GLC experiences his best-ever working lunch at One Moorgate Place

Never ever judge a book by its cover...

Never ever judge a book by its cover…

At 34, I feel I’ve reached an age where I’m spending half my time peering back to my youth and the other half staring at my impending middle-agedness.

While I’d obviously like to go a little bit Benjamin Button and regain some of the extra vigour, vitality and hair of a few years ago, being (or at least acting) a proper grown-up does have its merits.

One of the perks of real-life adulthood is a good working lunch – not the usual pot of Itsu edamame beans at my desk, but something sit-down and surrounded by suits…even with a naughty glass of wine.

Working in the City means I’m not short of choice – many very decent restaurants do a solid short lunch menu, aimed at getting you back to your desk sharpish.

But, as is their style, Zomato gave me a nudge and pointed me in the direction of One Moorgate Place, a smart and spacious restaurant deep inside Chartered Accountants’ Hall, just off Moorgate.

Very good wine - always a sign of good things to come...

Very good wine – always a sign of good things to come…

One Moorgate Place has set itself quite a challenge – to offer two courses of stylish-bordering-on-fine-dining within 30 minutes or you eat for free. Oh, and the two courses will come in at just £16!

Of course, you can add a third course (bumping it up to £19 and removing it from the 30-minute deal), but to be fair, if you’re having three-courses at lunchtime on a weekday it’s clear there’s nothing too pressing awaiting you back at the office.

So with this challenge of speed in mind, myself and a good friend from choir (yes I’m a proper geek, get over it) very considerately decided to throw the whole timed lunch challenge straight out of the window and go for the a la carte option instead.

I’m very glad we did!

Carpaccio!

Carpaccio!

My natural position on beef is that it is always overcooked, and as such, I opted for the beautifully bright red Carpaccio to begin, sliced wonderfully consistently and with just its very edges seared and brown to the eye. Transparently-thin radishes, sweet pickled baby onions, a shard of crunchy Parmesan and some teeny-tiny micro salad leaves completed the dish.

Opposite me a delicate game terrine with a big old smear of sauce was quickly seen off.

Terrine

Terrine

Pork belly with haggis croquettes

Pork belly with haggis croquettes

Pork belly continues to grace many a restaurant menu, so it is increasingly a case of the words that come after ‘served with’ that make the difference. And here the winning words were ‘haggis croquettes’. I’d be surprised if at least one person from every table in the restaurant hadn’t ordered this dish, based purely on the moreishness of its description. When this main course arrived, satisfactory noises were certainly emanating from opposite me.

As it was a Friday, I plumped for the cod – in this case, a good old plate of fish’n’chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce. There’s not much I can add in describing what fish and chips is like, but I was deeply impressed by the detail, including the fine, crispy golden batter on the fish and the wedge of lemon tied up in muslin cloth so as to stop the pips escaping onto the plate. Sometimes it really is the little things that make all the difference.

Fish'n'chips

Fish’n’chips

Lemon in muslin

Lemon in muslin

But now, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on pudding. Oh, pudding – so often the runt of the three-course meal, unloved by its kitchen-dwelling parents, chucked on a plate and thrown out for the punters to endure……not here. Pudding at One Moorgate Place is quite a treat – classic British offerings done with aplomb.

Rhubarb crumble with custard ice cream had me licking the stainless steel coating off the spoon and the perfectly cuboid portion of sticky toffee pudding managed an indulgent richness which belied its lightness. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, terrifically out of context: “One cubic centimetre cured ten gloomy sentiments”.

Rhubarb crumble with custard ice cream

Rhubarb crumble with custard ice cream

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

To finish, let me regain some context. Is it the best food I’ve ever eaten? No, clearly not.

But is this the best working lunch I’ve ever had in London – two courses of which you can enjoy for £16 and be back at your desk after 30 minutes? Oh goodness, yes!

www.onemoorgateplace.com

2 Courses for £16 (Starter and Main) – in 30 minutes

3 Courses for £19

Open Monday to Friday only

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Filed under City of London, Eating, Food, Gentleman loves cake, London, Restaurants, Secret London

GLC plays Hide and Seed in Putney

The Lodge Hotel where you can find Hide & Seed (pic taken from their website)

The Lodge Hotel where you can find Hide & Seed (pic taken from their website)

Like most Londoners, I’m fiercely loyal to my patch and those parts of the capital I can easily navigate without resorting to the blue dot of Google Maps.

This one-sided and quite blind loyalty is matched, with equal verve, by an acute dismissal of those places in which I never set foot.

I’ll be blunt…I’ve always seen Clapham as the a**ehole of London, with other south-west-of-the-river districts, like Putney, not far behind.

Perhaps with Putney it’s the lack of transport options (the one option they do have is run by South West Trains so can barely be described as transport at all), or the way people look (seriously, they look different), or the fact that some of the relationships I’d most like to forget have made me travel too frequently to SW London, or just the fact that ‘Putney’ sounds a bit stupid. Who knows.

But lured by the carrot of a voucher from the lovely people at Zomato and resigned to very personal renaissance-style tragi-comedic fatalism of never being able to say no to free food, a very glamorous co-eater and myself strapped tennis rackets to our feet, got the oxygen tank ready, hopped on a train from Waterloo and ventured to the wild south west.

Perhaps it’s not all bad…come out of the station, turn left and left again, and walk for ten minutes and you’ll get to the Lodge Hotel – two great big old detached Victorian suburban villas, stuck together with a modern extension which would have Kevin McCloud banging at the door with a Channel 4 film crew in tow.

From first sight, both outside and in, it is clear someone has thrown a whole bucket of cash at this place and the result is a suitably elegant boutique hotel.

The Lodge Hotel Putney - picture of the restaurant courtesy of their website

The Lodge Hotel Putney – picture of the restaurant courtesy of their website

But we were here for the food, specifically that of Hide and Seed – a name, which, according to the website comes from ‘perfectly balanced’ dishes, as “attention is lavished equally on vegetables and plants as it is on meat and fish.”

Hmmmmmm.

However, the food really did hit the mark.

Pork belly

Pork belly

To begin, we chose the pork belly (served with a couple of swooshes of sauce and very little else) and the octopus (tapas style with baby potatoes and a generous dusting of paprika). The ingredients were clearly top-notch – the pig had obviously been allowed to wallow with abandon, and a very contented cephalopod had given up its tentacles for my enjoyment. Both proved triumphs of succulence and simplicity. Someone in the kitchen has a mercifully light touch.

Octopus and potato

Octopus and potato

Special cod

Special cod

Moving on, both the ‘special’ cod with cabbage and sugar snaps came very close to fitting its billing and the 24-hour lamb with sweet potato and celeriac was also in a similar league.

Dessert, as seems to be becoming more standard the older I get, was one dish shared – the ‘chocolate arrangement’ – which basically did exactly what it said on the tin, but remained unfinished – not a total success.

Chocolate arrangement

Chocolate arrangement

All three courses were washed-down with a decent medium dry Picpoul de Pinet.

So…food: good.

But here’s the thing…Hide and Seed seems unfortunately very good at hide and seek. For the duration of our sitting, only three other people were dining. For the last half-an-hour we were there on our own. It felt necessary to talk very quietly. This was on a Saturday night. We didn’t take another drink at the end of the meal because heading to another bar down the street – or even home – appealed that much more.

I thought it may have just been one of those days, but a quick online search shows other people have felt like this too. It’s all a bit head-scratching. This is a decent place with good food and service in a pleasant environment. Ok, it’s in Putney, but surely not everyone feels the same way as me about this – so why is it so quiet?

I hope I can do my bit here by saying…  “go, you’ll like it.”

Hide and Seed, The Lodge Hotel,52-54 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 2RN

0208 874 1598

http://www.hideandseed.co.uk

 

I was given £70 to spend by Zomato and paid for the rest. (My stomach can be bought; my opinions cannot)

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Filed under Eating, Food, Gentleman loves cake, London, Restaurants, Secret London

A faultless sushi date at Kouzu

Going out for dinner with other bloggers is an exercise in mutual understanding - you don't eat your food until you've got the perfect instagram...

