Spice Market @ W Hotel, London
Today I have woken up wishing I had asked for a doggy bag of the food we were far too full to finish last night. Instead I'll spend the day picking at Digestives and Kettle Chips.
Some of the reviews I had read about Spice Market didn't fill me with confidence, but perhaps those critics visited on a bad day, or the restaurant has improved as I couldn't fault the service, food or ambiance!
To start the night, I met my dear friend Kate in the W Hotel bar. You get to the bar via the main hotel entrance - perhaps the only hotel where you'll have to line up and be checked off of a guest list before you're let in... I wasn't sure if I was queuing for a hotel or a nightclub!
Kate was waiting for me upstairs in the bar; to my delight with a glass of champagne (apologies for dark photos - I seem to make a habit of going to places with no lights and just an iPhone!!).
Catching up on each others news took over, and I naughtily forgot to take more pictures of the bar, so here are a few from the W Hotel to give you an idea, its very lovely!!
After a couple of drinks, we headed back downstairs to the restaurant - Spice Market. Surprisingly, for a Thursday night it was not overloaded with diners, and we were very happy with our little table right in front of the chefs.
After a two pronged attack at the menu, we made our decisions
To start with, we had the Crispy Pork Belly, Tamarind Nuoc Cham and the Crab Dumplings that came with Sugar Snap Peas and aromatic spices. They didn't disappoint - both were absolutely delicious.
For mains we opted for Steamed Sea Bass with Shiitake Mushrooms, Ginger Spring Onion and Tarragon, Red Curried Duck with Pineapple Sambal, Chicken Pad Thai with Tofu, Peanuts and Bean Sprouts and some sticky jasmine rice. We were in food heaven!
We were so full that we couldn't get through everything, but the spices and flavours were amazing. We had a delicious bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and finished the evening on a sneaky glass of Champagne before making our way home in the bitter cold weather. Winter has definitely arrived!
Lobster or Burger?
Adult-sized bibs, no menus, delicious wine and a choice of only 3 mains... yes, it can only be Burger and Lobster.
|Our grown up bibs!|
The girls and I ventured into town this weekend (for a browse around Spitalfields market), and ended up heading to Burger and Lobster in Soho for dinner. Having missed the opportunity to blog about this the first time we visited, I wasn't about to let you suffer any longer, and so am here now to share the secret!
Burger and Lobster don't take any bookings, so it's a case of first come first served. When we arrived at around 6pm on Sunday the waiting list was for an hour, so after saddling up at the bar and tucking into a bottle of Sauvignon we were pleasantly surprised to hear our name called after twenty minutes.
There is no food menu. You have 3 choices - burger, lobster or lobster roll. Annie and I opted for the lobster, grilled with lemon and garlic dressing, and Jenna tucked into the burger.
The mains are all accompanied by a mini bucket of chips and a ceasar salad...
Mains are delicious, and although £20 for a burger isn't exactly cheap, £20 for the amount of lobster you get is great value for money... and the lemon and garlic dressing that accompanies the lobster is beyond amazing!
All three of us managed to polish off all of our mains - well we had been walking around London all day - but I am ashamed to say that we couldn't squeeze in a dessert. At least we've got an excuse to get back there soon!
Tea, Cocktails and Wedding Venues
As Chief Bridesmaid and Usher, our dear friends Annie and Nick are subject to certain privileges (or chores as some may see them) prior to the wedding.
One of these was a sneak preview of our wedding venue last weekend. Robbie and I dragged the other happy couple up to Embankment for a guided tour around the venue of choice - One Whitehall Place.
Of course, no afternoon in London is complete without afternoon tea, and feeling slightly worse-for-wear courtesy of the previous evening, we opted for the traditional menu at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, and forwent the Champagne ...did those words just come out of my mouth?!? (or fingers should I say).
The tea consisted of the expected but also included a couple of little surprises such as this rather delicious egg mayonnaise choux pastry
After 'unlimited refills' of sandwiches... cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, coronation chicken, beef and horseradish... we moved onto our scones - obviously smothered with a healthy dose of cream and jam, and then onto the tantalising puds...
|Amazing flavours: Earl-Grey-chocolate-melt-in-the-middle-bomb-lollipop|
|Bitter sweet: sharp fruit topping over a delicious creamy base|
|And of course, a mini cupcake|
Somehow managing to heave ourselves out of the bed-like armchairs and away from the delicate strings of the harp we made our way across the hall to the wedding venue.
I'll save the wedding venue pics till after the big day next year... but you can see some of the function rooms here.
Still feeling full, we took a stroll along the River to the church where we will be having the ceremony - The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy. Unfortunately - as expected - the chapel was closed, but we managed to get a peak of the newly landscaped courtyard area.
Having not eaten or drunk anything for the last hour, we were all starting to fade away and so had no option but to nip into the nearest watering hole to recharge. Luckily this happened to be one of Annie and my favourite bars at The Savoy Hotel.
Just before the bar there is a 'mini museum' with some interesting little additions such as this framed coin that was the first taken by the hotel in 1889... (and happened to be for a bottle of Champagne!)
After studying the extensive menu, soft drinks definitely seemed like a cop-out and hangovers were forgotten as we tucked into cocktails accompanied by the live pianist... (in the very dark bar area)
Being the Bond Season, this was the specialty offering:
So of course we had to sample. It was a refreshing mix of gin, vodka, wines, syrup and Japanese Yuzu juice, which we could have sat drinking all night!
As well as the Skyfall, we also sampled the Piano Man; another refreshing mix that even included cucumber... the perfect cocktail to get you back into the swing of things!
The best thing about a restaurant located just off of Oxford Street is that it is located just off of Oxford Street. The perfect face-filling location after a full-on day of high street trawling.
Not only is it located within spitting distance of Topshop, H&M and Zara, but MEATliquor also offers the PERFECT dinner when you've worked up a huge appetite after being on your feet all day. Full fat, cheesy, chilli burgers, chips, deep fried whatever-takes-your-fancy and a menu full of tasty desserts too!
I must say, if you don't want to be queuing round the corner of the street for (yes) around 2 hours, then you should definitely arrive early. MEATliquor is a popular place and they don't take reservations - its a first come first served kinda place!
Decor is Gothic; blood, werewolves, bears, strange smiley pigs and a lot of black, red and white sprayed all over the place, with graffiti messages like "I do not live in the world of sobriety."
To start, Sophia ordered some extremely naughty deep fried pickles that came with a tasty dip. Apologies for the darkness of the pictures... low level lighting would be an understatement...
|Sophia AKA Meat Madam / Chief Burgerette sucking on a Battered Pickle|
|Deep Fried Deliciousness!|
There's also a variety of cocktails which had to be sampled - it would have been rude not to! I went for the 3 rum Grog on recommendation!
For main courses, I went for the bacon cheeseburger, Sophia had the philly-cheese-chilli-steak-heartattack-mountain and we both opted for some chilli cheese fries... just in case we'd under-ordered!
Perfectly timed as we finished dinner, one of the waitresses appeared with a tannoy announcing the bravest man of all men, Will, who was about to take on the 10 minute challenge! Managing to overcome paralysis-by-over-indulgence, we scooted over to join in the cheering as the restaurant accompanied Will's friends in banging fists and shouting 'You can do it Will!!!'
The challenge is that the contestant must polish off 3 hot chilli dinners in under 10 minutes. If they manage it, the £20 meal is free, and should they finish the platter in close to 3 minutes, they're added to the leader board just to prove their utter eating amazingness!
I was also thoroughly impressed with the toilet signage - because everyone loves a naughty word...
On top of the excitement of Will coming in at under 10 minutes and getting his whole meal for free, there's also a photobooth for hours of fun at the end of the evening, when one has over-indulged in rum cocktails!
Naughty but Nice
On strolling through London in the sun, we happened (by chance) to stumble across a little sanctuary that has definitely been added to my Little Black Book!
The BB Bakery, County Hall. Where every cake / biscuit / chocolate / tart / pastry lover's fantasy can be a reality!
The bakery itself is a little haven of quaint tables and chairs, cake stands, amazing macaroon towers, Baroque photo frames and much more besides - the majority of which (you'll be delighted to know) are for sale. But the true delights are in the edible treats!
After umm-ing and ahh-ing over the homemade pizzas, pastries, foot long baguettes and other savoury snacks, we ventured over to the cake counter and spent about 20 minutes trying to decide which piece of art took our fancy. Reluctantly, we managed to keep to one each:
|Lemon Meringue Tart - the husband-to-be's and I didn't get a look in!|
|A piece of art - Apricot Jelly, White Chocolate Mousse, Brownie Base and a Macaroon Topper! Delicious|
|Traditional Chocolate Eclair - with the added surprise of a chocolate cream inside|
|Red Velvet - with one hell of a topping! (Not that ANYONE was complaining)|
Not recommended for those with a fear of heights!
So Sunday just gone consisted of heading into London with husband-to-be, Mother and Mother-in-Law, to view the Queen's Chapel (our wedding-venue-to-be) following its recent refurbishment works.
Of course one can never start such a task without devouring an enormous fried breakfast, and it seemed like the perfect excuse... I mean opportunity... to test the new Duck and Waffle at the Heron Tower.
This quirky new restaurant is on the 40th floor of the tower, which is somewhere near the top of this...
|Thankfully there was a lift!|
On flying up to the 40th floor at a rate of knots in a glass, OUTER FACING lift, we were greeted with a breathtaking view of London just as the 9am haze was clearing:
We were first in the restaurant and had a choice of table, so opted for one by the window. The menu was as equally pleasing as the view, and it was a difficult choice between the full English or the chocolatey waffles!
As you can see, I went for the take-no-prisoners-fry-up, and boasting a giant mushroom, black pudding and plenty of crispy bacon it didn't disappoint!
After gaining a few more pounds, and the restaurant had rapidly filled up, we had another quick wander admiring the decor before making our descent!
|The bar area - pretty sure this vast collection would include your favourite tipple!|
|Great view of the Gherkin|
Not wanting to put any budding visitors off, but have a look at the video below to see just how quickly you descent from floor 40 to ground... the flickering isn't poor video quality, its the metal frame flying past us as we continue downwards!
The Duck and Waffle is also open for lunch and dinner.