Monday, 30 November 2015

HOPPERS, SOHO

Moti Mahal, Bombay Brasserie, and now Hoppers. I don't really indulge in Indian cuisine that often, and now it seems that I have somehow visited three within a single month - not that I'm complaining.
Hoppers on Frith Street in Soho is the latest venture from the Sethi family (Trishna/Gymkhana - both of which I appallingly have not been to yet), centrally located at the site which was once the much-loved Koya

I had made a mental list of what to order whilst we were waiting outside in the cold for them to open for dinner service - yes, I was 'one of them'...
One of those new-opening/no-reservation situations where you can either choose to wait for 20 minutes before opening time, or over an hour whilst staring at people eating through the window. I definitely know which I'd personally prefer.
Once we were seated I fired away with our order and sat waiting in anticipation whilst we sipped on warm and comforting Sweet Frothy Kaapi, a South Indian filter coffee, served in a stainless steel tumbler. This was placed within a 'dabarah' which is meant to help cool it in, but as I seem to have lips of steel when it comes to hot drinks, I didn't make use of it. The cup was quite small so we also ordered the Sweet Dilmah Metre Tea. Both drinks were really sweet and tasty, but best consumed in small quantities - don't want to end up having a sugar high or diabetes...



Having tried the Cashew, Cassava & Ash Plantain Fry, and the Bone Marrow Varuval with Roti on my first visit (both of which I would recommend), I ordered the Mutton Rolls, Chicken Heart Chukka, and the Duck Roti this time, which I had heard good things about. 
The Mutton Rolls were really crisp and coated in golden breadcrumb batter, containing steaming, hot and flavourful mutton filling. The duck roti was equally as moreish and I would definitely order it again on my next visit. I was initially quite hesitant to order the chicken hearts, which actually didn't taste too bad. I still feel a bit queasy about certain foods, but there was a lot of onions and spices going on that it sort of distracted me away from the thought of it...




We had an Egg Hopper each, a Sri Lankan food made from fermented rice and coconut batter, with the little pots of Pol Sambol, Seeni Sambol and Coriander Chutney on the side. 
Just as we were about to order the Black Pork Kari, we were informed that there was a special kari available, which was the Whole Crab Kari. We both love crab so we both pounced at the opportunity to try it - so deliciously spicy, and one of the best curries that I've had in a while. Surprisingly, I didn't really see many tables order it whilst we were there, but I would definitely recommend it.


 
We were quite full by that stage, and then the waiter came towards our table with another huge tray of food. At first I thought that it was a mistake, and then I remembered that in my state of hunger, I had also greedily ordered the Ceylonese Spit Chicken with gotukola sambol and pol roti. Clearly I should not be left to be in charge of the ordering when I am hungry. The chicken was really well marinated with lots of spices and tender, and I was a bit sad that I had to leave some leftovers as my stomach was pretty full to the brim - one of those days where my tummy is not quite so bottomless. We both weren't that much of a fan of the pol roti, which is a coconut flatbread, but the pennywort salad on the side was refreshing and had a nice sharpness that cut through the richness of the food.


I had my eyes on the milk hopper with kithul treacle, jaggery and durian ice cream, but was slightly disappointed when the waitress informed us that they had run out of milk hoppers (at 6.30pm - rather odd?!). Thankfully I still managed to get my durian ice cream fix - it was only a small scoop, but the taste was satisfying enough.



Service was really quick and the whole meal cost us about £38 each (including service). I was sad when Koya closed for good a few months back in May, but I am now glad that the site has been taken over by Hoppers which offers something quite different and exciting. 
Great food, good value, and the perfect location that will surely become one of my regular haunts. 

The Cheekster, signing out x


Hoppers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

Friday, 27 November 2015

TASTE OF LONDON 2015: THE FESTIVE EDITION

It has been over a year since I last attended Taste of London at Regent's Park - twice during that weekend, which was really fun especially with the good weather that summer.
Having missed the Summer Edition this year, I thought that it would be nice to see what The Festive Edition would be like - a four day food and drink extravaganza at Tobacco Dock

Our first stop was the Extra Special Festive Lodge where we were welcomed with glasses of fizz and checked out the impressive looking Edible Christmas House. The UK's first savoury and sweet edible house was created by renowned artist Miss Cakehead and a team of ten over 84 hours, constructed using 1200 mince pies, 30 lobsters, 75kg of parmesan, 30kg of maple smoked salmon, and 300 sprouts, all from Asda.
Asda is committed to reducing food wastage throughout its supply chain and has ensured that the edible Christmas House was made up entirely of test produce provided by suppliers as well as ingredients that were at sell-by date.
A garden patch created from cabbage and broccoli, lobster flower decorations, a sausage roll wreath hanging above the door, and clouds floating magically above created from award-winning Black Forest Alaskan Bombe desserts...
And dd I mention that there was also a Prosecco wishing well? - I could do with one of that.
Check out the timelapse video below that they created.

There were some cooking demonstrations going on as well and we managed to sample some of the delicious delights from Asda's Extra Special range.









We also visited the AEG Taste Theatre where they hosted some of the country's best chefs, cooking seasonal recipes on their latest appliances. We managed to catch two of the sessions that evening: Steve Groves from Roux at Parliament Square, who made a delicious souffle with banana and peanut butter ice cream, and Tom Kerridge from The Hand and Flowers.






And of course we pin-pointed some of the dishes that we wanted to try from the different restaurants. We had the Truffled Potato Croquettes from Terdwell's and Truffled Macaroni Cheese from Tom's Kitchen - both smelled and tasted really good, which helped to warm us up. We also visited the Club Gascon stand where Chef Pascal Aussignac served us the Cappuccino of Chestnut and Truffle Chantilly (MORE Truffle...) and Black Forest Macaroon.
We both tried a 5 Star Kebab from the Action Against Hunger stand: Sheepa had the vegetarian version by Francesco Mazzei, whilst I had the crispy duck kebab by Dan Doherty.








Realizing that the day was coming to a close, we made a beeline for The Dessert Bar where we had been eyeing the tantalizing display of eclairs from Maitre Choux. The display case was almost empty by the time we went back (!), but thankfully we managed to grab the last of their Festive Eclairs (Coconut Snow and Hazelnut and Milk Chocolate), as well as a coffee and raspberry one. A sweet way to end our evening.




Four hours sure flew by really quickly, and there were plenty of activities going on throughout the evening. And I splurged my last few Crowns on Joe & Sephs popcorn, because you can never have too much popcorn.
I didn't manage to make a second visit during the weekend, but I look forward to checking out the summer edition again next year.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Thursday, 26 November 2015

STAYCATION @ THE ARCH LONDON

It has been a while since I last did a staycation - the last one was during my birthday at the Royal Horseguards Hotel which was a fun weekend indeed. 

This time I had the pleasure of spending a night at The Arch London, a family-owned contemporary boutique hotel. Inspired by the London landmark, Marble Arch which is located just a stone's throw away, The Arch London spans over seven Grade II listed townhouses and two mews homes.  
We were booked into one of their ensuite Executive Rooms where there was a bottle of champagne ready for us on the table - I could get used to this.








Dinner was served downstairs in their restaurant, Hunter 486, which offers a 'Best of British' inspired menu. We were sat by one of the large Georgian windows which offered a view of the neighbourhood mews. 

For starters, I had the pan fried scallops with chorizo, red peppers, rockets and balsamic, which was good, whilst E had the soup of the day (butternut squash soup). The fillet of halibut had a subtle sweetness and nice, firm texture yet still nice and moist, served on a bed of white beans, mussels and clams. The organic salmon was just as delicious with creamy cauliflower puree, salsify, lemon and caper dressing. The side of cauliflower cheese looked pretty good, but it was maybe a tad bit overcooked and watery underneath.
We shared two desserts which were  simple and comforting - the chocolate fondant had a soft gooey centre and was served with with burnt orange ice cream, and the hazelnut and apple tart was nice and buttery with with cinnamon custard on the side.









Breakfast was also complimentary and served in the same dining area. They had a continental buffet counter on display but instead we ordered a la carte. We had the Eggs Royale and the John Ross organic smoked salmon and scrambled egg. - we do love our eggs and smoked salmon in the morning...



Our stay was overall rather pleasant and I would recommend checking it out if you are looking for somewhere central to stay for the weekend. 

Now, I wonder where/when my next staycation will be? 

The Cheekster, signing out x

Hunter 486 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato