The Queensbury Kitchen – NW London’s fab new All Day Bar and Grill

First impressions of  walking out of Willesden Green Tube station is of a quite suburb where even the high street seems welcoming and not maddeningly crowded.  My reason for the venturing into a leafy suburb in NW London that evening – an invitation to attend a bloggers review dinner at The  Queensbury Kitchen – a New All Day Bar and Grill which opened to the public late last year.

We had the long central communal table with high stools reserved for the evening and a tempting selection of cocktails to start with.

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I loved the interiors which seamlessly incorporate the industrial chic feel with the understated. White tiles, rustic tables , a turntable sitting in the corner belting out numbers on the L.P’s,  tungsten filament bulbs illuminating the tables add a cosy touch this lovely new grill and bar.

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The Mango Chilli Caiprisoka (£7) is just what you need to unwind after a long day , the sweet and sour taste of fresh mango slices work fabulously well with Vodka and the chilli gives your palate a sharp kick neatly balanced by the chilled ice and lime wedges. If you want to try something quirky I recommend the Evergreen cocktail, avocado and alcohol why not!

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First up we were served several sharing platters with BBQ Chicken (for £15 you get a whole organic chicken in a selection of 3 fab sauces – BBQ, Cajun and Bloody Mary!), Blackened Salmon (£9) and mini burgers (£7) – both regular and chickpea and feta too.

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Then followed mixed leaf salads (£3) , sweet potato fries (£4) and onion rings  (£3). When the Macaroni cheese (£4) came along, it was like nothing else on the table mattered – I thought it would start a war at the table 😉

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If that is making you salivate , you can well imagine what happened when the ribs came to the table . I had waited all evening to try the  the pièce de ré·sis·tance and I wasn’t disappointed. Not bad for £15 huh?

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Though we were sure that we wouldn’t be able to eat another morsel, one look at the desserts and our defenses crumbled. After all platters of cheescake, brownies with ice cream and tall ice-cream sundae glasses are simply impossible to resist right? Just £5 each too 😉

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And it’s not just British classics and Quirky cocktails that they do well, they also serve up a good selection of breakfast menu options at great prices, am talking Eggs Benedict/Royal or Eggs Florentine for £6 – now why not go get yourself a lazy breakfast or brunch with freshly brewed coffee this weekend? Go on, you know you want to!

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This is another one of those epic review dinners that I will always remember for the fabulous food, great company, brilliant staff, fab service and the Chef for spoiling us with a great selection of food. A special mention to the PR agency and all their team members that went our of their way to make the each one of us feel well looked after, making for a really comfortable and enjoyable evening.

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So if it’s great evening out with your friends or simply chilling out with your colleagues after work that your after then head to The Queensbury Kitchen, it’s a stones throw away from the Willesden Green Tube station and good on your pocket too. Am thinking new favourite watering hole on Friday nights for those around Waterloo . Well, you got to try the ribs and the punchy Mango and Chilli Caipiroska atleast once to know what I am talking about!

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*With  thanks to Fiona who blogs at London Unattached  for inviting me for a great evening out also the PR Agency and The Queensbury Kitchen . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

At the Gourmet Burger Kitchen Chef’s Table with Peter Gordon

It’s not everyday that a celebrity Chef cooks you lunch, naturally then I was quite excited to know that would be sampling food cooked by celebrated New Zealand chef Peter Gordon. Peter was in town to cook up a feast from his new and exclusive fusion menu at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Peter Gordon has been dubbed “the Godfather of Fusion cuisine”. One look at the menu at any of restaurants he is associated and you know that is true.

Peter made his name as Head Chef of The Sugar Club in Wellington in the late 80s. Award-winning incarnations of The Sugar Club followed in Notting Hill and Soho.Today, he oversees the running of The Providores & Tapa Room and Kopapa in London, and Bellota and The Sugar Club in Auckland. In 2009, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by HM The Queen for services to the food industry.

When GBK was first launched in 2001 by owners Adam, Greg and Brandon their aim was to introduce U.K to new and premium beef burgers . Back then to develop the very first menu they worked with fellow Kiwi  Peter Gordon – who now after 14 years is back with a fabulous new fusion menu that experiments with textures, ingredients and flavours.

It was also my first ever meal at any Chef’s Table so soon after I arrived at the Baker Street branch, we were taken to the secret kitchen which is separate from the main kitchen, this is where Tim Molema – the Head of Food at Gourmet Burger Kitchen creates his magic.

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L-RTim Molema – the Head of Food at GBK and Peter Gordon.

For mains we had Peter’s new creation – The Duck Confit Burger. The combination of crisp confit duck with a thick layer of creamy duck liver pâté and melting Cheddar cheese is a heavenly ménage à trois. Though there were those who were not too pleased at the mention of duck liver pâté, I was quite pleased, as I absolutely love  pâté especially when served  as a generous layer on thin, crisp toasted bread (a perfect nibble with bubbly, don,’t you think?)

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The crispy shallots give the burger a lovely crunch (reminded me of layered biryani with crispy fried onion) whereas the fiery ginger and apricot chilli jam is probably what gives this new invention an umami flavour, cleverly combining the rich taste of duck with the other ingredients.

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Encased in soft and fresh brioche buns this burger is simply irresistible.

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The hors-d’oeuvre of sweet potato fries was  topped with a very familiar tasting dressing – Tamarind (reminded me of Mumbai’s famous street food – Bhel!) and also a generous splattering of the Egyptian spice mixture – Dukkah – a nut free version to ensure that those with nut allergies can also enjoy it – Peter is there anything you did not think of ? Guess not 🙂

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For the other side dish – Fresh Summer Homeslaw, Peter has drawn inspiration from Middle eastern spices like sumac and pomegranate molasses. Sumac gives a lovely tart edge to the minty slaw while the mint and pomegranate molasses give it an unmistakable depth of flavour.

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Every good burger should be washed down with a thick and delicious milkshake – or so I think and Peter’s creation – a Banana Biscoff milkshake is a mind-meltingly fabulous fusion of banana ice cream and Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits, also known as Speculoos cookies- a great way to create a fusion of flavours.

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To watch Peter Gordon live in action, cooking up a what he does best – create a fusion of flavours and being able to drink in the experience of being at the Chef’s table was truly memorable.

After that fabulous and exclusive Lunch preview, I spoke to Peter for an exclusive interview where he gave me an insight into the inspiration behind his new menu.

In Peter Gordon’s words, “The UK burger scene has evolved hugely over the last 14 years. It seems like every day a new burger is making headlines, so when it came to creating my own, I knew it had to be something unique to stand out. Putting my own stamp on the menu has been an exciting process and I’ve put the same care into this as I do with every dish I create for my own restaurants. Our fans are always on the lookout for the next big thing in burgers and I am confident they will agree this one is something a bit special.”

You too can get behind the scenes with Peter in the GBK kitchen with this little video clip:

Still here? There surely is a GBK branch you can get to in time for dinner today right ? All you need to do is … grab your coat and …leave!

**Peter’s Menu is now available at Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurants nationwide.

 *With  thanks to the PR Agency and Gourmet Burger Kitchen for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Kindly do not re-produce any images without my prior permission.

Inito – a journey into the flavours of Indian street food in London’s East End

Journey into India’s by lanes without leaving London? Yes it’s possible well at least transporting your taste buds is. Simply head to London’s east end for a treat to your senses. Located a stone’s throw away from Liverpool street, @Inito_UK has the look and feel of a really cool dhabba plus an old college canteen rolled into one.

While we waited for all our friends to arrive we were served some thick and delicious lassi, I love salted lassi and this one made me greedily want another round – it’s the kind of lassi that you will happily drink and not worry about your ‘lassi moustache’ – I almost thought I was stuck in the dhabba scene from Rang de Basanti for a minute there (which reminds me I must add a road trip to the North of India to my bucket list – with loads of stops at roadside dhabbas included and if I can do this one a motorbike – waah!!) As expected the Mango lassi was most popular choice.

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We were then served Chicken Lollipop with a mini masala dosa, the chef was generous enough to even give some dosa batter away to experiment at home to one of us. Chicken lollipop is another very popular ‘item’ on the menu in India and is very popular even as a starter for parties. Dosa stalls dot streets where dosa lovers throng to eat a variety of different dosa’s with delicious stuffing , there is at least one dosa stall to be found outside every big railway station in Mumbai.

Inito served the dosa with some delicious coriander and mint chutney.

Then came Pani- Puri – the one snack that makes me go weak in the knees. Everytime I go to Mumbai I must head to Elco Pani Puri to gobble up as many plates I can possibly stuff myself with! The pani puri was ok and much better than what I have tried elsewhere in London but amongst everything we sampled that evening I would put this at the bottom of my list. This has nothing do with the what they served per se but more to do with what type of pani puri I am accustomed to having back in Mumbai.

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Then came the bhel and the dahi chaat – both were excellent and the tamarind chutney was fab.

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Then came a huge platter with various roti- rolls – basically loads of meat or veggies with some fresh veggies and chutney stuffed inside. I loved the chicken and lamb – the meat was cooked tender and it was what I would expect in terms of taste. Reminded me of Tibbs Frankie ummm The prawn roti roll was my least favourite – I would rather have had the prawns on their own.

We were given a selection of different dips and chutneys to go with these roti-rolls, my favourite was a chewy aubergine chutney, very good. The adventurous few can even design their own roti rolls. No wonder then the Chef Saurav Nath is an award winner – he has managed to retain the authenticity of most of the dishes while coming up with clever fusion dishes like the pau slider and roti rolls.

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Then came the Tikka’s – tender and succulent portions of meat, chicken and paneer- Indian cottage cheese – marinated in Awadhi spices and yoghurt and then skewered inside a tandoor. I loved the mini pau-sliders too. Highly recommend pairing the tikka’s with Bombay Blonde a blonde beer crafted specially to compliment the complex flavours of curry and a great alternative to Indian Lagers.  For those who have had Cobra beer before can order Cobra, Mongoose or Kingfisher too. I love Kingfisher especially when I am in Mumbai or Pune over summer – nothing better to help me survive temperatures upwards of 32 deg cel!

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The chef then got us some curries to try and dum-biryani. While all of us went into a frenzy clicking pictures and capturing the moment when the lid was lifted off the biryani , the air filled with the unmistakable biryani fragrance of basmati rice, spices and meat  The very thought of that steaming hot biryani  makes me salivate even now  -ummm . I had fun explaining to my one of blogger friends who had never seen anything quite like that before. Folks its worth the trek to this place just for the biryani! – Head over to my Instagram feed to check out a cool ‘biryani’ video here

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The curries were delicious and I am biased in favour of the lamb. But by this point I was ready to explode and so were the others. It was good then that some jumped at the chance to take some the curries home, I would have hated to see the food go waste.

No Indian meal is complete without some freshly made pipping hot gulab jamun and ice cream and even with full tummies , everyone did justice to the sweets. I was quite delighted to hear that the ice cream was Horlicks flavoured – Horlicks and Bournvita were my favourites while growing up and made drinking hot glasses of milk bearable. The mini Gulab Jamuns were irresistible little bite sized ones in sugar syrup. (as confirmed by my friends since I did not touch them – had vowed to stay away from sweets – whyyy???!! But I just had to try the ice cream and allowed myself as teensy weensy taster)

The rasmalai was fabulous too (as confirmed by my friends) with the right consistency and topped with pistachios and cardamom floating in a sweet thickened milk.

The best thing about going for a review dinner with blogger friends is that you have great company sorted and you hope for good food and when food is fabulous it just turns into one of those evenings that you wish would happen more often. I got to meet my friends, eat fab food, discuss things food and blogging related that only like minded folks can fathom and enjoy discussing – what more can one ask for, huh?

We were served by smiling and courteous staff and sampled a large variety of dishes from the vast menu. The Chef came and spoke to us at length and I loved chatting him up in Hindi. The food is brilliant and I would certainly  recommend anyone who wants to try fabulous melt in your mouth tikka’s , steaming hot biryani and tangy chaat – If the food managed to transport my taste buds to Mumbai then am sure they got that bit right!

The minimalist decor goes well with the street food theme and the bright wall art will have you clicking away to share pictures on Instagram – I did !

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*With  thanks to the PR Agency and Inito for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

 

 

MoBa – New Boulangerie with a French-Asian fusion menu opens in London

The new artisan bakery where Bánh Mì meets  Boulangerie called MoBa opened it’s doors to the public on Monday at Goodge street in London.

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Before I dive into the details about their unique and well thought of menu, a bit about the background – the how’s and why’s ( humm ,maybe all those hours am spending watching House M.D have started affecting the way I think – need to know the why first..)

The Paris born founding duo – Thibaut and Theodore, met while studying Hotel Management in Switzerland and then kept in touch even when their careers took to various locations across the world.  They recently moved to London with the aim of  bringing a new concept of dining to London. Though they are still in their early 20’s this duo has gained lots of experience between the two of them and have been exposed to various culinary influences.

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With a bold and fabulous new fusion menu this new casual dining spot promises to serve up interesting food, which like their lovely window display will change with the seasons. ‘MoBa’ an acronym for Modern Bakery aims to combine traditional French cooking with fresh and simple flavours from Asia – a culmination of friendship, passion for creativity and of course a shared love of good food.

The interiors are cool and fresh, the minimalist look adds a soothing touch while the sleek leather lined stools give it just the right edge.

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I also got a feel of a  bit of behind the scene the counter action – a masterclass of sorts. Thibaut Voury, one of the founders , who was managing the kitchen showed me how to make my own Bánh Mì.

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Because I wasn’t too keen on a heavy lunch, the naked Bánh Mì sounded good and Theodore Charoy the other founder suggested that I choose ‘Tokyo’ because of the fabulous flavours of the Salmon gravlax. He was right! I absolutely loved this mix of seasonal veg wok, Japanese lime and garlic cream served on a bed of noodles. Not only is it light and fresh it is still full of wonderful Asian flavours.

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I resisted having any beer but they have my favourite Asian beer – Asahi, while the other bloggers loved Bellerose – a blonde beer from Northern France.

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I also learnt that the word Bánh Mì was born out of a misspelling for ”pain de mie” which simply means ‘sliced bread’. This sandwich dated back to the time when French colonised Indochina, a perfect example of a fusion born out of the meeting of two very different culinary worlds.

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The other bloggers choose the Toulouse (£7.20) which as they described as a fabulous combination of spicy mango sauce and duck confit in a traditional baguette stuffed with seasonal veg wok. It was massive and looked very delicious , I do hope to go back soon for this one.

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Apart from the fusion menu, the Boulangerie also stocks beautiful breads and some baguettes with unusual combinations like the soya-ginger baguette which I got to take home in goody bag. I was greedily eyeing the green tea croissant while photographing the place and the mango croissant looked so tempting with the beautiful glaze over it – wow – almost irresistible!

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Ever since I started having my matcha green tea everyday I am totally addicted to the taste of green tea and the match green tea brownies were my absolute favourite from the sweet treats we were given to sample. Of course the fusion of flavours spills over into the dessert menu too then and the exotic sounding Zen Lightning Éclair packs a punch with a strong tangy flavour while the Speculoos Mango Cheesecake is delicious too and a perfect companion with a steaming hot latte. What I loved most is that the dessert tray came lined with the MoBa ‘newspaper’ – hot off the press!

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MoBa is conveniently located a short walk from Goodge Street tube station and is a fabulous lunch option for lunch go-ers and would make for a great place for a casual catch up over dinner with friends too.

Don’t know about you but I think MoBa is going to kick off a new trend in London with their  fusion menu!

*With  thanks to the PR Agency and MoBa for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.All images without my watermark for ‘travelsfortaste’ are provided by the PR Agency. Kindly do not re-produce any images without prior permission.

Chakra – Indian Fine Dining in Notting Hill

I am on vacation in India but I have a bunch of passionate foodies hard at work in London, sampling the best that the city has to offer, so that you,my readers can continue to get the latest reviews,news and views from the world of food  – after all someone’s got to continue doing all the hard work while I party ;). A few days ago my buddy Harish, who is also a passionate foodie went to Chakra to sample their menu and this is what he thought . Having just returned from a two week-long vacation in India, the flavors of my real home were ever present on my palette reminding me of the good times spent navigating the gastronomical haunts of both Delhi and Mumbai. Expectations were thus pretty high when Flavia, an Italian colleague of mine from work, and I made our way to the swanky Indian restaurant in Notting Hill called Chakra for dinner this last Wednesday. We arrived for our 8 pm seating and were promptly shown to our table, amidst an already buzzing restaurant which clearly indicated its popularity amongst the locals. The interiors were dim, the décor modern and the music modern; all adding to the distinct vibe of this favored Notting Hill establishment. A plate of spicy mini “papads” accompanied by a sweet mango chutney made their way to our table first. The appetizer was crispy, not too oily and very flavorful just perfect to set the stage for the meal to follow. Chakra poppadums An amuse bouche followed the “papad” plate.  Rajma Galouti – mini red kidney bean kebab with yogurt chutney. This was particularly disappointing, as it was cold and lacking any flavor. Having seen previous reviews, I knew that the dish was dressed down. A part of the meal the management team can safely omit from the offer. Chakra Rajma Galouti Appetizers followed and Flavia and I decided to get a mixture of vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters.  We decided to go down the more traditional selection path and got ourselves a portion each of the Malai Kebab Ke Dande, tender chicken breast pieces marinated in yogurt and fresh cream grilled to perfection in the clay oven, Tandoori Paneer, gorgeous chunks of cottage cheese marinated in yellow masala and cooked just right and finally the Chakra specialty, The Lahori Kebab. These succulent skewers of lamb seasoned just right, just melt in your mouth and leave you wanting more. Simply scrumptious. Chakra 3   Chakra 4   Chakra 5 Chakra is fairly unique in its offerings of the main course. Strangely it offers up the vegetarian options in half portions (sides) with the similar option lacking from the non-vegetarian options. Needless to say there was plenty to be thankful for, for what we were about to be served was an absolute delight. Chakra 6 Central to our order was a Blackened Cod Fish. Tender, well marinated and again cooked to perfection. By the beaming smile on Flavias face and the mutterance of approval in Italian I knew she was pleased. Frankly so was I. I can safely say that the tandoori Black Cod marinated with lime juice & a cracked pepper yoghurt marinade is reason enough to visit Chakra. Chakra 7 The supporting cast to the Chakra Black Cod performed appropriately as well.  The Butter Chicken (perfect blend of a delicate tomato based gravy and shredded chicken), The Kali (black) Dal (black lentils which were buttery yet not overwhelming) Zeera Aloo (sautéed tender baby potatoes with cumin seeds, ginger and chili) and Chakra Saag (paneer tossed with spinach, petit pois flavoured with ginger & nutmeg & fenugreek) accompanied by Tandoori Rotis (Indian bread) were just wonderful. At this point in the meal I am usually loosening my belt, being stuffed to the brim. But somehow the meal at Chakra did not end up having a similar effect. The concept of sides is simply brilliant and allowed the Flavia and myself to experience the full spectrum of offerings at Chakra. I say we have a wined with this concept. Chakra 8 Chakra 9   We had eaten like royalty. The Nawab of Hyderabad himself at this point would have been twirling his moustache and rubbing his belly experiencing nothing but utter satisfaction. But no Indian meal is complete without the essential “sweet dish” (dessert). Flavia chose the Gulab Jamun (3 Indian sweet dumplings in sugar syrup, accompanied by vanilla ice cream) and I the Mango Kulfi. The Jamun’s were sensational; Piping hot with just the right texture, sugar syrup seeping through and all. They brought back fond memories of my recent wonderful trip to Delhi. That is what good food is supposed to do; excite all the senses and throw up a flashback or two, of good times spent with those near and dear. This was the perfect end to a perfect meal. On our way out I asked Flavia what she thought of Chakra. She instantly replied “I must go to India and eat”. If this is the response that this Notting Hill establishment (Chakra) can generate from one who hails from one of the most gastronomically gifted countries of the world then I can safely say this. “If you haven’t been to Chakra yet, you must do so now”. Experience the true flavors of India, without leaving Notting Hill, London. **** In my book of great eats. *With  thanks to Humayun Hussain and Chakra for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review.

