Author: Lorraine Marion

Hola Seville

Hola Seville

SPAIN

Apr 03, 2019

When I decided on Seville as the location of my next long weekend away, I thought oranges, bull fighting, flamenco dancing, and the worlds largest cathedral, I genuinely had no idea that Seville had such a complex and multi-layered history. From Gypsies, Arabs, Moors, Germans and Romans, the current culture, food, and dance is a melting pot of very diverse influences, and the fruit to be bared extends beyond oranges!
With a two hour flight from London, and ten degrees warmer it felt like an obvious choice for a much needed break, and change of scenery.

Seville is an entirely flat and condensed city, making it a perfect destination for a solo female city break, with ease of walking and exploring and feeling completely safe when doing so. Over the course of four days, I would have managed to see a fraction of what sunny Seville has to offer, and so I have listed the things that I most enjoyed during my trip. Having done many city breaks, the one thing I always commit to, is accepting that it is impossible to do it all within such a short space of time. My only commitment to myself, was to take in this new environment, and enjoy myself, and that I did.

Playa De Espana

As I walked up a very wide foot path approaching the Playa De Espana on the left hand side, Parque de Maria on the right, along with a sea of other tourists, I couldn’t help but wonder if the beauty of Playa De Espana would be drowned out by the hoards of other visitors. The beauty of this monument actually surpasses all expectations, and is a breath-taking art-deco fused with Spanish renaissance revival, semi-circle long stretch of buildings including museums and government buildings. The colossal size of the monument meant that the tourists resembled ants, and you are still able to capture some great pictures, without too much invasion from other tourists. As well as the architecture there are boat rides, a water fountain and street performers.

Flamenco Show

Having asked several locals to recommend the best flamenco show in the city, La Casa Del Flamenco regularly came up as one of the best in Seville. https://www.lacasadelflamencosevilla.com/ tickets are priced at 18 Euros per ticket, and the show lasts 60 minutes long without a break. There are three shows each night, and you can very easily book tickets online, with tickets emailed and downloadable to your phone. I recommend booking at least 24 hours in advance, because same day availability tends to be pretty limited. The show was passion filled, emotional, and dramatic, basically everything I expected a Flamenco show to be, because the history of Flamenco originates from a place of suffering and poverty. The venue does not allow for pictures or videos to be recorded during the performance, but at the end of the show the dancers and musicians perform a short re-enactment, for the sole purpose of photographs for the audience.

  • Dancers and Musicians

  • Flamenco Dancers

Walking Tour

Walking tours are a great way to explore new cities, and learn about the culture and history from a local tour guide. I especially love free walking tours, because you tip/pay at the end of the tour, on the basis of satisfaction and enjoyment, which incentivises the tour guide to do a great job. I covered off all of the main tourist attractions on a free walking tour arranged by my hotel, however there are many options available online, and the company that I used for my second walking tour was https://www.heartofsevilla.com/en/ . Heart of Sevilla run an array of tours across Seville, and I enjoyed “Welcome to Flamenco Tour”, which was a smaller than usual group, as free tours typically attract group sizes ranging from 15-20 people. This particular tour lasted for 2 hours, and the length tends to vary dependent upon number of sights visited and size of groups, I personally paid 10 Euros.

Welcome to Flamenco tour group

Food Tour

As a self proclaimed foodie, I always opt to do a food tour when abroad, because visiting great restaurant is limited to the number of meals multiplied by the number of days in the country. That combined with reviews online sometimes being flooded by people who do not necessarily have the same food expectations to my own, I take both google and trip advisor reviews with a pinch of salt. Food tours allow you to visit up to a dozen bars/restaurants in one afternoon, and tend to be heavily focussed around traditions and not necessarily the tourist hotspots.

I did a tour called ‘Tastes, Tapas and Traditions Tour’, with https://devoursevillefoodtours.com/ this tour cost 82 Euros, for a 4 hour tour visiting 8 different venues for food and drink. The group size was fairly small, a total of 7, and we wondered around the streets of Seville not only eating and drinking, but also having the cultural and historical ties explained. I describe this particular tour as a buffet, we ate a little bit of a lot, and I would not recommend this tour on the basis of not being good value for money. All of the food and drinks, tasted were very nice, however because it is very cheap to eat and drink Seville, this felt extremely overpriced. The tour guide was very nice, and enthusiastic about the information that she imparted with, but having done several food tours before, this fell short on expectations on variety and portion sizes.

The Cathedral

As you would expect for the worlds largest cathedral, it is beautiful and enormous. Like many places of worship in Seville, it was formerly a mosque and converted into a church, and so clearly visible is two styles of brick work which allows your to distinguish older parts of the building work, to the more recent Christian extension. Well worth seeing during the day, and it comes to life at night. Difficult to get in one photograph as it is really is that big. I was happy to witness this beauty at ground level, but there is an option for tours, and also to climb to the top.

Two amazing tapas restaurants

La Brunilda

This back street tapas restaurant, was fortunately for me a few minutes walk from my hotel. The tapas was great value, ranging anywhere from 3 to 7 euros, for a broad tapas variety, great food quality, and attentive yet casual service. One word of warning, expect to see a lot of pork all over restaurant menu’s in Seville, to say it is popular is an understatement and dried Iberico pork is a must try, it is absolutely delicious.

  • Beetroot gazpacho with goats cheese and black olive powder

    €4,50

  • Salt cod fritters with pear alioli

    €3.80

  • Grilled Iberian pork shoulder with glazed sweet potato, idiazabal cheese

    €5.50

La Bartola

The food here was just divine, and this was my favourite restaurant of the trip, it basically ticked all boxes of La Brunilda, but the service and food were just that bit better.

  • Burrata Salad

    €9.00

  • Roasted Lamb with Cous-Cous

    €5.00

The Real Alcazar of Sevilla

Wondering around the Alcazar, I could not fathom the fact that this was once someone’s home. An enormous grounds of regal beauty, from paintings, to grand pianos, ceiling murals and a large beautiful outdoor grounds, this former palace is a lovely space to potter around and take in all of its beauty. It cost 9.50 Euros, and I decided to purposely miss the early morning queues, which I had heard can often result in 1-2 hours queues for entry. At 3pm, I queued for 15-20 minutes, though if you wish to visit during peak times, you can always pay extra for a queue jump ticket online.

Orange Wine

There is no shortage of Orange trees when wondering around the city streets. Apparently the majority of Oranges are exported to the UK, and the Spaniards hold onto a small proportion of the oranges to produce the famous Orange wine. I liken it Port, as served in small measures its a dark, very strong, and a sweet spirit. I did not taste any orange, but it was very nice and so I had a couple. A small bar (hole in the wall style) is most famous and was the only recommended bar selling it, ‘Taberna Alvaro Peregil’, is located on a busy road full of bars and a restaurants, and you will most certainly wonder past, when roaming the streets of Seville, so worth keeping an eye out for.

Seville was everything I had hoped it would be, it was safe, great and really affordable food and drink, loads of sight seeing, great weather, and the locals did not stare at this tall black girl wearing brightly coloured clothing wondering the streets of Seville alone. Seville, you were ace! x

Seville was everything I had hoped it would be, it was safe, great and really affordable food and drink, loads of sight seeing, great weather, and the locals did not stare at this tall black girl wearing brightly coloured clothing wondering the streets of Seville alone. Seville, you were ace! x


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Dirty Bones, Soho

Dirty Bones

SOHO

Feb 19, 2019

Dirty Bones, Soho is one of five within the restaurant group, that originally entered the UK market in 2015, and is a self described New York eatery. There are framed pictures of nineties hip hop artists on the wall, and a illuminated Notorious Big rap quote, prime and centre at the back of the restaurant. Hip hop music also playing as a backdrop, I can only assume that the “New York” influence was both musical and the casual vibe. As a hip hop fan, I am always happy to see some of my favourites in framed pictures such as Busta Rhymes, OutKast and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and this instantly brought a smile to my face, and put me in a place of optimism and openness of the food to follow.

Prior to entering the restaurant, I did have the slight reservation, I wondered is there any where else that American barbeque and comfort food can be taken that the Big Easy, Blues Kitchen or Bodean’s has not yet been?

I ordered the Beef Short Rib (priced at £18), and a side dish of Mac ‘n’ Cheese (£6.50). The Beef Rib was tender, which was as expected having been slow cooked for 12 hours, and it literally sat on top of the bone, as though the bone was there purely for decorative purposes. The usual smoky and sweet barbeque sauce flavour seemed to have been completely lost in the cook process, which left a bland beef rib.

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was edible, but lacked seasoning and the usual punch of a cheese flavour, that you would usually get from this dish . It tasted more like a really creamy, seasoned pasta than a traditional American Mac’n’ Cheese.

For dessert I ordered the Stickiest Toffee Pudding (priced at £6), this was served accompanied with a cup of butter rum sauce, and crème fraiche. I dislike crème fraiche and so asked the waitress if I could replace it with ice cream. She was very insistent that it could not be switched out, and if it was, I would need to pay additional for the ice cream, and so I asked that she consult her superior to confirm this was definitely the case. The waitress then returned to my table, and did not confirm the outcome of the conversation with superior, and instead asked “what flavour of ice cream would you like?” with a blank expression. I questioned until she confirmed that there would be no additional charge, but the absence of basic courtesy in communication was disappointing. The dessert was actually very nice, and the savour of my experience, and unfortunately the only thing that I enjoyed, albeit painful to actually get what I asked for.

  • Beef Short Rib & Mac n Cheese

    £18.00

  • Stickiest Toffee Pudding

    £6.00

I appreciate that everyone gets a stab at the pie, when it comes to the many different types of cuisines that exist, I just personally believe that there are several other brands that are offering better value for money, service and more flavoursome food in a more comfortable environment.

This was a NO for me, and this was one of the few times that I have resented handing over my card to pay for food….

  • Food

    4/10
  • Vibes

    4/10
  • Service

    5/10
  • Price

    4/10
  • Overall

    4.5/10

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Coya, Angel Court

Coya

ANGEL COURT

Jan 26, 2019

Coya, Angel Court is located a stones throw away from Bank tube station, and is the second Coya to open in London in 2017. This suave, polished yet casual Peruvian restaurant mirrors the Mayfair sister restaurant in feel, but very much has its own quirks including a glass frontage.

Upon entering the restaurant, not only did the pops of colour strike me, but also the hospitality of the team from receptionist, maître d’ to the waiter, all were sincerely warm and welcoming.

We were prompted to order the signature smashed avocado, as we browsed the menu, which we obliged. I simply needed something to curb the hunger pains, but to my surprise we were presented with theatre of the seasoned avocado with onion and tomato being smashed at the table. Interesting idea, but I would have preferred them to smash the avocado in the kitchen, instead of listening to the clanging of the clay pot at my table.

Interesting idea, but I would have preferred them to smash the avocado in the kitchen, instead of listening to the clanging of the clay pot at my table. All was forgiven when I tasted the avocado, it was delicious, and in that moment, I realised that the clanging must have involved some technique and perhaps, I should have paid more attention, so that I could replicate this at home. The smashed avocado was served with corn and shrimp crackers (priced at £8)

For starters we ordered the Soft shell crab, yuzu, aioli taco (priced at £12), and Kale, candied walnuts, goji, manchego and dried cranberry salad (priced at £9). The Tacos, were crunchy, slightly sweet and the sauce creamy. The salad…well lets face it salad’s definitely have a ceiling and this was a tasty salad if ever there was one, and was simply the perfect light starter for my meaty “greens free” main.

  • Smashed avocado

    £8.00

  • Soft shell crab, yuzu, aioli taco

    £12.00

For main I ordered the Costillas de Cerdo, which is Pork back ribs, tamarind glaze, and cashew nuts (£19). The ribs were sticky, sweet, slightly tart and wonderfully nutty. The portion size was plenty, and whilst I gave it a good go, I left a third of the dish behind.

To accompany my ribs, I ordered the Patatas Bravas a la Peruana, crispy potatoes, spicy tomato huancaina sauce (priced £6). The menu description served this dish perfectly, they were indeed crispy potatoes drizzled with both tomato and creamy sauces.

I had a really enjoyable Friday evening at Coya, Angel Court. The team were great, the food delicious, and the cocktails were also very good. Being a busy Friday night, it is understandable, but the only issue I encountered was a long wait to get the sommeliers attention to order some wine. Once he did tend to our table, he was helpful and knowledgeable. Despite this little blip, I would definitely return. I left this restaurant very happy, and very full.

  • Pork back ribs, tamarind glaze, and cashew nuts

    £19.00

  • Patatas Bravas a la Peruana

    £6.00

I had a really enjoyable Friday evening at Coya, Angel Court. The team were great, the food delicious, and the cocktails were also very good. Being a busy Friday night, it is understandable, but the only issue I encountered was a long wait to get the sommeliers attention to order some wine. Once he did tend to our table, he was helpful and knowledgeable. Despite this little blip, I would definitely return. I left this restaurant very happy, and very full.

  • Food

    9/10
  • Vibes

    8/10
  • Service

    9/10
  • Price

    9/10
  • Overall

    9/10

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The Meet, Clapham

The Meet

CLAPHAM

Jan 17, 2019

Once upon a time, I would have questioned whether it possible to enjoy a filling and satisfying meal, that was meat free. Today during a time when veganism is the fastest growing movement and diet choice, and with growth comes more diversity for what is still very niche within the eating out market. Veganuary options seem to have replaced dry January and clean eating dishes, across a lot of the casual dining restaurants. In doing so it almost suggests that Vegan food is healthy, when in fact a large portion of chips is vegan! Though I guess removal of meat/fish from your diet is sold as the biggest benefit. I personally do not follow fad diets (anymore), or remove anything from my diet that I enjoy on a short or long term basis, I decided to dip my top into veganuary waters for dinner.

The Meet, is a vegan pop up within the Fu Man Chu bar, under the railway bridge near Clapham North station, and the menu appealed to me for a few reasons.

The first was because The Meet is self described as offering vegan comfort food, secondly the menu descriptions were quite playful , starting with the name of the pop up being ‘ The Meet’, to menu item descriptions, ‘My Daaling’, ‘Pappardelle Don’t Preach’, and ‘Aint it cold out’, but lastly some of the ingredients used felt safe and familiar, due to my Caribbean reared palate. The menu includes use of Plantain , Jamaican style coconut curry, Roti, Jackfruit, and Scotch Bonet. That said it is by no means a Caribbean menu, it draws influence from all over the world, from Italian Pappardelle, Japanese Soba Noodles to Middle Eastern flavours.

The Exec chef is Dominic Taylor, who is the is formerly of the Jam Tree, Clapham, and I have always enjoyed their menu spread for the very same reasons, a nice eclectic mix of different types of cuisines, within a super causal setting.

The menu layout does not have actual starters, they have a small plates section, which you could treat as a starter, but felt more like accompaniments than dishes in their own right, and so I decided to go straight in for the main, and have an accompanying small plate, and a side.

I ordered ‘Aint It Cold Out’, (Priced at £12.50), which was roast yams, red pepper, spinach & chickpea Jamaican style coconut curry , served with Roti. The curry was spicy, sweet, and creamy, and with multiple layers of texture created from the peppers, chickpeas and yam. This dish was flavour filled and the portion size very generous.

The Roti, which accompanied the curry ,was slightly over fried, and so snapped instead of tore, but due to the generous curry portion, I was not overly concerned about it, though I did make the waiter aware, of which he apologised, and discounted the dish.

  • Aint it Cold Out

    £12.50

  • Roti

I hesitantly ordered the side of Plantain (Priced at £4.50) as I knew it was not really necessary, but my heart overruled my head ,and I ordered it anyway. I wish I had listened to my head, as though Plantain can be served in many ways acceptably, this plantain was not as ripe or as sweet as I would have liked.

As an additional side I ordered the ‘Mac Daddy O’, Mac and Cheese (Priced at £5.50), purely out of curiosity, as I am a huge macaroni cheese fan, and wanted to see how it would compare. It was rich, creamy, and topped with avocado, and chilli’s for a nice kick. Impressive for a non dairy cheese, and non egg based pasta.

