Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Got those January, post-Christmas, skint cold winter day blues? 
Well Tank & Paddle have just the answer to lift up your spirits at their hideaway bar in the heart of the city.
 To start your Tank & Paddle experience, they have teamed up with local brewery Meantime to bring you their beers on tap; fresh and frothy Meantime ales served directly from their in house tanks. They also have bottles on offer, such as Brewdog Elvis Juice, Sharp's Cornish Pilsner, and even one of my favourites, the Belgian Fruli Strawberry Beer. I'm not usually a beer person, but throw in something fruity and I'm all over it ...
We tried the Neck Oil on tap which was light, citrusy with lovely hints of mango.
 Or if you're not in the mood for beer, there is their house Prosecco, Da Luca and a tempting selection of classic cocktails to choose from - there's bound to be something for everyone.

Their made-to-order pizza has been inspired with a quirky modern twist and a bit of New York City spin. 
The pizzas come in Regular or Sharer sizes, served on paddles (of course) - we had the Meat Your Match (pepperoni, spicy beef, smoked bacon, chicken) and The Chick-Flick (Cajun chicken, Pepperdew peppers, spinich, red onion)
I liked that the crusts were really thin and crunchy just the way I like it, with generous and flavoursome toppings - very satisfied with both our choices.
There are also classics like The Margherita and The Yankee, as well as veggie options (because nobody wants to miss out on pizza) including Veg Your Bets with sun-dried tomatoes, gordal olives, artichoke and mushrooms, and Billy Goat's Stuffed topped with goat's cheese, spinach and red onion chutney. I'm clearly not a vegetarian, but even I would be tempted to order one of those ...

And because you can't have too many carbs, there are not one but FOUR different types of oven-baked Mac 'n' Cheese - we ordered The Mac Attack Mac 'n' Cheese with pulled chicken and BBQ sauce which was tasty.
If you want something gooey with extra cheese, then the Manifest Mac might be the one for you.

Looking for something lighter to lessen the guilt? You're once again in luck as Tank & Paddle also do several fresh salads including the classic Caesar Salad. Nobody is going to judge you, we all have one of those days ...

We finished off with an indulgent portion of Nutella Dough Balls, slathered in maple cinnamon syrup with chocolate dipping sauce on the side - definitely no holding back on the sugar there ... 

And because everyone loves a good bargain, there are offers available throughout the week to give you that Friday feeling all week long.
Mondays: Dough M.G. where any regular pizza is only £5
Tank Tuesdays: First 100 pints are £2 from 5pm
Tap 10 Wednesdays: A pint and a pizza for a tenner
Craft beer Thursdays: All bottled and canned beers for £4

There are also free tastings of draught beer anytime, canned & bottled tastings on Thursdays and their fun tasting paddle of 3 x 1/3 pints for a fiver!
Check out their website for more details.

The Cheekster, signing out x

 The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.

Friday, 23 December 2016


Open for over 22 years (almost a quarter of a century!), El Pirata is a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant that is known to serve some of the best and most authentic Spanish food in London. It is a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away on Down Street, just off Piccadilly, and offers a laid back and friendly atmosphere in the middle of Mayfair.
The restaurant interior design is inspired by typical Spanish tapas bars, with seated dining spread over two floors, including a bar on the ground floor where you are welcome to pop in for a drink and a light bite, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the action in the kitchen.

As I've never really ventured much into that part of Mayfair, I was quite surprised to see how lively it was inside despite being located on such a quiet street. It was also fun to see that they had embraced the festive spirit by decorating the inside with sparkly Christmas baubles.

The kitchen is led by Head Chef Rosendo Simbana, with a menu that offers more than 60 different tapas dishes and over 140 Spanish wines.  
We were served a few nibbles whilst we settled in and browsed through the menu: marinated mixed olives, my favourite padron peppers, and delicious melt-in-your-mouth Jamón ibérico.  

We had a couple of their signature dishes from the seafood section, including the Langostinos al chef (grilled prawns in a tomato, garlic and white wine sauce) and the Calamares con arroz negro (black rice and squid). The prawns were really fresh and juicy, and that sauce was very flavoursome, that I would definitely recommend ordering extra bread to soak up all that goodness ...
The rice was cooked well and had a nice bite to it, with small pieces of squid mixed into it - also very appetizing.

I do love lamb, and the Chuletitas de cordero (grilled lamb cutlets) were succulent, juicy, and well-marinated, just how it should be. The marinated chicken skewers were tender and the chorizo pieces gave it some extra flavour and a nice hint of spiciness. 
We also had the tortilla, a classic Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions that was simple and wholesome

I would have happily ordered more hot tapas dishes if not for the limited space in my stomach ... I did have my eye on that grilled octopus and baby eels in olive oil.
 By the end of our meal, we just about had enough space to share one dessert, going for the creamy Crema Catalana and coffee to finish off.

Alongside tapas El Pirata also offers larger, traditional dishes including Cochinillo a la traditional (roasted suckling pig with potatoes in a traditional style) and Lubina a la Espalda (whole butterfly sea bass grilled, with garlic and chilli, olive oil, sherry vinegar and served with fresh beans and pobre potatoes). Just reading through the menu again makes me hungry.
There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from and tapas menus are always really flexible, so there will always be something to suit everyone's tastes.
The 'Menu del Dia' which is available from 12pm - 6pm is well-priced at £10.25 per person (two tapas dishes, a basket of bread and aioli, and a glass of wine/beer), and twp equally good value set menus (£18.50 and £23.50 each) that include upto 10 tapas dishes.

We had a lovely experience from start to finish, and service was pretty smooth despite it being quite busy that evening.
This charming venue is within walking distance from Green Park and Hyde Park tube stations, where General Manager Jose Rodrigues and his team will be sure to show you some proper Spanish hospitality and make sure that you leave feeling full and satisfied. 
You can find out more information on their website.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.


Thursday, 8 December 2016


I have always loved the ballet, and Swan Lake has always been a classic favourite, so what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than combining my two loves in a Swan Lake themed afternoon tea at The Corinthia London.
Located just a few moments away from Trafalgar Square, afternoon tea is served in The Lobby Lounge which is illuminated by natural light that streams down from the glass dome above.
Their unique centrepiece is the first thing that catches our eye as we enter, a beautiful 'full moon' chandelier designed by Chafik Gasmi, which features 1000 Baccarat crystal clear globes. 
 I remember catching a glimpse of it sometime ago on my Instagram feed (one of the main channels that I use to keep in touch with 'the world' ... social media these days).
It looked even more stunning in real life and definitely added to the ambience, accompanied by soothing tunes from the live piano and cello playing in the background

I had the Rosé Champagne Afternoon Tea which came with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne, whilst for my tea, I went for the Corinthia Welcome Tea, exclusively created for Corinthia London and hand-blended in Britain: a delicate blend of white and green tea interlaced with subtle notes of lemon and ginger.
There was also an amuse-bouche to start with: 'Lightness and Laughter' which consisted of a lemon-infused white chocolate namelaka (a creamy ganache) and fresh raspberries. 

There was a selection of six different sandwiches (the more the merrier!) 

Classic Olivier Salad on White Bread
Loch Var Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream and Salmon Roe on Beetroot Bread
Cucumber, Buttermilk and Dill on Black Rye Bread
Wiltshire Ham, Apple and Mustard on Cranberry Bread
Corn-fed Chicken, Chestnut Butter and Tarragon on Brown Bread
Pickled Tongue, Horseradish and Beetroot in Smoked Bun 

 I loved the variety of colours and shades, and after we finished, our lovely waitress came over with a fresh tray of sandwiches to ask us if we wanted seconds. I obviously could not resist and had an extra piece each of the Olivier Salad and the Smoked Salmon with the juicy salmon roe that popped in your mouth with each mouthful.

  This was followed by a selection of warm plain and raisin scones served with pots of lemon curd, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. WK doesn't like raisins (yes, he is one of them), so I kindly offered to swap my plain one, saving him the arduous effort of picking them out - my good friend deed of the day.

And finally we indulged in a choice of English Tea Fancies inspired by the love story of Swan Lake - oh those Tchaikovsky tunes never fail to pull at my heart strings ...
 Each one was a lovely little piece of edible art, one would say that they were almost too pretty to eat, but then again one must not let good food go to waste ...

- Odette -
A delicate White Chocolate Mousse with Mulled Wine Infused Plums

- White Russion Eclair -
Coffee Pastry Cream with a hint of Vodka

- Medovik -
Sweet Honey Cake, Caramel and Sour Cream

- Odile -
A Dark Chocolate Mousse with Caramel Cremeux

- A Clearing in the Forest -
Caramelised Pistachio Tart, Candied Ginger and Praline Ganache

- Siegfried's Sash -
Layered Cherries and Tonka bean Bavarois

This Festive Afternoon Tea menu is available until 1st January 2016, so there's still some time to book yourself in for a treat, and maybe be inspired to get those ballet shoes out again..? I'll be sure to put those pirouettes back on the New Year's resolution list again ...

The Cheekster, signing out x