Saturday, 26 November 2016

Smaka



Where77 Alie St, London E1

Drop by Smaka, the latest Scandinavian eaterie to hit Aldgate East. Specialising in hearty and authentic Swedish food. Smaka serves up hearty breakfasts, fresh and healthy lunches and dinners with a Scandi twist.

The layout of the restaurant is open space with plenty of seating and in the far back a feature wall that can’t be missed - Think wood and nature. The restaurant is also well lit with lights and low bulb lights. There is also huge windows that flood the space with nature light, perfect for Instagrammable shots alike.

 A few weeks ago, I attended a Blogger foodie event to trial some of the delicious offerings which they had to offer. The menu offers the Traditional dishes such as Swedish meatballs, Lamb Shank, Salmon, Duck, Rainbow trout etc. I opted for the traditional meatballs and they were a far cry from the Ikea meatballs. 



These ones were special and even more special with the addition of lingonberries. These lingonberries had such a great flavour to them, they are sweet and also a tad bitter. For me, it was meatball love. The mashed potato - there was not a lump in sight. It was creamy and smooth. The cream sauce was perfect too. All the components worked nicely. 

I also tasted some of the Lamb shank and was highly impressed too, the lamb was heavenly and the risotto was creamy, comforting and had a nice balance, perfect for warming you up on a crisp cold day. 



We soon moved to desserts and I had the Wine Poached Pear with chocolate sorbet . I liked this poached pear despite me not being the slightest fan of red wine and it was tasty. However, I felt a vanilla or even coconut sorbet would be better suited as opposed to the chocolate one. I also tried some of the Cheesecake and it was perfection. The creamy top and the buttery base was an absolute win win for me and the lingonberries vinaigrette was everything.



Lastly closing the night, I had a nightcap of the Vargtass which consisted of Vodka and Ligonberry Cordial and it was delicious. Such a great combination of sweet on the soils of vodka. 


I really enjoyed my evening at Smaka, Superb food and service with a smile. Also had good company with the other food bloggers that I met. It was great to put names to faces. I would highly recommend that if you’re in the area of Aldgate to give this place a try for comforting and filling Swedish food. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Paul A Young Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Intercontinental Park Lane



Last Sunday, I went to the Intercontinental Park Lane with my friend Sabrina  where we had the most indulgent chocolate afternoon tea courtesy of Paul A Young. The Afternoon tea was the perfect setting at the Wellington Lounge, Intercontinental Park Lane. This luxury 5-star hotel is perfectly situated in between Knightsbridge and Mayfair and boasts amazing views of Buckingham Palace. The hotel is chic and a well-designed establishment, with bespoke interior, gorgeous flower artistry by the lovely Moyses Stevens team, they’ve done a fabulous job penning the arrangements around the hotel. I was very impressed!



The Wellington Lounge gets its name from the Wellington Arch - Which offers stunning views from every seat in the room.




The Chocolate Afternoon tea is a collaboration between world-renowned chocolatier Paul A Young & Intercontinental Park Lane Executive Chef Ashley Wells. This limited edition afternoon tea ends on 20th Nov. So be quick if you want to devour.


The Chocolate Afternoon tea experience combines classic autumnal ingredients, reminiscent flavours and Paul’s mastery whizzes you to a place where you are walking in an indulgent chocolate forest, tasting earthy notes and chocolate surprises. 

We were seated by our Waiter Stefan, who was really knowledgeable and his service was second to none! Every tea he recommended was spot on, don’t shy away from recommendations from the staff. 


Stefan began by serving us Moet Champagne in skinny flute glasses. The first part of the Afternoon tea was the savoury flatbreads, not sandwiches, as you know them, the toasted base worked wonderfully with the mixture of ingredients. There were some incredible combinations such as Smoked salmon and cream cheese, Honey roasted ham and English mustard, roast beef and white chocolate horseradish cream and honey roasted pumpkin with red pepper and goats cheese.



