March 2017 shenanigans

March has been such an awesome month, with the majority of it being spent abroad in Kenya. I hadn’t been home for over a year so was very excited to finally head to my favourite country to attend my youngest brother’s wedding as well as see family, friends and all my pets. It was the best 3 weeks ever!

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I started March on a high note with a feature in The Nairobian thanks to the amazing Pooja Kotedia – Patel. She has recently entered the Vlogging scene so do give her Facebook page a follow so you can check out all her videos and updates. You can find it here: Glam and Style with Pooja.

The night before I was flying, I went for dinner with my manager to one of Chef Ben Spalding’s events called #AllGunsBlazing. It was an incredibly fun evening and we had lots of dishes prepared by Chef Ben as well as Michelin starred chef Jp McMahon from Ireland.

Our favourite was the Artichoke and Ant dish (yes Ants) surprisingly! Just goes to show you never know until you try and trust me before we tried the dish we were feeling a little nervous about eating Ants!

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The following day I flew to Kenya and arrived to 30+ degree sunshine and the first event in the evening to kick off the wedding celebrations.

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I was so happy to be reunited with my pets too!

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The next day we had lunch at one of our favourite Italian restaurants, Osteria, followed by a super fun afternoon at the Giraffe Centre. You can read about my experience here.

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Catch ups was the theme of the week and the following day we met my fellow blogger friend Harpreet from Harpreet’s Wanderlust for breakfast at Art Caffe where we had some lovely dishes.

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Amit and I then headed to a popular lunch spot, The Talisman, where we had some more superb food and I also had a cheeky Mojito, while Amit had a Dawa.

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We then spent the afternoon exploring the Karen Blixen Museum, which was fascinating and I do have a full blog post about this coming soon.

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In the evening we had a delicious meal cooked by my best friend Meera, also known as The Fit Fab Foodie. She is a genius and she even made Vegan cheese, which I am absolutely craving now, as well as laid on a full Mexican feast.

During the week I also attended a Dessert Party at Urban Eatery in honour of the launch of their Dessert Menu. The party of dreams! I also got to meet fellow blogger friend Kaluhi from Kaluhi’s Kitchen, who is an award winning food blogger in Kenya.

From the Thursday until the Sunday we had lots of Wedding parties and fun, ranging from the Mehndi party,  a cocktail fuelled glamourous night in Karura Forest, a meet and greet reception as well as the actual wedding, which was an absolutely stunning affair.

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Congrats Neer and Devi! It was a great excuse to dress up and spend time with dear family and friends like family!


Our trip to Kenya is also not complete without time with our beloved God children and so even if short it was very valuable time indeed.

Amit then went on to Mombasa a little earlier than me so I spent some quality time catching up with my girlfriends over a fabulous coffee with Harpreet at Wasp and Sprout, followed by lunch with Harpreet and Meera at The Arbor al fresco! Nairobi has some seriously instagram worthy venues.

I then flew to Mombasa where the first thing I did was head to Tamarind Mombasa for cocktails and a view. It was so nice to be by the sea again. Mombasa is where I was born and grew up.

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Amit lives opposite the famous “Lighthouse” and so I made sure I got my Mogo fix in! I have been visiting Lighthouse ever since I was a child and it is one of my favourite spots in Mombasa.

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On the weekend we explored Jumba Ruins and visited Monsoon restaurant for lunch, as well as had lunch the following day at the scenic Sea Haven.

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Mombasa has incredible seafood and I have yet to find somewhere in the world that makes Lobster and Prawns any better! It is always so fresh and always served in generous portions.

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We then beat any Monday blues and checked into Swahili Beach Resort for some much needed relaxing and it was complete and utter bliss alternating between the beach and the pool.

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The rest of the week was spent indulging in food such as Mombasa Mix with the lovely Nasim, as well as old favourites such as Mubins and Yuls, which we have been frequenting since childhood.

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There was more time spent with Giraffes as we visited Haller Park and this took me right down memory lane as the last time I had visited I must have been 15! We saw some fiesty baby crocs too.

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Soon it was time to return to Nairobi for a couple of days before our flight back to the UK. I had one last indulgent session at Urban Eatery, where we tried the Freakshakes which are INCREDIBLE by the way so if you are in Nairobi GO GO GO!

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After a dinner with my family and the newly weds on our last evening in Nairobi, where we returned to Osteria, it was time to bid my beloved home goodbye but this time I won’t leave it so long before I return!

Since I have been back I have been settling into my work routine and have lots of blog posts to write about my trip to Kenya so it is going to be a busy but fun time.  It has been such a fantastic month and I am looking forward to what April brings, which is always a month of celebrations.

I am so excited that my blog turns 3 on April 2nd.  It is also our 7 year wedding anniversary! Don’t know where time has gone!

In terms of trips, my blogger friends Angie, Emma and I have an exciting surprise trip planned on the 2nd -3rd April for fellow blogger Aftab from Fresh and Fearless’s birthday.  As it is a surprise I can’t say much about where we are heading but do keep following my adventures and updates on Instagram binnys_kitchen to find out what we get up to!

A massive congratulations to Devi and Neer as they embark on this new chapter of their lives as Mr and Mrs Chandaria. Wishing you a wonderful and happy life together 😀 Thank you for letting us be part of your celebrations. #HappilyEverChandaria

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Hope everyone had a fabulous March! Would love to know what you got up to in the comments section below.

All my love, Binny xx

 

 

 

 

Feeding and Kissing Giraffes at The Giraffe Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

Being born and brought up in Kenya you tend to take some things for granted and don’t realise how unique they are. Seeing Giraffes, and other animals up close, and especially getting to feed Giraffes is one of those. I had visited the Giraffe Centre countless times as a child and teenager, and it was only when I left to go to university that I realised how special an experience it was and how Kenya is truly an unbelievable place to grow up in.

I used to get shocked expressions from new friends whenever I talked about these experiences and it became very clear that these are very special and rare experiences that don’t span all continents. My favourite was when I told someone about the monkeys that frequented our garden at home! The look of horror followed by “I thought you could only find monkeys in the zoo” was what made me realise my upbringing, and that of my fellow Kenyans, was not normal.

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The origins of the Giraffe Centre, which is such a gorgeous and magical sanctuary, began back in 1979 when Jock Leslie-Melville, who was the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish earl, and his wife Betty realised the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe, which continues to be the rarest species of Giraffe today.

At the time the numbers of Rothschild’s giraffes had severely plummeted to a mere 120 creatures and they were really close to extinction. The couple started by bringing 2 young giraffes to their property, which is now where the Giraffe Centre and Giraffe Manor can be found today in Langata. Now they have several Rothschild Giraffes in Langata, as well as dotted around other parts of Kenya. They are still the rarest species though.

The Rothschild’s giraffes have a distinct look to other giraffes and can be identified by their white “socks”, whilst on other species, the  patterning runs below the knee. In Kenya there are 3 types of giraffes – the Rothschild, the Maasai Giraffe and the Reticulated Giraffe. I absolutely love these herbivores, who feast from acacia trees. They have enviable eyelashes and are the world’s tallest mammals. You certainly wouldn’t want to be head butted by them or kicked by those long legs! Despite their strength, they are gentle and calm animals.

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At the Giraffe Centre and neighbouring Giraffe Manor, you will find the Rothschild Giraffes and they wander between the two properties during the day till around 5.30pm. Last time I was in Kenya I visited the Giraffe Manor for afternoon tea and was able to feed and kiss the giraffes, mainly Kelly and her new born baby at the time, from there.

At the Giraffe centre you climb the steps to  an elevated platform and you’re given a handful of pellets to feed the giraffes with.  You should give them to the Giraffes one by one in the palm of your hand and the giraffes will swirl their long sticky tongues around your palm and pick the pellets up.

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If you are brave enough, you can even put a pellet in your mouth and go in for a giraffe kiss. At least you can proudly proclaim that you have kissed a giraffe and tick it off your bucket list. Ps. Now is a good time to add kissing a giraffe to your bucket list and book those flights to Kenya.

Also found at the Giraffe Centre and Giraffe Manor are these cheeky Warthogs.

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This time, we decided to let the lovely guide Rose, from the Giraffe Centre, educate us about Giraffes and we realised how little we actually knew despite having visited so many times since our childhood.

For instance, she told us that wherever Giraffes are, Warthogs are found close behind as they rely on the Giraffes for protection from any prey. The Warthogs actually burrowed into the ground and made themselves at home at the sanctuary by themselves! They are now permanent residents here.

We also learned that Giraffes sleep for a maximum of 30 minutes in 24 hours. This would comprise of a couple of minutes here and there. They also sleep upright. I can barely manage on 5 or 6 hours sleep so kudos to them!

The third fascinating fact that Rose told us was that Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months and that when a baby Giraffe is born it falls 6 feet to the ground and the impact brings it to life. Within 30 minutes of being born it will begin to walk!

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When (not if) you visit the Giraffe Centre I highly recommend learning a little bit more about these majestic mammals as it is so interesting!

There is also a lovely shop where you can buy Giraffe themed souvenirs and I walked away with a brand new Giraffe mug which I am sure you will spot on my Instagram account soon.

The Giraffe Centre is located on Koitobos Road and it costs 1000 Kenyan shillings for adults (around $10) or 500 Kenyan shillings for children (around $5). Even less if you are a Kenyan resident so you really have no excuse! All the money goes towards the conservation of the Giraffes.

 

Urban Eatery Dessert Menu Re-Launch Party

They say the best things in life are sweet. They also say we are what we eat…so what better way to be than sweet? That is my excuse for constantly indulging in desserts. Life is too short and besides cake doesn’t go to your stomach. It goes to your heart 😉

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During my trip to Nairobi, I was lucky enough to be invited to a dessert party at Urban Eatery in honour of the re-launch of their dessert menu. Yes a dessert party! Heaven right there. With Moët & Chandon bubbles flowing and a beautifully set table with the most eye catching variety of desserts on gorgeous plates for each blogger and media personality present, it was truly an afternoon very well spent.

I finally got to meet some dear friends in the blogging world that I had met online but never in person so it was such a treat to finally put faces to names. I have so much love for the blogging community and it was so refreshing to learn more about the Kenyan blogging scene at the same time.

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Urban Eatery has the coolest dining concept I have come across in Nairobi. With its contemporary modern decor, and trendy dining choices, it is a welcome change to the Nairobi food scene. There are four different kitchens, a bar and a frozen yoghurt counter.

It has an all day dining concept where you can start off with a stack of pancakes, or an omelette for breakfast in the early hours and go for dinner and dessert at dusk. The food is international and so if you are in a group and all craving different things it just works perfectly. There is something to suit everyone. Even a healthy menu!

The carefully orchestrated dessert menu at Urban Eatery is also nothing short of amazing and the perfect selection to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings or as the perfect after dinner treat. You can choose to have 3 courses of desserts if you want t0o! No one is judging 😛 I totally would. The choice is so amazing it is hard to narrow it down to one thing so just choose everything to share to be on the safe side. Win win! You also get to try so many different things as a result.

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Starting with frozen yoghurts we knew we had a lot of desserts to try that afternoon but we were well up for the challenge.

The menu has such a wide variety of desserts which range from classics such as carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, affogato, banana split, strawberry soft cheesecake, Macarons and New York Cheesecake, Tricolad, Black Forest, just to name a few,  to Indian desserts, such as Dark stuffed Gulab Jamun and Marble Rasmalai, Fireplace desserts, such as Churros and Mexican Fried Ice Cream, just to tease you, and Yog Frozen Yoghurt.

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I mean what an incredible choice and selection of desserts! It is absolutely perfect to go with your friends or family to catch up or for a special occasion or even impress someone on a date. Dessert always impresses. Lets be honest. No great love story started with a salad.