  • Plantain

    £4.50

  • Ain’t It Cold Out and various sides

The curiosity continued into the dessert menu and I ordered the ‘Topsy Turvey’, which was a Pineapple and almond upside-down cake an coconut ice cream (Priced at £6.50). Sweet, and slightly tart, the coconut ice cream balanced this dessert out beautifully.

Topsy Turvy

£6.50

I really enjoyed my experience at The Meet, the service style is casual, the waiter helpful, with strong menu knowledge, the food for the most part was really enjoyable, filling and delectable. The Meet operates within a very different space, versus the other vegan/vegetarian restaurants, that I have visited in the past such as Tibits and The Gate, which I loved. I would definitely return to The Meet, for another Meat free treat.

  • Food

    8/10
  • Vibes

    7/10
  • Service

    7/10
  • Price

    9/10
  • Overall

    7/10

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Wingstop, Leicester Square

Wingstop

LEICESTER SQUARE

Dec 20, 2018

I had heard about Wing Stop long before it opened on Shaftsbury Avenue in October, Rick Ross (the rapper) has long talked and sung about the “lemon pepper chicken wings”, as he also owns Wing Stop franchises in the USA.

Friday lunch time, was super busy, with mostly men ages ranging from 20-50, most of which seemed to be taking part in a wing eating competition, as I hilariously saw dozens of stacks of bones on each table.

Wing Stop simply does what it says on the tin, a fried chicken concept with chicken wings, boneless wings and chicken tenders, tossed in 1 of 10 sauce flavours, along with an accompanying dip. The sauce flavours vary from the sweet and tangy, hickory smoked bbq, spicy korean, and at the top of the heat tree is atomic, which is the hottest sauce on this list (which I ordered obviously). The dips include ranch, blue cheese and honey mustard. Apart from chicken, the menu options are limited to, fries, slaw, and drinks.

Wings are served in varied portion sizes, and were far more filling than they looked. We ordered the lemon pepper boneless chicken wings (10 piece), parmesan chicken wings (10 piece), atomic chicken wings (10 piece), 1x large cheese fries, 1x small fries, and 1x sweet potato fries, this was far too much food for three people, and we ended up taking a doggy bag with us. Total meal (priced at £46.70), also included 3 freestyle drinks.

Lemon Pepper Boneless Wings, Parmesan and Atomic Wings with Fries, Sweet Potato Fries and Cheese Sauce

The service mechanic works very much like Shack Shack, you order and pay at the counter, and you are given a buzzer which vibrates when your meal is ready. The transaction itself was pleasant enough, but even with an efficient service style, two out of three portions of wings were lukewarm, and the fries were not particularly hot either.

Boneless Wings, various flavours

Even though the food was not served as hot as I would have liked, the chicken was still enjoyable, partly due to the delicious sauces. The boneless wings were really succulent, and coated in a nice crispy coating. A nice addition to the London fast casual scene, I would say. What I know for sure, is that my brothers will love this!

  • Food

    7/10
  • Vibes

    6/10
  • Service

    6/10
  • Price

    7/10
  • Overall

    6/10

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Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

Bob Bob Ricard

SOHO

Nov 26, 2018

I was invited to Bob Bob Ricard for lunch by a colleague, and went along with slight apprehension, as the last time I visited I was not impressed . This time around, a complete u-turn and I am understanding enough to know that we can all have an off day.

What I noticed the first time around, and was more apparent on this visit was the attention to detail, everything in sight was well considered and bespoke. From the plate ware , uniforms, napkins, and flooring, everything is specially designed and made for this restaurant, complimenting a blue vintage blue leather upholstery, and the many private booths, giving the feeling of seclusion within a open plan restaurant.

A very beautiful interior will always result in high expectations for food and quality, because surely someone would not go to such effort to create such beauty, without serving great food within it right?

This was the type of lunch, where I was not able to eat again until late the following day, we ordered more than necessary in what ended up being a four course lunch, for absolutely no reason at all but greed on the day.

We started with the White Sturgeon Caviar, which is served as 20g portion (Priced at £28).

As a starter, I had what ended up being my second favourite part of lunch (after dessert), which was the Egg St. Petersburg, which was a beautiful and delicious soft boiled hens egg, scotched in mushroom duxelles, served with pickled forest mushrooms and mixed leaves (Priced at £8.50).

  • White Sturgeon Caviar

    £28.00

  • Egg St. Petersburg

    £8.50

By this time, I was starting to feel a little full, and so opted for some fish as a main, and ordered the Sole with Lobster and Champagne Veloute, the sole was lightly steamed, and served on a bed of spinach (Priced at £26.50).

Whilst I admittedly was bursting at seams, I do not regret ordering what came next. There was theatre, being presented with a gold chocolate ball, which then melted when the chocolate sauce was poured over it. The BBR Signature Chocolate Glory, was made up of a chocolate jivara mousse, chocolate brownie, berries and passionfruit & orange jelly (Priced at £15.50). Definitely my favourite course for lunch, but then I do have a real sweet tooth.

  • Sole with Lobster & Champagne Veloute

    £26.50

  • BBR Signature Chocolate Glory

    £15.50

I really enjoyed my lunch at Bob Bob Ricard, and I am glad that I returned, as I now better understand the reviews I had read prior to my first visit. This restaurant reminded me of the power of setting an expectation, and providing that a restaurant follows through with great food and service to compliment the environment, it can make the meal all the sweeter.

