Champagne

Where-to-drink-champagne-in-london

Last week I met up with a friend to try Hakkasan’s Dim Sum Sunday winter menu. The afternoon was wonderful and a chance for two busy mummies to catch up. If there was one thing I took away from it, apart from the memories of a very delicious and fantastic menu, it is how important a little me-time is, especially with girlfriends.

Hakkasan was busy on a Sunday afternoon, buzzing with a mixed crowd of couples, friends in pairs or in groups. Glasses of Champagne were being delivered on trays and the hum of chatter in this beautifully designed restaurant felt good as I made my way to the table where my friend was waiting for me.

We looked at the Dim Sum menu which is available from 12pm until 5pm and picked the signature set menu which included six courses, a cocktail to start with, a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne for two people to share (the whole menu is based on two people sharing) and a dinner cocktail.

To start with, my friend had the Winter Sour, which included apricot, gingerbread, Rittenhouse 100 rye whiskey, lemon, nutmeg and Elumakule Tiki bitters. Perfect for someone who was coming down with a slight cold. (I’m a firm believer in the powers of whiskey. 😉 )

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

I had the Morello Collins, which included cherry, almond, Tanqueray No. Ten gin, lemon, soda and Peychaud’s bitters. A delicious start to the menu!

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

For our first course, we had the crispy duck salad …Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

And for our steamed course, we had celery prawn dumplings, har gau, scallop shumai and Chinese chive dumplings with prawn and crabmeat. I loved the crispy duck starter and was looking forward to the rest of the menu but I could have easily spent the afternoon eating just dumplings. Just beautiful.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

At some point, the Champagne arrived. I don’t think I had read the menu properly and had assumed that we were having a glass each. But the menu includes half a bottle per person, which really felt like a treat.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

The fried and baked course included seafood glutinous seaweed roll, baked venison puff, crispy smoked duck and pumpkin puff, and golden radish crab meat pastry.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum SundaysAnd for our small eats dish, we ordered the salt and pepper squid whilst all along our Champagne glasses were being filled.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

Finally for the main which we both loved, we chose the grilled Chilean sea bass with honey. Succulent and tasty, I’d never had sea bass like this.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

Even though this menu is available until 5pm, we had easily passed this evening hour by the time we arrived at dessert. And whilst my friend and I were feeling very satisfied, in the name of research and because the menu also included a choice of desserts with  cocktail recommendations for each dish, we went along and ordered the apple tartin … Very lovely!
Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

Chocolate and Kalamansi ganache which was heavenly and came with the Fitzrovia Plum cocktail, which included Suntory Hakushu 12yrs whisky, plum sake, limoncello, gingerbread and Burlesque bitters. You can see this cocktail next to the macarons below.

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

Hakkasan - Dim Sum Sundays

The cost of the signature menu is £58 with the Champagne or £48 with tea instead of bubbles, which is truly an amazing deal. Hakkasan’s cocktails are reason enough to visit this Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, not to mention the food and with Champagne thrown in? The whole afternoon was delectable and if you’re looking for an excuse for some quality time time with a favourite person, I would recommend trying this.

The menu is available at Hakkasan Hanway Place, 8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HD and I was invited to try the menu as a guest. But this truly hasn’t affected my opinion. Anyone who has experienced Hakkasan can testify to their sumptuous delights.

How many days until Christmas? Someone is counting somewhere. I’ve seen evidence on Twitter. It’s exciting and it’ll be amazing how, before we know it, we’ll be running around on Christmas Eve buying last-minute presents.

Surely that’s not just me? I’m quite the last minute shopper and when it comes down to Christmas and except for perhaps a holiday, anything to organise I tend to go with the flow. But the other week, I went along to a *drumroll* Christmas afternoon tea with a few bloggers. I say a few but there were quite a lot of us. So much so, I didn’t get to say hi to everyone. Both Selena from Oh, the places we will go! (I have to ask Selena next time I see her if her blog is reference to Dr. Seuss’s awe-inspiring read.) and Melanie from Sunny in London, did such a great job organising a fantastic afternoon tea that has raised the bar for me.

The location was Conrad London St. James, which you might have known as the formerly named Intercontinental London Westminster.

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James Hotel

The setting was Christmas afternoon tea with bubbles.

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James Hotel

Our price included a glass but a few of us couldn’t resist a couple more. It was very easy to get in the mood, especially given our airy and light surroundings as a harpist entertained us. (We had a room all to ourselves, it was really quite fantastic.)

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James Hotel

The pastries and sandwiches all had a festive twist. And whilst I was particularly impressed with the venison bite in puff pastry, the brussel sprout palate cleanser truly surprised me because it was very pleasant and easy to enjoy.

Along with the sandwiches, which included smoked salmon & lemon crème fraîche, cured gammon & mustard as well as beetroot & spinach, I also really enjoyed the scones which arrived with clotted cream, home-made strawberry jam and blackberry curd.

And as we ate, drank and talked away, I thought the afternoon’s delights were what I saw before me. What I didn’t know – or any of us knew – was that the Christmas Snow Scene afternoon tea also included more treats. Many more treats.

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James Hotel

These …

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James Hotel

A closer look below. Don’t they look scrumptious? They included, a winter berry Christmas tree, a chocolate orange Battenberg present, a snowflake macaroon, a white forest yule log, Christmas postcard marshmallows, mini meringue snowmen and edible snow. Amazing.

My favourite was definitely the winter berry Christmas tree which turned out to be a mousse when you cut into it. So light and tasty, I’d left the tree until the end and ended up wishing that I had started with it.

