The Swan Hotel – Lavenham

The Swan Hotel & Spa is set in the heart of Lavenham, Suffolk, a beautiful 15th century medieval village steeped in centuries of history. Lavenham built up great wealth due to its woollen cloth industry in the 15th and 16th centuries, and with this came a sprawling set of period buildings catering to the wealthy of the time. As such Lavenham is known as one of England’s finest medieval towns. Not far from the hotel’s doorstep is the stunning timber framed Guildhall, a National Trust property, and the splendid St Peter and St Paul churches. Lavenham is also well placed for the surrounding countryside, with its scenic walking routes. It is also within driving access to the other wool towns of Hadleigh, Sudbury and Long Melford, the latter being famous for Melford Hall (a National trust property) and Kentwell Hall.

London Food Blog - The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan Hotel is in itself an excellent example of the architecture from that time. The hotel’s exterior is a picture-perfect half-timbered structure that incorporates several notable buildings including an Elizabethan house and Lane Ham’s former Wool Hall. Inside there are beautiful oak beamed interiors, open fireplaces and cosy lounge seats. The rooms have been decorated by blending classical period touches with a contemporary style so that guests can enjoy a sense of history, yet still be able to relax in comfort. I stayed in The Heritage Room which was lovely. With its original features and uneven floors that stayed true to the structure of the original building, the room offered an old world charm and character.

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Rotunda – Edouard Brun Champagne Dinner

ROTUNDA

Rotunda is a bar and restaurant located at King’s Place, Kings Cross, so named as it is semi-circular in its layout. Situated right on Regent’s Canal, Rotunda is perfectly situated for some waterside drinking and dining. In the summer months Rotunda’s outdoor terrace opens up with deck chairs and an outside gin bar. The BBQ is fired up for some hearty meaty cooking as well.

Rotunda also has a private dining room where themed nights are held throughout the year. These are open to the public for bookings and I recently attended an Edouard Brun champagne dinner in the private dining room. This proved to be great fun with the menu designed around the champagnes. Edouard Brun is a family champagne house founded in 1898, with management of the house having been passed down through the generations. Located in the heart of Champagne, Edouard Brun maintains its quality standards by tasting each tank after fermentation and performing all blending in-house.

The first course was a lobster roll with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce. The lobster was a little salty, but it was still tasty and juicy, with the bun being soft and tasty. The accompanying champagne was the Edouard Brun 1er Cru, a fruity and well-rounded champagne made from 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. It had a strong body and therefore paired well with the lobster.

Rotunda - London Food Blog - Lobster roll

Rotunda – Lobster roll

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Mr Cooper’s House & Garden

MR COOPER’S HOUSE & GARDEN

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden is located in the luxury Midland Hotel in Manchester. The name of the restaurant pays homage to Thomas Cooper, a popular historical figure in Manchester who came from a family of coach-makers. The family’s house and garden, where the restaurant is currently located, was famous for the fruit that it produced and The Coopers would often open the doors of their garden to the general public so that they could have access to it for picnicking and leisurely strolls.

The décor of Mr Cooper’s House & Garden has stayed true to it origins by offering a multitude of different dining settings. There is a lounge in the garden surrounded by a wall of plants and a 30ft tree, a cosy Library where drinks can be enjoyed, and a study area with leather booths where friends can enjoy intimate chats and some lovely food.

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden comes from the hands of Simon Rogan who is undeniably one of the best chefs in the UK. He tolds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera at Claridge’s in London. With Mr Cooper’s House & Garden the food is more casual than that served at his Michelin outposts, but no less engaging. The menu centres on a spirit of flair and creativity, and particularly interesting were the starters with their many Asian-inspired touches.

We started with some caramelised scallops (£11). These were nicely cooked and were accompanied by a delectable cucumber sambal, memorable because it was nice and tangy. To temper the sambal was a lovely tahini dressing, and as garnish there were some jalapeno fritters which were glorious. Surrounded by a light and fluffy batter, they offered a sharp bite to the dish.

London Food Blog – Mr Coopers - Caramelised scallops

Mr Coopers – Caramelised scallops

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Fera at Claridge’s

FERA AT CLARIDGE’S

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges

Simon Rogan launched Fera at Claridge’s in May 2014, taking over from the space that was once occupied by Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. The word Fera means ‘wild’ in Latin and was chosen as the name for Simon’s London restaurant to reflect both the influence of nature and seasonality that are key to Simon’s cooking. Nowhere is this more evident than at Simon’s 12-acre farm where he grows his own fruit and vegetables, and breeds poultry, sheep and cattle.

Simon’s love of harvesting the finest produce combined with his exacting standards has earned him the distinction of being one of the best chefs in the UK. Today Simon holds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera. Fera was also recognised as Newcomer of the Year by in both Harden’s London Restaurants 2015 Guide and Decanter Magazine.

The art deco design of the restaurant blends beautifully with the grandeur of Claridge’s. But there are also softer, natural touches such as walnut tables and a ‘tree’ in the centre of the room to complement the opulence of the dining room. Along one wall is an open entrance to the kitchen, which offers views of the pass. There is also an intimate bar area in one corner of the restaurant that accommodates five guests.

We went for the tasting menu and this was truly an experience to behold. The menu consisted of a canapé, three amuse bouches and eight courses for a very reasonable £95 (Wine to accompany 6 courses – £85.00). The canapé was a blue cheese emulsion on a chickpea and rosemary wafer. This was spectacular, with the emulsion boasting of a delicate cheesy flavour and a lovely airy lightness. The wafer was crispy and thin, and to finish was a drizzling of a tangy, sweet vinegar and elderberry gel that brought everything together beautifully.

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges – Chickpea rosemary wafer with blue cheese emulsion and elder berry gel

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Brudenell Hotel – Aldeburgh, Suffolk

BRUDENELL HOTEL

Words and photos by Food Porn Nation and myself.

We popped along to Suffolk for a weekend visit recently and stayed at the lovely 4 Star Brudenell Hotel which is located in the quaint, charming town of Aldeburgh. The Brudenell Hotel is perched on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast, and accordingly the hotel offers panoramic views of the sea along the property’s frontage.

The décor at the hotel is fresh and vibrant, and embraces the seaside theme with its vibrant energy and light, bright colours. It’s an intelligent, engaging space, and wonderfully comfortable. There are 44 cosy rooms in the hotel, with some offering sea views. Our bedroom again embraced a contemporary, coastal themed décor with a seating area by the window which allowed us to relax and watch the ever-changing movements of the sea. Our room was really comfortable, and there was something wonderfully rustic about sleeping to the sound of waves lapping up along the shore.

Also in The Brudenell Hotel is the recently opened AA two-rosette Seafood & Grill restaurant. This too has a sea-facing terrace which will soon be made available for use when the weather gets warmer. It’s a contemporary dining venue, and there is an informal bar area where hotel guests and local residents can relax and enjoy a drink or two.

We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast in the Seafood & Grill restaurant and thought highly of both the food and the service. Chef Tyler Torrance draws inspiration from his surroundings, proliferating his menu with not only seafood dishes but also sourcing his other ingredients from the abundant Suffolk area. For dinner we tried a variety of starters, with the wild scallops (£12) being our favourite. The scallops were heady with flavour and came together beautifully with the accompanying cauliflower puree and caviar.

London Food Blog - The Brudenell Hotel

The Brudenell – Wild Scallops

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Holborn Dining Room

HOLBORN DINING ROOM

Holborn Dining Room opened about a year ago and makes for a welcome addition to the London dining room. Located in the glorious Rosewood Hotel (which was once Pearl Restaurant by Jun Tanaka), it is a bustling restaurant with the look of a grand brasserie. Holborn Dining Room is run by Des McDonald, a restaurateur with a prestigious background. Previously a Head Chef at The Ivy, Des later went on to become the group chief executive of Birley Group, Caprice Holdings, and Soho House, before eventually forming his own restaurant group, Des McDonald Restaurants etc. Des is a man who knows his stuff, and it is easy to see his vision of comfort and relaxed elegance in the grandeur of Holborn Dining Room. Beautifully decorated with red leather banquettes, chandeliers and earthy colours, the restaurant resonates with vibrancy and energy. There is also an outside courtyard that comes alive in the summertime with al fresco diners.

The Head Chef at Holborn Dining Room is Calum Franklin, who previously cooked at The Ivy, Aurora at the Andaz Hotel and Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel. Prior to Holborn Dining Room, Calum was the Senior Sous Chef at Roast in Borough Market. With this wealth of experience, Calum has put together a very British menu that draws upon seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

Our first starter was the griddled prawns with lemon and garlic butter (£15). Six fat prawns had been placed on our plate and each offered up lots of firm, meaty deliciousness. The combination of garlic and prawns is always a winning one in my book, and here it was fabulously tasty. With lots of flavoursome butter and a touch of acidity from the lemon, this was a perfect way to start our meal.

London Food Blog – Holborn Dining Room

Holborn Dining Room – Griddled Prawns

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The Porchester

The Porchester is a gastropub located in the heart of Bayswater. Part of the Young’s Pub Group, it is a colourful local completed in warm autumnal colours. The interior skillfully strikes a balance between a modern and a traditional English pub. Similarly this concept carries through to the menu which is traditionally British but cooked with a modern flair.

To begin, we couldn’t resist ordering a few items from the bar snacks. The chicken wings (£4) fell off the bone and were slightly charred which gave them a lovely caramelisation. Cooked with chilli, they also offered up a light kick of spiciness. A ranch dressing was a nice accompaniment to these subtle yet spicy wings as it provided a deliciously cool and tangy contrast.

The Porchester - Chillied chicken wings

The Porchester – Chillied chicken wings

The chorizo and black pudding scotch eggs (£3.50) was the standout from the bar snacks. The black pudding and chorizo paste struck a great balance in the scotch egg as it was soft and subtle without undermining the delicate flavour of the runny egg. The textural contrast between the soft gooey interior of the egg against the crunchy crumb coating made it even more scrumptious.

The Porchester - Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

The Porchester – Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

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Cafe No 8, York

On our last day in York we headed to Cafe No 8 for both breakfast and dinner. Located at No.8 Gillygate, the restaurant is a relaxed and friendly venue within close proximity to York Minster Cathedral and the many attractions of York. Cafe No 8 is also particularly appealing as its prices are great value for money. Our mini-Yorkshire breakfast was really satisfying and priced at a mere £5.95 (the full Yorkshire was £7.95). We opted for the scrambled eggs with our breakfast and were extremely impressed with how delicious the eggs were. Perfectly cooked, they were the height of creaminess. We easily could have ordered seconds.

Cafe No 8 - Yorkshire breakfast

Yorkshire breakfast

Dinner was also very reasonable priced with two courses for £19 and three courses for £23. For starters, a peppered mackerel on a slow cooked tomato and cucumber salad with salsa verde was refreshingly satisfying, particularly as the slow cooking of the tomatoes helped to intensify its lovely sweetness. The creamy chicken liver pate with chutney and sour dough proved to be delicious as the pate was rich, smooth and wonderfully tasty.

Cafe No 8 - Peppered mackerel

Peppered mackerel

Cafe No 8 - Chicken liver pate

Chicken liver pate

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