Season | Finsbury Park

Season. This restaurant in Finsbury Park is as simple as the name suggests. It tries to only use ingredients that are in season and can be sourced within the United Kingdom, so the small menu changes every couple of months.

I’ve started to gain a real affinity with Finsbury Park. It’s got everything a girl could need; from my favourite brunch spot, Fink’s Salt and Sweet, to Clapton Craft, a shop which sells craft beer, and now Season.

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We visited Season as a family in July for my birthday (and I’m well aware it’s now late September and the menu has definitely changed since I visited. Check their social media for their most current menu). Expect modern British fare, served in a compact dining room lit by candles.

As soon as we were seated, we were brought complementary baked bread and bottles of water, both sparkling and still – something I’m a big fan of.

The menu is short but what they do, they do exceptionally well. I ordered the duck leg to start which was served with a watercress and orange salad. A classic combo.

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I also tried some of the bone marrow topped on sourdough toast. It was probably a bit too salty for my taste, but my brother and dad raved about it.

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I couldn’t help but order the mussels for my main, they arrived piled high and in a white wine sauce. I opted for a side of wedges and French peas. The potatoes were crisp and the perfect accompaniment to dunk in my sauce.

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My dad and sister’s boyfriend feasted on the lamb which was cooked to perfection and served with crispy pieces of onions.

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Whereas my mum and sister dinned on the halibut which was simply accompanied by some grilled spring onions and a salsa.

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Because no birthday celebration is complete without dessert, I opted for the chocolate rosemary pot. It was incredibly indulgent and rich, and if you have a sweet tooth you won’t want to share this pudding.

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And because they’re decent people, Season’s doesn’t charge you £20 for one dish. It’s all reasonably priced and the portions are modest. Plus they have a no markup policy on booze, so all the wine is charged at cost…If that doesn’t incentivise you to go here, I don’t know what will.

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Season, 53 Stroud Green Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 3EF, UK

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Afternoon Tea at Sketch Gallery

Afternoon tea is such a quintessential British tradition and it’s one I often link with tea rooms in the countryside complete with dainty china and holding your pinky up. To me, afternoon tea is a treat – and as much as I dine out, I rarely spend a lot of time eating small sandwiches and sipping champagne. So when I do indulge, I want the experience to be something special and different to the norm – and Sketch does just that.

It’s set back from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, the restaurant is located in a beautiful Mayfair townhouse. As you enter through the front doors you’re met by a game of hopscotch on the floor and ladies wearing pastel pink dresses.

We were guided into the gallery,  and it was every bit as magical and pink as the photos I’d seen online. Scalloped, dusty pink velvet booths are dotted throughout the room and playful, witty art works by David Shrigley deliberately contrast the sugar-coated pastel interior. The place settings are also designed by David Shrigley too, with salt and pepper shakers labelled ‘dust’ and ‘dirt’.

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I took Serena here for her birthday, so naturally, we opted for the champagne afternoon tea – which is poured overhead.

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From matcha to your classic breakfast tea, Sketch boasts a 40-strong selection. I opted for a chai tea which was served alongside our eggs and soldiers.

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A dinky and delicate starter which consists of a spoon of rich, creamy caviar, served with an egg yolk nestled on top on an ‘egg white’ made from cheese.

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Next, a tower formed of three layers of food was brought to the table (which can be refilled when you run out).

The first tier consisted of sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber, coronation chicken and egg. The next layer was littered with small patisseries, tarts and cakes. Followed by the final tier of marshmallows and cheesecake.

All the elements that formed the tower had a modern and creative twist; the cucumber sandwich came topped with a quails egg.

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As we were wolfing down our finger sandwiches and mini cakes, we were brought warm scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Delicious.

After eating we went to explore as the whole building is unique and each room is is like stepping into another world. Make sure you take a trip to the toilets, where each loo is basically an egg pod, (if you’re an Instagram addict like me, you’ve probably seen many photos of these toilets before).

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Now Sketch is an expensive treat, and it’s not somewhere I could afford to eat at regularly but for a birthday treat for one of my best friends, it was the perfect place.

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Sketch, 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG

Main photo courtesy of Sketch 

 

 

 

 

Hakkasan

Hakkasan, an elite chain of restaurants which needs little introduction. Last month I headed to their joint in Hanway Place, which is hidden down a back alleyway near the west-end. It boasts a stunning interior, creative cocktails and sophisticated Cantonese food.

