Posts Tagged ‘pub’
I love pubs - such a bubbly atmosphere - but flee the heart of London. Too touristic, too commercial. I prefer jumping on a tube and find a quieter neighbourhood, listen to the locals who keep its memory alive, find a place with character. The Lord Palmerston is one of those: a cosy, welcoming gastropub, a natural joie de vivre. If i lived nearby, this probably would be my extended living room. A good book, a flass of wine or a craft beer, fire in the chimne: irresistible, right? It is the perfect transition coming back from work, the short pause that allows you to leave the files behind, get your zen feeling back. To celebrate… the week-end, a minute of sunshine, a girlie evening, a delicious place… we ordered a jug of Pimm’s, the first of the season. Well balanced, filled to the rim with fruits (which makes it healthy. Of course. Trust me). Looking at the blackboard, we found a sudden appetite. For starters, we tried the London cured salmon - just a little salt, not too much smoke, melt-in-the-mouth, juicy caperberries, suprising golden pea shoots with fascinating spirals, very tender and tasty. The roasted quail won us too, crunchy skin, cooked beautifully and served with a saffron aioli. From Porto, I keep amongts other memories, the one of perfectly grilled sardines. Holiday feeling. Intrigued, wanting to compare, I ordered the Cornish ones, very refined flesh and what a superb presentation, almost theatrical! It really makes you want to be close to the seaside but this is a more luxurious dish - brioche, superb broad pea mash with a hint of mint, a green sauce that adds a little intensity. The wood pigeon also was a delight, so much more refined than I expected, gorgeous juices, unctuous potatoe croquette, buttery Savoy Cabbage. Nice to see those choices on the menu, less mainstream and indeed so satisfying. We matched these to a glass of Aperol Spritz, yet much more refined, with prosecco. It just has this sunset touch that brings a smile to my face. Dessert decision was easy, unanimous: dark chocolate and Guinness brownie of course! Good quality cacao, moist, light texture, a nice warm and cold contrast with the extra ice-cream on top. Perfect conclusion. The only missing thing would be guest rooms. You really feel so good here, you’re likely to stay until closing time just chatting the night away…
THE LORD PALMERSTON
33 Dartmouth, Park Hill,
Do you live in Hampstead? Oh, lucky you. You have a fantastic gastropub around the corner, The Spaniards Inn, one of those addresses that stays so well in mind, that will make your mouth water with just the memory of a bite weeks after. Did you know it is one of the oldest London pubs too? Dickens made it famous in The Pickwick Papers, Keats found inspiration there for its Ode to a Nightingale - wooden beams, roaring chimney fire, lots of cosy corners to chat: difficult to believe you’re so close to the capital. No wonder the locals love it, what a better place to come and relax after a long walk in the woods?
Starters offer lovely sharp flavours, worthy of a restaurant. The endive salad is highlighted with fruity roasted squash, juicy tomatoes and crunchy sunflower seeds, finishing on chilli jam: very vibrant indeed. And such a beautiful palette of colours in the plate! Also worth trying, the cuttlefish, char-grilled, tender and so very flavoured, on a bed of fresh peas (fresh! Do you even remember the last time you had fresh peas? With a perfect texture, not floury like the tin ones or bland like the frozen ones) with the salty note of bacon and a hint of mint. The juices are delicious indeed, you will not leave a single drop. Now, forget wine for a minute. Beer (revise you vocabulary: ale, stout, porter…) is trendy, British microbreweries are making an brilliant comeback and the menu matches each dish with the perfect drink. Give this a try, you will be amazed! We tried the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale first, amber, bouquet of grapefruit and spices, so very refreshing.
The meat is gorgeous too – first class. Just look at the size of this rib-eye, so juicy too. The fries are crunchy, well seasoned, rather addictive. Photos of burgers rarely are glamourous but trust me, this one has star quality. the patty is made of rib-eye and bone marrow for a melt-in-the-mouth effect, a gorgeous complexity. Cheese? Yes, but real one, Celtic Promise, a Welsh one matured in cider for a fruity aroma. Sauce? Oh, you will never guess: bacon jam… All this on brioche bread. Are you hooked yet? Indulge in a Bernard Dark Lager, a Czech dark beer matching 4 different malts for a rare elegance, nutty and velvety. A lot of creativity on the dessert board too. I fell for the exquisite crumble: buttery biscuity topping, fragrant steamed apples, whole blackberries, pistachios, thyme. Close your eyes and you can picture a end of summer day, the brambles, the orchard, the sunshine on your shoulders. Oh and how about the brownie, decadent, whole hazelnuts with a spoonful of intense chocolate mousse and peanut butter ice cream – homemade. I dare you to look at this picture and tell me you do not want a bite. Finish with a raspberry Bacchus beer, sweet, seducing, irresistible.
