Month: February 2012

Malabar Junction

Four years ago, I found it hard to even sit next to someone that was eating a curry. After a bad experience when I was ten (I’ll spare you the details), I thought my curry days were firmly behind me. But around four years ago I found myself with a boyfriend who adored the stuff. But it wasn’t just him, it was his family too. Not long after we met, I moved into his family home and was surrounded by it too much for my liking. When we had a night off cooking, I would sit with my lemon chicken from the local Chinese restaurant while they would gorge on dosas and Karahi chicken and lamb chops. ‘Come on Sarah, you have GOT to try this’ shouted my boyfriend’s dad one evening. And that was it, the whole family taunted me and I felt like I was a small child in a playground getting bullied to eat a cockroach off the floor. My boyfriend put the fork up to my mouth and I begrudgingly opened, …

Pho, Wardour Street

My first experience of Vietnamese cuisine was a couple of years ago in Melbourne. We were taken to dinner by a couple of DJs that my boyfriend knew who were incredibly excited about taking us to their favourite restaurant in the city. Everything was looking good when we arrived – it was bustling with the locals and we had to fight to snag a table. The building was creaky and not perfect, everything you’d expect from a neighbourhood restaurant. We let the enthusiastic gents order and listened to them talk about how amazing the dishes were before they finally arrived, after what seemed like a lifetime. My first reaction was to almost burst into laughter, followed by tears. Just by looking at my plate I could see that my local Chinese takeaway could have done better. In front of us lay MSG ridden gloop, disgusting sticky sauces and very unhealthy looking vegetables. I couldn’t have been more disappointed and for a while it put me off trying Vietnamese in London. When I finally braved it, …

‘Proper Black’ Barbecoa braised short beef ribs

I’m quite pathetic when it comes to cooking meat. I just don’t have it in me. Unforutnately neither does Jack – don’t tell him I said that though. The thing is, we just don’t tend to buy it. I’ll happily order a meat dish at a restaurant because I know it’s going to be so much better than my attempts. But when the email from Barbecoa arrived in my inbox telling me about a fantastic competition called #BBshortrib, I couldn’t resist. All I needed to do was pick five short ribs up from Barbecoa Butchers on Friday 10th February, cook them over the weekend and take them to be re heated at the restaurant on the Monday evening. It all sounded easy. As usual, I was slightly unprepared with my recipe but I knew I wanted to do something a bit different. I had a feeling that lots of entrants would be BBQing them, or braising them in red wine. So I did something a little different – I braised them in ‘Proper Black’, a …

East Street, Rathbone Place

It is Tuesday evening and my stomach is rumbling. I leave the office and venture towards Oxford Circus to meet Jack. I walk down the escalator at Uni Qlo and find him standing staring at a rainbow of socks. He turns around, arms full of multi coloured cottons, I give him a quick peck and tell him where we are heading. You see, he has the knack of never quite knowing what we’re doing. I am in charge of the diary – all I need to do is tell him where to meet me and I’ll quite often lead him to where we need to be. The restaurant in question this evening is East Street, a newly opened Fitzrovia joint serving a range of dishes inspired by the founder’s travels across Asia. Upon arrival, Jack turned to me and said ‘this is impressive’. He was talking about the way in which the restaurant has been decorated. Multi coloured signs hang from the ceiling, long communal tables fill the main dining area and colourful chairs, food …

Sundae in the City: Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

Published on BespokeRSVP on 7th February 2012 Walking out of Moorgate tube station, a chilling wind strikes my skin. I tighten my scarf around my neck and follow the map on my phone, past glamorous high-rise buildings, expensive gyms and the usual chain cafes. I arrive at my destination and outside, a slightly inebriated middle aged woman with red wine stained teeth touches my hair and asks if it is real before telling me how utterly gorgeous it is. I recoil before thanking and gently pushing past her to open the door to enter the bustling bar section of the restaurant. Inside I am greeted with welcome warmth and raucous laughter of City workers brandishing, no doubt expensive, bottles of wine. I find my dining companion, Qin, and we are seated at our table at the entrance of the restaurant section, which is situated just past the bustling bar area. The waitress apologises for the noise but I think it adds to the atmosphere. Chiswell Street Dining Rooms reminds me of somewhere I have been …

Best budget hotel in London? The Hoxton

I love a good staycation. “What on earth is that?” I hear you cry. Well my friends, a staycation is a holiday, away from home, but where you don’t actually have to travel very far. Last weekend I had a staycation at The Hoxton hotel in, you guessed it, Hoxton. Based on the Easy Jet style of cheap fares, The Hoxton offers rooms for as little as £1 a night with a maximum price of £199. It is a no frills destination in a great location but with a lot of the comforts of a boutique hotel. Dreamt up by Pret a manger founder Sinclair Beecham, The Hoxton promises small rooms with a comfortable double bed, a TV, chaise longue, hair dryer and hot drink facilities. Breakfast consists of small Pret yoghurts, bananas and bottles of orange juice, which are delivered to your door at your specified time. There is no mini bar in the room but guests are provided with free bottles of Pret spring water and a carton of milk for those much …

A Korean feast at Kimchee

If you’re a girl and feeling a bit under the weather, there’s nothing like a good old natter with a friend to cheer you up. That’s how I was feeling on Friday before I met my friend for dinner at Kimchee. I had walked past Kimchee numerous times but never made it in until now, perhaps because I work in Soho and quite often stick to the area. But the High Holborn location definitely doesn’t seem to be an issue for a lot of people. At 6.30pm, I walked through the front door to join a sizeable queue all eagerly awaiting a table. We were seated and our very pleasant waitress explained the menu and recommended a few dishes to share. We ordered one portion of Kimchee, a couple of sides, a rice dish and a BBQ dish. The idea is that diners share a wealth of dishes so that they can taste more. I am a huge advocate of the sharing plate so I was excited about what was to come. The food arrived …