Remember you heard it here as I sample and report back on some of the best kept food secrets in town


Bob Bob Ricard

If you want sheer decadence as well as absolutely delight, Bob Bob Ricard is famous for each table sporting a button reading ‘press for Champagne’ as well as its ‘all booth’ ambience. As you can imagine the British/Russian menu is sumptuous as well as the fine wine and cocktails.  Wallow in sheer luxury in this glamorous restaurant in the heart of Soho.

Where: 1 Upper James Street, Soho, W1F 9DF



Brasserie Zedel

‘A stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, out of No 1 exit and continue to walk straight were the perfect directions.  You can’t miss its distinctive front entrance on the left of Sherwood Street, with the distinctive style reminiscent of Paris of a bi-gone era, consistently reflected within its vast haughty walls.   The Brasserie sprawls proudly across its basement level alongside its Cabaret Club, The Crazy Coqs, and rather than confuse you, if you want a French meal at a meagre £10.50, you can order two courses in the Brasserie and then book to see one of its acts in the club.  It is also perfect for lunch when shopping or in the evening as a pre-theatre dinner.

Where: 20 Sherwood St, Soho, London W1F 7ED



Joe Allen

I have recently been re-introduced to this iconic restaurant in Covent Garden by my friend Debbie Arnold, who has a table in her name.  I was a regular in the nineties when performing in the West End, and it has held its own in spite of steep competition over the years.  But classics never date and Joe’s never does.  A great supporter of the arts and the homeless charities, you will always see a familiar face either from theatre or TV and as our very own national treasure Joanna Lumley says ‘when in doubt eat at Joe Allen, they will take good care of you’ and the food is always absolutely fabulous.

Where: 2 Burleigh St, London WC2E 7PX




This authentic Persian Restaurant has become one of the most recommended places in town to experience Persian food at its best.   I was taken there impromptu by my new friend Gudrun Jonsson, a wonderful biopath and holistic practitioner, who lives nearby in Napier Street, after having reflexology.   It is always a good sign when you are recommended personally and also see local Iranians and foodies sampling the mixed mezze of strained yoghurt, freshly walnuts and mirza ghassemi (smoked aubergine, garlic and tomato). For our main course, we had the grilled kebabs – chicken with saffron and lemon. Other sides include warm bread, and basmati rice –with raw egg yolk, butter and herbs if required. The spiced tea was really refreshing, and the service is great too with friendly staff who look as if they really care about their customers.

Where: 10 Russell Gardens, Kensington, London W14 8EZ


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What is it about arms that women don’t like? Our own arms I mean, and particularly the tops of our arms. It is true that our arms have been the comfort of many a baby, weeping teenager or saddened adult. For centuries our arms have laboured and toiled for us, and so why are we reluctant to bring our upper arms out in public, calling them names like ‘bat-wings’ or worse?

Having got all of the ‘why put down our arms’ questions out of the way, it is a fact that it is the one area of a female body that is considered the most unsightly.

It is true that even in the eighties, before I had kids and gained the baby weight, when my arms were quite trim and well-toned, I still yearned for the arms you see in airbrushed supermodel poses in magazines. Utterly impossible for most of us.

So let’s get the shaming psychology out of the way, and begin by getting real and understanding how we can improve those upper arm wobbly bits and start to bring them out into the open.

I am constantly reminded of mine as my grandchildren love to squeeze them in their hands slapping them from side to side, laughing at the sheer joy of Grandma’s wobbly bits, as I silently endure the humiliation, but not really minding too much, as anything to please the grandkids. But when we want to reveal our arms for a sexy dress or swimming costume, it is a completely different kettle of fish.

We can start with some easy exercises, which only have to be done for five minutes a day to make a difference.

Never mind the baked bean tins, although you can try that one as well, using them as weights. But my exercises are far more effective, and you start by stretching the arms out to the side and tipping them over with palms facing backwards until you feel a tightening in the upper arm region.  Draw them both towards the back so that they try to touch behind you, work toward that and get a little bit further every day.  Within a week you will see and feel a difference.

Make sure you moisturise your arms each day and really massage the upper arms to help tighten the skin, this again will also impact on the way you feel about this part of your body, and get you closer to loving the area that you have been trying to hide for decades.

If you are not ready to reveal, then cover up gracefully with a shawl or wrap, and try to purchase one that doesn’t enhance the fact that you have something to hide. In other words, go bold with colour as you would any garment, and be creative in the way you drape the material.

The other thing to be aware of is you are not alone, and share this alarming ‘attitude of arms’ with a huge percentage of women across the Western World. So be aware, take action and you will become well-armed in no time at all.

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Emily Ramraz’s  WorldEater – Budapest: Kontakt Coffee

Emily Ramraz’s WorldEater – Budapest: Kontakt Coffee


Budapest. Pearl of the Danube. The Heart of Europe. Have you been? If not, move it to the top of your “must see” list. It may not have the name appeal of a Paris, or a Rome or a Barcelona, but it is on par with any city in Europe in terms of beauty, design, art, fashion… and (my favourite) food and drink culture.

Specifically, Budapest – for my money – is the city with the most consistently pure coffee scene of any place I’ve ever visited (and I used to own a restaurant in Bushwick!). Third wave coffee shops (the ones that look at coffee like oenophiles look at wine) abound, and I tried to hit as many of them as I could.

The whole city amazes me. They came out of communism around 30 years ago and have taken to their new-ish democratic ways like a fish to (blue) water. I like to say that you can often tell how evolved a society is by the quality of their food, and Budapest is crawling with good food everywhere you turn. In fact, because the city is actually a combination of two ancient cities (Buda and Pest), depending on what you fancy, you can choose which ‘city’ to go to for a different experience. Go classic on the Buda side with caviar or a Michelin Starred restaurant, or go off the beaten path in Pest with something up-and-coming and more decidedly hipster. Whatever you’re into, just remember to start the day off with a beautiful boost of caffeine to get you energized as you take to the streets and explore. And while there are many quality coffee spots to choose from, one stands out above the rest.

Kontakt Coffee.

A small, narrow space hidden tucked away in an off-the-beaten-path little alleyway, Kontakt has a clean, minimalistic interior which speaks to their focus on what is really important – namely, cupped lighting, jitter juice, liquid energy, or any of the other great nicknames for that glorious beverage: coffee.

You can’t help but be drawn in to the centerpiece of this café – a beautiful, white, glossy, handmade-in-Florence La Marzocco Espresso Machine, set on a smooth, wooden countertop. Behind the counter you will always find a bearded gentleman or two, fastidiously brewing a pourover, or pulling a perfect cup of espresso.

This probably isn’t your spot if Starbucks caramel lattes are your jam. This place has some strict philosophies, and “No Sugar Yes Good Coffee” is one of them. In fact, that phrase is literally plastered on every table in this java joint, and they live by it. You won’t find any sugar in this place, nor do you need it. Much like adding soy sauce to properly prepared sushi, dropping sweeteners into good coffee would be considered an affront. They unapologetically believe that when sugar or any other sweetener is used, it becomes the dominant taste, therefore ruining the coffee. I tend to agree. Kontakt seeks out the finest coffee beans in existence and, in turn, their coffee has a natural sweetness, rendering sugar unnecessary.

They also don’t have your typical espresso drink names, such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato, cortado, etc. They believe that properly prepared libations are all simply espresso with varying levels of milk, and it’s up to each person’s taste to decide what quantity of milk is desired – a little, a medium amount or a lot. They also have a strict “No Americano” rule, insisting that adding hot water to a beautifully prepared espresso dilutes the flavor, thus ruining the taste and missing the point. They will prepare a less concentrated longer coffee, if that’s your thing, but they do it by employing a pourover manual filter method and forbidding the addition of milk to it, saying that filtered coffees already have a gentle flavor profile.

So yes, you’ve picked up on the fact that these guys are coffee snobs, but that’s not a bad thing. The chefs at the best restaurants in the world don’t allow substitutions or changes to their recipes. There are high-end Italian chefs who will kick you out of their restaurant if you try to put cheese on fish. Gordon Ramsey once eviscerated a restaurant-goer for ordering a steak well done. Why should coffee be any different?

I know it may seem like a lot of rules to deal with when you just want your daily caffeine fix, but trust me when I tell you that they know what they’re talking about. This coffee is one of the smoothest, brightest, most enjoyable espresso with milk experiences I’ve had. Coffee is so complex and deserves to be treated with respect. Kontakt is a place that takes coffee seriously, and expects their customers to do the same. With so much bad (or improperly brewed) coffee out there, I implore you to try it… and to bask in it. We trekked out of our way to start the morning here every day we were in Budapest. As I mentioned, we still travelled all over town to try coffee elsewhere, but kept coming back here. I still dream about my ‘No Sugar, Yes Good Coffee Espresso’ with a little bit of milk that I had every morning… and you will, too. Enjoy!

You can find Kontakt Coffee at 1052. Budapest, Károly krt. 22. or email them at

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