This week, in celebration of National Afternoon Tea Week, I popped over to the Halkin Hotel in Knightsbridge to pick up a takeaway tea from the Michelin star Spanish restaurant, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction.
With Hyde Park so close by Ametsa with Arzak Instruction saw the opportunity to offer guests a take-away tea option, pairing up with Afternoontea.co.uk to package up everything you need to enjoy their luxurious afternoon tea in the park.
We searched for a suitable spot, avoiding the fitness fanatics and the kids chasing virtual Pokemon, to a sheltered grassy area under some amazing tall trees. Inside the boxes were lots of carefully arranged treats, immaculately presented despite being made to-go. One savoury container featured dishes like red pepper and avocado toasted sandwich and Iberico ham wrapped crackers. Without a menu we were left to try and guess the flavour of each bite-sized delicacy. Two orange and yellow test tubes contained what I could only assume was a kind of innovative fishcake.
The sweet treats were my favourite, miniature churros and chocolate dipping sauce, crème brulee cake, and tiny fruit tarts. Along with the array of food the staff had handed me a bag with small bottles of cava and plastic flutes, to add to the indulgence.
It was great fun tasting this imaginative tea whilst enjoying the fresh air and watching the activity that surrounded us. We were very lucky to enjoy some sunshine whilst picnicking in the park… if the British weather was more reliable I could see this Basque takeaway tea being a great success all year round.
More information on the restaurant and all its offerings here.
Everyone who lives in Peckham knows Ganapati. It is the place to go for comforting home-cooked curries and fragrant thalis. This characterful little local Indian restaurant, recently celebrated its 10th birthday. It is found on Holly Grove, close to the popular Bellenden Road. Inside the decor is simple with basic wooden tables and chairs, the focus here is on the food. In summer, guests can enjoy the small terrace outside.
Ganapati is run by Claire Fisher, who came back from Southern India inspired by the evocative scents and flavours of the canteens and street food stalls. Her restaurant is now known across London for serving up some of the best South Indian food on offer in the UK. I was a novice of the cuisine when I visited, and was surprised by the similarities to Thai cooking: the curries are most often coconut-based and use a great deal of fresh herbs to create the often floral taste.
As you can see from the photo above, I was too busy devouring my food to take many snaps. We enjoyed a selection of dishes from the innovative menu. Poppadoms and pickles are much more than you would expect, vibrant homemade chutneys and deliciously punchy sauces, a far cry from the supermarket condiments I am used to. Vegetarian street snacks is a plate of delectable treats, the spicy mouthfuls feel indulgent even though they are not at all oily. Kottoor Quail is a must, wonderfully aromatic meat marinated in Kashmiri chilli and Indian shallots and quickly pan-fried to give an irresistibly crispy edge.
It was a challenge to pick from the list of intriguing curries, which include unusual ingredients like beetroot and fennel. We chose to share the Cashewandi Kozhi curry, a mild dish with free-range chicken cooked in cashew nut and coconut masala with a touch of green chilli and tomato. It was blissfully light and full of zesty flavour, big chunks of juicy tomato added a summery freshness. We ordered one of the highly regarded Kerala paratha, a perfectly flaky flatbread cooked on the griddle, and a portion of coconut rice to soak up the sauce.
I can’t comment on dessert as we didn’t try one but they looked equally inventive and exciting with ingredients such as saffron, cardamon and pistachio. And now for the best news? Ganapati offer takeaway and delivery, so you can enjoy the spectacular flavours without even moving from the sofa.
More information here: www.ganapatirestaurant.com
The Heron off Edgware Road is definitely a case of substance over style. Down in the pub basement you will find a dingy little restaurant known amongst serious foodies for its authentic Thai food. You won’t find the standard Pad Thai or Green Curry here; instead this unusual eatery serves up Asian delicacies such as Spicy Salad of Boiled Pig’s Ears and Marinated Duck’s Tongues!
The shabby, dimly lit venue has become known amongst bloggers and journalists as THE place to go in London to experience truly great Thai food. Specialising in North-Eastern cooking the kitchen creates fiery spicy salads, sour curries, stir-fries and much more. Flavours are vibrant and seasonings are strong. The stir-fried soft shell crab is a must, our whole table fought over the final mouthful, a delightful mix of textures and tastes. Other highlights included the Grilled Chicken Wings, garlicky Morning Glory and Stir-fried Pork with Pepper. The food, though it took a while to arrive (the tiny kitchen also deals with take-away orders) was very fresh and tasty.
Cool down with a Chang beer or a bottle of chilled white wine, don’t scarper early as the real vibe gets going later on in the evening. At 9pm the two TVs go on, the microphones appear and the Karaoke tracks start blaring. Stuffed full of food we managed one Beatles song before staggering off home, promising to return with a big group of rowdy (and hungry) friends soon!
More information here.