Sunday, 6 April 2014

Duck & Waffle | Eating Out

If you haven't dined in a restaurant that boasts spectacular views of a city skyline, then add it to your bucket list. Duck & Waffle, situated on the 40th floor in Heron Tower (Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street), offers magnificent views of London, exquisite food and calm vibes.

As the glass lift whisks you up to the restaurant in less than six seconds, one can only admire the perspective (one of many) of London before you. I wanted to stay in there a little longer, but my grumbling stomach promptly reminded me that I came to get my grub on. 
The glossy mosaic floor tiles in the entrance, coupled with the yellow, wavy ceiling panel add a classic yet contemporary feel to the place. As you walk through the bar to get to the restaurant, you notice how the beautiful low-hanging chandeliers frame the skyline.  

The dominant colour scheme of yellow and brown mirror the restaurant's signature duck and waffle dish (which, by the way, is served all day!)
Duck & Waffle serves British and European-influenced cuisine, designed for sampling and sharing. Offering "playful takes on traditional cuisine", the food will surely not disappoint. I can certainly vouch for that.
House bread, hand-churned butter , Puglian olive oil
Freshly baked bread is always wonderful. Am I right, or am I right?
BBQ-spiced crispy pig ears
I was hesitant to try the pig ears in fear they would actually bring a whole pig's ear to the table (that would have freaked me out a little - does that sound silly?), but it looked quite appetising, and was rather moreish.

Left: Puglian olives | Right: Champagne Negroni
Definitely the best olives I've tasted. Being so used to popping them in my mouth using a cocktail stick, the large seeds made them interesting to eat, as I had to nibble the sides (almost like how you eat an apple). 

The Champagne Negroni was a charged mix of Bombay sapphire gin, Antica Formula, Aperol, strawberry and lemon balm. Mmmm.  
Vodka Martini
What can I say about the Vodka Martini? This stuff was strong but amaze!  
Devilled duck egg, Korean pig's head, sriracha
The duck egg and pig's head was probably my favourite dish in regards to flavours. It was a tangy, salty, hot mix but wonderful. Beautifully presented, too. I wiped the plate clean with the bread.
Roasted octopus, chorizo, potato, lemon, caper
Again, the combination worked so ridiculously well. Seafood lovers will adore this small plate. 
Whole baked seabass, salsify, Jerusalem artichoke & trompette ragout, smoked butter
The seabass was very fishy in smell and taste, which put me off initially, but the more I ate, the more my taste buds couldn't resist. I loved the combination of textures
Duck & Waffle: crispy leg confit, fried duck egg, mustard maple syrup
It would have been silly not to have the duck and waffle - had to be done, folks. On first thought, duck, waffle, and egg may seem like an unusual combination, but married together, it makes for an amazing party in your mouth. The savoury and sweet mix is wonderful. 
Tiramisu
To finish off the meal with added indulgence, I went for the tiramisu (almond and cocoa crunch).  Not much to report here, apart from 'wow'. 
Staff were polite, and attentive; and the service was quick and efficient. I can't fault it.
Oh, and I loved the wax stamp detail on the doggy bag!
Duck & Waffle is a perfect date restaurant (very romantic indeed) and although not an every day spot to eat, compared to other high rise restaurants, it's reasonably priced, and portions are great.

Next time, I'll be sure to make a night time reservation, because I can only image how even more beautiful the view will be when London is lit up. 

Loved how I got a tweet and Instagram like from both the Executive Chef, Daniel Doherty, and Head Chef, Tom Cenci. Chin chin!

Have you been to Duck & Waffle before, or eaten at a high rise restaurant? Please share your experiences, and recommendations. 

As ever, 

Rebecca-Monique

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Mango Room | Eating Out

Conveniently located a stone's throw away from Camden underground station, Mango Room is definitely where it's at if you're looking to indulge in some top quality West Indian cuisine. 
On our arrival, the waiter informed me they were fully booked, but with a little gentle persuasion (in my politest manner, of course), he managed to find us a table. It was a close friend's birthday meal (and I was starving!), so I wasn't going to take 'no' for answer. However, it's worth noting that you should book a table beforehand in order to avoid disappointment.

The food was divine. With a menu as adventurous and creative as theirs, it's actually quite difficult to make up your mind when ordering. And, of course, side dishes are a no-brainer . Traditional favourites like plantains, fried sweet potatoes, rice and peas are obligatory additions. Obligatory! 
Mango Room Seafood Casserole with Char-grilled Roti Bread
"Camden's Famous" Curry Goat
Creole Snapper Fillet with Mango & Green Peppercorn Sauce
Cocktails there are smashing. I had the Jamaican Breeze: ginger-infused Appleton special, crushed ginger, cranberry, lime & pineapple juice. 'Nuff said.
Top left: plantains, rice and peas // Top right: sweet potatoes
Bottom left: char-grilled roti bread // Bottom right: Jamaican Breeze
The atmosphere was relaxed, yet buzzing, and the sultry sounds of West Indian music playing in the background, was quite a nice touch.

The dim lighting created quite a romantic ambiance, making Mango Room a great place to go on a date.

 The service on my visit was friendly and attentive. One thing I noted was the presence of the owner: it's always great to see him (who so happens to be the brother of a former colleague of mine) mingling with diners; I personally think it adds great value to the customer experience. 

What can I say about the decor? Tim Davis' vibrant paintings inject style and colour into the spaces. Absolutely gorgeous. I found myself admiring the art throughout the night - they're a fantastic topic for discussion.

Dining at Mango Room is a little pricey, so I'd definitely categorise it as an 'occasion' restaurant, but worth the money. 

My first trip to Mango Room wouldn't have been complete without actually eating a whole mango.
Have you been to Mango Room? Do you have a favourite West Indian restaurant? Let me know. 

As ever, 

Rebecca-Monique 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Top Three Perfumes | Beauty

What do Stella, alien and poison have in common? Nope, they're not elements of an engrossing sci-fi thriller. They're all names of my current top three fragrances.  

 Have you noticed that when you get accustomed to the same scent, you stop appreciating it? That's why I like to alternate between perfumes daily, and lately, I've found myself reaching for these three:
LEFT - RIGHT: Poison by Christian Dior | Alien by Thierry Mugler | Stella by Stella McCartney 
I was originally a fan of Tender Poison but, when it was discontinued, Poison instantly took its place - it's as a subtler version. I own all of the Les Poisons collection, but in my opinion, this is by far the best. Described as "a rich blend of spicy, fruity and amber notes warmed by honey and musk", it's regal and a very mature scent. Even a day after wearing this, I can still smell remnants of it, and unlike some perfumes, it doesn't settle into fibres and give off an offensive musk. 

There's something about this fragrance that seems to catch the instant attention of the opposite sex. I tend to find that men (rather than women) comment and complement whenever I have this on. It's a very distinct yet unusual scent; fresh with woody and gentle floral notes. The colour of the bottle is completely in line with the mysterious allure of the fragrance, and the gold details and structure connote majesty and splendour.  

This perfume sends me to Nostalgia Lane; spritzing it on takes me back to my early twenties. A perfumer would describe it as having top notes of mandarin, peony, and rose essence; heart note of rose; and an amber base note. I'm generally not that keen on rose scents, but this is divine and very feminine. It lasts for ages, and even though a tad strong when initially sprayed, once settled, it's very appealing indeed. This limited edition Print Collection bottle, inspired by the Falabella bag from Stella McCartney's SS13 collection, is available in nude, blue and yellow. I snatched up the very eye-catching blue one - it adds a bit of vibrant colour to my otherwise quite dull dresser.
(View the full Stella range here)  

What are your current favourite perfumes?

As ever, 

Rebecca-Monique

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Neutral Tones feat. Clarks Shoes | My Ensemble (OOTD)

Do you often find that when purchasing new garms,  you're drawn to particular colours or colour combinations? For a while now, black and white has made a dominant appearance in my closet (you've probably noticed from recent OOTD posts), but so has neutral tones: the sands, the khakis, and light browns etc.
SKIRT: New Look | TURTLENECK: eBay | COAT: H&M | BOOTS: Clarks | BAG: ASOS | GLASSES: Glasses Direct

I normally buy a new pair of brown boots every winter, and spotted these from Clarks while window shopping just before Christmas. When I think of Clarks shoes, 'quality' instantly springs to mind, but up until recent months also 'boring and bland'. However,  particularly in the past year, the brand seems to have made a really good attempt at reaching out to younger buyers by bringing out more appealing and on-trend styles.

Now, you may think these boots are plain and nothing spesh, but I would beg to differ. Firstly, the quality is top-notch (as you would expect from Clarks), and secondly, I'd found it really difficult this autumn/winter to locate a pair of riding boots with the perfect slim fit structure - i.e. not overly big around the ankles or calves - and that are comfortable. These boots are indeed made for walking; I could wear them all day, and my feet would still love me afterwards.  
What makes the purchase of these boots even sweeter is the fact that I got them in the sales, and on top of that, because they were the last pair and had a minor scuff on the inside (hardly noticeable to some), I managed to sweet-talk the store's manager into giving me a further 10% off. Boom! What do I always say? If you don't ask, you don't get.
 
Little Man makes his OOTD debut in this post. Usually he's a total poser and jumps at the prospect of having his photo taken, but he was a bit grumpy over the weekend.
CHINOS: Next | JUMPER: Marks & Spencer | SHOES: Clarks | COAT: Next

I decided to buy Little Dude a pair of Clarks shoes too. They're are perfect for little tiddlers, especially in their early years where they are exhaustingly hyperactive - they're durable and tough, so can withstand all the jumping and stubbing.  


 Though his coat keeps him toasty, we had a random dance to warm ourselves up a bit more.   


"No more dancing, Mummy. I want to go home and play with my toys."

The colour blocking on this Marks and Sparks jumper instantly caught my eye. I love putting Little Man in bright, vibrant clothes, particularly to add a bit of cheer to these dark, winter months.
If you're wondering, I did manage to tickle a smile or two out of this little fella by the time we got home.

Click on the links to find out more about Clarks shoes for women and Clarks shoes for boys.

Do you own a pair of Clarks shoes? What dominant colours stand out in your wardrobe?

*I was offered complimentary Clarks vouchers for my boots.  
** Photos shot by Catherine Doherty. Editing: Rebecca-Monique

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Las Iguanas | Eating Out

First bloggy post of 2014, yo! As if you're not sick and tired of all the images of food you've been bombarded with over the festive period, I'm going in with an 'Eating Out' post.

I went for a very overdue lunch with a friend of mine just before Christmas. For convenience (mainly to my advantage - ha!) we opted for the Westfield, Stratford branch of Las Iguanas. It's a Latin American restaurant that serves dishes infused with cuisines of the Portuguese, Africans and native Latin American Indians.

The restaurant boasts in-house seating as well as an al fresco-esque dining space in the the mall's walkway. I'd recommend - particularly if it's not peak time - asking to sit wherever tickles your fancy, rather than letting the waiter/waitress pick a random table for you. In my opinion,  where you sit contributes to part of the dining experience. They'll let you know whether or not the table is reserved; if you don't ask, you don't get.   
The waitress who escorted us to our table delivered what I can only describe as 'information overload': I do understand that she was trying to educate us a little on the background of the restaurant and its cuisine, but after the third sentence, I felt the information was going into one ear and out the other, and I just wanted to check out the menu and get to ordering.
When it comes to going to new/continental restaurants, I have a policy of always trying out something I've never had before/ traditional - we all have our idiosyncracies, right? It baffles me when people dine in Nando's, for example, and order chips and a regular burger. Each to their own, I guess.

A meal for two would cost between £25 and £40, depending on what you order.

I had a Brazilian dish, named on the menu as 'The Extraordinary Ximxim': lime chicken in a crayfish and peanut sauce, with spring onion, garlic and coriander rice and fine green beans. This was accompanied with toasted coconut farofa (to sprinkle on top) and plantains. Is your mouth watering yet?  
Our meals arrived within 15 minutes of ordering, and, seeing as neither of us had eaten a proper breakfast that morning, we tucked in straight away.

In Sierra Leone - the country of my origin - there is a traditional food called granat soup (groundnut soup). My dish reminded me of that, but obviously had very tangy, citrusy accents and the texture of some crushed peanuts.

In all honesty, I would have liked to have seen a bit more generosity on the plantain front - with only two small slices, I would liken it to pigeon portions (harsh, I know, but I felt a little robbed there). Apart from that, the meal was nice; nothing particularly 'wow', just nice.  
My friend ordered a grilled chicken salad (*rolls eyes* in reference to my comment above about trying different foods), but requested to have some olives added (I'll grant a spec of redemption there). "Girl, Christmas is coming up so I need to be good," was her excuses for not pigging out. Fair enough. 

2013 was a very challenging and emotional year for both me and my friend, but we overcame quite a bit, and had a lot to be grateful for, so we toasted to a much better 2014 with some passionfruit cocktails - courtesy of the 'Buy One Get One Free' offer that was on during our visit. 
I would eat at LasIguanas again - good food, calm atmosphere, and attentive staff - but it wouldn't be my first choice for Latin food.

Have you dined in Las Iguanas before? If so, what did you make of the food? 

Oh, and Happy New Year (albeit belated)!

As ever, 

Rebecca-Monique