Food

nahm at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok

"I landed in 1980 in Bangkok, and I stopped to eat ten times between the airport and the hotel. It was all lemongrass and ginger and chilies." - Jean-Georges Vongerichten

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8327.jpg

There is no better time to visit Bangkok than December and January. The sweltering heat found from March through to August is replaced with a more manageable and pleasant heat.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-005016.jpg

If you’re in need of winter-sun and seek a city-break with world class food and accommodation, then I have just the place for you.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-005008.jpg

One of Bangkok’s best hotels, the effortlessly stylish COMO Metropolitan Bangkok, is situated in the quieter Sathorn district of the city. 

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8215.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8276.jpg

Located a stones throw away from the beautiful Lumpini Park, the 5 star resort is hidden away amongst skyscrapers and embassies and is found by travelling along a tree-lined path away from the busy roads.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8350.jpg

A sleek but understated contemporary style reception meets you. It 's clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design of the hotel.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-005005.jpg

The staff couldn’t be more pleasant and willing to assist. 

Super comfy and luxurious 500-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens adorn the super-king beds.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8217.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8340.jpg

The rooms are spacious and well-presented and contain some nice touches, such as Bose stereos and fresh orchid plants.

Our room, an Executive Suite, even had its own private meeting/dining room.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8212.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8208.jpg

Breakfast is served at Glow restaurant.

A big selling feature for the hotel is its huge outdoor swimming pool, the perfect place to escape the heat.

Attentive pool attendants keep a watchful eye to ensure you’re kept well-hydrated and even offer complimentary sunscreen lotion.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8237.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8333.jpg

We didn’t have time to use the spa facilities, but the 1-hour COMO Shambhala Massage is said to be highly recommended.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8329.jpg

The hotel has another ace up its sleeve: possibly the best Thai restaurant in the world.

cocktail_saturdays_COMO_Metropolitan_Bangkok-8247.jpg

‘Kin Khao Reu Yang?’

This single sentence sums up the esteem with which food is held in Thai culture and society. In Thailand, when family or friends meet, rather than ask ‘how are you?’, they will often ask ‘Kin Khao Reu Yang?’. Translation: have you eaten (rice) yet?

If any of the party has yet to eat, sourcing a good meal becomes the immediate priority above all others.

Food in Thailand is a communal affair. Not only is it normal for the entire family to eat together, but they also often cook meals together and eat from the same shared dishes. It is how traditional methods of Thai cookery are inherited from generation to generation.

In our taxi on the way to the hotel the driver enquired if we were going to be eating at nahm. When we told him that we hoped to, but hadn't made a reservation he laughed and informed us that we had little chance - you have to book weeks and months in advance in order to secure a table.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005038.jpg

So it was almost with embarrassment that we asked the hotel reception if they could arrange a reservation for us that evening. And, to complicate matters further, we hoped to invite several family members to share the experience with us - a table for 6 would be required.

nahm at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok frequently features amongst lists of the top restaurants in Asia. Run by the Australian-born chef David Thompson, it was recently awarded a coveted Michelin star. One of the first restaurants in Thailand to receive the award.

Thompson and his team have gained worldwide notoriety for offering authentic Thai cuisine made using the highest quality ingredients, while earning a reputation for reviving once popular traditional Thai dishes.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005051.jpg

This was the highlight of the meal. Alike Fäviken's "i skalet ur elden", this signature dish was bursting with flavour and worth the trip alone.

Muslim curry of oxtail with fresh nutmeg, ginger and eggplants.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005056.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005057.jpg

Thai vegetable and fruit salad with tamarind, palm sugar and sesame dressing. Another stunning dish.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005061.jpg

Steamed coral trout with Bang Rak yellow beans and pickled garlic.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005065.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005064.jpg

Grilled galangal relish with pork and prawn stuffed bamboo and mustard greens.

One of our party commented: "I can pay this no higher compliment than to say this is exactly how my mum cooked this dish. Beautiful!"

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005052.jpg

A delicious Lycheetini.

Kingfish salad with pomelo, lemongrass and lime.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005071.jpg

Preserved shrimp and crab simmered in coconut cream with deep-fried prawns and vegetables.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005070.jpg

Owing to our late reservation we didn't get to spend as much time at nahm as we would have liked, and as a result weren't able to sample even more dishes.

cocktail_saturdays_nahm_restaurant_bangkok-005030.jpg

Each of the dishes we did sample were extremely well-balanced. It's apparent that the chefs have a clear understanding of the four fundamental taste areas; sweet, spicy, salty and sour.

We left extremely full, but with food this good you always want more!

COMO Metropolitan Bangkok

 

Photography by mahon.photo

Christmas at Claridge’s

“When I pass through the revolving doors into the glamorous lobby of Claridge’s in London, I always feel a thrill. You enter a world of sophistication and wonderful service… Claridge’s is my ultimate treat.” - Lulu Guinness

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0832.jpg

Visiting Claridge’s is always special, but during the festive season it takes on a certain kind of magic. 

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004381.jpg

One of London’s most glamorous and longest-established hotels, Claridge’s started life as a single house ran by William and Marianne Claridge.

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004382.jpg

They ambitiously bought the adjoining five buildings in 1854 and the hotel was transformed into the art deco masterpiece that it is today. 

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004385.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004485.jpg

Favoured by Royalty and distinguished figures of every generation including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby… The Queen! In 1945 Winston Churchill and his wife Lady Clementine moved into Claridge's penthouse suite during the war.

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004484.jpg

The interior is opulent and grand. More so at Christmas. The art deco revolving door takes you inside to the legendary black and white marble lobby with the famous sweeping staircase, once a turning area for horse-drawn carriages. 

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0747.jpg

An open fireplace and the stunning Christmas trees capture the magic of the festive season. 

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0748.jpg

Each year Claridge’s ask a famous designer to design the Christmas tree, putting their own unique mark on it. Chanel's genius Karl Lagerfeld was entrusted with creating the 2017 masterpiece.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0752.jpg

His version is an inverted, 16-foot-high tree with silver gilded roots, topped with a mirrored star and hung with traditional icey lametta and snowflake decorations. It's been a huge hit and is surely the most Instagrammed Christmas tree of 2017. It's worth a visit to see this alone. 

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0754.jpg

But I had an even better excuse to visit.... I took my mum for Festive Afternoon Tea. A special Christmas themed Afternoon Tea complete with festive treats, Champagne and Christmas pudding.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0757.jpg

We were shown through to the Foyer where Afternoon Tea is served. A pianist and harpist played gentle Christmas carols over the clinking of bone china and peoples appreciative “oh’s” and “ah’s over the cakes being served. 

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0758.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004479.jpg

Champagne was poured overhead while we deliberated over our choice from over 24 different tea leaves. I chose ‘White Silver Tip’, a precious white tea from the mountains of Fujian in far eastern China.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0821.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0823.jpg

Mum went with ‘Cloud,’ a black tea from the LaKyrsiew tea garden in the forgotten forest region of Meghalaya.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0765.jpg

Our finger sandwiches arrived, each and every one as delicious as the last, so much so we accept the offer of a second round.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0769.jpg

All made to precision the Claridge’s way, perfect equal lengths and the filling accounting for one third of the sandwich width. 

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0785.jpg

The scones were warm, light and golden. Just the right size. 

While we contemplated how we would survive the final round, a flaming Christmas Pudding surprise arrived. Extinguished by a rich brandy sauce.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0790.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0797.jpg

Then the cakes….

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0810.jpg

Roasted plum frangipane tart.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0807.jpg

Kalingo dark chocolate mousse.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0814.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0817.jpg

Golden bauble macaroon.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0808.jpg

Yorkshire parkin. 

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004446.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004450.jpg

Service was exceptional and carefully orchestrated, the theatre of Claridge's is provided by the staff, ever attentive but equally discrete.

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004442.jpg

You only have to raise your eyes for a nanosecond to catch their attention. Our waitress, Renata, was perfect, nothing was too much trouble. 

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004481.jpg

Claridge’s is very careful about respecting and protecting its tradition. Everything is done just so. The fire in the lobby is lit at 6am sharp, the Christmas puddings are made in August to a century-old secret recipe. The hotel apparently has the oldest working lift in the UK. Installed in 1896 it is the only lift in London still operated by an attendant.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0760.jpg

In the increasingly competitive world of luxury hotels, success depends on the aptitude of the business to evolve to meet new challenges. Something Claridge’s has done for over 150 years.  

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” - Winston Churchill

Claridge's sets itself apart by excelling in customer service. Anything is possible. Imagine a world where no request is too outrageous, the word "no” doesn't exist. Even the “Ladies Room” is a place of art, complete with a lady who turns the taps on for you and passes you your hand-towel.

cocktail_saturdays_claridges_afternoon_tea-004482.jpg

Dame Barbara Cartland was a regular at Claridge’s, rumour has it that when she was on her way for Afternoon Tea the hotel would have her secretary confirm whether she was in pink or turquoise, so they could lay her table in matching colours.

A Japanese pop star once booked into the penthouse, costing nearly £7,000 a night, for a whole month. Four days before arriving her team demanded her suite have a Jacuzzi. “It doesn’t have one,” replied General Manager Thomas Kochs, “but it will.” The next day the bath was removed and a Jacuzzi installed.

cocktail_saturdays_christmas_at_claridges-0830.jpg

Claridge’s isn’t just a hotel. It’s an experience. A wonderful one at that. You’re made to feel like the most important guest while you’re there and you leave feeling utterly special. As Spencer Tracey said, “Not that I intend to die, but when I do, I don’t want to go to heaven, I want to go to Claridge’s.” 

The Festive Afternoon Tea runs until 1st January 2018. 

Bubbles and Berries, Cloud 23

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” - J. K. Rowling

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004151.jpg

Last weekend I returned to Cloud 23 to have afternoon tea for my birthday. You can read my previous review of Cloud 23 here.

This wasn’t just any ordinary afternoon tea. Cloud 23 has recently launched a new afternoon tea menu called “Bubbles and Berries.” 

Served in the Zeus Lounge on the 23rd floor of the legendary Beetham Tower, with stunning panoramic views across Manchester, Bubbles and Berries is an Autumnal taste experience.

Glasses of Champagne arrived on a chunk of tree dressed with foliage, and the food was served on a stand with berries and twigs tucked away inside, all adding to the autumnal theme.

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004162.jpg

My friend and I are both vegetarian so a few of the options were substituted but here is the standard menu.

 BUBBLES AND BERRIES AFTERNOON TEA

SAVOURY

Mini bagel with cream cheese and beetroot cured salmon, caper berries

Caviar blini, pomegranate pearls

Ham and redcurrant croque monsieur

Butternut squash and manchego cheese quiche, plum chutney (v)

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004180.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004177.jpg

SWEET

Chocolate dipped strawberries, freeze dried strawberry

Pink Champagne and blueberry jelly shot

Berry burst frangipane slice

Bellini curd part

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004184.jpg

SCONES

With raspberry jam and Kir Royale clotted cream

£35 per person a glass of Champagne, plus unlimited tea and coffee

Our favourites were the vegetarian croque monsieur and the butternut squash quiche with plum chutney. 

We were also given the option of sipping on a hot chocolate rather than the usual tea or coffee, perfect with the dainty warm scones. 

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004213.jpg

We dined at 4.00pm, giving us the opportunity to watch a fantastic sunset from our elevated spot up in the clouds. 

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awakened.” - Raquel Franco

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004192.jpg

Not quite ready to move on after devouring the afternoon tea, we asked our lovely waiter to fetch us some more bubbles, which arrived in a puff of smoke.

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004200.jpg

I’m not sure if it was the dry ice or the bubbles but we left feeling like we were floating in the clouds. 

Service was excellent throughout, our waiter explained to us that some days Cloud 23 serves up to 180 afternoon teas in a day. No wonder they do it so well! 

Bubbles and Berries is the tastiest and cosiest of ways to ease yourself into the crisp autumnal season. It is available until 12th November on the 23rd floor of Manchester’s famous Beetham Tower - 301 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ.

cocktail_saturdays_cloud_23_at_hilton_manchester_deansgate-004218.jpg

Book in advance and make sure you ask for a window seat, the views really are incredible. Cloud 23 is an experience you won’t forget!

“It is better to have your head in the clouds and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” - Henry David Thoreau

www.cloud23bar.com

Nikki Beach, Mallorca

“Summer should get a speeding ticket”

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8780.jpg

Summer is all but over. But, there’s still time for one final trip… to Nikki Beach Mallorca. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8823.jpg

In 1998, entrepreneur Jack Penrod introduced the world to Nikki Beach, a luxury beach club that combines live music, dining and fashion into one. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8825.jpg

Today, the Nikki Beach concept has grown into a global brand in Miami, Florida, Saint Tropez, Saint Barth, Marbella, Marrakech, Koh Samui, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Dubai, Versilia… 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8787.jpg

Nikki Beach Mallorca opened in 2012. It includes a pool with views across the sea, indoor and outdoor dining and a private beach area. Located on one of Mallorca’s beautiful white beaches it is only a 20 minute drive from central Palma. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8710.jpg

It oozes luxury and has become a playground for the rich and famous, where Mallorca's ‘in-crowd’ can be found. Beautiful people bronze themselves on oversized sunbeds, sipping expensive Champagne poolside or dancing along to Nikki Beach's world-class DJs.

It is universally considered one of the best party venues in the world and has been called ‘the sexiest place on Earth.’ 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8788.jpg

International DJs come from all over to play and there are regular themed parties and events like Ladies Tuesdays, Fiesta Fridays and Champagne Sundays (great name!)

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8778.jpg

When the brand opened the venue in Mallorca, it raised more than a few eyebrows since it is so close to Magaluf, but any doubts were quickly dispelled and it’s proven to be a huge success. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8711.jpg

The décor is beautiful. Laid back yet elegant. There are 50 sunbeds, 36 double beds and 10 opium beds. All have stunning sea views. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8717.jpg

Guests can enjoy bedside beauty treatments. For those lucky enough to arrive by Yacht, there is even a complimentary yacht pick-up service.

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8760.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8767.jpg

The beds are super comfortable and perfect to sink into until sunset. Service is fantastic so you’re never without a drink in your hand.

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8748.jpg

Poolside staff ensure that you don’t have to move much from your bed… unless the live entertainment gets you in the mood. On the day we visited there was a live saxophonist who got us all up dancing. 

“You were my cup of tea. But I drink Champagne now”

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8719.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8739.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8713.jpg

The most surprising thing for me (aside from the cost of the drinks… €24,500 bottle of Cristal Roederer Vintage Champagne, I’m looking at you!) was how delicious the food was.

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8715.jpg

Even if you’re not in the mood to sunbathe or party, the restaurant is still well worth a visit. 

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8753.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8754.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8792.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8790.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8799.jpg

The menu is Asian/fusion and you can either eat at your bed or in the restaurant area.

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8812.jpg

We opted for lunch at our bed and dinner in the restaurant while watching sunset. The sushi was the best I’ve ever tasted and I’ve been craving it since we visited.

cocktail_saturdays_nikki-beach-8807.jpg

Definitely a place to return to!

www.nikkibeach.com

Puschka, Liverpool

UPDATE: Puschka is now, regrettably, permanently closed.

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best” - Oscar Wilde

The restaurant scene in Liverpool is booming. There are now more fantastic places to eat in the city than ever before.

cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004024.jpg

One of my favourite areas to visit for a meal is Liverpool’s historic Georgian quarter. I recently dined in one of the area’s most popular restaurants, Puschka. It opened its doors in 2001, why it’s taken me this long to visit is beyond me. Everyone I know who has been has raved about the place. 

It’s is a little independent restaurant on Rodney Street and has been quietly and consistently building an impressive collection of awards in recent years.

It isn’t clear where the name Puschka came from, apparently it may be a pet name for a friend of the owners, but whatever the origin, it’s certainly quirky and makes it all the more memorable. 

Inside the restaurant reflects its location, neatly sat between Liverpool’s classic Hope Street and bohemian Bold Street. The decor is intimate and cosy with candle-lit tables and fresh flowers. Pops of purple feature against a backdrop of wooden walls and floral cushions. 

cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004027.jpg

The delicious menus change seasonally with all dishes made fresh using, where possible, local produce. Provenance of ingredients is taken very seriously, so much so it has it’s own dedicated space on the menu.

Vegetables are brought in from farms over on the Wirral, meat is sourced from Lancashire and Cumbria, fish from Fleetwood. You get the picture!

We visited one lazy Sunday afternoon. Our waiter was charming and the service was great, the food took some time to arrive but that’s to be expected due to everything being freshly made. There is a little note on the menu to advise you to expect a slight delay. 

The atmosphere in the restaurant was lovely. Elegant enough to enjoy a celebration but relaxed enough for a laid-back group meal, not in the least bit pretentious.

cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004094.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004095.jpg

Once inside you feel like you’re in a little haven off the beaten track, you don’t want to leave.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing” - Oscar Wilde 

One of my biggest gripes in life is when people quibble over the cost of freshly made, good quality food. Sadly many of the reviews I read of Puschka mention how expensive the menu is. I’m not sure how people can go to a restaurant like this, producing the wonderful food that it does, served by such lovely - well trained - staff, and not expect to pay decent money for the experience. 

cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004105.jpg
cocktail_saturdays_puschka_liverpool-004104.jpg

Puschka is a little hidden gem. If you’re a foodie it’s definitely one to try and well worth the cost. Just make sure you book in advance!

The only downside to our visit was that we were too full from our starters and mains, we were unable to even consider dessert.

I’m hoping to return this week to sample some pudding as a birthday treat… so family, if you’re reading this, hint hint!

Puschka