Wednesday 31 August 2016


Ever since I visited San Sebastian last year I've been dying to return, mainly to sample the incredible pintxos all over again. Pintxos is Basque (Northern Spain) style tapas. Think small morsels of savoury food, atop a piece of bread and held in place by a toothpick. When CitizenMag invited me to check out PIX, a pintxos bar in Notting Hill I jumped at the chance to reacquaint myself with this delicious type of cuisine.

The wonderful thing about the pintxos bars in San Sebastian is that they're incredibly relaxed. The food is displayed across the bar so all you do is pick up a plate and help yourself. At PIX the same principle applies. Choose whatever food takes your fancy and keep the cocktail sticks so they can be tallied up when it comes to paying the bill.

This is a great concept whether you're visiting as a pair or in a large group because you can choose exactly what, and how much you want to eat. Whether it just a couple of bits as a snack or 10 items for a big dinner, the choice is yours.

Steve and I weren't exactly starving when we visited PIX but we also wanted to try a large selection of the food so we did what we do best, shared everything. We started with the Serrano ham and bechemal croquetas which were absolutely wonderful. They oozed with a cheesy sauce and had just the right amount of meat hidden in the centre. They were so delicious we ended up getting a second portion at the end of our meal.

Other items that stood out for included; marinated fig and goats cheese on sour dough; Serrano ham and quail egg on ciabatta; pea and broad bean bruschetta; goats cheese and pine nut stuffed pepper; patatas bravas; morcilla, quail egg and piquillo pepper on ciabatta; and Serrano ham on sour dough tomato bread.

The food was extremely reminiscent from my trip last year so it's nice to know that I can visit somewhere local whenever I get craving for a San Sebastian holiday. PIX is a lovely spot for a casual dinner date, or boozy lunch with friends, especially as they do an all you can eat and drink (Cava) special on a Sunday for £33 per person. There's also a secret cocktail bar in the basement which is another great reason to visit.

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Wednesday 24 August 2016

RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Refinery, Bankside

As a huge fan of cocktails I'm always on the lookout for new spots to try new drinks. So when I was given the opportunity to sample a few drinks from the new pop up Bacardi Bar at The Refinery, I was more than a little keen.

The Refinery is popular with the after work crowd, there's a huge indoor area with plenty of seating options and the outdoor terrace, which is in close proximity to the Thames and has a great al fresco vibe. The atmosphere is relaxed, making it a great option for a casual night out.

I sampled a couple of different drinks, the first being the most deliciously fresh Bacardi cocktail. I'm not normally a rum drinker, my tipple of choice is gin or vodka, but I was blown away by this. I like my cocktail to pack a punch and whilst the rum was distinctly present this was easy to drink thanks to citrus flavours and fresh cucumber. It almost reminded me of a gin sour, with slightly less sourness and a hint of sweetness. Unfortunately I can't remember the name but I imagine it's easy enough to spot on the menu.

The second drink I tried was the Garden Collins, a gin based long drink with fresh raspberry, lemon sugar and soda. This was a little like a mojito but with a lot more fruit. This was extremely tasty and the perfect summery drink. Steve had the Hummingbird which is also gin and raspberry based with added lime and elderflower. This cocktail has a nice tartness to it and most definitely a sour edge, I loved it as well.

The Refinery also offers food and whilst it isn't a foodie destination in itself, there are some nice plates on the menu to help line your stomach. I loved the scotch egg with its perfectly runny yolk and crispy breadcrumb batter. The chicken burger wasn't bad either, the meat was succulent and even though it was fried it didn't feel greasy.

There's a few sharing plates including a mezze that comes with a lovely bulgar wheat and feta salad. This is a great option if you're with a group and fancy a little snack without going for a full blown meal. I also enjoyed the trio of chips (sweet potato, BBQ, and parmesan with truffle) something I haven't seen before and think is a great idea.

The Refinery is a great spot to enjoy a few drinks, especially in the summer. The cocktails are strong, reasonably priced, and a little different from your average cosmopolitan. The food menu has some good options and makes for a nice, casual spot for an after work social outing.

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Monday 22 August 2016

BURGER REVIEW: Burger Shack and Bar

As nice as Wimbledon Village may look to a non-locals, SW19 isn't the most exciting place to live. The restaurants are mainly high street chains and the local 'bistros' have a price tag to match the multi million pound mansions found around the common. When I was invited to Young's Burger Shack & Bar to sample the menu I was most definitely intrigued. The bar may not be part of a new, independent business but it is a welcome change from another wise mundane stretch of road.

The bar itself is lovely, decorated with bright pops of colour and mid century furniture designs. It reminds me of English country home meets Scandinavian chic. The sliding doors open up all the way which is ideal come sunnier weather when the bar fills with natural light and you 'almost' feel like you're sitting outside.

The drinks list has a nice selection of cocktails and local brews so we settled down with a couple of tasty gins and a dish of popcorn.

We ordered the chicken wings to start which were nice. The meat was succulent and the coating had a nice hint of heat to it.

Steve ordered the pork belly burger which was absolutely enormous. The pork belly was deep fried in breadcrumbs and whilst the meat was very succulent it became a little too much after while. The blue cheese dressing was a nice addition to this burger as it helped cut through the heaviness of the meat.

I ordered 'The Streaky' which is a bacon cheeseburger. I like my burgers quite pink in the middle but the kitchen had to cook the meat through so it was unfortunately a little on the tough side for me. Saying that the burger tasted nice enough thanks to the crispy bacon, oozing cheese an ale cooked onions.

To accompany our burgers we ordered curly fries, rosemary chips and mac n cheese. The fries were great but I found the mac a little on the bland side.

To finish, we ordered the key lime pie cheesecake which was lovely. The portion was generously sized by thanks to the citrus taste it acted like a nice palette cleanser after a rather heavy meal.

Burgershack & Bar might not be the best burger I've ever tried but the venue itself has a nice atmosphere that I'm sure I'll be back to visit for a drink and snack. The food is generously sized and the menu is full of classic pub options. It's the sort of place to go for a casual meal or a snack if you're out with friends for a few drinks.

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