THOROUGHLY MODERN MISSY: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, ROH

The Royal Opera House cinema’s 2014 year ended with a bang last night with an enchanting performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The three-act ballet, which premiered on the Covent Garden stage in 2011, glimmered on more than 3,000 screens across 24 countries and provided a wonderfully festive evening for every audience member watching. This production seems perfectly tailored for the screen; it’s digital success owed something to the newness of the production, as it combined classical dance, digital projections and mixed media puppets in an original, film-friendly portrayal of the wacky Lewis Carroll story that everyone knows and loves. Another feature of the production that was strikingly right for the screen was the stunning film-like score composed by Joby Talbot. In the exclusive-to-screen introduction to the ballet by Darcey Bussell cinemagoers were transported backstage and were privy to interviews with many of the cast and crew; here we heard from Talbot about the process of creating the score and the interwoven themes that represented each individual character. These insights into the production greatly enhanced the immersion into the ballet that the screening already provides.

The production started in a 19th Century Oxford garden party where the audience are introduced to the characters that are soon to feature as figments of Alice’s zany dream. The attention to detail throughout the entire production was truly astonishing and also lent itself even more to that of a film. The many dreamy backdrops, designed by Bob Crowley were all stunningly executed. He captured the essence of the off-kilter story and made it a piece of ever-changing visual art. The second act was a magical medley of episodes based around the different beloved characters of the classic story. From the tap-dancing Mad Hatter to the exotic and sultry caterpillar, the Royal Ballet left their distinguished stamp on this production. The Mad Hatter’s tea party was a delight to watch and you can also see a Zoo Nation version of it streamed live tomorrow (18th of December) and if not, on stage over the next few days. If you figure out the difference between a raven and a writing desk there, do let me know, as I am still none the wiser, even after Steven McRae’s astonishing tap dance showcase. Eric Underwood’s portrayal of the Caterpillar was captivating and the blue bedazzled ballet shoes of the long caterpillar body were a spectacle in themselves.

The three stars of the production would have to be Zenaida Yanowsky as The Queen of Hearts, most especially for her hilarious yet overwhelmingly skillful ‘tart adage’ at the beginning of the third act. Federico Bonelli, the pin up of the ballet world, played a Knave of Hearts who would melt any wicked Queen’s heart. Finally, Sarah Lamb, the belle of the ballet, played such a beautiful Alice that you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a 1950s screen siren. Her expressive face and lyrical movements brought the sense of innocence needed for a childhood classic like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Please give yourself the Christmas present of catching the relay screening this Sunday (21st) in a cinema near you and keep an eye on the Royal Opera House website for more treats to come. I for one am becoming ‘curioser and curioser’ to see what they have in store for us in 2015.

More information here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy, Angelica Bomford.

Pachamama, Marylebone

There are now a number of fine Peruvian restaurants in London, cementing the trend for South American cuisine. Each time I sample the dishes at these trendy London hotspots I can’t help but wonder if the plates in Peru are presented with the same finesse and creativity. Pachamama is the latest Peruvian eatery to receive rave reviews from critics and locals, offering flavoursome and innovative dishes in a characterful setting.

It is easy to walk past the modest front door of Pachamama, it is only once you walk in that your senses are flooded; warmth from the kitchen, laughter from the guests, colour from the beautifully tiled interior and aromas from all around. The design is the definition of shabby chic, rough edged but with thoughtful touches everywhere. Before you even look at the food menu, order a round of Pisco cocktails – my favourite was the Mama’s Pisco, a fruity combination of fresh raspberry, mint and orange, with a good measure of Pisco, Peru’s national spirit.

The staff recommend around three dishes per person, but you will have a hard job picking from the array of interesting choices. The menu is split into Land, Sea and Salads; we aimed to pick at least one dish from each section to taste a variety of the offerings. I really wanted to try the sweet plantain but apparently the new chef forgot to add it to the produce order. Instead we opted for intensely flavoured sea bass ceviche with samphire, radish, sweet potato and tiger’s milk. The soft fleshy fish was sitting in a pool of wonderfully sharp vinegar dressing and topped with delicate specks of garnish. Flamed octopus with purple potatoes, capers and crispy shallots is a powerful dish: large chunks of seafood accent a thick, alarmingly black sauce. “Duck on Rice” was possibly my favourite dish, tender strips of meat with a crisp edge are drizzled with a sweet sticky sauce and served with gloopy but tasty avocado rice. I would also recommend Smoked Gloucester Old Spot ribs with English malt and peanut glaze, although rather messy to eat. For dessert we indulged with the chocolate fondant, brittle and salted peanut ice cream. I’m not sure how authentically Peruvian this dish is but it was good enough that we stopped caring after mouthful one. The dense chocolate fondant was gloriously rich and had an almost bitter cocoa flavour, thankfully the nutty, sweet ice-cream contrasted brilliantly.

The lunch menu at Pachamama is unmissable giving diners the perfect opportunity to taste the food without spending a fortune. Available between 12 noon and 3pm each plate costs just £6, a big reduction on the standard prices.

If Peruvian food at home is as good as the grub at Pachamama put me on the first flight.

More information about Pachamama here: pachamamalondon.com

Puente Romano Beach Resort, Marbella

When we arrived late at night in Puente Romano, the hotel was shrouded in darkness. Exhausted from the long journey we checked in quickly and collapsed in bed, with just enough time to brush our teeth and glance at the resort catalogue that sat on the table next to colourful mini macaroons. Nine hours later, completely rejuvenated from a restful sleep in the huge bed, I opened the white shutters to reveal the catalogue cover, but for real – the palm trees gently swaying, the sun breaking through the clouds and white buildings with red-tiled roofs. It wasn’t a scene I expected to see in late November and as I breathed in the fresh floral air, I felt relaxed and relieved.

Since opening in 1979 the hotel has frequently updated its rooms, suites, and common areas ensuring Puente Romano remains the very best place to stay in Marbella. I was amazed by the extensive property, the consistent character evident throughout and the high quality of all the varied services. We spent the weekend in the Donana building in a bright and airy, recently redecorated Junior Suite. The room was spacious and luxurious, simply and stylishly decorated in muted creams with accents of terracotta and slate grey. The materials used are for the utmost comfort: thick cottons and soft upholstery in the living area. An African drum and shabby chic vintage mirror added character to the room, a smart desk with complimentary computer usage set up for those eager to work. The bathroom was charming, the big bath surrounded by traditional Andalusian patterned tiles, created especially for the hotel.

The food at Puente Romano is superb. Dining options range from the casual beachfront Del Mar and Sea Grill restaurants to the gastronomic Dani Garcia restaurant, awarded with two Michelin stars recently. Those wishing to try something a little more exotic can have Japanese at Namazake, Moroccan at Suite or Italian at Serafina. One of my favourite eateries was Bibo, Garcia’s playful tapas restaurant which serves delicious modern fusion Spanish dishes. Breakfast is an array of tropical fruits, locals meats and cheeses, flaky buttery pastries and everything else you could ever desire for your morning meal. We were completely spoilt for choice and eventually decided on rich and deliciously flavoursome chorizo on toast, the sweetest squeezed orange juice and coffee.

The sports facilities will keep the active guests occupied, and provide some light exercise for those who are over-indulging at the food outlets. The impressive main tennis court was launched by Bjorn Borg and developed by Manolo Santana and seats over 2000 spectators. For less pro players, there are other clay courts to play on as well as four paddle tennis courts and a gym.

Puente Romano Beach Resort has it all. Families will be delighted to discover the imaginative kids club on site, whilst couples can enjoy a romantic bike ride and picnic prepared by the hotel. The amenities throughout the resort are contemporary and luxurious despite the allure of the original features.

The name Puente Romano translates as Roman Bridge, and refers to the 1st Century bridge which remains at the heart of the property. Surrounded by the boutique shops and eateries, it is the focal point in the Plaza Village, and is a reminder of the hotel’s history and heritage. I found it utterly enchanting, especially in the evenings when it is lit with hundreds of fairy lights.

More information and book a stay at Puente Romano Beach Resort here.

Swan Lake, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Attending a performance of the English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is a Christmas tradition for me, so when I had the chance to experience Swan Lake in St Petersburg I was thrilled.

Russia has a wonderful theatre and dance culture and Tchaikovsky is the most beloved of all Russian composers, proudly upholding the country’s musical heritage. Tchaikovsky’s most familiar compositions today are his ballets, the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, which attract huge audiences, especially over the festive season.

For grand musical performances in St Petersburg head to the Mariinsky Theatre, where the talented company produce a plethora of shows every season. There are now several buildings which house the shows in order to keep up with the audience demand, this also allows the company to show ballet and opera simultaneously. The old Mariinsky Theatre is without doubt more prestigious and glorious in its design, but the modern Mariinsky II is also very striking and luxurious.

When I visited Swan Lake was performed on the Mariinsky II stage and was a triumph. The music soared from the orchestra pit filling the auditorium and the dancers moved across the stage with precision and grace. This ballet premiered in Moscow in 1877 and still captures the hearts of viewers, young and old.

This fantasy ballet is split into four scenes and follows the love story of Prince Siegfried and his Odette, who is cursed under the spell of the evil magician Rothbart, so that she is a swan by day, a human by night. The spell will only break with the power of devoted love. The dancers in this production were focused throughout dancing with an effortless charm. It was particularly moving to watch the Song of the Swans dance which was a flutter of white feathers and tutus. The only thing that distracted was the constant (forbidden) photography from the certain members of the audience, this seems to be a bit of a trend with the Russian audiences.

A visit to a Mariinsky show is essential when visiting St Petersburg, seeing this beautiful production of Swan Lake was a highlight of my trip.

More information on Swan Lake at the Mariinsky Theatre here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: The Cosmic Dead

The Cosmic Dead. The Total Refreshment Centre. Hackney.

12. December. 2014

If an imploding star makes any sound as it collapses into a Black Hole then The Cosmic Dead are probably replicating it in their billowing soundscapes. From the very first note they were at the heart of their burning star pounding out molten waves of intergalactic sound that rolled and tumbled forward and nowhere but the present. Swept up and blissed out the audience danced in this universe of ramshackle euphoria. The evening resembled something of the Art School Dance that goes on forever with visiting sonic balladeers. The Total Refreshment Centre or should I say,  outhouse to the cosmos made a fitting space with a stage that barely contained it’s visiting space travellers. It felt as much ‘Happening’ as gig and perhaps that’s what gives this Glaswegian outfit their irresistible charm. There is nothing pretentious in their sonic maelstrom or their uninhibited stage antics, just pure joy in their collapsing star of noise. A Black Hole worth never returning from…

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Hugh Hamshaw-Thomas.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 238

Here are a few of my favourite gifts to give to your favourite people this Christmas…

Cashmere Hot Water Bottle Cover, Brora, £109, buy here.

Weather Stickers, Anya Hindmarsh, £55, buy here.

Set of Four Assorted Lulu Cocktail Glasses, Selfridges, £50, buy here.

Gavin Washed-silk pajama shirt, Equipment, £250, buy here.

Small Copper Potted Candle, Merchant Archive, £55, buy here.

PiP Studio Tableware, John Lewis, £3.50 – £105, buy here.

Mason Shaker, Harvey Nichols, £19.95, buy here.

Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, Amazon, £8, buy here.

Personalised Nutella, in store at Selfridges, £3.99

Frozen DVD, Amazon, £6.99, buy here.

Personalised Instagram Wrapping Paper, Wrap.me, £5-15, buy here.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hotel Lamee, Vienna

There are plenty of grand and expensive hotels to choose from in Vienna, but I chose to stay at a smaller, more characterful hotel while in the city for a short weekend break. Hotel Lamee is a stylish boutique venue, one of the hand-picked design hotels in the city. Arriving into Vienna international airport late at night we were relieved to discover how quick and easy the taxi ride to Lamee was. Just steps away from the iconic St Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansplatz), Hotel Lamee and its nearby sister hotel Topazz are very centrally located and ideal for business or pleasure trips. From the hotel it was easy walking distance to the major sites, shops and cafes.

We were in Room 62, a glamorous and stylish double room. The room was cosy and comforting, filled with luxurious materials: satin, velvet and silk. Decorated in rich reds and creamy golden hues it certainly had a regal look. In the main space a huge bed with plumped pillows took precedence in the centre of the room. Beneath the windows a small coffee table and two armchairs were ideal for relaxing. Through the glass partition wall the indulgent bathroom included a big marble bath, “his and hers” sinks and a shower room. A circular mirror offered light on the wall. Fluffy towelling robes hung temptingly on the walls. Initially we assumed there was no TV, but eventually we found the cinematic flat screen that rose from the leather piece of furniture at the foot of the bed.

We slept soundly, enjoyed numerous hot baths and really took advantage of this lavish living space. My only issue was the temperature system, which seemed to really struggle to regulate the room. We were far too hot at times and the air-conditioning unit refused to cooperate despite the kind efforts of the staff. Eventually we resorted to opening the window to let in some cold fresh air.

Breakfast is served in an intimate dining room on the first floor. A selection of pastries and cereals were available as well as more filling hot a la carte dishes. The food was tasty and fresh, and the eggs and bacon got a particularly good review from my friend. We spent the early mornings here, flicking through guide books and sipping strong coffee and orange juice. We didn’t have time to sample the other food and drink venues on site but they come highly recommended. On the ground floor Bloom café offers Austrian dishes eco-friendly wine. Spilling out onto the street it is a buzzing eatery to sit at with friends. At the top of the building the rooftop garden offers amazing views over the city, sit and enjoy a drink whilst looking at Vienna from another perspective.

With sumptuous bedrooms and luxurious amenities, Lamee Hotel is a lovely place to return to after a long day exploring the streets of Vienna.

More information and book a stay at Hotel Lamee here.

Many thanks to the Vienna Tourist Board for their help with this trip.

Bayerischer Hof Hotel, Munich

Bayerischer Hof is not just a hotel. This important, grand building demands attention from all who walk past. It is a significant part of Munich’s history and heritage, renowned and well loved by locals, tourists and celebrities. Arriving late at night, we saw the huge hotel illuminated elegantly, a vision of alluring luxury and warmth in contrast to the chilly dark streets of Munich. I felt like I was entering a palace, and coincidentally I later discovered a real princess was staying a few doors down from us!

After a speedy and efficient check-in, we travelled up in the lift to discover our home for the weekend, room 476, a Junior Suite on the 4thfloor. Through a maze of carpeted corridors and heavy doors, it was tricky to find the room, especially in our tired state, however the central courtyard offers some aid with navigation. Our room was tastefully designed: a range of muted greys and creams in the décor and furniture. The heavy floral black and grey curtains added pattern and character to space, and I also noticed the striking monochrome artworks on the walls. On the table a selection of chocolates and fruit was displayed, the ideal midnight snack before getting into the plush regal bed.

The bathroom was sleek and decadent, a vision in marble with fluffy white towels of every shape and size. Both the rain shower and bath tub were powerful and I was delighted to find the bath filled up in minutes. The Lather toiletries were revitalising and fresh scented with lemongrass and bamboo. I made full use of the bath, washing here morning and night!

Breakfast at Bayerischer Hof was a real highlight of our stay. Guests sit in the light-filled dining room indulging in the champagne breakfast buffet. We tried fruit and pastries, meats and cheeses, the freshest juice and strong foam-topped coffee. It was all divine, a feast for the senses and fuel for our city sightseeing. For foodies there are several restaurant options, most significant perhaps is the Michelin-star awarded Atelier fine dining venue, but Trader Vics is also legendary offering Polynesian recipes and delicious cocktails.

Bayerischer Hof has endless facilities for business and pleasure occasions. The new, exclusive cinema lounge seats forty, with chic design by Axel Vervoordt. It is a unique space perfect for private events, film previews or corporate presentations. For other functions there are forty conference rooms to choose from, able to accommodate 10 to 2,500 guests. The most opulent and impressive is the ballroom, a beautiful cream art-deco style room with a glass roof (which can be opened to transform the room into an open-air sensation) and curved staircases which I particularly liked. When we were staying this was used for a smart ball, but it could also stage a festive banquet or anything your imagination desires.

We took advantage of the magnificent Blue Spa, hidden away within the hotel, offering the highest level of well-being and relaxation; this spa is a popular place for hotel guests and external visitors. I woke up early one morning to enjoy the dazzling azure blue pool, which I was surprised to find quite busy even at 7am! There is also a fitness centre, hair salon, healthy spa eatery and numerous face and body treatments to indulge in.

Bayerischer Hof Hotel will make anyone feel like Bavarian royalty for the night. Immaculate service, comforting luxury, impressive facilities and a central location, this palatial venue ticks every box.

More information and book a room at Bayerischer Hof Hotel here.

Many thanks to the Munich Tourist Board for their help with this trip.

Things to do in Munich

Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria, on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. It is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, with a population of around 1.49 million. I am telling you all these things, because they are facts I did not know before visiting this brilliant Bavarian city. Booking the trip far in advance with my BA airmiles, I had almost forgotten that I was visiting, and did not know what to expect. I loved the creativity and diversity of Berlin, but found the cityscape ugly and so was delighted to be surrounded by the beautiful gothic, Baroque and Romanesque architecture of Munich. The culture and design scene is exciting and fascinating to explore, and the cuisine on offer is diverse and innovative. Of course, you cannot escape the beer halls and lederhosen, I chose to embrace these traditions whilst also finding my own less obvious Munich discoveries.

To sleep

Bayerischer Hof: This prestigious and impressive hotel is an institution. It is a significant part of Munich’s history and heritage, renowned and well loved by locals, tourists and celebrity figures. I loved the grandeur and luxury of the bedrooms, the vibrant blue pool and the smart champagne breakfast buffet.

Flushing Meadows: Quite possibly the coolest place in Munich. This hip hotel is housed on the top two floors of an industrial building in the most vibrant neighbourhood of the city, Glockenbach. The 16 individual rooms showcase the work of 11 creative locals, we stayed in a Loft Studio Super designed by the German techno musician, DJ Hell.

To eat

Tantris: this two Michelin star restaurant is renowned. Located on the outskirts of town with an alarming red colour scheme, it is memorable for more than just the food. Chef Hans Haas presents elaborate and delicious plates of unusual flavour combinations. We tasted the Saturday set lunch menu, which included lobster, veal with truffle and a chocolate with figs dessert.

Hey Luigi: Italian food plays a fundamental role in the Munich restaurant scene, and there is no point trying to find ‘the best’ as every local has their own favourite. Head to Hey Luigi, a buzzy neighbourhood eatery for reasonably priced big plates of pasta and a great atmosphere.

Theresa: One of the few decent restaurants open on Sundays in Munich. Theresa is known for serving the best meat in the city, and despite my high expectations I was still impressed with my fillet steak and chips. The service is slow but for Sunday brunch it feels natural to have a slow-paced meal.

Pommes Boutique: this Belgian café offers the best (twice-cooked) chips in town, and an endless selection of sauces. Fill a pot with your favourite, we liked garlic aioli and peppercorn.

Charlie: the owner of this eatery, Sandra Forster, has started up some of the coolest restaurants in the city. Charlie is THE place to go for great Vietnamese food, and on Saturday evenings it turns into a DJ bar. Forster’s restaurant Roecklplatz is also worth trying for traditional but trendy cuisine.

To drink

Man versus Machine: I did a lot of research to find the best artisan coffee in Munich. Eventually I came across Man versus Machine, a new coffee shop serving up faultless creamy fruity drinks. I loved the café design, the friendly baristas and the atmosphere in this trendsetting venue. If you are a real caffeine geek it is also worth trying Mahlefitz.

Stereo Café: After wandering round the nearby sights and museums, this trendy little café is the ideal place to rest your legs and sip a hot drink and nibble a homemade cake.

Café Vorhoelzer: the lucky university students have this rooftop bar with incredible views over the city. The good thing is… anyone can go, squeeze in the little lift and admire the sights. Sometimes they even had a coffee artist who will draw your desired animal in the foam of your cappuccino.

Super Danke: this super juice company could take over the world. Making juices full of goodness, that taste too good to be so healthy, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Anywhere that gets me drinking spinach and kale is a hit!

Goldene Bar: Bizarrely hidden behind the huge Haus der Kunst this ornate golden venue serves up fruity cocktails and gets very busy at the weekends. Also nearby is the popular celebrity club P1. If you like historical bars you must also pop into Schumann’s, the most famous bar in Munich. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the concoctions, though must admit it is pretty cool that Schumann was the inventor of so many classic cocktails.

Reichenbach bar: the best cocktails we tried in Munich were found here. The cocktail den is discreetly situated at the back of the main venue. The bartender is experienced and creative with his drinks and serves up strong and tasty drinks.

Hofbrauhaus: No trip to Munich is complete without the compulsory visit to a beer hall, and Hofbrauhaus is the most legendary of the lot. Originally built in 1589 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as an extension of the Hofbräu brewery, the general public was admitted from 1828. Sit at a wooden table with the fellow drinkers and order a stein. If you are peckish you can also eat authentic German food here.

To do

Spa at Kempinski: Hidden within the five star hotel this boutique spa offers advanced and indulgent treatments based on the seasons with the very best therapists. I loved my detox massage which totally relaxed my body easing all tension and tightness in my muscles.

Traditional Market: Marienplatz is a central square in the city centre of Munich. It has been the city’s main square since 1158 and is still a great place to taste German delicacies and the local beer.

Spa at Sofitel: this exotic spa is available for guests and visitors to the hotel. I experienced an immaculate full manicure, with an efficient and thorough beauty therapist. After preening my fingers and painting them a pretty pale pink she gave me the bottle of nail varnish to take home. A lovely gift at the end of a lovely treatment.

Englisher Garten: this large public park in the city centre perfect for Sunday strolling or bike rides. Head to the pictoresque Chinese Tower beer garden for refreshments.

To see

Alte Pinakothek: This is one of the oldest galleries in the world and houses some of the most famous Old Master paintings. We saw the charming Canaletto exhibition which brought back memories of my recent trip to Venice.

Museum Bradhorst: This modern art museum is worth seeing inside and out. The psychedelic multi-coloured building encourages you in from the street to investigate what it is all about. Inside it holds some of the works from Anette Brandhorst (and her husband Udo Fritz-Hermann’s) collection of late 20th Century and contemporary art.

Haus der Kunst: When it was open in 1937 this epic building was used to showcase Hitler’s art collection, now the venue is used for temporary and travelling modern art exhibitions. Works by the German Expressionist painter Georg Baselitz are currently on show.

Munich Residenz: Found in the city centre the Residenz was the official home of the rulers of Bavaria from 1508 to 1918. The rooms are fascinating and fantastically beautiful, I particularly admired the splendour of the Antiquarium gallery arcade.

Heiliggeistkirche: There are a few churches huddled in the centre of Munich, this Gothic hall church was my favourite, magically white and gold inside with a myriad of paper doves suspended from the ceiling.

To shop

Falkenberg: I want my home to look like this shop. Falkenberg owner Sabine presents a carefully curated collection of beautiful and intriguing things including fine furniture, books, clothes, stationery, candles and jewellery from designers across Europe. The best concept store in town.

A Kind of Guise: A Kind Of Guise was born from the idea of creating products which are equally well designed and of high quality in terms of both production and the materials used. All the garments are made locally in Germany, and are immaculately tailored. I loved the thick winter shift dresses and lovely shirts.

Saskia Diez: A renowned jewellery brand in Munich, the work of Saskia Diez is delicate and thoughtful. I particularly liked the ultra thin rose gold rings, and the special fragrances, Silver and Gold that she recently created.

Papierladen: It is no secret that I am a total stationery addict and this is where I got my Munich fix. An array of stylishly arranged books, pencils, paperclips and other writing paraphernalia. It is known to locals as “the one with the beautiful papers”… I couldn’t agree more.

Cheers from Downtown: Another Munich born brand who recently opened up shop to offer local designers work to the public. The team are friendly and enthusiastic and the clothes are cool and inspiring. A great place to buy a stylish German souvenir.

Distorted People: This trendy boys clothes shop doubles up as a barber. The garments are simple and classic and most feature their ‘Barber and Butcher’ motif, but it was scruffy vintage hairdressing room that I particularly liked.

Many thanks to the Munich Tourist Board for their help with this trip.

Edvard Restaurant, Vienna

It seems fitting that in a prestigious city like Vienna there are many restaurants to suit a cultured clientele. Edvard is one of the top in this category, located in the outstanding Kempinski Hotel, this One Michelin starred restaurant serves immaculate dishes using the finest local meat and fish.

Sashaying through the ornate lobby, we made our way to the dining room and were seated at a table near the front, behind us the other tables were all full. We found the waiters to be discreet and charming which ensured the dining room mood was civilised and sophisticated at all times.

Immaculate tiny amuse-bouche tasters were brought to us, arranged with the utmost care, followed by wonderfully warm crusty bread, and indulgent canary yellow butter. A tempting tasting menu offers 4 or 7 courses, which can be paired with wine. We opted for the extravagant a la carte menu which features fresh and exciting flavour combinations. I loved the simplicity of the menus, decorated with lovely little food related illustrations.

After a glass of extra bubbly Champagne, our complex starter arrived. We both ordered the Beets with cream cheese, herbs, pumpernickel and malt – a dish that arrived on two plates each. The food was a rich palette of reds and maroons, with varying textures and shapes. I particularly liked the oriental style beetroot rolls which were presented entwined in an alarming snake-like jelly. Then on the slate plate, a thin malt biscuit topped with vibrant beetroot sorbet and pretty edible flowers; a group of unusual tastes that tasted light and herbaceous.

For main course we tried two opposite recipes. The codfish with white carrots, black rice, mussels, yuzu and coriander was an ethereal dish. Clean and healthy, a perfect option for a dieter. The fish was perfectly cooked and the green vegetables and sauce gave a kick of seasoning. My venison with topinambour, apple, hibiscus, brussel sprouts and cacao was a sinfully luxiously option on the other side of the table: silky smooth meat and vegetables paired with sweet chocolatey crumbs and apple puree – it looked as beautiful as it tasted, a rainbow of hues.

And for dessert, some serious chocolate. Described as ‘Textures of Valhrona Chocolate’ I knew this would be focussed on one ingredient. The pastry chef had fun with this dish creating as many textures as possible: chocolate jelly, mousse, ice-cream and biscuit. It was a powerful and rich pudding and I was glad we had only ordered one to share. The intense flavour was contrasted slightly by red berries, though I still craved a dollop of thick cream.

Edvard is an occasion restaurant, ideal for smart business meetings or special celebrations. The food here is innovative and interesting, a treat for the tastebuds. Chef Philipp Vogel offers a range of dishes that are far less traditional than the restaurant appears.

More information and book a table here.

Many thanks to the Vienna Tourist Board for their help with this trip.