So next on our wonderful trip to Florida, we hopped back into our amazing Mustang and headed down to Sarasota, to the brand new Mall at University Town Centre (UTC for short). The brand new Macy’s there is utterly fantastic, and very state of the art. We joined store manager Kerry Yelle for a tour of the store. She’s understandably pretty proud of the place and pointed out several really cool features that are unique to this ‘smart store’. The lighting, for example, has been designed to be sustainable and the lamps don’t need replacing, plus the changing rooms have lights that only come on when you enter, to save energy.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc’s beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. I’ve wanted to visit for ages, so I was beside myself with excitement. As I drove up, I dithered outside the front gate in my car, not really knowing what to do, and instantly, a friendly gentleman in an immaculate suit rushed out to help, escorting me to the reception and driving my car off to park it for me. First impressions? Pretty darned good.
Our lovely visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando seems such a long time ago now. I’m already pining for the sunshine, for Anna and Elsa, and, more importantly, all that amazing food.
Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I think most people thought that all you could probably eat while you were at Walt Disney World parks and resorts was junk food, or maybe Mickey-shaped ice creams. Now, people are starting to realise that Walt Disney World features some of the best dining in the world, whether you’re after a snack, quick-service, grab and go option, or proper fine dining with table service.
So what can you expect?
We’re big fans of Prezzo and pop in quite regularly for dinner, or occasionally Mr English and I will pop in for a quick lunch and a glass of wine. They’ve just launched some lovely new Summer menu items, and we went along to try a few.
Last year I visited Edinburgh, home of my fellow food-loving friend Erica. We toured some amazing restaurants and markets and decided to make our ‘Foodinburgh’ trip an annual occurrence. If you think Edinburgh is all haggis, neeps and tatties (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I had my first taste of haggis too, delicious!), then think again, it’s a serious destination for food lovers, with no less than five Michelin starred restaurants and a fabulous array of affordable restaurants and cafés. I’ve put together a list of my favourites so far, but I’ve got a feeling this could change – we’re already planning Foodinburgh 2014!
Yesterday I had a proper greedy day starting with lunch, moving on to afternoon tea with a client and then an evening at one of our favourite local hangouts, No 2 Pound Street for a couple of glasses of wine and one of their lovely sharing boards of cheeses and meats.
I was up in London to meet a lovely friend (we work together, but this has become secondary) to discuss travel plans and catch up on our news. She was bringing a colleague and they suggested The Gunmakers Arms in Clerkenwell, close to my second meeting. I arrived hideously early (typical ‘country mouse comes to the city’ type thing) but took my chance to wander slowly up Leather Lane, sniffing all the delicious smells from the food vendors and pressing my nose up against the window of Pieminister. The Gunmakers is just off Clerkenwell Road and I loitered a bit awkwardly outside, wondering what to do for 20 minutes in the drizzle before deciding to head inside. Good decision. I was warmly welcomed (the staff put me in mind of when Jay Rayner described the staff at Hawksmoor as ‘bed headed and tattooed’ – seriously cool), provided with a drink and a warm spot by a radiator, and spent the rest of the time before my lunch mates arrived studying the chalkboard menu.
This week, we were invited to our local Prezzo to try out the new Christmas menus. We pop in to Prezzo every so often for pizzas and salads, but I hadn’t really considered it particularly for Christmas. Someone on Twitter even suggested turkey pizza when I mentioned I was going to Prezzo to try their Christmas menus!
Happily I was completely wrong. The place was absolutely buzzing – our local restaurant is housed in the town’s old Post Office building and it’s got a lovely industrial feel to it, with a huge oven at the centre of the open kitchen. It was lovely inside – all warm and sparkly, with candles, an open fire and a gentle buzz of conversation. We were shown to a lovely big table by the fire and got stuck in to the menus (and a very nice bottle of Barbera d’Asti).
