Sunny Staff Portraits
It was great to be asked by the London team at BaxterStorey to shoot some fresh new portraits of their staff for use in a series of company documents. They wanted fresh and natural shots, which were quite relaxed and reflected the great teamwork amongst staff. We had to power through a lot of shots on the day and it was not easy with the English sun dancing all over the place! But thanks to my trusty reflector and some much needed shade, I was able to capture the shots below:
I was helped all day by my lovely client, Andrea, whose portrait I of course had to shoot as well, even though she was not on the list…..there’s no escaping my lens on a shoot with me, so always come prepared!
If you want to shoot your own portrait photography for you or your staff, please do get in touch.
Hotel Pics – Rooms, Food, Weddings & Cocktails…..
It was time for some new images for the Danubius Hotel, Regents Park to refresh their website, marketing material and social media feeds. Starting off with the simple, but very important meeting room and executive dining set-ups……
Then it was time to focus on a little romance as we shot the beautiful wedding set-up and stunning cake…….
……before finishing up with a cocktail – as great days do!
The staff at Danubius Regents Park worked really hard to get everything set-up for this shoot and, as always, it was a great pleasure to work with them and help show off their hard work and dedication to the customers.
Protected: Dorking Adventure
Showcasing Danubius Hotel Regents Park’s Great London Location
It was absolutely wonderful to be commissioned to shoot around my beloved city as I set off to capture all the great spot within easy reach of The Danubius Hotel Regents Park.
From Camden Town through to Little Venice, taking into account some of the gorgeous flowers in bloom in Regents Park and St.John’s Wood Gardens, there was plenty to capture and I hope the hotel is excited to use them across their marketing activity, especially social media, to really show off how brilliantly located they are.
Food Photography Showcase
I was asked by Ch&Co Group, a commercial catering company, to shoot a food showcase event, which they were organising to pitch to some potential new clients. As the chefs were going to all the effort of cooking up a great display of food and the staff were pulling all the stops out to make up samples and informative displays, they realised it would be a great opportunity to get some professional photos at the same time.
The shoot was a mixture of natural action shots as Chef demonstrated this rather clever food station, cooking up some fantastic Ramen Noodle Soup.
As well as stills of the various foods ready for parties and special events:
I loved these egg-cellent desserts, (couldn’t resist) cleverly disguised, which were a visual delight as well as a tasty treat.
And who doesn’t enjoy an afternoon tea?
We then nipped downstairs to the canteen where everything was set up fresh and ready for a full breakfast, afternoon and lunch service. I was seriously impressed by the great veggie and pescetarian options (check out these salmon scotch rolls below) and there was clearly a leaning towards healthy, nutritious foods as well.
Of course not many want to entirely skip the sweet stuff, especially if you’ve had a hard day at work, but I was impressed that there was a serious effort made to keep the desserts lower calories and full of natural sweeteners. It was only polite for me to sample some of them of course (I have excellent manners don’t I?) and the vegan Chocolate Super-Mousse was heavenly. Possibly more so on finding out the secret ingredient, (oops, not so secret any more) avocado, counts towards one of my five-a-day too. Double bonus.
Ch&Co will be using the pictures primary to follow up on their show-case with their potential new client but also for future tendering documents and general marketing and promotional use. The photos were taken in-situ – rather than ‘studio style’, where each dish is plated carefully, cooked fresh, styled and lit well – which worked really well for the clients’ needs in this case. It also meant they could get a lot more shots taken in the time I was booked to be there.
A great afternoon shooting and the brilliant bonus of a lovely take home parcel afterwards!
Family Day of Fun in The City of London
I was delighted to be asked back again by The City of London to photograph at their yearly Community Fair held in the stunning Guildhall Yard.
Added to that, there is wonderful performances by muscians, dancers and locals schools…..
All those involved from the wonderful historical figures, to giant recycling bins and the City of London Dragon right through to the people handing out flyers and the security guards, were having a great old time!
What’s more, the whole event is held in Guildhall Yard, which is an amazing location. If you get a chance, go visit the wonderful Guildhall Art Gallery and make sure you attend the City of London Community Fair next year. Follow them on Twitter or on their Website for info, which should be up by spring 2017.
