This is a very short post to recommend La Pasta to anyone visiting Zurich.
La Pasta is without a doubt my favourite restaurant in Zurich Old Town.
The staff are friendly, the food is delicious and its not crazy expensive... what more do I need in a restaurant?
I was introduced to la Pasta by a friend shortly after I first moved to Zurich and I have been returning whenever I am in Zurich for a day shopping or meeting people for dinner... on occasion I just take the train in just to go for lunch.
Their lunch daily menu is very good value and although I usually order vongole I have been tempted by the specials on many occasions... the problem with deviating is that the vongole is by far the best I have eaten ANYWHERE else.... and so even when I am eating something else that is scrummy I can't stop thinking about the vongole. The pasta if homemade and they have an AMAZING stock. I'd love to get the recipe.
As I finish writing this this I am mentally planning a Christmas shopping trip to Zurich just so I can go for lunch.... its been to long.
La Pasta, Niederdorfstrasse 80, 8001 Zürich
Belvoir Park is the hotel and restaurant training school in Zurich. I’m pretty sure the guys who work here have already reached a good level before they decided to let them loose on the public because everyone we came across greeted us with a smile and a hello, service was excellent and nothing appeared to be too much effort.
They were happy to answer questions and looked like they were genuinely happy to be there… which was like a breath of fresh air.
We have eaten here before in the evening when the whole building is beautifully illuminated. there is a lovely atmosphere inside this stunning building which also plays host to all kinds of events from corporate dinners to weddings.
We arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon and enjoyed the shade in on the terrace. It was a beautiful day and the terrace was a little hot but we didn't mind too much...
The lunch was either A La Carte or buffet. We all decided to choose the buffet option as there was a good selection available as you can see from the photos....
The food is quite traditional, smoked salmon, beef tartare, salads, mozzarella, parma ham etc for starters and the mains were roast beef, veal, or lamb, served with roti or gratin potatoes and vegetables. Everything was really delicious, well presented, well cooked and so good that we went back several times for more helpings... ahh the beauty of the buffet !!!
Desserts are brought to the table on a big trolly. Again, quite traditional for example - creme slice, chocolate cake, strawberry tart, mixed fruit and carrot cake... and again, everything was just perfectly presented and tasted delicious... and the best bit... you can select several desserts... so we all got to try exactly what we wanted with no 'sharing' issues...
We had a thoroughly fabulous afternoon... 3 hours.. eating wonderful food and drinking delicious wine in a lovely setting on a beautiful summer day in Zurich. We rolled away and didn't eat for the rest of the day......
I would highly recommend a visit to Belvoir Park to anyone without any hesitation....
Belvoirpark Hotelfachschule Zürich
Telefon +41 44 286 88 11
This was a trip of firsts for me. It was my first time to Amsterdam and The Netherlands and also my first experience of Air B&B.
My friend an I had an absolutely fabulous time. We loved everything about Amsterdam. The people were incredibly friendly, everybody chatted with us and appeared really relaxed. Maybe because they cycle to work and have a good work/life balance? I have no idea, but it made for a great trip.
We arrived on a Wednesday and left on the Saturday. We wanted to avoid the weekend tourists and if the amount of people we saw arrive on Friday afternoon was any indication - I'm glad we did. We did a few of the 'must see' tourist things but also spent a lot of time wandering along the canals and just enjoying the city.
Here are my thoughts on a few things that we did...
First opened in 1800 The Rijkesmuseum is the national Museum of The Netherlands dedicated to Art and History. The Art collection is huge with Paintings from Old Dutch maters such as Hals, Vermeer and of course Rembrandt. The building that houses the museum is beautiful and the museum is very well laid out, with lots of room around the exhibits for everyone to get a good view. It does get very busy so I'd advise getting there early. Even the cafe had a queue at 11.00am
The admission price was 17.50 euro, and I would recommend buying the tickets online to avoid queuing.
Museumstraat 1 Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum
With the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings all under one roof The Van Gogh museum is a must see on any trip to Amsterdam. The number of 'recognisable' Van Gogh paintings here is just staggering. It was also really interesting to read about Van Gogh's letters to his brother and learn about his family life and a bit more of his history.
Tickets are 17.00euro each for adults and I definitely would buy them online in advance and try and get the 9.00am ones. This gallery was VERY busy when we visited on a Thursday in mid April (not the school holidays). There was a massive queue to buy tickets when we arrived at 8.30 and this was even longer when we left.
1071 DJ Amsterdam
Moco Museum - Banksy and Salvador Dali Exhibition
This was my absolute favourite thing in Amsterdam. I love the work of Banksy and to be able to see the HUGE collection here was a bonus. I had no idea the collection was here and we literally stumbled upon it as we walked to the Van Gough Museum. The tickets were only 12.50 euro and when we went there wasn't even a queue. Maybe not everybody knows Banksy ? Possibly people didn't know the exhibition was here ? I have no idea, but it worked to our benefit.
Museum Square - between the Rijkesmuesum and the Van Gough Museum.
Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in The Attic Museum)
This Museum was suggested by a friend and it was quite a surprise. In 1663 when people weren't allowed to celebrate Catholic mass this church was built hidden in the attic of one of the canalside houses. Before we got there I really thought it would be like a one room shrine, but its is an actual church.... quite amazing.
Keukenhof - Tulip Fields.
We were lucky to have some friends who live nearby Amsterdam who offered to take us to the tulip fields. You can get a coach, and there were LOTS of them, either online or through a hotel concierge. Its about a 40 min drive outside the city, but if you have time its certainly well worth doing. Its quite staggering how many tulips are here (apparently more than 7 million.
We visited for about 3 hours and didn't see everything.
Its 16 euro per adult to visit and then you are free to wander and relax in the beautiful grounds. There are plenty of spots to enjoy a snack or a coffee.
Its only open for the tulip season between March and May so check online.
So thats the touristy stuff out of the way.... where did we eat ??
We arrived into Amsterdam around 8.30 pm and so after we got to our houseboat it was quite late. We were tired and wanted to be able to eat quickly and get to bed early. We had dinner in Bar Mash which was very close to where we were staying. They serve Thai food and the Thai curry was delicious. We ordered a red curry and a penang curry with a couple of beers.
Service was speedy (just what we needed) and the food was as good as any I have had in Thailand. We got great service from very friendly staff.
Located in a very 'local' area De Pijp which is buzzing with restaurants and bars.
La Purete coffee
Fabulous little coffee shop in a beautiful building. We noticed it as we were photographing the buildings nearby. It got very busy with a local crowd taking their coffee to the office. The Vietnamese coffee was excellent and their apple muffins were scrummy too. .
We stopped in for breakfast, It is very close to the flower market.
The Lobby at Nesplein
I booked online a week or so before our trip and I'm glad I did as the whole restaurant was packed with tables turning over quickly. Most of the diners were locals, which is always a good place to be.
Service was very good - until after the starters were cleared away then it slowed down considerably. This wasn't a problem for us as we were happy to enjoy the atmosphere.
The food was excellent. The menu isn't huge - which is something I always like. I'm happier if restaurants offer fewer dishes and cook them well. The Lobby did just this. The food was tasty, well prepared and not too expensive.
I'd recommend this restaurant to friends visiting Amsterdam.
Tunes Bar at The Conservatorium Hotel
Our friends took us to this bar in the Conservatorium hotel and we had a fabulous time drinking gin and chatting to the bar staff. They had lots of knowledge about gin and made excellent recommendations based on our gin preferences. They were frienldy and chatted to us about Dutch gins and even gave us a great recommendation of where to buy local gins before we returned home. There was also a nice supply of nuts at the bar.
De Silveren Spiegel
In a 17th century building De Silveren Spiegel looks like it could collapse if there was a strong wind... We had a late dinner here with friends who live in Amsterdam. They only offer a set menu on Friday and Saturday which I think is good value for the quality of food, however there didn't appear to be much flexibility. The first courses were excellent, Service was also very good. Its quite a formal setting and the tables are laid out beautifully. For us things went slightly downhill with the meat course. We didn't feel the standard was as high as the fish courses, and the service also went slightly downhill... maybe it was too late, I'm not sure. I don't like rhubarb, which was the dessert and so I had to pay a supplement for a cheese plate instead (no alternative) and to be honest the cheese plate was pretty miserable. It was served with the same rolls we had when we arrived, but at this point in the evening they were really hard.
I would recommend this restaurant to friends - however I would suggest making a reservation on a night when the a la carte menu is served.
We stayed in a house boat I booked via the website Air B&B.
As I mentioned it was the first time I have used this site and so I was equally nervous and excited. Everything went smoothly so I had no reason to worry.
We arrived and Anne Marike was there at the house boat to meet us and give us the keys.
She explained how everything worked and gave a couple of tips for the evenings in Amsterdam. The boat was in a more residential area than the chaos of the main touristy streets and was a great location to start sightseeing and visiting the museums I wrote about above. The houseboat on Air B&B I'd use Air B&B again and I have just booked for a trip to Vienna and Budapest.... I'll update with a blog all about that trip in a few months.
I booked a room and table at Schloss Schauenstein as a present for my husband's 50th birthday. It is pricy. Its not an everyday kind of thing, but it was absolutely spectacular and the best meal experience we have had to date.
I use the words 'meal experience' because I really felt that from the moment we arrived to the moment we left the next morning we ate and drank such high quality delicious treats as well as an amazing meal that to simply describe it as 'dinner' somehow just isn't enough.
Andreas Caminada is the chef at Schloss Schauenstein and he has 3 Michelin Stars and 19 Gault Millau points. I'll be honest and tell you that I had never heard of him before a friend suggested this as a gift for my husband, but now I am firmly a fan.
Everything about Schloss Schauenstein was just perfect.
We were greeted warmly when we arrived and our car was parked for use whilst our bags were carried up to the 'Luft Suite' in the tower where we were staying. There was a lovely welcome note on the table for us with two beautiful chocolates.
Our suite was AMAZING. a great view of the local countryside and a bathroom stocked with Molton Brown toiletries, big towels and bathrobes. The hairdryer even had a diffuser...
After settling in (and eating the welcome chocolates) we decided to have a glass of champagne on the terrace. As a nice surprise this was complimentary as was a platter of delightful small snacks that arrived alongside it. The terrace was a lovely spot to wind down after the drive and to enjoy the beautiful sunshine that we were lucky enough to experience that day.
A lovely bubble bath followed the champagne before we descended the stairs to the bar for pre-dinner drinks.. and delicious amuse bouche from the kitchen.
Here are a few photos from the interior of the Schloss...
Dinner was 3, 4, 5 or 6 courses with the option to add 2 surprise courses... As it was a special occasion we opted for 6 courses and the 2 surprise courses.... and we couldn't think of a good reason not to...
From the moment we started eating the amuse bouche in the bar to the final plate of petits fours which were served with tea back in the bar EVERYTHING was delicious. In fact the word delicious doesn't really do justice to it.
At the table in the restaurant there was a little packet of cards with a description of each course printed on it. Anyone who has eaten in this type of fine dining restaurant will appreciate how much this really helps when actually eating the food ( and especially if you aren't giving the waiter 100% attention when he is describing each plate)
I have added lots of photos of the food as an album. I'm not going to bore you with descriptions of each dish, and I think the photos are enough to convince anyone how spectacular the food was...
At the end of the meal Chef Caminada came into the restaurant to greet the diners and spent several minutes talking to every table effortlessly switching between German, Italian and English. He is charming, friendly and deserves every bit of praise he gets. I can not say enough good things about Schloss Schauenstein.
The evening ended with fresh peppermint tea and petits fours in the bar..... which was just about as much as we could manage before we rolled up to bed......
The next morning we walked over to a small building alongside the castle for breakfast... which as I am sure you can guess was scrummy. We has champagne (we I did since I wasn't driving) a selection of juices, pastries, breads, cereals, cold meats, cheeses, and fresh fruit before being served perfectly cooked eggs. It was a truly perfect ending to what was an unforgettable experience.
If you get a chance to go to Schloss Schauenstein TAKE IT - you will not regret it!!
It is not easy to get a hotel booking as they are snapped up, but there are often cancellations so it is worth checking back on the website.
Schauenstein Schloss Restaurant Hotel
Here is a little summary of where we stayed and ate during our 2 weeks in NYC. As with all the places I write about none of these places paid me or gave me free food in return for any kind of reviews
Le Parker Meridian
We stayed here once before and LOVED it, however it is usually one of the more expensive hotels in NYC and so we usually choose the slightly cheaper The Westin at Grand Central.
For whatever reason this trip we were able to get very good rates. Maybe we booked far enough in advance… I have no idea but I was certainly very happy about it.
When we arrived we were upgraded to a junior suite (That Lifetime Platinum Starwood membership has its advantages) which was nice and after a long flight we just completely crashed out, unaware that the room had not been de feathered as per our profile. This wasn't a great start and I woke up on Sunday morning feeling pretty miserable and very congested but everything was rectified quickly and the duvet and pillows were replaced with foam and a wool blanket.
As a platinum member we get a gift which is usually free breakfast. In Le Parker Meridian this is vouchers for a coffee and pastry in Knave their small coffee/lunch/bar spot. This was great for me as I was able to use both my husbands voucher and mine due to them only being usable after 8am. Now this is fine if you are on holiday (me) but makes them pretty useless if you are here for work (husband)
Generally, the rooms are looking a bit tired, the wood in the bathrooms of peeling, and my husband didn’t have a bedside lamp, it had obviously broke and the wires were covered with a plastic square on the wall.
