The Perfectionists’ Cafe at London Terminal 2

img_2356We spent a good couple of hours at the refurbished London Airport Terminal 2 which had a good selection of shopping and nice restaurants / cafes. I spotted Heston Blumenthal’s caricature from afar and decided to check out the place. We were pleasantly surprised by what we ate and drank and decided to come back again to the Perfectionists’ Cafe just before we boarded our flight back home.

img_2360For one of THE BEST fish and chips that we have ever had, I think this is it – The Perfectionists’ Cafe EXTRAORDINARY FISH & CHIPS! Even the Man who’s a fish and chips snob agrees fully with me.

The batter surrounding the fish was simply light and crunchy. We later found out that they use a special beer batter that is aerated through a siphon to create the lightest, crunchiest texture possible. The chips were super yummy and that possibly can be attributed to the fact that the triple-cooked chips were cooked in duck fat. So sinful but oh-so-good compared to normal chips.

img_2358I’m usually not a fan of Bloody Mary but this came highly recommended by our server. I let the Man have a go at this first before even wanting to take a sip out of the straw from this. Did you know this cocktail is considered as a breakfast beverage? Funny! But I eventually gave it a go and it tasted pretty good. Like I said, Bloody Mary would not have been my choice of alcoholic poison. But the one at The Perfectionists’ Cafe is one that I would recommend.

Now you know.. factor in more time to fill up your bellies before the long flight home if you are ever flying out of London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2!

Checking out: Prêt-à-Portea

img_2597Finally managed to check out Prêt-à-Portea (afternoon tea) at The Berkeley. It’s been one of the things that I had wanted to do (man, since 2009), but I never got round to doing it. So when I found out that we had a free afternoon in London and planned to catch up with the stylish little one, I decided to just book it! I mean, what better way to mark the catch-up with some stylish bites with the stylish not-quite-little-one anymore.

img_2710Having flown in from Geneva, we were pretty tired. I mean, check out my super-tired face. But it was so nice to meet with S whom we have seen grown up over the years.

The afternoon tea is supposed to be served at the Caramel Room (touted to look really fashionable with designer furnishings), but unfortunately for us, it was under renovation! So tea was moved to Koffman’s instead.

img_2604Having skipped lunch, I was looking forward to the afternoon tea, I mean I’ve been waiting for years for this! After we ordered our teas, we were served each with a tray of tea sandwiches plus some savory bites. If you are wondering if those have any links with the fashion items, I’m telling you – No. These are served as a taster before the fashion show-stopper starts.

The Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea gets refreshed every season and mirrors what you can find on the runway. As we were still in Autumn/ Winter 2015/2016, we got a glimpse of the bites dressed up in the sweetest fashion.

img_2622CaptureThe full-fledged tray of sweets were really a lot and by then, all of us were stuffed! When our server set the entire 3-tiered tray, my eyes opened wide at the visually stunning work of art that looked too pretty to be eaten. And in summary, that was probably what it was. Sweet treats that looked better photographed than in my tummy. Maybe the novelty wore off after so many years of yearning to head there. The Man simply rolled his eyes at us when us 2 ladies were more interested in literally playing with our food (ie: taking them from the trays and then placing them around for it to be photographed). Well, we did have fun.

img_2614If there was one thing that they did possibly right for the tea would be the scones! Served warm, they were fluffy to the bite and that dollop of clotted cream along with some raspberry jam was the perfect finishing touch to the long afternoon tea before we headed out into the cold.

Glad I gave into my long-awaited craving. Gonna check this off my list and say ‘Been there, done that.’ Not sure if I want to head back for there are probably better tea places that I will definitely check out the next time we are in London.

img_2613Try this if you are true-blue fashionista who wants to live, breathe and eat fashion. Otherwise, just enjoy the eye candy and move along.

 

Table for one, please!

This was what I proudly said to my server when I arrived at Bar Boulud London on a Thursday night. ‘Table for one?‘. Heck, make that dining for one – a concept that would be totally shunned by yours truly years ago.  But something that I’m comfortable with doing now.  Yikes, could this be a function of aging?

The Man was in London for a work trip, I tagged along but couldn’t join him for his work dinner.  So it was either going to be room service or suck it in and enjoy dining in one of the celebrity restaurants at the hotel that we were staying in.

