L’Oiseau Blanc, Peninsula Paris

The palatial Peninsula Paris has recently undergone a £600 million renovation and it is looking more majestic than ever. The original 19th Haussmann details have been kept beautifully in tact while stunning additions like the lobby’s cascading glass installation add a touch of modern sophistication.

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I visited a few weeks ago to try out the celebrated rooftop restaurant which arguably, boasts the best views of the city. L’Oiseau Blanc is an aviation themed eatery, which pays homage to the flight Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli attempted across the Atlantic in 1927. Look out for the full scale replica of fated plane on the Peninsula Paris roof (the journey was sadly unsuccessful).

Peninsula Paris

For a food photographer the light on a summer’s night up at L’Oiseau Blanc could not be more perfect. While the restaurant was empty I relished the opportunity to snap away from every angle. It felt very special to be toasting our glasses of champagne in sight of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

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The service was immaculate from start to finish, smart waiters attended to every detail of the meal, ensuring we always had enough water and there were no crumbs on the table! Delightful little mouthfuls arrived with the freshly baked bread to whet our appetite for the meal ahead.

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Chef Sidney Redel selects seasonal ingredients to create a fresh and exciting menu each day though there are a few favourites that appear frequently. To start we picked Chicken Ravioli and white cuttlefish and the vegetarian salad. For a warm evening there were the perfect choices, light and subtle recipes but with plenty of flavour. The single ravioli was concealed within a neat pile of radishes, cherry tomatoes, Rainier cherries and sauteed chanterelle mushrooms, adding sweetness and seasoning to the delicate pasta. My salad tasted very Provencal with fine green beans and a delicious dressing.

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Main courses were rather more robust, impressive, fine cuts of meat and fish paired with creative accompaniments. The John Dory was cooked to perfection though slightly overpowered by the strong scarmorza cheese and Lardo di Colonnata, and I felt the black olive tapenade wasn’t necessary. Duck from Paul Renault roasted with nutmeg was a hit, indulgently caramelised meat on a bed of Sicilian aubergine caviar and oyster mushrooms. Wine was offered to us, carefully chosen by the sommelier to match the food choices.

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For dessert we took our waiters advice and ordered the kitchen speciality, ‘L’Envol’, a magical sphere of dark chocolate filled with chocolate biscuit and custard, sorbet and fresh raspberries and hazelnut streusel. It was a masterpiece, rich and decadent with a good balance of chocolate and fruit. We also sampled the meringue with coconut, raspberry and black cherry. It was a pleasant pudding though the red fruits element made it quite similar to the first dessert.

L’Oiseau Blanc is an occasion restaurant, with fine food, exemplary service and postcard views, it will make you feel special from the moment you step out of the lift.

More information and book a table at L’Oiseau Blanc here.

Notch Rooftop Brunch, Marble Arch

In the warmer months I often get asked, ‘where is the best rooftop bar in London?’ As a Peckham resident, Franks is my go to venue, but many Londoners want something more central to satisfy their summer drinking needs. Notch is located at the top of Marriott Park Lane hotel, next door to Marble Arch tube station, though the entrance is less glamorous than you might imagine.

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With swings, salvaged vintage tables and canned cocktails, Notch has already become an Instagram addicts haven. I visited to try the brunch favourites: Nikkei inspired food by chef Mark Morrans and strong cocktails.

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I tried the #CannedClassics Adonis (Cinzano Rosso, sherry and bitters) priced £8 a can. It is a fun concept that just needs a glass of ice and slice of lemon to add a refreshing twist to the drink. The homemade nachos were topped with avocado, red onion, bacon, spicy salsa and a gooey poached egg… an exciting and unusual brunch dish.

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#NotchLDN is open 7 days a week from 10am until 10pm, come rain or shine. No reservations.

More information on Notch here.

Bombay Sapphire Rooftop Retreat, Harvey Nichols

I used to envy those sophisticated fellow travellers who would breezily order a g&t while I always stuck to white wine or a Diet Coke! Despite trying the drink regularly I found the taste too bitter, until my friend carefully made me a gin drink with a twist of lime that I couldn’t resist. Ever since that night I’ve known that the exact proportions of a gin and tonic are crucial if you want to make a drink that is tasty and refreshing.

And so when a Bombay Sapphire invite pinged into my inbox, I responded instantly with a resounding YES. Eight of us met on a chilly terrace of the London landmark, Harvey Nichols, for an evening of cocktail making with Bombay Sapphire Brand Ambassador Renaud de Bosredon, a charming man who has almost definitely been sipping the perfect g&t since childhood.

Around a table we were taught the basics: one part gin, two part tonic and as much ice as you can fit in the glass. Then we had the chance to try the method for ourselves. It was delicious, especially with a squeeze of lime, but I wondered if the great taste was just thanks to the premium brand of Bombay Sapphire and its vapour infused 10 exotic botanicals, rather than my limited cocktail making talents! Renaud encouraged us to be creative with our drinks and we were sent off into the wonder emporium that is the Harvey Nichols Food Hall, with a £20 voucher each to spend on imaginative ingredients. There were plenty of magical products, but I decided on rhubarb bitters to add a fruity flavour and pink candy floss for decoration. It was a strange but tasty combination, and great fun to learn about how to combine flavours into a classic g&t.

Open from 13th April – 11th July, The Bombay Sapphire Rooftop Retreat offers an oasis in the middle of London for guests to experience the exquisite taste of Bombay Sapphire and discover their perfect gin & tonic. With a menu featuring a range of unusual ingredients inspired by the artful creation of Bombay Sapphire and its vapour infused 10 exotic botanicals, guests can create their own bespoke gin & tonic to suit their taste.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the start of Spring.

More information on the Rooftop Retreat and Bombay Sapphire gi masterclasses here.