Christmas Afternoon Tea and Conrad London St. James HotelAs far as afternoon teas go, this one exercised both imagination and great craft. And when it comes to Christmas treats, I think this would be difficult to beat. An all-round wonderful experience with great company. Win, win.

Conrad London St. James, 22-28 Broadway, London,SW1H 0BH. 

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a couple of fabulous bloggers: Sunny in London and Silverspoon London for brunch at Dean Street Townhouse in Soho. It was a long overdue catch-up and as before, the afternoon flew by.

Dean Street TownhouseIt was my first time here and as soon as I walked in, I liked it straight away. The relaxed atmosphere, the Georgian-styled dining area and their classic bar that oozed another time and place made feel very much at (my imaginary) home.

Dean Street Townhouse

In such lovely surroundings and having learned that Champagne was served in coupe glasses, I ordered a French 75: Bombay Sapphire, lemon, sugar and of course Champagne. And for starter, I had the duck with girolles on toast. Yum.

Dean Street Townhouse

Melanie from Sunny in London had the twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé, which I had a taste of and without reservation (and if you like fish of course), I would say order this dish. Sublime. I had food envy throughout the first course.

Dean Street Townhouse

Angie from Silverspoon London had the home-cured salmon and pickled cucumber, which also looked good.

Dean Street Townhouse

For my main, I had one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time which included Dorset crab, prawns and fennel. It was both hearty and tasty; very satisfying.

Dean Street Townhouse

Melanie had the chicken, bacon and avocado which looked equally as scrumptious and filling …

Dean Street Townhouse

… whilst Angie had the sea bass with clams and fennel, which sounded very good and left me intrigued.

Dean Street Townhouse

We skipped dessert but I did order some cheeky and delicious chocolate truffles with my coffee.

Dean Street TownhouseThe whole afternoon ticked all the right boxes: great company, good food and comfortable surroundings. So the next time you’re planning on heading to Soho and are looking for somewhere busy yet chilled that serves good food and drinks, you may want to check out Dean Street Townhouse. I feel quite late to the party with this one but I’m so glad I’ve finally discovered it.

Thanks for booking us in Angie!

What’s your plan for Halloween this year? Will you be donning a fancy dress outfit and heading to the nearest party? Getting drunk with your mates and seeing who can carve the best pumpkin face? Or will you be taking your little ones trick or treating in your neighbourhood?

One way to get into the Halloween spirit is to indulge in the finer things in life with a spooky twist. From now until 31st October 2013, the Michelin-starred Chinese dim sum tea-house Yauatcha will be offering an exclusive range of seasonal macarons and chocolates available both à la carte and from the front-of-house patisserie.

They include Pear and Liquorice macarons; Pumpkin Spiced macarons and Halloween Toffee-Apple Eyeball Chocolates (white and dark chocolate eyeballs filled with green apple paté du fruit and salted caramel).

Halloween Afternoon Tea

Macarons are available from £1.60 each, £9 for 6 pieces or £18 for 12 pieces. The chocolate eyeballs are available for £3.50 for 40g; £8.50 for 100g. So you could pick up a gift-wrapped box and take it to a party or treat some lucky kid who knocks on your door.

If you want to sit down and savour each morsel for yourself at the restaurant, there is also Yauatcha’s Chilli Martini to wash the sweet treats down with. Yauatcha’s Chilli Martini which includes Belvedere vodka, Aperol Barbieri, chilli syrup, orange juice and Champagne is the perfect way to add a touch of sophisticated indulgence to this fun evening.

Happy Halloween!

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DL, www.yautacha.com.

Who else can’t believe it’s May already? Where has the time flown? Well, it goes without saying that this is one of my favourite months of the year. With two bank holiday weekends, how can it not be? So here are my suggestions of what to do locally this month …

1. Why not kick off May with a Cinco De Mayo party at Barts this weekend?

CINCODEMAYO

2. And later this month, there’s of course Chelsea’s event of the year, The Chelsea Flower Show which will be running from 21st until 25th May. Here are some photos from two years ago and last year. Also, don’t forget that there is also Chelsea in Bloom (more photos) and Chelsea Fringe also happening this month.

3. And whilst The Chelsea Flower show is on, from Wednesday 22nd until Saturday 25th May (12pm – 8pm every day), The Botanist will be running an Oyster and Joseph Perrier Champagne Bar in Sloane Square, complete with daily performances from a string quartet. You can enjoy champagne by the glass, by the bottle, or as a cocktail.

4. The Great Gatsby will open at Curzon Chelsea on 16th May but you can buy tickets from 3rd May. I cannot wait for this film to be released and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it represents Baz Lurhmann’s return to form. Check out my post with a video interview of the director himself.

5. If you’re an aspiring designer, fashionista or budding entrepreneur, Jean Queen Donna Ida Thornton is set to hold a Careers Day on 3rd May. Donna will be available all day from 10am – 4pm to answer questions at Donna Ida Head Office near Notting Hill. Donna will be joined by a host of Donna Ida girls who will also be happy to answer any questions (including Online Content Editor Amelia Kanaris and Graphic Designer Kate Gorbunova). To join Donna and the Donna Ida girls you can visit their Head Office on Friday 3rd May from 10am – 4pm at Phoenix Brewery, 13 Bramley Road, London W10 6SP. Nearest tube is Latimer Road.

Finally, just to warn you, my posts this month will be a little thin on the ground. This month is going to be craaazzzzy. Well, maybe not that mad but enough to occupy a large chunk of my blogging time. But whilst posts trickle through in May, they will return to normal by mid-June. So keep your eyes peeled for updates on new posts on my Twitter feed or Facebook page. Enjoy May and have two awesome Bank Holidays!

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