The Balcon at Sofitel

Do you ever find yourself hungry near Piccadilly Circus?

If you appreciate shopping, love theatre-going or (god forbid) are hosting guest that insisted on dragging you to Leicester Square on a weekend, I’m going to go ahead and assume that yes, yes you do!

 

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Of course, there’s plenty of not-so-great chain options nearby, but if you look around, there are also absolute gems to be found.

My latest discovery? The (rather grand) Balcon at Sofitel.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

A stone’s throw away from Trafalgar Square, with windows overseeing Pall Mall, The Balcon is just the place to trade the business of London’s most tourist-y area for elegant surroundings and excellent French-British cuisine with a contemporary twist.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Starting, as all good (French) stories do, with bread & (salted) butter.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Followed by a not-so-classic yet absolutely excellent Steak tartare…

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

At The Balcon, the French classic comes adorned with artichoke crisps and drizzled in truffled egg yolk.

A brilliant update if you ask me.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

For mains, the ‘Grill’ section seemed to be the most popular (but then again, can you blame anybody to ever fall for Rossini steak?), but having had a sneaky peak at the dessert menu, I decided to keep things a bit lighter…

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

That said, the Crispy skin sea bream with samphire, fricassé of salsify and chive beurre blanc was still very indulgent while allowing me to save some room for pudding.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Pudding that came in the form of a glorious Passion fruit and Sauternes creme brulée with mango sorbet.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Rich, creamy, and topped with an ice-thin layer of caramelised sugar it was everything a great brûlée should be.

And then some, thanks to the addition of sweet Sauterne wine and tangy exotic fruit bringing in some very welcome freshness.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Absolutely flan-tastic from the beginning to the end!

Food, service, atmosphere, decor; everything’s done the classic way to an excellent standard, making The Balcon perfect for a business meal, a romatic date… And also all those times when central London’s crowds get too difficult to handle on an empty stomach!

The Balcon at Sofitel, 8 Pall Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5NG
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The Balcon at Sofitel

Summer Soirée at Le Méridien Piccadilly

When it comes to summer holidays, you can’t beat the French Riviera.

With blue sea, blue sky, picturesque villages, quiet beaches and fantastic food, no wonder it’s been the playground of the rich & famous for so long!

However, no need to be rich or famous (or even to face the dreadful summer holiday airport check-in lines) to experience this little piece of Summer heaven, because Le Méridien Piccadilly is bringing Nice to London for the Summer!

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + WhiskyLe Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Nod to the French origins of the brand, Le Méridien Piccadilly’s restaurant, Terrace Bar & Grill, has been transformed into an idyllic coastal resort.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + WhiskyLe Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Complete with striped sun loungers, sun umbrellas, blossoming climbing plants, espadrilles and a spot of apéritif

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

… and even a pétanque field!

The iconic French sport is a favourite at family gatherings and a classic beachside hobby.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

The rules are really quite simple: you throw the small ball (the ‘cochonnet‘) first, and then it’s all about getting the big, metal balls as close as possible to it.

Whether you play in a tête-à-tête (one-on-one) or in teams, it’s always great fun and perfect to work up an appetite!

Which you’ll most definitely need to make the most of the antipasti menu, all inspired by classic Niçois dishes.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Beautiful Artichoke Barigoule with creamy aioli.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Mini pots of melt-in-the-mouth Daube Provençale with carrots and olives.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Pan Bagnat (a tuna-filled bun & Nice’s answer to burgers!) and Pissaladière mini Tarte Tatin.

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Summer Soirée 31

Niçoise salad (of course).

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

And the cutest little macarons!

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

All washed down with icy glasses of Sifflet cocktails (martini Bianco, Champagne, mandarin syrup & citrus zest).

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

And a glass or two of crisp local wine (when in France…)

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

… or, get two birds with one stone & indulge your French fashion fix with the Cocktail Espadrilles.

The perfect summer drink + the perfect Summer shoes? Summer packing’s never been that easy!

Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky Le Méridien Piccadilly Summer Soirée | Cake + Whisky

Which means more time to soak in the sunshine of the French Riviera!

So gather friends, book a nice big table, put on your stripy Tees and enjoy the Summer vibes!

Summer Soirée at Le Méridien Piccadilly

Smith & Whistle

I’m always on the lookout for a great cocktail bar. So when I was invited to the launch of Smith & Whistle, I grabbed my magnifying glass, put my bowler hat on and jump in the nearest cab (aaaaah, isn’t the Tube Strike a blessing?). To Piccadilly please, Driver!Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyI followed the light beams to the scene of the crime…Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyOr rather, the most stunning modern Art Deco bar I’ve ever seen. Nestled in the Park Lane Hotel on Picadilly, the newly opened Smith & Whistle masters the mix of genres. Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyI’m happy to report that my investigations made me discover that it also has a very well stocked bar indeed! Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyWhat I truly fell head over heels for was the decor. And those delightful blue-green-gray chairs! 
Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyMy sidekick and I started the evening with a glass of Chapel Down Brut, a wonderfully British sparkling wine. Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskySmith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskySmith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyJust as we were getting cracking’ on some urgent matters (us detectives don’t have an easy life!), we were offered some extremely crunchy pork crackling, which led me to do that epic face (and consequently ruined any chance of us getting onto any serious matter that evening…).
Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyInstead, we investigated the cocktail menu in search of our next tipple. Which was more complicated than we thought it would be. Not that the menu was long (it was refreshingly short), but it was very interesting (I might even have used the word ‘bulls-y’). Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskySmith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskySmith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyWe finally made our choice, placed our order and indulged in a bit of people-watching while the bar team got busy doing their thing… Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyHuge silver trays crossed the room, full of glasses in all shades of yellow, from the pale gold of sparkling wine to the bright orange of those cute bottles.Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyThe Detective Inspector Smith (Jameson, lemon, simple syrup, Angorusta bitters and beer foam) was obviously a must-order (the bar was named after him after all)! The perfect cross between a whisky sour and a pint of beer. Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyWhich gave my rather smug-looking sidekick the perfect opportunity to practice his best pub-buddy smile. Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyI truly recommend you give this a go (both the cocktail and the smile!) as it truly is on of the most balanced cocktails I’ve had in a while. 
Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyI went for another crowd-pleaser, The Fuzz (Havana Rum infused with rosemary, Cocchi Americano, Aperol. Carbonated). I mean, who could not like such an Instagram-worthy cocktail?Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyOne by one, people started to leave and the atmosphere went from buzzy to cheerfully relaxed.Smith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskySmith and Whistle bar launch party | Cake + WhiskyBrilliantly crafted cocktails, smiles all round and classy hats… I miht just have found my new Mayfair local! 

Smith & Whistle, The Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly, London W1J 7BX

Smith & Whistle