A few tasty outings around London – a recap

Is it time for dinner yet?

 

A short recap of some of LardButty’s tastiest outings recently…

 

Is it time for dinner yet? Here's a re-cap of some of LardButty's tastiest outings

Is it time for dinner yet? Here’s a re-cap of some of LardButty’s tastiest outings

 

 

LardButty Portugal – Senhora da Guia Cascais

Senhora da Guia is a boutique resort hotel where you can really relax and get away from it all. And this beautiful ocean-side setting is only topped by the restaurant’s excellent food.

About 30km – half an hour’s drive – from Lisbon you’ll find the upmarket resort of Cascais on the Atlantic coast. Car hire and accommodation is inexpensive in Portugal so we decided to stay here all week, following the wedding of friends (one of whom is a Portuguese Londoner, originally from Lisbon, so he was already informed about best places to stay). No research required on our part, keeping it nice and simple. And there’s loads to do nearby from playing golf to visiting the palaces and castles of Sintra.

We were blown away by the restaurant’s food, right from our first meal on our first evening. It helped that we were in good company and the service was great too.

K and I shared a Portuguese game sausage samosa with sauteed wild mushrooms @ €15 for starters, followed by coal-roasted Atlantic seabass served with grilled vegetables @ €26 for K and roasted octopus, potato, assorted greens @ €20 for me.

 

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Fresh fish and seafood at Senhora da Guia – kicking off the holiday with a margarita

 

Over the course of the week we ate these dishes. I’m mostly going to let the pictures do the talking…

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Iberian black pork tenderloin – served with peas, greens and Portuguese game sausage (chorizo or salami style) from Mirandela @ €22

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Restaurant menu – starters

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Restaurant menu – local specialities

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Restaurant menu – fish and seafood

 

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Another traditional Portuguese dish – possibly lamb with pistachio potato

 

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Flamed shrimp from Ceara with mango Macedonia starter @ €17

 

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Wild duck breast lacquered with honey and drunk pear – served with mushroom risotto and green asparagus @ €23

 

Gorgeous salads served on the terrace during the day:

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Outdoor menu – Nicoise salad with rabilo tuna from the Atlantic @ €13

 

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Outdoor menu – Caesar salad with crunchy chicken and fine herbs @ €13

 

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Outdoor menu – salmon wrapped in thinly sliced pineapple

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Pineapple ‘carpaccio’ and salmon wraps

 

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Beef burger with lettuce, tomato, bacon and mayo

 

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Esporao reserva white wine – a LardButty favourite

 

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From the room-service menu – salad, crinkle-cut fries and club sandwiches

 

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Guanaya chocolate souffle with hazelnuts hearth – served with strawberries and vanilla ice-cream @ €8

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Heavenly desserts – Guanaya chocolate souffle with gooey runny chocolate inside

 

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Decomposition of pastel de nata Portuguese custard pie served with red currants and coffee foam @ €8

 

 

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An idyllic get-away boutique hotel retreat  – Senhora da Guia on the Atlantic Coast, Cascais

 

The verdict: We arrived here on 24th June 2016, heartbroken that the UK had voted to leave the EU. We couldn’t have come to a better place for comfort and pleasure (it’s also a truly amazing wedding location). Facilities at the hotel include a spa, beauty treatments, pool and terrace, free bicycles and excellent food served in the restaurant, terrace bar and room service too. For the quality and level of food and service you get, it’s relatively inexpensive (compared with the UK and other European destinations). And while I like to explore when I go on holiday – which means not going back to the same place twice when there’s a big wide world out there – I feel certain that we’ll stay here again. I hope so.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
– Type: Portuguese (in Portugal), international
– Address: Estrada do Guincho, 2750-642 Cascais, Portugal
– Website + menus: Senhora da Guia website
– Photos on flickr: Senhora da Guia food photos
– Location: Senhora da Guia map

 

Verdi’s Italian – Stepney Green E1

L and I were headed to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park this Friday night to watch Lift Festival’s Depart – an interactive circus performance through the underworld. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to hedge our bets and satisfy our stomachs with a good meal first.

And so we kicked off the weekend at nearby Verdi’s Italian restaurant (as it turned out, Depart was brilliant and utterly mesmerising – it’s returning in 2017 so do see it if you can).

Stepping into Verdi’s with its pristine white table cloths and nice layout was quite a contrast from the outside world of Stepney Green. So far so good.

 

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Plenty to smile about in Stepney Green, East London

 

 

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Inside Verdi’s – clean and pristine

 

Our welcoming and obliging waiter brought us a bottle of prosecco @ £21.00 and for starters we ordered scallops @ £7.50 and octopus soup @ £7.95 (it was described as being in a tomato sauce but was more like a soup – quite unusual).

 

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Scallops wrapped in pancetta with fruit mostarda

 

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Baby octopus in a spicy tomato sauce – a soup

 

For main course, L had pappardelle wild boar @ £10.50 while I had a quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50, a good old traditional Italian stonebaked pizza.

 

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Pappardelle wild boar

 

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Quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50

 

 

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Menu

 

For dessert we both ordered the Verdi special, mascarpone with nocino liqueur @ £4.95, absolutely gorgeous but very heavy and sickly! It would probably be good for sharing between two. And we were treated to limoncello on the house as a digestif. Altogether our three course meal for two with prosecco came to £75.77 including service.

 

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Verdi special dessert – mascarpone with nocino liqueur

 

The verdict: Traditional Italian food done well. Sets itself apart from the local area. Somewhere to visit if you’re after good food in Stepney Green.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: 237 Mile End Rd, London, UK
– Postcode: E1 4AA
– Nearest station: Stepney Green
– Website + menus: Verdi’s website
– Photos on flickr: Verdi’s images
– Location: Verdi’s map

Verdi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Plum + Spilt Milk – King’s Cross N1

Sunday roast perfection – faultless dining experience in tastefully designed space 

 

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Carefully sourced ingredients turned into beautifully presented dishes

 

My in-laws were returning to the north east by train this Sunday afternoon, so we wanted to eat somewhere convenient for King’s Cross station. A quick restaurant search by location using the Open Table app showed Plum + Spilt Milk as a hot contender. It’s situated in the Great Northern Hotel on the Kings Cross St Pancras complex, was highly rated by Open Table users and seemed likely to have the level of comfort and ‘treat’ we were looking for. It’s currently ranked #378 out of 17,000+ London restaurants on TripAdvisor. Booking made.

The hotel has a classy feel without being stuffy, with lovely decor and art work (see Debbie Smyth’s textile art that lined the hotel staircase) and this feel of comfort and relaxation continues as you enter into the restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk, where service was prompt, informed and attentive when required.

 

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Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant interior

 

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Cosy booth-style seating and low-hanging, soft lighting

 

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Fresh bread + butter

We began by ordering a bottle of Izadi Rioja reserva @ £40.00, while nibbling on fresh seeded bread and butter and decided to order from the two-course Sunday lunch menu @ £26.50 a head.

Like everything else, the menu is beautifully designed. This intro is worth sharing: “Fresh, seasonal ingredients create cuisine of the highest quality. Using small suppliers of free-range and rare-breed produce from around the British Isles. Our fish is sourced daily from the historic ports of Brixham on the English Riviera and Hastings and Rye on the South Coast. Adding a unique barbecue flavour to our meat, the kitchen’s Inka Charcoal Oven grills at high speeds and temperatures of up to 500° C producing an unrivalled tenderness.”

 

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Menu – beautifully designed

 

For starters, G and M ordered Cornish fish soup with herb mayonnaise, croutons and Gruyere while K and I had marinated beets, plums, Shropshire blue and walnuts – a gorgeous mix of flavours.

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Cornish fish soup

 

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Marinated beets, plums, Shropshire blue and walnuts – perfection

 

For main course, the others had roast sirloin beef, Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy while I had crispy roasted Suffolk pork belly, pickled red cabbage, apple and mustard chutney – all served with roast potatoes and seasonable vegetables (multi-coloured root vegetables that were as tasty as they were visually appealing).

 

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Roast sirloin beef with red wine gravy – amazing Yorkshire pudding too

 

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Crispy roasted pork belly – as served, on a bed of pickled red cabbage with apple and mustard chutney – so visually appealing

 

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Crispy pork belly with crackling – along with colourful seasonal vegetables

 

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Inside the Great Northern Hotel – comfort awaits

 

 

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Travel-themed cocktail list – including Mind The Gap and Release The Brakes

 

Thankfully, we didn’t have time for a pudding (we were all full but that may not have stopped us!). Our bill for four came to £164.25 including service (£41.00 a head).

The verdict: Everything about this restaurant was excellent. I’m restrained when it comes to giving 5 star ratings as there’s usually some room for improvement but I don’t see how our experience could have been better in any way. The restaurant (and hotel) was elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, service was excellent, and the food was stunning – in presentation and taste. And it was reasonably priced for such quality. I’ll be coming here again.

 

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Hotel bar 

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
– Type: British, International
– Address: Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, London, UK
– Postcode: N1C 4TB
– Nearest station: Kings Cross St Pancras
– Website + menus: Plum + Spilt Milk website
– Photos on flickr: Plum + Spilt Milk images
– Location: Plum + Spilt Milk map

 

Plum + Spilt Milk - Great Northern Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Rox Burger – Lewisham SE13

Really good restaurants might be in short supply in Lewisham – Rox Burger is among the few leading the way.

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Rox Burger  – step inside off the Lee High Road

 

Winner of New Openings’ “London’s best burger” competition in March 2016, Rox Burger was awarded “best rated burger in the UK” in 2015 by TripAdvisor (and currently ranks #32 of 17,000+ restaurants in London as of June 2016). No mean feat. It was time to check it out for ourselves.

With a small entrance on the indistinct Lee High Road, you could easily pass by and miss it, as I did.

 

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Up the spiral staircase – special mezzanine area for the six of us

 

On arrival, our table for six is ready – it’s on the mezzanine, accessible by a spiral stairway. A great use of limited space, we welcome the privacy of having our own little dining room and – as there are two kids in our party – the freedom to move about in the space.

 

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Ground floor restaurant – viewed from mezzanine

 

We order drinks including some Kernel pale ales @ £4.90 a bottle and a small margarita @ £6.50, and a variety of burgers including the Rox Bacon – handmade burger with cheese, bacon, egg, jalapeno pepper, mayo in a brioche bun @ £8.95, and a veggie portobello mushroom – with cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, mayo in a brioche bun @ £6.00, along with two types of chips: sweet potato fries @ £3.20 and Rox fries with cheese and oregano @ £3.20.

 

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Burger menu  – click on image to enlarge

 

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Drinks menu – wines, craft beers, cocktails and more

 

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Rox bacon burger –  with cheese, bacon, fried egg + jalapeno pepper

 

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Portobello mushroom – with cheese, lettuce, tomato + grilled onions

 

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Another Rox bacon – in a brioche bun

 

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L: sweet potato fries @ £3.20, R: Rox fries with cheese + oregano @ £3.20

 

Rox Burger pride themselves on only using fresh ingredients, locally sourced – nothing’s frozen. The burger patty was really juicy and the bacon and egg were crispy. It’s a really good burger with interestingly seasoned chips too (oregano and finely grated cheese) – good for a change.

 

The verdict: Good service, pleasing use of space with quirky ‘home made’ furnishings (like the cushioned-pallet benches we sat on, on the mezzanine) and fine quality burgers. Probably all the more impressive for being in this part of Lewisham, where good eating establishments are a novelty.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Burgers
– Address: 82 Lee High Rd, London
– Postcode: SE13 5PT
– Nearest station: Lewisham
– Website + menus: Rox Burger website
– Photos on flickr: Rox Burger images
– Location: Rox Burger map

 

Rox Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

LardButty in Berlin – Peperoncino Italian in Kreuzberg

Following an afternoon at the Carnival of Cultures and beers at the Von Loon boat bar (on the Landwehr Canal) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, we headed for Peperoncino on D’s recommendation. She used to live near here and this Italian restaurant was already tried and tested, and very much a favourite of hers.

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Peperoncino Italian restaurant in Kreuzberg, Berlin

 

Located in a somewhat residential area, the restaurant was busy with all tables taken. D had booked ahead knowing that it’s a popular spot with the locals.

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Inside Peperoncino – a popular spot

 

The restaurant is run by Adriano and Ewelina, and service was welcoming from the moment we arrived. Ewelina was so hospitable we had the impression of being pampered in someone’s own home, while Adriano created a special antipasto sharing platter for the three of us (off menu). Some prosecco bubbles seemed like a good way to begin.

 

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Special antipasto sharing platter – aubergine and bean mix (a ratatouille veggie stew type dish – this was especially nice), ham, salami, artichokes, mozzarella, and smoked cheese

 

For main course, K had a gnocchi special – black truffle stuffed gnocchi in a truffle/butter sauce (gorgeous but being quite rich, it was a small portion), D had spaghetti with prawns and I had gnocchi classico – in a tomato sauce with mushrooms, prawns and salami (very tasty, dense and filling so K helped me out once he’d finished his smaller gnocchi special).

 

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Gnocchi special

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Spaghetti with prawns

 

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Gnocchi classico 

 

We shared a dessert platter of profiteroles, fruity ice-cream and chocolatey-truffley-ice-cream:

 

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Dessert platter – as served

 

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Desserts – underway

 

 

The verdict: Tucked away in a neighbourly area in Kreuzberg, this was a top recommendation from D. A great find. The patrons couldn’t have been any more hospitable and the Italian food was very good. I’d certainly visit again when in Berlin…

 
Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: Urbanstraße 137, Kreuzberg, 10967 Berlin
– Nearest station: U Südstern (U-Bahn station)
– Website + menus: Peperoncino website
– Photos on flickr: Peperoncino images
– Location: Peperoncino map

LardButty in Berlin – Café am Neuen See

When the weather’s fine enough to eat outdoors, Café am Neuen See restaurant and biergarten in Berlin’s beautiful Grosser Tiergarten is the place to be.

In a tranquil lakeside location, the beer garden stays open until sunset, serving beer – on tap and bottled – along with tasty Bavarian and Italian specialities like freshly made pretzels, weisswurst (white sausage) and leberkäse (meat-loaf), sourdough bread and stone baked pizza. Admiring the lake-side view and listening to the tweeting birds while sipping a cold weiss beer is a mighty fine way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

 

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Franziskaner weissbier and picnic benches at the biergarten in the Tiergarten, Berlin

 

The Café am Neuen See restaurant serves breakfast, and coffee and tea and cake throughout the day, as well as more extensive food options if you prefer something more substantial. But it really comes to life after dusk, once the biergarten closes and the restaurant’s outdoor area is lit up with fairy lights and candles.

 

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Fairy lights at night in the restaurant’s outdoor area

 

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Weissbier by night

 

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Flammkuchen – gorgonzola, pear and almonds

 

K and I order wheat beers and two flammkuchen (Alsatian baked flatbread) to share – one with pepperoni sausage and mushroom (this one has a tomato base, like a stone baked pizza) and one with gorgonzola, pear and almonds (no tomato sauce base) which is just stunning and delicious.

 

The verdict: Gorgeous food in a gorgeous setting. What more could you ask for?

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Alsatian, German (in Germany)
– Address: Café am Neuen See, Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin (in Tiergarten)
– Nearest station: Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten
– Website + menus: Café am Neuen See website
– Photos on flickr: Café am Neuen and Tiergarten images
– Location: Café am Neuen See map

 

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