There are three menus for Christmas:
The Classic (3 courses for £16.95)
This menu only offers a few choices and you’ll find most things are on the normal Prezzo menu anyway. We tried the bruschetta starter, which was a really generous portion of flatbread, topped with loads of yellow and red cherry tomato quarters, red onion, fresh basil leaves and a generous drizzle of pesto. It was really fresh and tasty.
Mains include pizzas, pastas and a Caesar salad and desserts include Charlie’s favourite chocolate profiteroles, filled with chocolate cream and generously drizzled with vanilla sauce. The choux pastry was light, the filling generous and the vanilla cream sauce REALLY yummy.
The Premium (three courses for £19.95)
This menu has more choice. We ordered one of each of the starters and had an absolutely fantastic time sharing and dipping. The king prawns served in a rich, garlicky tomato sauce with a generous touch of chilli are utterly delicious, and we ended up dipping the crispy calamari in there too. Yum. The pane con cipolla – garlic bread smothered with sweet sour balsamic onions and mozzarella is like a huge pizza – perfect for sharing (and scoffing with those delicious king prawns).
Mains are varied and tasty: we ordered the VIP tre gusti pizza – a massive pizza piled with pepperoni, chicken, pancetta and mozzarella. Charlie found the amount of fresh rosemary a bit overwhelming and ended up picking it all off – apart from that it was spot on. We were also tempted by the pene al zafferano (chicken with red chilli, spinach and garlic in saffron sauce) and the fusilli Gorgonzola with chicken, pancetta, and veg in a creamy sauce. The king prawn risotto looked great too.
Desserts on this menu are nothing short of fabulous. We fought over the sticky toffee pudding – a huge slab of the most delicious, sticky softness, and the white chocolate bombe (mascarpone ice cream covered in white chocolate with raspberry sauce) was lush.
The Signature (four courses and a glass of Prosecco for £24.95)
This menu starts off with a small tray of marinated olives and a glass of fizz. Starters include the most delicious, crispy, soft centred crab cakes (you only get two – we could have eaten ten) and gorgeous gnocchi stuffed with Gorgonzola and walnuts in a tasty, herby tomato sauce.
The mains were the star of the show: panciotti (little pasta parcels similar to ravioli) stuffed with scallop and prawns in a dill sauce, the most deliciously savoury wild boar tortelli in a creamy tomato sauce (slightly let down by being a bit gristly in places but otherwise meaty and satisfying), and a tender roasted duck leg served on a big plate of potatoes and vegetables with tomatoes and a touch of chilli. The pollo al funghi – a plate of chargrilled chicken with mushrooms and spinach – wasn’t particularly generous, but the marsala sauce was delicious and it’s served with lovely rosemary potatoes for mopping it all up.
Desserts on the signature menu include the white chocolate bombe again and a perfec, rich chocolate orange cheesecake with a crunchy chocolate topping, served with a big dollop of mascarpone.
Service was attentive and friendly, even though the place was busy. We walked out absolutely stuffed (I couldn’t even manage a calzone mince pie and I was really looking forward to it) and imbued with Christmas spirit. And it’s only November!
Our verdict? Splash out and go for the Signature menu. The choices are more varied and the dishes are really special. Christmas menus are available now. Click here to have a look at the menus.
Thank you to lovely Prezzo for inviting us xx
Despite its Gothic looks, Nutfield Priory has never actually been a church, monastery or anything similar. The beautiful building was originally built in the late 19th century in the style of the Palace of Westminster by Member of Parliament Joshua Fielden as his private home. Over the years, it’s been commandeered for military use (during WW2) and has been used as a school too. It’s now a very beautiful hotel, full of original features including stunning stained glass, huge marble fireplaces and intricately carved woodwork.
The hotel, now part of Handpicked Hotels, sits in an incredible location, just near Redhill in Surrey and is an easy drive from the M25. I won’t lie, parts of the hotel are, well, let’s say faded. Some of the battleship grey corridors are a bit uninspiring, but I think that comes with the territory when converting a very old building. The main areas of the hotel are utterly beautiful and filled with glorious pieces of art (I was mesmerised by the painting of the beautiful woman on the main staircase) and, in the case of the magnificent Great Hall, a two-storey organ that apparently still works.
Our room was quite small but had obviously recently been refurbished, with a huge bed, enormous flat screen tv and marble bathroom. No noise from neighbouring rooms at all on either side, which is always a plus (I hate it when you can hear every time they flush their loo!). It was a beautiful sunny day so we dumped our bags and headed out on the stunning terrace to enjoy the view (the hills roll away and you can see Gatwick airport and beyond) and stuff ourselves with the most amazing sandwiches (share a portion, they really are enormous) and some particularly good triple cooked chips.
After our lunch, we wandered to the spa, which is in a separate, modern building just a short walk away, where Mr English headed to the pool and I had my very favourite Elemis facial, the Tri-Enzyme Booster facial – the one where it feels like your face is being dolloped with freezing cold custard, then you get to enjoy a phenomenal head, neck and shoulder massage before the therapist peels off the custard which has magically set into a masque (I’m sure Elemis would take issue with some of my technical terms, but you get the gist). The spa is lovely, with a huge, beautifully furnished lounge/waiting area with refreshments and lots of very well equipped therapy rooms. I have it on good authority that the fitness centre and pool is very good too.
After a lovely walk and a wallow in the bath (me) and a bit of telly (him), we wandered to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. The Nutfield Signature Cocktail is a delicious mix of Nutfield marmalade, Tanqueray and Triple Sec and isn’t remotely marmalade-like. I’d highly recommend it.
The Cloisters restaurant was once an open aired gallery area, now with an amazing wooden vaulted ceiling and tables looking out over the terrace and taking in that fantastic view.
The staff absolutely make the place – from Paddy in the bar to the lovely restaurant staff, everyone is friendly, happy and can’t do enough to make your stay enjoyable. I sent them into a panic when I didn’t like my starter (totally my fault, I didn’t realised the Asian poached pollock would be chilled and cold fish just isn’t really my thing) – it took us ages to convince them that we were fine and they didn’t need to bring me something else! We ate a delicious meal (£38 for three courses) with a very nice bottle of Spanish Bobal de SanJuan rosé. My fillet of Devon hake with basil and parmesan, pine nut quinoa, shaved radish and fennel was to die for – beautifully seasoned, artfully presented and cooked to perfection and Mr English’s pan fried whole Cornish sole was perfectly cooked and delicious. Desserts were small but delicious, and little works of art on the plate.
We liked: beautiful public areas, gorgeous terrace, friendly staff, heavenly triple cooked chips
We didn’t like: plug socket nowhere near a mirror (difficult to blow dry one’s hair, dahling). Breakfast was okay but nowhere near in the same league as dinner – requests for well done eggs/crispy bacon didn’t filter through (picky, I know, but that’s really all I’ve got).
Great for: romantic weekends away, gorgeous weddings, girly spa breaks
Top tip: book a room overlooking the terrace – from having a nose while walking around, they seem to be a bit bigger.
Recently, we were invited to visit the Canary Wharf branch of Camino London, perched right on the riverside next to Gaucho. First impressions were a little marred by the fact that we got horribly lost (there doesn’t seem to be any directions on the website, and not being Londoners we ended up going completely the wrong way out of the DLR station). No matter, we were soon seated and enjoying a cool glass of rosado (Beronia Rioja Tempranillo 2012) under the shady umbrellas on the terrace, watching the boats whooshing up the glinting river.
The menu is in Spanish (obviously) and unless you’re fluent you need a handy waiter to translate. Luckily we had Javi, who took us under his wing and explained all the dishes to us, giving us advice about roughly how many dishes we’d need for the four of us, and telling us what he recommended.
It’s best to just chill out and eat as the dishes come out, rather than wait until you get a big table-full, so we started with delicious, crispy squid with a garlicky alioli (chipirones), then some succulent tiger prawns, drowning in chilli, garlic, olive oil and white wine, all just begging to be mopped up with loads of bread.
Next up was a ‘mixto’ platter, with chorizo, Padron peppers, croquetas, olives and cangrejo (crab) in a delicious paprika-spiced oil with crispy bread for scooping. The next platter out was a mixed grill with some more chorizo, tender steak and flavoursome chicken. We also had a meaty monkfish dish with a leek gratin and a romesco sauce.
Moving on to cheese then (and feeling more than a little stuffed already), we ordered the platter, with blue Valdéon with moscatel grapes, a delicious salty Manchego and little cubes of plum jelly, amongst other things.
Finally, and rather unwisely, the boys talked us into ordering the dessert platter, with Crema Catalana: soft, creamy and fragrant with orange and cinnamon, and a really zingy crema de limón – a lemon cream topped with lime jellly and a shortbread biscuit. Javi also spoiled the boys by bringing out extra portions of their favourite: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside churros, with lashings of chocolate mousse for dipping. The surprise hit was the Tarta Santiago, a bakewell tart-reminiscent almond tart with a cakey texture and raspberry sauce. Delicious.
By now, Sam was complaining of stomach ache and I did worry one of us might pass out from overeating, but a nice strong coffee and a breezy ride back to Embankment on the river taxi woke us up again.
Our verdict: Fabulous. Mr English summed this place up when he said ‘I don’t have a bad word to say about it’ and we’ll definitely be back very soon.
Best for: lazy lunches and family dinners – don’t go if you’re in a hurry – linger over the dishes, sip wine, dip bread into sauces and savour every moment.
Massive thanks to Camino London for having us, and special thanks to Javi, our lovely waiter.
My lovely friend Erica and I share a love of food. We’ve been on loads of trips together, share (and publish) our favourite recipes, and generally spend far too much time thinking about dinner. Recently we’ve been talking about the food in her home town of Edinburgh, and Erica’s also planning a new website on the subject, so when she suggested I came up for a visit, I jumped at the chance. And so, Foodinburgh 2013 was born.
Erica’s a serious planner and had created a proper itinerary for our trip – a long weekend. We’d decided not to include fine dining restaurants basically to avoid bankrupting ourselves, but also to highlight the great range of casual dining options in the area, however I’m still planning on going back, especially to visit The Kitchin and Erica’s other recommendation, 21212, both with one Michelin star. She’d also planned visits to nice food shops and markets. I was raring to go!
Here are my recommendations (thanks to Erica) for a fabulous foodie weekend:
1. Castle Terrace Market
After flying in to Edinburgh on Saturday morning, we headed straight to our first stop, and I got my first glimpse of Edinburgh Castle. The farmers’ market, on Castle Terrace, has a great range of stalls and we spotted Edinburgh Gin, amazing seafood, and sampled Scottish tablet (a firm, sweet fudge) and local honey. I was slightly hampered by my hand-luggage-only 100ml allowance, otherwise I would have bought loads home!
2. The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile (or ‘high street’ if you’re a local) has loads of lovely shops and restaurants. We were lucky to bump into a proper piper (very exciting), popped into a fabulous Whisky shop and pressed our noses against the window of the famous Witchery restaurant. I loved Cranachan and Crowdie which is packed full of lovely bits for the kitchen and dining room, often with a Scottish theme and all sourced from the area.
We headed down Victoria Street (after ogling the very attractive kilted chap standing out the front of the Missoni hotel) and popped in to Oink for a massive pulled pork sandwich (ask for extra crackling), which Erica has recently reviewed and I was dying to visit.
After all that walking, we’d worked up enough appetite (just!) to pop into Mother India’s Café for some Indian tapas dishes. The café is bustling with all sorts of people and the interior is a great mix of traditional (flock wallpaper), and modern (glossy green tiling and stunning black and white images). This is a brilliant way to eat, picking lots of small dishes and trying lots of new things. We loved the chilli chicken dosas (served with an amazing daal), saag paneer and a fragrant type of korma called giri. The price was very reasonable (less than £15 each) and the setting is just delightful. Highly recommended.
5. A full Scottish
Sadly, I can’t recommend an establishment for this one as I was treated to a full Scottish breakfast by Erica’s lovely husband. We went for the full Scottish monty: gorgeous Scottish black pudding and a slice of haggis too (my first time – delicious). The potato scone was a lovely reminder of all our Irish breakfasts. Scrummy.
6. Stockbridge Market (photos at header)
This was one of the many highlights of our weekend. Stockbridge is in a beautiful part of Edinburgh, the sun was shining and the stalls were just amazing. We stocked up on delicious fudge and hand made salted caramel chocolate, admired fruit, veg and gleaming fresh fish and tasted fruit teas, cakes and marshmallows.
7. Harvey Nichols
Moving on to the newer part of Edinburgh, we headed to Harvey Nichols, which has an amazing top floor food hall. It’s worth a visit just for the diversity of produce, from every alcoholic drink you could possibly imagine, through every luxury item and diverse ingredient you’d ever need, to novelty things such as this delicious chocolate covered scorpion. Yum.
8. George Street
George Street is definitely worth a wander. We discovered Anthropologie – a huge store with the most AMAZING crockery and kitchen bits. We also popped in to Cath Kidston and a beautiful Scottish interiors shop called Anta where we lusted after the beautiful tartan interiors.
9. Café Andaluz
After all that window shopping, it was time for a late, lazy lunch (I know, AGAIN!) and out of the options Erica gave me, I chose the beautiful Café Andaluz, which is rather like stepping off George Street straight into a lovely Spanish courtyard tapas restaurant. The place is huge, and beautifully decorated, and the tapas was utterly delicious. Every single one of our choices: a stunning goat cheese dish with Seville orange, chilli and marmalade, paella, crisp chicken and potato croquettes, soft meaty pork cheeks, crispy chicken pieces with honey and mustard… were perfectly cooked and delicious. We stayed for ages, chatting and enjoying our food. 3 tapas plus dessert was just £14.95 too. Great value. Mr English would have particularly enjoyed Café Andaluz – a good excuse to return.
10. Mimi’s Bakehouse
Sadly before we knew it, the weekend was over. But we couldn’t leave without a visit to that famous baker of incredibly cakes, Mimi. Mimi’s Bakehouse is a beautiful place to visit and the selection of cakes was incredible. Erica and I chose a huge slab of soft, moist red velvet cake. Utterly delicious. Mimi’s also do incredible breakfasts, so I’ve heard!
I needed a good week to recover from my eating excesses, but we’re already planning Foodinburgh 2014 with MORE friends and MORE restaurants and MORE eating. Massive thanks to my generous hosts, Erica and her lovely family.
Look out for Erica’s new Foodinburgh project (@foodinburgh and www.foodinburgh.com), coming very soon.
I was in London all day on Thursday for various meetings (hello Air France/KLM! Thank you for my pressie xx). I was really excited about lunch as I was meeting the team from the Florida Space Coast for lunch in the bar lounge of the impressive new Oblix at The Shard – level 32 to be precise.
I’ll be honest. I made a bit of a tit of myself by coming out of London Bridge underground station and asking for directions to The Shard, only for the chap I asked to look a bit baffled and point upwards. I was right underneath it. Still, he was dismissive of my apologies – it’s easy to miss when you’re right underneath. Honest. The building (once you’ve found it) is stunning – shiny, steely, pointy and, naturally, very very tall.
