Filipino delights at Yuu Kitchen

So today we’re heading East – something I don’t do very often in London – to the E1 postcode close to Aldgate East tube station. And appropriately we’re going to be trying some Eastern food – Filipino to be precise – a first for me.

Yuu Kitchen predominantly serves the delightful food of South East Asia with a fusion of Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese cuisine. And now they’ve added a special Filipino or Pinoy section. The Philippines is a melting pot of influences from the Pacific Rim, Malaysia, China, South America and even Spain – you’ll find a mix of cuisines from the many countries who have invaded or attempted to colonise the islands. And it’s a fascinating and fabulous mix.

What’s on the menu

The dishes are designed to be eaten tapas-style (my favourite way). We started with the pork chicharron, a pile of warm, crunchy pork scratchings served with chilli vinegar for dipping. The scratchings sizzle as you dip. I love a good pork scratching – a real guilty pleasure and even more, these are among the best I’ve had.

Yuu Kitchen: pork scratchings

Beautifully crispy pork scratchings

And now for something completely different and a first for me (it’s certainly a day of firsts!) – cassava fries. Cassava is a tuberous root that’s officially the third-largest source of carbs in the tropics. It’s pretty dense and I’m imagining takes some cooking. Our chef explained the cassava is boiled for some time before being fried to produce these, light tasty delights with their soft inside and crisp outer layer. They were served with hot-smoked paprika and tangy adobo mayo.  Adobo is a local vinegar-based sauce that also includes a combination of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and soya sauce. It’s delicious.

Yuu Kitchen: cassava chips

Cassava chips are amazingly tasty

The presentation at Yuu Kitchen is also delightful with this clever, pretty plate of food bound to cause oohs of delight. The sisig lollipops contain a pork centre of seven-hour pineapple juice braised pig’s head covered in panko breadcrumbs and served with adobo mayo and chicharron – some of those delicious pork scratchings crumbled on the side. Dip the luscious lollipop into the mayo and then the chicharron to coat. So rich and tasty. Probably my favourite lollipop ever.

Yuu Kitchen: Sigsi lollipops

Sigsi lollipops look so cute and taste so good

Next up what I’m calling the Filipino version of burgers called cheese ube put (takes a few goes to get that past autocorrect intact). These mini treats are so delicious with their steamed buns, chorizo bilbao, caramelised onion, avocado and garlic aioli. Seems like this is a burger I could eat every day.

Yuu kitchen: burgers

Exotically delicious little burgers

They’re so good I had to show you twice!

Yuu Kitchen: burger

Up close on the mouthwatering burger

And there’s more

This meal was becoming quite a revelation with beautifully tasty, exotic dishes. I wasn’t so keen on trying the crispy pig’s ears, having sampled a version of them before and finding them tough and tasteless. Not today’s. These ears are slow-cooked for three hours and served with a honey soy glaze, sesame seeds, pickled radish and chives. The slow cooking has actually made them really tender and the honey soy glaze is the perfect flavour match. As a result, we agreed that this was actually our favourite dish of the day. Who’d have thought?

Yuu Kitchen: pigs ears

Delicious crisp and sticky pigs ears

The bistek is a little piece of steak in batter served on a crispy rice cake with lemon soy, and a trio of onion. Another pretty morsel rich in flavours. Also pretty exotic.

Yuu Kitchen: beef

Delicious morsels of beef on rice cakes

The lechon kawali is a 12-hour braised pork belly, thinly sliced and with delightful slivers of crispy crackling, topped with savoury mama sita’s sauce (it’s a secret but you’ll love it). Certainly love a good pork belly.

Yuu Kitchen: pork belly

Melt-in-the-mouth pork belly

Well that was the end of our Filipino delights. And time to sample a couple of dishes from the rest  of the menu. The tuna kinilaw is luscious raw tuna served in a spicy marinade of coconut milk, cafa lime leaves, lime juice, chilli and red onion. Beautiful.

Yuu Kitchen: tuna ceviche

Refreshing and zesty tuna ceviche

After quite a meaty feast we asked our chef to recommend a vegetable dish for us to try. Grilled cauliflower served with sweetcorn, jalapeño dressing, shallots, garlic chips and chives. Certainly the best cauliflower ever, smokey and spicy.

