Aquavit – St James’s Market

Footfall is a restaurant’s number one objective – get people in, serve them food you are confident is delicious, let them recommend to friends, watch the seats fill. Simple, no? Not in London, where the restaurant industry is extremely competitive. 2017 saw a ‘13% increase in insolvencies since 2016,’[1] meaning restaurants need to think a little more creatively to encourage customers through the front door.

Well, Aquavit have done exactly that. Not in the heart of theatre town but still close enough to offer theatre-goers a very well-priced set menu before and after shows – this renowned Nordic eatery are nailing it.

Aquavit Menu

I can confirm that the Blood pudding was marvellous. I am a long-time fan of black pudding with my fry up, which was somewhat imitated in this dish with the bacon and lardo crumb flavour combination. Star of the Smörgåsbord was the herring. A scandi staple, the dill infused sour cream and rich egg yolk were a marriage with the fish. I couldn’t resist the Swedish meatballs which were flavoursome and tender (I struggle with a dry meatball). Accompanied by seriously creamy mash and tart lingonberries, I was left entirely satiated and satisfied by my meal. The exquisite, sleek-scandi dining room is a real treat, too.

Aquavit (1)

Of course, I loved my evening at Aquavit, they have defined and refined their offering with no-nonsense Nordic style and efficiency. I really hope the pre/post theatre menu catches on and everyone can enjoy some Michelin starred dining without the price tag.

Check out their Instagram here:

Check out their website here:


Matsya – Mayfair

I have always been a little stumped by Indian food. Never have I been to India (much to my dissatisfaction) but I am sure the food looks and tastes far different to the luminous curry house slop we Brits are so used to, so when I heard that Matsya in Mayfair were offering a truer taste of the Eastern nation I was thrilled to be invited along.

The restaurant sits on a quiet street a stone’s throw from Green Park station – an area of town I do not visit too frequently – the change of scenery was somewhat pleasant (I still prefer my East London hub.)

I had arranged my visit via Instagram – the power of the internet hey – after the restaurant contacted me asking if I would like to sample their menu. I received a thoroughly warm welcome when I arrived, the Colombian in tow. After our greeting, we immediately concentrated on the food, an afternoon traipsing around the V&A museum had left us ravenous.


Popadums arrived with a trio of dips, my favourite of which was a bright green number that only the chef knew the true recipe. We swiftly polished the obligatory Indian snacks and ordered a few of the recommended dishes. The Tandoori Lamb chops were a little overcooked, I like my baby sheep pink and juicy – but the spices were a triumph. The Colombian wasn’t too sure about the stuffed squid, I didn’t find it particularly unpleasant but I suppose that isn’t a glowing review – I’m not sure the unusual spiced seafood stuffing will become an Indian staple. To follow came a far simpler seafood dish that delivered on all levels. Cod cooked in a banana leaf, steamed with mustard seeds was punchy, moist and an all-round delight. Their Keralan harissa lamb is everything I imagine India to be; hot, delicious and a little bit dirty (the fatty cut of meat provided the indulgent flavour I associate with slow cooked lamb.) To accompany our feast, we had two types of rice, one simply drizzled in ghee, the other mixed with a selection of nuts and berries – both pretty tasty.


Now for the bombshell – the bill. I won’t disclose the full price of the meal because you might let out a little bit of wee but let’s just say it was pretty pricey. I would wince at paying £25 for a main course in the best of establishments but for curry it was beyond eye-watering. The cost was a shame because I hate leaving feeling the food was not worthy of the price. I enjoyed most of the grub but felt the price did not reflect the standard.

On a more positive note, I must say the service was excellent. We were completely over-serviced and the team were really accommodating. Nevertheless, the waiting staff may have been smiling, but my bank account was not!

Check out their Instagram here:

Visit their website here:


You will needs 6 individual aluminium moulds 

Serves: 6

Cooking time: 30 minBramley Panacotta


For the pannacotta

  • 1 vanilla pod (split and scraped to release the seeds)
  • 400 mls double cream
  • 375 mls milk
  • 4 leaves gelatine
  • Handful toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

For the saffron and honey Bramley apples mixture

  • 150g honey
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 150 mls white wine
  • 300g Bramley apples, peeled and cut into 2cm dice


It’s best to make the pannacotta the day before you want to eat them!

To make the pannacotta

  1. Place the vanilla pod, seeds, milk and cream in a pan and gently heat until the mixture begins to froth – watch the pot carefully as it only takes a second to boil over. Leave to cool for a few minutes
  2. Soak the gelatine in cold water and, when softened, remove and squeeze out any excess water. Whisk into the milk, cream and vanilla mixture
  3. Place the mixture into a bowl, then place the bowl in another slightly larger bowl of iced water
  4. Stir the mixture until it begins to thicken – make sure the vanilla seeds are evenly distributed and suspended throughout the mixture
  5. Pour into six moulds and refrigerate until fully set

To make the saffron and honey Bramley apples

  1. Place the honey, saffron and white wine in a pan and gently bring to the boil
  2. Reduce the heat, add the diced apples and cook gently until tender – be careful not to overcook, as the apples will collapse and you’ll end up with a compote
  3. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon and leave to cool
  4. Reduce the remaining liquid until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Return the apples to the mixture and leave to cool

To serve, place the mould in hot water for a few seconds, then turn the pannacotta onto a cold plate, spoon over the apples and honey and sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts.

I found this recipe super simple to follow and really enjoyed the process. I had only tried to make pannacotta once before so was by no means an expert but the result was fab!

Wright Brothers – Soho

One of the greatest aspects of growing up and strapping on the cloak of adulthood is the new relationship you build with your parents – we no longer require their round-the-clock support, albeit most are still happy to provide it, and they become close pals. For me, a great marker in this process is taking your parents out for supper, a simple yet effective way of demonstrating your independence and your appreciation of their efforts.

When I heard mother was working in Soho for the day, I took the opportunity to book a table at Wright Brothers in Kingly Court and treat her to a plethora of fishy delights. Billed as a Pan-Asian seafood restaurant, Wright Brothers have become well known on the London seafood circuit with restaurants in five locations, this was my first visit to the any of them.

Myself, my mother and the Colombian were sat in the dimly lit basement, away from the busy cocktail bar – which on this occasion was favourable. I liked our slightly more secluded spot due to the clear view of the kitchen – I could see what was leaving the pass and not only did it tease my appetite, it provided me with inspiration for my own order. Providing the chefs don’t pick their nose in open view, I’m not adverse to the open kitchen.

Collectively, we decided to start with a platter of oysters, which were fresh and cleansing and particularly delicious simply dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a drop of tabasco. Next arrived the main events. The Colombian had ordered soy poached salmon with Asian greens – the mouthful I ate was tasty, the salmon was well cooked and the soy did not overpower the delicate fish, nevertheless nothing to write home about. Mother had ordered a more extravagant dish – East Sussex crab, black pepper, basil leaves, almonds & yoghurt. The crab was delicious, rich and tender it was easily removed from the shell. The unanimous decision, after we all attempted to finish the monstrous portion, was that the dish was a little too rich – not one for the faint hearted. My own main was delightful, pan seared whole lemon sole with salsify and clam sauce, a special on that day. The fish was expertly cooked and the bold flavoured sauce complimented the flaky white fish well.

For dessert, the Colombian and I shared half a chocolate fondant and half a cheese board each. The fondant was a little overcooked as the lava centre failed to erupt to its full potential – rich and chocolatey nonetheless. The selection of Neal’s Yard cheeses stole the show in the final act – class is permanent I suppose.

Wright Brothers was a good venue from which to demonstrate my new-found adult independence – everyone enjoyed the evening and the food, but there was nothing particularly mind-blowing that landed on our table. No doubt I will return, especially for the oyster happy hour on Sundays, but next time I wine and dine a parent, I’ll be trying somewhere new.


