Confessions of a Chocolaholic Afternoon Tea at the Hilton

Overindulged at the “Confessions of a Chocaholic Afternoon Tea at the Hilton”  in the Podium Restaurant on the ground floor of the Park Lane Hilton.


This afternoon tea is good value for money, compared to a lot of the hotel based afternoon tea options in London (£29.50 including a glass of champagne).

The three tier cake stand used looks great and I was impressed by the chocolate selection, even the gold sprinkled base was made out of chocolate.  There is so much here, making the pretty take away handbags a must.  The Tea selection was also interesting and extensive.

The open sandwiches were beautifully presented, tasty and fresh. The chocolate spread with Chocolate Chip scones was also a nice touch. Not so keen on the cup cakes though which were rather ordinary.

The let down was more on the service side, which although friendly, was really slow. It was hard getting attention and it was nearly a hour before we started!  I am also not sure that “I did not have time to bring the extra sandwiches is a particularly good excuse” in a hotel of this calibre.

The room was pleasant enough but had rather bad acoustics and the use of live and canned music really did not work.

Marks out of 10

Food 5.7

Service 3.8

Ambience 4

Podium Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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The Chop House – Vegetarian friendly!

Had a casual lunch with some friends in Butlers Wharf Chop House, we went for the set lunch in the bar area rather than the main restaurant.  For a restaurant known for its meat, the set menu surprisingly did not include any, just a rather nice selection of vegetarian dishes and one fish dish.

For starters we had the Vegetable and Barley soup, tasty and very wintry, but as the sky was dark with rain, it rather suited the day.  The Heritage Tomato salad was also delicious, so fresh it reminded one of my friends of her childhood eating tomatoes straight from the garden.  I had the red onion and cheese tart which I really enjoyed, the onions were very sweet and the combinations just worked. The Ling and runner beans needed a side order to complete the dish and the perfectly cooked Jersey potatoes were ideal. For dessert we ordered the Knickerbocker glory (nothing special), but the Secretts Farm Plums, Praline and Vanilla ice cream was well received, even if it was difficult to eat from the glass bowl.

The service was also very good, the staff were friendly and efficient. The only time we had any issue was when we came to pay the bill and found the bar area empty of staff.

Marks out of 10

Food 6.5

Service 6

Ambience 5

Butlers Wharf Chop House on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

LOCATION INFORMATION
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Thai Marina – The Waterfront, Sovereign harbour

Another visit to the South coast to make the most of our Summer – Eastbourne this time.  Rather impressed actually. Eastbourne sea front is like a better kept Brighton. A short drive or a two miles walk along the coast path, heading south and you will reach Sovereign Harbour.

Sovereign Harbour is a huge rather attractive marina, which unfortunately seems to be somewhat lacking in bars and restaurants.  The rather small Waterfront complex is where the restaurants and bars are located, the  restaurant that looked the most interesting to us was called Thai Marina (only found out its name when we got the bill as the awning hides it and there was nothing on the menu but a logo as far as I could see).

This was a good find, I enjoyed their selection of Dim Sum and the dessert options though limited were good. I had a delicious coconut custard dish and my companion had an attractively presented coconut ice cream. Serving truffles with the Green Tea was also a nice touch.

Very relaxing, especially if like us, you get the weather and can sit out on the large terrace.

Marks out of 10 for Thai Marina during the day

Food 5.5

Service 5

Ambience 5

UPDATE : April 2011 – Made a return visit to Thai Marina, this time in the evening. I found the service to be particularly good. Too much lemon grass spoilt one of my companion’s dishes, but on the whole the food quality was well above average.  For my main course I ordered a Green Curry, which was not exactly as expected, much hotter with some red peppers and British Aubergines rather than Thai ones. However it worked, the sauce was delicious. It went well with the lovely fluffy coconut rice. The drinks/wine list was a surprise, it included a really good selection of spirits and several less common wines. We had a bottle of Picpoul De Pinet which complimented my curry beautifully.

UPDATE : May and August 2011 – Another two visits and another two very good meals. The Prawns and the Fish Cakes were perfect, I loved the Snow Crab with Wasabi dip and the Octopus I had was so tender that I managed to cut it easily with my spoon.  I also loved the vegetable carvings, they added that extra level of fun to the meal.

Marks out of 10 for Thai Marina in the Evening

Food 6.5

Service 6

Ambience 5

Thai Marina on Urbanspoon

Simply Italian – another option

The Waterfront complex also houses a Simply Italian restaurant, this is part of a small chain of Italian Restaurants. It’s also worth a visit.  The Calzone I had was definitely better than anything Pizza Express can deliver and the pasta wasn’t bad either.

Marks out 10 for Simply Italian

Food 5

Service 5

Ambience 5

Simply Italian on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION

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Gastronomica – Piemonte in Pimlico

Had breakfast at Gastronomica in Pimlico, a cafe/deli that advertises itself quite rightly as Piemonte in Pimlico.

Actually Gastronomica is a lot more that just this one cafe/deli. They have several market stalls (including one at Borough Market) and another couple of  cafes in Wapping and Manchester as well as a wholesale food business.

The cafe in the heart of Pimlico is not that pretty from the outside, as it is located in an unattractive red brick block of shops behind a rather garish red awning.

Inside it is much more attractive, the Cafe area consists of a couple of large wooden tables and a few smaller ones, surrounded by shelves of Italian Wine and cabinets full of wonderful meats and cheese. The menu is quite small, mainly Italian sandwiches, cheese and meat boards and salads, but everything looks really good.

My breakfast was just a simple ham and cheese tostado, served with a really good cup of coffee.  They also had a selection of cakes, which were inviting enough for me to want to make a return visit to try them along with another cup of that coffee. It’s always good to find an alternative to the ubiquitous Starbucks and Cafe Nero coffee shops.

This place captures the best of Italy. It’s very laid back, I particularly liked the way they went off menu to please a family that just wanted toast and jam for their kids. You definitely don’t see that in Starbucks.

UPDATE : January 2011, returned for coffee and cake, had a piece of strawberry and pannacotta cheese cake, and another cup of their great coffee.  I also bought some Delizia Mandorla (Almond Cakes) which are lovely with a glass of Amaretto.

Marks out of 10

Food 5

Service 5.2

Ambience 5.5

Gastronomica Pimlico on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION

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The Sportsman – Fresh from the garden

The Sportsman in Whitstable is a destination restaurant, well a Michelin starred gastro pub with quite a reputation.  Do not even think about going there to eat without an advance reservation.

They pride themselves on their fresh ingredients. Everything is either from the garden out back or from nearby, its all about provenance here.  On the whole the pride is justified as the ingredients especially the fish and vegetables are really fresh and the cooking shows them off.

We treated ourselves to some Pol Roger Champagne and started on the tasting menu (something you need to pre book or alternatively you can order from the dishes on the blackboard by the bar). We started with some pork scratchings, and to quote “Steve” the chef, the Sportsman is a pub after all.  They were nothing like typical pub pork scratchings, they were delicious, as was the mustard, herring and soda bread they were served with.

We had a very nice salad (Salmagundy, which apparently means a salad made out of available ingredients), but the standout courses were the dover sole with seaweed butter and the turbot with smoked roe sauce.  Our conclusion was that the meal started well and that the fish dishes were excellent, but that the quality dipped with the 2nd lamb dish (some mash would have been nice) and the desserts (can chefs get over popping candy please).

We enjoyed the meal but I must say I wasn’t as wowed by it as some other reviewers.

Oh and we finished off the day with a nice jug of Pimms at Miles Cafe Culture in Ramsgate in case you were wondering.

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47 Mussel Row – Littlehampton

I am not keen on doing restaurant walk ins, have had too many disappointments. However sometimes you have no choice and occasionally you are lucky enough to find a gem. We were driving along the Sussex coastline, looking for somewhere suitable, we made a detour to check out Bognor Regis! – nothing looked interesting enough to even get out of the car, so we drove on to Littlehampton.  This was much better, with its large Victorian Houses overlooking the park and the sea, and its newer developments overlooking the River Arun and the golf course. There we found a nice looking bistro called 47 Mussel Row.

We ordered Mussels in batter with a garlic dip, good apart from a couple of mussels that were a bit gritty. This was followed by a lovely piece of Skate, which was perfectly cooked.

So as walk ins go, this was most definately one of my better experiences.

Marks out of 10

Food 5.4

Service 5

Ambience 4 (it was a quiet day)

47 Mussel Row on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION – 47 MUSSEL ROW
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Another good place to visit if your are in the area is Arundel, it is a lovely town and I would recommend taking a  30 minute stroll along the River to have drinks or lunch at the Black Rabbit Inn.

LOCATION INFORMATION – THE BLACK RABBIT INN
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