Dining with other bloggers is an exercise in mutual understanding – you don’t eat your food until you’ve got the perfect instagram…

If one were to have a blogging BFF it would probably be Manasi but I get the impression she’s a favourite of several other bloggers (I’m mostly talking about you Mayfairy!) so I’m going to stick with the hypothetical here.

This popular lady has given me plenty of signs that she wants to be my blogging BFF, even choosing to sit next to me at some blogger events. We seem to like the same things (though best not discuss her dislike for green tea or my ickiness about sesame ice cream~) and I’ve mentioned our freakishly similar upbringing before. She even went to high school in Auckland! But so have a lot of my blogging friends… We also once accidentally wrote the same blog post, both of us rushing to change it in case the other thought we’d copied eachother (we hadn’t, it was weird).

However, she did let me join her on a trip to review one of London’s newcomers to the Japanese food scene and that left a big impression. Her company was great but we’re going to forget about that now as the food was some of the most memorable I’ve had in a very long time.

You can't go to Japan and not fall in love with everything about it by the way...

By the way, you can’t go to Japan and not fall in love with everything about it…

Does Kouzu do the best sushi in London? It is certainly up there – without wanting to offend my adored Sake No Hana, I’m going to cross the line and say it could well be. On the night we visited, I felt this was mostly down to Head Sushi Chef Nobuyuki Yamaguchi’s outstanding skills with the sushi knives.

Head Sushi Chef Nobuyuki Yamaguchi and our incredible plate of melt in your mouth sushi

Head Sushi Chef Nobuyuki Yamaguchi and our incredible plate of melt in your mouth sushi

One of the chef's team doing his magic on the nigiri

One of the chef’s team doing his magic on the nigiri

I was lucky that Manasi is a strong woman and worked up the courage to ask for a table upstairs so we could watch the chefs in action. I’m way too backwards about coming forwards to do so and now know that it is always worth asking for the top table in a restaurant as this was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in London and it was so cool being able to see it being put together.

On the menu? Oh god, it was so good that I’ve completely forgotten how to write about it all so let’s allow the pictures speak here:

Grapefruit pina colada (as good as it looks) , a passion Victoria, and steamed edamame beans

Grapefruit pina colada (as good as it looks) , a passion Victoria, and steamed edamame beans

Salmon with yuzi soy dressing

Salmon with yuzu soy dressing

Beef tataki (I ate more than my fair share, sorry Manasi)

Beef fillet tataki (I ate more than my fair share, sorry Manasi)

Octopus and scallop nigiri, and prawn tempura sushi roll

Octopus and scallop nigiri, and prawn tempura sushi roll (I could have eaten the sushi for days on end and not got sick of it – definitely the highlight of my evening there)

Black cod with orange and fennel salad (divine, just divine)

Black cod with orange and fennel salad (divine, just divine)

Roasted baby chicken with this amazing chilli sauce (I'm getting hungry writing this up right now...)

Roasted baby chicken with this amazing chilli sauce (I’m getting hungry writing this up right now…)

Sesame ice cream

Sesame ice cream – Manasi raved about this

Matcha tiramisu - this sent me over the edge - I died and went to heaven.

Matcha tiramisu – this sent me over the edge – I died and went to heaven.

Full and oh-so-blinkin-happy, we left having eaten the best sushi I’ve had outside of Japan. Thank you Kouzu for having us. Thank you Manasi for making me your blogging BFF for an evening.

Kouzu can be found at 21 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1 0JW. Nearest tube is Victoria. We were guests of Kouzu. 

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Filed under Blogs, Eating, Food, London, The West End

Change over 10 years and a spend-thrift hour in E20 (#MyE20!)

The London I live in thrives on change.

The London I live in thrives on change.

I’ve lived in the East End near on an eternity now (ok, about 8 years if you add up the stints away from here) and have seen a lot of change since that snowy/sleety/just cold & horrible day when I turned up in Bethnal Green.