One Year: Looking Forwards and Looking Back

Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog. Milestones often provide the perfect opportunity to reflect – to think about ones past achievements and downfalls and to ponder and plan what is to come. Below, is a brief summary of my first year as a blogger; what I have eaten, where I have been and what I have learned. I will designate some thought to what is to come in the year ahead; where I want to eat, where I want to go and the things I would like to change in order to evolve.

My Highlights

Top 3 Restaurants:

  • Lyle’s – I was utterly taken aback when I ate at Lyle’s. The seasonal, changing menu concept really appeals to me and the food I ate on my visit was incredible. Well-sourced produced, well presented and expertly crafted.
  • Ellory – Presented with a Michelin star in 2016, Ellory has gone from strength-to-strength. I get butterflies every time I read their email newsletter each month. So much care goes into every aspect of their operation, right from the food to their customer outreach – who they genuinely seem to care about.
  • Clipstone – The sister restaurant to Portland was never going to disappoint. When I dined here I gorged on calves brains and other opulent delicacies – an experience not to be forgotten.

Top 3 Dishes:

  • Whipped Cod’s Roe and Devilled Pig Skin @ Marksman Pub, Hackney. I am a sucker for anything devilled and my go-to pub snack is pork scratchings so this little beauty really sang for me.
  • Wagyu Beef Kobocha Purée and Sesame Snow @ SUSHISAMBA, Liverpool Street. These delightful little gyoza parcels melted upon contacted with the inside of my mouth and the subsequent burst of flavours made me weak at the knees.
  • The Original @ Coqfighter. Having spent a number of my student years in South East London, I acquired a taste for fried chicken. The double-fried, panko crumbed thigh burgers at Coqfighter are bonkers.

Top Travel Destination:

  • Lisbon ! This was a tricky choice, however, charming ol’ Lisbon really stole my heart. The ridiculously fresh seafood was immense and my dining experience at Restaurant Leopold was one I’ll never forget.

What have I learned one year on?

  • Blogging is a powerful form of communication. There are so many others out there who would love to share the experiences I have on my food-filled journeys and I similarly love sharing the experiences of others!


Where to eat next:

  • Pidgin – Much like Lyle’s, Pidgin change their menu on a weekly basis and, from what I have heard, they get it right each time. My work colleagues swear by it and their insistence only fuels my desire to give it a crack!
  • Lorne – London dining pedigree bursts from the seams at this new(ish) restaurant. Chef Peter Hall and Sommelier Katie Exton have worked together previously at acclaimed institution, The Square. This is one that must be visited.

Where to travel next:

  • Tuscany – I would love to revisit Florence and the surrounding areas for four major reasons: boar, truffles, wine and steak. Need I say any more?

I am proud of how far my blog has come over the past year – some experiences have been unforgettable and that is thanks to this page! Going forward, however, I must make an effort to blog more, despite the commitment of work and London life generally, it is something that really makes me happy. Similarly, I MUST reach out to more like-minded bloggers. We are a friendly bunch who get a kick out of sharing foodie experiences. Note to self – be more open to people and their ideas and don’t be afraid to strike up a convo!

Happy Birthday to me…

Taberna do Mercado

Having just returned from a fantastic holiday in Lisbon I was excited to revisit some delicious flavours that made my trip so memorable at Taberna do Mercado. Unfortunately, despite eating some well-crafted plates the service really deflated the entire experience.

Let’s start with the food. Wow. I was expecting great things from former Chiltern Firehouse chef Nuno Mendes and boy do his contemporary Portuguese dishes deliver. The tinned cod tongues were bold in flavour but were managed well by the marinade. Also served in a tin were the house mussels, which blew me away a little – sumptuously smothered in butter and light herbs they simply melted upon contact with my taste buds. These tinned seafood appetisers surpassed any tin of famed sardines I ate in the Portuguese capital.

Equally as delicious was the octopus and tomato small plate. Simple in its conception and delivery but far from basic in flavour. The sharp onions worked well against the sweet tomato and the light vinegar twang, which had permeated the octopus, stitched all of the flavours together. I am a long-time fan of octopus and this dish made me very happy.

I also really enjoyed the steak sandwich. Rare, tender beef stood shoulder-to-shoulder with peppery rocket in a rustic, ciabatta-like bun. I smothered my half in Portuguese mustard (which is a thing, apparently) and washed it down with a glass of the light, yet flavoursome Campolargo.

The Colombian and I, having both worked front-of-house, typically sympathise with flustered waiters on the verge of breakdown. On this occasion, however, the half-empty restaurant did not warrant any stress from the service team. Yet somehow, each and every dish seemed to take an eternity to arrive. I have never had to prompt a waiter about each dish requested in order for it to reach the table, until that particular evening.

Nevertheless, like a parent dealing with their child’s mishaps, I wasn’t angry, I was just disappointed. The food and wine were absolutely splendid and the setting in Spitalfields Market really taps into the rustic Portuguese feel that emanates from the food but I was left disheartened by the forgetful, inattentive staff. Perhaps next time, eh?

SUSHISAMBA – Liverpool Street

As is becoming a-bit-of a theme with these writings, I was once again invited along by the dashing yet persistently illustrious Samphire and Salsify.

We met at the foot of the building so we could fly to the 39th floor of the Salesforce Tower in the space-age elevator together and in style, well, at least in our own opinions. On the menu that evening; a thoughtful collection of Peruvian rainforest inspired dishes by Chef Cláudio Cardoso for an evening that promised to raise awareness and funds for the charity, Cool Earth. Once seated, we opted not to look at the menu immediately, rather sip a negroni and admire the view (the cityscape wasn’t bad either). Eventually, hunger persisted and we requested some literature.

What fools we had been. Oblivious of our incompetence. We flicked open the menu to find not a charity dish in site. Perplexed, we franticly scoured the page hoping the words would rearrange in front of our very eyes – to no avail. Surely not? Two educated, grown men who, on the surface, have their shit together couldn’t possibly misread the date on an invite? Of course that is what had happened. Nevertheless, the menu at Sushi Samba has enough delightful offerings that we soon forgot our mistake and become distracted by the choice.

After much, close to painful, deliberation we eventually ordered a handful of small plates, sushi and meat dishes. First to arrive, and the most notable of the bunch, was the Wagyu Gyoza. Sprinkled in sesame snow and doused in kabocha puree, the soft parcels enveloped delightfully tasty slithers of tender beef – utterly opulent, thoroughly delicious. The sushi rolls were excellent. The fish fresh and the flavour combinations appetising. My only grievance with the whole meal was the meat served on hot stones. When the waitress asked how we would like our premium beef cooked, we of course responded (in unison) “rare!”. The steak arrived this way. Great quality meat cooked well, then presented on hot stones. Now, I am not a qualified scientist or chef, however hot stones equals more cooking and more cooking equals well done beef. Disaster. I do feel I am being a little petty on the matter but how else would we strive for perfection?

With dinner over and much fuel left in our respective tanks the night was not going to end there. We upped sticks and swiftly scuttled to The Devonshire, a discreet, luxury club hidden in the chaos of the square mile. I won’t divulge how many Old Fashions were dispatched but needless to say fun was had by all…

Until next time…

Lisbon’s Top 3 Hidden Gems

Lisbon, in recent years, has become a recognised destination for those who travel in search of excellent food. Its combination of traditional cuisine and modern interpretations attract hungry stomachs from around the globe. A number of places have established themselves on the Portuguese capital’s culinary map. For example, the famous Time Out Market has become a haven for hungry tourists who require something a little more adventurous and refined than the usual. I would recommend the Sea Me stand and Marlene Vieira’s stall for reasonably priced and extremely fresh fish. Cervejaria Ramiro is, many would claim, the hottest spot in town for exquisite shell fish and other oceanic delights. As well as these hotspots, the city also boasts a number of Michelin starred restaurants and other establishments who are vying for the same recognition. Despite visiting a number of these famed destinations, it was a handful of smaller, less celebrated eateries that really stole my heart. So, in light of these joyous little places, below is my guide to Lisbon’s hidden gems.


  1. Patio 13

Located in the crumbling streets of Alfama, this small outdoor eatery attracts crowds on a daily basis with its perfect simplicity. Many would complain about having to queue for a table, however I indulged in the opportunity to observe the frankly beautiful surroundings; old, weathered women hang from creaking houses pushing Ginja (a cherry liqueur) on passers-by whilst ancient church bells clang and echo around the district. In the queue for Patio 13, frustration is replaced with anticipation.

Ordering is a simple task. An unpretentious list of fresh fish and meat is presented to diners. To start, the Colombian and I opted for the fish soup, which was fresh and clean, made with cod and zingy tomatoes. For the main event we shared the Golden Bream and a steak, both cooked on the outdoor barbeque. The steak was juicy and tender, clearly not a prime cut but it was gristle-free and full of fatty flavour. The Golden Bream was impeccable – the white flecks of soft flesh were caressed by large flakes of sea salt, culminating in an explosion of simple flavour. I found myself picking at the carcass in a desperate attempt to keep the whole experience alive.

The fish is fresh, the surroundings are real and the staff are a blast. You’d be foolish not to attempt the queue at Patio 13.

  1. Chapito a Mesa

Housed in the confines of Lisbon’s leading circus school, this romantic little spot boasts fabulous views of Lisbon’s cityscape. Despite sharing a space with clowns-in-training, there is nothing funny about the food – or the entire experience for that matter. Tucked away from the bustling streets, this hideaway dining destination offers really tasty food for a fair price. I had a delicious slow cooked calf dish, served with salty bacon and delightfully waxy new potatoes. The Colombian ate an entire sea bass, served whole and grilled to perfection – the skin slightly charred and the flesh soft and sumptuous. What really stole the show (pardon the pun), were the breath-taking views of Lisbon. Situated just a few minutes away from Castelo de Sao Jorge, the viewing deck on which we ate gave us exquisite night-time views of the rugged city.

  1. Leopold

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best eating experience during my time in Lisbon. Tucked away in an historic patio in the shadow of Castelo de Sao Jorge this petite little eatery, run by husband and wife team Ana and Thiago, offers those who know about the quaint location an adventurous tasting menu for a modest sum. From parrot fish and beef from the Azores to cured egg yolk in a sweet onion broth, the tasting menu at Leopold abounds with artistic flare and delivers on taste and substance. The Colombian and I opted for the wine pairing which proved to be a fantastic decision, predominantly Portuguese wines complimented excellent cooking. Ana, the hostess, does an excellent job at making guests feel welcome, as if she were inviting close friends round to her own house. This isn’t surprising given the enterprise was influenced by their shared love of cooking for and entertaining their friends and family.

When in Lisbon, go to Leopold. You won’t be disappointed, you’ll be blown away.

Anna Tobias @ J Sheekey – Soho

Organised by Guardian events and hosted by J Sheekey, this year’s female chef series promised to celebrate the talent of inspiring culinary goddesses. First in the series was Anna Tobias, the talented head chef at Rochelle Canteen who earned her stripes at Blueprint Café and River Café.

Upon receiving the invitation from the ever-so-generous Samphire and Salsify to attend what promised to be a special evening, the anticipation left me giddy.

Having lingered around Piccadilly Circus station, awaiting my host for the evening, we eventually took off into the late Spring evening. Soho is saturated with sophisticated watering holes in which one can wet ones whistle prior to an evening’s dining. We chose Swift bar, a cosy basement joint which serves well-made cocktails and other quality bevvies to boot.

Satiated, we wondered to J Sheekey and were met by a team of eager-to-please service staff who ushered us to our seats and fetched us more drink. Once settled, various speeches were made which outlined the event. Anna herself stood in front of her diners and explained some influences behind her menu – describing how she hoped to make simple, seasonal ingredients “sing” for us.

Excited by this announcement, my companion and I engaged in hunger-distracted conversation, eagerly awaiting the first wave of service.

