Lisbon: what to eat & drink and see in between 

1. Stroll Lisbon to Belem

Join the runners and cyclists and wander the 10ish k from Cais do Sodre to Belem. Pass graffiti, waterside restaurants and the marina before you reach the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and the gateway to Belem. Here, the crowd thickens out as you pass the striking new Maat sculpture and head towards Belem Tower. 

2. LX Factory

A slight walk out of town this old factory complex is packed full of quirky shops, market stalls and bars. Watch life unfold from the window of Wish Slow Coffee House, or check out the graffiti adorning the old factory walls.

3. Enoteca De Belem

This new pop up from Enoteca De Belem offers an intimate three courses menu complete with matched wines and coffee. Take a seat at the communal table and tuck in next to Belem’s businessmen, tourists and foodie travellers. The service is top notch. A steal at €33. 

4. Pensao Amore

This brothel turned bar just above red street feels both opulent and run down. The ornate, false ceiling cuts a dash, and the pictures and antiques are nothing sort of intriguing. Visit the toilets…

5. Bairro Do Avillez

Lisbon’s Michelin star chef Jose Avillez has created a foodie paradise at Barrio Do Avillez. With two restaurants, a market and a secret bar, it describes itself as an ‘entire universe devoted to creativity and to the best Portuguese flavour’. Whatever, worth a peek for the food and creative ceiling adorned with dangling ceramic fried eggs, broccoli and a host of other meats and veg. 

6. Kiosk Bar

Grab a take away from the local bottle shop, or splash out a couple of Euro on a glass of wine and take a pew at sunset. Bands belt out tunes to a chilled, appreciative crowd while people drink, dance, chill and watch the word go by. 

7. A Cevichieria

Queue for a table with the locals propped up outside with a cold, crisp glass of white. Then, when your turn comes, sit under the giant fibreglass octopus (striking, rather than tacky) and dig into tapas style plates of fresh fish that pack a punch. 

8. Time Out Market 

Stall upon stall of restaurants now pack Lisbon’s old fruit and veg market. Opened in 1994 by the Time Out Portugal team, the building in itself is a beauty. Place your order, grab a buzzer then enjoy burgers, artisan pizza or platters piled high with local meat and cheese from the 28 restaurants and eight bars. 

Holy Phok, Hove

Visiting fresh-ish off the boat (ok, plane) from Vietnam, Holy Phok on Hove’s Landsdown Place had a lot to live up to.

I’d dismissed it when it first opened. Its home has been a string of unsuccessful openings since I moved to the city something over a decade ago. But a rumbling of positive reviews and a packed restaurant each time I passed tempted me in. 

We were – just – squeezed in sans reservation on a Wednesday evening, which was a good sign. 

From the get go, the service was slick and friendly. And the atmosphere buzzy. 

The Better Than Squid – meaty oyster mushrooms marinated in turmeric and garlic, then deep fried – was a great start to the meal. Hot, crispy and while I wouldn’t say better, a damn fine equal to squid. The sesame crackers with Vesto (aka coriander, garlic, roasted peanuts and chili dip) were also a winner. 

We followed with large, pillowy steamed pork buns and a fishy alternative – Hanoi Hannah. While tasty, they were probably on the large side but the herby slaw and zingy flavours were good. 

Holy Phok takes sourcing and CSR a step further. Along with locally reared meat, it boasts a menu packed with herbs grown at a local social enterprise farm, Roots to Growth. 

While it might not be a carbon copy of Vietnam’s fare, and some of the dishes were slightly on the large side, this is a fun, friendly spot for dinner with decent food to boot. 

Bologna: what to eat & drink (and see in between)

I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Italy and its food. Waiting to hear my exam results clutching a melting ice cream on the promenade at Lido de Jesolo. Careering precariously round the mountain roads from San Gimignano in the back of a restaurateur’s car to try and catch (and hoping we’d live to make) the last train back to Florence – one more course isn’t always a good idea. And being treated like family by a tomato farmer, joining a feast with workers to celebrate the harvest at the end of a film shoot.

But Bologna holds a special place in my heart – or possibly stomach… Here’s my list of what to eat & drink (and see in between) in the city.

1 Le Stanze. Right in the heart of the student quarter, Le Stanze is a 16th-century church, apparently once the private chapel of the Palazzo Bentivoglio. While we didn’t think too much of the apreativo, the bar staff were friendly, the drinks well made and there aren’t many other places you can enjoy a tipple while admiring a beautiful painted fresco from 17-something.

2 Le Due Totti. The two towers – Garisenda and Asinelli – are the face of Bologna. Clatter up to the top of Asinelli for about €3 and admire the red rooftops sprawling out below.

3 Sorbetteria La Castiglione. Quite possibly the best ice cream shop in the world (or at least Italy). Peruse the hundreds of flavours – the stracciatella is particularly tasty – then take a stroll up to enjoy your cone of choice in the lush gardens of nearby Giardini Regina Margherita where there are hundreds of turtles swimming in the pond. Top tip – get in there quick on Sundays when Italian grannies are buying by the bucket load for family lunch.

4 Promenade the porticos. You can’t miss Bologna’s porticos – 40k+ of covered walkways protecting its residents from the beating sun. Nothing beats an aimless stroll, passing churches and chapels, lively bars and great, huge ominous doorways. Look out for the graffiti and beautiful old signs. And stop along the way for coffee and wine.

5 Simoni Bologna. A stones throw from Piazza Maggiore is Simoni Bologna – the smartest looking of the joints on Via Drapperie serving mouthwatering platters stacked high with regional meats and cheese. Throw in some chilled local wines and you’ve got the perfect spot to watch the world go by. And bag a rich, crumbling hunk of Parmesan to take home.

6 Trattoria Gianni. For rough versions of the classics, try Trattoria Gianni on Via Clavature. Smart waiting staff serve spot on pasta, which you can enjoy surrounded by a mix of Italian families and hungry travellers.


Six Degrees North, Aberdeen

Scotland, like the rest of the UK, is having quite a craft beer resurgence. Sales are up significantly, and at last count, there were 75 craft breweries smattered across the country. For a corner of the UK with a population of 5.3 million, that’s not bad going in my book.

While indie outfit BrewDog might shout the loudest – a brewery crowd-funded by its ‘Equity Punks’ and at least one headline grabbing beer a quarter – there are other equally interesting operators worth investigation.

So with an hour to kill in Aberdeen, we checked out Stonehaven-based brewer Six Degrees North, so-called as it sits six degrees north of Belgium.
Dubbing itself the Belgian brewer of Scotland, Six Degrees North boast its own brew 6°n, with variations like Scotch, Hop Classic and Hopocrisy, to name a few, as well as a staggering choice of 300+ bottled beers.

A traditional Belgium brewing processes is used while ‘pushing the boundaries’, according to its founders. In their Littlejohn Street premises, simple, tasty sandwiches and platters add to the experience.

A stripped back interior, low lighting and amiable staff make this a great place to sit back, relax and work your way through the menu.





Hare & Hounds, Brighton

Billing itself as Brighton’s first ‘brewery fresh pub’, The Hare and Hounds on London Road is a fine mix of craft beer and Mexican street food.

The once grubby boozer has made itself over in to the sort of destination that’s attractive to almost anyone. Tattooed trendies sit next to London Road locals, white haired couples rub shoulders with kids on first dates, and young dads with prams take refuge in the corners.

Meantime takes centre stage with two tanks piping fresh, unfiltered beer direct into punters’ glasses. I’m sold on that. But there’s also Brew Dog, local favourite Dark Star, a whole menu of ‘craft on draught’ and bottled beer specials.

The food’s a focal point too, with Brighton Mexican La Choza serving tostadas, tacos and burritos bursting with pit-smoked pulled pork, slow cooked beef or catch of the day. Tasty.

Throw in a decent sized beer garden, a punchy playlist and pleasant staff and it’s no wonder this place has built up such a following since its launch earlier in the year.
Hare and Hounds, 75 London Road, Brighton




A Wong, London

Hidden among Mexican restaurants, sandwich shops and supermarkets on a slightly undesirable side street next to Victoria, A Wong is an unusually placed rising star.

But rising star it is. And quite rightly so. Young chef Andrew took over what used to be his dad’s restaurant Kym’s at the end of last year, made it over, and reopened under his own name.

Some lukewarm, then some rave reviews have followed from the likes of Giles Coren, Marina O’Loughlin and Fay Maschler. But what’s important is that the punters love it and the simple dining room was packed to the rafters when we visited on a Tuesday evening.

In fact, we were initially offered the last table – a seat at the bar looking into the bustling open kitchen. But a cancellation landed us a table and a more relaxing seat to enjoy a flavoursome feast that kicked off a super-sized prawn cracker.

A Wong is famed for its tasting menu. A reasonable priced affair at £38.88 for eight courses that takes in dim sum, poached Scottish razor clam with sea cucumber and Beijing yoghurt.

There’s also a well priced set menu. Just short of £15 for a starter and main from a small selection of the restaurant’s favourites, including a drink. A good deal.

But we ordered a la carte. Starting with piping hot, oversized mushroom, bamboo and vermicelli spring rolls before diving in to some superb main courses.

The winner by far had to be the side of Sichuanese aubergine – strong, spicy and incredibly moreish. Rice was light and fluffy, and the chicken dishes – heavily spiced, and moreish – flew off the plate. The pudding – a crumble finished with salty, soy caramel, will definitely be ordered again.

The dishes were beautifully presented and perfectly priced. Slightly slow service was made up for by charm, enthusiasm and an obvious desire to ensure each table enjoyed their visit.

I’ll certainly be back to try the poached Scottish razor clam with sea cucumber.




PLEB: Pizza Roman


Street food is big business. According to The Food People the are 2.5k+ social mentions of it each month across the web, and an Amazon search shows over 5,738 books (mine found much more) relating to street food. From gourmet mac & cheese, falafel and dosa, to handmade burgers, pulled pork and tacos street food is a winner, sure to pull in the crowds.

There are already a couple of established operators serving street food pizza across the UK – Pizza Pilgrims, Fundi and Well Kneaded to name a few – but there’s a new kid on the block, PLEB: Pizza Roman, who is sure to give them all a run for their money.

Launching in Lewes this Saturday, 22 June, PLEB is the new venture from Restaurant magazine’s Joe Lutrario and school friend Jake Fitch, an architect and expert on the Roman pizza scene. The Lewes school friends will be serving up thin, Roman-style pizzas from their home town’s market most Saturdays from 12-4 ish.

Made from dough fermented for 48 hours, the pizzas are hand stretched, rolled thinner than most pizzas you’re able to get in the UK, before being baked in an attractive wood burning oven at 400 degrees for around a minute.

The duo will offer a frequently changing selection of toppings inspired by seasonal, local produce and featuring meats and cheeses imported from Italy. During a taster session we were treated to asparagus with asparagus and walnut pesto, mushroom & truffle oil and pizza bianca with courgette, tomato and garlic. Prices start from a reasonable £3.50 and peak at £4.50.

Check them out and get stuck in. You won’t be disappointed.



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