Nahargarh Fort

Dusty pink skies and stunning city views. 

One of the many things Jaipur has in abundance are forts. These are all worth a visit in their own right but sometimes just being in the grounds is enough to get your fix. One of the popular hang outs at sunset for an evening beer is the open air Padao restaurant at Nahargarh Fort.

Built overlooking the city with its walls extending across the surrounding hills, the fort once formed a strong defence ring with Amer and Jaigarh. Nahargarh, meaning ‘abode of tigers’, is also known as Tiger fort and I have heard tales of the odd tiger being spotted on the drive back down so there’s always the added bonus of a chance encounter after a few drinks here!

To get to this amazing view point you need to walk the snaking trail up the side of the cliff. You can drive of course, however the sense of scale you get walking up and looking back down over Jaipur is incredible and well worth the effort! Plus, you can work up your appetite for that Kingfisher at the top! The restaurant entrance fee is a little unnecessary but if it makes it less painful it does get you a complementary soft drink or chai…then of course get yourself some beers and watch the sunset light up the city with that beautiful desert pink haze.

Nahargarh Fort, Amer Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 302001

 

Frank's Cafe

Unrivaled views of London at Frank's Cafe.

Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar is an arts venue and bar with some of the best city skyline views we've seen in London. On the 10th floor of a car park, you've got several flights of luminous pink stairs to climb before reaching the top and drinking in those stunning views. 

With a totally different vibe to anywhere else in London at the moment, Frank's huge open space has wiggly lines painted across the floor by artist Richard Wentworth. On a warm summers evening there's no other place to sit and watch the colour of the sky change. We grabbed a couple of Pimm's at sat looking North towards central London for most of the evening. If you're calling by for food, there's plenty of plates to choose from, with daily vegetables, fish and meat, ice cream sold by the scoop and cheese too.

Those rooftop views give Frank's a very welcome New York feel and there's no denying that it's a great addition to London's many bars. Frank's is closed on a Monday but definitely worth a visit on any other day of the week.  

www.frankscafe.org.uk

10th floor, Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park, 95A Peckham Rye, London SE15 4ST

 

Netil 360

Panoramic London views meets feel good food and drink.

Netil 360 is one of Hackney’s most versatile spaces, with a café, a bar, a workspace for the local community and a gallery all under, or rather on top of, one roof.

As the building is South facing, you’re served a stunning view of London that stretches from Canary Wharf across to the recognisable shapes of the dominant City skyline. Netil’s rooftop is covered with artificial grass which is dotted with bean bags and pallet furniture. Complete with disco ball, flower beds and fairy lights, this is a real gem and definitely somewhere to spend a sunny Saturday.

Netil has real charm and character, something that probably lies in its community roots. Not only do they offer informal workspaces to local companies and start-ups free of charge; but their bar is stocked with beers from nearby Five Points brewery and spirits from the East London Liquor Company. It’s the combination of feel good refreshments and incredible views that make this place worth visiting.

When it comes to the food, Netil 360 change their menu fairly regularly. When we popped by they were serving Caribbean inspired street food, including curried goat and jerk cured salmon. But if that’s not your jam, try one of their Poptails alcoholic ice-lollies, which come in Melon Spritz, Peach Bellini, Amaretto Sour and Strawberry Mojitos flavours. 

Netil 360 is open Wednesday to Sunday every week and with summer fast approaching, this is definitely somewhere to put on your to do list.

www.netil360.com

1 Westgate Street, Hackney, London E8 3RL 

 

Honeycomb Hideout

Pizza and tinnies on pallets and milk crates.

Tucked away in a back alley in the western suburb Footscray is Honeycomb Hideout. As its name suggests, the space is intimate and cosy with a menu to match. Serving six pizzas and nine craft beers, Honeycomb keeps it simple – and really, what more do you need?!

The courtyard bar came about due to a vacant parking space behind the owners other venture, Fox in the Corn (which has a strong focus on pasta and boutique beer). Before long, corrugated walls went up and the empty lot was filled with wooden pallet seating, milk crate tables, lanterns and graffiti. The hideout was complete.

Pizzas have that smoky wood-fired taste with an array of toppings (salumi, braised beef, salmon, pumpkin), and can be made to eat in or takeaway. Make sure you try the pumpkin one as homemade garlic oil is brushed on the crust and hits your senses before a slice even goes into your mouth. For those who like to end on a sweet note, grab a Gundowring dixie ice cream cup. 

