Nirvana Kitchen – A Hidden Marylebone Gem

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

Curry Night at Pure Indian Putney

Indian food has quickly become one of my favourites since I moved to London 2.5 years ago. It’s savoury, comforting and I always feel happier after eating a wonderful curry. While I am partial to the Indian food at all of Vivek Singh’s restaurants (Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen, Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar), I do love discovering new and unique Indian restaurants around London and was so pleased to be invited to try out Pure Indian, a brand new restaurant conveniently located right outside Putney Bridge Station.

Pure Indian is owned by husband and wife duo Faheem Vanoo and Shilpa Dandekar, both of whom started their careers at the Taj Group in India and carried on to hone their skills at high end London restaurants such as the Bombay Brasserie and it’s Michelin-starred counterpoint Quilon and Brasserie Blanc. Needless to say, the team have true talent that exceedingly shines through in the food at their latest venture.

When we arrived at Pure, we were instantly put at ease as we were shown to our table. The restaurant itself is unpretentious and makes for a great local family Indian restaurant if you live in the area. The service is fantastic and friendly and it’s one of those restaurants you really feel you can relax and unwind in.

We ordered a couple of beers to start off with because in my mind, there is nothing better paired with curry than a light beer.

Followed by salty poppadoms and an array of chutneys to munch on whilst we looked over the menu…

I loved the unique take on the original poppadoms – fluffy, crispy and salty morsels appeared in front of us with a mango and tomato chutney – no mint yoghurt in sight. The entire menu sounds delicious, so we asked our server to bring out a selection of dishes for us to try and we certainly were not disappointed.

Seared scallops with pickled beetroot, mango and chilli – cooked perfectly and tasted nice and fresh.

Followed by a vibrant plate of Patra Chaat topped with yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney, pomegranates, onions and tomatoes. I absolutely love chaat, and the amalgamation of flavours and textures makes this popular Indian snack quite addicting.

The Kori Kempu – chicken marinated in spices tossed in yoghurt and chilli was fantastic. Small bites of crispy chicken that had just enough kick without being overpowering.

The team brought out a spread of mains for us to try including Kalimich ka murgh – a mild dish of malai chicken tikka cooked in cashew nuts with yohurt, fresh mint and black peppercorns. The chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce was sweet and creamy – very similar to a chicken korma. Hearty and delectable – it will absolutely fill you up.

Slow-cooked lamb so tender it falls right apart. This dish was a bit too spicy for me but Ciaran absolutely loved it.

Freshly baked naan bread to mop it all up!

We sat back and relaxed with one more beer after demolishing all of the dishes. All of the dishes are elevated, sophisticated and served beautifully. I loved the laid back ambiance in the restaurant and the friendly service. My hope is to find a great local Indian similar to Pure where I live in Clapham! If you live in the Fulham, Putney area, I highly recommend this great neighbourhood Indian restaurant – you won’t regret it!

Pure Indian | 67 Fulham High St | Fulham | London | SW6 3JJ

*I was a guest on behalf of Pure Indian restaurant but all opinions are my own. 

 

Pizza Night at Firebrand Marylebone

There’s something comforting in having a good local pizza place that you go to time and time again, where you know the pizza is always going to be moreishly good, the staff friendly and the prices right. Firebrand Pizza in Marylebone is one of those hidden gems in the heart of Marylebone, just a hop, skip and a jump from where I work – ideal for those nights where we just want dinner to be easy.

The chef and owner of Firebrand Pizza has been making delicious sourdough pizzas since he was 7 years old in his native Italy and the experience shows as the pizzas are genuinely delicious. The proof is in the massive wood-fired oven that takes centre stage as soon as you walk into the quaint pizza joint.

The restaurant has a rustic feel, with local art adorning exposed brick walls and light wood tables and barstools throughout the restaurant, perfect for regulars and drop-ins.