  • Food

    7/10
  • Vibes

    8/10
  • Service

    8/10
  • Price

    8/10
  • Overall

    8/10

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Street XO, Mayfair

Street XO

MAYFAIR

Nov 12, 2018

For a dining experience to tantalise all of my senses, to the extremes that Street XO was able to, is fairly unique, even here in the food metropolis that is London. In retrospect, I feel as though I sat permanently looking like the wide eyed emoji, as from entering the restaurant until leaving there was something that I either heard, saw, tasted, smelled or touched that provoked a response, all of which were positive.

The journey begun taking the stairs down to the dim lit basement restaurant, being met with neon signage, pops of colour, and a open planned kitchen, which produces the unique fusion of European, Asian and South American eye catching sharing dishes, along with big and bold bespoke cocktail vessels.

Whenever I have read rave reviews about a restaurant, I am keen to explore as much of the menu as a possible. This is not the type of restaurant that I would casually visit on a regular basis, and so my aim was to make this visit count, and cover off as much of the menu as possible, by selecting a tasting menu. Opting for the Degustation Menu (priced at £70 per person), which is eight courses, including all of the signature dishes and a dessert.

The Usuzukuri-Carpaccio of Hamachi “Fish and Chips”, with Aji Amarillo and Yuzu (4 each), I can only describe as Sushi (Hamachi is species of a Jack Fish) commonly used in Japanese cooking, puffed rice and a thin lightly fried potato in a rich yolk-like sauce.

The beautifully vibrant Irish Oysters on Holiday to Acapulco, which is Robata-chargrilled Oysters, Gazpacho of Jalapeno and Tomatillo Verde, chlorophyll olive choice (2 each). The Oysters tasted as punchy as they look, with a subtly spiced tomato sauce.

  • Usuzukuri-Carpaccio of Hamachi

  • Irish Oysters on Holiday to Acapulco

The Pekinese Dumplings, Crunchy Pigs Ear, Strawberry Hoisin, Alioli and Pickles, looked mostly like a work of art, and combined an array of textures and flavours that fused wonderfully.

Galician Octopus who spoke indian, roasted tomatoes butter masala and quid ink crackers.

  • Pekinese Dumplings, Crunchy Pigs Ear

  • Galician Octopus who spoke Indian

Spanish “Socarrat” Paella, with wok flamed langoustines and Japanese white sesame dressing (to share).

The Lamb who travelled, Paris-Lima-Canton, Slow Cooked Milk-Fed Baby Lamb Shank, Pomme Puree a la robuchon with aji Amarillo and Chinese smoked tea. The lamb was soft, succulent, and the mashed potato silky smooth.

  • Spanish “Socarrat” Paella

  • The Lamb who travelled

Dessert was a twist on a Eton Mess including a popcorn, and is listed on the menu as ‘Dessert of the Day’.

I generally do not review drinks, but I have to make an exception, as the cocktails here, were just so damn good looking and great tasting.

Pedroche’s Egg, Cahaca white chocolate, with yuzu and mango chutney (priced at £16). The egg is brought to the table, and then liquid nitrogen is poured over the egg to cause the smoky appearance. Really sweet, fruity cocktail, and more than enough to share.

XO Blood!!! Watermelon, bitter almonds, citrus and galangal (priced at £13), I actually found this vessel slightly disturbing, so much so, that it started to effect the taste of the cocktail. This cocktail was sweet and tart, but in my mind, I managed to conjure up the belief that I was drinking blood, and so quickly stopped. My mind clearly ran away with me…

  • Pedroche’s Egg

    £16.00

  • XO Blood!!!

    £13.00

My absolute favourite cocktail was the Liquid Madrizzzzzz Driver XO, Voilet shrub, lime, ginger and jasmine perfume (priced at £14). It was fragrant, peppery and spicy, I include a picture of myself holding the glass below, to give you an idea of scale of the glass, and yes it was HUGE.

Street XO was a roller coaster that I did not want to climb down from. The dishes were bursting with flavour, creativity and aesthetically pleasing. They have been able to carve out a very unique space within the London restaurant scene, with a restaurant and menu, which feels as though its bursting with energy, and all done so within what still felt like a fairly causal service style and environment.

The service was attentive, the staff were knowledgeable about the menu content, and I left with a smile on my face, my experience was flawless.

  • Food

    9/10
  • Vibes

    9/10
  • Service

    9/10
  • Price

    9/10
  • Overall

    9/10

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805 Restaurant, Peckham

805 Restaurant

PECKHAM

Oct 29, 2018

For the eight years I have lived in London, and I have been repeatedly recommended 805 Nigerian Restaurant as the best place to go to enjoy authentic Nigerian food. I personally have limited experience with Nigerian food, having eaten it only twice before, once at a wedding and the second at Ikoyi, which is Nigerian food with a European twist.  The food at 805 was delicious, and I only regret going for a quick lunch, and so will definitely return in the near future, to explore more of the menu.

I am a firm believer that food authenticity, is often reflected in the types of customers a restaurant attracts. The location Peckham, otherwise known as ‘Little Lagos’, and so the location being where there is a large Nigerian community, my guess is that this business could not have amassed the reputation it has, without doing something right on the door step of those who know, what ‘right’ looks and tastes like. Diners were mostly Nigerian varying from families, lone diners, couples and everything in between. The décor and purple lighting created an atmosphere of a family christening or celebration.

