Tag

London

Browsing

I first heard about Maître Choux on Twitter after one of my followers retweeted an article about the newly opened shop. The pictures of their eclairs, choux and chouquettes sold the deal for me. I was definitely going to make the trip to buy some fluffy pieces of heaven.

Brainchild of Joakim Prat, he has a rather impressive Michelin starred resume and has been working with choux pastry for over 15 years. Joakim came to London to work as Head Chef for Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier, then went on to Mayfair’s The Greenhouse. He also held the same position at Can Fabes in Barcelona, which has resulted in making Maître Choux the only UK pastry shop with a three Michelin star experienced chef.

Only a few minutes from the underground station, Maître Choux is situated in the, what seems to be, the French Quarter of South Kensington. Perfect location for a French patisserie. It was the last day of our trip to London and I was adamant that I was going to buy some goodies to take back to Glasgow so that my mom, fellow member of the chocolate eclair appreciation society could try one. Or two. 

Walking along Harrington Road, we weren’t quite sure if we were in the right location but then I spotted the unique colourful shop front and the wonderful full length glass window giving passers by a rather tempting glimpse of the full array of eclairs they offer. Swoon.

Maître Choux- Shop Front

When we entered Maître Choux, a friendly waitress offered us a warm chouquette while browsing and Ross ordered a Monmouth coffee espresso. My little beady eyes instantly spotted pistachio eclairs and choux. Boy did they look good. In fact, everything did!

Maître Choux sell eclairs and choux in a range of flavours- Pure Arabica Coffee, Spanish Raspberry Pink, Italian Lemon Meringue, Persian Pistachio, Tahitian Vanilla and Pecan, Salted Butter with Homemade Caramel, Very Dark Multi-Origin Chocolate, Violet and Wild Berries and lastly Tiramisu.

Maître Choux- Eclairs

Maître Choux- Choux

After much debate, we settled on a box containing Tahitian Vanilla and Pecan, Very Dark Multi-Origin Chocolate, Pure Arabica Coffee, Italian Lemon Meringue and two Persian Pistachio. I may have also purchased a Persian Pistachio choux thrown in for good measure to eat while walking around South Kensington.

Maître Choux- Eclair Purchases

At around £5 for an eclair and just over £3 for choux, they aren’t cheap by any measure. However, if you look at the list of high quality ingredients, time, effort and design that goes into each individual pastry, it is well worth it.

They transported well back on the plane to Glasgow and I’m led to believe that it was their first time ever on an aeroplane! I’m also happy to report that they tasted as good as they looked. My favourite, other than the Persian Pistachio, was Pure Arabica Coffee. Delicious.

Maître Choux- Persian Pistachio Eclair

After a few bites, they were all gone. Now I’m back to my eclair-less existence. It’s a dark dark place.If you’re in London, make sure you add Maître Choux to your go-to list. You won’t regret it!

Maître Choux
15 Harrington Road
London, SW7 3ES
Tel: 020 3583 4561
Web: http://www.maitrechoux.com

After flying into London City Airport, making our way into Central London to leave our luggage at Kings Cross Station, it was definitely time for some well deserved food. We had plans to go see Wicked that evening so we needed something substantial that would fill us up, keeping the hunger monsters at bay. Honest Burgers did just that.

Ross had raved about Honest Burgers as he previously had one of their special burgers, onion rings and chicken wings while he was in town for the London Coffee Festival and was adamant that I should try it.

Even though they have Honest Burgers Locations dotted all over London, trusty Google Maps ensured us that it was only a stone’s throw away from Kings Cross. My tired sore feet were rejoicing. Being a Bank Holiday, we weren’t quiet sure if they’d be open but luckily they were and were able to get a table without any difficultly. A rare occurrence in London for the most part.

The menu is petite, pretty much like the restaurant, but the food sure does pack a punch. I opted for the Tribute Burger (£10) after playing a game of eenie meenie miney mo. My burger was topped with bacon (naturally, you can never have too much bacon, as long as it’s crispy!), American cheese, burger sauce, French’s mustard, onions, pickles and lettuce. Ross decided to try the namesake Honest Burger (£10) which was topped with red onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, picked cucumber and lettuce. Our waitress asked if we’d like our burgers medium, definitely. It’s the best way to enjoy a burger in my opinion.

What I love about Honest Burgers (other than the great ingredients they use) is that all burgers come with fries. Not just any fries though, skin-on rosemary fries. It’s a nuisance at times having to order separate fries, or should I say actually remember to. As we were starving and my boyfriend is a human dustbin, we also got BBQ Chicken Wings and Onion Rings on the side.

Honest Burgers, Kings Cross, London

We didn’t have to wait long before our food was in front of us. First impressions? It looked rather inviting with the cheese oozing down the sides. Oh boy. I’m currently salivating. 

Upon first bite, the burger was full of flavour. You could taste the fresh ingredients and as I was battling to not let the cheese drip onto my white t-shirt, I proclaimed that this was the best burger I had ever tasted. High praise indeed. I may have had my mouth full of juicy burger goodness at said time as well. The beef did all the talking, the combination of toppings were icing on the burger cake. It was divine. A joy to eat. 

Honest Burgers, Kings Cross, London- Tribute Burger and Rosemary Fries

A little pet peeve of mine is when burger restaurants ask how you’d like your burger cooked and what you get in front of you is not what you asked for. If they state that their burgers come medium or even recommend it themselves, ensure it is medium and not well done. Luckily, Honest Burgers get it right. It was perfectly pink.

Honest Burgers, Kings Cross, London- Tribute Burger

Mid burger munch, I tried the skin-on rosemary fries. Perfectly seasoned, these fries were crisped to perfection. Marvellous. Not too crispy, not too limp. I loved the addition of rosemary which was different to the norm you’d get at other burger outlets. I couldn’t get enough of them. Cheesy thumbs up from me!

Sadly, I was a little let down with the rings and wings, which I hate to admit. As I bit into an onion ring, it was rather watery which in turn made them slightly flavourless. The BBQ Chicken Wings on the other hand were nice but a little underwhelming compared to the burgers. I adore chicken wings, but I just can’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong with them, maybe the tangy sweet BBQ sauce?

My boyfriend who has ordered both of these sides in the past even admitted himself that they were “different” this time. Both were edible but not as rememberable as the burger. 

Honest Burgers, Kings Cross, London- BBQ Chicken Wings

It’s hard to fault a place when the staff are so friendly, attentive & always had a smile of their faces. I loved the décor and the chilled out relaxed vibe. Prices weren’t as expensive as I thought they were going to be and unlike some places I’ve eaten in, there was no rush to get you out the door as soon as you had finished your food. The food, for the most part, was superb hence the high overall score and I would honest-ly (heh!) go back in a heartbeat.

Now if only they’d open in Glasgow…. until then, see you soon Honest Burgers

Click to add a blog post for Honest Burgers on Zomato

Growing up in the Middle East exposed me to Lebanese and Gulf Arabic food. I instantly fell in love with dishes such as falafel, tabouli, kebbeh, shawarma, fatayer and machboos laham to name a few. When I moved back to Scotland, it soon became apparent that I would find it rather hard to get my hands on my favourite food.

Ahead of my current trip to London with Ross, I asked my twitter followers for Lebanese restaurant suggestions. Noura Restaurant spotted my tweet and invited me to dine at their Belgravia restaurant. After checking our their menu, reviews and realising it was only a short journey away from our hotel, we booked a table. 

We were welcomed by owner Hani Bou Antoun who talked us through the extensive menu. In the end, I left it to Hani to choose our dishes as quite frankly, I couldn’t choose. Hani picked some popular dishes for us a try and it turned into a feast! To complement our dishes, Hani suggested we try his favourite Lebanese Wine, Ixsir Grande Reserve Red 2010. The wine is a mixture of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, perfect to accompany red meat. 

Our waiter brought us a bowl of crudités to snack on along with a basket of fresh Lebanese bread which they make in-house. Not quite sure how lady like it is to snack on a whole cucumber and tomato in public though!

Not before long, our selection of hot and cold mezze started appearing at the table as and when they were ready. It didn’t take long for our table to be overloaded. Everything looked too good to eat and smelt wonderful. 

The first dishes we tried were the cold mezze; hummous (puree of chickpeas with sesame oil and lemon)moutabbal (puree of grilled aubergine with sesame seed oil and lemon juice) and tabbouleh (parsley, crushed wheat, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice and olive oil). 

Using our fresh bread, I scooped up some hummous to try. It was the smoothest I had ever tasted. I couldn’t get enough. By far the best hummous I had the pleasure of tasting. I asked Hani how they made it and he revealed the secret was blending the chickpeas with ice cubes. By using ice cubes, it helps to regulate the temperature while ensuring that it’s the smoothest it can possibly be.

I personally wasn’t a fan of the moutabbal, Ross loved it though and almost finished the entire bowl himself. There wasn’t any wrong with the dish, I’m just not a fan of blended aubergine or the texture. 

Tabbouleh has always been a favourite of mine and I haven’t had it in years. Upon first taste, you could tell how fresh the produce were. It was clean, crisp and well-balanced. A beautiful delicious salad. It worked well in the bread with some hummous added for good measure. 

Following the cold mezze, we were presented with plates of kebbeh (lamb and cracked wheat shell filled with seasoned minced lamb and pine kernels)sojok (spicy sausages), rikakat (filo pastry filled with mixed cheese), arayess (Lebanese bread filled with seasoned minced lamb and pine kernels) and my all time favourite falafel (bean croquettes chickpeas, garlic and sesame oil).

Kebbeh is one of my favourite Lebanese dishes and Noura did not disappoint. They were utterly mouth-watering. Lebanese food is designed to be shared and I reluctantly shared them with Ross as he had never tried them before. Instant hit with the boyfriend. I added some hummous with kebbeh onto my fork, great combination. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Hani recommended that we tried the spicy sausages, sojok, which were one of his favourites. The beef sausage meat are mixed with lots of garlic and a mix of aromatic spices. The intensity of the garlic is what you are first met with but luckily, it does not overpower the sausages. I could only eat a few though as I still had to try so many other dishes. 

It’s no secret that I adore falafel. I cannot get enough of it. I can honestly say that the falafel I tried at Noura‘s were the best I’ve ever had. They were beautifully crisp on the outside, soft and flavourful in the inside. Words cannot express how much I loved them. Dipped into some tahini as well as hummous along with some of the fresh bread, sensational.  I want them right now as I’m writing this.

Rikakat are little spring rolls normally with a mix of feta and cheddar cheese along with herbs and then deep-fried. They are delicious little parcels of pastry, simple to make and wonderful as little snacks. I could snack on these hot or cold. Yum!

We still had more food to try but if I ate anything else at that moment in time, I’d burst. Unfortunately I did not try the arayess so left it up to Ross to try. They are rather similar to quesadillas, with the Lebanese bread being filled with minced lamb, pine nuts and toasted. Ross likened them to a kebbeh sandwich and that does sound rather good to me! Will need to save that for next time.

Managing to find some space, Ross & I shared the Mixed Grill. Noura‘s version comes with three skewers of chargrilled meat; lahm meshwi (lamb), shish taouk (marinated chicken) and kafta meshwiyeh (minced lamb) along with a fattoush salad (mixed salad, lettuce, tomatoes, mint, sumak, onion and fried Lebanese bread). Each skewer was perfectly cooked on charcoal, lahm meshwi and shish taouk being personal favourites. Sometimes when you ordered meat that has been cooked on charcoals, it can be overcooked and dry. Thankfully, Noura impressed me yet again with flavorful, succulent and mouth-watering pieces of meat. Perfect scooped up with some hummous and Lebanese bread.

Noura Belgravia- Mixed Grill

After a well deserved break and chatting with Hani about the food, we were unexpectedly given a plate of baklawa and a selection of ice creams which are made in-house. I’ve loved baklawa ever since I was a child, I think that is where my love for anything pistachio based comes from. The baklawa we were given were so light and soft. Thankfully they weren’t heavy as I doubt I could have handled them. Hani informed us that they used to make the baklawa in-house but when the chef making the baklawa opened his own bakery, they now order from him instead.

The ice cream selections (chocolate, mango, vanilla and strawberry) were smooth and creamy. The strawberry and mango were more like a sorbet and very well received after the amount of food we ate, but in all honestly, I could only fit in a little spoonful before resigning to the fact that I was well and truly stuffed.

Overall, the food I tasted at Noura, has to have been one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I’ve missed good quality, authentic, home-style healthy Lebanese food and I now know where I’ll be returning on my future visits to London. The staff were very friendly and attentive throughout, even when the restaurant was filling up. It is a little on the pricey side for some dishes, but the quality of ingredients and  food produced makes it value for money. 

What I loved about the restaurant, other than the food, was the vast amount of Arabic friends, families and embassy staff dining at the restaurant, the sign of a good Lebanese restaurant. If you are in the area or visiting London, Noura is not to be missed. 

Disclaimer: I was invited by  Noura Restaurant as a guest in return for a review. Whilst my meal was complimentary, I was under no obligation to write a positive review and my comments reflect my true experience that evening.

Click to add a blog post for Noura on Zomato

Sometimes, all you really need is a little break away from the reality of your daily life. Ross & I did just that by recently spending 72 hours in London. We both went to London last summer and spent 3 great days exploring the city, seeing a musical, touring coffee shops, discovering new restaurants and shopping. This time around, we pretty much did the same.

Monday

We flew down to London City Airport with British Airways. This is definitely the best way to get to London and also so much handier than dealing with Gatwick or Heathrow Airport, not to mention the dreaded rail services. Oh and children. Screaming children.

72 hours in London- Glasgow Airport

Our first port of call after hopping on the DLR and Underground? Kings Cross Station to drop our baggage in the left luggage area so we could roam around before checking into our apartment at 3pm for the night. We fought our way through Norwich and Middlesbrough fans then headed straight for the closest Honest Burgers. Thanks to prior research and Google Maps, it was only a 5 minute walk away, in basking sunshine. I’m going to be posting up a separate review of Honest Burgers so keep a look out for that in the next few days.

72 hours in London- Honest Burgers

As we still had a few hours to go before checking into the apartment, Ross dragged took me to a few coffee shops that he had previously been to during the London Coffee Festival and his subsequent coffee tour. My favourite place? Shoreditch Grind, just outside of Old Street Station. We visited this place several times in the space of 24 hours and we couldn’t get enough of their espresso, iced coffee and cold brew on tap. It’s definitely a must visit if you are nearby.

I was lucky enough to book a Smart City Apartment on City Road (Islington) during their annual flash sale. Instead of around £230 a night, we got a two bedroom apartment for £1. Yes, just £1. Bargain. You could only get the apartment at a reduced rate for one night so for the next night, we booked into the Lancaster London right next to Hyde Park.

After a much-needed dog cat nap, it was time to make our way to the Apollo Theatre to see Wicked. I’ve been dying to see Wicked for years and missed out getting tickets for the Glasgow tour. As a lovely gesture, Ross’s dad bought us two tickets as my birthday present. I’ve never been so excited! The show was mesmerizing. I loved every part of it. The singing was sensational. If you’ve never seen it, you definitely should!

72 hours in London- Wicked Apollo Theatre

Tuesday

We checked out of the apartment and made our way to Shoreditch to explore the area, check out Brooklyn Coffee on Commercial Street and then grab some lunch at Old Spitalfields Market. We had a Turkish lamb wrap from an unknown stall, Roast Chicken with a mix of salads from Le Camion Gourmand, an amazing green grass-covered food truck and mixed fries from Bleecker Street. There was so much food to choose from and so little time. I really need to go back again to try more of the stalls!

72 hours in London- Shoreditch Street Art

Afterwards, we made our way to our new hotel, Lancaster London, before heading to do some shopping on Oxford Street. We made a bee line for Selfridges Food Hall. Forget clothes shopping, London is all about food for me. We picked up lots of pistachio chocolate, chilli marinades and other little gifts amongst other things. After a little wonder on Oxford Street picking up bits & bobs, we returned to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

72 hours in London- Oxford Street

We were dining at Noura, a Lebanese restaurant in Belgravia. I adore Lebanese food and in Glasgow, it’s rather hard to find an authentic restaurant that does the food justice. A separate review of Noura will be up on my blog rather soon, full of photographs, taken by an Architectural Photographer, that will make you want to reach in and grab the food from our plates. It was delicious and I could eat everything we had ordered all over again, right now.

72 hours in London- Noura Lebanese Belgravia

Wednesday

It was time for us to get ready to leave our surroundings, check out the hotel and leave our bags for the day until we headed back to London City Airport that evening. Lancaster London is situated right on the doorstep of Hyde Park and next to Lancaster Gate Underground Station on the Central line. Apart from its amazing location, sadly there wasn’t much else that was positive.

72 hours in London- Lancaster London Hotel

The hotel room we were given was very outdated and tired. The upholstery was torn on the chair and curtains ripped. Don’t get me started on the elevators. Out of four elevators in the hotel, only one was working. The others were out-of-order or used by room service. After almost 15 minutes waiting for an elevator with room on it, a staff member appeared and took us to the back of the hotel down the service elevator that staff members use. Not very customer friendly but definitely appreciate the staff member who helped us! Sadly, I doubt I will ever stay at this hotel again. If you class yourself as a 4 star hotel, the rooms and facilities should mirror that.

Our last day was spent around South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Covent Garden and Soho. To start our day, I dragged Ross to the Natural History Museum. I adore looking at Dinosaurs and other Mammals. We had to wait over 45 minutes just to enter the museum and then another 20 minutes to get close to the Dinosaur exhibition. I wasn’t very impressed with the exhibits though. The museum was so busy that you couldn’t get a great view, people were shoving you and almost everything is behind glass which makes all your photographs terrible. A very big let down.

72 hours in London- Natural History Museum

To cheer me up, we went to Maître Choux who make faboulous éclairs, choux and chouquettes. I discovered them via twitter and were on my must visit list, especially after discovering they have a line up of Pistachio choux. I loved the little shop and bought a box full of Ã©clairs to take with me back to Glasgow (the first time their products have been on a plane as well!). I’m glad to say they arrived in one piece, they weren’t squashed and tasted sensational. Well worth the price!

After a little pit stop for coffee and a much-needed trip to Harrods Food Hall, buying lots of things we didn’t really need, we headed for lunch to one of our favourite places, Homeslice in Neals Yard, Covent Garden. We first came here last year, waiting almost 30 minutes for a table for one of their infamous 20″ pizzas for £20. Luckily, as we were grabbing lunch, there were a few free tables. Instead of getting the Salami pizza again, we decided to change things up and get a half & half. Half Salami and Half Beef Brisket. We adored the pizza last year, proclaimed it as the best pizza in the UK. This year? Well, the base of the pizza was extremely salty, I actually had to brush salt off of the base to eat it. The flavours of the toppings as per usual were great. It’s a shame because when they get it right, they are amazing. Is it still the best pizza in the UK? I’ll hold off answering that until the next time I’m in London.

72 hours in London- Homeslice Neals Yard

We crammed a lot into our 72 hours in London but even then, it didn’t seem enough. I try to plan as much as possible so we can optimise our time. My legs and feet were well and truly damaged and after returning to Glasgow, I felt like I needed another little staycation to get over London!

Until next time though, my must visit list is ever-growing….