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Archive for September, 2013

Restaurant Spy: Augustine Kitchen

Battersea residents listen up very carefully…I shall say zis only once as Michell Dubois in Allo Allo would say.

 

The word on the street is that Battersea is dancing to a brand new culinary beat in the next few weeks. Our spies, moles call it what you like are telling us that a French bistro has landed in town. Ladies and gents Bienvenue a Augustine Kitchen.

 

Franck Raymond is the man behind this brand new venture who has called the venue after his dear grande-mere…how sweet. But what is everyone shouting about?! Well it seems tapas done in the French way seems to be de rigeur on the menu at this classicly French outfit.

 

allo allo

(c) mymediawelt.de

 

In addition to this, you will have the chance to enjoy a number of different specialities hailing from Evian which harks back to Raymond’s actual upbringing there.

 

So let’s dish out the details. It turns out that Monsieur Francky has quite a lot of credentials to boot having previously been head chef at Mon Plaisir based in London’s Covent Garden as well as behind the pass in Switzerland.

 

augustine-kitchen

(c) hospitality-interiors.net

 

Here, he was situated in Geneva as Le Marignac’s Executive Chef for a couple of years before going on to achieve legendary Michelin star status.

 

On the other hand, after he turned this site into a real gem he went on to create his own restaurant in the heart of Evian entitled Le Cheval Blanc.

 

Having made the move across La Manche to Blighty, he worked for a wide variety of prestigious chefs.

 

This included the likes of MPW (Marco Pierre White) not to mention landing a role as Head of Pastry in Kensington Place. Bravo mon ami!

 

MARCO_PIERRE_WHITE

(c) igifineart.com

 

Augustine Kitchen will be cosy and familiar with the focus very much on quality ingredients and hand selected ingredients from the finest producers around.

 

From high quality charcuterie thanks to Monsieur Colliard to his fishmonger, everything is prepared in order for the ingredients to marry up and sing on the plate.

 

Tapas dishes feature black pudding, duck rillettes and delicate apple tartelettes, whilst other highlights range from the sublime Cassolette of snails servied with garlic and parsley butter to sea bream bouillabaisse or pork shank which has been slow cooked for hours.

 

Robe-Rimmel-Battersea-Power-Station-rim151951035

(c) eventindustrynews.co.uk

 

Of course desserts don’t disappoint either with dark chocolate mousse, passion fruit sorbet and ile flottantes with a zesty lime and vanilla custard.

 

The interiors are as rustic as walk in the forests of the Ardeche with an inviting space full of artwork offering glimpses into his old grand mamma’s recipe book and a host of old family portraits.

 

This place is certainly keeping it in la famille.

 

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia, China and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors

Focus On: Houses of Parliament Opening

Powder those wigs and practice your best “Order Order” as the Houses of Parliament takes you into a world of political discourse as well as heated debate.

 

This has provided the ideal backdrop for a number of different Prime Ministers through the ages and has offered plenty of photo opportunities for snap happy tourists!

 

Yet the Houses of Parliament is opened up until October the 5th and on Saturdays throughout the entire year for you to experience.

 

Steeped in history, the Old Palace, one of the two structures that exists here was actually destroyed in a widespread fire in 1834. It is also known as the Palace of Westminster as it was the official address of the British Royal Family previously.

 

r_seaman@hotmail.com

(c) london-sights.com

 

Situated in Westminster, it is now the political heartbeat of the capital surrounded by many major attractions such as Wesminster Abbey and Big Ben.

 

The hotbed of British politics, you will have the chance to take advatnage of a guided tour lasting around 75 minutes in total. This is done thanks to an expert Blue Badge guide who will take you through the hallways and corridors of the iconic building.

 

In addition to this, you will be able to not just take in a wide variety of important rooms but some of the history that has took place here over the last few centuries.

 

House_of_Lords_Chamber

(c) globalpovertyproject.com

 

From the heady highs to the lows, this includes the likes of the infamous trial of Guy Fawkes and the notorious Gunpowder plot in 1605 to the demonstations by Emily Pankhurst and the Suffragettes back in 1908.

 

So to the tour itself and you certainly will not be left disappointed at some of the areas you will pass through. This features Westminster Hall which is more than 800 years old.

 

Initially started by William Rufus at the end of the 11th Century, did you know Rufus was actually son to William the Conquerer. Talk about being a history boy.

 

London_Underground_sign

(c) wikimedia.org

 

On the other hand you will have the ability to pass through The Queen’s Robing Room, The Royal Gallery, The Lords Chamber, The Central Lobby and The Prince’s Chamber.

 

Then it is on to The Commons Chamber, where politicians gather today in order to debate, chat and agree or disagree legislation.

 

Between the 17th of September and the 4th of October 2013, you can check out the Houses of Parliament tours from Tuesday to Friday with regular tours taking place between 9:15am and 4:30pm.

 

House_of_Commons_Chamber_Speakers_table

(c) fotopedia.com

 

For those culture vultures, why not head to the Contemporary Portaiture in Portcullis House or Royalty and Splendour which can be found at the majestic House of Lords.

 

Here you will be able to benefit from a wonderul art tour taking in an array of art collections. If all that pounding down the corridors of Parliament has left you a bit flat footed then there are some impressive hotels in Westminster to choose from.

 

More information on  how to book a hotel near to the Houses of Parliament.

 

Hotels in Westminster

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia, China and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors

Latest London Hotel Review: Premier Inn Gatwick Airport (North Terminal)

It was quite by accident I stayed at the Premier Inn, London Gatwick Airport.

My flight was cancelled at short notice so it was a less than happy guest checking in, late on a Saturday night when I should have been at home!

So, I was directed to the hotels bus stop from check in, a bit of a drag, down to the lower level of the North Terminal and a few minutes walk to the bus stop. Soon the bus arrived and a charge of £3 for my journey was requested, However, I had a voucher from the airline so no charge was necessary.

From the North Terminal it took only a few minutes to arrive at the front door of the hotel. It was already getting quite late.

Check in was smooth, the staff seemed well prepared for the sudden influx of guests arriving.

I was told due to the lateness of my arrival and large number of guests arriving it would be advisable to book the restaurant. This was dealt with very efficiently; I opted rather than wait an hour for a reservation, to take my food in the lounge shortly.

Premier Inn Gatwick North terminal bedroom

Premier Inn Gatwick North terminal bedroom

First though, I wanted to freshen up in my room. The corridor access to rooms is secure and your room key is required. A nice touch, especially for a lone female traveller like myself.

My room was a good walk from reception, perhaps one of the furthest from the lobby area. Even so quite easy to wheel my case along the corridor which is carpeted so it is also quiet.

My room was a spacious double, it was good to see a tea/coffee tray in the room and it also had individually controlled Air Con. I liked the layout with its small seating area, and nice big desk area. The bathroom was a good size with bath and shower over. The windows were of a good quality double glazing, a must at a busy airport hotel. On reflection my whole stay was completely noise free! Quite a bonus I think.

There was Wifi access in the room with free 30 minute access, thereafter a charge of £3 was levied for each 24 hour period. Not too expensive in my view.

Premier Inn London Gatwick North terminal bedroom

Premier Inn London Gatwick North terminal bedroom

After freshening up, it was back to the bar/lounge for something to eat. I was impressed how the staff worked as a team and I was quickly shown to a table, menu in hand. I made my choice which was relayed to the person behind the bar and took my seat back in the lounge, catching up on the days news which was being relayed to guests via the large wall mounted TV. Again, no TV noise drowning out conversations, those interested could read the sub-titles.

Dinner was typical English fayre, it was served quickly, was really well presented and above all the taste was very good. Surprisingly I didn’t have to wait too long. I really enjoyed my food and judging by those around me I wasn’t alone! The wine was fine with a good selection to choose from. Although busy, I didn’t feel like I had an unduly long wait for my food or drinks, it was a very pleasant experience.

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - bathroom

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – bathroom

The bed was comfortable and, as with most Premier Inn’s you are given a choice of pillow types, firm, soft, hypo-allergenic etc. There was no external noise, all in all it proved to be a good nights sleep.

Breakfast:- You can order a full English Breakfast at the Premier Inn any time of the day. There is a great choice of food at breakfast time, from healthy fruit and yoghurt to a fully cooked full English breakfast.

The staff made a great effort to show you where everything was and I was informed that the chef was on hand should you require anything not on offer. So, with a full day of travel ahead I opted for some fresh fruit and yoghurt followed by hot toast, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomato and hash brown. It was all well prepared and it was nice to see not just tinned tomatos on offer but fresh too. Coffee and a selection of hot drinks is available on a self serve basis. It did appear to me you could eat and drink what-ever you liked! Breakfast was excellent.

So checking out was swift, the receptionist was knowledgeable about bus transfers to the airport terminal and she went out of her way to help me print off my e-ticket.

An all round excellent stay with excellent, well trained staff. no complaints!

More Gatwick Airport Hotels

All photographs copyright London-Hotels.co.uk

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - restaurant

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – restaurant

Breakfast at the Premier Inn Gatwick North

Breakfast at the Premier Inn Gatwick North

Premier Inn Gatwick North - the bar

Premier Inn Gatwick North – the bar

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - the bar

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – the bar

Entrance

Entrance

All photographs copyright London-Hotels.co.uk

Focus On: State Rooms, Buckingham Palace

As winter coats start to be dusted off and brought out of the cupboard again, head to Buckingham Palace and make sure you enjoy your final Royal appointment of the season.

 

This really is your last chance to gain an insight into HRH residence as well as taking advantage of the glorious State Rooms. Running unitl the 29th September, its time to get in fast before it’s all over again for another year.

 

One of the only working palaces that remains, Queen Elizabeth has opened or should that flung open her gilt edged gates for the public to have a good old snoop round. Well the bed chambers are off limits but don’t annoy the corgis! Their bark is as bad as their bite.

 

Buckingham-Palace-Blue-Drawing-Room

(c) idesignarch.com

 

Visitors will have the opportunit to take advantage of a number of different treasures which belong to the official Royal Collection. On the other hand you will have the ability to marvel at the majestic Queen’s Coronation 1953 exhibition which offers a host of costumers and uniforms.

 

In addition to this, watch out for royal dresses and a plethora of  jewellery. Yet the real jewel in the crown comes courtesy of the lavish State Rooms. Furnished as extravagantly as one of Louis XVs parlour rooms, these beautifully furnished rooms have a genuine je ne sais quoi to them.

 

The Queen in Australia

(c) nymag.com

 

Some of the many highlights that you will find inside include the likes of a number of different paintings by some of the most renowned creators our time. This features not only Rembrandt but Rubens, Vermeer not to mention Poussin and even Canaletto.

 

Furthermore, there are also plenty of sculptures on offer by Canova as well as Chantrey, whilst the porcelain objects are something to behold. If that is not enough then check the range of exquisite English and French furniture on display.

 

Buck-Grand-Staircase-cr-Derry-Moore

(c) luxurylifereview.com

 

So to The Queen’s Coronation 1953 Exhibition. This special exposition pays fitting homage to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth back in 1953.

 

This 60 year anniversary is now being celebrated at the palace in the ballroom which has been transformed to provide a wide variety of memorabilia from the special event in question.

 

Some of the fine objects on display include the actual coronaton dress that the Queen wore, the Robe of Estate made from the finest English purple silk and The Diamond Diadem.

 

 

Considered to be one of her most identifiable jewels, this can be seen on all postage stamps and chosen banknotes.

 

Other highlights inside that you may come across offer up the intricate State Dining Room befitting the Coronation Banquets which took place at the time.

 

Liz we salute you dear!

 

Restaurant Spy: Bo Lang, Chelsea

Blue is the colour and football is the game as the chorus of voices emanates around Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club.

 

However the beautiful game is taking a back seat for once as Chelsea welcomes another new outfit to its burgeoning selection of restaurants.

 

Jose Mourinho watch out as the Special One is set to open its doors in Chelsea’s Draycott Avenue. Bo Lang is part dim sum and part teahouse.

 

So what’s the score? Well there’s no bore draw here as under the leadership of Head Chef and Dim Sum Grand Master Kai Wang, Bo Lang makes its mark on the SW3 landscape.

 

Bo Lang can be found within close proximity of Sloane Avenue and is just around the corner from Bulls Gardens.

 

FC Internazionale Milano vs AS Bari - Serie A 2009/2010

(c) luulyo.com

 

This chap has more than 10 years of steaming up a culinary whirlwind when it comes to the art of dim sum. In addition to this, his credentials seem to be pretty impressive thanks to a number of different stints in some of the most respected hotels across the globe.

 

This includes the likes of  the Yue Hai Jin Wei Hotel based in China not to mention the Grand Imperial at Grosvenor House.

 

His brigade have created a varied menu which calls on not only traditional elements but a hint of modern touches that have been thrown in for good measure.

 

bo lang

(c) bolanfrestaurant.co.uk

 

Dishes featuring on the menu range from  delicate Snow crab with coriander and water chestnut to sea bass, prawn and finished with traditional Chinese celery.

 

On the other hand, there are also a sprinklng of other inventive dishes such as Lobster with goji berry and a wide vareity of salads. Grilled and steamed dishes offer a salad of blue swimmer crab and their signature duck which has been crisped to perfection.

 

blue swimmer crab 1

(c) morselsandmuslings.com

 

To wash it all down, why not take advantage of their array of iced teas which are all served in teapots made entirely from cast iron. However if you have a sweet tooth then Bo Lang won’t let you down either.

 

Check out their mochi and selection of macaroons with plenty of subtle undertones from the Orient from rose to Earl Grey and jasmine. For something a little more pungent with extra kick, you can enjoy some innovative cocktails with plenty of inspiration from the Far East.

 

As far as the decor is concerned, the team behind the Oxo Tower on the South Bank is responsible for the slick interiors with plush fixtures and velvet chairs with the marble bar as a main highlight.

 

oxo1_0

(c) sightseer.tv

 

As Autumn approaches and London turns from the fiery heat of summer the gentle breeze of Autumn, you can find some fabulous hotels in Chelsea here.

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia, China and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors

Insider tips to visiting London

Insider tips to visiting London

tips

Visiting a new city for the first time is sometimes a little confusing. Where to stay, what to see, where to eat, how to travel around. Before you know it, you have wasted two days just acclimatising to it all.

Here are some local tips to help you on your way. We asked people in the office who live in London for their comments:

1. Stay anywhere between Earls Court in the west, the City of London in the East, St. John’s Wood in the north and the River Thames bordering the south and you can’t go far wrong. All have great transport links around the capital.

2. If staying more than 2 or 3 days invest in an Oyster Travel Card. It’s pre pay and will save you a lot of money. Failing that, buy an off peak Travelcard and travel during the off peak time periods.

3 Leave your car at home as parking and Congestion Zone charges will add another 30 to 60 pounds a day onto your stay. Failing that, if your car is essential then stay just outside the high cost areas. Try Hampstead it’s out of the Congestion Zone and the hotels offer cheaper parking.

4. Sainsbury’s Superstore in South Kensington (Cromwell Road) allows 2 hours parking free of charge. Enough time to check into your local hotel and ask reception where to park.

5. Unless otherwise marked, at the weekends, any road with single white lines are OK to park on until Monday morning.

6. For a panoramic and cheap river tour take the River Ferry from Westminster Bridge (Houses of Parliament and London Eye) downriver to the Tower of London.

7. Walk on the Southbank from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. Takes in attractions such as the London Eye, Gabriels Wharf, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, HMS Belfast, the Shard and the Golden Hinde. When you get to Tower Bridge you have the Tower of London and vendors selling fish and chips!

8. Visit Borough Market for lunch. This gourmet oasis have stalls selling artisan food products and several very good restaurants.

9. Pre book the London Eye to save queuing. It can be done online.

10. Pre book Madame Tussaud’s or you will regret the wait on Marylebone Road.

11. Do not take photos of embassies, especially the US Embassy, you will get stopped and questioned!

12. Check out the Wholefoods Store on High Street Kensington. 80,000 square feet of glorious food including a large restaurant area covering all tastes from wraps to champagne at good prices.

13. Take afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason near Piccadilly Circus. It’s a Brit institution.

14. Think twice before tipping a beggar, many have a car parked around the corner. The ones selling The Big Issue and usually genuine. In saying that, if we see one on Christmas Day we slip them a fiver on the basis they are genuinely homeless.

15. Act like a local and only tip the taxi driver the change from a pound.

16. Avoid eating on Oxford Street, it’s a tourist trap. If you must then the top floor of Selfridges has a great restaurant for snacks and meals.

17. If you ask the hotel to get you a taxi then make sure it’s an official black cab and not a cowboy mini cab which may be uninsured for paying customers.

18. Be aware when boarding or exiting the tube train, that’s when you mainly get pickpocketed. However there has been a big purge by the police to apprehend the criminals.

19. Safest area is Kensington, you can walk home alone at night and feel very safe!

20. If you are arriving at Stansted Airport use the National Express coach into central London. It’s cheaper and easier than the train service. You can pre book online.

21. You can not use your Travelcard on the Heathrow Express. The onboard ticket collector will make you pay again.

22. If your hotel room is not what you expected then go immediately to Reception, ask for the Duty Manager and kick up a fuss in front of other guests.

23. Eat and drink cheap in Kensington by joining the casino underneath the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. It’s free to join.

24. Have a meal at the Light of India (yes it’s Indian) at the junction of Cromwell Road and Gloucester Road in South Kensington. Nothing fancy about the place but its brilliant nosh!

25. For a special Indian meal get a cab to Chutney Mary’s on Kings Road. Fab surroundings and fab contemporary food but a little pricey.

26. Visit Gabriels Wharf on the Southbank for local experiences of food and drink.

27. On a tight time line? Then book the all day Discover London tour. It takes in all the major attractions in one go.

28. Don’t bother with Madame Tussaud’s unless its essential. A family of four will pay upwards of a hundred pounds for entry.

29. If you are out in Camden late at night don’t act drunk or be mouthy. It’s the scene of many attacks.

30. Do not use mini cabs. If one offers you a ride forget it.

31. Woman travelling on your own? Grange Hotels have women only floors in some of their hotels.

32. Don’t ever lose sight of your credit card. If the waiter wants to take it away then either insist the transaction is done at the table or go with it.

33. Staying in Kensington? Well don’t believe for one minute that West Kensington has the same upmarket credentials as the rest of the district.

34. Don’t believe for one minute that a hotel with a name like “the amazing hotel Kensington” is in Kensington. Check it on a map. There are some well known chain hotels that take that same liberty too.

35. Get on one of the East End street art tours and take your camera!

36 The 3 star hotel, the St Giles Hotel in the heart of the West End has the largest hotel swimming pool in London. It also has car parking at cheap prices.

37. Hotels in the City of London can be very cheap at the weekends and are usually 4 or 5 star.

38 Don’t stay around ExCel unless its the only place that you are going. It’s in the middle of nowhere, not on the tube system (DLR only) and the surrounds are awful.

39. Make friends with the hotel Concierge, he will get you places where most can not. Make sure you tip him when you leave.

40. At the hotel try to tip in cash rather than add it to the bill. That way the right person gets the gratuity. Rule of thumb is room service and porters around 2 pounds. As for the concierge, it depends what he’s done for you and believe us they can do anything you ask.

41. Always pack an umbrella; otherwise you will end up buying another.

42. Visit Primrose Hill and take in the view of London. Then call in to The Lansdown pub on Princess Road and maybe spot a local celeb.

Feel free to add to this list or to ask questions about London.

Latest London Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, London

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum


In the South Kensington area, the Holiday Inn Kensington is an iconic landmark rising above the skyline and making it very easy to find as you enter London on the A4 Cromwell road from the M25 or M4.

The journey time from London Heathrow is relatively short by either road or tube.

The area around this 4 star hotel is upmarket being prime residential London. As such there is a huge infrastructure of restaurants, bars, retail outlets and transport links. Within walking distance you have Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Earls Court, Fulham and Kensington.

Local cultural attractions  include the Natural History Museum which is an essential visit, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Chelsea Physic Garden.

Retail therapy offers upmarket Harrods, Harvey Nichols, High Street Kensington and the Kings Road.

Restaurants in the area cover every requirement in terms of taste and budget from fast food to Michelin star quality.

If that was not enough, the hotel is in one of the safest areas of London. It also has a huge underground secure car park.

Walk out of the hotel, turn left, walk 200 metres and you are at the Gloucester Road tube station. This is served by the Circle and District line which encompasses central London.  You can travel as Far East as the Tower of London which borders the Financial District (City of London) or alternatively right into the West End and Theatreland.

Despite being one of the largest hotels in London, the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum has a reasonably efficient checkin.

The foyer is huge and includes the Reception Desks, a vast seating  area, a small general shop offing newspapers, cigarettes and souvenirs, a very nice deli offering Starbucks Coffee and an open plan restaurant.

The lifts are at the back of the foyer and require a key card to access the bedroom floors so security is top class.

The Cromwell tavern

The Cromwell tavern

Walk past the lifts and you have a large sports bar which offers bar snacks. It is themed as an English pub called the Cromwell Tavern and tends to be populated by the aircrews staying there on lay over.

The bedrooms are typical Holiday Inn and hold no surprises. They have all the usual chain hotel facilities including, for us, the essential kettle. Internet is chargeable and adequate enough to hold a video call. The bed was average comfort and very clean. The views were excellent being above the neighbourhood except for Point West opposite which is a private apartment block.

holiday-inn-kensington-forum-bedroom-650

Breakfast can be an issue.  It’s a buffet affair with a great selection of products. You are shown to a table and then it’s self service. At the weekend, the wait for a table was unacceptable, especially on the Sunday.

Unless breakfast is included, we would recommend that you use one of several restaurants in the immediate vicinity. These will be much cheaper and faster. There are two in the Gloucester Road shopping arcade just two minutes walk away and also one opposite the station.

Also opposite the station is an HSBC bank, a pub serving food including breakfast, a couple of fast food outlets including Burgerking and a Pauls French patisserie.

For evening food, just near the tube station is the world famous Bombay Brasserie.  Here you can eat contemporary Indian cuisine is a colonial setting. Less expensive and less grand, but equally good, is the Light of India next to the Montana Hotel at the junction of Cromwell Road and Gloucester Road.

Take the tube one stop east to South Kensington and you have some seriously good restaurants on the Brompton Road.

If its a sunny day you can walk along the Cromwell Road to Harrods. It will take around 20 minutes. A little further along and you have Knightsbridge and Sloane Street with its uber expensive shops.

The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum is a great choice of accommodation. It has everything that you require on site, the prices are generally OK and the area is excellent for tourism. There may be more stylish 4 stars in the area but pound for pound its a good buy. If its asking a high price then you may as well also check out more stylish hotels in the same area like the Xenia Hotel or Ampersand Hotel. Also the NH Harrington Hall is an alternative.

Our tip: just 300 metres west of here is a 24×7 Sainsbury’s Superstore. Apart from being able to buy food, you can purchase ready made sandwiches and hot meals to take away. There is also a Starbucks inside. You can park on the roof for up to 2 hours free of charge.
Also, for cheap drinks and meals join the Casino underneath the Millennium Gloucester Hotel just 2 minutes walk from the Kensington Forum.

Book the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum in London

or

Visit our South Kensington Hotels Page

Restaurant Spy: Koya Bar

As the British band The Vapors once proclaimed, Soho is Turning Japanese this week thanks to yet another new opening.

 

With space at a premium round W1 already and with the congestion of restaurant starting to feel as tight a squeeze as a journey on the London underground, Frith Street has managed to fit in another venue.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, take your hat off to Koya Bar which is right next door to the official Koya site.

 

The brainchild of John Devitt, Junya Yamasaki and Shuko Oda, Koya is certain to attract many more Soho locals and visitors alike with their take on the classic Sanuki Udon noodles, otherwise known as shokudo.

 

Koya

(c) crumpeats.files.wordpress.com

 

Leading the brigade in the kitchen is chef Junya Yamasaki who will no doubt be sharpening the knives before the critics do in the fabled review tales of the Evening Standard or Metro.

 

So what’s on offer? Check out their menu which runs throughout the day beginning with an early start at half past eight in the morning. No time for owls here!

 

It all starts with a classic Japanese style breakfast with a number of different traditional plates available. This includes the likes of  Kama Tama which comprises of hot udon mixed together with raw egg and soy sauce.

 

Koya

(c) urbanjunkies.com

 

On the other hand why not go for the English Breakfast Udon, which blends together those favourites of egg and bacon coupled with shitake mushrooms and those udon noodles all stringy and enticing.

 

There are also other delights on offer such as Kedgeree not to mention rice porridge and Yakizakana  which is the catch of the day finished with miso, rice and pickle.

 

But it is the delicious udon noodles that ensure people flock here like pigeons in Trafalgar Square. This is the main element around both lunch and dinner, whilst other favourite dishes will also appear on the menu.

 

koya_soho_4

(c) hungrybeemaija.com

 

This features their Fish and Chips which has had a cult following as well as tofu which has been both fried and grilled and accompanied by spring onion oil, a dash of soy sauce and drizzled with a handful of marinated mushrooms and grated pickle.

 

122800

(c) blingcheese.com

 

The ethos behind Koya’s cuisine is Yamasaki’s ability to marry the finest Japanese methods alongside the highest quality produce from around the UK. This results in a genuine match made in heaven as close as Homer and Marge Simpson!

 

Koya is currently in collaboration with a number of different independent producers, fishmongers and butchers where their food is all carefully sourced.

 

One such producer is Nama Yasai, who is responsible for growing his own signature Japanese vegetables in the heart of East Sussex. With a daily changing menu, seasonality is certainly the order of the day at Koya Bar.

 

TheVaporsTurningJapanese

(c) hairbangersradio.ning.com

 

If you are not salivating already then their blackboard offers extra treats from braised pork belly with stout and honey to hay-grilled duck served with apricot miso.

 

Don’t be so coy next time.

 

Address:

Koya Bar,

50 Frith Street,

London,

W1D 4SQ.

W: www.koyabar.co.uk

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia, China and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors

Top 10 questions about visiting London – car parking?

Question:  Where to park a car in London?

Parking in London

Parking in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a nightmare during the weekdays!

Cars are discouraged throughout central London. If you have to drive then be prepared for long queues and if possible get in there before 7am or leave it until 4pm when all the traffic is outbound.

Central London also demands an entry fee for all cars. This Congestion Zone covers all central areas around Kensington and the West End. You can pre purchase or post purchase online and failure to pay the tariff results in very heavy fines.

Having paid for entry you should also consider the cost of parking which is not cheap.

Many parking meters have a time limit of only a few hours so if you are there for more than that you will have to find a car park.

Expect to pay between 24 and 48 pounds per 24 hours in a secure car park.  Even the hotel ones are expensive at around 20 to 35 pounds a day.

The are a couple of West End hotels that do offer subsidised parking.  The St. Giles Hotel in Bloomsbury (very central) has a large parking facility as does the Royal National Hotel, also in Bloomsbury.

The Kensington area is also within the Congestion Zone. You can use the Sainsbury Store car park on Cromwell Road for up to 2 hours free of charge. One of the largest car parks in Kensington is at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. No space booking is required but is is still expensive.

Our advice is to stay just outside the Zone and use the transport system. A good option is the Danubius Hotel Regents Park. Parking here is easy although it is at a cost. From the Danubius you can walk to Marylebone at Baker Steet in 20 minutes. Alternatively there is a bus every few minutes from outside the hotel right into the West End. There is also the St Johns Wood tube station just 10 minutes walk away near the Wellington Hospital.

The weekends provide some respite for car parking.  You can leave your car free of charge on a single yellow line but watch out for the residents reserved parking areas which are clearly defined on the signs at the side of the road.

The outlying area of Hampstead may also offer an option.  The main hotels here offer very cheap and secure parking on site and the tube line will take you right into central areas in just a few minutes.

Our advice is that if you have to drive into central London then avoid 7am until 10am and bear in mind that every bridge over the river and every main arterial roads will incur long waits.

 

Articles in this series about London

 

Where to find a London hotel with a jacuzzi in the bedroom

Which areas of London are safe to stay in

Where to stay in London

Where to park in London

Top 10 questions about visiting London – where to stay?

Question:  Where to stay in London?

puzzled-tourist

Where is the best area to book a London hotel is determined by your visit purpose.

If your objective is mainstream tourism then go for the area encompassed by Circle and District tube line. This covers major attraction areas such as Covent Garden, the West End, Theatreland, Kensington and Bayswater. Hotels are generally quite expensive depending on the time of the year or major events like Wimbledon Tennis with Saturday nights being the highest rate.

Should your visit be business related then the City of London (Financial district or Square Mile) is probably where you need to be. This is the home of many of the worlds financial institutions and lies in the eastern part of central London close to the Tower of London. This is the eastern limit of the Circle and District tube line. Except for the Tower of London there are no major attractions in the immediate area.

Hotels in the City of London tend to be high end with many four and five star accommodations. At the weekend they can be a bargain due to the closure of their offices so a great deal can usually be found quite easily. Travel into the West End is simple and fast so this may be a good proposition for tourists also.

London’s sporting and exhibition venues usually have hotels close to them. The exception at the moment is the O2 Arena out at Greenwich. There a small hotels in the area but our advice is to stay anywhere close to the Jubilee tube line which runs right through central areas to the O2.
Earls Court and Olympia exhibition centres have their own local hotels and anywhere within Kensington is within walking distance.

Visitors to ExCel exhibition centre are advised to stay within the centres complex. The surrounds are not really suited to visitors. Alternatively stay in the City and catch the DLR light railway from Tower Hill direct to ExCel (15 mins).

The Lords Cricket Ground has the Danubius Hotel right opposite and The Oval has several Vauxhall accommodations within minutes of the ground.

If you have already seen the major sights of London and are looking for new areas and places of interest then check out the Southbank of London. Here you have Borough Market, Gabriel’s Wharf, the London Eye and a magnificent two mile stretch of the Thames to explore from Westminster Bridge east to the Tower of London.

Most theatres are in the West End of central London between Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. Hotels are plentiful but prices are high. Check out the three star St Giles Hotel at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road. It is unremarkable but has car parking and a very large swimming pool. The bedrooms are on the small side but fully fitted. The advantage is the location, from here you can walk to most theatres and attractions whilst Oxford Street is less than five minutes walk away.

If you are visiting the museums of Kensington then you will be split for choice. This area is wall to wall accommodations, mainly 4 and 5 star. Immediately to the west is Earls Court where most hotels are three star but travel is equally as easy as from neighbouring Kensington. Both these areas allow you walking access to many restaurants, bars and gastropubs including those of the Kings Road and Fulham Road.

 

Articles in this series about London

 

Where to find a London hotel with a jacuzzi in the bedroom

Which areas of London are safe to stay in

Where to stay in London

Where to park in London