My favourites were the roast beef and white chocolate horseradish cream and honey roasted pumpkin. Sabrina loved the smoked salmon and creme cheese pairing, The tea that Stefan recommended to try for this experience was the deliciously black Darjeeling tea. This tea was a lightly coloured infusion with a sweet floral aroma, it changed from a light orange to a dark orange, this was to signify the change of autumn leaves. This blend really worked well with bringing the flavours from the tea.




The second part of the experience was the scones. They were light, freshly baked and soft. Scones are wonderfully British and delicious, the scones came in 3 variations. I am not the biggest fan of raisins and sultanas (but I ate these scones with no complaint) The scones were served with classics such as Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam and a salted caramel clotted cream. 

We were advised by Stefan to apply the strawberry jam first then the cream on top to fully experience the taste. As opposed to the traditional way of adding the cream on first then the jam. I tried both ways but the cream on top with the jam second was a full embodied rich taste. How do you like your scones? Cream First or Strawberry Jam?



Stefan also recommended the Park Lane tea paired with the scones, particularly with the cream and jam. And how right he was! It was dreamy and a melt in your mouth moment. The salted caramel clotted cream was a divine taste, to say the least. It was everything you wanted it to be sweet, buttery and kicking all the senses in your mouth. 


Lastly, the main show was served in a spectacular acrylic clear box, nestled inside was edible soil and twigs which were masked as chocolate decorated with leaves, raspberries and stones. Everything was edible aside from the leaves. The box also had a fragrant aroma which was alluring. 

Inside the Autumn chocolate sphere was a shell of 72% Venezuelan chocolate on the outside, With a whipped, creamy and salted caramelised hazelnuts topped with a blackberry. This was very rich tasting. Surely couldn’t be eaten all in one go (I packed it away for feasting with at home) 



Soon followed by the corn which consisted of chipotle chilli and sugar ganache, sandalwood, cedar wood chocolate twigs cocoa nibs. This was an explosion of flavour in the mouth.

Last but not least the chocolate pod which was simply my personal favourite. It consisted of  65% Grenadian Kalingo dark chocolate. Chocolate water ganache, The chocolate had a certain flakey/crumbliness to it, but it worked, then paired with a creamy white chocolate centre and green cardamom ganache. It was just perfect. The tea which was paired to this was a Red Berries Tea by Northern Tea Merchants.

The Paul A Young Chocolate Afternoon Tea is a dining experience which needs to be explored, it truly plays an experience to all five senses. The service by Stefan was exceptional, he made us feel at ease. His attention to detail was spot on and it was just the kind of experience you would expect in a 5-star establishment. The Chocolate Afternoon tea ends this Sunday! Booking is advised.

* I was a guest at the InterContinental as always all opinions/thoughts are my own. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Rum Kitchen Brixton


    Where: 437 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LN

The Rum Kitchen is the newest addition to land in Brixton on Coldharbour Lane. It joins a branch in Kingly Court, Soho and the original in Notting Hill. This is the 3rd site and the first in South London.

As you step into the venue, you are transported into a Caribbean beach shack (no signs of sand here) The decor is fun and bold. Perched in the  wooden ceiling are oil tins and there is cabinet storing some of their mighty rum collection with over 200 types of rum.

Rum Kitchen has a modern take on Caribbean food. You can find old favs like Saltfish Fritters, Curry Goat etc and new remixed dishes. This particular location has introduced Jerk Fried Chicken Burger and Grilled Red Snapper to its menu.

For starters, I had the Sweetcorn Fritters which consisted of 6 balls which came with the Bang Bang Jam which I thought was really tasty. Unlike the traditional pattie, these were in the shape of balls, they had a yellow inside and packed a fiery punch. The Bang Bang Jam was a nice accompaniment, the jam was sweet, sour and sticky. 



Following the fritters, my friend and I shared the 18 hour slow cooked pork belly ribs with house special TRK BBQ sauce and crispy coconut flakes. The ribs were finely glazed in the sauce, the meat was very tender and delicious and the sauce had a fiery sensation to it. 

For the main course, I went for the 3 piece bowl which consisted of 3 Jerk boneless chicken thighs with a Jerk Gravy, Rice & Peas & Coleslaw. It came with a watermelon, pineapple and sprigs of hot chilli. My friend went for the same dish but 5 piece bowl.




The boneless chicken thighs were nice but didn't live up to the jerk chicken I am used to tasting, for me it didn’t have that rich in-depth flavour you would expect from jerk chicken being cooked in a jerk smoker. The chicken had a modern twist and it wasn’t authentic enough for me. I thought the jerk gravy was really nice and just wished there was a more of it. 

For Drinks, I went for the Wray Cobbler which consisted of Lime, Sugar Syrup… Wray Nephew rum and the Ting wray - Lime, Ting Grapefruit Soda & Blue Wray and Nephew. You have spotted a pattern here. Wray and Nephew is a spirit I like in my cocktails.




The overall atmosphere in Rum Kitchen Brixton was cool. They played some good music. The staff were friendly and the service was pleasant. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Big Apple Brixton



Where: Pope's Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8JH


Big Apple Brixton (formally known as the pop up 'Brixton Beach Boulevard'), is conveniently located right next to the railway station and just a short walk away from the underground. At the entrance you're greeted by a Huge Mural, so you definitely won't be able to miss it.

Big Apple Brixton is set on a rooftop, you get the feeling that you've been transported into New York circa 1970s. Once inside you'll find yourself in a New York City Street, complete with 5 bars, 4 food vendors, themed rooms and a club called Le Freak.

On the opening night, break dancers took to the stage and showed us a good time. Flexing and spinning showing off their b-boying skills in an etched breakdance battle - this was a lot of fun and got the crowd going for sure!




The Le Freak club wasn’t opened on the night I visited but promises a full Studio 54-esque experience. 

The main bar - the Brixton Apollo offers a wide selection of beers, ciders, mulled wine and cocktails. Although on first taste, the cocktails are too sweet - so you may need to ask the bartender to water it down with more spirit so that the balance is right. I chose the Spiced Mai Tai which packed a serious punch, whilst my friend opted for the Long Island iced tea.



There are 4 themed rooms which are super cool:  A Barber Shop, Record Store, Peep Show & Chapel. Each room stuck to their theme very well (They really hit the nail on the head). On the launch night, these were opened for us to have a look inside and chill out in. On a normal night, these themed rooms are exclusive for private parties only and would need to be booked way in advance. These rooms would be the perfect fit for a birthday party or girls/boys night out hidden away from the crowd.

As a part of the makeover, the venue is now covered by a massive tent - so you don’t need to worry about getting wet, but I'll definitely say you still need to wrap up warm on those colder evenings/nights. 

Now on to the food.. They have 4 vendors to choose from: Grandmaster Slice Pizza (which wasn’t open on the night I visited) Burger Bear, Plucky’s Chicken and Mac to the Future (which is a play on word from the 1980’s Sci-fi classic). I grabbed a burger from the Burger Bear vendor (burger prices started from £6.50)

They had a good selection of burgers to choose from - I liked the sound of the Grizzly Bear and Angry Bear, so I asked for them to be combined for my order. It was a towering patty burger with bacon, cheese and relish, it was fairly messy but hell it tasted as good as it looked! It was pretty succulent and juicy, as you had a heat from the #HolyF**k hot sauce yet the sweetness from the bacon jam. It was finger licking good, if you are going to BIG APPLE BRIXTON, you need to try this BURGER!!



The music and entertainment seemed to be the big thing here. Big Apple Brixton plays host to day and night parties, playing the best in 80's music, Funk & Soul, Hip Hop/RnB and House Music. I would definitely recommend checking it out. Take your crew and get on down to boogie to Big Apple Brixton!

Big Apple Brixton is open now till 1st January 2017 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Orange Elephant Steak



Where: 351 Fulham Road
London, SW10 9TW

Orange Elephant Steak is situated in Fulham Road, not too far from Chelsea Football Club Grounds. 

The restaurant is long with a lot of light, panelled walls, wooden lights, with a direct view right at the end of the Chef’s kitchen. It has a very modern yet sultry appeal.



Orange Elephant Steak is renowned for their signature steaks which are carefully sourced from independent British farms and created from specially selected cuts of quality beef, which have been aged for a minimum of 32 days. Also, all steaks are cooked in their Big Green Egg ceramic charcoal BBQ cooker. 

When I visited the restaurant with my friend Benji, we started with their Walnut and Rocket salad, followed by their roast dinner which had all the trimmings as you would expect, accompanied by a giant Yorkshire pudding, which was crispy and filling. The beef was succulent, tasty yet tender and the potatoes had a nice crisp while the broccoli was steamed and still had a nice crunch to them.  



The menu is fairly simple with many familiar favourites like creamy mac and cheese. Orange Elephant has a great deal on their steak for £20 that is worth checking out, alongside their signature Tom Hawk steak which comes in at £80.

The staff are friendly and welcoming. If you happen to be in the area of Chelsea, do swing by and try this place out or definitely plan a Sunday day out for a delicious roast, you won’t be disappointed. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Crab Tavern




Where: Unit 7
Broadgate Circle 
London 
EC2M 2QS

Crab Tavern is a seafood restaurant located in Broadgate Circle and is the makings of Russian Restauranteur Igor Krayushkin. Crab is the main focus here. Crabs come as a whole, in a brioche bun, in salads, cakes, crab claws or in a bunThey also do brunch, which is worth checking out.

Crab Tavern exudes a New York style vibe  - With low lamp shades, exposed brick walls, woodwork tabletops and flooring, industrial ceiling and a crab mural wall which brings extra character to the walls. There is plenty of sitting on the top floor, including leather booths and a large space downstairs with the opportunity to oversee the chefs cooking. 



On my visit, the restaurant was filled with sounds of Gavin Holligan which was a nice touch and of course even more soothing to dine too. Gavin had such a good voice, he sang favourites such as All of Me by John Legend.

Being in a Crab Tavern, I really wanted to try what they specialised in. However, on the day I was also drawn to the Grilled Baby Octopus. Now I have never had an Octopus before, I have always been squeamish of the thought of eating an Octopus. But I thought I would step outside of my comfort zone and give it a go. 



To my surprise the Octopus was cooked really well, it didn't taste rubbery and I thought why hadn't I tried this before. I had the octopus as a starter ( It is normally served as a main) It was well complimented with the pineapple, red pepper and mango salsa. It definitely brought a sweet essence to the dish. The octopus was well seasoned and chewy,but not rubbery just what you would expect. 

Next, I opted for the crab-tastic combination of Crab "N' Waffle which hands down is amazing. This combination totally works. Fresh crab was infused with chilli in a crab mayonnaise and guacamole. It was fresh and dreamy! This was a winning combination for me.




Lastly, I had a dish from the new Autumn menu. Pork belly with apple 3 -ways, crushed potatoes with coriander and a gravy. This dish was beautifully presented, I almost didn’t want to ruin the dish by eating it, I could've just stared at it. 

To me you can’t go wrong with Pork belly, It is always a crowd pleaser. this one was cooked well and the skin was crisp and crackling. The meat was soft yet tender and it was delicious.  The apple 3-ways consisted of tiny caramel apple balls which when you cut into it - had a gooey like consistency, a sweet apple puree and lastly a decorative apple crisp. (which is a dehydrated apple) All dishes was made by the talented Chef Jorge Lourenco.




For dessert, I had the Pannacotta with orange syrup, orange jelly & orange segments, This was pretty good! The pannacotta was deliciously light and creamy and it was the perfect ending to my meal. 

For drinks, I had the "Made in Cuba" cocktail which consisted of Barcadi, Lime, Cucumber, Mint Absinthe Spitz and Soda which had sweet tasting notes to it. I also had the "Old Maple" cocktail which is a creation by the Bar Manager, Alec Parkinson - which consisted of Bulleit Bourbon, Maple and Bourbon soaked raisins. This drink was sweet due to the maple but strong due to the Bourbon.




The service at Crab Tavern was good and always with a smile. The staff assisted with my questions about the menu, they were patient, knowledgeable and very welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and had such a good afternoon. 
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