“Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity”. ~ Louise Fresco

It has been a hot minute since I last posted an entry to The Food Diaries!

Last November, I was invited to Lotus Bar to try out their new Christmas canapés. I also had the opportunity to try out one of their Christmas cocktails, as well! 

Located on Clapham High Street, Lotus Bar specialises in Italian food making an emphasis on unique flavours. Their recipes come from family secret ingredients and I could definitely tell this when I got to try their food!

Lotus Bar is a great place to hang out with friends, if you’re on a date or if you’re looking for a new place to try out solo.

My companion and I arrived at Lotus Bar and were immediately given a seat by the window. I had already emailed over my preferences for which canapés we would try and so I was excited to get going. Our waiter kindly explained what cocktails they had on offer and I decided to go for the Christmas Tease. This contained rum, dark rum and Wray & Nephew – it was like a party in my mouth. 😍 Rum is sometimes too overpowering for some, especially if there are more than one in the drink, but this was surprisingly sweet and not too strong.

It didn’t take too long for the canapés to come out and we feasted on the following:

▫️ King prawn skewers with strawberry and balsamic vinegar
▫️ Deep fried croquettes with parma ham and cheese
▫️ Bruschetta with pan-fried aubergine, fresh chopped tomato, basil and ricotta cheese
▫️ Creamed dried cod served with warm bread
▫️ Warm chocolate brownie with custard

Everything was so delicious. My favourite canapé had to be the king prawn skewers! The sourness of the vinegar was offset by the sweetness of the strawberry, making it even tastier. I really liked the croquettes, as well, although I do feel there should have been a little more ham in them. 

When the dessert came out after we finished out canapés, my eyes lit up. I love brownies and I love custard – put them together and you’ve got gold. Heartwarming, delicious and filling; I definitely could have eaten another helping!

The presentation of the canapés was really beautiful, so not only is your stomach feasting but so are your eyes. I didn’t even know where to begin when the food came out!

The service was really good and our waiter was patient in explaining everything on the menu. This is something I always look for when I go out to eat. If your waiter is rude and not willing to be accommodating, then what is the point? 

Will I be visiting Lotus Bar again? Yes! I also love that it is so local to me. If you love Italian food, then you should definitely check this place out.

76 Clapham High St
London
SW4 7UL

T: 020 7720 2516

I was provided with free food and drinks in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by Lotus Bar in any way.

I’ve been to eat in the Shard one other time and that’s because I won a WeSwap competition and got a £100 voucher for Hutong. (PS. We went over the £100 and had to pay extra, but what did you really expect from me?)

Eating in the Shard is the pinnacle of fancy living. High rise restaurants with a 360º view of London? Yeah, you know you’re living the good life. Especially when you have to pay for the water…

So, my mother turned 60 last July and you only turn 60 once, right? She decided she wanted to live her best life and so she left it to me to pick a restaurant that was specifically in the Shard. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from but Oblix was the one that stood out to me!

Oblix is a contemporary grill restaurant based on the 32nd floor of the Shard. The views are absolutely stunning, however, they don’t take requests for window seats so you’ll have to be lucky to get one. Nevertheless, you can book through the website making it really easy. I also phoned the day before to arrange for them to write a ‘Happy Birthday’ message on my mum’s dessert, and everything went smoothly.

My original plan was to bring a cake to the restaurant for them to bring it out, but they have a cake charge which is per head. When the lady I was speaking to mentioned they could write the message on her dessert, I decided to go for that because it just made life a lot simpler. (We ended up getting a small cake and doing the candles and stuff at home, which you can watch here).

There’s an automatic lift that will take you all the way to the 32nd floor and as soon as you arrive they take your coats and bags to put in their cloakroom. The waitress’ uniforms were these cute flared dresses, which I absolutely adored. All the servers were so friendly as well, asking us if we had a good day so far and even saying happy birthday when I mentioned it was my mum’s birthday.

We were seated in the middle of the restaurant, but still had a good view from where we were sitting! The menu is quite extensive ranging from grilled diver scallops, king oyster mushrooms & hazelnuts to grilled aubergine, yoghurt, mint & pomegranate… fancy or wot? 😮

WHILE WE DECIDED…

We had some nibbles from the ‘While You Decide’ section of the menu, which was yummy. We started with chorizo, herb croutons & rosemary and also the parmesan cheese with honey. Please note these are NOT starters, they are literally nibbles because they came in such smol bowls.We were given bread whilst we waited for our meal and we had also ordered drinks. I went for the Pink Cadillac and I honestly don’t remember what was in it, but I do know it was delicious. And pink. Always a win/win. I was more interested in the main anyway, and there was so much to choose from…

THE JOSPER OVEN

I was originally going to order the rib-eye, but I spotted the lamb and I just had to order it. I’m glad I did! These lamb chops were marinated in harissa giving the meal a beautiful fragrant smell and a wonderful spicy kick with each bite. Paired with yoghurt, there was a wonderful combination was cool and hot. I also ordered the jersey royal potatoes, which gave the meal much-needed carbs. The presentation was amazing and my eyes literally lit up when the waiter came over with my plate.

The meal was very filling, as well, and I thought, “Oh no, I’m not going to have room for dessert!” but I really don’t know who I was kidding. 😂

DESSERTS

I wanted to go for the New York cheesecake, but unfortunately, it had nuts so that was a definite no go. In the end, I chose the strawberry & rose Eton mess. There were freshly cut strawberries and mini meringues which went really well with the sorbet. It was so refreshing! Again, the presentation was on point – kudos to Oblix, y’all know how to make food look pretty! For some reason, I didn’t take a picture of my dessert which is so unusual for me!

My mum ended up ordering the cheesecake, and I was smiling so big when they came over the dessert and it had the message and even a candle which they had lit up! So cute.

Overall I really enjoyed my experience at Oblix and I will definitely be back sometime in the future. There is so much on the menu that I want to try!

Level 32
The Shard
31 St. Thomas Street
London
SE1 9RY

T: 020 7268 6700

The problem with most places that I go to eat out at is that I have to be super careful with my allergies. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely visit Thai restaurants because of their use of peanuts. Nevertheless, I try not to let that stop me because then I wouldn’t go anywhere, would I?

Mutay and I always have monthly dinner dates (something I’ve mentioned before and is good for my sanity). Last month’s date took as to ROKA on Charlotte Street!

ROKA is a Japanese restaurant with spacious surroundings and a central, open top grill kitchen in the middle. You can see the chefs bustling around preparing everyone’s food, which is something I love watching. We had a table situated on the side, so we didn’t get to see much but it was still pretty cool.

ROKA specialises in robatayaki cuisine. 

In Japanese cuisine, robatayaki (炉端焼き, literally “fireside-cooking”), often shortened to just robata (ろばた in hiragana), refers to a method of cooking, similar to barbecue, in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot charcoal. – Wikipedia

We got a table through Bookatable, so ours was a special deal which meant we got 3 courses and a glass of bubbles for only £33 per person. 

The waitress explained that the majority of their starters used a fish based sauce, which was very unfortunate for me because I’m allergic to fish (honestly, I’ve no idea how I’ve survived on this earth for so long either, guys). Thankfully, she said that she would speak to the chef and they’d come up with a specialised menu. 

I particularly love that there wasn’t that much of a fuss made and I commend her for handling it so well – it happened again later with the dessert too because they used nuts in the dessert I wanted originally, but they made a special version of it for me, instead. 

My only annoyance was that I didn’t get to have the kimchi that I was so looking forward to because they used fish stock, but it was only a minor issue.

For the starters, our confusion was that we had to pick one, but the lady explained that everything on the list was a starter. Imagine our excitement! The original menu included kimchi, sashimi, beef dumplings, and sashimi tempura but with the alterations, it was slightly different.

We started off with these edible leaves with a really nice dressing. I’m sorry to say I don’t know the name of the dish, but it was very yummy! We also had gyuniku to goma no gyoza (beef, ginger & sesame dumplings), which is definitely something I recommend you try. Paired with the sauce, it was delicious. Next was the vegetable tempura, which was great! Tempura is just a dish of either seafood or vegetables battered and deep fried. It makes for a great snack, actually. Also, because I couldn’t have the sashimi, they made cucumber maki for me instead which was still yummy.

Starters! Not pictured is the cucumber maki.

There were no problems with the mains, so nothing was altered. I opted for gyuhireniku no pirikara yakiniku (beef sirloin, chilli, spring onion), which also came along with steamed rice. The beef was so tender, it practically fell off my fork. I’m not exactly sure of the sauce it came with, but it was extremely tasty and I’m guessing it was soy sauce based. You can’t really go wrong with rice, either. I wish the main course didn’t end so quickly, but I guess that’s because I wolfed it down like I hadn’t been fed in a hundred years. 

Look at the presentation! Amazing 😍

The last course was dessert, for which had to be altered, but I’m extremely grateful they went out of their way to do so. I went for hokkaido no yawaraka cheesecake (cotton soft cheesecake, robata grilled pear, cream cheese ice cream). It was a great way to end what was already a fantastic meal!

This was amazing cheesecake and paired with the crunchiness of the pears and softness of the ice cream, it was delightful!

We had a really enjoyable dinner, and I’d just like to bring up again how lovely the servers were and how accommodating they were. I absolutely wish more restaurants were like this – it definitely makes it a lot easier for people who enjoy eating out but are restricted by allergies. 

37 Charlotte Street
London
W1T 1RR
United Kingdom

T +44 (0) 20 7580 6464

I always find there’s no need to go out and eat Filipino food when I can just get it at home. I actually only visited a Filipino restaurant for the first time in London a few years back – totally worth it; but you’d understand why I don’t need to really go. It’s like for our Christmas lunch at work, my colleague suggested a place called Dutchies that specialises in Jamaican food – again, why? When I get that at my Lola’s every week?

Anyway, I digress.

Whilst I was in the Philippines, I actually got to meet up with Tiff of The Pandie Explorer for lunch! It was so lovely seeing her again, and even nicer for the fact that I was on her home turf. Meeting up with bloggers in real life is so awesome. It’s so nice to put a face to the blog – like, even though you know what the person looks like already, it’s so much better in real life. I honestly can’t wait until I get the chance to meet even more bloggers 😊

We went to a restaurant called Victorino’s located in Quezon City, Metro Manila. I was lucky enough to have my Tito drop me off, so I didn’t have to brave public transport to get there. I would have totally got lost, I bet.

The restaurant is lovely and spacious. I actually arrived first and was seated in the front dining area. They have a little shop located in that area selling various products from Ilocos, which is cute. The waiter immediately filled my glass with cucumber water, and continued to do so throughout the entirety of the meal which was nice. My mum hung around cause she’s a loser and wanted to meet Tiff 🙄😂, but she actually bought a scarf from the shop whilst we were waiting for Tiff.

Once Tiff arrived, we immediately poured over the menu to decide what we wanted. Boy, was it hard. Everything on the menu sounded so delicious. I’m not an expert on food from the Ilocano region, so I settled on what I already knew which was a longganisa platter serving 3 different kinds of Ilocano longganisa (longganisa refers to sausages flavoured with indigenous spices, with each region or province having its own variation) alongside vinegar dipping sauce.

adobo rice × tender beef cubes in olive oil × longganisa platter

We also opted for the adobo rice, which had adobo bits with garlic chips and lastly beef salpicao, my absolute favourite dish of the three, which was tender beef cubes in olive oil.

The longganisa was so so tasty, especially dipped in the sauce and the beef was so tender and melted right in my mouth. The rice? You cannot go wrong with rice especially when it has adobo in it. Honestly, everything was so righteous and the portions were so massive we couldn’t even finish it all. I got to take some back in a doggy bag, and whilst the food was being packed away we were able to concentrate on ordering dessert (despite looking like I was about to burst 😆).

We tried the red velvet cake because I have a stupid weakness for red velvet, and my eyes nearly dropped out of my head at how big the slice we were given was! Were my arteries clogged afterwards? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell. yES. A good red velvet cake, in my opinion, has not-too sweet frosting with a perfect creamy consistency that it just slides on your tongue like butter. If this cake didn’t do JUST that 😍 Sigh.

hellooooo, fatties 🎶

Overall, my experience at Victorino’s was really good. Thank you to Tiff for recommending the place, and when I’m back in the PH I will definitely be back here to try some other Ilocano dishes.

11th Jamboree, Diliman
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Philippines


T: +63 2 922 8558