Calcot Manor


We needed somewhere beyond special in the Gloucestershire side of the Cotswolds to celebrate the last few days of a best friend’s unmarried life. Calcott Manor seemed to be the obvious choice. Located in the small village of Tetbury, it is surrounded by rolling countryside and known for outstanding food and a tranquil spa. This manor ticked all the boxes. After a slightly stressful, sticky drive from the city, I quite literally fell into the arms of Calcott. It is the kind of place where you feel instantly relaxed and very much at home.

Our rooms were beautifully decorated with real country elegance.  After a quick freshen up it was straight to the Conservatory Restaurant. There is another dining option which is slightly more casual – The Gumstool Pub – a menu packed with all the classic British favourites such as shepherds pie, fish and chips and the Calcott burger. If the conservatory food is anything to go by, I’m sure the Gumstool does more than justice to those  British classics.

The Conservatory is for fine dining and we definitely dined finely. The menu was mainly British inspired, with some interesting European touches and good use of seasonal produce and ingredients from the surrounding area. I had been recommended the scallops to start, sauteed and served with Jerusalem artichoke, bacon jam, white balsamic and treviso. They certainly did not disappoint. For main, I went for the daily special, a fresh Salade Nicoise with strips of tuna steak. If I do say so myself, I make my own mean Salade Nicoise, out of habit always using the canned version. This salad blew mine off the table, it was super fresh and had the right balance of egg, potato and tuna, and speaking of tuna, the steak was tender and cooked to perfection. I will probably never make my own Salade Nicoise again! The finale, my favourite,  a dark chocolate torte and Calcott’s was rich, strong and bitter, exactly how it should be. the Mille Feule was another highlight much lighter!

A wonderful country retreat, you don’t always need to leave England to have a holiday, sometimes the best ones are the British ones!





Beirut Express



Beirut Express is for the nights that you don’t feel like cooking but also don’t want a full on ‘restaurant ‘ experience, or for the times you go for drinks after work on an empty stomach and are left famished at 10pm.

So you head to Edgware Road, London’s Middle Eastern Mecca. You leave the streets of the city behind and are momentarily transported to any Middle Eastern city of your choice. The sights, sounds and smells all match, until you see the number 16 bus nearly running over a man on a Boris bike! The choice is vast on Edgware Road, and from the outside, the restaurants can look fairly similar. Fear not, I have taken it upon myself to get to the bottom of which restaurant comes top.

The Maroush group is a big player when it comes to Lebanese food, with a range of different restaurants across West London. When I visit a Maroush, I leave a happy lady, whether it is their flagship restaurant on High Street Kensington, Maroush Gardens – their more upmarket Edgware Road offering or my favourite, Beirut Express, the least formal of all their restaurants. There are no airs and graces here, nothing fancy at all, indeed it is more cafe style.  What you are guaranteed is freshly cooked, delicious Lebanese food and a true authentic experience.

My menu choices have turned into something of a ritual, I can’t go there without ordering certain dishes. It starts with multiple mezze to share, followed by a meaty wrap and then possibly a mint tea. Mezze madness includes a range of favourites.  Herby and super lemony fattoush salad,  falafels cooked to perfection – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside – which can be dipped in the garlic sauce taking them to new levels, halloumi, again cooked perfectly, to just the right degree of melt in mouth and finally dips! Houmous goes without saying and who can resist the smokey aubergines of the babaganoush.  All of these are of course served with traditional Middle Eastern flat bread.

If I am being honest, after this array of delights, I normally feel quite full, but before I can let anyone know,  my shish taouk wrap arrives right on time. There is a range of meaty, Lebanese kebab-style wraps or there is the option to have as a plated main course without the actual wrap. I prefer to order the wrap;  it amalgamates all the flavours, succulent chicken, garlic sauce, pickled turnips, fresh crispy salad all drenched in lemon.

This is the place for an authentic Lebanese feast, that will leave you feeling happy, content and pretty full. When you are thinking of a Lebanese in London, Beirut Express is guaranteed to exceed your expectations. I think I need a loyalty card!

Club 55

club 55 logo

Pure Chic.
I had been completely overwhelmed by the unadulterated chicness of St Tropez, a million miles from the popular song ‘Welcome to St Tropez’ with my particular favourite line being ‘too much money in the bank!’ Which most people around here really do.

The iconic Club 55 is a perfect blend of elegance and that St Tropez chicness, mixed effortlessly to create a dream like ambiance.
Firmly grounded on Pamelonne beach, the very first beach club in St Tropez and by far the best, in my opinion in a league all of its own.
Upon entering on a Saturday lunchtime in late June I was greeted by a wash of white and natural wood, with bronzed, perfumed bodies eating, chatting and laughing idly.
I have an obsession with the use of fruit and vegetables as decoration and centre pieces. When I see this in a restaurant, it is a good sign. On every table there was a large piece of irregular wood laden with crudites  -fresh, raw whole vegetables; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, artichokes, carrots, mushrooms.

The French as a whole, with Club55 very much included, just get it right. They keeps things so simple but do simple so well! To start we had hard boiled eggs, served in their simplistic form with the shells on and a perfectly salted anchovy dip to accompany. It tasted divine, seriously how can a hard boiled egg with a sauce taste so good and I loved how it was served with everyone peeling their own eggs and cutting as they so desire. We were in a sharing mood/ wanted the opportunity to try as much as much as possible. We had a number of different salads including nicoise, mozzarella and tomato and a goats cheese with lots of fresh fish, grilled and served with lemon. I know I have mentioned simple numerous times already, but it really does go to show how that can win through, especially when you have high quality fresh ingredients. Whatever you are eating it just tastes better when you are beach side with the sun shining and right in the middle of the best beach club on earth.
A true experience, weather you are a regular or more a once in a lifetime type of client. This place has been open for over 60 years and still has all the glamour and cool that you would expect from the top spot in the South of France. Eat the most simple food, prepared and cooked to perfection in an absolutely stunning environment.

The White House

white house restaurant

A perfect speck in the Ionian Sea – is how the writer Durrell lovingly described Corfu. It is hard to disagree with him, with its lush countryside, perfect turquoise seas and warm Greek spirit.

The White House perched on the edge of the rocks of Kalami village, just round the corner from the Rothschild residence. The taverna is accessible by car or boat, I would highly recommend the latter. Traveling by sea is the easiest most stunning way to see this jewel of the Ioanian. What better way to walk into a restaurant than with sea legs and drenched in sun and salt. The restaurant has the most idyllic spot, clinging to the rock face with sky blue  views to infinity and beyond (well Albania!)

The menu matches the view – perfection! A delightful selection of all the Greek favourites with a few special twists. I never tire of Greek dips and treats to start and some grilled fresh fish drenched in lemon for main, of course accompanied by a fresher than fresh salad. To start, as well as tzatziki and marinated anchovies , we had grilled halloumi, dripping with greek honey and an abundance of sesame seeds for added flavour and all round deliciousness. What better way to wash down these gems than with a glass of prosecco which they topped with fresh strawberries . For me these small touches make all the difference. For main I had a large fresh tuna salad, simple, yet so effective. When on holiday salads just seem to taste different and are much more exciting. I put it down to the freshness and quality of the simple ingredients; tomatoes bursting with juice, cool, crunchy cucumbers, red onions and all drenched in cold pressed olive oil from the vineyards of Corfu and lemon juice from the tree you can see from the table. All of this while watching ‘our’ boat bob up and down in the crystal, diamond scattered Ionian Sea. It is hard to want anything more.

When Mac Met Cheese


When Mac Met Cheese….The world was a better place! A traditional English favourite and the only dish that this London pop-up serves. This is one of the first pop-up restaurants to hit West London, something of a revolution. WMMC has popped up in what is described as Notting Hill/Bayswater/Royal Oak. To be precise you will find it on Porchester Road, almost opposite the Waitrose. Not necessarily where you would expect to find London’s pop-up of the moment, but maybe that is the point and West London welcomes WMMC with open arms.

I am cutting to the chase – the carbs and dairy! To start, Mac and cheese balls, think of Italian arancini with mac and cheese replacing the traditional rice. The result is addictive, they couldn’t be naughtier of nicer if they tried. They are bursting with flavours that compliment the mac and cheese either truffle or jalpeno and cheddar.  When it comes to the main event, your decision is not what but which type of mac and cheese. Mum’s classic with mature cheddar, red leicester, Parmesan and nutmeg or Carlos  the Cactus with jalapeno, rocket and cherry tomatoes and finally the ever changing weekly special.  For us this was described as a cross between mac and cheese and a pizza. Basically Mac and cheese, incorporated with the tomato base of a pizza and all the toppings. I was lucky to sample all three and for me simplicity won, Mum’s Classic was to die for . It was was the perfect blend of creaminess, with just the right hint of nutmeg and of course as you would expect the pasta was cooked to perfection. The pizza cross was an interesting combination, the creaminess of the cheese sauce with the  sweetness and contrast of the tomato sauce – I was pleasantly surprised at how good this tasted. Carlos had a real kick to it and was broken up nicely by fresh rocket.

Starter and main down and I had eaten an obscene amount of Mac and cheese, in fact only mac and cheese! I felt happy and beyond satisfied, or did I? For dessert, in keep with the streamlined menu there was only one option – DEEP FRIED OREOS!!! Oh dear!! As if Oreos were not bad enough already, as if Oreos needed to be made any more MOREish. I could not resist the opportunity to try this naughty innovative dessert. They certainly did not disappoint, an Oreo slightly melted encased it what I would describe as a pastry. Almost like a mini doughnut but instead of jam, an Oreo. The dessert and in fact the whole restaurant is just the best guilty pleasure. For me macaroni cheese is so nostalgic, WMMC makes me feel instantly at home and very content. Warning this is a pop up, it has already been open for three months and by popular demand has extended but only until the beginning of July, go while you can!

Il Baretto


A forgotten favourite of mine in magical Marylebone is Il Baretto. For me, it has been reincarnated/returned to my radar owing to the opening of the new King of London hang outs, CHILTERN FIREHOUSE. Yes, it does deserve caps lock! Andre Balaz’s new hotel and restaurant is so cool you almost feel physical pain, well not really, but it definitely raises your resting heart rate due to the pure electricity running through the place.

After drinks at the Firehouse, with even big hitters being turned away for food and the fact I have already sampled their delights, we decided Il Baretto was the perfect choice.  With a vibrant atmosphere, good food and a sprinkle of slick chicness, we trotted over the road.

I really had forgotten how much I love this menu. It is full of well known Italian classics and some other less well known treats from small villages in Italy. As we were seated, pizzas were twirled out to the adjacent table. Immediately, pizza was all I could think about. You may already know my rule with pizza, simply – keep it simple. I went for the bufala mozzarella  and rocket. I did, however, manage to divert my attention from pizza to order a starter or two. With too many good options, we shared an array amongst the table. The zucchini chips are to die for, you may as well order two bowls to start with, one is definitely not enough. Other highlights – the seared yellowfin tuna and fennel, a char-grilled giant octopus tentacle, the bufala mozerella salad with artichokes and wild garlic leaves were all divinely fresh and bursting with flavour.

The piece de la resistance, my darling pizza was danced in front of me. Honestly,it was one of the lightest, freshest pizzas I have tasted in London. I could taste the love, care and finest ingredients that had gone into this delicious Italian staple. Pizzas in London, in fact anywhere but Italy can often be a letdown and not live up to your expectations. Yet with this pizza, I was completely overwhelmed. Will you be able to tear yourself away from the pizzas to order anything else? If you are able to, try the homemade pappardelle with lamb ragu. Again, it tastes even better than you imagine from the menu, super tender meat, with a rich, almost creamy but still tomato-ey enough sauce.

In true Italian style, the traditional tiramisu and selection of ice creams will mean you finish on a high.

So the opening of CF is great for London. The fact that Il Baretto is on its doorstep is better than a cherry on top. Traditional Italian dining in a glamorous setting! Perfect for a special occasion or when you fancy dinner after drinks at CF.



Good Life Eatery


So some people say healthy food is boring and tasteless, others say you only live once so you may as well enjoy all the naughty treats. The GLE don’t agree! I truly believe the best thing you can do is eat a little bit of everything and not too much of anything. But if you can eat and drink foods that are like medicine to your body then why would you not? For some that might be a ‘health day’ once a month and for others every day is a health day.

After my trip to California at the end of last year I became a little obsessed with their attitude, healthy eating and lots of outdoor exercise (whilst ignoring the crazy toxic Hollywood parties.) The GLE on Sloane Avenue is a small, fresh slice of the Californian way and in London it looks like the new way is here to stay!

This is a no reservations cafe that is open till 8pm so still good as super early dash for dinner. For weekend brunches arrive early, the Californian way is spreading fast! As soon as you walk in you are bamboozled with  gluten and dairy free free meals, treats and drinks. So let’s start with drinks, cold pressed vegetable juices really have turned into the latest fashion accessory, I love the pure nourishment that comes in every single bottle. Green is the new black, my advice is go green juice and you will never look black! Now for hot drinks, in my opinion the highlight of the whole menu, the piece de la resistance – matcha green tea latte with almond milk. Healthy yet creamy, calming yet energising. The protein shakes are also a must try, with a base of almond milk, packed with berries and super-food supplements, perfect as a  post workout snack.

The food, there is a strong range of super food salads as well as ‘sandwiches’ and other treats. My favourite salads are The Good Life salad and the Raw Rainbow Pad Thai. The Good Life includes; kale, quinoa, puy lentils, roasted sweet potato, toasted walnuts, goji berries, nutritional yeast with an orange tahini vinaigrette. Fresh, delicious and beaming with nutrition. The sandwiches are all the standard fillings of chicken, bacon egg and avocado but on wheat free breads such as chia flax seed bread – a guilt free sandwich! Lastly the small plates, where I find my go-to option – All greens egg white fritatta served with an almond basil pesto. Simple, yet so effective and not to mention, super tasty.

Can you imagine being able to eat cakes and baked treats that are not actually that bad for you? Of course you can at the GLE! Almost all the baked treats are gluten and dairy free, including chocolate cake, carrot cake and apple and blackberry crumble. There are also spelt croissants and quinoa and spelt scones. Pure indulgence that you don’t make you feel as naughty as they normally do!




A very good Japanese friend emailed to say we must do lunch at Shoryu. This is a lady who takes her Japanese food, in fact all food very seriously. So I knew I would be in for a treat. We went to Shoryu Ramen on Regent Street, they have other branches in Soho, Air Street and Kingly Court, all aimed at a slightly different audience. The Regent Street restaurant is a perfect lunchtime pit stop, whether in-between meetings, indulging in some retail therapy or sightseeing.

Ramen is a super craze in London right now, with an abundance of new places popping up weekly and almost  solely serving this noodle broth. My friend is happily shocked at the ramen rampage, five years ago there was no ramen restaurants in London, now she can barely keep up. Shoryu is owned by the Japan Centre, these guys take ramen seriously and want to do justice to their native country.

At Shoryu it was straight to the main event, the menu consists of 2 columns of tonkotsu ramen noodles. Tonkotsu is a specific type of ramen, from the Southern Island of Kyushu, Japan. it is made with a thick, rich, white pork soup and thin, straight ramen noodles. With about 20 different variations, I needed some help.  I was advised the first half of the broths on the menu were very traditional, rich and meaty. The following half were lighter and more soy based. With it being a weekday lunchtime and a packed afternoon ahead I went for the ‘natural.’

An over-sized terracotta bowl with a wooden ladle and chopsticks arrived, steaming to the top with the delicious smell of a soy broth. It was filled with shiitake mushrooms, beansprouts, sweetcorn, spring onion, sesame, spinach, bamboo and ultra fresh slabs of ginger and of course the rice noodles. On each table there is extra condiments of fresh garlic bulbs, extra sesame seeds and soy sauce. It was a bowl of insanely moorish goodness, the salty soy and electric ginger with the nutty sesame slipped down a treat. It was fresh, comforting and most of all a delight to try something different. My friend had the ‘spicy miso’ which included the famous pork broth and bbq pork, she described it as being very nearly as good as home. It doesn’t get much better than that.

As a side order I would highly recommend the Hirata buns, reminiscent of a recent trip to flesh and buns. They are fluffy, dewy and when filled with sticky, sweet bbq pork they are unmissable.

So there you have it, a perfect lunch spot or quick bite after work/pre-theatre in the centre of London, try some ravaging ramen, why not?

The Lord Nelson

lord nelson

An English bank holiday in Suffolk! Southwold to be precise, affectionately known as Notting Hill by the sea.  When visiting a new place there are always certain things that you simply have to do/eat/drink. Southwold is no different. You simply must take a stroll on the pier.  Artist Tim Hunkin has created a number of wild and wacky slot machines an. simulator rides, there are no prizes, except the experience you have. You must have fish and chips, you must try the local Adnams beer and you must enjoy an afternoon tea. For this I would suggest Magpie bakery, the sea salted caramel brownie in particular. So say you have fish and chips on the promenade at lunch then mid afternoon you start to asses the dinner possibilities. The options are quite wide, after politely diving into 4 different gastropub/hotel vibes to check the menu and vibes. I count myself as officially being able to say if you go to Southwold you must go to The Lord Nelson, it is synonymous with the town. I would go as far as to describe it as its very own heartbeat.

From the moment you walk in, you feel welcomed and excited by the vibe. Winner of many Pub awards, The Lord Nelson sits in the centre of Sassy Southwold and right on the coast. The kind of place where if the walls could speak, the book would be epic. Early May Bank holiday the pub was bursting at the seams, instead of being annoying this just seemed to add to the atmosphere. However with regards to eating, you need a table to eat and the way you get a table is by swooning in on one when and however you possibly can. Reservations or queuing mean nothing to Nellies. We played a tactical game of working out who were furthest along with their meal, who are competitors were and what zone they were marking. This seemed to work and after one drink, we had a table for 2 in the snug. The menu is traditional, wholesome pub food, with all the favourites including; fish and chips, venison sausages, curries and burgers.

To start I had the soup of the day, freshly picked asparagus from the field down the road, delicious! For main I had beef chilli nachos. Ok so not entirely authentic to Mexico but so wholesome and tasty I really didn’t mind. The standard Chilli con Carne was also a great option served with rice, sour cream and a separate plate of extra nachos. The burger was insanely large with a brioche bun, my favourite and the fish and chips seemed to go down a storm as well. As I was considering finishing on a high, I heard hushed tones from the table next to me, ‘they do awfully good desserts here.’ Sticky toffee pudding it was and very true,  an awfully good dessert.

A trip to Southwold would not be complete without a visit to The Lord Nelson, I can’t image what more you could want from a Suffolk pub on a bank holiday.

The Summerhouse


The sun is shining in London! You are re-considering your love affair with the city, especially after previous days of torrential downpours. Where can you make the most of this city when the sun comes out to play? Where can you dine al fresco? Is there a restaurant that takes you on a mini-holiday? Yes yes yes! The Summerhouse is all of the above. It is located literally on the canal in Maida Vale, just moments from Little Venice. Can a single restaurant really elicit the feeling of being on holiday, I hear you cry? I would say The Summerhouse on a sunny day is as close as it gets. As soon as you step inside, you could be at any magical beach-side restaurant. The decor has a strong nautical theme. I love the black and white photographs of people having a blast on the beach. The overriding vibe is relaxing and simplistic.

Seated at your hopefully waterside table, admiring the boats occasionally floating past and blocking the buildings opposite, you have to have some kind of reminder you are still in London. You will cast your eyes over the menu, if the ambiance and decor so far has not taken you to your special holiday place. Then surely the menu will tip you over the edge. Fish, of all varieties, calamari, smoked salmon, popcorn shrimp and chowder make up the starters. For mains, the fish really gets going – baked whole, shellfish linguine, fish and chips, fish pie, I think you get my drift.  I chose the seabass for two people baked in salt  and served whole, simple, with potatoes and greens. It was delicious, high quality and as fresh as though I was on a Mediterranean beach. One of my party who ordered the fish pie described it as ‘THE BEST.’ To tide you over after placing your food, expect a basket of fresh focaccia and real butter, such a treat!

Order a Knickerbocker glory for dessert, in keeping with the holiday spirit. You won’t be disappointed! The cheese board is also most appealing, I enjoyed a wide selection of cheeses and high quality biscuits.

So here it is, the place to come when the sun shines, your very own riviera in London – the London Riveria! Sit back, waterside, watch the boats go by and sample some of the best fish in town.

Persian Seafood and Spice by Sabrina Ghayour

SG logo

My first foray into the Supper Club scene and it seems I started with the best. Sabrina is the new hot chef about town; you are going to be hearing a lot more about her. Her first book ‘Persiana’ is out in a matter of days.

Sabrina’s supper clubs are Persian feasts. She gives her guests the typical Persian eating experience. She has slightly different themed evenings; I attended the Persian Seafood and Spice.

In true supper club style the destination in West London is not disclosed until just before the event. It is in fact held Sabrina’s home.  When we arrived we were directed into her lounge where 2 tables had been placed together to form an ‘L’ shape where 12 people could sit around. It was cosy and homely and so real, this is her crib! My fellow supper clubbers were from all walks of life and in fact all corners of the globe with one strong interest in common – adoration of good food. With the wine we had brought with us chilling in Sabrina’s fridge, we were off, with a welcome cocktail – vodka, apple and mint. I was perfectly set up for the feast.

Ok, so the way this Persian feast supper club works is as follows – for each course, a mass of different dishes are placed on the table for everyone to share. There is no need to worry about someone dominating your favourite dish. I feel Sabrina cooks along the lines of ‘feeding the 5000.’

To start, my highlights included the baked feta with chilli and preserved lemon. I am a feta addict and have never tasted it cooked in such a delicious, precious way. The whole marinated block of feta had been wrapped in vine leaves. It was tender and gooey and set alight by the flavours it had embraced in the oven. The fennel, blood orange and radish salad, served with mint and pomegranate in a citrus dressing was fresh, juicy and explosive. Now onto the main affair! The moment when the dishes were carried out, you wish you had not eaten a single thing all day in order to make the most of this spectacular feast. Maygoo Polow, I salute you! Traditionally steamed Persian rice with an abundance of spices, chilli, raisins and prawns was also delicious. Again, the freshness is what really shines with this staggering dish; it is comforting and satisfying whilst also a sensation for your senses. This was in addition to  a total of four other insane main dishes – a slow cooked cod and herb stew, citrus stuffed trout and dish I never tire of, char-grilled aubergines with saffron yogurt. It was almost impossible to stop serving yourself more and more. Every time I tried, I could swear I saw an aubergine winking at me. It was only when I remembered about dessert that I managed to stop eating the mains and only for fear that I would be able to squeeze in more, a dessert! Dessert, thank goodness was kept simple however, still divinely delicious. In simplicity a cupcake, in deliciousness flavoured with cardamom, orange, pistachio and almonds and all washed down with a fresh glass of mint tea.

What a fabulous evening – a mighty Persian feast and a meeting of foodie minds! For when you fancy trying something different and want to eat like a King/Queen!


64 Degrees


‘A gastronomy revolution is occurring in Brighton,” a place to shake up the Brighton restaurant scene.’ These were the kind of exquisite reviews I had heard. So I was all too happy to skip through the cobbled Lanes of my favourite seaside city to see if I agreed.

Located in Meeting House Lane and only a couple of roads back from the English channel. We were 10 minutes early for our reservation, super rare for me and a bit annoying for the restaurant – it is bijoux and 4 of us trying to find a spare space to stand was awkward. I will never be early again! However, it did give us the chance to watch the flawless team of chefs at work in the open plan kitchen with seated bar. This was the perfect introduction to the restaurant, we didn’t really need to see the menu after we had seen each dish being prepared with the up most precision and care!

So 64 Degrees is all about sharing plates. Unlike a lot of its counterparts in London and further afield who also adopt the sharing/caring option this menu is concentrated – 4 fish, 4 meat, 4 vegetable options to choose from. If there is 4 of you, I would suggest one of each. The menu is creative and seasonal, thus ever changing. A few of my stand outs were mackerel ceviche with radishes, pomegranate and a light citrus dressing. The rib of beef was drop dead divine and the potato dumplings were unusual and addictive. (We had to double order.) I loved how the dishes came slowly, as they were ready, rather than all at once. It gave us time to savour and enjoy each dish while it was still utterly fresh. It also stops you from plate piling, mixing all the flavours and feeling full too quickly!

This restaurant is a foodie’s heaven, I would go as far as to say the most exciting restaurant in Brighton right now and value wise, it is a great deal!

If you live close by it is a perfect mid week treat, for those visiting Brighton it is a must eat and should be top of your list, book ahead! I have heard a rumour they have a second outpost coming to London soon, you didn’t hear it from me!