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Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Dosa’s in Cambridge

In Cambridge, Restaurants on 1 August 2017 at 1:46 pm

Dosa_Hut2

I was sauntering along the market square in Cambridge and came across Dosa Hut stall. Dosas are for indians what fish and chips are for the British or crepes are for Bretons. Universal uplifting comfort food that nourishes the body and the soul. Bracing for disappointed I bit into my freshly made rengdang dosa. The first bite was such a revelation that my eyes opened wide (just like in cartoons) and an almost ecstatic pleasurable sound struggled to make its way to my lips while I breathlessly munched on. Needless to say that the dosas from Dosa Hut are my latest food crush in Cambridge. If you have never tried dosas, then some background my be useful. Dosas are crepes made from fermented lentil and rice flour. Rice and lentil ensure that there is good carb-protien mix. The process of fermentation gives it a tangy edge and makes it easy to digest. Dosa Huts folds in an exquisitely cooked Malaysian curry in the dosa. The result is something that really tickles the palate in a very moresome way.

Address: Stall in the Market at Market Square, Cambridge CB2 3QJ. The stall is there from Wednesday to Friday 12 to 3PM.

Urban Shed

In Cambridge, Restaurants, Uncategorized on 14 April 2016 at 6:42 pm

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Urban Shed is a quirky airline themed sandwich bar in Cambridge that allows you to soar without constraints to a gluten free heaven. All ingredients are gluten free and sourced and prepared with care. With a LP banging away in a corner and quirky slogans everywhere, you could possibly think that you one in one of the ubiquitous hipster places that are all the rage now. You could not be more wrong. This place shoots from the hip and was hip when the hipsters were looking for their identify in Gap stores.

The first experience can be bewildering, so let me break it down for you. Your first choice is whether you will go down the sandwich route with a traditional or gluten free bread or you go up with the salad route. Then you decide what you want in your sandwich or on top of your salad. There is an exquisite range of choices. Portobello mushroom with blue cheese and candied walnuts. Goat’s cheese with oregano baked tomato. Smoked salmon with Orange Mascarpone. Roast beef with Caramelised onions. To drink there is milkshake, coffees with Urban Shed’s own blend of coffee beans and smoothies, all very competently done.

And now for my favourite part. The whole place with filled with quirky things and smart slogans that keep you entertained. My favourite: In the toilets, above the WC are the stacks of toilet papers rolls with a sign that says “Trump Towers”. Read what you want into it. 🙂

Address: The Urban Shed, 62-64 King St, Cambridge CB1 1LN
Tel:01223 324888

Aurora

In Restaurants on 19 January 2013 at 10:10 pm

I like good food but I like it without pretensions. It should be all about the food. So, for me, Aurora in Nottingham just hit the spot. Walk into the place and you know that there is personal touch. It was decorated with someone who cared about it at a personal level.

You are welcomed with a smile – service was flawless from the start. The restaurant is in a large hall on the lower ground floor. It is spacious and decorated in such a way that it exudes welcoming warmth and you almost immediately forget that you are below earth.

The food can be best described as modern european fusion with emphasis on fresh produce. We had country style pate and scallops to start with, beef steak and grilled chicken for mains and panna cotta and raspberry parfait to end. All for about 20 quid per person. Everything was done beautifully and the desserts really hit the spot.

As we were leaving, a very pleasant gentleman solicited our opinion about the food. Turned out that he was Craig Thomas, the chef cum owner of the restaurant. We had a long conversation about the challenges of running an independent restaurant. We complimented the desserts and the Craig promptly brought a shy lad out from the kitchen. He was the pastry chef and was very pleased that we had like his creating. It seems to also reflect Craig;s management style. He was motivating the shy lad in the kitchen by making sure that the lad got the kudos directly from us

The pride that Craig has in his establishment is reflected in the way everything works at Aurora. It reminded me of Brindle Room, a restaurant in the Village in New York that I used to frequent. It was run by Jeremy Spector, chef cum owner who became a good friend of mine. Wish there were more such places around where I live.

Aurora | 47 Stoney Street, Nottingham, NG1 1LX | 0115 941 3816

Tamatanga

In Restaurants on 19 January 2013 at 9:48 pm

There is a place called Masala Zone in London, which has been my refuge for one decade and continues to be my home away from home. Good home cooked food at reasonable prices. Imagine my joy, when I found Masala Zone’s fraternal twin in Nottingham. A fresh decor, nice service and unpretentious simple homely Indian food. The thali is nice and sumptuous, though a bit expensive at about about 12 quid. Then there are the curry bowl with rice. Homestyle chicken curry, lamb chettinad and garlic chilli chicken are worth trying. Again, just a tad expensive at 10 quid. Though, a very satisfying experience.

