Cheers to festive tipples and tasty treats with all the trimmings
If you find yourself in the City hankering for festive food and drinks, pop into Rake's to enjoy their Christmas-inspired dishes and gorgeous crafted cocktails. Conveniently located within the Andaz Hotel near Liverpool Street train station, this cafe by day and a bar by night is perfectly situated for city workers looking to imbibe in stylish surroundings.
Because Christmas is the season for sharing and caring, Rake's has focused its dining options on sharing plates including: roast butternut squash velouté; ginger, hazelnut & parsley relish and soft goat’s cheese; roast garlic croute; and beetroot with spiced seeds. Larger sharing plates include: confit duck leg with cannellini bean cassoulet; braised red cabbage and charred aubergine with garlic, tahini sauce, pomegranate, mint & za’atar.Cocktails have also gone festive with drinks such as the Ginger Bells, a refreshing rye-whiskey based cocktail infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. If that doesn't scream Christmas, we don't know what does!
If you like to travel with a large posse, bookings are recommended. Areas to chill out in include The Front Room, located off the main cafe bar or The Parlour, a cheery red and green lounge area (Christmas colours here we come) with comfy sofas to sink into. Or if you'd like something more private, opt for No.3, a secret room that can be closed off from the main bar and restaurant.
Will you choose The Parlour (above) or No. 3 (below)?
Festive entertainment at Rake's
In the lead up to Christmas, Rake’s will be hosting ‘Swinging Live’ with Martin John, the renowned musician, songwriter and vocalist every Wednesday evening from 6pm-8:15pm. Expect songs from Sinatra to Bobby Darin and Dean Martin to Michael Bublé, guaranteed to get guests into the festive spirit!
Rake’s bespoke Christmas menu and cocktail list is available from now until Christmas.
This is a great place to visit if you find yourself in the City looking for a stylish place to enjoy fabulous cocktails and tasty nibbles.
40 Liverpool Street
*During my visit I was hosted by the lovely team at Rake's. All opinions are my own. Photography courtesy of Rake's.
We already know that nobody does Halloween quite like they do across the pond and let’s be honest - don’t you think the Americans do Christmas a little better too? After all, anyone who’s ever watched Home Alone (and that’s everyone, right?!) has surely pondered the fact that Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin, cute as he was, kinda faded into insignificance beside his neighbourhood’s epic Christmas efforts.
Well, grab your Christmas crackers and jingle those bells with wild abandon because, for the first time this year, London is set to get a little taste of this fabulousness, as innovative hospitality entrepreneurs, Experimental Group, bring the Miracle pop-up to Covent Garden.
Miracle began life in New York in 2014, when bar owner Greg Boehm opened his unfinished space for the holiday season as a pop up with a festive theme. Five years on, the Miracle concept has expanded to over 80 new cities across the U.S, as well as to locations in Asia and Central America.
The London Miracle, which opens today is housed on the mezzanine level at the Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden, making it the perfect place to escape the Christmas shopping crowds around the centre of town - via the cobbled streets of the piazza, to admire its magnificent tree, of course.
Miracle’s tree may not reach the dizzying heights of the one out in the piazza, but it’s still impressively pretty, complete with powdery white ‘snow’ pooled enticingly at its base. If you’ve seen Insta-images of Miracles (@miraclepopup #miraclebar) in the U.S, you may be expecting something quite glitzy and OTT but the vibe at the UK incarnation is distinctly more traditional, with sheepskin throws on the chairs, twinkling fairy lights and Christmas stockings all evoking something of a cosy feeling and a warm glow. It’s definitely more London than Las Vegas, but no less appealing for that.
The bartender, however, is rocking that Christmas jumper and elf hat look - but where the Miracle Bar really ramps up the kitsch factor is in its cocktail list and the vessels in which they’re served: think Santa Face mugs, reindeer embellished highball glasses, tinselled glass stems and holly emblazoned cups. Meanwhile, a Santa-suited Koala clings adorably to the stem of the glass in which the Koala-La La La, La La La La (best you order this one early on, before sampling the menu renders your tongue useless) is served. It’s not just cute: it’s delicious and completely, festively intoxicating.
Other offerings? A Christmas Carol Barrel, made with aged rum, Aquavit, Amara Pumpkin Pie, Lemon and Angostura Bitters, served in, well, a mini barrel naturally. There’s also a Jingle Balls Nog, a Snowball Old Fashioned, a Run Run Rudolph and, of course, a Christmapolitan - vodka, elderflower, dry vermouth, spiced cranberry sauce, rosemary, lime and absinthe mist. And as for those whose place on Santa’s list is still in the balance, choose from a selection of two shots - Naughty, or Nice - and see which side you land on. There’s also an array of chalet-inspired snacks, ranging from an Ibérico ham and truffle Croque Madame to Vacherin Mont d’Or grissini and a Chestnut Mont Blanc.
Miracle at Henrietta will be in place until Christmas Eve. Email email@example.com to book a two hour time slot between 1pm and 1am.
14-15 Henrietta Street
*During my visit I was hosted by the team at Miracle at Henrietta. All opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Miracle Bar.
