Mums’ night out

I had a great evening last night. I caught up with my dear mummy friend. Like I mentioned in my previous post we went to our old neighbourhood in Highbury. We met in a nice bar Zioulf’s on Upper Street. It is a nice bar, quite artsy feel inside and lots of experimental cocktails.

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After a glass of wine in Zilouf’s we felt starving and started wandering down the Upper street. When we got to the front of La Farola I could not help myself. I actually have mentioned this place once before in my blog, a bit over one year ago. I was there with my husband when our daughter was only 3 months old and the place had just opened. I remembered it being amazing, probably one of the best Spanish food I have eaten outside of Spain. They had a photographer in the bar as they were hoping to put more photos and videos on their website..oh dear the photographer was next to us all night so we will probably appear on the website soon!

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We ordered honey glazed courgette flower -amazing-, crispy pork belly, steamed octopus and tasty bruchetta, all tapas. We bought an enjoyable tasty white wine bottle:Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de la Viste, Languedoc, France. I was delighted, the wine was extremely good.

I love our catch ups every time. What is special is that our daughters were born on the exact same day in the same year having Camden in their birth certificates! The other thing that is special is that we don’t have to talk about babies all the time, in fact we quite rarely do if it is only two of us without babies. It is so nice to catch up with the mummy friend but actually have something more in common than the child. It also means that if we want to talk about the challenges of motherhood we can and the other person truly understands, but also we can just sip our wine and pretend for a second being back in our twenties! We both also have this love of Highbury and we hope to return there one day. Islington is a special place in London. Like my friend puts it, it has that variety of life in it and everyone looks different but interesting in their own way. I will miss that place and I will miss our mummy nights out..although maybe when we meet again in London our children will be so much older that we can have a proper party night for change. Our daughters were friends since I think 3 weeks old..will be funny when they meet again and we can tell the story and show some photos.

Anyway, if you are in Islington try the above mentioned places they are super nice! I have had so many happy moments in my life right there!

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The George pub in Belsize Park in London

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Last weekend we were invited to a pub lunch. My husband’s friend who married a Swedish girl and recently moved to Stockholm was back in London with his wife. They had chosen an amazing pub for the meet up. The place is called The George and it is situated in Belsize Park. It was totally crowded since 2pm so I recommend to book a table if you fancy a Sunday roast. The decor in this pub is beautiful with old chesterfields and cosy chairs, beer selection is great, baby change facilities are fantastic and all in all it is a great spot for couples, group of friends and families.

I unfortunately do not have any photos this time. It was a pretty hectic lunch, our daughter refused to nap on that day and was up and running all those three hours we spent there having lunch and drinks. Luckily there was a sweet young girl who entertained our daughter most of the time so we actually managed to socialise with the people invited for the lunch. I, however, totally forgot the photos.

Menu was great. I ordered a vegetarian burger and my husband had duck. I was particularly fond of the spacious and light feel this pub had, it had lots of room for kids to play around (funny, these are the things I need to consider these days..before it was all about the food and drinks!).

Anyway, I wanted to give you this tip in case you are looking for a great spot for Sunday roast. I can warmly recommend this pub!

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon -Fine dining at its best

Last Saturday my husband and I went to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon which is one Michelin star restaurant in Covent Garden. A true jewel of West End. We were both so excited about our date night. With the small toddler and being away from your home country you don’t really get much time off as a couple as there are no grandparents to help you out. Luckily our nanny does baby sitting for us occasionally which is great.  It is so relieving to leave our daughter to her hands as we know she know her inside out plus has done such an amazing job with her so far! It was a beautiful day in London and was lovely to walk hand in hand in the Central London.

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Like I said in my previous post London Restaurant Festival was still on so we got an amazing deal of full three course menu with matching wines in this fantastic restaurant.

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My husband and I chose different courses from the menu so that we could taste as many as possible.

We got an amuse-bouche from the kitchen to start with. It was some kind of chevre foam with port wine. Absolutely heavenly. So unusual but tasty.

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Sorry about the dark photos.The restaurant had a very dark interior, black and red so photographing was challenging!  The seating was Japanese teppanyaki style -super cool and modern, high bar stools around the kitchen. I loved it as we were able to watch chefs working and decorating each meal to their finest detail.

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My starter was this gorgeous foie gras with green beans. It was amazing. The wine with it was strong oaky chardonnay. I have to tell you a secret. I had the most horrible cold the day before and I was terrified that I could not taste anything the day after. I had a snotty nose but luckily I tasted most of it, maybe some super fine flavours I could not capture. Such a bad luck isn’t it!?

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My husband took the eschabeche of kipper with potatoes. Super good too! He got a crispy Sauvignon Blanc with it.

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My husband went for 4 course instead of 3 so we got an extra starter which was this phenomenally poached egg with Comte cheese sauce. The poach egg was a piece of art, it was cooked into perfection!

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My main course was salmon. I was suprised that the restaurant chose to serve it with rose wine. I was a bit doubtful of this combination as for me rose is more of a socialising summer wine but it went together with the salmon so well that I will definitely try this combination again, maybe serve it even for my guests!

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My husband chose pork belly with beans. Obviously he got a strong Spanish red with it. It was delicious although I am not a big pork belly fan. in fact I don’t eat pork at all…

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For dessert I went for chocolate macaroon with hazelnut cream filling and convinced my husband to take the strawberry cheesecake so that I could taste both…I got some red dessert wine with it, it was almost like a port wine. My husband got some super tasty Riesling dessert wine from Germany.  The combinations of flavours were just fantastic.

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How beautiful are these desserts!!!?

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I ordered black coffee with my dessert too. It was an amazingly tasty coffee, I guess Michelin star restaurants need to choose their coffees carefully too. They brought more cakes with it…luckily my husband had some room in his tummy.. I could not fit anything in…

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The food was so tasty, beautifully presented, each ingredient on the plate had its purpose. My husband was so fascinated about this eating experience that told me we needed to go again as it was so amazing. We have been fine dining a fair bit. Unfortunately I so often get disappointed not only due to the food but usually just the setting, I don’t like pretentious restaurants with white table cloths and dry waiters. This place was great. I loved the relaxed atmosphere, teppanyaki setting and music being rather loud which gave the restaurant an edgy club vibe.

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I warmly recommend this place. They do now the same menu as their pre-theatre menu. If you have a chance to go to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon go, don’t miss your chance!

Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany -Gordon Ramsayn York and Albany

I have had a busy but wonderful past week. First my dad was visiting us and then my Finnish friend came to stay with us with her two children. I have had such great time and it has been incredibly nice to just speak Finnish and let Isla to hear and speak Finnish!

I took my dad and husband to York and Albany on last Saturday. It was my husband’s birthday so it was a perfect place to go. Before lunch we took our sweet little daughter to the playground at Primrose Hill. She has been there before and loves it as it has a big sandbox.  The weather was good and warm, almost like a summer day! After the playground time we did our typical ”feed the baby and put her to sleep” routine which worked perfectly again. As our baby girl loves her 3h naps we were able to head to the pub and enjoy a long three course lunch.

I started with some champagne and men went for Bloody Marys.

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I started with some salmon and salsa verde and men decided to get some foamy mushroom soup which by the way was amazing!.

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For the main course my dad and I ordered some haddock wrapped in parma ham and my husband took truffle pasta.

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Like I have mentioned before I love chocolate desserts so I ordered the French style chocolate tart with black coffee whereas men went for the savoury choice of cheese platter which I helped them out with…super tasty.

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I picked the wine for us which was a fruity and smooth Italian red, perfect for socialising as it was not too heavy or full bodied. I was actually extremely happily surprised how good the wine was as I did not go for an expensive one.

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We had a wonderful day. Food was superb, beautifully presented and what was even more amazing was that we happened to have a Finnish waitress. I noticed her slight Nordic accent and was able to locate she was from Finland and bravely asked if I was correct. She was so happy to serve us in Finnish. To thank her for the good service my dad gave her Finnish chocolate. She was so happy about that!

Back to the lunch…I cannot believe the  price value of the lunch menu York and Albany has at the weekends. Three course lunch is £24. The food is excellent and the dining room in the pub is gorgeous. If you have not been there it is worth going. If you don’t want to go for the set lunch menu you can always order from a la carte. Wine selection is great too! I think the bottle of Italian I ordered was only £26 and I have to say it was extremely tasty!

I am now heading back to continue my Norwegian knit which I am determined to finish rather soon. I hope you have a good start of the week!

Randall and Aubin restaurant in Soho -Randall and Aubin ravintola Sohossa

I used to work on client site in Soho in London all last  spring and most of the summer. There was a place in Soho that I passed almost daily when going to get my lunch. I so often wondered what it was like and thought I should try it. My colleague had it also on his hit list to go so inspired by that when my sister and mum came to London for a visit we gave it a try. The place is called Randall and Aubin.

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It spesialises in seafood and you can see all the fresh seafood in the window. They do all sort of dishes on their à la carte list so you are not only restricted to seafood. The wine selection is amazing too!

I ordered chevre salad for my main. The size was perfect. I love when meals are rather small so that I have definitely room for dessert.  This salad was the most incredible combination of flavours, one of the best chevre salads I have eaten ever.

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My mum and sister had fish and they were both extremely happy with their meals. My sister is a difficult one. She used to work for one of the most prestigious hotel and restaurant groups in Finland.  Being so she has eaten so many fine dining dishes and tasted too many rare wines that taking her out for a dinner is always a challenge. This time she was super happy with my choice!

Randall and Aubin has changed their wine list since we were there but I remembered we went for Italian Vermentino and it was heavenly good. I tasted quite a few wines until I ended up choosing it. Was a good choice.

For a dessert as usual I went for a chocolate cake.

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It was tasty but compared to the main course it was like a shadow..but good, nothing to complain. I guess my main was just so perfect that there was nothing really to compete with that.

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Me pulling a silly smile when getting my cake…

One funny detail for all the ladies who read my blog..this place has the most stunning male waiters. My sister, mum and I were laughing so hard when thinking of the job interview..they must have some extra  standards that applicants must fullfil :)!

After the dinner we headed to another place. It is a Spanish tapas place, we did not eat there but I have eaten there before and I wanted to mention this place in the same post. It is not far from Randall and Aubin, maybe 10 minute walk away. The place is called Copita. I may have mentioned it before. It is super nice.  I have eaten there and I have also tasted quite a few of their wines (the wine list is amazing!). So if you fancy a good after work drink I recommend to go there.

 

Fox and Grapes pub in Wimblendon -Fox and Grapes pubi Wimbledonissa

Before we went to to see tennis last summer we obviously needed a feed, a good feed. My husband and I did lots of investigation about the pubs nearby the grounds. In the end we did not end up going anywhere near but to the place that has gotten the best reviews. Here comes a fantastic pub tip if you do a day trip to Wimbledon. The pub is called Fox and Grapes. It is situated in the most gorgeus old house, it is outside of the centre of Wimbledon so you really need to commit to go there either by bus (a quick couple of stops) or by car. Food is worth it, it is extremely tasty. The chef if French so it is hard to go wrong.

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The best thing in this pub is that during the Wibledon tennis tournament they have a huge screen in the bar side of the pub and you can watch tennis and sip champagne indoors if it is raining outside and you want to watch a centre court game somewhere with the atmosphere.

My husband ordered mussles. Super tasty. All mussles were big, juicy and shells open.

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I ordered Ploughman’s lunch just to be funny for change.

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Food was so well presented and flavoursome. The chutney was delicious and so was the pâté. I am extremely picky with pâtés, they can be awfully fatty and grose or tasty, meaty and juicy, this was the latter one.

When eating out I always go for dessert, I hardly ever manage to finish them but I always want to try. Desserts are something that I quite often get disappointed with. The selection in Fox and Grapes was great and I ended up going for black coffee and sweet chocolate finish. The home made ice cream was heavenly!

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If you have not tried this place, go and do a day trip to Wimbledon!

Lovely pub in Canonbury -Ihana pubi Canonburyssa

My husband and I have this great habit of discovering new pubs every weekend. I guess this is part of the life of having a baby, instead of dining in the evenings we enjoy long and tasty lunches.  I am quite picky with food so I do lots of investigation before entering a new pub. I cannot stand bad pub food, I rather not eat.  I love gastropubs but finding a good one is not easy.

This summer we wanted to return to our old neighbourhood in Highbury. We had a long morning walk and tried to aim at being in the pub around midday to feed our daughter and put her to her day time nap so that we could enjoy our lunch peacefully. I have to say our daughter is such a good day time sleeper and we have been blessed with 3h daily naps.

Near Highbury there is an area called Canonbury, we went to a pub called Albion. It is super popular so you need to book the table well in advance. Sometimes you only get a table by calling in.  The pub has the most amazing beer garden at summer time and food is just phenomenallly tasty. It is extremely family friendly too, staff treated us super well and entertained our daughter. In fact some of the best experiences as a family.

The pub is on a quiet street in Canonbury.

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Food is delicious and well presented.

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Beer selection is good. Some unusual choices.

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They serve spit roast too for larger groups, 10 people minimum. There was one table that ordered this roast so I ran to take some photos!

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Definitely not for vegetarians 🙂

If you happen to wonder in North London I warmly recommend this place. In general you only find beer gardens outside of the centre, Notting Hill and Kensington have some and then North London has many. This one you won’t get disappointed with!

Now I need to run, I am heading to Helsinki with my dad and my daughter. I hope you have a great Monday!