The Royal Albert Hall!


A Second Serving reviews Coda restaurant in the Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington... 

Coda, the concert hall's upscale dining spot, offers a menu of seasonal and modern British cuisine. Inside the grey and mauve-coloured restaurant there are huge Swarovski crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and large, open windows. With seating for 65 guests, Coda really maximizes the unique views of the Prince Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens. Guests to the Hall can go to Coda two hours ahead of shows and return to their tables during intervals to continue to enjoy drinks and desserts. Although the staff have to work to a really tight schedule (everyone needs to be served in time for the performance that day), service is still very impressive. 

 Why go?

If you're off to a performance at the Royal Albert Hall then you really should give this place a visit beforehand. They offer a two course menu for £35, or three course for £40 and both include a glass of sparkling wine - fantastic value considering the quality of food on offer. To start, I went for the tuna tartare with spiced avocado, soy and yuzu and this was fresh and full of flavour. I continued the fishy theme in my main as I had the roast Cornish cod, which came with Austell muscles, buttered leeks and sea vegetables. It was gooey, garlicy and beautifully presented. I couldn't fault the service either - our waiter, Gianpier, recommended dishes without coming across as pompous or overbearing. For dessert I had the mango and passionate fruit cheesecake (if there's fruit in it, there's no calories... right?!) which came with crunchy oat cookies and a super smooth coconut ice-cream. I genuinely couldn't fault it. Even though I was stuffed, I couldn't help but feel jealous of my boyfriends lemon and red fruit tart with toasted meringue and raspberry sorbet - I may also have stuck a sneaky fork in!



It was a hot day so which meant it was a little on the warm side as the windows are sealed shut.


Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP.

Dinner with a fabulous view


A Second Serving reviews Burlington's at The Beech Hill Hotel & Spa in Windermere, Cumbria...

Burlington's restaurant, which is part of the Beech Hill Hotel & Spa, is situated on the east shore of Lake Windermere and offers truly breathtaking views across the lake. As well as the main restaurant, there's an outside terrace you can have drinks on before and/or after your meal to really soak up the view. The menu consists of French and English cuisine and is sourced almost exclusively from local suppliers. They offer a choice of two, three or five course selections and we went for three at a very reasonably priced £34.95.

Check out that view!

Why go?

If you're after tasty food (and decent sized portions), with a superb view of Lake Windermere then this is the place to go. Service is attentive and friendly and your food will be served quick. They take your order in the main bar beforehand, so you're not left waiting long between courses. I started my meal with the shelled muscles mariniere, which came with garlic, herbs and Chardonnay-in baked tomato. I was expecting to get my hands dirty wrestling the muscles out of the shells, but I didn't need to as they came already prepared in a little silver pot. The flavour of the sauce was spot on and there was a lot of it so I could soak it all up with the crusty bread on the side. For my main I had the duck and this came with sweet potato and greens. It was well cooked but could have perhaps been a little better seasoned. The presentation of the food was however very good. My partner had the roast salmon main and he said this was very fresh. To finish, I went for one of my fave desserts, crème brulee, and this one came with a citrus shortcake. I have to say it was very good - it had a good crunch on top and was creamy and delicious underneath. Nom nom nom! My OH opted for the trio of desserts - a mini crème brulee, a strawberry posset and a dark chocolate mousse - all of which I sampled and all of which tasted bloody damn good!

Me tucking into my main!


While the views really are to die for (pretty much wherever you sit in the restaurant), the rest of the hotel seems a little dated and old fashioned. Perhaps, however, this is just down to personal taste.


The Beech Hill Hotel, Newby Bridge Road, Cumbria, LA23 3LR.

Feeling flash...


A Second Serving reviews Ours in Knightsbridge..

Ours is a brand new star studded restaurant in Knightsbridge that serves British-euro cuisine. Inside, the high trees and high ceilings add to the drama and elegance of the comfy and contemporary restaurant. Not only is the service impressive and attentive, the food is also up there with the best. It's hardly surprising though as the head chef works very closely with Tom Sellers of groundbreaking Restaurant Story - he's the culinary inspiration and adviser of Ours, as well as being a director of the restaurant.

Why go? 

This is one flash place! Stepping inside, you walk through an impressive tunnel of lights into the main restaurant which feels a bit like a giant greenhouse with plants everywhere and two big trees covered in fairy-lights that pop up through the restaurant floor. Once we were settled, the waitress helped us to pick two delicious gin cocktails from the menu, then bought over a giant platter of crudites (traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which could be dipped in a sauce) which she poured liquid nitrogen over for dramatic effect - this definitely worked as we did the whole 'ooooo' thing as the smoke billowed out from our table.

Our John Dory and steak main...

To start I had the crab, which came with avocado and apple. While it was quite a small portion, it was incredibly tasty and the sweetness of the apple really lifted the dish. My friend Kelly and I then decided to share two dishes between us for the main as we couldn't decide what we liked the look of best. We tried the John Dory, which came with saffron, tomato and courgette and this was super fresh and well seasoned. But the fish paled in comparison to the fillet of steak with bearnaise sauce. Oh my bloody God. It was so good in fact that Kelly said she couldn't talk because she was enjoying it so much! We'd ordered a portion of pecorini foie-gras chips to go alongside it and these were thick, chunky and full of flavour. Although we were stuffed by this point we decided to share two desserts (why not!) and they were bloody brilliant too. The doughnuts with raspberry filling came in a cute paper bag and the chocolate, smoked black tea and almond tart was delicious and not as rich as it looked... so of course we ate the lot! What. A. Meal.


It's quite pricey! Our three course meal and drinks came to over £200 but if you have the cash to splash or you've got a big celebration coming up, then this is THE place to go. I haven't been so wowed by food, location, surroundings or service in a long time.


264 Brompton Road, London, SW3 2AS.

Baking with Cookery School at Little Portland Street


A Second Serving reviews the Ultimate Afternoon Tea class at Cookery School at Little Portland Street...

Cookery School at Little Portland Street is one of the oldest venues in London for amateur cooks - and London's leading teaching kitchen. They offer over 30 different classes that range from daytime and evening class sampling - from bread and cake making to gluten free cooking and knife skills, to the regional cuisine of the Middle East and Mexico. The Cookery School aims to demystify cooking with an emphasis on it being fun, friendly and accessible. Most of the classes are aimed at amateur rather than professional chefs, who, like me, want to pretend they're on Masterchef! Every session provides lots of hands on practice and there are ample opportunities to ask questions and hone your skills. I was invited to the Ultimate Afternoon Tea class and took my sister Rebecca... who was just as rubbish as me!

The sponge cake of dreams (I actually made this!)

Why go?

Upon arrival we were welcomed with a glass of bubbly (hell yes!) and handed an apron with our name on. Before long the class had started and we were split up into pairs and allocated tasks to begin. My sister and I decided to start making the sponge cake, which had a cream filling and chocolate ganache topping - something I'd never dared attempt before. Fortunately, all of the ingredients were weighed up ready for us to use so we had to just follow a simple set of instructions... easier said than done if you confuse salt with sugar. Guilty as charged! As the class progressed, the chef stopped at moments to show us different things, and we were assigned other tasks. As well as the cake, we also helped make the scotch eggs and scones. The chef was fun, if a little sarcastic about our cooking skills, but it was all in good taste and made the class a real laugh. The three hours seemed to whiz by and before I knew it the food we'd made was all cooked and laid out on a table in front of us.

Scones and lemon tarts
Egg rolls in homemade bread and sarnies

At the end we all sat down together and enjoyed the food that we'd made, along with another class of fizz and a cup of English tea. We made classic scones with cream and jam, cheese scones, lemon tarts, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, egg mayonnaise on homemade mini rolls, scotch eggs and a sponge cake. I tell you what everything tasted so much better knowing we'd made it ourselves! We were also given a handy little pack to take home with us which contained all the recipes should we wish to give them another try. While I very much doubt the class made me a potential Masterchef contestant overnight, it was heaps of fun and I did pick up a few tips along the way. The best one? Crack an egg on a hard work surface, not the side of a bowl. Sounds silly I know, but six cracked eggs later and not one piece of shell was in that mixing bowl. So proud!

Ready and raring to go!


Everyone in our group was fairly quiet and I couldn't help but feel like it would have been a bit more fun if we'd known each other before. Saying that, it was probably just pot luck, and because they were quiet it meant we stuck our hands up and tried more things. This class would be great to do with a small group of friends or maybe even a hen party looking for a fun activity.


15b Little Portland Street, London, W1W 8BW