First to arrive were a series of amuse-bouche, my favourite of which included smoked eel and fresh horseradish – the oiliness of the smoked fish was halted by the abrupt arrival of sinus tingling radish, the perfect cleanse to start. These bites only magnified our hunger, which was appeased by the arrival of Langoustines with Wild Garlic, the in-season allium, doused in an alarming quantity of butter smothered expertly cooked, fresh Scottish langoustines. Anna hit all the right notes in her delivery of this dish. She went on to demonstrate her perfect pitch with the next plate – Asparagus and grated Bottarga. For those unaware, Bottarga is the fermented, then dried roe of grey mullet. Doesn’t sound too appealing I know, but when grated generously onto my favourite British late-Springtime vegetable, trust me, all preconceptions are lost and the flavours marry.

For me, and any other sane being, the main event of any meal is the course which centres around large hunks of meat. Anna fed my carnivorous side well, delivering perfectly pink, tender lamb chops topped with a simple parsley and mint vinegarette. Typically I would scoff all but the bone, however, the fat was not well rendered and even I couldn’t chew through the rind – perhaps my only criticism from the evening.

Sir Samphire passed the majority of dessert onto me in exchange for more vino, a trade I am always happy to make. With good food in our stomachs and the atmosphere of an excellent evening behind us, the decision to indulge in a night-cap came naturally.

Once again, at the mercy of my host, he directed us to the wonderful Bar Termini. Clad in traditional white jackets and channelling famous Italian charm, the young, spunky waiters delivered incredibly delicious Negroni in delicate, petite Martini glasses. Drunk on both alcohol and euphoria, my host and I stumbled into the mild night, happily ignoring the responsibility the following day had in store.

The Cheese Bar – Camden

*As I have no Gouda cheese puns, I will refrain from inserting any into this post*

The Cheese Bar is the new, bricks-and-mortar home of Mathew Carver’s Cheese Truck. Having spent a successful four years touring the globe in his converted ice-cream van, Carver is ready to settle down and serve his cheesy creations from a permanent base. What better place to do so than in Camden’s alternative-biased market?

I arrived at The Cheese Bar in the final glimmers of spring sunlight on a warm Tuesday eve, as a guest of the illustrious Samphire and Salsify. We conducted our introductions in the fading, pink light and swiftly scuttled inside, the dull ache of hunger lingering in my gut.

As we perched atop our sleek stools, I was shocked at the light, oyster-bar esque design that surrounded me. The U-shaped marble counter top and vast cheese fridge which occupied the majority of the back wall, did not reflect the image we typically align with grilled cheese sandwiches – that’s not to say I didn’t like it.

Having absorbed the atmosphere, we were approached by an enthusiastic hostess-come-barmaid-come-waiter, who carefully talked us through the menu. After a lengthy Q&A we settled on the mozzarella sticks, burrata and Marmite Malakoff with Romesco. The mozzeralla sticks were appropriately stringy and the tomato salsa that accompanied them possessed plenty of flavour. The burrata was as burrata should be, soft, chewy and creamy – the combination of textures and flavours were slightly orgasmic.

Between us, we greedily inhaled the first round of sharing plates and required more. Next arrived Young Buck Raclette with Salt Beef and Burnt Leeks, Short Rib Poutine with Bacon Gravy and a Queso Chihuahua, Chorizo and Jalapeno. The raclette transported me to a Swiss alp and the Poutine made me weak at the knees. If you go, you must try the Queso Chihuahua toastie, which is a Mexican inspired, slightly spicy wedge of goodness.

For those – like myself – who do not fear cheese induced nightmares, there is also a cheese inspired dessert menu. We opted for the Beenleigh Blue ice cream, Poached Pear and Honeycomb. I had only tried cheese ice-cream once before and the experience at The Cheese Bar only confirmed my adoration for it. Not too sweet and slightly sharp on the tongue, it was a befitting end to a coronary inducing meal.

Sceptical at first, I really admired not only the wide selection of predominantly locally sourced cheeses, but the subsequent creativity of the dishes they went into. It may have been the three pints of craft ale and splendid company – but I left The Cheese Bar having had a brie-lliant time.