Did you Cut your Spending this Christmas?

I have been reading all sorts of articles over the Christmas period from those about gift ideas for various members of the family, great party food ideas and more.  Some of these were found online and some I found in my inbox.  One that caught my interest covered spending over the Christmas season.

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An online voucher company recently did a survey and discovered that 42% of those asked have tried to save money this Christmas.  It’s not surprising Christmas is an expensive time of year and it’s hard especially when you have little ones not to feel that you should get them the latest toy that they really want and have been on about for the last month and a half.  With our desire to make Christmas as special and magical a time as possible for children and loved ones some really do get a little spend happy it’s easy to get swept up in the Christmas buying frenzy that seems to happen and sometimes we might swipe the plastic a little too much it’s easily done as by not physically handling cash it can make you a little less aware of what you are spending resulting in quite a few cases in accounts being overdrawn as we venture into the cold January months.  I wrote a post in November titled ‘Save this Christmas and Enjoy a Happy New Year’ which I hope some of you managed to read and this gave some great tips on how you could save money for this Christmas as well as begin working on saving money for the next.

The company that carried out the survey that caught my attention was none other than My Voucher Codes which I frequently use and you can see the full survey ‘here‘.  The great thing about this particular company is that savings are not merely restricted to Christmas time although saving money at this expensive time of year is of course great.  These guys like many other voucher services allow you to save money on a whole array of products /  services from holidays, dining out, shopping for clothes, jewellery, beauty products, the list goes on.  I will be using vouchers to help save me money over the year and might even buy a few Christmas gifts on the way to reduce the load for next Christmas.  I’m quite excited to see they link to the offers on the buyagift page where I plan on making the most of discounts and go on a few of the experiences yet again.  The gift and occasion page is one to keep an eye on for those needing gifts over the year or want to get their Christmas shopping for the coming year finished early.  At the moment many of the stores they list are offering up to 50% off so if you want to grab some bargains why not go take a look.

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Have fun shopping x

Do you use money saving voucher sites like these and which do you use?

Tootoomoo Whetstone

I love Pan Asian food it’s got to be one of my favourites.  The mix of flavours, textures and colours is so enticing and the types of dishes that can be made are endless.  It’s also pretty healthy too which is an added bonus.  Not all restaurants are able to pull off Pan Asian cuisine to a reasonable quality but for those that would love to try a good one and live in London it I would strongly suggest going for a meal at Tootoomoo in Whetstone.  I went years ago with some other mums but as there was a large group of use we had to have the set menu which I don’t normally do and the restaurant wasn’t very big so it was a little tight but since then they have recently refurbished and the restaurant looks far nicer and was a bit more spacious.  It’s not an enormous restaurant but it is nice and cosy and has a and relaxed atmosphere.  This is a great place to go on a date or with friends and even for parties.  Staff are exceptionally welcoming and available when needed and extremely willing to help with explaining items off the menu as well as advising about popular dishes.

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I popped along to review this site and was extremely pleased that I had revisited, you will see why very soon.  First of all let it be said that their Lychee Martini is gorgeous it’s a fabulous drink for lovers of sweet fruity cocktails and one fans of sweet drinks must all try it!

We ordered a selection of starters which arrived at our table quickly.

The Starters

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Edamame (soya beans)

Packed with natural phytooestrogens and fibre these tasty beans are a lovely healthy way to start a meal.

Yuzo Salmon Maki (cold dish)

The flavours and textures were indicative of fresh food and were made well with the maki being firm and not falling apart when we picked them up with our chopsticks.  These were a good size too as some restaurants serve ones that are too big and not so easy to cram into one mouthful.  Food needs to look good, taste good and it helps if it’s easy to eat too.

Salmon Sashimi (cold dish)

This came accompanied by a small bowl of soy and kizami wasabi (fresh wasabi) and some salad leaves.  The fish was clearly fresh and cut to order.  The pieces were a touch thinner than the ones I have been served at other restaurants, yes I noticed but this was something I quite liked as it as that bit easier to eat all in one go.  The salad garnish and wasabi had been freshly prepared and the mix of fresh flavours was lovely.

Duck & Watermelon Salad (cold dish)

This is a well balanced dish with a mix of flavours and textures that work well together.  It’s delicious and super healthy too, simply take a look at the photo and you can see red lettuce, watermelon, nuts, nice fat free chunks of duck, cucumber, radish, carrot and lettuce.  This is a firm favourite of mine and I could eat a large plate of it all to myself as a meal.

The Mains

Black Cod Miso

This was delicious and for those that haven’t tried it it is a must.  Everyone I know (and I know a fair few people) that has been introduced to this dish loves the succulent, soft, moist, flaky fish and gorgeous flavour.  In many cases this will become one of you favourite dishes if it isn’t already.

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Singapore Noodles

These Singapore noodles must be one of the best I have ever had.  There was plenty of flavour, a good kick of heat and they had king prawns rather than the teeny shrimp that some others use.  In addition take a look at the size of those squid pieces!!!!!  Seriously, the quality of the dishes that came out was very good and the photos really help me give you an insight into this.

Thai Green Prawn Curry

This gorgeous coconut based soup with just the right amount of heat is full of flavour and nice sized pieces of seasonal vegetables and again those nice big prawns.  This was well made and I really couldn’t fault it.  I really do love this dish and there is also a chicken and a vegetarian version too if you prefer.

Egg Fried Rice

This was not overly greasy and had some nice bright coloured pieces of vegetable in it too which I quite liked.  This was great for soaking up all the yummy juices from the green curry and beef rendang.

Beef Rendang

Again rich in flavour this dish was fantastic.  You can taste the lemon grass coming through as well as coconut.  This is one of those warming comfort dishes that really make you feel great on eating them.  There were nice big chunks of beef that was tender without a trace of fat. The beef literally melts in the mouth.  There were also nice big chunks of sweet potato which really did work well in this dish.  This is also available in a chicken version and I think a vegetarian version with sweet potato and some other vegetables would be a lovely addition to the menu.

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Aromatic Duck

The piece of duck presented was lovely and tender and moist with perfectly crisped skin on top allowing for a nice mix of textures when this was added into the pancake with the pieces of vegetables and the hoisin sauce.  I’ve never had this with pieces of carrot and beetroot which was a lovely idea and adds colour and more nutrients to the dish.  This is a great dish for sharing and also keeping all for yourself.

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Dessert

Pistachio Creme Brulee

This was heavenly.

If I was to sum this up in two words they would be “Loved it!”  The creme was lovely a velvety smooth and simply amazing.  There as a lovely pistachio and vanilla flavour to the custard and although I had felt pretty full at the end of the meal I was so glad that I had attempted to squeeze this in too.  I wouldn’t hesitate to order this again and again it was the first time I had tried a pistachio creme brulee but I really don’t want it to be the last.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the meal at Tootoomoo and am hoping to take my husband and friends who have yet to go along to enjoy the food too.  What impressed me the most was the thought and care that went into the presentation of each dish.  Each dish looked great and this made them exceptionally appealing.  The ingredients were also of a good quality and these guys didn’t seem to take any short cuts to create their fabulously delicious food.

Have you visited one of the various Tootoomoo branches yet?

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I was invited to this restaurant to sample the lovely food and provide and honest review, all thoughts and opinions are mine own.

Cafe Rouge Christmas 2016

Many restaurants have been introducing their Christmas and New Year menus recently and just like them Cafe Rouge has some tasty offerings appearing on theirs.   I popped along one day when Cafe Rouge Southgate were inviting people to try their tasty festive food and drink that will be available over the Christmas period.

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Drinks included; Winter Berry Lemonade (lemon, blackberry, elderberry and raspberry), French Garden Fizz (elderflower petal, fresh mint, lemon and lime juice) both of which are non alcoholic and plenty of other mocktails, soft drinks, cocktails and wines to choose from to go with your meal.  Mr Squishy loved trying these and made good use of his draw (straw).

We sampled the Salmon Rillette starter: A rustic pâté of smoked and cured salmon, lightly flavoured with shallot and chives, served with caper berries.  It was delicious and full of flavour and one we would highly recommend.  It’s a great size for a starter dish too and the caper berries complimented it nicely.

The pigs in blankets (found on the turkey on the Christmas Party and Christmas Day menus) were delicious and had a mustard seed dressing which added a nice and different addition to the flavour.  This was very easy to finish and although the portion we had was a reasonable size they were that good that we wanted more!!!!

Mushrooms au Gratin: Chestnut mushrooms in garlic and cèpe Mornay sauce with a chive and Gruyère crust (starter) were lovely and creamy and pretty tasty too. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and can be made gluten free to according to the menu (although I’m guessing it is).

The Tomato and Harissa (starter) Lightly spiced smooth tomato and harissa soup with chives is perfect for vegetarians and has a fair amount of flavour to it.

We didn’t get to try any main meal items apart from the sausages which were part of a meal but we did get to try some of the desserts.

The Creme Brulee: Caramelised vanilla crème was lovely and the Tarte au Citron: Lemon tart and crème fraîche was also nice.  I’ve often been to Cafe Rouge for tea and cake with friends as the atmosphere is normally quite lively yet relaxed and it’s a great place for meeting friends.

All in all the food that we sampled and the drinks were good and we would visit again, hopefully over the Christmas period time permitting.

You can find the Christmas and New Year menus on the Cafe Rouge website.

Are you planning on visiting Cafe Rouge over the festive period?

All Bar One Leicester Square

All Bar One in Leicester Square has a relaunch night recently but unfortunately I was unable to make it that evening, lucky for me though they kindly invited me along to do a review of their new menu.  I went along, friend and camera in tow to take a look around and enjoy a meal.  For anyone that doesn’t get out much All Bar One for anyone is a lively fun place to meet with friends for food and drinks and they also have wifi which is handy too.  There are branches located all over the country and I got to visit their site in London’s West End, handy for me as I do get invited to a few events in the area so now I know where I can pop in for lunch and get some great food.

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All the staff were very friendly and the gentleman serving us on our visit was an extremely animated and friendly chap called Mo.  Now naturally not knowing whether he was like this with all diners I must admit I was a bit suspicious as to whether we were getting special treatment as we were there to review so unbeknown to him I watched him like a hawk and was pleased to see he was just as good with all of the other customers he was serving.

The drinks menu is varied and there are some great cold pressed juices,  cocktails and a large selection of wines available.  We let Mo choose what we had to drink and it was a good job we did.

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The cocktails were delicious, Mo did a great  job on these.  The alcohol wasn’t too overpowering and the flavour combinations worked well.  The prices are reasonable for the West End at £7.50.

