I’ve been on a bit of a roll with hotel reviews of late; my latest London stay, snazzy-boutique CitizenM Tower Bridge is perhaps the most exciting out of all of them. With it’s supposed free-flowing interiors, cool and contemporary style, lively art, efficiency, kitsch style and ultra-practicality, it sounded like it was right up my street – y’know, as the modern suburban man that I am…
And here we go! We’re kicking off on our two year European adventure with the easiest way Mrs P and I could think of to start this exciting/terrifying two year exploration into the mountainous highs and cavernous lows of Europe. We just jumped into the car and drove North to see what happened.
Good Lord, what a year it’s been! A year later, a year older and we have learned a huge amount about blogging, eating and having amazing friends. We’ve written about so many different things that looking back on the 90 odd posts we’ve shared with you it’s too hard to mention them all so we thought we would give you another chance to check out a couple of our favourites that you might have missed the first time.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris House a couple of times and for those of you who have also managed to find the time, and lets be honest the cash, to eat here you will know that it’s quite a special experience. The house is sat in the picture perfect grounds of Woburn Abbey with deer frolicking this way and that and who doesn’t love a good frolic every now and then? So when Phil Fanning (Chef Patron of PH) invited TwoMenAboutTown down to take a look at the newly refurbished décor and the re-imagined Spring menu, I bought a suit and asked only two questions: when and can I get covered in mandarin custard? Lucky for me, the answer was yes to both.
I am a huge advocate of the Sonos Play:1, so much so that I convinced Rob to take the plunge; he now has enough Sonos speakers in his house to effectively host a Guns N Roses reunion tour (you may have seen his early review of the Sonos). Why am I sharing this? Because we love audio products here at Two Men About Town, particularly those that really gets away superior sound and strong beats to maximise great music*.
On the hunt for something portable and shower-proof, following a failed attempt with two cheap no-name bluetooth speakers that didn’t quite cut the mustard, I decided to take the plunge and ordered up the UE Boom 2. But how would it work out?
Only a couple of posts back we reviewed The Grand Hotel in Brighton, a highly acclaimed property of times gone by with a luxurious and romantic reputation spanning decades – over a century, in fact; sadly, what we found didn’t quite hit the mark.
It was with much anticipation therefore that I booked a night at The Grosvenor Hotel in central London, another much romanticised Victorian-era property, oozing French Renaissance flair. Would The Grosvenor live up to it’s reputation, or would it fall disappointingly short?
I’ll admit that talking about coffee is not the most normal way to start a post about tea. However, I’ve never been called normal in my life and I’ve got no intention of starting now, so grab a seat and let’s have a chat over a cuppa. You know when you go into a coffee shop and order ‘a latte please, with half-whole milk, split quad shots, a shot of decaf, no foam and a squeeze of caramel’? Then they look at you and say: ‘Sure, no problem.’
I think you know that secretly, deep down, underneath that Middle Class, almond juice infused, lentil pasta covered exterior you know that’s a bit weird. Yeah, I thought so. There isn’t a single other drink that people contaminate on such a regular basis in such odd and complicated ways. I mean you wouldn’t do that to a cup of tea would you? I would never pollute a lovely cup of tea with something so abnormal or strange as soya milk, for example. Why is it even called milk for goodness sake? It’s never seen a cow in it’s unnaturally long shelf life. No, that’s not for me, not a chance. No way.
…Or so I thought.
Not too long ago I saw a whole family sitting in a restaurant checking their phones over dinner. That’s both parents, plus all 3 kids, staring at their own little glowing glass screens for over 30 minutes solid. Now, I’m not here to judge them – I have no idea of their personal circumstance, perhaps these moments of quiet reflection spent enjoying the never-ending torrent of self-esteem destroying news feeds and twitters streams are a welcome relief from all the chat chat chat they do at home. But I suspect not. Imagine my amazement then when I came across their perfect restaurant, the one place that contained everything they needed. That’s right, a restaurant with computerised interactive tables complete with ‘fun’ activities and games so nobody has to speak to anyone else ever again! I couldn’t wait to see what I had been missing. Would this fulfil my every edible and social need rolled into one not-quite-affordable package?
SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t. At all.
I’ve been very excited recently about Buckingham’s recent welcome onto my local eating consciousness with Nelson Street leaping to the heady heights of my ‘Places Rob tells people to go for a posh dinner out without spending enough money to make a Russian oil oligarch cry’, and that’s a very popular list let me tell you. But, that’s not where the fun ends, oh no. Because Nelson Street is only one half of Louis and Tom’s most excellent plan to haul Buckingham up by it’s blue rinsed, Daily Mail veined trouser braces. They have also decided that we need a new smoke house. And do you know what? They’re right.
The Grand is a highly luxurious property that I was hugely excited about staying in, up against personal 5* experiences at the Fairmont Dubai, Kempinski Budapest, Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, not to mention most-excellent stays at The Beach at Bude boutique hotel and the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort in Mexico. However, The Grand is perhaps the most iconic and well known amongst it’s more modern aforementioned contemporaries, romanticised as a hallmark for service and Victorian-era suave sophistication and charm.
I was keen to see whether The Grand would live up to it’s reputation, looking to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brighton from a plush and comfortable stay along the seafront.
2Whether we like it or not, Brexit is coming. Soon no-one will be able to tell us how curly our bananas need to be or what protection we need to give to the most vulnerable in our society, we can make those mistakes all on our own: Lucky us. Here at TwoMenAboutTown we’ve always liked Country Clubs so the thought of leaving one makes us a little bit sad, even if the membership was getting a touch too expensive. Therefore, before the possible glory or potential horror that awaits us arrives once the principle of freedom of movement is removed, we thought we would say goodbye to our European Cousins in our own special way; as it is already well known, the boys have criss-crossed the globe from Canada to Dubai and are not afraid of a bit of long haul travel, so RobsRibs has only gone and decided to visit all 28 EU member states* to give them a damn good cheerio before the fateful day itself as only he knows how.
From waffles and crépes, to chocolate fudge cake, crème brûlée, icecreams and milkshakes, there’s something really comforting about a good dessert.
The thing is, with the exception of a few places we’ve reviewed on TwoMenAboutTown, a large chunk of the restaurant trade of both chain and independent variety source sweets ready-made from suppliers, charging a silly amount for the fuss of sticking a refrigerated pre-made brownie on a plate with a scoop of icecream. Desserts are an art form that kitchens struggle to cope with or find time for, instead opting to focus on their appetisers and main menus, often far too big for their own good.
My blogger-in-crime RobsRibs has said many times that Milton Keynes is in dire need of a good pudding restaurant – even proclaiming to one day open one himself – something to take on the pre-made and homogenised dessert menu world, or at least that seen in Milton Keynes. With this in mind then, would Kaspa’s hold a torch to the big man’s vision and fill a sweet-void, or would it fall by the wayside? Independently, both Rob and I headed down within the last week under the radar to check out what Kaspa’s Desserts is all about.