The menu features an array of Antipasti dishes of delicious bechamel stuff champigon mushrooms, Mortadella, Spicy Salami, Parma Ham, Salami Milano and Bresola and mouth-watering prawns doused in butter and drizzled with lemon, herbs and chilli.

If the pizzas were any bit as good as our starter, we knew we’d be in for a real treat. The hardest part is choosing which one to have though – as they all sound absolutely incredible. Ndjuja, Salami, Mushroom, Tomato and Mozzarella, Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion, Black Olives, Mozzarella and Aubergine, Courgette, Spinach, Parmesan, Mozzarella to name a few. We decided to go a bit off the beaten path and go with the server’s recommendations to share…

Taleggio, Caciotta, Parmesan and Gorgonzola for me – which was quite the guilty pleasure. Four decadent cheeses melted over a cripsy and thin sourdough base with white sauce. Each bite was different with notes of smokey, salty and indulgently cheesy.

Ciaran opted for the his go to of Spicy Salami, Roasted Peppers, Rocket, Mozzarella, Tomato – spicy, saucy and moreishly good. The pizzas are huge – I suggest if you go, bring a group of friends and share a couple pizzas between you.

To top off our indulgent, carb-laden dinner, we went for Ice Cream Union gelato – truly some of the best gelato I’ve ever tried in London. Dulce De Leche and Pistachio – both of which I was so happy we ordered. Be sure to order a bowl all to yourself because you will not want to share.

Firebrand Pizza is an awesome Marylebone locale, perfect for an easy date night and great for catching up with friends. The pizzas are delicious and the ambiance and service is wonderful. I’m looking forward to Firebrand’s roll out later this year! Hopefully they’ll open their next location in Clapham!

Firebrand Pizza | 41-43 Lisson Grove | Marylebone | London | NW1 6U

*I was a guest of Firebrand Pizza, but all opinions and views are my own. 

The Best Pho & Buns in London

If you’re a fan of the Bao craze that has swept over London, then keep reading for a hidden gem I’ve recently discovered in Central London…

Pho & Bun is a quirky little Vietnamese restaurant located on Shaftesbury Avenue right next to Soho and China Town. It’s an off-shoot of the wildly successful Viet Eat in Holborn and as it’s name suggests, serves up incredible Pho and mouthwatering buns.

The interior of Pho & Bun is cosy, with tables primarily for two and a bar area towards the back. There is colourful artwork adorning the exposed brick wall, which really transports you to the heart of a Vietnamese marketplace. There is a fantastic downstairs dining area with private grottos ideal for intimate gatherings with friends or family. 

The menu is filled with Wraps & Rolls, Rice & Vermicelli, Small Bites and of course, the legendary Pho & Bun. 

Order a few small plates to share between two, like the crispy Chilli Salt & Pepper Squid or the Prawn & Veggie Spring Rolls with Mango Salad. Two delicious dishes that will set the stage for even more goodness about to come…

The buns at Pho & Bun are truly something special. They are bigger than the average bao you’ll find elsewhere and absolutely delicious. the BBQ Honey Pork Belly with fried shallot, apple and chilli mayo is the bao of dreams. Filled to the brim with delicious tender pork belly and slathered in a delectably sweet sauce, it’s pure bliss in the form of a pillowy, decadent bun.

Lizz ordered the Crispy Tiger Prawn with pineapple, house pickle and wasabi mayo. She said it was one of the best things she’s ever eaten, and at the bargain price of £2.95, you really can’t beat it.

If something warm and hearty is more your speed, try out the legendary Pho. The traditional Vietnamese dish is healthy and flavoursome and is a great winter warmer on a chilly London night. Try out the Tender Beef Pho, packed with flavour and herbs. If you’re a vegetarian, Pho & Bun have a Crispy Tofu noodle option too.

For London’s best buns and warming Pho, head to Pho & Bun on Shaftesbury Avenue!

Pho & Bun | 76 Shaftesbury Avenue | London | W1D 6ND

The Newly Launched Farmer, Butcher, Chef – Sussex

The Goodwood Hotel is a fantastic countryside escape for so many reasons, which you can read about here, but one of the best aspects of the hotel is the newly launched Farmer, Butcher, Chef restaurant…

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goodwoodhotel-017959The restaurant itself is stepped in history, dating back to 1780 and was once a coaching in used to accommodate the many guests of Goodwood House.

goodwoodhotel-017961Farmer, Butcher, Chef is located just a few yards away from Home Farm and was inspired by the relationship between farmer Tim Hassell, butcher John Hearn and chef Darron Bunn. The trio work together to create an incredibly diverse menu that showcases the best meat in terms of flavour and quality. Goodwood has been farmed by the family for more than three hundred years and is one of the only self-sustaining organic farms in Europe, which enables the farmer to produce the best tasting beef, pork and lamb.

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goodwoodhotel-017945We got a chance to sit down with Chef Darron and Farmer Tim to learn more about the concept behind Farmer, Butcher, Chef. They told us that every single part of the animals are used and the availability of the produce truly does dictate the menu. They also take great care in the well-being of the animals. They also supply many cuts of meat to the Ritz in London and are very selective about who they supply to as it’s important to them to only work with companies that share their same values. With all of this in mind, it’s not surprising that Farmer, Butcher, Chef has already been one of the first to receive the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Sustainable Philosophy Seal.’

They also said that Farmer, Butcher, Chef is all about simplicity and going back to traditional techniques of cooking meat, which in my opinion, was quite refreshing. You won’t see the food come out in a dramatic fashion with a layer of dry ice drifting over it, but what you will get is simple, fresh, out-of-this-world delicious dishes that will leave a lasting impression. We asked them what the most underrated cut of meat was, and surprisingly they mentioned the Pork Collar.

goodwoodhotel-017926From the moment we stepped into Farmer, Butcher, Chef I was enamoured with it. I have always been a huge fan of farmhouse interior decor and the restaurant’s interior design was stunning, cosy and embodied what Farmer, Butcher, Chef is all about. From the dark wood floors and tables, to the mismatched plaid chairs, and all of the knick knacks on the walls, this was by far one of the most charming restaurants I’ve been too. Can I move in, please?

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goodwoodhotel-017911Isn’t it beautiful? The food though – equally as stunning. goodwoodhotel-017801We started off our spectacular dinner with a bottle of Bolney Pinot Noir, a local vineyard in West Sussex. A delicious, medium-bodied wine with notes of cherry and and hint of oak – it’s an ideal wine to drink with dark meats. goodwoodhotel-017815We enjoyed fresh, out-of-the-oven bread with salted butter to whet our appetites whilst we looked over the menu. Farmer, Butcher, Chef is able to control every aspect of the produce and the butcher designs the dishes depending on what cuts of meat are available that day. All of the ingredients used are also from local suppliers, so every thing you eat on the menu is local to West Sussex.

goodwoodhotel-017830All of the starters sounded incredible, think Venison Tartar, Crispy Oysters, Beer braised lamb belly, etc. We went with our server’s recommendations, which didn’t disappoint, including this Crusted Beef Shin with British crayfish, tarragon and chanterelles. The beef itself was incredibly tender and just broke apart as soon as you dove in with your fork. It was a stunning dish packed with natural flavours that we couldn’t get enough of.

goodwoodhotel-017840We also shared the Oregano Rubbed Pig Jowl with fennel, walnut and raisin slaw, which I loved The fresh, fruity flavours of the slaw, cut the saltiness of the tender and juicy pig jowl. I had never had Pig Jowl before and really enjoyed this cut of meat – the fat was rendered down and the meat itself was packed with flavour.

goodwoodhotel-017846All of the menu is phenomenal, you would really have to go back about 5 times to try everything you’d want to. In a bid to try as much as we could in one sitting, we went for one of their legendary Butcher’s Boards, which is a great try some of those unique cuts of meats Chef Darron told us about. You can choose from Lamb, Beef or Pork and we went for the Beef. goodwoodhotel-017849You know that saying “your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” well such is the case here, but it’s inevitable – it all just looks so good – and it is. In all honesty, three people could have shared the Butcher’s board, there was so much meat to choose from.