Yuu Kitchen: cauliflower

Possibly the tastiest cauliflower dish ever

Yuu Kitchen is a beautifully stylish place to eat with great murals decorating the walls and an incredible lighting display with ornate bird cages.

Yuu Kitchen: Murals

Yuu Kitchen is decorated with dramatic murals

Yuu Kitchen: Art

More stylish art

Yuu Kitchen: lights

Love the stylish lighting

Today’s price point

And finally, the bottom line.

It cost £68.50 for all the dishes I’ve described here. Certainly a real feast for two.

White wine starts from £24.50 a bottle, red from £23.50.

Cocktails start from £8.50.

There’s also a  selection of delicious fruit teas for £4.50.

Yuu Kitchen is at 29 Commercial Street, London E1. Aldgate East tube station is a five-minute walk away.

Tasty classic French dishes at Boulevard Brasserie

It’s time to head back into Covent Garden to continue enjoying our steamy London summer. Boulevard Brasserie is in what is known as Covent Garden’s Opera District, you’re sitting directly opposite the Opera House just off the iconic piazza.

There’s a lovely mix of sophisticated French classics and summery dishes to choose from in a welcoming, buzzing brasserie.

What’s on the menu

I adore asparagus and find it hard to resist when I see it on the menu. Today’s luscious green spears were served cold with pea shoots and incredible truffle mayonnaise. My idea of a starter made in heaven.

Boulevard Brasserie: asparagus

Delightful summer asparagus

The classic French onion soup was beautifully rich and sweet and packed with cheesy gruyere croutons. Almost a meal in itself.

Boulevard Brasserie: French onion soup

Sweet French onion soup and cheesy croutons

It took a while, but I eventually decided to go for this fabulous pork dish. The grilled pork chop was served with chorizo jam and baby spinach. All on top of an apple, prune and new potato salad with wholegrain mustard dressing. An incredibly tender and tasty pork chop (and pretty large too) topped with delightfully spicy chorizo jam. Chorizo jam – yummy – got to make some myself soon.

Boulevard Brasserie: pork chop

Beautifully tender pork chop with delicious sauces

The classic bouf bourguignon came in a steaming cast iron pot. Delightfully braised beef cooked in red wine with lardons and mushrooms and served with buttery mash.

Boulevard Brasserie: Bourguignon

The comfort of a rich French-style stew

Boulevard Brasserie: mash potato

Irresistible buttery mash

Another classic, this time for pudding. It’s hard to beat the buttery (more butter) lusciousness of a tarte tatin with its beautifully sweet and tart apples topped with creamy vanilla ice cream.

Boulevard Brasserie: tarte tatin

Sweet and buttery tarte tatin with ice cream

The French really know their cheese. And I loved the fact that there was an individual cheese option on the menu as I didn’t think I could manage a whole cheeseboard. So I enjoyed my (not insubstantial) portion of tongue-tingling roquefort, served with biscuits and apple chutney.

Boulevard Brasserie: roquefort

The creamy saltiness of roquefort

Boulevard Brasserie is one of those warm and comforting places with great classic food that you’d happily go back to again and again. Another Covent Garden favourite to savour.

Today’s price point

Our three-course dinner for two cost £64.

Red and white wine starts from £21 a bottle, rose from £24 and cocktails are £9.95.

Boulevard Brasserie is at 40 Wellington Street, Covent Garden WC2.

Chill out tapas time at Lady of the Grapes

Today we’re heading to one of my absolute favourite streets in the whole of London Town. Maiden Lane in Covent Garden is home to myriad bars and restaurants – the choice is quite mind-boggling. And there’s always somewhere new to try – like Lady of the Grapes.

This cosy little establishment describes itself as an organic wine bar and wine shop. It champions female winemakers with its extensive wine list. There are shelves along the walls packed with delicious deli products and there’s a delightful tapas menu.

What’s on the menu

We started off with a bowl of the freshest bread and some delightfully salty salami – with a side of tiny, crunchy cornichons.

Lady of the Grapes: Salami

Tasty salami served with cournichons

There’s a wide cheesy choice and we went for the beautifully creamy blue which was served with the sweetness of preserved figs.

