Over the past year I've reviewed over 60(!) restaurants on this little blog of mine, and have eaten at a whole load more. Some not so great, so they didn't make it on to here, and some were incredible but I didn't want to take my camera with me so they didn't get reviewed. They may well do in the future as a lot warrant a second or third visit! Then there are others I've eaten at abroad which haven't made it up here.

So in no particular order, here are my top 10. They're all (except 110) linked to the original review I wrote so you can read about each in more detail:

Kricket - maybe my favourite restaurant this year, Kricket is nestled away upstairs in Pop Brixton. There's eight small dishes on the Indian inspired menu. Order them all, and maybe two portions of the Keralan fried chicken with curry mayo.

Smokehouse - choose between the Chiswick branch or the Islington one for slow cooked, smoked meats served with Asian inspired sauces. Must try dishes are the tacos on the starter menu (they alternate between pork and goat) and the smoked lamb shoulder with sambal and raclette.

Hoppers - super affordable and really excellent Sri Lankan food in the heart of Soho. Get there early to get your name in the queue as there's no reservations.

Paradise Garage - Robin Gill, of Clapham's Dairy and Manor's new-ish venture in Bethnal Green lives up to the hype. Go with as many people as possible so you can order one of everything on the menu!

The Providores and Tapa Room - two restaurants in one on Marylebone High Street and both worth visiting. Small fusion sharing plates (and a killer brunch menu) at The Tapa Room and more formal dining upstairs at The Providores.

The Kitchen Table - Michelin starred tasting menu behind Bubbledogs in Fitzrovia. Book with a big group and spend a fascinating evening sitting round the kitchen area watching your 15 course meal be prepared.

Rex and Mariano - sadly this Soho restaurant has closed down now, but has been replaced by Zelman Meats, which I'm yet to try but is definitely on the list for 2016!

HKK - Michelin starred Chinese food near Liverpool Street. Splash out on the tasting menu to really experience what this place offers, or for a cheaper option there's a duck and champagne brunch on Saturday afternoons.

London Foodie supper club - Nikkei cuisine at its finest in Luiz's beautiful home in Islington.

Les 110 de Taillevent - not reviewed on here, but a fantastic French restaurant on Cavendish Square that does wonderful food and excellent paired wines by the glass.

And finally, my personal favourite recipe of the year from my blog is buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese sauce - so quick, easy and cheap to make, anyone you cook these for will love you a lot!!

Happy 2016!

View Post



Unless you've been living under a rock or you don't read any restaurant reviews, then I'm sure by now you've heard of Hoppers, the new spot in Soho serving Sri Lankan food from the people behind Gymhkana, Trishna, Lyle's, Bubbledogs, The Kitchen Table and Bao. Hoppers has been highly reviewed by some of the biggest names in food, and with a no booking policy its popularity has gone through the roof. I've been a couple of times now, and by the second visit they'd installed an app queuing system whereby you can leave your phone number in the queue, pop to the nearest pub/bar and wait in the warm with a drink, until you get a text saying your table's ready, rather than huddled under the awning of the building opposite as we did on our first visit. Don't let the wait/queue put you off going though - you need to try this food. As you'll see on Thursday when I post my top 10 restaurants of 2015, it's made its way on to there, which is saying something with the amount of restaurants I've been to this year. And Hoppers is ridiculously cheap, particularly if you don't drink too much (both times I've been our drinks spend has far exceeded what we've spent on food....)

And talking of drinks, what better place to start. There's a slightly weird and wonderful cocktail menu at Hoppers, and to be honest, most of them include ingredients I prefer on my plate than in my glass (curry leaf, peppercorns, cashews) so on both visits I've gone for the Hoppers gin and tonic, made with lemongrass infused Sipsmith gin, Indian lemon, lemongrass and tonic, which is a zingy and refreshing drink and a great start to the meal. I had a sip of Emily's Colombo no.7 gin and tonic (gin, fresh curry leaves, cinnamon and cardamom tonic) but much preferred mine.

View Post



Just a quick one from me today - here's a very easy "recipe" for your leftover turkey. This really jazzes up leftover cold meat and is also great with ham if that's what you prefer/have lots left of.

2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp honey or agave nectar
3-4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
Chopped coriander leaves
Chopped mint leaves
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 red chilli, sliced very thinly
Leftover turkey or ham, sliced

Put the lime, honey, sesame oil, chilli flakes and herbs in a jam jar. Pop the lid on and give it a really good shake (if you want to make it in advance, don't add the herbs until just before serving). Pour the dressing over the turkey or ham slices, then top with pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and slices of red chilli. Serve with a warm red rice, sunflower seed and chopped spring onion salad, or an Ottolenghi cous cous salad with pistachios and chilli.

View Post



It's been quite a year. Cooking and writing wise, a lot of exciting things have happened this year, and even more are planned for next year (which I cannot wait to tell you about!!). Personally, it's been a bit of a tough year, so I'm looking forward to a fresh new year in 2016! I just wanted to take a moment though to thank a few people. A Little Lusciousness may appear to be a one man band, but it's far from that. There are so many people who've helped me out this year, who I couldn't do any of this without, so I want to say thank you to as many of them as I can remember!

Firstly, I want to thank Hana. Hana came to volunteer with me at a pop up in 2014 and she was so good that she's helped out at every possible event since. Not only does she give up many Saturday nights to come all the way West from Walthamstow to work for me at hot and hectic pop ups, she also volunteered at the pop up I did for Action Aid in Syria. Hana runs her own pop ups called Pickled Plates, and you can find out more about them here.

Thank you to Grub Club for supporting me all the way with my pop ups. For encouraging me, recommending me, even lending me their house for a pop up when I suddenly found myself venue-less. Thank you to my ex-boyfriend for letting me do pop ups in his house for the first half of this year (and all of last year too). Thank you to Storeys for giving us their venue for the Action Aid pop up, and to Urban Villa for letting me hold a pop up there on the hottest day this year! Thank you to Lorraine at Hummingbird Deli, and Angie at Angie's Little Food Shop for letting me use their venues more recently.

Thank you to my pop up helpers this year - Ian, Bronwen, Dru, Libby, Amina, Donna, Tracey, Stephanie, Emily, Michelle, Leanne, Tobi, Chitra (SO sorry if I've forgotten anyone....). And thank you to Hardeep Singh Kohli, who decided that our crazy idea to feed 60+ people on a rooftop within weeks of making that plan wasn't in fact that crazy, and without whom I could never have put on the event that we did to raise money for Action Aid in Syria.

A massive thank you to the wonderful photographers who worked with me this year. It's so hard for me to take anything resembling a proper photo at my pop ups, but Chelone, Rad, Phil and Karin have captured pictures of my food that make me a proud chef! 

 Photo by Chelone
View Post



When an invite reads "Dirty Brunch - hangovers welcome" and is for the day after one of my pop ups, I don't have to think twice about accepting. So a couple of Sundays ago I headed into Kensington for a refuelling session courtesy of Dirty Bones and their new brunch menu. I arrived a bit late (midday on a Sunday post pop up was always going to be tricky) to be greeted with a table full of Bloody Mary ingredients and a very friendly barman who was about to show us how to make our own. This was a good start. I loved the use of pickle juice and hot sauce in the Dirty Mary, though have to say I was not sold on the crushed up sour cream pringles stuck to the rim of the glass. Unconvinced I wiped these off so I could enjoy my drink. Apparently I was missing out, but each to their own....

View Post



As I mentioned in a previous post, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Tuscany in November with Filippo Berio, to learn more about their brand and the wonderful olive oil they produce. It was absolutely fascinating to hear about where the olives come from to make their oil (for their regular oil it's a mixture of mainly Spain, Italy and Greece) and see the production process, as well as sampling the new olive oil from November's harvest. I'm very excited that I'm going to be using the Filippo Berio Gran Cru olive oils, which are a range of three extra virgin olive oils each made with olives from just one Italian region (Puglia, Sicily or Tuscany), at my pop ups next year. The difference between the classic extra virgin and virgin olive oils and the Gran Cru range is that the Gran Cru oils have a stronger flavour, with a more peppery, grassy taste, which I'll pair with specific dishes for some of my events.