Hotel Photos for The Wellesley
I met Patrick at The Jumeirah Hotel when I shot a set of headshots for them a year or so ago. We got on like a house on fire, gossiping all day, sharing our love of food and fitness and generally forgetting we were actually working. I did also manage to produce some good shots for them though, so when Patrick moved to The Wellesley and was given the role of organising a day of photography for them to launch some new amenities and services within the hotel, he asked me if I was available to do the shoot and I was of course delighted.
We started by getting a shot of the butler in casual attire to illustrate their new service “The Running Butler”, an exclusive offering with the objective of raising awareness of the hotel’s personalised (complimentary) butler service.
They wanted to show off the proximity of the hotel to London’s Hyde Park, as well as Green Park and St Jame’s Park – all close by. Ideally we would have had a model ‘runner’ for the shoot, but it wasn’t possible to get one. However once we found a nice running spot in the park, I was able to wait just a short while before a real one ran past and snapped him on camera.
The Butler service will also include them running a lovely hot bath for guests, as below…
And if you want, a chauffeur driven ride to your destination of choice, (check out that personalised licensed plate!)
A room laid out with champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries to replenish you after a hard run (no one said this was a health spa!) And of course we had to sample these afterwards!
There were also a few other lovely amenities to capture:
And this stunning new dish to be added to the menu – a creative take on cannelloni:
Finishing with the stunning afternoon tea display, flower themed for summer, in the elegant Jazz Lounge, which you can book yourself via this link:
Then, look what they got up to……….(phone snap)
……still it’s important to taste what your serving to your customers, one could argue…
If you want to book Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley, visit their Jazz Lounge, Cigar Room or dine or stay there, you can visit their website here: www.thewellesley.co.uk
My Business Hub – Worldpay Photoshoot
Worldpay were planning to launch a new all-in-one payment system and needed images to support the marketing of this new product. They required photos to use on an email marketing campaign and their website so the Marketing Manager approached me and explained that prior to this shoot, most of the photos they’d used before came from the American side of the business and they felt they didn’t represent their British customers.
Together we studied the Worldpay global library images and realised they often featured clearly American locations, such as diners and ‘mom & pop shops’ and were very ‘glossy’ and ‘corporate’, which didn’t fit the British market.
The images we planned to shoot, therefore, needed to have a more down to earth feel, represent modern British people (a mixture of ages, races and fashions) and look as natural as possible so potential buyers could identify with them.
For example The Scullery Cookshop in Muswell Hill Broadway, shot using models Dani Tonks and Roderick Wood:
Together with producer Ed Webster, we took on the task of sourcing locations from the high-street, hiring models and a make-up artist and organising props, budgets and schedules. I came across the stunning Stag Gentlemans Hair Salon in Mill Hill Broadway on recommendation from a friend and in the end used the owner Josh (left) and barber Ryan as models in the shoot, which worked out really well.
We worked closely with Worldpay to put together a clear manageable brief that would meet enable Worldpay’s to launch ’My Business Hub’ successfully.
Ally’s Kitchen, in Archway, worked out really well for one of our shoots as it’s a spacious and contemporary bistro. The also do great peanut butter brownies – excellent fuel on shoot day!
We also hired the owners Ally and Patra (top photo below) to model for us and brought in two other models, Meryl Griffiths (top photo) and Alrik Wendel, as well as a friend, Kate, to act as one of our ‘customers’ (middle photo below with Alley and Alrik).
Some of the images haven’t been used yet and will go onto the Worldpay library and may be used in the future. These shots below at The Scullery, feature Giuseppe Maisto and Rodney Wood.
To read more about the My Business Hub and see if it could be useful for your business you can visit the website here: Worldpay My Business Hub.
Julie Montagu’s Sweet Potato & Edamame Salad – Superfood your Lunch
I love this dish from Julie Montagu’s ‘The Flexi Foodie’. I like her philosophy as she believes in eating healthy most of the time, but not to worry too much if you occasionally slip. She says “By adding more superfoods into your diet, you will naturally start to crowd out the bad ones“. You can almost imagine a group of brussel sprouts rolling down a hill and squishing the Maltesers along the way – I guess that’s kind of the philosophy behind the Flexi Foodie, right?
Anyway I was trying to figure out a good recipe to make to feed a group of hungry models on a shoot and this one looked like a great option.
As a photographer, I also thought it was also a great idea to take some pictures as the make-up artist was doing her work and I had time to kill. It was also an opportunity to test out the lighting in my lounge, which faces North East.
If you want to make this yourself, Julie’s recipe calls for the following ingredients:
250g sweet potatoes
125g shelled edamame (I always keep a bag in my freezer which you can buy from the local Chinese/Japanese or Korea shop if you’re lucky to have one)
45g sunflower seeds
Small handful of fresh mint, chopped
For the lemon dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon (I skipped this bit as I had no idea if my lemon was waxed or not, please could someone educate me on this)
Small garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
This was a pretty easy recipe to pull together, you chop up the sweet potatoes, add them to boiling water and simmer for about 15mins. You do the same for the edamame beans, (I always refer to these as ed-a-mummies – it makes me chuckle) but for just 5mins. Let it all cool down.
Chop up the mint – I usually grow some on my balcony, but alas my pot has been killed by winter. Grab the seeds (I used a packet of mixed seeds from the health food shop as that’s what I had in and I like them) and mix together in a bowl with the potatoes and ed-a-mummies.
Drizzle over the dressing. Add a sprig of mint if you’re writing a blog post, instagramming your food or have guests! And voilà, a very tasty and rather healthy lunch or side dish.
You can read more about Julie Montagu’s Flexi Foodie on her website: http://juliemontagu.com/
Developing a Cleaning Photography Niche….
So I’ve now just completed my fourth cleaning company photo-shoot and, alongside other shoots I’ve done for hotels and my feature “behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace” that involved capturing staff at work cleaning, I think I’ve developed a little niche in cleaning photography!
This time the shoot was for Holroyd Howe, a company that actually specialises in contract catering within independent schools but also offers cleaning services to the schools. They needed a brochure to help spread the word and some shots to help pull it together.
But these are no ordinary schools…….as you can see from the pictures below. As an independent school, the one we used for the photoshoot was actually once a prestigious, girls’ boarding school, which Lady Diana Spencer, spent what she described as the ‘happiest days’ in her life.
West Heath was purchased by The Al Fayed Charitable Trust Sevenoaks on the 14th August 1998. The New School at West Heath, as it is known today, opened on the 4th September 1998 and has approval for 128 children including 44 boarding places and provides a safe haven for children whose main stream education has broken down. The School is registered charity.
As the school we shot at was so beautiful, the environment does look rather glamorous – but that’s no bad thing as lots of the schools on Holroyd Howe’s client list are historical buildings. This allowed us to show just how well trained the cleaners would be at working with delicate and sometimes antique furniture.
At the same time, we also needed to show the less tradition parts of the building as well – the loos, corridors and dining area, which would require different tools.
Altogether a successful day of shooting and one which inspired me to do a bit of a spritz of my own flat the next day!
And Holroyd Howe managed to get a lovely brochure together from the images:
When I am running around, planning, meeting, shooting, editing etc, I need energy and I often want it quickly. So when a friend recommended Ella Woodward’s
Raw Coconut and Cacao Bites recipe, I went a little nutty and made a whole tub of them!
They’re great to prepare in advance and grab as a little pick me up, obviously healthier as a treat than a chocolate bar or bag of sweets!
Ella’s (a.k.a. ‘Deliciously Ella’) recipe call for the following ingredients:
1 cup (I used a tea-cup) of desiccated coconut
1 cup of almonds
1/2 a dozen medjool dates
4 tablespoons of cashew butter
2 tablespoons of raw cacao
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
I didn’t have cashew butter, but used almond butter instead.
I also used soft dates, rather than medjool – as that was what I had in. Of course medjool dates are supposed to be a premium product (and carry a price to match) so you should absolutely use them if you can but it’s not essential. I tried some for the first time the other day and they were delicious, but alas had none today.
