Michalak, 3rd Arr., Paris

One and half days is woefully inadequate for a trip to Paris. On the upside, it gives me another reason to return and I do actually have one (at least!) more visit planned for the tail end of the year. The French are sheer geniuses when it comes to the art of patisserie and I got to know that side rather well (read: eating everything in sight). I started off with a hit list from one of my Parisian friends to guide me. But even without, everything looks so gobsmacking tasty in ever corner of the city. The final sweet treat for the weekend was the uber-cute Religieuse fraise (€8.50). It’s a multi-tier strawberry choux and like all of Paris, it comes very well dressed. I did find it a messy eat, the shell is hard and inside there is a solid helping of the strawberry cremeux and strawberry confit. It does spill out, out of volume. I liked the pistachio creme, it wasn’t so sweet and the choux is perfect. And that’s it, my final puff for Paris, for now.

michalak

8/10

Cafe Cirkusz, District VII, Budapest

After being dropped off by my shuttle bus in a seemingly random location, I staggered over to Cafe Cirkusz before I completely collapsed from starvation. Fret not, there is some hyperbole there. At a later afternoon hour, there isn’t much of a crowd at Cafe Crikusz, so I could get my food in minutes. When in Hungary, eat like the Hungarians right? I went with the Hungarian country-side breakfast (1800 HUF) option. This no-cook plate comes with duck liver pate, sausage, ham, butter, toast and vegetables. Nice and clean, easy to eat. I like the sausage (slices) and ham, these made for a charcuterie-like sandwich. The meat was very tasty. The duck pate was alright, but not as creamy as some of the more fancy ones that I have had (and loved). The brown bread was also good, served warm and there’s plenty on the plate to keep you fill.

cafecirckuz

7.5/10

Snooze, Luxembourg

The experience takes a while so you might actually have a snooze whilst at Snooze. That is in jest, but our time at Snooze in Luxembourg did feel like a long one. We did have the pre-warning that the burgers would take twenty minutes, but coupled with slow service, the time waiting did feel significant. Perhaps it was the thoughts on our impending flight home compounding our unusual lack of patience. The burgers are worth the wait though. My selection was the Sweet Honey Burger (€18.50) with polenta fries and an Aperol spritz. As far as burgers go, there’s one are hefty. Patties are enormous (partially explains the wait) and it’s loaded with bacon, cheese and the super sweet sauce.

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7.5/10

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Yogism, South City West, Dublin

Every country needs their own frozen yoghurt chain and in Dublin, the have Yogism. It’s a busy little store at that, located in a shopping arcade. There’s about four machines from memory, with all the familiar flavours. I went for the no fuss-salted caramel with a minimalism of toppings. The staff were super friendly, and the store had a cool feel. And to the froyo: it’s nice, creamy, not too sweet. My only qualm is that it melted very fast, not sure if that was the machine or the normal texture. The menu items at Yogism did look a little more impressive than the froyo options, so I’d suggest diverting your attention these if you happen to pop in.

yogism

7/10

Yogism Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CK Oberża, Śródmieście Północne, Warsaw

I had my first Warsaw meal at CK Oberża, a budget priced diner. It has an authentic East European pub feel and plenty of beer, and plenty of meat. Whilst it doesn’t seem to be a fave with the locals on Zomato, it did appear on my list of places to check out (for some reason or another). The airport shuttle bus from Modlin drops passengers off at Centrum and the restaurant is located handily nearby. There’s no way to go but all-in, I went for the Korlewska Deska Mies for 37,90zł.

This is a carnivore delight on a plate. There’s chicken wings, black pudding, smoked sausage, chicken fillet, pork belly, pork fillet, cabbage salad, dips and baked potato. Phew! To say it was an overwhelming array of meat is an understatement, this meal gives you a bit of everything. I wasn’t such a fan of the Polish version of the black pudding, but all the meat was fantastic. It’s novel to have a sample of everything on offer and it would make a great dish for sharing. Service was polite, they spoke English and I had a nice relaxed start to my time in the city.

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7.5/10

CK Oberża Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Travels: I came, I Warsaw, I conquered

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Warsaw at all. I thought it was dull and it didn’t quite charm me with its warmth. But it wasn’t long until I stepped outside the usual tourist trappings and found myself loving the idea of being a temporary Varsovian. Poland is a relatively cheap destination (especially from London).  And it’s intriguing, surprising, a real city of corners and towers, it shatters your expectations and in a fulfilling way. These days I’m a mini-ambassador for Warszawa: it’s a beautiful city worthy of your weekend and not enough of my crew here have checked it out.

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Mazel Tov, Budapest

If there’s gonna be one restaurant I’d recommend for anyone heading to Budapest, it’ll be the one that was recommended to me! My cousin lived a little while in the capital, getting to know the scene, and Mazel Tov was top of her list. And it ended up being top of mine. Stellar Israeli-fusion food, in a signature ruinpub setting, and snappy (the good kind of snappy) service. I feasted on the sous-vide rose duck breast skewers Grill plate for 2900 HUF. All the grill plates at Mazel Tov arrive with matbucha salad, beetroot, parsley tahina and grilled pita with pomegranate seeds. I’m not much of a tomato boy so the matbucha was never going to be a match for me, but everything else was outstanding. A Sam-sized portion, a super sweet beetroot side and tender duck, cooked perfectly. The breast had a great crust, with punchy notes from the pomegranate and the sides. Well balanced and a great fusion dish that breathes some innovation in the familiar pita genre.

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10/10

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Cathy Goedert, Luxembourg City

I like my mornings to start with pastries. And Cathy Goedert does a superb job of them. After a morning of haplessly wandering around Luxembourg City we found ourselves in this chic location. Sanctuary. Cathy Goedert evokes memories of some of the other new wave modern patisseries. The results are as good as the classics. Craig and I shared the French-styled breakfast for one. This has: bacon, eggs, fruit salad, yoghurt, six cakes and a giant bowl for bread and pastries. At €20 it at first glance, feels a bit dear, but then you realise there’s plenty to be shared. Throw in an apricot tart and the (surprise) cakes at the end and you’ll be away laughing.

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8.5/10

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New York Cafe, Budapest

Advertised as the world’s most beautiful cafe in the world, it’s hard to disagree after experiencing the opulence of New York cafe yourself. These days, it’s more of a tourist hotspot, with queues of tourists ready to snap up the food and on their cameras. The food and drink is expensive, as you could expect. I had two cakes which were both around the 2,400 HUF mark, that’s about £7 a pop. The food isn’t particularly stellar, the patisserie feels rather haphazard. My first bite was the Sacher cake, this is a Viennese style torte that is usually chocolate heavy. The ones at New York Cafe have a clumsy thick chocolate shell wall and an orange paste that is overwhelming. My second dessert was the vanilla mousse with Hungarian sour cherry Pálinka. There ain’t a lot of Pálinka, it’s mainly decorative. I preferred this of the two, it was light and not dense but again the presentation was poor. There was finger mark on the side of the cake which didn’t speak of care. Anyway, the crowds come for the grandiose decor – it’s amazing, photographable and inspiring. But the same can’t be said for the food.

newyorkcafe

6/10

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Brother Hubbard, North City, Dublin

I had been looking forward to visiting Dublin for a little while now; it was one of the first cities I booked myself in for. Once there, I was keen to check out the best of the bunch. And currently ranked #1 on Zomato is a brunch-y spot called Brother Hubbard. There’s two branches of the cafe, one north, one south. I crossed the Liffey to find a spot in the North store just before the afternoon rush. It’s a lovely experience, befitting of its high praise and worthy of a queue. Though here in Ireland, a queue is never that long. The service at Brother Hubbard is fantastic, I was impressed with my Moroccan-style semolina pancakes (€10.50). White chocolate mascarpone should be a national treasure. It works so well on the fluffy pancakes. Salted date caramel, pineapple and coconut flavours bounces off the plate and onto your tongue. It’s a great level of sweetness, a tantalising contrast of textures and a perfectly sized serve. At Brother Hubbard much of the menu has slight quirks and tweaks, that keep it an interesting enough to stand out from the usual breakfast game. Also it’s highly seasonal, so worth being a regular too.

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9.5/10

Brother Hubbard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato