30 September 2013

Union Street Cafe

When I read in the tabloids that the new restaurant Gordon Ramsay was opening with his buddy David Beckham was fully booked for dinner until Christmas, I was intrigued. Why so much excitement? Was Beckham going to personally greet and seat guests? Would it be the new hotspot, crawling with celebrities?

Turns out that Beckham connection with this restaurant was actually false. Either that or it fell through. Instead it's said that they intend to open a chain of pie and mash shops together. And that's fine by me.

I wore my Paul & Joe bird-print dress. I bought this dress last year and it's only had one outing. It was time for another!

So, all this publicity for the Union Street Cafe was never going to hurt. As dinner was apparently out of the question until 2014, I reserved a table for lunch. I was meeting my Mum at Fenchurch Street station so the 'middle-of-nowhere' Southwark location of the restaurant wasn't too inconvenient. 

Although the outside of the building isn't particularly attractive, as soon as we walked through the doors we were greeted by the smiling faces of the staff and taken to our seats next to the big, bright windows. The decor is what I would call 'industrial chic' with visible pipes and metal struts stretching the length of the ceiling. Very 'New York loft'.

I enjoyed peering into the kitchen which was set up high. Also a coup for the chefs who were often peeping over to see who they were cooking for.

The Italian cuisine changes daily and most of the ingredients are fresh from Borough Market just down the road. We had many questions about the hand-written menu and our waiter was more than happy to answer them all.

The tables were laid out so prettily with a little bunch of fresh flowers and a basket of bread, olive oil and a homemade roasted vegetable dip. 

As an aperitif, we ordered the very moreish olive fritters along with the ricotta and walnut bruschetta.

Mum had a raspberry gin cocktail (but no such bubbles for me - my month-long detox had already begun).

I decided upon the gnocchi with robiola cheese and crispy bacon as a starter, Mum went with the mushroom and hazelnut risotto. 

Mum was thrilled with her risotto which she said was cooked to perfection (al dente baby!). My gnocchi soft and luscious in a light but creamy sauce. A delicious and filling start!

My main course, however, was not so exciting. The lamb neck, served with wild mushrooms and polenta, was nice but it just felt like it was lacking something. The meat was undeniably tender but the dish was too dry in the thin gravy. Generally a little uninspiring. The mushrooms were great though.

Luckily for Mum, she was blown away by her scorfano fish with raindow chard and capers.

For dessert I had the traditional Italian semifreddo all'arancia & chocolate.

It was creamy and sweet, the combination of the chocolate and marmalade flavour, delicious. It definitely clawed the meal back for me after my underwhelming main course.

Overall, it was a very pleasant lunch in a nice atmosphere. I'm not sure there was anything that would make me return here rather than any other decent Italian in a more convenient part of London but it was nice to try another string in the bow of Mr Ramsay's empire.

Union Street Cafe
Bar Service
Waiter Service
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27 September 2013

Jimmy's Bath

Hello. You may recognise me. I am Jimmy Chew.

I'm a Keeshond and I'm almost 2 years old.

Look at me run!

I decided to hijack Mum's blog for the second time to tell you about the recent torment she's put me through. 

And that hardship was a bath. Oh yes! How is it even allowed that such a thing can be inflicted upon a nice fluffy boy like me? Surely there's a helpline number I can call...

The initial problem I encountered was my love of everyone I meet. I really love the bath lady. I knew deep down why she was at the house; her big scary table being a large clue. But I just had to trust her to get her cuddles! Maybe that was why she was here after all?

That's when I spotted the brushes and the dryer.  I hid immediately in the most secluded place I could find.

She'd never get me here!

But the temptation of meaty treats got the better of me.  Before I knew it, I was hooked up on the dreaded table.

It makes me look like I'm on death row  

The bath lady - Mum calls her Anita - brushed me (I don't like being brushed) and clipped my nails (I hate being clipped). 

I let her get on with it without giving her too many issues as I knew that this time there was no way she was getting me in the bath. She managed it six months ago but this time, I was prepared! 

Not this time sister!


This wasn't funny. Mum was just amused and kept taking photos. 

How could they both do this to me??

And everything just got wetter and wetter.  At one point the distress of it all just got too much and I froze with my head under the tap. 

Bath lady said I was silly but I'd just given up hope of coming out of this ordeal in one piece. I bet no other dogs have a life as hard as I do.

I may never forgive Mum for this!! 

Well, unless she gives me one of those lamb bones.

Eventually the water stopped and the bath lady tried to make it up to me by giving me cuddles in a towel. 

I wasn't feeling very forgiving.

I darted out of the bath and got my own back by shaking my wet fur all over Mum and the bath lady!  Muhahahaha!

Unfortunately I was then forced back onto the evil table for drying and more grooming. Afterwards, Mum said I looked beautiful.

Personally, I prefer 'extremely handsome'

Very soon after, Mum was forgiven.

Until next time, this is Jimmy Chew signing off!

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23 September 2013

Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Connaught

Caroline               Beth

My Alex knows me well. During a recent charity auction at his work to raise money for Starlight Children's Foundation, he decided to bid for something he knew would be right up my street....Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at the Connaught. Something for me to get very excited about as well as it all being for a wonderful cause (the charity I mean, not me!).

I invited my friend Beth along. She's jetting off to to the sun in Sydney for a year and this was the last time I'd see her before she left. I thought it would be a sweet send off for her. 

It turns out that The Connaught Hotel is very grand. In hindsight, I probably should have dressed up a little more than I did but I'd decided to wear my comfy Juicy Couture dress and Kurt Geiger over-the-knee suede boots.

Our glasses of Laurent-Perrier champagne were poured, we ordered two pots of pomegranate tea and awaited arrival of the cakes! 

I couldn't help but let out a squeal of delight when they arrive at the table in all their glory. Beautifully presented pastries, cakes and delicious looking finger sandwiches.

The cakes were very nice - a real mix of tastes and textures. But it was the sandwiches that I couldn't leave alone!  We ended up ordering a refill of the ploughman's pickle with montgomery cheddar cheese and - one of my favourite sandwich fillings ever - the coronation chicken with crunchy apple.

Then more cakes and a basket of scones with cream and preserves arrived!

We worked our way through all of them...and ordered more to take away! 

But I accidentally left them in the ladies toilet. Damn. 

Afternoon tea at the Connaught is a quintessentially British, elegant and lovely experience. The seating area is bright and airy much like sitting in a pretty conservatory. The waiter service was attentive and friendly. Highly recommended!

Full of cake and sarnies, we headed off to the Everyman cinema to see...

....a film that is so awful that it's almost enjoyable. 

If you're planning a cinema visit, I'd definitely recommend going to see Rush instead. Now that's a good movie.

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