The coconut oil I bought (from the Indian section of the supermarket) also lasts a long time and I use it in lots of my dishes now. Apparently this is very healthy and quite frankly it tastes flipping fabulous, so if they say it’s a super-food I’m in.
The raw cacao came from my local health food store, Holland and Barrett. It’s about £7 a bag, which seems crazy compared to £2 for a tub of Cadbury’s, but when you do the research you realise that the product is so much better, organic, non-processed and altogether healthier and tastier. It also lasts a very long time so it’s well worth investing in. Don’t you love the name?
Finally, just because I had them in the cupboard, I added some dried cranberries. They also worked well in the photos.
So Ella’s recipes says:
“Start by putting the almonds and coconut in a food processor and blend for a minute or two, until a flour starts to form. Then add the cashew butter, coconut oil and cacao blending for a few seconds before slowly adding in the dates.
Continue to blend until everything has been combined together to form a sticky mixture. This mixture can then be rolled into balls and covered in more coconut and left in the fridge to firm up for an hour or alternately you can enjoy it with a spoon straight from a cup, or be like me and eat it straight from the blender! Either way you’ll love it! If you can resist not eating the whole mixture then keep the remaining bites in the fridge in a container.”
I needed to add a table spoon of water to my mix as the almond butter was quite dry. I also threw in my cranberries at the same time as the dates and used a mixed selection of nuts.
Hope you have a ball making these!
If you want to see the recipe on Ella’s website, please visit: http://deliciouslyella.com/raw-coconut-and-cacao-bites-vegan/
Dizzying new Heights
I’d heard mixed reviews about the Sky Gardens, the ‘public area’ at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street – recognisable to most Londoners as The Walkie Talkie due to its unique shape. Some people have complained that it shouldn’t really be called a garden as there aren’t that many plants and certainly very few flowers. Others noted its coldness, with some areas feeling a little like an airport lounge and a few muttered their dissatisfaction with the number of entry rules. Yet over 200,000 people have made a free visit to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street since it opened to the public in January, so it can’t all be bad. I decided it was time to visit and go see for myself.
Arriving at the allocated time, we were swiftly taken through a completely painless security process and, rather surprisingly, my water bottle wasn’t taken off me. Result. Then we were taken up in a super fast lift with a number of other clearly excited people and deposited out into the foyer where immediately we could see the Sky Pod Bar. We chose to go straight out and explore but a quick glance of the menu showed a promising selection of drinks at prices you would expect for such a location. Perfect for a little treat, but too pricey for most to get off your trolley. You can go and get drunk on the view instead.
The first word that escaped me, when I headed into the main area of the Sky Gardens and looked out over The Thames, was a resounding ‘wow’. Nothing more eloquent than that, the word says it all. Having been a Londoner all my life, and, as a photographer, having been lucky enough to access to a lot of buildings in my time, I can honestly say I have never seen a view of London this impressive.
Like any good photographer, I had planned the visit to arrive half an hour before sunset so that we could see the changing light over the views, (check out http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/uk/london for useful times when planning ahead). This meant that we could circle the whole place twice as the sun dipped and bounced off the buildings and see London change under the light.
You really can spend quite a bit of time here; there are different levels and endless London landmarks to view from each and every angle. You could, if you wanted, splash out on a fancy meal at one of their restaurants and enjoy the vista while you eat, though you’d pay a hefty price and it’s definitely not necessary to enjoy the place.
The whole building is glass so there’s no fighting with other visitors to grab a view and there’s great fun to be had as you spot so many familiar buildings. St.Pauls, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Wembley Stadium and of course The Shard, all clearly in site.
And whilst the views from the Sky Garden are spectacular, I would be lying if I said you would go there for the garden itself. Back in 2007, when the developers were given planning permission to go ahead by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, it was with explicit instruction that “The building would be crowned by a Sky Garden that would be open to the public free of charge”, which is why the public space exists in the first place. However there has since been a lot of controversy around whether the garden was actually built according to original plan and I doubt very much, having seen it myself, if any keen gardener would sing it’s praises.