They even have a beer garden with a barbecue to enjoy beautiful days. Yep. I so wish I lived in Hampstead.
The Spaniards Inn
London NW3 7JJ
Strolling along the Thames, around London Bridge? Fancy a break away from the tourists with a vintage feeling to it? Make an escape towards Bermondsey Street. The first part of the street does not have much interest for a while then it suddenly turns into a lovely selection of independant boutiques (even a glass blowing one), foodie shops, a florist with a sense of humour, the Fashion and Textile Museum and the White Cube Gallery. There also is The Garrison, between adorable café and pub with its retro atmosphere, its mismatched chairs, its 50ies style lampshades, a light made of a bunch of teacups, a hundred details that make it quite a fascinating scene. Go there for a coffee, a glass of wine, breakfast, a gorgeous meal chosen from their refined menu or… even a movie in their private projection roon on Sunday nights!
99-101 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3XB
A little while ago, I was invited to the KLM evening with other travel bloggers. To present their flights to Amsterdam (no less than 79 each day from 16 UK airports), the team had invited us at De Hems, the only Dutch bar in town. Situated just outside the Chinatown, it makes you feel you have travelled around the word in a couple minutes. There, you can indulge in a Texel Wit with its touch of orange, a Witbier underlined with coriander notes, a Trappe Dubbel – liquid caramel – and so many more. Your mind will wander, dreaming of the famous Netherland breweries: Bavaria, Alfa, , Gulpener, Budels. You can already picture enjoying a pint along a canal… Remember, it is just a plane away! And if you are staying in London this week-end, scroll down for ideas.
That’s art baby:
* Try an art walk.
* Lovers of urban poetry and fascinating cartography, do have a look at the Mind the Map exhibition at the London Transport Museum.
* Artists to be will love trying this Damien Hirst style painting style.
* Add some magic! Wonderground on Southbank promises an unforgettable circus show tinted with a little Tim Burton.
* Street art goes digital with USB keys planted in walls…
Out of the ordinary:
* Indulge in a street food part in Camden on Friday.
* Or listen to storytelling for adults aboard a candlelit narrowboat.
* Discover the Alfie’s Antiques Market.
* Ever wondered what Covent Garden used to look like, when it was still a market? Have a look here.
* Oh, and do go there on saturday, there will be plenty of vintage routemasters.
* Decipher the London alphabet.
* Fancy a litteray afternoon in an orchard to celebrate the summer?
* On Sunday, Marylebone high street will turn into a giant party.
A few minutes walk from Richmond Park is The Victoria, the most delicious place created by restaurateur Greg Bellamy and chef Paul Merrett. The perfect escape on a sunny week-end. This address has seduced many palates and guess what? It was awarded best Greater London region gastropub in 2011. Now why would you miss tasting this?
After a long walk, cheeks all pinked by the fresh spring air, d. Between town and countryside, you will immediately be seduced by the wooden counter, the dark wood, the brick walls, the homey feeling. Tables for two, other nestled along the windows, bigger one to welcome friends, a leather sofa near the fire, a collection of Penguin books, a selection of 25 wines by the glass. Ideal, right?
On summer days, step out to the terrace to bask in the sun or shade under the huge parasols. At the back is a play area that parents will love – kids having fun in a secure place, a children menu, smoothies and a little bit of peace for you.
If you are after a romantic dinner, choose the conservatory instead. Charming indeed, beautiful patterned wallpaper, a gorgeous light, especially as dusk falls and the first stars start to shine. Candles will be lit up and it will feel like you have a little world of your own.
The Victoria believes, together with skilled cuisine, in the quality of their ingredient. A page of the menu explains in detail the origin of meat, fish, eggs… but also includes anecdotes, the love for British product. They even use a forager. Recycling is a must too, even cooking oil will help to make bio-fuel.
A look at the starters list and I am very intrigued. If I have already tried Jersey rock oysters, they were always raw, with maybe a drop of tabasco sauce. But those - and aren’t they pretty too? – have been opened then cooked straight away in the lightest batter you can imagine, encapsulating the sea flavours. amazing. The texture reminds of mussels, more refined, more melt in the mouth. Beautiful presentation in the oyster shell on mushed-spring-peas. There is, in fact, no need for the tartar sauce, each bite is close to perfection. The magic of this restaurant is also the friendly feeling and the possibility to get chatting with complete strangers. And so I couldn’t resist sharing one of those with the next table, one of the guest having been a chef. We dreamt together, him picturing it with a little touch of lime, me nodding and imagining it.
