Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Palomar

The hubby and I spent our Friday evening with two other couples at Soho's amazing restaurant The Palomar. Make sure you reserve a table, the place was packed and gets booked up three months in advance. Organisation is definitely the key to this little gem! We passed the bar seating, which would be great for couples but not ideal for larger groups and entered the teeny little back restaurant where we were given a great roomy booth for six people. We did get lucky with our table, others did not offer quite so much space.

The menu is small and substituted with a few specials. The idea is you order plenty of dishes to share. Tapas style. As there were six of us we got stuck in and ordered lots. Absolutely definitely order the Kubanah, which is Yemeni pot baked bread served with tahini and grated tomatoes. We ended up ordering three portions. The bread was warm and filling. The beef tartar was a little dream and could just about be split six ways so everyone could have a taste. The Fattoush salad is also a must and again was large enough to all try a little morsel.

We tried two portions of the josperised aubergine, which I can thoroughly recommend as well as two of the Shakshukit, which were deconstructed kebabs with minced meat, yoghurt and tahini. The butternut squash risotto was plentiful and delicious. It was also presented really well, which added to the charm. We tried two portions of pork belly tajine that was incredibly popular with the table. The dried apricots added a sweetness to the succulent meat. The specials menu looked great and so we ordered two mini spicy chicken dishes that we shredded off the bone to share. We also tried the beef tortellini on the specials menu that was tasty.

The restaurant recommend two to three dishes per person and dishes come as and when they are ready. You can order more as you go along. The wine list is reasonably extensive with a good choice at reasonable prices for London. The cocktail list is interesting and all cocktails cost around £9. We stuck with wine although I have heard cocktails here are great so next time I will check them out.

We had two bottles of white and a bottle of red wine along with three liquors and two coffees. The bill including service was £57 per person. It sounds expensive and to be honest it is but we went to town with the food and didn't do too badly on the drinks! You could visit this restaurant and spend a lot less but would be more restricted on how much of the menu you can try. The service here was great and with a smile and more importantly they enabled us to overstay our table allocation by an hour, which was generous.

All in all this was a great little find. I would grab some friends as then you can try more dishes. Plus it's loud with excellent 80s and 90s tunes so not an ideal date restaurant anyway! Middle Eastern tapas is something a little different and I thoroughly enjoyed stepping away from the norm.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Miss Tapas, Peckham Rye

A few friends and I spent Saturday evening in Peckham Rye. We decided to eat at the increasingly popular Miss Tapas in Peckham, just a few minutes walk from Peckham Rye train station. We arrived at just before 7pm and added our name to the blackboard waiting list before heading around the corner for a cheeky glass of wine at the Montpelier. The Montpelier is a buzzing little pub with a private cinema screening room! As an FYI a small glass of house white and a pint was £8, which isn't too bad for London!

Around thirty minutes later we got a call to say our table was ready. We hurried back to Miss Tapas ready for our dinner. The restaurant is teeny and all of the tables are high stools. You aren't squashed in but it isn't roomy either. It's quite loud from all of the chitter chatter but it has a great atmosphere. Probably better with a small group of friends than an intimate date night.

Service is quick and with a smile. The entire menu is on chalkboards. We had quite a bit to eat between us! If I can remember correctly three portions of their delicious warm bread and oil. A plate of mushroom and truffle croquettes as well as two portions of patatas bravas, which are simply divine here. The chorizo al vino is a generous portion of chorizo cooked for hours in red wine. A portion of pardon peppers as well as a plate of Iberico ham. We had a tuna steak dish, a braised ox cheek with a little mashed potato and a chorizo with caramelized onion and quails egg. As well as a portion of the largest, juiciest and tastiest olives I have ever eaten.

The food was all piping hot, brought to the table promptly and perfect for splitting four ways and tucking in together. With a bottle of red wine and a large glass of white wine the total bill was £90 for four people. Bearing in mind the quality and quantity of food we had ordered we all felt it was quite reasonable. We were full and any more dishes would have just been greedy! It's great though as you can keep ordering as you go along and pick up more of things you have really enjoyed.

As mentioned the service was quick and as we were hungry we did not hang around. Within ninety minutes we were finished and although we were definitely not rushed out we felt the blackboard list was lengthy and we should vacate the table! We took a short walk around the corner to another packed pub The Victoria Inn. Our friends say the food isn't brilliant here but the cosy pub is ideal for a few beverages. Loud enough to have an atmosphere but definitely still able to chat without shouting to your friends.

