Vivek Singh’s Guest Chef Series

“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.

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English Wine Week at Ormer Mayfair

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.

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Waddle Over to Duck and Waffle Local

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.

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Rolls & Bowls Breakfast at Foley’s

Foley’s is a cute Middle Eastern restaurant in Fitzrovia that has just introduced an awesome breakfast into their lunch and dinner mix. They were hosting a 50% off food soft launch offer and the girls at work and I decided to give it a go one Friday morning before work. Truth be told, I am not a morning person but I have to say it was a lot easier to roll out of bed when I was looking so forward to a delicious breakfast!

The breakfast menu is pretty simple and features lovely Middle Eastern and Asian inspired dishes that are ideal to start your day off! ‘Rolls & Bowls’ is the theme of the breakfast menu at Foley’s and includes two main sections – Mitz’s Paratha Rolls (delicious) and an array of vibrant egg bowls for a protein boost. We kicked off our morning with a round of much needed coffees – almond milk lattes all around.

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Sky-High Dining at Bōkan

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

Chakra, Kensington

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. 

Where to Get the Most Scrumptious Easter Treats in London

There are plenty of places in London to indulge in decadent desserts, but one of my favourites for pastries and sweet treats is PAUL – the French artisan bakery and patisserie with locations across London and Birmingham, Oxford and Newbury. We’re heading to my future in-laws for Easter this weekend and I made a pit-stop at the Paul near Baker Street yesterday to pick up some darling desserts to bring with me this weekend. If you need to grab some last minute Easter indulgences – PAUL should be your go-to.

My best advice is to go for a box full of phenomenal Easter cakes. My personal favourite is the Mini Oeuf la Carotte – this beautiful  carrot cake is made using freshly grated carrots, soft cream cheese and vanilla syrup- topped with an iced carrot and a sprinkle of pecans for an added crunch. If you’re more of a chocoholic, go for the Oeuf Chocolate au Lait – rich milk chocolate with a vanilla frosting.

PAUL have also created these adorable hampers, filled with mini white and chocolate eggs and chocolate bunny lollipops.

For Easter Sunday, pick up a loaf of their special freshly baked Baguette Chocolat to enjoy with brunch – a chocolate baguette that tastes lovely with fresh fruit … or on its own! I LOVED this bread when I tried it yesterday – I picked up two loaves and both were gone in a day. Treat yourself (and your family) and buy a couple of these scrumptious delights for the weekend – you won’t regret it! If you are a true chocolate-fiend, PAUL are also selling their super thick, super rich, super indulgent Hot Cocoa … it is pretty spectacular. I highly recommend it.

Between delicious pastries, decadent sweets  and the most heavenly chocolate bread – PAUL is the ideal-go to for all your Easter needs this weekend!

Happy Easter, everyone! x

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

Brunching at The Balcon

Brunching on the weekends is one of my favourite things to do and London is full of fabulous spots to catch up with friends over some bubbly. The Balcon at Sofitel London St. James is ideal for a lazy and luxurious bunch with twists on French classics.

The restaurant is conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from Trafalgar Square. As you walk in to the gorgeous venue, you will be met with a stunning double spiral staircase with an elegant champagne bar below, ideal for a pre-brunch bellini or Bloody Mary, of which the Balcon has a fantastic selection of.

It’s not hard to fall in love with the decadent interior decor of The Balcon – rich golden tones with black and pale wood, striped piquet flooring, unique chandeliers that adorn the ceiling and beautiful bay windows that the sunlight to drips through, creating a bright and airy atmosphere. The Balcon also has its very own Bloody Mary bar, where you can choose your sauce along with your favourite vodka, pickles, lemons, bacon sticks – anything you fancy – perfect for recovering after a fun night out. 

Our lovely server showed us to our table and poured us two glasses of champagne to kick off our Saturday brunch. We had a look over the brunch menu, which is split into sections of Mains, Grill, Fruits, Seeds, Eggs & Co, and sides. The cuisine is primarily French with a British twist that is both contemporary and indulgent.

My friend and I started off with the Lobster Benedict, recommended to us by our server. This dish did not disappoint – huge pieces of succulent poached lobster, dripping in rich hollandaise sauce on a fluffy English muffin was divine. I went for the Soft Shell Crab, celeriac remoulade on a fried egg roll, which was also a lovely dish that hit the spot. The soft shell crab was lightly fried and the celeriac remoulade added a hint of tang to the crunchy sandwich. 

As it was our #cheatday, we ordered a few sides to share between us including the irresistible grilled halloumi and rosemary fries. Both of which were excellent – salty, moreish and addicting – they were the perfect accompaniments to our decadent brunch.

We were just on the verge of skipping out on dessert, but given that the sweet options on the menu all sound glorious, we couldn’t say no. We shared the Pistachio waffle with strawberries, cream and mint. A dish we both agreed we wouldn’t have ordered unless it was recommended to us and so pleased that we did because it was lush.  The pistachio waffle on its own was fantastic, and even better with the strawberries and cream. There was a hint of mint that cut the sweetness ever so slightly, making it a really refreshing way to end our lovely brunch.

The weekend brunch at The Balcon is a fabulous option, whether you are catching up with a friend or getting together with a group of your best girlfriends. The service is impeccable and the food is wonderful. They offer a bottomless brunch option as well, with free flowing champagne, a Bloody Mary, viennoiseries, a savoury dish and a pastries for £49.

The Balcon, 8 Pall Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5NG, Book Now!