Category Archives: Restaurants

One Sixty City Smokehouse and Bar: hearty, meaty, boozy

Just as you think that you have pretty much tried all the cocktails there are at One Sixty City and you’re just going to stick to an old favourite from now on, along comes a new one which makes you vow to never think such a ridiculous thing in future.

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My One Sixty Beer cocktail is on the right, while David’s Southern Tipsy Tea is on the left

The one which caused me to think this was the One Sixty Beer cocktail, made up of Sailor Jerry rum, Cointreau, lime and pimento and topped off with Chimay Gold Belgian beer.

It sounded pretty awful, to be honest, but I was in a new restaurant – One Sixty Smokehouse and Bar, which is between the Gherkin and Liverpool Street station – and so I felt it would be a waste not to try the signature cocktail. Needless to say, I was very glad I did as it was utterly delicious and completely worked in spite of the odd combination of ingredients.

I was having lunch with owner David Moore, who also runs Michelin-starred Pied a Terre as well as L’Autre Pied and various other foodie ventures. One Sixty City – 160 degrees is the temperature at which the meat is cooked at and means the meat fibres break down to become smooth and flavourful – is the second in the One Sixty series (the first opened in West Hampstead last year) and focuses on ‘hearty American classics with a distinctive English flair.’ Continue reading One Sixty City Smokehouse and Bar: hearty, meaty, boozy

The Capital hotel: London’s venue for a cocktail masterclass

Its claim to fame is that it is the closest hotel to Harrods, and it’s true that less than 30 seconds walk will take you right into the iconic department store. But thankfully The Capital hotel, just round the back of Harrods on a quiet Knightsbridge street, is more than just a place to stagger back to after a hard day’s shopping. Opened in 1971 by hotelier David Levin, it is still owned and managed by him and his family today, which gives it a far more friendly air than a corporate chain hotel.

The cosy lobby at the Capital

While the hotel does a special ‘Shop till you Drop’ package which includes a £50 Harrods voucher, afternoon tea and a drink to restore you (if not your credit card) after your retail therapy, I went to the Capital with cocktails, rather than shopping, on my mind. Bar manager Cesar da Silva has been at the Capital for 15 years and is still extremely enthusiastic about teaching other people to make cocktails in his popular Cocktail Masterclass, which is just as well as apparently he often does 10 of these hour-long courses a day. Continue reading The Capital hotel: London’s venue for a cocktail masterclass

Ynyshir restaurant and rooms: an oasis of loveliness miles from almost anywhere

The wonderful thing about writing the blog is that I’ve discovered so many new places which I would never in a million years have come across otherwise, and Ynyshir – which now bills itself as a restaurant with rooms – is a perfect example. Not only is it in a remote (to me) corner of West Wales, the nearest towns being Machynlleth to the north and Aberystwyth to the south, but thanks to spending teenage years hiking around Snowdonia I tend to associate the Welsh countryside with Youth Hostels and food cooked on a camping stove.

Nothing could be further from Ynyshir, former AA Hotel of the Year Wales, named in the Good Food Guide 2017-18 as one of the best restaurants in the UK, recently awarded an unprecedented five AA rosettes and with a Michelin star to its name thanks to chef Gareth Ward.

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‘Ynyshir’ means ‘long island’ and the hall has stood here for several centuries. The hall used to be owned by Queen Victoria and famous guests include Richard Gere and Robert Plant

However it wasn’t the food that stays in my memory as much as the wonderful setting and the fabulous welcome I received. Some hotels can pay lip service to the idea of customer service and treating guests well but you can’t fake genuine warmth, and Joan Reen, who owned Ynyshir Hall with her husband Rob since 1989 before her sad passing last year, was a lovely and welcoming presence.

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Ynyshir is set in 14 acres of beautiful gardens

Continue reading Ynyshir restaurant and rooms: an oasis of loveliness miles from almost anywhere

Percy & Founders: smart, modern food with style in London

The part of London between Portland Place and Goodge Street has historically been a bit of a culinary no-man’s land, with little to tempt you to eat in the estate-agent-christened ‘Noho’ unless you actually worked in the area.

Percy & Founders
I was seriously considering taking this old-fashioned typewriter home with me…

However over recent years the local pubs and cafes have been smartening up, the Riding House Cafe and 48 Newman Street Tavern have opened and now there is a development so new that the postcode doesn’t even yield a map when typed into Google.

Percy & Founders, the new all-day bar and restaurant built on the site of the old Middlesex Hospital, has a nod to tradition in that you can actually peer through a glass wall from the restaurant into the hospital’s original chapel, perfectly preserved and soon to be open for people to have a look around.

