DINNER WITH A VIEW AT DIM T

With 2018 being a chilly one so far, we’ve spent more time moaning about winter than Ned Stark. However, Friday brought some sunshine and a temperature somewhere in the mid teens, so like many Londoners; we opted for a few drinks and a gentle stroll along the Thames to usher in the weekend. Several glasses (or maybe bottles) of Picpoul later, we were close to City Hall and craving some deliciousness.

We’ve wanted to visit the flagship branch of dim t for a while. Being no strangers to their menu, we were confident our appetites would be appeased by their well cooked assortment of Pan-Asian favourites. However, this branch has an additional lure, namely the breathtaking view of the majestic Tower Bridge. A few kind words in the ear of the hostess and we were seated at a fine window seat on the upper floor, the perfect place to watch the rays of the setting sun gently caressing one of London’s most iconic landmarks. There was the option of an alfresco table but we’ll save that until actual summer.

dim t Tower Bridge London

The stylish restaurant was buzzing on a Friday night and the scrumptious courses being enjoyed by fellow diners inspired our menu choices. We first opted for a shared feasting platter to playfully battle over. This consisted of vegetable spring rolls, chicken satay, five spiced squid, edamame, prawn toast and a selection of dipping sauces. We saw this lovely feast off in record time, ordering some prawn, peanut and coriander dim sum into the mix. These delicate parcels finely chopped freshness came in a bamboo steamer and barely touched the sides.

We were craving some authentic Asian favourites, so out came a generous bowl of Nasi Goreng: Juicy tiger prawns and chicken, stirred with a selection of fresh vegetables, all bathed in wok fried rice and a spicy Malaysian sauce. This was a true hit. The crispy sea bass came recommended by our waiter and certainly didn’t disappoint. Succulent strips of fish delicately battered and served on a bed of flavoursome garlic and chilli beans. They were light, expertly cooked and laced with eastern flavours. Our accompanying side of stir fried egg noodles left us with bellies the size of HMS Belfast. So much so, that we just about managed to share a scrumptious toffee peanut sundae. We’ll certainly be making another trip to dim t London Bridge this year, maybe for an extended lunch in the sun. Roll on summer!

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dim t 
More London Place, 2, Tooley St, London SE1 2DB
https://dimt.co.uk/ 

 

A MAJESTIC LUNCH AT AMETSA

Who doesn’t love January, eh? Miserable weather, maxed-out credit cards and clothes which have magically tightened in conjunction with recent festive excess. London was gripped by a dry Jan juice cleanse frenzy but Mrs Flavour and I were on a mission of indulgence. After all, we were celebrating her birthday! We love the winter months, especially as many of London’s top restaurants offer deliciously affordable set menus to tempt gourmands back to their tables. We opted to check out Belgravia’s Ametsa with Arzak instruction for a spot of lunchtime Basque brilliance.

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Housed in COMO the Halkin hotel, this Michelin-starred restaurant serves exceptional Basque region fine cuisine. Seated under a canopy of multi coloured sand, we toasted our decision to take the afternoon off work with a crisp glass of Cava. The staff were funny, well mannered and highly attentive. The host even guided me on the long and complex route to the opulent bathroom. Upon return, the beautiful birthday girl and I negotiated set menu choices, each promising to share our selection equally, which seldom happens as agreed!

This was our first fancy meal of 2018 and I’m pleased to report we got off to a strong start. First up came a selection of Tapas: Flax seed crackers with vegetables, a fresh and healthy opener which gave us some of our 5 a day. A rich chunk of red Pork on a bamboo leaf and tasty nibble of Prawn with lichens offered the fine dining extravagance we craved.

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For the mains, Mrs Flavour picked an interestingly presented Chicken dressed in a crispy jacket and flanked with miniature seed mountains. I found the chocolate sauce unusually placed, but that didn’t stop me stealing a few forkfuls. I had a lovely fillet of Hake, softly seared and drizzled with a rich Sea Urchin sauce. It was so good that I reneged on our earlier pact, shovelling it in so quickly that Mrs Flavour barely tasted a mouthful.

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We have a similar eye for desserts and each selected the Chocolate Emeralds with Anise Flysch. These had a glittery sheen and a subtle hint of aniseed which paired nicely with the decadent bitter chocolate. The staff again demonstrated their awesomeness by bringing a decorated plate of birthday treats to Mrs Flavour’s table. This was a classy touch and just the right amount of sugar to make us feel naughty. We bade our farewells to the staff and set off to continue our sinning at the local Casino, where we won a less than impressive £10. I guess we’ll be putting that towards our next set lunch. Roll on February!

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
Halkin Hotel,  London SW1X 7DJ
https://www.comohotels.com/thehalkin/dining/ametsa-arzak-instruction

 

OPENING OF THE WEEK. THE ALLEGORY, SHOREDITCH

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We were lucky enough to get an invite to the opening of The Allegory on Worship Street, so we brought along a few close friends to share the experience. We’re tipping this one for greatness! We sipped an array of delicious cocktails whilst picking at a selection of sharing boards. The smoky baba ghanoush from the mezze board was well received and the scrumptious n’duja spicy sausage flatbread didn’t stand a chance!

The mains were a master-class in how to make much loved dishes even better. A mouth watering sirloin steak sandwich with truffle dressing got nibbled on by all present. Mrs. Flavour and I shared a rib eye and a sirloin, both of which were delightfully char grilled and richly flavoured. Our petite friend struggled to finish her tasty beef and ale pie, much to the delight of the gluttons present. I can honestly say that the chips, available with a variety of fancy dressings were the best chips I’ve eaten in ages. The desserts were obscenely good and I’m unable to describe them without salivating over the computer.

Get yourselves down to this awesome restaurant ASAP. Please try to resist the urge to steal the blankets, jumpers and hot water bottles provided to keep al fresco diners warm.

The Allegory
1 Principal Place
Worship Street
London
EC2A 2FA

http://drakeandmorgan.co.uk/the-allegory/

WE FOUND NIRVANA AT GYMKHANA

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We are putting it out there early: Gymkhana is without doubt the best restaurant we’ve eaten at this year! Mrs. Flavour and I had heard great things about this Mayfair ensconced eatery and could think of no better place to celebrate our fourth year of wedded bliss. Indian cuisine seldom fails to light our fires and Gymkhana’s Michelin starred classic and contemporary dishes set our hearts ablaze.

The restaurant is inspired by the Indian Gymkhana clubs, where the social elites would mingle to drink and dine. The tasteful mahogany and leather interior made us feel like royalty and the zesty Gymkhana Club Gimlet ushered in an evening of decadence. Mrs. Flavour elegantly sipped her pretty Pink Gin & Tonic while I got lost in a menu filled with deliciousness. If left unchecked, I’ve a tendency to order one of everything before staggering home like a remorseful stuffed Rhino. As luck would have it, our sharply dressed waiter intervened with a few suggestions, both curbing my extravagant nature and getting me one step closer to that six-pack I’ve been after. (Mrs. Flavour’s note: – you’ve got a good few steps to go, sweetheart).

The starter was a hit! A fiery Kid Goat Methi Keema, which butted horns with our taste buds and delivered a blissful capsaicin high. The dish came with some fluffy buttered buns to help guide the spicy goodness to our mouths. Mrs Flavour was looking a little flushed and I had a layer of sweat on my brow….just like on our wedding night. (Mrs. Flavour’s note: – Yes, you were pretty drunk then too). We chose a crisp refreshing ‘Clos St. Landelin’ Riesling to cool our palettes, eagerly awaiting the next instalment. Next came the Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns with red pepper chutney. The quality of this dish is best represented by that drooling face Homer Simpson makes when he thinks of something yummy. They were seriously awesome. However, nothing could top the next course.

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I urge anybody reading this review to stop what they’re doing, book a table at Gymkhana and be sure to order the Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops with Kashmiri red onion and walnut chutney. Were I not already married to the beautiful Mrs. Flavour, I’d propose to the incredible chef who gave us this culinary miracle. Generously plump Lamb with a succulent pink middle and a smoky char grilled exterior. They came seasoned with exquisite sensitivity, striking the perfect balance between richness, heat and meltinthemouthness. Absolutely sensational! The Chicken Butter Masala delivered a more recognisable Indian dining experience, but when it comes to flavour, Gymkhana‘s version stands Elephant-like above your average curry house fare. Velvety smooth and laced with fresh ginger, it filled what little space we had left in our bellies.

The chef was kind enough to send out a Happy Anniversary dessert plate, making us fall deeper in love with this wonderful restaurant. The decor, ambience and service were all first class. When it comes to food, I’m struggling to remember a meal as enjoyable as the one we shared at Gymkhana that night. Gazing at Mrs. Flavour whilst eating exceptionally good food is how I’d like to spend the rest of my life. Having said that, I’d gladly swap her for another plate of those Lamb Chops.

