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Sunshine menu at The Aqua Kyoto

Reports all over newspapers and the Internet are showing that 80% of Britons are deficient in Vitamin D due to a lack of sunlight, which isn’t hard to believe given the rare presence of the sun even during the summer months, and the unpredictability of it gracing us with its presence. The Spectator has actually just published an article focused solely on the importance of Vitamin D, and its plentiful health benefits. Helping you to live longer, keep your bones strong, and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and strokes, this definitely gives us all a valid excuse to dig out our deck chair and bathe under the rays when they finally do appear.

However, sunlight is not the only way of enhancing your levels of Vitamin D, since it is also derived from your diet, which is where Aqua Kyoto’s new “Sunshine Vitamin D” menu comes in.

A restaurant specialising in innovative and contemporary Japanese cuisine is already promoting the health benefits of Vitamin D, since Japanese food is naturally rich in this seemingly miracle supplement, but Aqua Kyoto’s Head Chef Paul Greening is showcasing the importance of Vitamin D in a new Sunshine menu. Try dishes such as mackerel and ginger roll, grilled salmon with unagi and Japanese mustard soy or tamago with Japanese knotted sorbet, all accompanied by a ‘sunshine’ cocktail with Apollo 11, elderflower and grapefruit.

So now you can keep your Vitamin D levels healthy while avoiding a nasty sunburn from a day at the beach!

www.aqua-london.com

Posted by Georgia Carnegie at 13:53 pm | Comments »
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The EDF Energy London Eye

Here at The Handbook we're always on the hunt for great party venues. This week we attended the EDF Energy London Eye Hospitality Showcase, a sneak preview of the seasonal hospitality packages for the upcoming year, offering some of the most posh dining and exquisite celebration experiences in London.  

At the showcase we took in breathtaking views of the city during the Champagne Reception - a thirty minute rotation in a private capsule on the London Eye enjoyed with flutes of Pommery champagne and a delightful serving of canapés.

We then boarded the Barracuda, one of the most stylish cruisers on the River Thames, for a lovely social gathering. With a retractable roof, guests are able to sip themed cocktails like the Mistletoe Mojito and enjoy small plates under the stars. The capacity allows up to 230 people, making this a fabulous venue for weddings, corporate receptions and networking events. 

Don't miss out on exclusive opportunities, like the Dining 135 event - a three-course meal served while revolving in a private capsule, with only 50 experiences available all year. The wide variety of packages accommodate all party sizes and preferences, so be sure to book events in advance to save your date. 

www.londoneye.com

Posted by Maddy Ewles at 11:07 am | Comments »
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The Oval Restaurant, The Wellseley, Park Lane

The Wellesley: Review

July 1, 2014

The Wellesley is relatively new in terms of London hotels, when many have been opened for over a hundred years, The Wellesley has only been opened since the end of 2012 and yet already it is known as one of the most decadent boutique hotels.

The décor is inspired by the 1920s townhouse that it is situated in, with a modern twist on  the art deco movement, it is very sumptumous and none more so than in The Oval restaurant.  Having heard that there was a new excutive chef, Michele del Monaco, at the restaurant we grabbed our bags and headed over to Park Lane.

There are three things that really strike you about The Oval, first the huge, sparkling chandelier that  commands all the attention in the centre of the room, secondily the intricate marble floor which is inspired by an elegant luxury sunburst clutch by Judith Leiber and finally it’s teeny, tiny size – there were 16 of us there and any more would have been a squash. It’s intimate but not claustrophobic and most important for us you can still have a conversation about all the most important things in life without feeling like everyone is listening in. 

Michele del Monaco was raised in Caserta and has a global career, having worked in Rio de Janerio and the world renowned kitchens at the two Michelin stared Hotel Il Pellicano in Tuscan. He brings to the table his fine dining style which still keeps authentic Italian flavours at its heart.

We were there to try the tasting menu, highlights include Mediterranean prawns wrapped up in squid ink ravioli with lobster bisque and a wonderfully creamy, cheesy  buffalo mozzarella stuffed in swordfish. Langoustine carpaccio with crab and almond meringue had a somewhat interesting texture and the almond meringue was rather overpowering.  If the dark chocolate fondant is on the menu then order it, you won’t be disappointed, luxuriously smooth and incredibly decadent it was one of those times where you wish pudding was served first so you could fully appreciate it without having eaten 5 or so courses and at least two bread baskets beforehand....