However in spite of individual touches such as old typewriters (I loved the one next to our table and yearned to take it home with me) the overall decor is very clean, light wood and straight lines, very much along the lines of All Bar One in the 90s. Continue reading Percy & Founders: smart, modern food with style in London

Discovering hidden treasures at The Stafford, St James’s

One thing I’ve learnt from writing my blog is that you never really know a hotel until you get someone to give you the Grand Tour. A typical hotel guest will see little more than the reception, their bedroom, the bar and the restaurant (some might make it to the gym) and I think they’re missing out.

Very rarely will guests see other bedrooms – they probably think that a request might appear unseemly – and they might think that asking for a tour shows they are too daft to find their own way around. But as a blogger and nosy journalist, I can heartily recommend it, and I don’t think I would now stay anywhere without asking to be shown every inch of the place – there are always hidden gems that you would never have discovered on your own.

The Stafford, St James's
The Stafford hotel, St James’s, a grand red-brick building tucked down a quiet side street near Piccadilly

My recent stay at The Stafford was a great example of this. I’d spent a very pleasant night in the hotel, which is tucked away in a quiet corner off St James’s street in London’s Piccadilly. The entrance hall was light and airy, the restaurant looked very grand, my bedroom in the modern-looking Mews Suites block overlooking the hotel courtyard was of the high quality you’d expect from a top-end London hotel whose immediate neighbours are the equally high-end Duke’s Hotel and St James’s hotel and it was all extremely, well, nice. Nothing was jumping out at me as being particularly exciting or different but maybe that wasn’t a bad thing – maybe people don’t go to posh hotels to be surprised or excited.

The Stafford, St James's
The Lyttleton restaurant at The Stafford – it is closed for dinner on Sunday evenings but I had breakfast here on the Monday

Continue reading Discovering hidden treasures at The Stafford, St James’s

Gravetye Manor – fabulous foodie heaven in a beautiful setting

There are some places that are so lovely you can’t stop thinking about them after you leave, and Gravetye Manor is most definitely one of those.

It probably helped that I visited during one of the most glorious weekends of the summer, so even though I arrived all hot and bothered after three hours crawling along the M25, a mere five minutes later I was feeling wonderfully soothed and relaxed thanks to being in Gravetye’s fabulous gardens (the gin and tonic probably helped too).

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Gravetye Manor in West Sussex is a 16th century Elizabethan house and a foodie and horticulturalists’ paradise

The gardens are stunning, a riot of different colour and sizes and far removed from the formality of grander establishments. There are some tables on the main lawn but we – my mother was my lucky plus one for the stay – were shown to a lovely table round the side of the manor, in a beautiful courtyard overlooking a wild flower meadow beyond which was a sparkling lake.

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There is a more formal dining room inside but al fresco dining at Gravetye is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon

With the traffic delay I had worried I would be too late for lunch but no, at Gravetye Manor food is served in the gardens or lounge from 10am until 10pm which is extremely civilised, especially for a Sunday in the middle of the West Sussex countryside. The menu wasn’t just a ‘light bite’ option either but top-quality British food, from wild cress and nettle risotto to salad of seared pigeon breast. I had dressed south coast crab followed by the fish of the day, pollock, with summer garden vegetables and they were both as wonderful as the view.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Gravetye Manor
To compare prices for Gravetye Manor click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined –
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Gravetye Manor on TripAdvisor

Continue reading Gravetye Manor – fabulous foodie heaven in a beautiful setting

Lunch at London’s latest hotspots: Kitty Fisher’s and Ham Yard

They’ve both received glowing reviews and are two of the hottest places on London’s restaurant scene at the moment, but Kitty Fisher’s and Ham Yard restaurant are rather different culinary experiences.

It could be a size thing: Kitty Fisher’s, tucked away in a corner of Shepherd Market is tiny, just six tables upstairs and not much larger downstairs, which gives it a cosy, intimate feel. Ham Yard in contrast is vast: acres of dining space, dozens of banquettes and tables of all sizes. A massive bar stretches the length of one room, there are high ceilings, pillars, mirrors and lights everywhere and it is a riot of bright colours and activity.

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Kitty Fisher’s, named after an 18th century courtesan, is tucked away in a corner of Shepherd Market in Mayfair

Both restaurants have celebrity connections: Kitty Fisher’s is part-owned by actor Oliver Milburn and entrepreneur Tom Mullion, whose wife Emily Sheffield is David Cameron’s sister-in-law (the Camerons have been, as has Nigella Lawson). Ham Yard is also where the celebrities hang out, including the Fox acting dynasty who partied there after the opening night of Dear Lupin, and Adele who recently held her 27th birthday party there. Continue reading Lunch at London’s latest hotspots: Kitty Fisher’s and Ham Yard