Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pizza at Rocket, Holborn

Out of this world pizza at Rocket, Holborn

Downstairs restaurants, hidden beneath the packed out streets of London.  You never really know what you’re going to get, unless of course we tell you what’s in store and then there’s no nasty surprises!  At Rocket in Holborn, you’re in for a pretty special evening once you descend those stairs.  They’re famous for their pizzas, but that’s really just the start!

Pulled Pork Pizza

D├ęcor is smart, creative and imaginative.  There’s lots of greenery –which gives a nice outdoor, light and airy feel to a very indoor space!  Blocks of bright pink and orange punctuate the dark wood, while birdcage style lighting illuminates the tables and makes those cocktails look all the more inviting!

Speaking of cocktails, a new menu has literally just launched, so be sure to give them a whirl.  We went for the Rattlesnake – literally liquid sunshine in a glass!  Beautifully sweet, courtesy of the Cazcabel honey liquer and then a hit of juicy fruit provided by the kiwi, lemon, apple and vanilla.  My friend Sandy had the Au Pear with Zubrowka, pear cognac, passion fruit and lemon, topped with champagne for a fizzy hit.  This drink had a tangy taste, refreshing on the palate and the perfect wake up after a hard day at work.

Fresh pesto and garlic pizza bread

We perused the extensive pizza menu while nibbling on gorgeous warm baked pizza breads with pesto and garlic.  The menu really is fantastic.  Think innovative, bold, fresh pizzas, Californian salads bursting with flavour and big juicy steaks.

Halloumi and Chorizo Skewers

Our waiter Daniel was brilliant and believe me, we put him to the test when it came to the wine list – well they really shouldn’t have so many!  He recommended a perfectly balanced Italian Verdicchio to go with our food choices which really was delicious.  For starters, I went for the halloumi and chorizo kebab and Sandy chose the crab cakes.  My kebabs were amazing and I really loved the textures of the slightly plastic-y halloumi with the really chewy full on taste of the chorizo.  The strong flavours worked brilliantly with the green mango and cucumber spaghetti.

Surf n Turf Californian salad
I was totally in the mood for pizza and because I’d been told many a time that Rocket’s fresh Italian base pizzas are definitely the highlight, I couldn’t resist.  But it did take a while to choose, because the toppings are all so unique!  Great combinations like smoked chicken and caramelised onion; pastrami and pepperoni;  smoked black pudding, butterfly king prawns and pancetta… I was tempted by that last one, but decided to go with the barbecued pulled pork shoulder which came with tonnes of melt in the mouth meat, rainbow slaw and chipotle spiced tomato sauce.  You might think with toppings this big, they’d forget about the mozzarella.  Nope, there was a tonne of this with cheddar cheese thrown in for good measure.  A taste sensation.  And one of those situations where you really want to burst but cannot stop yourself from going in for another slice.  Sandy made a fantastic choice with the Californian style surf and turf salad.  Giant tiger prawns, baby squid, and perfectly cooked beef – all 3.5 ounces of it!  It’s the biggest salad I think I’ve ever seen and according to Sandy, also the tastiest!

At this point, I was ready to be rolled home, but then out came the dessert menu which is in a word, irresistible.  At bursting point, we decided to battle on!  Cheesecakes and sticky toffee puddings arrived and still we ate!  

3 hours later, we looked at our watches and couldn’t stop laughing.  Where had the time gone?!  When was the last time we had eaten so much food?!  We couldn’t answer either question.

As if you need any more persuasion for a visit to Rocket, they’re a chain and have a restaurant pretty much close to wherever you are!  They also have a terrace, conference rooms, an exclusive glass partition room in the restaurant for bigger groups or private events, and you can even book in at Rocket for private cocktail masterclasses.

Do us a favour and check out those huge portion sizes.  You will not be disappointed…



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Maggie's 5th Birthday Party

80's fever right in the middle of Chelsea!  If you've never checked out Maggie's Club, then quite frankly, you've never lived!



5 whole years of partying in what looks like a giant rubik's cube to the likes of Billy Ocean's 'Caribbean Queen' and 'Maniac' from Flashdance.  Visors, leg warmers, Michael Jackson face masks.. It's all absolutely fine in this 80's den.

The girlies! Stacey, Sylwi, Lynda and I
 Thursday saw the 5th birthday celebrations of this institution as we helped Inception Group really 'Get into the Groove' along with the gorgeous girlies from KK Comms.





The Girls from KK Comms


The (Mr T lookalike who looks more like Mr T than Mr T), was on hand for some pretty funky dance moves (when he wasn't getting papped from every angle...) and as we sank more and more Sex on the beaches, the band fired up and played some absolute belters including Queen and Madonna. (Lucky too that Madonna was there to partake in the antics.

My name is Madonna.


Inception Group's fabulous Robin Kay. (I love him)

Mario and Luigi served margherita pizzas and then at midnight, the rubiks cube cake came out.  Cake and cocktails.  Yes at the same time.  Living the dream...


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Bistro by Shot

Brunch, coffee, cake, dinner…Bistro by Shot has it all

Having always lived in West London since I moved here, I’m a huge fan of Parsons Green.  All those epic pubs placed neatly around the green – the Sloaney, the Duke, Aragon House, Boma on the Green…  And now the cutest little coffee house come cool evening restaurant ever – Bistro by Shot.




By day, there’s as many macs on the tables as cappuccinos and tiramisius…  At lunch, friends meet up for a gossip and the odd lucky-enough-to-work-close-enough office worker enjoy eggs every way, butternut squash and pumpkin salads or fresh tagliatelle, salmon and parmesan.



There’s the most scrumptious cakes sitting invitingly on the counter so that you know you absolutely have to indulge as soon as you’ve put your knife and fork down, but there’s also the option of a beautifully rich, baked fondant, oozing warm melted chocolate – just ask them nicely and one will magically appear!



At night, the lights go down, the candles come out and voila, a wonderfully romantic bistro emerges.  There’s pork belly, confit of duck, beef fillet with sides of purple broccoli and duck fat chips washed down with a selection of carefully chosen wines.

Quaint, simple, understated… Bistro by Shot is your new go to any time of the day or night.



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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Manhattan Bar, Singapore

The view of the bar at the fabulously grand Manhattan within the Regent Hotel, Singapore, was so impressive that I actually used it as my very first Instagram photo!  There’s a decadence and opulence present in this bar which is hard to rival, which is why I’d recommend you visit if you’re spending any time in Singapore this coming year, as the city celebrates its 50th Anniversary of Independence.

The Bar at the Manhattan

The bar area itself is theatrical-like, dark, moody and dramatic, with the bar as the stage, the neatly lined bottles acting as a backdrop and the stunning staff, it’s starry actors and actresses.

It’s a bar worth dressing up for, because the indulgence and sophistication of Manhattan will you have stepping back into an age of days gone by... into the 19th Century Golden Age of fine whiskies and experimental cocktails.


Manhattan Bites & Cocktails!

With a luxurious and contemporary feel, you’ll be sinking back into the finest of upholstered leather seats and sipping on a beautifully made tipple before you’ve even noticed the jetlag.

American head bartender Ricky Paiva has pulled out all the stops to ensure you receive the best drinks you’ve probably ever tasted.  No expense is spared during the cocktail making process and this even involves using a premium ice programme.  The ice is actually made from the highest quality water with an array of high-purity, high-density hand cut bespoke cubes and shapes, which enhance the tasting experience.  Likewise, nothing but the finest customary cocktail glasses are also used – handcrafted at one of the world’s oldest glass factories! 

Manhattan houses the first in-hotel Rickhouse too, which features over 100 American oak barrels from Minnesota and is used to finish sprits, bitters and cocktails and whiskies, while the Ingredients Room  houses the most unusual of ingredients from around the globe to help shape Paiva’s creations.




Shaken or stirred, there’s something on the menu to please the most discerning of palettes from the Rainbow Room Cosmopolitan with Death’s Door Vodka, Ferrand Dry Curacao, fresh lemon and hibiscus syrup, to the Papaya King mixed with Plantation Dark Rum, All-Spice Dram, bitters, banana cordial and fresh juices.

And to compliment these truly divine concoctions, come the finest of food.  Michigan born chef Nicholas Trosien who’s worked previously as Sous Chef at the four Season Hotel Palm Beach has put his stamp on Manhattan’s nibbles which could really be described as fine-dining bar bites.  They might be ‘bite size’, but they’re big on flavour and quality.  Try the Rebellion Burgers with Angus beef, tomato onion jam, Nicasio cheese and butter lettuce packed neatly into a paprika bun.  The Maine Lobster Roll is a taste sensation with beautifully soft crab meat, avocado and remoulade sauce, while the bourbon infused doughnuts will leave you wanting more....and more... and more...


There’s also 3 private rooms with Manhattan if you wish to get away from it all – the Rockefeller Room hidden behind a secret door and reminiscent in style of a private 1920’s New York Club; the comfortable Private Salon decked out in tan leather and plum velvets; and The Library – sophisticated, elegant and of course, quiet.

If you're in the area, this is a 'must-visit'.  Check out the website here:

http://www.regenthotels.com/en/Singapore/Cuisine/Manhattan
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

East Village, dinner with Ravinder Bhogal

East Village – serving up an irresistible offering
Stratford evokes nothing but good memories for me – the camaraderie, warmth and friendliness that came with the 2012 Olympics…  The brilliant performance put on by Justin Timberlake at Wireless…  Yet it’s never quite been a neighbourhood.  Until now.





With Westfield Stratford already cemented firmly in place and the Olympic stadium as a backdrop, the landscape is slowly changing as the area develops and East Village comes to life.  East Village (if you weren’t aware), is the apartments that the thousands of athletes participating in the Olympic Games actually stayed in while they were here in UK.  Now, those apartments have been converted into light, airy, attractive living spaces – from one beds, to four bed townhouses.






Having heard so much already about these gorgeous apartments with their spectacular views, Luxuria Lifestyle jumped at the chance to attend an intimate dinner at one of the properties, to sample food from renowned Indian chef Ravinder Bhogal, whilst enjoying wines from the quirky and cool Bottle Apostle.





Get Living London’s private rentals are being snapped up as soon as they become available and it’s easy to see why.  Hassle-free benefits include no fees, long-term stability and flexibility, free broadband and full furnishings.  Floors are heated, appliances are high quality and the rent is very reasonable starting at just £395 per week for a one bedroom apartment.  The surrounding community feel is being built up by retail units lining the walkways – gastro pubs, bicycle shops, hairdressers... and the award winning and artisan wine merchant Bottle Apostle, who were happy to provide us with some truly lovely wines to accompany dinner.






Whilst having a good look around, we quaffed a delicious Portugese Vadio Brut along with a mouth-wateringly more-ish salmon kibbeh nayeh, made with bulghur wheat and spices.  We then sat down at our fabulously intimate dining table (there was just 12 of us), to enjoy smoked aubergine with saffron yoghurt, pistachios and pine nuts, which went beautifully with a 2013 Saint Peray.  The citrus and herb notes of the wine worked wonderfully with the nuttiness of the oily seeds used in the dish.



Influenced by her Persian and Indian heritage, Ravinder’s main dish was a honey spiced quail with rice and crispy onion.  Perfect for a special occasion, the quail was cooked in lashings of honey butter and aromatic spices including cinnamon, ginger and saffron, along with lemon and garlic.  The wine choice for this course was a 2013 Original Spaniard Blank Bottle – velvety, smooth and very drinkable!




While we probably could’ve carried on with a few more courses, (the food was just soooo good!), we ended on a high with a rose scented pannacotta topped with stewed rhubarb and a pistachio and coconut meringue on the side.  The delicate flavour of the dessert was complimented perfectly by the wine choice – a Spatlese Cuvee which wasn’t over sweet, but just sweet enough!

Yes, we’d all been won over, sitting in that beautiful apartment, sipping on wine, eating the most delicious of Indian food, chatting with friends and all against a view over one of London’s most prestigious landmarks.  Where do we sign up?!

Rental prices:
1 bed: £395 per week
2 bed: £420 per week
3 bed: £515 per week

4 bed: £725 per week

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