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Italian fast food restaurant Caterina55, Moorgate

Caterina55 Review

August 6, 2014

Blink and you might miss Caterina55 amongst all the high rise glass towers in the Square Mile, a tentative sandwich board outside helps to guide in hungry bankers. Caterina55 offers authentic Italian food at a fast pace, with the emphasis really on fast food as reflected in the unwelcoming interior; this is not the place to head for a lazy lunch.

Somewhere between a Pret and a canteen, Caterina55, has readymade sandwiches, baguettes and an assortment of mains, and beverages ready to go in chilled shelves where you then take your choice to the till to pay. You can also order a selection of hot dishes from the overhead menu behind the counter; they serve amazing Chickpea Chips which are vegan friendly and full of flavour served with a homemade ‘ketchup’ (more closely associated with a marinara sauce) and a delicious homemade mustard. Be warned, if you do decide to eat in though, your food will be brought to you on a tray with plastic cutlery.

The talent behind the kitchen is seemingly wasted in a fast food restaurant, although diners are welcome to stay for as long as they wish and take advantage of the free wifi, the experience would be better enjoyed in a properly kitted out restaurant. That being said, those looking for delicious Italian food who don’t have the time to have a proper sit down meal should really take the time to check out the convenient eatery.

www.caterina55.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 16:30 pm | Comments »
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Rhubarb Caters London Fashion Week

During London Fashion Week 12-16th September, creative caterers Rhubarb, will be supplying fashionistas with a range of tempting treats to keep them going during the busy week. Top label designers have had bespoke menus created for them like the carb free option for Fendi which has options like hand-chopped pesto with parmesan jelly, and watermelon tartare with a mango ‘yolk’.

The party that we want to be invited to the most though is the Valentino party, with their sweet canapés such as elderflower marshmallow rolled in orange sorbet, mini doughnuts in coffee sugar and bubble-gum raspberry pavlovas.

The clever folk at Rhubarb don’t just cater high-end fashion events though, they are also available for weddings, party catering, canapes & corporate catering - so even if you aren’t a front-row A-lister, it doesn’t mean you can’t entertain like one.

www.rhubarb.net

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 13:55 pm | Comments »
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Squid Ink at tapas restaurant El Pirata, Mayfair

El Pirata: Review

August 5, 2014

El Pirata in Mayfair cites itself as ‘informal, inexpensive and authentic Spanish tapas’ so in preparation for a trip to Barcelona later in the year we went down to check it out.

When we arrived almost every inch of the front door was covered in stickers informing us that they had appeared in food guides, had won numerous awards and so on, rather impressive maybe but it rather cheapened the look of the place, I think the fact that they’ve survived 20 years in Mayfair, whilst other restaurants open and close before you’ve ordered your starter, is testament to the fact that they must be doing something right.

Inside the restaurant was simple, paintings adorned the walls, to one side stood a large dark bar whilst the floor was covered with small tables; it was packed with more and more people streaming in, again another more reliable sign that they are doing well.

The menu is extensive with over 30 dishes and options for set tapas or you can just pick and choose whatever you fancy which of course is the aim of tapas. Not being good at decisions we went for the latter, choosing little bits here and there and letting the waiter bring recommendations over too.

The simple décor and front door may have given us preconceived ideas of what the food was going to be like but we were actually pleasantly surprised. Stand out dishes for us were the Iberian ham, simple, but when got right all you need is a little bread and aioli and it’s the food of gods. The chorizo al vino, was delicious too and not just because of the added vino. Chicken on skewers were perfectly cooked, but it was the black rice and squid that stole the show. The dramatic colour is so unlike anything else that was served, and had that wonderfully indescribable squid ink flavour. Feeling quite full, we didn’t think we were going to manage the lamb shanks that the waiter brought over, but oh were they good, beautifully tender and rich in taste – we didn’t mind skipping the cheese course for once in order to try them.  

El Pirata’s description on its website is pretty accurate, it isn’t trying to be anything it’s not even in Mayfair, it’s serving up authentic tapas with charm and knows it’s doing it right. 

To celebrate their 20th birthday they will be serving their first menu from 1994 at the same 1994 prices throughout September! 

www.elpirata.co.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 11:45 am | Comments »
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London wedding venue for hire Trinity House

Although summer may be the traditional wedding season, we can’t help but love a winter wedding, especially when it snows, it's a romance overload. So if you’re planning a wedding later this year than look no further than Trinity  House,  as they have joined forces with caterers Create, and are now offering a new Winter Wonderland wedding package.

Elegant, tranquil, steeped in history and with beautiful views, Trinity House is the perfect venue for a wedding and with 5 banquet rooms you don’t need to hold back on the invite list; so even the friends that you want to invite just to show off to can come – not that you would ever do that of course... 

Awarded ‘Best Food and Beverage Supplier’, Create have created four canapés to be nibbled on which will be served with Prosecco, before you sit down to the main affair, where dishes will include the likes of pan-fried scallops and blackberry and apple pop tart.

Create are also ready to help you with any last minute preparations or worries, using their 12-hour on-hand staff, with requirements of elaborate wedding cakes, floral arrangements, lighting design or even distracting the children with dance floors and entertainers!

The Winter Wonderland Package is available from October 2014 – end of March 2015

www.thehandbook.com

Posted by Katie Tinker at 17:16 pm | Comments »
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Dinner at British pub Bumpkin South Kensington

Bumpkin Review

August 4, 2014

Forget what you know about pub food, Bumpkin, has banished microwaves in lieu of meals created with fresh ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients served in a rustic, dining room.

There are several Bumpkins located around London; South Kensington, Notting Hill, Westfields and Chelsea, all with the same ethos of providing the best organic, British produce. We popped down to the South Kensington Bumpkin that boasts its very own private dining room which can host up to 36 guests as well as a few outside tables that we managed to nab.

We started with Pan seared Scottish King Scallops served with a chilled pea soup and crispy bacon which was light and full of flavour, the bacon provided a pleasant kick with its saltiness. The Bucket of King Prawns starter is actually a pint but although the name was downsized the flavour was not as it made for a fresh and delicious start to the meal.

Nothing beats a good roast dinner on the best of days let alone at a proper British pub so our winning main has to be the Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast served with baked Jersey Royals and mixed beets.

We finished off the meal with the Baked Vanilla Custard with poached rhubarb and hazelnut crumble which made for a great summer pudding. Even if you are not lucky enough to nab a coveted outside table, you needn't worry as Bumpkin is providing a little slice of the countryside directly in the city.

www.bumpkinuk.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 17:08 pm | Comments »
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Fresh Juice

South Kensington will be welcoming the arrival of a new private members’ club this autumn, but forget any preconceptions of members’ club because this is so much more than that. They want to nurture your body and soothe your soul and which Londoner can’t say they need that to get them through the dark winter months? Exactly, no one.

Aptly named the South Kensington Club, it’s going to make sure you’re eating right by giving nutritional advice, their restaurant is inspired by the healthy lot over in the Mediterranean and their café is going to sell fresh juice so you can top up your vitamins on the way to work. For those of us who will be reunited with carbs in the winter months they’ll be counter balancing them by keeping us in tip top condition with Pilates, yoga, training in the park and a super fancy gym.

Minds will be catered for with music, social and art events, inner wanderlust’s are kept happy with trips to far flung places like the North pole, and for us?  You’ll find us making the most of the Turkish Hammams, the Russian Banyas and London’s only salt water Watsu … and relax.

Website coming soon, but for more information please email: isabel@purplepr.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:03 am | Comments »
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The Arch London Launches Sorbtails

It’s well known fact that at The Handbook we enjoy good food and cocktails, so whenever we see a combination of the two it is always a pleasing experience. In this instance The Arch London has combined sorbet and cocktails to create…Sorbtails! These well named treats are a combination of classic English cocktails and refreshing sorbet.

We can also rejoice in the fact Sorbtails are a much healthier alternative to ice cream as they are low in calories, fat and sugar. They are made from fresh ingredients and come in 3 delicious flavours; Pimms with fresh strawberries and cucumber; Gin and Elderflower, and a deliciously savoury Bloody Mary.

The Sorbtails are available at Hunter 486 within The Arch London hotel, £7 each or £19 for a sharing portion.

www.thearchlondon.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 13:25 pm | Comments »
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Corrigan's Hamper

Top 5 Picnics

August 1, 2014

It may seem like we've already had a long summer but as it is just the start of August it means that we still have at least six weeks left, which means plenty of time for a picnic, because it's not summer without a picnic. Fact. With so many in London to choose from we've rounded up five of our favourites, just in time for the weekend! 

