We had been past the Rose & Crown a few times and kept telling ourselves we should go in one day. From the outside, it is a beautiful well looked-after 17th century building, inviting, quintessentially British countryside village type. Inside, the same. Think low ceilings, chunky furniture, Labradors asleep under tables and locals enjoying a good pint. But more on that later.
As we arrive, a warm and believable smile greets us from behind the bar. The same smile also greets us at the table this time coming from a different person, together with my complimentary glass of Prosecco (it was Mother’s Day and I was going to be duly acknowledged by these warm and amenable strangers that work at the Rose & Crown). A good start, that’s for sure.
The Grain Store has got some hype. And as you go in the words trendy and hip come to mind. In a great location (you have to check the Kings Cross area now!), sitting in beautiful open square with modern lights, this fresh space is carved inside old exposed brick walls and the whole room is decorated with a mix of wood and steel. It’s got a sort of modern canteen feel. The kitchen is exposed and runs across the main area. On one side, some intimate alcoves are just perfect for quiet conversation and we got lucky as that is precisely where we got our table.
Reviewing Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin starred Fat Duck is a near-impossible task. I am already lost for words and haven’t even started.
The Fat Duck is not a place where you go to have dinner. It is more like going to the theatre. It is a theatre of food.
The outside of the restaurant is very pub-like, set in the heart of the leafy village of Bray. By the time we arrived I was feeling butterflies in my stomach in anticipation. As you go in, the room is surprisingly simple, plain, almost dull. But then this place is all about the food, why waste time on props and décor and draw attention away from what really matters? Still, the tables were impeccably set, the cloth immaculately white and smooth. We sat, asked for a glass of champagne, and then the show began.
Ruby is a 15m2 room with a huge stove bustling with pans at one end, a wooden counter that runs along the window and three small tables. At lunchtime, it usually has a queue that spills into the street, which is a testimony to the quality of the food. The queue moves fast too because the men that run this place are part of a well-oiled machine, used to serving hundreds of hungry office workers around Shoreditch on a daily basis. You can take away or eat there, but space can be an issue.
They have a set menu and a handful of dishes that change daily, most of which are pasta, with at least 3 different ones being prepared every day.
From the set menu the chorizo, roast peppers and rocket sandwich is delicious. The chorizo is sliced diagonally and placed on a hot plate with the roasted peppers to be finished off and warmed before going into a two slices of ciabatta-style bread with the peppers. The chorizo unashamedly oozing orange fat into the soft bread. Not-to-be-missed.
I was excited about trying L’Anima, as it makes big claims about serving good higher-end contemporary Italian food – something that never fails to get me excited. It also boasts about a long list of awards, albeit all pre-2012.
I went there for a Christmas work do so I guess you need to take that into consideration. The experience of mass-production of food from a Christmas set menu is never the same as the free-choice smaller scale event. Nevertheless I think you can still get a view about a place if you eat there and get served by its people.
If you were looking for skilled service, beautifully crafted menus and intricate dishes look elsewhere. This place is all about no-frills authenticity. And it’s all about the food, or at least, it’s all about the octopus. You may be thinking why would anyone get excited about eating octopus?
This is still one of my top 10 restaurants and my current favourite in Porto. It specialises in traditional Portuguese food that has been elevated to a fine foods standard. But don’t be fooled by the hauteur of the food. This place has got lots of soul. The atmosphere is intimate, subdued and rustic. Think exposed stone walls, cast iron props and traditional pottery.
The service is impeccable, with a good balance between attentive and friendly. It’s the kind of service that is always there but you don’t see it. Your needs are looked after permanently – as you remove your coat, it gently and swiftly gets taken away, your glass is always full, the table always clean, and you barely notice it all happening around you.
I had high expectations for Nopi, after all it is one of the restaurants of the much talked-about chef Yotam Ottolenghi. It had been on my bucket list for a while.
As you arrive, the ambience is relaxed with the clean white walls softened by the mellow lighting. The staff were polite and efficient but not especially warm.
The menu is very interesting and quite short, which is something I like, ‘do less things and do them well’ is my kind of philosophy.