As we descended the stairs into the restaurant, we were instantly hit with the smell of burning incense. The steps give away to a sleek space, with low level lighting and charcoal-grey slate. It’s then divided into sections by oriental carved wooden screens. Hakkasan gloats a classy interior and it gives diners a safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets.

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I was invited by the company I work for, Goodmadn Masson, along with 30 or so others as a celebration. We were served a set menu of a selection of Dim Sum, starting with their crispy duck salad. It’s served with a mix of green leaves and water cress with warm slivers of duck meat, a delicious start to our meal.

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Next came the sesame prawn toast. You seriously need to put these tasty treats on your food bucketlist. They’re a world away from your cheap and cheerful Chinese takeaway, as they burst with a molten centre of liquid foie gras.

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The dishes then came flooding out of the kitchen, and we were brought the stir-fry of black pepper rib eye beef, spicy prawns, chicken satay and silver cod, alongside a side of green asparagus and jasmine rice.

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The stand out dish was by far their silver cod, a Hakkasan signature dish for a reason, the fish itself was charcoal grilled and was silken, and served with thick, rich champagne and honey sauce.

hakkasan silver cod

Needless to say, Hakkasan isn’t your average Chinese restaurant, so it comes with a hefty price tag. But every last detail is considered – the service is impeccable and matched with high-quality food in a relaxed environment. It’s easy to see how this restaurant group has become to distinguished the world over. Push the boat out, at least once.

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Hakkasan, 8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HD

East London Liquor Company

A few weeks back (and when I say a few, I mean two months ago), my family and I took a trip up to Mile End, to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary. They moved to London 35 years ago and originally lived in Hackney, so they were keen to go back to see how much the area has changed.

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We decided to hit up East London Liquor Company, a gin and vodka distillery in East London with a bottle shop and restaurant. You’ll find it just south of Vicky Park next to the canal. It’s a well-kept secret (there’s no signage) and it’s just simply decorated with reclaimed brick walls and salvaged trestle tables – the shimmering copper distillers behind the bar do all the talking here.

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It was a beautiful golden afternoon and after being crammed on a sweltering hot central line tube, all I could think about was that gin and tonic waiting for me at the end of my journey. They boast an incredible stash of bottled spirits (and you can book into distillery tours) but if you’d rather a cold beer (like my brother) they’ve got it by the bucketful.

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If you need something to soak up the booze, they’ve got an on-site restaurant which is influenced by Italian cuisine, complete with a pizza oven and array of sharing plates. We dived into the sharing plates and each ordered our favourite thing on the menu to divide between the four of us: prosciutto & ricotta wrapped grissini, zucchini tagliatelle, artichoke & fennel Salad, and burrata served with nettles.

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I’ll definitely start incorporating the prosciutto and ricotta wrapped grissini into my dinner parties, such a simple snack but one that is incredibly tasty.

The other highlight was the zucchini tagliatelle, it was so light and was served with a dollop of parmesan cheese on top. If you ever find yourself at The East London Liquor Company and fancy a snack to accompany your drinks, get this.

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And if you’re anything like my family, a couple of sharing plates isn’t enough, and thankfully their pizza oven comes to the rescue when feeding the Boasts. Order the ricotta stuffed crust, which is topped with tomato, salami, parmesan and rocket.

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East London Liquor CompanyUnit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London, E3 5SN

*Main photo courtesy of East London Liquor Company

 

Peruvian small plates at Chicama

The name of this Chelsea restaurant originates from a coastal town in Peru, which is fitting considering that the menu is completely centred on seafood. I first heard of Chicama whilst reading Time Out Magazine on the tube and I immediately wanted to visit. The name was added to my long list of places I want to eat in and ultimately forgotten about, until now.

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I rarely venture to Chelsea, I work in the City so it’s easy to pop to Shoreditch or Soho to meet pals or back up home, in North London. A few weeks ago I found myself in West London as I was headed to The Bletchley (a spy-themed cocktail bar), and needed somewhere quick to grab a bite.

The interior could have been lifted straight out of a Wes Anderson film and placed into Chelsea. A marble top bar divides the open kitchen and dining area with dusky pink velvet seating, illuminated by lamps which hang from the ceiling.

