Gaylord – Bloggers Dinner

Words and photos by Priscilla from Food Porn Nation and myself.

The award winning Gaylord Indian Restaurant was founded in 1966 and is an offshoot of the original Gaylord in Mumbai which opened in 1956. The cuisine originates from North of India with a menu that is long, varied and eclectic. The décor also embodies an authentic Indian experience with artworks by the noted Indian painter Prithvi Soni.

We dined at Gaylord recently as part of a Zomato bloggers’ dinner and Gaylord took the difficulty of choosing from its extensive menu by serving us a selection of their highlight dishes. There was food aplenty, and it was such a delight to have the opportunity to taste so many different things. We started with canapés before moving onto starters, main courses and then desserts.

For canapés, we tried some zaffrani chicken tikka (£8.50/£14) and chicken murg malal tikka (£8.50/£14.50), both of which were nicely cooked and pleasantly spiced. The aloo tokri chhat, a savoury potato basket was also really tasty and really crunchy.

Moving on the starters, and the tandoori tiger prawns (£10/£20) with saffron proved to be the knockout dish of the evening. The tiger prawns were big, fat and juicy with a firm luxurious texture. They were also really well cooked with the tandoor cooking helping to hold in much flavour. The spicing was lovely, and with the prawns being so plump, they were just a joy to eat.

Crab cakes (£11) with curry leaves, southern spices, sesame seeds and mustard cress were cleverly presented, with each crab cake being perched on a sugar stick. The spicing was pleasant, and the crab cake offered a decent flavour, but I would have preferred more crabmeat for a greater taste of the sea.

London Food Blog - Gaylord'

Gaylord – Crab Cakes Dakshini – curry leaves, Southern spices, sesame seeds, sugarcane stick

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The World’s End Market

The World’s End Market

Words and photos by Katrina from Russian Revels and myself.

The World’s End Market is the second venture of the Markets Group which opened The Crystal Palace Market restaurant earlier last year. The Group set out to introduce ‘an innovative culinary concept’ to the competitive London restaurant scene by focusing on unfussy cooking using the best quality local ingredients, with the result being primarily grilled fish and meats with classic sauces.

The World’s End Market used to be an iconic pub which has been lovingly restored. Today it retains much of the atmosphere of a good old boozer. The interior design is reminiscent of an early 20th century canteen decorated in cosily hushed greens with a gleaming cocktail bar and easy-listening background music. On a Monday evening the restaurant was uncharacteristically quiet because of an important football game (so we were told by the charming French manager), but the loveliness of the restaurant no doubt can draw in the crowds on other nights of the week. We felt we could easily have spent many an hour drinking from a decent selection of wines, most of which were organic.

The concept at World’s End Market concept centres on ‘locally sourced ingredients’, and although the restaurant does not list the source of all their protein the locavore concept didn’t quite hold true as we saw scallops from the Pacific and prawns from Madagascar. But we tried these for our starters, and we found that we loved the plate of simply grilled scallops (£10.50). Three plump molluscs, with roe intact, were well cooked and served with a zingy dressing. This dish was one of our favourites.

World's End Market - London Food Blog - Grilled Scallops

World’s End Market – Grilled Scallops

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Holborn Dining Room

HOLBORN DINING ROOM

Holborn Dining Room opened about a year ago and makes for a welcome addition to the London dining room. Located in the glorious Rosewood Hotel (which was once Pearl Restaurant by Jun Tanaka), it is a bustling restaurant with the look of a grand brasserie. Holborn Dining Room is run by Des McDonald, a restaurateur with a prestigious background. Previously a Head Chef at The Ivy, Des later went on to become the group chief executive of Birley Group, Caprice Holdings, and Soho House, before eventually forming his own restaurant group, Des McDonald Restaurants etc. Des is a man who knows his stuff, and it is easy to see his vision of comfort and relaxed elegance in the grandeur of Holborn Dining Room. Beautifully decorated with red leather banquettes, chandeliers and earthy colours, the restaurant resonates with vibrancy and energy. There is also an outside courtyard that comes alive in the summertime with al fresco diners.

The Head Chef at Holborn Dining Room is Calum Franklin, who previously cooked at The Ivy, Aurora at the Andaz Hotel and Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel. Prior to Holborn Dining Room, Calum was the Senior Sous Chef at Roast in Borough Market. With this wealth of experience, Calum has put together a very British menu that draws upon seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

Our first starter was the griddled prawns with lemon and garlic butter (£15). Six fat prawns had been placed on our plate and each offered up lots of firm, meaty deliciousness. The combination of garlic and prawns is always a winning one in my book, and here it was fabulously tasty. With lots of flavoursome butter and a touch of acidity from the lemon, this was a perfect way to start our meal.

London Food Blog – Holborn Dining Room

Holborn Dining Room – Griddled Prawns

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Porky’s Camden

PORKY’S

Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.

In the southern states of the USA, BBQ is king. Meat is treated with reverence and when barbequed, is done using special slow cooked techniques that generally last for 16-18 hours. The result is charred meat that is distinctively smoky and tender. Here in London, the restaurant group Porky’s seeks to capture the essence of Memphis style BBQ by adopting they same slow cooking BBQ approach. And as they do in the Deep South, portions are generous, prices are reasonable and flavours are bold. There is plenty of meat and Porky’s happily caters to the heartiest of carnivores.

The Camden Town branch of Porky’s (there are also branches at Bankside and Boxpark Bethnal Green) is low-key with its friendly, casual service. In a nod to its roots, there are classical Southern posters hanging on its exposed brick walls with Tennessee greats such as Elvis playing in the background. The lighting is soft and low for a relaxed ambiance, making it a great venue for groups.

The ‘warm up’ mixed platter (£24 – serves 4) included the house chilli and 4 other starter items. The highlight of the platter was the house chilli which was homey, spicy and delicious. The BBQ wings were a little overcooked, but tasty with a sticky homemade BBQ sauce. Our least favourite items were the crab cakes as there was not enough crab, and the hush puppies which were floury and starchy. We also tried the garlic toast which was very buttery.

Porky's - The Warm Up Platter includes the house chilli and 4x of the following items. Bbq wings, crab cakes, hush puppies, pulled pork croquettes and garlic toast

Porky’s – The Warm Up Platter includes the house chilli and 4x of the following items. Bbq wings, crab cakes, hush puppies, pulled pork croquettes and garlic toast

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Nopi – Visit No. 2

NOPI

Nopi opened in Soho in 2010 to a great reception, and rightly so. It was an extension of the Ottolenghi chain of delis by Yotam Ottolenghi who is famous for his uniquely innovative blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. Nopi gave Ottolenghi a presence in Soho, but it also made his delightful food accessible to a wilder audience.

I visited Nopi in June 2011, several months after it opened and loved it (you can read that post here). Little has changed in terms of the restaurant’s décor or design. Nopi is split over two floors. The ground floor is white throughout with individualised tables, and the basement plays home to shared seating with views of the open kitchen. The menu still holds true to Ottolenghi’s original and inventive fusion of Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, and along with the main size plates, there are a number of sharing options and plenty of choices for vegetarians.

A dish of seared scallops (£13.90) was pleasant on the palate and worked well with the sweetness of a delica pumpkin puree and some savoury red chicory. The scallops were a touch overcooked however and slightly tough, but otherwise this was a good dish.

Nopi - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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Fino

FINO

Fino Restaurant opened in 2003 and became one of the first restaurants in London to offer a contemporary brand of Spanish tapas. Others followed, but Fino has managed to carve out a niche as an oldie but a goodie on the London tapas scene. Fino comes from the hands of Sam and Eddie Hart, the well-known restaurateur brothers that also brought the critically acclaimed Barrafina to London. The original branch of Barrafina opened on Frith Street in Soho in 2007 and went on to won a Michelin star in 2014. A second branch of Barrafina also opened on Adelaide Street last year.

Fino’s Executive Head Chef is Nieves Barragán Mohacho who originates from the Basque country. Her menu changes daily, drawing on influences from not only the Basque region but from throughout Spain. The Fino menu makes for a tempting read, interspersing modern influences among much loved Spanish classics.

Fino has an address on Charlotte Street although the entrance itself is located on Rathbone Street. From here, diners are led to Fino’s restaurant and bar area in the basement. The interior is contemporary and boasts of a relaxed ambience. It is also spacious and well laid out, which unlike the tiny spaces of both the Barrafinas, would accommodate large parties well.

We tried the Cecina de León (£9.80), a smoked and dried beef which was maroon in colour. It was juicy with a strong character and a slightly fibrous consistency. Lightly salted and with small bits of fat running through it, the beef was delicious.

Fino - Cecina de León

Cecina de León

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Crocker’s Folly – Sunday Lunch

Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood was a thriving pub in its former life. Built in 1898, the beautiful Grade II* listed building fell into disrepair and sadly closed in 2004. By 2007 Crocker’s Folly had been placed on the Victorian Society’s list of top ten endangered buildings.

In 2014 The Maroush Group took ownership of Crocker’s Folly and lovingly restored it back to its former glory. Thus Crocker’s Folly was reborn, re-opening after a long ten-year absence. Many of the original aspects of the building have been maintained along with the addition of some beautiful bespoke features such as dazzling chandeliers, mahogany woodwork and the use of at least 50 kinds of marble. It’s a glorious restoration and beautifully done, with the finishing touches being some gorgeous imported Italian furniture. Crocker’s Folly now speaks of grandeur, but also with a relaxed and inviting tone.

Crocker’s Folly is divided into three sections – two separate bars and a dining room. Heading up the kitchen is Head Chef Arek Bober who previously worked under Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social. His Crocker’s Folly menu is modern European with a section specifically devoted to steaks cooked on the josper grill. On a Sunday, Crocker’s Folly offers a special set lunch menu with two-courses for £20 and three-courses for £25. It is also possible to order each dish individually and the prices listed below are the price per dish.

We started our lunch with a 62c egg with soft polenta (£10) which was delicious. The egg, slow cooked at 62c was soft-set in the centre with a beautifully golden yolk and it married well with the creaminess of the soft polenta. Completing the dish was a topping of lovely fresh truffle shavings, Parmesan cheese and a mushroom emulsion that added a nutty, earthy flavour to the combination.

Crocker’s Folly – 62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

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Pachamama – Visit No. 2 Update

I couldn’t wait to go back to Pachamama for lunch after my hugely rewarding last visit (you can read about it here). I loved the food and I was also pleasantly surprised at what good value the lunch menu was. Each dish was priced at a mere £6. So during a spot of gift shopping along Oxford Street two days before Christmas, I decided to pop into Pachamama for a bite to each for some respite from all that Christmas craziness.

This time I tried two new dishes, starting with the lamb anticuchos which were really nicely cooked, with meat that was were tender and very tasty. Charred mackerel with bleeding tiger’s milk was also very enjoyable. The mackerel was fresh and there was a pleasant and well-balanced acidity coming through from the tiger’ milk (the citrus based marinade used in ceviche). The mackerel was cooked through so it wasn’t really a ceviche dish, but the combination worked well together.

Pachamama - Lamb anticuchos

Lamb anticuchos

Pachamama - Charred mackerel

Charred mackerel

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