360 Bar & Lounge Dubai

360 Bar & Lounge in Dubai has carved a niche for itself by offering some of the best club music in Dubai. It was voted Top 100 clubs in the world for three years running by DJ Magazine, and earlier in 2013, 360 also scooped the Time Out Dubai Nightlife Award for ‘Best Club’.

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

But for me, what makes 360 Bar & Lounge special are its views. It’s split over two floors – an indoor ground level and an alfresco upper deck where there are lounge seats dotted around its circumference. Its circular perspective means that you get spectacular views from wherever you sit, which were particularly impressive during our sunset visit. The music is every changing, but for our chill out it rotated between a DJ set and a live jazz band. It was all very cool, and the magic of sunset over Jumeirah Beach and Burj Al Arab made for an incredible experience.

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar Dubai

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar

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Green Man & French Horn

Ed Wilson and Oli Barker, the boys behind the renowned Terroirs and its sister restaurants Soif and Brawn, have created a certain niche by selling biodynamic wines imported through wine specialists Les Caves de Pyrène. The practice of biodynamic agriculture refers to the use of organic, sustainable and ecological methods in wine making, and it is a practice that has gained momentum in recent years.

Wilson and Barker’s latest restaurant is The Green Man & French Horn. They’ve kept the name of the pub that once graced the site where the restaurant now stands. Located right in the heart of Covent Garden, it’s a quaint little place. But it’s also a tight squeeze with cramped tables and noisy acoustics.

The French menu is rustic, homely and comforting. A starter of chicken livers (£8.50) with artichoke and mâche were fat, silky smooth and dripping in flavour. Cooked to medium rare, they were well seasoned and superbly done. A drizzling of merlot vinegar and olive oil dressing left the dish with a lovely glaze and added a moist finish.

Chicken livers

Chicken livers

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Dalla Terra

Dalla Terra, a lovely Italian wine bar in St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden, set up shop about three months ago. Its focus is to offer a wide variety of quality (and predominantly Italian) wines – some 180 bottles and 30 by the glass – and a simple but delicious food menu in a welcoming setting. For the heart of Covent Garden, wine prices were reasonable with a Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne costing only £10.

Chef Araldo De Vitis, who previously worked at St John Bar and Restaurant, has come up with a small menu of delicious tasting dishes to match the wines. The menu was well thought out and included simple delights such as a selection of bruschetta that featured cherry tomato with rocket and oregano which offered freshness and bite, and spreadable “Ventricina di Campotosto” salami with broad beans and pecorino which was rustic and hearty (£3.80).

Tomato bruschetta

Tomato bruschetta

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Soif

Soif is owned by the same group who own Terroirs. When I visited Terroirs in 2009 shortly after it opened, I thought it to be one of the most exciting wine bar and restaurants to grace the London stage. Well priced, heartfelt, rustic French cooking in an atmospheric central London location – what could be better? The offerings of ‘natural’ wines at decent prices worked a charm too. The wine bar and restaurant was obviously so successful that it spawned a second, Brawn in East London, and then the third, Soif in South London.

Like Terroirs, Soif offers a reasonable range of tasting portions for sharing and main sized meals, as well as a selection of ‘natural’ wines. We started with the charcuterie platter (£12.50) of pork terrine, rillette and Toscana salami. I loved, loved, loved the rillette at Terroirs and so this was the part of the platter that I was looking forward to the most. Instead I found the version at Soif to be overly fatty and not particularly enjoyable with a disproportionately high ratio of fat to meat. The terrine on the other hand was meaty and flavoursome. The salami was also good.

Charcuterie selection

Charcuterie selection

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28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen

28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen, a wine bar and restaurant, is the brainchild of sommelier Xavier Rousset, one of the men behind the critically acclaimed one Michelin starred Texture which he owns with head chef Agnar Sverrisson and where I had a thrilling meal recently. The restaurant is so named as most of the world’s vineyards, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, are located within these latitudes. Rousset is a master sommelier with a string of awards to his name including the accolade of winning Ruinart UK Sommelier of the Year at the tender age of 22. It therefore seems fitting that Rousset would open up a wine bar and call it 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen.

