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For me, Sundays can be hard. The weekend is almost over and if you don’t make the most of your last day by relaxing in a cool pub with a roast dinner then you may as well set your Monday alarm now. I love indulging in this great English tradition and it’s a chance to catch up with friends, or in this case treat my other half so he doesn’t have to slave in the kitchen.
The value of 3 courses at Lady Abercorn’s Pub & Kitchen seemed too good to be true, so one lazy Sunday we decided to check it out.
To start we fancied something light and the chicken Caesar was a perfect sharing size. It was beautifully presented, like no other salad I’ve ever seen. Cute baby gem lettuce was dotted around grilled corn-fed chicken, paper thin rye croutons and an amazing creamy Caesar dressing.
Pork belly bites
In contrast to the healthy salad we spoilt ourselves with some pork belly bites. Wow these were incredible, I would highly recommend. The sticky toffee glaze was so moreish I wish we had ordered 2 portions but I knew the mains were coming and I have an ‘eyes bigger than my belly’ bad habit.
Fish and chips
Mike went for the traditional fish and chips which was lightly battered in British pale ale and dominated most of the plate. Alongside were minted crushed peas, anchovy tartare and a tower of triple-cooked chips. He was more than happy and finished every bite.
Beef sirloin roast dinner
I simply had to go for the beef sirloin roast dinner which came with all the trimmings. The portion was huge, to my (greedy) delight, I couldn’t wait to dig in. The juicy slices of beef were absolutely delicious, covered in a horseradish jus. I was spoilt for choice with the sides, colourful vegetables and 2 homemade Yorkies were just heaven on a plate. A glass of red wine accompanied my dish perfectly.
We were too stuffed to manage a pudding. It was quite heart-breaking. As we left I saw a portion of the banana mille feuille come out of the kitchen and it looked absolutely scrumptious. Sadly, it was too late (and embarrassing) to run back and ask them to box me something to take home. Next time I’ll be more prepared.
We had a lovely relaxing afternoon at Lady Abercorn’s. The team are really welcoming and the food was top notch served in an informal but still grand setting. I could have picked everything from the special weekend menu but at least it gives me a good reason to return.
Funky little sister of much-appraised 108 Garage, one of my standout restaurants of last year, Southam Street is just a short tootle along from the pastel-flushed frontages of Portobello Road. Bringing tropical boho vibes to this vintage-inspired pocket of Portobello in London, the surrounding influences have clearly imbued the bohemian setting of Southam Street, gloriously wallpapered in tropical palms to within a glamorous inch of its life.
Swishing upstairs, we head to the exotic den that comprises the Southam bar and lounge, adjacent to the raw bar where the sushi masters prep their immaculate offerings. We reach the top floor, home to the velveteen-clad tequila and mezcal parlour that leads to a shady terrace where we are seated.
Korean chicken bao
Trying a few dishes from the raw, robata grill and sushi sections of the menu was a great way to experience the Asian-meets-West-meets-south-America fusion concept. The steamed bao bun with Korean fried chicken was a rather gourmet take on your humble high street KFC. Adding a spicy edge, the crunch of the double-fried chicken contrasted against the soft, steamed bao bun for added texture.
Soft shell crab harumaki
Reminiscent of the fantastically fresh summer rolls we found in Vietnam, soft shell crab harumaki had all the right fresh and sour notes. With an accompanying hot, sour nuoc cham dipping sauce, these were moreish morsels on the small plates assortment of the menu.
Sae-woo pops definitely lived up to their name and popped out of the menu as an intriguing signature dish. These hot little pops were king prawn and lobster cakes, with fiery ochujang mayonnaise and shredded seaweed, alongside some expertly mixed cocktails fresh from the bar.
Wagyu burger & dirty fries
Dirty fries in general would not be my first choice on the order if I’m being honest, however these fulfilled the husband’s hunger pangs more than adequately. A Southam Street favourite, so we were told, these indulgent fries were topped with curry sauce and of lashings of melted cheese. Dirty fries indeed. Likewise, the wagyu beef slider burger with melted emmental was another crowd pleaser, with tangy pickled onion taking off the edge.
Tuna tartare fusion
Perched on seaweed crisps, the yellowtail tuna from the tartare fusion raw section was perfection with the citrusy yuzu truffle sauce.
Chimichurri sirloin steak
Chef’s choice on the grill section came as a charred sirloin with a smorgasbord of delightful sauces. I could detect shiso leaf in the herby chimichurri sauce, adding a Japanese edge to the flavourful cuts of sirloin, while yakiniki had caramelised teriyaki richness.
Smoked churo-turo tuna
Recommended to us for its theatrical leanings, the smoked churo-toro tuna from the raw section of the menu had our neighbours drooling with envy! Being the kind sports we are, we happily shared with our neighbouring diners – which seemed typical of the friendly, local feel of this neighbourhood venue. Smoky embers lingered long after the cloche had lifted. The drizzle of panca soy, and the Nikkei fusion of this Peruvian-Japanese dish really worked, with the smokiness of the spicy chimichurri salsa fusing.
Truffle yellowtail sushi
Sushi rolls were another foray into fusion territory. Being a truffle maniac, I was most enamoured by this creation, with the achingly fresh yellowtail sushi topped with addictive yuzu truffle sauce. Alongside, we tried some of the mellow sake which was the ideal accompanying palate-cleanser.
Strawberry chawan mushi
Looking like a botanical celebration strewn with pansies and fresh summer berries, the fresh strawberry chawan mushi was a sight to behold. Underneath lay a rich and creamy riff on a Japanese-style panna cotta, recommended by knowledgeable host Marco.
Molten and bursting with cocoa, the chocolate mouelleux was the epitome of fondant-oozing perfection. Cooling house-made matcha green tea ice cream perfected the combination with an Asian touch.
Inspired by the sprawling culinary influences of Asia and South America, Southam Street is clearly a distinctive execution in comparison to 108 Garage, making its own mark already with locals swooning over the unique, sharing-style theatrical fusion concept. And those from further afield should be more than willing to visit this destination restaurant to keep the locals company.
Opened in 1865, the Langham in London is renowned as Europe’s first ‘Grand Hotel’ and the Palm Court restaurant inside is recognised as the origin of the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea. The luxurious 5-star hotel’s restaurant serves exquisite European cuisine established in partnership with famed chefs Michel Roux Jr and Albert Roux OBE. The Palm Court at the Langham’s new SeasonaliTea offers a fresh, more cyclical approach to the classic afternoon tea by using mostly local sourced and seasonal produce.
When entering, I was initially stunned at the chic and sophisticated surroundings filled with lavish cream interior, striking floral displays and intricate gold detail dancing and trailing along the walls. But it was the focal point of the room that really captivated my attention, 2 remarkable chandeliers hung from the high ceilings whilst a live pianist performed in the background.
On our visit we received the summer afternoon tea menu which offered a classic afternoon tea (consisting of contemporary savouries, scones and patisseries) or the selection we opted for, the high tea which included one extra course in which you could choose from ricotta with Bermondsey honey, pickled walnut and lambs lettuce, fresh summer pea hummus served with crisp yet light mini za’tar breads or Scottish smoked salmon and broccoli quiche. Both menus were served with an eclectic choice of teas and a glass of champagne.
First served on the gold tea stand was an array of palate-pleasing neatly cut finger sandwiches with fillings such as cucumber with cream cheese and chive, Cackleberry farm egg with marinated artichoke and summer truffle, La Latteria’s fresh mozzarella in basil bread with tomato chutney, confit chicken coronation and finally Cornish crab salad with avocado in a brioche roll.
Exclusive to the high tea menu, next came my choice of Campbells and co smoked salmon quiche served with fresh, mouth-watering broccoli. This classy yet simplistic dish came with 2 small quiches, the ideal size for an indulgent bite to eat but not enough to prevent you from eating the following courses.
Pastries and Cakes
Then came 4 bitesize delectable desserts that were appealing to both the eye and palate. The exotic ‘peach melo’ was my favourite sweet treat – verbena meringue filled with fresh peach mousse and topped with a single mint leaf. ‘Chouxtime’ was a crunchy choux bun filled with cherry and tonka compote, topped with mousseline and mascarpone cream and embellished with half a cherry and a shaving of gold leaves. ‘Simply Sakanti’ was formed with sublime ingredients including a slice of Sakanti 68% Cuvee from Bali ganache and demerara crystals, creating a rich and smooth yet crunchy texture. Lastly was ‘rolled into one’, a light and fluffy Japanese sponge filled and rolled together with Oakchurch Farm strawberries and Madagascan vanilla cream.
Along with this came a distinctive English delicacy; scones from the Palm Court bakery both plain and raisin-filled were served with Cornish clotted cream and refreshing strawberry and apricot jams. Additionally, we were served a muscovado and citrus sponge cake immersed in Bermondsey honey.
All aspects of the afternoon tea in Palm Court at The Langham are filled with elegance and luxury. From the plush interior to the exceptional food, everything about the delightful restaurant makes guests feel like royalty. Without a doubt, SeasonaliTea should jump to the top of your desired experiences and I am hoping to visit again soon!
SeasonaliTea at The Langham, London is priced at £55 per person for the Afternoon Tea and £62 per person for the High tea.
