Pickwick’s Tavern, Ohlos de Agua, Algarve, Portugal

My husband and I very much like Portugal, the countryside the people and the food. However, on a recent visit we stopped in for a cup of tea to a delightfully English pub, Pickwick’s Tavern. The owners and staff are English and they do an excellent mug of tea. My husband has also often taken refuge there with a pint of lager when I am resting or shopping. Conveiently, Pickwick’s Tavern runs a ‘husband creche’ that many wives take advantage of!portugal out

The pub benefits from the mild weather in the South of Portugal. It makes a point of showing main sports matches on big screen TV. It is always busy during international football and rugby matches. portugal in

The inside of Pickwick’s Tavern is quite small but cosy. Outside there is a large comfortable street-side area that benefits from large parasols that provide shade in the eat of the day. portugal sign

The staff and owners are friendly and take time to chat and make customers welcome. The ambience of Pickwick’s Tavern is warm, the food offered is excellent ‘pub grub’ and they do a tasty breakfast. We really enjoyed our visit to Pickwick’s Tavern and I highly recommend this this establishment.

Val Penny

 

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Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant, 30 Wardour St, London, England

On a recent visit to London, my daughters treated me to a theatre visit, something I miss now I live in a village. We went to see The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre. It was an extremely funny comedy. I have rarely laughed so hard. The cast were fabulous and we enjoyed the experience greatly. Afterwards, it was only fair that I treated us to dinner.Apple Duchess Theatre

I do not know London well, so, having decided that we would have a Chinese meal, my older daughter suggested a restaurant she has been too before and enjoyed. She chose Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Gerrard Street and Wardour Street. For the omnivores amongst us, it was a good call. chinese out

Gerrard’s Corner is obviously a popular restaurant as we had not booked and, although we were early for dinner, there was a short queue. We were told we would have to wait about five minutes, and that was about right. We were shown to a table downstairs in the large, cosy basement. Service was friendly and prompt without making us feel rushed in any way.chinese in 2

I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Greens, and my daughters had the Satay Chicken on Skewers. We all enjoyed our starters. They were delicious. I am vegetarian and was surprised at the number of bean curd and vegetable dishes that contained meat, fish or fish paste. So my choices were limited. I chose the Fried Bean Curd with Salt and Pepper. It was tasty but a bit dry. My older daughter had the Fried Chicken in Lemon Sauce whch she very much enjoyed and my younger daughter ordered the Crispy Shredded Beef in Chilli sauce. She enjoyed that too. As a vegetarian, Gerrard’s Corner is not a restaurant that I would recommend. However, the omnivores amongst us thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Val Penny

 

 

The Grill, 99 E 52nd St, NYC, USA

This article was first published on 10.10.2017 at https://epicures.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/the-grill-nyc/, written by Michael on The Wandering Epicures that reports on restuarant meals.

The Grill describes itself as “a historically based American chophouse set in midcentury New York.”  It occupies half of the venerable space in the Seagram Building that was The Four Seasons from 1959 to 2016. Blair and I went for lunch on August 18, 2017.

The renovation of the Four Season’s Grill Room has left it rather stark with rich wooden walls on three sides and the old shimmering curtains on the fourth. But the ceilings are very high and the acoustics are good. By contrast, as one emerges from the stairs up to the dining level, there is the old open bar and a buffet for the evening appetizers.

We started with glasses of Roederer Champagne. Lunch rolls with chive butter arrived.

We made our choices from the fairly limited lunch menu and ordered a bottle of 2007 Louis Boillet 1er Cru “Les Angles” Volnay.

Blair wrote: The wine was delicate, the nose was nice, but the palate left you wanting more. Against the chicken dish it actually went well, if we had ordered steak I would have been disappointed.

Lettuce leaves were served to go with the first courses.

Blair started with
THE SEAGRAM CRAB CAKE

The crab cake was very good. It is a holdover from The Four Seasons where it was the most ordered dish. The disks were potatoes that had been crisped providing contrast to the creamy crab underneath. They resembled a small,  single layer of pommes Anna. The sauce was slightly vinegary and mustardy.

I had
STEAK and ANCHOVY TARTARE

The beef was obviously top quality. It had been minced and so the texture was right. There was anchovy in the spicing of the beef as well as the little pieces alongside. Very good.

Blair’s main course was
SPRING CHICKEN A LA QUEEN

The chicken was cooked perfectly. Crunchy skin with a nappe of sauce and moist tender meat. The red pepper was pimento and therefore not hot.