To celebrate the new olive harvest and the 'Olio Novello', which is the first Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the November 2015 harvest, Filippo Berio hosted an intimate dinner at La Cucina Caldesi, which was a four course feast cooked by Valentine Warner. The oil had been flown in especially for the event from Lucca, where Filippo Berio are based in Italy, and Val had prepared all the dishes to complement the oil.

We started with heavenly bits of bread, topped with goat's curd and a salsa verde made from the Olio Novello, capers, shallots, parsley and garlic. I had to really restrain myself around these as they were so good - salty from the capers with the peppery oil, I ate way more than I should've before the meal even started!

View Post



It's a funny thing going to a pop up restaurant run by someone else. You see everything in a different light than the rest of the guests as you know what goes on behind the scenes as well as at the table. I was invited to try out Cuisson's pop up recently which has been running at The Vaults in Waterloo for the past couple of months, where they do six pop ups a week. I've been to events at The Vaults before, and have been freezing cold but Cuisson takes place in a smaller room in the building, that I hadn't been to before, and it was really warm so no worries on the cold front! There's a bar downstairs where they serve specially designed cocktails to compliment the menu, as well as alcoholic teas, and wine. Once you've got your drinks you're taken upstairs to the dining area, where there are several large, shared tables.

Cuisson serve a regularly changing four course menu, and encourage you to help the chefs plate up - I kind of like this idea, though not massively keen on lots of people who don't know what they're doing touching the food (they do wear gloves... but still!) I definitely wasn't going to get involved in all that as I had a night off cooking and was there to eat.

We started with what turned out to be my favourite course - cabbage, chorizo, red pepper, lemon and hazelnuts. The cabbage was so tasty, having been seared and then roasted, retaining all its juiciness and flavour, and was perfectly complemented by the smoky chorizo and the crunch of nuts.

View Post



I feel like I've eaten more Indian and Sri Lankan food in the second half of this year than I've ever eaten before. With multiple visits to one of my new favourites, Kricket, and a few recent visits to the newly opened Hoppers in Soho (review to follow soon), as well as attending the re-launch of The Cinnamon Club back in September and Bombay Brasserie in October, and hosting my very own Indian inspired pop up for Action Aid's work in Syria, it's fair to say there's been a lot of curry in my life! Then a few weeks ago I headed over to Liverpool Street to check out the newly opened Darbaar, which is headed up by Abdul Yaseen who's launched his first solo project after over 10 years at The Cinnamon Club. Darbaar is vast. It has over 200 covers, and takes inspiration from the banquets of the Indian Royal Courts. The restaurant area is grand with a cosy darkness in the evenings, and rows of tables lining the room plus an open kitchen area where you can sit at the bar and look straight in. I love the lights, which looks like big, gold tea flowers, and hang prominently down the middle of the room.

The food at Darbaar is designed to be shared and the menu is made up of small bites (including Keralan shrimp cocktail with coconut), appetisers (king scallops with red cabbage or nawabi chicken pasanda with rock moss, for example), wood fired nanza (paneer bhurji or chilli chicken, caramelised onion and cheddar), the royal pot (a seasonal and hearty preparation, inspired by the dishes which were the iconic sharing feasts of the Royal Court), sides (rice, naans and vegetables) and chef's specials (including baked leg of rabbit on the bone with Rajasthani chilli and corn sauce, and spice crusted sea bass with shrimp and coconut sambal - wow!). Dishes range from £4.50 for small bites to £20 for the more expensive mains choices, though you can also choose the fixed menu - the menu Daawat, which is what we went for and comes in at £35/person for a table of 4 people. You get three 'light' dishes, followed by three 'mains' with sides, and three puddings - all for sharing.

We started with 'hariyali' date and samosa chaat -

View Post



In between the many, many restaurant visits, writing recipes for various brands and for my own cookbook, the cooking for pop ups and catering gigs, I've had a few more random adventures recently.

View Post



A couple of months ago I wrote a post about what we can all do to help and support the people who've lost their homes and had to the flee their countries because of war where they lived. Sadly, every day more people become refugees, and though the media chooses to mostly ignore it, the problem is not going away. Some of these refugees have ended up in Calais, France, in a no man's land, where no government will help or take responsibility for them, and where they are about to experience a cold, long winter while living in makeshift camps. You can continue to donate clothing, shoes, food, tents and other supplies through various channels mentioned in the first post I wrote, but now you can also support in another way.

A collective of UK street food traders, StreetAid, will be heading to Calais in January 2016 to deliver direct aid to refugees in camps in Calais. They'll be providing hot nourishing food and essential building equipment to people in real need. Street food traders delivering aid in January include The Roadery, Rupert's Street, Streatza, The Bowler, Fleisch Mob, House of Dodo, and What The Dickens! This is the second trip to Calais for these superstars, having previously visited the camp in September, where their help was invaluable.

The guys at StreetAid who are arranging this trip are looking for our help in raising funds to buy food that they'll cook and distribute, and to purchase building provisions to help build more sturdy homes for the refugees, that will protect them from the harsh winter weather. So, please dig deep, and help StreetAid to help the people that need it the most. So often it can feel like there's nothing we can do to help, but by donating to this campaign you will be making a real difference. I've hyperlinked to the Just Giving page above, but just in case you can't see it, here's the full link to where you can donate - https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/StreetAid.

Thank you xx

View Post



There are some events I get invited to that feel like a bit of an experiment. Then there are others which actually are an experiment - sitting with a jelly bean that tasted of vomit in my mouth, I realised that Stimulating the Senses with Tabl was definitely the latter. Replused, I wasn't too keen for the rest of what the evening had in store, but was assured by the team that this was the only horrible part of the night, and for the rest of it, we were in for a treat. Luckily, they were telling the truth.

Tabl are a new pop up event company, promoting food events with a twist - think comedy nights with dinner, or the one I went to - a night composed by Heston Blumenthal's food psychologist, which would stimulate, trick and play with all of our senses. We didn't have a menu, had no idea what we would be eating, and ate some of the courses without smelling, or with headphones on that were blaring out crazy music as our dessert was painted on to the dining tables.

We started with a bitter taste test - putting this paper strip on our tongue to identify those of us with more efficient taste buds. It wasn't a particularly pleasant taste, but one that was easily washed away with a glug of wine.

View Post



I'm spoiling you with recipes this week! Today's is a Greek inspired recipe, using a variation on a classic middle Eastern ingredient. This is my version of a lamb kebab, where I've replaced chickpeas with red lentils for the hummus (Rennie's handy if lentils make you bloated!). It's a really easy recipe, and one you can double or triple up if you've got a larger group to feed. You can make the hummus and marinate the lamb in advance, then just finish it off when needed by cooking the lamb and plating up.

Red lentil hummus

100g red lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp. tahini
2 crushed cloves of garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin powder
Extra virgin olive oil

Cook the red lentils in water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool. Once cool, add to the blender with the remaining ingredients and whizz up, adding a little water or more oil, until you reach the desired consistency.

Lamb pitta kebabs
Serves 2

300g lamb neck or leg meat, cut into 3cm cubes
1 tsp cumin powder
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

2 pitta breads
Half avocado, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 chilli, thinly sliced,
Parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. crème fraiche
1 tbsp. hummus, as above

Marinate the lamb chunks in the cumin, garlic, chilli, oregano, olive and salt and pepper for 2-24 hours.

Preheat a large frying pan and when hot, add the lamb chunks and cook for a minute on each side. They should still be a little pink in the middle.

Put the pittas under the grill or in the toaster. When toasted, spread a layer of hummus, topped with crème fraiche, lamb chunks, slices of avocado, cherry tomatoes, chilli and parsley. Drizzle with a little olive oil and they're ready to serve. 

View Post
© a little lusciousness. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Made By pipdig