Paco Tapas, Bristol

The Bristol food scene is moving fast with exciting new restaurants and bars opening every week. Paco Tapas is the younger sibling of acclaimed fine dining establishment Casamia (which sadly closed a little while ago)… and despite its relaxed atmosphere this convivial tapas eatery is one of only a few Michelin star recognised restaurants in Bristol.

Paco Tapas

The interiors at Paco Tapas are dark and moody with high tables with bar stools creating a laid back feel. We sat at one of the heated outdoor tables which offered a lovely view of the sunset over the water. A glass of fresh white Spanish wine and a smokey negroni piqued our appetite, ready for the feast ahead.

It is tricky to get the right amount of food when ordering from a tapas menu, but our informative and charming waiter helped us identify the key players from the menu, while ensuring our meal was nicely balanced. From the snack (Para Picar) section we picked the Tortilla Española, an iconic oozing egg dish at Paco Tapas and the pillowy Bread with Olive oil, perfect for mopping up the tortilla.

Paco Tapas

Each dish comes when it’s ready, ideal for gradual grazing. Don’t miss the Jamón Croquetas, indulgent golden nuggets filled with a meaty, cheesy bechamel sauce. Absolutely divine.

Paco Tapas

I could have ordered anything from the meat menu, but we took our waiter’s advice and opted for the Cornish shortrib and the Duroc Pork Ribs. The meat options regularly change dependant on what is available to the kitchen, with much of the meat coming from the brilliant Philip Warren Butchers in Cornwall. Pork Ribs were particularly tasty, falling away from the bone beautifully, and seasoned to perfection… I had to fight my toddler for the last bite.

Paco Tapas

Arguably my favourite dishes of the night were from the ‘vegetables’ section of the menu – I couldn’t resist the classic Patatas Bravas, but it was the Devilled Corn on the Cob and the Cauliflower & Manchego that blew me away. These dishes show that Paco Tapas is more than a classic tapas restaurant, offering inventive riffs on more obvious Spanish culinary ideas. The corn was coated in an addictive buttery spice mix and topped with salty cheese. The cauliflower was grilled and caramelised, sitting in a luxuriously smooth manchego cheese sauce. Rest assured vegetarians will not go hungry here.

Paco Tapas

Definitely leave room for dessert, Pedro Ximinez Flan is a must, the creamiest silky smooth set custard pudding, which we finished in less than a minute between us. The Chocolate mousse with toast and olive oil was also delicious, ideal for chocolate fans, but without too much richness (perfect at the end of a meal).

It’s easy to see why Paco Tapas is one of Bristol’s best loved restaurants. Vibrant Andalusian flavours paired with wonderful warm service, it’s impossible not to have a good time here.

More information and book a table at Paco Tapas here.

I was a guest of the restaurant.

Things to do in Berlin 2022

This was my third trip to Berlin, after a couple of visits almost a decade ago. The city, though still edgy and quirky feels more comprehensive now, especially when it comes to eating and drinking out. We stayed centrally and found ourselves walking almost everywhere, stopping off for delicious speciality coffee en route to our next restaurant, shop or gallery. This round-up is by no means inclusive of all Berlin’s best places, but it will point you in the right direction for some of the current hotspots, unmissable pastries and cocktails and a few other venues to keep you entertained for a few days in this fun city.

Soho House Berlin

To Stay

Soho House Berlin – Located in a Grade II listed building in the convenient Mitte neighbourhood of Berlin, this Soho House branch is more spacious than any other I’ve visited before. Rooms start from 195 euros a night and you will also have access to the rooftop pool, gym, and all the food outlets. I also recommend stopping by ‘The Store x Berlin’ boutique inside the hotel for a brilliant curation of designer clothes, perfumes, jewellery and books.

Berlin food

To Eat Out

Annelies – This neighbourhood café located in the heart of Berlin Kreuzberg and serves a creative all-day breakfast & lunch menu. There is usually a queue at the weekend for good reason, the plates of food are irresistibly tasty and the coffee and fresh juice are great accompaniments. If you only order one thing make it the stack of Buttermilk Pancakes served with granola, maple-berry syrup and cultured cream.

Father Carpenter – This hip brunch spot has tables inside but also offers lovely sheltered courtyard tables in warmer weather. They serve Fjord Coffee and a concise menu of all-day classics like French Toast and the particularly delicious Pulled Pork Benedict.

Kin Dee Berlin – A cosy but minimalist eatery serving inventive Thai food. Chef Dalad Kambhu presents a menu of wonderfully subtle and fragrant dishes, served ‘family style’. Expect unusual curries, vibrant noodle dishes and other lovely modern Thai snacks. “Kin Dee” translates to “Eat Well” and that is definitely something you will do here.

Julius – Julius is the little brother restaurant of renowned fine dining restaurant Ernst (just opposite). The venue is beautifully designed and the service is charming. In the evening a tasting menu is served, immaculate plates of seasonal ingredients. During the day coffee, wine and pastries are on offer for walk-ins.

Restaurant Remi – Run by by Dutch chefs Lode van Zuylen and Stijn Remi, this relaxed venue is the second restaurant from the pair (the first being Lode & Stijn which opened its doors in 2016). The menu is constantly evolving and the dishes are unpretentious and full of flavour.

Nobelhart & Schmutzig – A wild and wacky fine dining restaurant, recognised by both Michelin and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. They have described themselves as ‘vocally local’ and ‘Germany’s most political restaurant’. The restaurant is only open for dinner and photos are completely disallowed inside. You will be completed immersed in the experience thanks to the open kitchen and seating arrangement. A set tasting menu is served and N&S promise to surprise and excite you palate with every plate. I loved my meal here.

Jones Ice-cream Berlin

To Snack

Jones Ice Cream – If the weather is warm (or even if it’s not!) Jones Ice-Cream is unmissable for a chilly sweet treat. This trendy ice-cream emporium sells wonderfully unusual flavours of gelato and handmade cones, all made from scratch in small batches. They also make great cookies,  which sell out fast.

La Maison – A wonderful weekend spot serving high-quality French baked goods and speciality coffee along the peaceful canal of the the Paul-Lincke-Ufe.

Sofi – Located in a restored 19th-century brick factory building, Sofi is hidden away in Berlin’s Mitte district. Sofi Bakery sets out to recover the true flavours of ancient grains through its commitment to low-intervention craft baking. You can see the talented bakers working hard on site and buy a selection of bread varieties, cookies and pastries. It’s the perfect place to start a day in Berlin.

Berlin coffee

To Drink

The Barn – After trying the Barn coffee beans in several of my favourite cafes in the UK I was so excited to try the coffee at their home in Berlin. The Barn was opened in 2010 with the hopes of reestablishing a serious coffee culture in Berlin, and they are still leading the movement. They roast some amazing single origin beans and pour them in wonderfully silky smooth coffees. The industrial style cafe is a lovely airy space to work in and the coffee didn’t disappoint. I’m particularly a fan of their low-caff beans, which I haven’t seen any other roaster do.

Bonanza Coffee – Found in the popular Prenzlauer Berg district, Bonanza should be one of the first places coffee aficionados visit in Berlin. The expansive roastery and cafe is the proud owner of a rare roasting machine and the space smells delicious. Sit outside with a perfect flat white and buy a bag of beans to take the Bonanza experience home with you.

Populus – A family-owned, independent specialty coffee company in a retro cafe in the Neukölln area of Berlin. The owners, Sari and Henrik, come from Finland and care passionately about the supply chain of their beans. The coffee is lovely and it is a quiet place to sit and enjoy a drink.

Buck & Breck – This tiny prohibition style bar is hidden behind a secret door between a police station and Doris Bistro in the rooms of a former shop on Brunnenstrasse. The bar is by Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro and Holger Groll and is featured on the World’s Bar Bars list. The bar only seats 14 round the bar, it is a cosy set-up which encourages guests to chat to eachother and to the bartenders. The small menu consists of historically inspired cocktails.

RSVP shop berlin

To Do

Holocaust Memorial – The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold. It’s a stark arrangement of two thousand, seven hundred and eleven grey concrete slabs, which opened in 2005, a sombre but calm place to wander round.

Berlinische Galerie – The Berlinische Galerie is a museum of modern art, photography and architecture in Kreuzberg, Berlin. It exhibits the story of modern art from 1840 onwards and puts an emphasis on temporary exhibitions by ‘Berlin’s fiendishly productive artists’.

Berlin Wall – There are various places to see some of the remains of the 155 km Berlin Wall. The most famous of Berlin Wall sites, The East Side Gallery is the best-preserved and longest part of the Wall at over 1 km long. It is adorned with colourful murals painted by international artists, which have been there since 1990 – a year after East and West’s borders started to open.

RSVP Berlin – R.S.V.P. supplies fine paper and writing materials from all over the world. Along with a range of notebooks, this beautiful stationery shop has a unique range of pens and pencils, wrapping papers and other desk essentials.

