Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Jun 10, 15 Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Posted by in All, Lifestyle

I remember when Callooh Callay first opened, back then I was living in Dalston before it was cool and Callooh Callay was one of the early ones to hit close to Kingsland Rd. I loved it but moved not long afterwards and so haven’t really been back in a few years. That is until I received an invitation in my inbox to come and check out their new food menu. Although they may have had nibbles in the past, they’ve now teamed up with local restaurant, 1oo Hoxton and Ziloufs to offer patrons more than just crisps and peanuts. The menu consists of various small plates that are Asian inspired. According to Callooh Callay, “Thai-trained Aussie chef Tim Yates and Francis Puyat, formerly of Nopi, have together delivered a concise sharing menu offering a clean, fresh take on Asian fusion and focusing on their combined passion and extensive experience with Thai and Vietnamese flavours in particular.” The idea of small plates is only natural as drinking in  a cocktail club is usually a shared experience (and when it’s not, well, let’s not go there right now…). Anyway, the evening I went we sampled various dishes from the menu along with a few signature cocktails from the list. We started with MSG Chicken Salt popcorn. I was completely mystified as to what that was but my friend, Jason, had lived in Sydney for a year so he was beyond excited to see Chicken Salt. At first I thought, weirdo, but upon popping a handful of this popcorn in my mouth, I was hooked. It’s very savoury and moreish, well, what do you expect from something flavoured with MSG?At least they’re not trying to hid it! I sampled a few other plates. The prawn toast consisted of fried wontons and the plumpest prawns, very tasty. I also had the soft shell crab roll, I love soft shell crab and it was cooked to crispy perfection. The boneless chicken wings that followed were salty sweet but perfect...

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North 52 Bar & Kitchen… British food and wine in Soho

All things British is what’s hot in London, what with the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and of course, the ever present eat/drink local. There’s a new spot in Soho specializing in modern British food, 52 North Kitchen & Bar on Poland St. where all the ingredients are sourced from Britain, including many of the wines. A big open space, with communal tables and interestingly, wooden roof shingles instead of wallpaper covering the walls and columns. There is a long bar at running from one side of the room to the other and several old Chesterfield leather chairs and sofas in alcoves scattered around the room. There’s also a cozy basement with another bar to hang out in. What drew me into 52 North was the wine list, more specifically, they are one of the only places in Soho that features English wine by the glass, both still and sparkling. They have 5 still wines and 1 sparkling at the moment but are going to be adding more in the future. I’ve been a bit dubious about English still wines but the Biddenden Gribble Bridge ortega as well as their Bacchus were both refreshing, tasty and easy to drink. The menu consists of trad dishes like mushrooms on toast, scotch woodcock, Cornish mussels, English pork chop and Arbroath smokies fish cakes among other choices with prices about the same as many a gastropub around Central London.  I had the mushroooms and mussels which were delicious with the Biddenden Gribble Bridge 2010. The Gribble Bridge had plenty of bright citrus fruit on the nose, full of fruit but dry nonetheless. I found it very easy to drink. The Bacchus was another light wine, a good substitute for pinot grigio it has a bit more substance to it, more flavour then the average pinot grigio. Priced at £25 quid, I thought it might be a bit pricy, but Tony Ho, part of the operating team, told me that the Bacchus and Gribble Bridge have been flying out...

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Cocktails in Chiswick

Sep 17, 11 Cocktails in Chiswick

Posted by in Italy, Lifestyle, restaurants, Spirits

London recently had a week dedicated to cocktails and who doesn’t like a well mixed cocktail? I’ve visited a few cocktail bars in London and the best seem to be located centrally but if you’re one of the lucky ones who live in or near Chiswick, you’ve got a gem of a cocktail bar/restaurant on your doorstep. Charlotte’s Bistro (little sister to Charlotte’s Place in Ealing) of Chiswick with it’s dark wood and modern glass and steel frontage just looks like a great place to order a martini or two. To get to the restaurant you have to pass through the small bar up front but everyone is so friendly on entering that it’s hard not to stop and have a drink before carrying on up the stairs to the dining room. Laura Marnich (ex-Sketch) is the Head Bartender and she works closely with the Head Chef to come up with unique cocktails. Why would the  Bar work with the kitchen? Because Laura likes to create with cocktails with a twist: Fennel & bergamot martinis, Peach & Basil KT Blossom martini and Cherry Meringue sour  with frothed egg whites, just some of the concoctions the bar and kitchen have come up with over the past year. I tried all of them and they all surprised me. I must say, I was a bit sceptical about fennel and bergamot but the combination was intoxicating (figuratively and literally). As a matter of fact, I think I drank most of my companions – ooops! Laura also does traditional cocktails and the Manhattan she whipped up passed my very strict Manhattan taste test despite the fact it was served straight up at first, they even had their own marinated cherries. Laura likes to change the menu seasonally, working with whatever fresh ingredients are available. Currently they are just finishing up summer and I can’t wait to see what she devises for Autumn. Prices? Well, unlike Central London, prices here are run between £7.50 and £9.50 and you definitely...

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Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Aug 23, 11 Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Spirits

Although my remit is wine, I do like a good cocktail, my favourite being a perfect Manhattan on the rocks. I don’t however, restrict myself to Manhattan’s, which is how I found myself at The Bar at The Dorchester with the very charming and legendary Bar Manager, Giuliano Morandin explaining to me how he recreated the lost recipe for Forbidden Fruit liqueur. The Forbidden Fruit liqueur was first invented in the early 1900’s and was hugely popular in the US, of all places, until Prohibition came round and that was the end of that.  The original recipe disappeared in the 1950’s and no one has been able to replicate it since. The Dorchester of London cocktail  made with Forbidden Fruit was originally created by Henry Craddock and is even included in an old drinks recipe book but after the 1950’s, with the liqueur lost, it was impossible to make. Until Giuliano heard about it. He wanted  a special cocktail to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dorchester and thought recreating a “lost classic” would be perfect. He was fortunate to find a bottle of the original Forbidden Fruit at a private sale in the States and brought it back to London. He then  took it upon himself to recreate the liquor and, after 7 months of experimenting, was finally satisfied with the result. I really wonder what that forbidden fruit is or was. The liquor itself smelled like honey but tasted like a licorice grapefruit, very interesting indeed. It had a hell of a kick to it! I got to try the original Forbidden Fruit which was full of maple syrup flavours, much less honey but still very sweet. I can see why Giuliano tweaked the recipe as I think modern drinkers probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The resulting cocktail is quite simple once you have the liquor, just add Bacardi rum and gin, shake over ice and then serve straight up.  All the cocktails at The Bar are served straight up unless...

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