Cocktails at Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Located at one of the most enviable addresses in Knightsbridge, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is home to Daniel Boulud’s French Bistro style bar and restaurant, Bar Boulud. He also has venues in New York and Boston.

Now the Mandarin Oriental has some fond memories for me as when Amit and I were in the early stages of our relationship we decided to spend one new year’s eve celebration there and it was a truly luxurious experience! Sadly this was well before I started my blog so I didn’t even think to take room photos at the time. We had such a stunning room and we stayed hydrated with a bottle of chilled champagne and were snug from the freezing temperatures outside. It was truly marvellous.

Knightsbridge, I find, no matter what time of day it is, always seems to be busy with tourists, either keen to shop or window shop at some of the finest stores in the vicinity. Bar Boulud, as we discovered, is an amazing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the mad rush outside and we felt relaxed the moment we stepped in. We had decided to have drinks there before moving on elsewhere in Knightsbridge for dinner. It is rare we get to spend a weekday evening out together so it was fabulous.

Greeted with welcoming smiles and friendly hosts, we were shown to our table with swift service and given the cocktail and wine menu to peer through. We weren’t pressured for time at all and loved the ambience, as well as the fact that it was so spacious and that I could see the bar and watch the bartenders mixing drinks and theatrically shaking cocktail shakers.

Now the signature cocktail at Bar Boulud is the White Cosmopolitan, which is served with white grape juice in lieu of cranberry juice. It is rather special as it also comes with a flower frozen in a floating ice ball. I didn’t personally order this but had drink envy at a neighbouring table who had ordered it! I had a good reason not to on this occasion because there was also Champagne Mojito on the menu which is what I went for! I will try the White Cosmopolitan when I next visit the bar.

img_1176

The Champagne Mojito was utterly delicious and I usually prefer my Mojitos classic but the addition of champagne just made it that much more special. It was a lovely drink and I would definitely be back for it! Chairman’s reserve rum was the base rum used for this cocktail alongside the usual mint leaves, lime, soda water and for that extra sparkle, champagne.

img_1175img_1174

Amit had wanted a more manly drink so he chose a Venezuelan Old Fashioned, which was really well mixed and tasted so good! This was a blend of Diplomatico reserve rum, averna chocolate bitters, orange bitters and demerara sugar. We both somehow ended up having rum based cocktails so we are definitely a match made in heaven 😉

The drinks were excellent, as was the service. The restaurant is adjacent to the bar so we could see the various dishes heading towards the eager and excited diners as well as catch their aroma, which made us want to come back on a different day for dinner to try the food as it smelt really good.

Bar Boulud is an ideal place to catch up with friends or work colleagues or to relax after a day of shopping or battling the crowds outside. It is also lovely for a date night as we found. If you happen to be in the area you really have no excuse not to drop in for a tipple.

The venue is gorgeous and the drinks are really good. Both the wine and cocktail menu are extensive and the service is excellent. I had a superb time at Bar Boulud and will definitely be back. Thanks for having us!

For more information on Bar Boulud visit their website here.

 

 

The Trader’s High Tea at Cinnamon Bazaar

I am a massive Afternoon Tea fan and absolutely love the tradition of sitting through various course at a leisurely pace and sipping on countless cups of tea whilst indulging. For a different take on the classic High Tea, I absolutely loved the Trader’s High Tea at the colourful and vibrant Cinnamon Bazaar, found on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden.

6241760480_img_7525

Away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets, you can escape into a tranquil, colourful space and enjoy some incredible food while chatting away. The service is always excellent – attentive without being intrusive, and I just adore the decor.

The Trader’s High Tea is excellent value at £15 per person, and for an additional £5 each you can kick off the meal with style by enjoying the signature Cinnamon Bellini, which is delicious.

6241760480_img_7529

Down to the important aspect – the tea, you can choose between a selection of the finest JING teas or opt for the traditional Indian Masala Chai, which is freshly brewed in-house with ginger and cardamom. We chose the Masala Chai and the intoxicating aroma was enough to put us at ease and sit back and relax. I lost count of how many cups I had as it was just amazing.

6241760480_img_7543

We both opted for the non-vegetarian menu and so to start with we had Tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich, and a Bhangra lamb slider. The vegetarian choices were Paneer naan pizza and a Bengali beetroot burger, which I would love to try next time too. My personal favourite from the two was the Tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich. It was just so delectable.

img_0211

The next course was chaats and we had anAloo tikki chaat, which is spiced potato cake with curried white peas andchickpea sev, as well as Samosa chaat, which is a mix of Punjabi vegetable samosa, curried white peas and drizzled with tangy tamarind chutney. I had tried these chaats before when I visited for dinner, but this was Amit’s first experience of Cinnamon Bazaar and he loved them as much as I did.

6241760480_img_75316241760480_img_7539

We were already so stuffed by this point but we soldiered on for the sweet course, which was a Carrot halwa roll and a Dark chocolate and walnut cake. The cake was just so delightful and dreamy!

img_02126241760480_img_7547

If you didn’t want to do the 3 course Trader’s High Tea and instead fancied chaats you could ask to see Chamiya, the movable hand-painted cart serving a range of street-food cold chaat dishes. How pretty is that?

img_0629-1

We thoroughly enjoyed our High Tea experience and left feeling very full. It is such a good menu and a really great way to spend an afternoon after a busy day shopping, as a pre-theatre treat or even as an alternative way to catch up with friends or family.

The Trader’s High Tea is served daily from 3pm to 5:30pm and I would recommend it to anyone seeking a fun, alternative type of Afternoon Tea as well as a taster of the fabulous dishes that Cinnamon Bazaar has to offer. For more information about the Trader’s High Tea as well as Cinnamon Bazaar, visit their website.

Disclaimer: Our Trader’s High Tea was complimentary, but all views and photos are my own.

An indulgent ChocolaTEA at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

A ChocolaTEA, which is a Chocolate themed afternoon tea, is literally the afternoon tea of dreams. Available from Friday 14 April at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill in collaboration with Green and Blacks, there is an element of chocolate in each treat, savoury and sweet and is amazing! If you gave up chocolate for Lent there is no better way to indulge!

img_0154

This was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite dessert and it also happens to be Green and Black’s 25th Anniversary so what better way to celebrate than to launch London’s only entire chocolate afternoon tea! This plays homage to the cocoa bean, which traditionally has only been associated with sweet dishes. I personally only discovered that chocolate was used in savoury dishes when I visited St Lucia and went on a trip to see how chocolate was made!

We started off the afternoon tea session with a delicious Sir Winston’s Martini cocktail, which is a classic Martinez garnished with Green & Black’s Rich Dark 85% Chocolate, whilst real life “willy wonka” aka The Taste Specialist Brandt Maybury, from Green & Blacks, talked us through the concept of the afternoon tea, which will be available permanently at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.

6243747952_img_7438

First to arrive was a selection of savoury items which comprised of a Smoked Salmon Sushi sandwich with cucumber and dill cream cheese and garnished with Green & Black’s White Chocolate flakes, a Churchill Mini Burger with Chilli Chocolate-infused BBQ Sauce, a Venison and Milk Chocolate Pate with Fresh Raspberry braised with Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate, an Aubergine Mousse Éclair which is dusted with Green & Black’s Organic Cocoa Powder and a Coronation Chicken Sandwich in Homemade Green & Black’s Chocolate Bread.

6243747952_img_74486243747952_img_7447

Everyones clear favourite was the Churchill Mini burger. The theatrical award went to the Smoked Salmon Sushi sandwich which was smoking away and my second favourite savoury dish was the Aubergine Mousse Éclair . They were all really tasty and the one which surprised me the most was the Coronation Chicken Sandwich in chocolate bread. This combination totally worked as unusual as it sounds and I now am on the hunt for chocolate bread loaves!

6243747952_img_74506243747952_img_74526243747952_img_7451

As a palate cleanser we had a really refreshing Lime Sorbet served in a ginger Chocolate Dipped Cone. I absolutely loved the presentation of this!

6243747952_img_7463

Then followed a variety of sweet treats which included a Passion Fruit & White Chocolate Macarons, Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Buttercream & Salted Chocolate DIY garnish in the form of a syringe, Butterscotch Tea Cake with gold leaf garnish and Raspberry & Dark Chocolate layered mousse with fresh raspberries.

img_0042-1

I absolutely loved all of them but if I had to pick a firm favourite it would be the Butterscotch Tea Cake with the gold leaf garnish.

To accompany the afternoon tea we had pots of Maya Gold Cocoa Nib Tea, which was infused with orange, cinnamon & nutmeg, which I am so going to try and recreate at home! Not only did it look really pretty in the tea pot, it tasted lush too.

6243747952_img_7461

The scones were divine too! It wouldn’t be an afternoon tea without scones and these included a Chocolate and Pistachio Scone with a Chocolate Curd, deliberately included as the colours symbolises the Green & Black’s name. Green stands for the brands commitment to ethically sourced cocoa while black for the high quality element as well as delicious taste of the chocolate.

6243747952_img_74746243747952_img_7492

If you love chocolate or want to try something unique and new, definitely get booking for the ChocolaTEA as it is a really good one!

The afternoon tea is available at The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill daily during the following time slots:

Monday to Friday: 1:00 – 5:30p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 3:30 – 5:30p.m.

It costs £38 per person or £47 including a glass of Champagne or Sir Winston’s Martini cocktail.

For more information or to book visit this website.

Disclaimer: I attended the media preview of the ChocolaTEA and all views and photos are my own.

 

 

 

 

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!

img_7721

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!

img_7729

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.

img_7719

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.

img_7728-1

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.

img_7723

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.

img_7720

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!

img_7722

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.

img_7724

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!

img_7725

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.

img_7727-1img_7726-1

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

Lunch at The Bel and Dragon in Windsor

I really look forward to Sunday lunches and one Sunday we drove up to Windsor to have lunch at the Bel and Dragon restaurant. It is located so close to Windsor Castle, residence of the Queen, that we couldn’t resist  a stroll around the Castle before heading for lunch. As it was January, it was lovely and quiet compared to the summer, where it is buzzing with tourists. Top tip! Visit in winter!

img_7163

When we arrived at Bel and Dragon, I couldn’t help falling in love with its historical charming look and luxe cosy interiors. It has actually been serving food and drink since the 11th century – how impressive is that!

6241747360_img_5632-1

I was really excited about the food as the Head Chef Mo and Group Head Chef Ronnie Kimbugwe, formerly Sous Chef of Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, have created a menu serving modern British cuisine with the freshest seasonal produce, all of which is sourced locally.

Also, the house champagne is Laurent Perrier! How perfect and fitting for such a gorgeous venue. I of course had a glass of Brut whilst Amit tried the signature Bel Bloody Caesar which is a blend of Clamato Juice, Sipsmith Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Lime, Fresh Horseradish & A Mix of Spices.

img_7159-1

It was a particularly chilly day so I was more than happy cosy in our lovely corner in the Bel and Dragon!

img_7167-1

Now I am a Burrata-holic so if any menu features a Burrata dish there is no doubt that it will be ordered. This version blew me away, not only with its stunning presentation, but the mix of flavours, all fresh, colourful and so refreshing. It was a lovely light starter and perfect and have to admit, exceeded my expectations of what I thought it would be like.

The dish is described as Marinated Beetroot & Burrata with Basil Pesto & Toasted Pine Nuts. If you are a Burrata fan definitely get this dish!

6241765840_img_56396241765840_img_5651

For mains, I also ordered a Vegetarian dish, and it was a Rocket & Parmesan Risotto with drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was superb and I loved the peppery blasts I got in the occasional bite. Sunday comfort food at its best. Lately, I have found myself eating more and more vegetarian dishes and not sure why! However, if you are a Vegetarian and want to visit Bel and Dragon, there are plenty of amazing choices on the menu.

6241765840_img_5661

Amit was more about the Rotisserie section and chose the Roasted Suckling Pig with Crispy Crackling and Spiced Apple Chutney. This was definitely the perfect Sunday Roast meal with all the trimmings such as gravy, potatoes (which I stole), salad and vegetables on the side. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

6241765840_img_56676241765840_img_5662

We did order a side of Savoy Cabbage, Crème Fraîche & Crispy Bacon, which was delicious too.

6241765840_img_5663

Dessert though. OMG heaven. We went for a zesty choice and had the Caramelized Lemon Tart which came with a generous helping of the most divine Clotted Cream & a side of  Elderflower Berries. You could also have a shot of Homemade Limoncello with it, which Amit gleefully had. Absolutely decadent dessert. We were really full from lunch so could only brave sharing one but the rest of the pudding menu was amazing too! Next time we will definitely try the Warm Chocolate Fondant served with a Blackcurrant Sorbet.

6241765840_img_5693

Our lunch was so enjoyable and quite a gastronomical experience. It was one of those where we didn’t know just how good it was going to be so when the food arrived we were wowed! I love the country and historical feel to the restaurant, the friendly service and the family friendly vibe. It had a lovely ambience and if we lived closer, it would definitely become a firm favourite for local choices for weekend lunch.

They also serve afternoon tea so should you be visiting Windsor and fancy a special treat, why not pop in for something different! Its location renders it perfect for a day out in Windsor exploring the sites and then popping in for some amazing food. I know we will be back soon!

For more information click here.

There are other Bel and Dragon restaurants around the country in Churt, Cookham, Godalming, Kingsclere, Odiham and Reading so if any of these are close to you definitely go for a meal!

Our meal was complimentary but all views and photos are my own.

 

Caricature fun at Inamo Camden

I had been to Inamo when it used to be in St James (now relocated to Covent Garden) on a Friday night date night with my other half and also my best friend, when she was visiting London. We had great fun that evening and may have had one too many lychee martinis but ever since then the concept at Inamo has been one of my favourites.

A restaurant where you can change the table cloth electronically, order food and drinks from a menu displayed on the table, as well as see what the food actually looks like with the visuals appearing on your plate, and entertaining yourselves while you wait by playing games directly on the table. You can also order by iPad and it is such a fun experience.

It is perfect for dates as the interactive table gives you something to do to fill in any awkward silences or you can play games against each other 😛 Great for kids too to keep them entertained.

I was recently invited to the sparkly new Inamo Camden, located a 2 minute walk (or less) from Mornington Crescent tube station. It is such a beautiful, spacious venue and our task that evening was to have a tutorial using Inamo’s inadoodle software available on their tables to learn how to draw caricatures with the help of David Groves, an on the spot caricaturist. He had pre-drawn some diners at our table that evening, which you can see below.

img_5198

Lets just say my artistic skills are extremely questionable so my drawing ended up being this:


Other press had much more talent than me and came up with drawings like this!

img_5199

We enjoyed  plenty of bubbles and a selection of dishes from the menu while we chatted away. Favourites included the Korean Chicken Wings, Spicy Aubergine, Char Sui Buns and Duck with pancakes, and of course the sushi selection, in particular the California rolls.

6174630816_img_43486174630816_img_43586174630816_img_4381

The food was incredible and I would definitely return for a meal on a date night with my other half at this brand new branch in Mornington Crescent as it is the closest to us too.

They have a rooftop terrace area too which is so cute! Definitely a fabulous hidden gem to keep in mind for spring and summer, although they have heaters so it is perfect for winter months too.

img_51936174630816_img_4340

If you love Pan-Asian food (the sushi is to die for), and want a fun evening, it is definitely worth checking out Inamo.

For more information, click here.