Gymkhana

42 Albermarle St, Mayfair, London, W1S 4JH

https://gymkhanalondon.com/#home

 

 

DISHOOM DELIGHTS US ONCE AGAIN

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It was another beautiful August day in London and I was perched at Regent’s canal, sipping chilled Domaine De Cabrials as the barges gently slipped by. My delicious daydream was brought to an abrupt end by a text from Mr. Flavour: “Almost back from Brighton, eaten nothing but chips for last 3 days. Need proper food”. My other half had spent the weekend at a stag-do by the sea. Between playing footgolf, watching Greyhounds race and impressing the lads by downing 20 pints a day, the poor Munchkin clearly didn’t get the chance to eat properly. I imagine that despite his hefty frame, he’d been prodding his ribs and convincing himself he’d reached the later stages of malnutrition on the journey back to St Pancras. Fortunately for him, we’re in the right place to find a feast.

Mr. Flavour staggered onto the scene, wearily dragging his suitcase and far too hangry to risk speaking. I grabbed his hand and whisked him off to one of our true favourite eateries; Dishoom Kings Cross. Our visits to this delightful restaurant have often brought a sense of disappointment. Nothing to do with the spectacular food and service by the way, simply because it’s so damned popular that we can’t always get a table. (Mr. Flavour’s note: – I’ve rocked up with the old “don’t you know who I am” approach on plenty of occasions but even that doesn’t seem to work. That’s how popular they are!). However, the God of hangovers must favour Mr. Flavour on this occasion and we’re ushered to our seats and offered drinks before you could say hair of the dog (Greyhound).

The décor at Dishoom harkens back to the days of the Raj. The humorous writing on the walls warning customers not to try any funny business with the waitress always raises a smile, while the tantalizing aroma of Indian street-food raises our appetites. Perusing the menu always comes with a challenge. Every dish we’ve ever sampled here has been close to divine, so it’s a case of shortlisting from a wide selection of favourites, without requesting enough food to satisfy an Elephant. We opted to order in stages and our statuesque waiter was happy to oblige.IMG_20170808_082800_509

First to arrive were the Okra Fries. Playfully described as “fine lady’s fingers for the fingers”, these nibbles are always on point. Fresh earthy okra adorned with a delicately seasoned coating so crispy it almost defies physics. I remember trying to recreate this dish at home, with our soggy attempt leading us to believe that Dishoom must employ Sorcerers in their kitchens. I could already see the life force returning to Mr. Flavour and had to act fast before he polished off the lot (Mr. Flavour’s note: – Good thing I kept topping up your wine glass to keep you distracted). Sticking with the crispy theme, some deliciously crunchy calamari landed at our table. The hot golden coating served as a fitting recipient for the tasty selection of accompanying chutneys and the slivers of chili breathed fire back into my other half. The curative powers of delicious food are miraculous!

Next up came the House Black Daal, a real Raja of a dish! Should you visit Dishoom, you’ll likely notice that every table in the house will order this item. It really is unmissable. Slow cooked black lentils passionately embraced in a manage-a-trois of fiery spices and decadent cream. Its dark richness is a masterclass in cookery. We guided this heavenly sauce to our palettes with handkerchief-thin roti and were given a reminder of just how fantastic Indian cooking can be. It’s rare for Mr. Flavour to rave about a dish which didn’t start life as a cow but the magic of Dishoom’s house black daal could sway the most hardened carnivore towards a life without meat. (Mr. Flavour’s note: – I did give it some thought…. until the next course came out).

We opted to share a new dish this time and ordered the Awadhi Lamb Biryani. Dishoom delivered yet again! Out came a decorative clay pot, crammed with generous chunks of richly spiced lamb nestled in fluffy fragrant rice. The flavours and style were reminiscent of Balkan cooking and we agreed to add this one to our ever-increasing list of favourites. This was accompanied by a real crowd pleaser: The Chicken Ruby. This “proper curry” presents succulently marinated bites of chicken, lovingly bathed in a delightfully evocative silken Makhani sauce. A tasty fusion of creamy tomato and traditional Indian spices, this dish brings back memories of finding the best curry house on a boozy saunter down Brick Lane in East London. A most satisfying way to fill that last bit of space in our tummies.

I’m unable to comment on the quality of Dishoom’s desserts, due to the fact we’ve always over indulged on spicy savouries by the time the waiter pops the question. We settle our bill head out for a gentle walk home, giving Mr. Flavour some revitalizing fresh air after his heavy weekend. However, it seemed that Indian street food has curative properties. The sparkle had returned to Mr. Flavour’s eyes and as soon as we were out the door, he was leading me off towards the nearest beer garden. Oh well, make hay while the sun shines, as they say. Keep our seats warm Dishoom, we’ll be back again soon.

Dishoom King’s Cross
5 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AB
http://www.dishoom.com/kings-cross/
020 7420 9321