Thursday, May 16, 2013



If you are ticking off the boxes of the restaurants you have to eat out in London, then driving down to this list is right up there. This choice is indeed amazing and overwhelming in the buzzy city…do put it to delicious use!

CULINARY ESSENCE- Traditional and authentic Italian cuisine with a strong creative element
AMBIENCE- The buzzy central bar spreads its charm to the restaurant and lounge creating the perfect setting to relax and indulge in anything from a hearty breakfast to a romantic dinner. The silver grey and rich gold velvet upholstery set against a black backdrop come alive with numerous candles that gave a warm glow making the black glass Murano Chandeliers sparkle at dinner time.
USP- The head Chef has created a menu that also features a simplified range of comforting Italian classics using outstanding quality ingredients which changes with the seasons.
LIP SMACKING-‘Burrata cheese (rather than the predictable Bononcini) served with Sicilian Caponata’, ‘chef’s style Scottish beef nicoise salad’. Less punchy but fresh and aromatic is the mushroom cream soup which manages to be thickly textured without over-dosing on cream. ‘Smoked swordfish loin with exotic fruit, grape juice reduction and red onion’ and the ‘Tuna Steak served with roasted aubergine, avocado and ginger sauce’ are a seafood lover’s dream and leaves you wanting more. Save a little room for the heavenly “Tiramisu” made from home-made mascarpone cheese which enhances the flavour of this delicious dish to the tee.
Brunello at Hotel Baglioni, 60 Hyde Park Gate – Kensington, London SW7 5BB
Landline Number: +44 (0)20 7368 5700
Timings: Open for Breakfast, lunch, afternoon Tea and Dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- Authentic Indian and Modern Indian cuisine with a British twist.

AMBIENCE- This is one fine Indian restaurant set in elegant and relaxing surroundings. The unassuming entrance leads to a charmingly spacious first floor bar replete with opulent artefacts and floating flowers. The adjacent dining area is none too traditional in its décor and has a very upbeat contemporary feel to it. This probably explains why serious business suits sit comfortably side by side with the latest designer outfits. The Sommelier’s Table, a dramatic glass-walled cellar dining room - where one can dine amidst world’s rarest wines and a Chef’s Table with a bold glass fronted wall that entices you further into the creation of your dishes add a further touch of elegance.

USP- Owner & Chef Atul kochhar is the very first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, which he accomplished during his tenure as Head Chef at Tamarind in 2001, he then went on to open Benares for which he was awarded second Michelin star in 2007.
LIP SMACKING- The tasting menu paired with wines is to die for especially the ‘Tandoori roasted hand dived Scottish scallop’ paired with a Sequillo eben Sadie from South Africa. From the al la carte do not miss the ‘Saag Gosht’ contemporary and classic is an amalgam of wonderful flavours. Do not miss the ‘Tandoori Chicken for two’, plump and succulent, it’s carved right at the table. The ‘Baingan aur matar ka bhartha’ is exceptional and the desserts like ‘Rose and Raspberry Bhapa Doi, pistachio Burfi’ and ‘Betel leaf Baba, tropical fruit, passion fruit yoghurt’ are richly heavenly.
Benares, 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BS
Landline Number: +44 (0) 20 7629 8886
Timings: Open for lunch and Dinner. Sundays closed.

CULINARY ESSENCE- Exquisite fine dining with a modern twist, using British sourced produce.
AMBIENCE- Named after the owner who bought the property in 1903 and restored it into a country seat fit for royalty, this restaurant is no less than a jewel. This part of the mansion stands out for its Beaux Arts style. To top this off, a beautiful panoramic view of the lush green lawns is bound to making dining here an experience of a lifetime.
USP- has been awarded two coveted AA Rosettes; Foodies will appreciate the careful detail given to each dish, from the superior ingredients to the expert hands that craft each dish.
LIP SMACKING- ‘Cured duck ham and vodka jelly’ with pink turnip remoulade and beetroot, ‘Wild mushroom and Madeira fricasse’, on a parsley rosti with a black truffle jus, ‘Baked fillet of hake’ on chervil risotto, roast chervil root, sticky oxtail and roasted clams with almonds, ‘Roast butternut squash pithivier’
with char grilled tender stem broccoli, and a white wine and garlic cream, ‘Baked hazelnut cheesecake’, with an orange caramel sauce and pistachio ice cream and ‘Iced banana daiquiri ‘with a chocolate mille feuille and mini banoffee tart.
Wernher at Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, the Mansion House, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3TQ
Landline Number: +44 (0) 1582 734437
Timings: Open for Breakfast, lunch and Dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- Prominently English menu combining high quality food and fresh produce with Italian influences…
AMBIENCE- Overlooking Victoria, at the St. James Theatre complex, London’s newest theatre which opened in 2012; a sweeping sculptural staircase ‘Final Encore’, designed by artist Mark Humphrey and built in Italy from white Carrara marble leads you up to this fine dining space on the first floor where the walls adorn many a nostalgic photos of stars and celebrities.
USP- A real restaurant providing a good choice on a fixed price menu is something of a rarity in London

LIP SMACKING- ‘Char-grilled marinated squid salad’, ‘pressed rabbit terrine’, ‘lemon Panacotta’ with lemon curd, blackberries and chocolate. In between, mains run the gamut from from ‘confit duck with cannellini bean Cassoulet’, to ‘Spatchock chicken with tarragon Velouté’, or an ‘open lasagne of wild mushrooms’ with saffron pecorino sauce. A concise list of international wines is bolstered by a fistful of world beers.
Carrara at St James, 12 Palace Street
London, SW1E 5JA
Landline Number: +44 (0) 207 592 0348
Timings: Open for Lunch and Dinner.

CULINARY ESSENCE- Mouth-watering British cuisine with a smattering of Mediterranean influences.
AMBIENCE- Overlooking the London skyline, high up on the 7th floor at Kensington roof gardens. Once you whiz past the bar, you would be welcomed by bright greens of various shades that are nearly on every surface, from the old fashioned sofas upholstered with velvety flowered fabric to the silky satiny stools scattered around the square tables. The large panoramic windows overlook the terrace and a sea of buildings let in lots of light during the day. And yes do not miss out the toilets, the Aquarium that sets apart the Male from the female also houses matching Aqua green fishes.

USP- This is where one might discover stimulating conversation with strangers while sipping on some of the finest wines and devouring the most delectable meal.
LIP SMACKING- ‘Oak smoked salmon with sweet potato blinis’ topped with soft, creamy salmon, is a delicious starter option. ‘Pumpkin and wild mushroom risotto’ is a must try and the ‘roast fillet of halibut’ is no less spectacular, with a fillet of the fish on top of a bed of wilted kale, fennel and samphire that absorbs the mousse-like shellfish sauce. Desserts include a sweet, gooey and rich milk chocolate tart with a scoop of creamy peanut brittle ice cream. The clementine cheesecake is another good bet. The ‘Red Edition cocktail’ pink and fruity with a buzzy tickle from the Champagne, and the hibiscus flower at the bottom unfurls as you sip along is definitely worth trying also because a pound of the sales from this drink go to charity.
Babylon, 99 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA
Landline Number: +44 (0) 207 368 3993
Timings: Open for Lunch and Dinner.

CULINARY ESSENCE- this casual fine diner offers its gourmands & food aficionado’s a place to savour Modern European cuisine prepared with market-fresh British produce - community style, while the fragrant spices of the bar’s meze menu hint at the old Covent Garden market’s more exotic wares.

AMBIENCE- Tall French doors welcome one here, an orchestration of bold strokes of form, pattern and colour, complemented by pendant skirt - all work together to create a site specific sculpted space, a style inspired cocktail bar.
USP- The chef’s fare balances simplicity with elaborate technique showcasing the inherent qualities of his ingredients. The kitchen team looks to nature’s bounty to act as the beacon, guiding them to create clean and harmonious dishes.
LIP SMACKING- ‘Jerusalem artichoke soup, curry oil and lemon balm’, ‘ Board of cured meat’ including Serrano ham, bresaola, peppered salami, smoked duck, Brunswick ham and terrine with dill pickle, piccalilli relish and bread,  ‘Rosary ash goat’s cheese tart with confit of onions’ , ‘baked tomatoes, pesto sauce and rocket salad’, ‘Bitter chocolate tart kumquat marmalade’ and ‘cream Creamy apple and calvados trifle’ .The afternoon high tea which consists of a three-tiered tea tray which includes mini sandwiches, warm scones and mini pastries, complemented with an array of fine teas.
Dial Bar & Restaurant Covent Garden, Radisson Blu Edwardian, 20 Mercer Street, London WC2H 9HD
Landline Number: (0)20 7845 8607.
Timings: Open from 7 Am until 2 Am.

CULINARY ESSENCE – For over 300 years, it had been sourcing and selling superb quality tea. In 1926 it was transformed into a unique department store with a restaurant. For generations, afternoon tea has become an essential part of any visit to 181 Piccadilly as it serves the best afternoon tea in London.

AMBIENCE- Housed on the fourth floor St. James’s Restaurant came into being on the store’s 250th anniversary in 1957, and offers superb dining and fine afternoon tea. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was reopened in 2012 by Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.
USP- Today it is a unique and gorgeous store where even the Queen buys her groceries from, it is famed for its fine foods, hampers, teas, wine, five restaurants, award winning wine bar and an ice-cream parlour.
LIP SMACKING- The Afternoon Tea menu features finest teas, delicate sandwiches and exquisite cakes. One can also choose a warm entrée if one goes for the High Tea and on offer is also a scrumptious savoury tea menu for those who do not have a sweet tooth. And yes don’t forget to order a British sparkling wine.
181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER
Landline Number: +44 (0) 845 602 5694
Timings: 10 Am to 9pm and on Sundays 10 am to 6pm

CULINARY ESSENCE- A chic restaurant offering tasty Italian cuisine…!

AMBIENCE- Walk into Scalini, a home-style Italian restaurant, and one feels at home at once. It marks a clear departure from often seen soul-less sleek minimalist restaurants, celebrating the nostalgia of the good old neighbourhood restaurants. With floral and chequered print tablecloths and pretty tapestry, Scalini is sure to transport you to a Villa in Firenze. The restaurant is spread over two levels and is known to be a favourite with many footballers (pictures adorning the walls are proof enough) and the likes of Sonia Gandhi and her family as well.

USP- Recently bought over by Amit Burman of Dabur and Neeraj Kanwar of Apollo tyres, the focus is on a relaxed and friendly team, warm environment, great food and unbeatable value, thus making it the ideal choice for lunch, dinner or just a great time out!  
LIP SMACKING-‘Linguine alle Arselle Freshe’ with fresh clams, tomatoes and garlic, ‘Sagliola alla Griglia’ aka Grilled Dover sole, ‘Carpaccio alle Rucola’ aka very thin raw fillet of beef with mustard dressing, parmesan cheese and rucola, ‘800 gr de Florentina’ chargrilled T-Bone steak a la Metro d’ Hotel, ‘Agnello Gallese Al forno’ welsh lamb with port and red currant sauce, ‘Tiramisu’ and ‘profit rolls’.
Scalini, 1-3 Walton Street, London, Greater London SW3 2JD
Landline Number: +44 (0) 20 7225 2301
Timings: 11 Am to 11 pm.

published in Tlf

Turn of the century Filipino cuisine

Turn of the century Filipino cuisine

This rustic Filipino restaurant is bright, breezy and cheerful and dispenses with any false grandeur. Cosy tables set in cheerful turquoise colours dot the expanse with plenty of large open doors from which you can catch the hustle and bustle outside in the shopping mall. A strong Mediterranean feel comes across complete with smartly dressed staff.

Coming to the food, not as you might think a Filipino eatery, more Mediterranean and Spanish in essence, this is because Philippines  has absorbed eating traditions from Spain, and also a bit from America, Japan and china, hence one of the most unique cuisines in the world was born and evolved aka Filipino Cuisine. Chef Florabel obviously labours with love creating gourmet Filipino dishes. “Calamares ni Tales” (fried golden calamari, coated with desiccated coconut and garlic mayonnaise dip) is exceptionally crispy and delicious. The “Tinolang Matanglawin” is a culinary masterpiece where pressure steaming coaxes all the juices and flavours out of the buko meat (the cream of the tender coconut) cooked along with papaya and chicken. 

The “Adobo Damaso” is another speciality worth waiting for and the special topping of Adobo flakes (Spanish seasoning) takes a liberal leaf by eschewing traditional variety of meats. The Spanish inspired “paella” was superlative in taste. 

Their fresh from tank seafood items are wonderful for their briny freshness. On a more traditional vein, there is “yaman Dagat”a wonderful mix of seafood stir-fried in a lovely coconut cream sauce; lovely dish to accompany steaming white rice. There are no mediocre dishes here and service is impeccable.

2nd Floor Newport Mall
Resorts world Manila
Pasay city, Metro Manila
Phone: +63 (02) 846 9275
Timings: Monday to Sunday: 11 Am to 10 Pm 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


With summer already here, the first thing that comes to our mind is that summer food is all about isolating the idea of sunshine and warmth while keeping things cool and refreshing. It makes good menu sense to take advantage of the summer fruits and vegetables. What else can be “fresher” than seasonal vegetables and all that is “freshly” available during the particular season? All season related fruits and vegetables should be relished. 

As a matter of fact with the onset of summer season we are eagerly waiting for these special seasonal delights to be brought home and we always take this occasion as a celebration. Mangoes, Strawberries, Watermelon, Sugar melon, Lichees are all fruits of summer.

 Tindas, Toris, Ghiya, kaddu etc are all summer vegetables.  

These seasonal vegetables or fruits or preparations are ways of the almighty to keep us hale and hearty, they support up in all ways so that we can cope up with the changing seasons. Elders have always advised to relish and enjoy the season’s bounty. However the safety of fresh produce should be considered, because it does carry both organic and chemical contaminants and the secret is wash, wash, wash!! Well-washed fresh fruits and vegetables are possible steps to protect ourselves to make sure the food we are consuming is safe.

Ideal food for a hot summer day – can be a bowl of chilled soup, like the age old Gazpacho or even a chilled aam ka panna, that’s delightfully decadent. Include raw mango and onion chutney in your meal, it’s amazing and would keep you cool all along. It’s the season for fresh salads, served on their own or with a slice of something from the grill. The range in the salad ingredients available on the shelves of super marts and green grocers is awesome. Salads should be dressed very light so that they stay crisp and fresh. The salad is as much a meal as it is a starter or side dish. Light meals are ideal for summer time and it’s a good season to let your digestive tract recuperate from the meat churning winter season. Lots of vegetables, this should be followed by chilled fresh fruits and ice-cream dessert.
Here are a few easy to make recipes which you could incorporate in your daily diet and chill out!!!!

Makes for 2-3 days
Raw Mango: 250gms; Onions: 300 Gms; Green chilly: 10 Gms; salt: to taste; Sugar: to taste; red chili powder: to taste.
] Grate the mangoes and onions. Grind the green chilies.
] Mix all together. Add sugar, red chili powder & salt as desired.
] Include with your meal every day.

Makes 4
Tomatoes: 200gms; Cucumber: 200 Gms; Ice Berg Lettuce: 100 Gms; salt: to taste; freshly ground pepper: to taste; freshly squeezed lemon juice: as reqd.
] Cut tomatoes and cucumber into dices. Tear Ice Berg lettuce into bite size pieces.
] Mix all together. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 4
Watermelon: 800gms (deseeded & cut); Mint: a few sprigs; Rock salt: to taste;
] Cut chilled watermelon into large cubes.
] Mix with rock salt and fresh mint. Enjoy!!!

Makes 4
Mango: 200gms; Strawberries: 150 Gms; Sugar Melon: 200 Gms; Water Melon: 200 Gms; fresh mint: few sprigs; Vanilla Ice-cream: 1 or 2 scoops per person.
] Cut chilled fruits into medium size dices.
] Top with Vanilla Ice Cream. Garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy!!!

                                                         THIS SUMMER HAVE

·       A lot of salads with a light lemon dressing or basic vinaigrette.
·       Chilled fresh fruit juices, shakes.
·       Chilled fruits by themselves with/without rock salt.
·       Lemon water, Aam Ka Panna, Jaljeera.
·       Yogurt, plain or fruity.
·       Vegetables like Ghiya and Tindas in light gravy, (tomato curd gravy is quite cooling).
·       Curd rice.
·       Include raw mango& onion  or pudina chutney in your meal.

Monday, May 13, 2013



The Lowdown- Owing to its close proximity to the sea and the yachts, it’s easy to guess how it got its name. Owner Samir Chhabria, synonymous with famous nightlife spot ‘Prive’ and Japanese lounge ‘Tetsuma’, has joined hands with Chef Ratish Dabre to conceptualize this space. ‘The Pier Mixology’ offers an eclectic combination of premium spirits and ingredients such as Chai Tini, Cucumber Some, Watermelon & Kafir Lime, fruity goodness prepared by their flaring bartenders in the cocktails. Recommendations also go all out for the ‘in house caramel’, ‘coffee and orange’ liqueurs that are superlative.

Ambience- With more than a touch of the elegant international table, dash of Gold on the walls, grey ceiling, stone flooring, mood lighting, a vibrant yet sedate setting of blue tapestry and brown wooden interiors brings an oceanic grand look to one’s mind. Options are  aplenty one can either melt into a sofa  and soak in the atmosphere, hang out at the frosted 45 foot long bar with one’s favourite cocktail, or then settle down to a languid meal on a chair with soft world music playing in the background.
Lip-smacking- ‘Duck Leg Confit served with mash and bacon bits’, ‘Braised Pork Belly with Apple Cinnamon Jus’ that melts in your mouth, ‘Barbeque Country Hen with Red Wine Jus served with grilled peppers, potato and turnips’ and the ‘Pan seared Atlantic sweetness’, mild sweetness of which marries perfectly with the Thai curry it is served with. For  a sweet ending go for the ‘Cappuccino Soufflé’ or one of the ‘homemade ice creams’ to soothe your palate.
Don't even go there –If you are sea sick.
'Man’ Speak –Nice ambience and good service topped by great food.
How to get there- The Pier, 41/42, Minoo Desai Marg, just behind the Radio Club, Colaba, Mumbai.
Tel- +91 22-60660036/37
Timings- 7:30pm to 1.00am
Cost - A meal for two would be approx. 2,000 without alcohol.    
Published in The Man

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The largest group outside of India and Pakistan reside in South Africa; most of who were brought to Natal as contract workers for the sugarcane fields who stayed on and settled down as artisans or merchants. Predictably the Indian influence added spicy curries and much more to the cuisine.

Unlike Zambian or Moroccan, South African cuisine is not so easy to define. A mixed bag of world cuisines it throws back the country’s history. An amazing fusion of French, Portuguese, Indian, Dutch, Malaysian, Zulu, Xhosa and German influences all blending in agreement on a single plate. The best example is a platter of Gemsbok, Crocodile, Warthog and Ostrich meat, but no worries the regular chicken, Lamb and vegetables are available easily at most restaurants at bars in Durban or Cape town are at par with that of any cosmopolitan cities.

Interestingly almost twenty percent of Durban’s (billed as South Africa’s gem) population is of Indian descent, and that is visible in the city’s cuisine. On offer are intriguing chutneys, buttermilk, curries and even Rotis. The favourite local dish is ‘Bunny chow’ basically half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry which can be chicken or mutton and beans for the vegetarians. Indian stalls also dominate the Victoria Street Market in Central Durban with stallholders selling a huge array of curry powders; the most interesting names being ‘razor blade’, ‘mother-in-law’ and ‘hellfire’ powder which I would say are surely not for the faint-hearted. All in all South Africa is a culinary odyssey that you will never forget!
For a taste of South Africa one can head to ‘Café style’ in Noida or ‘Life Caffe’ in Connaught place which serve the most scrumptious ‘Bunny chow’. “In our new menu this year we plan to incorporate some South African dishes like ‘bredie’ which is a marvellously subtle and flavoursome stew and perhaps a ‘boboti’ which is a gently spiced symphony of lightly curried mincemeat with a savoury custard topping”, shares Chef Ravitej Nath, Executive Chef at The Oberoi Gurgaon. “Indian cuisine being my forte I love trying anything that even has the remotest whiff of India in it, I have learnt a few dishes like the ‘African pot roast with chicken’ and some desserts made out of the ‘versatile plantain’ which is a staple of South African cooking’, says Chef Kunal Kapoor, judge Master Chef India and Executive Chef Leela Kempinski Gurgaon.

Makes 4
Oil: 45 Ml; Finely chopped Onions: 4 nos; Finely chopped tomatoes: 4 nos; Tomato Puree: 250 Gms; Finely chopped green chilly: 2-3 nos; Finely chopped garlic: 2 nos; Lamb: 800 Gms ; Halved potatoes: 2 medium size; Ground fennel: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground cumin: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground garam masala: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground Coriander: 1 ½ tsp.; Ground Cinnamon: 1 ½ tsp.; Turmeric: 1 ½ tsp.; Bay leaves: 3-4 nos; Salt: to taste;  Unsliced whole loaves of bread: 2 nos.
1.    Sauté the onion and garlic until soft in oil. Add all the spices and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. Using the extra oil, brown the meat. Add the canned tomatoes and potatoes and simmer gently for 45 minutes to one hour or until the meat is tender and the potatoes are soft.
2.    Cut the fresh white bread loaves into halves or quarters for smaller portions and hollow out the centre, keeping the spare bread to one side. Fill the hollowed out bread with the hot lamb curry and serve with the extra bread.
3.    Serve it with a salad of tomatoes and onions.

 published in HT City