Monday, 15 April 2013

Après

Alpine Apples

Escaping from yet another one of England's downpours, we stumbled upon Après and there is no looking back now. Wonderfully authentic without any pretence, this Alpine bar is now nestled within my favorite spots in London.



Warmth radiates from every corner of the pine and leather covered walls. The glow cast from the branch mounted candles and bronze shining lights evokes an unavoidable sense of relaxation. After a hard days work, I certainly can't think of anything better!

These eager beavers didn't wait to even take off their coats before perusing the menu!



And what a menu. We had a giggle over the descriptions! "Happiness is a dry martini and a good woman ... or a bad woman" - George Burns.

We ordered three of the most delightful cocktails I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. We imposed a conveyor belt system so that we could taste all three; aren't friends just great!

From left to right:

Katleya - A house favourite named after the national flower of Venezuela the Queen of orchids.
Santa Teresa Gran Reserva, vanilla sugar, fresh strawberries, lime, lychee juice & rose water // Shaken and served tall

Passion Flower - A sensual coupling of passion fruit and vanilla.
Koskenkorva vanilla vodka, fresh passion fruit, passion fruit juice & gomme // Shaken & served up

Appletini - A delicately balanced concoction, overflowing with fresh apple flavours and far from the stereotypical luminous ‘tini.'
A blend of 3 vodkas, a touch of gin, cloudy apple juice & freshly grated apple // Shaken & served martini style with a caramelized apple slice

(Descriptions borrowed from the Apres menu.)

We had to wait a little longer than usual but this was completely made up for by some cheeky little shots of fruitiness that arrived to say sorry. Apology totally accepted!



When we thought it couldn't get any better, it did. Man with guitar appeared and we arrived in heaven. (Apparently, live guitar music happens every Wednesday night. I recommend you pencil it in!)

The caramelised apple was toffee coated and better than any fairground equivalent on a stick that you have ever got your teeth stuck to. We sipped at a snail's pace to make our drinks last, since work the following morning prevented anything more foolhardy!



The bar on the ground floor looks over the alpine lodge room and doors open out onto an area covered by heaters and shisha. We went for a little explore before we left and discovered a larger cocktail bar downstairs which hosts salsa dancing on a Tuesday evening. I know where I'll be going next week that's for sure!



Aurevoir Après. A la semaine prochaine!



Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mint Leaf Lounge

Candlelit Cocktails.

If you're looking for somewhere to relax at the end of the week in the city and not feel as though you have been caught up in a cattle ranch then Mint Leaf Lounge is awaiting your arrival. Even before you enter, the fairy lights provide a warm welcome and once inside, the hostess will lead you to your table and keep the drinks flowing in this ethnically dipped lounge bar.

For those of you who try to avoid the city wherever possible there is also a Mint Leaf in Haymarket. While it is just a stones throw away from Trafalgar Square, as you descend the stairs you journey into a totally different world and couldn't feel further away from the swarms of tourists you have just navigated your way through.


Back in Bank, we sat on a table overlooking the bar and I couldn't help but be drawn in by the rows upon rows of pebbles that provided the backdrop to the (apparently) floating bottles infront of it. Everything glittered and shone and I felt a little as though I had just entered a less OTT version of Aladin's cave! (Man in black coat was determined to be in the shot).

The menu glowed behind the light of the (oh-so-romantic) candle and just had to be opened; welcome to wonderland Alice! 

Elderflower Martinis and Strawberry Mules were our first liquid delight, each with their own exotic twist. We decided that the cardamon pod could remain in the 'garnish' category and so not feel too guilty about being left behind! My latest (mini) obsession with cucumber cocktails was also satisfied when it was presented to the table all citrusy and fresh. I strongly recommend it if you get the chance because (dare I say it), Pimms now has some serious competition out there!

Just another quick shot of the pebbly wall .. I think it is an idea that may just have to be borrowed for my future restaurant/ bar (watch this space)!

It was ten to ten (cowboy time? Anyone)? and it was essential that we left some cocktails on the menu to try next time, so we bid goodbye to our little taste of the east and went to have Steak (obviously) just across the road at Le Relais de Venise (more on this later)!
Mint Leaf Lounge & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Saporitalia

A Little Italy.

Welcome to Saporitalia. For a little taste of Italy without the airport faffing, this is where you need to be. You feel asthough you are sitting outside in a sundrenched piazza, and really, who wouldn't want that?! 



As you walk in, you are greeted by the smiling faces of the waiters and a great shining pizza oven where smells of baking tomato and mozzarella are unmistakable. Take a seat and pretend you are nowhere near London. With a backdrop like this, it isn't too hard to imagine!

We went for a fail-safe spaghetti and tomato sauce and pacchero pasta (my new favorite) with veal meatballs all coated in lashings of Parmesan washed down with a giant carafe of .. water! It was a battle trying not to wolf the whole plate down it was so delicious, but we were determined to make it last aslong as possible to prolongue our stay.


The service was impeccable and with our stomachs satisfied, we bid goodbye to our mini holiday on a plate.







Can't wait for my next fix of Italy!

Saporitalia on Urbanspoon

Monday, 8 April 2013

Caravan

A Punchy Brunch.

Skip across Granary square in Kings Cross to Caravan and indulge in arguably the best meal of the weekend.

An arrow points to the greatest brunch in town. (I might have got in the way a teeny bit)!




Caravan buzzes with activity and warmth. The industrial feel mixed with the low hanging lights and candles creates a relaxed and casual atmosphere, perfect for any type of meeting.

You may be presented with a bag of flour that serves as your number in the queue for a table. 



Meanwhile take a seat at the bar and sip on some much needed caffeine as you wait.




We chose food from the daily changing bakery board although up until asked, I was tempted to order some monstrous amount of eggs and smoked salmon and sourdough and more eggs and maybe some granola and .. you get the idea! Luckily our choice couldn't have been better although there was some serious food envy lurking in the air!





After we polished off a cookie the size of my face and a raspberry and white chocolate muffin, we left to find that Spring had finally arrived. What a seriously great surprise! Go enjoy the sunshine, chances are it won't last!

Caravan Kings Cross on Urbanspoon



Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Reverend J.W. Simpson

Through the little black door.

A single black door with simple white lettering marks your arrival at Reverend J.W. Simpson, tucked away on Goodge Street. It's easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled. 


Descend the stairs into this invitingly cosy cocktail bar brought to you by the guys behind Bourne and Hollingsworth and relax into the sofas awaiting you.


As soon as you are seated, glasses of water arrive for you to rehydrate while you decide what to choose from the inventive cocktail menu. Cucumbers, apples and hints of green tea are just a few of the tastes you can expect. The waiters and bar staff will point you in the right direction if the choice becomes too overwhelming! (Obviously that didn't happen to us .. err ..)


We went for the Applegrass, Port in a Storm and The Gardener's Tea break. All three were delightful both in taste, size and were made even better by their being served in antique cut glass.


The bar was previously inhabited by the Reverend J.W. Simpson and knowing this makes you feel a little mischievous! The homely feel of the stripped back wallpaper adds to what I like to call the 'relax factor' and coupled with an impeccable music selection makes for a winning combination. 



Add this lovely little bar to the list for when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of London life and journey back to a true old fashioned soiree.