Lady of the Grapes: cheese

Blue cheese with preserved fig

Luscious salmon gravlax was served on the freshest of bread and arrived looking a bit like a magical garden with the lovely fresh salad accompaniment.

Lady of the Grapes: gravlax

Little gravalax toasts beautifully presented

I am partial to a pissaladiere – a kind of tart of caramelised onions topped with anchovies – and in this case some roast red peppers too. The simplest of things so often taste the best.

Lady of the Grapes: Pissaladiere

The fresh and tasty pissaladiere with anchovies

Here it is up close and glorious.

Lady of the Grapes: pissaladiere

Close up on the scrumptious little tart

Lady of the Grapes is also a deli and the shelves are packed with bottles of delectable goodies and salamis hang temptingly, too. Don’t know how I resisted and didn’t take some home with me.

Lady of the Grapes: deli

The shelves are stacked with tempting goodies

Lady of the Grapes is the sort of place I’d want to be my local. Perfect for a quick after-work drink and a bowl of olives or a leisurely dinner lingering over their lovely range of tapas dishes.

Service is warm and friendly and the place gave me an all-round feeling of happiness. Well, that’s Maiden Lane for you.

Lady of the Grapes is at 16 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden WC2

Loving the Levantine flavours at Ceru in Soho

Plates of delight at Ceru

So today we chose the hottest day of the year (so far anyway) to venture into Soho, one of my favourite areas of London (after Covent Garden of course). Appropriately we were going where the food tastes of sunshine and summer delights – to Ceru whose motto is “Born from a love of food, drink and sunshine”. Love that – can I claim it for myself??

To be more specific, Ceru serves vibrant Levantine cuisine which is sort of Eastern Mediterranean and encompasses Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Israel – you can check out the area on the handy map below. Most importantly they promise small plates with big flavours and boy do they deliver.

What’s on the menu

To get going on our Levantine journey we dipped into the dips. I’m a big fan of dips, and these were in a league of their own. We went for a Three in One – a spoonful of our choice of three of the delicious dips. A colourful plate of deliciousness was delivered to our table along with a basket of fresh, warm and flavoursome pitta bread.

The three offerings were a traditional houmous (you’ve always got to try the humous). Then Pancar which is made from roasted beetroot, yogurt, garlic and crushed pistachio. And also Ceru Hammara – tangy red pepper dip with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. All fabulous, with the Hammara winning the prize as our favorite – as a result I’m on a mission to recreate it at home.

Ceru: dips

The vibrant plate of three top dips

The dips were served with the softest, warm pitta bread, clearly straight out of the oven and the perfect accompaniment.

Ceru: pitta bread

The softest of warm pitta bread

Summery salad and cocktails

There’s also a salad section, perfect for today’s London with a tropical feel. We went for crisp apple, mint and pomegranate with pea shoots, roasted pine nuts and green chili. Nice sounding ingredients, yes, but who’d have thought the combination would produce such a spectacular dish of food because this is one of the best salads I’ve ever enjoyed. Seriously.

Ceru also has a lovely cocktail list and I enjoyed their Passionista. It’s made from Russian Standard vodka, Passao (a passion fruit liquor), lime, sugar, passion fruit and egg white. Beautifully refreshing and fruity.

Ceru: Salad

The crunchy, zest salad perfect for a hot summer day

Ceru: Salad

A closer look at the wonderful apple salad

Moving on to the seafood section, we ordered the Karides. Whole grilled garlic prawns skewered and served with a dried lime and coriander labneh. Labneh is a wonderful thing, kind of in the middle of yogurt and cheese and it’s also great for some prawn dipping.

Ceru: prawns

Garlic prawns perfectly grilled with a wonderfully creamy dip

Tasty meaty choices

The Shish Taouk was served on a bed of herb yogurt. Tender cubes of chicken breast were marinated in paprika and lemon and grilled to perfection. They were beautifully succulent with great depth of flavour, a perfect match for the tangy, herby yogurt. I loved that every dish came with a different, delectable dip – certainly enhancing the whole experience.

Ceru: chicken

Tender chicken kebabs with a nice hit of spices

And finally – a Persian Kafta. This grilled skewer of aromatic spiced beef sat on a tartar sauce – kind of a garlicky, lemony tahini. Another incredible explosion of flavors.

