About Bon Vivant

Bon Vivant is a concierge service with an emphasis on providing excellent personal service. We specialise in every travel, leisure and lifestyle need that you don't have the time, inclination or expertise to do yourself so you can maximise your free time. Based in London with global coverage.

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill at The Savoy

As with all things Savoy, the restaurant’s moniker tells a delightful tale. Kaspar is a wooden cat sculpture that was acquired by The Savoy in the 1920s after the untimely demise of a dinner guest who happened to be the thirteenth diner.

He died on the Strand immediately after leaving, so Kaspar was invited to join any future tables of thirteen.  Sir Winston Churchill was a fan.

Kaspar's at The Savoy

Of course, the true Savoy experience begins as soon as you step out of the car. The extraordinarily intricate ceilings, the black and white art deco floor tiles and the frightfully English wallpaper in the reception do not fail to reassure.

On entering Kaspar’s, to the rear of the hotel, the turquoise banquettes and chandeliers are an art deco-lovers paradise. Our cheery waitress suggested two cool cocktails which were most welcome on such a balmy evening.

My guest enjoyed the Kasparette; vodka, elderflower and fresh lemon juice, topped up with Champagne. I was treated to a classic Cosmopolitan which was both refreshing and bitter.

Our waitress kindly suggested a pre-starter fresh seafood platter that comprised meaty, hot smoked sable fish, oak smoked eel, London Cure smoked salmon and wild smoked Scottish salmon. As fish and seafood fanatics, we were in heaven.

Kaspar's at The Savoy

My guest opted for the chicken liver and foie gras parfait. Served with Cumberland sauce, the foie gras was satisfyingly rich and velvety. My pan-roasted diver scallops, accompanied by a thick tomato verbena jam, were chunky and fleshy.

Half an Isle of Skye lobster, with its ice white meat and fleshy texture, was greeted by much approbation, while my two Monkfish kebabs were both generous in size and meaty.

The garlic chilli fried sprouting broccoli was a delight and The Savoy cabbage with double smoked bacon was also an original side order which impressed.

Although specialising in seafood and fish, Kaspar’s offers plenty of alternatives including a 7oz Hereford fillet of beef, sweet potato and goat’s cheese ravioli with roasted salsify and truffles, and organic spatchcock chicken.

The Private Dining Room at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill hosts up to 14 guests in an elegant room with views of The Thames.

To keep up-to-date with London’s restaurant scene, follow Bon Vivant on Twitter here or sign up to our blog below:

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Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at the Halkin Hotel

A new Basque restaurant, ‘Ametsa with Arzak Instruction’, has opened at The Halkin Hotel in London’s Belgravia.

Ametsa will be a collaboration between The Halkin and a team that includes chefs Elena Arzak and Juan Mari Arzak, whose Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, has 3 Michelin stars.

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at The Halkin Hotel

The menu will focus on ‘New Basque Cuisine’, and will replace Thai restaurant Nahm, which was previously at The Halkin Hotel. The focal point of the restaurant is a wave-like ceiling, created from 7,000 delicate glass receptacles filled with vibrantly coloured spices that are a strong presence in Arzak’s cooking.

Our full review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction will be published in due course, so sign up to our blog below to keep up to date:

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Top 10 Tips for a Healthy New Year

Pro-Trainer Barry, a personal trainer based in Clerkenwell, shares his tips on how to get the New Year off to a healthy start.

Travel Concierge Service

1. Remove the remaining Christmas food and drink from the house, as you will be tempted to pick at it. You will find yourself justifying it by saying “it’s the last bit of this, last bit of that”. Bin it all as soon as possible!

2. Set yourself a realistic goal(s). If you have never done anything physical before or for some time, ease your way back in to training and eating better. Otherwise you will slip in to bad habits again quickly.

3. Drink more water: 80% of your body is water. You will look younger when your skin is properly hydrated, plus it helps you lose weight because it flushes down the by-products of fat.

4. Consume less carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, but given that most people’s jobs are now office based you do not burn any significant amounts of energy throughout the day. Unused energy gets stored, which means an increase in body fat.

5. Consume more protein. Protein is the building block of life. Benefits include stabilization of sugar in the blood, which means less cravings, especially for sugary foods. It also aids better recovery not only from working out but also day-to-day life, meaning a better sense of well being.

6. When attending the gym, pick things you enjoy. If you like to pump iron or do a class with lots of pumping music, I think it is unlikely that you are going to enjoy something like Pilates / Yoga or vice versa.

7. Don’t forget strength training, involving both the upper and lower body. Too many people neglect weight training, particularly women for whom it’s crucial for preventing muscle loss and maintaining bone density with age. Plus it burns lots of calories!

8. Avoid fad diets, as they never work, especially long term. It never ceases to amaze me the things I read that people are willing to do for a so called quick fix. Nothing works better than exercise & eating well.

 9. Be consistent with all of the above. If your weight does not change for a week or two, just keep going as you may find it will start to drop again the following week. The same applies to your training: if you are stuck on a certain weight, keep pushing as you will eventually break through the barrier.

10. Finally, use a Personal Trainer. Of course I am going to say this as I am a trainer, but if you have an appointment you are less likely to make other arrangements & stick to attending. Also the trainer will push you harder than you will by yourself, making better progress over a shorter period of time and encouraging you to maintain your new healthier lifestyle.

To enquire about sessions with Barry, click here to visit his website or email him here.

To make sure you’re kept informed of similar updates on a regular basis, subscribe to the blog, our fortnightly newsletter, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook!

New Year’s Resolutions with Bon Vivant

By Emyr Thomas

Don’t let lacklustre willpower get in the way of 2013 being a total success. Bon Vivant is London’s finest luxury lifestyle concierge, and we can help to improve your lifestyle, eradicate stress and regain control of your time – email us now for our membership plans.

Get trim, stay trim.

Bon Vivant has experience selecting the best gyms to suit each client, and we work with the best personal trainers in the capital, offering preferential rates as well. We can offer bespoke health, fitness and nutrition services to ensure that you have everything you need to achieve optimum health and well-being.

Long-term partnerships with Bon Vivant’s Personal Trainers means post January 31st waning is firmly behind you.

Spend more time with your loved ones

Capitalise on the spare time you have: whether it’s arranging transport, sorting out tickets or VIP passes, planning your family holiday or recommending the absolute hottest tickets in town, the Bon Vivant newsletter and blog offers advice and insight into what you need to book, for whom, when and how.

Keeping your finger on the pulse, and your friends and family impressed has never been easier.

Try something new

London’s restaurant scene is the hottest in the world right now. Bon Vivant has relationships with the best restaurateurs, with access to the best tables in the capital. And they can even throw in a free glass or two of bubbles as well if you book through us.

Brasserie Zedel

Explore more

Bon Vivant’s reach is international and our travel concierge service is essential for those looking for something and somewhere new to visit. From once in a lifetime excursions to city breaks and the perfect beach hideaway, Bon Vivant’s team can book trips all over the world for the most demanding and discerning guests.

Cap Estel Pool

We can also negotiate on rates and secure exclusive additional benefits such as complimentary upgrades – just book through your own personal travel concierge.

Nod to your cultural side

Let your concierge book you into gallery previews, sold-out theatre performances and music concerts. Never miss a must-see play, gallery, reading, gig or show again.

Show homes

Bon Vivant’s team can source any home service to improve the quality of your life, including cleaners, domestic staff, nannies, pet carers, interior designers, building suppliers and decorators.

They can also arrange for party professionals who will transform your home for a birthday celebration or arrange a private chef to cater your dinner party.

Invest in Yourself

Bon Vivant has relationships with bespoke tailors, stylists, salons and beauty therapists who can complete the look to make 2013 polished and more handsome than ever.

Make sure 2013 is all about regaining control of your time and maximizing your life – make those resolutions now!

For further information, click here to view our flexible membership options or click here to email us about becoming a member of Bon Vivant’s Concierge Services.

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour

Opium dens were prevalent in many parts of the world in the 19th century, but stepping away from the late 19th century and into December 2012 we can associate an ‘Opium Den’ with a lot less Morphine and a lot more delectable oriental-inspired liquid creations designed to provide a unique sensory experience once you step through the jade door at the Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour.

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour is the newest kid on the Gerrard St block, nestled appropriately amongst the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, and the sights and smells that make this little part of London one of the most vibrant.

Opium cocktail bar and dim sum parlour

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour features nooks and crannies spread over three floors, with all spaces lending themselves to a different feel – relaxed lounge style seating, an intimate boudoir drinking den for a close crowd, and open plan bars to spread out and escape the intensity of central London, each one providing a feast of flexible drinking and dining experiences.

When I got the opportunity to step into this lush hub of oriental eclecticism last week, I was taken aback by the vast contrast of standing on Gerrard St, then stepping into the dimly-lit, cavernous surrounds of Opium – it provided some respite from the noise outside, and offered the soft mumblings of friendly chatter inside.

I was positioned at the bartenders’ table, where you can watch the masters at work, mixing up luxurious cocktails.  It is really a bit magical – wielding apothecary-style bottles instead of wands, and serving up mysterious potions to satisfy even the most hardened cocktail connoisseur.

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour’s mixologist Dre Masso is the brains behind the stellar line-up of unique cocktails on offer at Opium, and going one step further, he has orchestrated a Cocktail and Dim Sum Pairing- matching his signature drinks to the selection of dim sum and roast meats that make up Opium’s fare.

Through a hint of science and a healthy amount of intuition, each pairing creates a taste sensation greater than the sum of its parts.

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour

I tried a couple of cocktails whilst I was there – the house special, Opium Cocktail No 1, which contains two types of rum, absinthe, mandarin juice, lime juice, kaffir lime juice, kaffir lime syrup, citrus bitters and a ginseng capsule.

It is served bubbling in an interesting drinking apparatus – the perfect blend of theatre, alcohol and perfectly balanced flavours.  A must have for the first visit but note the limit of two per person.  Something about being told that made me want to have three.

Now enter Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour’s Kung Fu Fiz (pictured above), a dinky china cup packed full of flavour that you are convinced will not work, but it does. It works. It works very well.  Champagne, parsnip puree, honey and malt vinegar, served straight up. The parsnip drew me in, and the sweet honey kept me there.

The Scallop, coriander and pea dumplings, pork and prawn dumplings and a couple of cheeky Chinese egg tarts topped off the Opium experience, and puts a much more appealing spin on the trusty ‘dinner and drinks’ combo.  Give me opulent Opium Den chic any day.

Address: Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour, 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1

If you like cocktails, read our guide to London’s best cocktail bars.

Courtney Smith works in the world of consumer PR by day with a passion for food, travel, whisky and all things alcohol related. Hailing from Australia, she travels as often as she can, writing about accommodation, dining and drinking experiences as she goes.

Airbnb – Holiday Rental Service

Airbnb is a holiday rental service with properties to rent in over 190 countries worldwide. It is a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – whether it’s an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month.

You can search for the ideal property for you from a variety of properties or you can even list your own property for others to rent. We have included a selection of their unique properties below.

A Converted Warehouse in Brooklyn – click here for details.

AirBNB Brooklyn Warehouse
A Private Island in Sri Lanka – click here for details.

AirBNB private island
A Mosaic Tile House in Los Angeles – click here for details.

AirBNB Mosaic Tile House

A Castle in Scotland – click here for details.

AirBNB Scotland Castle

A Container House in Mallorca – click here for details.

AirBNB Container House Mallorca

For further details, please visit the Airbnb website or contact your concierge.

2013 Travel Trends – Where to Travel in 2013

Do you need inspiration for your holiday plans for 2013? We have teamed up with expert travel company Black Tomato to come up with some suggestions of where to travel in 2013. Read on for our top 2013 travel trends.

Jordan – click here for inspiration for a trip to Jordan

Christmas Holidays 2012

New Zealand – click here for our tips for New Zealand

2013 Travel Trends

Peru – click here for ideas for Peru

2013 Travel Trends

Iceland – click here for inspiration for a trip to Iceland

2013 Travel Trends

Madagascar – Click here for our tips for Madagascar

2013 Travel Trends

For further information on any of the destinations mentioned above, please contact your concierge. For further information on Black Tomato, please visit their website here, or check our their sister companies Beach Tomato and Epic Tomato.

If you like this feature, you can read our hotel reviews and travel guides here. Sign up to our luxury lifestyle and travel blog below:

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Beyond Noma: A Food Lover’s Copenhagen

Copenhagen has been the savvy traveller’s short break of choice for a while now, and it’s almost synonymous with the gastro-Nirvana that is Noma. But if a Noma reservation has eluded you thus far, there’s plenty to tickle your foodie fancy in the meantime, as Kate Foster finds out.

Noma’s influence spreads far and wide, and what becomes apparent in Copenhagen is that quality ingredients, provenance and loving preparation now comes as standard.

Food-loving adventurers will be right at home, wandering through Copenhagen’s new indoor food market, Torvehallerne. Think of a smaller, slicker version of Barcelona’s Boqueria – all glass cube edifice and stall after stall of Danish produce of the highest quality (with a big focus on organic), flanked by sit-down bars with seafood, coffee, open sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese.

It’s open every day, but at weekends and lunchtimes in particular, it’s seriously buzzing. I came away with creamy local ginger-infused honey, freeze-dried rhubarb shards, Limfjorden mussels and local cider in which to cook them, raw-milk cheese… and a proper caffeine jolt from The Coffee Collective’s excellent cortado.

If you want to get even further under the skin of Denmark’s burgeoning food scene, the woman in the know is Mia Kristensen, founder of CPH Good Food. Copenhagen local Mia runs regular private and group cooking classes, centred around the kinds of seasonal Scandinavian ingredients that have inspired Redzepi at Noma and many others since.

Think pearl barley, cloudberries, rye, buttermilk, fish, herbs, juniper and horseradish – all brought together with traditional and innovative techniques. If you don’t want to cook, Mia also leads guided walks around Copenhagen’s loveliest districts, introducing you to some of the best and coolest neighbourhood cafes, shops and food producers.

Ask her nicely, and she might share her excellent Copenhagen food guide with you, listing all of her favourite spots, annotated with her own notes and reflections.

Fiskebaren

When it’s time to think about dinner, it seems natural – given the city’s island location – to go for incredible fish at Fiskebaren, self-proclaimed fanatics about ingredients and freshness. Grab a seat at the bar (walk-ins only, although you can book a table in the restaurant) and enjoy langoustines with salsify, seaweed and wild flowers or Baltic Sea ‘fish and chips’ which come with a smoky twist.

It might not be Noma, but it sure is Danish dining at its best – local, straightforward, and infinitely accessible.

Kate Foster writes about lots of things, but especially food and drink, business and the quirkier side of life. She blogs at www.ginandting.com and is ridiculously sociable on Twitter as @ginandting.

Christmas Competition! Win Our Luxury Gifts for Christmas

Bon Vivant is delighted to offer some fantastic prizes to celebrate Christmas in style. Visit our Facebook Page to enter our Christmas competition to win one of these fabulous prizes:

  • 1 hour private luxury cruise along The Thames on the Silver Darling
  • Annual membership with Apartment 58 Private Members’ Club in London
  • Dinner for 2 with wine at Tempo Restaurant in Mayfair
  • Lunch for 2 with champagne at two Michelin Starred Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
  • £500 of non-surgical treatment with luxury spa Waterhouse Young
  • A concierge service membership with Bon Vivant

Click here to enter our Christmas competition – share with friends to have an additional chance of winning.

Bon Vivant's Christmas competition

Electric Diner and Electric Donuts from Soho House

Soho House has collaborated with Chicago chef Brendan Sodikoff to launch the Electric Diner and Electric Donuts on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, with both restaurants taking inspiration from the chef’s own restaurants in Chicago.

The Electric Diner will have an all-day French-American menu, with highlights including the cheeseburger and the fried bologna sandwich along with a dedicated eggs section. The Electric Diner will be open from 8am for breakfast, with dinner up until 1am on weekends.

Electric_Diner

Electric Donuts will serve hot donuts and coffee throughout the day from 8am from the foyer of the Electric Cinema. The donuts will be made fresh every morning with alternating flavours each week including Maple Bourbon, Bergamot Orange, Ginger Chew, Mexican Chocolate, and Berry Trifle.

Electric_Donuts

The Electric Diner an Electric Donuts form part of the revamped Electric House members’ club and Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, replacing the Electric Brasserie, and a new contender for the best brunch in London.

Follow us on Twitter at @BonVivantLiving as we make our way through the London restaurant scene.