The Garden Cafe, Lambeth

I’m not sure I have ever written about a restaurant in Lambeth before, perhaps because I’m not sure how many great restaurants there are in this quiet leafy area of London. The Garden Cafe is changing all that, and has become quite the culinary destination for weekday lunches.

The Garden Cafe

The Garden Museum first opened in 1977, and is still the only museum dedicated to the history of important gardens in the country. The venue reopened in summer 2017 after an extensive makeover from Dow Jones Architects and is a shiny and extended version of the former building.

The new restaurant is the largest addition, a light-flooded room with a smart polished concrete floor and simple white tables. Signs of its previous life as a graveyard still remain on the floor, the historic gravestones make for interesting lunchtime reading!

The Garden Cafe

When I visited last week the bright dining room was full of friends, families and museum-goers, a lovely mix of clientele who had all clearly got the memo about the great food on offer here. Service is smiley and unfussy, and the menu is short but appetising.

We chose a selection of small and large plates from the list. It was clear that the kitchen team here want to champion a few key ingredients in each dish rather than over-complicating things.

The Garden CafeThe Garden CafeThe Garden Cafe

Highlights from our lunch included the Venison ragu and pappardelle, a comforting meat sauce with a wonderful depth of flavour, generously coating thick homemade strands of pasta, and with a dusting of salty parmesan. The Pollock with peas and pancetta was also a joy, the freshest fish served with the sweetest new season peas and indulgent chunks of crispy pancetta. These delicious ingredients were sitting in a puddle of light but buttery sauce… irresistible.

Of the smaller dishes Purple sprouting broccoli, crème fraîche and pangratata was my favourite. The broccoli still had a little bite, topped with a dollop of refreshing crème fraîche and crunchy breadcrumbs.

The Garden Cafe

Thanks to the Easter festivities we were treated to a very special Hot Cross bun & butter pudding – pillowy soft, moist sweet bun spiked with juicy raisons and served with cream. The Rhubarb and brown butter tart was also scrumptious, a delicate pastry with an oozing pink butter filling.

The Garden Cafe is a great new dining destination in Lambeth. If you don’t have time for a full meal, I highly recommend just stopping by for a slice of cake and cup of tea, a delicious treat whether or not you wander round the beautiful museum.

More information and book a table at The Garden Cafe here.

Things to do in Montenegro

Eastern Europe is not an area I know well, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit Montenegro, a small country that only gained independence in 2006. This beautiful Balkan country is characterised by its rugged mountains, medieval villages and calm coastline. The locals are very friendly and keen to introduce tourists to their laid-back way of life, something I was more than happy to indulge in for a few days away from London life.

Regent Porto Montenegro

To Stay

Regent Porto Montenegro – This luxurious five-star hotel is the jewel in the crown of the new Porto Montenegro development. The Venetian inspired bedrooms are spacious and stylish, and the restaurants provide guests and visitors with refined Mediterranean cuisine.

Regent Porto Montenegro

To Eat & Drink

Villa Milocer – Villa Milocer was once the summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic but now belongs to the Aman Hotel group. Visit for an immaculate meal at the stylish restaurant, the menu offers an array of dishes made from the finest seasonal ingredients.

Konoba Ćatovića Mlini – This renowned family-run tavern is famed for its delicious fresh seafood dishes. The humble konoba (restaurant) was a former mill and now has a reputation as one of Montenegro’s best restaurants. The tavern is found in the small village of Morinj, tucked away down some unlikely and quiet dusty lanes. Opt for a comforting plate of seafood risotto and a glass of local wine.

O’Clock Coffee – Tucked away in the backstreets of Kotor old town, O’Clock Coffee is a lovely place to rest your feet and enjoy a well made and tasty cup of coffee.

Restaurant One – A glamorous restaurant in the Porto Montenegro development, One is an upmarket brasserie offering a modern Adriatic menu with a range of international favourites. Order the vibrantly flavoured Sicilian style marinated octopus and a side of caponata.

Zrno Cafe – Podgorica is the capital of Montenegro, but I wouldn’t recommend spending much time in the city. However there is one cafe worth the attention of caffeine-lovers. Zrno is the first cafe in Montenegro to offer speciality coffee, smooth and rich – head here for a (much needed) decent flat white.

Regent Porto Montenegro

To Do

Kotor – This historic harbour town was made a Unesco World Heritage in 1979, and is perhaps the most popular place for tourists to visit in Montenegro. The well preserved city walls were built between the 9th and 18th centuries and lead up to a hill-top fort, a tiring but satisfying climb with panoramic views of the city down below.

Sveti Stefan – This charming 15th century fortified fishing village has now been transformed into an elegant Aman Hotel. Tourists can visit for a 45 minute tour of the island, costing 10 euros (per person). The tour offers an insight into the history of the island, beautiful sea views and an atmospheric walk around the cobbled lanes.

Regent Porto Montenegro

Ostrog Monastery – The Monastery of Ostrog is a Serbian Orthodox Church found in a spectacular location, 851m above the sea level cut into the rock of Ostroška Greda. It is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog who was buried here. Admire the beautiful mosaics and magnificent views of the Bjelopavlići plain. Be prepared for a steep and scary vertical drive up.

Skadar Lake – Found on the border of Albania and Montenegro, the spectacular Skadar is the largest lake in Southern Europe. It is named after the city of Shkodër in northern Albania and is a karst lake (formed as the result of a collapse of subterranean caves).

Perast – The tiny and picturesque town of Perast is found a few kilometres northwest of Kotor, closeby to the islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Despite its size it is home to 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palazzos and is an atmospheric place to wander round and stop for lunch.

Regent Porto Montenegro

Montenegro is an up and coming Adriatic destination, with beautiful landscapes and a relaxed way of life. We spent a couple of days last week staying in the sparkly new Porto Montenegro. It was once the main base for the Austro-Hungarian navy and is now a luxurious district home to super-yachts, designer shops, iconic infinity pools and the beautiful Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel.

Regent Porto Montenegro

The hotel opened in 2014, a five star place to stay nearby to the Unesco World Heritage old town of Kotor and close by to many stunning beaches. In peak season planes fly in daily from London to Tivat, just a 10 minute drive from the port.

Regent Porto MontenegroRegent Porto Montenegro

The hotel has a nautical feel which fits with the style of the surrounding marina, and there is a touch of Venice charm, a hint at the area’s 400 years under Venetian rule. There are 149 rooms and suites, spread over 2 wings, with many more to come. All the bedrooms (and private residences) are designed by esteemed Parisian designer Tino Zervudachi.

Our Junior Suite was incredibly spacious and flooded with natural light. The bedroom was decorated in shades of regal blue and beige, colours of the sea and sand. The bed was blissfully big and comfortable, and thanks to the silence, we slept very well. There was also a lovely living space, which was perfect for afternoon moments of calm with a coffee in between sightseeing.

Regent Porto Montenegro

Bathrooms feature Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, which is also used in the indulgent spa. These products are very good quality – leaving my hair feeling well looked after despite spending time away from home and my usual routine. I also loved our big bathtub, complete with soothing bath salts and loofah mitt, I tried to get as much use out of it as possible.

Regent Porto MontenegroRegent Porto Montenegro

The hotel have lots of food options within the hotel, which welcome outside visitors as well as hotel guests. We dined at the casual Gourmet Cafe (as the main dining room was closed for refurbishment) and tasted a range of chef Zejjko Knezovic’s culinary creations. Knezovic previously spent time in the kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen and brings this expertise to all the restaurant outlets at Regent Porto.

We tried to sample as many Montenegrin delicacies as possible, from the beautiful velvety steak to the refreshing and refined wines made in the country. During our lunch at the hotel we also tried delicious homemade pasta and exemplary desserts.

If you wish to go out for dinner there are a variety of great eateries in the Port, I can particularly recommend Restaurant One for hearty comfort food and a relaxed atmosphere.

Regent Porto Montenegro

Each night a small thoughtful gift was left by our bedside, Revitalising face oil by Aromatherapy Associates and a mini local bottle of Brandy.

If you feel like having a slow lazy morning, order from the extensive breakfast menu for a special breakfast in the room for the next morning. This arrived smelling wonderful, an array of fresh tropical fruits, perfectly flaky pastries and delectable hot a la carte dishes.

Regent Porto Montenegro

I am always wary of new developments but Porto Montenegro has been designed and built sensitively and elegantly with the Montenegrin way of life in mind. When we visited the weather wasn’t being kind, but it didn’t matter as I was very happy to stay indoors enjoying all that the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel has to offer.

More information and book a stay at the Regent Porto Montenegro here.