The craft beers have been selected from Fox in the Corn’s extensive 13-page beer menu; some of which include Brewdog Punk IPA, Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale and Lager, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Panhead American Pale Ale, Napolene Cloudy Cider and Rodenbach Original.

Call it cliché, but this truly is a hidden gem.

Honeycomb Hideout is open Friday (5pm-11pm), Saturday and Sunday (12pm-11pm).

www.facebook.com/honeycombhideoutbar

4 Droop Street, Footscray, Victoria, 3011

 

 

 

 

The Three Johns

If you're a London based beer lover, this is the spot for you.

Tucked away from the busy Pentonville Road, The Three Johns is a paradise for beer lovers, especially those with a weakness for pizza.

It's easy to be distracted by the multiple shelves of spirits as you walk through the door, but it's the variety of lagers, stouts and ales that makes the Three Johns worth visiting. The staff here know their stuff, so if you don't know your saisons from your sours, they'll be happy to help.

We loved the punchy 'Gose To Hollywood' by To Øl  and the tart and citrusy 'The Sour DryHop' from Anspach and Hobday, but don't worry if you're going in not much of a drinker, the pizza here matches the quality of the drinks.

The fennel sausage pizza comes with chilli roasted broccoli, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan or you might want to try the bolognese which comes with beef ragu and béchamel sauce.

Whether you're passing through Angel or after a chilled spot for the evening, get The Three Johns on your radar for some serious beer drinking.


www.three-johns.com

73 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF

 

Milk the Cow

Milk the Cow, eat the cheese, drink the wine!

Milk the Cow offers something different than the usual Italian fare along the lively Lygon street. The focus here isn't pizza and pasta, rather it is cheese and alcohol. And, boy, do they have a selection with over 150 cheeses from.

Upon entering the fromagerie, you will feel like you've stepped into a quiet little countryside store. Think picket fence gates, suspended bench swings and vintage cheese crates. Let the variety of cheese aromas surround your senses, grab a glass of wine and escape from the city for a bit.

Like the weather in Melbourne, the cheese at Milk the Cow is always changing as Cheesemongers carefully select the 'Creme de la Crop' from around the world. There's a number of cheese only boards but the cheese and booze flights are the way to go. Upon deciding your liquor of choice (wine, beer, cider, sake, or whisky), MTC delivers four variations of your chosen alcohol alongside four different types of cheese. Try some French Chablis paired with a French Brie de Nangis, Italian Pinot Gris with an Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, a French Rosé with Spanish Queso Mahón or an Australian Reisling with some Yarra Valley White Savourine. You even get a cheese garnish when you order a cocktail!

And the cheese doesn't stop there. MTC also offer an alcohol-infused cheesy gelato, cheese fondue, cheese to takeaway, cheese hampers, or maybe you want to substitute a wedding cake for a 5-tier cheese tower. Don't worry, these guys haven't missed anything on the cheese spectrum.

All of the cheese, and then some at Milk the Cow. 

www.milkthecow.com.au

323 Lygon Street, Calrton, Melbourne, VIC, 3053

 

Code Black Coffee

Roastery and cafe in the heart of Brunswick.

Coffee, coffee, coffee! Australia, more specifically Melbourne, is way ahead of the game here but I don’t think anybody believes it until they visit for themselves – I certainly didn’t! On every corner of every street (and every little nook and cranny in between), you can be sure to satisfy your caffeine addiction at least ten fold, and then some. But where are the best spots in the city to enjoy a cup you ask… Well, one of them is situated in the heart of Brunswick – Code Black Coffee. 

Code Black Coffee's roasting headquarters and its café lay right next to each other in a converted warehouse. On the right, you can find the guys hard at work crafting and roasting. On the left, you can enjoy the delicious coffee they have just created. In its simplicity, Code Black Coffee's process is: source top quality green beans from international farms and growers (from the likes of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Panama), roast them in-house, put them into bags, and sell the beans for retail at their counter or wholesale. Code Black goes above and beyond with its unique and personal take on wholesale supply. The guys allow buyers to come into the roastery to create their own customised blends - perfect for that personalised touch every café desires!