Founded in Beirut in 2016 by brothers Samer and Basam Chamoun, this bakery focusing on traditional Lebanese baked goods quickly secured a cult following thanks to its delicious doughy delights. Luckily for Londoners, the opening of a Covent Garden The Lebanese Bakery (the first of its kind outside of Beirut), means they don’t have to fly all the way to Beirut to get a taste of Lebanon.
Visitors have a dizzying array of goodies to choose from including Manousheh (a pizza like Lebanese flatbread topped with a variety of Lebanese ingredients), Mouajjanet (bite sized bakes) and Kaak Bread (traditional Lebanese street bread with sesame seeds).
At the heart of the bakery is a wood fired oven, which is kept busy all day with an endless cycle of flatbreads. All of the dishes are baked on the premise using the best quality toppings and ingredients, which have been handpicked by selected Lebanese farmers. In addition to the baked goods, there is also a selection of Lebanese food items available for purchase for those who want to enjoy Lebanese flavours at home.
During our visit we tucked into the Manousheh with Baked Eggs & Sujuk, a hearty dish featuring a flatbread topped with free range eggs, spicy beef sausage and Middle Eastern herbs. Exceptionally moreish (and bursting with yolk porn Instagram potential), it’s definitely our favourite new brunch option.
Embracing our inner carnivore, we also opted for the Ras Asfour Manousheh, a tasty little number covered with diced beef sirloin, pomegranate, wild rocket and toasted pine nuts. This was probably my favourite dish thanks to its lovely balance of flavours.
If you can’t make it to the bakery to get your fix, there’s no need to worry as you can have their goods delivered direct to your door via Deliveroo.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. I love retreating indoors to curl up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate as I gaze out the window watching the leaves turn. So, when I heard one of my favourite restaurants, Sake No Hana, was also embracing the season with an installation and a menu celebrating the Japanese maple leaf season, I had to visit.
The last time I popped into Sake No Hana was to try their Sakura menu, which featured a gorgeous installation celebrating the beloved Japanese cherry blossom season, so I was interested to see how they’d transformed the space for autumn. From now until 24 November, the front entrance of Sake no Hana is bedecked with a striking autumn leaves installation, inspired by the ‘momiji-gari’ (the Japanese tradition of viewing the maple leaves).
The experience continues indoors with food and cocktails, which also nod to the season with a focus on seasonal ingredients and autumnal flavours.
One could easily forget they’re in the heart of London’s bustling West End once they step inside to this sleek space. The striking interior – designed by esteemed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – is stunning thanks to linear bamboo that covers the main walls and bamboo blinds that help to create a cocooning shelter from the outside world.
We reckon this has to be one of the nicest places to escape from the pre-Christmas shopping crowds, giving you a sense of smug satisfaction for discovering such a chic space away from the madness.
The limited-edition menu created by Executive Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi includes a variety of mouth-watering dishes such as: kinoko misojitate; shitake tofu (shiitake mushrooms filled with homemade tofu and wasabi sauce); salmon kurumi miso yaki and tori sumiyaki.
The starters were fab. I particularly enjoyed the crispy truffle rice balls with seasonal mushrooms, which were a bit similar to Italian arancini, and the comforting wild mushroom and chilli yuzu miso soup was the perfect cure for warming the cockles on a chilly autumn day. Surprisingly, the tofu, which despite its reputation for being bland and joyless, was also delicious thanks to seasonal mushrooms.
For mains, we had the pan-fried Loch Duart salmon with walnuts and Kyoto miso, which was really scrummy thanks to its melt-in-the-mouth texture and sweet caramel-like sauce and the chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli, was tender and juicy, while the charred peppers gave a bit of oomph to the dish. Greedily, we accompanied the meat dishes with a large bowl of sticky rice, which given how much we’d already consumed, wasn’t necessary, but we couldn’t help ourselves!
After the mains we devoured a selection of sushi. A real box of delights, the sushi arrives in a beautiful plexiglass box, with the waiter lifting the lid to unveil the treats within. Beautiful little morsels of joy, each lovingly prepared piece of sushi was seriously moreish. A special shout out goes to the Waygu beef with asparagus and caramelized onion and kizami wasabi, which was rich and flavourful (I could easily live off these).
The star of the show, however, was the hazelnut and chocolate parfait with a mascarpone mousse, which is quite possibly my new favourite dessert. In fact, I think I might weep if it disappears from the menu! Delectable and delicious, it had a lovely balance of textures thanks to the liquid chocolate centre, which is set off nicely by the delicate crunch from the base.
The limited-edition drinks
For those who like their cocktails toasty, there’s a limited-edition maple toddy (a warming cocktail comprised of Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Akashi-Tai Umeshu sake, ginger, maple, chocolate and topped with edible rice paper art) and for those who like their cocktails sweet, there’s the Shisho 54, made with Belvedere vodka, Midori, lime, shisho, Fever-Tree slimline tonic and Prosecco. Our favourite cocktail (and the most beautiful), however, was made with Belvedere vodka, cardamom, mandarin, yuzu and edible rice paper art fashioned in the shape of a maple leaf.
If you want reasonably priced sushi in swanky surroundings, then look no further. Priced at only £40pp the limited-edition menu (with the option to add a sharing cocktail flight for £23.00), means you really can’t go wrong for such great quality Japanese cuisine smack bang in the middle of London.
Restaurants, Bars and food/drink pop ups and reviews
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