The Barbary

This weekend was all about new favourites.

The team behind Palomar has opened their second restaurant concept in Covent Garden at Neal’s Yard, one of my favourite little spots in the city. For those of you who have not been, its a perfect spot for a date night.

b2

I’ve had Barbary on my list for a while and finally A and I landed up there on a Saturday evening. Might not have been the best choice of day considering the fact that they don’t take reservations but the vibe, people and the lovely wine definitely transported us to the Barbary Coast.

b3

We finally got our two seats at a 24 seater kitchen table and I was possibly behaving like a little kid who had been left free to roam in a candy store all night. I literally wanted to try everything on the menu. But before that, I gave myself a bit of history lesson and quickly read up on the food culture and traditions of the Barbary coast which are made up of some beautiful ingredients and some great traditional cooking techniques. The spices, seeds and seasonal fruit and veg seem to define the menu which changes depending on the season of course.

b1

We got a couple of dips to begin with along with the Moroccan cigars. They were crispy golden spring rolls filled with a delicious sea food mince.

b20

The baba ghanoush was creamy and velvety with a perfect smoky aubergine flavour
b21

I lately have got a thing for pickled beetroot and this was even better as it came on a bed of whippy thick yogurt

b5

The msacabha chickpeas took me down memory lane as they reminded me of the white peas my granny would make when we visited her after school. This would be my staple Friday lunch. A tiny squeeze of lemon and they taste divine

b22

The fluffy cauliflower charred on the ends and served with this jeweled tomato and herb dressing is an absolute must

b23

The black salmon dukkah was possibly the best thing on the menu. I couldn’t get enough of it as my fork kept going back to the plate even when the fish was over. The glossy marinade with honey and all the crunchy seeds was something that I would love to recreate in my kitchen

b25

The salmon gets to feature twice!

b8

The chicken was juicy tender and A’s most loved dish of the night

b7

The monkfish skewers was the special for the evening. I love anything that’s cooked on a charcoal grill and this was no exception. The cooking technique seems to bring out the flavour of the meat for me. The skewers were garnished with this citrussy olive oil reduction which added a bit of zing to the fish

b12

Last but never the least the knafah was ordered to put the sweet tooth to rest. This dessert is as sweet as it can get. The crispy rice noodle cake dipped in honey with a sprinkle of pistachio and a touch of orange brought a swing to my spoon and a satisfied sparkle to my eye

This has got to be your next culinary destination. You can find them here  https://thebarbary.co.uk/

 

 

 

Barrafina

Seem to be getting the Monday blues and Tuesday grey’s at the same time.  Think I know what’s the instant cure. 

Headed to one of our favourite restaurants and its bloody damn good, that’s why we don’t mind the wait. It’s the best for a reason and I am sure you will agree after what you are going to see. Trust me if you haven’t already visited, you are definitely missing out. 

Barrafina on Drury Lane, that’s the one we go to, is a whole load of deliciousness on your plate. 

bb1

 We started off with the specials for the night- miso grilled aubergine. For some reason most people I know (and probably those that I don’t either) aren’t big fans of the vegetable but this one was wiped clean in just under 2 minutes.

bb2

Next up we got our prawns. I know its a sharing concept but with food this good no one was willing to share their piece.

bb3

The courgette flower stuffed with goat cheese and a drizzle of honey is my favorite dish on the menu. Trust me order a couple as you wouldn’t want to share this one.

bb4

The pork belly literally melts in your mouth. Its gooey yet crispy if you know what I mean.

bb5

The harrisa chicken wings perfectly fit the definition of comfort food done well

bb6

We forgot about the calamari but then reminded ourselves about the concept- food comes when its ready with finishing touches from the head chef standing right in front of you.

bb7

The crab bun is another one that features on our order every time we visit. The squishy brioche bun and the beautiful crab will only leave you ordering another one.

bb8

At this point we were soo full and soo aware that a massive leg of lamb was on its way. The chef was specially cooking the lamb for us as it wasn’t a part of the menu on the day. There was no way we could have refused. Of course we were not able to finish it and I think the chef saw the look on our faces. I wasn’t willing to leave a piece of meat this juicy & tender. Barrafina doesn’t do takeaways but a small exception was made for us this time around.

bb9

As I always say, there is a separate compartment for dessert. We ordered the orange sorbet and the torrijas. Both exceptionally amazing. The orange sorbet is like having a calippo in an orange and the torrijas is cakey, carameley, nutty……mmmmmm

bb11

bb12

Decided to take some pictures along the way.

bb14

Too cool for school……maybe

bb15

Posing failed. This is what happens when you eat and drink too much.