I went for a safe option and ordered for the Jollof Rice and the Chicken Stew (priced £13), this came accompanied with a side salad and some plantain. The chicken was slow cooked and tender, the tomato sauce seasoned and really flavoursome. The Jollof was and spicy, tomatoey and the tastiest Jollof that I have eaten.

  • Jollof Rice

    £13.00 (with chicken)

  • Chicken Stew

    £13.00 (with rice)

The waitress was friendly, and helpful, though the service was a little slow, and it took somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour to be served our meals. That said, the speed of service would not deter me from returning to 805 Restaurant, because all of the positives massively outweighed the one negative. Great food, I will definitely be back.

  • Food

    8/10
  • Vibes

    6/10
  • Service

    8/10
  • Price

    9/10
  • Overall

    7/10

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Jambo Zanzibar

Jambo Zanzibar

TANZANIA

Oct 18, 2018

Beautiful Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a beautiful island off the east coast of mainland Tanzania, and is made up of 52 islands, two of which are large, Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba Island, and the remainder small islands.

Muslims, Hindus and Christians live harmoniously in Zanzibar, though the majority of Zanzibaris are Muslims. Local attitudes towards tourists dress code is very relaxed. On sight seeing tours, such as boat trips and island tours shorts and vests are the norm. When walking through the city of stone town, tourists are respectful of the local customs, and whilst still comfortably wearing my usual holiday gear, you will not see tourists walking through the city in a bikini top. Beaches are very laxed, and typical beach wear is worn by all.

The locals are very friendly, and generally curious to understand where you are from, and the intrigue heightens as a black female of African origin, but from the United Kingdom, by way of Jamaica. I was made to feel very welcome, and at home, though the warmth I experienced extends to all visitors to the island.

Similar to travelling to places like North Africa, and Turkey the locals actively try to encourage you to purchase through light conversation, though there does come a point, where you have to politely smile and keep on walking, otherwise you could spend the day talking to dozens of sellers willing you on to make a purchase.

With a full two weeks on the island, we decided to spend one week in tranquillity, a place called Matemwe, which is the North East of the island. We stayed in a boutique bungalow in the middle of a village, and by the coast. The bungalows were beautiful, though the manager of the hotel was truly awful, so I wont say a great deal, beyond stay clear of the Kasha Boutique Hotel. Staying here allowed for far more relaxation than I would have liked, and a huge reliance on taxi-ing across town to do sight seeing, visit beaches and to go partying. Matemwe was wonderful, but for me Zanzibar came alive on the second week, which was spent in the city of Stone Town, which is the South East of the island, and we stayed in a central location, at the Hilton, Shaghani Street (which comes very highly recommended), which was a 10 minute walk away from loads of great restaurants, the beach and shopping areas.

There are a few reasons that I love to travel, the first is change of scenery, the second is change in climate, and the third and most important is for the food. For this reason I am going to share with you my best food and drink experiences, along with my reviews of some other great things to do on the island.

Food

Zanzibar’s culinary scene is a reminder of how history impacts the present, and how all that we experience today whether architecture, food, and traditions, they all are firmly routed in history. The Arabs, Indians, Portuguese and the British have all left a trail of their presence in Zanzibar, an whilst in some instances it was under the negative circumstances of colonisation, slavery, and trade wars. What remains there today is an island that has clear culinary ties with its past, which led to a diverse and amazing culinary experience there today.

For breakfast

Hilton Hotel, Shanghani Street

Like many large hotel groups, the Hilton hotel serve buffet style breakfasts very well, catering for all tastes every day. My most enjoyable breakfast was a traditional Zanzibari breakfast, of Beef Sausages with Spinach, Arrow Root, and Maharage ya Nazi (kidney beans cooked in coconut milk), which is also one half of Tanzania’s national dish.

Not a breakfast for someone wanting something ‘light’, it reminded me of a traditional Jamaican breakfast including Ackee and Saltfish, Yam and Green Banana, which my dad would have on a Sunday when I was growing up. A heavy breakfast, but delicious and flavoursome.

Breakfast at the Hilton is priced at $15 US Dollars (£11.53) per day.

Arrow root, Maharage ya Nazi, Beef Sausage and Spinach

For Seafood

Beach house restaurant and bar, Shanghani Street

This restaurant embodied the multicultural history of Zanzibar in both the interiors and décor of the restaurant, and also on the menu. The menu uses a map to pin point key influences, with accompanying dishes e.g Oman, India and Zanzibar.  The beach house lured me in as I walked to another nearby location for lunch, because of the pristine reception and breath taking views, visible from the street.

Beach house restaurant

I ordered the “Pemba Island Bouillabaisse”, which was mix of seafood served in a garlic, and pepper based broth including  Crab, Red Snapper, Cigale, and topped with croutons. It was delicious, the seafood fresh and the service pretty good. Priced at 18,000 Tanzanian Shillings (£6.00)

Pemba Island Bouillabaisse

£6.00

For Traditional food

Lukmaan Restaurant, New Mkunazini Road

I have mixed feelings writing about this restaurant, it definitely is a must to visit, with a large range of traditional foods, at really low prices, though the service and disorder left a slight sour taste. Upon entering the restaurant, two things were not explained.  The first is that you are able to  order at the counter, and collect/pay for your food there, or you can opt for table service.  The second is that prior to prayer and 45 minutes afterwards NO food is served, and so we proceeded to wait 1.5 hours for food that was already cooked, and simply needed serving. The clued up diners were able to wonder into the restaurant after pray time, and get served within 10 minutes! So the service left something to be desired, but the food was good.

We ordered eight dishes between two, which was far too much….but it all of came to a total of 14,000 shillings (£4.68)!

Chapati, Red Beans, Plantain, Fried Fish and Peas and Carrots

For Lunch

Emerson Spice, Secret Garden, Tharia Street

I absolutely adored this secret garden, so much so that I visited twice during my week in Stone Town.  It is an example of when all things wonderful come together, and create magic. The team wearing vibrant mustard Kanzu’s (which is the traditional male clothing) were warm, hospitable and gave 10/10 attentive service. The pop of colour continued throughout the garden to crockery, napkins, and artwork.

The garden was surprisingly quiet, given that it was located in the middle of the shopping area, The high stone walls allowed for a lovely lunch and a well needed relief from the sun. Last but not least, the lunch was simple, flavoursome, fresh and great value for money. We ordered the Fish cakes, thought I forgot to take note of the price..I assure you like everywhere in Stone Town, it was good value for money.

Lunch, setting and service were absolute perfection.

  • Emerson Secret Garden

  • Fish Cakes, Secret Garden

For Cocktail’s

Beach house restaurant and bar, Shanghani Street

Zanzibar is otherwise known as a “spice island”, due to the number of spices farmed, used domestically and also exported across the world. This is evident, whilst eating and drinking around Zanzibar, and very apparent in what I can only describe as the most delicious gin based cocktail, that I have EVER drank.

Going by the name of ‘Ginger Kiss’, it ingredients included spiced gin (of course), cinnamon, ginger, and spiced ice cream.  Priced at 18,000 Shillings (£6.00)

  • Ginger Kiss

    £6.00

  • Ginger Kiss

    £6.00

For Dinner

Emerson on Hurumzi Restaurant, Hurumzi Street

Emerson on Hurumzi is a part of the same group who run the Emerson spice, secret gardens and tea rooms. What this group does very well is creating beautiful and comfortable spaces, with great food. My final night was spent sat on the floor enjoying a selection of tapas style dishes including Changu parcel, fish cakes and goat curry. Serving a fixed five course menu for $30 dollars (£23.34), and was also the only restaurant that I needed to book a table for throughout the two weeks in Zanzibar. With limited capacity, and being in pretty high demand, it was a necessity, two days in advance. A $10 deposit was also required to secure the booking.

  • Emerson on Hurumzi Restaurant

  • Tapas

For a refreshing drink

No idea where, random street corner!

Now I appreciate that the below is diabetes in a cup, and at home, I do not actually drink soft drinks or any drinks with added sugar. However I made the exception for my holiday, I fell in love with two sugar filled drinks. The first was Stoney Tangawizi ginger beer, and the second was sugar cane juice with lime. It was a lot of work for the seller to produce the sugar cane juice, but the results were sweet and refreshing.

  • Stoney Tangawizi

  • Sugar cane juice

To avoid..

Forodhani Gardens

In all of the reviews that I read, this was described as a night market (which it is), and a hub of local street food served by dozens of vendors (which it also is). What the reviews fail to mention is that in the same way there is ‘encouragement’ to buy in the shopping markets, this is mirrored here. The main difference is that 90% of the food vendors are selling exactly same food, as the vendor before and after, which is laid out for hours, and heated upon you selecting your options. Whilst the food is cheap, there are no prices listed on anything similar to tourist shopping area.

Possibly because I work within the industry, I am really mindful of food safety, and so I limited my purchases to a traditional mango soup, which is usually drank for breakfast by the Zanzibaris. This breakfast is also commonly available on street corners around Zanzibar, so I would suggest 

Beaches

Zanzibar’s beaches are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, white fine sandy beaches, with crystal clear blue seas. Dependent upon the time of year you choose to travel, the tide can effect the amount of seaweed on the beaches, and this varied from beach to beach.

Kendwa Beach

My favourite beach in Zanzibar, this beach was a large open space, beautiful and clean. Its the type of beauty that you could simply sit and take in for the entire day, and so we did exactly that.  The openness does mean that there is no shade on the beach apart from the restaurants.  As well as restaurants, there are hotels, stalls and water sports available on this beach.  Located on the far north of the island, this beach was a 45 minute drive from Matemwe.

Kendwa Beach

Nungwi

Nungwi was a further 15 minutes north of Kendwa beach, and was another beautiful beach, with white fine sand, this time of the year suffered high tides with seaweed along the beach.

Nungwi Beach

Kwale Island Beach

I was able to visit this beautiful beach on the Safari blue tour, which includes a boat ride, optioning snorkelling, visiting a Baobab tree, lunch, and the visit to the most beautiful sandbank. This beach was a 45 minute boat trip from Stone island.

  • Kwale Island

  • Kwale Island

Night life

Wakiki

If you want to go to a club that feels remotely African in anyway, avoid this club like the plague. For the same reason I do not want to go on holiday to eat English food, I do not want to go on holiday to party somewhere that looks and feels like England, where African’s are the minority, and those present were entertainment for the European men/women. Its the kind of place I avoid at home, and so definitely would not want to experience this in Africa. The music was euro techno/house, so all in all my idea of hell.

Bwani

Bwani is a traditional club, playing different types of music, but mostly afro beats. It is really casual, and I would have felt overdressed if I had worn a party dress. It is mostly locals with a few tourists, and all in all good vibes, and it is on until 5am most nights of the week. The one area of this club that should be condemned are the toilets, they were truly GROSS.