I also noticed that bath robes and slippers aren't automatic here. It was only when I wanted to visit the pool on the 4th day that I realised we didn't have them and had to call housekeeping. Toiletries being replaced is a bit hit and miss, and there are no cotton buds, cotton wool balls or anything beyond shampoo, conditioner, and soap.. not even body lotion.
The gym is excellent and the rooftop pool with floor to ceiling windows is also a rare find in NYC and certainly gives you something to do for a few hours if its raining outside or you are a bit jet lagged and need a bit of a kick start.
The Burger Joint on the ground floor of Le Parker Meridian is a big bonus. The burgers are amazing, some of the best I have eaten. I have written about them before....
We would probably stay again because the location is very good, but it would be a coin toss over here or the Westin Grand Central.
119 West 56TH Street New York City NY 10019
The new restaurant of Chef Dan Kluger ABC Cocina and was on my restaurants to visit list as I had been to ABC and really enjoyed it and so was quite interested to see what Loring Place had to offer.
It was really hard to get a table, even the bar was packed. So we were quite pleased that a friend secured a table for four. Great way to get to sample lots of dishes.
We had drinks in the bar before dinner, and service was very good, the staff were very knowledgable about the gin collection and especially the American Gins and the 'boutique' syrups that were made to go with soda water instead of tonics.
We were seated at our table and ordered a selection of the 'signature' dishes that we could all share.
The hummus and flat bread was very good, nice flavor, spiced cauliflower was also very good. The sprout pizza a big disappointment, it was lacking in flavor but the pork chop with pomegranate was very good, though quite small.
For dessert we had the recommended Hostess cupcake dessert but sadly that was just average at best.
Sadly the meal was really nothing special. ABC was memorable but I don't think Loring Place offers anything new or exciting. It's a nice sized restaurant and the tables are well spaced and you can actually hear your friends speak which is nice but sadly there wasn't a single dish I would return for.
21 West 8th St
New York , NY 10011
Il Bucco Alimentari
I was in the area with a girlfriend visiting Great Jones Street Spa and so I booked this place for late breakfast. We were given our menus but we were a little startled by the size of the plates on the table next to us, However when our food arrived it was more 'normal' portion sized.
I had Eggs al Forno and my friend had Avocado Toast and we ate every last bit. Both dishes were tasty, and a good sized portion. Service was good and we enjoyed a lovely quiet restaurant until the lunch crowd started to appear.
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
53 Great Jones St. 10012 New York
+1 (212) 837-2622
Restaurant Marc Forgione
We arrived a little early to meet our friends and were greeted warmly and shown to the bar where we enjoyed gin and tonics before dinner. The bar area is nice, spacious and if you can't get a table then you can eat smaller plates here.
The restaurant is dimly lit and tables are arranged so we were not too close to our neighboring table.
Our waiter was very good, and patient, explaining all the ingredients that we didn't recognise - there were a lot !! The menu was unnecessarily complicated/cryptic. I'm not sure if they are aiming for confusion or superiority, but a little more description would be great. I'm perfectly happy to admit my lack of knowledge and ask questions but if your menu has the potential to intimidate your customers is that something you want to do? There were many things I'd never heard of mangalista lardo, rutabaga, and nduja to name a few and having foods to share like skewers of love, hot little bitches and lunchables was actually just a bit irritating.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, we had a few small plates to start, an amuse bouche from the kitchen, chili lobster was delicious (but a little messy), fois gras was beautifully presented and the halibut and the monkfish were both cooked perfectly.
I might go back, but the cryptic menu kinda took something away from the whole experience.
134 Reade Street
New York City 10013
+1 (212) -941-9401
Excellent service once again. The is the second time we have visited and it was just as good as I remembered. We were very lucky to get a Saturday night table through our hotel concierge as the restaurant was very busy.
I had the fixed price 4 course menu which is great value.
Oysters were a bit miserable to be honest. I said I liked meaty and creamy ones but 2 of the ones that arrived were so small they were almost none existent. however that was the only complaint. The risotto was tasty and cooked perfectly, my scallop main course was delicious and quite substantial. Large tasty scallops. Chocolate dessert was the perfect end to a delicious meal.
Everything my friends ate from the amuse bouche to the petit fours - mini tiramisu received great compliments. Service was seamless and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I'll definitely go back again and won't hesitate to recommend mares to friends.
I'll be going back to Marea again and again.....
Marea 240 Central Park South NYC 10019.
La Pizza La Pasta - Eataly
Well first of all I love Italy, I used to come here to buy ingredients when we lived in NY, second it is a great place to eat lunch during the week as there is a lot of choice. (forget the weekends they are crazy busy) We arrived around 1 pm and had no problem getting a table. My friend and I both had the Vongole and it was DELICIOUS. This is my favourite Italian dish and it was coked perfectly with fresh pasts. I would recommend not only the restaurant but also this dish.
Eataly 200 Fifth Avenue NYC 10010
Of course we ate at LOTS more places, but these were the hi-lights.. I hope they are in some way helpful.... I'd love to hear if anyone has been to any of these places and what they thought....
Most people don't see as much of the city they live in as the tourists who visit it. I don't have any statistics to support this, but just listening to friends who say..
'Oh, I've lived here for years and never seen that'
tells me that this is true.
In fact when we lived in NY we saw more of the USA than many of our American friends... we visited Mt Rushmore, Bryce County National Park, Drove from San Diego to San Francisco, went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and lay on a beach in Hawaii.... all in all we visited 23 states in 2 years, maximising our time there. I guess we are not 'the norm'.
I lived in London for 16 years and I did visit most of the sights. We had lots of visitors from Switzerland during the years when my husband and I lived there together so whilst escorting them around I saw a lot more than the average Londoner.
There were still LOTS of things I hadn't done though so when a friend from New York City was visiting for a few days I jumped at the chance to 'be a tourist' with him. Of course we weren't the usual tourists dithering at the ticket machine at the tube station and trying to work out how to negotiate the vast London Underground network, I made fabulous restaurant reservations and knew exactly the quickest way from A to B, but we still had a hit list of 'sights' to see.
The list included some of the most popular, Tower of London, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey which of course I had already done, but also included the more obscure like the Silver Vaults which I had never even heard of. Ask how many of your London friends have even heard of The Silver Vaults and I'm pretty sure there won't be a lot.
There were also the predictable lunch and dinner spots. The only one I had been to before was the Gherkin... all of the others most Londoners avoid like the plague, but 'In for a penny, in for a pound' and all that... so The Goring, Claridges and the Savoy were added to the list. I added a couple of more local spots to keep a little balance. One of my fave spots, Berners Tavern was a firm favourite with my American friend as was Mr Foggs Gin Parlour.
Here is a more detailed explanation of what we got up to, Maybe it will give you some idea for your next visit to the 'smoke'.
We booked a table in the 'lobby' restaurant for lunch during the week. It was quiet and the staff greeted me warmly showing me to the table where I waited until my friend arrived. My friend, as I mentioned, is American and this was somewhere he really wanted to visit. It's not somewhere I would normally go and I was pleasantly surprised by the sensibly priced menu.
I ordered Roast beef sandwich and hand cut chips and they were perfect.
My friend had the set lunch but I was short of time so couldn't indulge. I explained to the staff I was short of time and so my order was brought very promptly.
To be honest it's not somewhere I would return to alone but I would take visitors to London without hesitation and would definitely recommend it. Food was very good quality and service was excellent.
Claridges, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR +44 (0)20 7629 8860 website
Amazing service in an incredibly elegant environment. From the moment I arrived to wait for my friend in the bar the staff went out of their way to make me feel comfortable offering me a newspaper to read or the dinner menu.
When my friend arrived the restaurant waiter took our food orders and the sommelier came to discuss wines and we were escorted to the dining room when dinner was ready to be served.
Everything we ate was delicious. Starting with the bread and perfectly salted butter.
The Cep risotto that we both had to start was perfect. Great flavour and well presented. My friend had Brill for the main course and I had cod, again both cooked perfectly. Desserts were equally impressive. You would expect noting less from a Michelin Star restaurant and The Goring didn't disappoint.
The dining room is simply lovely. It's all very elegant - and the tables are spaced to ensure privacy. A great place for a special occasion dinner. I'd highly recommend a reservation here.
The Goring 15 Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW +44 (0) 20 7396 9000 Website
This was my third visit to Berners Tavern and won't be my last. We booked in advance and got a great corner table enabling us to see the whole room which was great for people watching.
The dining room is stunning with high ceilings and lots of paintings giving it a real wow factor.
The menu offers something for everybody and even those who don't have an unlimited budget. There are burgers on the menu and wine by the glass - of which there was quite a good selection, of course you can also have amazing British lobster and steaks with champagne too.
