Why? Brentwood – the stomping ground of the TOWIE crew and home to the infamous nightclub Sugar Hut – has a classy hidden gem of a hotel in Marygreen Manor. Located over a mile from the train station so you won’t get any riff raff stumbling in at random, you feel like you step back in time to Henry VIII’s era as soon as you walk through the doors. The building dates back to the 13th century with some of the original features such as stained glass windows and exposed beams, making it both quirky and charming. Even better news? Rooms in this luxurious four star hotel start at just £94 a night. Well worth it to sleep in style after a night at Sugar Hut!
Where? Brentwood, Essex (30 mins by train from London Liverpool Street)
What to Eat? The Tudors restaurant has two AA stars. To make your mouth water, see photos of what we ate on our visit here – the lobster was divine.
What To Drink? There are more than 200 different wines available in the Tudors restaurant. Impressive!
What To Pay? Rooms start at £94
Contact: Marygreen Manor, London Road, Brentwood, Essex, 01277 225 252
Click Here to visit the Marygreen Manor website
Why? This Lebanese and Moroccan restaurant is so deliciously authentic, it has the local European citizens, (and everyone else) licking their lips. It’s appropriately situated in the bustling, cosmopolitan Bayswater and the prices are even better than the location. Although it is at the base of a rather unattractive 60s building, you forget that the moment you walk through the door. Hammered, copper-topped table tops, an abundance of Islamic patterns and other Middle Eastern paraphernalia, which just add to the general ambiance. Celebrities that have enjoyed the Mezze experience and LOVED it include Kate Winslet and Cat Deeley.
Where? Bayswater, West London. Nearest tube: Bayswater or Notting Hill Gate
What to Eat? As much as you can, as it’s so bloomin’ cheap!
To start it would be silly not to experience a Mezze platter (to share). For a cold plate we suggest Labneh (garlic yoghurt dip), Mogador Mix (grilled chicken mixed with salad and Moroccan dressing) and Tabouleh. For a hot platter we loved Briwat Lamb (mixed spicy lamb in pastry), Falafel and Jawaneh (spiced chicken wings). For a main course our mouth watered at the lamb kebab which was served with rice and salad – yummy!
What to drink? With a small wine and beer list, the drink options are unimaginative. BUT we savored the taste of the Vina Gracia Chardonnay from Chile; it’s a lively, bone dry, well chilled palette cleanser.
What to pay? £25 per person, including two courses AND booze. You seriously cannot go wrong!
Contact: 22 Queensway, Bayswater, Paddington. 0207 221 5055
Click here to visit Med Mezze
Why? In a beautiful location a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, the Mango Tree has a reputation for serving up some of the most delicious Thai food in London. It won Thai chef of the year 2003 and the chefs have been on the TV show Masterchef! Tons of celebrities have popped in for a curry or speciality fish dish including X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, soul singer Beverley Knight and shoe guru Jimmy Choo.
Where? Belgravia, central London. Nearest tube: Victoria
What To Eat? The A La Carte menu features everything you’d expect from a Thai restaurant – spring rolls, satays and red, green and yellow curries – but we decided to be adventurous and try some of the specials. For starters, we ordered spicy thai fishcakes (with a fiery kick), beef satay (lovely and moist) and a delicious lobster dish, lightly fried in tempura batter and served with lime and a creamy ponzu dressing (which came in a generous portion size as you can see below).
For mains, we recommend the grilled tiger prawns (goong pow) – the largest prawns we’ve seen in a while. Even better was the sea bass fillet wrapped in banana leaves on a cress salad (pla pow). If you’re on a date then order the gaeng ped ped yang which is red curry with bbq duck served in a pineapple boat. Eating out of a pineapple feels special!
What To Drink? Start with an aperitif from the extensive cocktail menu. If you want a bit of fizz then the Mango Bellini or the Fraise Royale provide a fresh and fruity alternative to traditional peach bellinis and kir royales. The restaurant has a comprehensive wine list with whites and reds available by the glass as well as the bottle so you can choose your drink to complement your meal.
What To Pay? Mango Tree has some excellent value set menus including the Royal Banquet Menu ( £37 pp for a huge selection of tasty dishes), the Sunday special (3 course lunch at £17 pp or dinner at £20 pp) and the pre-theatre supper (two courses for £17 or three courses for £22).
For the A La Carte menu, expect to pay £40 pp for wine and service.
Contact: Mango Tree, 46 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7EQ. 020 7283 1888
Why? A partnership between Joe Mercer Nairne and David O’Connor, who have come from Nigel Platts-Martin’s London group of wonderful restaurants like Chez Bruce, The Square and The Ledbury, this is a wonderful little restaurant. Celebs love Chez Bruce and The Square and will they love the Medlar? YES! We’re a big fan of Chez Bruce, but this is possibly even better and sure to gain a Michelin star sooner rather than later. It is relaxed, friendly and good value, offering a fixed price menu for lunch and dinner with an imaginative wine list.
Where? Chelsea. Nearest Tube:West Brompton or Fulham Broadway but both are a 20 minute walk…
What to eat? There is an amazing choice with 6 or 7 starters and mains each day with seasonal meat, fish and veg on each. The crab raviolo was wonderful and the grouse breast with confit leg and foie gras beautifully cooked and presented.
What to drink? Wine. This eatery has a good list with some less obvious choices along with old favourites with a reasonable selection by the glass
What to pay? £60 a head for 3 courses including 2 glasses of wine, coffee and service
Contact: Medlar, 438 Kings Road, SW10 0LJ. 0207 349 1900
Visit the Medlar website