The butcher’s board comes with charcoal skirt steak, sticky Jacob’s ladder, oxtail faggot, crispy tongue, marrow crusted ox cheek, truffle celeriac gratin and dripping confit potatoes.

goodwoodhotel-017867We also got a side of Winter Greens and Hazelnut butter, which I’ve got to say, is the best dressing to drizzle on any salad.

goodwoodhotel-017876I really cannot say enough positive things about ALL of the meat. The skirt steak was cooked to perfection, more on the rare side but I always have it cooked the way the chef recommends. The sticky Jacob’s ladder (beef short rib) was a magnificent cut of meat that seemed to be slow cooked and fell right off the bone. t was my favourite of all the meat we tried.

goodwoodhotel-017862The braised oxtail faggot was another highlight. The rich, demi-glaze sauce that it was marinated in was excellent. Let’s just say, I wasn’t sharing this little morsel of goodness with Ciaran.

goodwoodhotel-017881The Crispy Tongue was unusual, but don’t knock it ’til you try it! It was a quite unusual texture, but I still rather enjoyed it – go for it. The dripping confit potatoes were the best I’ve ever had. We did almost order another portion, but I’m glad we didn’t because I nearly went into a meat coma after our meal.

We sat for a while and recuperated after what was a meal for the books, before tucking into our desserts (yes, there is always room for pudding).

goodwoodhotel-017887Our server suggested this heavenly Milk & Praline Bar with salted almonds and dark chocolate. It was the perfect balance of sweet and salty and a welcoming treat after our meat-laden meal.

goodwoodhotel-017890Ciaran went for this gorgeous Bramley Apple Crumble Soufflé that was absolutely delightful. The soufflé itself was light and creamy and the apple crumble was divine. I loved it. When we go back, we are going to get the cheeseboard because all of the cheese is made right there at Goodwood, which would be really interesting to try.

The entire meal was exceptional, but what resonates with me even more is Farmer, Butcher, Chef’s commitment to sustainability. I personally like knowing where the meat and produce I eat comes from and how they are being raised and treated. I really like their environmental approach of using local and seasonal produce, not letting any go to waste, and having a very strong ethical approach to handling the animals, butchery and cooking. I think more restaurants need to adopt these philosophies and stick by them.

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to dine at this very special restaurant and learn more about sustainability. The food is phenomenal, the interior is gorgeous and the values are all ones that I am personally on board with. It was an incredibly memorable and special dinner.

Thank you Farmer, Butcher, Chef for the warm hospitality. We will be back!

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Luxurious Christmas at Pan Chai Harrods

I can’t believe that Christmas is now less than a month away. 2016 has well and truly flown by. It feels like just yesterday Ciaran and I were doing our last minute Christmas shopping the day before in a manic rush to get it all done. I am sure that this year will be very much the same, except this time, I have discovered a little haven in the Food Hall of Harrods to take a much-needed shopping break/celebrate with a glass of bubbles when it’s all said and done – I’d like to introduce you to Pan Chai. 

panchaiharrodscm-017553Pan Chai is a Pan-Asian restaurant that serves up a delicious range of sushi, sashimi, ramen, nigri and more,  ideal for refuelling in between walking around London’s luxurious and beloved Harrods. As we made our way through the decadent Food Halls on the ground floor (which are definitely worth exploring), we finally found Pan Chai. The restaurant boasts 22 leather barstools situated around a curved marble topped bar. There is an open plan kitchen, where you can check out the chefs in action – freshly preparing sushi and sashmi. You are fully embracing the concept of counter culture when you come to Pan Chai, which is one of the reasons I really enjoyed it here.

