Al Fresco


I’ve always been a fan of The Bloomsbury Hotel and consider its bar and terrace undiscovered gems in the heart of London.

Well, that’s what I thought a couple of years ago because since my last visit there have been developments that have completely transformed both spaces and now there seems to be plenty of chatter about this West End hotel.

The al fresco space which is a minute’s walk away from Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road is now called the Dalloway Terrace.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

And when you consider Bloomsbury’s literary heritage, it makes sense that The Bloomsbury Hotel would name its finest feature after the most prolific character from one of Bloomsbury’s former residents, Virginia Woolf. In fact, to this day Bloomsbury is still considered one of the literary capitals of the world with Bloomsbury Publishing and Faber & Faber still residing within this beautiful area.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

So when I was invited to a bloggers afternoon tea which would be hosted by Angie, I was very excited to join EmmaLauren, Katie, Honey, Jess, Ben, and Mehreen.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

I knew it was going to be a chance to catch up with a few of my favourite bloggers as well as an opportunity to get to meet some new faces. And after plenty of mingling and Champagne …

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

… we all took our seats to enjoy a new afternoon tea experience with the weather on our side.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

I’m not so much of a big tea drinker maybe it’s because I don’t think soya milk suits tea as it does coffee. But I do love non-milky tea and so I ordered their white tea, which I enjoyed.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

As for the menu, The Bloomsbury Afternoon Tea was inspired by original recipes from the 1920s and 1930s which have been given a modern twist by the hotel’s chefs.

I had a gluten-free version of the menu, which was the first time I had tried a gluten-free afternoon tea. Admittedly, it has made me reconsider cutting out wheat so drastically and for my next afternoon review I am planning on opting for the original menu for fear of missing out again.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

But all in all, the whole afternoon tea experience was a true delight. So much so, the …

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

… conversations meandered into the evening when we left the terrace and made our way down the stairs, past the twinkling lights and live jazz music – and headed into the hotel’s bar which is another gem in itself. Unfortunately, soon after this photo (below) was taken the battery in my camera ran out so I have no photographic evidence of the wonderful cocktails served here.

Still, I guess it gives me another reason to return …

… along with the wonderful oasis set in the heart of the West End, that is the Dalloway Terrace.

*Thank you Angie and Dalloway Terrace for a gorgeous afternoon!

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN.

Chelsea Girl

I love books. Books are my passion. I buy more than I can read and I still have so many yet to be opened from my days as a bookseller, as I worked my way through uni. and shortly after.

So you can imagine my delight when I found myself organising a bloggers event that was to start at Taschen on Duke of York Square.

After some bubbles and a catch-up with a great crowd that included Angie, Suze, Fiona, Emma, Lauren, Aftab, Matilda and Tania, the manager of Taschen (Nolan Browne) led us around the store to explain the background of Taschen’s unique publishing ethos and the wide array of titles in the store.

And as I listened to Nolan telling us about Benedikt Taschen’s agenda to create a greater accessibility to the wonders of art in publishing, I started to think back to my initial purchases as I built my book collection. It was Taschen that published the first Magritte book I bought and I remember picking up this two-book Van Gogh publication (below) from a store in Besançon where I studied for my third year at uni. It was also Taschen that published the first interiors book I bought. And to this day I’m still picking up titles I feel I need in my collection. Thing is, whilst Taschen provided an entry point into the world of art and interiors for me they also publish some of the most exclusive books you can get your hands on – and I want them all!

Taschen Books

Nolan talked us through Taschen’s limited editions …

David Bowie at Taschen, Duke of York Square

… and Sumo books that are sometimes accompanied by limited edition prints. I meant to take a photo of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) book which is something I would love at home. If you’re a Muhammed Ali fan, I urge you to visit the downstairs of Taschen’s store to discover a book that was printed with such care, you’d find the same craftsmanship at the Vatican.