My starter - pork pie was wheeled out on a trolley and was sliced at the table and dressed with a selection of pickles and mustards. It was delicious.
My burger for my main course was really tasty and juicy. Although it didn't look 'big' neither I nor my friend could finish them. We chose not to have desserts as the 2 courses we had were quite substantial, which was a bit of a shame, as I know the desserts are very good....
I'll be back again and again and have been recommending to everyone who visits London.
Berners Tavern, 10 Berners Street, London +44 (0)20 7908 7979 WEBSITE
The Savoy Bar
Dark but elegant decor with an old fashioned elegant feel. You expect well dressed men and women in pearls drinking cocktails but sadly when we were there it was just men in suits drinking beers with colleagues.
Our waiter was charming and out G&Ts were good. The drinks menu is a pop up menu book which was delightful. I may venture over for afternoon tea... or Kaspars Seafood Bar...
The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R OEU + 44 (0)20 7836 4343 website
Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour
A friend who comes here regularly suggested I try this place, what a fabulous find. I would highly recommend booking ahead. It's small and they simply don't have space for drop ins. We managed to get standing room space because we were early and only wanted one drink before a dinner reservation. The staff are all fab - great personalities, especially the guy who works downstairs on the door.
They have hundreds of gins and many different tonics to go with them. Our drinks arrived beautifully garnished and the cocktails we saw others drink looked equally beautiful. If you even like hi just a little bit you will love this place. It's quirky and fun. I'm already looking forward to another visit - this time with a reservation!!
Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour 1 New Row, Covent Garden +44 207 590 3605 WEBSITE
Tower of London
It was years since I had visited the Tower so I was quite looking forward to this bit of the trip. Its on most tourists hit list so it can get very busy.
We got to the tower at just after 9am and there was hardly anyone there. We decided to go and visit the Crown Jewels before taking the 10am guided tour with one of the Yeoman Warders who actually lives and guards the Tower. We got to spend loads of time in the jewel room and were the only ones there. The security guard was knowledgeable and we had a great chat with him.
There were about 40 people on the short tour with the Yeoman Warder but that wasn't a problem and he was very entertaining. We got to go inside the church which you wouldn't be able to do without the guide. It was an informative tour and the guide had some great anecdotes.
The Tower compound is much larger inside that it looks like it will be. Its was a thoroughly enjoyable site to visit.
After the tour we had another walk around and then enjoyed tea and a biscuits in the cafe. There weren't a lot of people visiting at all so our morning was calm and relaxed.
If you can go first thing in the morning I'd advise it.. even better if it's in January.
We were not able to make a guided tour as the times are not advertised on the website and we missed the last one when we arrived. This was really a shame as I love the interaction and being able to ask questions...Also i don't particularly like the audio guides. Despite this we stuill really enjoyed out visit. The Gothic Abbey has been the venue for many royal weddings and funerals and is also the burial site for many key figures in British history.
The abbey is beautiful and there is a lot to see so it's worth allowing 2-3 hours.
As a bonus just over the road is Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
St. Paul's cathedral
Located in the City of London St Paul's Cathedral is London's Anglican cathedral.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren it is spectacular.
We arrived at 9am and booked spaces on the 10am tour. Elaine (?) our tour guide was fabulous. She clearly loves her job and St Paul's and was full of information. Taking the tour also means being able to access some restricted areas of the cathedral.
St Paul's has held the silver, Golden and Diamond jubilee celebrations and the 80th adn 90th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II. It is also where Charles and Diana were married and was where the funerals of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were held.
We spent 2.5 hours and didn't get to see everything. I could easily have spent 4 hours there.
The Silver Vaults
I never even knew that the vaults existed but my American friend had seen a tv documentary and wanted to see them so I went along. I'm so glad I did.
The Vaults opened in 1885 as The Chancery Lane Safety Deposit.
The vaults now house traders shops selling silver. LOTS of them.
There are shops selling new modern items and shops selling antique table wear and everything in between. There isn't a lot of jewellery.
It's a fascinating place to visit and the traders there are mostly descendants of the original traders. They are happy to chat and tell you about their wares.
It's a great place to pick up a unique gift.
CHANCERY LANE, LONDON WC2A 1QSWebsite
If you are planning a trip to London I hope I have given you some ideas of places to eat and things to do during your visit. Have a look also at the Fabulous things to do in London 1 - 5 in the index on the right. There are some less tourists things to do if you have been to London many times.
Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy London - it has a special place in my heart and I hope it finds a way into your heart too.
