On a recent visit to Japan we found ourselves visiting the Floating Tori tourist attraction on Miyajima Island, which is a 40 minute journey from Hiroshima station. When doing some research on the area we found that seafood was a particular speciality of the area and specifically local oysters or eel (anago) rice. When I looked for restaurants on the island I came across Fujitaya in the Michelin guide, which has been awarded one Michelin star. Given Fujitaya had been rated top on the island we decided to give it a try!
On a recent trip to Japan we stayed in two locations, Hiroshima and Osaka. Our first stay on the trip was at the Hotel Granvia in Hiroshima, where we spent 3 nights.
We booked the hotel directly with Cathay Pacific as part of a flights and hotel package, so it’s pretty difficult to say what we paid for the hotel (although it was probably around £100-150 per night). The booking was easy and at check in we were allocated a room on the Premium (19th) floor. We think this was an upgrade, but it’s difficult to tell exactly what we booked.
It was my wife’s birthday last week and every year I look around to see where I can take her. The first week in January is always a more difficult place to find somewhere to eat as many places are still closed after Christmas. This year I decided on somewhere that combines a traditional British hotel with high-end French cuisine, the two-Michelin starred Hélène Darroze at The Connaught.
The latest edition of the ThoughtWorks Radar came out this week. For those working in technology who’ve never come across this, read it now! I thought I’d take a few minutes to summarise the items that stood out for me in this edition. They stood out mainly as they solve problems that we’ve had or scratch itches that have bothered me for a while.
The tools are:
Two years ago, on holiday in the Lake District we visited my favourite restaurant so far, L’Enclume in Cartmel. Two Michelin stars and owned by one of the lesser known celebrity chef’s Simon Rogan. Since opening in 2003, the restaurant not only gained its stars, but a ‘perfect’, 10 out of 10 in the 2014 Good Food Guide and appeared on BBC comedy series ‘The Trip’ in 2010. One of the stand-out features of L’Enclume was a passion to deliver all food for the restaurant from Rogan’s local farm.
It took a while for Rogan to look outside Cartmel, and after a short pop-up ‘Roganic’ ran in London in 2011, he opened The French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester in 2013, followed closely by Fera at Claridge’s in 2014. Previously home to Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s, which closed in 2013 after losing its Michelin star in 2010.
Myself and Clara have just spent the last week in a lovely converted barn near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds called Hook Norton Barn. Owned by a couple who live at the opposite end of the field and own the local garage / petrol station 2 minutes away. Hook Norton Barn was recently converted and had its first guests in August 2016, which means we were one of the first few guests to enjoy this lovely space.
We found the barn through Sykes Cottages, but it also has its own website we found afterwards. The standard check-in is on a Friday evening after 3pm and we met with Sonya, one of the owners, at the barn around 4.30pm. Sonya gave us a quick tour, answered any questions and left us to it. With the owners living 2 minutes away we always felt we could get support if needed, but actually never needed to contact them during our stay.
It’s getting to that time of year again where I get another year older. This year myself and Clara have taken a break in the Cotswolds (cottage review to appear soon) and Clara treated me to lunch at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, recently awarded it’s first Michelin star in the 2017 awards. Kingham reminds me a little of Bray (in terms of quality of food per person who lives there!), as the tiny village has two very high quality pubs, including The Kingham Plough (no stars at yet!), which we’ve already added to our list for a future visit.
The Wild Rabbit is part of the Dayleford Organic Farms empire, owned by Lady Bamford. This is a traditional, English pub with restaurant and rooms – although one of the poshest pubs you are likely to visit!
Sorry that I’ve not posted any updates in a little while. After a busy summer doing up our garden which has kept me busy most weekends I have a few restaurant reviews to post over the coming weeks. I also have a review of our recent visit to Hook Norton Barn in the Cotswolds where we spent a long, relaxing week in the countryside.
More coming soon…
I’ve just returned from an 11 night trip to the Dominican Republic with my wife, staying at The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium. We booked this hotel mainly due to the fact it was adults only, but like most hotels in Punta Cana, it also offers all-inclusive board by default. We were really looking for a restful break spent on the beach or by the pool in late April / early May and we took a chance with booking in the Dominican Republic, despite this being the end of the high season. In the end our gamble paid off, with only a couple of days of rain throughout out stay.
I recently visited Sake No Hana, London on a Wednesday evening with my wife. We’ve previously visited the sister restaurant, Hakkasan and had thoroughly enjoyed it. We both love Japanese food, and were both very excited for our visit. We’d seen they were offering a set menu deal, ‘Taste of Sake No Hana‘, four courses for £31, and booking this online we qualified for some free drinks with the meal as well.
The restaurant is located in upmarket St James, just around the corner from Green Park station and close to The Ritz and Fortnum and Mason. The building is a strange 60/70’s concrete monstrosity (from the outside), with the bar located on the ground floor and restaurant on the first. Arriving at the restaurant involves a trip up an escalator and a walk around the central core of the building to find your table. It’s an odd setup (more to come on this later), but the inside of the building is decked out in wooden shutters and Cherry Blossom flowers (mostly fake). It’s a really nice ambiance, with an open kitchen to watch the chefs preparing the fish and sushi. We were there at 6pm when it opened but the restaurant quickly filled up, so it’s obviously a popular destination, even on an early weeknight.