As part of our travel round-up in this issue we visit a restaurant in Madrid intent on promoting the unappreciated nuances of English food, a Chinese brewery educating locals in the delights of a glass of craft beer and a pair of boathouses in Berlin offering a unique way of navigating their beautiful lake location: by climbing aboard detachable motorised platforms.
East London’s atmospheric railway arches are having a renaissance as workshops and storage facilities give way to shops and restaurants. Beagle occupies three arches between the Hackney and Kingsland Roads. The space is divided between a 52-seat dining room, bar and large outdoor area. The former stonemasonry was renovated by Fabled Studios to include exposed brickwork, and flooring made from reclaimed railway sleepers.
“We try to keep the menu simple,” says Danny Clancy, who set up Beagle with his brother Kieran. “The dishes are produce-led and change depending on what’s fresh and available.”
“If you can be humble enough to throw your product away when you know in your heart it’s not good, then you can make good beer out of just about anything,” says Carl Setzer, an American who quit his job in IT security to open the Great Leap Brewery in Beijing along with his wife Liu Fang.
Since 2010, Great Leap Brewery has seen its customer base go from 95 per cent foreigners to almost half Chinese, despite the fact that locals don’t have a strong beer culture. The key: brewing with local ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns, fresh Chinese tea leaves, local barley and honey.
Setzer (pictured, left) has so far created 40 beers, including Honey Ma Gold: “The beer we started Great Leap to make.” Others include Danshan Wheat beer, made using Danshan Gongfu black tea from the mountains of Fujian, and Pale Ale No.6, the first beer that Great Leap Brewery ever sold.
Since 2010, several other microbreweries have popped up across Beijing, offering rival beers. “The arrival of other brewers actually helps us: it spreads awareness of artisan beer,” says Setzer.
Teaching the Spanish to love English food is the noble aim of a new restaurant in the vibrant Lavapies neighbourhood, renowned for its African and South Asian cuisine. “Spaniards generally have a negative perception of English gastronomy,” says co-owner Scott Preston, “but our blend of dishes is already winning over hearts and minds.”
The menu includes a Sunday roast with pork, Camembert and potato skins, as well as homemade cakes. Preston’s partner, Fernando Lasala, believes in the personal touch. Hence the handcrafted wooden tables adorned with flowers and fruit bowls, making the space seem like an extension of their own kitchen – the neighbours who frequent the space for their nightly tipple would seem to agree.
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Coffee is a science and an art for Brew Lab’s owners Tom Hyde and Dave Law (pictured, below). The duo brew two single-origin coffees that rotate weekly and use their own blend for flat whites and lattes. In the process they combine hi-tech equipment with more traditional methods, switching between Aeropress machines and coffee syphons. “These concepts might sound too technical, so we try to make coffee easy to understand,” says Hyde from the self-proclaimed “artisan coffee bar” based on South College Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Their most popular coffees are the blueberry-note Ethiopia Guji, the full-flavoured Yirgacheffe Konga and their Colombian decaffeinated, made with a special technique so that “you would never guess it is a decaf,” says Hyde.
In the beachside town of Manantiales, a short drive away from Uruguay’s bustling Punta del Este, restaurant and bakery La Linda serves up traditional dishes and pastries from the Río de La Plata region. Run by Brazilian-Lebanese owner Isabella Aquilina, it has an airy wooden interior with forged iron floor-to-ceiling windows that give out onto a front porch with sea views. The rustic menu is a tribute to local specialities: brotola (a type of fish) with cherry tomatoes and coconut rice; oven-roasted lamb with vegetables grown in her garden; freshly baked meat empanadas; and, for dessert, caramelised fruit tarts.
Paraguayan diners should prepare themselves for a food revolution: El Walterio is a diner and slow burger bar with a gourmet twist in a land used to simpler fare. It was established in the city of San Bernardino in 2008 before a second restaurant was added last year in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood of Asunción. The district first became popular in the 1950s and owner Paola Delvecchio has endeavoured to recreate the charm of the era with the addition of vintage furniture and retro wallpaper.
The burgers are inspired by Delvecchio’s travels around Europe; one bestseller is the Alexandre Eiffel, a Paris-inspired 150g burger that includes camembert (made by a Paraguay-based Frenchman), pan-fried mushrooms, caramelised onions and Dijon mustard. And to wash it all down? A cold pint of Polka, Paraguay’s first artisanal beer.
Lake Rummelsburg, a small bay in the river Spree in Berlin, is where brothers Chris and Oliver Laugsch and Dutchman Bertjan Diphoorn chose to locate their two rental houseboats. The Flodd boats can sleep up to four people and have an open kitchen and a large living area with a fireplace. They are almost entirely handbuilt, with a fuss-free interior and floor-to-ceiling windows stretching along the front. If guests want to hit town it’s 30 minutes away on the Bella Ciao bikes that are provided – though taking a detachable motorised platform around the lake might be the niftier option.
Architect Emanuel de Sousa (far right) has converted a stately 19th-century Porto townhouse in the city’s artsy Cedofeita district into a six-suite urban refuge. Rosa Et Al mixes old and new, with refurbished wood floors, clawfoot bathtubs and vintage furniture by Eames, Prouvé and Wegner sharing space with comfy modern bedding and amenities – rooms feature Revo Heritage radio sets. For weary travellers there are in-room shiatsu massages and the building’s backyard features a long garden where guests can enjoy a brunch or afternoon tea in the sun. rosaetal.pt
Terrariums are becoming popular these days, so much so that they’re being sold in a boutique in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood alongside waxed canvases and housewares. Textile artist Davis Khounnoraj and florist Adam Mallory (right), after years of selling out their self-made products together at craft shows and pop-up shops, have graduated to a storefront. “There’s a nice organic feel to both,” says Mallory. “Obviously it’s there on the botanical side, but Davis’s bags have very earthy colours and tones in designs that are streamlined and clean.”
Nestled in the turquoise waters of the Noonu Atoll, the Cheval Blanc Randheli is the second property in LVMH Hotel Management’s Cheval Blanc collection. Opening this summer, it is around 40 minutes away from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Malé. The new hotel has 45 private villas designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy in four different styles based on traditional local culture and modern design.
In addition to having access to a 12.5 metre-long pool, each villa touches upon a private white-sand beach. Food comes from two Michelin-starred restaurant Le 1947, run by chef Yannick Alléno. Deciding where to eat is the hardest decision, with a choice between being served in the main restaurant, the private dining room or in your own villa with a chef on hand.
Near Rotterdam’s pre-war central station lies Lokaal, an espresso bar that was opened in 2012 and is tucked away on an old railway. Its minimalistic and pine-wood dominated interior resembles an old-school cafeteria and is the work of local design firm Weaponofchoice.
The café is best known for its quality coffee – such as its Panamaria brew made from Arabica coffee grains – and also serves a range of botanically brewed products, including Fentimans Rose Lemonade. As summer advances, customers can be found enjoying one of Lokaal’s three slow-press options on the café’s terrace.
Selected best pastry chef as part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, Janice Wong has launched an enterprise to encourage innovation in the pastry world with her dessert laboratory 2am:lab. It is essentially a 200 sq m R&D centre where Wong experiments with new ingredients and cooking techniques. She also hosts private dinners twice a month, where guest chefs meet the public and share inside knowledge about the new dishes and techniques they’ve been working on.
The facility is the first of its kind in Asia and is home to a “flavour wall” (pictured behind Wong, above) with more than 500 ingredients that visitors can touch and smell. In a move that Willy Wonka would be proud of there is also a “chocolate room”, where temperatures can be set at very precise levels for experimenting with different types of confectionery.
In the historic colonial town of Paraty, Casa Turquesa is a unique proposition along the Brazilian Costa Verde that stretches from Rio to São Paolo. Influenced by several years of living in Provence, owner Tetê Etrusco has combined South American charm with European attention to detail. But what really sets the boutique hotel apart is Etrusco herself who, over a house caipirinha, will happily give personalised recommendations regarding local schooners, deserted beaches and little-known restaurants to any guests who seek her counsel.
Once an Ottoman alcohol distillery, a 19th-century building on Istanbul’s Asian side is now home to the Sumahan Hotel’s newest venture: Tapasuma. Run by local chef Gokay Cakiroglu, the restaurant serves contemporary Mediterranean dishes with a choice of fresh fish from the Bosphorus; a range of Turkish mezes to pick and choose from is laid out on an eight metre-long marble table. From its location on the Cengelkoy district’s waterfront, the restaurant also offers patrons a ride on private boat Sumahan I to cross over to the European side and avoid traffic.
A Sri Lankan start-up is banking on a wave of support for its amphibious adventure: an airline that will take passengers to hard-to-reach watery destinations in record time.
As Sri Lankan tourism picks up following years of civil war, a new domestic air service is looking to capitalise. Start-up Cinnamon Air plans to offer an amphibious air service operating out of the country’s main international airports and flying to remote airstrips and waterdromes on lakes and rivers that would otherwise take hours to reach overland.
“The ground transportation in Sri Lanka is quite cumbersome,” says the airline’s CEO, Shawn Dwight. “To travel 30km you need 45 minutes to an hour so this is a big void that needs to be filled by a proper domestic carrier.”
Cinnamon Air’s amphibian Cessna 208 aircraft have wheels as well as floats, giving the company a versatility that the current competition lacks. Sri Lankan Air Taxi Service, an offshoot of national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines, operates out of two waterdrome locations in Colombo but both require a connection by road from the main international airport, Bandaranaike.
Cinnamon’s service is aimed at the increasing number of visitors who would prefer to bypass Colombo and head straight for beaches and cultural destinations in the rest of the country, particularly the burgeoning east coast that is very difficult to reach by road.
Cinnamon Air not only offers a much-needed means of getting around but also a tourist attraction in its own right: with low-altitude flights into hard-to-reach locations
it’s sure to attract more visitors to see more of the country, which is no bad thing.
Start-up financing: $8.4m (€6.4m)
Fleet: Two nine-seater Cessna 208 Caravan Amphibian aircraft and one 12-seater Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (with wheels for landing on paved runways).
Destinations: Colombo, Trincomalee, Sigiriya, Batticaloa, Dikwella, Kandy, Koggala, and the new international airport at Hambantota.
Hub: Cinnamon Air will operate out of its own domestic terminal at the Colombo Bandaranaike Airport (CMB), with schedules tailored to connections to/from international arrivals and departures by international carriers serving the airport.
Slogan: “Wings of Sri Lanka”.
In-flight entertainment: Staring out the window at Sri Lanka. As most legs will be well under an hour in duration, that should be sufficient.