Dining alone?  Would you do it?  As mentioned earlier, it was something I never dreamed I could do.  ‘It was a ‘loser’ kind of thing to do.’ or ‘I’d rather dine at home alone than be seen dining in a restaurant on my own!’, the younger version of me would say.  The ‘mean girl’ version of me could also say ‘Look! That person is pathetic to dine on her own!’

The concept of dining alone became comfortable only when I moved to Tokyo.  The city was vibrant and I noticed that many girls actually dined on their own.  I took baby steps, first, dining in a fast-food joint on my own, then having coffee on my own in a crowded cafe and lastly dining on my own in a nice little restaurant.  I was warming up to this concept and could enjoy a leisurely lunch by myself in this city without inviting stares.

It was a Thursday evening and  Bar Boulud was crowded so I was half-expecting a counter seat.  Instead, I was shown to a table situated rather centrally in the room.  Suddenly, I felt a little conscious.  ‘Could I really do this?’  My server asked again, ‘Are you sure you are dining alone?’  ‘Yes.’ and affirmed further with a nod.  ‘I’ll bring you a paper’, she smiled and cleared the remaining cutlery off the table.  Well, I guess she probably felt sorry for me.

But you know what?  Dinner on my own here in Bar Boulud didn’t turn out all too bad.  I had the paper; I had my iPad (as a back-up; I had my iPhone; I had my camera – I had things that could clearly be my ‘companion’ for a simple meal.  So, I surveyed the menu, picked out a starter and a main for myself.  Then moved on to the wine list and selected 2 glasses of wine – a white and a red – for the meal.  The Cevelas Lyonnais en Brioche as a starter was really yummy.  It was a Lyonnais pork sausage with pistachios and truffle stuffed and baked in a brioche.  I kinda wished that I had someone to share this with for it felt a little too big for me as a starter.

For the mains, was feeling a little greedy and since Bar Boulud is pretty much famous for its burgers, I went with the Piggie burger with BBQ pulled pork, green chili mayonnaise served on a cheddar bun.  Server recommended that I add on sides with the burger, so I chose the fries to accompany the dish.  Was pretty pleased with my choice for the burger along with the pulled pork, it was simply amazing.  The green chili mayonnaise was special too but not too overpowering.

So, there.. my dinner for one on a solo night out about vibrant London.  Didn’t turned out all too bad and people-watching from my side of the table made it a fun and interesting evening for me as well.  🙂

Overheard at Dinner by Heston

When I found out that we were going to be spending a weekend in London, I was superbly excited.  Asked the Man if he would like for me to try to secure reservations to the Fat Duck.  That was when he told me ‘You just ruined your own birthday surprise!’  Well, how was I supposed to know?  I was just trying to help.  So I sat around, waited as the Man relied on his social networks to try to secure us reservations to the famed Fat Duck.  Turned out, he never quite secured those reservations.

Fast-forward, a week before we leave for London, I ask again if he needed me to plan for dinner.  He sheepishly said yes.  Well, it was almost impossible to get the reservations at the Fat Duck now.  So I called concierge services and enlisted their help to get us a seating at the next best thing – Dinner by Heston.  2 days before our departure, I received a call and reservations for a 9pm seating was secured!  Yay!

I recalled reading R’s review so at the back of my mind, I kinda knew what I was going to order.

For starters, I had the Meatfruit (c.1500) while the Man had the Broth of Lamb (c.1720).  Presented before me was a pretty mandarin fruit and concealed in the citrus jello was a silky smooth chicken liver parfait.  What a beautiful combination of flavours, as I bit into the soft and silky chicken liver spread generously on the crusty toast.  The Man’s starter was a slow-cooked hen’s egg served with celery, radish, turnip and sweetbreads immersed in a rich broth which was robust and flavorful.

For the mains, the Man went with the Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) which was a cut of pigeon with artichokes that was marinated in good ol’ ale.   I’ve been craving for a good fish so I went for the Cod in Cider (c. 1940) and it was yummy.  A thick slab of white silky cod-fish served up with a creamy sauce and fired mussels.