The menu is varied with a mix of Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican and American foods that all sounded delicious.  After studying the menu we finally decided on our starters.  It wasn’t long until they arrived which was good as we had walked around Leicester Square beforehand and had built up an appetite.

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The ginger and teriyaki chicken skewers were served on a tasty bed of picked vegetables that gave the dish a good contrast of flavours.  The chicken was nice and tender and moist and with the sauce and vegetables you have a fair amount of flavour in this dish.

The calamari had a nice crispy coating that was lightly seasoned and the squid itself was tender.  There was chilli in the batter but it wasn’t excessively hot.  This was well paired with the sweet chilli sauce.

The duck dumplings were packed full of nice thick pieces of duck and vegetables and plenty of flavour.  The sweet chilli sauce served with the dumplings complemented them well.

The dishes were nicely presented and the garnishes used were all fresh.

I noticed there was an offer for the starters, you can get 3 for £17 or 5 for £25 which is great if you just want a few things to nibble on with a meal.

The Main Dish

It had been a while since we had last had burgers so when we saw the Wagu burgers on the menu the decision was immediately made.

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The burgers were nice and thick and the meat was slightly pink in the centre.  We were not asked as to our preference in relation to how well we wanted our burgers cooked, I’d have gone for a little pinker myself but it was still nice enough.  Again the presentation was good and the burgers were big, juicy and tasty.  The chips had a good crunchy outer and were soft and fluffy on the inside.  I quite liked the chilli and tomato jam although it didn’t seem at all spicy just sweet.

I’ve been on a role recently and have noticed I have been continuously defeated by meals on my trips out in this instance I might have managed it all if I had skipped dessert but I couldn’t bare to do that as I had already decided what I had wanted to try – or at least narrowed it down a bit.  In the above picture you can see how much I I had to leave of the meal although it was a good attempt on my behalf and I was a good girl and ate all the meat (yum!).  I must bring my husband here sometime as I know he will enjoy the burgers too.

The good thing about going with others to enjoy a meal like this is that you get to shared desserts or not if you so prefer.  I love to try different desserts as it help give me inspiration for my own recipes.

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The cheese cake was lovely and thick and creamy with a nice crunchy biscuit base.  There was a fair amount of flavour to this so we felt the compote that came with it wasn’t really needed.  The flavour of the lemon comes through nicely and this was a really good choice.

The churros were warm when they arrived and were accompanied by a warm Dulce de Leche sauce.  The cinnamon sugar was gorgeous just as expected (I’ve had this elsewhere a few time and love it) and again was a fabulously good choice.  The great thing is that this dish is big enough to share.  Again another good choice.

There are some other great sounding desserts on the menu that I hope to go back and enjoy soon especially the salted caramel torte which I am sure is divine.

By this stage we were stuffed silly but extremely satisfied with out meal.  Our experience at All Bar One was a very good one and we would not hesitate to return, we still have more items on the menu that we want to try!!!!

Have you guys tried the latest All Bar One Menu yet?

All Bar One

48 Leicester Square

London

WC2H 7LU

020 3846 1451

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I was invited to enjoy a meal at the restaurant, all opinions expressed are my own.

Thali Indian Restaurant

I was invited to review an Indian restaurant recently called Thali.  Naturally I looked online to do a little research and saw that they had some great reviews over on the Tripadvisor and Opentable sites so being a no brainer I of course gladly agreed to a visit.  It’s nice to discover a new restaurant (new to me) as it’s a great way to discover new foods.  This is especially true with Indian food as dishes which will vary from place to place depending on where the chef has trained and if the chef is Indian recipes can vary from village to village so their influences from their parents cooking for example will dictate the herbs and spices used in the dishes.

The restaurant was easy to get to as it was just a short walk from the station and when we arrived we were greeted warmly and shown to our table.  The lights were dimmed and there were quite a few tables taken when we arrived.  The restaurant which serves North Indian cuisine has simple and comfortable surroundings.  On one wall there are Bollywood movie posters and on another this brightly coloured rickshaw bicycle.

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The menu is varied with a good selection of foods and I noted that they had a selection of vegetarian dishes so anyone vegetarian is good to go.  The staff there were eager to please and I am sure that vegetarian versions of dishes can be made if requested.  I did watch the staff to measure their level of interaction and quality of service with other diners and they treated all very well.  The staff there are genuinely very nice and happy to help which was really good.

The table space was limited but clearly they are aware of this as any bottles are safely kept aside and the second drink levels started to go down these guys were on top of it filling the glass normally before you even noticed it need it.

For our starters we selected:

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This is a vegetarian dish made with spinach, coriander, tamarind, sweetened yoghurt and chutneys.  Although fried this isn’t exceptionally greasy.  The spinach was crispy and the mix of flavours really was was quite something and you could taste all the different flavours non of them were paricularly overpowering.  This was delicious and we had ordered it on recommendation from one of the waiters as it was a very popular dish and he also liked it very much.

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Another popular dish on the menu this is a type of chicken tikka dish.  It’s marinated over night in a range of spices.  I was unsure about ordering this initially being used to my chicken tikka but I am glad I did as it was lovely.  The chicken was succulent and tender and there was a lot of flavour.  It went exceptionally well with the coriander and chilli sauce served with it that was freshly made and packed full of flavour.

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These were shallow fried to give them a lovely crispy filo like exterior with a good crunch.  Inside they were packed full of vegetables and chicken as you can see and had a nice mix of spices for extra flavour.  We ate these with a chilli sauce for a lovely kick of heat.  It wasn’t to spicy though if anyone was curious.

All the starters were good and we waited in anticipation, mouths watering for the main course.

thali6The pieces of prawn were nice and chunky and juicy and there were plenty there, you don’t need to dig around and  be disappointed at just one or two pieces being there.  The dish is spicy and full of flavour and the rice is cooked to perfection.  The garnish was fresh – you can see it looked moist and glossy meaning it was all freshly prepared.  This went well with the raita which was lovely and fresh.thali7This is a selection of dishes in steel plates allowing dinners a great insight into the flavours of North Indian food.  This is a nice way to sample a range of dishes from the menu rather than just one as a main meal.  This seemed to be popular as a number of other tables had also ordered one of the Thali options.  The Thali we had opted for was the seafood one although you could also choose from a vegetarian and a non vegetarian.

There were 5 items plus rice, these included:

Raita (yoghurt with mint and cucumber) which could be combined with the various dishes and very refreshing.

Prawn Masala which was amazing, there was a good depth of flavour and it was nicely spiced and not too hot.

Amritshari fish which comprises of loving seeds, lemon, tumeric and Kashmiri chilli.  The pieces of fish were a good size, it was cooked perfectly and full of flavour.  It was quite a mild dish and very tasty.

Prawn Balchao was nice and spicy with big juicy prawns and bursting with flavour.

The Madras Fish Curry had nice big flaky pieces of fish with gorgeous flavours from the coconut and tamarind and added heat from the chillis.  A lovely dish that went exceptionally well with the raita.

The rice which was nice and fluffy and soaked up flavours from the various sauces.

The final dish in the Thali was a dessert called Gulab jamun this was a milk dough dumpling that was served hot with syrup.  This was very sweet as you would expect and you could taste the gorgeous flavour of the cardamon.

Between courses the table was cleared of any stray food that may have escaped as it was being spooned into plates.

By this stage we were pretty full but we decided to try one of the desserts off the menu as it had to be done.  Let’s face it going without dessert is a sin in the foodie world.

We opted for the Gajor Ka Halwa to share.

This consisted of carrot, almonds, milk and sugar and sounded great.  Did I forget to mention it was topped with vanilla ice cream.  This was heaven and just the mere thought of it excites my taste buds and gets my mouth watering.  I was so pleased we got this even though it was to share.  Next time i’m getting my own!

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I really did enjoy my meal at Thali and was not only impressed at the care taken in presentation and the portion sizes, but also at the level of service given to myself and the other diners that evening (I have eyes like a hawk and watch everything happening around me unless distracted by food).  I can’t fault the staff there were all fabulous and the food was all delicious.  I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area as I know you will love it too.

The staff are very attentive and nothing is too much and if you want to order a classic Indian meal not on the menu don’t fret they will accommodate your needs without a fuss.

There are numerous items on the lunch menu such as chicken tikka wraps with salad and chutney which sound great and I hope to return sometime to try these too.

Thali

166 Old Brompton Rd,
London, SW5 0BA
Tel: 020 7373 2626

Royal China Restaurant (Bayswater)

I love reviewing restaurants especially as I am located in London and there are so many hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.  The next restaurant that I wanted to tell you all about is a Chinese restaurant in Bayswater.  The streets of Bayswater are aligned with beautiful large houses which are nicely furnished too if you manage to get a peek inside.  My friend and I decided that for this this little adventure we would drive.  Be aware they have residents parking but the times are different depending on what side of the road you are parking on so we were lucky enough to find a great space nearby and walk to the restaurant.

From the outside the restaurant doesn’t appear to be very large – appearances can be deceiving.  You walk in through the smallish shop front area up past the bar and voila a lovely large room with mirrored pillars and plenty of seating space.  The clientele are mixed with a fair amount of Chinese people there as well as a mixture of other people who all seemed to be tucking into their meals happily and it sounded as if some of these were regulars as well, a great indicator of a good restaurant especially in such an affluent area.  The Royal China group of restaurants are well known for their dim sum which are served daily from noon to 5pm.royal1We took a while to look through the menu (I can be pretty indecisive at time) and during this time we were asked a few times if we we ready to order which was good as we knew we had not been forgotten.  The menus were well presented with a good range of dishes and pictures which really do help you decided what you want the only problem is you might over order as so many of the dishes look delicious.  The tables were clutter free just the essentials adorned, the environment was nice and relaxed.  Over the course of the evening more people arrived for dinner and for a Monday night the restaurant was doing well.  We were pleased that there was wifi available onsite and we made full use of this.

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The pictures of the various foods in the menu really do get you salivating before you order and there is a good range of vegetarian, seafood, meat and poultry dishes to choose from.  There were numerous members of staff and some seemed friendly enough where as some were preoccupied with getting all the work done quickly and efficiently.  After studying the menu we finally decided on the Seafood Gourmet which was one of their set menus.  This way we would get a nice selection of dishes and they all sounded yummy.  This particular set menu costs £39.80 per person and includes some great dishes as you will see shortly.

The Starters

We were pretty hungry when the food arrived and so at first we didn’t realise that we had been brought out the wrong starter selection, it was only once we had eaten a little that we realised we had been served the starters from the House Dinner set menu £33.80.  This consisted of:

Sesame Prawn Toast

We have all tried these at some stage or at least those amongst us that have dined or ordered from a Chinese restaurant.  These had a nice generous topping of prawn on the toast which you can identify as prawn.  This is lovely and moist and the bread beneath is golden and crunchy not a burnt part in sight.

