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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

My 11 favourite London Hotel Cocktail Bars

The best part about living in London is there are so many fabulous cocktail bars to choose from, and some of my favourites are housed inside luxury hotels. In the name of research (!!) I have tried lots of them and here are my favourites. I couldn’t cut my list down to ten so you have 11 choices instead!

I will caveat that at the majority of them I had a Mojito but I did try some other cocktails at some of them too. I have chosen these based on factors which include ambience, atmosphere, deliciousness of the cocktails and service and are listed in no particular order.

1. The Blue Bar, The Berkeley

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With its plush, trendy interiors, the Blue Bar at the Berkeley is a really swish venue with delicious cocktails. It is all blue too! My favourite cocktail was the Toffee and Bubbles. The drinks are colour coded and it is definitely the place to bring a date to impress them!

For more info: The Blue Bar

2. The Connaught Bar at The Connaught Hotel

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Ask anyone and this bar tops so many people’s favourite bars lists in London and I can see why! The Mojito was pretty damn good! It has won many accolades and is housed inside the iconic Connaught Hotel.

For more info: The Connaught

3. The Artesian Bar at The Langham

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The Artesian is one of my favourite and most picked drinking establishments and as much as they perfect the Mojito, they also do some quirky cocktails too which are served in treasure chests, by example, and with so much flair and theatrical style. Perfect place to escape a crazy shopping day away from Oxford Street.

For more info: Artesian Bar

4. The American Bar at The Savoy

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I visited here with some friends and we all ordered our classic favourite drinks and each one was just perfect and spot on! This bar tops international best bar lists and it is much deserved. I loved how the waiters were all so dressed up in tux’s and you would feel like dressing up to go here! Perfect for a special occasion.

For more info: The American Bar

5. The Churchill Bar and Terrace at The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

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This is the first time I have seen a Mojito served with so much snazziness and it was definitely worth it! My friend had the Raj Mojito, which had some chillies in it, whilst I opted for the classic and we both enjoyed our drinks thoroughly. The comfy sofas were a massive plus point and the living room style charm meant that we could have sat there for hours!

For more info: The Churchill Bar and Terrace

6. The Amaranto bar at the Four Seasons London Park Lane

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This has been our choice of venue for pre-dinner drinks on many the occasion and it continues to draw us in with its trendy vibe and superb service! It is an oasis away from herds of tourists in Mayfair and the perfect venue to catch up with friends. The food in the neighbouring restaurant is really good too!

For more info: Amaranto Bar

7. The Arch Bar at the InterContinental, London Park Lane

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The best place to people watch from whilst enjoying a really good cocktail! They do a mean Mojito and they also do really good Pornstar Martinis, as the Dynamic Duo have tested rigorously! Lovely place to pop in for a drink and maybe then have dinner at Theo Randall’s restaurant after too.

For more info: The Arch Bar

8. Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London

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I adore the decor in the Scarfes Bar in Holborn and its library feel. It has a grand vibe with comfortable seats, a long bar that you can sit at and they serve some really good indian food too! It has a quintessential British feel and it is housed at the Rosewood London, which is such a beaut hotel. Go to the Mirror room first for brunch and then pop in to the Scarfes bar after for some refreshments!

For more info: Scarfes Bar

9. Smith & Whistle at Sheraton Grand Park Lane

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Smith & Whistle is my secret absolute favourite from the list and is always my top choice when in the area for a quick drink or a pre-dinner tipple. I adore this bar and if you haven’t been you have got to go! It has a Mayfair mystery theme to it and has such a lovely relaxed and casual vibe for Mayfair that you feel like you are going home everytime you go in!

For more info: Smith and Whistle

10. The Courtyard Bar and The Long Bar at The Sanderson Hotel, London

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The perfect spot for G&Ts or a glass or two of champagne – love the vibe in the Courtyard, especially on a bright day, you could easily forget you are steps away from the madness of Oxford Street! If you haven’t had the afternoon tea here yet it is a must!

For more info: Sanderson Hotel

11. The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel

I can’t believe how long it took me to discover this fashionable bar and boy is it a gem in Mayfair! I love the quirky presentation of the cocktails, the fun vibe, the ambience and it is the best place to forget a bad day or celebrate milestones over some excellent drinks. This cocktail was The Photographer and just loved that it was served inside a Camera Lens. The drink was Chase Marmalade mixed with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, mango juice, fresh strawberries, fresh blackberries, homemade raspberry syrup and a few drops of Donovan bar Bitters. NOM NOM NOM

For more info: The Donovan Bar

There you have my favourites! What are yours? Would love to know in the comments below.

5 Romantic Things to do in London

London is full of romance, whether you are dining at the city’s finest restaurants, taking in its seductive views from different sites, or trying out brand new experiences. Here are my 5 favourite romantic things to do in my favourite city.

Go sightseeing 

I can never tire of London and there is nothing more romantic than strolling hand in hand walking around the city marvelling at its grand sights.

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There are so many lovely vantage points for some of the finest views. You could even go for a ride on the London Eye or take a boat ride on the Thames Clipper.  I challenge you to find the best spots, whether at sunrise, sunset or in the middle of the day, and do let me know in the comments section below! I would recommend starting off at Southbank!

A Cheese and Wine Date

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Sharing an epic cheese board whilst sipping on wine and sherry in a gorgeous restaurant? Yes now you can have someone prepare the ultimate cheese board for you while you just relax and stare at each other lovingly at The Montagu restaurant at The Hyatt Regency – The Churchill.

The experience is fantastic and so interactive. You learn so much about the cheese, which are the finest from Alsop & Walker, and it is a truly unique and fun way to spend an evening.

Fun fact, Winston Churchill used to indulge in a cheese platter almost every day! A lovely fact to use as an ice breaker or to impress your date with!

I absolutely loved my experience and you can read about it in depth here.

To make a booking click here.

Cocktails with a view

Take your romance to new heights by sharing cocktails with a rather spectacular view of all the key landmarks in London from the 31st floor, at  Aqua Shard. Not only are the cocktails delicious, the restaurant and bar area are stunning and the view…doesn’t get better than this! No better way to spend time soaking up London’s sexy skyline with a cocktail in hand.

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The best bit is there is no need to book if you are going for drinks so go if you haven’t been!  They also have a brilliant breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea menu if you want to make it extra special but you will need to book for that.

For more information and to book click here.

Table for two at an Italian restaurant

For me every time I think of a romantic meal, the image of the kissing scene from the Lady and the Tramp comes to mind, where they are sharing spaghetti.

While I prefer pizza and tagliatelle or pappardelle, Italian food shouts romance to me and my current favourite and recommendation is Fucina.

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The food is marvellous, the ambience is lovely and very romantic, the restaurant is pretty and the service is excellent. For my review click here.

“Press for Champagne” at Bob Bob Ricard

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A restaurant where you can press a button to order more Champagne? Your date will definitely be suitably impressed. The food is fantastic but  please do save space for the dessert, especially the Signature Chocolate Glory! You won’t be disappointed.

For more information click here.

If you have any suggestions for romantic things to do in London would love to hear them in the comments section below.

 

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.

 

 

Italian food at Fucina

The Dynamic Duo had been apart for weeks (felt like forever) and due to tube strikes the reunion date got delayed a week to Blue Monday, 16 January, dubbed the most depressing day of the year. Of course, the Dynamic Duo don’t believe in such gaff and so set out to have the best reunion date ever and picked Chiltern Firehouse for our signature cocktails – a Pornstar Martini for Aftab and a Mojito for myself.

After catching up we headed to new opening Fucina for some Italian food. We had read that Kurt Zdesar & Chef Stefano were behind this restaurant and that its focus was on organic seasonal produce. A big draw for us.

We arrived at this gigantic door and inside the restaurant we were met by a smiling lady who took us to our table. The restaurant is so so pretty and has such a lovely relaxed yet romantic vibe to it.

We were recommended an organic peach and raspberry bellini to start with, and so we tried it. It was refreshing and fruity and very easy to drink.

We were busy snapping away in the restaurant and so the waitress suggested we go have a peek downstairs, where there is a chefs table and the open kitchen. It was beautiful.

We then came back to our table and ordered some dishes to share. The menu has some really fantastic choices on it and the aroma of the food coming from neighbouring tables was heavenly.

First to arrive was our pizza, which was just absolutely incredible. It was made the authentic way and the ingredients were so fresh and tasty.  We went for the Bufala, which had bufala mozzarella, Sicilian Pachino tomato & basil.

Aftab loves Pappardelle pasta and so the Pappardelle Della was our second choice, which was made with a tomato & smoked mozzarella sauce. It was superb and exactly the comfort dish we had craved on a cold wintry evening.

We were given a generous helping of parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

From the Plates section, we tried the Wood Fired Sweet Potato with spiced yogurt & spring onions. I loved the texture of the sweet potato and the smokey flavours balanced with the cooling yoghurt.

Our final savoury dish was recommended by the waitress and was a Spatchcock Diavola. The chicken was marinated so well and we both loved this dish. We were also both secretly happy with the meat and the fact that it was off the bone.

Italian dessert is always so scrumptious and I went for a creamy Mascarpone al caffè con biscotti. It had fabulous coffee flavours and it was a generous helping and I couldn’t get through it all. It was absolutely divine though.

Aftab went for a refreshing limoncello sorbet, which he ate in what felt like seconds! He did let me try a little though.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our food and we will definitely be back when we want some fantastic Italian food. I can’t recommend it enough and it is so pretty inside it is the perfect place to bring a date! Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices were really good and the pizza is an absolute must!

For more information go here.