However, despite the fact that the Sky Garden would be no great contestant in the Chelsea Flower show and you have to follow a few security rules and avoid the bar/restaurants if you’re watching your pennies, it is very much worth a visit. After all it doesn’t cost a penny to get in and you have fantastic view from four different directions far reaching over London. You can’t really complain about that.
Booking for the Sky Gardens, 20 Fenchurch Street (nearest station Fenchurch Street) is pretty simple, just visit their website: http://skygarden.london/ for further information.
This article first appeared on OMOTG and was written by me. Photographs were taken on my camera phone – a Samsung Galaxy S5 – for this feature, and not for commercial use or of commercial standard.
Hot off the press….
Delighted to see the issue of Roast Magazine out this month, celebrating all the iconic restaurant has to offer as well as other foodie features, recipes and some great behind-the-scenes pics – captured by staff.
If you want to have a view of the mag, you can do so for free here: Roast Magazine
In preparation for the page 10 feature and the Roast Website, I was delighted to meet the new head chef Stuart Cauldwell, who wasn’t available for the last shoot and take some great new pictures of him, below.
You can also get a copy of the magazine in print if you dine at the restaurant, although of course they’ll be a limited supply.
Coffee Competition Time for BaxterStorey
I love coffee and am pretty picky about the stuff. So I feel slightly vindicated now I know that specialists in the industry take the process of brewing it as seriously as I take the drinking of it. I am not as unreasonable in my fussiness as previously thought…..
A record-breaking number of baristas took part in the annual BaxterStorey Barista Championship this year, which is driven via the company’s award-winning Barista Academy and celebrates “baristas’ knowledge, preparation and delivery of coffee via a series of challenges devised to test their skills and ability”.
This year, more than 50 baristas took part in five regional heats, with each producing a regional champion and I went along to one of the London days to gather some photos of the day for BaxterStorey.
The competition was won by Derek Buckley, after showcasing his latte art skills, creating a signature drink and performing a 10-minute routine, which saw him make six hot beverages against the clock. Apparently this is his second year of winning in a row – pretty impressive and I certainly wouldn’t say no if he offered me a coffee. It’s 11am, I have biscuits……Derek?
It was fascinating to watch the process, the attention to detail and the tension in the room as the competition started getting fierce.
What’s so great about shooting events like this, is getting in an insight into a small section of an industry I would otherwise know absolutely nothing about. The fact that there is an annual competition for baristas and that the process of brewing the right coffee is taken so seriously is just fabulous! I know I take my work so seriously – to the extent that probably only other photographers understand and it’s nice to see this happening across other industries. Tim Sturk, head of coffee training and development at BaxterStorey, said that “few people understand the true complexities of creating excellent coffee – the bean to cup journey is certainly not an easy one”This picture really sums it all up………!
If you want to find out more about BaxterStorey’s and their Barista Academy, please visit their website: http://www.baxterstorey.co.uk/
Cooking Up Some New Headshots
Holroyd Howe, a food services provider within independent schools were looking for some updated staff headshots for their new website. Their whole brand is based on freshness, natural ingredients and creativity so it was important that the images, whilst professional, reflected this. So an outdoor shoot, with natural greenery in the background was an obvious solution.
Time was limited as staff were on site on one particular day for a meeting and it would be the only chance to grab a large number of them but the major challenge was that we had no ‘in case of rain’ back-up plan and it was raining!
But that’s what trees are for. The staff luckily were in good spirits and happily made their way from the dry safety of their meeting room across to the edge of the field where the trees were able to keep my equipment and their hair and clothing dry. Talk about glamour! A simple adjustment of exposure, sensitivity levels and the right angles, meant that you’d have no idea that it was not just a lovely dry sunny day.
Of course when I went across to see them again to shoot some more staff, the sun was shining gloriously. But as anyone who shoots knows, sunshine and headshots, now that’s another challenge altogether. Luckily the trees play a great part again though they didn’t help with the high winds that day…..
The main thing though was that the brief was achieved and Holroyd Howe have happily updated their new site with the pictures. Check them out here: http://www.holroydhowe.com/the-team
Clean Cut – Shooting for Casna Group
Recently I returned to Casna Group to help them finish building a library of photos for their new website, brochure and promotional material.
We completed the fun apple shoots, but no apple crumble this time.
Then we headed across to The Corinthia Hotel, for my first ever all night shoot – starting at 11pm and ending at 6am. Rock n’ Roll! We had to shoot through the night so as not to disturb the hotel guests – it was the only time the spa, restaurant and lobby would be empty.
It’s surprising really just how glamorous cleaning can look, when shot with a backdrop as stunning at The Corinthia.
The staff of course do an amazing job, making sure the environment for guests is impeccable and what’s amazing is how lovely and fun they all were, (the big box of choccies helped of course) despite the hard work.
The Landmark London was the second hotel of our night shoots and full of hidden gems, like this amazing pool in the basement. I loved the reflection the lights made in the water, helping make a great composition like this shot below.
I learned a few great tips about cleaning & tidying too and I’ve clearly been mopping my floor the wrong way all these years!
Overall a very tiring but very successful shoot that will help sell Casna’s services to more hotels and companies no doubt.
Bloomin Brilliant Cocktails
I had such fun shooting these cocktails for Jumeirah Carlton Tower, with the lovely team there – and it wasn’t just because I got to sample them as we went along. Although, note to future clients – get your photographer a little bit tipsy and the creativity will flow…….just saying!
The cocktails were shot for JCT’s pop-up Bloomin Brilliance Bar, to celebrate summer of course! If you want to check out the cocktails, you can visit the bar until August 2nd, see the website for more details: Bloomin Brilliance. Isn’t the name of the pop-up fabulous? I do love a great pun!
My friends at Our Man on The Ground also wrote a fabulous review of the pop-up the following week, and I was delighted to see they were sent my photos as part of the press pack! See the review here: Our Man on The Ground
I collaborated with the team at JCT to make the cocktails really stand out by styling the cocktails with flowers that complimented the colours of the drinks and celebrated the glory of summer.
I can honestly say, that having tasted them, they really are bloomin delicious!
For other pictures of cocktails and yummy food photography, please visit the food and drink sections of this site.
And remember, drink responsibly! Eating ain’t cheatin!
Celebrating Roast’s Ten Year Anniversary
I first met Iqbal Wahhab when I photographed him for a hospitality magazine and I had just a short time to get a front cover shot. After a little wander around Borough Market, the location where his stunning restaurant, Roast, resides, I got this fun shot of him. He loved the shot so much that he wanted a copy for himself, which I was pretty chuffed about.
At this time I had no set fees for charging for this kind of thing, but he challenged me to make him an offer! So I suggested a discount on a meal! Well I can tell you, this is a seriously good way to get paid (though of course one has to earn real pounds sometimes too to cover those darn bills). I took my parents and had the most delicious meal that I can remember, even after four years! The funny thing is, I didn’t even eat meat, yet my vegetarian meal was one of the best. #ironic. (My folks, however, can vouch for the great taste of their lamb and steak….)
It was also a chance to photograph the new head chef Anthony Fletcher and prove to him that a chef smiling in a photograph is a great idea. Having spent quite a lot of time in China, he was used to posing for lots of pictures and so was a complete natural.
And Sergei Gubars, the General Manager:
Showing Iqbal some new fresh produce, for a feature in their magazine, Anthony told me all about an upcoming mushroom foraging trip, which I’ll hopefully get to photograph. It was super interesting for a foodie like me to learn all about this different places where they sourced their ingredients from, a job they take very seriously indeed. Let’s see where Anthony takes the new menu….
There was then some serious brandy burning to be had to create that fabulous flame. Pyromaniacs ahoy:
Of course the job wouldn’t have been complete without a brand new picture of Iqbal Wahhab himself, chief Restaurateur……..I actually think he looks even younger now than before. Mind you I do also have some fabulous new lighting techniques that never hurt anyone! It’s all about getting the best out of people when shooting their portrait.
