Last week I had the pleasure of dining at Bar Boulud at the stunning Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park/Knightsbridge. Travel Onion, a fantastic travel site that features the worlds best travel bloggers, invited a few bloggers for a tour and lunch. I was very excited to go as I love Daniel Boulud, and Fen and I often went to his many NY restaurants, Daniel in particular. So when the invitation came I jumped at the chance and dragged Fen along, although he didn't put up much of a fight.
We were late arriving due to sitter issues, and missed the original tour of the hotel which I was sorely disappointed by. However, we were in the restaurant no more than 10 minutes before the Cal Simmons, Founder of Travel Onion and the rest of the bloggers and hotel PR staff arrived. Fen and I sat at the bar waiting and took in the restaurant as it was early, around 11:45 and not bustling yet. Although it did get busy, and fast.
Here is Fen checking out the newspaper selection on the bar. I was eyeing the wines behind him! We sat down and introductions went around: Jane from Jane's London, Luiz from The London Foodie, Lucy from The London Insider, Rejina from Gastro Geek and Julie from A Lady In London. Each of the bloggers have really fascinating blogs, most are foodies and if you swing by and take a look they can introduce you to some excellent places to eat. I drooled over the sites. Jane also has an interesting look at London - take a peek and see what I mean.
But I digress, back to lunch. We sat down and they served the restaurants signature charcutier plates: plates platters of meats, pates, terrines, seafood, breads and salads, and more.
After the wonderful platters we ordered lunch. I had a hard time picking out what I wanted but settled for the croque monsieur which was, you guessed it - divine. I'm a big croque monsieur fan, anything with cheese is a hit with me, but this one was really superb. Fen and just about everyone else had a signature dish: burger and chips (fries). They were HUGE. Fen loved his as did everyone else. Just look at them, they're almost to pretty to eat...almost. It was overall, an amazing feast.
The conversation flowed. I spoke with the other bloggers, each very interesting. Spoke with the PR folks for the Mandarin and learned that Queen Elizabeth II learned to dance in their ballroom. The hotel was originally a gentleman's residence and it looks very regal and understated. After lunch Fen and I were invited for a quick tour of the Royal Suite. It's absolutely breathtaking. At £11,500 a night it certainly is spectacular and fitting for a king - which is fitting seeing how royalty and foreign dignitaries fill it 60% of the year. Fen and I were in awe of it. The bathroom alone is larger than our flat! However, we could not stay there as Cate and X would destroy it in minutes!
Cal Simmons was very interesting - he's lived an interesting life and his recent adventure is Travel Onion. Please go and have a look. It is a collection of the best travel blogs around the world. If you're going anywhere, please check it out and see who's writing about your destination. it's a great insiders view to the city/country you'll be travelling in and what to do, avoid, where to eat and stay. It's a great tool and I plan to use it whenever I travel again. Which, will be soon and often, hopefully!
Overall, a lovely afternoon.