location in Helmsley definitely has a different vibe to York – it feels a lot more cosy and rural given the setting, welcoming dog walkers to take a pew downstairs, with views across to the beautiful Helmsley Castle from the top floor. It’s also incredibly popular with queues at times – good reviews travel fast! They also sell a range of superb cakes, pastries and cheeses. Mum and I were just looking for something fairly simple as we were going out for dinner later that day, but having said that, Mannion & Co doesn’t really do simple! I ordered a scotch egg and Mum ordered a …

Dining at Goldeneye, Jamaica

I still catch myself daydreaming about the soothing sound of the waves gently hitting the sand, a reggae music beat in the distance, with a rum coconut in my hand. Our visit to Jamaica was a few months ago now, and it’s starting to feel like a wonderful dream. You can read about our stay at the superb Goldeneye here, if you haven’t already. But this post is about all of the fantastic food and drink that the Jamaican resort has to offer. Goldeneye has two restaurants within the grounds – The Gazebo and The Bizot Bar. I must admit, I was a tiny bit concerned there might not be enough variety, especially as we weren’t really planning to venture out of the resort in the evenings – we wanted to relax right where we were and not have to travel far. But I needn’t have worried, because both of these restaurants offered everything we needed, and more! The Gazebo, located on the left hand side as you enter the resort, before you cross the …

Cocktails and Platters at Brick & Liquor, Tooting

There are more and more new bars and restaurants opening in my local neighbourhood of Tooting, and I couldn’t be more excited by the prospect. One of these is Brick & Liquor. I say it’s new, it actually opened in October last year but shamefully, I’ve only just got around to visiting. I think the reason for this is that I just saw them as a ‘bar’ and I will usually meet friends for drinks somewhere central (very few of my friends live around my area). Tim and I will regularly go for meals in our local establishments but not usually just for a drink (which is why we still haven’t visited The Little Bar yet, also on our list!) Brick & Liquor is owned by David Layton, who has run venues for major brands across London for 12 years, but this was his first independent venture. Seeing the opportunity in up and coming Tooting, he decided on a derelict spot on Mitcham road, which used to be a news agent which had been lying …

Experiencing Norse’s new home in Harrogate

You might recall in December I took my Mum for a superb tasting menu at Norse restaurant in Harrogate. If not, you can refresh your memory right here. I was very impressed with the intricacy of the dishes and combinations of flavours, and I was so pleased that a restaurant of this quality (and excellent social media channels, always a bonus for me!) had opened up in my Mum’s ‘neck of the woods’ in North Yorkshire. The restaurant offered the tasting menu during the evening, in the restaurant where Scandi café ‘Baltzersen’s’ was housed during the daytime. Quite simply, it wasn’t ‘theirs’ (although owned by the same owner, Paul Rawlinson). And this was reflected in the ambience, design and décor of the restaurant. It felt like a café, which indeed it was. But with fine dining and higher prices in the evening, it was a little jarring. I’d heard that they were hoping to relocate to their own premises, and so when I saw their Kickstarter campaign, I knew I had to back them. The …

Learning about Soy Sauce with Kikkoman at Sushisamba

How much do you know about soy sauce? If you’re anything like me, then probably not a lot! I love it, and happily pour it over stir fries and sushi (mixed with a little wasabi). But I was embarrassingly ignorant about the story and history behind it. I was recently invited to an event by Kikkoman and I was excited to learn more about it, and banish my soy-related ignorance. Not only that, but the event was hosted on the 38th floor of Heron Tower at Sushisamba, a Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian restaurant which had been on my list for some time but I’d just never got around to visiting. Upon arrival (after getting rather giddy and excited by the glass lift journey to the top – I know I’m late to the party but I challenge anyone not to get excited by it if you’re a Sushisamba lift virgin. Unless you’re scared of heights, then it’s probably not for you!), we were greeted with cocktails. With Kikkoman soy sauce in them. As regular readers will know, I’m …

Our Stay at GoldenEye, Jamaica

You may have seen from my social channels that we went to Jamaica in February for our second wedding anniversary, and it was the most incredible holiday. Last year for Tim’s birthday we went to St Lucia and we fell in love with the Caribbean – the food, the weather, the people, everything was perfect. But Jamaica has officially upped the Caribbean’s game even further, it has completely stolen my heart. I can’t believe I’m only just getting round to writing about it on here, I don’t know where the time has gone. We booked through Turquoise Holidays who we worked with for our honeymoon in the Maldives and last year’s trip to St Lucia, and they were excellent as always. We spent ages scrolling through their websites and brochures and couldn’t decide where to go, but then we came across GoldenEye and knew we’d found the one! This was where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond books. He first went to Jamaica during WWII, sent by Naval Intelligence to investigate U-Boat activities in the …

Saving the Forest with The Gin Bothy

It’s no secret now that I just adore gin. I think this was encouraged by my best friend Ceri, who you will no doubt have read about on this blog – she is a gin queen and has inspired my love of this delicious spirit. I’m always excited to learn about and try new gins, and one of these recently was the Scottish ‘Gin Bothy’, with a wonderful and heart warming story. I’m also a lover of all things Scottish – you might have read about my recent trips to Edinburgh and Loch Lomond on here – Tim and I are hoping to visit again soon, this time with the car to explore even further afield. This is also a gin which is ‘doing good’ – sales of the artisan small batch gin are raising money to conserve the precious ancient pine trees whose needles give it flavour. Loch Arkaig pine forest near Spean Bridge was recently bought in a partnership between the Woodland Trust and community group Arkaig Community Forest. Now award-winning Angus distiller …

Lunch at The Whitstable Oyster Company, Kent

Ever since we got a car towards the end of last year, we’ve been looking for places to explore within an hour or two of our house in South London. One of the neighbouring and closest counties to us is Kent, and this has been the location of many countryside jaunts of late. The most recent took us to the coast, in Whitstable. It took us about an hour and 45 mins to drive there, which wasn’t too bad, and given it was the bank holiday, there was still plenty of parking available. The weather was looking a bit ‘iffy’ to say the least so perhaps people hadn’t risked it. But we did and it certainly paid off, as it stayed dry the whole time we were there – with beaming blue skies at some points. I absolutely love the sea side. I miss being able to see the sea from my bedroom window in Cyprus, and spending afternoons after school and at weekends lazing on the beach. The British seaside might not be quite …