Taschen, Duke of York Square, London

The start of the evening satisfied the book-nerd in me and it also gave me ideas for future gifts. There’s a gorgeous publication on tree houses which is perfect for someone I know who loves architecture and of course tree houses. 🙂

After a tour of Taschen, we all popped over to Manicomio. We could have hopped, it’s so close. And our night here started with a gorgeous vodka-based cocktail called Jagged Wood; a nod to Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery which is a must-visit exhibition whether you love The Rolling Stones or not. It’s very impressive.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And as we waited for our starters to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the shots of truffle soup that were served to us. I love truffles and I savoured the thick texture of this soup. It was a great preamble to our meal.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

For starter I had the yellow fin tuna which was gorgeous too.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And for main I ordered the chicken tagliata with asparagus, artichoke and onions which I had with a side of …

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

… rosemary potatoes.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

Dessert was the buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb, which I absolutely loved.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

As usual Manicomio didn’t disappoint and it was great to finally experience this place in the evening. I’ve always been drawn to Manicomio for lunch or a glass of wine in the afternoon because I love their terrace. So it was a treat to discover the nighttime buzz inside the restaurant.

There is so much to look forward to over spring/summer on Duke of York Square, which I’ll be sure to cover on here. But to give you the heads up, here are some dates for your diary …

  • Chelsea in Bloom – 23rd to 28th May
  •  Strawberries & Screen for the Wimbledon semi-finals and finals  – 8th to 10th July
  • HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday & Commonwealth Market, which will include a street party style occasion to mimic the Queen’s own celebrations at the Mall  – 12th June
  • The BFG Dream Jar Trail’s arrival into Chelsea, which will excite any Roald Dahl fan – 8th July to 31st August

Maybe I’ll see you around?

Chelsea Girl

Summer may be officially over but the sun is still shining. This means more chance to prolong one of my favourite ways to dine: al fresco! A couple of weeks ago, I had an early supper at Comptoir Libanais on Duke of York Square.

The weather was warm enough to eat outside, which was wonderful because on a Saturday it puts you in amongst the shopping buzz. I love that feeling. Though to be honest, I love being inside just as much. Computer Libanais is full of colour and vibrance, as most folks would already know.

On my recent visit I ordered what seems to be evolving as my usual: the Lamb and Prunes Tagine, which also has butternut squash, peas and roasted almonds in the dish. Although with Little Man by my side, the prunes didn’t stay too long on my plate. His creeping hand kept reappearing as he snatched one prune after the next.

And for my drink, I had one of Comptoir’s Prosecco cocktails. There are three altogether: The Mona with a dash of fragrant rose syrup; Yara, with a dash of mulberry molasses; and Zeina, with a dash of pomegranate molasses. I’ve tried and like them all.

So onwards into our warm start to autumn and then towards dining outside surrounded by festive lights. To be honest, I think just as long as I’m covered if it’s raining, al fresco is wonderful all year round if the setting’s right.
Comptoir Libanais Duke of York Square


Disclaimer: I received a discount on my meal as part of a bloggers event. But I am also a regular here and will continue coming here to have ‘my usual’.  😉Chelsea Girl

The word on the street is that this glorious weather we’re having isn’t just a blip. We’re talking months of sunshine ahead of us … or so I hope (if I haven’t just jinxed it).

So it only makes sense to mention King’s Road’s latest restaurant opening, The Ivy Chelsea Garden which boasts the largest restaurant garden in London and which I visited last week for lunch.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

Stepping inside you can only be impressed with the renovation of the building. Both Joudie and I had grown up along the King’s Road and so the restaurant’s former interior as Henry J. Beans was firmly imprinted on our minds.Ivy Chelsea Garden

But every inch of The Ivy Chelsea Garden feels like a transformation. From the bar … Ivy Chelsea Garden

… to the gorgeous inside seating area, which differs in style as you walk around. The whole place has a light and airy feel about it and you truly feel like you have been transported off the King’s Road and into a world of its own.Ivy Chelsea GardenAs for the garden, neither Joudie or I remember the original garden looking so big. The outside space feels like an absolute delight to walk around and …