When I arrived, though still very hipster, Shoreditch didn’t have Box Park, The Hawkhurst Vault, Frame, a cat or a cereal cafe. Spitalfields was the place you visited on Sundays but there wasn’t much else on during the week. As I prepare to leave my East End Abode, I know that next time I visit, I’ll barely recognise my old haunts once again (except the bagel shops, surely they’re not ever allowed to leave Brick Lane??).

Brick Lane when I went through my Hipstamatic phase...

Brick Lane when I went through my ghastly Hipstamatic phase…

Stratford is another one of those places which is completely unrecognisable from the place I used to pass on the way to visit my friend Suze who lived out in Leytonstone back in 2005 – it was truly considered the wop-wops back then… In fact, when I first went past what is now Queen Elizabeth Park and Westfield, what is there today was merely drawings on a submission to the people who decide who holds the Olympics (I have two kids under two and don’t get more than 4 hours in a row of sleep, facts and names are not my strong point right now – apologies to the detail hunters who wish to correct that last sentence).

That July, things began to change. Suze for one had left Leytonstone to become a politics guru extraordinaire in New Zealand, I moved out West then very far South for a couple of years, and the East End, particularly that wasteland between Stratford and Hackney, became a hub of development. I eventually moved back and my daily commute from my cute little flat with the cats in Leytonstone became a game of spot the new building site and speculate what the steel bars would turn into.

A beautiful park is what resulted after the most amazing summer ever.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park

A fantastic shopping centre that contained everything you need was now right on my door step, and it contains the best Marks and Spencer in the land.

What few people know is that there’s actually a whole community built behind Westfield in what was the Athletes Village. There are loads of amazing apartments (many available to buy or rent at the moment), all with balconies, some with exceptional views, and with surprisingly good access to Central London (7 minutes to King’s Cross-St Pancras from Stratford International).

East Village London

East Village London

The people behind those apartments, Get Living London and East Village, recently invited bloggers Annie, Felicity and Lauren, along with yours truly to join them on a shopping challenge in Westfield. We started with chit chats over a lovely breakfast (from that amazing M&S!), admired the view which spanned the London skyline, and were then given our challenge – to spend £100 on sales items in Westfield.

Thank you!

Thank you.

It was my birthday a few days later so rather than do my usual thing of buying my lovely children even more clothes, swallowing a flat white at Grind Coffee Bar and gobbling down sushi from the Japan Centre, which is what I tend to get sucked into when in Westfield, I spent £100 on pretty items of clothes for myself to wear to the Langham where I met two of my girls for a cocktail to celebrate what would be my last birthday in London for a few years.

Didn't I do well?

Didn’t I do well?

We tweeted throughout the day using the hash-tag #MyE20 and had a blast.

The other bloggers are amazing by the way. I love Annie’s style and I think Felicity and Lauren should start up their own YouTube channel (run for cover Zoella). As I said just a couple of days ago on here, the biggest perk in blogging is meeting other bloggers.

Thank you so much East Village for having me. And while we’re at it, lets raise our champagne glasses to change – for in my own little world on that day, change was a good thing.

London truly is.

London truly is.

I was a guest of East Village and Get Living London. I was compensated with £100 to spend at Westfield as part of the #MyE20 shopping challenge. 

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Filed under Blogs, Experiences, Life in general, London, Shopping, The East End

Friendship (lots of it) – that massive unexpected benefit from blogging

BIrds of a feather flock together~

BIrds of a feather flock together~

This month’s travel link up was a tough one. I’m getting old and it’s difficult to remember all of the benefits blogging as brought into my life, so I’m going to go with the most obvious one. This post is about friendship.

I started blogging 10 years ago. I’ve done the travel blog where I detailed every little encounter on the road – some amazing, some not so amazing. I’ve done the “Mummy blogger thing” and ran away screaming. Lady loves cake is the one who has stuck in my life without getting overly controversial or died when I became too broke to keep it up.

I never imagined when I published my travel diary online (and that is really what it was in 2004) with its silly name (Kat of the Orient… what a nutter) and only my dad reading it that blogging would open up a whole new world for me.

So many fabulous afternoon teas with blogging friends who eventually become friends in real life...