Gunpowder

While carrying out my usual night time routine, of which Instagram is an important part I came across this small venture near spitalfields market. Gunpowder is the brain child of a young husband and wife team who understand the eating out audience of London. The food is delicious and represents the India and the young Indians of today. The flavours are a melting pot of all the different states of the country and sum up the food journey in just about 12-15 dishes. This one had no curries and no rotis only tapas style sharing plates.

I was most thrilled with the drinks menu as every cocktail sounded divine, mango and chilli bellini and pani puri margarita with crushed puris on the rim. It just doesn’t get better.

gp10

When it comes to drinks A and I have very different choices. He went for the gimlet with honey and lemon and I went for the mango chili Bellini.

gp1

Honestly, the gimlet only sounded half as nice as it tasted and drink-envy led to me having one all to myself.

gp2

We knew we had over ordered as always but who cares when you get a fresh hot crispy aloo tikki topped with yogurt, tamarind chutney and chickpeas. It was lovely however I wouldn’t have minded a tiny bit of spicy green chutney to finish it off.

gp3

Hold on, this one will definitely interrupt the conversation. The okra fries are the best I’ve ever had. The batter was extremely light and perfectly spiced.

gp4

The doughnut filled with spicy venison does catch everyone’s attention. The bhujia as we call it back home did add an interesting texture to the bite.

gp5

The tandoori chicken with a dollop of butter chicken gravy was the showstopper and my favourite

gp6

Actually I couldn’t decide between Ma’s Kashmiri lamb chops and the chicken. The lamb was tender and melted in our mouth.

gp7

Sipping on our cocktails or if I may say chugging away on our drinks and talking about the coffee festival we visited earlier we didn’t realise we were at our last dish of the evening. Aunty sulu’s wild rabbit puloa was scrummy but spicy. Why thank you Aunty Sulu!

gp8

We did need more yogurt than that as the portions were pretty generous.

gp12

See if something else catches your fancy. They do change the menu a bit every 45 days. I missed out on the duck and the Nagaland ribs. Saving something for next time.

gp9

It is a small space so to avoid disappointment plan an early dinner. They do text you when your table is ready but it could take over an hour. Luckily we got there in time and were seated within 20 minutes.

As I said earlier the streets of London never fail to surprise and there was definitely a sparkle about this gunpowder.

Sticks & Sushi

The glorious sun decided to make a short appearance over London town last weekend before the dark clouds took over.

We wasted no time and decided to walk to Covent Garden to grab some sushi for lunch. There were a couple detours on the way to pick up some nutella cupcakes from hummingbird and a photo opportunity to capture one of my first no fur or puffy jacket appearances this year. I usually feel frozen for 8 months of the year.

ss1

I absolutely love these jimmy choo’s and can totally live in them. Leather jacket from Zara, sweater from Uniqlo, leggings from Nike and of course my favourite boy (may be talking about my photographer or bag)!

We made it in time for some sticks and sushi. The walk took a bit longer as we decided to explore the glorious streets of London. They never fail to disappoint and I always seem to discover something new.

ss9

Sunday lunch without a cheery drink is not allowed. I went for a yellow juice while A went for a beer.

ss7

While nibbling on the scrummy edamame beans with spicy sauce we discussed the new restaurant openings around town. Went to a couple last weekend.

ss6

The crispy ebi bites arrived in no time and before we knew it they were all gone. I could have ordered another one but didn’t want to be too greedy.

ss12

We ordered some of our favourites, spicy tuna, California roll and the prawn tempura roll.

ss10

The California roll was so fresh and the crab, avocado and spicy soy made for a delicious bite.

ss11

The star of the day was the crispy tempura roll. Who doesn’t like a bit of crunch.

ss5

Finally we got the chicken meatball and lamb chop sticks. They both will be ordered again however I might get a couple more of the lamb next time. I like mine medium to well and you have to ask for it otherwise they are served medium.

ss2

We ate to our hearts’ content and decided to walk back home to burn all those calories. A’s got a one up on sticks and sushi as this was his discovery.

I would recommend booking as they were really busy even after the usual lunch hour.

Milos

Daddy in town usually means lots of eating out. I have been saving up going to this restaurant for a while now and we finally made it last weekend. We were lucky enough to get a reservation only because they haven’t done a massive PR launch yet, but I highly recommend calling up before as it’s soon going to be one of the highlight restaurants of 2016.

Estiatoria Milos is on St James’s and you just don’t know what to expect behind those closed doors. It took me by surprise. It almost felt like I had been transported to another land – possibly somewhere in Greece or maybe even New York. It was the perfect combination of sexy and relaxed www.milos.co/restaurants

milos16

That door did lead to some really good looking people and even better food and wine.

milos11

We all dunked into the dips as soon as they were put on the table and the bowls were wiped out before you could say Greek Yogurt! The red pepper and feta was the first one down.

Next up we were taken to the market place and had to choose our meat, fish and veg.

milos14

milos3

milos6

milos7

We went for the red snapper, a few lamb chops and a mix of the bright and beautiful vegetables.

milos13

Goes without saying that we couldn’t have left without ordering the family favorite, a portion of crispy fried squid.

milos12

The Greek salad was so fresh that it almost seemed like someone had gone and plucked the tomatoes and cucumbers from my grandma’s garden.

milos5

Tender juicy lamb chops simply grilled. I like mine medium to well.

milos17

The fish wasn’t the prettiest dish but it was up there with its flavour. Milos doesn’t believe in too much spice or flavouring-  they just want you to experience each ingredient in its organic form. The snapper was also grilled with salt and served with olive oil, lemon and some capers.

milos18

There’s always space for some dessert. Try as I might-  I just cant seem to remember the name of this dessert but its a cross between a cake and a baklava, I am not sure if I am making any sense but you have to try it even if you don’t have a sweet tooth. We also ordered yogurt with fruit and flower compote and that’s the one I am going to try and replicate at home. The rose and honey compote was divine.

milos20

I couldn’t help but post another picture of the peppers, aren’t they just absolutely stunning. Please go and try Milos for peppers sake.

Bang Bang

Last weekend’s exploration was all about Bang Bang! The food was definitely ‘bang’ on considering I am a fan of Vietnamese. A small canteen style family run restaurant on Warren Street will definitely be a place that I will frequent a lot considering its only a short walk away and the exciting bit is they also do bubble tea! I wont babble anymore and tempt you with what we ate that afternoon.

bb2

Crispy fried squid is an absolute essential. Loved the fact that it was tossed with fresh red chillies, coriander and shallots.

bb

The little brother is a massive duck fan so we ordered it two ways. A fresh summer roll bursting with aromas and a deep fried spring roll stuffed with lots of duck and a hint of salad.

bb1

Anything but healthy. I could eat it all by myself.

bb3

This was my favorite, papaya salad and shredded chicken with a honey chili dressing. The eyes were watering and there was steam blowing out of the ears but the salad was a dream.

bb6

We didn’t think much of the Vietnamese chicken curry but if you like things on the milder side of life you might just enjoy this.

bb4

The bao’s are considered quite trendy currently and a lot of places have them on their menu. We tried the chargrilled lime leaf chicken and liked it enough to order a second one. Would definitely try the pork belly one on our next visit.

You can find them here www.bangbangcanteen.co.uk

A satisfying meal followed by some furniture shopping made for a good Saturday.

Hunan

Hunan is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in London.  What I like most about this place is that they don’t have a food menu and you are left to the mercy of the chef- which isn’t a bad thing. All you get is a massive book which is full of different kinds of wines and sake.

After a point I lost count but honestly we must have tried at least 25-odd dishes. Despite there being 8 eagerly waiting hungry souls, I did manage to squeeze in some shots of my favourites.

hunan1

We started with the lettuce wrap. I love the contrast of the crunchy lettuce with the soft mince chicken. Great combination.

hunan2

No turnips for me please! However I did give it a try and was pleasantly surprised. I think I might have had 2, maybe more than my share.

hunan3

Hero of ’em all. I couldn’t exactly guess the ingredients for the batter but it was very light and had a lot of garlic. We ordered this one a few times until the waiter actually said ‘are you sure you want another one?’

hunan5

There wasn’t much left of the spicy chicken sauce.

hunan6

Lamb seemed to be the preferred meat on the table and rightly so. The crispy lamb with the orange jelly was a hit.

hunan7

hunan4

hunan8

A Chinese meal is not complete without noodles and not just any noodles but the hawker style crispy Chinese noodles.

hunan9

No introduction needed. Fried banana with heaps of vanilla ice cream. Simply delicious and doubled for the table.

hunan10

Signs of a good night. Even the waitress seem to have enjoyed the sake shots. Definitely recommend the lychee flavored shots. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the bottle but I am sure they would know if you ask for lychee flavored sake.

If you are a foodie its a great place for a date night if not then please take a group of friends but do go to Hunan. They don’t encourage walk-in’s so please make sure you book in advance.

You can find them here http://hunanlondon.com/