Cinnamon Kitchen

CINNAMON KITCHEN

Cinnamon Kitchen is an upmarket Indian fusion restaurant in the Liverpool Street area. Bearing the word “Cinnamon” in its name, it is part of 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 including Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar.

As we walked into Cinnamon Kitchen, we were immediately seduced by both the aroma of the tantalising smells wafting through the restaurant, as well as by the excited murmur of happily munching clients. The interior is both smart and trendy, and gave both a happening vibe with a balanced sense of a cozy intimacy.

To begin our meal we were offered some miniature spiced potato fritters on a curly bamboo stick as the complimentary amuse-bouche from the chef. Usually, such throw-ins are an opportunity to showcase the chef’s best skills or new, novel ideas, to dazzle and intrigue customers into coming to try more next time. This one was a little bland and unassuming and tasted like a deep-fried ball made of faintly curried mashed potatoes.

Next we tried a variety of chutneys with naan. Of the three chutneys that arrived, the most memorable was the tomato one. With just the right level of hotness, it treated tomato as what it technically is: a fruit, which is that it was intensely rich with flavour and naturally sweet. The naan that accompanied the chutneys was pleasantly spliced with fennel seeds.

Cinnamon Kitchen - London Food Blog - Naans & chutneys

Cinnamon Kitchen – Naans & chutneys

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Bombay Brasserie

Bombay Brasserie, a fine Indian restaurant, looks to the cultural diversity of Bombay, or rather Mumbai, for its menu inspirations. As well as being India’s financial and entertainment capital, the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai draws on the diverse cooking styles of Goa, Bengal, Gujarat and Rajasthan, as well as bringing in Portuguese influences.

Bombay Brasserie is located in the Millenium Hotel on Gloucester Road, with the main entrance to the restaurant being through The Bombay Bar, a stylish Raj-inspired bar that champions the exoticism of old Bombay. It’s a gorgeous place to unwind, particularly before lunch or dinner with plush sofas and photos of India from a bygone era defines the mood.

The restaurant is also a delight. Owned by the luxury hotel chain, The Taj Group, no expense was spared when it came to the décor at Bombay Brasserie. Heading through the double doors which separates the restaurant from the bar, one’s immediate reaction is one of awe. It sings of opulence, with grandiose chandeliers, stucco walls with inbuilt flickering lanterns and a spacious space laid out with comfortable banquette seating.

As for the food, this was a delight. We began our meal with the seafood platter (£24), a wonderful plate consisting of tasty soft shell crab, a perfectly cooked grilled scallop, pleasant monkfish, and a grilled prawn that gave way to a slightly smoky flavour.

Bombay Brassiere - London Food Blog - Seafood platter

Bombay Brassiere – Seafood platter

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Tsukiji Sushi Bar

TSUKIJI SUSHI

Tsukiji Sushi Restaurant is a contemporary sushi restaurant housed at the Westbury Hotel, a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of Mayfair which is also home to the One-Michelin starred restaurant Alyn Williams at The Westbury. Tsukiji is a sleek intimate affair which seats only 20, and boasts of clean lines, red woodwork and an open sushi counter. The menu by Head Chef Show Choong is a delightful fusion between traditional and modern, blending classic Japanese flavours with innovative touches to create inventive dishes such as salmon tartar with parmesan cheese.

Chef Show Choong sources organic and seasonal ingredients in his ever-evolving menu. But the true highlight at Tsukiji is the seafood, particularly the sashimi and nigirii which showcases the freshest seafood available. But there is also a varied list of tempting appetisers and grilled dishes, not to mention a selection of set menus ranging in price from £22.50 for a set lunch, to the Kyodosakusei Tokubetsu champagne menu priced at £395 for two. The drinks menu concise lists a carefully selected range of wines, champagne and sake.

We began our meal with some rock oysters (3 for £10.50) which were wonderfully fresh and made all the more delicious with a yuzu ponzu, jalapeno and truffle citrus soy. The dressing gave the oysters sweetness and acidity with a hint of heat.

Tsukiji Sushi - London Food Blog - Rock oysters

Tsukiji Sushi – London Food Blog – Rock oysters

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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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Dabbous

DABBOUS

When Dabbous opened in 2012, it became THE most talked about restaurant in London. The cutting-edge Modern European cooking by Oliver Dabbous, previously of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Hibiscus, Mugaritz, The Fat Duck, Noma and Texture, bewitched the critics. Dabbous went on to earn critical acclaim, a Michelin Star in 2013, and the distinction of being the most unattainable dinner reservation in town.

The décor at Dabbous is every bit as cutting edge with the restaurant carving out a dark, minimalist space. Dabbous oozes industrial chic with the sound of loud house music ringing in the background. In the basement is Oskar’s Bar, named after Ollie’s business partner and Dabbous co-founder Oskar Kinberg who was once the head barman at The Cuckoo Club, a private members’ club. Here bar snacks and a heady array of cocktail delights is served, making Oskar’s Bar a go-to destination for cocktail lovers. Together the pair also opened Barnyard in 2014.

Dabbous offers a four-course set menu (£56) as well as a seven-course tasting menu (£68). We chose the latter option, which began with a dish of burrata, basil and tamarillo which was lovely. The burrata was creamy and the basil was fragrant. But it was the deliciously zingy tamarillo that proved to be the most exciting element of this dish. It’s lively flavour and freshness brought all the elements of the dish together beautifully.

Dabbous - London Food Blog - Burrata

Dabbous – Burrata

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Randall & Aubin

RANDALL & AUBIN

I recently had a lovely Sunday Lunch at Randall & Aubin as part of a Zomato meetup. An oldie but a goodie, Randall & Aubin has been a Soho institution since it opened in 1996 and is known for its fresh seafood and fun, convivial atmosphere. I have often walked past Randall & Aubin and been deterred from going in by the queues outside. But queues can be a good thing too as that must surely mean that the food is good!

Randall & Aubin – London Food Blog

Randall & Aubin

The meetup event began with a cooking demonstration by Chef Ed Baines. He took us through the intricacies of making a good seafood sauce and the key to prepping seafood such as the cod that we had for lunch and other crustaceans. The session was really informative and enjoyable, particularly the bit where we got to try the oysters! Ed began his career at the age of 16 with an apprenticeship at The Dorchester under Anton Mosimann. Thereafter he travelled the world, spending time in Australia where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Rim cuisine there. Ed has also cooked at Bibendum, The River Cafe, and has worked as the official chef to Giorgio Armani. Thereafter he went on to open Daphne’s in South Kensington before teaming up with Jamie Poulton to open Randall & Aubin in 1996.

Randall & Aubin – London Food Blog – Chef prepping the cod for lunch

Randall & Aubin – Chef prepping the cod for lunch

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The New Angel

THE NEW ANGEL

The New Angel is the latest restaurant from Michelin-starred chef, author and restaurateur John Burton-Race, and is his first London restaurant after an absence of 12 years. The New Angel is set in a converted Victorian pub on Chepstow Place, in Notting Hill, and is neighbour to another well-known London establishment, Assaggi. The New Angel opened in April 2014, and within its first year of opening it was awarded three AA Rosettes and recognised by Harden’s as one of its Top 10 new openings of 2015.

John Burton-Race has a long string of Michelin credits to his name, starting with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons where he worked with the renowned chef Raymond Blanc from 1983. In 1986 John opened his own restaurant, L’Ortolan in Berkshire which went on to win two Michelin stars, a feat John repeated in 2000 with his restaurant at John Burton-Race at the Landmark Hotel. John then sojourned to France for a number of years before returning to the UK in 2004, opening The New Angel in Dartmouth, Devon. This restaurant also attained a Michelin star in 2005, an achievement the restaurant retained until John’s departure in 2010.

With The New Angel Notting Hill, John seeks to replicate the French inspired contemporary European cooking for which he is so well known. The restaurant is classically decorated and oozes with warmth and elegance. Rounding off the fine dining experience is a comprehensive wine list and an experienced team of waiting staff.

We chose the tasting menu (£77) with pairing wines (£137) which kicked off with an amuse bouche of salmon gravalax with a lime and horseradish cream and some vanilla apples which was heavenly. The combination of the acidity from the lime, the sharpness of the horseradish and the sweetness of the apples was perfect judged and added a touch of magic to the delicious salmon. It was a small plate of food, but a truly delicious one at that.

New Angel – London Food Blog – Salmon gravalax

The New Angel – Salmon gravalax

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Australasia – Manchester

AUSTRALASIA

As the name of the restaurant suggests, Australasia Restaurant in Manchester serves Modern Australian cuisine, drawing its inspiration from not only Australia but also the Pacific Rim by incorporating a mixture of influences from Indonesia, Southeast Asia and Japan. The entrance to Australasia is an impressive glass shaped pyramid, through which is a staircase that leads down into the glamorous beige dining room. It’s a beautiful space and reminiscent of a well-appointed Hampton’s beach house on Long Island, New York, or as this is ‘Australasia’, a house on the northern beaches of Sydney.

Australasia embraces a ‘tapas’ style philosophy, with the menu offering a large number of sharing options ranging from sushi and sashimi, tempura, robata grills and other small plates. Also available are larger main plates for those diners who wish to follow a standard three-course format.

We shared everything, starting with a soft shell crab and courgette flower tempura (£12.50) that was really tasty. The tempura was well seasoned with a batter that was lovely and light. Both the crab and courgettes were nicely cooked with the crab proving to be fleshy and moist.

London Food Blog – Australasia - Soft shell crab tempura

Australasia – Soft shell crab tempura

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