One of my favourite foodie areas of London is Soho. It is home to some of the most eclectic restaurants in the city with every type of cuisine you can imagine – Chinese, Japanese, Peruvian, German, the list goes on and on. It’s also home to some fantastic pop-up restaurants, one of which Ciaran and I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks ago called The Test Kitchen by talented chef, Adam Simmonds.
I am a huge fan of supperclubs and we’re lucky to live in a city where there is an abundance of them! Supperclubs are awesome for a multitude of reasons. For one, it’s a great opportunity to meet talented up and coming chefs and try what is usually pretty stellar food for a fraction of the price before they start working in a restaurant. Supperclubs are also pretty great because they force you to step outside your comfort zone and try something new that you wouldn’t normally go for.
I first tried Basque cuisine at Taste of London circa 2013. A restaurant from Spain’s Basque Country was there demoing and I distinctly remember how delicious the pork tasted. After a bit of research, I discovered that Spain’s Basque Country is the ultimate destination for epicureans, with an array of Michelin-starred gastronomic legends, like Azurmendi Restaurante – renowned Chef Eneko Atxa’s three Michelin-starred restaurant and the #16 restaurant in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
When the opportunity came up to try out Eneko’s London offshoot – Eneko at One Aldwych – I was thrilled to say the least! I had heard such lovely reviews from other bloggers and friends that have dined there before, that I was bursting with excitement to finally visit myself.
“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like few on the tip of a leaf.” – Rabindranath Tagore
The last few months have been hectic but great. Between work, events and wedding planning, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind but fantastic nonetheless. I have been fortunate enough to attend some really cool events, one of which was Vivek Singh’s Guest Chef Series kick off collaboration dinner with Adam Handling of the critically acclaimed, The Frog E1.
Last week, I had the pleasure of popping along to Ormer Mayfair, Shaun Rankin’s London outpost of the highly acclaimed, Michelin-starred Ormer in Jersey. I have heard several fantastic words and rave reviews about both restaurants and have long wanted to try it out for myself. When I was asked to accompany one of my colleagues to preview Ormer’s English Wine Week tasting menu with wine pairings, needless to say I was both thrilled and thankful for the lovely opportunity.
Shaun and Ormer Mayfair’s Head sommelier Andreas Rosendal have created a stunning five-course tasting menu bursting with fresh, seasonal dishes inspired by the Jersey shores paired with some of the best wines England has to offer.
Duck and Waffle in the Heron Tower is a restaurant that is near and dear to my heart. Ciaran and I went on our first date to Duck and Waffle and go back annually for special occasions, you can read all about my 25th birthday celebration at D&W here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am a sucker for a good view! Well, Dan Doherty and the D&W crew have come back down to earth and have opened Duck and Waffle Local, a fantastic offspring to my favourite 24-hour sky-high eatery.
Canary Wharf is best known as the financial district of London, filled with some of the tallest buildings in the capital and major world headquarters like Barclays, Clifford Chance and Morgan Stanley. The area hasn’t been known in the past for its dining scene, but it is undergoing a bit of a renaissance that has started with Bōkan – London’s newest sky high restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace. Translated to “Beacon of Light,” Bōkan is the area’s answer to fantastic food, experimental drinks, and a stylish venue where you can eat, drink and dance the night away – all under one roof. It’s a destination venue that is well worth the travel.
Based on the 37th, 38th and 39th floors of the new generation Novotel, Bōkan, in my opinion, boasts the very best views of the city. The restaurant is on level 37, the cocktail bar on the 38th and the stunning rooftop terrace takes over the 39th floor. You can see every single iconic landmark – the Shard, the London Eye, Olympic Village, the O2, the list goes on and on. This destination venue is exceptional for so many reasons – ideal for special occasions – which is why I knew it was the perfect place to take my older sister when she was visiting London a few weeks ago.
My older sister is luckily able to visit me in London quite often and it’s always a memorable occasion when she does. It makes me so happy to be able to see someone in my family more than once a year! Every time she travels to London, we have the best time – we eat at great restaurants, see a show in the West End and just enjoy each other’s company. As an expat, I really cherish these times I get to see my family and I always look so forward to having my sister in town every few months.
It was her last day in town and we decided to go fora a leisurely late lunch before she headed off to the airport. We jumped on the tube at Stockwell station- which is really just a hop, skip and a jump away. Travel time is about 20 minutes to Canary Wharf station and a quick 10 minute walk from there. As we arrived, we sky rocketed up into the express lift, ears popping and hearts jumping as we reached the 38th floor. The friendly hosted warmly greeted us and led us to our table right by the window. I have to note, there really isn’t a “best seat in the house,” as there is 360 degree panoramic views from anywhere you sit. Floor-to-glass ceiling cascades along the edges of the three-floor venue – providing nothing but stunning views.
Talented Head Chef, Aurélie Altemaire, is at the helm of the restaurant on the 37th floor. Originally from France, Aurélie enrolled at culinary school when she was just 15 years old and never looked back! She has a wealth of international experience and worked at Michelin-star restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon before coming on board at Bōkan. The menu is filled with modern European dishes with her own flair – think chicken stuffed with foie grass (which I had the pleasure of trying on a separate occasion and was divine), a beautifully presented roasted aubergine with courgettes and hummus and Rhug Estate Lamb cutlets to name a few.
No visit with my sister comes with a shortage of bubbles and we kicked off our lunch with a glass of Nye Timber English Sparkling Wine. A toast to friendship and family, we had a look over the impressive menu as I explained a bit more about the restaurant to my sister – who seemingly already loved the venue. We chit chatted away and ordered a few starters to nibble on before the main event. We also dove into this incredible freshly baked bread with salted butter that is quite simply addicting.
A delicate dish of Sea Bass Carpaccio, intricately drizzled with lime aioli and olive oil, sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper. This dish is light, but impressive, the ideal start to lunch.
A creamy, plump ball of Pugliese burrata sat upon a refreshing chilled red pepper coulis, topped with fresh basil and served with house-made focaccia on the side. What’s not to love about rich, creamy, and moreish burrata. The red pepper coulis elevates the cheese with a tangy flavour that closely resembles marinara sauce, but better – much better.
And for my sister – who eats a plethora of veggies daily – the Inka Roast Winter vegetable salad with endive and feta. It’s as if this dish was made for her – an elegantly presented plate of aubergine, sliced apple, lettuce, endive topped with fresh feta. A delicious and invigorating salad we all really enjoyed.
For mains, I absolutely LOVED the Soy-Glazed Scottish Salmon served with wasabi green bean salad and pepper sauce. This is a dish that I had the first time I went to Bōkan and I can’t speak highly enough about it – the salmon is tender, buttery and bursting with sweet soy flavours. A dish so good, I’ve tried to make it myself at home but haven’t quite mastered to make it taste as good yet.
Ciaran went for the Slow-Smoked Blythburgh Pork Belly topped with apple sauce and crushed potatoes. Smokey, tender and not overly sweet – he really enjoyed this dish would order it again if it’s on the menu when we go back!
My sister ordered the Oven-roasted aubergine, courgettes, hummus, padron peppers, tomato, coriander – a dish that she absolutely loved and devoured within minutes. A vibrant dish, she said it was one of her favourites of that weekend.
We ended our beautiful lunch on a sweet note and shared the chocolate/peanut butter soufflé. Gooey, sumptuous and sinfully decadent, this is my idea of dessert heaven. Served with a side of peanut butter ice cream – this was the best soufflé I’ve had.
As the sun began to set, we headed off so my sister could catch her flight but not before admiring the gorgeous sunset and all the buildings in London light up. A truly spectacular scene – I remember thinking how thankful I was in that moment and what a great weekend it had been. Our time at Bōkan was just the cherry on top.
If you love a view (what’s not to love), brilliant food and fantastic service – you should definitely put Bōkan on your bucket list. I know I’ll be hitting the terrace as soon as the weather heats up this summer! Stay tuned for a few more posts all about the 38th floor bar with some amazing cocktails and the 39th floor terrace…
Bōkan | 40 Marsh Wall | Canary Wharf | E14 9TP
For long time readers of this blog, you probably know by now that one of my favourite cuisines is Indian! There is no shortage of phenomenal Indian restaurants in London and today I am sharing with you Chakra in Kensington.
Inspired by ancient Vedic scriptures, the Chakras are energy points associated with a positive flow of energy throughout the body. The talented team of chefs at Chaka add another dimension by bringing a positive energy with food, balancing out traditional Indian flavours with contemporary flair and the gorgeous dishes speak for themselves – think bright, vibrant and bold. You’ll see!
The restaurant itself is intimate, with a cute garden area in the front, perfect for whiling away summer evenings with a glass of wine and some delicious Indian snacks.
The menu is filled with traditional yet elevated dishes like Onion Bhajis, Tandoori Lamb Chops, Tiger Prawns, Chicken Koorma, you get the gist. Kick off with a selection of beautifully presented starters – they are smaller portions so be sure to pick out a few to share!
We went for the Salmon Tikka – cooked on the Salamander Grill and served with Wasabi Mayo, The Tikki Trio – A classic potato mint and green chili fritter, Sweet potato, parsley and red onion Fritter, Blue potato white onion, red chili and coriander fritter served with coriander and tamarind chutney and the Chicken Tikka Kebab – A Chakra classic – tender cubes of chicken are marinated with red deghi mirch, served with a coriander chutney.
Super impressed with our starters, we moved on to the mains.
Now, Ciaran normally goes for the spiciest dishes on the planet – Vindaloo, extra hot. My tastebuds can’t handle the spice and as we we were sharing, we went for the milder, safer option – the coconut prawn curry. With influences from Southern India, the King Prawns are pan cooked with coconut mustard seeds, curry leaves and a variety of spices. The dish was perfectly well seasoned and I loved the sweet coconut taste but the prawns were a little on the small side seeing as they were meant to be King prawns. Nonetheless, the dish was delicious.
The Chicken Korma – a long-time favourite of mine – was delicious, tender and perfectly sweet. A classic chicken korma with black and green grapes, roasted almonds and pomegranate tossed in a classic korma sauce. It hit the spot, no complaints!
We also shared a side of the Sweet Potato and Okra. Influenced by the Caribbean… cubes of sweet potato are tossed with okra, red onion and fresh coriander. This dish was superb – crunchy, buttery pieces of sweet potato and okra just melted in our mouths. Ciaran wants to make the dish at home. I just want to note though that the dish is listed in the Mains section, but it is definitely more of a side/sharing dish to accompany your meal.
We mopped up our curry with goats cheese naan bread – something I had never had before. I love goats cheese and I love naan and the combination of the two was sinfully good. They are really rich and I’d recommend getting a plain or garlic naan if you want something milder! I however, loved them and it was nice to try something a bit more unusual.
In the bid to be somewhat healthy (we just ate a curry, I don’t know what we were thinking) we said our thank yous and strolled on home sans desserts.
I really liked Chakra – it is small and intimate, perfect for date night and the service is lovely. The starters really wowed me both in presentation and in taste and I greatly enjoyed the mains as well. For a really enjoyable meal that you know is going to taste great, I recommend Chakra.
Chakra, 33C Holland St, Kensington, London W8 4LX, Book Now
*I was invited in to review Chakra. All views and opinions are my own.
Nirvana Kitchen is a stylish neighbourhood restaurant tucked away in the beautiful Montcalm Hotel in the heart of Marylebone. The restaurant specialises in simple Pan-Asian dishes that are ideal for sharing. The chef incorporates flavours from the Indian Ocean to the Far East, a menu that clearly goes beyond “simple,” moreover, it’s delicious dining that I was so impressed by.
As we arrived, we were greeted warmly by the lovely hostess. The restaurant features elegant windows, warm woods and leather chairs – it is stylish and has an air of sophistication about it – a restaurant you’d come to to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or a special event.
All of the dishes on the menu sound fantastic – small dishes for sharing, charcoal dishes, curry pots and desserts – all grabbed my attention and had me wanting to try a little bit everything.
Our server recommended the Duck and Watermelon Salad, served with mandarin, pomegranate, basil, coriander, cashew and hoisin sauce. The duck is slow-cooked for 12 hours, making it mouthwateringly tender. The saltiness of the duck combined with the sweet watermelon and mandarin made this a winning dish that kept us coming back bite after bite. For veggies out there, they do a vegetarian version. The table next to us had to ask the server if their veggie rendition was made with actual duck – that’s how good this dish is.
We also shared the Crispy Salted Squid with cucumber, lemongrass and ginger sauce. The lemongrass and ginger sauce really made the dish – a light and fresh dipping sauce that elevated the salty squid. The squid was perfectly cooked – not rubbery in the slightest and delicately crispy.
For our mains, we tucked into the Chilean Sea Bass, a signature dish on the menu that the team really take pride in – and for good reason – because it was one of the very best seafood dishes I’ve ever had. Tamarind glazed served with pickled cucumber and caramelised cashew ‘Gajak’ made for an absolutely stunning dish. The sea bass was buttery, sweet, incredibly tender and perfectly cooked. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more! Weeks later, and I am still craving that Sea Bass.
Ciaran went for the Nyona Chicken Curry, Nirvana’s own take on the classic Nyona, which fuses Chinese ingredients with Malaysian spices and cooking techniques. The curry is stewed in a coconut curry with spices, potatoes, and a poached duck egg. I love this dish because it wasn’t too spicy and all of the ingredients added such depths of flavours. Every bite tasted a little bit different – sweet, smokey, and incredibly aromatic. It was incredibly filling, just like any good curry should. To mop it all up, we dove into the Roti Canai – a classic Malay Paratha – it was like a cross between a croissant and an Indian paratha bread – flakey and buttery. I loved it, it was absolutely delicious.
To cap off our incredible dinner, we indulged in a chocolate molten cake with pistachio ice cream – a decadent treat to end our fantastic evening.
All of the dishes at Nirvana Kitchen are outstanding. I was so impressed by the phenomenal cooking and also greatly enjoyed how leisurely our dinner was. All of the dishes came out at a perfect pace – one at a time, so you could take your time to enjoy the evening. The servers are all very knowledgable and friendly.
Nirvana Kitchen is an absolute gem in the heart of Marylebone – perfect for date nights, special occasions or a leisurely dinner with friends. Take my word for it and book it for your next evening out!
Nirvana Kitchen, 61 Upper Berkeley St, Marylebone, London W1H