The Vortex, Little 5 Points Atlanta, GA

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

Again, admitting I am completely spoilt in that I have 2 sisters in the USA in two of the coolest cities on the east coast. My eldest sister lives in New York State, and my second eldest lives in ATL.

Atlanta is one of the coolest places I have ever been and I absolutely love going, not only of course to see my sister and my adorable little niece but also because in the past few years, they have had an renaissance. The food scene in Atlanta is one of the very few in the USA that has such variety, innovation and fun!

However, all though I have a number of cool recent additions to the ATL scene to tell you all about, this one has actually been an institution in the area since 1992. The best hangover burger and fun place you can hang out whilst feeding a hangover with friends piecing together last night’s adventures.

If you are visiting ATL you should must visit The Vortex, food is fantastic, and the menu is hilarious. Read past the list of ingredients and you will find hilarity. Whoever wrote this menu must have been on a great buzz at the time, it is comedy genius.

Try it, I promise you it won’t disappoint…

Prices: Starters $6.95-$11.25 Main Courses $8.25 – $28.95 Desserts

Great for: Something a bit different, Hangover Heaven, Casual Dining, Fun Friends Meet ups (they also do take out 😉 )

Vixxy P’s Menu faves:

– Cheesey Cheese Goo – dip in tater tots!

– Blue Shroom Burger

– Swiss and Mushroom Burger

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Contact Details:

Address: 438 Moreland Avenue – Atlanta, GA 30307  (as recommended on their website just look for the Giant Skull!)

Telephone: +001 (404) 688-1828

Website: http://www.thevortexbarandgrill.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheVortexL5P

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thevortexl5p

Google +: https://plus.google.com/103687550343405850743/about?hl=en

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Gamboa, Almancil Portugal

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

I am one of those spoilt brats who are lucky enough to have parents who live abroad. They live in a beautiful part of the world, which I am very well aware does not fit in to the ‘authentic’ box, but boy have I loved growing up there – Quinta do Lago in the Algarve Portugal.

One of the great thing about the area being a resort based area, is that there are so many restaurants in the area to cater to the tourists that come from over Europe as well as the local residents. As much as I love fine dining, I do love the Portuguese way of ‘eating out’ – canteen style.

There are a few of these restaurants in the area that my parents frequent but their favourite (and now mine) is Gamboa. The main attraction as well as the food is the staff. Riu, Michelle and the team are so friendly, helpful and always happy to see you and squeeze you in where they can! The menu is varied and simple, easily a great place for those who don’t want to get all dressed up to pop out for a bite to eat.

If you have hungry men who are eating you out of house and home, I suggest you get them to order the Picanha here, the amount of food you get per order will satisfy (if not.. challenge) any one who orders it! Their Chicken Piri-Piri is another good order, none of this ridiculous Nandos stuff, proper Algarvian piri-piri.

One thing I would say is that you don’t need starters! If you accept the bread when you sit down, what they will bring you more than just bread. Cheese, Pate, Olives, Carrots all are more than enough to get your stomach working in preparation for your main course (and if you are particularly hungry, ask for some of the boiled prawns – they are divine!)

Prices: Starters 1.50€ – 7.50€ Main Course 5.50€ – 25.00€ Desserts 5.50€

Great for: Low key, casual, flip-flop dining

Vixxy P’s Menu faves: (unfortunately no photos here – however I am sure on my next visit I will get a few 😉 )

– Picanha

– Lamb Chops

– Chicken Piri-Piri

– Grilled Seabass

– Grilled Sole

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Contact Details:

Address: Rua Manuel dos Santos Vaquinhas, Almancil, Portugal

Telephone: (+351) 289 048 733

Website: http://www.visitou-ganhou.pt/index.php/web/106

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/restaurantgamboa

Twitter: n/a

Google +: n/a

Abeno, Bloomsbury London

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

After living in London for 8 years I finally get round to going to one of the first restaurants that was written on my ‘to do’ list. Boy was it worth the wait. Looking for somewhere a bit different for an informal celebratory meal we walked in without a reservation but the smiling waitress who greeted us must have worked some magic as miraculously a table appeared for us to have.

We had no clue how the menu worked and looked to our smiley waitress for guidance, she guided us through and gave us some history background as well as recommending portion sizes and what else to order.

Okonomi-yaki is a Japanese savoury pancake that is made in front of you on your table (which has a massive hot plate in the centre!). From what I have briefly researched it originates from two key areas, Kansai and Hiroshima and is a batter mix made with vegetables and served with a number of different meats/fishes or additional ingredients. All I know is that it is amazingly tasty and super fun! Don’t be fooled, the portions may look small but you come out feeling stuffed!

Prices: Okonomiyaki £15.95 – £49.95, Sides £2.80 – £12.90, Desserts £2.80 – £6.50

Great for: Something a bit different

Vixxy P’s Menu faves: 

Buta Kimchi Itame (Pork Pelly stir-fried with beansprouts, spring onions and kimchi, absolutely delish!)
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Goma-ae (if you are up for something a little different try these! Our waitress told us it was like the Japanese Marmite – I think she means that some people love it and some people hate it!… Go on, try it! They are certainly not gross but definitely interesting!)IMG_2805

Natsu-no-Omoide (this was a summer limited edition Okonomi-yaki but if they have it, then try it, it was so tasty and the veg really gave it a real edge compared to my dining companions which were just meat based)

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Contact Details:

Address: 47 Museum Street, Bloomsbury, London, W1D 3RP

Telephone: 0207 405 3211 (reservations recommended)

Website: http://www.abeno.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abeno.okonomiyaki

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Abeno_Okonomi

Google +: n/a

Pizza Pilgrims, Soho London

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P 

One of the street food successes, Pizza Pilgrims have set roots down in Soho and nested in their own quirky (and very cosy!) corner premises dishing out fabulous Napoli inspired pizzas to the people. They have a number of different locations, some permanent as well as setting up at some of the city’s popular street food locations.

The best things these guys have done with their offerings and menu is that they (in the words of my own father) ‘keep it simple’. Simple in that there are 9 pizza choices, each one as unique as the next which does cause some serious consideration issues for me and my lovely friend Camilla who popped in for an after works long overdue catch up!

We arrived about 6.30pm and there was a light crowd surrounding the restaurant, we groaned with the prospect of being told there is at least an hour wait. We braved the crowd walked in and talked to a very friendly maitre’d who wrote our names on to her very organised clipboard and invited us to enjoy the evening outside and order a drink while we waited for our table. Not a problem!

After being told a 30min wait we were called after 10mins, we were shown downstairs to their ‘cyrpt’ which was buzzing like a true napoli pizzeria. Tables covered in oilcloths and simple chairs from school assembly halls fitted the purpose perfectly. We ordered quickly as the temperature down there was fairly ‘close’ shall we say, so we were eager for liquid to ease our thirst.

The Ruby Juniper cocktail was delish, it packed a punch and not for the faint hearted but certainly a welcome tipple on a hazy Tuesday evening after a hectic day in the office. Literally minutes after our drinks came pizza. My wonderful friend Camilla had the ‘Nduja’ spicy sausage pizza which we would thoroughly recommend for anyone with a cold who is wishing to clear their sinuses – dat waza spicy a pizza! (sorry couldn’t help myself). I chose the ‘Calzone ripieno’ which was superb. Fresh ingredients and served quickly. You couldn’t go wrong!

All in all this is a great little place for a quick little bite, don’t expect to be able to stay and drink the night away over a lengthy meal here, if you are sat upstairs you may be death stared by the queueing patrons waiting for their seat! But it is definitely worth a little visit. The one thing we didn’t get to try (as to be quite honest we felt like we were eating in the pizza oven it was so warm downstairs) is the desserts. The ones that intrigued us both were the Lemon Sorbet served in its own skin and of course the infamous Nutella & salted ricotta pizza ring. An excellent excuse for us to go back to ensure the full menu is sampled! I have given it a 4 P’s out of 5 rating in hope that they get some proper Air Conditioning installed down there!

Prices: Pizzas £5 – £11, Sides £3 – £6, Desserts £4 – £6

Great for: Weekly speedy catch ups (but be prepared to have a drink and wait for your table … its worth the wait!)

Vixxy P’s Menu faves:

Ruby Juniper Cocktail IMG_2388Nduja Pizza   IMG_2390Calzone Ripieno IMG_2389 Contact Details:

Address: 11 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3RP

Telephone: 0207 287 8964 (reservations taken)

Website: http://pizzapilgrims.co.uk/pizzerias/dean-st-soho/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pizzapilgrims

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pizzapilgrims

Google +: https://plus.google.com/104325088801262550164/about?hl=en

L’Orchidee, The Village, Westfield London

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

As we braced ourselves, we knew it needed to be quick. Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush on a Saturday is no easy task, and when it is the only place that we could get to that has most of the retailers we needed to visit, we knew there was no option. We took a deep breath and dived in. Mission was almost complete and we could see the end in site, then the dreaded loo stop. Always at the wrong time and always just when you don’t want it. In the search for the holy ‘Ladies Loo’ I discovered Westfield’s latest and best addition – L’Orchidee.

For those who don’t know about L’Orchidee it is a luxury boutique patisserie set up by two amazing patisserie chefs who supply a number of high end venues including Fortnum & Mason and other fine hotel establishments. The offer an stunning range of macarons, cakes and many more you can drool over. The staff are lovely, ever so friendly and are knowledgeable. They will recommend based on your taste and are lovely and helpful.

Just in case you were wondering, we did find the loo in time!

Prices: Individual Macarons start from £1.80, they offer selection boxes (like the one below), cakes are individually priced per types. For the placement of the cafe, the prices aren’t that bad, but lets face it, it’s a posh cafe in the posh area of Westfield, but I can recommend for a moment where you just need to indulge, choose L’Orchidee.

Great for: When the shopping gets too much (for medicinal purposes only I recommend a glass of Prosecco and a few of these beauties – see below)

Vixxy P’s Menu faves:

Amazing flavours to try: Kia Royal, Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Peanut Butter,

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 Macaron vs. Macaroon

What do you say? This is a hot debate between me and my friends, we have many different sides to the argument, and even though Wikipedia states it is Macarons there is room for regional and diversity in terminology! What’s your favourite – Macarons or Macaroons?

Contact Details:

Address: First Floor, The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, London W12 7GF

Telephone: unknown

Website: http://uk.westfield.com/shop/stores/lorchidee/london?retailer=53418

Facebook: L’Orchidee

Twitter: L’Orchidee

Google +: L’Orchidee

VIET on Greek Street, Soho

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

Had my bi-monthly fix of this place last week.  And again it is just as good as always. It is a small kitchen style restaurant with friendly staff. The food is quick and delicious. In the year’s I have been coming it is consistently good food, and I am yet to be proved wrong to my claim it is the best place to have Pho in London. They recently have branched out and offer more than just vietnamese dishes, there is a selection of Thai dishes including curries.

It has had a little makeover recently. Gone are the shredded, biro scribbled priced menus and basic cutlery, but the sentiment and simplicity stays the same.

Queues can occur here, but I swear it is worthy of the wait.

Prices: Starters come in approximately at £3-£5 and Main Courses £5-£9

Great for: Weekly after work catch up dinners,

Vixxy P’s Menu faves:

Summer Rolls

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Special Pho:

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Contact Details:

Address: 34 Greek Street, London, W1D 5D

Telephone: 020 7494 9888

Website: No known website (if you do know of one get in touch!)

Google +: Viet Pho