There is actually a lot more to the roasting process than this though, and I was lucky enough to have Allan show me around the roasting workshop/laboratory. Sample roasts of different beans from farms all over the world are regularly tested to see how the various coffees will work with different profiles. The next day cupping sessions are held to decide on a profile that creates the best taste. A roast profile is then established for the espresso roast on the 1kg roaster and then the same is carried out for the production roast on the 12kg/25kg roaster. Different beans from across the globe have varying characteristics so each develop in their own particular way once inside the drum, making it crucial for the roaster to know exactly what he is trying to create from the very beginning. The fact that every coffee is unique means that routine sampling and cupping sessions are imperative to the overall process. 

For Code Black's café, entry is through a huge sliding door that leads to an open warehouse with sharing and small tables circling the counter in the middle. Code Black has made sure that the venue retains a raw industrial feel inside with OSB boards, black steel and concrete throughout the space. Nearer the back of the café, seating allows for a full view of the roasters working on their coffee craftsmanship.

Besides rich and delicious espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and anything else you want on ice, Code Black also serves up a variety of food options - little and big, savoury and sweet - to satisfy all. Coffee infused fried egg anyone?!

Get to Brunswick and fuel that caffeine addiction, pronto! 

www.codeblackcoffee.com.au

15-17 Weston Street, Brunswick, Melbourne, VIC, 3056

 

33 Acres Brewing Company

Nestled in-between the temperate Vancouver rainforest and the Pacific ocean, tucked away neatly in the up-and-coming Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, lies 33 Acres Brewing Company. Founded in 2013 by Josh Michnik, 33 Acres' vision started out of pure enjoyment for the binding elements of life. His idea is simple - with the natural elements of our surroundings and the spirit of community sharing (whether people are drinking, eating, chatting, working or reading) creativity is able to flourish and high quality products can be created. This vision can also be seen in the minimalistic, open and inviting layout of 33 Acres' beer tasting room. Crafted by Josh Michnik himself, the beer tasting room allows for simple and clean aesthetics. Wood, stone and white walls are balanced by the natural vibrance of neatly situated green plants for all to enjoy (my personal favourite is the cacti on the huge sharing table).

33 Acres Brewing Company's first product was beer. Nine beers and one cider to be exact. All of which are named after a certain element of life - 33 Acres of… life… ocean… sunshine… darkness… euphoria… nirvana… köbes,… welkin… sole (see photo below). I'm a big fan of Pale Ales so 33 Acres of Ocean was the choice for me. The golden-coloured brew managed to encapsulate everything I could want from a West Coast Pale Ale and more. It was hoppy (but not too hoppy) with a big floral flavour and notes of pine. Despite the high carbonation, this beer went down super smoothly and ended with a clean finish and a light caramel aftertaste. The beer tasting room allows everyone to enjoy these beautifully crafted craft beers. Most beers are available in glasses (12oz), growler fills (32oz, 64oz) or bottles (4 or 6 packs) - all of which are reasonably priced (see photo below). 

In 2015, 33 Acres expanded to the next best thing… coffee. And boy did they do it right! A smoothy and creamy latte (my go to at the moment) is served up perfectly on a logo-printed wooden block. The delicious coffee beans come from Heart Coffee Roasters (Portland, Oregon). HCR's focus is on uncompromising quality and this is seen in their use of green coffee, sourced from Central America, South America and Africa, which are then roasted to pure excellence. 

And it's not just liquids that 33 Acres flawlessly produce, they also have a simple yet delicious food menu divided into early, mid, and late options. Whether you're wanting a hearty brunch for the day ahead, a locally-made lunchtime sandwich or late night snacks consisting of cheese, meat and pretzels, 33 Acres has you covered. We were hiking the Grouse Grind that day, so brunch was in order. Served everyday until 2pm, the brunch menu is minimalist (toast, biscuits or granola) with an emphasis on quality over quantity. I opted for 'The Loaded', which consisted of creamy avocado, runny poached eggs, juicy honey ham and smoked cheddar served with a side of chilli jam atop of freshly baked sourdough bread from local artisan bread-enthusiasts, Nelson the Seagull. The portion was more than enough and presentation of the food was aesthetically aligned with the surrounding environment.

I'll definitely be heading back to 33 Acres Brewing Company when I'm next in Vancouver!

For more information, check out their website here.

 

The Block Kitchen + Bar

A must on any visit to Banff is dining at The Block Kitchen + Bar. Located along Caribou Street just off of Banff Ave lies this brilliant and delicious tapas bar. The Block is a relatively new restaurant to Banff and has already made an excellent name for itself not least for its cocktails but also because of its amazing food which boasts an exotic Mediterranean and Asian twist. It is one of the few restaurants in Banff that offers a variety of dishes rather than just burgers, burgers and more burgers. (We do love burgers though!)

The interior of The Block is very different to the other typical Canadian restaurants in Banff. From its funky birdcage lighting fixtures to its wine bottles hanging from the wall and its chilled out music, this place is definitely one of the more edgier places to wine and dine in Banff. If you're looking for delicious cocktails in this little mountain town, then The Block should definitely be number one on your list. The Juniper Flower puts a fresh Asian twist on my favourite cocktail ever - the gin garden. Gin and St Germain elderflower liquer is mixed with lemon juice and an exotic Japanese citrus fruit called Yuzu creating a refreshing and zestful summery cocktail.  The Watermelon Splash is also a must-try cocktail with its perfect blend of watermelon, lime and cucumber. Our favourites from the hanging wine bottles collection are: the classic Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the Trapiche Malbec from Argentina.

We've visited this tapas style restaurant many a times so have a few favourite dishes we like to indulge in. Firstly, we love the lamb koftes kebab that literally melt in your mouth complete with a creamy tzaziki and tomato jam. Another must have are the Silk Road chicken skewers, which have a delicious crunch on the outside yet are still succulently juicy on the inside topped off with an asian-infused spicy mayo to dip them into. Don't forget to try the lusciously flavoursome grilled spicy prawns with a peanut dipping sauce. The fact that there is only one salad on the menu is not a problem in the slightest. When you get it right once, why create more? The black quinoa, golden beet and apricot salad has everything you could want in a salad including all the great super foods covered in a light sesame dressing. The Block also has a great lunch menu with mouth-watering sandwiches (see the fresh veggie sandwich below packed with hummus, avocado and peppers) and a new curry pretty much every week.

For dessert, do not hesitate to get more than one. The banana spring rolls with mango cream and chocolate sauce are a taste of heaven. And to end the evening, the tiramisu brulé is a perfect choice. The satisfying snap of the sugar shell before you get to the creamy coffee custard centre is second to none.

This place has something for everyone! It should definitely be on your bucket list when visiting Banff!

For more information, check out their website here.

 

Whitebark Cafe

Away from the hustle and bustle of Banff's downtown district, just a little further along Banff Ave (at the Banff Aspen Lodge to be precise) lies this awesome little coffee shop. This place is a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, and once you try their coffee you'll know why! Whitebark source their beans from Moja Coffee - a European-inspired, organic, fairtrade roasting company located in North Vancouver. With these beans, Whitebark make some of the smoothest cappuccinos and lattes known to Banff. There is also a wide selection of teas to choose from including Earl Grey, Aspen Breakfast, Goji Berry, Twisted Chamomile and Roobios Chai to name a few - all of which have been sourced locally from the Banff Tea Company. 

There is more than just coffee and tea at this place too. A favourite of mine is the house made granola with yoghurt and berry compote. The granola has the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy thanks to the delicious combination of oats, coconut, almonds, honey, raisins and cashews. When this is mixed together with the yoghurt and fresh raspberry compote, it's a little taste of heaven. What's even better is that you can get this yoghurt parfait to go, which is ideal if you're in a rush to get to the ski hill on a powder day! The savoury goods include a daily selection of frittata, quiche, soup and focaccia bread. Pesto and roasted vegetables focaccia was on offer today. Once toasted, this little slice of bliss is served up with some rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. The sweet treats are aplenty at Whitebark, some of which include loaded carrot muffins, peach blueberry muffins, coconut macaroons, oatmeal raisin coconut cookies, date squares, and a cheesecake. 

I love the minimalist design of Whitebark Cafe with its chalkboards and hanging lighting fixtures by the window. The row of chairs looking out onto Banff Ave offers a sweet view of Rundle mountain to daydream at. When the sun is shining, Whitebark's huge patio is thriving with other coffee lovers taking in the spectacular Banff mountains in every direction. 

For more information, check out their website here.