AQUA SHARD

Wow.

The picture above captures my view at 8 am on a gloriously sunny day. I visited Aqua Shard for a special occasion and this iconic location did not disappoint.

As soon as we arrived we were treated excellently and shown to our fantastic table location – the views were incredible! I especially loved that the restaurant was very nearly empty so we were free to wander around and soak up the sights at our leisure.

I had eyed up the menu long before I arrived but still faced the dreaded food dilemma when it came to placing my order. As we went for a breakfast sitting I am not best placed to report fully on the food selection and quality. However, that is not to say that the breakfast offerings are to be overlooked!

I am on the verge of fan-girling about this restaurant, which I make no apologies for as it was wonderful. I had the crab scrambled eggs with crab butter covered soldiers! I’m pretty obsessed with breakfast/brunch and as a seafood lover this meal ticked all the boxes. Accompanied by a delicious cappuccino and fresh juice this was the perfect start to the day.

This was a fantastic experience and I would love to see how the view from double the height exceeds this as I was already pretty blown away!

Aqua Shard – speedy summary:

Grub for your gravy ***

Calibre of cuisine *** 

Vibrant vibes *****

Top treatment ****

Diva direction – A luxurious experience with the best views of London! 

Heliot @ The Hippodrome Casino

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I must admit I rarely venture into Central London on a Saturday night. The area screams overcrowded and overpriced restaurants and bars. When my brother suggested going to Heliot restaurant at The Hippodrome Casino I was dubious about what we were letting ourselves in for. The casino is slap bang in the middle of  Leicester Square (a place I tend to avoid as much as possible) but after looking at the menu and reading other reviews (and seeing that it was a Bookatable winner in 2015) I was up for giving it a try.

My boyfriend and I arrived early and had a drink in the cocktail bar which was excellent. The drinks were of a really high standard and reasonably priced (around the £10 mark), particularly considering the area! I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere, it was relaxed and spacious and the staff were friendly and welcoming – not at all what I expected of a casino!

When my brother and his girlfriend arrived we were seated in the restaurant. We were greeted warmly and our table was ready on time. The setting is very different to anything I have experienced before – the restaurant overlooks the casino tables making it a fantastic people watching spot! Despite being so close to all the action you are detached enough to enjoy your meal without feeling like you’re eating in a casino (and you’re not too close to other diners).

The food selection was great and the price was excellent for the quality (the biggest steak was approx. £30). We had four steak based meals with sides and alcoholic drinks and the bill came to just under £200 – including service – a huge difference from other well known steak houses of an on par quality.

Focusing on my individual meal (main course pictured above), I had a smoked salmon starter and surf n turf with Bearnaise sauce and onion rings for main. The steak was beautifully cooked (ordered medium rare) and the accompanying prawns and scallops were also perfect. The main course portions are large and there was probably no need for a starter in my case although it was very tasty! We didn’t have dessert but from peeking over at the table near us I would suggest trying the chocolate bomb-looking delight if you have room!

After our meal we wandered down into the casino for a while (I’m not up to speed with casino etiquette and was constantly told off for using my phone – oops!) which provided for a fun, unique evening – we had all completely forgotten that we were in Leicester Square! So please don’t be put off by the location/perceived environment and get yourself a booking at Heliot!

Please note that under 18s are not permitted (even in the restaurant) and ID may be required at the door. 

Heliot @ The Hippodrome Casino – speedy summary:

Grub for your gravy ****

Calibre of cuisine ***

Vibrant vibes ****

Top treatment ***

Diva direction – Ideal for a fun central London night out with a twist! 

The Ivy Market Grill

This past Saturday I visited The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden with my mum, who ventured from the Forest of Dean to join me in the big smoke for the weekend. 

This restaurant has been on my list for a little while and I booked in advance to ensure we could get a table. I was told when booking that my reservation would be for a 2 hour slot (pretty standard in Central London) which was fine with us. 

The decor is classy and inviting. The white, black and green colour scheme is reflected in all aspects of the venue – down to the staff uniforms!

I had one key issue on my mind for review during this visit. My mum suffers with coeliac disease which means she must stick to a strict gluten free diet. Eating out has been a struggle since she was diagnosed, with many eateries not fully understanding the severity of the condition or simply treating it as a hassle. 

I’m delighted to say the experience at The Ivy Market Grill exceeded my expectations! The staff were pleasant and accommodating and told my mum she could choose anything she wanted from the menu and they would adapt it to suit her needs (very impressive!) They engaged with us during the entire evening and nothing was too much trouble. 

I would register this restaurant on the higher end of mid range; the main courses are around £20. That being said, I felt that the pricing was reasonable for the quality. We paid just shy of £100 for 3 courses each and bottle of wine including 12.5% service charge – which we felt was fair. 

I took a few snaps throughout the meal (yes, I was one of THOSE people) and have included them here for your viewing pleasure!

My order was:

Buffalo mozzarella 

Aromatic duck curry with jasmine rice (amazing flavours!) 

Frozen berries with yogurt sorbet and hot white chocolate sauce 

And my mum selected:

Prawn cocktail (70s throwback ha!) 

Lamb shoulder with polenta mash 

Chocolate bomb (novelty dish which tasted great!) 

We ended up exceeding our time slot but this was never an issue and we were not rushed or encouraged to move along at all.

The restaurant was bustling and full but we were made to feel special and the pace of the evening was wonderful – perfect gaps between courses. 

Please do consider this restaurant if you’re looking to eat centrally but want avoid tourist haunts/chains. 

Just a note – unfortunately due to licensing restrictions, customers are unable to stop by for a quick drink at the bar, you must be eating a full meal. This is a little disappointing as the bar area is lovely and the bartenders mix up some delicious looking cocktails! 

The Ivy Market Grill – speedy summary:

Grub for your gravy ***

Calibre of cuisine ****

Vibrant vibes ****

Top treatment ****

Diva direction – Highly recommend for diners with dietary requirements. 

CHAMPAGNE & FROMAGE

I visited Champagne + Fromage (Greenwich branch) for a few birthday drinks recently. The restaurant is in a lovely location; a stone’s throw from the Cutty Sark and Greenwich Market.

The venue itself is compact, I would go as far to say a little cramped, but overall there is a nice relaxed atmosphere, best suited to an evening meal and drinks (it definitely has date night potential!)

C + F have a fantastic happy hour deal running from Monday – Friday at 5pm – 7pm where selected bottles of champers are half price! This really does help to make it an affordable evening out without comprising luxury.

Food wise, we had a baked camembert with lovely French bread which was absolutely amazing! There are several flavour options to suit all cheese lovers. The menu contains a range of charcuteries and cheeses at a reasonable price.

The staff are attentive and friendly and genuinely seem interested in the customers and the food and drinks on offer. Our waitress was lovely and gave us various suggestions without being pushy!

I will definitely return and would recommend it to anyone in the Greenwich area looking for an indulgent evening without breaking the bank.

Champagne + Fromage – speedy summary:

Grub for your gravy **** (considering the drinks deal)

Calibre of cuisine ***

Vibrant vibes **

Top treatment ****

Diva direction – due to the space restrictions I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment!