About Alexandra Abrahams

Alexandra Abrahams originally worked at the BBC and has since gained a wide range of experience from a plethora of jobs. Her time as a Dating Consultant for a matchmaking agency led her to start writing a book entitled “Secret Diary of a Matchmaker”. Being blessed with a Mariella Frostrup voice, she also does voiceovers including corporate work for IBM, Body Shop and Gillette. Alex now works as a Brand Ambassador for a premium spirits company. The vacancy was advertised as the Best Job in the World. This international role sees her working closely with luxury hotels, bars and private members clubs. Alex also arranges exclusive events and parties where she charms all in sight with her schmoozing skills. Alex describes herself as a proper “Girl about Town” and will attend any new party all in the name of research!

Mirrors, Shakers and Manhattans

It’s been quiet on the invite side. I would put this down to the busy holiday season. Saying that I’ve still been invited to a couple of shindigs this week.

The week started with a couple of drinks at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. I usually frequent the Mirror Bar with the charming Bar Manager Salvatore. I have taken many a friend here to impress, to date or even to meet new friends!

Mirror Bar at Landmark Hotel

The bar is very small but adequate.  The list includes classics such as Negroni’s, Manhattans, Martini’s and of course Salvatore will prepare a bespoke cocktail to your needs and desires at the time. I usually swear by the Landmark martini with a lemon twist which never fails to deliver. If you prefer something a little sweeter this can be accommodated with a fruit twist or maybe a passionfruit martini (another favourite) I also like to be offered bar snacks and there is always a decent selection of nuts/crackers/snacky bits.

The sushi platter is also excellent: a plate of salmon and tuna sashimi rolled beautifully, chicken satay and delicious tapas.

Salvatore also offers cocktail masterclasses which need to be booked in advance. They are for a complete beginner and usually include background to cocktails, theory and actual practise. These are becoming very popular for alternative birthday bashes, hen do’s or just generally for something different. You can almost pretend you are an expert mixologist.

Mixologist at Shaker & Company

My other favourite place in town is a wonderful bar called Shaker & Company just off the Euston Road. This is in the style of a speakeasy/Saloon bar and these bars are becoming increasingly popular. The Nightjar is another example of a speakeasy (Old Street roundabout).  Shaker & Company was originally a training school for bartenders and has reared some well known cocktail shakers and makers in the industry.  It continues with the bar school but also has the bar and what a fine bar it is. Just downstairs is a small function room which has been known to host “pop ups” such as Four Roses Bourbon, Ketel One featuring an Amsterdam exhibition and more to come.

The drinks are excellent with all the modern classics again but specialities are whiskies and bourbons. Ask the bartenders for recommendations as they know their stuff and take a nice group of friends.

I was invited to an event hosted by a quirky whisky company called Monkey Shoulder.  Cool name too.  It is part of a monthly event whereby you have a different theme each month such as Manhattan followed by Old Fashioned, Whiskey Punch and others.   This week featured “Manhattan” and featured cardboard cutouts of Manhattan strangely enough  with a makeshift Statue of Liberty as you entered, cardboard cutout taxis to wear (yes very unusual)   As we entered a Monkey signed us in…

We were then given a handful of American dollars to spend at the four bars that were dotted around the room. Once at the bar we were given a brief description of the whisky, cocktails such as a Manhattan – the one with the maraschino twist was delicious and option to even double up for more cocktails with a “banker” who was walking around.

I am quite a whisky fan so this was most enjoyable.  After sampling a few of the cocktails it was then time for the Monkey Shoulder organisers to usher us out of the warehouse by being chased out by their monkey King Kong and they did this with an extinguisher and out we were again.  This event will be running monthly in secret locations so have a look at the website for Monkey Shoulder.

Images reproduced from landmarklondon.co.uk, designmynight.com and Alexandra Abrahams

Gin – Is It Really Mother’s Ruin?

Gin has made a bit of a comeback as of late. In the old days (i.e. when I was young) there was only one gin we’d drink and that was Gordon’s. This would be with an “ice and a slice” I used to drink it during my early college days in the days of Hooch (what did become of Hooch?)

I then moved onto vodka and would only drink one brand as I and many others knew no different. This was Smirnoff Red. It was the obligatory drink to bring to a party and we’d enjoy it with cranberry juice.

In the last 5 years or so vodka has now moved into the flavoured category: we have vodka with many different flavours such as raspberry, lime, and blueberry – a whole plethora of flavours tickling our taste buds. I’ve actually moved away from vodka as to be frank got bored of it. It actually has no flavour and I can’t see the point.

Somehow gin is moving into its own new category and some new gins are so light you could almost describe them as flavoured vodka. You can even drink gin straight and that’s not just coming from me who works for a spirit company but you really can and it’s quite nice.

So what is gin? Essentially gins are made with ethyl alcohol flavoured with juniper berries. There are different types of gin and the most popular choice is London Dry Gin. In order to be called a London Dry gin the Master distiller must follow certain EU guidelines. London Dry gin must contain some level of juniper berries –the predominant flavour must be juniper, it must not be coloured, of an ABV of at least 37.5% and at the time of distillation all the ingredients must be present. The ingredients refer to the botanicals that are added to the copper pot still where it heats up and all the magic comes together. Water is the only permitted ingredient and this must be demineralised water and never regular tap water.

Juniper berries have always been recognised from ancient times as possessing medicinal properties. As early as the 11th century, Italian monks were already crudely distilling their own. The Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius is credited with having invented gin. During the mid 17th century gin was very popular in Holland and Belgium and was known as Genever which we still have today. During the 80 years war thanks to the Dutch the English troops were already sipping some gin before battle and this was known as “Dutch Courage” a term we still use to this day.

Gin became very popular during the Restoration during the reign of William of Orange – and gin was then produced illegally in crude, inferior forms sometimes flavoured with turpentine and unregulated water.

Gin Lane

 

Gin became even more popular in England after the government allowed unlicensed gin production and also imposed a heavy duty on all imported spirits. This lead to people distilling their own at home with poor quality grain and thousands of gin shops sprang up also known as bathtub gin. Gin was also blamed for various social and medical problems which led to the famous Gin Lane painting by Hogarth – unregulated gin production and the term Mother’s ruin – a term we still hear to this day. There were various gin acts such as the Gin Act of 1736 which imposed high taxes on retailers and led to riots in the streets.

The London Dry gin was developed in the late 18th century using pot stills and in British Colonies gin was used to mask the bitter flavour of quinine. Quinine was also used to combat malaria so that is where the gin and tonic derived from. To this day tonic can put people off gin as it does have a particular bitter taste.

Essentially vodka is unfinished gin. Gin is much more complex and we are seeing a real turn to more interesting cocktails using gin such as the Gin Martini (shaken or stirred), Negronis containing campari and gin – lovely refreshing cocktail, Gimlets just with lemon juice and even Gin mojitos. All very exciting stuff.

Gin Martini

So that’s just the nuts and bolts stuff: it does get quite complicated with the distillation process and all the individual botanicals but we can discuss that another time.

So I have the pleasure of working for a spirits company. We make and manufacture gin and vodka for the moment. It is very interesting. I’ve been here for just over a year. Very different to my previous career in media and dating! However combines many of my key skills such as those all important people skills, putting events together and sales / marketing.

Last week I had an event at a lovely boutique Hotel the Pelham Hotel in South Kensington. It was an early Christmas party entitled “Christmas comes early” and it certainly did on one of the hottest evenings of the year! Our gin brand which is distinctly floral was chosen to be the sponsor combined with canapés and food pairings.

The Pelham is a beautiful quaint boutique style Hotel. It has been described as London’s “finest Town House Hotel” and what a fine Hotel it is. It feels like a mini stately home but without all the pomp and circumstance. It is probably the most chilled out boutique Hotel I have been to. I love to escape from the hustle and bustle of London life and use it as my retreat.

We were in one of the main function rooms overlooking the hustle and bustle outside. It is directly opposite South Kensington station. The Hotel’s main objective to allow new potential guests to try the Christmas menu for parties or functions.

The canapés were delicious from glazed pork belly with an apple compote, ricotta cheese and butternut squash arancini, confit duck and terragon croustade, poached pear and goat cheese tartlet, smoked salmon, dill scone and crème fraiche.

The sweets included old fashioned whisky jelly shot, mulled wine ice cream and mini baileys fondant.

On the gin side with the gin being so floral we had a special bellini with the gin, fresh berries plus prosecco, another take on a Christmas cocktail with cinnamon liquor, gin, apple and prosecco.

It was paired up beautifully. So who was there – a mixture of local businesses, journalists, some drinks people, local Hotels, and general potential clients who may well book and enjoy their Christmas party there.

There was a lovely ambiance – Christmas but a warm feeling, great people, food and cocktails. A perfect evening to round off a hot Summer’s evening (in October!)

I regularly get invited to events and functions either with the spirit as a sponsor or as a guest. I am lucky to try out new bars and restaurants in London so happy to report back on my findings.

Until the next time…

Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons

Uggie – A Chance Encounter

I recently watched The Artist, a film of cinematic genius at the cinema. It is witty, charming, surprising and wonderful. I found myself smiling to myself remembering meeting the famous doggie Uggie in the bar of a central London hotel. It turned out he was residing there for a couple of weeks with his owner Omar from LA. One of his appearances on TV was on the Graham Norton show on BBC 1 where he entertained guests whilst skateboarding across the set.

Uggie at the Arch Bar

The hotel in question is The Arch London on Great Cumberland Place. It has a very cosy and quaint bar and a fine restaurant called Hunter 436. I work in the drinks industry and whilst perched at the bar chatting to the staff, I noticed a beautiful dog in the corner. He was awfully well behaved but there was something about him: a sort of doggie star quality. I spoke to Uggie’s owner, a charming man named Omar Van Muller, who happily told me about his famous pooch. Van Muller had saved Uggie from an uncertain fate after two previous owners rejected him as being too wild. Since then, Uggie has worked as a touring dog performer and then moved onto commercials and films. He has already won the Palm Dog award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and also appeared in Water with Elephants alongside Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

The Artist itself is directed by Michel Hazanavicious. Set in the late 1920s in Hollywood, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a successful and loved silent movie idol. During the premiere of his latest film, Valentin meets Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a star-struck extra and aspiring actress. The two are attracted to each other and Peppy is given a small dancing role in his next picture. As their romance progresses, Peppy’s career begins to take off, and Valentin fears that the talkies will ruin him as his roles dry up. The film then focuses on the relationships between the couple and those around them. Uggie, however, is the undoubted star of the film with many critics describing him as: “stealing every scene.”

The film is one of the most touching and enigmatic films I have seen in a long while. I was brought up watching films by such greats as Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy so that The Artist follows in this genre brought me great pleasure. What has been quite a surprise is how a relatively small film from France has caught the eye of one of the largest film moguls in the world – Harvey Weinstein who has then converted a low budget, off beat movie into a global phenomenon. It is a pure joy to watch: no amount of money can replace the feel good feeling you embrace throughout the movie. The acting is flawless, extracting emotion and humour from a simple but classic storyline. In summary, I’d argue that it is a must see for 2012.

The latest on Uggie is despite “retiring” from showbusiness, Uggie was named as Nintendo’s first ever spokesdog in March for a new advert in the US with Mario Bros. In his first advert, Uggie sports an unusual tie as he heads into work at Nintendo HQ. He also plays a bit of NIntendogs + Cats, meets Mario and takes care of proceedings as the new boss. Surreal but very amusing.

There is also now a Facebook group with over 17,000 members devoted to him.

Despite his “retirement”, Uggie is still very much in demand and this cute doggie will not be leaving showbusiness just yet….

Image courtesy of Alexandra Abrahams
Video courtesy of Alexandra Abrahams on YouTube / CityConnectNews

Fun About Town

So I returned from Majorca last week and the exciting thing
was I cleverly booked the rest of the week off! We had a very early
flight back – departing at 11 pm. I hasten to add the transfer to
the airport went via Magaluf and Palma Nova. To put it mildly I
feel I ‘knew’ those resorts intimately with all the transfer pick
up’s. What fun. The next day consisted of recovery but also booking
into a Spa Day on the Friday – the Sanctuary Covent Garden and
Thursday was getting back into the swing of my usual role about
town. Fun. The bar at Berners Tavern The bar at Berners
Tavern Started on Thursday with the announcement of the
new London Edition Hotel which has taken
residence of the old Berners Hotel on Berners Street. The London
Edition is a 173 room Hotel featuring a Night Club, 4 bars, Health
Club and the Berners Tavern. It has been developed in conjunction
with Ian Schrager and you can really see the his influence
punctuating throughout the Hotel. It does feel very St Martin’s
Lane / Sanderson but has it’s own personality. Loved the main
entrance with the Lobby Bar and no pretentiousness. There is a huge
designer silver orb lamp in the middle of the Lobby and from this
you can see the reflection of the whole room! Very unusual. There
are also other famous works of art here. Cocktails at Berners Tavern Cocktails at Berners
Tavern Next door is the Berner’s Tavern which is a new
Jason Atherton concept. The Restaurant looks opulent and
magnificent – rather like the Wolseley but again has it’s own
style. This is a 120 seater restaurant serving contemporary English
food and the menu looks delicious. Managed to see the ‘Punch Room’
– this will be the more VIP style bar and for in-house guests. It
reminded me of a Speakeasy and will serve punches mainly and an
array of cocktails. Nipped off after to the Boisdale
Canary Wharf.
A friend had ‘won’ a VIP table for the Jazz
evening and this was very pleasant indeed. Boisdale is the very
exuberant venue serving traditional Scottish cuisine alongside a
huge whisky bar and cigar terrace, caviar and oyster bar and even a
cigar library! Had a wee dram or two and wandered back into the
night – tube home and to bed!

Sanctuary Day, Chinese Night & Sunday Brunch

The end of my two weeks off work was rapidly approaching and I was looking forward to a treat for myself on the Friday – the Sanctuary in Covent Garden. I managed to get a ‘Flash sale’ offer which was rather a bargain via Facebook. Here I was feeling sorry for myself post holiday (I still had nearly a week off in London) and decided that I would be mad not to take them up on this offer of a full day in the Spa plus a one hour treatment for well under £100. I like bargains (that will be my next blog – how to live life cheaply in London) it was raining too so why not.

It is the most beautiful ‘ladies’ spa in town. I am used to one floor complete with treatment rooms, spa, sauna, pool – this one had 4 floors and was quite a maze. I spent most of my time relaxing in the Koi Carp lounge – full of Koi Carp (surprisingly) lazing and wishing I was back on my holiday in the blue/aquamarine waters of the Med….But it was lovely.

Sanctuary Spa MassageI also had a one hour Sanctuary Signature massage which put me at complete ease and in a state of tranquil. They even kindly threw in a ‘sleep treatment’ which consisted of a 30 minute meditation to the most relaxing music in a vibrating bed….bliss.

I stayed the whole day until late afternoon when I was really beginning to take up residence at the Sanctuary. Home time beckoned.

Nipped back home in the pouring rain and met up with flatmates – A Wong was the Restaurant near my flat in Pimlico. This is one of the cheapest and truly great finds as of late.  It is a dim sum/fusion Chinese Restaurant – very simple surroundings but the food is sublime. They even do a £12.95 menu which includes 2 courses and a glass of house red or white – bargain! It’s delicious though and you can see the chef’s show off their talents in the open kitchen. You must try the ribs for the starter which are thick and dense followed by the Beef Ho Fun Noodles.

Later  – collapsed in a heap and bed.

Sunday had a delicious brunch at The Orange in Pimlico – lovely venue part of the Thomas Cubitt chain. Posh gastropub I would describe it as. Yummy Eggs benedict and a full selection of papers – as long as they have all the papers (and the magazine supplements) I could drink coffee all day.  it started to rain again – what better than to return back to bed and continue to read all the papers and the repeats of X Factor/Big Brother – oh it’s a hard life.

That was the end of my time off. Return to work beckons…

Girl About Town: Majorca

I have just returned from a trip abroad. Working in PR and Marketing = very stressful so was lucky to have 2 weeks off.

I recently holiday’d with the folks/family to a most delightful resort called Camp de Mar in Majorca for the second year running. Yes Majorca the home of Magaluf and Palma Nova. There is nothing at all wrong with these resorts: but I’m just not interested anymore (and am probably too old) I now prefer a more subdued way of life…

Majorca H10 Hotel Lido Camp de MarThe H10 Hotel in Camp de Mar had all that. The only way I can describe it as a little peace of heaven where you completely forget any troubles…You just escape into another world and can even get away with not having your mobile on. The resort is so small, you will not have access to a nightclub or loud bars – apart from the large ‘Benidorm’ style hotel next door with 500 rooms (luckily a large bridge separates us and it’s really quite far far away)

The H10 is actually known as a ’boutique’ Hotel with only 100 bedrooms. The location could not be any more perfect. It has the most gorgeous outlook onto the beach: all the bedrooms face the swimming pool and sandy pictoresque beach which I could have mistaken for a Thai beach. It really reminded me of small beaches such as Ko Phi Phi or Ko Tao (seriously) the sea is warm and crystal clear with that turquoise/green tone and fish swim around.  The swimming was a joy from early morning 7 am swims throughout the day. There is a wonderful seafood Restaurant – the Illeta Restaurant which can only be accessed via a small wooden footbridge or by boat. All the fish is caught locally in Port D’Andratx so it is literally the freshest fish from Sea Bass to Bream.

The Hotel also has a super gym/spa and rooftop balcony where we spent a great deal of time. It is known as the ‘chill out’ area – very Ibiza style (another place I frequented in my younger age) the main Restaurant has outdoors seating as does the bar – all overlooking the sea. It is truly a resort I would return to for a third time.

Trips wise I would recommend doing an organised trip (only if you can face it) Saying that I always promise this will be the final time I do an escorted trip but always get roped into going on them. It is just so convenient to be picked up and taken to places. But every time we have a tourist scrum to get onto the coach/train/lunch – and a fight of the nationalities.  There were no fewer than 8 different nationalities on our bus so you can imagine the effort of the poor tour guide. It was also a full day trip for 10 hours. However the trip was beautiful and I would do it again.

We took the coach from Palma via the mountains to  Sa Colobra which looks like another Thai Island to Soller followed by a tram and train back to Palma. Very pretty indeed but exhausting!

Otherwise just wander around the resort. There is a photograph from 1962 in the bar of the beach resort. To this day it still looks the same. I have been assured this resort will remain as it is – despite the large ‘Benidorm’ style Thompson hotel nearby (it’s a long way from this boutique hotel).

Birthday Week – Part 2

Girl About Town, Alexandra Abrahams, continues to relate the happenings from her Birthday Week…

On the Friday of my Birthday Week I opted to go to a gin distillery. Well why not indeed. I like to ensure I don’t run out of gin and where better than an actual distillery.  Currently the only working distillery in the city’s Square Mile, the City of London Distillery (COLD) opened last year and employs a unique distillation and infusion process with juniper, coriander, angelica and liquorice alongside pink grapefruit, lemon and orange peel – yum!  They also have a unique Master Distiller Jamie Baxter who used to be the Master Distiller for Chase Williams Gin/vodka  and is rather excellent. Such a treat to visit a working distillery within a beautiful bar and over 100 gins!

Some of their cocktails included – the Corpse Reviver No 2 (there was one already??!) This is one of the great classics and as Harry Croddock from the Savoy said ‘Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again. City of London gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and lemon juice served in an Absinthe rimmed glass.

Another amazing classic cocktail included the Ramos Gin Fizz with City of London Dry Gin, orange and lemon juice, cream, sugar, soda water and egg white. The bar team were fantastic particularly Nate and Luis. Just wonderfully knowledgeable team who know everything there is to know about gin / spirits and this amazing bar and working distillery. Highly recommended.

Bday ShardIt was then time to descend onto the Shard or rather up the Shard.  The Shard.  the Shard is an iconic, landmark building dominating the London skyline and designed by Master Architect Renzo Pino. At a height of 1, 016 ft (310 m) it is the tallest building in Western Europe and redefines London’s skyline and is already being recognised throughout the world.  We tried some of the marvellous cocktails in Aqua Shard which has a beautiful Restaurant. It was very easy to access the Shard and you don’t even need to travel to the top. The best way is to access the main entrance and just use the Aquashard entrance to the 33rd floor. It certainly feels like you are travelling towards height and gravity!  Once you exit you meet hosts who show you the way. I thought it would feel rather ‘formal’ or pretentious but all staff were friendly and you are able to grab a cocktail in the Hutong Bar on the 33rd Floor or Aqua Shard Bar one floor above on the ………floor.

Hutong’s origins begin in Hong Kong with a glitzy, high end Chinese restaurant with incredible views and the London branch is no exception. There is the same Sichuan and Northern Chinese menu, Old Beijing decor and red lanterns. You could almost be in an old Colonial restaurant. I just loved the views and our cocktails!

The cocktails are described as ‘cocktail cures’ using ingredients that Chinese herbal medicine deems good for you. The Chinese believe that there are some medicinal qualities that can cure a range of ailments from abdominal pain, colds or even allergies. We take this with a pinch of salt but I like to believe there are some good qualities in all of these cocktails.

The first one we had was the ‘Comfortably Numb’ with Stolichnaya vanilla, fresh chili, Szechuan pepper honey, lychee liquor, fresh lime juice. It tasted fresh, fruity and had a very slight chilli kick – £12.50.  ‘Chinese Lantern’ contained Fresh Mandarin, Aperol, St Germain, passion fruit syrup, plum bitters and Champagne (£14).  Apparently Mandarin is good for the ‘treatment of nausea, peptic ulcers and indigestion, allergies, digestive disorders and for it’s healing powers’  I found the prices normal compared to other bars and with such unquestionable views across London – worth every penny.

Bday Hutong CocktailsWe were very comfortable in Hutong Bar but decided to venture a couple of levels down to Aqua Shard. We were not tasting food but more the cocktails tonight. Aqua Shard serves innovative, contemporary British cuisine with views to die for once again.

You now feel like you are looking over the whole of London – views are exceptional and you see the view wherever you are seated. However my companion and I chose to sit at the bar and watch the mixologists in action.  Here cocktails are certainly more experimental but some of the most unusual and wonderful cocktails I have ever tried.

Some of the cocktails included their ‘Battenberg Martini’ with Vodka, Apricot Brandy, Rubis Chocolate wine, Apricot Jam, tea tincture, egg white and lime juice. Another cocktail was the ‘Skyline Cooler’  with Ketel One Citren Vodka, Cinzano, absinthe, fennel seeds, apple juice, lemon juice and elderflower cordial…

Birthday Week – Part 1

Bday cakeIt was my Birthday Week recently. Birthday week means celebrations to last the whole week. Why should the Queen celebrate with two birthday’s and not I? My birthday week continued for a week and even this week I was taken out by another friend who I had to ‘catch up with’.  These catch up nights are becoming common place. I am finding it harder to see friends now. Time is actually quite limited with working late at times, going to the gym, seeing the odd friend, date and what time do I have left to actually get on and do some writing / reading / nothing at home?  Oh the hardship of being a social butterfly.

So the Birthday Week was something like this:

I cleverly took the Tuesday as a day off and started a late lazy day with going to a drinks show. As you may know I used to work in the drinks business although strictly speaking still am. I work for PR in a large hotel. The show was called Imbibe. Decided to take my sister who also had a day. Day was great, fuelled with unusual spirits from whisky to gin to rum. The latter part of the afternoon was hazy but hey. A massage followed via a wonderful site called www.wahanda.com. Managed to get a 2 for 1 followed by champers and afternoon tea in the  Soho Refuel Hotel.  The evening was not going to end there. We popped back to Skylon on the South Bank for delicious cocktails and a spot of steak – delish.

Bday KerbBirthday week continued on the Wednesday with a visit to another up-and-coming area behind the newly rebuilt Kings Cross Station. The area is called Granary Square which is also home to Kerb on a Saturday (see earlier entry) which houses up and coming ‘foodies’ and their wares plus a whole jet set lot of foodie lovers.  I went to a new restaurant called The Grain Store and it was pretty amazing. It is a new collaboration between a renowned French chef called Bruno Loubet and the Zetter Group who also own a trendy boutique hotel/bar in Farringdon called the Zetter Townhouse.  The bar at the Grain Store has been headed up by Tony Conigliaro ex Zetter Bar and one of the most highly rated bars in London  – 69 Colebrook Row.  The food looks and feels healthy. I left feeling almost detoxed and without that awful ‘full feeling’ I often have. Although recently I tend to eat smaller portions but a little more often. Anyways – back to the food.

My guest tried the Endive, pear, runner beans and roquefort salad with smoked pepper jelly and toasted hazlenuts. I opted for the courgette, prawn and broad bean falafel. Just delicious, light and fresh. Loved the starters so far.

Mains included Corn and Quinoa tamale, salsa with sticky pork belly. The most tender pork belly (if you like pork this dish is for you).

Guest had Spiced mash, mint pickled cucumber, raw pink top turnips, broad beans, confit lamb belly. Another friend had Kimchi & potato dumpling, Irish seaweed, chilli oil lobster broth. It was a reasonable meal: starters from £4 to £9 and mains from £10 to £15- not bad at all.

This is not your normal menu but one that is just outside of the ‘norm’ whatever that is. I am quite adventurous however feel that many others will also be open to taste the wonders of the Grain Store.

The Bar is even more unusual – drinks included the signature Mustard Martini with Mustard Vodka and dry vermouth, Fennel Pollen Vinus Lupas with Fennel Pollen, clover honey, mastic, verjus, stirred down and Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Martini with Home-made pumpkin puree with de-sugared caramelized maple syrup. Just unusual cocktails which actually seem to work. this is no mean feat and the mixologists must be scientists a la Heston Blumenthal to work their magic here…

Lovely Restaurant, great service and smiles from the staff there. We also caught a glimpse of the chef Bruno Loubet and watched him in action as we were positioned close to the chef’s table… highly recommended.