The entrance is a bit cloak and dagger, which makes you feel a bit special: you have to approach the lone member of staff in the foyer, who guides you to the lift where you’re whisked up to the 32nd floor and emerge into a very stark, open area with absolutely no furniture, then it’s left to the restaurant and right to the bar lounge. Lots of very attractive and smartly clad ladies hover to welcome you in, take your coat, all that jazz, then you’re led down a very dark, earth-toned corridor, lit by flickering candles, emerging into a very trendy bar area with THAT view. There’s a range of seating: leather sofas, banquettes, tables and chairs, etc and tons more girls at this point, all in different variations of a pleated, chiffony top – some in black, some floral – all very attractive and very smiley. The equally attractive male bar staff wear leather aprons and hack chunks of ice off huge blocks with massive saws. When we went, the bar was packed with businessmen enjoying a lunchtime drink and was incredibly busy and noisy. By the time we were seated and had ordered drinks, it was starting to die down a bit and we could finally hear each other speak.
And here’s where it gets a bit odd. For your starter, you get to enjoy the salad buffet placed at the entrance side of the bar. It’s a nice, fresh spread, with all sorts of salads (watercress with citrus fruit, loads of different tomatoes with torn mozzarella, green beans in a mustardy dressing, asian slaw and much more), sliced ham, breads, dips, etc, and you can go back as many times as you want. For mains, you get to choose between four (yes, I did say four) options: when we were visiting, these were a chicken dish, a salmon dish, a pasta dish and a veggie dish (poached egg and asparagus). We were surprised when our mains arrived that there were no accompaniments. I ordered the salmon and literally received a piece of salmon (which was delicious and beautifully cooked with a crispy skin) with four new potatoes. Presumably you’re supposed to go back to the salad bar to accompany your main as no side dishes are listed on the menu. It’s all a bit… minimalist. Desserts are back at the bar buffet: my choices – a mango panna cotta and a sweet potato pie that was a bit too cinnamony with a weird, gritty base – were ok, but my companions said that the lemon cake and a fruity streusel cake were both really good.
The cocktails are fab (I had a Negroni which was strong and orangey and perfect), the staff are lovely and attentive and the view is blinking fabulous. I’d love to go back there at night and have cocktails and enjoy being high above the whole of London while it lights up. I’d also like to give the proper restaurant a go.
Our verdict: a fabulous location. Slightly confusing food. Go for cocktails.
As a rule, I’m not a fan of childrens’ menus. For me, they conjure up everything that’s wrong about eating out with children in this country, where the adults are all eating lovely, fresh food, and the kids are offered chips, nuggets and sausages.
However, generally the Italians tend to do things better, so when I was invited along to Pizza Express to take a look at their new piccolo menu I wasn’t at all surprised to see smaller sized versions of regular menu items, along with a very grown up ‘bambinoccino’ to end the meal so they can sip from their little espresso cup just like the adults!
We thought that the piccolo menu was terrifically good value. At our local Pizza Express, it’s just £6.50 for a starter, main, side salad, dessert and bambinoccino. The starter is a small portion of dough balls with garlic butter, with a fresh little salad of red pepper, tomato and cucumber (there’s no other starter choice though, which is a shame). There’s plenty of choice for mains, though: pasta with a variety of different toppings, plus a good selection of pizzas, all with the flexibility to take out what the kids don’t like and add what they do – a bonus for those with picky eaters! You also have the choice of upgrading to a slightly bigger pizza for an extra £1.
Desserts are a strong point at Pizza Express and the piccolo menu doesn’t disappoint, with the mini version of their delicious chocolate fudge cake, or ice cream/sorbet with a choice of sauce and a cone. There’s also the brilliant option of having the whole menu gluten free, including a brownie for dessert.
Our verdict? Proper Pizza Express food at a very reasonable price. Impressive.
Thanks to Pizza Express for inviting us along to try the range.
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to stay for a few days at the utterly beautiful Chateau Saint-Martin in the pretty little town of Vence on the Côte d’Azur. For a luxury short break, the Chateau really has everything: it’s a scant 30 minute drive from Nice Airport (just over an hour’s hop from Gatwick), the accommodation is luxurious, the scenery breathtaking and the spa indulgent. Locally, you can wander around beautiful little French towns and walk in the footsteps of Matisse and Picasso. The Chateau has two restaurants, one of which, Le Saint Martin, has two Michelin stars thanks to the incredible talent of Yannick Franques, former student of Alain Ducasse and Meilleur Ouvrier de France (2004).
We ate in a beautiful private dining room with General Manager Frédéric Picard who happily waved away enquiries about food photography with a smile and ‘but of course – this is why we have a private dining room’. M Picard turned out to be charming company and happily answered all questions about the French menu.
If you’re not a fan of (badly lit) restaurant photography, I do understand why – it can be intrusive when people continually snap away at their dinner. However, this food was something extra special and I do feel it deserves to be shared.
We started with an appetiser which was served in a hollowed out, silvered eggshell: scrambled egg with delicate pieces of lobster and a crisp brioche ‘soldier’, and went on to enjoy six spectacular courses matched with some incredible wines. It’s a meal I’ll never forget:
Next up, more about the Chateau, the beautiful nearby towns of Vence and Saint Paul de Vence and a tour of Le Fondation Maeght.
So the newlyweds are back from their honeymoon, and very kindly offered to take me out to dinner to say thanks for my contribution to the wedding (which was basically getting so stressed over making two cupcake towers that I nearly cried and turned up at the service with buttercream still in my hair, but hey ho). Zaza is a small chain and the Berkhamsted one is quite new. My Dad and his wife (eek!) have been there a couple of times and really liked it, so I jumped at the chance to go.
The place is utterly delightful. It’s dotted all around with twinkle fairy lights and candles, and the decor is modern and sleek. Upstairs there is, apparently, a whole tree all decked with fairy lights too (you can see a picture of it on their website), but old grumpy pants didn’t want to sit upstairs (he’s a people watcher) and made the lovely staff move all their bookings around so we could sit downstairs (it was very busy and we noticed a couple of people being turned away – always a good sign on a Thursday night).
For a starter, I chose the Calamari Fritti – deliciously crispy coated, tender calamari, served with a tangy tartar sauce – the portion was so big I had to enlist help to finish it lest I didn’t eat my main course!
My Dad had the Paté di Fegato, a wild mushroom and chicken liver paté, served with an onion marmalade, which I didn’t try, but he said it was delicious.
For my main course, I went for the Coda di Rospo: a roasted fillet of monkfish, wrapped with Prosciutto on a bed of roasted seasonal vegetables with roasted vine cherry tomatoes (£15.90). The monkfish was TO DIE FOR, tender and succulent, and enhanced by the delightfully savoury proscuitto. My one teeny moan, and it’s a small one, is – as you can probably see – the seasonal vegetables were a bit overcooked, with a few burned bits which left a rather bitter taste in the mouth. But honestly, the monkfish was so good that I wasn’t bothered about leaving a few bits of veg.
All of this was washed down with a delightful bottle of Chiaretto Doc – Podere De Roveri (£18.90) a fresh, dry rosé (well, it is Spring at last).
We were all too stuffed for desserts, but with the bill, the waiter brought an ice cold bottle of Limoncello which is a delicious way to end a meal (I’m not a coffee lover) and after pouring me and Allison a teeny shot each, the Disreputable One scarfed the rest.
Well, he was paying…
Our verdict: a really stylish restaurant with lovely friendly staff, a classic Italian menu and beautifully presented food. I can’t wait to go back with English Dad. Next time I’m going to starve myself so I can have the chocolate fondant too.
- Weekend wishlist: oh, hush autumn 17, you’re looking lovely! August 19, 2017
- Honey and mustard glazed pork medallions August 17, 2017
- The De Vere Latimer Estate August 15, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: investment handbags August 12, 2017
- HD Brows at Bloom Beauty Bar, Berkhamsted August 10, 2017