Afternoon tea at the Sanderson

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I must admit, I don’t usually go for afternoon tea- but when I do, I want it to be special and out of the ordinary. That’s why I decided to book the mad hatters tea party at the Sanderson for my family and I. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s set outdoors in the courtyard of the- you guessed it, Sanderson, providing each guest cosy blankets and presented with  pretty teapots embellished with kings and queens and sandwich plates decorated with zebras, birdcages and ticking clocks.  The food is all themed around Alice and Wonderland and is priced at £48.  The sugar is presented in a cute little music box and the menu wedged in between the pages of a vintage book. You can also choose to have a glass of champagne with it too for £58. As there were 6 of us – (well 5 and one child), we decided to go for a bottle as an extra treat!

Once you are seated, the waiter brings you samples of all the teas. I’ve only recently become more into tea and I will say the Alice inspired fusions smelled delicious. I liked the way they were all in little jars with labels and we got to do more than just simply read the descriptions before choosing which one we’d like to try first. I went for White rabbit, infused with white grapefruit, vanilla and almond white chrysanthemums. It was light and floral! Then, we eagerly awaited our food (we went around lunch time and I was starving).  In terms of first impressions, I loved the food presentation of the tea stand, especially the meringues and the marshmallow mushrooms.

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Going by each tier, the bottom had:

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  • Smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese (Yum – however, a bit too fishy  and not enough egg to fish ratio if you ask me)
  • Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieur (Probably my favourite of the savoury options! Simple but always a treat)
  • Cornish crab bridge roll with dill, lemon, crème fraîche and avocado (This was OK, I did feel that there was not enough crab to properly enjoy it but from the little crab we had, it was tasty)
  • White Rabbit cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on pesto bread (A bit boring in my opinion)
  • Alice’s cinnamon, apple and peach “ Drink Me” potion (interesting! I liked how as you drank it you picked up different flavours of the dessert- it’s also quirky to include a drinkable dessert) 

These were the only savoury (minus the potion) options for the day. I know I would have liked to have more choices as all the little desserts became a bit sickly after a while- however, this may be due to my own personal preference and what you look for in an afternoon tea!

The next tier had:

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  • Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry Jammy Dodger (Yum! the biscuit was both crumbly and buttery)
  • Mocha chessboard gateau (Left this to last and was not my favourite- I’m not a huge fan of really chocolaty cakes though so that speaks for itself)
  • Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier (Again, delicious but way too rich to finish)
  • Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon (Probably my favourite! I love a good vanilla macaroon)

And finally, the top tier:

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  • Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms (Nice in terms of decor, but too sweet otherwise)
  • Mad Hatters lost carrot and fennel meringue (Tasty- it was airy and light. These were placed in the grass served at the top of the tier)

In addition, the waiter then brought out warm scones served with Cornish clotted cream and fruit preserve. This is when I decided (for once and surprisingly) that I was done with desserts and desperately craved another ham and cheese sandwich. While I would go back for the experience, I’m not sure if I would go back for the food. There were, as mentioned, dishes I really enjoyed, but there were (in my opinion!) too many sweet treats in comparison to savoury. As many of them are so rich in flavour, it did feel a bit overwhelming.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a lovely place to have afternoon tea which is a little different to the norm, this could be the place for you!

Brunch at Roka, Canary Wharf

Let’s face it, Japanese food is delicious and when you can combine it with unlimited flowing wine- what’s not to love? That’s why I decided to book Roka’s brunch whilst my dad’s in town.

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A bit of background story: My family is sort of obsessed with contemporary Asian restaurants. We’ve had our fair shares of Yellowtail with jalapeños and salmon tartares- it really is our go to treat, which is why I knew we all had to give it a whirl. Firstly, in terms of their package- I will say the price is actually pretty decent! Essentially it is either £49, £59, or £69 depending on what you pick as your main. Each menu has its own options. The price you go for will also establish what sort of wine you can have, but you can still pick between red or white. Most importantly, these are all free flowing for your two-hour slot. All menu choices include a Bellini (or champagne for the £69 menu), Green tea or a bloody Mary on arrival, as well as a selection of the starters in a buffet style by the kitchen.  To my surprise, there was actually quite an extensive array of options. In fact, by the time I had tried all the starters I wanted (which, let’s be real were most of them) I was already feeling a bit full… (oops we probably shouldn’t have ordered 5 MAINS THEN). All menu’s come with a tasty dessert platter for the table at the end as well. Those who opt for the £69 menu will also get a premium sashimi platter included, the option to have rosé, as well as choose exactly which desserts you want to try for the dessert platter. All in all, though, there is not much difference between the three.  I would suggest that if you are on a budget, you can still enjoy the brunch for the cheapest option as each person can separately opt for whatever menu price they desire.

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The Sashimi Platter: Salmon, Seabass, Tuna, Prawn and salmon tartare. The tartare was probably my favourite. 

My friends and I have done a lot of boozy brunches and I find that in London you usually have to compromise on alcohol or food quality. Luckily, at Roka, neither of these are sacrificed (praise the lord)! The service was prompt and polite, the alcohol kept being topped up so I kept believing my “one glass” remained the same – (obviously not but a great excuse in my eyes) and the food of high standard! In terms of starters, my favourites were the mushroom broth, the crispy chicken wings and the beef ginger and sesame dumplings pictured below!

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Certainly, there was a range of other tasty options, including udon, chicken karaage, sushi and sashimi amongst others. I was surprised to see a few tofu options and even more delighted that these were just as yummy. 

After feeling pleasantly satisfied, we each waited for our mains to be delivered.  As there were 5 of us in total (plus one child), we all got to share – (hello, my favourite! no food jealousy will happen under my watch!). We tried the:

  • Rice hot pot with crispy soy chicken and shiitake mushroom served with seasonal truffle (£69 menu)
  • Essentially a risotto style dish. Loved the taste but the truffle did come through a bit too strong and overpowered the other flavours. There were five of us and we couldn’t finish it.
  • 290-day grain fed black Angus rib eye served with wasabi ponzu (£69 menu)
  • YES, yes and yes. This was succulent and tender.
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  • grilled lobster with yuzukosho mayonnaise and fried shallots (£69 menu)
  • What’s not to love about lobster? I do wish that there was a sauce element with the dish rather than mayonnaise but that’s just my personal preference! DSC03823
  • Lamb cutlets with Korean spices (£59)
  • Juicy and flavourful! We were thankful for the smaller portion sizes as well. The waiter did advise us on portion sizes of each main so we purposely aimed to get some smaller than others.
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  • Black cod marinated in yuzu miso (£59)
  • Again, I can’t fault the black cod. The yuzu miso provided a tangy balance to the salty fish. Probably one of my favourite of the dishes!

Feeling stuffed and tipsy, I eagerly anticipated the infamous dessert platter (because scientifically we all have a second stomach for desserts, right?) As previously mentioned, because we had ordered a few dishes of the £69, we got to pick our desserts. We went for the almond crème brûlée with cherry blossom ice cream and a sesame biscuit, the chocolate to matcha pudding, as well as the banana ice cream with a salted cocoa crumble. Out of the three, my favourite was the latter! (although I must admit I also loved the chocolate pudding). It had little bits of sweet crunchy popcorn and the banana ice cream was fresh and creamy. The brûlée tasted a bit too much like marzipan for my liking but if marzipan is your thing, then hunni you’re gonna love it! The staff also kindly put in a cute birthday message for Mark….This was kinda awkward as he ended up leaving before it came out as he had an event to go to. Yes, Mark, we’re bringing up the guilt tripping yet again!

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Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Roka. It may be a bit more expensive than other brunches available in the capital, but if you’re looking for exceptionally delicious food and good free flowing wine- Roka is the place for you!

Tonkatsu Pop-up at Proud East, Haggerston

Mark and I decided to venture somewhere close last Sunday when the sun was shining- Ok seriously though it was hot AF. We sat on my roof for 30 minutes and decided, Nah, this ain’t for me. I kept envisioning a nice cold pool to jump into and then opened my eyes and realised I was still in London. I really need a holiday, can you tell?- MIAMI HERE I COME.

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Anyways- for lunch time we decided to head down to the Canal in Haggerston and realised that a Tonkatsu pop up was going on in Proud East for twelve weeks only.  Now if you haven’t been to Tonkatsu, you’ll know that their speciality is ramen. Now, don’t get me wrong- I love a bit of ramen. However, the thought of eating it in 30c is not my idea of a good time. However, we noticed that they were doing Ramen salads, as well as other side dishes, so we decided to give it a go.

We went for:

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Pork Gyoza with ginger and chilli

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‘Eat the bits chilli oil’ chicken wings

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King Prawn Katsu

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Chicken Hiyashi Ramen salad with poached and marinated chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, pea shoots and a seasoned egg. Drizzled with a ponzu dressing.

 

The verdict? The food is pretty damn delicious. I’d never had a Hiyashi Ramen salad before. This was essentially a dish made with classic homemade noodles which are cooked then chilled in cold water to retain the perfect bite and bounce, all topped with a tangy dressing. It made a light and refreshing alternative to a hearty ramen broth, whilst still being filling due to the noodles. Furthermore, the Pork Gyoza’s were flavourful and the Prawn Katsu perfectly crispy.

However, the winning dish for us was the chicken wings. Oh. My. God. Mark and I agreed that these were up there for our favourite wings ever- and TRUST ME, we’ve eaten a lot of chicken wings in our time. First, they were deep fried to achieve the perfect crunch and then, they were drenched in their homemade chilli oil sauce. They were just the right amount of spice and perfectly moreish. I’ve always said chicken wings are underrated and wings like this prove me right everytime.

Basically, you have to try these if you’re visiting.

It’s a perfect East London spot to catch a quick bite to eat and the bonus is the lovely terrace that faces the canal, where you can sit in the sun with a cold drink and people watch all day. Don’t tell me I’m the only person who does that….

 

 

 

Italian Tapas at Gastrovino, Chelsea

Situated over 2 floors, Gastrovino is a cute Italian restaurant nestled in the heart of kings road. Surrounded by Italians, (and being asked if I am ACTUALLY Italian – half mate, half) I knew that the food had to be yummy.

IMG_5246Andrea, Katrina and I attended last Wednesday for their aperitivo night! For just £10 pounds per person, every guest is given a welcome drink, as well as an unlimited access to a selection of different small dishes, which are continuously brought out by the chefs as the night unfolds. In terms of price, their Wednesday night deals are such a bargain, as each dish usually ranges between £5-8. I will say we arrived pretty late and so it was rather difficult finding a table and setting up- if you don’t want the hassle of standing around praying someone gets up, definitely go earlier than 8:30 pm! It is also more dimly lit downstairs than up, but this is because the lower deck is a great place for a cocktail, serving as the bar area rather than the main restaurant itself. However, once we did find a seat it was a cosy evening! There was some live music going on in the background and an array of tasty drinks on offer, which really added to the atmosphere. In terms of food, (my favourite part of any situation) we were in control of what dishes we wanted (and in our case, re wanted teehee)- helping ourselves to the various tasty dishes that were on order. As previously mentioned, because the chefs constantly bought out variations of traditional and authentic Italian dishes throughout the night, there was always something new to try. I must admit I kept helping myself to more… it was for the whole table Ok. My favourite dish had to be the aubergine parmigiana. If I have to explain what that is then you know nothing. Jokes.  It is deep fried aubergine in tomato sauce covered with mozzarella cheese mmmmm. We also had the classic bruschetta, pizzette, seafood risotto, pasta with a creamy tomato sauce and meatballs! A pretty good selection if you ask me… and that wasn’t even the half of it!

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All the food was what I’d expect (and want!) from a typical Italian restaurant: tasty carbs, cheese and lots of deep fried goodies.