Go Goa with Indian Zing’s Goan Inspired Christmas Menu – a Review

A short walk from Ravenscourt Park Tube station, this Indian restaurant is at the end of a high street with far too many restaurants n close proximity to each other. But clearly Indian Zing seems to be favoured over the others as a few minutes after we strolled in there late on Monday evening it was heaving with hungry customers.

I was invited to review the Christmas Menu and seeing Pork sorpotel, Pork Vindaloo and a Turkey Jalfrezi on their Goan Christmas Menu, I couldn’t turn down a week day trip to a part of London that is not quite on my way back home from work.

We were greeted warmly by the maître d’ Rahul who got us a ‘welcome drink’ shortly after we were seated. This warming soupy broth of tomatoes, coriander and some other secret ingredients was just what we needed on a chilly evening.

While we selected our wine and starters, we were pleasantly surprised to have the owner-Chef Manoj Vasaikar stroll in for a chat. Like us he is a Maharashtrian from Mumbai and I guess one the reasons we immediately warmed up to him. Of course it is Chef Manoj’s down to earth demeanour that puts one at ease from the word go. The love for food and his passion to serve fresh food cooked using quality ingredients carefully sourced becomes evident as he shares the inspiration behind the new Goan Inspired menu and as we chatted away a small part of me seemed to drift away from the conversation to a pristine white sands beach in Goa.

The fact that we were seated in a restaurant which has beautiful Indian artefacts and carved wooden pillars  (an extension of the influence of the Chef’s Indian background and love for things Indian) may also have had something to do giving me the feeling that I was in India not London on a cold, rainy winter evening.

First up came the starters :

  • Goan vegetable cutlets (Almomdegas) – Exotic vegetable with Goan herbs and spices, pan seared. Served with red Goan chutney and baby cress
  • Pork Sorpotel  – A pork pickle mellowed with a distinct flavour of dried red Goan paste marinated in Palm vinegar. Served with sanna (a steamed rice cake).
  • Sun Dried Shrimps and Fish Cutlets – Small shrimps, seasonal fish with fresh herbs and spices, root vegetable with semolina seared on hot pan. Served with roasted coconut chutney.

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One bite into the shrimp and fish cutlet had me oohing and aahing and of course greedily craving for more 😉 While for hubster the Sorpotel hit the spot. The tangy pickle flavour combined with the fiery Goan paste is cleverly balanced by the palm vinegar while the steamed rice cake – Goa’s answer to bread, manages to cut through the spice really quite nicely.

I could happily have had lots more of the shrimp and fish cutlets and continued sipping on aromatic red which the maître d’ kindly picked out for me. Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Templiers, Vinde Pays a red wine from France with blackcurrant and blackberry flavours with ripe balanced tannins – perfect match with our starters.

While Chef Manoj left to go check on his guests at his other rrestaurant Rahul continued to fuss over us and we left it to him to bring us his favourite picks from Indian Zing’s Goan themed Christmas Menu.

By now the festive spirit had us in it’s grips and hubster and me happily reminisced about all things Mumbai, when was the last time we visited Goa and other such happy memories. I was in Std 5 when my parents took my sister and me to Goa for a long vacation and I still can never forget the meal of steamed rice and the fresh catch of the day we all shared at a cute little beach shanty. Of course time has a way of erasing bits and pieces from your memories, something like old photographs in family albums that begin to fade and fray at the edges but the essence of the moment always stays captured somewhere in that picture. That is why food like what we were about to eat brings with a rush of memories, familiar sights and sounds tumble out of old hidden chests in your memory bank…

When Rahul arrived with a huge tray with 4 mains, plain naan, steamed rice and brown rice pulav we couldn’t wait to get started.

I had to taste the Zing’s Turkey Jalfrezi with Caramelised Cranberry first though and it is a fabulous marriage of east meets west with perfectly cooked diced turkey which has been marinated in a rich spice mixture served in a thick gorgeous onion, pepper and tomato gravy sauce topped with scrumptious caramelised cranberries.

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Hubster on the other hand dug into the Pork Vindaloo, a traditional  Goan delicacy, heavily spiced and usually fiery, this dish to me is Goa on a Plate. A hand me down from the Portuguese influence on Goan food , Indian Zing’s interpretation results in a dish of melt in your mouth soft pork dish in a rich sauce of  slow cooked spices which penetrate through the meat giving it an intense depth of flavour, almost like eating a juicy meat pickle. Mop this up with plain naan – makes a superb combination I say.

Seafood lovers that we both are, we were happy that Goan fish Ambottik was part of the selection of dishes we were sampling. Best consumed with plain boiled rice this fish gravy is seasoned with kokum which gives it  fabulously tangy almost sour flavour and the spices give it that familiar coastal curry flavour but with a dash of Goan red chillies. Not for the faint hearted though this is a fiery one but a true Goan dish , do not hesitate to order this. I highly recommend washing this down with several glasses of Gamay, Duboeuf Vin de Pays a Red wine from France, a lively red with a full aromatic character of crushed fresh berries,  which is slightly chilled to balance spicy food. ( I noticed that the wine menu had a Sauvignon Blanc from Sula Vineyards in  Nashik from Maharashtra state in India and I almost immediately wanted to order us a bottle to take home but have decided to go back and savour this wine on a relaxed afternoon some day soon over a meal of fish curry and rice – ummm)

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We ate spoonfuls of Caldinho de legumes in between greedy mouthfulls of the Ambottik and rice. A  green herb curry with a gorgeous combination of vegetables and mushrooms smothered in cashew nut gravy this is flavoured with a virgin extract of coconut milk and topped with wafer thin roasted almonds. Absolutely delightful this is a fabulous accompaniment to most of the mains especially the Turkey Jalfrezi. Frankly we couldn’t get enough of this green veggie coconut goodness.

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While we sat down quietly trying to get all that food down into our tummies, I was reminded of how every year my father used to bring a rich plum cake which we would hungrily devour after our big Christmas day dinner of home made biryani and lots of snacks and special fizzy drinks for all the kids in the family. And if we were lucky Baba would also give us Bebinca – a sweet flour multi-layered cake, which he always got back from his frequent trips to Goa (Indian Zings menu has Goan Bebinca though I was more inclined to sample the spiced pudding so we gave it a miss)

No Christmas menu is complete without a showstopping dessert and Indian Zing’s spiced exotic Christmas pudding with spicy brandy custard is the perfect ending to a festive feast. All we needed now was a warm bed and the day off work the next day … 😉

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I only wish I was going back for more of Indian Zings Goan themed food especially would love some on Christmas day but I guess my friends and me will just have to make do with what hubster and I manage to make.

If you haven’t already called Indian Zing to book a table, then grab that phone and let Rahul book you in for a feast you won’t forget.

*With  thanks to Humayun Hussain and Indian Zing for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review .All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Find the menu here follow me on Zomato

Indian Zing on Urbanspoon

Zomato Meet Up at London’s answer to a traditional Munich bierhall – Bierschenke

Servus! An apt salute for an evening of Bavarian beer and food I’d say. The last Zomato meet up I was invited to a few weeks ago to Bierschenke, traditional Munich bierhall. Don’t be fooled by the entrance, the place is massive and though I was a bit taken aback b y the huge crowds as I entered, I found the seating chosen for us at the huge seating area downstairs very comfortable.

Curious to know what kind of beers we would be served and very curious to know if they would serve up ‘authentic cuisine’ we foodies sipped on our welcome drink Bierschenke Weißbier with a fabulously light citrus notes thanks to rare a premium Strisselspalt Hop.

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Enter into the scene – Iranga – our barman for the evening, ladies and gents this gentleman with his fluent German and near encyclopedic knowledge of beer, brewing and history is who you must wish will be around to serve you on your first visit to Bierschenke.

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He took us through the five different beers starting with Bierschenke Kellerbier with a spicy and smooth taste, must say I really liked this beer. Now I generally like light and sweet beers – that is -if I am drinking beer at all, don’t my choice of drink really! This was followed by Bierschenke Lager made with hard water, has lesser hops than the other beers and therefore sweet tasting and my favourite of the lot, pairs well with pork dishes. Krombacher Pils with extra hops and bitter taste – a genuine premium pilsner beer.

Followed by a dark Bavarian lager – Paulaner (Original Munich) Dunkel with chocolate and caramel notes – faint but enjoyable.

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Last but not the least came a smoky lager – Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Bierschenke works with a brewery just outside of Munich to produce their own signature beers – now wonder then that Biershenke goes through 150 kegs of beer a week!

By now my head was getting heavy and I really needed the comfort of carbs and boy that platter which came our way was a huge meaty treat loaded with a large roasted pork shank, traditional German style meatloaf, bread pork escalope with creamy mushroom sauce, chips, mashed potatoes, bread and potato dumplings and of course sauerkraut.

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Of course we had Bratwurst too and the most deliciously authentic Frankfurter’s I’ve eaten in London – the taste still lingers on in my mind ummm. The reason they get the taste so right is that all meat is imported from Germany and Klaus handmakes Bierschenke’s sausages, explains why customers consume 2000 sausages per week here!

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I met some really cool bloggers and had a long and intense conversation about authentic Italian food from an Italian blogger who couldn’t help but moan about who much cheaper wine is in Italy and how much she missed home… …

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Those are our happy faces after gorging on that huge sharing platter, highly recommend this platter to all hungry folks who land up here for a beer and end up staying for food.

As of we weren’t already stuffed , this gorgeous platter filled with cream cheese pancakes, traditional cut-up sugared pancake, homemade apple strudel served with Apple Sauce and hot raspberries.

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I had a long way back home and left for home, but I hear I missed the Jägertrain! Terrible I say especially after I saw these photos 😦

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Bierschenke Beer Schnapps and Jägerbombs (Jägermeister & Red Bull) served by the lovely Caroline.

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It was a fabulous evening of  bier flight,  traditional food imported from Germany and of course the company of the entire Zomato gang. Made very enjoyable by  Lena, Iranga and Caroline, our amazing waitstaff at Bierschenke. Would definitely recommend this awesome beer hall to anyone looking for truly authentic German food and great tasting beers in London and  as a bonus you will be served by the knowledgeable and polite staff who go the extra mile to make your experience special.

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*With thanks to Zomato Uk and the staff at Bierschenke for a fun foodie evening. No monetary compensation was provided for this post. All views expressed are my own.

Festive Feast at Bengal Quay to celebrate the launch of their New Menu

Last week hubster and me were invited for a preview of the new menu launch at Bengal Quay. So after work on a Monday evening we both made our way from different parts of the city to the beautiful docklands area. I had never been on the DLR before and as I saw the beautiful landscape unfold it put into a very dreamy mood, something to do with the tall buildings and the water reminded me of the amazing south Mumbai roads, glitzy five star hotels and a gorgeous coast line. I could almost feel the salty sea breeze on my face.

Situated within walking distance from South Quay station this Indian – Pakistani restaurant has a fabulous new menu, as we were about to find out.

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I was delighted to finally meet Asma Khan who runs the popular supper club called Darjeeling Express and also the lovely Lisa who writes guest posts for my Fiona’s blog London Unattached.

It was chilly evening so I stuck to my trusty drink of cognac with warm water – Remy Martin this time and hubster too stuck to the same, the other guests enjoyed good red and white wines while the others tripped on tall glasses of Mango Lassi.

The starters were a selection of seafood which made hubster and me very happy as you my readers know well by now about our seafood obsession! We loved the Salmon Sooa which was Scottish salmon flavoured just right and wrapped snuggly in a little portion of banana leaf, it was melt-in-your mouth soft and I would go back just for this and of course the Lamb Nihari – Slow Cooked Lamb Shank in Pakistani Nihari Curry with Onions and Lemon – though opinions over which was the best dish at the table were a bit divided between hubster and me who went nuts over the Venison and Afghani chicken – humm.

The use of cute wooden clips to secure the banana leaf, the stainless steel lemon squeezer and that tangy tamarind chutney made me feel so very much at home.

The other starters were Imli Scallops – a very different approach to spicing up scallops with Indian spices and Tandoori Monkfish which was just the right kind of flaky and went down a treat – thumbs up from both OH and me.

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The mini seabass fillets served with tangy crispies were served with a bhel like mixture in cute cones – which are always welcome for chaat fans like hubster and me and we really liked the seabass – but clearly this not the case with the rest of the table who had mixed reactions. This unusual combination seemed to work for us and was presented very nicely too.

The mains arrived and suddenly there was no navigation space on the table and we were very- very spoilt for choice.

I mopped up with buttery garlic naan the delicious Diced venison in red wine and mushroom curry  – which disappeared fast from the serving dish and as a majority vote it became the star dish of the evening. The special fried rice was great on it’s own while the pulav rice was great with the lamb shanks. The lamb nihari gravy was fabulous and the meat was cooked to fall-off-bone perfection , for all meat fans out there – this dish is something that you must not miss! Game is not easy to pair with spices and serving it up in a curry form with mushrooms seems to be a winning combination – Asma too was very intrigued and happy with this dish in particular.

Neither hubster nor me are fans of sweet or creamy gravy but the Afghani chicken was fantastic, the mild curry flavoured with saffron and cream and the delicious soft chicken was just too good to resist – the chef did something very right with this dish folks.

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The tarka dal was comforting and done to expected standards, which is always a good sign in any authentic Indian/Pakistani restaurant.

Expectedly we were stuffed to the gills and the prospect of consuming a selection of desserts seemed impossible. But that was only until the dessert plates arrived at the table of course 😉

The Indian in me was very happy with not one but two mango desserts to gobble – though the mango sorbet was definitely my favourite. Chocolate brownie came with a very unusual companion – a moreish passion fruit sauce which complimented the gooey chocolate taste very nicely. Again a winning combination.