Arabic food isn’t hard to come by with so many restaurants across London offering a taste of the Middle East. However, good traditional Arabic food is. Having not had my monthly Middle Eastern feast in the past three months, when I had the chance to visit Maison Du Mezze, I couldn’t wait. Maison Du Mezze serves authentic Lebanese food whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Outside of Maison Du Mezze
Maison Du Mezze is located in the heart of London and right in the buzzing centre of it all – Leicester Square. With street performers beatboxing, rapping or juggling dangerous objects and red carpets rolled out for celebrities during film premieres, it is hard not to feel the buzz. Maison De Mezze stands out from the other restaurants with its light blue exterior and grand entrance. Free canapes were handed to people walking past, from hot grilled halloumi pieces straight from the kitchen to vol-au-vents stuffed with freshly made hummous and pine-nuts – no one could resist.
The al fresco dining area allows you to enjoy the food whilst watching the street performers for a more casual dining experience. Whilst this did look tempting, we decided to head inside for more of an Arabic atmosphere and for the air-con (which was very much needed) and we were glad we did!
Inside the restaurant – Lebanese artifacts galore!
A traditional yet cosy feel inside the restaurant
Walking inside, we were mesmerised by the beautiful authentic Lebanese decor displayed all across the restaurant. Set over 2 floors, artifacts from all over Lebanon were beautifully presented – including prayer mats, Islamic plates, Arabic carpets, plants, lanterns and vases. There was a mixture of booths and banquette seating areas which gave it a nice cosy feel as well as portraying the Lebanese history.
The menu was carefully selected to showcase the true Lebanese feast. All dishes are freshly prepared daily using the finest seasonal produce and herbs and spices directly from the Middle East. We couldn’t wait to tuck in!
For my drink, I opted for Bora Bora which was the house favourite. This mocktail consisted of passion fruit mixed with with fresh pineapple juice and finished off with lemon and grenadine. It was utterly delicious and refreshing – sweet yet tangy from the lemon and pineapple juice.
Mint & lemon
My husband opted for the traditional mint lemon juice which was extremely fresh and minty – just like a mojito. It was topped with fresh mint leaves and crushed mint leaves. It was surprisingly sweet and not tangy as we thought it would be. Perfect for the meals ahead.
Starter #1: The mixed cold mezze platter
Freshly made pitta bread with sesame and nigella seeds
For our starters, the restaurant manager recommended we try out a mixed cold mezze platter as well as a hot mezze platter to get a taste of all the different mezzes available – which we did not say no to! The cold mezze consisted of all my favourites! There was the traditional chickpea hummous which was smooth and velvety, moutabal (also known as baba ganoush) which contained chargrilled aubergine blended with tahini and lemon juice topped with fresh pomegrante seeds, Al Rahib – another aubergine dish, this time containing chunky smoked aubergine, tomato, green peppers, spring onions, parsley, garlic and lemon juice and finally the traditional Labneh – a thick creamy strained yoghurt blended with fresh mint and drizzled with olive oil. All of these were accompanied by a beautiful basket of delicious homemade pitta bread to dip and soak in all the flavours. I was in mezze heaven.
On top of all the delicious creamy cold mezzes sat some Warak Inab (stuffed vine leaves) which were delicious. The vine leaves were packed full of flavoured rice, carrots, and lentils and wrapped tightly in leaves.
Starter #2: The mixed hot mezze platter
With the first starter polished off with no crumb in sight, we tucked into our second starter platter – the mixed hot mezze platter. This contained all the delicious meats and cheese everyone would be hopeful for. The platter contained my absolute favourite – fried Kibeh Maklieh, which was lamb with a cracked wheat shell filled with marinated minced lamb, onions and pine nuts – a staple at any Arabic dinner table! Next up was Sambousek Lahmeh, which was similar to a Cornish pasty. We had a variety of Sambousek Lahmeh – one had beautifully seasoned minced lamb, one had tenderly cooked vegetables in Arabic herbs and spices and the final one had melted cheese inside – one of my favourites.
Sojuk was next on the dish which was pan-seared homemade Lebanese spicy sausages cooked in pomegranate molasses – these where a party favourite. The Sojuk was bursting full of flavour and nicely spiced. It worked well with the Labneh from the cold mezze platter. Finally, no mezze would be complete without grilled halloumi – these were topped with poppy and holly seeds.
Mains: Maison’s Mixed Grill
We were so full from our delicious yet filling platter that we took a 30-minute break before the mains were placed in front of us so that we could savour it all. We were recommended the Maison’s Mixed Grill which contained some of the best meat dishes on the menu. The platter contained all the specialties such as char-grilled skewers of lamb cubes, chicken cubes, lamb cutlets and minced lamb kebab. All were deliciously coated in Middle Eastern spices and grilled to perfection. The meat was soft and melted in the mouth.