I had such a thrilling meal at Texture recently I felt inspired to try 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen. Despite its association with Texture, 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen isn’t a Michelin starred restaurant. Rather what it purports to offer is decent French fare and a range of good wines at reasonable prices. 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen has a choice of 15 red and 15 white wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. But most impressively, the wines by the glass include a 75ml option (from £2.15 to £20 for a 75ml glass), the beauty of which is the opportunity to try oodles of smaller glasses of different wines for less money than what you might otherwise have had to spend.

A foie gras and chicken liver parfait was wonderfully creamy, but it lacked a decent liver flavour and was more texture than taste. The accompanying peach chutney, with its rustic characteristics, worked well with the parfait. Less successful was the accompanying pickles which were so acidic that they were difficult to eat.

Foie gras & chicken liver parfait

Foie gras & chicken liver parfait

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Vinoteca Marylebone

Vinoteca Marylebone is the sister restaurant of the original Vinoteca wine bar and restaurant in Farringdon. It opened in November last year, but unlike Brawn, the sister restaurant of that other well known wine bar, Terroirs, it has barely registered on the Richter Scale of restaurant openings. I found out about it purely by chance. Thinking I would go to the branch in Farringdon, I stumbled across the details of the Marylebone branch when I went onto the Vinoteca website. Despite the lack of PR fanfare, the restaurant is already doing a thumping trade. It was packed during our visit and justifiable so. Its concept is simple – good, seasonal food, in an ever changing menu, matched with one of the 25 wines that are available by the glass. There are also 280 reasonably priced bottles to choose from.

Vinoteca Marylebone is cosy and intimate. It does not take reservations, but there’s a bar area to drink at while you wait. Due to the lack of carpeting and rugs on the floor, its only drawback was that it was incredibly noisy which made conversation a little difficult. But this can also be construed as fantastically atmospheric.

We started with a heavenly smoked eel with celeriac and apple remoulade and wheaten toast (£8). The eel was delicate, succulent and lightly smoked, and the creaminess of the deftly made remoulade was a perfect match. There was a hint of sweetness in the well-made, flavoursome bread which made this dish all the more appetising. The suggested wine, an Austrian 2009 Kamptal Gruner Veltliner ‘Kies’, Kurt Angerer (£4.50 for 125ml) was a great accompaniment.

Smoked eel

Smoked eel

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Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant – the Return (Again)

Duck rillette

Duck rillette

If you previously read my blog post on Terroirs, you would have probably noted that I have already been to this restaurant and wine bar twice in a very short space of time. So this return trip, my third visit, is really the return after the return. But hey, who’s counting? I really like the place. That, a craving for some of their super delicious duck rillette, and the feeling that I hadn’t explored the menu to its fullest potential meant I was predestined to go back. Call me a groupie, but one’s got to do, what one’s got to do.

Actually, it wasn’t only the duck rillette I wanted to try, but also the Lincolnshire smoked eel with celeriac rémoulade. I had been eyeing it up on both my first and second visits, but some other dish would call out to me more. This time round, I promised myself that there would be no distractions of such nature. And so, the eel was the first thing that rolled off my tongue when the waitress came to take our order. Oh that, and the duck rillette of course.

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Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant – A Little French Magic

Selection of charcuterie

Selection of charcuterie

At first sight, Terroirs – a small French wine bar and restaurant – would not appear to hold the secret to anything special. But the moment you enter this homely eatery, you know you will be treated to a dining experience that will resonate with you, for its simplicity belies a Gallic menu filled with some flavoursome, earthy eats. Its head chef is Ed Wilson, whose CV reads with time at Orrery, The Wolseley, Galvin Bistro de Luxe and Sonny’s. Not all dishes work, but those that do are simply superb. And the pricing is surprisingly reasonable given its location in the West End.

But my biggest disappointment with it is that the food has the potential to defeat you. Take the example of my first visit to Terroirs. By the time the two of us had finished the platter of charcuterie and two side plates, we couldn’t make it to the main course for we were already full. How was this possible? And here I was, thinking that I was something of an eating machine with a limitless capacity to chow my way through each course. Fearing that I would be unable to provide a well rounded opinion without having sampled the mains, I gladly went back again. Or at least that was my excuse. Therefore this write-up is based on two separate visits, both within two weeks of each other.

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