The Academy – Bloomsbury

Reviewed on September 29th, 2016 by Dina

Many places do Afternoon Tea including cafes and restaurants but having it in a hotel seems to make it extra special. A weekend afternoon with the girls meant treating ourselves to such an Afternoon Tea.

The Academy Hotel in a Georgian townhouse in the heart of Bloomsbury was our venue. Afternoon Tea was booked for the courtyard garden, but as it was not as warm as we had hoped, we asked to be seated indoors. We were given our table in the Conservatory.

The Conservatory had canopies that shielded the direct sunlight making it a comfortable seating area, yet still maintaining good light. The room had a lovely view of the courtyard garden and its ornamental water feature. Striped sofas, armchairs, a big coffee table, glassed bookcases and lamps was our relaxing area for the afternoon.

The waiter gave us such friendly and professional service. Before he brought out our teas, we were asked if we were ready for our scones to be put in the oven. The scones are baked to order which was such a nice touch.

The tea selection at The Academy were all loose teas. The black blends were Palace Breakfast, Palace Earl Grey and Afternoon at the Palace which was a signature blend of Darjeeling and China teas. There was also a Chinese Sencha green tea and a Jasmine with Flowers tea. There was a choice of two herbal infusions: Peppermint and Chamomile Flowers.

The Academy allowed us to try different teas throughout the afternoon. My tea of choice was the Wild Berries fruit infusion. This deep red cup of tea was a blend of whole strawberries, blackberries, bilberries, elderberries and raspberries. It had a sweet aroma and taste.

As soon as our scones were baked, our waiter provided us with the classic three tiered Afternoon Tea. It was as delightful to the eye as well as to the palate.

A good variety of finger sandwiches on soft white and brown bread were the start. The sandwiches were smoked salmon, ham and mustard, cheese and tomato, and egg. The staff were more than happy to replace one of the salmon sandwiches with a cucumber sandwich.

The warm scones were the highlight. There were plain ones and fruit ones. Together with the little pots of preserve and clotted cream, they were so tasty.

The top tier of the cakes were little chocolate and fruit based delights. The petit fours included glace ones which were the fruit and chocolate tartlets and decorated tiny layered cakes; sec ones which were the pistachio, chocolate and vanilla macarons. The small size meant that we were able to try little mouthfuls.

The Afternoon Tea at The Academy was lovely in every way. All of the food, sweet and savoury was of a high quality. The atmosphere, staff and service was spot on.

The Academy Hotel, 21 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 6HG

Rating: ★★★★½

Jen Cafe – Chinatown

Reviewed on September 19th, 2016 by Dina

Jen Cafe is a casual eatery of the no fuss kind of a place. The star attraction of this cafe has to be the handmade dumplings. These can be seen being made in the front of the shop and in the shop window.

Two portions of the vegetarian dumplings were ordered. One portion was steamed and the other was fried. The fried dumplings were only fried on one side which made them not at all greasy. It gave a nice contrast to the texture. Both sets of dumplings were so tasty and even the outer pastry was good. The filling seemed to be a mix of mushrooms, vermicelli and other vegetables.

One set of dumplings were brought out in a bowl and the other on a small plate. The two portions satisfied the dumpling craving. There was even dumplings left over that we had to take away.

Originally, there had been some confusion with our order. The staff brought out Beijing dumplings. But my friend noticed that they may not be vegetarian. The staff were informed and they swiftly brought out our correct dishes. The service was fast.

Jen Cafe is a really popular and busy cafe. The green tables and benches in this small corner cafe were constantly being filled up with diners. There are lots of options on the menu including rice and noodle dishes, barbecued meats, soups, sandwiches, pearl drinks, crushed ice fruit drinks and a variety of teas. The soya milk drink was of the sweetened kind with ice.

In the heart of Chinatown, Jen Cafe is definitely the place to go for its signature handmade dumplings.

Jen Cafe, 4-8 Newport Place, London, WC2H 7JP

Rating: ★★★★☆

Jen Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Royal Gastropub – Oslo

Reviewed on September 13th, 2016 by Dina

Royal Gastropub resides in the oldest part of the old Oslo train station. This train station had a big refurbishment in 2015 and now has Østbanehallen: a modern food court and boutique shops. The Royal Gastropub is based in the Norwegian King’s old waiting room.

A central island was the bar area and the surrounding areas had high stools and tables and also some comfy seats. There was also an additional dining area offset at one end. For the comfy seating, there were open pebbled fires for the centre piece. Colourful lit panels decorated one side of The Royal Gastropub.

Food is ordered at the bar and is then brought out to the table with condiments and cutlery. The service was good and we experienced friendly staff.

There is a range of food available on the menu at The Royal Gastropub, something for everyone. The Smoked Salmon was a pretty dish presented on a red plate. Slices of Norwegian smoked salmon were accompanied with a fennel and radish salad, dill new potatoes and mustard creme.

A heartier meal was The Royal burger which came with fries. A vegetarian falafel patty with baked tomato, onions, salad and matured cheddar cheese came in a brioche bun. A twist to the burger was the Parmesan and truffle dressing.

Some finger food was the Nachos but it was actually a generous portion and would easily suffice as a main meal. A vegetarian chilli con carne came together with onions, jalapenos, cheese, homemade salsa, creme fraiche and avocado relish. A delicious and very moreish dish.

If that was not enough to keep us going, we opted for some Royal Gastropub’s Royal Fries. Royal Gastropub took fries to a whole new level with them being topped with onions, a Royal truffle dressing and some rosemary and Parmesan.

The atmosphere was relaxed at the Royal Gastropub. The food was all freshly cooked, of a high quality and it filled our tummies to the max.

Royal Gastropub, Østbanehallen, Jernbanetorget 1 0154 Oslo

Rating: ★★★★☆