Tamatanga | The Cornerhouse Trinity Square, Nottingham NG1 4DB | 0115 958 4848

Kayal and Inder’s Kitchen

In Restaurants on 19 January 2013 at 9:35 pm

Anyone who has found themselves walking down the high street in UK knows that it is not difficult to find Indian restaurant.Yet is quite amazing how tough it is to find good authentic Indian food. It has a lot to do with the segment it occupies in the food market in UK. It competes hard in the pizza and chip shop segment. Once that brand image has been established, it is very difficult for an Indian restaurant to deviate and deliver food with quality that pleases someone with a more sophisticated palette.

I have come across two notable exceptions. They are Inder’s Kitchen and Kayal.

Inder’s Kitchen is a new takeaway in Cambridge that is on everyone’s lips. The phone is often answered by Inder herself – a sassy woman with an attitude that is reflected in the food she delivers. The food is modern Indian, relatively healthy and cooked with all the subtleties that is lacking in food served in Indian restaurants across UK. The right blend of spices used with skills so that it imbues the food with flavour but does not overpower either your palette or your senses. I have ordered a number of times from her in the last year. Smartly dressed agents deliver the food one scooters bearing the logo of the company. Fortunately, she has never disappointed us till now.

Kayal feels more like a Swiss ski chalet than an Indian restaurant at first sight. Once you start looking, you notice the Indian touches including an Enfield motorcycle, which would fill anyone who has lived in the Sub-continent with a combination of wariness and nostalgia.

Kayal is an authentic Malyali (Kerala for the uninitiated) restaurant run by a Syrian Christian family. They do a fantastic lunch thali on weekdays for 5.95 GBP. The thali consists of three katoris of eclectic subzis and one non-vegetarian katori. There is rice along with couple of coconut chutneys. The plain dosa that accompanies the thali is the pure joy.

Kayal on also offers a sadya thali for 16.50 GBP. We tried the sadya thali on a very cold January evening this year. In Malyali (the language in this context), sadya means feast and a feast it was. The sadya thali entail a three course meal with around 15 dishes in all. The range of flavours and sensation were mind numbing. I struggled to eat even half of what was given to us. It is certainly something worth experiencing at least once. Even if you have to travel to Nottingham for that.

Kayal Nottingham | 8 Broad Street Nottingham NG1 3AL | 0115 941 4733
Inder’s Kitchen | 43 Clifton Road Cambridge CB1 7ED | 01223 211 333

Muro Stan Stae

In Restaurants on 12 January 2012 at 6:34 am

Muro Stan Stae was where I chose to end 2011 and start 2012. I had just reached Venice a few hours ago. I had flown into Bologna and taken a train to Venice. As we approached Venice, we found ourselves enveloped by a fog. It was dramatic entrance to the most unique city in the world. We made our way through to the quaint little bed and breakfast we had booked into. By the time, we reached Muro Stan Stae, we were exhausted. The place lifted our spirits. We were welcomed with a glass of prosecco. We started with a platter that consisted of fresh dentex mousse, langostinos in curry sauce, spider crabs. It was followed by Octopus salad with artichokes and grey mullet bottarga. Then came the risotto of scampi and pink grapefruit served his own fruit. By this point, we were full. But we were yet to taste the ravioli filled with sea bass and radicchio in white truffle sauce. Next, we had Lemon and licorice sorbet to cleanse your palettes. This was followed by turbot baked in foil with pumpkin and leeks. We finally finished with chocolate soufflè with wild berries, just in time to sip to the start of the New Year.

Campiello Dello Spezier Santa Croce 2048, 30125 Venice, Italy | +39 041 5241628

Catch 35

In Restaurants on 12 January 2012 at 6:10 am

Catch 35 is where you go to enjoy some fish, some wine and some music. The first night I was there, it was Thursday evening and we walked in without reservations. They gave us a place in the Jazz bar where they serve the full menu. There was someone playing the piano which created a wonderful atmosphere. I had red grouper, which was really nicely presented. It came with a mashed potatoes and a portobello mushroom sauce. Then I went back on Wednesday evening and there was no piano, which really took something away from the experience. We had a very efficient waitress, who announced the specials like a thespian announcing the entry of the protagonist in a Shakespearean play. I had a half a dozen oysters to start and a yellow fin tuna sashimi for the mains. All very efficiently done.

35 W Wacker Dr Chicago, Illinois 60601 | +1 312 346-3500 | Website

Club Habana

In Restaurants on 12 January 2012 at 5:56 am

Apparently, the original Club Habana still exists in Mexico City as a place for all the Cubans to hang out. When I walked into the one in the Village, I felt like I had been transported to another time and place. It was Wednesday lunch time and the place was buzzing with energy. They do not take reservations and there were no tables available. So, we sat at the bar. The place is tiny and was being run by a lanky guy with a week old stubble and a hostess cum waitress in leather pants. Water intermittently dripped from on the counter from the freezer above. No one except me noticed it. It was just a detail that added to the charm of the place. The food was simple and nice. I had pulled pork that came with rice and beans. The rice and bean were perfectly done. The pulled pork was delectable. My companion had a toasted tortilla, which looked excellent. The food was good and the setting added to the experience.

17 Prince Street at Elizabeth Street New York, NY 10012 | +1 212 625 2001 | Website

Zocalo Restaurant and Tequila bar

In Restaurants on 12 January 2012 at 5:35 am

Zocolo exerts a quite assured confidence in the way it presents itself. It is high end Mexican food, done well. Ingredients are fresh, inviting and tasty. We started with a seviche tasting platter, which we washed down with a very drinkable Pacific Rim Organic Riesling from Columbia Valley. For the mains, I had the special, which was the Mahi Mahi done delicately with a subtle green sauce. A fantastic experience on a cold January evening in Chicago

358 W Ontario, Chicago, IL | 312-302- 9977 | zocalochicago.com

Divino’s

In Restaurants on 3 November 2011 at 1:44 am

At the end of a long narrow surban road in Nairobi lies the Divino’s Wine Bar. As you walk in, it feels like someone has tried to create a Mediterranean experience in the tropics. I was new to Nairobi and this was place was perfect, it was half way between Africa and Europe. The food is excellent and the wine very reasonable. We had a seafood platter, which was freshly done. The service was excellent. I remember leaving with a satisfied grin on my face.

Argwings Kodhek Road | Kilimani, Nairobi, Kenya | +254 20 2376361

Balthazar

In Restaurants on 28 October 2011 at 11:56 pm

As I sit nicely curled up on my sofa listening to the Late Junction, my mind wanders Kaleidoscopically over the last year. A melange of emotion imbued with mental snapshots. For some arcane reason an afternoon at Balthazar stands out. Balthazar is a New York institution that is very difficult to pigeonhole. There is something about is place that makes you feel good about yourself.

As you walk into Balthazar, you are transported to a slightly different world. It is charming in the old world kind of way. The staff have old world manners. The food is very American with just a bit of European touch. It is a place where you go to have a conversation and tuck into the grub. The place is always buzzing. The food is tasty in a way that has always surprised me. I have often opted for their Salad Nicoise and the steak or the skate. This particular fall afternoon, almost a year ago, stands out. That afternoon we had some New England hard cider, which really hit the spot.

Even though Balthazar is now a millions miles away, I could really do a lazy weekend brunch at Balthazar. Unfortunately, I would have to wait for another couple of months before I can tuck into the stake. If you find yourself in Balthazar before that, do have a glass of cider for me.

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 | +1 212 965 1414

Royal Kitchen, Prideinn

In Restaurants on 23 October 2011 at 1:06 am

I am finicky about Indian food and why shouldn’t I be. I rarely like eating Indian food in a restaurant. Imagine my surprise when I found myself eating a fantastic Indian meal and that too in a relatively unknown Indian restaurant in Nairobi.

Royal Kitchen looks less like a restaurant and more like a cafe run in a safari tent when you walk in at first. At the end of the tent are some really nice intimate corners created by leather couches. Even after we had sunk into these couches, we could see the football on the telly out of the corner of our eyes. Prideinn is a residential hotel and it is a shame that the Royal Kitchen doubles up as a coffee shop. There were the usual boisterous expats downing beers in the background and reliving their African exploits, which frankly sounded more fantasy than reality. Nairobi, for all its charm, would be a far better place without the swarming crowd of pretentious self styled Livingstones.

The menu was intriguing. It was an eclectic menu largely drawn from the Mughalai cuisine. It was also reminiscent of the food I used to eat at my grandfathers as a teenager. Finding Murg Mussalam on the menu left me very nostalgic. Unfortunately, as traditional Mughalai cooking is slowly giving way to modern India cuisine with regional influences, traditional dishes like Murg Mussalam are more and more difficult to find, even in India. To my utter amazement, the Murg Mussalam was perfect. Creamy and mild, yet delightfully moorish. We ordered some kebab, a Paneer Pasanda and a lamb biryani. The only disappointment was the biryani. A proper Biryani is a very laborious to cook and almost impossible to get right in a restaurant.

The evening turned out to be a memorable one. We left the restaurant smacking our lips and feeling extremely satisfied. What matters in a restaurant is the food. If the food is done right, I can forgive almost anything. Even football and boisterous expats!

Onami

In Restaurants on 23 October 2011 at 12:35 am

Very rarely you walk into a restuarant and everything feels right. Onami is just that place.

The music is loud enough to get you in the mood yet allow you to whisper to your date. The lighting is subtle enough to retain your privacy, yet not force you to grope in the dark. The food is fresh and with enough twist to intrigue you yet not so radical that you have to scratch your head. The service efficient yet unobtrusive. Onami is the my perfect go to place. Too bad it is million miles away from where I live.

I was in Nairobi for about a week in September 2011. Onami drew me back twice. We had seviche salad and tuna salad liberally sprinkled with mango. The Chef’s sashimi platter that followed was impeccable. The range of cocktails were bewildering. We experimented with one called “Nairobi to Tokyo.” Even though “Nairobi to Tokyo” did not disappoint, we preferred the conventional cocktails. On a latter visit we had a bottle of Lambrusco, which was chilled to perfection.

Nairobi may feel like a outrageously long way to go for a good outing, but somehow, going all the way for Onami does not feel that outrageous.

Westgate Mall, Mwanzi Rd, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya | +254 713 328 688

Young Cheng Restaurant

In London, Restaurants on 6 August 2011 at 9:00 pm

When you need a comforting plateful to rice with meat for around a fiver, Young Cheng is the place to go. You share the table with random punters, the service is curt yet efficient and food is on the table within minutes. Roast duck with rice or the roast duck soup is my favourite. I also love the rice with fish and aubergine or with lamb, ginger and spring onions. There are about 75 rice and meat combinations, which all look intriguing.

76 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6ND | 020 7437 0237

Kimchee

In Restaurants on 18 July 2011 at 11:13 pm

Matsuri’s magnificent space on the corner of Red Lion Street has been taken up by Kimchee, a Korean restaurant that has been adapted to both European taste and expediency required by a reasonably prices large volume restaurant.

You can get warm soupy meaty broths for under seven pounds. There are grilled meat, which come grilled from the kitchen. They tend to be oily but tasty. There are accompanied by lettuce and chilly paste. Don’t expect haute cuisine. It is good quality cheap food in relatively opulent space.

71 High Holborn WC1V 6EA. 020 7430 0956
Holborn or Chancery Lane tube

Masala Zone

In London, Restaurants on 5 July 2011 at 5:33 pm

If I had a home away from home, this would be it. This is not a Indian restaurant. This is not a curry house. This is home-cooked food in a restaurant, with just enough panache to make you feel like you are doing something special.

The ambience is quirky – dolls hanging from the roofs, frescoes painted by artists that travelled from the villages of Madhya Pradesh to the London adorn the walls of this restaurant. It is a place that is what it is. More substance that flash.

The food is simple. You get food in a thali. In a traditional Indian home, you would eat in a thali – a large steel plate with lots of tapas sized portion of lentils and vegetables. The thali in Masala zone usually has a couple of vegetables – sometimes they are curried but quite often they are dry – a dal (or lentil for the uninitiated), a dish meat or fish dish that you can choose, some rice and a roti.

The vegetables and the dal changes everyday, so you never get bored. Well, at least I never did. I have been going to this restaruant chain for the last 10 years and done everything imaginable in this plac. Smile, laughed, flirted, charmed the girl, fallen for the wrong the girl, fallen for the impossibly wrong girl – again, stayed up with the manager after the restaurant closed, suggested quirky cocktail concoctions that went up on the menu and have always walked away feeling happier than than before I went in. In all my trails and tribulations, if there has been one constant, it is this place. It is a chain, but a chain of happy coincidences.

Website | Menu

48 Floral Street, London Wc2e 9da. 020 7379 0101.

80 Upper Street, London N1 0NU, 020 7359 3399.

147 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9RQ. 020 7373 0220.

Blue Ocean Sushi

In Restaurants on 16 June 2011 at 10:08 pm

Sushi in a landlocked state in the middle of USA. Doesn’t sound like a good idea, right! Well, sometimes, you just need to have it.

I was in St. Louis, Missouri for four days straight and my mind kept wandering to the fruits of the sea. The first try was disastrous. Tani Sushi Bar, in the pretentious Clayton area of the St. Louis, has to be avoided like the plague. What is the one thing that sushi needs to be. Fresh! Exactly what it was not.

Refusing to be discouraged, I asked, I listened, I eavesdroped and it finally paid off. Off the campus of Washington University is an area which is called – wait for it – the streetcar suburb or the Delmar Loop. How entirely charming is that. Delmar Loop is a delight. All kinds of exotic food intimately cohabiting with a bustling market. For a Indian boy like me, the serenity of the midwest is a bit daunting and Delmar Loop was a welcome temporary respite for it.

On to the Blue Ocean Sushi. It is an unpretentious restaurant. One might say, it even felt a bit run down. Undaunted by my Tani Sushi Bar experience, I stepped in and I am so glad that I did. I sat at the bar and the sushi chef, who seemed to be a Washington University student, started bantering immediately with me. Within moments, the slightly rundown bits of the restaurants went out of focus.

The sushi was fresh and very nicely done. The bento box that followed was sumptuous. There was even a large portion of salad in stead of the customary tempura. Fantastic meal and it was less than 10 quid. If you ever find yourself in St. Louis, this is the place to head to if you crave sushi. There is even an all you can eat deal for 21 dollars.

609 Eastgate Ave, St Louis, MO 63130. +1 314-721-9168

Website | Directions

Loch Fyne at Cambridge

In Cambridge, Restaurants on 29 May 2011 at 4:41 pm

Sometimes all you need is a fresh piece of grilled fish. Non-fussy food at the its best. Loch Fyne does just that. Good fish at reasonable prices. It is actually a chain but does not feel like one at all. The staff at the Cambridge Loch Fyne are friendly, paitent and welcoming. The wines on the list are mostly new world non-fancy good-value-for-money wine. On my last visit I have a gilthead bream, which was done to perfection and left me extremely happy. They also have a 10 quid two course lunch deal, which extends all the way to 6:30PM.

37 Trumpington Street CB2 1QY. 01223 362433.

Website | Map | Menu | Winelist

Song Que

In London, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Vietnamese on 28 May 2011 at 4:08 pm

Fantastic Vietnamese food in London

Sometimes you just need a warm nutritious bowl of pho (pronounced pha). Nestled in the chaoes of Kingland Road is the Song que, which nourishes the body yet does not damage your bank balance. The atmosphere is simple and attracts people from all walks of life. Paper wrapped prawns and bettle leaf wrapped beef are to die for. There is a large variety of pho, which have never disappointed. Pho comes with rice noodles, lots of greens and a generous quantity of the meat. My suggestion would be to keep away from the sauce based dishes. A lavish dinner for two should cost 30 quid.

34 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY. 020 7613 3222

Website | MapTimeout Review

Giaconda Dining Room

In European, London, Restaurants, Uncategorized on 28 May 2011 at 3:55 pm

Food cooked with passion

The passion for food that people who run this place have comes across the moment you walk in. It was the name that got me curious about the restaurant. It made me reminisce about my visit to the majestic Golconda Fort in Hyderabad. Ever the dsylesic that I am, turns out that it was actually a reference to Mona Lisa.

The restaurant is tiny with a sombre dark decor, which gives it a stylish feel. The menu seem like someone with a distinctive Anglo-Saxon no nonsense touch adapted a upmarket brasserie menu and fitted it in this tiny space. For a cover charge of 1.50, you get olives and unlimited supply of sparkling water in a carafe. There are reassuring number of specials of the day. 3 different fish of the day, a meat grill of the day, a risotto of the day and a sorbet of the day. The wine list is particularly good with a wide variety of reasonably priced wine that are really good value for the money. Three course dinner for two with a half a bottle of wine should work out to about 75 quid.

On my two visits to The Giaconda Room, I have had Marinade of Raw Salmon with Fennel & Cucumber, Cervelle de Canut, Roast Rack of Lamb and their Lemon Sole with capers, which was one of the specials of the day. I have tried their Prosecco di Conegliano Cantina Bernardi and Cotes du Ventoux Mas de Fondreche (2009), both extremely good value for money. There have been no disappointments in the food department. The only disappointment I have had is calling on Monday and finding that it closed from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning.  A place where the people take a long weekend seems quirky in the London but in a very appealing way.

Open Tuesday to Saturday lunch. 9 Denmark Street, London WC2 H8LS. 0207 240 3334.

Website | Map | Menu