Lisbon; where to eat in one of the world’s sunniest & most delicious cities…

‘You’ll love it!’

‘It’s great for food!’

‘Best city break ever!’

To say I heard these declarations of love for one of Europe’s sunniest cities once or twice during the weeks leading up to J’s and my much needed holiday in Lisbon would be something of an understatement. The glorious sunshine, the gorgeous food, the dreamy tiles, the kitschy gifts, the pastels de nata – all these things were raved about to me in sentences heavy with near fanaticism for Portugal’s capital and every single one of them raised my expectations to nigh on stratospheric levels…

…luckily Lisbon knows a things or two about making a gal happy so consider every expectation exceeded.

There are a lot of places to stay in and around the city centre; J & I are somewhat rather very a teeny bit antisocial when it comes to holidays. We’re not fans of cloud scraping hotels with all-you-can-eat buffets at 8am, fights for the sun-loungers at 1pm or traditional British pubs that vomit drunken tourists onto the pavements outside at 2am. Small, gorgeous, friendly places are more up our street which is exactly what we found in Palacio Ramalhete, a 10 room boutique hotel (barely 15 minutes walk from the legendary Time Out Market) which boasts a rooftop pool & the nicest staff in Lisbon.

6

Clean, cool & pretty rooms come dressed with the loveliest little touches – complimentary homemade chocolate covered fruit & nuts on the dresser or a creamy roses in the bathroom anyone? – while the communal rooms are a beautiful blend of modern and antique and that aforementioned rooftop pool was ours alone for most of the week.

There’s no restaurant on site at Palacio but the breakfasts are a little bit special and there’s a small but decent snacks menu that’ll see you through the day. Cheeseboard and local beers by the pool, you say? Well chaps, I didn’t fly all the way here for green juice and broccoli.

12

First day exploration of the local neighbourhood revealed a hidden gem of a restaurant – Le Chat, named after one of the owners’ semesters in Paris. A modern construction of glass, chrome and white parasol shaded terraces, this was a gorgeous place to stumble across, sink into and enjoy the first of many local beers and dishes at. FYI, as someone totally uninitiated in Portuguese beers, it may well be that it’s actually the Stella of its market but we loved the super light & refreshing Superbock.

Codfish shredded with chickpeas & pink pickled onions was light and gently herbed…

19

…while chubby pink prawns lazed gently in a pool of paprika spiced oil from slices of food of the gods, chorizo. Top tip 1 – Le Chat’s homemade focaccia comes fat & fluffy in hipster approved kilner jars and is pretty perfect for mopping up every last golden slick.

20

A wheel of goats cheese looked like it was about to win first prize in a ‘vegetables masquerading as creme brulee’ competition but tasted tangy and soft against crisp greens and earthy walnuts…

21

…and eating everything al fresco on the terrace which slowly filled up with locals-in-the-know and lucky-to-find-it-tourists was the perfect way to watch a setting sun paint the sky around us with flushes of candyfloss colours.

Top tip 2 – save room for dessert. Like a heaving bosom in the court of Louis XIV, Le Chat’s decadent yet elegantly simple chocolate mousse is piled high in ridiculously soft & velvety mounds while sprinkles of popping candy stop it from being too serious and grown up a dessert.

22

Read More

An incredible snapshot of India through the small plates of Kricket…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll be aware of the excitement levels that get cranked up to def-con 5 when I find somewhere that I really like…

…well hold onto something sturdy and batten down the freakin’ hatches because here comes one of those posts. Yep, we’re only three months into a new year and London is absolutely smashing it out of the park right now when it comes to eating out. So far, 2017 has seen me go loco for tacos at Corazon, fall head over heels for the Italian gnocchi in Palatino and flirt outrageously with that sexiest of breakfast dishes, porridge, at 26 Grains; now folks, the time has come to slobber all over the deliciousness that is Indian-small-plate-inspired Kricket.

Starting life in a pint sized shipping container in Brixton, Kricket is a love affair with Mumbai told through the fragrant flavours of India and the seasonal ingredients of Britain. In a world that’s growing alarmingly obsessed with borders and distinctions of origin, this is a perfect example of blurring the lines between what comes from where and focusing instead on what lovely outcomes there can be from the marrying together of two different cultures.

Weeks before Kricket opened, I had already lost a little piece of my heart to the blush pink stools which border a bar curving around gently in the window, each one monogrammed on the back with a delightfully curly K. The metallic mesh nets that encircle oversized bulbs, the brick walls and the muted metallic colour scheme all helped my crush spread its wings and take flight.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Read More

Bowled over by the fresh flavours of Sri Lanka at new must-eat hotspot Hoppers…

No reservations. Like Marmite, mushrooms & Madonna, this is a guaranteed bone of contention among those who love going out to eat. You either don’t mind because you feel the end results are going to be worth the wait or you feel aggrieved that you aren’t being trusted to honor your booking. Either way, there’s no doubt that with some of the most covetable tables in  London now un-reservedly reservation free, your options are limited to waiting it out, going somewhere whose dishes don’t currently grace the Instagram feed of every foodie in town or beans-on-toasting it up at home.

So ask yourself this – how would you feel about waiting 2 hours for a table at one of the hottest new culinary tickets in town?

Honestly, for me it depends on context. Dining alone on a random Tuesday night, you might find that a bit too much to ask when frankly all you want from your dinner is speed and ease – is it just me or are Tuesdays the new Mondays in terms of ‘ugh’ factor?! – whereas dining with a friend on a Friday night with lots to catch up on and drinks available at a nearby wine bar might make it a bit more doable.

Opening last autumn to a quiet fanfare, Hoppers on Frith Street is exactly the kind of place where context becomes important because unless you rock up promptly at opening time, you ain’t gonna get in without a certain amount of determined hanging on for that all elusive table.

IMG_3083 Read More