The Cinnamon Club

32 Great Smith Street, Westminster
0207 222 2555

Great Smith Street is tucked away in a quiet street not far from Westminster Abbey. If you are on foot, you’ll need to keep your eyes open for it, as there is little to show from the outside that there is a top class restaurant inside. Once you step inside, it feels a bit more like a club than a restaurant. It is housed in the former Westminster Library, high ceilinged and still with books on the shelves around the walls. It’s well worth looking at the pictures on their website, as it is very different.

We were greeted and shown to our table by friendly staff, impeccably turned out. The lunch menu was £24 for 2 courses, £26 for 3. We started with two superb dishes – Tandoori chicken breast with mace and cardamom and a smoked paprika Raita; and Fenugreek scented Tandoori cod with curry leaf and lime crumble. (I didn’t mention that this is one of Vivek Singh’s restaurants and that he is the king of subtle Indian spicing.) Both dishes were absolutely stunning. We continued with a pan-fried duck breast with coconut vinegar sauce and pilau rice; and green spiced plaice fillet with Maharashtrian koshimbir salad and curried yoghurt. These were very good, though maybe not quite as wonderful as the first course.

Desserts in Indian restaurants are usually pretty awful, but our two desserts here were excellent. A mango and passion fruit cheesecake with mango sorbet, oats and honey crumble; and a White chocolate and pink peppercorn cake with thandai lemon sorbet.

It was a superb meal.




Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ
Tel: 0117 9339530

Lido is an unusual restaurant in that it surrounds a large outdoor swimming pool. So while you are eating you can watch people thundering (or wallowing!) up and down the pool. It is bright and airy and the food is delicious. We went there for a wine tasting with dinner. This is what we ate, lots of small dishes tapas-style.

Wood-roasted scallops in the shell with melted butter and fresh dill
Tempura Oysters with hot chilli relish
Cecina Spanish air-dried smoked beef
Roasted salmon steaks on a bed of mixed fresh herbs and leaves
Cold rare roast lamb with a sweet potato ratatouille
Selection of homemade ice creams – Chocolate, Strawberry, Passion fruit, salted caramel, boozy rum and raisin, coffee

Good coffee. Friendly, helpful, efficient service. Thoroughly recommend it.

The Canal Turn

Lancaster Road, Carnforth LA5 9EA 01524 720546

If you are going up the M6 at the right time of day, take the exit to Morecambe Bay and the A6 following signs to Carnforth. Look for a sign on the left, and a side road up to the car park. I came upon this lovely pub quite by chance, and didn’t even know it was on the Lancaster canal.

The pub is right by the water, with a small terrace and a dozen tables outside, one of which I was lucky to bag in full sunshine. As the name implies, it is on a broad bend of the canal with narrow boats moored, and quite a few going back and forth.

The pub has recently been entirely refurbished, with plenty of tables inside, and has quite an extensive menu (see their website): I saw others eating beautifully presented fish and chips and platters of cured meats. Service was very slow, so I went to the bar to order the Morecambe Bay shrimp that I had been looking for: they were on the menu, both hot and cold, and were delicious. But when you are sitting in the sun watching boats go by, slow service seems less important! So much better than a motorway service station!

Food is not served on Mondays, but from 12 until 4 Tuesday to Saturday light lunches are served, with things like sandwiches, platters, jacket potatoes and light bites.

Confited Pheasant Thighs

Not only is this quite delicious, but it is a really easy recipe and the end result is some of the most tender and tasty pheasant you’ve ever eaten. By using just the thighs, one avoids all the sinews which are in the lower part of the legs.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 packs of Pheasant Thighs (16 thighs);
  • 2 tins Duck or Goose fat
  • Coarse Salt,
  • Fresh or dried Thyme.


  • Place the Pheasant thighs in a dish, covering liberally with salt and thyme. You can put them in layers if need be.
  • Cover with cling film and leave overnight or for at least 7 or 8 hours.
  • Shake off the loose salt and thyme before placing in an oven dish.
  • Cover with the duck or goose fat.
  • Cook on a very low heat for 2 to 3 hours, turning once or twice to make sure the joints are covered in fat at all times.
  • Remove from the fat and dry on kitchen paper.
  • Serve on a mixed salad of soft leaves with some crusty bread

Marinated Pheasant breasts on a bed of vegetables, with brandy and cream

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 4 Pheasant Breasts;
  • 100g diced streaky bacon;
  • 1 medium onion diced fine;
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped;
  • 1 medium carrot sliced thinly;
  • 2 small leeks chopped;
  • 2 crushed cloves garlic;
  • 50g sliced mushrooms;
  • 1 glass brandy;
  • freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste
  • ½ pint double cream.

For the Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon runny honey;
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil;
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme.


  • Marinate the pheasant breasts for an hour in the above marinade, turning at half time. This will make them moist and tender.
  • Fry the bacon, onion, celery, carrot and garlic in an ovenproof casserole with a lid, until the vegetables are translucent but not brown.
  • Fry the mushrooms in a little butter for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add to the casserole.
  • Using the same frying pan, flash fry the pheasant breasts (which you have removed from the marinade, dried and dusted in flour) in a couple of tablespoons of good Olive oil, until just turning golden. Put them in the casserole on top of the vegetables.
  • Cover and cook in a medium oven for 25 minutes, adding the brandy 10 minutes before the end and the cream 5 minutes before serving. You can omit the cream if you wish, it does make the dish wonderfully rich!

Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons

Near Oxford

A few weeks ago we spoilt ourselves and visited Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel and restaurant near Oxford. One does have to be prepared for quite a high bill here, but it is a very special place and we thought worth every penny (pound?!). Sadly it was pouring with rain from start to finish, so we were unable to visit the renowned 27 acres of garden. Another time? No sooner had we arrived in the car park than a friendly member of staff arrived with umbrellas. Once in the hotel, we felt immediately at ease and not at all “threatened” as can happen in some Michelin starred establishments. We were shown into the comfortable bar area and sank into a deep, very comfortable sofa in front of a flickering fire. We perused the menu whilst sipping our drinks and eating canapés. Unlike most people who eat there, we decided against the Tasting menus – they just didn’t appeal to us, whereas several things on the main menu did! Maybe a quarter of an hour after we had chosen, we were shown to a table in the conservatory dining-room. It is a high-roofed room with the tables nicely apart from each other so you couldn’t hear or be heard by your neighbour. Immaculately set tables with great flower decorations everywhere in the room.

As a mise en bouche we were given a shot of cauliflower soup, slightly curried, with a strip of poppadum and a seared scallop with a smear of curried sauce. All very delicate and appetising. Home-baked bread rolls accompanied the meal and were outstandingly good. My mashed potato and beer roll was amazing and I had two!

For starters we chose a fresh crab salad with grapefruit, mango and red pepper and seared langoustines on a confited leek, with pink pickled onions and truffle shavings. Both were well presented and delicious.

Main courses were, for Ethne, slices of monkfish, with poached mussels and a divine lemony, herby, buttery Gewurztraminer sauce. This was definitely the dish of the meal and the sauce was out of this world. I had roasted veal kidneys with wild garlic, lovage and a red wine jus. I felt there should have been a bit more of the jus as calves kidneys are a bit “dense”. This is a comment and not a criticism.

For desserts we had a very fine apple tart with honey and ginger ice-cream. This was stunning! And, as they called it, “our millionaire shortbread” which was a thing of great beauty and amazing taste. Soft toffee with layers of bitter chocolate on a crumbly shortbread with salted butter ice-cream.

Service was impeccable throughout and our main two waiters were Florence and Jean-Baptiste who were thoroughly charming, relaxed and friendly.

It was a great experience and we didn’t begrudge the bill one bit.

A couple of points of interest when considering the price. They have 210 staff there and 42 people in their kitchens! So it’s hardly surprising they have to charge a lot.

The Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, Church Rd, Great Milton, Oxford OX44 7PD
Tel: 01844 278881

The King John Inn, Tollard Royal

Opened seven years ago already, the King John Inn in picturesque Tollard Royal is well worth a detour. Open for food 7 days a week, the pub still offers a fine selection of draft beers for the beer drinkers amongst you. The decor is a mixture of modern and traditional, with a stunning new pale oak bar and a quarry tile floor of reclaimed red tiles. Lovely selection of framed country photographs on the walls. Mixed scrubbed oak tables. Immaculate loos. It all works really well and has been done with excellent taste.

We arrived just after noon and were the first there. A relaxed but good welcome set the tone and we were shown to a nice table by the crackling open log fire.

The menu when we visited for lunch was quite small but full of interest. Hot out of the oven bread (The King John Bloomer) was crusty and delicious. For starters we chose Moules Marinières; and lightly dressed Portland crab on sourdough toast. Mains were a pigeon breast salad with crispy bacon and croutons; and pan-fried Gurnard with crushed potatoes and curly kale. There was a good selection of puds from which we shared a chocolate and orange fondant. The food was all well prepared and nicely presented, without being too “fussy”.

Service by our friendly waitress Bronte, was very good and well informed.

A three course meal will set you back £30 to £35, excluding drinks.
Tel: 01725 516207
The King John Inn, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire SP5 5PS


Wild Mushroom and Parma Ham Lasagne

This has to be one of the most delicious pasta dishes, made using four classic Italian ingredients: Pasta, Parma Ham, dried wild mushrooms and Parmesan Reggiano. You can eat this either as a starter or as a main course. It is very rich, so if you use it as a starter, you only need a smallish ramekin per person.

Ingredients for 8 as a starter or 4 as a main course.

  • 8 sheets of Lasagne Pasta
  • 60 grams plain flour;
  • 150 grams butter
  • 1 litre milk
  • 450 grams fresh or dried wild mushrooms
  • 150 grams freshly grated Parmesan
  • 200 grams Parma Ham, sliced into juliennes
  • a good handful of freshly chopped Parsley
  • Truffle oil
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 F/220C/Gas 7
  2. Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan.
  3. Add the flour and blend, stirring all the time. Cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, still stirring. Remove from the heat.
  4. Bring the milk to near boiling. Place the butter and flour mixture back on a very gentle heat and add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. This will only take a couple of minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
  6. If you are using fresh wild mushrooms, slice them into chunks and fry gently in olive oil. If you are using dried, soak them well in cold water, drain them and add to the béchamel.
  7. Cut the Parma Ham into juliennes and add them too.
  8. Sprinkle in the chopped Parsley and season with salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt as the Parma Ham and the Parmesan both have a certain amount of salt in them.
  9. Bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat. Butter your dish or dishes, depending on whether you are using 8 ramekins or one dish.
  10. Place a layer of soaked (or “no pre-soak”) pasta on the bottom, cover with the mixture and generously sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat this until your dish is full.
  11. Place a knob of butter on top of a ramekin dish or several knobs on top of a single dish.
  12. Place in oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
  13. Just before bringing it to the table, you can drizzle a little Truffle oil over the top for an extra subtle and delicious flavour.

My mouth is watering at the thought!

Michel Roux’s Cheese Straws


  • 400g puff pastry
  • egg wash, (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)
  • 80g emmenthal or parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper


  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 28 x 12cm rectangle, about 2mm thick.
  • Roll it loosely over the rolling pin and unroll it onto the prepared baking tray.
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
  • Brush the entire surface of the pastry with eggwash and sprinkle over the grated cheese evenly.
  • Mix the paprika and cayenne together and dust it over the surface.
  • Use a cook’s knife to trim the edges of the pastry, then halve it lengthways to make 2 bands, each measuring 14 x 12cm.
  • Cut each piece into 1cm wide strips, making 24 straws in all.
  • Lift each cheese straw with a palette knife, hold both ends and twist them 6 times in opposite directions to make a spiral.
  • Put the straws on a baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack carefully.
  • Leave to cool slightly.
  • Arrange the cheese straws in a tall goblet or on a plate and serve, preferably while still warm.