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The favourite dessert was a mass consensus and it was the Marble Rasmalai. It was so light, dreamy and not overly sweet. The perfect pick me up and definitely one to bring a smile to your face. Definitely a must order in my opinion.

You can choose to go have dessert on its own if you desire or combine savoury dishes to start with from Urban Eatery’s amazing menus and then finish off with a scrumptious dessert.

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I had an incredible time trying all the desserts and getting to know new friends and familiar ones in the media world. I will definitely be back at Urban Eatery to try the rest of the menu as I really love the concept. If you are looking for an awesome venue and for amazing desserts to try I definitely recommend heading to Urban Eatery.

Thank you so much Urban Eatery and Canvas Media for hosting me at the dessert party. I had an incredible time.

Urban Eatery can be found at Ground Floor, PwC Towers, Delta Corner Estate, Westlands
Nairobi, Kenya.

 

 

Hotel review: Le Dokhan’s Paris

Le Dokhan’s Paris, located between Trocadero and Champs Elysees, is part of the Starwood Group of Hotels, under the Tribute Portfolio collection. A five star hotel, originally built as a residence in the 18th century, it was our choice mainly due to its wonderful location (walking distance to the Eiffel Tower), but also as we are SPG members. SPG is the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Our closest station was Trocadero.

When I first read about the hotel, what caught my attention was that it houses Paris’s first and oldest champagne bar, which has also featured in the World’s Best Bars list as well as the World’s Best Champagne Bars. The dream!

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Le Dokhan’s has 45 chic guest rooms, including four suites, across six floors that are accessed by a famous Louis Vuitton elevator.

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To our delight, when we checked in we were upgraded to the Ming Suite, which was on the 6th floor of the hotel. We took the Louis Vuitton elevator (YES CAN YOU BELIEVE IT) up to the 6th floor and were in awe of how pretty the décor was. From the large windows we had a view of the Eiffel Tower which was an extra bonus.

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The room was decked out with lots of amenities and we had a Nespresso machine for that all important morning coffee, a hairdryer, toiletries from Korres, a lovely mini lounge area, a TV and a desk. Wifi is complimentary which is always a plus!

 

The bathroom was spacious and bright and had a tub with an overhead shower. Everything had a modern feel and was luxurious.

My favourite aspect though wasthat they had left a Samsung Smart phone with data on it in the room for us to use when we went out exploring which was incredibly handy for navigating around. I thought this was a really nice touch. You could even make free calls from it and use it to order cabs.

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While we were settling in the room after check in, there was a knock on the door and we were given an invitation for 2 Complimentary glasses of Champagne of our choice as well as 2 Macarons to indulge in. This is the type of service from the Starwood Group of Hotels that keeps me loyal!

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The Champagne bar is the venue for breakfast at the hotel in the morning. The bar itself opens at 6pm and we headed there later that evening to relax and enjoy a glass. I had a glass of Champagne in a gorgeous coupe glass whilst Amit changed his option for a classic Gin and Tonic instead. What was lovely was that the bartender came over with a tray of different Champagne glasses and asked me to pick one. Some were truly fancy and I had never seen glasses like that before!

Although we didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as we had our heart set on going to get fresh bread and pastries from a Boulangerie in the morning, I can imagine that it was really good as when we walked past in the morning there were a lot of happy faces in the restaurant/bar area and a lovely aroma.

In terms of the room, the bed was so comfortable! I had a really good night’s sleep after a day of exploring and walking around the City of Light. The size of the room wasn’t the biggest for a suite but Parisians sure know how to meticulously decor and fit everything in that we had everything we could have possibly wanted.

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Downstairs near the reception, is a comfortable lounge area complete with a roaring fireplace. It was the perfect spot to come and sit with a book to unwind. It was rather difficult to get up once we had made ourselves comfortable!

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I loved my stay at Le Dokhan’s. Whilst more a boutique hotel, its location is absolutely perfect, prices are so reasonable for a 5 star hotel and the service was exemplary. Plus you are super close to a global award winning Champagne Bar! C’est parfait!

There were so many restaurants in close proximity to the hotel and our favourite was literally across the road, a French Bistro called  Ducale Café on 110 rue Lauriston. I highly recommend the French Onion Soup there!

Disclaimer: We received an upgrade. We had pre-paid for a room however all views and photos are my own.

Paris is always a good idea! What to do in a weekend in the City of Lights

Paris is always a good idea! This quote rings so true as every time we visit the City of Lights we come back utterly refreshed and happy. This was our fourth visit to Paris and we decided to go for a cheeky weekend break and left London on Saturday morning  and returned Sunday evening.

If you check in advance you can get some pretty decent deals on the Eurostar and you just have to live once and book those tickets! I always favour going on the Eurostar over flying as you get the scenic route as well as arrive at Gare Du Nord which is so convenient. For the amount of time you save it is worth it.

In terms of location, we decided to stay centrally so that we could walk around and lucky for us the weather forecast was pretty positive and we had some decent sunshine and blue skies. We had a fantastic time revisiting the main sites we had been to on our previous visits as well as trying out different Bistros.  I would recommend getting a metro ticket as it is so easy to use!

Based on our weekend in Paris, here are my suggestions of what to do.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is always so magnificent to look at no matter how many times you visit Paris. There are 3 places I love observing it from. On the ground at its base, from a viewpoint at Trocadero station, and from the Jardin des Tuileries.

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Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin des Tuileries are so beautiful and strolling through them is a real pleasure. I would recommend purchasing some French treats such as Macarons or pastries and sitting down and people watching whilst indulging. There are different spaces where there are chairs available too so you could just settle down with a good book and relax.

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The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is the most well-known Parisian museum and is the city’s heart. It is a must visit whether you are an art lover or not as it is full of treasures and even looks beautiful from the outside!

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Arc De Triomphe 

If you are feeling fit enough you can actually go to the top of the Arc De Triomphe for panoramic views of the city. It is equally as nice observing from the various avenues leading up to it.

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The Avenue des Champs-ÉlysĂ©es

My favourite shopping avenue in Paris is the Avenue des Champs-ÉlysĂ©es which houses some amazing shops, restaurants and definitely the place to be if you want to splurge or treat yourself. You can make a pit stop at Laduree for some Macarons and tea too.

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Eat at a French Bistro

Our favourite places to eat are in French Bistros, and we had a really good one called Ducale Café on 110 rue Lauriston which had the most immense French Onion Soup ever. The rest of the food was equally as good and our second favourite was Camembert with Honey and Thyme. When in France you have got to make the most of all that amazing cheese.

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Eat Macarons

When in Paris you have got to treat yourself to some Macarons. My personal Favourites are Laduree, Carette and Pierre Hermes.

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Visit Les Deux Plateaux at Palais royale

Les Deux Plateaux, more commonly known as the Colonnes de Buren, is a highly controversial art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren in the 80’s and is located in the inner courtyard (Cour d’Honneur) of the Palais Royal. It is also very instagrammable and perfect for photos.

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Have a glass of bubbly at Paris’s first champagne bar at Le Dokhan

Le Dokhan was Paris’s first and is still the oldest Champagne bar and can be found in a prime location, between the avenue des Champs-ÉlysĂ©es and TrocadĂ©ro. It has also won accolades in the World’s Best Bars list and is definitely worth a visit.

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Have fresh bread and pastries from a Boulangerie 

Our favourite thing to do when in Paris is wake up early and buy bread from a Boulangerie. On this trip we had one within walking distance  of our hotel and it was so good! We bought a baguette, as well as some cheesy pastries followed by a selection of mini cakes. The choice inside the Boulangerie was unbelievably good and we literally were finding everything irresistible. There is always one within walking distance so definitely go exploring the day before so you have one to go to in the morning.

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Bonus tip: If you have longer than a weekend you can also visit Disneyland Paris by taking a train from Gare Du Nord. It is such fun and it doesn’t matter how old you are!

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What are your favourite things to do in Paris? I would love to know in the comments below xx

Review: Indian Tapas and Cocktails at Lokhandwala

One of the best things about work has been the dear friends I have made and one of them has been Jas. We decided to catch up over some cocktails and food and our choice of venue was newly opened Lokhandwala, by the team behind The Grub Fest, which is India’s biggest food festival.

In fact it was so new when we walked in we couldn’t help notice that “brand new” scent in the air with all the fixtures, fittings and interiors.

We wanted a cocktail before dinner so we settled at the in house bar at the rear of the restaurant called “The Hot House” which had a Victorian theme. Stunning area!

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I was really impressed by the selection of cocktails on the menu which were very inventive and unusual for an Indian restaurant. They also offer an interesting variety of vegan shots and smoothies. Want your Turmeric Latte fix? This is the place to come!

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We decided on The Herbalist for Jas, which was a blend of Tanqueray Gin, Absentheroux, Herbal Liquor, Vanilla syrup, Cucumber and Coriander, Rose Lemonade.

I went for a rum based cocktail called Great Journey, which was a blend of Rum infused with Lemon and Thyme, Liquor 43, Fresh Lime, Ginger beer, Angostura and Cola Bitters.

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We ended up sitting at the Cocktail Bar an hour longer than we were meant to as we had so much to catch up on. At no point though did the staff rush us to our table or even hint that we were an hour late for our dinner reservation. Instead we felt really relaxed and well looked after and the bartender was really lovely.

When we did move to our table and settle down, we loved the decor in the restaurant, having the time to observe it properly. It is so pretty and romantic inside Lokhandwala, with a French Boudoir/Victorian theme complete with distressed mirrors and grey furniture. I absolutely loved it and especially as it was not the type of decor you would assume to find inside an Indian restaurant.

Of course moved on to Prosecco because our catch up was very special! I loved that they served them in these coupe glasses.

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The menu is focused around Indian Tapas, which are small plates, and from this section we ordered a selection to share.

Our first choice was the Gujju Vaal Daal Chat. This is a dish made from Lentils from the Broad Bean Family mixed with black pulses and served with yoghurt and imli chutney on the side. This wasn’t my favourite of the dishes although very tasty.

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Our next choice, which was the Celery Prawns, was my favourite and to die for. These were Lava Grilled Prawns marinated with Yoghurt, Celery, Coriander, Mint and Green Chilli and served with a Ginger pickle. The flavour combination was ridiculously good.

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Our third choice was Lamb Sliders, which were oven baked Shammi Kebab sliders, topped with grilled brie and tomato, cardamom scented onion confit and coriander aioli. These were so cute and so tasty too!

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3 Tapas dishes was just the right amount for a table for 2 to start with and we were excited about our mains, which we chose from the “Imperial Jewels” section.

We opted for Chicken Chettinad, which is a classic Southern Tamil Nadu dish cooked with 18 ingredients and served with rice. It was heavenly and I loved the presentation of it in a clay pot.

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To accompany this dish we had the Blue Stilton Naan with Truffle oil which is a must order. The flavour combination is a match made in heaven and it was served hot and went down quickly!

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We always leave space for desserts and we had 2 beautifully presented desserts  between us – the baked Kheer Creme Brulee and a Salted Chilli, Choc and Nuts stuffed crispy Naan with grilled Marshmallows. These were good and I was really happy with the Creme Brulee as I am always hesitant to try versions that deviate from the classic, but this was very well adapted.

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The prices are really reasonable despite the location being in trendy Fitzrovia and the choices for both the food and cocktails are really novel, with some classics, and really good. There is enough variety to please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians and it is a really fun place to socialise and catch up. I loved the decor and the service was really friendly, nice and not intrusive at any point.

A great addition to Charlotte Street!

Lokhandwala can be found at 93 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 4PY