The Globe Tavern Restaurant, Borough Market

The entrance to The Globe Tavern looks like any Borough boozer; noisy and bustling with media, legal, and creative types.

Inside the only indication toward the restaurant is underneath a chalked “toilet” sign. We hope some people get lost on the way and end up in the dining room and what a delicious detour that would be.

The Globe Tavern restaurant is managed by Michael. He waits on the room like you were in his own home but it turns out we are as his flat is above the restaurant*. The restaurant is horseshoe-shaped and split into two dining rooms both wrapped with windows that look down onto Borough Market. In the far room a banquette takes one side and a few tables the other. In the near room the main focus is towards the missing wall that splays open the kitchen in all its shiny, prepping, glory.

Open kitchens, despite the nature of them being open, often feel very closed yet Head Chef Luke Hawkins and his team step beyond the invisible wall and actively work the room. They serve the bread and the glorious brown butter butter. Brown Butter Butter. Brown butter mixed in equal parts with butter. Double butter. What a perfect way to start an evening. Hawkins also brings around the Special (often a larger cut from supplier downstairs in the market) and says they “actively speak to each table at least once”. This interaction releases the pressure cooker and the room is open, relaxed, hospitable. Have a question about the dish? How did you make this sauce? Where does the lamb come from? Catch their eye and if they don’t shout the answer from behind the pass (in the nicest possible way)  they wander over and explain at your table.

Chef Luke Hawkins

You could be in a country pub. You could be in a neighbourhood restaurant. Actually you are five minutes walk from The Shard and sitting above 1002 years of trading history with many more thousands of people passing by every day.

And the food, well, similarly neighbourhood. If you were located within a market why wouldn’t you wander our of your door and pick the brightest and best produce? It seems logical to most however sadly not always put in practice; GT has witnessed beautiful fresh Scottish lobsters leave Loch Inver for France while Roux’s Inver Lodge Hotel looks down from the hill and orders theirs from Billingsgate.

Thankfully at The Globe Tavern the menu reads like a local shopping list with ingredients that utterly shine and what the menu doesn’t say translates to much much more.

Take the “Beef, Apple, Scallop, Broccoli” dish. The beef is from half a Dexter from Swaledale butchers in Yorkshire that Hawkins and his team butcher themselves and the scallop roe is made from hand dived Dorset scallops then dehydrated.

“Asparagus, Smoked Egg Yolk, Pickled Spring Onion, Ramson Flower” is asparagus from Portwood Farm in Norfolk, via Turnips in the market, and the accompanying egg yolk is cooked for two hours at 65 degrees then smoked with Earl Grey.

Strawberries? Raspberries? Nothing less than Gariguette and French Tulameen.

More dishes such as “Crab, Clementine, Peanut, Chicory”, “Lamb, Cockles, Jersey Royals, Sea Purslane” and “Sea Bass, Tomato, Red Pepper, Nduja, Black Rice” offer the same simple listing with complex results like our lovely Brown Butter Butter.

When it’s this good who wouldn’t double up?

Mains Dish

Dessert

Cost of a 3 course dinner and bottle of wine:
£43 per person

Food:
9 out of 10 – picked straight from the market you can’t get more seasonal and fresh

Atmosphere:
8 out of 10 – homely, informal, welcoming and lively although perhaps a little stark for some. Ditch the paper napkins Michael!

Service:
7 out of 10 – friendly greeting and the whole team were amiable with their guests including the Chef and brigade

Overall:
7 out of 10 – excellent food and service although the restaurant is rather hidden and the toilets leave a lot to be desired

Summary in seven:
Brilliant market kitchen that deserves more customers

Details:
8 Bedale Street,
London,
SE1 9AL

Sunday/Monday: 12:00 – 19:00
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 21:30
Saturday: 12:00 – 21:30

Website: theglobeboroughmarket.com
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7407 0043
Email: hello@theglobeboroughmarket.com

*The flat above the restaurant also belonged to “Bridget Jones”. Michael has not started any official tours as yet although the mention of this on The Globe Tavern’s new website could possibly increase demand. Watch this space!

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Brunch at Bandol, Chelsea

Having recently read there was a new restaurant in my neighbourhood with a brunch worth investigating coming from the husband and wife team behind popular Chelsea restaurant Margaux I was hopeful to discover a new place to revive myself on a Sunday afternoon.

The restaurant is named Bandol after the charming wine region in France’s South West I once visited as a boy and they specialise in Niçoise and Provençale sharing dishes but more importantly, could Bandol be a new destination for those acceptably late Sunday breakfasts and the prerequisite caffeine, I wondered curiously.

I was also keen to see how such a tiny space, formerly a bar I frequented serving good cocktails (including picklebacks; a Bourbon and pickle juice shot drunk back to back) and rather poor Americana food, could be transformed into a neighbourhood restaurant.

Having visited Margaux before I felt safe to assume there would be a significant upgrade but I wasn’t expecting the transformation to be quite so brilliant. The restaurant is quite literally gleaming with bronze and rather tastefully furnished indeed. The masterful interior designer deserves great credit for making the best use of the limited space, the restaurant floor now looks three times the size and even offers space for two additional private dining areas.

Our waitress proudly informed us that we were their very first brunch customers which I suppose made us the inevitable guinea pigs so we put our new role to effect immediately ordering with haste two lattes, a tapenade and anchoïade dip to share followed by eggs benedict and eggs royal.

We also chose two freshly squeezed juices of pink grapefruit and apple-orange-ginger. Admittedly these are simple brunch items but also very easy to ruin and I have almost more often than not been disappointed with eggs benedict, quite amazing how many people don’t know what hollandaise sauce is, mine however was excellent and future Sunday afternoon visits are all but guaranteed.

Bandol Brunch
Eggs Benedict

Cost of brunch with one coffee and a fresh juice:
£20 per person

Food:
7 out of 10 – good selection of brunch items, presented nicely and well cooked

Atmosphere:
7 out of 10 – hard to tell being the first customers but the dining room is a really pleasant space to dwell

Service:
8 out of 10 – friendly greeting and the staff were very attentive

Overall:
7 out of 10 – attractive in both menu prices and decor this is a great choice for a casual brunch and dinner

Summary in seven:
The perfect spot for brunch in Chelsea

Details:
60 Hollywood Road,
London,
SW10 9HU

Monday to Friday: Lunch 12:00 – 15:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
Saturday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
Sunday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 22:00

Website: barbandol.co.uk
Phone: +44 (0) 207 351 1322
Email: contact@barbandol.co.uk

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GT’s Best Of 2015

Best Of 2015 is a retrospective look back at my favourite items and experiences of 2015, an excellent year in which has seen much exploring as well as the opportunities to brush up on sailing, golfing and fishing.

Best Hotel Experience

The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire Scotland. Quite possibly best place in the UK to learn to play golf with excellent rooms and faultless service.

Best Dining Experience

Dinner on the beach at Four Seasons, Koh Samui. An evening of spectacular entertainment including fire dancers and superb seafood and Thai cuisine.

Best Experiences

Catching my first Grayling on the river Itchen in Hampshire. Boating on The Norfolk Broads. Sailing from Athens through the Corinth canal to Kefalonia.

Favourite Clothing Brand

Our Legacy. Yet another Scandinavian clothing brand which consistently produces great quality casual clothing. I particularly like their Oxford Shirts which are near perfect.

Favourite Destination Visited

Kefalonia, Greece. A beautiful island with many hidden charms and lots of sailing opportunities.

Favourite Album

Alabama Shakes ‘Sound & Colour’. I first saw the Alabama Shakes on The Jools Holland show a few years ago and was impressed but didn’t get around to following it up. This year was a different story with another live performance and their latest album ‘Sound & Colour’ which is often on my stereo.

Favourite Single

Glass Animals ‘Gooey’. A dreamlike song which best captures the bands unique sound and lingers in your memory.

Favourite Photograph

Banks of the river Tweed in October. A stunning Autumn shot with the rusty, orange and yellow leaves at their most magnificent. Pictured Above.

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INSTRMNT Minimal Watches

I would like to share the latest watch to catch my eye, The INSTRMNT 01-A; a high quality, minimalist watch designed with care in Glasgow and made in Switzerland.

INSTRMNT’s small collection draws inspiration from mid 20th century industrial design whilst blending in high quality Swiss components with simple utilitarian design to create minimalist, high quality watches that are accessible to all at the price of around £180.

The watch pictured above features a gunmetal steel casing with high quality German-made tan leather strap.

This watch and two other variations are available to buy now from Opumo.

Details:

Swiss Ronda 585 3H movement
PVD coated 40mm steel casing
Sapphire crystal glass
18 MM German leather strap
5 ATM water resistance

Minimal watches look set to be big in 2016, what do you think? Comments and tips always appreciated.

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The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire Scotland

I was recently invited to attend a short Golf 101 break at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. My first thoughts were of trepidation due to the fact I haven’t picked up a golf club in a decade, shortly followed by anticipation for the opportunity to visit such a revered and famous resort that has recently celebrated a 90 year anniversary.

I am what you might call quietly competitive by nature, in fact I have up until this point deliberately avoided opportunities to play golf with friends as I don’t like the fact I am unable to compete and ultimately lose. The opportunity to learn correct golfing techniques from some of the UK’s best instructors was the perfect tonic to my avoidance.

Not sure what to expect from a hotel that is setup for golfers I chose to discover upon arrival rather than my usual approach of researching to near fatigue. I suppose this can either make the discovery more exciting as you refrain from anticipation or highly disappointing if your destination doesn’t live up to your hopes. Fortunately I can state wholeheartedly that I am glad I chose to discover instead. As soon as you arrive at The Gleneagles gates you can instantly tell that you are in a special setting as you take in wonderful views of the Ochil Hills behind you and the stunning landscaped grounds around you that feature a lake, club house and immaculate golfing greens.

The greeting at check-in was friendly and the atmosphere in the hotel can best be described as warm, mildly informal yet classy which pleased me instantly I can recall golfing friends complaining at length about how stuffy the atmosphere can be in golf clubs. I was surprised to learn that the hotel was purpose built for golfing retreats in 1924 rather than a re-imagining of a country estate as with most grand buildings of this size.

My double room was suitably luxurious with a small lounge area including it’s very own fireplace and view out onto the golfing greens. For a Bed & Breakfast rate of £335 per room the bathroom in particular was better than many I have stayed in at this level with a double sink area, bath and shower. Being brought a tin of good quality Scottish shortbread on arrival was a nice touch and made a great gift upon my return (albeit with one missing). The fabrics in the room included tartan and tweed and featured their Scottish roots very tastefully, many places I have visited can go a bit over the top on tartan which can make you feel like you are trapped in a giant game of chequers.

Having browsed the welcome pack I think it is fair to say that you could have a very enjoyable time at Gleneagles without ever picking up a golf club, in fact the hotel is perfect for a leisurely short break for either groups or couples with mixed tastes.

Aside from the golf there are also the following activities:

  • Fishing: Gleneagles has six trout lochs and offers lessons from skilled ghillies and the chance to have your catch cooked, also Salmon fishing trips can be arranged with a weeks advance notice.
  • The Spa by ESPA: Massage, facials, treatments, detox, tropical shower, crystal steam rooms and swimming pool. There is also a nail bar for the ladies.
  • Horse Riding: From beginner to advanced including an introduction to Polo.
  • Gundog and Falconry: Introductions and lessons are available and dogs are made very welcome at the hotel.
  • Indoor Tennis: Four acrylic courts with a good choice of professional lessons.
  • Off-Road Driving: Gleneagles has two purpose built off-road courses and offer lessons for anyone, a good chance to actually use your 4×4!
  • Shooting: Clay pigeon, archery and air rifle.
  • Programme of kids activities: From horse riding, mini athletics and air gun shooting to movie nights and arts & crafts.
  • Shopping: wandering the corridors of the hotel there are numerous shops selling whisky, cashmere, leather goods, jewellery, sports and lifestyle clothing and tweeds of which the focus is on quality Scottish items and produce.

As you can see these are mostly aligned to Scottish field pursuits but there really is something for most tastes on that list and talking of taste the hotel really delivers on the food and drink front with five superb dining opportunities.

