Eating at Smith’s in Wapping

In London for my birthday, we decided to eat locally, and since we were staying in Shad Thames, the choice was lots of nice but a bit run-of-the-mill-and-not-special-occasion-y places.

Or Smith’s.

Smith’s it was.

We walked across Tower Bridge and strolled along the river to Smith’s, a large, rather green, glass confection with great views.

Sadly, even though we’d called in person the previous day to book, and mentioned it was my birthday, we didn’t get a table with a view of the river as requested, but never mind.  Can’t win ’em all.  That’s what you get for having a birthday on a Saturday in London.

The restaurant was packed, and as an avid people-watcher, it was a fascinating crowd.  (I don’t live in the UK, just for the record, and haven’t for 40 years, just in case I sound weird in my people judgement).  But basically, I felt as though I’d time-travelled back to the days of City FX traders with lashings of money and very blonde girlfriends.  There was lots of champagne-drinking, girls in dizzying high heels & plunging necklines, and the people next to us ordered stonking great lobsters and caviar (but were both glued to their mobiles, which was totally 2017).

All quite fun.

Now, I must mention that we are not an easy combo to feed.

I don’t eat meat, and hubby is allergic to anything fishy or sea-foody…but it was my birthday, remember, so I was indulged and he had a côte de boeuf which he pronounced excellent.  He also drank white with his beef, because it was my birthday.  Nice man.

I had oysters to start.  Divine.

Then scallops.  Equally divine.

All very nice, and I guess it was childish of me to feel a twinge of jealousy when the lady at the table opposite us got the whole “happy-birthday-to-you” routine.  I went over to wish her, as a fellow-birthday-girl, but she smiled and told me it wasn’t actually her birthday till the following week…ah well, you can’t win ’em all Mark II.

We paid our bill, & I didn’t say that I blog or review.

Good.

Recommended.

Eating at Côte in London

On both our trips to London this year, we have based ourselves fairly & squarely in SE1, probably my favourite part of the city.

We walked miles along the Thames, explored the City and the fabulously renovated Docklands area, including my all-time favourite St. Katharine Dock.

We also ate several times over the weeks at some of the restaurants at St. Katharine Dock, especially Côte.  Once we ate at Côte in Hay’s Galleria, but our “regular” became SKD.  The service was always pleasant and efficient, the views over the little harbour are brilliant, and there are heaters for those who (like us) prefer to sit out and eat, despite the fickle English weather.

At lunchtime (we didn’t go there in the evenings, as it so happens) Côte offers a reasonably priced menu, which you can order as either 2 or 3 courses.

My husband is allergic to seafood, I don’t eat meat, but we always found things we both wanted on their menu.

As a bit of a creature of habit where food is concerned, I tended to have the same thing every time we ate there.

The why-fix-it-if-it’s-not-broke logic.

The dish in question was THE most delicious mackerel terrine, which was always consistently good, and a generous helping, too.

Loved the presentation, on a wooden platter with that cute individual jar.

 

Hubby tried an interesting-looking & interesting-sounding yellow beetroot salad one day.

Nothing wrong with the quality of the beetroot, just that despite its striking looks, it was –  sad to report –  a tad underwhelming, taste-wise.  Nice, but a bit bland.

Doesn’t it look lovely, though?

I never even knew you could get yellow beetroot.

I subsequently Googled it – as one does – and it doesn’t stain.

So now you know.

 

Anyone who knows me that I have long since given up eating puddings and chocolate – both of which used to be the highlight of any meal for me.

Fighting middle-aged flab was simply not compatible with eating pudding and so, sadly, many years ago I gave up the unequal fight.

I share this with you, not to elicit any sympathy, but to highlight the fact that, despite years of not touching pudding, every time we lunched at Côte, I had pudding.

Their frozen berries and hot sauce are to die for.

Trust me.

Too too yum.

Recommended, after several visits.

We paid our own way every time, nor did we tell anyone that I blog and write reviews.

Eating at The Peak Lookout, Hong Kong

Yes, OK, OK, agreed.

The Peak in Hong Kong is super touristy, with coach-loads of tourists selfie-ing away to glory.

The tourist tat gets worse with every visit – & is set to get even more so, once that giant Coca Cola can is up & running for even more selfies…

BUT, the good news is, The Peak Lookout stays as classy and elegant as ever.

We’ve eaten there a few times before – the last time in 2014 – and there is a sense of timelessness about the place, which is welcoming in a place like Hong Kong, where change is the norm.

We trundled up the Peak in a double-decker bus – as one does – made a reservation, and then wandered through the tourist hoards for a while, before succumbing to the heat, the humidity and the noise of a zillion selfies being taken, and headed for our 30th wedding anniversary lunch.

We’d requested a table outside, but the charming girl on duty asked us if we were sure, since it was so hot out.

I had pleasant memories of dining under one of the beautiful shady trees, as I had done on my last visit, but that was dinner, and this was lunch, so we moved indoors.

Lovely food, efficient attentive service, and I do so like the look and feel of the restaurant.

 

The building, a 19th century Grade II listed building, is a piece of Hong Kong’s history.

