Cinnamon Bazaar

CINNAMON BAZAAR

Cinnamon Bazaar is the latest addition to the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants: Cinnamon Soho, Cinnamon Star and now, Cinnamon Bazaar.

As the name suggests Cinnamon Bazaar plays on the idea of a “bazaar”, a central marketplace where for centuries ideas and ingredients were exchanged, and cultures converged to come together to create one big melting pot. The fusion concept translates well at Cinnamon Bazaar with the restaurant’s menu drawing inspiration from countries dotted along the trading routes of old. The design of the restaurant also plays on the theme of a bazaar, offering a laid back environment where diners can relax and share a varied selection of dishes and drinks.

Laid over two floors, Cinnamon Bazaar is richly decorated in vibrant colours such as deep blues and fresh greens. The restaurant has made use of organic, natural materials which reflect the history of India. Finally, Illuminated lanterns and hanging ceiling drapes complete the eclectic bazaar ambience.

We visited Cinnamon Bazaar as part of a bloggers’ evening where we were treated to a variety of items from the diverse menu which includes a selection of snacks, chaats and main plates. We were firstly welcomed with a variety of delicious canapes from the snack menu such as crab bonda – pleasantly spiced Calcutta crab with a hint of tangy beetroot in a crispy chickpea batter; creamy chicken Haleem (pate) on some crunchy sourdough toast; and some velvety smooth chana masala hummus.

Also wonderful was the grilled aubergine with sesame peanut crumble, labna and toasted buckwheat. Although not actually a ‘snack’ but an item from the main plates, the aubergine was delicious. It had been beautifully cooked with the aroma of the sesame and the crunchiness of the peanut in the crumble adding a wonderful texture and vibrancy to the soft warmth of the aubergine.

Cinnamon Bazaar - London Food Blog - Aubergine in a canape size

Cinnamon Bazaar – Aubergine in a canape size

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Cinnamon Club

The Cinnamon Club serves a refined style of modern Indian cooking, and is widely regarded as one of London’s best Indian restaurants. The Cinnamon Club recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, and to mark this special occasion, the restaurant underwent a £1 million refurbishment. Set within the grand Grade II listed Old Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club’s book lined shelves and traditional features have been updated and elevated with dashes of colour, contemporary furnishings and unique artworks. The result is a refreshed a convivial backdrop for what is a secluded and comfortable fine dining experience.

Chef Vivek Singh is one of the most successful and respected modern Indian chefs in Britain, and he also owns similarly named restaurants such as the City’s Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho. His elevated approach to Indian cuisine has resulted in a number of media appearances including a regular guest slot on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen as well as the publication of five cookbooks,

His menu at The Cinnamon Club is diverse and engaging, and also includes a selection of celebratory sharing dishes and sharing platters for between two and eight guests. As for the two of us, we went for the lazy Sunday menu (£40 for three courses, including a champagne cocktail – £35 from between 5.30pm and 6.30pm).

Our meal began with the Chef’s selection of canapes which were all delicious. These included an Indian mango purée in semolina shell which was sweet and tangy, a cumin and ginger flavoured lentil dumpling with tamarind chutney which was wonderfully spiced, and a delightful steamed rice cake with coriander chutney and curried yoghurt.

Cinnamon Club - London Food Blog - Chef's pre-starter

Cinnamon Club – Chef’s pre-starter

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Quilon – Indian Wine Event

QUILON – INDIAN WINE EVENT

A guest post by ‘O&M’ *

We were thrilled to be invited to Quilon recently to take part in a press event showcasing Indian Wine, with the focus being on two particular vineyards, Grover Zampa and Sula.

Quilon - London Food Blog

Quilon – Indian wine event

Indian Wine is relatively unknown in our supermarket shelves or wine shops. India’s APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) is leading a brand promotion of Indian Wine to raise publicity in Europe and particularly in the United Kingdom.

Quilon - London Food Blog

Quilon – Indian wine event

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Quilon

Quilon opened in 1999 and quickly established itself as one of the pre-eminent Indian restaurants in London. Located in the St James Court Hotel, Quilon exudes an air of smart, refined elegance. Chef Sriram Aylur discovered his love of food at a young age when he first stepped into his father’s kitchen. He gave up a career in law to pursue his cooking career, joining the Taj Luxury Hotel Group in 1989. Chef Sriram hails from the South West coast of India, and as such, seafood is at the heart of the Quilon menu. Despite that, Quilon also offers an eclectic range of meat, poultry and vegetarian options, with many dishes designed for sharing. Chef Sriram’s approach to Indian cooking is contemporary and progressive, importing many of his spices from India. In 2008 Quilon won a Michelin star which the restaurant has retained ever since.

A starter with a fitting name of Fisherman’s catch (£16) contained a selection of lovely, fresh seafood. On the plate were some well-flavoured pepper shrimp; a crab cake plump with fresh, sweet crab; a beautifully cooked piece of lentil fish topped with a gorgeous chilli and mango relish; and a succulent piece of grilled scallop.

Quilon - London Food Blog - Fisherman’s catch

Quilon – Fisherman’s catch

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Tilda Curry Supper Club

To celebrate National Curry Week a couple of weeks ago, Tilda Rice threw an intimate Tilda Curry Supper Club at The Little Yellow Door, a quirky, fictional flatshare pop-up in in Notting Hill with a ‘little yellow front door’. Hosting and cooking at the event was Indian food writer, columnist for the Evening Standard and Indian cookbook author Mallika Basu. Mallika cooked for us some beautiful curry dishes, with the inspiration being how leftovers can be given a twist and transformed into a delicious dinner.

My favourite dish of the evening was the Bengali chingri malaikari – tiger Prawns steeped in a spicy sweet coconut and caramelised onion curry. This was really special. The prawns were firm and tasty, and the sauce had a wonderful, sweet intense flavour.

Tilda Curry Supper Club - London Food Blog - Tiger prawns

Tilda Curry Supper Club – Tiger prawns

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St James Court, A Taj Hotel

ST JAMES COURT HOTEL, A TAJ HOTEL – AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 TASTES

Last week I attended a preview evening of the ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ experience (£100 per person) at the gorgeous St James Court, A Taj Hotel on Buckingham Palace Gate. The experience takes you through a culinary journey of four of the different restaurants in the hotel with tasting plates paired with matching wines. We began our evening with a Laurent Perrier Champagne flight paired with canapés in the St James Courtyard of the hotel, an idyllic outdoor dining space surrounded by the world’s largest Shakespearean frieze. It’s a gorgeous al fresco spot, little known about. So spread the world as it’s a lovely spot for a drink and deserves greater recognition.

For our champagne flight we had (from right to left) the Laurent-Perrier Brut, Cuvée Rosé and the Vintage 2004 with scallops and avocado, smoked salmon and ratatouille. The champagnes were delectable and the canapés were fairly tasty.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Canapes

St James Court Hotel – Canapes

Next we moved to Bistro 51 where a contemporary European menu is served. I recently dined at Bistro 51 where I had a mixed experience. You can read about that meal here. As part of this ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ culinary journey, we had a trio of starters including stir-fried chicken with bell peppers, sesame-crusted tuna with pink grapefruit and beetroot gazpacho with feta crumble. The tuna was smart and very tasty, and nicely flavoured with some soy sauce and sesame seeds. The gazpacho was good but could have done with a little more feta for a better balance between sweet and savoury. The chicken didn’t work and wasn’t that appetising. To accompany the starters was an Argentinian Septima Malbec.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Starters at Bistro

St James Court Hotel – Starters at Bistro

Next we moved to Quilon, an Indian One Michelin Star Restaurant which was the highlight of the evening. Here we enjoyed some pepper shrimp, crab cake, lentil fish, grilled scallop and the Quilon signature fish curry of halibut simmered in coconut, chilli and raw mango sauce. All of these were delicious and perfectly prepared. My particular favourites were the lentil fish as it was beautifully moist and succulent and the fish curry as its flavour was delightful. The tasting plate was accompanied by some Malabar paratha which was outstanding for it was wonderfully light and flaky. The accompanying wine was a Chapel Down Flint Dry.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Tasting plate at Quilon

St James Court Hotel – Tasting plate at Quilon

From Quilon we moved to Kona, a newly opened restaurant at The St James Court Hotel that serves contemporary dishes prepared using locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients. It’s a beautiful, modern looking restaurant, and here we tried the Sussex lamb cooked two ways, as a cannon and Bolognese. The lamb was served with aubergine caviar, polenta, wild roquette pesto and confit eggplant. This was respectable, tasty cooking, although I would have preferred the cannon to more medium rare. The accompanying wines included an Albarino Davila.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Lamb dish at Kona

St James Court Hotel – Lamb dish at Kona

To finish, we had a dessert platter of calvados marinated apple on a walnut and pecan crumble, chocolate ganache and a deconstructed lemon meringue pie and poppy streusel, all of which were nicely done.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Dessert plate

St James Court Hotel – Dessert plate

“Around the World in 80 Tastes’ was great fun as it offered lots of different flavour sensations, and I can see this as a good date night option if you want to impress someone with a taste of something a little different. Without doubt, the highlight was the food at Michelin starred Quilon. The food at the other outlets held up well too, and overall £100 was a reasonable price to pay when you take into account the champagnes and the pairing wines.

Website: http://www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk/

Summary Information:

Overall experience rating: 3.5/5

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Moti Mahal

Moti Mahal is one of a number of high-end Indian restaurants in London that adds a sophisticated twist to this much-loved cuisine by incorporating some expert spicing and elevated cooking techniques. The head chef is Delhi-born Anirudh Arora who has been cooking at Moti Mahal since it opened in 2005. He draws his influences from India’s famed Grand Trunk Road, a 1,500-mile trade route between India and Pakistan built in the 16th century. The food at Moti Mahal therefore takes diners on an inspired modern food journey of India, with dishes that have its roots in regional cooking.

Like the food, the décor at Moti Mahal is modern in its design. It’s very smart, with white-linen tablecloths, polished wooden flooring and gorgeous chandeliers that help to set a stylish tone. There is also an open kitchen partitioned behind a panel of curved glass which affords diners a bird’s eye view of its goings-on.

Moti Mahal were offering a ‘season’ special, a tandoor baked truffle naan with vintage cheddar, cumin and white ‘Alba’ truffles (£24), something impossible to pass up. I mean how can anyone possibly resist truffle naan? It was heavenly because not only was the truffle gorgeous, the combination of the melted cheese with the warm softness of the bread was also something magical.

Moti Mahal - Truffle naan

Truffle naan

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Scarfes Bar

The luxurious 5-star Rosewood Hotel located at 252 High Holborn, previously the Chancery Court Hotel, reopened last October after an extensive refurbishment. The hotel’s launch also brought along some new dining options, one of which was Scarfes Bar. The bar was named after Gerald Scarfe, a London born satirical cartoonist who worked for Punch magazine and Private Eye during the early 1960s. Scarfes Bar has not only borrowed Scarfe’s name, but also his artistic vision by showing off a selection of his distinctive drawings of historical and well-known personalities.

Scarfes Bar epitomises the height of English sophistication. There are cosy armchairs and sofas, dazzling chandeliers and bookcases lined with antique books dotted throughout the room. But the focal point of Scarfes is the gorgeous fireplace that gives it an air of an old English manor.

Although a bar, Scarfes Bar also serves a lunch menu. Head Chef is Indian-born Palash Mitra who moved to the UK in 2007 to join The Cinnamon Club as the Senior Sous Chef. As such the menu is predominantly Indian, although there is a small selection of traditional casseroles and pizzas on the menu as well.

Our first starter was a half lobster with Bengali spices (£18) consisting of Indian green mustard, ginger, chilli and Indian mustard oil. The spicing was excellent and resulted in a sauce that was wonderfully creamy from the use of coconut milk. The lobster was a little lacking however as it’s texture was soft and flimsy.

Scarfes Bar - Lobster with Bengali spices

Lobster with Bengali spices

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