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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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Italian Fare at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, Park Lane

The Dynamic Duo have visited a lot of Italian restaurants lately, such as Padella Pasta and Fucina, but we were super excited to try out Theo Randall’s restaurant at The Intercontinental, having had a masterclass with the man himself as well as a brunch date earlier last year at his Theo’s Simply Italian.


To our delight, he came over to say hello, exclaiming “Binny! Aftab!” as he walked to our table, and posing for a photo too. Just a testament to what a lovely guy he is. So warm, friendly and welcoming.


The interiors were lovely, elegant and had a romantic air to the room. Theo talked us through the options on the menu leaving us wanting everything! However, we decided to be sensible and pick wisely.

To start off with, Theo sent some crunchy and crispy zucchini fries to the table for us to nibble on, which were so delicious. I had never tried zucchini fries before and loved them.

No Italian meal is complete without Bruschetta and Theo’s version was divine and exceeded expectations with the velvety slow roasted tomatoes, olive oil and infusion of garlic. Mamma mia!

The starters were pretty filling so we decided to be sensible and order light starters. I think Aftab and I have now realized our limit and capacity as we did have an incident last year where our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we possibly ordered what felt like the whole menu!

The Insalata Mista, which was mixed Italian leaves with datterini tomatoes, cucumber, fresh basil and caprino fresco, was so lovely, fresh and refreshing.

The Mozzarella di Bufala, which was Buffalo mozzarella with grilled marinated red peppers, farinata, cicorino, swiss chard and Taggiasche olives, was really tasty too and my personal favourite from the two.

As we were feeling a little full already, we opted to have the Primi as our mains choices. Starting with the incredible  Pappardelle con cavolo nero, a must order! I have never had Papparedelle in this way and it was heavenly.


The Ravioli di zucca, which was Ravioli of roasted delica squash, ricotta and marjoram with butter and sage, was equally as delightful and basically we devoured it all.

For dessert, Theo had arranged for a selection for us to try which included Amalfi lemon tart, Soft chocolate cake with crema di mascarpone, Rhubarb Panna Cotta and almond cake. The lemon tart and chocolate cake were my favourites and the perfect sweet end to a fabulous meal.

Paired with our dessert, was a glass of Moscato. I love dessert wine and it was the perfect drink to compliment the variety of desserts we tried.

The meal was superb and the service was excellent. If you are looking for a fantastic Italian restaurant, with a lovely ambience, for a date night or special occasion, Theo Randall at the Intercontinental is perfect.

We also had pre-drinks at the bar which were served up theatrically, and so definitely worth checking out the bar too!

 

 

Our drinks and meal were complimentary but all views are my own.

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The Cheese and Wine Corner at The Montagu, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Sweet dreams are made of cheese…Who am I to dis a Brie! It was said that Sir Winston Churchill, who the luxurious Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is named after, was a massive cheese lover and would indulge in a cheese board every day, especially after a meal. I mean what could be more sublime than that?

Taking inspiration from him, we headed over to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill for the Cheese and Wine experience at The Montagu, the gorgeous restaurant housed inside the Hyatt, on a drizzly Sunday evening, and had an absolutely wonderful time. In fact we sat there for 2 hours, chatting whilst enjoying the cheese, wine and sherry and it was a splendid, and very charming way to spend our evening.

The ambience was amorous and relaxing, with a pianist playing classical and popular tunes in the background. She was really good and part of the reason why we found it so difficult to leave!

A good cheese board makes all the difference and the cheeses available are a selection of Alsop & Walkers finest cheeses. A lot of the cheeses are award winning cheeses and after you try them you can totally understand why! I truly appreciate the quality of cheese and will be on the hunt for Alsop & Walkers cheese after this.

We opted to sit on the high chairs at the counter and chat to Laszlo, who was explaining how the concept worked, and told us a little bit about each cheese, before artfully creating the ultimate cheese board for us to enjoy. You can choose to stand or return to your table if you are seated within the main restaurant too.

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At first, we were treated to a glass of Champagne, which was the perfect way to break the ice and relax, especially as the weather outside had been pretty horrific. Soon we were transported to cheese heaven!

The selection of Cheeses that we tried were a Sussex Truffle Brie, Lord London, Sussex Crumble, Sussex Farmhouse, Golden Cross Goats Cheese and a Sussex Blue.

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The best part of the experience (alongside eating the cheese), was how Laszlo talked us through each cheese, before slicing them like a pro! I certainly won’t be sharing pictures of my home made cheese boards after this!

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I learned so much about the cheese, and fun facts such as the Lord London, which is a semi soft bell shaped cheese,  was a bronze medal winner at the world cheese awards in 2010.

My absolute favourite was the Sussex Truffle Brie – an absolutely genius cheese, especially if you are a truffle fan. It was soft cows milk cheese with a layer of truffles in the centre sandwiched between the cheese and the aroma was just dreamy!

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To accompany each cheese, we had a selection of grapes, Quince jelly, Pickled yellow beetroot, Celery, Pecan nuts, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds and homemade gooseberry compote.

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Freshly made potato and grilled breads were a welcome treat too as were a variety of crackers which included classic, wheat, dried fruit and charcoal flavours.

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The selection of sliced cured meats were delectable and we were spoilt with Parma Ham, Smoked Ham, Salami and Chorizo.

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Paired with the cheese, was a gorgeous red wine from South Africa, and Laszlo also suggested we tried the Sherry with the cheese.

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We were really well watered to say the least and thoroughly enjoyed trying the cheese with the various drinks!

The cheese board itself was literally the cheese board of dreams and this is how the final board looked.


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You can tell from the expression on my face that I was totally in my element and Amit already knew that we would be returning again for this experience!

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Literally the best cheese board I have ever enjoyed! The entire experience was delightful and it is a captivating and enchanting way to spend an evening. If you fancy a light supper but something different, this is absolutely perfect. Alternatively, you could take Winston Churchill’s habits and indulge after dinner!


There is nothing more romantic than sharing a cheese board and sipping on delicious wine while catching up and it is such a fabulous idea for a date night or even Valentine’s (hint hint). The concept works extremely well for a catch up with friends too or even a unique way to impress a business client.

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You can choose between two, four or six cheeses with the cured meats and a house red or white wine at varying prices. I can’t recommend this enough as an alternate to afternoon tea or just something different and indulgent, especially if you love cheese. It was splendid.

For more information about the Cheese and Wine corner click here.

I was a guest of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill but all views and photos are my own.

 

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Cinnamon Bazaar

I absolutely love street food and so when Chef Vivek Singh opened Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden, I was really looking forward to trying it out and it was very high on my list.

The list, by the way, grows crazily by the day as London’s restaurant scene is exploding with new openings announced faster than I can make my morning cuppa!

As we walked into the restaurant, the attention to detail in terms of the decor is what immediately caught my eye, starting with the doors when you enter! Make sure you take a moment to look at it all.

Inside the restaurant, it is so colourful, bright and spacious, and I particularly liked the decor on the ceiling. For the duration of your meal you could easily forget you were in London. The walls had this gorgeous design with specks of gold and the dinner tables had the logo etched into the corner. A lot of effort has definitely gone into the interiors and it is fabulous.

While we decided on our food, we chose the house cocktails, which have been made in collaboration with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, an award winning mixologist. They had interesting names and flavour combinations. My friend settled on the Bazaar Old Fashioned, which was a coconut washed Indian Scotch with Coconut Sugar and Burnt Cinnamon. My choice was the Falooda Swizzel, which was white rum, basil seed, creme d’abricot, lime and amaranth cress.  Very unique combinations. I really liked mine but a challenge for you Mr Lyan – please can you make a special flavoured Mojito 😉

 

We chose vegetarian dishes for the entire meal so if you are Vegetarian, this will be of particular interest for you if you are looking for a lovely restaurant to dine at.

From the starters we chose the Kadhai spiced ‘bullet’ chillies with poppy seed gun powder. They reminded me of padron peppers but with spices and the occasional kick. I really enjoyed these although personally would have added a teeny weeny bit more salt as I love fried chillies a little salty. They did have a fantastic flavour though and were perfectly cooked.

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From the Chaats we selected the Dahi bhalla chaat: Chilled lentil dumplings with spiced yoghurt and toasted cumin, as one of our choices. I was with a chaat expert so we tried not to over analyse the food. It was refreshing and I loved the dumplings.

 

The Papdi chaat was our second choice, which was a combination of crisp wheat, tangy tamarind, yoghurt and chickpea vermicelli. I especially loved the addition of cucumber and thought that it was a fantastic Papdi chaat. It would be amazing in the summer as a lunch dish too as it is so cooling.

My favourite from the chaats, however, was the Jodhpuri kachori chaat. This was spiced onion dumplings, curried white peas, and a chutney medley. The kachori itself was to die for and so so tasty. This is a must order and a dish I will re-order when I go back.

From the bazaar plates section we tried the Paneer 65 because you have got to have paneer right? This was stir-fried with curry leaf & green chilli. I loved the flavour of the curry leaf but the fiery scorpio in me wanted a little more green chilli. It was tasty nevertheless.

Our absolute favourite dish from them all though was the Grilled aubergine with a sesame peanut crumble, labna and toasted buckwheat. It was ridiculously good and very addictive. All the flavours worked so well together and I highly recommend this dish, especially if you are an aubergine lover.

 

From the sides we went with garlic naans, which were lovely,warm and fluffy.

Dessert was incredible and I went for the Cardamom kheer crème brûlée. I am quite hesitant in ordering flavoured creme brulees after having a disappointing experience once, but this version ticked all the boxes. It was flavoursome, the texture was spot on and it was dreamy. It was served with a nankhatai (shortbread).

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My friend went for the Carrot halwa roll with clove flavoured iced double cream. The carrot halwa was an interesting mix of regular carrot and black carrot and the clove ice cream worked really well with it. A novel combination.

He also couldn’t resist going for masala chai and I mean look at that teapot! How cute is that?

All in all we really enjoyed our meal at Cinnamon Bazaar and the choice was incredible. I will be back to try out the non-vegetarian dishes for sure so will either expand within this review or write a separate one. The prices on the menu are so reasonable for Covent Garden and the service was fantastic and really quick. The buzz and ambience was fun and it is a great venue to catch up with friends or go for a pre-theatre meal.

We went for dinner but would definitely go for lunch too as it is so lovely and relaxed. If you are vegetarian there is so much choice so if you fancy street food it is a really great venue.

For more information on Cinnamon Bazaar and to see the menus click here.

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

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A Nutcracker Themed Afternoon Tea at London Hilton on Park Lane

One of my all time favourite ballet performances is The Nutcracker, which is the tale of a Christmas toy (The Nutcracker), who comes alive and defeats an evil Mouse King before going to a magical kingdom filled with dolls.  The original story was written in 1816 and is a classic. If you haven’t ever watched this it is one to definitely add to the list!

When I was really young, I attempted ballet (and failed) and managed to take part in one of the ballet performances of The Nutcracker, although I did it really badly 😛

When I heard that the Hilton London on Park Lane had a festive Nutcracker themed afternoon tea I was really intrigued and excited to try it.

You can enjoy this afternoon tea at the Podium restaurant, and we were lucky enough to get a table by the glass window, so we could people watch around Mayfair at the same time.

We chose our teas and surprisingly both went for the Nutty Chocolate Tea, which was specially chosen to complement the variety of treats available in this afternoon tea.

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We then started off with a selection of sandwiches. In our plate we had a Cucumber, Chive and cream cheese, a prawn cocktail on a bed of lettuce, coronation chicken with curry and pineapple and Ham with tomato chutney and mustard cress. We swapped the Smoked Salmon with Horseradish cream for a mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich instead, which was delicious. If you are vegetarian, you can get a full plate of a vegetarian selection,  which sounded really nice.

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Next arrived a stand full of amazing treats! There was a snowman macaron with coconut and white chocolate, a pistachio and raspberry Christmas tree cupcake, a mandarin and milk chocolate sphere, Strawberry and Lime on a Chocolate Sponge, a yule log with dark chocolate mousse, as well as The Nutcracker, in the form of a biscuit, a chocolate fence and edible snow.

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We were also spoiled rotten with Iced, plain, fruit and chocolate chip scones with a serving of strawberry jam, Rodda’s clotted cream and chocolate and clementine spread.

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I loved the detail that went into this afternoon tea selection and especially the cuteness factor.

 

It got us into a very festive mood and each treat was absolutely divine! I especially liked the chocolate and clementine spread, which was served with the scones as it was a unique choice. The scones themselves were heavenly, and warm and freshly baked. Scones are always my favourite part of an afternoon tea and these hit the spot.

The Mandarin and Milk Chocolate Sphere was also a favourite, with its Christmas Pudding alter ego. It was just so cute I almost couldn’t bring myself to eat it!

The Podium restaurant is very family friendly and this festive afternoon tea would be perfect to bring smiles to anyone! It is also a very cute afternoon tea to have on a date.

The Nutcracker Afternoon Tea is on until the 2 January 2017 and is priced at £36.00 per person. You can upgrade to a Champagne Afternoon Tea with a glass of Pommery Champagne for £46.00.

Our afternoon tea was complimentary but all views and images are my own.