Hereford Road is a classic spot in the neighbourhood of Notting Hill serving top-quality British cuisine. The restaurant has succeeded in maintaining a high reputation which led it to earn a spot on my to-go list. Luckily, it wasn't too difficult to make a reservation so I headed there with MRG for dinner. The restaurant is nicely situated on a quiet high street in a predominantly residential area (not too far from the Ledbury); it's kind of like the neighbourhood's best kept secret!

The restaurant's design is very simple and understated which gives rise to a laid-back vibe; it's almost like time slows down as you dine there. The menu was concise and to-the-point, which I love! MRG and I ordered the same starter - Roast Quail with radishes (£8.40). The quail was excellent. The breast of the quail was particularly juicy and the aioli had a soothing smoky flavour which was complemented by the sharp freshness from the radish salad.

The Duck Leg with Peas (£15) was the next dish to show up. Although it was painfully hot, the duck was skilfully cooked and the skin was seasoned to perfection. The bed of peas beneath the duck leg were cooked to a nice finish which created a hint of sweetness in a rather salty broth. Overall, the main course was very hearty and I would definitely order it again!

The Rice Pudding (£6) soon followed and this was also lovely! It was silky and smooth and the punch of acidity from the blackberry jam nicely cut through the richness of the rice pudding.

In summary, I would definitely recommend a visit to Hereford Road! The restaurant allows for a change of a scene, in a slow-paced environment, in the company of traditional British flavours. Also, the prices are fantastic and the service is great.


3 Hereford Road
Westbourne Grove
London, W2 4AB


Hereford Road Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

For so long, I have desperately wanted to see a live-jazz performance, and it took me a while to locate where and when this would happen. The reader probably thinks "you're in London so this shouldn't prove to be a difficult task". I completely agree with the reader. London has some of the most iconic and trendy jazz venues such as Ronnie Scott's and The Blues Kitchen. However, the issue isn't really finding the jazz club that suits you, it is finding the jazz performance that suits you.

I searched and searched and I eventually stumbled upon this cool speakeasy-themed bar on Old Street. There was a latin-jazz band coming and I thought "that's it! that's where I'm going!" so I reserved a table a week in advance.

The bar has the most inconspicuous exterior appearance. It took me a while to locate the bar - the only clue being a tiny logo nailed to a wooden door. I headed downstairs and waited for Mr Kowa da Kowa there. When he came, we ordered a round of drinks (£11) and a side of popcorn.

The latin-jazz group was fantastic and the lead-singer was phenomenal! They performed for 45 minutes and combined elements of traditional salsa to classic jazz. The music combined with the mellow and intimate ambience of the bar only enhanced my experience. I really didn't want to leave!

We eventually left Nightjar, but still had a bit of adventure left in us so we headed to Duck&Waffle for a late-night treat. I had the banana brûlée with Belgian waffles (£10) - absolutely delicious!

I would definitely recommend a visit to Nightjar! The venue is very trendy and popular so make sure you make a booking in advance.


129 City Road

For info on bookings:
A café just selling grilled cheese sandwiches in London? Who would've thought this day would ever come? Although, I wouldn't consider myself a grilled cheese fanatic, I felt obliged to stop by and try one of their sandwiches. I opted for the Classic Melt (£4).

I thought that the sandwich was decent but by no means memorable. Also, the cafe's design doesn't tempt its customers to actually eat there, which makes for a rather dull ambience. In summary, it wouldn't hurt to stop by if you just happen to be in Soho and also want a snack to have on the go.

Classic Melt (gruyere, red leicester and cheddar blend)


26 Noel Street


Melt Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The time had finally come where we would reside in Rome for two weeks. We stayed in a classics study-abroad center on the Gianicolo hill, which is north of the historic district. The center was nicely situated in a quite neighbourhood, next to a gelataria (where we would indulge in cold treats after a day of walking several miles in the sun), a vintage wine shop and one of the best restaurants in Rome - Antico Arco.

The 'Wedding Cake'
The first day was a nice introduction into historic Rome with a tour of the Roman Forum, a walk on the Palatine hill and a visit to the Colosseum. All sites were visually stunning and I can tell you now that none of these sites are by NO MEANS overhyped. The Colosseum in particular blew me away. I just couldn't get over how such an ancient civilisation, with limited technology, could innovate to build grand structures that still remain standing today!

Colosseum (exterior)
Colosseum (interior)
Crayfish Ravioli at Antico Arco

Fillet mignon at Antico Arco
Capitoline Wolf
Also I was lucky enough to get an amazing panorama of the Roman Forum, complete with all the remaining temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches.

The Roman Forum
There were so many other sites that we visited; some of them being must-sees and some of them being virtually unheard of. However, what I really enjoyed was getting a feel of the different neighbourhoods and districts- Testaccio, Trastevere, Centro Storico, Borghese and the Vatican City of course.

I didn't have a favourite neighbourhood per se but each of them had different qualities I admired.

Testaccio was a bit more rough than the other neighbourhoods so it felt more real. Also, I had my best meal in Rome at a restaurant in this neighbourhood - Felice a Testaccio. The restaurant is known for their Cacio e Pepe (spaghetti-like pasta with parmesan and pepper) and their roasted lamb. I ordered both dishes and had an amazing experience. The food was only enhanced by one of the best red wines I've ever tasted. Unfortunately, I didn't order the wine so I can't quite remember the grape variety. Overall, the restaurant had a nice authentic vibe. I felt like I was "in the know", being surrounded by real Italians and having authentic Italian food. This restaurant therefore earns the title of No.1 foodie recommendation in Rome.

Cacio e Pepe at Felice a Testaccio

Roasted lamb with potatoes at Felice a Testaccio

Trastevere still felt authentic but there were relatively more tourists than in Testaccio. Trastevere exhibits the stereotypical Italian charm; washed pastel-coloured buildings, window shutters, narrow roads, and cute little restaurants on every turn. The architectural aesthetic easily mesmerises the tourist into a state of excitement and wonder. I could have spent days in Trastevere just walking for hours and staring at the buildings. I would a recommend a walk down Via Guilia; it's a very beautiful ,narrow, cobbled-stoned street with a unescapable natural element. Also, have a nice traditional Italian lunch at La Scala, which is located on Piazza della Scala.

Via Guilia
Centro Storico (the historic centre) is the part everyone sees, as it encompasses most of the popular sites. It's the neighbourhood with the cool museums, obelisks, churches, squares and archaeological sites. I had so many amazing experiences in this neighbourhood but I'll try and limit my recommendations to a few essential experiences.

I would definitely recommend Piazza Navona. It's so beautiful especially if you visit on a sunny day. There are three water fountains in the square and the one in the centre was sculpted by Bernini himself. The central fountain depicts four characters, which are supposed to represent what was at the time, the world's largest rivers. The central fountain sits right in front of a grand white palace-like building built by Borromini and there are other brightly-coloured buildings that line the square.

Piazza Navona
I would suggest a brief diversion to Gelataria del Teatro (the best gelato in Rome). There's just something about the gelato here - it's quite magical actually. Try the fruit flavours like melon, watermelon, strawberry and mango. It feels like you're actually eating the fruit but the gelato simultaneously melts in your mouth; I can guarantee the experience of a foodgasm (especially if it is a hot day). There's another cool gelato place worth visiting called Gelataria Ciampini.

Melon, Strawberry and Coffee Gelato from Gelataria del Teatro

Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate Gelato from Gelataria Ciampini
Also, stop by Campo de Fiori and have lunch at La Carbonara dal 1906 to try their iconic carbonara. Their version of carbonara was the best one I tried whilst I was in Rome; it exhibited the desired balance between the sauce and the pasta, the perfect consistency of the sauce and the perfect texture of the pancetta.

My favourite Roman Carbonara at Carbonara dal 1906

Another must-do in the historic district is the Pantheon. This building is probably one of the most visited in Rome but don't let that deter you. It's good to keep in mind that the view of the Oculus from the inside is worth going to see. From here, I would recommend a short visit to the Tazza D'Oro coffeeshop where you can get your hands on what is arguably the best coffee in Rome.

The Pantheon

The roof of the Pantheon
The Spanish steps are also fun although I'm not a fan of the Spanish steps themselves. Rather, I'm a fan of the streets that surround it. You can splurge in the luxury shops that line Via dei Condotti or you can walk around and absorb more of the Italian charm from the smaller streets such as Via dei Carroze (I would recommend an alfresco lunch here).

Via Delle Carrozze
A visit to the Borghese Gallery is an absolute must if you want to view artworks by the most eminent sculptors and painters of the Renaissance period. In this museum, you can appreciate the artistic interpretation of classic literature by artists such as Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. My personal favourite was the Rape of Persephone by Bernini.

Rape of Persephone by Bernini- Bernini nicely captures the tenderness of Persephone's skin with Hades' grasp
Borghese Park
Lastly, a day at the Vatican is essential even if you're not that big on religion. We started off in the main square and ventured into the Vatican museums. Luckily, we had access to see a private collection of antique statues and reliefs. After a 90 minute walk through the passages of the Vatican museum with hundreds of people, we entered the Sistine Chapel.

The Vatican

My time at the Sistine Chapel was my favourite part of the entire Vatican experience; just looking up at the roof and staring at the intricacies of Michelangelo's paintings gives one a sense of peace. However, these few minutes of serenity were quickly disrupted by the overseers who kept reminding everyone to "keep quiet" every 2 minutes! Also, I dont understand why we can't take photographs in there. It just seems like the Vatican wants to monopolise on the photographs of the Sistine Chapel. Well, too bad Vatican, because I snuck in some cheeky shots of the interior!

The Day of Judgement - Sistine Chapel

The roof at the Sistine Chapel
We slyly entered St Peters Basilica directly from the Sistine Chapel  in order to avoid any queues. The basilica was awesome! I was amazed by its sheer grandiosity and opulence. The basilica is filled with works by prominent artists such as Michelangelo's Pietà and other Bernini pieces. I would advise giving yourself enough time to walk around the entirety of the space in order to soak in the ambience - it's really something else.

St Peters Basilica

Structure in St Peters Basilica designed by Bernini

Michelangelo's Pietà at St Peters Basilica 
There are SO MANY places to see in Rome given its long history, but I don't want to bore you with all the details here so I've tried to keep the list concise.

Whilst we were in Rome, we also visited neighbouring towns and sites outside Rome such as Orvieto (I would definitely go here), Palestrina, Tarquinia and the Villa d'Este.

Orvieto Cathedral
Villa d'Este

Until I visited Gocciolina, I hadn't quite found an Italian restaurant in Durham that followed the principle of authenticity; a sort of cooking in which the chefs try to replicate the flavours one tastes in the home country. In other words, I was after real flavours - not just dishes served with an overly generous serving of grated cheese and marinara sauce. I guess I've already given myself away with the final verdict, but I urge you to read on to see how it came about.

Ms.X was joining me this time round to test the menu and we were in for a culinary treat. The restaurant is a bit far out and it would come off a bit dodgy especially at night. However, the interior is designed to create a rustic and intimate experience. Although we had to wait for about 15 minutes to get a table, the chefs eventually made the wait worth our time. Also, we were lucky enough to be seated at the bar counter where there seemed to be more buzz. 

The menu is divided into five sections, which made for ample choice. We started off with a round of two antipasti dishes ($7). The meatballs and I can best describe them as yummy and well-seasoned. The chefs managed to strike a nice balance between the meat and fat composition hence allowing for just enough substance and just enough juiciness.

Meatballs with tomato sauce and parmigiano

The next antipasti dish was the white anchovy and potato salad. Again, this was just yummy. I felt like I could go on and on eating it especially because of the perfectly chilled temperature. The potatoes on their own were a bit under-seasoned but this was taken care of by the burst of acidity from the anchovies. 

White Anchovy and Potato salad (excuse the lighting)

We ordered two pasta dishes as well and the first one that arrived was the Summer Fagioli [maltagliati pasta with field peas, yellow squash, red onion, small potatoes, pesto and pecorino] ($10). This was a very fresh and light dish with an earthy element. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the pesto brought everything together.

I ordered my second pasta dish at the end because I felt like I needed to try more things (yeah... I tend to do that). It was the Roasted Squash Agnolotti with sage butter and parmigiano ($10). This was also a very light dish, but way simpler than the other pasta dish. The pasta contained a lovely sweet filling which nicely complemented the rich sage butter sauce.


We tried the Spice-Rubbed Grilled pork Chops ($19) as our meat dish with a side of the sautéed greens ($7). The pork chops looked nicer than they tasted. They were just too dry, which was heavily disappointing given its price. Also, the spices didn't successfully penetrate the meat's exterior so I doubt that the pork chops were left to marinate long enough. The sautéed green beans on the other hand were quite impressive and went very well with the pork chops. They were spicy, but with a garlic twist.

Pork Chops

Sautéed Greens

We finished off the experience with dessert - The Tiramisu Cannoli. The pastry was sweet and crunchy. The little chocolate spheres created bursts of sweetness which went well with the deeper tones from the espresso reduction. The only problem for me was the ricotta and mascarpone filling which was way too rich and overwhelming.

Tiramisu Cannoli

Overall, I would definitely visit Gocciolina. The chefs put great effort into recreating authentic Italian flavours with innovative twists. Also, the service was excellent and the ambience was equally calming. The prices may be a bit high if you plan on trying many dishes but going with a large party should take care of that. I would recommend that you make reservations though.


3314 Guess Road
Durham, NC 27705

$15-30 pp

Would I recommend? Definitely 

Gocciolina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato