I'm CarolineLD from London. I've been Qyping since 17-06-2008
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CarolineLD's Qype profile
302 New cross Road, London SE14
However, standards seem to have slipped slightly lately: sometimes no bread was brought; a salad garnish had an absolutely desiccated piece of cucumber. Hopefully this is a temporary blip as the restaurant is otherwise a good addition to the area.
72-79 Choumert Road, Peckham, London SE15 4AR
Discovering a new place a short bus ride from home is always good news; its outstanding food makes the Victoria very good news indeed. The pub is very pleasant, with fashionably casual furnishings complemented by a fabulous, ornate bar (the clock surround and fancy mirrors are a real treat). A great selection of beers and an interesting wine list mean that this would be a good choice for a drink.
However, it's no surprise that nearly everyone there was eating. The food coming out of the kitchen all looked delicious and generously-portioned. Happily, being part of a Qype event meant I didn't have to make difficult choices as we were brought a succession of dishes to taste. All were excellent, including home-made dips (beetroot was an unusual treat; guacamole was especially good); fat and skinny chips; garlicky mushrooms on toast; great brownies with the creamiest of ice cream. My real favourites were the celebrated halloumi sticks, chorizo scotch eggs and the best shepherd's pie I've ever had (full of tasty shredded lamb rather than bland mince). It was good to discover that vegetarian options, such as veggie shepherd's pie with sweet potato mash, were as imaginative and tasty as the meat alternatives.
Another special mention should go to the toilets. They're clean and pleasant, smell lovely, and there are plenty of them!
66 TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON, London WC2N 5DS
I visited Albannach for a tutored whisky tasting (they run a selection of these). At first, I was a little apprehensive as the room was very full - there seemed to have been some overbooking. However, once we'd all fitted ourselves around the table and the tasting got underway, I had a really good evening.
We tasted six whiskies - five malts and a bourbon. Our tutor (French not Scottish, but clearly passionate about the drink) was interesting and very knowledgeable. He took us through the history and making of the drink as well as how to taste it. With full measures, there was more than enough to taste! As a whisky-lover, I found plenty to learn, while those who were new to the drink enjoyed themselves too.
The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. Towards the end, canapes were brought out; these were very good, and provided in generous quantities. I would definitely recommend this tasting, and look forward to trying some of the others in future.
14-16 Lancer Square, Kensington, London W8 4EH
I visited this salon for a massage, and very much enjoyed the experience. There is no designated waiting area, but once in the treatment room the atmosphere is lovely: low lighting, candles and suitably relaxing music. The massage itself was excellent, and very effective (the masseuse really knew what she was doing, and my previously-tense muscles feel much better for it!). My therapist and other staff members were very pleasant and professional.
A full range of other treatments is available. Kamini herself specialises in eyebrow threading.
48 Brushfield Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6AG
S&M cafes offer a selection of sausages, mash and gravy: good, filling food at reasonable (albeit not cheap) prices. There are other menu options, but I've always stuck to the basics! The surroundings are deliberately informal, and there are some nice touches such as the choice of mustards on each table.
My experience of this branch is that the service is particularly friendly and good. No S&M branch is a place to go for formal dining, but they do bangers and mash consistently well. Although you pay more than at the greasy spoon, quality and ambience are better too.
31 Tanners Hill, Deptford, London SE8 4PJ
This traditional butcher's shop is wonderful - it offers excellent products and personal service which are miles away from the supermarket experience. With meat cut to order, you can get exactly what you want in the size you want - along with any advice on choosing and cooking it that you may need.
Worth a special mention are the wonderful pies. I love the steak and kidney in particular, although these do tend to sell out before the end of the day. The pork pies are also superb, and the faggots absolutely delicious.
There is also a range of other products including sauces, pickles and relishes.
22 Charterhouse Mews, Charterhouse Mews, London EC1M 6DX
Located down a narrow alley off Charterhouse Square, this restaurant is very central yet intriguingly tucked away. However, while narrow alleys may be a typically London feature, Le Cafe du Marche is a little piece of France. Rustic without being twee, it made the perfect location for the Qype cheese and wine tasting.
The fabulous cheeses and fact-packed yet entertaining commentary came from Thomas Badcock of the Cheese Cellar; Joel Lauga of Great Western Wine paired a range of interesting wines with them and gave us real insight on how to match cheese to wine. Not only did I eat and drink a lot, I also learned a lot, as well as having great fun.
What also shone through, though, is that this restaurant is well worth a return visit. Service was exemplary, and we had enough of their food to gain an impression of its quality. Alongside charcuterie (I loved the excellent home-made pork rillettes) were delicous salads including beetroot spiked with horseradish and the best remoulade I've had. Afterwards came a memorably good rhubarb sorbet. A treat for the eyes in rose-pink, it was even better to taste: that perfect blend of sweet-and-sour that only the best rhubarb dishes achieve.
After an evening like this, one thing is certain: I'll be back soon!
1 Bank End, Southwark, London SE1 9BU
I've toured Vinopolis on a number of occasions in the past, and have always really enjoyed it. However, my most recent visit was a huge disappointment.
The audio guides have gone; the upstairs rooms have gone; many of the exhibits have gone. The few survivors are scattered like confused refugees without explanation or context - a bottle full of giant vegetables here, a sort of primitive patio heater there. I remembered how they used to fit in the tour; my companion was just bemused.
Instead, after an introduction to tasting wine, you have only two things to do. The first is to taste the drinks included in your ticket. A standard tour gives you wine five tastings, and all but two of the ten wines we tasted were really mediocre. There's also a Bombay Sapphire cocktail; this again was a smaller, weaker version of the rather good drink supplied on previous visits.
You also have the option of paying extra for premium wine tastings or various spirit tastings. The latter do offer better value - £2 for two whisky tastings (Chivas and Glenlivet) was rather a bargain - but added to the cost of the original visit, they make for a rather expensive outing.
In the past, a visit was a good afternoon out and usually ended with several purchases in the shop. This time, we were very disappointed and, had we not benefited from a discount offer, would have felt somewhat short-changed.
30 Cornhill, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 3BY
This restaurant is the best branch of Prezzo I've visited, comparing very favourably with the Taunton branch. The surroundings help: it's in part of the Cornhill market building, and the room which I remember as full of stalls selling cheap scent and dishcloths is now revealed as a very attractive space with some lovely original details.
The food is decent chain food, with a wide range of Italian dishes. Portions are generous, dishes are tasty and there's plenty of choice. Service is lovely: I've always found the staff very helpful and friendly. Having eaten here on various occasions, I've found it the best option in central Bridgwater.
2 Daghole Cottages, Water Lane, Cheddar, Somerset BS27 3QJ
A small building in the heart of Cheddar houses this sweet-maker. You enter into the kitchen, where the making of old-fashioned confectionery is demonstrated. How interesting the demonstration is depends largely upon the stage of the process underway, but the smell certainly prepares you for the next section.
The shop is full of colourful, enticing confectionery. By the standards of old-fashioned sweets, the prices are very reasonable, and the sweets are good. They range from toffee and peanut flavours to fruits-and-cream and my favourite, fizzy fish. Distinct in flavour and appearance, the sweets are good - I'd particularly recommend filling a jar from the pick and mix!
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