22 March 2015

Tapas On The Dock

I love St Katherine's Dock. When I worked in the city I would often spend my lunch break strolling along the waterside, admiring the yachts and on sunny days envying the people sat outside the bars and restaurants, sipping on wine. It's a beautiful place to be during the warmer months but even on a chillier day like this particular Saturday afternoon, it's still worth the journey. No surprise that it's often described as one of London's best kept secrets.

Laura and I were meeting for a catch up. With the exciting discussion of a possible girl's holiday in San Sebastian on our agenda, I suggested tapas and Cava on the dock might be appropriate! 

We had a fabulous long lunch at Bravas Tapas, eating croquetas, Spanish cheeses and patatas bravas before walking over to the SkyLounge at Tower Hill for scones and cocktails. All the ingredients for the perfect ladies lunch!


14 March 2015

Eating Raw at Tanya's Cafe

My journey to try and get myself in peak condition continues. I'm going out a lot less compared to last year (hence the fewer posts), eating well, working out more (I've recently started spinning too...ugh) and generally being a good girl. Most of the time.

I've decided I want to try more health food/organic restaurants in London. If the food is clean and the menu sounds exciting, you may well find me grazing there over the next few months. Recommendations welcomed!

Tanya's Cafe is a raw food restaurant and cocktail bar you can find inside the Myhotel, Chelsea. It opened its doors in July 2014 and has been blogged to death by health food lovers ever since. Do you think that's going to stop me giving my two cents? Of course not! Better late than never.

Mary had just got back from holiday and was starting a detox so she was the perfect candidate to come with me and visit this first venue on my list.

The cafe has an easy-going atmosphere. Hanging plant pots line the stone walls. Each long wooden bench is topped with a pot of herbs and a little motivation message on a stick. "You Are Beautiful", one reads. How nice.

The calm ambience was a good thing for me as I'd accidentally arrived forty-five minutes earlier than our arranged time and I wanted to read my book. I ordered myself some BBQ spiced activated nuts & seeds (as you do) and relaxed.

As one might expect, all the food on the menu is raw (or heated below 46C), gluten free and organic. The brains behind the cafe, raw food expert and blogger Tanya Maher, has done a great job making both the day and evening menus sound really appealing. 

I decided to try a smoothie whilst I waited. My Nut Nog was definitely a winner. Tasting as much like a milkshake as a smoothie, it was made from hazelnut milk, banana, date paste, festive spices and turmeric root. Sweet, creamy and finished off by me within ten minutes!

Mary arrived just as I'd shifted the nuts from my side of the table to the other in an attempt to prevent myself polishing the whole lot off. She chose a My Alkaliser juice (kale, spinach, lemon, apple & cucumber), I had a fresh coconut water and we got to work at deciding what dinner would be. 

We decided upon two mains:

Dumplings - pumpkin dumplings, pine nut cream and crunchy winter salad


The Warrior Salad - marinated winter pesto-stuffed mushrooms, vegetables and kale.

To accompany them, we ordered three of the small plates: the cashew cheese & superfood crackers, a half avocado in seed mix and a bowl of coconut jerky.

It was the snacks that stole the show! I loved the crackers with the cheesy dipping sauce and the coconut jerky was yummy - Mary was a big fan too. The avocado in ground seeds was lovely (but when is avocado not awesome?). I was a tad disappointed by the rather bland pumpkin dumplings and the mushrooms were just ok. The accompanying crunchy salad was good though and we couldn't complain about the size of the portions.

And it filled us up nicely. I wasn't intending to have dessert, I really wasn't. But then I got shown the items in their cake cabinet by the waitress and things just went awry...

Luckily, they were all sugar free!

We shared a slice of the key lime pie and two cacao peanut butter cups.

The pie was delicious - naturally sweet and sharp in satisfying measures. It's amazing how you really start to taste the sweetness of fruit when you eat less processed sugar. The peanut butter cups were little mouthfuls of raw loveliness. If they hadn't been £3.50 a pop I probably would have stocked up!

