Entries Tagged as 'Europe'




Dishoom // JessOnThames

So here’s the thing: I have a dilemma.

What does one write about a restaurant everyone already loves?

Last night, I realised that in my first year and a half living in London, I have committed one atrocious crime: I did not go to Dishoom earlier.

Dishoom – or the Bombay Cafe as they describe themselves – is like an interior designer’s dream which serves incredible food. I’d seen a picture or two of their restaurants in London magazines, but I think what first hooked me was this description they have on their website:

“The Old Irani Cafés of Bombay have almost all disappeared. Their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.”

Yeah. Sign me up.

Dishoom King's Cross

There was only one problem. I have avoided trying Dishoom because I am loath to wait for a table, which for some entirely insane reason seems to be all the rage in London. You can’t reserve for dinner unless you are a party over 6.

Cue bloggers.

We arrived at their King’s Cross location wondering if the early eating time of 6pm would suit us (the only time available to book a table on a Wednesday evening). By the time we were sitting, most of us admitted we were already charmed before we reached the table.

Dishoom / JessOnThames  Dishoom / JessOnThames

Dishoom / JessOnThames  Dishoom / JessOnThames

We ordered cocktails and loved reading about the Permit Room (in Bombay, the prohibition style room where drinking is sanctioned once you obtain a private permit). We were advised to order 2-3 dishes per person and could barely decide which to order.

I would say the Black House Dahl (simmered for 24 hours) were the champion of the dinner menu, but I also particularly enjoyed the Chicken Berry Britannia and Mattar Paneer. The calamari were also out of this world. We topped the night off with magical glasses of Bailey’s Chai which were delicious until the cream at the top of two of ours went a bit funky – but in all honesty, I didn’t care.

Truth is, I’d go back and happily wait the hour for the table in their incredible basement bar. I’d order an Edwina’s Affair – gin, rose & cardamom with mint. Maybe have some ocra fries while we wait.

I hear they do brunch. I will likely be back to sample it before you’ve even read this post.

Good eats in London n°2



February is proving particularly difficult in the discipline department… Too many chances to eat out – too many lovely things to try – too few trips to the gym.

But two recent culinary finds were so delicious I had to share them.

The Thomas Cubitt

Exhibit A: I’ve been raving about The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia over on Instagram ever since my Dad and I walked in on a whim a few weeks ago. Greeted by a friendly host staff, we were told they were pretty full but that we could take a table in their upstairs dining room for two hours if that was ok. The room was beautiful, the orders swiftly taken and the service super friendly. And then came the food… which was so good, I dragged my friend Lindsay back the week after just to see if it was still as good. And it was.

We tried a trio of starters: the turnip soup with horseradish cream and watercress (which we practically fought over), the crispy fried squid, prawns, lemon & artichokes with smoked chilli dressing and the fig & goat’s cheese tart, port reduction, black olive oil & mustard cress. The food was light but perfectly filling. And the ambiance is friendly but refined. As we were leaving, Lindsay and I may have been muttering “that was so good…” repeatedly to each other. Just to remind ourselves how happy we were. It is firmly on my list of London favorites and I can’t wait to try the other restaurants & rooms of the family run Cubitt House group. They are doing something very right.

Gail's Kitchen

Exhibit B: Gail’s Kitchen. Not to be confused with Gail’s Bakery, which we all tried to walk into as it closed not far from the British Museum. Though it is the bakery’s big sister.

Gail’s wasn’t very large but it felt light and airy as we entered. Their menu is composed of (the latest in London fashion but I am not complaining) small plates. We liked everything we tried – especially the Burrata with Castelfranco, orange and hazelnuts; the Squid with chickpeas, Persian lemon stew, labneh and herbs; and the Porchetta with sweet potato, red onion, mustard creme sauce and coriander. Everything tasted fresh. Everything tasted familiar, but at the same time in combinations I hadn’t tried before. You might feel you are being a bit adventurous in ordering but you’re happily reassured once you taste it.

Then the dessert menu appeared in front of us and I saw milk & cookies. Now, for context, this American was feeling a little bit raw with the announcement that Jon Stewart would be leaving the Daily Show this morning. He has honestly been one of the things holding together any sense of sanity I felt remained in the US after so many years overseas. So I had to go with something comforting from home. I was smiling at the presentation before it ever hit the table. The cookies were blazingly hot and melty, paired with ice cold milk. Man, were they good.

Get thyself to these restaurants pronto.

For Good Eats n°1, click here.

Photos of questionable iPhone quality taken by JessOnThames.

Why you should travel to Seville on a whim



Seville / JessOnThames

The benefits of solo travel and travel on a whim are quite possibly the discoveries I value most from 2014.

For I got slapped upside the head by both in the best possible way upon arriving in Seville last autumn.

Hands down, Seville is the city that has surprised me most in Europe and I really think that was because I went on my own. I was having one of those achy, need to travel moments, followed by a “plug in the credit card details before you can regret it” airfare booking deals, concluded by a more lengthy and way-over-analyzed perusal of AirBnB flats.

And I didn’t regret it.

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville 19

Seville / jessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

I selected the three things I wanted to see most upon my arrival before leaving (The Alcazar, the Plaza de España and the Casa de Pilatos). And then decided to wing it the rest of the way through.

I picked up a good local street map at the airport and had my favorite, familiar guide series with me (I like to stay consistent with Rough Guides: they have a great balance of handy maps, good recommendations and a healthy dose of geeky history I love).

I chose this lovely little flat about a ten minute walk from the centre. It had huge windows and a cozy mezzanine. It was wonderfully clean and had a opera singer practicing next door every afternoon when I came back for a pre-dinner rest.

Seville apartment

The entire city was walkable and in early November, there was still a warmth to the air that made you want to linger as the sun went down on a large plazas. Its one of those places where you stopped on a regular basis to take it all in and people watch. One minute it looked incredibly European, one minute traditionally Spanish, sometimes confusingly Roman and then, refreshingly North African. I adored the mix. And I loved being continually surprised.

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville / JessOnThames

Seville Limonada / JessOnThames

That’s the best part about solo travel: you don’t have anywhere to be. You can take all the time or as little time as you like. Its just you, your head and your heart: ready to explore.

Seville is a wonderfully gentle city. Its architecture pulls you in, its history keeps you thinking and its food… well, let’s just say you will not go hungry as Andalusia is the home of tapas. Do not skip the local gazpacho.

My advice to you? Just book. Wander. And plan to go back someday.

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