A mediocre dinner and an Outstanding dinner.

Easter Monday saw us and many others dining at Stoke Park Country club where we had all been playing golf in the Easter Cup Competition ( we did not win, nor even came close!) After the golf, there is always a dinner, which socially is always fun and the food usually very good as well.

This time though, not so good. For starters there was Paté, which I chose not to have, ( I had melon and Parma ham, no problem there,) but himself had the Paté, a biggish chunk, , which he commented ” I could taste it all night “. The main course was salmon, with Asparagus, Samphire and a champagne sauce. All very well, except the salmon was over cooked and had SLOPPY SKIN. Please, either serve it crispy or remove it, there is noting more disgusting that sloppy fish skin, and this was a second time in a row! Te dessert, which I also did not have, was a Bitter Chocolate Cremeux, Caramelized Banana Ice Cream and Toffee Sauce, which if you have a sweet tooth, as Himself does, then it was fabulous.

Onto our next dining experience, 5 years ago after the Japanese tsunami, we went to a Japanese restaurant in St. James London for a charity event, and we were blown away by the standard of food, service an everything about that evening.

Therefore we have been saying ever since, we must go back, and so this week we did. We went with friends one of whom is Japanese, one Dutch/ Brazilian, one Egyptian ( by birth) and three British. The restaurant in question is Sake No Hana and is on ST. James Street. There was a special menu for the Sakura Season. Sakura is Cherry Blossom and during the Cherry Blossom Season in Japan, it seems that the world revolves around it! And this was not different. Even the decor for the Sakura season are clouds of white and pink cherry blossoms.

The head Chef created a special Sakura menu, which included, of course, a Sakura Cocktail. This was composed of Sake, Vermouth, Cherry liqueur, Bold Aperitif and lavender bitters, beautiful decorated as well.Cocktail

Our starter was  Miso Soup, with Tofu cake, spring onion and something called wakame , which according to Wikipedia, is a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. The tofu cake was I think fried and not soft white tofu, or it could have been smoked tofu.

Sushi, was next,  served in a box, I think representing a bento box. This consisted of Nigiri with Maguro (Tuna) and  Amaebi (Sweet shrimp), Maki with spicy Chirashi, Shiso Okra, and  Salmon, Along with Suzuki Sasa Sushi, which was Sea Bass wrapped in a bamboo leaf. All of these were delicious.sushi

For the next course we had options, we had the choice of Rib Eye beef Sumiyaki with chili Ponzu, Prawn and Vegetable Tempura, Salmon with Champagne Yuzo Miso or Agedashi Tofu. We were a party of 6 and strangely, without any consultation we all chose the beef. Beautifully presented and just a wonderful flavour.meat

It was at this point that the girls decided to have some Sake. Sake might be an acquired taste but smooth sake is quiet delicious and obviously goes very well with Japanese food. Our dessert was actually the pièce de resistance. It was a Cherry Chocolate Delice with Sakora Jelly, Bitter Chocolate and Sour Cherry, absolutely divine!!. They are having their special Sakura menu from now until June 10th. If you like Japanese food, or if you are a novice, then this is the one for you. Two of our group had never tried Japanese food previously, but loved it.

On a simpler note,  we have recently discovered Baker and Spice. They have a stand in Selfridge food hall, but we found their cafe, quiet by chance, one day when we were out and about. Yummy for lunch and very popular.

Can’t make it to the cafe, which is in Belgravia, Elizabeth St., halfway between Victoria and Sloane Square, then there is a deli or shop, in Chelsea, Maida Vale and Brighton

Lunches and a Dinner, a Late lunch, and Sunday Lunch.

So seem to have been out a lot recently, feast or famine or so it seems.This week saw us having lunch with Ray White, well actually at Raymond Blancs famous Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, in Great Milton Oxfordshire. Dinner at Stoke Park Cub, a girls lunch at the Swallow Street rooms ( part of Bentleys restaurant) in Swallow Street London, a very late Good Friday Lunch with the willowy brunette, lunch with friends in Sloane Square and Sunday Lunch with son and wife in Fulmer

Needless to say Le Manoir topped the list both for food and service, not to mention the location. This world-famous restaurant and hotel is now part of the Belmond group of hotels ( formerly Orient Express group). I love Le Manoir, ever since we returned to the UK, it has never failed. The service is exemplary , food delicious, they encourage children to come, as well as encourage photographs to be taken. Raymond’s eldest Son, Olivier  (Olly), happened to be in the same french class at school as my eldest daughter. The french master always took great delight in the filling in of the blancs in a french test by saying Remplir les Ollys! Very odd, but something that has always stuck in my mind.

We went with  friends and their friends, the sun shone and the gardens as well as the food was perfect ( apart form the constant arrival of guests, Via Helicopter!

The next visit was to The Swallow Street rooms, for a birthday girls lunch. This was wonderfully organised by the lovely Antonia for her Mum, and it turned out to be a complete surprise with girl friends descending from Belgium and far-flung places.

As Cate, the Mum, is from Wales originally, Antonia took the opportunity in her dad’s absence to have Lamb as the main course.c1

The Swallow Street rooms are a private dining room which seats 24 or so below Bentley’s. The room is made to look like a smart library with sage green Panelling and mirrors. Bentleys is the place to go for Oysters and people watching as it would seem that a lot of M.P.s go there as well!

Onto Stoke Park Country Club, for dinner with the older male members, a once a year event, which I have the impression is just an excuse to raise money for their drinking fund! However it is usually a very nice evening in good company. For dinner this year, the starter was poached salmon, which tested very nice, but to my mind it was a pity that they did not remove the skin, crispy skin is great but sloppy skin, on poached fish, Uh No No!, For the main course it was  Pork Cutlet with Ham and Swiss cheese, again I feel that the execution was not the best, it looked very dry and burnt at the edges. If this was me cooking it, I would make a pocket in the pork, fill it with goats cheese and wrap in Parma ham. Fortunately, I chose the alternative choice which although a bit skimpy was a far better dish, Salad with King Prawns. Dessert for those who have a penchant for Puds, AN apple crumble with Blackberries.