Ivy Chelsea Garden… there are even quieter nooks to sip a glass of something special in.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

As for lunch, I started off with a glass of Prosecco whilst Joudie ordered a Bloody Mary with Sipsmith Gin. Ivy Chelsea Garden

Joudie ordered the tuna carpaccio which I think was the winner amongst our starters. Ivy Chelsea GardenI chose the crispy duck salad which I thought was ok but nowhere near as good as the tuna.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

For main, we both ordered the whole lemon sole with a side of zucchini fritti. Ivy Chelsea Garden

Ivy Chelsea Garden

But the highlight of my lunch had to be the diary-free panna cotta, which was a set coconut cream pudding with chilli infused shaved pineapple. I’ve been mourning the loss of panna cotta in my diet since I discovered I was dairy intolerant so I was more than pleased to see this dish on the menu, which passed with flying colours.

Ivy Chelsea GardenThe Ivy Chelsea Garden is a great addition to the King’s Road and a beautiful place to dine. Although, I wouldn’t be entirely honest if I didn’t mention that I did experience some teething problems with the albeit friendly service. Hopefully this is all down to ‘early days’ because I’m already planning my return.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden,  197 King’s Road, London SW3 5ED.

Chelsea Girl

I’ve known about Riccardo’s restaurant since it opened and have visited it quite a few times over the years. But it was only relatively recently I’d learned that Riccardo’s wasn’t just any delicious Italian restaurant in London.

Quite the institution in Chelsea, Riccardo’s terrace dining is part of the local landscape. If you’ve walked along the Fulham Road from South Kensington, there isn’t any doubt that you would have at least glanced at it.

Riccardo'sSo what is this special something I’ve recently discovered about Riccardo’s? If you are coeliac, vegan or if if you have special dietary requirements you’ll appreciate this. On the menu, you can find wheat free and vegan dishes which will not compromise your taste buds. That’s right, I woke up the following morning after an indulgent Italian meal not feeling bloated.

Last week I was invited to Riccardo’s latest Fashion Supper Club along with a few other bloggers and the evening started in the best possible way: An espresso martini to kick start the evening deliciously.

Riccardo'sSoon after, an array of starter dishes arrived for us to try. They included this gorgeous artichoke and prosciutto dish with truffle oil drizzled over it. The surprise of the truffle oil was a feast for my tastebuds and the evening was already getting better.

Riccardo'sThere were also crudités with warm anchovy and garlic dip …

Riccardo's… as well as this gorgeous aubergine dish, which was my favourite. There was also wheat free and yeast free bread to try too.

AubergineFor my main, I ordered the pasta and venison ragu dish which lived up to the hype around the table. The meat was tender and the whole dish was a true delight. I know, I know, this dish doesn’t shout vegan or wheat free but you can order spelt spaghetti or penne; corn maccheroncini, which is gluten free, and kamut fusilli.

Riccardo'sAdmittedly there was also a lot of food envy when I looked at what everyone else had ordered, from the meatballs to the fish and prawns. It looked like everyone had ordered well.

Riccardo'sAs night started to fall and after we’d finished our mains we were again given a chance to try most of the dishes from the dessert menu and it really is difficult to say which one I preferred. They were all very good. The tiramisu was melt in your mouth dreamy. I’ve never tasted tiramisu like Riccardo’s. This gluten free (below) chocolate dessert was also amazing. So rich and moist, you don’t have to be coeliac to enjoy it. There were other desserts, which we tried including pineapple and one that I remember having surprising bursts of almond. And there was of course the cheese.


I had such a fantastic summer’s evening locally and the food and drinks were a real treat. Thank you Riccardo’s for a great evening and thank you for the OH’s cadeau, which he really appreciated. Next time, I’ll bring the Little Man along too which I can’t wait to do.

Riccardo’s 126 Fulham Road, Chelsea, SW3 6HU. Riccardo’s also home delivers: 020 7370 6656

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