With amazing views over Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour Aqua is without doubt my favourite restaurant in Hong Kong, and in my top ten in the world.
It was the first restaurant my husband booked on my first trip to Asia.
We went to Hong Kong in 2005 for a week to decide if we wanted to live there and I guess dining here contributed to us deciding 'YES' and making the move that changed our lives forever.
Over the last 10 years we have dined here many many times. We nearly always brought our guests here to enjoy the amazing views and and the equally impressive food. Now is has become a bit of a ritual and everytime we are in Hong Kong I book a table here.
When you arrive in the reception area the view is hidden behind the sliding doors that lead to the restaurant. When you are being taken to your table and the doors open the view is simply breathtaking. There is a bar upstairs too that is on a mezzanine over the restaurant with the same wow factor when you get to the top of the stairs.
There are two kitchens, Japanese and Italian. both are excellent.
Although we nearly always opt for the Italian we often mix it up a bit by having Japanese starters. Having to two cuisines in one restaurant is obviously great if you have a group of people with different tastes too.
On this occasion there was a small group of us for a business dinner with some of my husband's colleagues.
We managed to reserve a private dining room (there is a minimum per head spend I think) and everyone was impressed.
The room is like a glass box in the corner of the restaurant with the views of the harbour.
If you are dining early enough you can watch the Symphony of Lights on Hong Kong island which happens at 8pm every evening.
Food is actually quite reasonably priced. Of course you can spend a small fortune if you go all out and order champagne and top quality Japanese dishes, but you can also eat amazing Italian style thin crust pizza or delicious pasta dishes and not break the bank.
We had a plate of Japanese starters to share and then I had a scrummy ravioli with soft egg and truffle inside followed by beef cheek on a bed of mash potato. My husband also had the ravioli - it was truffle season and the waiter advised us that it was amazing - followed by pizza.
Our friends opted for a variety of dishes all from the Italian menu.
The dessert platter which we have had many times before is a great way to end the meal if there are a group of you. you get to try lots and nothing is too heavy.
Everything we had was beautifully presented and service was excellent - as always.
We have never had a bad meal in Aqua and I never hesitate when recommending it to just about anybody I meet.
In fact I just advised a small group of Americans I met in a hotel lounge in Singapore and they emailed me to say 'thank-you' saying that together with a trip on Aqua Luna (owned by the same people) it was one of the hi-lights of their trip.
As a Gordon Ramsay fan I got very excited when there was a new restaurant opening in one of the cities I visit regularly. We have been to Maze, BSK, Union Street Cafe and Heddon Street Kitchen in London and The London in NYC and I have a shelf full of cook books....
When I saw Gordon had been in Hong Kong and I knew I had an upcoming trip I was quickly online to book a table at Bread Street Kitchen. On our first night we had a table with some of our best friends, I was looking forward to a good evening.
Bread Street Kitchen is on the ground floor of the swanky Lan Kwai Fong Hotel overlooking the busy bar street of the same name.
Great Location..... the only downside is that it is upstairs from the Hard Rock Cafe.... and so you can hear their awful music pumping through the floor. The windows were closed when we visited - thankfully - but we could still hear the pounding noise.
I arrived a little early and enjoyed a drink at the bar. There were some nice wines by the glass and a great selection of gins too. The layout and design is very similar to Bread Street Kitchen in London, as was the food menu.
When my friends arrived we were seated and were all able to find several things we wanted to eat. We ordered an assortment of dishes, scallops, short ribs and carpaccio as starters and shepherds pie, fish and steak as mains.
Everything was delicious. cooked perfectly and well presented.... things went slightly downhill with the desserts.
The waitress plonked our dessert spoons (no forks) down in such a haphazard way she could just as easily dropped them from a height. Maybe she didn't like that we were sharing two desserts... its hard to say.
The desserts Eaton Mess and Mint Ice Cream and Brownies actually looked the same.. apart from the colour... both with way too much whipped cream and both with fresh mint leaves.....
To be fair I have not had desserts in BSK London, so I don't have a direct comparison, but they weren't really what I expected.
Service was very good throughout the evening (despite the dessert spoons) and I'd go back again. The location is great and I'm sure BSK will be a huge hit.
The food was good and reasonably priced... I'd just skip dessert the next time...
...as a side note... there is only one mans and one womans toilet. Not sure how they will cope on a busy evening....
Our visit to The London House on the Kowloon side was a completely different story.
We didn't make a reservation for dinner late on a Friday evening but were offered a table on the balcony. It was a nice temperature, so we were happy to be outside. Our waitress was not particularly good, only explaining the specials to my husband, who didn't understand, so I had to ask her to repeat herself to me..
We ordered drinks and food together. My husbands beer arrived, followed by the food followed by my glass of wine.... but only after I had asked for it twice.
My husbands burger was just warm and his 'fries' were cold so he asked for them to be replaced. (they were replaced with piping hot fries) Hubby didn't mention the burger because when he mentioned the fries the waitress was ready to take the whole plate away, but we like to eat together and my fish and chips were piping hot and we were both hungry so he just kept and ate the burger. The Fish and Chips were delicious. properly battered and tasty...
There was live music performing downstairs in the bar which really sounded like it was in competition with the music from next door.
It was loud and pretty terrible. It sounded more like the woman was singing karaoke Hotel California and Simply The Best.
I guess I was partly to blame for our disappointment because having been to The London in New York I had a completely different idea of what the venue would be like. I did know it was a 'pub' style venue but I didn't expect this...
if I hadn't seen Gordon Ramsay had actually visited and posted pictures on his Twitter I would assume he didn't know his name was being used.... needless to say I won't be back.
Bread Street Kitchen LKF Hotel, Wyndham Street, Hong Kong
The London House 66 Mody Road, East TST, Hong Kong
Located on Nelson Mandela Square and open since 1994 The Butcher Shop & Grill is an actual butchers shop with a restaurant on the side. There is a butcher shop right next to the entrance and you can see the meat hanging and aging.
It was very busy when we arrived and we had a short wait for a table so I would definitely recommend booking in advance.
The crowd was very mixed, a couple of small tour groups, a few business people and some families all mixed together creating a nice level of chatter.
The restaurant itself is a little 'market' like with exposed pipe work etc so it suits the theme.
The menu is quite straightforward, nothing fancy or fine dining. No pretensions here. Steaks are what most people come here for but there was lots of other choice on the menu, they had veggie burger on the menu but otherwise it was heavily loaded with meat dishes... but I guess if you were vegetarian you wouldn't choose to go to a restaurant called The Butcher Shop and Grill....
My husbands sirloin steak was good, not an amazing cut but cooked as ordered. My beef ribs were delicious, but too big a portion for me. We didn't order dessert as we were so tired we just wanted to hit our bed however like the main menu they were quite traditional, old style.
The Butcher Shop and Grill. Shop 30, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, 2196, South Africa
I had been trying to get a table at Restaurant Story for over a year. Admittedly, Its mostly my fault as I am never sure when I will be in London but beware, Restaurant Story's tables fill up quickly. You need to be on the internet as soon as the new bookings open up to get a table on a Friday evening.
When the bookings opened in August I booked a table for December and was going to arrange a trip around it, that is how much I wanted to go here...
I've been on the waiting list before and never been lucky, until a Friday night in the middle of August. I received a call at 4.30 pm to say there was a cancellation and 3 hours later I was sitting at a table.
Restaurant Story opened in 2013 and within 5 months Chef Tom Sellers received his Michelin star. The restaurant makes use of seasonal British produce to create an amazing, innovative, exciting and incredibly beautiful menu.
Immediately after we sat down we received our first amuse bouche... the first of many.
They are all pictured below. I think the Rabbit and pineapple and the the razor clams were my fave, but they were all a very nice teaser for what was about to follow...
We chose the Full Story option from the menu which consists of 11 courses.
We had tried several amuse bouche before we decided on which menu we wanted, and they were amazing so there was no way I was going to miss out on anything that was coming out of this kitchen.
Everything we ate was absolutely delicious. There was a clever balance between flavours. the portions were just right, 11 courses need to be small enough to keep you wanting to continue eating but big enough that you can really enjoy the flavours and ingredients.
For me the most amazing course was the bread and dripping. Firstly its the first time I have seen dripping on a menu. It something I associate with post-war time poverty, but having become a new convert to bone marrow, I was happy to give it a try.
It was served as a candle (see the photo at the top of this posting). The candle was lit and the beef dripping melted into the candle holder where we dipped the bread. It was completely amazing. The concept was fabulous, the flavour was delicious and it was hard to stop eating it.
All the courses that followed were amazing. There was a bread course that was somewhere in the middle of the 11 courses and a couple pf palate cleansers too.
The whole evening was a foodie paradise.
If you love food, either eating or cooking, you will love Restaurant Story.
I'm already looking forward to going back when they change the menu.
Restaurant Story 199 Tooley Street London SE1 2JX
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