Smoked Shredded Chicken

This had a smokey taste to it and was seasoned nicely with salt and the chicken pieces were not too thin.  You could see this was actual shredded chicken not an item from a questionable origin.  The chicken had been fried with chilli and spring onion to add extra flavour to the dish which is different to what I am used to as it normally comes without these so it was a welcome surprise and added an extra kick to the dish.  This was served with a sweet chilli dip which I do like and have my own bottle from my local Chinese cash and carry – I doubt any of you are surprised to hear that lol.

Vietnamese Pancake Rolls

These were served with fish sauce and were packed with vegetables as you can see in the picture and I also discovered some chunks of prawn in there too.  The coating was nice and crunchy although a touch greasy on the outside but then you expect some grease from a dish that is deep fried.

Mandarin Pork Chops

I will admit I had specifically not ordered the The House Dinner set menu as I wasn’t sure about this particular dish and we did prefer the seafood options but this dish was actually really good, in fact I will hasten to add that this was the best of all the starters that we got to try apart from one which I will tell you about later.  The meat had been removed from the bone and the actual pieces of meat had been cleared of any fat.  This dish was full of flavour so it was actually good thing in a way that the wrong starters had been brought to us.

Seaweed

This is another starter that features on many Chinese restaurant menus.  The seaweed was nice and crispy as expected and lightly seasoned with salt.  I do like this although you need to be careful not to get it caught in your teeth.  Not something I would advise to eat on a first date.

Spicy Baby Squid

We asked for a portion of this as it would have come with the original set menu that we ordered and we really wanted to try it.  We did not regret the decision, the squid was nice and tender and the batter was crunchy and full of flavour.   This also had spring onion and chilli and had a good kick to it which you can avoid if you don’t eat the chillies although they are very good for you and work fabulously in the dish.

All the dishes were fresh and there was no indication of stale oil for the fried foods or that various different items had been cooked in the same oil.

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Next up was the lobster.

We had a choice of sauce as you can see in the picture above with the menu, we opted for ginger and spring onion.  There were lovely large pieces of ginger found amongst the chunks of lobster which had been broken apart to make sure the flavours dispersed well when cooking in the sauce and also to make it easier for us to handle.  You are provided with the necessary tools to prise the lobster pieces apart in order to get to the soft perfectly cooked and beautifully flavoured meat.  I would highly recommend this, it’s delicious!

royal4Between each course the staff were extremely fast in clearing the table and bringing out fresh plates for us to eat from.  By this stage we were feeling pretty full as the food we had already feasted on was quite filling but there was still more to come!

Next arrived the following:

Mixed Seafood in Bird’s Nest

Not an actual birds nest thankfully having seen how these are made in various nature programmes, this dish was well presented as were all the others in this course.  The colours of the vegetables were all vibrant and the texture crisp indicating a flash fry which was good as it kept them looking great and retaining their nutrients and flavour.  The sauce was very tasty and did not take from the flavour of the vegetables or the seafood which was more than adequate in it’s quantity in the dish.  The prawns and squid were plump and tender, the scallops perfectly cooked and lovely and soft.

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Deep-Fried Fillet of Dove Sole with Spicy Salt

This was amazing!!!  We both loved this dish although we struggled to eat it all as we were almost bursting by this stage.  The thought of wasting such delicious food spurred us on as it wouldn’t be right and we would have felt awful doing so.  The pieces of fish were large but not too big to fit in to your mouth with a couple of bites.  The fish itself was tender and flaky, the coating was perfectly seasoned with salt and not too much spice for my taste or to prevent you enjoying the overall flavour.

Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables

Lovely fresh crunchy vegetables with a delicious light sauce, again the flavours of the vegetables could be enjoyed as the sauce was not overpowering.  The dish looks simple yet pretty and was very good.

‘Royal China’ Lotus Leaf Rice

This specially prepared rice dish consists of prawns and duck wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed allowing the flavour from the duck, prawn and lotus leaf (a light tea like flavour) to gently infuse with the rice.  This is a lovely dish and as you dig through the rice you will find generous pieces of prawn and duck hidden within.

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As luck would have it one of the other tables asked if they couple pack up what they couldn’t eat and take it home.  Not having occurred to us to do this previously we decided it was a great idea and did the same.  The food would have ended up being thrown away which we simply could not allow.  Below you can see how much was packed away which demonstrates how good the portions are here and I would say that this set menu allows enough food for three people rather than two or alternatively a doggy bag for the next day.

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But it’s not over yet!

The final course – dessert!

Mixed Fruit Platter

A selection of fruit including strawberries, melon, dragon fruit and grapes.  This was more than welcome as it was nicely chilled by the ice and very refreshing and cleansing to the palate. royal7

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at The Royal China Bayswater  These guys have a few more sites to look out for too.  The food from the set menu as demonstrated is plentiful and we both agreed this is excellent value for money when you look at the quantity, quality and types to food included in the set meal.  Apparently seven course tasting menus are also available for those with a very large appetite.

A must try if you are a fan of Chinese food and are in London.

Royal China Bayswater

13 Queensway
London
W2 4QJ

020 7221 2535

I was invited to the restaurant for an honest review.  As always all views are my own.