All in all we had a great little evening in Peckham and can thoroughly recommend Miss Tapas for a quick and reasonable as well as incredibly tasty meal.

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Rum Kitchen

A few Thursday nights ago the hubby and I went to Rum Kitchen in Kingly Court with a couple of friends. I had never been inside Kingly Court before and thought it was wicked. OK, it is a bit like Disney Village but I liked it. It is definitely worth a post work visit to this little part of town for food and drinks.

Rum Kitchen do allow bookings and as it's a tiny restaurant, which was packed by the time we arrived at 6:30pm I would thoroughly recommend taking advantage of this. The food is served quickly and as it's ready. A few of the dishes are good for sharing. Although the portions don't look massive they are surprisingly filling.

We had some jerk chicken wings and saltfish fritters to share. I then opted for the jerk halloumi burger, which was delicious! The hubby had BBQ pork ribs, which were a couple of giant ribs! Our friends had a pulled pork bun and jerk fried chicken. The menu is tiny but what they do serve is piping hot and full of flavours. It's a dig in and get messy kind of affair.

They have bottles of red stripe for £4.50 and cocktails for £5 from 5-7pm (happy hour). The Daiquiri was delicious and well worth £5. They also have every single cocktail under the sun available at all hours from £9 a drink. 12.5% service will be added to your bill but service is genuinely with a smile. As mentioned the place is small and cramped and you will feel a little squeezed in but this all adds to the Caribbean vibe.

Grab some friends and head out for some cocktails and jerk! It's not too pricey so I doubt you will regret it!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Tromso, Norway

I have recently returned from three incredible nights in Tromso. We booked our flights around a year in advance with Norwegian Air for £162.50 each return including a checked bag between two people. Flights are from London Gatwick direct to Tromso and take around 3hrs 30mins in each direction.

The flight lands early evening in Tromso and the captain dimmed the plane as he saw a sighting of the Northern Lights. It was a crazy and magical moment watching the green lights jump around outside from the plane window. After landing we took a quick 15 minutes taxi, which cost 180 NOK to our hotel. After much research we decided to stay at The Viking Hotell. We booked a two bedroom apartment, which had two large double rooms, a huge kitchen / lounge and big bathroom with under floor heating. The apartment was literally around the corner from the hotel and we were able to leave luggage and use the hotel reception when we needed. There is also a little toilet to change in before your flight if leaving after check out.

For our first evening we had a little wander around the town before deciding on a bar for a few drinks, a burger and some fries. The bar was called Blarock CafĂ© and was full of locals, which is always a good sign. Tromso isn't cheap, a burger, a basket of fries, a glass of wine and a local pint of beer was £30! However, the food / drink was nice and it was good to get out for a couple of hours. On our way back to the apartment at around 11pm the northern lights made an appearance. We stayed up watching them dance with different colours on and off for around three hours, it was amazing!

Our second day was spent with Artic Explorers doing both their Fjords tour and Northern Lights hunt as detailed in other blog posts! Although we did make both breakfast and dinner in the apartment through the use of a large SPA supermarket literally down the road. Again, a six pack of beers, three pizza's, salad and coleslaw was around £30! We actually bought some wine at Gatwick, which was a good shout as it is difficult to source wine in Tromso. They have a special shop yet despite directions we did not find it.

For our second day we had a lie in, which was needed before exploring the town centre. We came across a little local restaurant right by the waterfront for lunch. We entered at 12pm and within half an hour the place was heaving. The menu was all local dishes and all exceptionally delicious. The restaurant was called Kaia and I can thoroughly recommend. We had reindeer stew, a gorgeous beef entrecote in a creamy sauce with vegetables, a fish soup and some king crab and garlic king prawns. For two starters, three main dishes, a beer and service charge we paid 1,200 NOK.

That evening we headed to Lyngenalps for Dog Sledding and our final day was spent Ice Fishing both detailed in previous blog posts. Before returning to the airport we had a quick cheeky pizza at Yonas. A small is four slices and a medium is perfect if you want to feel stuffed! Two small pizza's and a coke were £30. You order at a self service till like Nandoes and then wait at a table for your food. They do a lunchtime buffet, which is much better value. They have lots of different flavours, your usual's like Hawaiian but we tried a fish, a lamb kofta and best of all beef with BĂ©arnaise sauce.

