Oh, summer! Here you are. There’s a great deal to be said for long days. Yet, warm evenings are one of my favourite things.
Read my full review here: https://seeninthecity.co.uk/francos
For more information visit: https://www.francoslondon.com/
I was invited to the latest opening of Keeper’s Kitchen and Bar in Oxford last week. I love Oxford and was thrilled to be able to return and attend the event. Keeper’s is conveniently located on the busy high street and sits within Mercure Hotel. The building was once frequented by JRR Tolkien, no less, and fittingly overlooks parts of the University of Oxford. This of course, is the chain’s third venue. There are two others in London and Bristol. Keepers Kitchen and Bar is so named as it champions urban honey. Their menu is a hive (I had to) of honey-inspired food and drink. The launch party was the perfect setting for tasting most of it.
What’s on their menu? We had Keepr’s infused spirits: Cotswolds honey spiced rum, honey infused London dry gin, English raspberry and honey gin and English apple and honey vodka. For those in favour of a craft beer Hiver was on offer. We also sipped vodka and gin cocktails made of Oxford-based artisan distillery TOAD. They served Oxford dry gin, Oxford rye vodka, Oxford botanic gardens physic gin and the unmistakeable Ashmolean dry gin with great effect.
On a regular day you’d be able to enjoy classic cocktails such as Caïpirinha and Mojito starting from £7.50. Mocktail classics Virgin Mary or Virgin Mojito start at an entirely reasonable £3.50. The drinks menu is extensive with an exquisite list of gin, whisky, vodka and cognac ranging from £3.60 to £9.45 for 25ml. Similarly, the impressive list of red, white and sparkling wines can be enjoyed from £5.75 – £13.50 per glass.
What did we eat? An array of finger food was served at the opening. However, I was lucky enough to be able to order dinner after the event. As I was attending the event with fellow writers Onin London, The Curious Pixie and the wonderful Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi we enjoyed a cosy dinner after the restaurant closed. Not only did we have the entire restaurant to ourselves but were also able to taste each other’s food. It was a good way to try as many dishes as possible. We ate Linguine Carbonara (£12.50), Penne al’Arabbiata (£11.50), Baked Camembert with Keepers honey (£12.95) and a Loaded Mediterranean Vegetable Panini (£10). We were all in agreement that the dishes were fresh and delicious.
I must add that I had the most sound night of sleep overnight at Mercure Hotel, Oxford. I was comforted by the view of the breathtakingly beautiful Magdalen Tower from my window and the cosy low ceiling and wooden panels of my room. Perhaps because the hotel itself was once a coaching-inn, which has always served as a resting place for weary travellers, I drifted off to sleep with ease. As I gently woke up I was surprised at how restful my night of sleep had been.
After such a refreshing sleep and an English breakfast we all headed off to explore a little more of Oxford. I love Oxford because it’s a romantic place where the streets are not paved with gold but with something far better; the footsteps of literary scholars who gave the world Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. At every corner there are reminders of the great minds that walked its streets and called it home. And for ever-moving transients, such as myself who come to marvel at the city, there will always be room at the inn. They will find a home at Keepers Kitchen and Bar.
For more information on Keepers Kitchen and Bar visit: https://www.keeperskitchenandbar.co.uk/keepers-oxford
For Mercure Hotel visit: www. accorhotels.com/mercure-oxford
Picture it if you will, an aptly low-lit private dining room in London, a distinguished hotel, an esteemed set of guests, the finest wine and one of the greatest chefs of our time. The stage was set for what would unfold effortlessly as the most refined dining experience this year. The hotel in question? The Westbury Mayfair. The fine wine, Nyetimber. The chef, none other than the British powerhouse that is Michelin-starred Alyn Williams.
I was here to preview Alyn Williams at The Westbury and Nyetimber’s exclusive Michelin-starred supper club. As I took my seat at this exquisite table, in the rosewood-panelled private dining room, it was difficult to imagine the evening falling short of perfection. Nyetimber, which pioneered English sparkling wine, expertly paired their signature Classic Cuvee, Blanc de Blancs and Demi-Sec with the menu. A brand ambassador from England’s first premier sparkling wine house was on hand to offer a rare insight into its much celebrated sparkling wine varieties; all of which are crafted from their estate-grown grapes.
The evening began with Chef Alyn Williams himself discussing his inspiration based on the finest British seasonal ingredients. From canapés on arrival to Chef William’s signature dessert the five-course menu was a wonderful celebration of what was possible with fine British food and wine. The bespoke offering was an alternative to the traditional Michelin-starred menu here at Alyn Williams at The Westbury.
Starters of pea mousse with mint and yogurt granita paired with Nyetimber Classic Cuvée was sublime. Poached halibut and roasted pork jowl paired elegantly with Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs and English strawberries with pannacotta was a dream with MV Nyetimber Rosé. Alyn William’s signature walnut whip arrived with the Demi-Sec and it was all I could do to stop myself from silently screaming in awe. Whenever I am fortunate enough to write a review on food and drink I do my best to highlight a favourite to help my readers choose wisely. In this instance however, I apologise that I am unable to do this. The entire affair was a triumph never before equalled. The food, the pairings, the impeccable service added to a meal greater than the sum of its parts; what flawless parts they were too.
With its Michelin star, four AA Rosettes, 15th place in the UK’s 100 Best Restaurants and a National Chef of the Year crown all placed at the foot of Alyn Williams at The Westbury, this is the second triumphant British celebration this year. It’s one that you definitely do not want to miss.
This exclusive Michelin-starred five course supper club takes place on Tuesday 24th July from 6pm – 9pm at Alyn Williams at The Westbury. Tickets are priced at £144. Reserve yours early at: www.alynwilliams.com/events
The Westbury is located at: 37 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2YF. For more information visit: www.alynwilliams.com