Leon – Restaurant Review Brent Cross

Many of you will have heard of Leon the ‘healthy’ fast food chain whose restaurants have been popping up all around London but have you eaten there?  I had always glanced at the menu board displayed at the Brent Cross site as I hurried on into the Wagamama or Gourmet Burger Kitchen nearby but had never ventured in until the 29th of September this year when I took over the Brent Cross twitter feed sharing tweets of the shoptacular event that they were having.

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Leon is located in the main eating area section with a range of other restaurants giving diners a great choice to foods to choose from.  It has the look and feel of a fast food place but with a large range of healthy options available.

The staff there are all very friendly and helpful.  Say hi to Sergiu if you pass by.  He normally works in the kitchen but came out to say hello and pose for a photo.  There are plenty of drinks to chose from including their own sparkling mango and orange and sparkling apple which have half the calories of the Pret a Manger ones.  Great to know if you are watching the calories.  There are also freshly made (instore) natural shakes including ‘Clean Green’ and Carrot Apple and Ginger’ which sounded pretty yummy.

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Our orders on the evening were taken by the lovely Jess who was extremely knowledgeable about the various foods and the most popular dishes.  Jess is normally to be found at the Southbank site but was filling in at the Brent Cross site when we came to visit.

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The menu is pretty varied with a range of breakfast foods, hot and cold boxes, burgers, sides, wraps and foods that are not coated in sauces and a bit simpler to please children’s palates too.

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We placed our order, had a little chat about our evening in Brent Cross and before we knew it the food had arrived.

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Off to our table to start on our baked fries.  These are 302 calories, 38 calories less than the equivalent medium fries from McDonalds which have an average of 340 calories per portion.

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Lamb Kofte Meatballs Hot Box

This was delicious.  There was a good amount of flavour for a chain restaurant meal.  The box comprised of brown rice topped with lamb kofte balls and a tasty, tangy pickle relish, aioli and chilli sauce for that added kick but not excessive heat so as to have you gulping down copious amounts of fluids.  Accompanying this was a delicious fresh slaw made up of peas, red cabbage and lettuce.  This is what you call a hearty healthy meal!  The combination of flavours from this meals various parts work well together and the addition of the rice makes the meal all that more filling.  I must admit this was gorgeous and a dish I would now revisit for.

dsc02983 Chicken and Chorizo Club Hot Box

Another filling meal with chargrilled chicken, roasted chorizo, sweet red peppers, chopped parsley and mint.  Again the flavours work well and the addition of the fresh herbs really breathe that bit more flavour into the dish.  I did think this was a great dish but having sampled the Kofte first the thought of that one stuck in my mind as it had a far stronger flavour to it.  I did like that the chicken used here was not at all fatty and the pieces were of a good chunky size too.  The chorizo added a great deal of flavour to the dish and there was a fair amount included within the dish.

dsc03006 Baked Fries

These were nicely seasoned and had a good crunch on the outside.  We had been chatting a bit before we had begun to eat so by the time we started on these they had cooled down so were not quite as good as expected but I am sure they would have been better hot.  They went very nicely with the aioli.

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The sparkling O’Joy (mango and orange) was only 73 calories which was great and it tasted good too, not at all bland as one might expect from a low calorie drink.  The lemon, lime and ginger had a few more calories (149) and was also full of flavour.

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Now that’s a great photo a a healthy fast food!

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I must confess I struggled to finish it all!  In fact by the time I had this much left I was considering stopping as I was fit to burst but couldn’t bare to waste the food.

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I finally managed to eat the whole serving and was so full that I literally had no room to put dessert, OMG seriously!  Fortunately Jess suggested that we take dessert to go, what a fabulous idea.  So she packed us both a Better Brownie which has a low GL (glycemic load) and therefore doesn’t result in an excessive blood sugar rise.  The brownie is gluten free, vegan, contains coffee, almonds and orange zest and tastes delicious.

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My little package of heaven.  Sssshhhhhhh don’t tell the kids or hubby.

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Still feeling pretty full when I got home I decided to save the brownie until the following day and ended up sharing it with my little girls who gulped it down amazingly fast, I doubt it touched the sides of their mouths.  Lucky for me I had saved myself a slither and had this with a cup of herbal tea.  I was divine and again something I would be sure to revisit and buy on another visit.

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I really enjoyed my visit that evening and was pleased to have finally tried Leon.  There are so many great looking dishes on the menu that I feel I simply must try some of which have spiralised vegetables which look gorgeous.  The menu caters for various dinners including vegetarians, vegans, wheat free, dairy free and gluten free diners and also have foods that have low saturated fats.  For the carnivores as you can see you needn’t fear there is plenty of meat on the menu to keep you more than satisfied.

Enjoy!

Afternoon Tea at Harrods

Having had such a wonderful time when I went with a friend using a Buyagift voucher to have afternoon tea at the Waldorf a little while back we were very keen to repeat the fabulous foodie experience.  Our plan is to work our way through the numerous restaurants and afternoon teas in London and report back to you all so you can see them in action and get a feel of each experience for yourselves from the privacy of your own homes.  Let’s face it, seeing the posts with the food itself makes it much easier to decide where you want to go and I will warn you from now you are going to see some exquisite treats as you scroll down so I really hope you are not reading this on an empty stomach.

