I have always wondered what the huge, flashy venue at 100 Wardour Street has to offer… yet another of Soho’s fabulous foodie havens for feasting and flirting. This chic venue is home to D&D restaurants Carom and Floridita. I sensed a bit of rivalry between the two floors, Indian vs. Cuban and Gin vs. Rum. The whole venue has a fun vibe: bright lights and lots of chatter. Tony upstairs made us exquisite martinis while the mixologists in Floridita stunned us with unusual Rum based treats.
Previously I have heard fellow cocktail lovers mention the legendary drinks at Floridita, who specialise in Rum based mixology… but I knew nothing of Carom the Indian eatery. Up market Indian restaurants seem to be thriving in the city, curry worshippers are no longer satisfied with their local takeaway, seeking a fresher, healthier and more vibrant version of this delicious cuisine.
As always, I let my eyes do the ordering which resulted in an epic assortment of aromatic dishes. We went with the manager’s recommendations, which was definitely wise as everything tasted authentic and delicious. To start, we both favoured the Chicken ‘Malai Tikka,’ wonderfully marinated, tender meat… dangerously moreish thanks to the garlic and cheese. We were slightly bemused by the accompanying moss green dip which was served with nearly every starter! The Satay tasted good, though unconventional, the dish substituted my favourite peanut sauce with Chilli & Mango Chutney which disappointed me a little. Rich Paneer Tikka and Vegetable Potli Parcels are both good veggie friendly choices, filling and utterly delicious. I’m not a fan of seafood but my friend enjoyed the Crispy Fried Chilli Squid, a generous portion stacked high and served with coriander dip. Crisp white wine was discreetly topped up while we concentrated on the array of food.
The mains were a continuation of the flavoursome sensory overload: bright, beautifully seasoned dishes of every kind. Head chef Balaji Balachander has created a menu of innovative dishes, authentic in style and exceptional in taste… I was very impressed. This course was a festival of flavours and colour. The lamb was the clear winner for me, the Lamb ‘Tawa Masala’ Chops, is a Carom Specialty and has garnered popularity for good reason. The taste is so rich and intense, I couldn’t resist coming back to scrape the bowl again and again. The Chennai Chicken Curry is a home delicacy – buttery, creamy and comforting, it is a mild recipe perfect for all palates. Salad, Garlic Naan, Raita and delicious crispy rice provided plenty of variety and contrast to the meal.
We managed, just to squeeze in a few mouthfuls of dessert, the Lychee Sorbet is light and sensational and an absolute must try. The Mango and Cardamom Crème Brulee with Raspberry Sorbet is an original take on the classic French dessert, but is nothing special.
Downstairs in the ‘Cathedral of Cocktails’ the party continues, ideal for a quick drink or as an all night hang out. Floridita is both kitsch and supercool, a Jazz blues band entertained us with contagious tunes and glamorous rum based cocktails fuelled my addiction to this Cuban vibe. Visitors sit round individual round tables in a cabaret layout… it encourages intimacy and a buzzing atmosphere. Our enthusiastic waitress insisted we try the more unusual drinks on the menu, I was only too happy to oblige as the endless choice is intoxicating. Any and every variety of rum cocktail is possible at Floridita, but Dacquiris are a real speciality. I tried the No.2 with Havana Club Anejo 3yrs shaken with fresh lime and orange juice, sugar syrup and a hint of orange Curacao, it was perfectly mixed and served, strong but sensual and completely delicious. The Mai Tai is a good choice for guys not experienced in cocktail sipping – a strong blend of flavours with a kick from the lime. We also tried the Fog Cutter and Rum Crusta, which you have to ask for, as you won’t find them on the menu.
The exotic world of Carom and Floridita offers escapism from the grey streets of London… here you will find the best cocktails, innovative and appetising food and a welcome that ensures everyone has a good time.