Things to do in Singapore

Singapore is a popular stopover destination but you rarely hear of travellers making a dedicated trip to this busy Asian city. I’ve been keen to visit for a while thanks to the vibrant Hawker stall culture and exciting  emerging fine dining scene. Six days in this hot city was exhilarating, tiring, tasty and thrilling. It is a long way to travel for a short stay so I recommend teaming it up with a beach holiday in Bali or Thailand, but whether you find yourself in Singapore for 24 hours or longer here are a few of my favourite places to satisfy your mind and palate.

Warehouse Hotel

To Stay

The Warehouse Hotel – This slick and stylish hotel is (unsurprisingly) part of the Design Hotels group. Housed in a meticulously restored heritage building in central Singapore, The Warehouse Hotel is found in Robertson Quay. There are 37 rooms, each decorated in a similar minimalist modern style, all ultra comfortable and calm. The hotel also has a great cocktail bar and restaurant, which focusses on Singaporean staple dishes.

Odette Restaurant

To Eat (restaurants)

Odette – Odette is No.35 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is housed in elegant dining room in the National Gallery Singapore. Inspired by chef Julien’s grandmother Odette the restaurant serves modern French cuisine often with a nod to Singaporean flavours and culinary ideas. I experienced the magical, seasonal tasting menu that featured iconic dishes such as the Kampot Pepper Crusted Pigeon with cherry, and the spectacular Rosemary Smoked Egg.

Burnt Ends – This fun restaurant is always fully booked thanks to the atmospheric open kitchen and informal vibe. Meat eaters will rejoice at the menu of irresistible dishes, don’t miss the ‘Beef Marmalade on toast’ and the ‘Berry Tart’ (which you can get at the Burnt Ends Bakery to takeaway next door to the restaurant). Australia-born chef Dave Pynt uses a ferocious open fire to create truly mouth-watering meat, fish and vegetable dishes.

Thevar – Internationally acclaimed Thevar is found in Singapore’s Chinatown district, a modern Indian grill restaurant which was recently awarded a second michelin star. Chef Mano Thevar presents tasting menus of inventive Indian recipes with delicate flair but with powerful flavours.

Forma – I loved Forma, a new eatery in the Joo Chiat district of Singapore. This trattoria style restaurant is by Yumhwa Lee of Ben Fatto, and is being heralded as the best place in town to eat authentic homemade pasta. The interiors are stylish and chic, and guests can watch the pasta being made in the next door pasta studio, where traditional methods are employed. Favourites from the menu included Tortellini in Brodo and Pappardelle e Coda alla Vaccinara.

Birds of Paradise – This super modern gelato boutique creates botanical gelato that is flavoured using real, natural ingredients: fruits, flowers, pods, herbs and spices. Try the delicate and floral signature White Chrysanthemum flavour.

Apiary – A quirky ice-cream shop in Singapore serving a range of intriguing and delicious flavours. All their products are made in the store in their tiny kitchen. The flavours are constantly changing and evolving, I liked the ‘apiary’  – honey ice-cream with cocoa nibs, but I was not a fan of the Blue milk!

Baker’s Bench – This humble cafe and bakery is found on Bukit Pasoh Road in the Chinatown district of Singapore. This neighbourhood bakery makes and sells wonderful handcrafted sourdough bakes, buttery pastries and other tasty baked treats. The Head Baker Joey worked at Apiece Bakery in Tasmania and co-founder Vera lived in the UK for several years, both gaining experience before coming back to Singapore and building their own community.

Singapore Street Food

To Eat (street food)

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles – Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles are a must try from the Singapore hawker scene, and were recommended to me by friends and chefs alike. The tiny stall is found in Crawford Lane and you should expect to queue for these addictively tasty pork noodles. Once you do reach the front of the queue there are several options to choose from, the dry noodles with broth served separately were my favourite, a wonderfully balanced bowl of noodles, tender pork, crispy crackling and sweet salty broth.

Hawker Chan Liao Fan – Chan Hon Meng is a humble hawker stall owner and an award-winning Chef with more than 30 years experience, his signature Soya Sauce Chicken Rice is renowned in Singapore. Chan Liao Fan was the first hawker stall in the world to be awarded a Michelin star!

Lau Pa Sat – This evening Satay street is smoky, busy and very atmospheric. Visit in the evening and join the queue for stall 7, where you can find some of the best satay – we ordered a platter of chicken, mutton and beef skewers. Cheap and full of flavour.

Tian Tian chicken – We visited this lovely stall twice, thanks to the unbeatable fragrant chicken and rice and the charming service. Found in the Maxwell Food Centre, Tian Tian is often voted as the best chicken rice hawker stall in Singapore by local and visiting foodies. This no-fuss stall offers simple and delicious Haiwanese chicken and rice (piping hot fragrant rice, cold poached chicken eaten with spicy chilli sauce, dark soy and minced ginger). A serving costs just a few pounds and we found ourselves going up to buy second servings!

Keng Geng Kee Seafood – This much loved Chinese eatery has been serving irresistible dishes for three generations, Starting life as a small hawker stall in 1970s at Old Havelock Road and now operating as a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating at Alexandra Village. It is a favourite with chefs for good reason, the food is faultless and the atmosphere is convivial. Don’t miss the Coffee Pork Ribs and the Chilli and Black Pepper Crabs.

Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa – It isn’t easy to find the correct ‘Famous Sungei Road trishaw Laksa’, following their success several imitators have popped up. Chef-owner, Daniel Soo, who is now in his sixties, opened Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa 18 years ago, and his recipe is unbeatable in the city. The stall sells out fast so go for an early lunch to sample the beautifully aromatic bowls of steaming laksa, topped with crayfish.

Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee – You will find this brilliant hawker stall in the Hong Lim Market and Food Centre. This dish is made with bee hoon (rice noodles) or yellow-noodles in a laksa-resembling curry broth, topped with ingredients like chunks of chicken, potato and tofu. It is the ultimate addictive comfort food.

Singapore cocktails

To Drink (cocktails)

Atlas Bar – This epic cocktail bar is a marvel to witness – the room is huge in proportion with high ceilings and art deco details. It is worth visiting just to see the amazing space. The grand bar is known particularly for it’s impressive collection of gin, and we opted for two drinks at the barman’s recommendation. There is also the Juniper Society, a membership-based community with monthly gin tastings and other special events.

Jigger and Pony – Jigger and Pony is no.9 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. The bar is named after the double-coned measuring device used by bartenders to accurately pour out spirits and embraces the classic cocktail recipes, pouring them to perfection with a smile. I recommend sitting at the bar so you can be involved in the action. Our favourites from the menu included Yuzu Whiskey Sour (one of their bestsellers) and the Black Pepper Sazarac.

singapore coffee

To Drink (Coffee)

Apartment Coffee – This dedicated speciality coffee shop is located on Lavender Street. The interiors are ultra pared back and the coffee is expertly poured. They also offer a great monthly coffee subscription.

Nylon – This cute coffee bar & roastery focuses on sourcing and roasting some of the best coffees, shipping both locally & worldwide. Tell the team what kind of drink you like and they’ll help you choose from the Nylon menu.

Community Coffee – Community is focussed on on sourcing, roasting, brewing & serving high quality coffees. They have two bars in Chinatown and Orchard and both serve delicious caffeinated drinks.

Dawn – Dawn is a relatively new coffee shop, a hidden cafe near Clarke Quay, with a mix of raw industrial and modern aesthetics serving great coffee and delicious bakes. The service was particularly charming here and they put lots of care and attention into creating lovely food and drinks.

Double Up Coffee – This trendy coffee shop serves up their own roasted beans in a spacious, relaxed space. The menu is concise, divided into “business” (coffee drinks), “pleasure” (non-coffee drinks), and “chow” (rotational pastry). I ordered a flat white and liked the taste of the beans so much that I bought some to take home.

Common Man Coffee – This speciality coffee roaster and cafe is known well throughout Asia for their great coffee. I recommend visiting for brunch paired with your coffee of choice.

Singapore sightseeing

To Do

Gardens by the Bay – One of Asia’s premier horticultural destinations, Gardens by the Bay offers a scenic paradise for nature and photography lovers, with lots of fun activities for the whole family. We loved walking across the Skyway and seeing the view from the above, the Cloud Forest is also very impressive.

Singapore Botanical Gardens – One of the best Botanical Gardens I’ve visited. The site is a 163-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of the Orchard Road shopping district in Singapore. It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through and admire the plants and the wildlife.

Joo Chiat – This residential conservation area is in the eastern part of Singapore, located between Geylang Serai and Marine Parade Road. Discover the Peranakan culture as you stroll past heritage colourful houses, quaint stores and eateries – I particularly recommend checking out Tiger Lily Patisserie and Petit Pain bakery, and Forma restaurant for pasta.

National Museum of Singapore – The National Museum of Singapore is the nation’s oldest museum aiming to inspire with stories of Singapore and the world. Its history dates back to 1849. Known then as the Raffles Library and Museum, the museum moved to its current premises on Stamford Road in 1887. Make sure you also visit the Super Mama shop inside the museum.

Marina Bay Sands – This world famous hotel is worth a visit. Head to the top floor for the ultimate view, visit for a drink if you have time.