Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Jamavar Restaurant Review

Jamavar Restaurant Review - A Culinary Jewel of The Leela in Mayfair, London. 

This is a very overdue review that I have been meaning to write up for so long and I finally finished. Its amazing how some tasks in life get unpritorised with kids. For Mr S's Birthday earlier this year we went for lunch at the then newly opened Jamavar Restaurant. Owned by the prestigious Leela Places group from India, it is part of six restaurants they run outside the Indian Sub-continent. 
Having travelled around India over the last 15 years, I can say this restaurant does capture the same elegance, class and ambiance of the hotels and restaurants in some of the finest 5* hotels in India. All that is missing is a flower garland upon entry :). I love India and one of ehe big things that stands out  for me when visiting is the level of service, as is similar in the rest of Asia guests are revered and nothing is ever too much trouble. For example if you go shopping and buy an Indian outfit, this will first be sent off to be finished for finer details and sizing adjustments, before being packaged beautifully and then couriered over to your home or hotel. A bit different to having to carry your own shopping bags as I am so used to. 

Service

The service at Jamavar was very reminiscent of this attention to detail and was reflected in our dining experience from the outset. Due to my baby brain, we ended up being over an hour late to the booking as I did not check for tube cancellations at the weekend, despite spending most of my week commuting on the tube. As most of the lines happened to be closed we instead choose to take a cab which inevitably meant sitting in a lot of traffic on the way into London. 
The restaurant was very accommodating in being able to hold our table and still ensure we were able to enjoy all the courses in the 4 course lunch tasting menu by bringing the first two starters at the same time together so we were able to taste as much as possible.


First Impressions 

From the outside the restaurant does not look very different to others in Mayfair with dark wood windows and curtained doors and windows, it is only once you walk through the door and heavy velvet curtain you see the opulent decor hidden away.


Big comfortable dining chairs with several booth options are available and in the centre of the room is a huge stone carved bar. The decor reminds me very much of colonial clubs during the time of the British Raj, the dark wood, natural stone and large ornate paintings hanging from panelled walls. 

                                      

Child Friendly

I do not think all restaurants need to accommodate children, this is a stunning, modern, high end Indian in the heart of Londons Mayfair. Their key cliente is not families, much more aimed at couples and groups of friends, saying that however they went out of their way to make Bubs feel like a special part of the meal. A few points to note which were not an issue for us but could be for younger children, at the time we visited they did not have any highchairs, Bubs is fine to sit in a normal chair and even all the many cuddly toys and hand puppets he took to lunch were made to feel important at the table. The bathrooms are also located in the basement with no baby changing facilities when we visited, again this was fine for us but maybe not if you have kids under 2s. In terms of food we ordered Bubs a paratha - grilled flatbreads with a thick homemade yoghurt which he throughly enjoyed, he also picked at our mains too. I believe if you are going to visit certain types of restaurants you have to be a bit flexible in what you expect in terms of baby friendly facilities, we were able to enjoy a delicious family lunch in regal surroundings but it might not be for everyone.

Food 

At lunchtime they have a great deal on, offering 4 courses for £30. A brilliant way to sample lots of different items on the menu without spending a huge amount. I thought it was great value for money for the amount of quality food you get, surroundings and service and would definitely recommend choosing this offer.

Starters
For drinks I ordered one of the speciality lassis, opting for a mango and date flavour, very delicious and cooling; after the intense journey we had into London this was very welcomed into my pregnant belly. 
Mr S started with an Indian Beer and Bubs went for his favourite sparkling water off the menu. 

Mango and Date Lassi

Due to us being late we had our two starters together rather than as seperate courses, opting for the Samosa Chat, Achari Pork, Stone Bass Tikka and Lamb Seekh Kebab. My favourite and the most innovative dish out of these being the Achari Pork, perfectly balance with a crispy puff pastry, tangy pickled garlic and warmly spiced pork. The samosa chat, stone bass tikka and lamb seekh were all done really well, balancing the familiar homely tastes I have grown up with along with more modern touches such as avocado chutney and a mixed sprouts chaat salad.

Achari Pork

Seekh Kebab and lentils

Samosa Chat

Stone Bass and Avocado Chutney

I think this opinion also sums up the mains, very traditional dishes and flavours that have been modernised without comprising on what makes them great dishes in the first place. For example the Butter Chicken, a curry house favourite know for the mild creamy sauce was executed perfectly with soft poached chicken. As I am used to big flavours, I loved that Jamavar is true to these.

Mains, Butter Chicken, Rice, Naan Bread, Dum Aloo and Dhal


Desert
For desert we ended the meal with a Rhubarb Chuski Falooda, one of my all time Indian favourite deserts, this was a completely new take on it combining the very British tart taste of Rhubard with saffron, rabri (similar to dense condensed milk) and rose - all very classic Indian flavours with a delicious twist.

Rhubarb Chuski Falooda
The Poached Pear was cooked perfectly and balanced with a slight savoury peppercorn ice cream. The meal ended on a high with the heavenly flavours of desert.

Poached Pear

Final Thoughts


In summary the food at Jamavar was delectable, they managed to preserve the true tastes and emotions you experience when travelling around India, whilst paying homage to more modern cooking techniques and flourishes from being located in London. For me it was perfect combination and most importantly everything tasted great, there is nothing I hate worst than mediocre food and flavours. I would highly recommend this restaurant and look forward to our return visit soon. 



Final Thoughts 









Saturday, 26 August 2017

Roka Aldywch Restaurant Review - a great child friendly weekend brunch

For Fathers Day, this year Mr S said he did not want any presents, pretty much what he says every year. Normally advise which I ignore and still buy him something, last year I got him and my dad a whisky tasting kit I put together for them to have a whisky tasting evening which never did end up happening. 

Other presents over the years have included ties, belts, wallets, beard trimmers, personalised keyrings, numerous ' Not on the high street' prints etc. We have been together a long time now and after all those birthdays, anniversaries, christmas and now fathers days to be honest there is not really anything he needed so I decided for once to listen to him and let Bubs give him the beautiful creations he made at nursery instead for fathers day.  One man shaped keyring, and voodoo doll shaped card complete with paper tissue tie - everything a Papa could ever want for. 

Instead I decided to book us a family brunch at Roka, a restaurant which I have been to several times before but Mr S has not had the joy of sampling yet. Knowing he loves asian food I knew he would be happy with this as a present instead and it meant we got to enjoy fathers day afternoon together in London.


I chose Roka Aldwych as I had heard great reviews from friends and it was a lot closer to our home than the other branches, as it was a Sunday we choose to drive into London and got parking right outside the restaurant which was a bonus given the heat that day and the large belly I have being carrying around this summer. 


The weekend brunch at the Aldwych branch works by having a selection or starters that are brought to your table from which you can eat as much as you like just by ordering more. You are then able to choice one main from the robata or main kitchen menu followed by the desert platter for the table to share. I understand other branches may do things slightly different with a buffet option instead.
With regards to drinks you can either have unlimited wine throughout or a welcome Belini instead with no alcohol included, they were more than happy for me to swap my Belini for any mocktail on the menu instead, just one of the ways the restaurant was extra accomadting to me being pregnant. 

For starters we shared the following: 

Edamame
Japanese Pickles
Vegetable salad with sweet Yuzo Miso

Mushroom Salad with Sesame Miso 
Special no raw fish Sashimi 
Chef's Sashimi Selection 
Avocado and Gobo Maki 
Spicy Mixed Sashimi with Asparagus
Pork, Prawn and Vegetable Dumplings
Vegetable and Prawn Tempura - plus Skye, Marshall and a Digger


The stand out items for me particularly were the dumplings and tempura. I felt the Sushi and Sashimi selection for Mr S did not reflect the best options available from the a la carte menu, they were again great with me being pregnant and brought me my own non-raw fish version of both the sushi and sashimi.

For mains we choose the Beef Sirloin and Baby Chicken, both delicious the chicken in particular was grilled with a salty child miso sauce on top and had a really well balanced flavour along with crispy chargrilled skin.






Now I was impressed with the amount of effort they had gone to for me being pregnant, but I was even more astounded by how they cater for kids. 

After I booked the table, I contacted the restaurant to ask if it would be possible to order off the a la carte menu for Bubs as I knew he would be happy having rice, noodles, grilled fish etc but not so much with the sushi, sashimi and tempura, the restaurant replied saying they unfortunately do not offer the a la carte menu along with the brunch but there would not be any charge for Bubs to dine with us, I therefore assumed he would just be sharing our food with us. 

                                                 

This however was not the case, Bubs first received his very own Bento Box for starters containing a Spinach Salad, Green Noodles, Dumplings and Cucumber Maki. For mains he could then choose one main from the adults menu - he choose Teriyaki Salmon with Sticky Rice and ate it all up so quickly I forgot to take a picture. And then for desert alongside picking at our desert buffet he also received his own Ninja Shaped Vanilla Ice Lolly. 

I would not have immediately thought of Roka as being a child - friendly dining establishment but they were great with kids, all the staff loved engaging with him on his many walks around the restaurant and he was made to feel very special with all his own courses that were presented beautifully to him. We have been taking Bubs to restaurants since he was only a few weeks old but Roka has to be by far one of the best in terms of service, food and fun for kids. I would highly recommend it to any families visiting London and looking for a memorable dining experience for all. 

Bubs Bento Box

Bubs Ice Lolly Desert 
To finish our meal we enjoyed the desert platter complete with Chocolate Buddha, Raspberry and Matcha Panna Cotta, chocolate truffles, exotic fruits, ice creams and sorbet. Again it was all finger lickingly delicious and we polished it all, not leaving a scrap behind. 
Desert Platter

Overall we throughly enjoyed our brunch at Roka, the service went above and beyond, the food was all delicious and ambience was perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon. After eating so much we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Covent Garden before heading home to enjoy the rest of Fathers Day.




Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Greek Chicken Kebabs with Homemade Chips and Greek Salad


Chicken is a big staple in our house and with Mr S being big into his training at the moment gets eaten at least 5 times a week probably by him and Bubs, personally this pregnancy I have preferred the vegetarian route however I did destroy two skewers of these tasty chicken kebabs they were so good. 


In London so far this summer has not been great with quite a few rainy days, I feel we peaked too early when it came to the hot weather, just hoping it means we get an Indian Summer in September, which would be great as I will not be pregnant any more and extra hot. The weather though does effect for me what I feel like eating and this dish was like a big plate of summer so it was great for a quick dinner on the odd day I did see a few sunrays peeking out. 

I served it with homemade chips, which I tend to prefer now to pre- made oven chips, just slice up a large potato, season with salt, pepper, olive oil and cook at 190 Fan for around 30-35 minutes. A quick Greek salad, my variation of this was made from red peppers, tricolour tomatoes, cucumber, spring onion and feta with a simple vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper dressing. I also brought this delicious seeded flatbread from Sainsburys to serve with it. 

This makes a great family mid-week meal, hope you all enjoy recreating it. 

Chicken Kebabs in a Greek Marinade

Ingredients 

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Garlic Cloves finely diced
2 Tbsp. Oregano 
2 Tbsp. Cumin Powder
1 tsp Chili Flakes
1 tsp Garlic Salt
Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper
6/7 Boneless and Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into cubes


Method

1. Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, cumin, chili, garlic salt, slat and pepper to create the marinade 


2. Coat chicken thighs thoroughly in marinade and leave to for a few hours


3. Pre-soak wooden skewers to ensure they do not burn

4. Skewer on chicken to form kebabs


5. To cook either BBQ, Grill or Oven cook at 200 Fan/ 220/ Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through

6. Serve and enjoy







Friday, 18 August 2017

Maltesers Barfi - Indian Fudge - Rakhi Sweets


Following on my last post for - Chocolate Crunchie Bar Barfi I also at the same time made a Maltesers version, with this one being much more like fudge in texture. 




Ingredients

397g Condensed Milk
200g Dark Chocolate
200g Milk Chocolate
50g Malt drinking powder
80g Icing Sugar
200g Maltesers


20cm X 20cm Brownie Tin

Method

1. Line tin with greaseproof paper

2. Melt the condensed milk along with the dark and milk chocolate together over a low heat, will take a few minutes ensure the chocolate does not burn
3. Mix chocolate milk with malt powder and icing sugar and beat together until fully combined

Ummm yes not the greatest looking picture :) 
4. Add in 150g Maltesers

5. Press mixture into brownie pan and top with remaining Maltesers
6. Cool in the fridge for around 5-6 hours

7. Cut into squares and serve




Final Rakhi Tray