Restaurante Cheriff – Barcelona, Spain

After a long 3 hour walk around the historical Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Julia, Mike, my Mum and I decided we wanted a good Paella, so after researching the best Paella spots in Barcelona (not touristy, not a chain, not too La-Di-Da) we found a gorgeously rustic, local spot for our lunch – Restaurante Cheriff.

We ordered some pan con tomat and some Iberica ham to nibble on while we waited for our main, which we washed down with a cold Spanish white wine. The bread was gorgeously crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, which was perfect and the ham had so much earthy flavour to it.

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We decided on the squid ink paella, which was so creamy and came with mussels, and the mixed seafood paella which was a little more zesty and literally came with every seafood you could ask for.

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The food, the restaurant itself and the service were all excellent! I will definitely go back again and I definitely recommend if you are looking for a good paella spot.

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https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d997670-Reviews-Restaurante_Cheriff-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

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Que Me – Stroud Green, Finsbury Park, London

One of my current favourite cuisines is Vietnamese. It is fresh, healthy, full of goodness, but also it is so full and rich in flavour. I will finally let you in on my current favourite Vietnamese restaurant – it is called Que Me on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park.

It is really well priced, always busy so the food is always fresh, it is absolutely delicious and it is so authentic. The owners are Vietnamese who have been eating pho since they were 3 years old and who use a family recipe – and you know I love a family run, independent restaurant where people are really passionate about their food.

I would recommend: The “Mama” Rolls, the Prawn Summer Rolls, the Vietnamese Pancake, the Lemongrass Prawn Bun, and the Special Beef Pho. I have tried all of these here and they are all amazing!

Definitely one to try!

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Summer Rolls and Mama Rolls
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Fresh Prawn Summer Rolls
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Lemongrass Prawn Bun
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Prawn Bun once I mixed in all the sauce and the salad
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Prawn Mama rolls – reminds me of Chinese Dim Sum
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Special Beef Pho
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The side dish with all the bits to add to the pho soup
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All mixed into the soup

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http://queme.co.uk/

Stone House Restaurant – Lezzano, Lake Como, Italy

Lezzano is a quiet, rural, colourful little town right next to Bellagio – this is where we stayed during our visit to Lake Como.

We rented a little apartment with a terrace that faced the lake and right under our apartment was Stone House Restaurant, so on our last evening at Lake Como, after the last couple evenings of just ordering drinks to take over to the beach with us where we would sit and watch the sunset, we finally ended up eating here.

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Stone House Restaurant

The restaurant had a very rustic feel to it but also has a lot of subtle decor that relates to boats, ferries and sailing. At the far end of the restaurant there is a wine cellar which is full of wines from all over Italy.

I had a steak tartare starter as a main, Jack had a steak, and we shared fries and a side salad. It felt like a feast but because it was so delicious, we managed to eat it all and even went for an ice cream sundae for dessert!

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Steak Tartare
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Steak with peppercorn sauce
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Side salad
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Ice cream sundae for dessert

After dinner we took a stroll down to the quiet beach and it was breath taking to see all the towns lit up in clusters around the lake.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g664188-d10695484-Reviews-Stone_House-Lezzeno_Lake_Como_Lombardy.html

Villa Pioppi Restaurante – Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy

As the sun went down in Sirmione, we walked from the old town over to Villa Pioppi. It is a gorgeous boutique hotel and restaurant which has a swimming pool and beautiful terrace on the lake that faces the sunset.

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Walking into Villa Pioppi with the sun setting behind
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The pool and the restaurant behind
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More of the pool and lake
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The restaurant

We sat down at a table outside, facing the lake. Sitting on a terrace on Lake Garda, wine in hand, facing the sunset – what an absolute dream! It was so peaceful and tranquil and an incredibly stunning way to end our day.

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Our sunset view at dinner

Eventually we ordered dinner – we weren’t rushed to pestered to order food as soon as we got there – so we were able to really relax and have a drink while taking in the views.

We ordered two starters (a mozzarella and tomato salad and a tuna tartare) and shared a pepperoni pizza for our main.

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Mozzarella and tomato salad
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Tuna tartare
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Tuna tartare
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Pepperoni pizza

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The food was all absolutely delicious and full of flavour. It was a really great evening and I definitely recommend going for dinner while you are in Lake Garda.

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Before the restaurant started filling up with people
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Dinner vibes
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Leaving Villa Pioppi

 

http://www.villapioppihotel.com/en/

http://www.villapioppihotel.com/en/restaurant

 

Trattoria Alessi – Desenzano del Garda, Italy

We stayed in Desenzano, which is a colourful, seaside-like, small Italian lake town on Lake Garda, and on our first night we walked around the streets looking for somewhere that wouldn’t be touristy and unauthentic. We wondered through all the small, winding, colourful streets and stumbled upon Trattoria Alessi.

It was exactly what we were looking for! We very happily sat down outside in the colourful, little, wonky, side street.

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The colourful little street
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Sitting outside at the restaurant
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Dinner vibes

We were given the usual basket of bread and bread sticks. Now, I have a couple things to say about these baskets of bread. Firstly, they absolutely love their bread sticks before dinner. I don’t think we went anywhere in Lake Como or Lake Garda where these were not given to you. Secondly, they love to give you bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, but not any dish to put the oil and balsamic onto, so you will need to ask.

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The Lasagna

We ordered our favourite Italian dishes. Jack had the Lasagna and I had the Spaghetti Pescatore – both absolutely delicious – which we washed down with bottle of a simple Pinot Noir.

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The Spaghetti Pescatore

Once we had finished our meals we still had some wine to finish off but this area of the restaurant was closing up, so the waiter showed us into another area of the restaurant which lead into a (what we thought was a secret) garden area. It was a buzzing little atmosphere with everyone finishing off their last drinks from their dinners.

An absolutely hidden away gem – and so glad we stumbled across it!

 

http://hotelalessi.com/resort/trattoria-alessi/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g194965-d1812674-Reviews-Trattoria_Pizzeria_Alessi-Desenzano_Del_Garda_Province_of_Brescia_Lombardy.html

Giuseppe’s Place – London Bridge, London

Today I am flying to Italy for a long weekend in the Italian Lakes – In fact I have probably just landed in Milan while this post is going live – so I thought it would be appropriate to post an Italian Restaurant that I have been to recently.

Established in 1990, Giuseppe’s Ristorante Italiano (as they like to call themselves) pride themselves in being London South Bank’s oldest family run Italian restaurant (as they state in their website). In an alley way in London Bridge, there is a door way with stairs leading down into a lively, little underground, very authentic Italian restaurant. With live music playing in a corner, the restaurant completely full, the very warm welcome from the Italian waiter – we immediately felt that we had found a gem, even before we had tried the food.

The restaurant was full but they kindly let us know that if we went to the pub next door and had a drink, they would come up and let us know once a table was ready for us. So we did just that and they came and got us in no time.

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The Bruschetta and Anitpasti Platter

We were sat in a booth in the cozy, little restaurant and were served straight away. Between the five of us (Jack, Frank, Sandra, Victoria and I) we decided to share 3 starters and then get a main each.

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The Calamari

For the starters we ordered the Bruschetta, a plate of antipasti and some calamari to share. It all came how I would imagine it to come if I were in a family run restaurant in Italy. Simple, tasty Italian food. No frills and nothing fancy.

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Spaghetti Pescatore

For my main I had the Spaghetti Pescatore, which is my absolute favourite pasta dish of all time – seafood with either with linguine or spaghetti. It was honestly cooked to perfection – with loads of seafood (clams, mussels, calamari, prawns and fish) and a gorgeous tomato based sauce that coated it all.

It was a great atmosphere, great service, great food and overall a great little find!

 

http://www.giuseppesplace.com/

Sen Nin – Upper Street, Islington, London

We decided to treat ourselves to a teppanyaki dinner, which neither of us had tried properly before. Sen Nin were doing a weekday special feast menu which consisted of 4 courses for £30 per person. There was a Miso or Tom Yum soup to start, Japanese tapas next, then the Teppanyaki course and a finished off with a dessert.

We weren’t really sure what to expect – all I knew is that we booked the chef’s table so that we could watch him to the cooking in front of us.

It was a quiet Wednesday evening in the restaurant, which I guess was why they had a deal on during the week. There were a few tables of people in the restaurant, but we had the chef’s table to ourselves.

I ordered the Tom Yum soup and Jack ordered the Miso soup. They were served in little Japanese soup bowls and were nice but nothing to shout about.

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For our Japanese tapas dishes we chose the seafood option. There was a seabass ceviche, a tuna tartare and calamari. These were presented gorgeously on a long dish so I was very impressed when it came out. Taste-wise, again, they were all nice enough. The tuna was a little stringy and didn’t really melt in my mouth the way I thought it should, the ceviche and calamari were nice though.

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Next was the Teppanyaki and out came our Chef who explained it all to us! We had ordered the scallops and the fillet steak to share with some rice and vegetables.

He was great! This is what we had been waiting for! He chatted and joked with us the whole time that he was cooking. And he wasn’t JUST cooking, he was doing tricks with all the food! At one point he let Jack get up and try out a trick as well.

It was great entertainment for the evening. He didn’t go wild and make a massive flame on the stove but he was fun nevertheless.

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The scallops and steak with the fried rice and the vegetable stir fry on the side were the best part of the meal by far. Nice flavours but I think the entertainment of it being cooked in front of us definitely made us enjoy it more.

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For dessert we got a mixture of 3 mini dessert pots and a duo of red bean and matcha ice cream and shared them all. I love matcha ice cream so that was the best bit for me (matcha is a glorious time always!) – the rest was okay but I don’t think I would have missed out if I didn’t have them.

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I wouldn’t necessarily be running back for a weekday set menu – but perhaps would come again to see what the weekend is like for the chef’s table teppanyaki as that was definitely good fun.

 

http://www.sen-nin.com/