Monday 29 June 2015

Noob's Summer gin guide

Top crafty brands for the gin lovers

1) Gin Mare

A very savory gin with plenty of Mediterranean essence, a wonderful gin for food pairing.

Gin Mare is produced in a small fishing village on the Costa Dorada in Spain using botanicals all sourced within the Mediterranean area. Arbequina olives, basil, rosemary and thyme add to the commonplace botanicals to produce this Mediterranean styled gin. The savoury, herbal elements are immediately evident when tasting neat.

RPP: £40

2) Monkey 47

A much more fruitier and sweeter gin compared to your standard London dry style, Monkey 47 is a very sippable gin.

This much sought after gin is made with no less than 47 botanicals, including lingon berries and, somewhat unusually, cranberries. It is made in very small batches, in a small custom made still, at a distillery based in an 18th century mill in the Black Forest in Germany. It was created by Alex Stein and Christoph Keller and inspired by Montgomery Collins who first produced a gin in the Black Forest in the 1950s.

RPP: £40

3) FEW Barrel 

A gin for brown spirits lovers, the additional ageing method gives the gin a touch of oaky and spicy flavour. 

Made using un-aged whiskey (white dog) FEW's Barrel-Aged Gin is subsequently matured in oak barrels to create a truly game changing craft spirit. Exuding subtle notes of fennel & peppery spices, while a smoky smoothness from the charred barrel permeates the juniper, this barrel-aged spirit tastes like gin, but has the maturity of a bourbon.

RPP: £40

4) G Vine

A French gin distilled from grape spirit, resulting in a dry and floral gin with a smooth finish.

The delicate craft contributes to the unique and sophisticated, yet light and smooth taste that is inherent to G'Vine. From the first taste, G'Vine is delicate and floral, evolving into spicy warmth with an extremely long finish. The subtle aromatic vine flower, together with the grape spirit, softens the traditional juniper taste inherent in most gins. G'Vine is unique because it is made from grape neutral spirit, smooth and well balanced in the mouth.

RPP: £32

5) Caorunn

A Scottish gin using wild Scottish botanicals, it has a delightful fresh aroma and works extremely well in a G&T.

Infused with hand-picked botanicals, inspired by Celtic tradition. Created from the Celtic landscape. Caorunn is a dry and crisp, aromatic taste adventure with a long dry finish. Perfectly clear like pure Scottish water. Fresh, floral, citrus, slightly spicy and aromatic. Clean, crisp, sweet, full bodied and aromatic. Invigorating, long lasting, refreshing, crisp and slightly drying. Caorunn gin is infused with five celtic botanicals, including the fabled rowan berry with six traditional botanicals including juniper berries, orange peel and coriander seed.

RPP: £28

Sunday 28 June 2015

Wine, Summer and cocktails

Roberson Wine

The beauty about cocktails is that you can be creative and mix with anything, it is not just restrict to spirit, you can also use wine, cider and even beer! Summer is here and the experts at Roberson Wine want to show you that you need not restrict your love of wine. Roberson swear you can make some delicious cocktails using wine and have created this new visual listing their favourites for this summer season. Go classic and try using a red wine in a Spanish Sangria or go classy and make a Kir Royal with chilled champagne. The possibility is endless!

For more information, please visit:

Saturday 27 June 2015

Menu Cheat Sheet

Cheat your way through that fancy menu!

As a self confessed culinary noob, I can often come a cropper in a restaurant, and that is including some pubs when the menu terminology is more than a little overly complicated. Using ostentatious words and phrases to describe even in a chain restaurant has become incredibly popular in recent years, helped greatly by shows like Masterchef, in which a dish is not even acknowledged by Gregg Wallace unless it has been 'deconstructed', 'flambed' or whipped into an 'air'. 

Thankfully, the other day I came across the solution to all my foodie terminology problems courtesy of - A Menu Cheat Sheet no less! This handy graphic provides an easily digestible explanation of the most popular, pretentious food terms you are likely to come across on any menu. Read and memorise, and impress your dining guest next time they ask you 'do you know what a confit of duck shoulder with crushes, heritage legumes is?' 

Friday 26 June 2015

Galvin Cafe a Vin

Good value humble French cooking

Dungarvan rock oysters

It is hard to beat a classic French dinner in a bistro setting, there is something special for me about comforting humble French food, simple but yet packed with bold and big flavours and it is not easy to find a good place in London that can produce such quality at a decent price. But Galvin Cafe a Vin is definitely one of those restaurants. Located next to the 1 Michelin starred Galvin la Chapelle, It's excellent price fix menu sounded just too good to miss, at £16.50, you get two courses with a glass of wine. This kind of cost in a smart cosy setting is almost impossible in London, and not to mention that Cafe a Vin itself has a Michelin Bib Gourmand for its excellent cooking at great value.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Corner Room

Quality modern European cuisine

Corner Room

Town Hall Hotel in perhaps best known for its Michelin starred restaurant Viajante by Nuno Mendes which was closed in 2014. Since then, the open space which was left has been rebranded to Typing Room and headed up by Lee Westcott and backed by restauranteur Jason Atherton. But what most people don't know is that there is another restaurant called Corner Room. It is much more relaxed than Typing Room at a more affordable price. For example, a tasting menu at Typing Room costs £75 but Corner Room costs £45. Head chef John Christie had a long track record of working at some of the top restaurants in the UK including Hibiscus and Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Launceston Place

Innovative high level fine fining

salmon belly, shrimp tapioca

My ninth visit to the one Michelin starred Launceston Place, I am a big fan of Head chef's Tim Allen's innovative modern European cuisine, taking the best ingredients that are in season and delivering a taste bud sensation with modern cooking techniques and creative ideas. With a charming and highly professional service at a very reasonable price, it is hard not to fall in love with Launceston Place. The tasting menu affair has become somewhat of a habit of mine every once a while as there are always some new and interesting elements to explore every time when I try it and it never disappoints me.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Blackfoot Bar and Backroom Dining

Pork joy

Blackfoot, photo from management
Blackfoot has always been on my to try list since it was launched a few years ago, I am a big fan of pork and when a fine cut of pork is done properly, it can easily rival a fine piece of beef. Blackfoot was relaunched as Blackfoot Bar and Backroom Dining with a cocktail bar at the front of the restaurant with a shorter dinner menu but with the pork dishes remaining as the main focus. We visited for a birthday celebration, and with 7 of us, we managed to try several dishes between us.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Noob's Father's day whisky gift guide

My top picks

1) Balvenie Portwood 21 Years Old
Big on flavour, the port cask offered a full body texture and mellow sweetness.

To create The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years, a marriage of rare Balvenie is transferred to port casks, or pipes, which have held fine port wines. Here it is sampled regularly by The Balvenie Malt Master to ensure that just the right amount of character is imparted by the port casks, enhancing and developing the single malt whilst preserving its original characteristics. 

RRP: £132

2) Glenfiddich 18 Years Old

One of my personal favourite, a very good value for money whisky, well balanced in flavours.

Fine Spanish Oloroso wood and American oak to mature this rich, intriguingly fruity and robust oak expression, but there are many more reasons why this expression is special. Every batch is individually numbered and carefully watched over. Each has extraordinary consistency and character from an intense marrying period, and a warming, distinguished finish. A truly exceptional single malt, the result not just of eighteen years of care and attention, but of whisky-making craft and knowledge passed down through the generations.

RRP: £60

3) Mortlach 18 Years Old

A new whisky from one of the most respected distillery, this whisky is all about delivering rich and bold flavours.

A very compelling, moreish and appetising Mortlach for those who like their whisky robust. Astonishingly complex throughout and characterised by a fine interplay of meaty notes, malty sweetness and balancing citrus.

RRP: £150

4) Highland Park 21 Years Old

For the peaty whisky lovers, a smoky whisky with a settled sweet finishing.

Drawing its incredible character from predominantly American oak casks which have been seasoned with sherry, the 21 year old is a truly dynamic whisky, with an intensely fruity and spicy centre, surrounded by complex layers of candied orange peel, dark chocolate and rich, slightly drier smoke. It is a malt whisky that rewards patience and delivers an experience like no other.

RRP: £140

5) Dalmore King Alexander

Don't get fooled by the none age statement, a complex beast with multi layers of taste sensation.

Crafted to honour the act of saving Scotland’s King in 1263, this expression unites six specially selected casks housing spirit of perfect maturity. Whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherry wood, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are brought together in perfect harmony. Each cask gives its own flavour notes, delivering a unique complex single malt whisky revered by connoisseurs.

RRP: £120

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Lobos Meat and Tapas

Iberico fest

Hand carved acorn fed Iberico ham

There are plenty to choose from when you are searching for a casual but high level Tapas Bar in London, from the trendy Morito in Exmouth Market to the Michelin starred Barrafina in Soho. Spanish food is one the very best types of cuisine in the world with its bold but fresh flavours focusing on high quality ingredients. Located in London Bridge, Lobos is a brand new meat and tapas bar operated by a trio who used to work for the ever popular Tapas Brindisa. Lobos championed itself specialising in prime cuts of Iberico pork as well as some simple classic tapa dishes. Iberico pork is some of the finest and luxurious meat in the world so I was very excited about my visit at its launch day.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Grain Store

Green affair?

Opened back in 2013, Grain Store by Bruno Loubet is one of the most popular restaurants in the King Cross area. It champions itself using vegetables as the star element in its cooking and meat acts as a supporting cast which was something very uncommon back then. Cooking with vegetables and turning them into something sensational is not a simple task, but Bruno Loubet has a reputation of turning humble items into something memorable and judging from the popularity of Grain Store with a second one due to open in Clerkenwell, it seems like it is a proven successful formula. 

Thursday 11 June 2015

Ultimate Bartender Championship

Monkey Shoulder's Ultimate Bartender Championship Final

Tin Can Ally, monkey shoulder, Peychaud's bitters, fernet branca, gunpowder, smoke

The long awaited Monkey Shoulder event of the year has finally arrived, the Ultimate Bartender Championship Final, a chance for the winning cocktail bar team to have their own pop up bar at London Cocktail Week. I was really gutted to missed out on last year's competition due to holiday so I was super excited to finally get the chance to attend this year's event and I was told this year is going to be even bigger and better thanks to this Youtube clip. The event was held at The Yard on Worship Street in Shoreditch, a massive studio space with plenty of entertainment and excitement provided by the Monkey Shoulder team as well as the three competing bars.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Bull In A China Shop

Whisky and Chicken

Bull In A China Shop

Bull in a China Shop is a brand new Asia whisky bar that's located in East London, just a few minutes walk away from Shoreditch High Street overground station. I am a massive fan of Japanese Whisky and there are simply not enough bars out there taking advantage of such a wonderful product, good Japanese Whisky can rival any fine Scotch, so I was really excited to find out about Bull in a China Shop, and the launch seems to be very successful with a majority of the national press giving it a thumbs up.

Monday 8 June 2015

Jacob’s Gourmet Snacktails

Jacob’s Cracker Crisps

Seaside aroma

I love crisps, the rich savoury taste is such a treat and works well as a snack with cocktails, so when Jacobs came up with their brand new cracker crisps with matching cocktails at The Town Hall Hotel in London, I was really excited about it. London is blessed with some world class cocktail bars, from Happiness Forget to the Artesian, these bars are capable of creating innovative cocktails as well as perfecting timeless classics. But Matt Whiley from The Peg + Patriot is pushing even further with some very creative and unexpected cocktails to match Jacob's new products which tasted define as well as challenging yours drinking experience not just in taste, but also in aroma, sight and concept. 

Sunday 7 June 2015


Crafty BBQ


I discovered Hotbox when I visited the Yelp's Mad Scientist Soirée and they were there dishing out some very impressive pork ribs, so good that I decided to visit Hotbox the actual restaurant itself to try out other items on the menu. Once a trendy street food vendor, it is now permanently located at Spitalfields with a basement bar which seems to be a very popular drinking joint for a weekend night out in The City. Every item on the menu looked very tempting so I ended up going for the Hotbox selection to give me a chance to try out pretty much every single smoked item on the regular menu. 

Wednesday 3 June 2015

The Lockhart

US high end cuisine?

The Lockhart, photo from management

There aren't many high end American restaurants in London, in fact, I struggled to name one apart from The Lockhart. For the last 6 months, The Lockhart had gathered some very positive reviews from the press and highly rated from good number of bloggers, and that was one of the main reasons why I decided to give the place a try. The decor is spacey with an open kitchen and the menu is in your standard a la carte format, short with a good number of smoked dishes as expected from a Southern US themed restaurant.

Monday 1 June 2015

Song Que Cafe

Causal Vietnamese goodness

Song Que Cafe, photo from management

Kingsland Road in Shoreditch is blessed with some top Vietnamese restaurants, there is just something special about Vietnamese cuisine that I absolutely adore, the refreshing flavours with bold and powerful tastes, for me is like a mixture of Thai and Chinese cuisine with a soft French touch (Vietnam is ex-colony of France). Song Que Cafe is renown for its good value Vietnamese cooking, nothing fancy, just simple classic dishes at a very affordable price.