Tag Archives: London recommendations

Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols gets a revamp

This is excellent news. This bar on the top floor of the famous Knightsbridge department store has always looked great on paper, perfect for a cocktail or two after flexing the plastic at Harrods and Harvey Nichols on a Saturday afternoon. My experience in years passed, however, was often less than spot on, usually fuelled by the trashy clientele of cash-rich car dealers and ‘professional’ Russsian women clad in fur and bad leopard print.

Recently revamped, the place is looking great, with a cocktail list heavy on vodka based drinks and a Baltic-influenced menu in the adjoining restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Knightsbridge and licensed now till 3am. We’ll be visiting very soon.

See press release at Harvey Nichols.

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5 Top London Cafes

The more you travel around London, the more you will appreciate the need for a good cup of coffee wherever you go. There are enough difficulties that come with navigating England’s complex, involving capital city without being able to get a good cup of coffee on the way. Any great coffee shop which gives you a moment of relaxation, or raises your quality of life while you are out at war with the urban jungle is clearly going to provide a great benefit.

All of the coffee shops listed here are simple and inexpensive, yet will bring you a moment of calm in the urban sprawl of London life.

Flat White

For most London cafe’s, you may have to venture a bit off the beaten track, usually followed by a bit of searching. Cafes that still are in the centre will tend to be mega-chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee. There aren’t many places within walking distance of Oxford Circus, so your option is to go to Starbucks, or go without coffee.

Unless you go to Flat White. This little gem of a coffee shop allows you to experience a taste of down under while in the heart of London. Don’t leave London without going to it. And ordering a Flat White, of course.

Flat White, 17 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0PT (020 7734 0370 / www.flat-white.co.uk). Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road tube.

Lantana

It’s 10am on a Sunday Morning, and I have a few hours to kill before I have to head back for my flight. Ahead of me is a gruelling 10 hour marathon of a flight. Normally I’d just take my chances with the airline food and try and get some sleep on the plane. I decide to head out for some food.

There’s a problem. It can be difficult to find genuinely hearty food on a relatively tight budget – I’m not fond of the idea of blowing my notes on a useless pile of small change. But something has to give, I’m going to have a full days work when I get back. Am I doomed to one of those awful, miserable, stomach churning days?

Not when I go to Lantana Cafe in Fitzrovia. Lantana serves up hearty traditional Australian cuisine, and suits even the most discerning of tastes. You won’t have to shell out a huge amount of money, but you should be more than covered for food.

If the food is not your thing, there’s a really nice walk around lovely Fitzrovia on offer. Do what works for you, and enjoy a peaceful few hours around London.

Lantana, 13 Charlotte Place, W1T 1SN (020 7637 3347/www.scramblingeggs.blogspot.com). Goodge St tube.

Kaffeine

Unfortunately, great coffee shops with a real philosophy underpinning them aren’t everywhere you’d want them to be. Wherever you are on your city break, every traveler eventually finds themselves in need of a place which is crafted with a real belief and identity. Life in a world of clone shops can be depressing, and experiencing coffee in a place that truly believes that coffee should be done well is good for the soul. A few minutes quiet reflection in such a place really helps put life into perspective.
Kaffeine is such a place – put your phone away and forget about your travel arrangements and your GPS for a minute – times like this, we need a real break.

It’s difficult to tell you about the menu at Kaffeine – its ever changing according to what is available in local markets. Its central enough for you to be able to nip in, but once you have, you’ll feel a world away so quickly that you might not want to leave. Kaffeine earns a place in any travellers itinerary.
Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7QJ (020 7580 6755/www.kaffeine.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube.

London Review Cake Shop

Sometimes a coffee shop is perfect for their elegant charms. Unfortunately, so many have gone down this route now, it almost looks hackneyed. Step forward the London Review Cake Shop, a coffee shop perfect in its casual inelegance. Few places are designed to look as truly relaxed as the London Review Cake Shop, whilst remaining a perfect venue for chinwagging.

The cakes are locally source, and the Cake Shop provides fantastic customer service. On a budget, you can enjoy some of the most exquisite, honest cake and coffee which you have ever had in your life. And despite its proximity to the British Museum,

London Review Cake Shop, 14-16 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL (020 7269 9030/www.lrbshop.co.uk/cakeshop). Holborn tube

Pitch 42 @ Whitecross Street.

The coffee is inexpensive. Its crisp, well made, and uses a rare Linea mechanical paddle La Marzocco espresso machine. Wherever you go in London, make sure you’re around when Jeremy Challender pitches up his weekly stall with Lee Hart.

Get over to the Barbican, centre of many other things which are good about London. You’ll be tempted to drink everything, and the caffeine will blow away any cobwebs from the night before.

If you intend to do any kind of travelling around London, you need to be able to say to your friends you’ve been to Pitch 42. No matter where you go, people will be aware of this Shoreditch institution.

Pitch 42 @ Whitecross Street, Whitecross Street market, EC1Y. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-2.30pm. Old Street or Barbican tube/rail.

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Below Zero restaurant and bar, by London Appetizer

We’re always on the look out for the best bloggers in the restaurant and hotel industry, and Piers from London Appetizer has to be up there with the very best. Piers was the first restaurant blogger in London, starting out back in 1996, so he’s a true expert in his field.  Below is a restaurant review that he wrote for Below Zero, in Heddon Street in London.  For more restaurant reviews and industry news, have a look a London Appetizer let us know what you think.

Below Zero, Heddon St, London. Written by London Appetizer


A subterranean secret to some, a hidden gem to others, the temperature has been raised at belowzero, London’s favourite restaurant and lounge bar.  Located beneath bustling, vibrant Heddon Street, belowzero has reached new heights with the appointment of Head Chef, Sean Marshall, and the opulent transformation of the interior.

Marshall brings a wealth of experience to the role having worked at Prism, Oxo Tower, Bank and Mint Leaf. His new modern European menu showcases his excellent and varied cooking skills whilst being driven by quality, seasonal ingredients. This, shared with Marshall’s passion for innovative combinations of flavours and textures, positions belowzero as a destination restaurant.

Typical starters include pan-fried red mullet, warm blood orange and red onion salad with saffron orange oil; seared Scottish scallops with Arbroath smoky and parsnip purée; as well as lavender smoked wood pigeon with caramelised black figs, wild mushrooms and blackberry jus.
Main courses feature must-try pistachio and sage crusted lamb rack with spiced sweet potato, spring greens, morels and port and bacon marinated kidneys; line caught seabass with stuffed steamed baby cabbage, girolle and cockle butter; or pan fried fillet of venison with seared foie gras, walnut braised red cabbage, beetroot and cranberry compote and a rioja jus. Whole lemon sole, swordfish, rib-eye steak and maize-fed chicken are also available from the grill, each served with capanota and sauce vierge.

Inventive and decadent desserts include cardamom and star anise mousse with spinach genoise and lime leaf anglaise; white chocolate fondant with szechuan ice cream and crystallised fruits; or banoffee cheesecake with rich butterscotch sauce and home-made banana sorbet.
The menu is complemented with a strong and extensive international wine list, with many bins under £30. Alternatively blow the budget with stars of the show such as Shiraz, Penfolds Grange Hermitage, South Australia, 1995 or Mouton Rothschild, Aile D’Argent, Pauillac First Growth, Bordeaux 1996.
The lounge bar at belowzero takes cocktails to another level with its talented bar team, contemporary concoctions
and its comprehensive premium and super premium spirits list, which includes Absolut 100, only available at 100 bars in the world. Unique creations include ‘Ultimat Mochatini’ – Ultimat Chocolate Vanilla vodka, white cacoa liquer and coffee jelly or ‘Sagini’ -Whitley Neill gin, Pimm’s No. 1, fresh sage leaves and pomegranate juice.

For the rest of the article, please visit London Appetizer

Thanks to Piers for the review.  Visit the superb London Appetizer
and see what else he has to offer.  You can thank us later.

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Restaurant review: Roast, London

Meal: The Cook’s Special Breakfast at Roast.

Venue: The acclaimed Roast – sitting above London’s Borough Market – is a must for carnivores everywhere. A classy but unpretentious restaurant, breakfast is all City boys and groups of well-to-do ladies organising charity events.

I love the smell of lobster in the morning. Well, based on our sampling of Roast’s daring new breakfast special, it pongs a lot less than my Dad’s kippers when I was growing up. The idea of seafood for breakfast has always slightly turned my stomach (probably as a result of those bloody kippers), but when Gekko was invited to Roast to check out their brave new addition to the breakfast menu, we didn’t have to be asked twice.

The Roast kitchen

I’ve wanted to go to Roast ever since it opened in 2005, and I’ve frequently had meat lust at the sight of their hearty, well, roasts, on various TV food porn shows. Kicking off any morning in Borough Market is always a pleasure anyway, and Roast sits above it like a foodie watchtower with a brilliant view of St Paul’s across the rooftops and railways. London’s oldest food market still retains a mysterious allure, wrapped up in its Medieval history, riverside location and the mythical tales of celebrity chefs wrestling each other for the last perfectly organic carrot at dawn. But more importantly, it’s a perfect spot for people watching whilst enjoying a spectacular breakfast. (Although, be warned, there are a lot less stores in the week than there are at the weekend).

Borough Market

There’s no better place to sample the Borough ‘ambience’ than at Roast. Which leads us nicely to the lobster. Roast’s thinking is that if you’re not fancying a mammoth meat feast such as ‘The Full Borough’, then you might want something a little lighter that is still of gourmet quality. Hence the chefs sourced some mighty fine Dorset Blue crustaceans from the market downstairs, and have teamed them with toasted English muffins, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

The Cook's Special

And, despite my misgivings about ocean fayre at brekkie, it’s a triumph. Succulent strips of lobster, a superbly cooked egg and a full-bodied hollandaise. Light enough not to require a post-match snooze in a darkened room, yet hearty enough to mean a distinct lack of any hunger pangs until around two in the afternoon, not to mention classy enough to garner much jealousy from the fruit salad breakfast brigade once back in the office. I’ll be going back to Roast as soon as possible. Is it lunchtime yet?

Verdict: An excellent start to the day in one of London’s best locations. Gourmet but unfussy fayre.

Dan Pilkington

Find out more about Roast here

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Restaurant review: 1901@Andaz, London

Meal: Lunch on Wednesday 24 June

Venue: 1901@Andaz Liverpool Street – the main restaurant in the classy Andaz Hotel – a bit of posh amongst Hoxton cool. Perfect for City boys talking big money deals and people looking to impress their Mum and Dad when they’re in town.

Gekko Spotters: Dan and Tony

Guilty pleasures abound when you head into The City of London these days. Considering the financial meltdown was caused in these parts, maybe it’s not surprising that lunching at the opulent 1901@Andaz feels slightly illicit. Although the guilt would not stop me eating here every day if I had half the chance and half a banker’s wage.

Firstly the setting is pretty spectacular. The Victorians didn’t scrimp and save when they built The Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street which is now occupied by the Andaz Hotel, and the ceiling in 1901 wouldn’t be out of place in a small cathedral. Indeed the hushed and understated atmosphere verges on the reverential.

Ceiling at 1901@Anadaz

Thankfully the staff are warm and welcoming, the sommelier offering up his personal bottle of Argentinean Clos de los Siete for our delectation (assuming we left him a glass at the end of course). The crowd is businesslike but not quite the thrusting, champagne-swilling trader clientele I had been expecting. And 1901 is all the better for it, the huge, airy dining room filling with low chatter and some fitting mood music floating in the background.

Starters are perfectly formed and proportioned. My asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise sauce is fresh and tasty and vitamin-fuelled while Tony’s sauce Americaine was deftly matched to his smoked haddock. He rhapsodises about the texture of the haddock being like an egg but I’m not entirely sure what he means other than it’s really nice.

Asparagus a la 1901

Having been lured into the Special of the Day from the carving trolley as a main, based purely on the impressive-sounding fact that the meat had been hung for 35 days, I was still bowled over by the quality of the beef. Truly the most succulent I’ve tasted in an age and perfectly complimented by a Yorkshire pud the size of Lancashire. Tony’s more adventurous choice of venison and grilled liver is equally impressive.

Tony's venison

I still have some space for dessert – a sign of a great lunch in my view – and the baked cheesecake with Beenleigh blue with grilled pears is a triumph. Having been warned that it would be a ‘marmite moment’ –'”you’ll either love it or hate it” – I decide that blue cheese in a cheesecake is not such a crazy idea after all.

Cheesecake surprise

As we sip our coffees and the money men start on their next bottle of wine, we reflect on a lunch hour well spent. Maybe I could work in high finance after all…

Verdict: Outrageously tasty and flavoursome food, all for surprisingly good value in a spectacular setting. The lunch of kings.

Dan Pilkington

Book a table at 1901@Andaz here

Check rates at the Andaz Hotel Liverpool Street

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