No main would be complete without some steamed rice. This Lebanese rice was grainy and beautifully cooked. It had the traditional vermicelli noodles to give it 2 types of texture – soft and crispy. It worked well with the meat dishes.
No meat and rice dish would be complete without some Arabic sauces to accompany them. Before us lay some amazing chilli sauce (not too spicy, just right) and garlic sauce. Dipping the meats into the sauces was a match made in heaven.
As if we were not full enough, the restaurant manager ordered some of the best desserts Maison Du Mezze had to offer. In front of us lay a feast of crispy beauties. We had an array of crispy baklava which was is sweet pastry made with layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and held together with honey. These crispy and not too sweet pastry melted in the mouth and the crunchy nuts made it all the more wholesome.
Next up were some Hawlawet El Jebn which was a traditional cheese roll filled with Ashta clotted cream. The cheese rolls were light and creamy and the pistachios on top gave it another texture. It was topped with syrup so made a lovely balance between salty and sweet.
Final dessert of the night!
The final dessert of the night (by which point we were bursting to the brim) but yet couldn’t help but love was the Arabic take on the British rice pudding – rice pudding with a twist! This rice pudding was creamy and made with Arabic gum and flavoured with rose water and topped with pistachio and honey. I normally dislike rose water but the balance of rose water in this dessert was perfect – it wasn’t too overpowering and the creamy rice pudding cut through the sweet honey.
The night wouldn’t be complete without some Arabic mint tea. This mint tea contained freshly brewed Lipton tea and fresh mint – delicious. Just what we needed after all the food and those tasty baklavas!
If you are after some good honest Arabic food then Maison Du Mezze is the place. It is right in the heart of London and offers an array of dishes for any appetite!
The world-famous Hutong at The Shard (on the 33rd floor), is one of London’s most highly commended Northern Chinese restaurants. A prominent landmark across the city, The Shard redefines the skyline, standing at 800 feet tall and winning the title of the tallest building in Europe. Offering outstanding and authentic Chinese cuisine, Hutong is undeniably a restaurant more than worth a visit, especially to enjoy spectacular sunset views of the city.
This year, Hutong celebrates its 5th birthday with an exclusive menu of its most iconic and adored dishes since its opening in June 2013, created by head chef Fei Wang. Renowned for its striking dishes and delicious Peking duck, Hutong takes influence from Chinese provinces Sichuan and Shandong. Fei incorporates fiery spices from his native region, Sichuan, making the menu a piquant delight. In the 5 years the restaurant has been serving flavoursome dishes, Hutong has welcomed over 600,000 guests to the restaurant and served 60 famous roasted Peking ducks daily!
Upon entering, the Oriental setting with dark wood, red lanterns, and a wishing tree filled with red cards containing visitors’ desires, takes diners on a fascinating trip to China. To add to the Oriental atmosphere and experience, a calligraphy artist was available to write in Chinese. We were greeted with a choice of 2 innovative cocktails, Fui Shi – a colourful and tropical pink rum decorated with a dried orange slice, and Comfortably Numb – a spicy lychee, honey and lime liqueur embellished with a single red chilli and peppercorns lining the rim of the glass, and champagne. We were also offered a selection of canapés, including bamboo shoots dressed with homemade chilli oil from the friendly, attentive staff.
The Hutong menu begins with a tempting selection of the restaurant’s best-loved dim sum dishes: braised mushroom dumpling with black truffle, cuttlefish and shrimp dumpling with squid ink and smelt egg, steamed crispy cod fillet dumpling with tonburi, and XO sauce crystal prawn dumpling. These bitesize appetisers were the perfect start to ease us in to the rest of the incredible dishes that were yet to come.
Peking duck pancakes
Peking duck pancakes
Next up, was my stand-out dish – the famed roast Peking duck served with crisp homemade pancakes, freshly sliced spring onions and cucumber, and the sweet touch of a rich hoisin sauce. The duck is traditionally hand-prepared by the devoted Hutong chefs and brings a theatrical aspect to the menu as it is carved tableside.
The commemorative menu then offers Sichuan-style crispy yet soft deep-fried lobster with a hint of chilli. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this, the generous portion meant I couldn’t finish it all. Next, came tender wagyu beef in a hot and sour broth with tasty seafood fried rice, dried salted fish and ginger and wok tossed choy sum.
Chocolate tart & mandarin sorbet
Finally, the desserts were impossible for my sweet tooth to deny, a slightly bitter yet smooth and velvety chocolate filling in a crispy tart base was beautifully presented opposite a sphere of tangy mandarin sorbet on a wooden board lined with vibrant flowers.
The Hutong 5th anniversary set menu is priced at £88 per person, available Monday – Friday 12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.00pm – 10.30pm, and Saturday – Sunday 11.30am – 3.30pm, 6.00pm – 10.30pm.
Level 33 The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY
There is something gloriously Wodehouse-esque about Gillray’s Steakhouse. This beautiful building harks back to what is almost certainly a rose-tinted time of flowing champagne, country houses and idle aristocrats wandering the strand with their gloves in their hand.
As you walk through the doors to the restaurant and into the gin bar that welcomes guests, you are immediately struck with the incredible view over the Thames, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. These heritage-soaked views, along with a beautifully ornate bar and the wood-paneled walls, may lead you to think that the door staff have made a horrible mistake in letting you in; that they will soon realise you’re not a member of the aristocracy and a firm hand will soon be on your shoulder asking you to leave, such is the splendour of the room. Let such thoughts be cast from your mind though. Not only are the staff extremely welcoming and friendly, luckily, what was once only accessible to a few is now open to all.
Despite the English thoroughbred feel that the whole place has, it is still nonetheless a steakhouse, a particularly American institution. This is comforting in many ways. As well as the steakhouse’s British chophouse heritage, the Americans take their meat seriously, and things can be learnt from the country that prides itself as the meat-eating capital of the world.
Smoking Club – £13.50
The Jubilee – £14.50
We were shown to our table by one of the many smiling staff on hand and sat down to a view overlooking the north bank of the Thames. I ordered the restaurant’s take on a Negroni, A Smoking Club, that manages to squeeze gin into it somehow and wolfed it down without shame. My companion had the The Jubilee, served in a beautiful metallic martini glass with an accompanying sprig of mint, which was delicious.
Yorkshire Pudding Hors D’oeuvres
After ordering the food, our waiter brought over a small plate that featured a couple of Yorkshire puddings and a pot of horseradish. Odd you might think, this hors d’oeuvres. I certainly thought so. But as a Yorkshire-born, Norfolk-reared chap myself, this oven-raised pancake with a dollop of mustard-flavoured dip on the side, should not have raised the quizzical eyebrow. The pudding itself was as Yorkshire puddings should be – airy, slightly chewy and structurally sound, whilst the horseradish dip was sound of taste and dreamy of texture.
Steak Tartare – £10
Scallops with black pudding paste – £16
Next up, a disc of steak tartare and a trio of scallops, along with a couple of oysters each. There was a time when steak tartare was overwhelmed with the vinaigrette it’s served with, but thankfully this odd trend seems to have passed and the beef is allowed to stand proud on the dish, as it does at Gillray’s. The scallops were as excellent as scallops can be – smooth and slightly smokey and served with a gorgeous black pudding paste.
T-Bone Steak – £42
Prawns – Steak Extras – All £5
Spatchcock Chicken – £18
Steak Sides – All £5
Then the main event, a t-bone steak to share along with a spatchcock chicken. As you would expect, the t-bone steak was colossal and happily shared between us. The chicken benefitted from a lovely honey and grain mustard glaze which really lifted the entire dish. The sides of dauphinoise, carrots and prawns were excellent accompaniments and could have been the main parts of a dish by themselves. All of this was eased down with an excellent Chianti Classico, too often overlooked in the canon of old world wines.
Adult Ice Cream – £8
Sticky Toffee Pudding – £8
Now the guilty part, the desserts. I, ashamedly, cannot resist a sticky toffee pudding and so I have a bank of experience to draw upon when it comes to this particular pud. Gillray’s exceeds with a moist, sweet and slightly charred dome of brilliance. The very berry summer tart was perfect for the day and measured the right amount of tartness with the requisite sweetness needed for a harmonious plate. Both were excellent.
This may seem like a wearisomely traditional collection of parts that formed the whole of this evening, but when tradition is done at such a high standard, it is often unbeatable. It is this tradition along with an American respect of meat (with American portion sizes as well) that makes an evening here such a pleasant experience. To quote Wodehouse himself “Everything in life that’s any fun….is either immoral, illegal or fattening” and in my humble opinion, it’s far wiser to focus on the last one of these, so stroll down to Gillray’s and loosen the belt in preparation.
Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Entrance via Marriott Hotel or Queens Walk, London, SE1
As first impressions go it was safe to say Wolfe’s in Covent Garden made a pretty impressive one. Described as modern European food with innovative cocktails and live music on Thursdays I was keen for a visit.
On entering, my friend and I were blown away by the décor. The bar area is so unique – think classic French, meets modern New York. Soft lighting, mirrored walls and as many top shelf spirit bottles as you could imagine. The soft cool jazz music, played by a live guitarist instantly made us feel relaxed as it filled the room, a classy touch.
The hostess took our coats and led us to very smartly dressed table perched up above the bar – perfect for watching the bar team do their thing.
Refreshing Gin & Tonics
Mischa our waitress explained the menu and then wasted no time in requesting our drinks. On a hot evening the only drink to start with was a gin & tonic, and in no time at all we were sipping away choosing from the gorgeous extensive menu.
Smoked Duck & Avocado Salad
To start I made a bee-line for the duck salad. Chunky pieces of duck were bursting with a light smoky flavour and balanced on fresh creamy avocado. I assumed the fruity raspberry vinaigrette was purely for decoration but it worked so well in contrast to the dark meat.
My friend opted for the tuna tartare, which looked amazing. Small fresh pieces of tuna sat on a tower of avocado, she gave it a squeeze of lime for a zingy kick. A sure-fire palate pleaser.
While finishing our starters the restaurant had really started to fill up, however the staff still made plenty of time to recommended cocktails and whip them up in minutes. First up were a couple of gin-based surprises which were fabulously presented and tasted super fruity.
Mains don’t come much better than my friend’s mature Scotch rib-eye. A great sized, impeccably cooked medium rare piece of juicy meat dominated the plate. I managed to sneak a bite, and the charred edge had so much flavour I ‘almost’ regretted my own choice.
They say you eat with your eyes and this couldn’t have been truer for my main dish. A perfectly pink piece of pan-fried salmon was lovingly placed on a pea puree with French beans and baby artichoke alongside. The salmon was so juicy and just flaked away with little pressure from my fork. A gorgeous dish.
Tenderstem Broccoli, Rocket Salad, Fries
We added a few sides. The tenderstem broccoli was tossed with garlic and chilli which gave it some real hot flavour. Of course, no steak is complete without a side of French fries and I love rocket so the salad with balsamic and parmesan was a fresh, pleasing addition.
We shared our puddings – a mountain of Eton mess with sliced strawberries and whipped cream, and a panettone tiramisu topped with mascarpone ice cream. Such pretty presentation and a perfect sweet finish. The tiramisu was especially good and really authentic (by that I mean quite boozy tasting!)
Passion Fruit Surprise
As we tucked into our final cocktails of the evening, a delicious concoctions of passion fruit and vodka, the DJ started up spinning some cool tunes giving the place an awesome atmosphere. We were shimmying in our seats until we eventually called it a night.
I’m jumping on their #WolfesOfThursday hashtag; Amazing music, great atmosphere and delicious food made for a fantastic impromptu evening. We look forward to coming back and sampling more of the menu and tasking the bar men with more surprise cocktails!
30 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5BB
First opened in 1982, Bombay Brasserie is a Kensington institution. It was one of the first in the UK to ditch the flocked wallpaper and sticky carpets of the traditional British curry house, and instead offer modern Indian cuisine in a grand dining room. Over 35 years later and it’s still going strong, so I invited another British institution, my dad, to join me in visiting the Brasserie.
Entering Bombay Brasserie is an impressive affair. First you enter the Bombay Bar with its colonial shutters, plush armchairs and walls filled with paintings and photos of Raj-era Bombay. We were shown through the heavy wooden doors and walked into the elegant main dining room with its brass peacock statues, glittering chandelier and grand piano. But palatial as it was, this wasn’t our final stop.
The jazz musician arrived and started tickling the ivories as we walked through the dining room and into a stunning conservatory. Bright and leafy, this is where the weekend lunch buffet was arranged. The restaurant offers a la carte dining each day. Monday to Friday you can order from a set lunch menu, but on weekends the team hosts a buffet-style lunch with a Chaat Counter that me and my dad were eager to try.
Chili mango mojito
But before we got stuck in we sipped on our drinks and gawped at the beautiful summer house dining room. Dad had a bottle of Kingfisher, his favourite Indian lager, and I had a refreshing and unusual chilli and mango mojito.
The first counter had an impressive array of starters and appetisers. We tried the spiced lamb samosa, which had a crisp filo shell, but moist, shredded lamb inside. There was chilli heat, but it was mild and well balanced. The lentil potato cakes had more of a chilli kick and went well with the tamarind dip. But the tandoori suwa murg chicken tikka, a saffron-yellow chargrilled chicken dish was our favourite as it was moist with lots of flavour and no chilli heat (perfect for wimps).
Part of this section was the ‘chaat counter’ a section where you could get street food favourites panipuri and bhelpuri made fresh while you wait. Neither me or my dad had ever tried these. So, glasses on, we scrutinized the expert server as he filled the round, hollow ‘puri’ (a type of unleavened deep-fried bread) with spiced potato, chickpeas, red onion, tomato and coriander. Once it was filled he placed it on top of a shot glass filled with a palate-cleansing vegetable water.
Main courses & curries
After clearing our plates, we were given fresh ones to fill again with a smorgasbord of traditional and modern dishes. Bombay was (as Mumbai now is) a hodgepodge of different cultures and cuisines, with influences and cooking styles from all over India and even Portugal, and this is reflected in the variety of what’s on offer. It’s also worth mentioning that there are plenty of vegetarian options to choose from.
Condiments & sauces
Although we were not in the healthy mood, there was a counter with beautiful, fresh salads. Next to them was a wide variety of sauces and condiments on offer too, so no need to fear a dry or dull plate of grub.
Main course selection
I couldn’t decide exactly what to go for, so I filled my plate up with tasters of everything. From traditional lamb biriyani to vegetarian-friendly vegetable masala, whatever your taste or your heat tolerance, there were dishes to suit. My dad, being a bit of a chilli-phobe, avoided the spicier options, but there is the option to pile on fresh chillies if you’re feeling braver. His favourite dish was the sunshine-coloured bori chicken; tender chicken thighs cooked in mild cashew spices. While I loved the Indo-Portuguese fish & prawns moilee dish. The prawns were big, pink and juicy alongside large pieces of flaking tilapia, all in a lightly spicy and deeply flavoured coconut sauce.
Despite tasting the entire main course counter, we eagerly approached the dessert section where there were colourful platters of tropical fruits and intricate Indian sweets laid out. While we were tempted by the freezers filled with mango coconut kulfi (my usual go-to dessert) we wanted to try more unusual options. The jackfruit rice kheer was like a tropical rice pudding, which went well with the springy apricot cake, served with fresh orange slices. We also tried the prettily presented kesari shrikhand, a type of sweet Indian yoghurt that was served on top of a pink half of a macaron. Lastly, we had something I hadn’t had since going to Southall as a kid: coconut jamun. They are delicious balls of cardamom-flavoured sponge, soaked in sugar syrup and coated in desiccated coconut and so dainty that one was never going to be enough.
I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a cynic. That is, I’m of the view that you can’t have your cake and eat it, so to speak, when eating out in London. It’s all well and good to visit that unmissable landmark that’s on everyone’s checklist, but maybe don’t anticipate eating well while you’re there. This is more than likely borne from a youth of quick-pitstop, questionable-source fast food, pre-made packet sandwiches, maybe a local ice cream if you’re lucky. But, as London’s buildings and vantage points have grown taller, so has the standard of restaurant you’re likely to find when you go to drink in the view, meander round the garden, ponder the priceless artwork, and the like.
The architecture-defying curve of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building is now as recognisable a sight on London’s skyline as the likes of the Gherkin and The Shard, and what’s held inside – for an entry fee of exactly £0.00 – is equally as impressive (my cynicism begins to ease). The Sky Garden’s tropical-inspired, tiered plant beds are a verdant 37th floor escape, and the incredible vantage points from every angle make this an Instagrammer’s paradise.
We’re here primarily for what’s at the peak of the Sky Garden: a visit to Fenchurch Restaurant (taking its name from the street on which the building resides). The dining room offsets the surrounding garden’s lushness: a chic bubble of dark lacquered wood, glass and stony upholstery, with the London skyline still visible from the tables. We’d have forgiven Fenchurch for relaxing a bit on what came next, but we’re wowed with a menu of gorgeous seasonal dishes, bursting with texture, flavour and evident culinary flair (so much so that we’re temporarily switched off from the surrounding view, which becomes a mere impressive backdrop).
We dine from the set dinner menu, which comes with a slender flute of chilled, crisp champagne (the perfect prop for a picture with London in the background).
A miniature warm cob arrives along with an amuse bouche: light-as-air potato and cod brandade, the delicate nautical pang mixes with the super-smooth pureed potato.
Next, a pretty-as-a-picture purple starter: hefty chunks of lightly pickled beetroot, slivers of radish and raddichio, the delicate acidity of which was muted with a subtle horseradish and hazelnut cream.
Ceviche, tartare et al are my one true loves, especially on balmy summer evenings, there’s nothing to beat the burst of freshness these dishes bring. Beautifully juicy yellowfin tuna came mixed with perfectly ripe avocado and the crunch of pickled cucumber, served with a dreamy side of sliced, lightly seared tuna. This is the sort of zinger dish I’d like to spend all summer eating.
Often the least photogenic dishes are the tastiest (look what you’ve made of us, Instagram), and so was the case with the Iberico pork main. Close your eyes you could have been eating this gorgeously rosy pork on holiday in a little Spanish tavern. Spelt gave a moreish bite to the dish, while the earthy colours of artichokes (the greatest thing on earth) and roast onion were offset by a lime green-hued leek sabayon.
Skate was a lighter taste of the sea: gorgeously meaty, lightly fried fish with the salty punch of samphire, spinach, brown shrimp and crispy lovage beignets.
The first dessert (pavlova) was parma violets re-imagined: crunchy meringue, cooling blueberry sorbet and lemon evoked a swirl of textures, with nasturtium flowers and fresh fruit bringing a summer-garden vibe.
Chocolate & citrus bar
Parfait was at the opposite end of the flavour scale: chocolatey and decadent rather than the florally lightness of dessert no 1. Delicate citrus ran through the middle of the smooth Gianduja, served with crunchy hazelnuts, chocolate soil and homemade banana yoghurt ice cream.
I left very much eating my cake metaphors. We had our cake (and our meringue, and our parfait…) at Fenchurch Restaurant, and we ate the lot: without compromise.
The ‘Sunday Roast’ is a staple British tradition. For most of us, the idea of the perfect roast dinner hails from our childhood; memories of family gatherings fuelled by piles of fluffy roast potatoes, succulent meats, and flavoursome vegetables topped with ample gravy. As such, our own home-grown versions of this delicious dish can prove difficult to replicate, and almost impossible to supersede. That is, until you visit Lanes of London.
Housed within the five-star London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, Lanes of London affords its guests the opportunity to experience a truly indulgent Sunday lunch. Its exclusive placement allows diners access to everything that central London has to offer. With easy transport links just metres away, Lanes of London boasts beautiful views over Marble Arch and Hyde Park, ideal for those who would enjoy a serene stroll after their meal. Or, if post-lunchtime browsing is more your penchant, one of the most famed-shopping locations in London, Oxford Street, is also right around the corner. The restaurant itself is elegant and airy, classic with a modern and stylish twist. Live music is played on weekends, creating a relaxed atmosphere perfect for catching up with friends and family.
Upon arrival, we were seated in a large bay-window. Bathed in natural light, we reclined in comfortable armchairs and perused the menus. Free-flowing Spanish Cava or Brooklyn Lager are offered as an optional component of the Sunday Roast menu, which adds a touch of decadence to the dining experience. In addition, the restaurant offers an extensive wine and champagne list catering to all tastes and preferences. The staff were unfailingly attentive and advised us on the perfect wine accompaniments for our meal; a full-bodied red to go with the beef, and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc to complement the chicken. In addition, a lightly toasted, delicious bread-board was brought to the table to satiate our growing appetites whilst our main courses were being freshly and expertly prepared.
Bread and salted butter
Both the flavoursome beef striploin and whole roasted baby poussin were paired with sweet and sticky red cabbage, carrots, and perfectly-cooked al-dente broccoli. The roast potatoes did not disappoint; they were crisp on the outside, fluffy inside, and had been lightly flavoured with herbs. The pièce de résistance came in the form of a generously-sized Yorkshire pudding, served separately on its own board to showcase it’s true splendor. A rich gravy flawlessly tied together all of these elements. We had to agree that it is difficult to make a roast dinner look elegant, but Lanes of London had carefully presented each dish to appear as such, and in doing so have created a truly remarkable Sunday lunch.
Dessert followed after a relaxed break, and a glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée English sparkling white wine. We were presented with a menu of both eclectic and imaginative options, paired with recreations of classic favourites. We sampled the famed Sticky Toffee Pudding, with its warm, soft, and sweet sponge paired thoughtfully with a crisp toffee cylinder, which had been filled with cold vanilla ice-cream. These textures and flavours worked together to redesign this traditional dessert, and it quickly became clear why this particular dish is so sought-after.
Sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream £5
We were also invited to sample the Bailey’s Cheesecake. This surprising dessert completely reimagined the stereotypical ‘cheesecake’. Served in two delicate slices, a chilled baileys cheesecake was covered in a delicious crumb and paired with pieces of honeycomb, accompanied by a blueberry compote. Once again, the flavours worked beautifully together, with the tartness of the blueberries cutting through the sweet and indulgent cheesecake.
Bailey’s, white chocolate cheesecake, honeycomb, berry £5
Finally, we enjoyed the Chocolate Dome, which emerged as an immaculately presented dome of chocolate ganache atop a chocolate biscuit. The strength of the chocolate taste was complemented by the other beautifully presented components of the dish, the sharpness of blackberry, and the nuttiness of both pistachio pieces and a handmade pistachio macaron topped with gold leaf. Perfection.
Chocolate dome, pistachio, blackberry £5
In all, Lanes of London offers a roast dinner comprising of fresh and expertly prepared seasonal British produce. It is the perfect location for a Sunday treat, be it a special occasion or an end-of-week catch up with your loved ones. Of all of the restaurants in Mayfair to quench your appetite for a homely Sunday Roast, Lanes of London is surely one of the greatest. I recommend it to you most unreservedly.