When you think of dining at a hotel restaurant, The Oval might not immediately spring to mind but with Michele del Monaco in the kitchen, you would be wise to think again and choose this teeny tiny restaurant. 

www.thewellesley.co.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 19:45 pm | Comments »
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Burger for Independence Day

Wouldn't it be good if we could all just up sticks and head to America to celebrate this Friday - it's Independence Day don't you know? Heck we aren't even American but Londoner's love a good reason to party. From eating competitions to craft beer, here is The Handbook's  all-American guide to the best places to go on Independence Day: 

Avenue

So you think you can eat a lot? As much as on Man Vs. Food? So prove it at Avenue... The new American restaurant are hosting an all-you-can-eat Boston pig butt bun challenge on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th in celebration of the American holiday. Diners have to eat as many Boston butt buns as they can, with the chance to win a meal for two with wine at the restaurant - you don’t want to go eating any more after that. www.avenue-restaurant.co.uk

Blues Kitchen

In Camden or Shoreditch on the 4th ?  Then make sure you head to the Blues Kitchen. Over in Camden the Southern American restaurant is kicking off this Independence Day with a special event, with the resident band performing a strictly Southern Rock playlist. Think The Black Crowes and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Have an American passport? Then lucky you, you have free entry! Whereas over in Shoreditch, they want to know if you can beat the eating machine Ed Conway, who put away 19 hotdogs in 30 minutes – the rules include no crying and no puking, so only the best should stand up to the challenge. www.theblueskitchen.com

Farr's School of Dancing

We may not be in America, but their famous federal holiday Independence Day is still celebrated over in East London... Farr’s School of Dancing, a lavish public house in the heart of Dalston, is throwing a 12 course feast, comprising of starters, mains and desserts, all deriving from different states of America. Put all diet plans to one side, and enjoy the splendid food alongside pitchers of beer and cocktails, while dancing off all the calories to tunes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Any excuse for a party, especially when it involves good food. www.farrsschoolofdancing.com

Outsider Tart

Buff up on your geography knowledge in the best way, with food at the authentic Fourth of July cookout where popular American bakery, Outsider Tart, will be serving up chilli dogs and hamburgers that represent different states. Traditional sweet treats like cupcakes, whoopie pies and cookies will also be available to celebrate the Yankee holiday. www.outsidertart.com

Jenius Social

What’s the best way to spend two hours? Working your way through six of the best American craft beers plus sampling mini sliders and Buffalo wings paired with each American beer, obviously. Where can you do this? No need to cross the pond, just get yourself over to Jenius Social. www.jeniussocial.co.uk 

Benjamin Franklin House

Celebrate the main man behind the US Independence Day at the Benjamin Franklin House, the world's only remaining Franklin residence, with a glass of Champagne and cake from 12 - 2 pm. Heck, you might even learn a thing or two about the only statesman to have signed all four documents that created a new nation and of course one of current day's most sought after destination, (New Yoik New Yoik, so good they named it twice). www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org

Rock on at the Honky Tonk

Honky Tonk Clapham and Chelsea are set to celebrate this holiday in true American rock ’n’ roll style. Get your best ‘Oooohhh’ and ‘Aaaahhh’ sound effects ready for the brilliant fireworks display while a live music playlist of the best US rock songs gets ready to bring the house down. So you may not be from the States, but that’s no reason not to stop you throwing back a few Star Spangled Slammer shots in the name of a good party. Not to pick favourites but Honky Tonk Clapham will also be hosting an American-style hot dog stand on the new Sundowner Terrace. www.honkytonklondon.com

Cheers to the US of A

Our favourite adventurer, Phileas Fogg, celebrates our friends over the pond by opening his residence for a good old knees-up, filled with American cheer. Mr Fogg’s household staff will be suitably decked out in ‘stars and stripes’ themed attire whilst serving drinks like ‘Dodged a Bulleit,’ a strong mix of Bulleit Bourbon, homemade spicy syrup, blackberry puree, Berry’s Red Port, fresh lemon juice with an egg white and ‘Petticoats & Whisky Notes’, a creamy blend of Bulleit Bourbon, vanilla infused double cream and dark chocolate liquor. The drinks will even be getting involved by donning cocktail sized American flags. mr-foggs.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 15:19 pm | Comments »
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Brunch party at The Shed

The Shed in Notting Hill is bringing you something to add to your calendar each Saturday to kick start your weekend: a brand new Brunch party, lasting all afternoon with live music, cocktails and more of their fresh, delicious and seasonal dishes.

Drag all your friends out of bed, and bring them along to The Shed to bathe in the glorious weekend sun, which will stream through the open French windows and skylights, making for a perfect start to the weekend. We can’t quite think of a better hangover cure if you had a heavy night out the night before! If you fancy embracing the hair of the dog, you will find on the menu The Shed’s very own innovative cocktails, alongside Bloody Mary’s featuring their own green tomato vodka…

With a live band playing, the weekly Brunch parties will provide a rustic, relaxed but still stylish setting to catch up with friends now it’s the end of the week.  Enjoy delicious food, including British bacon, reared by the brother of the restaurant owners in the beautiful rural confines of Nutbourne in West Sussex, in dishes such as bacon mallard breast served with a corn fritter and poached egg with broad bean. Scrumptious. 

www.theshed-restaurant.com

Posted by Georgia Carnegie at 12:16 pm | Comments »
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New dishes at tapas restaurant Opera Tavern, Covent Garden.

Enjoy a summer evening of fresh, new and original tapas dishes at Opera Tavern in Covent Garden.

Specialising in modern Italian and Spanish-influenced tapas since it’s opening in January 2011, this smart and beautiful bar and restaurant will experience a series of chef takeovers this summer, bringing with them new and exciting dishes for customers to test and enjoy.

James Cornwall, Head Chef at Covent Garden’s J Sheekey Oyster Bar, will move into Opera Tavern on the 14th July, which is the perfect opportunity for you to plan an evening of theatre and good food, in whichever order you choose. The tapas bar and restaurant is just opposite the Drury Lane Theatre and seconds from the Opera House. What better excuse to plan a perfect evening with friends?

This new chef will bring with him four tapas sized dishes of his own creation, offered alongside the Opera Tavern menu. His philosophy is inspired by his childhood growing up in New Zealand where simple dishes were created from quality ingredients, and he greets his kitchen with the same ideology: that quality ingredients and low-fuss preparation is a recipe for exciting and unusual flavours. We look forward to all that he brings to Opera Tavern, come mid-July.

www.operatavern.co.uk 

Posted by Georgia Carnegie at 09:00 am | Comments »
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Serene Yoga, Coq D'Argent's

Get Serene: Rooftop yoga

June 27, 2014

The glass ceiling is officially a thing of the past! As of next month, the City’s female yoga bunnies can salute the morning sun high above the Square Mile from the stunning roof garden of the Coq d’Argent. Yes, this summer the restaurant has teamed up with international wellness and networking community SERENE Social to offer outdoor yoga classes where you can practise your postures in full view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Gherkin.

It all started in New York where ladies are currently getting their asanas on 18 storeys up by the rooftop pool of Soho’s The James hotel while sundowner yoga is starting imminently on a LA helipad. London's Vinyasa flow classes will run Thursdays 8-9am after which guests are encouraged to mix and mingle over breakfast from the Coq kitchen. So if you’ve mastered the downward dog, crane and dolphin and are curious as to what the ‘coq’ might look like, there’s only one way to find out.

From July 3, tickets £25 or £15 for SERENE members, BYO mat.

www.serenesocial.com

 

Posted by Emily Gray at 16:46 pm | Comments »
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Dining at London hotel The Lancaster London

Fancy something a bit different to sipping a Cosmo sitting at a bar after work? Lancaster London has launched a Shisha Tent for all to enjoy over the summer, offering a selection of Shisha flavours, from apple and grape, to blueberry, rose and mint.  

Sit back and relax in the beautifully patterned sofas, or lounge over the sporadically placed cushions in a variety of exotic colours. The décor of woven rugs and jewelled lanterns encompassed in shisha smoke brings a Moroccan-Arabian atmosphere to what would otherwise be a plain white marquee, and is a very chilled but suave alternative to jumping on the tube to go home and lounge on your sofa after your working day.

Tell all your friends and colleagues to join you for some traditional Lebanese cuisine alongside some Lebanese coffee or fresh juice, since the parlour can seat up to 80 people and is open until the early hours of the morning. And don’t worry about getting chilly late into the night, as there are discrete heat-lamps hidden within the marquee.

Open to hotel and non-hotel guests until the 1 November, this is definitely something not to be missed this summer. The evenings are getting lighter, and your usual go-to for a glass of wine is becoming busier with parties going for evening drinks, so the Lancaster London’s Shisha Tent is the perfect alternative. 

www.lancasterlondon.com

Posted by Georgia Carnegie at 10:32 am | Comments »
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Mussels at Simply Fish, Camden

Simply Fish: Review

June 26, 2014

Simply Fish – it’s in the name: simple.

From the minimal décor of block wooden benches and tables to the concept of the menu – choose the fish, the way you cook it, the sauce and sides. Simply Fish is all about keeping things stripped back and minimal.

When we arrived at the Camden branch – the other being in Shoreditch- we were the only ones there, which instantly panicked me, some people get anxiety about small spaces, crowds, spiders, well mine is empty restaurants, I  clam up, don’t know what to say, where to look. After a while though the restaurant slowly filled up, but we did notice three tables come in and look at the menu and then leave – perhaps fish isn’t their thing.

We began with a few small dishes, choose the salt squid to start, it’s the most popular starter and rightly so, chilli prawns had just the right amount of spice and a steaming bowl of Cornish mussels in coconut sauce rounded things off.  

Their menu which lets you choose the fish, the way it is cooked, the sauce and the accompaniments is a simple process. Plus with 8 fish, 6 cooking methods, 8 sauces and 11 sides you can keep going back as that is a lot of possible combinations (I tried to calculate it but soon gave up, just take it from me it’s a lot).  I was tempted to choose a random combination (battered hake?) but with the waiter’s recommendation went for the typical pan-fried salmon with hollandaise salmon and sweet potatoes, the fish was full of flavour and they certainly didn’t skimp on portion size, it was perfectly good but I wasn’t enamoured, I didn’t want to rush outside and tell everyone that they just had to try it.

What did bowl us over though were the puddings a deconstructed passion fruit cheesecake and the most decadent chocolate fondant, just thinking about it now makes me a little too happy – these were the dishes that would keep me going back to Simply Fish.

Simply Fish isn’t trying to be the fancy London fine dining restaurant as the name and location suggests; you might not take the in-laws,  but would you take a bunch of friends and you would see how many combinations you could create. 

www.simplyfish.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 12:24 pm | Comments »
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Sashimi Platter from the Wellness Menu at the Buddha Bar.

Buddha Bar Wellness Menu

June 25, 2014

Still not quite ready to sport a bikini on the beach in August? Still snacking on your 3pm chocolate bar in the office, or just feeling a bit sluggish and in a rut with your diet? We all know how hard it is to discipline oneself into a good shape and take the time after a long day at work to pick the right ingredients for a well-balanced meal… Which is why Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge has created a bespoke Wellness menu, specifically for those of you who want to live and eat more healthily.

Launching on the 1st July, just in time for a last minute detox before you jet off to the Mediterranean, the Wellness menu has been meticulously designed by the restaurant with the help and input of leading health expert, Jacqueline Harvey. You can have faith that whatever you choose off the menu will be beautifying your insides, since Harvey has over two decades experience as a health expert, and has written books and won awards as recognition of her position in the world of well-being.

Naturally, the menu incorporates the vibes of the restaurant into its new dishes, which will thus prove to be not only greatly nutritional carrying health benefits, but also elegant and stylish. Why not try a starter of Wakame and cucumber or prawn pomelo and grapefruit salad, followed by a main course such as steamed sea bass covered in delicious goodness. You’ll be channelling your inner beauty in no time at all, and that holiday couldn’t come sooner…

www.buddhabarlondon.com

Posted by Georgia Carnegie at 14:31 pm | Comments »
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