A luxurious breakfast at The Lanesborough

When I walked into C√©leste at The Lanesborough I was so wowed by the interiors that I couldn’t stop staring at the walls. The ornate details, the classy chandeliers and the grandeur absolutely took my breath away. It was the most magical venue for a long overdue catch up with a dear blogger friend over breakfast.

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My friend’s blog name is Planes and Champagne so of course we had to have some Champagne to kick off our breakfast date. The charming waiter brought over a bottle of Tattinger and patiently waited whilst we took our various photos of him pouring ūüėČ

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Toasting to fond memories and exciting times ahead we excitedly caught up on all of Maggie’s travels and adventures and my transition in the months to come from a banker to a blogger. The dining room was magnificent and perfect and just the right amount of opulence to avoid being gaudy.

To re-hydrate whilst we sipped on our bubbly we both ordered fresh juices. Maggie went for Carrot juice whilst I went for Grapefruit juice. They were so refreshing and delicious.

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The breakfast menu is incredible and I was torn between Truffled Scrambled Eggs or Boiled Eggs with soldiers and decided on the latter as if you know me you know that what I call “Dippy Eggs” are my absolute breakfast favourite.

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The presentation was absolutely adorable and I had ordered a side of sauteed potatoes and Avocado, which were seasoned with a little bit of chilli.

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I love and constantly need coffee so I also had a Cappuccino for the caffeine hit.

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Maggie opted for the Lanesborough breakfast and for her eggs she went for Eggs Benedict after being stuck between getting poached or the former.

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I loved the simple yet elegant presentation with the garnish of the vine tomatoes. I did have a little envy as I do love Egg Benedict!

To accompany our breakfast choices we had a basket of various breads and pastries which were freshly baked and all so heavenly. Out of sight in this basket was a pastry topped with fruits which Maggie and I shared which was absolutely divine.

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Our breakfast was superb and the service was exceptional. Our waiter was even worried that my cappuccino was getting cold and offered to get me a new fresh one but I had to admit that I am one of those people who wait till their coffee is luke warm before downing it.

The choices are on the high end/pricier side but the location, service, choices make it a wonderful venue to toast to a special occasion or for a lovely treat. I absolutely adored every single moment we spent there and definitely want to come back to try some more dishes. The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful and the definition of luxury!

If you are looking for a fabulous breakfast venue I highly recommend Céleste at The Lanesborough.

The Lanesborough can be found at Hyde Park Corner, Belgravia, London SW1X 7TA. Exit 4 of Hyde Park corner tube station is the closest.

 

Contemporary Fine Dining at Lotus, London

Hidden away from the hoards of tourists that flock Leicester Square is a fabulous luxurious award winning fine dining Indian restaurant called Lotus, headed up by Chef Patron Bhaskar Banerjee. The food takes influences from various parts of India and the restaurant has a lovely upmarket modern feel and the ambience is vibrant and warm. The Lotus flower is actually the national flower of India so a really fitting name.

Whilst it appears spacious inside, it only hosts approximately 60 covers so is nice and intimate without feeling claustrophobic or too close to another table.

We started off with ordering drinks. I decided to go for a Lassi which was flavoured with Sea Salt, Roasted Cumin, Ginger & Coriander. Amit went for a Cranberry and Lemongrass Lemonade which was really refreshing. We did have a look at the cocktail list and there were some really good choices on there but we had both already had cocktails elsewhere before so just wanted to hydrate.

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To kick of our meal we were brought a Tomato Rasam which is similar a tomato broth, which was so warming and delicious. I could have had the whole saucepan it was that scrumptious with the right level of spices.

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Then followed a Rattes chickpea, sev and yoghurt chaat which was so refreshing, light and full of flavour. I loved how the menu had a combination of street food and classic dishes with fusion twists. The menu also had suggestions for wine pairing if you fancied doing that and I found this unique and impressive too.

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While we waited for the rest of our starters selection to arrive we nibbled on an assortment of Poppadums with different textures and flavours such as Rice, Potato and Finger Millet and which were served with Mango, Apricot, Mint, Red Chilly and Green Tomato Chutneys.

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Now my favourite street food which I know as Pani Puri and which is also known as Golgappa or Puchkas had a little twist and had the additional ingredient of sweet corn. They were called Corn Chaat Golgappa and were accompanied with Jaljeera and a Tamarind Chutney. It was so much fun eating them and I loved the explosion of flavours in my mouth.

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To complete our starter selection, we also tried the Fried Chicken Wing Tulips which was accompanied with a Tomato Chutney. The flavour was just perfect and I loved these. They reminded me of an upmarket and spicier version of chicken drumsticks.

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Amit had been excited that the menu had a whole section dedicated to Kebabs and he selected the Red Snapper and Cobia Kebabs which were flavoured with Mustard essence, Crisp Bengal Gram and served with a cooling Dill yogurt. This was such an unusual offering but it really worked.

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For mains we were recommended the Prawns Narkel Shorshe which is prawns cooked within a Dehusked tender Coconut and Served with Organic Rice, Indian Lemon and Chillies. Not only was the presentation of this dish rather special and impressive, it was absolutely divine. I was instantly transported to coastal destinations and if you visit Lotus for a meal this is a must order dish.

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I love breads so we had a selection of breads alongside the rice to eat the Prawn curry with and the breads were exactly how I like them – thin, fluffy and buttery.

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All our savoury dishes were incredibly tasty, full of flavour. perfectly and delicately spiced and presented beautifully. Now it was time for dessert!

For dessert we went for the Raj Bhog, Clementine and Basil Doi which was a very novel choice of flavours and beautifully plated. Raj Bhog is similar to a Rasgulla and this was my favourite out of the two.
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As an after dinner treat we were presented with these chocolate balls filled with a fruit filling. They were a nice change to the Mint chocolate thins you normally get handed at the end of an Indian meal.

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The service was amazing and the restaurant is a lovely hidden gem away from the manic-ness of Leicester Square. It has a lovely vibe so fantastic for date nights or a venue for catch ups. It is priced slightly higher end and is fine dining so really special. My highlight was definitely the prawns cooked in the de-husked coconut and I loved the sound of all the dishes on the menu so will be back to try some other dishes.

For information about the restaurant and to see menus visit their site here.

Disclaimer : Our meal was complimentary but all views, photos and opinions are my own.

 

 

My Top 3 Luxurious Rooftop Bars and Restaurants in Athens

Whilst we loved Athens during the day and seeing the awe-inspiring Acropolis, at night Athens was even more magical and I adored all the twinkling lights. The illuminated Acropolis, however was the best part and the best view was from Athens’ various rooftop bars and restaurants. Here are my top 3 picks for food and cocktails which also had a serious luxe factor.

The Galaxy Bar at the Hilton Athens

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Not only were the cocktails delicious, the rooftop bar at the Galaxy Bar at the Hilton Athens was stunning. It was a fabulous place to enjoy the cool breeze and look at the glistening Acropolis in the distance amongst the sparkling gems of the city lights.

The food here is also fabulous so you could make an evening of it or simply just come here for drinks. There is an inside seating area too and they make a pretty mean Mojito ūüėČ

 

Premiere Restaurant & Lounge Bar at the Intercontinental Athens

This is an award winning rooftop restaurant with a stunning Acropolis view located at the Intercontinental Athens. The food is absolutely amazing and very innovative whereby Mediterranean ingredients are cooked with a French Flair.

Although the menu had no vegetarian options on it the evening we dined, the Chef happily prepared a risotto for me. This has recently been updated and there are some really decent choices available.

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My favourite part of the meal, aside the view that accompanied it, was the novelty factor and presentation of the dishes. For example, one dish arrived sealed in an envelope. How cool is that? Inside were some tips that you had to dip into a herb mousse which reminded me of the classic Greek spinach pie.

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The dessert was pretty phenomenal too and this was called The Tube and had Guanaja Chocolate namelaka with peanuts and caramel miso ice cream.

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The Roof Garden at Hotel Grande Bretagne, Luxury Collection

The Hotel Grande Bretagne is part of the Luxury Collection and the interiors of the hotel are absolutely spectacular. We dined on the roof top at the very snazzy restaurant, which has an outside terrace area with impressive views of the Acropolis.

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The pictures inside the restaurant are a little dark as it had a very romantic ambience to it and I highly recommend it for the delicious food! We shared an immense cheese selection, and for mains I had a delightful Ravioli whilst Amit wanted comfort food so went for a Pizza, which he devoured.

 

 

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I went for the Paris Brest dessert which was just heavenly! All the choices looked amazing though and wish I could have managed to try one more.

The view from the rooftop terrace was really pretty and the hotel even had a photo spot where you could stand to get the best shot!

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The Roof Garden at the Grande Bretagne is a must visit and the food is so good it makes the visit an all round success!

Those are my 3 favourite spots to marvel at the Acropolis from. I would love to know yours if you have visited Athens. Let me know in the comments section below.

You can read my Top Ten Things to do in Athens here.

Binny xx

 

A photographic food safari of my favourite food from Mombasa, Kenya

I was born and brought¬†up in Mombasa, a coastal city in Kenya, up until the age of 16 and on my visits back home in recent years, there are some dishes I just can’t wait to eat and try and make it a point to have. These are a mix of street food dishes, which can be found roadside, as well as dishes that can be found in restaurants.

Some of these dishes have been influenced in terms of taste, flavours, cooking style as well as presentation by Kenya’s historical¬†foreign settlers such as Indians, Arabs, Europeans, just to name a few. For example, the use of spices, coconut, ¬†fresh herbs such as coriander and vegetables, such as green chillis, have shaped some of the dishes today. You will also notice that the simple seasoning of salt, chilli, lemon and sugar is prominent in many dishes mentioned in this post.

The Indian influences on the cuisine, in particular, is due to Indians moving to Kenya about a century ago to work as railway workers on what was known as the “lunatic line” or to set up businesses from scratch. As a result, some popular Indian dishes continue to remain prominent in Kenya today. ¬†If you haven’t watched the film The Ghost and the Darkness, I highly recommend it for an insight into what it was like working on the railway lines.

These are my¬†personal favourites, that I love to eat whenever visiting Mombasa, and in no particular order. This is by no means a conclusive list so if you have any favourites which I haven’t mentioned I would love to know about them! Just add them in the comments section below.

Mogo

Mogo, or Mohogo, as it is sometimes known, is grilled or fried cassava, and a popular snack found at the infamous “Lighthouse,” on Mama Ngina Drive where locals drive through at a leisurely pace or park up to enjoy the sea breeze, chat and catch up and eat delicious street food dishes.

Mogo (pictured below) is usually seasoned with a blend of salt, chilli, sugar and a squeeze of lime. So simple yet so satisfying!

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Also made from the cassava are Mogo crisps, which are sold per the bag at Lighthouse. They are usually very fresh and you can ask for them to be seasoned how you like.

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Makai (corn on the cob)

Also found at “Lighthouse” is grilled sweet corn which is usually garnished with lime and chilli. You can ask for it mild, medium or hot!

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Grilled sweet potato

Another great dish¬†found on Mombasa’s most popular pier front, is grilled sweet potato which you can have with a sprinkling of chilli and salt (sensing a theme here?) and it is utterly divine. I love the soft texture of the sweet potato and the tangy hit of the seasoning.

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Madafu

Available all over the island, there is surely no better way to quench your thirst and stay hydrated? The flesh is so delicious too!

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Kachoris

Another snack that originated from India but the Kenyan version is next level amazing. Balls filled with deliciousness and usually enjoyed on Sundays over an indulgent breakfast, I think every Mombasa resident can resonate with the famous Bhagwanji kachoris! The good news is that they have opened branches in Nairobi too!

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Bhajias with fresh coconut chutney

Bhajias are popular East African snacks whose origins lie in India. There are so many variants of Bhajias or Bajias, as they are sometimes referred to. They can be found roadside and best eaten hot with a cooling fresh coconut chutney.

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Mahamri and bharazi

Mahamris are a special type of triangle shaped doughnut flavoured with coconut and cardamom. They are usually served with gunga peas cooked in coconut milk. They are DELICIOUS and the perfect breakfast meal.

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Seafood

Being a coastal city, Mombasa has the best and freshest sea food and I absolutely love lobster and prawns especially.  Fish is always a good idea too! Some of my favourite places are Monsoons, Sea Haven, La Marina and Monsoon. They all offer Al fresco dining with a sea view and the food is incredible.

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Mabuyu

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Usually sold in bags, these are baobab seeds flavoured with sugar and other ingredients and usually coloured red with food colouring, although now you can get many more variants.

 

Achari

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This is dried mango which is then sweetened or salted and coloured using food colouring. These are rather addictive and they have a lovely chewy texture and a tangy taste.

Halwa

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The best Halwa is usually found in Malindi, but you can get it available within Mombasa too. Halwa is a sweetmeat confection with a jelly like consistence. It is usually made from starch, cardamom, ghee and lots of sugar. It is then garnished with cashew nuts or almonds. They are usually sold in a log shape and wrapped with paper.

Nyama choma

Availsble widely from roadside shacks to restaurants, Nyama choma, which is roast or barbecued meat, is one of Kenya’s specialities. It is also Kenya’s unofficial national dish.

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You can find it on most street sides. Alternatively, Mubins, which has a venue both in town and in Nyali in Mombasa, do really good barbecued meat.

Poussin chips

Nothing makes me happier than a plate of Poussin chips. Poussin sauce has also been my most popular recipe on my blog. The sauce is made from margarine/butter and drizzled all over chips or alternatively used as a marinade for meat or fish. Most Barbecue restaurants in Mombasa such as Hashmi or Sham E Bahaar have this available.

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Packed potatoes

Packed potatoes are my weakness Рthey are thick slices of potatoes sandwiched together with a delectable mix of chilli, salt and lemon and then deep fried with a seasoned gram flour batter. Heaven served with a cooling chutney!  I recently had this at the Aga Khan club in Mombasa, as well as roadside.

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Zanzibar Mix, also known as Mombasa Mix to coastal locals

Mix, is well loved in our family, and my favourite to date has been at the Aga Khan club. Thanks to the lovely Nasim for treating me to a wonderful bowl of mix as well as a catch up during my last trip to the coast.

So what is mix? It is exactly what the name suggests and is a mix of potatoes, chickpeas, spices, coconut sauce, dashes of chutney, raw mango, sev, chevro and bhajias. It is divine! It originated in Zanzibar but East Africa has adapted it and it has become somewhat of a speciality in Mombasa too. This dish is the perfect example of multiple cultural influences on the cuisine of Kenya.

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Samosas

Finally who doesn’t love samosas? Triangular parcels of delight! These are an example of an Indian snack adopted by Kenya and it even has an alternative name which is Sambusa! These can be filled with vegetables or meat and are best eaten hot!

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Do you have any favourites in Mombasa? Would love to know in the comments section below.

Binny xx

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 РThe 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 ‚Äúwilly wonka‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Milk Chocolate, an¬†Aubergine Mousse √Čclair¬†which is dusted¬†with Green & Black‚Äôs Organic Cocoa Powder and a¬†Coronation Chicken Sandwich¬†in Homemade Green & Black‚Äôs 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 √Čclair . 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 ‚Äď 5:30p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 3:30 ‚Äď 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.

 

 

 

 

Lunch at The Bel and Dragon in Windsor

I really look forward to Sunday lunches and one Sunday we drove up to Windsor to have lunch at the Bel and Dragon restaurant. It is located so close to Windsor Castle, residence of the Queen, that we couldn’t resist  a stroll around the Castle before heading for lunch. As it was January, it was lovely and quiet compared to the summer, where it is buzzing with tourists. Top tip! Visit in winter!

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When we arrived at Bel and Dragon, I couldn’t help falling in love with its historical charming look and luxe cosy interiors. It has actually been serving food and drink since the 11th century – how impressive is that!

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I was really excited about the food as the Head Chef Mo and Group Head Chef Ronnie Kimbugwe, formerly Sous Chef of Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, have created a menu serving modern British cuisine with the freshest seasonal produce, all of which is sourced locally.

Also, the house champagne is Laurent Perrier! How perfect and fitting for such a gorgeous venue. I of course had a glass of Brut whilst Amit tried the signature Bel Bloody Caesar which is a blend of Clamato Juice, Sipsmith Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Lime, Fresh Horseradish & A Mix of Spices.

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It was a particularly chilly day so I was more than happy cosy in our lovely corner in the Bel and Dragon!

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Now I am a Burrata-holic so if any menu features a Burrata dish there is no doubt that it will be ordered. This version blew me away, not only with its stunning presentation, but the mix of flavours, all fresh, colourful and so refreshing. It was a lovely light starter and perfect and have to admit, exceeded my expectations of what I thought it would be like.

The dish is described as Marinated Beetroot & Burrata with Basil Pesto & Toasted Pine Nuts. If you are a Burrata fan definitely get this dish!

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For mains, I also ordered a Vegetarian dish, and it was a Rocket & Parmesan Risotto with drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was superb and I loved the peppery blasts I got in the occasional bite. Sunday comfort food at its best. Lately, I have found myself eating more and more vegetarian dishes and not sure why! However, if you are a Vegetarian and want to visit Bel and Dragon, there are plenty of amazing choices on the menu.

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Amit was more about the Rotisserie section and chose the Roasted Suckling Pig with Crispy Crackling and Spiced Apple Chutney. This was definitely the perfect Sunday Roast meal with all the trimmings such as gravy, potatoes (which I stole), salad and vegetables on the side. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

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We did order a side of Savoy Cabbage, CreŐÄme FraiŐāche & Crispy Bacon, which was delicious too.

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Dessert though. OMG heaven. We went for a zesty choice and had the Caramelized Lemon Tart which came with a generous helping of the most divine Clotted Cream & a side of  Elderflower Berries. You could also have a shot of Homemade Limoncello with it, which Amit gleefully had. Absolutely decadent dessert. We were really full from lunch so could only brave sharing one but the rest of the pudding menu was amazing too! Next time we will definitely try the Warm Chocolate Fondant served with a Blackcurrant Sorbet.

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Our lunch was so enjoyable and quite a gastronomical experience. It was one of those where we didn’t know just how good it was going to be so when the food arrived we were wowed! I love the country and historical feel to the restaurant, the friendly service and the family friendly vibe. It had a lovely ambience and if we lived closer, it would definitely become a firm favourite for local choices for weekend lunch.

They also serve afternoon tea so should you be visiting Windsor and fancy a special treat, why not pop in for something different! Its location renders it perfect for a day out in Windsor exploring the sites and then popping in for some amazing food. I know we will be back soon!

For more information click here.

There are other Bel and Dragon restaurants around the country in Churt, Cookham, Godalming, Kingsclere, Odiham and Reading so if any of these are close to you definitely go for a meal!

Our meal was complimentary but all views and photos are my own.