We were seated at the bar, overlooking the kitchen, and started the long process of trying to decide what to order…

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The idea is to order 2-4 dishes each and share, and I’d note that it’s not very cheap, but their food is a knockout. The flavours are fresh with bold Peruvian spices, marinades and sauces. From the selection of small plates, we ordered the salmon ceviche which was served with grapefruit and pickled onion. Potentially my favourite dish of the evening, the little cubes of fish were perfectly sized and was beautifully complemented by the citrusy spicy sauce it was served in.

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In a bid to get in some greens, we ordered the vegetable ceviche, half of the veg was served raw and the other half was cooked. My favourite element of the dish was the asparagus which was served battered.

There’s a selection of fish on offer which is done over the charcoal grill (and grilled seafood always takes me back to seaside dining with my family so I couldn’t resist). We opted for the sea bass, the quality of the fish was gorgeous and was cooked to perfection, as it flaked off fabulously off the bone. We also ordered a side of the avocado jalapeño sauce, which was so smooth and perfectly completed the fish.

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It’s a shame we didn’t have time to eat more as we were rushing to make it to The Bletchley on time. I’m dying to try the tapioca marshmallows (deep-fried fish cubes with parmesan)… so I guess I have to add Chicama back onto my list of places that I want to eat in.

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Chicama, 383 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LP

 

Taste of London

June seemed to fly by, and it’s been a pretty exciting month – with even more rooftop bars and outdoor foodie pop-ups flooding my Insta feed than ever before. But there was only one thing on my mind: Taste of London.

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Taste of London is one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and it’s hosted in Regents Park for just 5 days (and by the time I’ve gotten around to writing this blog, Taste of London has passed and you’re going to have to wait until November to visit!). It’s an eclectic collection of the best restaurants in the capital alongside exhibitors showcasing their products and creations.

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After an intense browse of the restaurant list, we locked onto our first target: The Ember Yard. I opted for the courgette and mint arancini served with whipped ricotta, fennel and toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s crunchy, golden brown coating gave way to a creamy filling inside, I just hope the Ember Yard will make these a permanent staple on their menu…

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Our next stop was to the Folkington‘s truck to grab ourselves a G&T. We tried all their juices first before settling on a classic, Lemon & Mint, to add to our Bathtub Gins. A refreshing (and much needed) treat.

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Roka was next, where we sampled the Gindara to nai no gyoza – black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings. If there are dumplings on a menu, I’m ordering them. I adore Roka and I’ll find any excuse to visit.

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Desert? We tried samples from Pots & Co and I loved their passion fruit and orange compete which is set on top of a cheesecake like cream. We were also given a taster each of their little chocolate pot which is made with 70% Belgian chocolate which has the consistency of a mousse. I loved it so much I went to Waitrose and bought a pack of four, it’s so creamy and indulgent.

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I so wished we can return the next day to discover all the rest of the delicious dishes – there were just so much on offer!

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Beer52

Since finishing university I’ve developed a real taste for ale, and there’s one thing that spoils an evening at the pub for me, is when the only options for beer are Stellar, Fosters and Carlsberg. But we’re now living in a golden age of beer and nowadays in pubs across the UK, I can get ahold of a decent craft ale.

The struggle now, is trying to get the stuff at home, sure I can get my hands on BrewDog at my local Sainsburys, but after a while, I want to try something different – and that’s where Beer52 have stepped in. They’re a subscription based service and each month you receive eight beers, ferment magazine and a snack.

As well as being able to choose the number of beers you receive, you can also choose to have either a light or mixed box. I opted for the light box, which removes the dark beers and replaces them with lighter varieties.

The majority of the beers in last month’s box were from Danish brewer, Mikkeller. They are labelled as a ‘gypsy’ beer as they don’t operate in an official brewery, but instead, collaborate with other breweries to produce their beers. In my box, I received 6 beers brewed my Mikkeller:

  • Stick in the ear
  • I wish – Gluten free
  • Running Club
  • Henry Jagger
  • 19
  • Not just another wit

Beer52 costs £24 for 8 beers or £29 for 10 beers on a 4 weekly cycle, and it can be cancelled anytime. If you would like to know more about Beer52 or sign up to the service for yourself, do head over to their website.