Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Langham Hotel Afternoon Tea.

You may remember how a few weeks ago I had a mini-staycation at the luxury five star Langham Hotel in London (see my review and adventure here). Well after my relaxing overnight stay my mum came up to London to join me for the Wedgwood afternoon tea in the Langham's Palm Court. The Palm Court is a beautiful big modern room with high ceilings, ladies chattering over tea, and a pianist tinkling on the ivories. While mum went for the Langham blend tea, I had the Strawberry and Kiwi fruit tea...just look at the pretty colour of it!

We didn't have a big tiered stand, everything was brought to the table individually, which was actually quite nice. I think the sandwiches were my favourite part of the entire tea. Usually I'm a sweet toothed person, but it was so refreshing to have sandwiches that were a bit different. Mum and I agreed that the rolls were a nice change, and delicious too. 

The scones were beautifully light and we loaded them up with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Very different to the Guiltless Tea I had last week! 

Before we started on the cakes and patisseries we decided to have some champagne, and the waiter brought the magnum of Laurent Perrier over to fill up our glasses.

Now, the sweet treats were wonderfully delicate and very classy, but I do so love a big chunk of cake. They were very Parisian, and incredibly pretty, and definitely ideal for women who don't have a massive sweet tooth.

Our entire experience was truly delightful. The staff were fabulous and the food delicious. We took our time and didn't feel rushed, and the Palm Court is such a great place to people watch. It's funny, but despite being in such a large room full of other people, it still felt very intimate and cosy. If you're after a fancy afternoon tea for a special occasion, this is the place to come. Find out more on the Langham Hotel's website.

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*Our afternoon tea was complimentary, however all my views are completely honest.

Palm Court on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Monday, 23 February 2015

Bar Galante, South Kensington.

I've found an awesome new bar in South Ken, so naturally I just had to tell you all about it! Part of the Gaucho Group, Bar Galante is an Argentinian bar on Sloane Avenue, right next to Barts. Glamorous and sophisticated, they serve awesome cocktails, and the best steak sandwich I've ever had.

Emma and I have been best friends for nearly twenty years, and these days we only see each other once a month or so as we're both so busy and live much further away from oneanother than we used to. We went to Bar Galante on a dreary Wednesday evening for some cocktails and catch ups, and had such a fun time!

Emma started with the Calipso, while I went for the Sloane Spritz.

After our first round, we ordered some food and more cocktails. My Passional was incredible, and Emma's Cha-Cha-Cha was pretty delish too!

The food arrived and we tucked in, the steak sandwich was absolutely perfect, the best I've ever had. The mini burgers were good, and the Ceviche Platter was just beautiful. We do love a bit of ceviche, and it made us turn our conversation from men to travel. We're planning a trip to Marrakech in August with our other friend Beth, to celebrate the three of us being friends for twenty years, aka, our 'friendversary'. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan and we manage to get over there!

Our final cocktails were the Sidra Cobbler and Las Flores. Mine was beautifully refreshing, and Emma's Las Flores which contained sake and jasmine tea came in the cutest little glass teacup!

We did order dessert, but sadly there was a really big group in and it didn't arrive in time before we had to leave to get trains home. We cancelled the order and they very kindly invited us back to try the dessert and more cocktails on the house as a way of apology, so we're heading back in a few weeks time as the dessert sounds incredible! Hint: it contains dulce de leche.

The bar is super glam and classy - the perfect place for a girls night or a date! We had a brilliant time and it's so handy that it's so close to Barts, now we can start in Bar Galante, have some cocktails and bar snacks, and then move over to Barts for more cocktails and dancing!

Also, they have a glitter floor. Amazing, non?

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Little Yellow Door, Notting Hill.

I was debating whether or not to write this post, as to be completely honest I wasn't particularly enamored by Little Yellow Door. Lots of bloggers have been posting about LYD lately, so I was super excited to go, but left feeling quite disappointed.

There's no doubt about it, the food was excellent, however there were many downsides that I just didn't particularly enjoy, but a lot of it was personal choice.

We went on a Friday night, and the service was inattentive to say the least, not once throughout the entire meal did any of the servers ask if we wanted a drink, so we went through the whole meal without one. They were all rushing around so much that they had no time to ask if everything was OK and they were too quick for me to grab them and ask for a drink. Not only this, but we were so penned in against the wall I couldn't go up and get one from the bar.

Which brings me on to the next issue; the whole night I felt very claustrophobic. We were stuck right in the middle of the table against the wall, and I was on the leg of the table, so I was penned in by the table and the wall, on a very uncomfortable wooden chair with my bum hanging off the end of it, and my legs either side of this bloomin' table leg.

Surrounding us on our table (everyone sits on big long tables) were complete strangers in larger groups, which made it awkward to get out out to the toilet or the bar. It also made it awkward for sharing the food. All of the food is for sharing, you don't get anything 'just for yourself', which I'm not a massive fan of. You always have the awkward moment when a few people want the last of something and everyone's too British to just take it.

I'd imagine that the concept of Little Yellow Door would work much better with less people and with people who all know each other. If you're going to put a group of people together who don't know each other, at least give them separate meals, especially as when split between everyone you really don't get a lot of food (the starters and the pork belly in particular!).

I also wasn't a fan of the way they served the desserts. Rather than having them at the table, we all had to go up to the bar and the desserts were done canape-style rather than full on desserts, while all the tables and chairs were cleared away. As a dessert lover with a very sweet tooth, it would have been nice to have an actual full-sized dessert while still sitting at the table. The only decent sized portion of food was the tagliatelle!

We left quite soon after dinner, as neither of us really wanted to stay after the disappointing dinner. Like I said though, all of these are just personal preferences and the food really was amazing. It's such a shame I didn't click with the concept, but it would have been slightly better if we had been given more of the delicious food, and drinks would have been nice too. The inside of the 'flat' also felt very student-y, and just not really my thing. I'm 23, and don't really want to feel as though I'm back in student digs. This is probably a great place for a group of friends just wanting good food and a laugh, but the whole structure of it just wasn't for me :(

I feel awful having to write such a negative review, as I want my blog to be a happy place, but at the same time I don't want to lie to you all and feel as though it's important to tell you all how I really feel about it. Also the lighting inside is super yellow/orange, which makes it impossible to take decent photos even when adjusting the white balance, and let's face it, we all know how important good lighting is for us bloggers and instagram whores.

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*Our meal was complimentary, however as always my views are my own and completely honest

Friday, 20 February 2015

108 Brasserie, Marylebone.

I walk past 108 Brasserie at the Marylebone Hotel quite often, as it's just around the corner from my office. Last week I finally went there for dinner with one of my closest friends from school, Katie. We used to live round the corner from each other, so walked home together every day after school, caused chaos when we skipped school with Mimi and ate our weight in doritos and minstrels. 

When I returned from living in Australia I went to my old school to see all my friends, and Katie saw me across the playground, and screamed loudly, before rushing across, pushing everyone out of the way and leaping onto me with the most ginormous hug. She's the type of friend who I only see a few times a year due to busy schedules (she's training to be a nurse), but every time we see one another it's like no time has passed. As we hadn't seen one another since our little jaunt to Cheltenham last year, we thought a catch up was well overdue.

We started with cocktails, I had the English Spritz, which was a beautifully refreshing blend of gin, cointreau and elderflower. Katie had the Nightingale, which was very sweet, but looked far prettier than mine. Please excuse the poor photographs, the lighting was awful and I stupidly only had my small GF5 instead of the big beast (DSLR). I tried to light the dishes with the light from my phone, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, so the photos aren't as good as usual :/

To start with I opted for the Seared Tuna with the soy and ginger dressing, while Katie went for the Crab and Avocado cocktail. While we waited for them to arrive we nibbled on the delicious fresh bread. An interesting mix of sourdough, Guinness bread, and soda bread, it was a welcome change from the normal 'white or brown' that's on offer in the majority of other restaurants.

The seared tuna was incredibly spicy, I think it was the pickled radish, but it was a shame because it overpowered the taste of the tuna. Katie's crab and avocado cocktail was delicious though! We actually switched as we each preferred what the other had. I then tried a kiwi flavoured cocktail, which I wasn't too keen on, it left a funny aftertaste in my mouth.

For mains I continued the healthy eating with Whole lemon sole, with spinach, and tomato and rocket salads on the side. Katie had the Slow cooked breast of lamb. Both mains were really good and we polished them off very quickly, however the spinach was cold.

Naturally we couldn't leave without trying dessert! Katie chose the Warm chocolate fondant, and I went for a favourite of mine; Apple and blackberry pie with vanilla ice-cream. The desserts were the perfect option for a cold winter's day - they warmed us up inside and it felt like such a treat after my healthy starter and main.

108 Brasserie is a really lovely and intimate restaurant, perfect for either a date or catching up with the girls. The staff were brilliant and couldn't do enough for us, and the food consists of decent classic dishes that weren't particularly impressive, but did the job and satisfied both the tastebuds and rumbly bellies! I'd avoid the more alternative cocktails, out of the four we had we only liked two of them, so I'd probably stick with the classics if I went again. What also impressed me is for London, the prices aren't over the top. They're very reasonable which makes it an excellent choice if you'd like a fabulous and sophisticated meal out without the huge bill at the end. 

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*Our meal was complimentary, however as always all views are my own

Monday, 16 February 2015

Guiltless Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental.

Guiltless, you say? As in...healthy? Yes. Yes it is. There is a healthy afternoon tea in London, and you know what, it's pretty darn good. Back in December I reviewed the Intercontinental's delicious Christmas Afternoon Tea, so when they invited me back to try their Guiltless Afternoon Tea at the start of the new year, naturally I couldn't turn it down. Mainly because I was so intrigued about whether it would actually taste any good.

I invited Lotte along as we hadn't had a catch up since a rather mediocre dinner at Rivington Grill a few weeks ago. We started with a tasty, and quite bitter, Guiltless Cocktail. It contained agave syrup and aromatic bitters as well as lime juice, cane rum, and fennel.

We then ordered our teas and started to try the alternative sandwiches. The butternut squash and balsamic caviar was Lotte's favourite, while mine was the basil marinated manouri cheese with cucumber, and apple relish. All of the bread was gluten free, which was a little strange for us as we both love our gluten-packed bread. 

Our tea arrived, and while Lotte had the Wellington Blend, I stuck to my usual; Wild Berries, a herbal infusion. We then tucked into the wholemeal scones, and piled them high with creme fraiche and homemade red berries compote. I'm usually not a huge fan of scones, and I tend to have one or half and leave the rest as I find them so heavy, but these ones I loved. They were so light, and the creme fraiche and berry compote was a fabulous change to the usual heavy clotted cream and jam.

After our feast of healthy (ish) scones, we decided to go all out and have a glass of the Moet and Chandon Rose, before finally trying the desserts.

How tall are these glasses! So cool, but also quite tricky to drink out of! 

I actually wasn't a huge fan of the desserts, I loved the red quinoa ball with cream cheese, and the polenta and almond cake was quite tasty, but the flourless chocolate and mint cake and blueberry and yoghurt chiffon cake really weren't my thing.

Considering the entire afternoon tea is so healthy, you can't really fault it! Often after whiling away an entire afternoon eating afternoon tea I feel so full and heavy and 'bleh', but I felt 'comfortably full' after this one, which was a really lovely change. We had such a great afternoon catching up and having a gossip over tea and cake! 

You can find out more about the Guiltless Afternoon Tea here.

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*Our afternoon tea was complimentary, however as usual this does not influence my views.