I’m looking forward to the next shoot, hopefully involving some desserts! In the meantime, if you want to check them out yourself, head over to Roast in Borough Market, London Bridge Station. They also do a handy take out, called Roast to Go….right in front in the market.
For more Hospitality and Food Photography, please check out the food and drink section of this site.
You Don’t Really Need to Be a Gentleman to Qualify….
I loved doing this shoot recently for The Milestone Hotel who wanted to do a theme around the launch of their “Gentlemanly Afternoon Tea”…..
A playful take on ‘Gentlemen’ – some of the staff, both male and female dressed the part and got into character, as you can see from the pics below.
Sometimes creating a shoot with a theme like this is a great way to get the attention of your customer, a little humour goes a long way….
The tea itself was also pretty delicious looking and I can personally vouch for scrumminess of the cheesecake and sandwiches!
For more details of Afternoon Teas at The Milestone Hotel, including The Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea, please visit their website: The Milestone Hotel
Avenue Restaurant Review – A Sparkling Experience
Entering Avenue, just off Pall Mall, was a very pleasant surprise as we stepped inside into a candle lit space with a delightful wine glass centrepiece.
The low lights, tilted shades and art work adorning the walls, alongside elegant furniture, presented a glamorous, yet understated vibe.
We were warmly welcomed and then taken through a very pleasant bar area, perfect for a little aperitif. The vast wine glass centre piece really did grab our attention as we were led to our seats and left me wandering if a very successful party would leave the light bulb underneath bare?
We were offered a table on the raised level at the back of the restaurant, a perfect place to enjoy the ambience and have a great view of the hustle and bustle as we enjoyed our food and drink. Cleverly, all the tables up here are designed so that you can both see your dining companion and look out. This makes a very nice change from one person having to face a wall as is so often the case in restaurants.
Sipping on a very light and subtly fruity Napa Valley Matthiassonwine, we tucked into warm sour dough & rye with just the right elements of buttery softness and fantastically crunchy crust as we perused the menu, and tried not to devour the whole basket. The wine is part of a collection of 30 wines for Avenue’s upcoming New World Wines menu.
I opted for the baked beetroot, whipped goats cheese & pine nuts starter, followed by the roasted sea bream with summer squash ratatouille from the set menu and my companion opted for the green beans, smoked duck, nectarine and almond starter followed by 300g Grain fed USDA New York strip, from the grill. We chose sides of cayenne French fries, runner beans in buttermilk and kale with walnut. The menu offers a wide range of grilled meats and fish as well as a tasty selection of vegetarian dishes so the choice is wide. Our fantastic waiter, Zsolt, really knew the dishes, which helped us to make our selections.
My companion said the steak was exactly as one would hope it to be at a quality American restaurant, perfectly cooked, tender and full of flavour. My sea bream was the same, plump and buttery balanced well on a crunchy bed of vegetables underneath. The fries were a little peppery for my companion; however we had not read the cayenne pepper part of the description and, no doubt, could have asked them to be ‘unpeppered’ if we had wished. The beans were crunchy and buttery, as promised by the menu, the kale enhanced by the walnut twist and the half-roasted garlic on the side of the steak was an attractive addition to the plate, but possibly not conducive to making new friends…!
For us, sweet-toothed that we are, the favourite was definitely the dessert, chocolate mousse with mirabelles for me off the à la carte menu and granny smith apple parfait with apple brandy from the main menu. The chocolate mousse had delightful popping candy tingles. Both desserts looked a treat on the plate and were enhanced by the accompanying Madeira dessert wine (for me) and the Camomile tea with honey, for my companion.
At the end of the meal we felt suitably full; possibly a little too much as portions were generous and we didn’t have enough will power to leave anything. We were well looked after by the friendly staff and everything we ate was of a really great quality, with a few surprises thrown in. I would say that the set menu definitely offered good value, even with the addition of sides and services, but the à la carte would be one for the expense account or a special occasion.
7-9 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1EE, United Kingdom, 020 7321 2111
This article first appeared on OMOTG and was written by me. Photographs were taken on my ‘out and about’ camera for this feature, and not for commercial use or of commercial standard.