In wines, I am very unfaithful. Malbecs and Malboroughs will always steal my heart, but I like to match wines to my mood as well as the dishes. Tonight called for a cheerful Viognier, a Jean d’Alibert sept saisons. Its peach, pear, apricot notes wrap the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, bring a tonic side to the meal. Crisp and refreshing, it is a lovely choice from aperitif to dessert.
After an extraordinary starter, I prefer a more classical main. And for a froggie, meat is sacred, the cooking must be just perfect, the ultimate test. The Victoria meets the challenge and wins it easily. Such fantastic quality, still a little fat on top, adding to the tenderness, pink a heart, juicy. The green beans have been wrapped in bacon, infused by it. On the slice a spoonful of root vegetable purée and fondant potatoes, crunchy on the outside. So, so comforting. The perfect balance.
Dessert was - how could I say? Exceptional. A blood orange salad in orange juices, caramel and campari, sprinkled with splendid pistachios. Refreshing, exhilarating. Wait – there is also marmalade, caramel and fresh mint, very unctuous ice cream. And doesn’t it look like a painting, beautiful colour, the red catching the golden of the candle flames? And in your mind, a single word prints in capital letters: WOW. You want this for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Every day. Possibly till the end of your life. Believe me: it is that good.
Fancy enjoying the experience fully, not having to rush back? Well The Victoria offers seven bedrooms too, with all the comfort of a hotel but in a more human size building. I just need to warn you. You will need to step by the kitchens and it is impossible not to stop and get a glimpse. Which means you will stop in your tracks. And no matter how festive your dinner was, appetite will come back.
On this side of the gastropub, the atmosphere is softer, almost zen. Difficult to think that a minute from there, there are laughs and glasses clinking. Decoration is modern but warm, the rooms surprisingly spacious. More than an imposing cupboard, a shelf hides a number of hangers, completed with a separate mirror. Are you here on business? There is a desk, free wifi, everything you need for coffee and tea. The bathroom is small but very well thought, no need for more. We loved the bath products by Percksniff’s, which essential oils just enhance your mood, relaxing you instantly. Happy smells of rosewood and angelica and guarantees you sweet, sweet dreams.
There is something fantastic in waking up so close to Richmond Park. Gives you a fantastic feeling of freedom. Is it the fresh air? The village touch of the neighbourhood? The promise of green spaces? You are smiling, feeling refreshed. Breakfast is ready in the conservatory. Choose a seat in the sun, get a bowl of cinnamon fruit salad, open the morning papers. Heaven. The orange juice has been freshly pressed, time is on your side, coffee us steaming in your cup. Luxury? Order a croque-monsieur or a croque-madame: “real” bread, loaded with cheese and cream, incredibly rich, the ham excellent. As fantastic as any English breakfast!
Verdict? Ideal for a romantic week-end. The area, the park nearby, the top-class dinner… All that within train reach, no need to travel for hours, no traffic. Oh, if you could make this your home from home for good!
10 West Temple Sheen
London SW14 7RT
Pssst: On April 25th, a very unusual event is taking place at The Victoria in Sheen. ‘Farm to Fork’ is a commonly known expression – but this event really aims to do just that in one place, in one evening. It will feature an enterprising pig farmer from Suffolk with his Dingley Dell Pork, a ‘brace’ of butchers who will show just how to make the most of the amazing range of cuts the wonderful pig offers. And, no less than five top chefs slaving away in the kitchen to produce a pork extravaganza:
* Paul Merrett (of The VIctoria, London)
* Mark Poynton (of Alimentum, Cambridge)
* Paul Foster (of Tuddenham Mill, Newmarket, Suffolk)
* Ross Pike and Madalene Bonvini-Hamil (of The British Larder, Suffolk)
* William Curley (yes the amazing patissier and chocolatier)
All supported by the RSPCA’s farm animal welfare scheme – Freedom Food. Trotters down at 6.30pm. For more info, click here.
The most beautiful flowers are those blooming forever. On greyish days, I dream in front of this paper lace work by Rob Ryan. Of escapes to the seaside and spring valleys. A few seconds of sweetness before reality kicks in. Somehow, it proves even more efficient than chocolate.
Take the little ones along:
* Saturday, learn how to make 3D pancakes. It’s free.
* Also on that day, try the apple wassail at Camden’s Natural Reserve.
* The Duck Tour now proposes a James Bond theme.
Love, Love, Love:
* Victoria & Albert, a royal love - fabulous animations.
Out of the ordinary:
* Saturday, go clue hunting in Shoreditch.
* Or sing at the pub. At the Coach & horses, it has become a tradition every Saturday. They even have a piano.
* Prepare your own potions.
* A little London love.
* See a movie. On a roof. In a theatre made of reclaimed material form the olympic park.
* Camelias are in bloom at the Chiswick House – gorgeous!
An Argentinian dream with Midnight Tango. Such a glamourous, seductive dance. Dresses seem to be flying around the dancers. And when the music speeds up, so does your heart, and so do the heels on the stage. Exceptional skills, not only of Strictly Come Dancing’s Vincent and Flavia but of the whole troup. Do go and see it.
Yummy time ahead:
* A special one for meat lovers.
* A suivre, donc! Try Pierre Hermé‘s new macaron: Jardin enchanté (Enchanted garden). Lime cream, a heart of cherries, a touch of Espelette chilli to wake up the tastebuds. There will be a different edition on the garden theme every month – do not miss any!
Take the little ones along:
* Get those roller skates out and spend a disco time with the family.
* Re-celebrate the Chinese New year.
* The Somerset House too has craft workshops for kids this week-end
* Discover Queen Elisabeth II’s life through Cecil Beaton’s pictures of her. At the V&A until April 22, 2012.
Out of the ordinary:
* Daniel Radcliffe fan? Meet him Thursday evening.
* Walk through Dickens‘ world (free, no need to book)
* Street art gets colourful with Jimmy C.
* London plays the high tech card (yeah, it seems we have a budget for that)
* Saturday, see the best slices of Bollywood movies.
* Meet the London clowns and tip your hat to Grimaldi.
* Follow the street art. Litterally.
* Tropical extravagance at Kew Gardens.
* After the Chinese New Year, the Russian one. This will be on Sunday and on Trafalgar.
* Snowdrops are already blooming at the Chelsea Physics Garden.
A tiny art gallerie has opened in Covent Garden. They have fascinating representations of cities, black & white and suddenly a rainbow of tints, as if the colours were the ones telling the story. Have a look at the Delicate Mayhem Gallery, 3 Russel Street next time you are around. Nice to see some art in that neighbourghood!
* Become a cricket fan.
* Keep a coin for the juke box.
Yummy time ahead:
* Hate detoxing? Oh but it can be quite fun at The Botanist et au Chiswell Street Dining Room. Until February 12, you can sip on Lemon Aid (white tea sirup and apricot infused gin), de Green Business (vodka, cucumber, basil, spirulina) et Hazy Days (gin, green apple liqueur, fresh ginger, goji berries). We promise those are filled with good things for you!
Out of the ordinary:
* This Thursday evening small is beautiful and fun at the Wellcome Collection.
* Still on Thursday, stop at the Imperial War Museum for a free movie.
* Nostalgic touch - see a silent movie at the Barbican.
* Note the London tips of the fantastic Luiz Hara.
* Galop at the O2.
* You might think it is Halloween with this coffin exhibition.
* Discover Three Mills Island.
* The Take-away shop proposes to share… anything from anedotes to skills vis London histories and craft. I tip my hat to that.
Ah, how lovely to walk through Shoreditch again, such a familiar neighbourhood but with the constant surprise of street art. Keep your eyes open (and down) – there are still some of Pablo Delgado’s miniature works around… What are your plans for the week-end? None yet? Then scroll down…
That’s art, baby:
* Pretend you are Mime Marceau.
* This ice-sculpting festival should be pretty cool.
* Let’s be serious – Sky News and the Somerset House have put together an impressive collection of pictures.
* A colorful and fun exhibition that should delight curious minds - at the London Transport Museum.
* find your luck at the Wellcome Collection.
* Love the glass sculpture at the entrance of the V&A? Why not go and see what else the artist can do?
* And from the first floor of your double decker…
Take the little ones along:
* And rediscover Quentin Blake.
Out of the ordinary:
* Take those ice-skating shoes and dance.
* White your thank you cards at Tatty devine.
* Lord of the rings will take you through the night.
* Sing a cappella.
* Sip a drink in a tipi on a London roof. You read that right.
* Try this Pay what you want guided walk.
* And now, you can even personnalise your soup tin.
A few traditional pubs in London continue to serve beer in those glass mugs. Created for a better grasp, they reduced breaking costs, especially at washing time. They started disappearing a decade ago, modern dishwashers allowing for normal glassware again.
The Nag’s Head (53 Kinnerton St, London SW1X 8ED) – a tiny pub hidden in the streets of Belgravia – still uses them. No tourist here, just locals, two chimneys to warm up in winter, a classical list of drinks but fascinating memorabilia all around that are worth stopping for. Mobile phones are firmly forbidden, leaving space for conversation, a soothing lulling song around you.