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Nestled in the by lanes of London’s business hub and a stones throw away from Canary Wharf this is a place I would recommend you visit and do not miss the Lamb Nihari, Afghani Chicken and the passion fruit sauce and brownie and if you can allow yourself the guilty pleasure the mango sorbet too. But if you cannot visit anytime soon and spend time then you MUST take away the Venison curry to mop up with plain pulavAND some garlic naan!

It’s after such a meal that I forget that I am in London and walk out with a wide grin on my face half expecting to see a Bombay black cab whiz past, I feel I will be passing by my favourite Bombay sights and take in the familiar sounds and the magic of my darling city … until I actually step out into the biting cold and the cold breeze envelopes – but then in so many strange ways I find even this comforting as we stroll into the quiet night air, the sense of intense activity behind the deceptively quite larger than life glass mammoth buildings of Canary Wharf  is obvious to the those who care to observe and the bright Christmas lights can’t help make me feel warm and fuzzy inside – a feeling I could get used to very easily.

*With  thanks to Humayun Hussain and Bengal Quay for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review .All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Find the menu here follow me on Zomato

Bengal Quay on Urbanspoon

Le Restaurant de Paul – Boulangerie transitions into a restaurant

Originating in France in PAUL bakery  continues to be be a family owned company  five generations on. Today they are present in more than 25 countries  in London, Washington, Dubai, Tokyo  ,Singapore and Moscow. They have been the go to bakery for authentic French bread, cakes and pastries for Londoners with  30 other branches located across the length and breadth of the city.

Their first bakery in London at  Covent Garden has recently become a  full fledged  restaurant . We were invited there for a relaxed dinner on Sunday evening .Located in the heart of theatreland , its walking distance from Covent Garden tube station but I prefer walking from Waterloo station . Walking beats taking the crowded tubes and my reward is a beautiful walk by the river with stunning views of the London eye on one side and St.Pauls cathedral on the other.

The famous black shop front with the name in stately lettering made famous by Francis Holder in 1993, is difficult to miss amidst the evening crowds, theatre goers and many shops.The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans is a welcome olfactory assault that is complimented by the the beautiful display of meringues, cakes ,pastries and fresh bread .

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The restaurant was packed when we arrived  and the front of the restaurant which functions as a delicatessen  had people queuing up for French bread , coffee and cake at the counters up front when we reached , so we busied ourselves taking pictures of the beautiful baked goodies .

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Our waitress for the evening was a smart young lady who showed us to our table a beautiful semi circular sofa against a wall and comfortable chairs on the side. The beautiful décor which is comprised of hand picked antiques is pleasantly distracting and a lot of photos later we finally settled down.

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Our two sharing ,one a charcuterie and one a vegetarian platter arrived with a large tray full of colourful glass jars stuffed with bright ,preserved vegetables – which were used as a base to rest the sharing platters wooden boards on – now that is going to be an idea all of us will end up using for our food photography !

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The charcuterie is a selection of saucisson, jambon cru, coppa, rosette,terrine,smoked duck breast, pickled baby onions ,cornichons,butter and assorted breads.

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The veggie platter was such a beauty – so colourful and fresh – selection of grilled and marinated vegetables,tapenade,aioli,hummus,sauce vierge and PAUL cheese gougere.

Heidi enjoyed her oven baked Camembert and  toasted Campagne bread.

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If anything these starters had made us hungry for more and our mains were so good that when they arrived all conversation came to a standstill ….

My main of Loup de Mer – Pan roasted fillet of sea bass, braised fennel with sauce vierge was flavourful and the sauce was faulous , my sea food loving self was very , very happy!

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I also had a delicious side of Gratin Dauphinios – Traditional French potato gratin   (£2.95)

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We shared a bottle of red which went well with the mains – a French Pinard Classique  2013 – best described as a lively bouquet of plum, bluberry and hints of blackcurrant on the nose, the palate is beautifully rounded, soft and juicy.

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Our group of food bloggers had these fabulous French delights :

Clockwise Top left to right – Demi Poulet au Grain Rôti à l’Estragon – Roasted free range corn fed half chicken marinated in tarragon ,lemon & garlic ,green salad (£12.50) ,

Saucisses de Toulouse – Traditional course cut Toulouse sausages served with crushed buttery potato mash & Bordelaise sauce (£10.50)

Poivron Fraci  (£7.50)  and

Confit de Canard aux Olives – Slow-cooked duck leg, crushed buttery potato mash, black olive & red wine sauce (£10.50)

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I am glad I could squeeze in some dessert as well after all that food – I really needed some coffee so mini macaroons paired with a latte it was.

Am positive that I shall be returning to dine at Le restaurant de Paul and would highly recommend that you check it out for yourself – a taste of authentic French food in the heart of  London – with a sensibly priced menu too – Why not ?!

Have a look at what Karen had to say about our foodie meet up here and what Heidi thought about the food at PAUL here , Nayna’s thoughts are penned down here , Tina , who is still dreaming about gougeres, shares her thoughts here ,the lovely Sylvia shared her thoughts here. Read Karen’s post with beautiful photos here.

Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

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This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

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The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

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But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

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Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

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With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home 😉

 

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I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

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*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .