Ole and Steen, St James

London seems to be opening a number of different office/restaurant/shop spaces, such as NOVA space in Victoria and St James’ Market just south of Piccadilly.

Ole and Steen opened in St James’ Market probably nine months ago, and claims to be the best Scandinavian bakery in London. It has tons of breads, pastries, and light meals… including opened face sandwiches, salads, and amazing-looking focaccia breads that look like pizzas!

I went for two open-faced sandwiches (though probably only really needed one, as they were quite filling!) The first was the hot smoked salmon and egg salad sandwich, topped with pickled red onion. The salmon was fine, but the eggs were delicious… they probably had some mayonnaise in them, but what it really tasted like is that they had been slowly stirred to cook them, making them super creamy. Yum.

The other sandwich was the roast beef sandwich, with a remoulade sauce, a mix of ribboned cucumbers and pickles, and nice slices of roast beef ,topped iwth some pumpkin seeds and dill.

I mean, look at that roast beef! Have you ever seen better in a sandwich? Delicious.

They typically have three choices of the sandwiches, plus other sandwiches and salads… so I will be back soon to try the other options!

El Sol, Cassis, France

After Andre’s Half Ironman in Aix en Provence, we took the Monday off and went to Cassis for the day. We walked along the beach for a while, then stopped in the little port where all the fishing boats were docked. 

There were many different restaurants on the port, but as we were a bit late (it was approaching 3pm on a Monday), most had already stopped serving lunch for the day. Luckily, El Sol was still open! We found a perfect table in the shade and ordered.

And then… Andre started off with the fish soup, fully loaded with cheese and rouille.I went for the roasted red peppers with anchoiade (chopped anchovies) on top, the perfect Proven├žal starter!

And we each had a sea bass as part of the menu. Nice and fresh, it was served with very olive oil-y smashed potatoes that were delicious!

And an isle flotante for dessert… this went down pretty quickly!After this, we took a boat tour (as we had the time), to check out the different cliffs near Cassis. And they were absolutely gorgeous. 
The view from above? Also amazing, literally one of the most amazing views I’ve seen, especially with the mist collecting on that small island in the background!

Le Bistrot, Aix en Provence, France

The weekend that we were in Aix, the city was overflowing with an extra several thousand people, there either to perform in the Half Ironman or cheer someone on. To top it off, many of the restaurants were for some reason closed on the Saturday night (?!). We got on Trip Advisor and were able to book something that looked okay… and were pleasantly surprised!

List of things not to be missed in Aix en Provence! And the menu… very cool, as each dish has a fun name… usually a French expression. Less funny was listening to the poor waiter explain the menu in English to some American girls, three times…

Finally, I went for the pate de campagne, served with a huge vat of cornichons, and Andre had the foie gras. Then, I had the special of the day, the curried monkfish with rice, while he had the beef.  All delicious, in a very charming setting… and a huge cheese trolley for the end of the meal – I would definitely come back and try some of their other dishes!

Yooji’s, Zurich

A day trip to Zurich, the weather was gorgeous as I walked around…

I found Yoobi’s as I walked along a long road with many restaurants, each that had their outdoor terrace and was welcoming the lunch crowd… I decided that between Greek, Italian, pizza, sushi, Thai or Swiss German food, sushi was really what sounded best to me.

The menu is quite easy to use, and you write down what you want to order… I got several pieces of sashimi and a “platter” that included a summer roll, a few sushi roll pieces, and a few nigiri.

The restaurant has its own soy sauce, either the regular kind, or a yuzu-flavoured kind, depending on what tickles your fancy…  And finally, my meal: the five pieces of sashimi, two tuna, two salmon and a yellowtail, were all super fresh. I had two pieces of salmon nigiri (fine), two pieces of summer roll (a spicy prawn summer roll, something I’d never had before, that was delicious), and four pieces of roll sushi: two of a salmon flower roll, which was raw salmon served with chives and some flowers on top (very tasty!) and two of a Caesar spring roll, served with pieces of what I thought was cooked tuna, but I guess were cooked chicken, in a sauce.

Overall, the perfect amount of food, and look at those colours! This was a great selection/value for lunch.

 

Sants Train Station, Barcelona, Spain

After a few days in Barcelona for a conference (stuck in a hotel all day for meetings… a very nice hotel, but still a hotel), I headed to the train station to take a train to Marseille. Andre was doing the Half Ironman in Aix that weekend, so I was going to meet him there.

After three days of meetings, I was pooped and sick of eating hotel food… not a single croquette or any other Spanish food in sight! So at the train station, I found a good cantine/restaurant where I could pick and choose what I wanted.

I went for a mix; a tuna salad, which is one of those Spanish salads filled with all sorts of delicious veggies… it really hit the spot, and then the fideos paella to boot, my favourite kind of paella that is made with vermicelli noodles instead of rice.

The fideos were also delicious… and for some reason, they gave me a huge dollop of aioli, which I didn’t touch (I mean, does that look necessary to you?)

But I was pleasantly surprised with all of the different choices we had, from about five different hot meals to all sorts of salads to desserts. Not a bad selection, should you find yourself coming through!

Murger Han, Mayfair

A chilly May day, I am craving Asian noodles, as there were strangely absent at the birthday lunch I’d been to at Min Jiang on the Saturday. I had passed Murger Han the previous week as I was walking through Mayfair, and thought that a place almost entirely dedicated to Chinese noodles would be a pretty good choice for the next day I was craving noodles!

The restaurant is quite simple, with chili oil and soy sauce placed on every table (and cute panda chopstick holders).

I started with some vegetable gyoza (nicely pan-fried and crunchy inside) but wish I hadn’t… with the noodles, it turned out to be way too much food!

Then, the Biang Biang noodles, served with pork, chili oil, spring onion, tomato and egg… the tomato was softly braised with the pork and egg (I think the eggy omelette was cooked in some kind of flavourful broth, and was borderline runny still… oh my, it was so tasty!) Underneath the noodles was a lot of chili oil and chili, which, mixed together with all of the ingredients, made the whole dish spicy and delicious.

There are a number of other noodle dishes here, including with some cold noodle dishes, along with their famous murger (which is essentially a pork sandwich that kind of looks like their version of a burger…), there are many new things for me to try out!

Bluebelles, Golbourne Road

So if you keep walking north on Portobello Road, you eventually leave Notting Hill and make it up to Ladbroke Grove, which includes the very cute area of Golbourne Road, which has a mix of local Portuguese and Moroccan restaurants and vintage clothing shops, along with some trendier delis and curated lifestyle stores.

Bluebelles is one of the later, sitting on Portobello Road, and has a super cute brunch menu, along with about ten side dishes that help you to mix and match your meal to perfection!

We were lucky enough to snag a table outside ( we thought), until they kept adding tables every time someone else showed up… turns out they are quite lax on Sundays and can spread out when the bike shop next door is closed!

First came the coffees… Andre is not very impressed with his Americano, which has little bits floating in it…

But the food was much better… he got the Original Stack, which was like a full English on a stick: sausage, egg, portobello mushroom and crispy bacon, all on a rosti. It was actually pretty delicious.

I was also thrilled, I got the green breakfast, which was two poached eggs, guacamole (looks surprisingly white but tasted like any other guac), mixed leaves, and feta, all topping a slice of sourdough bread.

The food is MUCH better than that first coffee, to the point that we were going to order much more of it… so this will be a repeat brunch place, especially knowing that we will probably be able to get a table outside on a nice day!