So many fabulous afternoon teas with blogging friends who eventually become friends in real life…

Case in point: our travel link-up real life meet-up over a divine afternoon tea at Browns last weekend. Back in 2004 the last thing on my mind was walking into a room full of new friends I’d made over the internet (then couch-surfing entered my life but that’s different) all because I had found a platform where I could write the way I talk, having been told over and over and over again at university not to do that, ever.

Ridiculously beautiful Guernsey

Ridiculously beautiful Guernsey

Last year I went to Guernsey to visit a very good friend of mine who came into my life purely because she found Royal Teas in Greenwich through my blog. For some god-forsaken reason, that happy-go-lucky Canadian, called Jen, continued to read my blog (and I hers) and she is now counted among my best friends, as are the other bloggers who then entered my life thanks to her – hello Melissa, Mandy, Manasi and the rest of you!! 2004’s me had never considered Guernsey as a place to travel to and 2015’s probably wouldn’t if my blog didn’t exist. Melissa is planning a trip to Wellington where I’m hoping to host her. Mandy and I had an amazing weekend in Belfast and Manasi is my sister from another Mister (we’ve had freakishly similar lives growing up as children of eternal expats).

Bloggers tend to be like-minded people. There seems to be something that connects us all together – I think it’s the shared creative spirit but maybe we’re just a whole breed of our own. I’ve very rarely met a blogger I didn’t get along with and get so excited when it comes to meeting up with other bloggers (Hello Angie and Yannick, see you on Thursday!) as I know we’ll almost definitely click.

I couldn’t have had some of the adventures I’ve been on if it wasn’t for my ever expanding amazing blogging crew, so I’m raising my glass here to friendship. Thank you internet.

This post is part of Kelly, Emma and Rebecca’s travel link up – also people I now count as Friends in Real Life. 

Bloggers are awesome!

Bloggers are awesome!

 

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Filed under Blogs, London

GLC enjoys Dim Sum & Champagne afternoon tea in Knightsbridge

A cup of tea on LLC's travels~

A cup of tea on LLC’s travels~

An invitation to join a bloggers’ afternoon tea at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, the night after attending what I knew would be a particularly boozy 40th birthday party, filled me with dread.

Not just the dread of being ferociously hungover, but also of having to be sociable with a bunch of people I don’t know (aside from a little Twitter and blog stalking).

I came close to turning this invitation down…something I would never normally countenance when it comes to food.

I’m very glad I didn’t.

Bloggers, bloggers, bloggers

Bloggers, bloggers, bloggers

So, to begin with the conclusion…everyone loves dim sum!

But this brand of dim sum, served as an afternoon tea at the swanky Millennium Hotel just around the corner from Harrods in Knightsbridge, is a little different to what I normally go for.

Usually I’m happy to slum it around China Town or give myself a treat at the excellent Floating Lotus on the Isle of Dogs, but this place made me ditch the jeans in favour of chinos…I even wore a shirt!

Needless to say, the surroundings for tea are excellent, but as an up-market hotel this information is by-the-by. The truth is you’re not going to head here for dim sum afternoon tea unless the food is good, so let’s concentrate on that.

Below is a full list of what we ate, but particular highlights were a single king prawn, sautéed, coated in a wasabi mayonnaise and sitting on a slice of pineapple (kind of bonkers but strangely brilliant); the crispy fried chicken (like a well posh KFC); the duck spring rolls (proof there is a higher level of spring rollness); and the teeny tiny steamed pork dumplings (which I would have happily thrown down my neck all day long).

The ingredients and their preparation clearly point to a kitchen team who know their stir-fried onions and each item offers something different for the taste buds.  The menu has a definite beginning and end and I was very happy to take that journey.

The dim sum afternoon tea

The dim sum afternoon tea

As often seems the case when you get a glut of food bloggers around a table, if your eyes and hands aren’t fast enough, you don’t eat, and unfortunately I came up empty handed with a couple of the offerings. (There were lots of satisfactory noises being made, so I’m guessing they were all good).

  • Crispy chicken stick
  • Crispy shredded duck spring rolls
  • Sauteed prawns coated with wasabi
  • Minced chicken wrapped in lettuce
  • Crispy scallop rolls
  • BBQ pork bun (Chai Siu Boa)
  • Red bean and pandan mochi cake
  • Fresh sliced mango
  • Prawns with Passion Fruit Colis (dip fried)
  • Steamed minced pork dumplings (Siu Mai)
  • Traditional Peking Duck

So, would I recommend this Eastern Afternoon Tea? Well, I was actually umming and ahhing about this question as London is blessed with excellent choices when it comes to dim sum.

But I just looked again at the price…£25 per person…which includes a glass of Champagne.

With the food and the location, it certainly has the feel of a £40 menu so based on this I’d say it’s a bargain!

As a spectacularly amateur food writer, who by virtue of writing for Lady Loves Cake and High Tea Society has inadvertently become quite a (faux)-connoisseur of afternoon teas, this one definitely sits nearer the top of the table.

If 70% can get you a first class degree at university, then the Millennium Knightsbridge’s dim sum afternoon tea is certainly achieving that (with honours!).

No post about Chinese food on here can go without mentioning that the lady lived in China for a year... rah rah rah rah rah.

China

—————————————

As with all hotels which are part of larger groups, the website is impossibly difficult to navigate, so you can find the full restaurant menu (including afternoon tea) HERE and reservation details HERE.

Oh, and a huge thank you to the Joe Blogs blogger network for the invitation. You can find out more about them (on their very easy to navigate website) HERE.

The Millennium Hotel Knightsbridge can be found at 17 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9NU. Nearest tube is Knightsbridge… 

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Filed under Afternoon tea, Afternoon tea London, Eating, Food, Gentleman loves cake, London, The West End

Is the Walkie Talkie better than the Shard?

View of Tower Bridge from the Sky Garden

View of Tower Bridge from the Sky Garden

Few buildings in London’s recent years have been more controversial than the Shard or the Walkie Talkie. Both are love or hate buildings but ones that some of us can’t help but be intrigued by regardless.

My answer in short to which one has the better experience? Well, if you don’t want all the bells and whistles and just want a coffee with a view then the Walkie Talkie is for you.

The Walkie Talkie

The Walkie Talkie

Though not a fan of the Walkie Talkie’s death-ray beaming structure, I found myself unable to resist booking their free tickets and was so glad I did. I liked the View from the Shard and only regretted not spending more time up there – I can’t resist a good view – but the Walkie Talkie has a character all of its own. I’ll be honest here, a lot of it comes down to the friendly staff but the view really does sell itself.

The view

The view

Looking down from the top of the garden

Looking down from the top of the garden

Yes - there is an actual garden in there and I thought it was quite nice.

Yes – there is an actual garden in there and I thought it was quite cool.

Mr Man and BLC enjoying an early lunch in front of the Shard

Mr Man, Mr Man Jr and BLC enjoying an early lunch in front of the Shard

The other thing I wasn’t expecting was a surprisingly good cafe. Sure, the coffee isn’t the indie flat white that you’ll find in plenty of City/Shoreditch establishments but it does the job, is nicely presented and doesn’t cost the earth. The pain au raisin I had with mine was delicious and Mr Man was really impressed with the early lunch he took in the form of a panini (he can be hard to impress so that is saying something). The huge selection of cakes, sandwiches and muffins are served by friendly Italian guys in stylish ski-gear – as random as the hot water bottles provided on some of the seats but we’ll go with it.

Flat whites and a pain au raisin - not mind blowing but definitely not bad~

Flat whites and a pain au raisin – not mind blowing but definitely not bad~

In short – I loved the Walkie Talkie and would highly recommend a visit up it. A poor man’s Shard it is not; it is a site worth a visit in its own. Plus, it has a cool garden and plenty of seating too. You’ll find yourself staying there for longer than you think.

Sky Garden can be found at 20 Fenchurch Street. Tickets are free and can only be booked ahead of time online. Nearest tube is Monument. We paid £13.50 for two flat whites, a panini and a pain au raisin. 

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Filed under Eating, Experiences, Food, Life in general, London, London cafes, Secret London