FYI for your return journey Tromso airport is small, there is a pub and an upper crust but don't arrive hours before your flight as there isn't much to keep you entertained. Unfortunately we didn't see the Northern Lights one final time on our return journey but we had, had such an amazing time in Tromso and some incredible displays that we could hardly be disappointed.

If you fancy a winter break then look no further than Tromso! It's a lovely little town with loads of good bars and some decent restaurants. It's also full of outdoorsy activities and most importantly is excellent for Northern Lights hunting!

Ice Fishing in Tromso

Our final organised tour during our time in Tromso was a day ice fishing through Tours in Lyngenalps. We had to meet in the morning outside of a central Tromso hotel and then took the same one hour long drive and fifteen minute ferry followed by a short shuttle to the tour centre that we had done for the dog sledding trip. However, this time there were several more visitors and the communication was far better. It may have helped knowing the plan as we had previously made the journey!

On arrival we were kitted out in snow boots, warm suits, gloves and mittens before taking a hilarious snowmobile ride across the glacier. The ride was wicked, we were passengers (three to each section) and we rode really quickly through incredible scenery for around fifteen minutes. We arrived in the middle of the frozen lake where we were taught how to bore holes in the ice and then we sat and waited patiently in the sunshine and idyllic surrounds with a little rod and tiny maggot!

We were a small group of six people! There were no toilets in the wilderness but they were available at camp. We were only away from camp for about three hours. The guides made a fire, offered tea and coffee as well as lunch, which was a fish curry. Their communication and guidance could have been a little more helpful and friendly, it was a little brash.

Unfortunately no one caught a fish. It was a bit of a shame as would have been the icing on the cake for our trip and would have also proved the day wasn't in vain and the fish were down there somewhere in the freezing cold water! However, the day was fun, it was nice to get out of the city and to spend some time on the glacier in daylight. I would recommend this trip if you are into fishing. If the idea of two to three hours of relaxing time does not appeal then I would recommend a more engaging activity. Also note this would have felt like a very long time indeed if the weather had been miserable.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Dog Sledding in Tromso

Whilst in Tromso we decided to tick an ultimate desire off of the bucket list and go dog sledding with Tours in Lyngenalps. This was a strange one, we had to meet outside of a central Tromso hotel and then were piled into mini buses where we drove for around one hour. We were then dropped at a ferry terminal for a fifteen minutes crossing. It was only when we departed the boat and piled into more minibuses that anything was explained to us! In fairness the journey ran like clock work it's just some kind of interaction would have helped us to understand the situation!

We arrived at the tour centre and were given warm suits, snow boots, hats and mittens to wear before being given a very brief description of the activity. Essentially the theme of the evening was don't let go and always keep a foot on the brake! With the dogs howling and the glacier being pitch black I was terrified and almost pulled out of the 90 mins ride. My husband convinced me it would be OK and so I took the passenger seat for the first half of the journey.

Within a few minutes it was clear this activity was perfectly safe. Driving was easy and whilst the dogs were strong and quick they were not out of control. We flew across the glacier in the dark and under the stars for 45 mins before switching over drivers for another 45 mins. The dogs barked the entire way and the scenery was magical with a head torch. The Northern Lights unfortunately did not make an appearance but the trip was so incredible this did not matter.

After changing out of our snow suits and spending time patting / photographing the dogs we were transferred to a tiny local restaurant for traditional creamy fish soup and plenty of bread. The meal was delicious and the restaurant staff very courteous. Next it was a transfer to the ferry before another minibus ride home. We got back to Tromso 30 mins ahead of schedule.

The trip cost 1,795 NOK per person. It could be improved with better communication and hotel pick up / drop off but if you are staying in central Tromso you are never a long walk back to your accommodation anyway. We were a group of eleven people so had six sleighs and one guide. We did have to stop and start a little as everyone got used to the driving but for the majority of the trip we had a clear run.

If you are interested in dog sledding then the Lyngenalps is a breath taking place to take part in this. I would recommend our tour company but it may be worth researching others on Tripadvisor for slightly better customer service.