Cocktails at Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Located at one of the most enviable addresses in Knightsbridge, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is home to Daniel Boulud’s French Bistro style bar and restaurant, Bar Boulud. He also has venues in New York and Boston.

Now the Mandarin Oriental has some fond memories for me as when Amit and I were in the early stages of our relationship we decided to spend one new year’s eve celebration there and it was a truly luxurious experience! Sadly this was well before I started my blog so I didn’t even think to take room photos at the time. We had such a stunning room and we stayed hydrated with a bottle of chilled champagne and were snug from the freezing temperatures outside. It was truly marvellous.

Knightsbridge, I find, no matter what time of day it is, always seems to be busy with tourists, either keen to shop or window shop at some of the finest stores in the vicinity. Bar Boulud, as we discovered, is an amazing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the mad rush outside and we felt relaxed the moment we stepped in. We had decided to have drinks there before moving on elsewhere in Knightsbridge for dinner. It is rare we get to spend a weekday evening out together so it was fabulous.

Greeted with welcoming smiles and friendly hosts, we were shown to our table with swift service and given the cocktail and wine menu to peer through. We weren’t pressured for time at all and loved the ambience, as well as the fact that it was so spacious and that I could see the bar and watch the bartenders mixing drinks and theatrically shaking cocktail shakers.

Now the signature cocktail at Bar Boulud is the White Cosmopolitan, which is served with white grape juice in lieu of cranberry juice. It is rather special as it also comes with a flower frozen in a floating ice ball. I didn’t personally order this but had drink envy at a neighbouring table who had ordered it! I had a good reason not to on this occasion because there was also Champagne Mojito on the menu which is what I went for! I will try the White Cosmopolitan when I next visit the bar.

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The Champagne Mojito was utterly delicious and I usually prefer my Mojitos classic but the addition of champagne just made it that much more special. It was a lovely drink and I would definitely be back for it! Chairman’s reserve rum was the base rum used for this cocktail alongside the usual mint leaves, lime, soda water and for that extra sparkle, champagne.

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Amit had wanted a more manly drink so he chose a Venezuelan Old Fashioned, which was really well mixed and tasted so good! This was a blend of Diplomatico reserve rum, averna chocolate bitters, orange bitters and demerara sugar. We both somehow ended up having rum based cocktails so we are definitely a match made in heaven 😉

The drinks were excellent, as was the service. The restaurant is adjacent to the bar so we could see the various dishes heading towards the eager and excited diners as well as catch their aroma, which made us want to come back on a different day for dinner to try the food as it smelt really good.

Bar Boulud is an ideal place to catch up with friends or work colleagues or to relax after a day of shopping or battling the crowds outside. It is also lovely for a date night as we found. If you happen to be in the area you really have no excuse not to drop in for a tipple.

The venue is gorgeous and the drinks are really good. Both the wine and cocktail menu are extensive and the service is excellent. I had a superb time at Bar Boulud and will definitely be back. Thanks for having us!

For more information on Bar Boulud visit their website here.

 

 

The Chocoholic Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

There is a sparkly brand new Four Seasons Hotel in London, located at a very special and swanky venue – in a Grade II Listed building at Ten Trinity Square, which was once the 1922 headquarters of the Port of London Authority. It overlooks the River Thames at Tower Hill, in the south-eastern corner of the City. In fact, we enjoyed the views of the Tower of London and glimpses of Tower Bridge before setting foot in to the grand building.

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As stunning as the architecture is on the exterior, the interior is even more show stopping and as you walk into the building you feel like you are entering an interior lover’s dream. This is what I love about the Four Seasons brand – you always feel that wow factor whenever you walk into the hotel.

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Through this lovely section is the Rotunda, where there is the most beautiful bar I have seen, as well as a lounge area, the venue for our Afternoon Tea.

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As we visited during the Easter long weekend, there were two Afternoon Tea varieties available – a special limited edition one for Easter called The Chocoholic Afternoon Tea, as well as The Royal Afternoon Tea. We were keen to try the Chocoholic one and so we sat back and relaxed whilst the lovely David, our waiter that afternoon, talked us through the courses and poured us some lovely chilled champagne.

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Our choice of champagne was the The Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995 Vintage and it was really lovely and we toasted to a wonderful afternoon ahead.

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As it was Easter, the bar had also prepared a special cocktail complete with mini eggs attached to the side of the glass for all the guests. It was made to mimic an Easter garden and it was utterly delectable. I thought this was a wonderful gesture as it made the experience feel that much more personal and special to mark the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

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We then selected our choice of teas from the rather impressive and extensive choice available. I went for a White Tea and picked the Jasmine Silver Tip, whilst Amit went for a Black Tea – the Shire Highlands Hand Rolled from Malawi.

 

 

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First to arrive were our selection of sandwiches and it all arrived and just looked show stopping. I don’t think I have ever seen such a pretty assortment of savouries at an Afternoon Tea quite like this one as usually the focus is always on the pastries!

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I mean wow! You’d be forgiven for thinking that this platter was a mix of savoury and sweet as they were all delicately decorated. Each of the selection have an element of chocolate incorporated into them which I thought was really innovative and clever.

The choices were Roasted Beef, Goat Cheese Mousse, Foie Gras Terrine, Egg Mimosa and Scottish Salmon Rolls. Before we dug in David, our waiter, instructed us to lift up our side plates and look underneath. There was a map and he then he explained the history of the venue in which we were enjoying our afternoon tea and how goods were registered in the very room in which we were seated.

He also pointed out aspects around the room and details on the walls which were there for Feng Shui. I found this really fascinating and he had me captivated and wanting to know more about the history of the building, as well as the Four Seasons brand. What I did take away was that he absolutely loves working for this hotel brand and you could totally see the passion and enthusiasm in his facial expressions of glee and delight.

I then thoroughly enjoyed trying each of the sandwiches and my favourite was definitely the Egg Mimosa. It had truffle in it and is by far the best egg sandwich I have had in my life hands down because the addition of truffle is just pure genius! Amit loved it too, so much so that he asked if he could have one more!

Then after a short pause while we reflected on our scrumptious savouries, the pastry course arrived! I love it when an Afternoon Tea stand arrives at the table. I always find it so exciting to see the various shapes, colours and designs of each of the pastries and this one was beautiful!

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The pastries were at the top tier, the homemade chocolate scones were in the middle tier, and the various ramekins filled with clotted cream, seasonal jam and chocolate hazelnut spread adorned the bottom tier.

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I loved the attention to detail and had a clear favourite and that was the Orange hued choux bun with tonka mouselline and made with 70% Guanaja chocolate. Each of the pastries are created using Valrhona chocolates.

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I also loved the Chocolate tart with raspberry and candied ginger. The combination of flavours was perfect and we were truly in chocolate heaven.

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The other pastries included a chocolate mousse trio, a Macaroon with Matcha and Orange confit, and a Caramel Crunch with chocolate chantilly . I also really liked the light and fluffy texture of the mousse trio. It was truly a special selection of pastries and the scones were gorgeous too!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the Rotunda is a gorgeous space – it is luxurious with an art deco feel and elegant interiors. I definitely want to come back for cocktails at the bar as I love its striking design and its “Instagram worthiness.”

The Chocoholic Afternoon Tea is on till the 23 April so get yourself booked in quick. Alternatively the Royal Afternoon Tea sounds lovely too.

The Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square can be found at:

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
10 Trinity Square
London
EC3N 4AJ

Disclaimer: Our afternoon tea was complimentary. All views and photos are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trader’s High Tea at Cinnamon Bazaar

I am a massive Afternoon Tea fan and absolutely love the tradition of sitting through various course at a leisurely pace and sipping on countless cups of tea whilst indulging. For a different take on the classic High Tea, I absolutely loved the Trader’s High Tea at the colourful and vibrant Cinnamon Bazaar, found on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden.

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Away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets, you can escape into a tranquil, colourful space and enjoy some incredible food while chatting away. The service is always excellent – attentive without being intrusive, and I just adore the decor.

The Trader’s High Tea is excellent value at £15 per person, and for an additional £5 each you can kick off the meal with style by enjoying the signature Cinnamon Bellini, which is delicious.

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Down to the important aspect – the tea, you can choose between a selection of the finest JING teas or opt for the traditional Indian Masala Chai, which is freshly brewed in-house with ginger and cardamom. We chose the Masala Chai and the intoxicating aroma was enough to put us at ease and sit back and relax. I lost count of how many cups I had as it was just amazing.

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We both opted for the non-vegetarian menu and so to start with we had Tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich, and a Bhangra lamb slider. The vegetarian choices were Paneer naan pizza and a Bengali beetroot burger, which I would love to try next time too. My personal favourite from the two was the Tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich. It was just so delectable.

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The next course was chaats and we had anAloo tikki chaat, which is spiced potato cake with curried white peas andchickpea sev, as well as Samosa chaat, which is a mix of Punjabi vegetable samosa, curried white peas and drizzled with tangy tamarind chutney. I had tried these chaats before when I visited for dinner, but this was Amit’s first experience of Cinnamon Bazaar and he loved them as much as I did.

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We were already so stuffed by this point but we soldiered on for the sweet course, which was a Carrot halwa roll and a Dark chocolate and walnut cake. The cake was just so delightful and dreamy!

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If you didn’t want to do the 3 course Trader’s High Tea and instead fancied chaats you could ask to see Chamiya, the movable hand-painted cart serving a range of street-food cold chaat dishes. How pretty is that?

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We thoroughly enjoyed our High Tea experience and left feeling very full. It is such a good menu and a really great way to spend an afternoon after a busy day shopping, as a pre-theatre treat or even as an alternative way to catch up with friends or family.

The Trader’s High Tea is served daily from 3pm to 5:30pm and I would recommend it to anyone seeking a fun, alternative type of Afternoon Tea as well as a taster of the fabulous dishes that Cinnamon Bazaar has to offer. For more information about the Trader’s High Tea as well as Cinnamon Bazaar, visit their website.

Disclaimer: Our Trader’s High Tea was complimentary, but all views and photos are my own.

Wasp and Sprout – Nairobi, Kenya

Wasp and Sprout is a wonderful quirky cafe/coffee boutique hidden away in the Old Loresho Shopping centre. A little difficult to find but when you do and you walk into the cafe its charm, eclectic decor and dreamy African interiors attracts you instantly. It is perfect for those Instagram snaps with its design, colours and rustic feel and believe me I now want cushions for my dining chairs the same as the ones pictured below.

The Cafe doubles up as a store/showroom, showcasing various items from paintings, cushions (I have my eye on them), dresses, purses, lampshades, jewellery and so much more. All the items are stunning pieces and if you are looking for African inspired products this is the place for you. I had to control myself as my luggage was already overflowing.

 

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My friend Harpreet joined me and we pondered over the menu, which was fun, extensive and very reasonably priced. We were starting our day off there before joining our friend Meera for lunch so we opted for a light breakfast and picked the fruit salad.

We chose our coffees and then chatted away about life, blogging and our hopes and dreams. The coffee was pretty darn good and the perfect caffeine fuelled kickstart to the day.

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The cafe itself is really spacious and there were lots of people working away on laptops and it was definitely the perfect cafe to do that. I would totally have brought my laptop and blogged if I had known. The wifi is decent too.

It is the kind of place you could settle in for hours with lovely music in the background, the cute flower pots adorning each wooden table and the colourful creative space.

Intrigued by the dream behind this venue, as it is pretty unique, I had a quick read of their website, where they state:

The Wasp symbolizes the resilience of Africa and its people. Sprout, the new beginning and growth of our team.

That is rather lovely and it is so nice how they champion lesser know fair trade and environmentally friendly products in their cafe. It is a different style of shopping where you can leisurely look at the items whilst enjoying a coffee or a meal. Some of the products are just so incredible and it always amazes me how much talent there is in Kenya and so glad that artists are being given such a great opportunity to show case their work.

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If you are looking for a nice new venue for breakfast, brunch or lunch, Wasp and Sprout, although it may be a little tricky to find the first time, is totally worth it. In fact, if you are looking for a new coffee shop to work from this is perfect and its such a edgy, artsy space that it is bound to get your creative juices flowing.

Wasp and Sprout can be found at the following location.

 

The Arbor Restaurant, Nairobi

If there was a restaurant in Nairobi that would win an award in my opinion for its Instagram worthiness it would be The Arbor, in Lavington. When my girlfriends, Meera and Harpreet, who also happen to be bloggers, picked The Arbor for our catch up lunch I knew they would have picked somewhere dreamy and I was right!

From rustic wine bottles as centrepieces, decorative charms, hanging bottles and potted plants and flowers everywhere, it is the ultimate garden cafe for al fresco dining. You can even purchase plants if you want, which if I lived in Nairobi I probably would as they all looked so lush and pretty.

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To start with we picked cocktails and mocktails. I went for the Tamarind Mojito, which was delicious! I very rarely deviate from a classic mojito but this one was really nice that I wish I knew how to replicate it!

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The menu has so many amazing sounding dishes and is really good if you are a vegetarian. It has a nice selection of Asian dishes and so I decided to go for the Nasi Lemak. The presentation was fantastic and all the various flavours were so intriguing and tasty.

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Meera went for the Grilled Halloumi Burger, which was grilled in a peri peri sauce and topped with onions, pepper and mushrooms and served with a side of chips and salad. We had predicted she would choose this :o)

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Harpeet chose the Thai Green Curry, which looked divine. This was served with a side of rice and she really enjoyed it.

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I loved the presentation of all 3 dishes and the helpings were so generous that we couldn’t manage any dessert. We had an amazing time catching up and nattering away though.

The venue is stunning and the type which is perfect for a date, girly catch up or to really impress a client. I couldn’t get over its rustic yet charming decor and all the prettiness everywhere.

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Inside is a shop where you can buy home decor items. I didn’t dare look as I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist and our luggage to go back was already close to being over weight.

This is also the kind of place where you would want to be at during golden hour with a cocktail in hand as it is seriously swoon worthy.

If you are in Nairobi, or visiting, I would recommend The Arbor for lunch and I think it is  definitely one of the most stunning al fresco venues I have seen in Nairobi.

While the girls did treat me to lunch, I did have a peek at the prices on the menu and they were really reasonable! I really enjoyed the food and the ambience and thought the service was excellent. My verdict is it is a fabulous restaurant and one I would definitely return to on my next visit to Kenya.

The Arbor can be found next to Ebru TV, James Gichuru Rd, Lavington, 69671 – 00400, Nairobi, Kenya

 

An indulgent ChocolaTEA at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

A ChocolaTEA, which is a Chocolate themed afternoon tea, is literally the afternoon tea of dreams. Available from Friday 14 April at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill in collaboration with Green and Blacks, there is an element of chocolate in each treat, savoury and sweet and is amazing! If you gave up chocolate for Lent there is no better way to indulge!

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This was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite dessert and it also happens to be Green and Black’s 25th Anniversary so what better way to celebrate than to launch London’s only entire chocolate afternoon tea! This plays homage to the cocoa bean, which traditionally has only been associated with sweet dishes. I personally only discovered that chocolate was used in savoury dishes when I visited St Lucia and went on a trip to see how chocolate was made!

We started off the afternoon tea session with a delicious Sir Winston’s Martini cocktail, which is a classic Martinez garnished with Green & Black’s Rich Dark 85% Chocolate, whilst real life “willy wonka” aka The Taste Specialist Brandt Maybury, from Green & Blacks, talked us through the concept of the afternoon tea, which will be available permanently at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.

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First to arrive was a selection of savoury items which comprised of a Smoked Salmon Sushi sandwich with cucumber and dill cream cheese and garnished with Green & Black’s White Chocolate flakes, a Churchill Mini Burger with Chilli Chocolate-infused BBQ Sauce, a Venison and Milk Chocolate Pate with Fresh Raspberry braised with Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate, an Aubergine Mousse Éclair which is dusted with Green & Black’s Organic Cocoa Powder and a Coronation Chicken Sandwich in Homemade Green & Black’s Chocolate Bread.

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Everyones clear favourite was the Churchill Mini burger. The theatrical award went to the Smoked Salmon Sushi sandwich which was smoking away and my second favourite savoury dish was the Aubergine Mousse Éclair . They were all really tasty and the one which surprised me the most was the Coronation Chicken Sandwich in chocolate bread. This combination totally worked as unusual as it sounds and I now am on the hunt for chocolate bread loaves!

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As a palate cleanser we had a really refreshing Lime Sorbet served in a ginger Chocolate Dipped Cone. I absolutely loved the presentation of this!

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Then followed a variety of sweet treats which included a Passion Fruit & White Chocolate Macarons, Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Buttercream & Salted Chocolate DIY garnish in the form of a syringe, Butterscotch Tea Cake with gold leaf garnish and Raspberry & Dark Chocolate layered mousse with fresh raspberries.

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I absolutely loved all of them but if I had to pick a firm favourite it would be the Butterscotch Tea Cake with the gold leaf garnish.

To accompany the afternoon tea we had pots of Maya Gold Cocoa Nib Tea, which was infused with orange, cinnamon & nutmeg, which I am so going to try and recreate at home! Not only did it look really pretty in the tea pot, it tasted lush too.

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The scones were divine too! It wouldn’t be an afternoon tea without scones and these included a Chocolate and Pistachio Scone with a Chocolate Curd, deliberately included as the colours symbolises the Green & Black’s name. Green stands for the brands commitment to ethically sourced cocoa while black for the high quality element as well as delicious taste of the chocolate.

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If you love chocolate or want to try something unique and new, definitely get booking for the ChocolaTEA as it is a really good one!

The afternoon tea is available at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill daily during the following time slots:

Monday to Friday: 1:00 – 5:30p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 3:30 – 5:30p.m.

It costs £38 per person or £47 including a glass of Champagne or Sir Winston’s Martini cocktail.

For more information or to book visit this website.

Disclaimer: I attended the media preview of the ChocolaTEA and all views and photos are my own.