Travel & Life Digest

Freshly Painted: Lisa's, Portobello

I think I've just found my new happy-place, in town!
Don't you love it when that happens?
It's small and cosy and when the sun goes down a live band fills the place with "Gypsy Jazz" in the candlelight.  That's good enough for this little miss bossy-pants!

But here's more for you: Lisa's just re-opened last night, after a refurbishment - true story, I could smell the fresh paint when I walked in! The front part is a lovely bar with dark floors and a massive bay window looking out to Portobello Road. This is where the band hangs out after 8ish too. I'm forever, looking for nice bars in London, with no waiting list and interesting music, so here we are. The conservatory at the back, is a light restaurant with a massive glass roof -  and if that "dinning under the stars" feeling is what you're after, you can tick that box! 

There was an adorable Labrador Retriever walking around too. I don't know if it belonged to the owner or if dogs are allowed altogether. I was desperate to take a picture of him, especially when my food arrived and he stuck his smooch-ey face and glistening eyes right next to my plate, but he was too quick! When the band started playing, he lied down in the middle of the bar floor and enjoyed the show, wiggling his tail - insert "wow" emoji and a melting heart too! 

I have to be honest, by the time the food came, I was already so content with this place that I would have overlooked whatever we were served; yet our roast pork fillet with goat's cheese cream and rosemary potatoes was well-cooked and quite delicious! Swedish dishes do not go for a plateful of garnishings, you get a clean canvas where you can distinguish all flavours, but don't be fooled, portions are quite effective.
The Swedish Mess was the perfect parting gift; all of the creaminess of a good, old  Eton mess but topped off with bananas, chocolate and caramel sauce.

Ever since our weekend in Stockholm, just before Christmas, I've been more and more into all things Swedish. It feels like a part of Europe I've overlooked for some reason, but I'm suddenly very keen to discover. I've roamed Pinterest about Scandi-living ideas and Swedish home decorating. I just love the greys and whites that seem to work fine even if your home is filled with kids and an active family. I started to wonder, why  do Swedes have this reputation of being cold amongst Europeans, when their lifestyle seems to be focused on the same things as life around the Med, for example? Nothing cold about loving a good party, summer midnight feasting and family gatherings.

And then, I've tried to uncover Swedish restaurants in London. About a month ago I tried Fika in Brick Lane. I was more impressed with the fact that something so different - see industrial chic and cute drawings on the wall - could exist in what used to be Curry Lane, rather than anything else. 

Lisa's is different. It's got that neighbourhood feeling that you don't quite get very often in London. And  it's a good place to sit and watch people go by - just like you do in Sweden, even if it's snowing and you have to dress like a snowman, a very stylish one, nevertheless!  

So, at the end of the meal last night, there was one thing that I really wanted to do: come back and sit outside all wrapped up under the dark sun-shade, listen to Jazz, sip on akvavit and watch people go by in lovely Portobello.

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