Visitors can choose between the following restaurants:

  • The Bar: The bar is avery comfortable space which also offers light lunches. I haven’t eaten here but I can tell you as you would hope in Scotland their whisky selection is second to none and we enjoyed two evenings sampling whiskies recommended to us and my personal favourite Lagavulin 16 years old from the Isle of Islay.
  • The Dormy Clubhouse Bar & Grill: A classic all day menu of favourite dishes from sandwiches and burgers to fish and chips with a tandoor grill. I opted for their tandoori chicken dish which was cooked and presented beautifully.
  • The Strathearn Restaurant: This is one of the very largest grand dining rooms I have eaten in and has a tangible air of nostalgia about it. Sitting at the table gazing into the open floor ahead of me I could easily picture the scenes of past decades and I doubt very much the piano playlist or the ceremony behind the crepe suzette the table next door ordered has changed in all the dining rooms 91 year history, a wonderful site to behold. I ate a very decent Crab starter and Halibut main course here and at least one meal in this restaurant is a must for any visitor
  • Deseo: a relaxed Mediterranean restaurant serving classic holiday style dishes. This was perhaps my favourite restaurant which I would choose even over The Strathearn Restaurant, mainly because their choice of dishes is almost a checklist of things I personally like to eat on a European holiday. I chose to sample their gazpacho which was every bit as good as in the Mercado de San Anton in Madrid and a Scottish beef Rib eye steak which I can honestly say nudged ahead of Hawksmoor for the best steak I have eaten this year.
  • Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles: This is a two Michelin starred restaurant and unfortunately I haven’t eaten here as you would expect you need to book.

The main reason for my visit however was the golf. During my short two night break we had one and a half hour lesson with with Andrew MacRae a PGA Senior Golf Professional and very pleasant and patient coach. In our first session we received coaching on the correct stance and how to strike the ball correctly. Having mastered the stance we had varying degrees of success with striking the ball which we recorded on video and quickly analysed before returning to the driving range to see a marked improvement and further fine tuning from Andrew as he watched our progress. My main issue it seems and where I have been going wrong in the past is leaning backwards as I strike the ball, to quote the famous phrase “it’s all in the hips” and rotating them effectively. I managed to iron out my poor swing by keeping my eyes firmly on the ball and my chin up which I then practised for a while after the coaching ended aided by enthusiasm from the afternoons progress.

The following day we had a one hour morning session where we learned how to pitch and putt. I managed to make good progress on putting but the pitching eluded me somewhat as the technique of cutting dead your swing was an entirely new discipline from driving the ball. Following the session I stayed behind with two enthusiastic members of our group and we practised pitching for quite a while with Andrew’s tips still fresh in our memories until we had improved quite considerably.

After a long lunch in the Dormy Clubhouse we all played the “Wee Course”, a short nine hole course amusingly endorsed in the hotel by Ronnie Corbett himself. The course was great fun and there were plenty of oohs and ahhs as we moved from great shots to howlers as our old habits crept back in, however the marked improvement in our group in just two sessions was clear for all to see. I personally fared very well, even surprising myself by managing to par one hole.

Having only just learned the basics I will need to get some practice in on smaller courses before attempting a full round of golf at Gleneagles but should you already be an accomplished ‘swinger’ you have the chance to play on three of Europe’s very finest championship golf courses.

Gleneagles offers three full size courses:

  • The PGA Centenary Course: The host venue for last years Ryder Cup.
  • The King’s Course: Gleneagles world famous course opened in 1919.
  • The Queen’s Course: A secluded course in a woodland setting with many water hazards and favoured by legendary golfers such as Greg Norman and the one I remember the most Seve Ballesteros.

Enthused by my very rapid progress in just two days I am now looking into my first set of golf clubs and my next golfing invitation which this time will not be declined.

PGA Centenary Course

The Gleneagles Hotel
Auchterarder
Perthshire
Scotland
PH3 1NF

Tel: (0)1764 662231
Email: resort.sales@gleneagles.com
Travel Info: Simply within one hour of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport and train stations.
www.gleneagles.com

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Learning How To Fly Fish in London

Having been a coarse fishing fan throughout my life I have only recently caught the fly fishing bug

Fly fishing has always been something that held a certain unattainable charm, particularly fly fishing on rivers, but the opportunity to go with friends hadn’t arrived until recently. This is partly due to limited opportunities in my home county of Norfolk which is a coarse fishing paradise but not so well catered for the fly fisherman.

Fishing is a particularly friendly sport and I find it is usually necessary to have somebody to exchange ideas with before attempting a new discipline of fishing, thankfully that opportunity came along and I have now been on a few successful Salmon fishing trips in the Highlands on the river Oykel where I have so far managed to catch five Salmon and two Brown Trout, along with less successful trips to the Tweed in the Scottish Borders where I’m sad to say I have as yet only drawn blank days.

My appetite for fly fishing has been tempered somewhat by my casting technique which was quite frankly in need of some professional help. Fortunately again this opportunity was presented to me by Orvis who invited me as a guest to their recent fly fishing 101 event ‘fun on the fly’ on Green Park. The event was designed as an introduction to their rather generous free beginners fly fishing courses and their company that has been making rods in the same factory in Vermont since 1856.

As you can see from the link above there are some wonderful opportunities for Londoner’s to learn fly fishing either for free or for a very reasonable fee throughout the year including courses such as: Free Beginners Course, Beginner’s Schools, Chalk Stream Schools, Stillwater Schools, On-the-Water Course and Adventures Abroad. There is a huge range of tackle, flies, gadgets and outdoor clothing at their flagship store on Regent St which I was pleasantly surprised to find offers a huge range of items for simply being outdoors not only fishing.

My suggestion to anybody in my position who has desired to go fly fishing but not quite made the jump would be to pop into the Orvis store and talk to one of their knowledgeable staff who will be able to advise you, rather than wait for an opportunity to arrive like I had.

Since attending the ‘fun on the fly’ event with Orvis I have purchased a copy of John Bailey’s ‘Where to Fly Fish In Britain and Ireland‘ and found a great place to test my new improved casting skills. This being the grounds of Syon Park, the Duke of Northumberlands London residence where there is a fishing stillwater shaped like a small stretch of river that was originally created by ‘England’s Greatest Gardener’ Capability Brown in the 1760’s, unbelievably this is only seven miles and a 30 minute journey from my doorstep so I really have no excuses now.

Having relied on borrowed tackle until now the next step for me is to get tackled up and start giving it a go. I shall be putting together an informative article with expert recommendations on that soon.

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The Icelandic Pantry at Borough Market, 7-10 Oct

Ever wondered what kind of cuisine Iceland has to offer? I was pleased to preview ‘The Icelandic Pantry’ at Borough Market; an Icelandic invasion which is bringing the best of Iceland’s cuisine to London.

This is the very first time Borough Market has hosted an Icelandic guest so it will be a unique opportunity to speak with and purchase directly from the Icelandic producers from Reykjavik’s largest farmers market. I can assure you they are all very pleasant and speak excellent English so you won’t need an Icelandic phrasebook to get involved!

According to the producers we met, what makes Iceland a bit different is that their food and production methods are shaped by a harsh climate which makes Icelandic food traditions rather inspirational. There was plenty of evidence of this on the evening from blueberry-cured Lamb to artisan pastries, the world’s only geothermally produced sea salt to an eco-whey drink blended with wild Iceland moss and Arctic thyme.

Iceland’s different regions are represented with organic lambs fed on Angelica to give it a special flavour from West Iceland, hot-smoked mackerel from the East and artisan rhubarb brittle from South Iceland. Some foods also give an insight into Iceland’s rich history, such as a special flatbread dating from the settlement in the 9th century.

Borough Market’s David Matchett describes the occasion as such: “The Icelandic Pantry event is an opportunity for the city’s food lovers to sample and learn about Icelandic cuisine, as well as a chance for local and small scale producers from the country to showcase and talk about what’s special about what they eat to a new UK audience. Icelandic people are among the healthiest on earth and are also one of the most resourceful, living in a harsh and unforgiving environment. They also have a focus on sustainability, which is a way of life rather than an aspiration, so as a market we have a lot of shared values and are excited to welcome them here.”

Icelandic Pantry Dishes

Two Icelandic Dishes: Beautiful Rich Salmon & Surprisingly Good Barley Canape

To whet your appetite, here are the artisan producers who are taking part:

OmNom – Bean to Bar chocolate producers. I have tried these already from the excellent Cocoa Runners and they make some of the very best chocolate money can buy. Well worth picking up a few bars.

Saltverk – The world’s only geothermally produced sea salt. A very impressive feat and truly eco-friendly as a machine free business.

Sandholt Artisan Bakery – traditional pastry (Kleinur) and rye bread.

Modir Jord – Organic farmers from the East with barley products and lactofermented root vegetables. Organic vegetable-based products and cereals, crispbread, jams, chutneys and more. I would never have guessed simple barley on a cracker could be quite so tasty.

Burid – Angelica products: jelly, chutney, jam and tea all made from the plant.

Ytri Fagridalur – Fresh Organic lamb which has grazed on Angelica Archangelica. I really enjoyed this lamb which has a distinctive taste.

Seglbudir – Fresh lamb and cured lamb, apparently the first Icelandic farm to set up production directly from their farm.

Solsker – Omar a giant Icelandic fisherman is bringing smoked and hot smoked Arctic char, mackerel and smoked cod roe to Borough Market.

Islandus Kruss – Whey soft drink with hand picked berries and wild herbs. This was a delicious burst of berries well worth trying.

Rabarbia – Rhubarb caramels and other rhubarb goodies. Sadly we missed these.

Bjarteyjarsandur – Award winning blueberry cured lamb. This was one of the stand out products and definitely worth buying at Borough Market.

Ican – Arctic Fois Gras, fresh cod liver smoked with beech. We all really enjoyed this served on a cracker, makes a great canape.

Osnes – herring with different marinades, including mustard and curry.

If you fancy exploring some interesting new culinary delicacies I heartily recommend you take a visit to Borough Market by the 10th of October.

Icelandic Seaweed

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Boating On The Norfolk Broads

Since my childhood I have always wanted to spend a weekend boating on the Norfolk Broads

My appetite for travel has made that seemingly easy feat near impossible as each time a free weekend comes along I am instead gripped with my next destination abroad or fishing trips to Scotland to catch the ever elusive Salmon.

My desire to visit The Broads in particular above other domestic boating destinations is down to the man who essentially sparked my lifelong love of fishing, John Wilson. From an early age my brother and I religiously recorded John’s ‘Go Fishing’ TV series onto video tape. Each week we learnt about a new and exciting species of fish and the fishing techniques to catch it, it truly was a great programme to watch with all disciplines of fishing covered from seas to rivers and lakes including fly, lure and coarse fishing even trips abroad to catch river monsters. I was hooked! And above all the place I liked the look of the most was the Norfolk Broads which John sold so well with his often mentioned passion for these inland waters.

If you are wondering what exactly The Broads are then quite simply a ‘Broad’ is a broad open expanse of water; essentially a lake. What makes this area so special is that these Broads are all joined together by rivers and canals to become ‘The Broads’ a unique environment containing 125km of waterways. The Broads were formed initially by the flooding of ancient peat excavations from the middle ages run by nearby monasteries. The ruins of one of these monasteries called St Benet’s Abbey which has escaped the complete destruction from the dissolution of the monasteries in the 15th century can still be visited from the banks of The Broads today with it’s chimney stack clearly visible as pictured below.

With slightly more refined tastes than in my formative years I wished to travel in style and we chose to hire a quite luxurious boat aptly called ‘Royale’ from the company Herbert Woods in Potter Heigham. We were all really impressed by the standard of cleanliness of the vessel and the instruction we received that allowed us to set off on our trip with the minimum of fuss. GT would happily recommend this boatyard as a great choice to book with.

The weather in Norfolk is perhaps the best in the UK and despite this mass of inland waterway Norfolk as a county is officially the driest in the UK and therefore in my opinion offers the best weather all year round. The county is much flatter than the rest of the UK so you are always greeted by beautiful wide sunrises and rich pink sunsets but unfortunately for us this weekend was mostly cloudy with some rain, however we did enjoy two spells of glorious sunshine which was much hotter than it has been back in London for some time.

Our trip was split over two days a Saturday and Sunday and our very loose weekend itineray consisted of the following:

Saturday

We decided to cruise along away from Potter Heigham to the West where we passed lots of neat riverside homes and the jaw dropping site of a traditional Wherry boat with it’s enormous sail before we stopped to take a look at the first notable feature in our Norfolk Broads guide, the St Benet’s Abbey ruins. At this point in the trip we had all managed to shake off any London related stress and it has to be said being on the water has an almost magical ability to take your mind away from daily life, by this point we were all sporting broad grins as we sipped champagne and cruised along gently.

We then visited our first Broad which was Ranworth Broad shortly followed by Malthouse Broad where we saw all manner of wildlife including Kingfishers, Swans, Grebes, Herons and my least favourite the Cormorant which i’m not a fan of as they are far too good at fishing. Most impressive was a Marsh Harrier circling it’s prey and a water vole which swam at us very fast indeed to try and get onto our boat.

Following this we headed North along the River Ant and under Ludham Bridge which proved to be the first small test of our boating skills made rather easy by Royale’s bow and stern thrust which I would have dearly loved on my recent sailing trip from Athens to Kefalonia.

Once we had passed underneath the bridge we went past some majestic looking windmills onwards through Barton Broad which is home to a sailing club and it’s peaceful sail boats making lazy turns as they tacked back and forth in what little wind they had. Once through Barton broad we decided to look for somewhere to moor our boat up for the evening and settled for a quiet spot in a wide stretch of the river Ant.

We were well prepared for dinner having stopped at an impressive Farm shop in Pulham called Goodies Farm Shop where we bought some rib eye steaks and said from the local butchers along with locally produced cheese and an array of snacks and essentials. We also managed to pick up a bottle of English Whisky from the imaginatively titled ‘The English Whisky Company’ which I know has won some awards and hails from Norfolk, it was quite smooth and received favourable praise from our group.

Sunday

We woke up to a misty fog over the water which soon dispersed giving us some fabulous weather and after a breakfast of delicious local bacon and eggs which eased our whisky heads from the night before we formed a plan to visit the nearest pub.

In order to get to the pub we cruised back down South into Barton Broad and West into the narrow Lime Kiln Dyke which presented us with a view of the nicest riverside properties we had seen all trip with their own boat sheds and sprawling lawns, giving us all a little riverside home envy.

The moorings for the pub were a little bit of a tight squeeze but provided us with water and facilities for the boat, so we tidied up and got ourselves ready for a Sunday lunchtime in a countryside pub.

A short walk from the moorings we found Neatisham a delightful small village with a friendly village store called White House Stores and the ideal country pub The White Horse Inn that was near perfect offering house brewed Neatishead Brewing Co ales, my Norfolk favourite Woodforde’s Wherry, a decent menu, period features, beer garden,I could go on, suffice to say it helped make our trip that little bit better.

After lunch our only plan was to finally go fishing and motor all the way back to the boatyard before dark. We managed to execute our plan perfectly despite the good weather finally turning bad and raining throughout the rest of the day.

We dropped anchor by a very promising looking reed bed in Turkey Broad opposite Barton Broad and baited a swim to entice a shoal of fish along. At this point my fishing companion and I were getting absolutely soaked by the rain, we did however persevere and were rewarded after an hours fishing by getting into a good shoal of fish and we started catching several roach, rudd and bream of which John Wilson himself would be proud.

We did however endeavour to make it back to the boatyard before dark and with our by now well honed boating skills we managed to guide our boat through the narrow yard into the very same spot we left from.

All that was left of our weekend was a sleepy car ride back to London during which we all agreed to do this again soon!

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LOBOS, Borough High Street

It’s rare that I immediately look forward to returning to a restaurant in London with so many exciting new openings and old favourites to choose from in our Capital but last week that’s exactly what happened and I now feel compelled to share this exciting new Spanish tapas restaurant with you. Hopefully it won’t become so popular I can never get a table but I suspect it may well happen.

Lobos resides in the shadows beneath a railway arch on Borough High Street with an unassuming entrance which peaks your curiosity and beckons you in. Once inside you are immediately greeted by a bustling restaurant and uplifting soundtrack that helps to quickly dispel any work-related thoughts.

When inside you do feel like you are in the wolf’s lair (lobo meaning wolf in Spanish) as the menu is seriously carnivorous as you would expect from the name. This menu is described by the owners as “focusing on the prime cuts of Iberico pig: Secreto Iberico (‘hidden’ cut between the shoulder and the loin), Presa Iberico (the top shoulder) and Solomillo Iberico (fillet), cooked simply and allowing the quality of the offering to shine through”.

Service here is attentive and fun. I am not sure I have ever described service as ‘fun’ before but the staff all seem to know each other really well and enjoy working together which makes for a very convivial atmosphere. Lobos operates on two floors with a small kitchen upstairs and a bar downstairs and small tables and booths utilising the limited spaces perfectly. The feature my guests admired the most were the neat plate holders hanging from the walls beside the tables, these allow for a small banquet to be served at your table without too much clutter.

Having lived in Spain for a while it is safe to say that the small things like Pan Con Tomate are a good barometer by which to judge a tapas restaurant and Lobos have the best I have tasted in London, a good start, and I couldn’t wait to try the rest of the menu. We also shared other classic small plates of Manchego & Quince (£7.50), Padrones Peppers (£5.50), Octopus in Vinegar (£5.50) and notably the Croquettas of Ham, Chorizo and Smoked Bacon (£7.00) that were as good as any I have tasted in Madrid.

The meat we were advised is rather conveniently sourced fresh and daily from the nearby Borough Market, we shared Chuleton Sirloin Steak (£30.00) and Iberico Pork Selection (£26.50) as you can see from images below these are beautifully cooked, perfectly rare in the middle with just the right balance of char from the grill. Our dear friend Mr Foie makes an appearance and who can resist a slice of entière as a wobbly lid to a Rib Eye. Not I! Especially cut so generously for such a respectable price (£14.95).

Octopus In Vinegar

The Octopus In Vinegar

Iberico Pork Selection

The Iberico Pork Selection

We did also try a Double Chocolate and Pistachio Cake (£5) from the menu however by this time the full bodied Uruguayan red wine we had been recommended (£30) had begun to erase my memory. I’m quite sure it was very good!

My advice is to book a table with a few close friends after work before the restaurant becomes too busy.

Cost of meal with 1 bottle of Wine and a glass of Cava:
£35 per person

Food:
8 out of 10 – hard to give Tapas a 10 rating but difficult to find better in London

Atmosphere:
10 out of 10 – best atmosphere GT has encountered in 2015

Service:
9 out of 10 – fun, friendly and fast

Overall:
9 out of 10 – already looking forward to returning. Sod it, I’m going tonight!

Summary in seven:
GT’s new favourite Spanish restaurant in London

Details:
LOBOS Tapas
14 Borough High St, London, SE1 9QG
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12pm to 3:30pm and 5:30pm to 11:00pm
Tel: 020 7407 5361

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GT Approved: Filson Bags

If you are looking for bags which combine three essential attributes of being casual, hard wearing and high quality GT believe Filson offer the best products on the market.

The beauty of Filson’s casual bags is their use of rugged twill which is highly durable and a water-repellent fabric which according to the company “maintains its integrity even after heavy use in punishing conditions”. What really completes the bag though is the very pleasing quality of the fittings the straps and handles are of excellent bridle quality leather and their closure are heavy duty brass snaps and zips which are really built to last.

I became a fan of their products through a fishing friend who owns one of their bags which is still going sighting after a decades use and recently purchased their original briefcase and medium sized weekend bag as pictured above which compliment each other beautifully by covering both of my most frequent needs: My working days with laptop, notepad and accessories and my weekend travel breaks with just enough room for two changes of clothes a pair of shoes and washbag.

I opted for the brown colour but there are also options in green, tan, navy and black which all look well. I find the bags to have a kind of effortless cool and simplistic appeal. The label inside the briefcase says ‘MIGHT AS WELL HAVE THE BEST’ a notion in which GT firmly agree.

The fabric is simply wipe or brush clean and I can tell you although the fabric looks like canvas it can withstand quite a downpour which I found to my peril at the CLA Game Fair a couple of weeks back!

Filson luggage is available from their London Store, the first ever stand-alone Filson location outside the US.

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