British

British-Restaurants

Bumpkin has launched its summer menu and last week I went along to a bloggers dinner at their Notting Hill restaurant to have a taste.

Bumpkin Notting HillIt was my first time here and given that I had already visited the Chelsea and South Kensington restaurants, I thought I knew what to expect. What I hadn’t anticipated was that Bumpkin Notting Hill was not only a lot bigger but it also oozed personality, something different, on each floor.

From private dining rooms to larger function rooms, there was an eclectic mix of styles which I absolutely loved …

Bumpkin Notting Hill

Bumpkin Notting Hill

Bumpkin Notting HillAnd of course, there was downstairs which was very busy. Around our table, there were six of us: Sunny in London, Adventures of a London Kiwi, Selena The Places, Love and LondonUrban Pixxels and myself.

Bumpkin Notting Hill

Bumpkin Notting HillThe evening started with cocktails. Think blackberries and Jack Daniels. Not something I’d ever thought about but what a delicious mix and of course refreshing.

Bumpkin Notting HillBumpkin has a cocktail of the day which is definitely worth asking about when you’re there, especially if you like to be pleasantly surprised.

As for the food, I had the scallops for starter with a matching glass of wine.

Bumpkin Notting HillFor my main, I had the slow cooked pork belly with apple celeriac salad and piccallili which I loved.

Bumpkin Notting Hill

And easily the best part of the evening, for dessert I had the baked vanilla custard with poached rhubarb and hazelnut crumble. I can’t stop thinking about this dish, it is that good. And what I wouldn’t give to have it right in front of me, right now.

Bumpkin Notting HillThere were times when most of us ordered the same dishes and there were times I experienced food envy, such as with the roast monkfish and mussels in a light curry cream sauce, to my right.

Bumpkin Notting HillBut overall it was a very satisfying evening, full of flavours and surrounded by fabulous company. The main dining room’s atmosphere was very relaxed and yet animated: a great way to spend any evening I must say.

Bumpkin, 209 Westbourne Park Road, London, W11 1 EA.

London is fast becoming exciting when it comes to healthy choices when eating out. And when the healthier options are available at a favourite local, event better.

This local is Bumpkin; be it on Sydney Street or in South Kensington, which has a brand new guilt-free menu.

Bumpkin Created with Julie Montagu, this menu includes four hydraulic cold press juices:

The Lean Green Machine has green kale, tenderstem broccoli, watercress, Cox apple, lemon, lime, spirulina and a pinch of ginger, whilst the Carrot Digestif includes carrots, oranges, celery and curly parsley.

Don’t Beet Around The Bush is made from beetroot, pear, blueberries, Cox apple, acai berries and lime – and the Bloody Berry has red pepper, yellow pepper, rhubarb, oranges, green kale and goji berries.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsEach of the juices has its own benefits that could make you feel good on a hangover, post-gym or just in general. And as for taste, they’re great. The Bloody Berry was the most unusual of the selection and as a result, the one I enjoyed the most.

After tasting the juices, I opted for the green kale and spinach soup which came with organic quinoa and seven seed pancakes. You may have read in a previous post a year or two ago about how frustrated I was that there wasn’t much quinoa in London restaurants. Well, flashforward to today and it looks like we’re finally catching up with New York where I was eating quinoa over ten years ago.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsFor starter, the OH opted for ribs. He’s got this thing for ribs at the moment and when it came to Bumpkin’s, (in his words), they were really succulent and fall-off-the-bone. They were really good.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsFor main, we moved to the salads. Mine was as a result of the Good Healthy Combinations that is available on the menu. I chose chicken to go with the braised celery, green lentil, wild, mushrooms, granola clusters and chestnuts …

Bumpkin Healthy Options… whilst the OH opted for prawns to go with malt glazed allotment carrots, roasted hazelnuts, pearl barley and spirulina salad, topped with goji berries, bee pollen and a sesame dressing.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsWe’re both fans of warm salads and were impressed with both our choices. I particularly loved the granola clusters in mine as they added a surprise burst of texture to my dish.

But of course, with all this guilt-free dining, it would be a sin to not taste Bumpkin’s Bloody Mary – which is so good, by the way.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsAnd if you are looking for a cocktail to order, then I recommend the British Martini: Gin, fresh berries and lemon. It is so smooth and delicious. You can be forgiven for wanting to order another.

Bumpkin Healthy OptionsI like this direction which Bumpkin has taken because it now has choices for every mood or lifestyle and if you’re like me, you can always mix them up a bit for a bit of guilt-free pleasure.

Disclaimer: The lunch for two was complimentary for the purpose of the review. But this did not affect my opinion. If you give this new menu a go – or the cocktails for that matter – you’ll see why.

So the longest month of the year is over – or so it felt like it. And now it’s time to get on with 2013, forget about Dry January (if you bothered) and look forward to this being the last month of winter (officially). To help you along, here are my top 5 don’t miss tips for February 2013:

1. It’s the Super Bowl on Sunday and most of us are probably talking about Beyoncé’s much anticipated performance rather than the game. Either way, if you are planning on having a Super Bowl party then consider heading down to Bodean’s BBQ to pick up their marinated meat which are vat packed and therefore easy to cook. Here are the instructions to give you an idea.

Bodean's BBQ Window

Unfortunately Bodean’s Super Bowl party has sold out so this would be the next best thing if you do love their tasty ribs. And if you haven’t tried them yet, here’s my review from the other night.

2. Paris concept store, The Space, is coming to Austique on the King’s Road for one week only over London Fashion Week, from 14th until 21st February 2013.

The Space is a creative hub which hosts emerging Parisian designers, cutting edge fashion labels and international artists and like Austique stocks labels such as Zimmermann, Austique, Cheek Frills and Madeleine Thompson. They will also be showcasing a selection of SS13 collections, which include Parker, Camilla & Marc and lifestyle brands such as Twins for Peace, Claus Porto and Nina Peter.

Austique

3. Donna Ida’s current sale is ending on Monday 4th February 2013 with a serious bang! That is to say, 75% off with an extra 20% off. Just make sure you enter SPECIAL20 at the checkout.

Click here to find out which items are in the clearance sale.

Donna Ida Clearance Sale

4. Whatever you do, don’t miss the ‘Debbie Harry Queen of Punk: Portraits by Brian Aris’ exhibition at Proud Chelsea. It ends on 17th February 2013 and you can read my review as well as watch a couple of Blondie music videos here.

Debbie Harry

5. Don’t Miss The Hollywood Arms’ February movie calendar. With free entry and free popcorn, the films include: The Tourist, The Other Boleyn Girl, When Harry Met Sally and Greenburg. The Hollywood Arms are also introducing a monthly film club which kicks off on 11th February at 7.30pm with Senna.

Hollywood Arms

If you haven’t been upstairs at The Hollywood Arms, here is a photo of the room. It’s a great venue and you can order food as well as drinks there.

Hollywood Arms - Pub

Last week I had a chance to visit the recently refurbished White Horse pub in Parsons Green, otherwise known as The Sloaney Pony or as affectionately, The Pony.

But I have to admit, until last Friday, I hadn’t been upstairs to the restaurant. I’m not so sure I even knew it was there – after all these years!

The upstairs dining room has a more elaborate décor than the traditional pub interior downstairs. It has touches of art deco with the lampshades above the bar and it has a gorgeous birdcage chandelier, which I absolutely love.

The menus also differ between the two floors with both offering a beer matching opportunity for each dish. I’m not a big beer drinker but the bf tried one of the pairings for his dessert.

For my starter, I had the beetroot and horseradish soup which included apple purée at the centre of the dish whilst the bf had the pub’s celebrated Scotch Egg.

And for main I had the pork belly dish whilst the bf had the steak.

For dessert, I had a fruit crumble with vanilla ice cream whilst the bf chose the chocolate brownie with peanut butter ice cream. He also paired his pudding with a dark chocolate stout from Brooklyn Brewery, which he swears was a delectable match.

As much as the White Horse is a summer pub because of its outdoor terrace, it is also a great winter pub. It is cosy but has plenty of space and the menu is suitably designed for comfort. And if like me, you’re looking to pace yourself with the stodge this winter, there are plenty of choices with the restaurant menu that will leave you feeling satisfied without the need to roll out of the pub. The beetroot soup and fruit crumble were both light and delicious as was the succulence of the pork belly dish.

So next time you’re in the area and fancy a change of scene, why don’t you take a look upstairs and give it a try? I recommend it.

“Food is music to the body, music is food to the heart.”

– Gregory David Roberts

Barbarella’s relaunch party was such a blast that I was keen to return, to try the restaurant as soon as I could. So I headed back down there a few days later.

I had all sorts of imaginings on how the night would play out. With tables and banquets around the dance floor, Carlito’s Way did cross my mind. But a gangster’s den, Barbarella certainly is not.

Sitting at our table, there were a couple of large birthday parties as well as smaller tables of more intimate groups around us. One set seemed to have turned up for just the food whilst everyone else was there for the whole night.

When you arrive at the start of the evening, the tables are laid out and presented very tastefully: the glamorous dining experience is underpinned by an understated chicness.

Official Press Photo

And when you first look at the food menu, it is so easy to wonder about the quality of the dishes. After all, first and foremost, Barbarella’s first impression is clearly a nightclub. And from experience, late-night dining isn’t always the best – with a few rare gems scattered around London

But as soon as I tasted my first bite of the starter, any such musings had quickly dissipated. The prawn and lobster cocktail was too good to allow any further doubt to seep in. The wonderful 70s-esque presentation aside (and you know how I love most things served in a martini glass) – the ingredients were fresh and tasty. The prawn and lobster were juicy and the sauce was spot on.

For my main, I had the seared tuna loin with caramelised onions. Admittedly, I had relished most of it by the time I remembered to take a photo. So unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of another well-presented dish. As for the tuna, it was cooked exactly how I like it. It’s so easy to overcook tuna. That’s why I hardly choose it when eating out. But in this circumstance, my request was translated eloquently onto my plate and my tuna was perfectly pink – and not a dull grey – in the middle.

For my dessert, I ordered the tiramisu which was heavenly! You know when you’re in a public place and the last thing you try to do is scrape every last bit of your pudding, off your plate? Well, that.

There was a custardy topping that increased its moreish appeal. I know, I know, tiramisu doesn’t have custard. But trust me when I say, this really works!

After dessert, the bf and I didn’t want to leave. The place was getting busier as more people were turning up for the club. So we decided to order another bottle of wine and stay longer. And after some time later and another empty bottle, it was time to stretch our legs and head to the bar.

Official Press Photo

As we paid the food bill and stood up, we headed around the corner to find that the bar was already quite packed out. Leaving the restaurant vibe and stepping into a bar, without having to leave the building was pretty awesome – especially as you felt like you’d walked into somewhere new.

In the meantime, the table cloths and cutlery were being taken away as diners finished their meals. And as we continued our circular tour of the venue, past the booths and onto the dance floor, it was time to burn off the yummy pudding until the early hours of the morning.

Am so going back! x

Barbarella’s website.

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