The Scandis Are In Town! Restaurant Review - Aquavit London

Nordic nosh has been cropping up across London ever since Noma landed on our shores and made Scandinavian food so popular.

New to London and open as of yesterday (!) Aquavit London offers an array of Nordic cuisine cooked in the traditional fashion, from fresh fish dishes to Smorgasbord, and is a must visit during the festive period!

You may be familiar with the Aquavit name - they are well known for their 2 michelin star New York flagship restaurant that offers a culinary experience of tasting menus and fine dining.  Aquavit London carries through the tradition with a more relaxed A La Carte Menu and some amazing cocktails.

A stones throw  from Piccadilly Circus in the redeveloped St James' Market, the first thing you'll notice is the beautiful high windows and ceilings.  The light fittings in particular are quite mesmeric and captivating.

There is oodles of natural light too, which combined with the marble tables and gold detailing makes Aquavit a bloggers dream with countless photo opportunities! It's fair to say that my memory card was crammed full after my visit and its worth a trip if just for a few great cocktails and to take in the stunning decor.

The All Day A La Carte menu encompasses authentic Nordic cuisine with some modern twists, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients.  To start with we channelled our inner Viking and went for the traditional Nordic classics, a Smorgasbord of tasty appetisers.  Smorgasbord for those not familiar with the term is a range of delicacies served in a tapas style format and is the best way forward for those wanting the authentic experience.

This included an array of pickled vegetables and potted shrimp accompanied by the most moreish home made rye bread.  My recent commitment to go slow on my gluten intake went completely out the window (!)

One of the highlights for me was the gravlax with mustard and dill sauce, a simple and healthy dish, but cured to perfection.  It amazes me how hard it can be to find good fish in London and the ingredients at Aquavit are of the freshest variety, the salmon was melt in the mouth.

A dish that I was pleasantly surprised by was the very traditional Matje Herring, potato, sour cream and egg yolk.  The flavours combined well together and it's always nice to try something slightly different and unusual.  

For the main event we were given the options of Swedish meatballs, cod with shrimps or Kroppakor (a potato dumpling served with mushrooms and lingonberries).  The general consensus at the table seemed to be the true Swedish classic of meatballs, so I thought I would stump for the cod with shrimps, confident I could persuade someone to let me try a meatball or two (!)

I am a big fan of fish and the cod was certainly no let down.  It was cooked perfectly and fell apart on my plate; truly some of the nicest cod I have ever tasted.  Served with shrimp, pickled cucumber and dill, it was fresh and really hit the spot.

I was successful in my hunt for a meatball or two and can vouch that they were no exception to the level of food of the evening! Meatballs may sound like a simple dish but if we've all tried the IKEA meatballs we know that they can be massacred.  This dish was another triumph and was complimented well by the creamed mash and sharpness of the lingonberries.  

I think sharing the two mains with a partner is potentially the best way to go and a great way to experience different flavours and textures.

For the finishing touch we had the option of 3 incredible sounding desserts and it was a tough decision.  The options included Arctic Bird's Nest, apple crumble or rosehip soup. The waitress sadly rebuffed my request of all 3 and so I decided on the Chef's special, Arctic Bird's Nest.

This was undoubtedly the 'piece de resitance' and unlike any dessert I have tried before.  A combination of a pastry 'nest' with a goat's cheese ice cream egg and lemon yolk.  A masterpiece of construction and incredibly photogenic! I almost didn't want to attack the 'egg' but needs must...

The apple crumble was a Nordic take on what is a very classic British dessert.  Served with charcoal vanilla ice cream, it was just delicious and a dish that left me wanting more and more.

Whether you are in town for a romantic dinner or in the area for lunch with friends, Aquavit is a great option to try something a bit different and experience some amazing textures and flavours.  Having opened yesterday, it's the perfect time to head on down before the bookings no doubt start flooding in!

Have you guys tried much Nordic cuisine before?

Are there any other Nordic restaurants in London you would recommend?


5 Of The Best Gifts for 'Him & Her' This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and it's certainly starting to feel a lot more festive here in London.  Time to beat the crowds and take advantage of the deals on offer on today of all days - Black Friday.

I thought I’d do something a little different to kick start my gift guides this year, with a ‘Gift Guide for Him & Her’. 

I’ll be sharing my top tips on the perfect gifts for couples this Christmas, whether it be the perfect gift for the hard to buy for boyfriend or something a little different for your girlfriend.  Better still, why not buy both; because who doesn't love matching gifts and we should all treat ourselves too at Christmas right?

Here are my top 5 best 'His & Hers' gifts this Christmas:

1. Smart Technology

For me the best gifts are well designed, beautifully crafted and offer something unique. Most importantly, the best gifts are useful. They're the type of products which the recipient already owns, but you're gifting them the upgraded version - the luxe edition that they wouldn't necessarily fork out on for themselves.

For this reason I’ve chosen the Oral-B GENIUS 9000 Electric Toothbrush as the first gift on my list. It combines smart technology and sleek design to create a cool new gadget.

The GENIUS 9000 comes in limited Rose Gold (perfect for her, or him…), the brush also comes in a stylish Black, making them the perfect gift for the stylish man or woman in your life.

What makes this gift extra special, is that it’s not a simple electric toothbrush it comes with a few pretty cool gadgets…

The Innovative Smart Travel Case – This toothbrush comes with a fantastic case, which not only charges your brush, you can also use it to charge your smartphone! Making it a must have essential from Him or Her.

App Integration - The stand out feature for me is the pressure technology that notifies you if you are over brushing; something we are all guilty of.  Motion sensor tech within the brush is also able to detect areas of your pearly whites you might be missing, via an app connection, to ensure you get the perfect clean with no areas missed.

3DWhitening brush head –  To top it off this brush comes with a unique whitening brush head which mimics the shape of a dentist's tool to gently polish away surface stains. Pair it with the Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection Toothpaste, for up to 100% of surface stains removal in just three days, revealing that bright white smile. Who would say no to that for Christmas?!

It's the perfect Christmas gift for that someone special, I actually received an Oral-B brush as Christmas gift a few years ago and I loved it! It’s not something I’d have splashed out on for myself and so it made the perfect gift. I can genuinely say it has made a huge difference to my smile.

With Black Friday deals on fire this year, the Oral-B GENIUS brushes are available for £99.99 (RRP £280) from Boots, click here for more information. (*Price is at the sole discretion of the retailer)

2. Him & Her Fragrances

Fragrances are the perfect gift for the 'hard-to-buy-for' loved one because you can never have too many nice scents.  The Tom Ford Private Blend collection is one of my all time favourites and offers unique scents that help you stand out from the crowd.

For Him, Tobacco Vanille, one of my all time favourite fragrances.  The prominent tobacco and vanilla notes combined with tonka bean, give this scent a rich aroma and is ideal for those dressed up affairs.

For Her, Soleil Blanc, a floral scent focused on white floral and coconut notes.  This is a great ever day scent and is one of my favourites of Josie's collection.

All Tom Ford Private Blend are unisex, so the beauty of this duo is you can swap if you want to change things up a bit.

3.  Him & Her Grooming / Beauty

Clarins is one of my favourite beauty and skincare brands and receiving a gift set from them on Christmas day is guaranteed to make you smile.

For Him, the Clarins Men Weekend Essentials set.  This includes the exfoliating cleanser scrub, super moisture balm, smooth shave gel and my personal favourite in the anti-fatigue eye serum.  A perfect gift for a guy on the move, whether it be for your overnight bag or gym bag.

For Her, the Clarins Winter Body Essentials set.  This includes the moisture-rich body lotion, exfoliating body scrub and hand & nail cream.  Ideal for a girl's handbag to help fight the damage the Winter months can cause to our skin.

4. Gadgets for Him & Her

Gadgets are guaranteed to get everyone excited at Christmas and it's always nice to open something that you can have a play with on the day.

For Him, the perfect boys toy, Samsung Gear Icon X in-ear headphones.  These are one of my favourite gadgets of 2016 and are perfect for the gym-goer or traveller.  The headphones are completely wireless and touch sensitive, allowing you to change tracks with the tap of the ear bud.  The biggest plus for me is the handy travel case that also charges the headphones when not in use - guaranteed to get your boyfriend or husband excited!

For Her, the ultimate portable battery charger for tablets and mobile phones.  Mophie are experts in technology and their battery packs are in my opinion the best on the market.  This rose gold beauty will give you x5 additional full charges of your iPhone; the perfect gift for those who live live in the fast lane!

5. Him & Her Stocking Fillers

Traditionally I always make a small stocking up for Josie and it's a great way to display a few smaller and thoughtful gifts - and also win some brownie points (!)  

For Him, the recently launched People Just Do Nothing box set, with the full 3 seasons.  If you haven't caught the show on BBC 3 you've seriously missed out, it's filmed in a mockumentary style similar to that of the Office and is guaranteed to get you and the other half chuckling.

For Her, the Little Book Of Hygge.  If you've managed to avoid reading the countless recent news articles about Hygge, it's the Danish concept based focused on living well and living simply.  This book has some great recipe ideas for the colder months along with some cosy interior ideas and is a great coffee table book.

Click on the links for the best deals available and happy Christmas shopping!

What are your 'must-haves' this Christmas?

Are there any 'Him & Her' gifts you have your eyes on?


*This Blog Post was written in collaboration with Oral-B

Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming - 10 Tips For Healthy Winter Skin

As Lord Eddard Stark famously said in the very first episode of Game Of Thrones; "brace yourself, Winter is coming" and with the weather getting ever colder, it's time to rethink a few areas of your skincare routine to keep things in check.

The change in temperature can have a drastic and rather depressing impact on your skin.  With drops in humidity levels, the dry air sucks moisture away leading to much drier skin and often the dreaded breakouts.

But fear not! Here are 10 quick and easy tips to get you through the winter months and keep your skin glowing:

1. Keep that face moisturised:

 The lack of humidity in the air and cold winds can really dry out the skin and cause issues.  Switch to an oil based moisturiser with vitamin C and E to keep your skin moisturised for a longer period of time than water-based.  Clinique for Men offer the perfect all rounder for the colder months with their moisturising lotion.

2. Avoid really hot showers!

With cold in the air, the temptation can be to go overboard on the hot water when showering; this can seriously dry out your skin.  Hot water can strip valuable oils, so try to fight the desire to up the heat and stick with the usual warm temp.  Baths are similarly as bad, but I'm not suggesting you give up that weekly soak.  Instead look for a moisturising bath oil and be sure to top up that Cocoa Butter after.

3. Address those eye bags:

The bags under your eyes can look significantly darker during the Winter period, primarily due to the lack of Vitamin D (although let's be honest, we never really get enough living in the UK!).  These unattractive bags can be addressed pretty easily by using an eye cream or gel, once in the morning and once before bed.  My current favourite is from the L'Oreal Men Expert range, the Hydra Energetic eye roller.  It's seriously easy to apply, rolling the gel along the cheek bone just below the eye bags.  Use this twice a day for the next few months and I guarantee you'll notice a difference.  Be sure to drink lots of water too, this can give an extra helping hand.

4. Exfoliate:

If you've read my blog before you know I love a bit of exfoliating (!). It's an element of skin routines that the majority of men forget or fail to incorporate, yet it's a vital part of keeping your skin clear and spot free.  In the Winter it's good to scrub away those dead skin cells to reveal the fresher skin beneath.  Rituals is a brand I've only recently discovered and I'm loving their Samurai Scrub at the moment.  It's a scrub and cleanser in one, so its perfect for a travel bag or gym bag and is micro-bead free which is a must nowadays.

5. Fight against the chapping!

Cold winds can really attack the lips and cause cracking, it can be quite painful long-term and no one looks good with zombie-like dry lips.  This can be easily addressed with a decent lip balm, my go-to is Carmex and I tend to carry a small tube with me to top up throughout the day.

6.  Stay hydrated:

During Summer everyone bangs on about keeping hydrated and drinking lots of water, you only have to take a trip on the London tube and there are adverts everywhere.  Winter is no different and although the cold weather can make you feel less thirsty, the human body needs arguably just as much water as the warmer months.  

7.  Don't be afraid of a cheeky face mask:

I've addressed the stigma around men and face masks before, but as guys we all need to start taking advantage of the products on offer.  

8. You are what you eat:

During the Winter the body is deprived of vitamins and its important to make some small adjustments to your diet to ensure you are getting what's required.  With less sunshine,Vitamin D and C can be harder to come by, so oranges and apples are always a great source, whether that be in a morning juice or as an afternoon snack.  Beetroot is also an absolute winner and great in a juice (some healthy winter juice recipes to come on a future post!)

9. Keep those pores clear:

It's easy to skip cleansing your face when the weather is colder and you feel like you're not sweating like the Summer months.  Cleansing is another crucial part of any skincare regime and with all the grime in the air, your pores can become clogged which ultimately leads to breakouts. A new product I've come across is from one of my fave brands; Kiehls and is the ideal everyday cleanser.  I tend to cleanse every night before bed, whether that be in the shower or over the sink and the Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser leaves the skin feeling refreshed and squeaky clean.  The addition of Amazonian white clay helps open and clear the pores and is strangely very satisfying! 

10. Your body needs moisturising too:

If your face needs more moisture during Winter, the rest of your body is no different.  I always find moisturising before bed after a shower is the best time and Palmer's Cocoa Butter is an all time fave.  It's perfect post rugby games too, when your skin is crying out for some loving.

All I can say is as much as I love Autumn, I'll certainly be counting down the days until the days get lighter and the weather gets a bit warmer!  That sun cream will have to stay in the cupboard for now..

What are your 'go-to' products for the colder months?

Are there any other tips that you've stumbled across?


Man About Town's Guide To Canterbury

This Weekend Josie and I (and Dexter!) decided to explore somewhere new and journey out of London to the historic Canterbury.  It's something we have both tried to focus on this year, exploring new places and in particular within the UK.  There is a big love for travelling abroad, yet we are surrounded by so many photogenic and interesting places in Old Blighty.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that with Southeastern Railway the journey time is just over an hour from St Pancras International, quick and easy and perfect for a day trip.

Canterbury is a great escape from London with its beautiful and historic Cathedral and architecture -it's a City that feels much more like a small Village, with its boutiques, small coffee shops and cobbled streets.

We arrived into Canterbury West with rumbling stomachs so rushed to the nearest dog-friendly cafe for some avocado on sourdough and poached eggs with smoked mackerel, it really hit the spot! The Refectory Kitchen is just a short stroll from the station and a perfect first 'pit-stop', whether it be for a tasty brunch or a good coffee.

With my 'H-anger' satisfied, we headed off to explore the city and the shops.  From cute boutiques and traditional sweet shops to antique markets, Canterbury has a wide variety on offer and is perfect for a day of exploring.  We even managed to find a shop that sold a whole range of sausage dog related products - you know you are getting old when this sort of thing gets you excited (!)

Dexter was very patient but clearly he needed a good run around, so we headed off in search of a park and somewhere he could be his usual hyper self.  For most of this trip we utilised Instagram as our 'search' tool and with a quick search of #Canterbury we stumbled across some stunning pictures of Autumnal landscape - Westgate Gardens - a real hidden gem right in the centre of the city.

With all the leaves falling around us it was the perfect place to get some good shots in, firstly of Dexter; what a handsome chap he is! If you aren't already following him on Instagram, it's a must for all dog lovers! (@ItsDexterTheDachshund)

Spending time crunching through the colourful leaves made me realise how much I love Autumn and the changing of the landscape.  It's by far my favourite of all the seasons in the UK, with the crisp air and often (!) sunny clear skies.

Westgate Gardens is a blogger's dream for outfit shots and Josie was in her element! We managed to squeeze in a few shots of me for once; here I'm wearing my new favourite wool Pea Coat from Joules, with Nudie Jeans and ultra comfy Tommy Hilfiger suede boots.

After a few hours of exploring the gardens and chasing Dexter around to tire him out (!!) we re-visited Instagram and searched for some hearty winter food for a late lunch.  There are some great restaurants in Canterbury but sadly very few allow dogs, with the pubs being the main option.  However, after delving through Insta, we came across a highly rated gluten free restaurant: Oscar & Bentleys.

With the day having a very 'British' feel, I felt inspired and went for the typically British dish of beer-battered fish and chips, which was scrumptious.  Whenever there is risotto on offer it's an easy choice for Josie; this one was a walnut and squash combo; perfect comfort food after a chilly few hours walking around.

One final hidden gem we stumbled across whilst heading back for our return train was the Goods Shed, a warehouse like building full of farmer's treats and wares.  From fresh veg and butcher's meat, to baguettes and freshly made soup, there was lots to feast our eyes on.  Well worth a visit for lunch or even an afternoon snack; I was tempted to buy food for our evening meal and there was definitely a better selection of vegetables than what's available in London.

It was great to be able to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of London without having to use up all that much time travelling and with the added bonus of being able to take Dexter with us! 

Canterbury is a great place to visit for the day if you are looking to escape the stresses of London or other major cities and experience some truly British moments.

  Thanks to Southeastern for the speedy journey!

Where are your favourite places for a day trip in the UK?

Are there any Hidden Gems you have discovered when exploring? 

Share your hidden gems on social with the hashtag #SEhiddengems and find some more here.


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