Ceru: beef

The minced beef kebab packed with exotic flavours

We enjoyed our mains with the Orez Ceru – Arabic scented fried rice with crispy onions, sultanas and parsley. Certainly the nicest rice I’ve enjoyed for a while.

Ceru: rice

The tastiest of rice concoctions

What a wonderful selection of dishes – packed with flavour and perfect for London in a heatwave. As was the cool (in all senses of the word) interior. Certainly a big fan of those Levantine specialities.

Ceru: interior

The welcoming, bright and colourful interior

And here’s the Levant!

Today’s price point

Our six dishes came to £43.50, incredibly good value for such wonderful food in the heart of Soho.

It’s a different sort of list with wines from Lebanon, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. We had a lovely rose from Macedonia – the Alexandra Rose Tikves which cost £20 for a 500ml carafe. Both red and white start from £17 for a 500ml carafe.

Ceru is at 11 D’Arbalay Street, Soho, W1

My favourite restaurants in Cape Town in 2018

Where to eat in Cape Town

I’m fortunate to be able to spend time in beautiful Cape Town every year. There I take up the challenge of keeping up with the ever-growing and changing restaurant scene. There’s a lot of good food to be had in the Mother City and for someone from London it’s mainly amazing value.

A good starting point for the somewhat mind-boggling task of choosing where to eat is to resort to a list. One of the most well-known is the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards – and this is a list bound to cause plenty of discussion (like any ratings list). I strongly disagree with two of the restaurants listed in their top-10. I’ve eaten at both and absolutely wouldn’t go back. My feeling is one shouldn’t be there at all and the other should be ranked lower. But hey, food is an incredibly subjective thing and everyone’s looking for something different.

I couldn’t resist coming up with my own list…which I’m calling My favourite restaurants in Cape Town. And it’s based on my experiences of eating there in 2018. The restaurants are certainly not all gourmet, exclusive or expensive, but are places I find myself returning to regularly and enjoying fabulous dishes every time. They’re in no particular order as where I’d go also depends on my mood and what sort of food I feel like…I’m saying is these are all good, so try them all – if you can.

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia

Chef’s Warehouse is the brainchild of genius chef Liam Tomlin, his original eatery sits on Cape Town’s buzzy Bree Street. Set at the top of the Constantia Valley with stunning views over vineyards and forests to the sea, this fabulous addition to the city’s restaurantland offers a range of amazing dishes in their Tapas for Two.

There are no difficult menu decisions to make here – you get everything to share. Eight dishes altogether which are served in groups of two or three in three batches – so kind of like three courses.

The menu changes regularly dependent on ingredients available and every dish is incredible, well, every mouthful is incredible. The great local ingredients are used to prepare truly international dishes. And everything looks so beautiful too. The kind of restaurant I dream about going back to as often as possible.

The cold seared tuna was served on Moroccan-spiced aubergine with fresh milk curd and toasted cashews.

Beau Constantia: tuna

The fabulous seared tuna with Moroccan flavours

The risottos at Beau Constantia are possibly the best I’ve ever had. This vibrant green creation is parsley risotto made with smoked bone marrow, salted lemon and pecan nut salsa and a red wine reduction. So good you’re seriously tempted to lick the dish.

Beau Constantia: parsley risotto

Vibrant parsley risotto with great depth of flavour

The Vietnamese BBQ beef came with herbs, toasted rice and a zesty Vietnamese dressing. Having recently visited Vietnam I can tell you the flavours of the country were captured perfectly in this dish. See what I mean about the international creations!

Beau Constantia: Beef

Vietnamese BBQ beef with the freshest of flavours

And this could be the pork belly dish of the year…it’s a staple on most Cape Town menus..today’s offering stood out as some spectacular belly! Slow roasted and served with an apricot and miso tart, cashew nut milk and garlic and thyme oil. Wow! Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia rocks!

Beau Constantia: pork belly

The incredible pork belly with a taste of Asia

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia is at 1043 Constantia Main Road, Glen Alpine, Constantia. 

Thali

Liam Tomlin is also behind Thali. In fact these two new restaurants opened within two days of each other. No pressure, then.

Thali operates on the same Tapas for Two principle – but this time the flavours are all Indian. As Indian food is one of our favourites, we were always going to like Thali…but we really loved it! Platters of exotic concoctions arrive one after the other and tantalise your taste buds. There’s a good hit of spice, lots of lovely condiments (I do love a condiment) and so many cleverly conceived dishes.

The delicious tandoori cauliflower was served with cumin cauliflower puree (yum, yum), and a cashew and coconut salad. The tray also came with creamy dhal, soft fresh bread and a range of condiments.

Thali: cauliflower

The tastiest of cauliflower dishes a variety of sauces

The Mappa duck curry with spiced mango chutney was nothing short of sublime. Melt-in-the-mouth duck (do you know how difficult that is to create) and the silkiest of spicy sauce.

Thali: duck curry

The luscious duck curry in a silkily rich sauce

The attention to detail makes for a superb combination of flavours and textures and there are plenty of bowls of delight, including this fabulous spiced tomato salsa.

Thali: salsa

Deliciously spicy salsa adds zest to the dishes

Thali is at 3 Park Road, Gardens.

La Parada

From India to Spain on Bree Street (there are now three La Parada’s but this is the one where my heart lies!). La Parada is probably my favourite lunchtime spot in Cape Town. Plates of tapas and a bottle of chilled rose on the pavement is my idea of heaven. I adore Spanish food, and it’s very authentic here.

Their patatas bravas, which is dusted with paprika to add a touch of spice, may be our favourite in the world. May have to try out a few more plates before I write that in stone, though.

La Parada: patatas bravas

Crispy and soft patatas bravas dusted with paprika

The chef has captured the perfection of Spanish dishes, using great ingredients to create simple plates of food that are mouthwateringly yum. Like this one – garlic mushrooms, poached egg, truffle oil, parmesan and toasted bread – pretty standard fare but when put together you can’t believe the deliciousness. I can’t stop myself from ordering this every time I go to La Parada. Their croquetas are also amazing.

La Parada: mushrooms

Earthy mushrooms and perfectly soft egg

La Parada  is at 107 Bree Street. 

Bistro Sixteen82

Back into the winelands to Steenberg Golf Estate and Vineyards and Bistro Sixteen82 where chef Kerry Kilpin has been serving up tasty bistro-style dishes and tapas using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Kerry has a passion for Asian food which is reflected in many of the menu’s offerings.

Like this fabulous bowl of West Coast mussels in their spiced, aromatic broth.

Sixteen82: mussels

Plump and juicy mussels Asian style

Tapas is served from 5pm to 8pm, perfect for an early light dinner. I loved the pickled fish tacos – crispy with lovely Malay flavours, a great fusion of South Africa and Mexico.

Sixteen82: fish tacos

Delightfully crisp, spiced fish tacos

Bistro Sixteen82 is at Steenberg Vineyards, Steenberg Road

Aubergine

Aubergine is a true doyen of Cape Town’s restaurantland (can a restaurant be a doyen?? Anyway you get my meaning). It’s owned by German chef Harald Bresselschmidt and opened in 1996. Set in a beautiful, historic building with plenty of nooks and crannies, there’s a cosy courtyard with views of majestic Table Mountain and always an incredibly warm welcome. The menu is extensive and the dishes are very creative with a strong South African influence.

The pretty-as-a-picture blesbok medallions came with tortellini, walnut foam and black trumpet dust. A blesbok is a type of antelope so you get the classic richness and depths of flavour of a venison dish combined with the freshness of the accompaniments.

Aubergine: blesbok

An exotic plate of beautiful blesbok

As well as the standard menu there’s always a special three-course one, too, you have to be on top decision-making form. I chose from this one on my last visit and had this spectacular pork dish – pork in three textures combining belly, pickled loin, black pudding and fried polenta.

Aubergine: Pork

A dish that’s heaven for pork lovers

Aubergine is at 39 Barnet Street, Gardens.

A Tavola

A Tavola is on the other side of the mountain in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. It’s in a somewhat underwhelming setting opposite a hospital alongside an office block and library, but don’t let that put you off. Consistently serving up fabulous Italian dishes, the establishment is loved by locals who keep it constantly busy.

The specials menu changes regularly which often causes disappointment if your favourite isn’t on there, though of course it does motivate you to try something different. There’s tasty antipasti, a marvellous pasta selection, great seafood, steaks and so much more.

I’m always delighted when the veal tonnata is on the menu. One of my all-time favourite dishes, it’s a weird-sounding combination of thinly sliced rare veal served with a tuna sauce topped with capers. Doesn’t sound great but I really can’t tell you how splendid it tastes.

A Tavola: vitello tonata

Creamy vitello tonata, one of my all-time favourites

The Tuscan veal stew, served with fresh tagliatelle, is another specials favourite. The rich aromas reach your nose before the dish – which is the ultimate in satisfying Italian cuisine. And their zucchini fritti are quite simply heavenly.

A Tavola: Tuscan veal stew

Tuscan veal stew to dream about

A Tavola is at Library Square, Wilderness Road, Claremont.

The Food Barn

This chilled out, friendly restaurant with extraordinary food has been here ever since I started visiting the fairest Cape of them all. Chef Franck Dangereux has created a little piece of heaven in sleepy Noordhoek where you can have a wonderful fine dining experience without any formality or pomposity. His food is always delightful, indeed the whole day is delightful, as we start by taking the road over magnificent Chapman’s Peak to get there. There aren’t many drives like this in the world and arriving is just as exciting as you know you’re in for a feast.

Great local ingredients are again brought to the fore like in this beautifully rich bouillabaisse packed with mussels and line fish.

Food Barn: Bouillabaisse

The tastiest of bouillabaisse packed with fresh seafood

Frank is also famous for his beautiful prawn dish, lovely local fish, innovative salads and perfectly cooked rack of lamb.

Food Barn: lamb

Perfectly pink rack of lamb

The Foodbarn is at Noordhoek Farm Village, Corner Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road, Noordhoek.

Sundoo

Now we’re heading to the Atlantic Seaboard, where I spend a lot of time in the buzz that is Sea Point. There’s a great vibe in this cosmopolitan part of the city and plenty of places to soak it up. Just down the road from our apartment is Sundoo. A fabulous Indian tapas bar where you can absorb the action in one of Sea Point’s main roads and get your spice fix. It’s the baby of renowned chef Seelan Sundoo whose roots are in Kerala – known as “The Land of Spices”. (Note: I am heading to Kerala later this year! How exciting is that?)

Every time it’s a trio of lamb rotis to start us off. Delightful buttery mini breads are topped with a wonderfully tender and tasty lamb curry that creates what’s like a party on your palate.

Sundoo: trio of roti

Little bundles of spice and deliciousness

There are a range of small dishes to share which are all wonderful. And there’s also a selection of curries which you can choose in small (starter size) or large (main course size) portions. Now that’s a good idea. We love the Pondicherry kingklip which is served in a fresh tomato, garlic, spring onion, coriander and tamarind sauce. Kingklip is a local white fish with a beautiful sweetness and the perfect texture for a curry concoction.

Sundoo: kingklip

Sweet tasty fish in a richly rounded sauce

Sundoo is at 77 Regent Road, Sea Point.

South China Dim Sum Bar

I love a dim sum or two and this unpretentious (well, basic) little restaurant in Long Street in the heart of the City Bowl serves up some of the best I’ve ever had. You sit on crates and eat off paper plates and it’s one of the nicest lunches you’ll have. All dim sum are freshly made and they are amazing value.

Dim Sum

Delightful lamb potstickers served with spicy yogurt

Dim Sum

Chicken wontons with spicy szechuan

South China Dim Sum Bar is at 289 Long Street, Cape Town.

So there you have it, my favourite eating places with some mouth-watering pictures.

And finally, here’s some more…

La Perla – a Sea Point legend overlooking the promenade and the sea that serves great pasta dishes, amazing veal and carpaccio. A great place to people watch and inhale that wonderful Sea Point feeling.

Osteria Tarantino – tiny family-fun Italian on the slopes of the De Waterkant. Amazing fresh pasta dishes and the friendliest of welcomes.

Duchess of Wisbeach – you can’t beat the Duchess for a fun night among Sea Point’s glitterati. Try their truffled macaroni cheese or deconstructed prawn cocktail and party on until late.