panchaiharrodscm-017522On this occasion in particular, we had done a bit of shopping ourselves and were ready to tuck into one of the delectable Christmas platters available for the holidays. We started off with a glass of wine for me and a beer for Ciaran – you can’t really get through the holidays (or the shopping) without a few libations.

panchaiharrodscm-1We ordered some edamame to curb our appetites whilst the expert chefs prepared the stunning platter. Pan Chai features a few different platters on their menu that are ideal for 2 people to share depending on how hungry you are.

panchaiharrodscm_We watched the team at work, slicing delicate pieces of sashimi, carefully creating the Nigri and putting the final gold leaf touches on top of a stunning platter that was dramatically presented to us with a layer of smoky dry ice over the top. We ooo’d and aahhhed over the gorgeous plate and I took photos to my heart’s content until finally we dove in.

panchaiharrodscm-017528On the Christmas platter, you will enjoy an entire lobster with succulently sweet pieces of meat marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was absolutely delicious. Juicy pieces of lobster melted in our mouths as we sat silent and satiated.  A firm favourite and highlight of the evening. In a bid to make the lobster last a bit longer, I moved on to sampling the plump grilled scallops, also marinated in a teriyaki sauce, served in a scallop shell that were also delicious and perfectly cooked.

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panchaiharrodscm-017543The Gold Leaf Sashimi was cut to precision, featuring an array of colourful yellowtail, tuna and salmon pieces.

panchaiharrodscm-017546I loved the Nigri, which also consisted of yellowtail, tuna and salmon topped with Russian Caviar. To top off our luxurious and decadent platter, we enjoyed the waygu beef also topped with Russian Caviar. 

panchaiharrodscm-017532The Christmas Platter at Pan Chai is truly luxurious and something special to treat yourself to after a day of shopping. While it may not be the traditional Christmas platter (think turkey and cranberry sauce), it is a unique way to wind down in between the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I highly recommend stopping by for a glass of wine and relaxing with a swoon-worthy meal. Happy Holidays, everyone!

panchaiharrodscm-017564Pan Chai | Harrods | Knightsbridge | London | SW1X 7XL

I was a guest of Pan Chai Harrods but all views are my own. 

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Dinner at ROKA Canary Wharf

Roka Canary Wharf Last weekend, Ciaran and I had a little staycation in Canary Wharf, which was really great because although it is technically in London, it’s far enough away from Central London to make it feel like a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. As part of our mini staycation, we indulged in dinner at ROKA, the award-winning Japanese restaurant that has stolen hearts all over London. Located in Canada Square, ROKA Canary Wharf has a sophisticated yet trendy vibe and I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. We sipped on few cocktails in the gorgeous lounge before heading into the main dining room for dinner.

Roka Canary Wharf The cocktails at ROKA are fabulous, featuring a mix of highballs, a range of drinks that are popular in Japanese culture served over carved ice with a variety of sodas, classic cocktails and pressed alcoholic pressed juices. For my aperitif, I ordered the Twinkle, made with vodka, elderflower cordial, lemon twist and champagne. Zesty and refreshing, it was the ideal tipple to kick off our date with.

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Roka Canary Wharf We made our way into the lively dining room that features a spacious open-plan kitchen complete with bar stools, perfect to post up and watch the action of what’s happening behind the scenes. We took a seat and were greeted by our lovely server, who talked us over ROKA’s outstanding menu, filled with salads, tataki and tempura, sushi and sashimi, dishes from the robata grill, snacks and side dishes and finally a selection of decadent desserts. Stomachs grumbling, we had a look over the menu, ordered a starter to nibble on and a bottle of white wine to share (a combination of Viognier and Chenin Blanc, recommended by the house sommelier. I can’t remember the name, sorry!)

Roka Canary Wharf Crispy, spicy rock shrimp tempura appeared before our eyes. These addicting morsels of crunchy goodness whet our appetite for what was to come…

Roka Canary Wharf ROKA is all about sharing plates that come out as they are prepared, which was totally fine by us! I would recommend getting about 3-4 dishes each to share depending on how hungry you are.

Roka Canary Wharf The Black Cod at ROKA is legendary, so we ordered Black Cod gyoza, which were divine. Packed with sweet Black Cod and topped with chilli ponzu and edamame beans. A real treat, although the taste of the black cod was slightly subdued due to the heaviness of the gyoza shell.

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_r017150The mouth-wateringly delicious beef tataki with daikon and fresh truffle was outstanding. Thinly seared pieces of beef topped with fragrant truffle and truffle dressing amalgamated perfectly and melted in our mouths. The beef could have been sliced a tad thinner, but other than that I have nothing but positive words to say about this beautiful dish.

Roka Canary Wharf Grilled asparagus with sesame seeds from the Robata Grill.

Roka Canary Wharf Sweet potato baked in bamboo husk – my favourite side of the evening. Sweet, buttery and comforting. It is served looking really pretty and then the server comes and mashes it up to distribute the butter throughout. I really want to learn how to make this for Thanksgiving – it’s the ideal holiday dish.

_r017176Spiced Chicken Wings with sea salt, honey, and lime. They had the right balance of sweet, salty and tangy from the lime. So good in fact, I accidentally put a whole one in my mouth and didn’t realise they had bones… whoops! Take caution.

Roka Canary Wharf The highlight of the evening though, and perhaps the highlight dish of my year, was this spectacular Black Cod marinated in Yuzu Miso. This is the dish of dreams. The fish is incredibly tender and falls apart the moment you dip your fork in. It’s sweet, almost dessert-like, buttery and melts in your mouth. It’s served in a gorgeous banana leaf, making the presentation stunning as well. It was honestly amazing – word cannot do it justice. If you go to ROKA, do not leave without trying the Black Cod!

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We were super surprised when our server presented us with this beautiful and extravagant selection of seasonal and exotic fruit, gelato and chocolate brownies. It was too pretty to even dive into. It looks like a gorgeous work of art! Filled with dragon fruit, figs, pineapple, passion fruit, lychee, raspberries and more – it was the best way to end our incredible dinner at ROKA.

I now understand the hype around ROKA – it is now one of my favourite restaurants in London. We were blown away by each dish and the service was impeccable. It is the perfect restaurant for special occasions and celebrations (my fiancé took his mom there when he told her he was going to propose to me!)

Have you been to ROKA? What’s been your favourite dish?

ROKA | 4 Park Pavilion | 40 Canada Square | Canary Wharf | London | E14 5FW | Book Now 

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BungaTINI

BungaTINI, located on Drury Lane in the heart of Covent Garden, is the latest concept by Inception Group, one of London’s most innovative and talented hospitality groups. The creative company owns operates the likes of Cahoots, a 1940’s underground-themed bar in Soho, Barts, Chelsea’s Prohibition Era drinking den, Maggie’s, a super fun 1980s bar, Beaver Lodge, an American themed bar based on the log cabins in Wyoming, Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, based on Jules Verne’s famous novel Around the World in 80 Days, Mr Fogg’s Tavern and Gin Parlour in Covent Garden and the famed Bunga Bunga, Battersea’s most tongue-in-cheek bar, pizzeria and karaoke joint. I used to do the PR for Inception Group and many of these are my favourite bars in London, so when I was invited in to check out the new BungaTINI, an all-day trattoria and bar, I couldn’t wait to see how it had turned out.

BungaTINIBungaTINI couldn’t be in a more ideal location on Drury Lane – in the heart of theatre-land, perfect for pre-and-post show dinner and cocktails or for those who work in Central London and want to grab a coffee in the morning or a bite to eat with colleagues at lunch.

BungaTINI BungaTINI is inspired by charming neighbourhood Italian restaurants and bars and has the all-day dining concept down perfectly. From 8am, they serve coffee and an array of delicious, home-made pastries warmed in the authentic Italian clay oven, ideal for those on the go. At lunchtime, swing by and check out a superb selection of salads, focaccia sandwiches, served hot or cold, pasta, or wood-fired pizzas by the slice (my favourite). When it comes time for Aperitivo hour, you can choose from a selection of Ciccheti – fennel sausage and mozzarella arancini or cherry mozzarella with oregano (to name a few), alongside antipasti plates like formaggi and salumi. Pair this with a refreshing tipple from the Aperitivo menu, and you’re set to win(e) down from a long day at work. Following Aperitivo hour comes dinner – which is spectacular at BungaTINI – an amazing Alla Carte menu that will have you salivating from the get-go.

BUNGATINI The bar houses a large and fantastic selection of authentic Italian wines, beers, proseccos and vermouths as well as a range of top notch cocktails ideal for aperitivo hour or digestivo. I expected nothing less of Inception Group, as they always go big with all that they do.

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_r017288BungaTINI is set over two floors, with downstairs being a more informal setting with high tables and a counter to eat and drink or head on up the spiral staircase to find a gorgeous mezzanine level with flowers and stone accents that look over the bar below. They’ve nailed it with the Sopranos-locale vibe. I felt as if I had stepped back into my Italian local in New Jersey – with the rich dark wood furniture, mosaic tiled floor, warm coloured walls and nostalgic artwork throughout. This place has character.

BUNGATINIMoving on to the delicious food at last! All of the dishes at BungaTINI are authentic Italian and they really pride themselves on creating the real deal. Inception Group did their homework ahead of time, taking a tour through various regions in Italy, studying the food, the wine and the cocktails, to get it as close to authentic as they could get. And it paid off, because the food was outstanding. We kick started our Italian feast with the Pappa al pomodoro – San Marzano tomatoes and burrata with a side of fresh bread. The burrata is everything you could hope for – fresh, creamy, and full of flavour that Ciaran and I devoured within minutes. Calories don’t count on a Monday…
bungatiniThis Culatello, Gnocco Fritto (literally Parma Ham with Fried Dough) is out of this world. After all, what could be better than anything fried paired with salty parma ham? It was so good, I was literally cutting the Gnocco Fritto into smaller pieces to make it last longer. When you come to BungaTINI, order this for yourself, and don’t share with anybody.

bungatiniOctopus, prawn & whitebait fritto misto with Martini vermouth mayo was also lovely – salty, crisp and moreish.

BungaTINI

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While the antipasti has that wow-factor, the pizzas are the real star of the show. Wood-fired, made in special clay ovens that they use in Italy, with BungaTINI’s own sourdough base, made in-house daily. We ordered the special white truffle pizza – tis the season for truffles after all. Truly, one of the best truffle pizzas I’ve had. If you like a thin crust pizza – you will love BungaTINI. One of the best Italian-style pizzas in London.

The verdict: I loved BungaTINI. They have invested so much time to creating an authentic product, which really shows. That’s what is great about the team from Inception Group though – they have fantastic attention to detail and never skimp on anything. You will always have a top notch experience at any of their venues and BungaTINI is simply brilliant. From the decor and staff to the food and drinks – it’s the perfect place in Central London for any occasion, no matter the time of day. Now that’s amore!

BungaTINI | 167 Drury Ln | London | WC2B 5PG | Book Now 

Falling in Love with Kurobuta, Chelsea

Have you ever fallen in love with a restaurant? I know this might sound silly, but every so often, I visit a restaurant that has that real wow-factor, ticks all the boxes and makes me want to come back time and time again. Kurobuta in Chelsea was one of those restaurants.

Arguably one of the edgiest restaurants on the King’s Road, Kurobuta takes inspiration from the Izakayas of Japan and serves up outstanding tapas-style dishes that cleverly fuses Japanese and Australian influences. As we walked in, we were greeted by the bubbly hostess who led us through the eclectic restaurant that was filled with rock n’ roll posters, dim-lighting and Japanese anime art. It was definitely funky and we definitely loved its unique nature from the start.

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_r016402It was one of my last free days before starting a new job and I met up with my fellow Kansas gal, Claire for a lazy Friday lunch to catch up. We kicked off our lunch with a bottle of prosecco and were left to have a look over the phenomenal-sounding menu, which is filled with everything from sushi and snacks to BBQ and kimchee and even a “Junk Food Japan” menu that we were definitely on board with.

The expertly curated menu was devised by ex-Nobu chef, Scott Hallsworth, who has cooked for the likes of Michael Jackson, the Beckhams and even catered for Roman Abramovich’s private box at Chelsea Football Club. Needless to say, we knew we were in for something spectacular.

_r016380With so much to choose from, we asked our server what she would suggest and she advised  ordering three dishes each to share and told us some of her favourites along with some signature plates. She was the expert – so we ordered all the superb sounding dishes she recommended.

_r016383While we clinked glasses and toasted to Friday, our lovely server brought us out Flamed Edamame with sake, lemon butter and maldon salt to munch on before the real feast came out.

_r016384Before we knew it, we were presented with a gorgeous plate of Yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu Soy from the ‘Raw Salad’ menu. Expertly cut pieces of delicate sashimi looked almost too pretty to eat, but we dove in fork first. The Yuzu-Soy added a punchy tang whilst the Wasabi Salsa added the perfect amount of heat to the light yellowtail. We both agreed, this was definitely a star dish and one that we would gladly order again.

_r016387We also ordered the Beef Fillet Tataki with onion ponzu topped with garlic crisps. Another stunning dish, the beef fillet was incredibly tender and packed with flavour. The garlic crisps added a lovely crunch to the delicate layers of beef, which melted in our mouths bite after bite.

_r016394From the Robata Grill, we ordered the BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Peanut Soy. This was the most mind-blowing dish of our lunch and we only wished we had ordered two plates of these so we didn’t have to share. The pork belly was cooked to perfection – tender and juicy. We slathered the salty peanut sauce all over and enjoyed every last bite of these heavenly morsels. To say these  were incredible would be an understatement.

_r016391Another highlight was the Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Truffle Ponzu and Wasabi Tobiko, from the Junk Food Japan Menu. This pizza is truly legendary and one of the most popular dishes on the menu. A twist on traditional pizza, the crust was crunch and buttery whilst the tuna sashimi was packed with flavour from the aromatic truffle ponzu and spice from the Wasabi Tobiko. One thing we must note is that Scott Hallsworth definitely knows how to play on textures. The crunchy base paired with the delicate tuna sashimi was delectable.

_r016397We also ordered the Wagyu beef sliders in steamed buns with crunchy onion pickled cucumber and Umami Mayo from the Junk Food Japan menu. The Wagyu was perfectly cooked and tender and I really enjoyed the Umami mayo and crunchy onions with them.

_r016395-2We did fit some greens in with this exceptional lunch and ordered the Kale Salad Oshitashi with Goma Tofu-Lemon dressing and crushed nuts. I loved all of the crunch in this dish. Kale has a tendency to be a bit soggy, but that was certainly not the case here. It was crisp and refreshing and the dressing added a great deal of flavour. We both wished we could eat this for lunch everyday.

We didn’t want our spectacular lunch to end, but alas, all good things must come to an end sooner or later. We gulped up what was left of our prosecco, said our goodbyes and headed off to Peckham to check out an art gallery, but eventually ended up at Frank’s rooftop bar for more tipples and the sunset.

img_0051Kurobuta is, without a doubt, one of the best restaurants on the King’s Road and definitely my new favourite in London. We loved the edgy vibe, the phenomenal food and fantastic service. Each dish is made with such care and precision, it is blatantly obvious how talented Scott and his team are. We already can’t wait to come back and try out more dishes from the stellar menu. 

Kuruobuta | 312 King’s Rd | London | SW3 5UH | Book Now 

Thank you, Kurobuta for the kind hospitality. It was great!