As for dessert, we went with our server’s recommendation of the house favourite – Tipsy Cake (c.1810).  The slice of pineapple was roasted till golden brown and eaten with a freshly baked brioche that was drenched in sweet cream custard.  We finished up the dessert within minutes and wished we each had one instead of sharing. Hehe.. that’s the power of a great dessert.  The meal at Dinner by Heston was really lovely and coupled with a good bottle of red white that the Man chose, we definitely had a great time.

Thought I just share a little experience that we encountered; Halfway during our meal, a young Singaporean family walked in and were seated next to our table.  We knew they were Singaporean for the accent gave it away.  We weren’t exactly that friendly to exchange words other than the cursory smile of acknowledgement across the table.  However, the tables at the restaurant were pretty close so much so that sweet nothings exchanged by the next table could be heard within earshot.

We didn’t mean to eavesdrop but the Singaporean lady was speaking pretty loudly. First, she sent back a risotto after she and her husband finished up three-quarters of the plate. She cited that the risotto was not cooked properly and the grains were too tough.  I looked over and was pretty shocked that she would do that.  In the first place, if the grains were too tough, she should have sent it back straight instead of finishing up almost the entire dish before confirming that it was not done the way she would have wanted it.

Next, the couple shared a rib-eye.  Again, the same thing happened.  This time round, my eyes nearly popped out.  They polished off the entire rib-eye and then complained that it wasn’t done to perfection.  The process of complaining is definitely not right here?  Well, at least not something I would do.  If the dish wasn’t good in the first place, why bother finishing up and then complaining about it?  Worse, she tried to sugar-coat her complaints by saying that she was just giving proper feedback to the restaurant so that they could improve themselves.  I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.

I breathed a sign of relief when the bill came for I doubt I could sit at our table any longer and witness more jaw-dropping incidents.  We paid up promptly and left the restaurant, both having our two-cents worth of what we thought about the incident.

 
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Address: 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA (Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park)
Telephone: +44(0)20 7201 3833

London in a jiffy

Part Deux of my birthday weekend getaways planned by the Man, we spent the weekend in London and here are the highlights from the trip:

Shopping in Selfridges. M&S. Topshop | Asian food galore | Best roast duck found at Four Seasons Restaurant | Sleeps at the newly-renovated Four Seasons Hotel at Park Lane | Loads of exploring on foot | Dinner by Heston 🙂

La Coppola

After the formal ceremonial for the graduation was over and done with, the family got together for a celebratory dinner at La Coppola Ristorante, a quaint and cosy Italian restaurant that the little one went previously with friends. The occasion was special and the menu was fitting for the event.

We weren’t too famished for we had some really good fish and chips an hour and a half before the dinner. But we felt greedy, so we happily ordered whatever that caught our fancy on the menu. For starters, we had a large platter of Antipasto Italiano (a generous portion of starters representing the regional tastes of Italy), Calamari Romana and the Fresh crab with avocado pear, baked in a lobster sauce with brandy, tomato, a hint of cream & parmesan cheese. Of the three, my favourite was the last starter, cheesy but yet so sinfully good!

For the mains, the parents shared a pasta while the 3 of us each ordered our own. A little mistake for we were really too stuffed and half of the pasta ended up sitting prettily on the plate after we finished ‘playing’ with our food. I had the thin egg pasta with crab-meat while the sis had the large flat egg pasta with smoked duck. Clearly, her choice was better than mine although the description on my dish sounded way more flowery. The Man stuck to his good ol’ fillet steak with a Barolo sauce.

The food was great and made a lot more extra-special with the family around. ♥

If you are ever around Coventry, make sure you make the trip out to Leamington and visit La Coppola Ristorante. A classy dining choice of the little one.

La Coppola Ristorante
Address: 86 Regent Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 4NS, United Kingdom
 

Sister’s graduation

The highlight of the vacation was of course the sister’s graduation.  The entire family is, of course, very proud of her and the parentals were all smiles on this big day of hers.

Beaming parents

And then I came up with a brilliant idea to incorporate some ‘Jumping’ shots into the Graduation album.  Yes, the ‘Big Kid’ syndrome kicked in!  The Sis and I had a crazy times doing these shots… me in my 3 inch heels trotting around like one mad woman in the school campus!  Mom thought we were having too much fun and decided to join in as well (see top right-hand corner pic). ;p