The Greenhouse – fabulous fine dining under the guidance of Peter Tempelhoff in a stunning setting at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia.

Harbour House, Kalk Bay – designed in stunning beach-house style of blues and whites it’s right on the ocean and serves the tastiest of seafood and fish.

Reuben’s in The One and Only – an elegant, special-occasion sort of place in a fabulous hotel with friendly service and creative dishes with distinct South African flavours.

Bihari – another Indian favourite, this time in the Southern Suburbs offering a range of great traditional dishes and the freshest of buttery naan.

Tao Yuang – this Chinese restaurant on Beach Road in Sea Point does the most amazing sizzling kingklip and fabulous special fried rice. It’s perfect for an early dinner in their little garden.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Cape Town that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear about it (and try it, naturally!) so do get in touch and let me know. Or do you strongly disagree with some of my choices…I’m up for a discussion any time!

Summer lunch in the courtyard at Boulestin

Happy sunshine news from London! We’re having a heatwave! Seriously there’s an official definition of a heatwave which is when the daily maximum temperature for more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees. Not sure if we have actually met the target (though I think we may have surpassed it) but it feels like a heatwave to me. And what happens when there’s a heatwave in London? We all become obsessed with living an al fresco life…obviously.

Parks turn into sunbathing paradises, pavements transform into the perfect spot for social gatherings over a chilled beverage and everyone’s smiles widen. Of course I also have to make it my mission to search out the best restaurant roof terraces, courtyards and terraces the capital has to offer.

Which is why, today, we are heading to Boulestin in swanky St James. Not the most obvious place where you’d find an alfresco dining opportunity but that’s because Boulestin has a secret courtyard! How I love a secret courtyard.

This Boulestin opened in 2013, though the original was in Covent Garden, opened by Xavier Marcel Boulestin in 1927. M Boulestin is reputed to be the world’s first TV chef (on the BBC from 1937-1939). He is described as the most imaginative and liberating food writer of his time. High praise.

The menu is influenced by his original recipes, serving authentic French classics and a whole lot besides. It’s an exciting selection to tempt you as you settle under the umbrellas in the serenity of the courtyard, just steps from the hubbub that is St James.

What’s on the menu

On such a balmy day my eyes lit up as soon as they saw the gazpacho consommé in the starters section. And it was served with a cucumber and basil sorbet (can anything sing summer out any louder?) and some marinated courgettes.

This is a truly wonderful summery dish with an intensity of flavours that zing off your palate. And it’s so light and refreshing, it’s almost like a delicious savoury drink. I wanted to lick the bowl.

Boulestin: gazpacho

The taste of summer in a bowl

The charred octopus came with almond taramasalata (now that sounds intriguing), green olives and a roasted fig. Flavoursome, tender octopus with little dots of added flavour to bring the dish together perfectly – oh and the sweetness of that fig.

Boulestin: Octopus

An exotic dish of octopus and fig

There’s a cornucopia of wonderful mains to boggle your mind, made easier by the fact that the warm summer air made the stomach go towards a desire for something cooling. So first up, lemon and rocket risotto served with mousserons and ricotta. Mousserons are small wild mushrooms which added a delicious earthiness to the creamy, citrussy taste, all topped off by fluffy clouds of ricotta. The rocket made for the perfectly green shade – certainly greener than most of the lawns in sun-soaked London Town.

Boulestin: risotto

A vibrant, zesty bowl of risotto

The tuna tartare came with avocado mousse, compressed watermelon and a black sesame tuille. Succulent tuna layered with the watermelon and wonderfully dressed made for another sunshine dish – especially when combined with the creamy avo and crunch of the tuille. Wow! And double wow for the watermelon, such a creative and delicious addition.

A spectacular tuna dish to savour

How was that for the perfect summer lunch? Hidden away in the peace of a secluded courtyard drinking in the warm London air and enjoying great food. I’m not counting how many times I’ve used the words summer, sunshine or anything related, though I know it’s plenty! How I love London during a heatwave…can you tell?

Boulestin: courtyard

The beautiful hidden courtyard

Today’s price point

Lunch cost £76 for two people for a starter and a main each.

Boulestin is at 5 St James St, London W1