It was a bright sunny day on April 11 and London was basking in it’s full blown glory – how could I have a better day to host my second Calcutta Street, Seafood special Pop Up? I would love to thank each and every one who attended it and by the looks of it enjoyed my food. There is nothing more satisfying for me than to watch other people enjoy my food – It makes all the 18 hours of cooking and prep totally worth it.
And a massive Hi5 to all the staff at Bonnie Gull for being absolutely fabulous, efficient and super friendly – Makes a sea of a difference! An a bigger Hi5 to Luke Robinson (Head Chef) and Gavin (Exec Chef) for making the whole process so smooth sailing. Finally I can’t thank Cobra Beer and Lord Billimoria enough for sponsoring the beers, they definitely make the food taste better!
I wanted to share the photographs from the day with all of you (who care to read this blog). Hope to see some more of you at my next Pop Up!
Calcutta Street Sea Food Special
Photographs by Kheya Chattopadhyay
My next Pop-Up will be a very special one as it has two of my favourite things Calcutta Food and Jazz (with some Indian instruments like sitar). Save the date!
Calcutta Street Jazz Special – 4th May (6 pm – 9 pm) at Stage 3, Hackney!
Being a food blogger (part time) has it’s perks every now and again.. wondering how? Well I do get food vouchers worth 120 (pounds) every now and again from the lovely folks at Zomato, or get invited by Bacardi for their launch party.. ok ok I shall stop showing off now!
Look at me posing below like a pro foodie!
Manhattan Grill is one of the few places which ranks in my ‘5 Star’ rating zone, read on for why it is so..
I am more of a West London girl and I like the Victorian and Georgian buildings but the walk to Manhattan Grill, especially the pretty bridge you have to cross from Canary Wharf to reach your destination (Manhattan Grill) is extremely romantic (that is the best word I could use, I promise). The external ambience of any restaurant does add to its charm. Oh did I mention that this steak house is a part of Mariott, these guys are ace when it comes to such things! — 1 STAR!
I made a reservation before going and I was extremely delighted to see that the manager remembered my name without having to look at one of those black diaries. The service was a bit slow initially (it took them a while to get us water which we requested for) but the overall service made up for that little jolt. I was generous to take a friend of mine along with me (nothing is worse than eating alone, I promise) to try this place (did I mention that I won a voucher from this lovely site? Woohoo Zomato!) and we decided to go for cocktails instead of wine, think we both had enough of wine over the weekend.
While I was trying to carefully pick a cocktail from the menu and looking rather confused, the manager suggested that we head to the bar where an extremely experienced bar-genius will talk us through all of them. We made our way to a very old fashioned (in a nice way) looking bar called the G&T bar and as the name suggests they specialise in Gin. The bar-genius, Sam made us try some lovely Gin from around the world – Saffron infused, Spice route and a very London Gin. All of them had their own distinctive tastes – I am not a neat spirit kind of girl but even I loved all of them especially the silk route or spice route one (yeah yeah make those lame curry jokes, go on) because I could taste the cinnamon, cardamom and other gorgeous spices. He made me a cocktail with that spicy spirit and added some more exciting things to it which included rosemary, chocolate and orange liquor – BLISS. Before entering the restaurant I was starving but all this alcohol excitement made me forget my hunger but by the time my cocktail was ready the waiter came and said : ‘Madam your Steak is ready’ – Perfect Timing! — 2 STARS!
I went for the rib eye steak with creamy mash and red wine sauce – keep it simple! My steak was perfectly cooked – medium well (just the way I like) and it was MASSIVE! A person with my appetite can never finish one of those, and needless to say I didn’t either! After being rather satisfied with my steak and cocktail, we ordered for a Manhattan Raspberry Cheesecake – It was again simple but delicious. Perfect sweetness, I don’t like my cheesecakes to be extremely sugary and a generous crust – nom nom nom. — 2 STARS!
Busy with my Steak – Don’t disturb
The short and simple menu
Bar-Genius – Sam
And… I am running out of stars! 5 Stars??? Yes I do feel generous sometimes, unlike the teachers in high school who never wanted to shell out that extra half a mark for a spelling mistake.
