1H+K – Vaasa (Finland)

Once in a while you stumble upon the perfect little restaurant that has it all: great food, ambience and service. 1H+K is that place, although it happens to be in Vaasa, Finland so I’m not able to pop in nearly as often as I’d like. However, I did make the most of my short stay and enjoyed dinner at 1H+K twice.

1hk-stairs

1hk-pentik

1H+K stands for one (1) room (huone) + kitchen (keittiö) and that’s exactly what it is, although there is a private dining room available (they call it a cabinet). The restaurant (ravintola) is tucked away on the first floor above the Pentik shop but it isn’t part of the store. It’s completely independent and is accessed through the main entrance with its own staircase. However, you can spot the restaurant from inside the shop.

1hk-inside-view-pentik

1hk-view-from-pentik

Its relatively hidden premises is part of the charm. It’s like discovering a secret location for those “in the know”. It certainly feels as though it’s the type of place only locals know about, as there is no English version of their website. Fortunately, I was able to find their main menu on their Facebook page that included the English translation. The dishes feature local produce and seasonal cooking, which means that the menu changes a few times a year and remains small (as it should be) with 4 or 5 items per course.

1hk-interior

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The Cock – Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire (UK)

A few months ago, I was kindly invited to sample The Cock’s new à la carte starters and mains menu, designed by talented head chef Wil Findlay. I was seriously impressed and raved all about it here. I also vowed to return and experience the restaurant as a customer. I had that opportunity on Monday!

The Cock sign

The Cock side sign

The Cock, which is one of the restaurants operated by Cambscuisine, isn’t one of their Cambridge locations. It’s located in the picturesque village of Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire (out Huntingdon way) and it is definitely worth the drive. Its focus is on high end casual dining, with no sign of pretentiousness. Reservations are strongly recommended as The Cock has been garnering rave reviews and has even been named the 2015 Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide.

Collage The Cock

Paulo and I arrived 10 minutes before the restaurant opened at 6:30pm for dinner so we were able to enjoy a drink in the cosy pub, which has a separate entrance but still connected inside for staff to make their way from one section to another. The Cock’s building dates back to the 17th century so some parts have a quirky layout but it is all quite charming.

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‘Take It Easy’ Steak and Mash

Preparing a great meal doesn’t always have to involve a lot of work. Sometimes we all need to take it easy and use some shortcuts.

The secret is to use fresh, high quality ingredients, such as meat from your local butcher or specialty items prepared with love by independent food producers, and let the flavours speak for themselves.

Mash Steak 3

Mash steak 1

Armed with sirloin from the excellent butchers at Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop, some Maris Piper potatoes, African Garlic, Lemon and Pepper Sauce by Bim’s Kitchen, and the Tefal OptiGrill, we set out to make a simple and tasty meal.

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The Crown Hotel – Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk (UK)

The Crown Hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea is one of the luxury hotels in coastal Norfolk owned by The Flying Kiwi Inns. They are known for serving some excellent food as the restaurants have New Zealand Master Chef Chris Coubrough at the helm. My husband Paulo and I had these places in our sights and we finally decided on an overnight stay and dinner at The Crown Hotel.

HotelThis charming former coaching inn overlooks The Buttlands, with its spacious village green and majestic trees. Picture perfect.

CrownThe magnificent golden crown at the entrance assured us of a regal experience as we eagerly explored the rest of the hotel.

We were impressed by the pleasant bar with its cosy little nooks in which to unwind, the bright and cheerful orangery and the more formal dining room. After checking in, we were shown to a spacious deluxe room with a comfy sofa and bed, including an abundance of pillows to help us settle in and relax.

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