In summary, the drinks, snacks and desserts at Tanya's Cafe were spot on. If I went again I'd probably choose a smoothie or a matcha latte with some crackers to nibble on rather than have a meal. It's all a little on the expensive side but I suppose that's what you get if you want to eat such fine, organic ingredients (in Chelsea!).

Alright, so I admit; I did decide to fork out another £7 for two more peanut butter cups to take away. A present for the hubby! That's just the kind of loving wife I am!


10 March 2015

A Date At Dishoom

There aren't too many restaurants I can get Alex all enthusiastic about going to. It can sometimes be a struggle for, shall we say "a fussy eater", to find more than one or two dishes on offer that excites. However, last week I pinged over a Skype message with Dishoom's tempting menu attached and Alex was all signed up. We were off on a date night to the self-styled Bombay cafe!

What is a Bombay cafe? Well, in the 19th century, many Persian Zoroastrians migrated to Bombay (now Mumbai) taking with them the Iranian cafe; a culture influenced by elegant European all-day coffee houses. The cafes reached their peak numbers in the 1960's with around four hundred in Bombay. There are now fewer than thirty. Lucky for us Londoners, three British-Indian cousins brought a piece of what remains to us.

There are three Dishoom locations; Covent Garden, Shoreditch and Kings Cross. We arrived at the latter late afternoon - around 5.30pm - in order to miss the notorious queues I'd been warned about on Twitter (I hate queuing more than anything ever). Lucky for us, there was no queue to speak of. Result.

Based inside what was an old warehouse, the King Cross venue with its high ceilings, dark wood tables and trendy dim lighting (the bane of any food blogger's life) is a winning combination of stylish and casual. There's a really laid back vibe despite the restaurant being bustling, even before 6pm.

We were given a friendly welcome and our waiter ran through the menu with us in detail. He explained that the dishes were designed to share and gave us his personal opinions on most of them! It took some time...

Enlightened with information, we were ready to make decisions.

Alex and I were hungry. We didn't hold back.

To start off, we ordered a few of the 'small plates': the spicy and ridiculously moreish okra fries, the hearty chilli cheese on toast (described on the menu as a Bombay standard) and the tasty lamb samosas. I also sneaked in the prawn koliwada for myself - crispy prawns with a wonderfully tangy tamarind and date chutney. Like the okra fries, they weren't easy to ration.

But we had to stop ourselves polishing off every morsel - we still this to come:

The Chicken Ruby - a rich and spicy curry with big tender pieces of chicken;

Lamb Chops - marinated overnight in lime juice, dark spices, ginger & garlic. Ended up being the only disappointment of the meal;

Black House Daal - a pleasing dark, rich and hearty signature dish made with pulses that pairs up nicely with the naan bread and roomali roti (both of which we ordered!);

Murgh Malai - unbelievably tender chicken thigh meat that's been steeped overnight in garlic, ginger, coriander and cream. Alex said it was one of the best chicken dishes he'd ever eaten;

Cheese Naan - There's melted cheddar inside and we wished we'd ordered two.

Dishroom Slaw - This spur of the moment addition to the meal ended up being one of my highlights! A crispy, cooling coleslaw that seemed to accompany everything perfectly. 

And it wasn't just the excellent food that made our evening so enjoyable. There was something about the relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere at Dishoom that we loved. Also, the service we received was incredibly friendly and members of the management were buzzing around the tables, making sure everyone was happy.

We decided we had room for dessert (our bloated bellies afterwards told a different story!).
My Memsahib's Mess was lovely. Strawberries, sweetened cream with a hint of rose and crushed meringue. Nothing earth-shattering that will reinvent the dessert world but a delightful finale all the same.

Alex and I rolled home both feeling a stone heavier than when we'd arrived but exceedingly satisfied. We're already planning our return, perhaps in looser trousers.