We took a look at the Buyagift site as we were really impressed with the level of service the last time we used them.  Yet again I struggled to decide where to go to next as there are so many fabulous afternoon teas on their site which is great for foodies like myself as I love to have a variety to choose from.  Finally the decision was made and thinking back it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The title of my post gives it away, but the afternoon tea we decided to experience was at none other than at the world famous Harrods store in London.  Once we ordered the gift experience from Buyagift the voucher took next to no time to arrive which was great as we were extremely excited to get ourselves booked in, who wouldn’t be!  The afternoon tea experience makes a super gift and it’s not just foodies that are catered for on the site, they also have offers for days out, driving experiences, short breaks and much more which is useful to know as Christmas is rapidly approaching.  You might also like to take a look at their special offers, would you believe they have experiences starting from £10!

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The day arrived and in our excitement and chatter about the previous Afternoon Tea we had experience recently the time flew by and we arrived at Knightsbridge Station.  A brief walk and we were at the world’s most famous department store.

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As we strolled through the store taking in the ambience we couldn’t help but notice some gorgeous handbags.

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What more could a girl want, a spot of shopping and a luxury afternoon tea, now that’s my idea of heaven.

Off to the Georgian restaurant with it’s bright airy room and extremely comfortable and spacious seating.  The attire here is smart casual.

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The best time to come or should I say the quietest is during a weekday at around 11.30 when they open.  By about 1pm the room was much livelier although this did not in any way affect the service and it was not what one might called packed.

Tea Time!

A lovely light Jasmine Dragon Pearls, China tea was the perfect accompaniment for the impending feast.

A beautiful selection of savoury and sweet arrived at the table .

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Our server for the two hours (that’s how long a time slot is) was the fabulous Loretta.  She ensured that the service was impeccable throughout the duration of the afternoon tea and was also kind enough to pose for photos too.  If the guys at Harrods are reading this I hope you know how great a member of staff she is.

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The sandwiches were dainty, freshly prepared (the bread was soft and not dry on the outside a tale tale sign of freshness) and there were four different ones plus a warm tartelette with sundried tomato and mozzarella which was yummy with the flavour of the sundried tomato really coming through nicely.  The pastry was lovely and crumbly and the filling aside from the generous chunks of sundried tomato was smooth and creamy.

Sandwiches from left to right (in the photo above):

Egg and cress on plain white bread.  It was nice as I do like egg and cress although I could’t see much cress in mine.  The filling was chunky and creamy and there was plenty of it.

Roast beef with blue cheese, rocket salad and caramelised onions in granary bread.  This was a great mix of flavours that worked well and created a delicious sandwich which you will wish was full sized!  The most prominent flavours were the blue cheese and onion.  The inside of this sandwich was moist which was nice as you don’t always get that with sandwiches containing beef .

Turkey and sundried tomatoes in carrot bread.  The prominent flavour here was the sundried tomato with was nice, the flavours were not as strong as those in the beef sandwich so I would suggest eating the beef sandwich last.

Smoked salmon and herbs in beetroot bread.  I love smoked salmon and it was beautiful complimented by the selection of herbs that appeared to have been blended with butter and spread on the bread.  Just in case you’re curious you can’t taste the beetroot in the bread.

Once everything was close to vanishing the lovely Loretta appeared and offered us another plate.  Of course it would be rude to say no.  After the second plate of sandwiches we were ready to tuck into the scones which again appeared perfectly timed like a military operation, it was flawless.  The scones were warm and ready for us to tuck into.  By this stage I was wondering whether I could bribe Loretta to come live at mine she was aware of everything happening in the room and was very efficient and fast.  If the tea needed refilling or even a fresh pot of tea brewed she was there to do just that before we batted an eyelid.  Plates were cleared between courses and fresh ones brought out and placed in front of one person and then a trip around the table (no leaning over one to get to the other) to place the second plate in front of the next person.

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We were brought two plain scones and two with raisins with the option of more if wanted.

We declined a second portion as by this stage we were getting pretty full!

The selection of toppings included lemon curd, strawberry jam and rose jam with rose petals.  Each was delicious but I struggled to decide which to use on the second side of the second scone (side 4).  And then a moment of pure genius I didn’t have to choose I could have all three which I suggest you all try.

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I bet your mouth is watering now, it would be hard to resist these gorgeous freshly made scones which were nice and buttery with a soft fluffy centre.

Next a colourful array of delicious pastries that were simply stunning and tasted just as good as they looked.

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Mixed berry glamour.  This tantalising dessert was mouthwateringly tasty with a refreshing berry flavour.  It was lovely and smooth and not very tart and was one of my favourites from the selection.

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Next along was the vanilla millefeuille with Chantilly cream.  This was divine, the pastry was moist, with a buttery flavour yet still flaky and combined with the vanilla custard and topped with cream, the millefeuille in its entirety tasted superb.  If I wasn’t feeling pretty full by this stage I would have considered second helpings.

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This was followed by the banana toffee cheese cake.  I must admit this was not quite on par with the rest of the pastries but they still managed to vanish all the same.

The vanilla eclairs looked really cute.  The choux pastry was exemplary and these were everything you would expect from an eclair.  With the range now available in eclairs I would personally suggest swapping these for an alternative flavour that is a little more adventurous like a pistachio eclair or salted caramel or the like although we still enjoyed it very much.

Last but certainly not least was the jasmine macaroon.  In a word fantastic!  This was extremely delicate and it was tricky to not destroy it with fingers as it made the journey to our mouths.  This was moist and literally melted in the mouth and was really good.  I freely admit that it is even better than my homemade macaroons, I better get practising!

The final item served was a Harrods trifle which was exceptional.  Although we were fit to burst by the time it came, our plans just to have a just one spoon just to try soon flew out of the window as it was the best trifle ever!!!  This strawberry trifle had just the right amount of sponge, compote, custard and crumbly topping and was expertly made so that the flavours and layers combine like a dream.  It was almost a case of blinking and the trifle had vanishing it was that good and just thinking about it is making my mouth water.

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This was such a great afternoon and the atmosphere in the Georgian room was very relaxed which combined with the fabulous service meas you simply won’t want to leave.  The thought of going back to reality, doing the school run, going home to do hours of homework was not quite as appealing but unfortunately it had to be done.  For the moment I must dwell on the memory and photos from this lovely day out and thank both Buyagift and Harrods for the fabulous service and making this afternoon tea the best I have ever experienced.  Hopefully the next afternoon tea will be just around the corner and of course I will again share some more photos of the delightfully delicious delights with you all.

Rucoletta Napolitan Eatery Restaurant St Pauls

A friend recently bought a voucher off Wowcher for a set meal for two at Rucoletta Napolitan Eatery in St Pauls.  St Pauls is a lovely location with a good range of restaurants and shops in the area and of course not forgetting St Paul’s Cathedral.  At night the Cathedral looks even more beautiful with the pretty lighting.  This was just a stone throw away from where we were to eat that night and we planned to take a little stroll around the local area after our meal.  When we arrived we were led through the restaurant and then upstairs.  The restaurant looked quite simple and it looked a little crammed downstairs but, on reaching the first floor we were greeted by a room that looked like a conservatory with a glass roof.  It was far airier and brighter than downstairs so a tip for anyone that visits, request a table upstairs!  Clearly a popular restaurant the upstairs began filling up quite quickly after we arrived.  The waiting staff were all very good and we watched as they flitted too and fro serving clients and taking orders.

The size of the set menu was reasonable and we chose our starter and main after a quick study.

For starters:

Polpettone el Sugo

Veal and beef meat loaf stuffed with baked ham, mozzarella, parmesan and covered with tomato sauce served with sautéed mixed peppers with black olives and capers.

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A nice sized starter with lots of flavour. I thought that roasted peppers included were a nice addition adding extra colour and flavour to the dish.

Crostone alla Pizzaiola (V)

Melted smoked mozzarella in tomato sauce and oregano served on toasted home made bread.

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It tastes as good as it looks.  It had a lovely rich tomato flavour and is a delicious starter perfect for vegetarians.  A great start to the meal that will boost your lycopene intake which is an added bonus! (fights wrinkles).

For the Mains

Carbonara Napoletana

Spaghetti with egg, pancetta, garlic, fresh chilli, extra virgin olive oil, parsley and parmesan cheese.

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I was looking forward to this not having had a carbonara in a restaurant for quite a while.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The portion was good, the picture doesn’t do it justice at all.  Full of flavour and with a nice kick from the chilli this is a dish I would definitely eat there again.

Last but not least the dessert.  Some might say this is the best part of the meal.

The Italian classic Tiramisu 

dsc01071This was delicious!  It vanished extremely fast and we barely spoke whilst we ate this.

All the dishes were well presented.  The food arrived at the table hot and we didn’t need to wait long for staff to come over once hailed.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and we were surprised to have found it on wowcher but at the same time very pleased.  They have the deal again for a 3 course meal for two from their set menu for £20 a bargain in my eyes.  Hurry on over before it expires.

My score 4 / 5

Rucoletta Napolitan Eatery

6 Foster Ln, London EC2V 6HH

Kanas Restaurant, Paralimni

 

Whilst in Cyprus earlier this year we visited quite a few restaurants. What can I say it’s lovely to eat out when you can.  One of the restaurants we visited was Kanas Restaurant.  This restaurant has been located in Paralimni  for years proving it popular with the locals and tourists.

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This restaurant serves a range of dishes including sheftalia, one of my favourites.  These are like a sausage but instead of using a sausage skin they use the membrane that surrounds the stomach of a pig or lamb.  This membrane itself doesn’t have much in the way of flavour, its purpose is to hold together the contents.  Sheftalia are very tasty and are most often made of pork and combined with onion and parsley. These are normally served with salad and chips or in a pitta with tomatoes, onions and parsley.  If you try these make sure you squeeze some lemon over as it really adds to the flavour.

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Squid rings are always popular especially with children.  Although these would have been made from frozen squid the batter was quite tasty and the squid itself was tender.  Again these are great with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

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Fresh Deep Fried Squid.  A little chewier than the rings this fresh squid was quite nice and tasty but  be warned when you order this you get all parts of the squid including legs.  If you prefer not to have these you are better off ordering the rings.

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The atmosphere here is relaxed and staff are very welcoming and friendly.  This restaurant does get busy over the weekends when those in the towns come to the beach so either book, turn up early or come during the week.  Just to add for those with kids or that want to email home etc, these guys have free WiFi which you can log into.  Super handy when you have kids as you can feed them then sit them to watch Peppa Pig so you can enjoy your meal in peace, fabulous!

My score 3.5 – 4 / 5

You can find the restaurant here:

267 Protara Ave, TRINIDAD COMPLEX, Shop 19
5291, Paralimni, Famagusta

Like this post and want to read about another great restaurant in Cyprus?  Take a look at my review of Paula’s Restaurant in Ayia Napa.

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