Verdict : Stunning location, Great service, Knowledgeable bar genius with a great moustache, Beautiful,well done meat and yummy desserts – That m’dear is a perfect dinner!
I shall rest my case here.
Prohibition/ Live Jazz/ Flapper Dresses/ Men in Suspenders/ Quirky Cocktails – If any of these terms sound vaguely familiar or attractive to you then Night Jar is one bar in London you definitely should pay a visit. It is literally like time travel but without any science involved in it, the only thing you need to do is get yourself a tube to old street roundabout (if you don’t live near there). This place is so ‘cool’ that they don’t even have a sign outside, it literally is a small door in the middle of the hustle bustle of old street shops/ take away’s. You get there and knock on the door (like you were going to visit your friend’s flat) and then you are greeted by a gentleman/ woman (dressed like they belong to the 1920’s) escorting you to the basement.
Once you reach the basement you are taken to a different world all together – you find yourself in a dimly-lit, mysterious speak easy of the 1920s, complete with bartenders wearing suspenders and newsboy caps, curious glass bottles on the various bookshelves lining each wall, and a wooden stage on which a four-piece jazz band was playing their hearts out. Thank god I made an effort to put on a nice dress and some pearls otherwise I would have felt ridiculously under dressed (If you are ever in a mood to dress up, this is where you should go). I made up for my modernism later on by using my cocktail props as hair decoration (see photo above).
There was a live jazz band blasting music and they were mighty good – I took to the dance floor with my friends after I had a couple of those funky looking bad boys (cocktails). I was pining to show off my dancing skills, always wanted to dance to live jazz just like they do in the movies – think Great Gatsby. Coming to the cocktails – they were super fun, decorative (oyster shells, Japanese fans, tumblers, glass coated with cinnamon and chocolate, polo’s pretty much all sorts of weird things) and very very strong. See the photos. Oh you need to make sure you have a reservation – yes you need it! That’s how they rolled in the 1920’s!
Strawberry Bellini’s, Champagne, Bread board, Cheese board, Cocktail Making, Fish Burgers and a group of 10 Foodies from London – This has to be a delicious combination and so it was. Andaz Liverpool Street and Zomato organised this exclusive evening for London foodies (Food Bloggers, Chefs, Writers) and I was one of the lucky 10 to be invited – woohoo!
Hyatt’s Andaz is a magnificent 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of Liverpool Street – it still has the old word charm unlike its neighbour the stunning modern glass landmark, yes you guessed that right, I am talking about The Shard. This 1884 building has a restaurant Miyako, Catch champagne bar and lounge, Eastway restaurant and George pub besides catering the tourists with some swanky rooms.
We got a tour of the restaurants, starting with Catch where we were greeted by Andaz and Zomato with a glass of strawberry Bellini or Champagne (whatever floats your boat) along with nibbles (bread board, olives, cured ham). Then we headed to Eastway for a cocktail class – we all went down and lemony shaking cocktails with the friendly bartender while gorging on the assorted mini burgers, Chicken chermoula and Lebanese Mezze. I made a mixed berry cocktail with fresh berries, lime, brown sugar, Vodka and berry liquor – it was definitely delicious, made me think of an alternative career option!
Finally we ended up at 1901 Restaurant and Wine Bar for cheese board and desserts – by this point everyone had a few to drink so people finally drifted away from food conversation to films, supper clubs and travelling (perfect topic before the Easter break). The Cheeseboard had Innes Log besides Cheddar and blue cheese but my favourite was Innes (Staffordshire Goat Cheese) a Creamy, lactic, tangy, nutty cheese which was my favourite and that is a massive surprise because I personally always thought that I hated goats cheese – so if you are a goat cheese hater then you know what to try. Finally we were served the most awaited section of any menu, yes you guessed that right – stressed spelled the other way round DESSERTS. It was literally a feast because we had everything from Lemon and Blueberry Tarts to chocolates to Strawberry and cream parfait – wowza!
Besides eating and drinking, I also met some fabulous bloggers, journalists and chefs. I had a brief chat with the chef from Catch who happens to be from Pondicherry in India (woohoo – go Indians). That man, has some serious talent in making breads – definitely one of the finest breads I have tasted and the rest of the gang couldn’t help but agree with me. The staff at Andaz were not just extremely hospitable but had great banter and chat too – which is always a great way to relax guests specially in such an intimidating venue.
I got some insider scoop and found out that they are starting – Weekend Brunch Clubs! Keep an eye on their website for more details, I am a huge fan of Brunch clubs and can’t wait to try it out!
Andaz Liverpool Street
Hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if you decide to try out Andaz!
You tweet a photograph and win a 3 course meal from Zomato – Yes Please! As a food blogger I do get invited to loads of places but having a sharp tongue I can’t always say that all of those experiences have been good because lets face it sometimes the food can be pretty bad – trust me even free food can taste bad! But the good news is Notting Hill Kitchen was definitely NOT amongst one of those – this Spanish -Portuguese restaurant definitely has made its way to my favourite places to eat in London.
Tucked away in the posh neighbourhood of Notting Hill it gives you a very exclusive-romantic feel specially with the candles and lamps which you can see from a distance while walking there. It is definitely a great place for a date – not the first date, because its too expensive for that (That is what my date told me ;p) but if you want to really impress someone then you know where to go – wink. I really want to meet the person who selects the music there because they clearly know what they are doing – making you feel relaxed, comfortable and takes you to a very Spanish beach restaurant mood. It is instrumental with a bit of a beachy vibe, loud enough to appreciate it but soft enough to not overpower your conversation.
The service is great too, most of the waiters are Spanish so they definitely add to the charm – imagine a Frenchman or someone with a posh English accent in a Spanish/Portuguese restaurant it wouldn’t create the same magic, would it? They were very well trained and definitely welcoming – the manager was very warm and kept coming back to ask if the food was good and our lovely waiter was very sweet to create some banter with us even though he was quite busy. The bar tender (who btw is very sexy, long locks and the whole Johnny Depp look about him) made an effort to greet us and also say bye to us even though we didn’t order any drinks at the bar.
Finally coming to the food – my most favourite bit! Drool, Slurp, Nom nom nom…… Yes these are all the adjectives I am going to use as I am lost for words – okay I know its Cheesy (even though we didn’t have any cheese). The manager told us that the chef of this place has one Michelin Star – Now you know what kind of food to expect right?
We ordered the scallops and sea bass for starters and both of them were absolute delights, the scallops well cooked and the sauce with it was divine (I was really upset, as I finished it in less than 2 minutes). I went for the slow cooked lamb shoulder with herbs for my main course – the lamb was soft, tender, beautifully falling off the skin ’nuff said! And finally the desserts – ohh boy they were such a treat – it didn’t just look like a million pounds but tasted like a billion! I went for this cocolately treat which was made with white, milk and dark chocolate mousse – I think I am going to dream about it for the next few weeks! Finally we were served a red dessert wine – which was just like the cherry on the cake to end a purrrrfeecttt meal!
Verdict : Doesn’t matter what kind of food you like – You NEED to visit this place when in London!
The queen of Spinningfields, Australasia Manchester, has now extended its offering with the opening of Grand Pacific; a contemporary, colonial style bar in the heart of Manchester financial capital.
It can be accessed via a secluded staircase inside Austalasia, this unique cocktail bar evokes the atmosphere of a luxury Pacific beach hideaway with smart colonial style decor in cream and white, a long bar, and a secret tropical garden. With exquisite cocktails as its main focus. The menu is the same as Australasia so you can expect some mouth watering sushi and desserts here. The whole place screams class and panache from every corner. This bar is definitely very unique and reminds me a lot of classy cocktail bars in London or New York. The pricing definitely is very high end as you would imagine and you need to put on some swanky clothes to feel not so out of place here. I can vouch that the food is delicious and so are the cocktails, but that you can find in a lot of other places too so this one you need to visit purely for the ambiance and the whole experience.
Verdict : Great place to visit when you want to feel special!
They say good things happen to you when you least expect it – that is exactly what happened when I randomly got invited for a meal to Dorchester by Zomato one fine wednesday afternoon for a meal in the evening. It is really exciting for a foodie to get invited to one of the fanciest restaurants in London but then you also gotta think about what you gotta wear when you are going for a meal to a swanky hub like this. But well, I was working so had no choice but to land up in my work attire (snore bore) and to be fair I was a little worried that I might get some strange looks off people carrying LV bags and wearing Prada dresses, but guess what? I didn’t. The good thing about classy places is that you don’t need to make that much of a superficial effort as long as you are well behaved (which I think I am… ok most of the times).
The Grill – Dorchester
Now let’s get to the most exciting bit – The FOOD (Yay). It was definitely one of the BEST meals I have had and when I say that I mean some serious business. The bread served at the table was beautiful, fresh and so tasty and I could binge on them all day. I absolutely fell in love with the lobster burger starter, they were the perfect size which goes inside your mouth in one go and was succulent soft and totally melts in your mouth (nom nom). We were served three different kind of wine with each course (yeah yeah I know its a given but hey still worth mentioning right?) and let me tell you m’dear that was definitely some high quality wine specially the dessert wine (usually not the biggest fan of this, but ohh boy this one blew my mind). I asked the waiter not to serve me dessert wine because of my obvious dislike towards it and then he took that as a challenge to serve me a different kind of dessert wine, which he promised I would love – he couldn’t have been more right. The wine was a smokey chocolately cinnamony wine – ’nuff said! My starter was a duck pate (they had some complicated name for it which I can’t recall now) followed by the perfectly cooked haddock and a beautiful sauce – definitely impressive to say the least. But the one dish that had me at hello was the gooey, creamy chocolate and marzipan dessert (must try).
The ambience was obviously very classy and royal – come on we are talking about The Dorchester here! But what I really appreciated was the customer service and the absolute politeness of the staff (a lot of times places like these have a different kind of snobbery about them which is rather off putting). The minute I entered one of the guys took my coat and then he again came and gave it back to me while I was leaving (without me even having to ask).
Verdict : Next time you gotta big celebration coming up or you need to impress someone you know where to go!
What would be your last supper? This is a question I never thought about till I attended The Last Secret Supper Club thanks to Lauren for inviting me.
Eating out has always been an important part of people’s life but in the last few years it has suddenly gone top of the charts even before gigs and rock concerts. There are foodies everywhere and instagram is filled with food photographs of people posting photographs of food they eat. Back in the days eating out meant going to restaurants – order your favorite thing from the menu, women gossiped about men and men talked about sports and the hot victoria’s secret model and then you went home. But now there are different kinds of eating out and the most interesting and popular of the lot are – Supper Clubs. Supper Clubs are not like eating out at any restaurant but its a mixture of both restaurant and a dinner party. You pay a fixed price in advance for your meal and a great time in advance, it has become the most popular thing to do in London and New York these days. Supper Clubs actually started in the early 1990’s in New York where it was a thing that the High Society people did and now it has made a grand come back – still quite elitist though.
I spend an evening with The Last Secret supper club, which is organized by Food Photographer Lauren and her business partner along with Top Chef Jesse Dunford Wood at Parlour in Kensal. Lauren was kind enough to allow me to bring a plus one with me, so I turned up with my friend Patrick at the venue 30 minutes late – we confused Regents Street in Kensal with ‘The Regents Street’. We were greeted by the lovely hosts and they immediately showed us the way to the bar where we were served Mandarin Infused Gin and Tonic in plastic bags which also contained a plastic fish inside it – quite an innovate way to serve cocktails I must say!
There was a mixed bunch of people – Food reviewers, The hot New York media PR woman, Editors of Magazines, The Finance guy who works for a Hedge Fund and has no clue about supper clubs(he was my plus one) and a lot of American Expats (Supper Club’s are a big thing in The States). We were all seated like we were at a posh dinner party and then food was served finally – people ate, joked, talked about work (the introductions), then slowly once the wine and cocktail started kicking in, it went in all different directions including politics, sex and london stereotypes.
I thoroughly enjoyed my starter, Buffalo Wings in Blue Cheese Sauce – never tried buffalo wings before but every one in the table agreed that it was delicious and very well presented. The fish pie followed after that, I have to be honest I would never order a fish pie (I am a hard core meat lover when it comes to pies) but it was definitely tasty. And finally the dessert was served – Banoffie pie! You can’t really go wrong with this classic because its almost everyone’s favorite and the chef definitely nailed it, I loved the way she presented it too.
We had a good laugh, some good food and a very fine evening!
I had a chat with the ‘Brains’ of this wonderful concept Lauren and Lottie, this is what they had to say :
The initial concept of Last suppers, came from a series of different ways of thinking around people’s favourite foods. This led to a slightly darker side, what would you choose if you only had one meal left? Would it be food from your childhood, or would you pick something you’ve eaten in a restaurant or abroad?
This was the beginning of our brand. We started by asking friends and family about their last suppers and were amazed by the variety of menu choices. We began shooting their favourite dishes and soon found a style to the food and photography that worked well. The more people, we asked, the more we began to want to expand the idea into supper clubs. It definitely had a new twist compared with other London based supper clubs.
We started off by running them from home and at a rented location, but soon realised how much work was involved and that it wasn’t going to work financially this way. Lottie is a full time recipe developer and food stylist at Seven Publishing, and I am a freelance food photographer, so it was very difficult to fit into our already busy schedules. This is when we decided to collaborate with a chef.
I met chef Jesse Dunford Wood about 5 years ago whilst photographing restaurant reviews for a magazine. We remained good friends, making our decision simple when choosing a chef to involve in the brand. Jesse is very innovative, his culinary creativity still manages to suprise me. We have been running our supper clubs for 6 months now, 3 months of this in collaboration with Jesse. They have been a great success and I hope they continue to be!
The exciting part about the Last Secret Supper Club, is that you won’t know what you will be eating until you arrive. It’s like a game of meal roulette! The menu is very varied, but we always cook an alternative for people just incase. We also ask all our guests to submit their meal and any dietary requirements before they attend. This way there is a chance of one of their courses being selected and winning £10 off their ticket price. This is also their moment to state if there is anything they specifically dislike! We will adjust their meal accordingly.
Our supper clubs are hosted every last Wednesday of the month. The next one is the 30th of April.
We are continuing to write our cookery book alongside, we’re in the process of putting together a shooting schedule, and we hope the book will be released in April 2015.
You can also find out more about the brains behind ‘Last’ via our websites-
You need food to live and a great cocktail to wash it down – this is what Ian said when I asked him to pick between a great meal or a lip smacking cocktail. I cannot agree with him more because even I face this dilemma every time I am out, should I spend more money on food or cocktails. Ahh the first world problems!
Ian Burrell is the Global Rum Ambassador which basically means he is the man you need to go to when you want to find out about Rum and he tours the world talking about Rum and making cocktails, when I say world I mean literally because he has even been to Antarctica and set up a pop up Rum shack there. He now owns Cottons, the rum shack and restaurant in Camden where they also serve delicious Caribbean food. Besides being the cocktail and rum expert Ian is also an Actor, Rapper and Basketball player – talk about wearing different hats. Phew!
So when I asked him for a lay man’s guide to making a professional cocktail he said you need to remember 5 different elements (yeah he treats cocktails like chemistry he said) because the best cocktails are punches! So here is the basic recipe to make the best cocktails!
3. Strong – Obviously any spirit, but according to Ian – Rum!
4. Weak – Coke, Soda, Juice, whatever floats your boat!
5. Spice – To make it nice, that is what they say in the Caribbean – Cinnamon, Chilly, Cardamom and likes.
Shake these 5 elements up with some crushed ice and impress your next guest!
When I asked him to make me a cocktail, he made this exotic litchi cocktail and I must say, being a non-rum lover I absolutely LOVED it. I must say, I was a very anti rum person till I met Ian and he definitely convinced me otherwise, i had a great time chatting with him at his bar Cottons Camden, you must visit and try their cocktails.