If grass isn’t your thing: Four Seasons

If the thought of sitting on the ground and kicking off your shoes brings you out in a cold sweat; the bugs, the chance you might get a grass stain, the whole nature thing,  then the Four Seasons picnic hamper served on the Amaranto terrace a table (aka civilisation) is the thing for you.  A basket filled with smoked salmon and cucumber, devilled eggs and roast beef sandwiches is accompanied by vintage tins filled with scones, clotted cream and jam and strawberries. Cakes are of the classic British fete variety: raspberry Victoria sponge, strawberry jam roly-poly, chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie. Very civilised. www.fourseasons.com

If you want something more continental: The Waldorf Hilton

Picnics are of course a very British affair but that doesn’t mean they can’t flirt with the continent once in a while. The hampers from The Waldorf Hilton are filled with artesian breads, French and Italian olives, sun blushed tomatoes, Parma ham and grissini sticks. Of course they can’t stray too far from England so there are scones with English jams, seasonal fruits, cakes and strawberries from Kent. Add a bottle of Lanson Champagne to finish. www.waldorfhilton.co.uk

If you’ve got someone to impress: Corrigan’s Mayfair

So you’ve got someone to impress and you think ‘I know eating alfresco is the way forward’ perhaps a proposal or you want the in-laws to like you, either way when you want to bring out the big guns look to Corrigan’s Mayfair for the ultimate luxury picnic. Complete with a butler who will ensure the Champagne is perfectly chilled and constantly poured, the hamper included smoked eel and pressed duck liver terrine, native lobster and Irish beef carpaccio. www.corrigansmayfair.co.uk

If you like culture: The Tate

Escape the heat for a couple of hours, take in some art, feel more rounded as a person and then head to the restaurant Rex Whistler who have launched a summer picnic, that comes with a Clovelly hamper and picnic blanket so you can soak up the sun on the lawn. Inside the hamper you’ll find chosen cured meats, smoked salmon pâté, chutneys, bread and savoury crackers as well as scones and clotted cream – remember looking at art is hungry work. www.tate.org.uk

If you love cake: Beas of Bloomsbury

When it comes to cakes then Beas of Bloomsbury know a thing or two, if you’re ever after a pick me up of the sugary, pastry, chocolate variety then you’re in safe hands. At the Bloomsbury branch they can also pack their afternoon tea into a hamper for you to take with you to the park, inside you’ll find scones, brownies and blondies, mini meringues and marshmallows – sharing optional!  www.beasofbloomsbury.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 11:04 am | Comments »
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Knightsbridge Asian fusion restaurant Buddha Bar

Buddha Bar Review

August 1, 2014

As soon as we walk into Buddha Bar we are struck by the colourful lighting and chic interior of this Knightsbridge restaurant. Located just off the high street, this 450 capacity venue is filled with impressive décor like floor to ceiling crystallized dragons, and London’s interpretation of the signature Buddha levitating over diners in the ground floor.

Once we are seated at our table we order cocktails, a definite recommendation is the BB Bellini; a Japanese inspired twist on the classic with a blend of peach and sparkling sake. It would have been easy enough to sit there all night soaking up the ambience and working our way through the drinks menu but luckily we had the good sense to start on the food menu.

The menu is a blend of Far Eastern cuisine and influences tailored to Western tastes; the fusion menu is prepared with only the very best ingredients which are reflected in the taste. Due to the nature of the fusion menu you can get the best from all the regions with dishes from Chicken Satay to classic Nigiri to Deux Petit Parisian Beef Burgers. The winning main was the Roasted Black Cod served with lemongrass miso which was a flavourful dish, beautifully presented.

After completing our meal with the divine Lime and Ginger Cheesecake with pineapple salsa, we waddled out of the restaurant having eaten half our body weight in food and consumed more calories than our PT would forgive us for in the morning but it was definitely well worth it!

www.buddhabarlondon.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 10:05 am | Comments »
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Disco vs Roxx at Sanctum Soho Hotel

Rooftops are officially our favourite places to be this year, a secluded oasis for drinking and having fun away from the 9-5 below. Funky member’s club Disco agrees with us as they are even venturing out from their underground location all the way up to the Sanctum Soho Hotel roof terrace for a one off special event.

On the 9th August guests will be able to enjoy non-stop entertainment to accompany a rotation of multiple DJs at this all day party, co-hosted by Roxx Club. Any of you unlucky enough to be busy that day, fear not, Roxx Club will be found at Sanctum all summer for Roxx on the Roof with their signature themed parties, brunches, fashion shows and screenings plus much more!

Tickets are available now for Disco vs Roxx on the 9th August and include entry to Disco in the evening.

www.disco-london.com

www.roxxclub.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 16:19 pm | Comments »
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