Taperia

A tapas restaurant by day, a cool bar with live music by night, and we stumbled across this bar we could hear the live music blaring out into the street as we walked back from dinner. We returned to this bar three nights in a row to see different reggae bands perform, and mixture of locals and tourists dancing away on the small dance floor. Good vibes.

6 Degrees North

A relatively small roof top bar, playing music on a Friday night, this was the place to go as Taperia finished fairly early at 12am. Good DJ (for me a good DJ plays the music I like..so that included R&B, Reggae, Hip Hop, and some pop music) , nice cocktails, but a really small space, good vibes and again a mix of locals and tourists.

CCM

This was described to me as a bar, but I would describe it as a community hall serving drinks, with a stage with a traditional Zanzibari band performing. What was lovely is that its the type of place that people go to with families, friends and partners, some of which got up to dance, with a 100+ audience, its the type of venue that exists to keep the traditions of old school music alive. It was 99% locals, the 1% was my friend and I, definitely one to check out.

Shopping

Darajani market

Is a huge market mostly used by locals for food, textile, and general household items. Interesting to visit to have a wonder, and on the weekend is very busy. I purchased some material, and was able to find a dress maker to make me some clothing items for £7 a piece.

Tourist Shopping

There are hundreds of stalls in the centre of Zanzibar, running along Gizenga Street, and Kenyatta Road, you could quite easily spend hours wondering around shopping for jewellery, paintings, arts and crafts, ornaments etc. Similar to the bazars in Morocco, the sellers enjoy the haggle, and you can usually push your originally quoted prices down by 60%, not because your mean, just because the sellers starting point always seems to be an over inflated price.

Site Seeing

There are tons of different sight seeing tours available, I strongly recommend using Trip advisor for tour guides, as many tend to share the contact details of the tour guides, which was mostly my reference. There are many spice tours available, as spices are one of Zanzibar’s biggest exports, I visited tortoise aquarium’s, prison island, and a Stone town tour by foot, which was great to learn the history, whilst seeing what remains of history in different guises, one of the most powerful being the slavery museum.

In summary Zanzibar was safe, affordable, hot, full of beauty and great fun. The only downside was that the bees were humongous, the mosquitos ate there way through my deterrent, and chomped at my skin, and the bats at night were scary has hell!

Asante Sana (Thank you very much) Zanzibar, you were amazing!!


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Park’s Edge, Herne Hill

Park’s Edge

HERNE HILL

Sep 24, 2018

I am always super excited to discover a new eatery local to where I live, because if great, its easy for me repeatedly return, with ease of getting home, avoiding trains, tubes and hoards of people.

Parks Edge Bar and Kitchen is located on the Norwood road opposite Brockwell Park, the restaurant is cosy enough to feel like a neighbourhood restaurant, but it looks more like a west end restaurant because of the carefully considered interior, including beautiful light fittings, blue upholstery and a vintage art work.

There is a clear Caribbean thread running throughout the bar and food menu. The bar menu, is appropriately named “Island Cocktails”, and heavily features different rums, sorrel and tropical fruit. The food menu has more of a sprinkle of Caribbean influence, with the use of jerk seasoning, plantain and rum cake.

The starter was an easy choice, and I ordered the Jerk Hummus, Pineapple, Yoghurt, Flatbread (priced at £7.50). The jerk added a warm kick to the hummus, which worked really well. In the middle of the hummus a pineapple chutney and yoghurt which balanced out the heat of the jerk.

For main, I ordered the Grilled Whole Mackerel, Black Cabbage, Shrimp, Lime, Ginger and Chicken Skin on Rice (priced at £16.50). The Mackerel was grilled to perfection, the skin crispy and the flesh almost melt in the mouth. The dish itself was cooked well, I just felt that there was too many things going on at once, both in my mouth and on the plate.

  • Jerk Hummus, Pineapple Chutney, Yoghurt and Flatbread

    £7.50

  • Grilled Whole Mackerel

    £16.50 (including rice)

The mackerel came accompanied with something referred to as ‘chicken skin on rice’, which actually tasted more like a cross between rice and peas and risotto. On its own very nice, but given that my main was already very busy, it added an unwanted further confusion to my taste buds.

I ordered the fried plantain with indo (priced at 3.95), which was not what I was expecting. Where plantain is usually served, fried, plump and sweet, this plantain was not particularly sweet and dried.

  • Chicken skin on rice

  • Fried plantain with Indo

    £3.95

It was absolutely not necessary to order a dessert (is it ever?), but I did anyway. The Banana and Rum Cake, Pineapple, Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream (priced at £6.50).

The Banana and Rum cake was delicious, moist and delicate. The huge dollop of coconut foam that covered the ice cream, went on to over power everything else on the plate, to my disappointment.

Similar to the main, I just think that if they had stripped the dessert back, to simply the cake and the ice cream, it would have been divine.

The Banana and Rum Cake Pineapple, Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream

As someone who has eaten in restaurants extensively for the past 18 years, my key take away from eating at my favourite burger restaurant to my favourite Michelin star, is that they use the best quality ingredients, and keep it simple. Those that do not keep it simple, create art for the taste buds, carefully constructed dishes, with a perfect balance of all flavours on the canvas.

Park Grill ticks many boxes, on what a great restaurant is made up of, the environment is lovely, the staff and service friendly and attentive, the food quality was unquestionable, I simply believe that they have a very enthusiastic chef, who cooks very well, I just personally felt that the dishes were over-complicated and unbalanced.

  • Food

    6/10
  • Vibes

    8/10
  • Service

    8/10
  • Price

    8/10
  • Overall

    7/10

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