Onto Saturday Lunch. we went to Colbert on Sloane Square to have lunch with friends from the Cotswolds. Colbert is part of the group of London Restaurants run By Corbyn and King. Fortunately it is Jeremy King and Chris Corbyn ( and not Jeremy Corbyn, otherwise we might indeed be a bit concerned.)

Apart from Colbert, they also own  The Wolseley ( my favourite) The Delaunay, on Aldwych, Fischers in Marylebone, Brasserie Zédel in Piccadilly, The Beaumont a hotel in Mayfair, which won best hotel 2016, and within the hotel the American Bar and the Colony Club grill. There was one other, on Lower Regent Street, but they changed their format, and it just didn’t  work, it is no more. So all of the above have a similar theme, a grand European Brasserie type restaurant. Fischers, is based on an Austrian Theme, Brasserei Zédel, very much a french brasserie with a Prix Fix very good value menu.

Maybe I have just eaten out too many times in the recent past, plus himself is learning to cook, as I was left disappointed with my lunch. My starter salad was beetroot and goats cheese which i really liked, but when I see dressed crab on the menu, i expect os see A Dressed crab, not a tiny pile of crab on a plate for £17.00 and himself chose the Feuilletés Anchois as a starter, and expected the very least a small pastry case filled with Anchovies, but think again, it was just like Cheese Straws with a smidgen of Anchovy. I have to say that the Filet Americain however was good, or so he said. Our waiter was on the other hand surly, too quick to remove plates and generally did not seem to love his job. So not good marks I am afraid, they must do better.


Sunday Lunch on the other hand was for the most part what the Doctor ordered. We had, ham Hock Fritters and heritage tomato salad, followed by, Sausages and Mash, Smoked haddock fish cake with a poached egg, beer battered haddock and chips followed by a crumble and Ice cream. This was in The Black Horse, in Fulmer, a small very pretty village in Buckinghamshire, worth a visit, they have rooms lots of outside tables, parking and seem to serve food at least on a Sunday, pretty much all day.

And finally, it being Sunday, breakfast was cooked. A His and Hers.

His was Sautéed mushrooms on Toasted Sourdough Bread with Soft Poached Eggs, Rocket, Tomatoes, Chimichurri sauce and a Mexican spicy salsa.

Hers a bowl of Berries!

his and her

Mothers Day Breakfast

Mother’s Day in the UK is in March but is celebrated around the world at various times. All the whilst living overseas, my own mother would always be upset that I never knew when Mother’s Day was, I could be excused not having siblings to remind me!

This year, my two living in the UK took it in turns to treat me, one for breakfast and bubbles and the other for afternoon tea!

The willowy brunette summoned me to one of my favourite local cafes/restaurant. The Wolseley on Piccadilly.  I love the Wolseley, the decor, the service, always impeccable and of course the food, simple but divine!

One of my favourite breakfast is, as I am sure I have said before, smushed Avocado on Sourdough toast and poached eggs! This has become a firm favourite ever since trying the various versions available in Mexico City, add some some Chilies or some Tabasco and Perfect!

Several restaurants/cafes near by me have their own versions of this yummy breakfast. The first one that the Brunette and I tried is The Ivy Cafe in Marylebone. This is one of the “baby” Ivy’s, off shoot of the famous The Ivy.  All of the Ivy cafes have this on their menu, including The Ivy, but there is just one thing wrong with their version. The bread! The menu says:

Chopped avocado with roast plum tomatoes, poached hen’s eggs on toasted granary with sesame dressing, the Avocado , good, the eggs, good, the tomatoes and sesame dressing, also good but the bread! The sesame dressing seeps into the toasted granary bread and is a soggy mess! My dear Aunt used to comment, ” Nothing worse than cheap bread”  We did ask on our last visit, if they had Sourdough, but the poor waitress had not a clue about that which we were asking! Maybe next time I will ask for my toast on the side! Umm now that is a thought!

Another place we tried this was Hardys, also in Marylebone. A small local restaurant. I made a reservation for the blond the brunette and myself, for 11.30 one Sunday morning. We went for an early morning walk and by 11.30 we were ready for a good coffee and breakfast! A little surprised, there was only one other table occupied , but never mind. Eh Voila, on the menu, Smushed Avocado with poached egg on Sourdough! Perfect! We all ordered it. However, what a disappointment, maybe a quarter of an avocado smushed on half a slice of Sourdough and a poached egg! And at £9.50 or thereabouts, more expensive than The Ivy not substantial enough. The girls decided to pass on the coffee and find somewhere else to finish breakfast. To top of this experience, the restaurant was cold, we needed to keep our coats on, and there was, of course 12.5% added on for service. Not usually being mean spirited, however, this time I declined to pay it, much to the chagrin of the waiter! So a place to avoid, too bad as it is a stones throw from home!

So now at the The Wolseley  they serve smushed Avocado on toasted Foccacia. But the eggs have to be ordered separately, hence making the whole thing a tad more expensive, but yummy! Along with a Mimosa, perfect Mother’s Day breakfast.

After breakfast, a stroll around St. James park, a film crew on location, horseguards, and the changing of the guards, all perfect, the sun was shining. To make the morning more perfect a quick visit to the new handbag department in Selfridges on Oxford Street. No not to ogle the handbags but to try out the new Champagne bar, this too was perfect, the Sunday hordes had not yet descended and if you don’t like champagne on a Sunday morning, they also serve coffee and tea!