Quoting Wikipedia here:

“In 1901, the site was handed over to the government and built into a chair shelter and rest place for sedan chair carriers for both public and private sedan chairs.”

Nice.

For lunch I had oysters, which were on a special promotion & they were delish.Followed them up with mussels, which were equally delish:Hubby celebrated our anniversary with a club sandwich, which he declared excellent:We paid for our lunch, didn’t mention that it was our anniversary, nor that I blog and review.

MYKONOS: a good Greek restaurant in New Delhi

Battling the summer heat and a long powercut in Shahpurjat, 3 of us had lunch the other day at Mykonos, a cute, refreshingly simple and natural Greek restaurant.  Sonam had eaten there once before, but Asha and I were first timers.

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The restaurant is run by a Greek lady called Anastasia, who hails from Thessalonika, and is the probably the happiest person you will meet on any given day.  She is chatty, friendly, explains the menu, cheerfully apologises for her English (the day I can speak Greek, Anastasia, then we can revisit the question) and greeted us all like long lost friends, with kisses and bearhugs.

The A/C wasn’t working for most of lunch, due to the massive powercut, so the door was propped open, and we gazed at the trees outside, and we all made a promise that we’ll be back in the winter, to eat out on the tiny balcony with a tree top vista.

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The decor is white and blue and has a refreshing seaside feel to it, which was oh-so-welcome on a hot Delhi day.

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On Anastasia’s advice, we opted for a mezze platter, and several small dishes, so we could see what we liked, and it was the correct decision.  Cool mezze were just what we needed :

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The tzakiki and humous were too delicious, and as for the pita bread…fabulous.

I enjoyed the vine leaves (below) but was less keen on the sauce which I felt overpowered them.  Next time, I’ll have just dolmades:

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The Greek salad was lovely:

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The feta has a completely delicious, different taste from locally sourced feta as do the tomatoes, which had a rich taste.

As a vegetarian, this kind of food is perfect and what I crave.

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I didn’t have the coffee, but Asha assured me it was good and strong.  Nor did I have the dessert, which my companions told me was excellent.

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Mykonos card

We paid own bill and I did not mention that I write reviews.

Personally recommended.

And a return visit is planned.

Emerging from the by now deliciously cool European feel A/C restaurant to this view was a bit of a culture shock…but what a view.

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Rangoon Tea House, Yangon, Myanmar

On an all-too rushed inaugural visit to Myanmar, we managed to squeeze in a visit to this recently opened tea house in Yangon, for a refreshing cold drink and a welcome break from pounding the city streets in the hot February sun.

Hubby stuck to Coke, so nothing new to report there.

I had a truly excellent papaya smoothie, but it was Anjali who won the award for being the most adventurous (& authentic) with her iced tea, Myanmar style – ie with lashings of condensed milk AND evaporated milk.  There was a whole menu of various local iced teas to choose from, with cute drawings illustrating the ratio of condensed milk and evaporated milk to tea.

Anjali declared hers to be delicious.  I had a sip and it was good – strong tea flavour and nice and sweet.

The decor is charming, with a few curios (but not too many) and lots of space between tables, making the tea house feel spacious.

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I realise that the photo (above) might make it look as though the Rangoon Tea house is patronised only by foreigners, but this is far from the truth.  We arrived a little before noon, but within half an hour the place was full, with a mix of local Yangon youngsters and foreigners, both expats and visitors like us.

They have got their classy, elegant merchandising organised right from the start.

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Good service.  Good standard of spoken English from the youngsters working there (not at all a given, we discovered, as we travelled through this gorgeous country).  Clean loo.

Cute place.

Next time (& there will be a next time, and soon, I hope) we will eat there, too.

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At roughly 1000 Kyat to the US$ this cost us $7.

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The address and phone number of the tea house are on the bill, above.

Personally recommended –  for drinks and charm.

And no, I didn’t tell them I write reviews and blog, and yes, of course, we paid our own bill.

Starbucks, Connaught Place, New Delhi

It’s taken a while, but I finally visited a Starbucks in India.

The fact that I ended up in the wrong Starbucks for my first-time meeting with a well-known author is not especially relevant to this review, other than the fact that sitting alone (in the wrong place, you remember) gave me time to observe my surroundings.

And jolly impressive they were, too.  Now please don’t take this wrongly, all ye diehard “Mera Bharaat Mahaan” people, but sitting in Starbucks in Connaught Place, you could have been anywhere in the world.  Which is what you sort of expect in a Starbucks, right?

I knew I was in India, because of the very polite service and the “Ma’am” added to every sentence, but in case of doubt, here you go:

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But what was totally un-Indian (and y’all know I love India.  Live here, remember) is the feeling of space.  It’s lovely and restful, when you find it.  And it was quiet and the cappuccino was excellent.

So all round great experience.

Too bad I was in the wrong Starbucks for my meeting.

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India_Starbucks_8891Oh yes.

Price.

Rs 147 for a very generously sized cappuccino.  Not bad at all.

MOGAMBO, a classic Kolkata restaurant

It’s been a while since I was last in Kolkata, which was known as Calcutta then. That’s how long it has been, and then some.

On a fabulous journey of re-discovery last week, we checked out one of the old time classics of this great city –  Mogambo.  It has a delightfully retro feel to it –  just the way I remember the India of the early 80s, before the economy opened up and everything flooded in, good, bad & indifferent.  Mogambo has staff with turbans, and booths in which you sit, and little red reading lights, and it’s all fabulous, starting with the menu and its running commentary on the food:

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I had the Fish a la Diana as it so happened, and yes it was rich, with all that cream, but it was delicious.  And a huge serving too :

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Our friend Sue had the grilled fish which she also pronounced delicious :

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And hubby dearest, who is a bit of a steak-aholic, had the Irish Beef Steak.  Yet again, pronounced delicious and (for once) cooked exactly as ordered –  very rare.

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All in all, a good lunch, reasonable prices, good service.  Could’ve done with MRP for the water and Coke, but perhaps that’s not how it’s done in Bengal?

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bill Mogambo

 

Recommended, for the ambience and also for the food, which is good and hearty.  I didn’t tell anyone that I blog and write reviews, and we paid our bill.

Hotel Omasila – a delightful hotel in Leh, Ladakh

Having just returned from a pretty epic visit to Ladakh, including trekking, climbing, a debilitating bout of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and quite a lot of time on my own, acclimatising, I can safely say that the pretty, well-situated Hotel Omasila was a perfect base for all my adventures.

And for some weary downtime, too.

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What marked this hotel out from the other Leh hotels I have used over the years is its  genuine friendliness and warmth.  Every member of staff,  from the gentle Ladakhi owners, to the waiters and those dear strong ladies who heft bags up and down the stairs for exhausted climbers like yours truly – every single member of staff was kind, welcoming and considerate.

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Lovely chat one morning with the owner about flowers and politics and life in Leh and lots, lots more…

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Knocked pretty sideways by AMS, I returned to Leh alone, ahead of the rest of my climbing team, and the hotel staff couldn’t have been sweeter. They carried my luggage up to my room***, offered me tea, clucked over my sunburned face, and promised to hand over a padlock and key for the luggage I abandoned on the mountain for my teammates to bring down.
The single biggest plus that this hotel has – other than location – is an utterly gorgeous garden, with killer views. Shanti stupa. Stok Kangri. You name it, you can see it from the Omasila garden, and I spent many a happy afternoon there, reading and sipping tea in the shade of a tree.

 

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The rooms are OK size wise.

The bathrooms are also fine. Adequate but fine.

Food is copious.  I turned up late one day for lunch, having slept through my sickness, and yet they served me food, way after hours.

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But it is the kindness and the gentleness of the staff, and those views, that makes the Omasila hotel such a great place.

 

*** such a contrast with the hotel where I stayed last year…http://christinesreviews.com/2014/07/hotel-royal-ladakh-in-leh-ladakh/

These things really do count…

 

Personally recommended.  Contact the hotel (details below) for rates.

 

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And if you would like “my” view of Stok Kangri, ask for Room No.3…doesn’t get much better…

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Ivy & Bean: fusion Oz food in Delhi’s Shahpurjat

I have mentioned in other reviews of Delhi’s Shahpurjat district that this little urban village is changing at the speed of light, as a recent hot humid afternoon’s wandering confirmed.

There are boutiques a-plenty and new restaurants and cafés, and seeing it through the eyes of my house guest, a European first timer to Shahpurjat, it really has become a super buzzy little place.

5 of us went for lunch at “Ivy and Bean”, a cute place serving Australian fusion food.

Absolutely loved the look and feel of the place.

We ate inside, in the air-conditioned dining room, but the gorgeous outdoor area (shown below) is clearly crying out to be frequented, once the weather cools down a little :

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The honesty library, below.

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Everyone enjoyed their food, other than Nisha, who said her pizza was “ordinary and nothing special”.  3 of us had fish, and all loved it  –  interesting mashed potatoes –  and Anjulie’s stuffed peppers were apparently delicious.

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The Basa (above) and peppers (below):

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The portion of fish wasn’t huge, but after the large, fresh salads, it was actually exactly the correct amount of food.

Service was a tad on the slow side, but to be fair we did order in dribs and drabs, as our group straggled in at different times.

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The current menu can be seen on the zomato website.

I didn’t tell them I blogged, nor that I write reviews, and we paid our own bill.

Will I go back?  Most definitely.

I can foresee a lazy late morning coffee and some browsing from the honesty library, come the winter.

 

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The Tibetan Kitchen in Leh, Ladakh

I first visited this iconic Leh restaurant in 2009.
Fast forward to 2103 when I ate there again. ***
Decor hardly unchanged. Same easy going friendly service. Same intriguing Tibetan food.

On both occasions we ate outdoors, and both times the place was packed, and buzzing.  Both times, we ate there at night.

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The restaurant is tucked down a little lane, and is quite simply a good place to sit out, enjoy momos and thukpa, and soak in that brilliant Leh vibe.

 

I did not tell the staff that I blog or review, and we paid our own bill.

Thoroughly recommended.

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***And yes, I will most definitely head there to eat, when I am back in Leh in a few weeks.