Tag Archives: time out

Bucket List No 2. Enjoy a 5 star afternoon tea / No 676. Enjoy a hotel tea

5 Oct

Afternoon tea is brilliant.  You get to eat all that stuff that’s not so good for you, but it’s served up so daintily that you really don’t care. Mostly though, it’s the whole ceremony of making time with people and spoiling yourself which is so much fun.

Apparently, afternoon tea came about in the early 1800’s. Traditionally, two main meals were eaten – an early breakfast and an evening dinner. How did people cope?! Well Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, couldn’t and started having tea and a snack in the afternoon to keep her going. At first secretly, but then word spread and well to do friends started joining her and so the afternoon tea tradition was born.

Afternoon tea

Girl’s day out

If you’re going to do this, you need to spoil yourself. I took my mum to the Dorchester and we absolutely loved it. Partly because it all felt so decadent – the staff are lovely, the room where tea is served is stunning with a live pianist, but also because it is one of the first girl’s dates we’ve had in a very long time.

Swit swoo!

Swit swoo!

After some wise advice from a friend at work, we paced ourselves. The regular process of afternoon tea is sandwiches, followed by scones and finishing off with cakes and pastries. It’s the scones that will take you down, especially when served with clotted cream, so go easy on them and save some space for the end.

Less scones = more of these

Less scones = more of these

We even got an extra little something of white chocolate, pear sauce and a sliver of gold before the scones. The Dorchester, unsurprisingly, know how to do a cracking afternoon tea.

This is the perfect girlie day out so take your besties, your sister, your mum or all of them and book yourself a swanky afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea at the Dorchester from £45



No 141-145. Eat fine Vietnamese food

30 Jun

The Shoreditch end of Kingsland Road is known for Vietnamese restaurants serving excellent and authentic grub.  We headed there yesterday for the next Time Out adventure.

There are four eateries recommended (links below) but in the interests of my waistline I chose just one, a place called Mien Tay which serves south western Vietnamese food.

We started with salt, pepper and chilli squid, prawn rolls and vegetable spring rolls served in traditional baskets, and chicken satay.

You may have eaten these dishes before, but not cooked like this.  The lightly battered squid was perfectly seasoned, the rolls were crispy with a generous filling  and the chicken satay was tender with plenty of sauce.

We moved on to shrimp clay pot curry as well as a chicken version, beautifully made with a smooth coconut flavour.  We sampled sea bream with fish sauce and mango which I loved in spite of not being a big fish eater.  Last but not least, my personal favourite of stir fried goat with lemon grass and chilli which was a moreish balance of spicy and sour.

You can taste the unusual combination of flavours with every bite, even the dishes with chilli which have a gentle heat rather than blow your head off, face glistening levels of spiciness.

The décor in Mien Tay is basic with some unusual touches (look out for the Vietnamese landscapes under the glass table tops) but it’s the food not the interior which is the highlight here.

Reasonably priced with mouthwatering dishes, one visit will ensure Mien Tay stays high on your list of places to eat in London.

http://www.mientay.co.uk/shoreditch Mien Tay, 122 Kingsland Road, E2 8DS, 020 7729 3074

http://songque.co.uk  Song Que, 134 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY, 020 7613 3222

http://www.quevietrestaurant.co.uk/  Que Viet, 102 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP, 020 7033 0588

http://namo.co.uk/  Namo, 178 Victoria Park Road, E9 7HD, 020 8533 0639

Coming up:  Time to work off some of my recent eating excursions with a visit to the London Fields Lido…

No 3. Eat in the Pie Room at the Newman Arms

20 Jun

Food is one of life’s pleasures and I absolutely love it, so I was really looking forward to this one.

The Newman Arms is a small, dark and dingy pub which looks (and smells) like a proper, old London boozer but it was packed with people, so is clearly a local favourite. 

The Pie Room upstairs is completely different.  Lighter, airier and a bit like being in an eccentric aunt’s living room.  A jumble of ceramic plates line the shelves, a boat hangs up by the menu and deer antlers are mounted on one wall.  There’s also a fireplace which would make this a lovely, cosy place for dinner come the winter.

The menu features seven pies which vary slightly throughout the year (lighter in summer, meatier in winter). 

My brother, sister in law and I went for the beef and Guinness pie.  The puff pastry on top towered above the pie dish and was filled with tender pieces of beef and richly flavoured gravy.  The veggie sides of carrots, velvety mash and cauliflower cheese were another tasty touch. 

My other half, rather unusually, went for a meat-free option of stilton and mushroom suet pudding, which was the waitress’s favourite and equally delicious.

Then there’s the dessert menu which reads like the best of British.  We treated ourselves to sticky toffee and bread and butter pudding with ice-cream and custard.

With a decent list of ales on offer, this is the perfect place for a pie and a pint – or in our case, a pie and a pudding – and we left feeling like four fat but very happy frogs.

http://newmanarms.co.uk/pie-room Pies £12.50, Suet Puddings £10.95, Puddings £4.50

No 1. Take in the view from Tower Bridge

11 Jun

Tower Bridge

This is not the first bridge most people think to visit in London.  Waterloo, London and Westminster Bridges tend to attract the lion’s share of tourists. 

I wandered down on a sunny Sunday and in spite of the glorious 27C temperatures, the atmosphere was laidback and relaxed.  Sure there were tourists, but nothing like the swarm you find around the aforementioned central London bridges. 

There’s no doubt about it, this is a beautiful view of London.  There’s a gentle breeze blowing, the Thames below you, the Tower of London standing imposingly next to you and landmarks like the Gherkin and the Shard across the water.  

The craziest part is this place is only a 15 minute walk from where I live!  It makes you wonder how often we obliviously walk past these parts of London, that people the world over come to see.

Think about your commute in when you have your headphones in, you’re buried in the Metro and trying to avoid eye contact with anyone.  I’ll bet you can think of a beautiful London view that you pass every day without giving it a second thought.

Lesson learnt – stop and smell the roses and really see London!

The Shard and City Hall

The Gherkin