Mine was
Curried LAMB CHOPS


The lamb was first rate and flavorful. The sauce underneath was aromatic with Indian spices without being too hot. Alongside was a bowl of yoghurt sauce and a mound of mint jelly. It all work together perfectly.

We had a side of grilled zucchini.

This was a good match with the lamb and its curry.

For dessert we each had a
German Chocolate Cake

This slice of cake was rich and delicious. The light layers were coconut. The scoop was whipped cream.

This lunch was an excellent example of straightforward fine dining cuisine. It never got lost in complications. The ingredients were top quality. The combinations were not inventive; they were familiar and good without being boring. Really upscale comfort food, I guess.

http://thegrillnewyork.com/index.html

Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England

One of the great joys in my life is my family. I have two beautiful daughters of whom I am unfailingly proud. It is, therefore, a great delight that they agree the three of us should have a ‘girls’ weekend’ once a year.Apple apts livingroom diningroom

This year we spent our special weekend in London, at Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England . It was a lovely weekend and the apartment was very spacious.Apple apts livingroom kitchen

We had three double bedrooms an en-suite shower room and a family bathroom upstairs with a large living/dining/kitchen and small wc downstairs. The concierge was helpful, the accommodation was spotlessly clean and the beds were comfortable, so the most important boxes were ticked. Apple apts main bedroom

Little things brought the apartment from excellent to good. The third bedroom had no bedside light, so I moved one from the main bedroom, only to find it had no bulb, so I needed to move a bulb from the sidelight in the living area. There was a dishwasher, but no tablets to allow us to use it. There was washing up liquid but no cloth or brush to give it effect. There were no dish towels to allow us to dry dishes, so we ended up using a hand towel.Apple apts bed 2

Having said all this there were sufficient mugs, glasses, plates and cutlery for the three of us to enjoy meals in the apartment. There was a tea bag and three sachets of sugar. Happily, we came prepared and the predilection of the British to drink tea continued unabated!Apple Apts bed 3

The bathroom facilities were exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised to have a  downstairs wc as well as the two bathrooms upstairs. It was a very useful and welcome addition to the accommodation. There were plenty of hand towels and bath towels.Apple Apts family bathroom

The beds were all comfortable with crisp white sheets, however, the stairs leading upstairs were quite steep and I was surprised that there was only a bannister on one side of them. Nevertheless this did not detract from our comfort during our stay. Apple Apts ensuite

My daughters treated me to a visit to the Duchess Theatre in Catherine Street where we saw the hilarious show, The Play that went Wrong. Public transport to and from the Apple Apartments Greenwich O2 to the theatre district was good. There is only one underground line from the nearest station at North Greenwich, but trains run regularly.Apple Duchess Theatre

All in all, we had a lovely weekend and I can recommend Apple Apartments Greenwich O2. It offered excellent value for money. We enjoyed our stay and with very small tweaks, this would be truly exceptional accommodation.

Valerie Penny

 

Peebles Hydro,Innerleithen Rd, Peebles, Scotland

Peebles Hydro outsideI have always enjoyed visits to the Peebles Hydro. It is a beautiful building in marvelous rolling countryside, indeed, the Peebles Hydro that is there now was built in the early 20th century as a country house hotel and spa resort in Peebles in the border region of Scotland at the south. The hotel actually opened in 1881, but burnt down and was rebuilt in 1907. It served as a hospital for injured service personnel during  World War I before reverting to hotel use.peebles-hydro-peebles-lounge

Peebles Hydro is a magnificent category B listed building. Peebles Hydro offers a peebles hydro entrancebeautiful setting in gardens, in the border town of Peebles. This charming, historic hotel features an indoor swimming pool, a spa, a gym and restaurant and overlooks the Tweed Valley and is backed by Glentress Forest. It is a 14-minute walk from the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery, and only 1.2 miles from Peebles Golf Club. The Scottish Borders are ideal for cycling, walking, fishing and golfing. The River Tweed is a short walk from the hotel.

peebles hydro poolWhen my children were growing up we made regular visits to Peebles Hydro, there is a lovely pool and special activities for children to be safely entertained. There is also a playground for children and there are lovely walks by the river Tweed nearby. Films are played for the children and there is a special early teatime for them. peebles-hydro-peebles-restaurant

I enjoy lovely views when enjoying breakfast or dinner in the restaurant. There is also a Peebles Hydro outcocktail bar. The evening dinner is always a favourite, the meal choices are tasty, the wines exquisite and the service first class. More recently, my husband and I regularly visit with my mother for a delicious, traditional afternoon tea on her birthday. The fresh sandwiches, scones and cakes washed down with tea poured from elegant pots enjoyed looking over the vibrant views of the Scottish borders is always a treat.

peebles hydro roomMost recently, last week my friend and I ventured to Peebles. It was a dleight to be back at the Peebles Hydro. Our rooms were lovely, each room at Peebles Hydro features classic décor finished in lightly coloured tones. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, a TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, heating and a bathroom with free toiletries. Breakfast was delicious and, as vegetarians, we had plenty of choice. I always enjoy visiting Peebles Hydro and highly recommend it.

Valerie Penny

 

 

The Corner Cafe, 73 Main St, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, Scotland

corner cafeA few weeks ago this new restaurant and takeaway, The Corner Cafe, opened on the corner of Hunterston Road and Main Street in the Craft Town of West Kilbride Ayrshire, Scotland. My husband took me to lunch there recently. The takeaway enters from the corner cafe logoMain Street while the restaurant is entered from Hunterston Road.

When we went in, I was very impressed with the bright modern decor. Also, you can see into the kitchen. I like this, it is clean, tidy and well organised. The Corner Cafe was busy when we arrived for lunch but we did manage to get one last table for two. The table was a decent size, so many modern restaurants have tiny tables for two people.

corner cafe fishWe were also pleasantly surprised by the menu. There were imaginative specials, a variety of light meals and a generous choice of main meals. I was impressed that there was a choice of meals for vegetarians too. My husband swithered with having the fish but finally decided on one of the specials, the chicken caesar club sandwich with fries and extra onion rings. He enjoyed the meal very much. I chose the vegetarian cous cous with roasted vegetables. It was a most unexpected vegetarian option and delious. The portions were generous and there was a lovley choice of cakes and desserts.corner cafe choccake

I am also impressed that the access for disabled people is excellent. The Corner Cafe is a new venture. I recommend it and wish it success.

Valerie Penny

Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

dumfries house annaMy friend Anna and I had a lovely day out to Dumfries House,  Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Dumfries_House

It was my first visit although Dumfries house is on of Britain’s most beautifuldumfries house prince charles stately homes that was saved for the nation by the personal intervention of Prince Charles the Prince of Wales in 2007. The house and estate is now owned in charitable trust by The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust, which maintains it as a visitor attraction and hospitality and wedding venue. Both the house and the gardens are listed as significant aspects of Scottish heritage.

Mike Scott
Phone 07968 258392
e-mail mike@mikescottphotographer.comThe 18th century house is set in lovely grounds and combines the neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam with the furniture of Thomas Chippendale. The refurbished blue bed is a stunning work of modern and classical craftsmanship.

dumfries house cafeteria

We sampled coffee and cake at the visitor centre before touring the house and grounds. The baking was fresh and the scones the most enormous I have ever seen! We enjoyed the bright, freshly decorated cafeteria. There were many tables and it was well appointed. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and the playground is delightful. We only wished we had a child with us to enjoy it too.dumfries house woodland walks

On our visit around the house we were entranced by the quality of the restoration and the beautiful, original furniture that has been saved by Prince Charles. He has secured employment for many people in and around Cumnock. This is an area of Scotland that suffers from serious unemployment and a lack of investment. dumfries house blue roomI paticularly liked the yellow room in the house. It was so bright and light and cheerful. The collection of Chippendale chairs in this room is splendid. Anna enjoyed the blue room with its cool colours and original furniture.

After our tour of Dumfries House, we stopped for lunch downstairs in the original kitchen and servants’ working area of the house in the basement. The cutlery and table furnishings were beautiful. We were served vegetriandumfries house yellow room parsnip soup, made from produce grown in the grounds. There was also a selection of sandwiches with various fillings. Biscuits and cakes finished off the meal. Some of the sandwiches and pieces of cake tasted slightly stale. that was disappointing. I suspect they are cut early in the day and uncovered until served, at whatever time of day.

However, after lunch we took another tour of the grounds and visited the walled garden. The beauty of the house, grounds and the stylish walled garden far out-weighed the slightly dry cake.dumfries house walled garden

I would defintely visit Dumfries House again and, be happy to sample the offerings in the cafeteria. Also, if I were there in the middle of the day, I would make my way to the basement for lunch. I highly recommend Dumfries House.

Valerie Penny