Archive for the 'Restaurants' Category

Caravan – Kings Cross

Reviewed on June 2nd, 2015 by Dina

Birthdays are always good to be celebrated but sometimes the organising of such an event can require some time. Hence together with a friend, we decided to plan a birthday dinner for a close friend. Originally Grain Store was suggested but as it was fully booked even though the booking was tried to be made a few weeks before the event, the next option was Caravan next door.

The area in and around Kings Cross and the canal has undergone a big change compared to a few years ago. The regenerated area has made way for Granary Square, “grass” covered stairs, deckchairs and playful fountains. Granary Square has also become home to a few restaurants.

Caravan has a lively atmosphere and a great vibe about the place. It has a warehouse feel to it with exposed metal frames. The kitchen is at one end. Candlesticks and low lighting decorate the windows and the dining area.

Caravan Place SettingCaravanCaravan InteriorCaravan Jalapeno Corn BreadCaravan Chickpea ChipsCaravan Olive and Herb FocacciaCaravan Watermelon and TofuCaravan Butterbean and Heirloom TomatoesCaravan Heritage CarrotsCaravan Aubergine MaghmourCaravan CappucinoCaravan Hot WaterCaravan Interior 2Caravan Granary SquareCaravan Canal

The menu is split into small plates, large plates, breads/cheeses/meats and sides. This makes it great for a group of diners as it enables you to try a variety of dishes. Caravan boasts a fantastic range of really fresh seasonal vegetarian food. The dishes are brought out as soon as they are made so they come at random times. This is not a bad thing as it gives you time to start sampling the delights.

For the breads, a corn bread and focaccia was chosen. The corn bread was not spicy even though it had jalapeno. It had a nice flavour and was more cake like than bread. The olive and herb focaccia came as two wedges with la saba butter. It was not oily at all.

Caravan puts flavours that you wouldn’t think to put together such as watermelon, tofu, coconut yogurt and lemongrass caramel but it really does work. One of my favourites had to be the chickpea chips with the jalapeno ketchup. Gone away is the grainy falafel like texture which is what I was expecting. Instead, the chickpea chips had a wonderful smooth puree like interior with a crispy outer.

Butterbeans with heirloom tomatoes and goat’s curd had a real freshness to it. This was helped by the gazpacho dressing. Contrasting colours of the heritage carrots was beautiful. The carrots had a bite to them and hence were not overcooked. The dish also had goats cheese, sultanas, greens and ras el hanout. The large place of aubergine maghmour, courgette, dukkah, yogurt and sumac focaccia was delicious and hearty.

For dessert, I was lucky enough to try a bit of the chocolate pot with raspberry and blackcurrants. The rich chocolate contrasted the tart berries. What is there not to like?!

Caravan specialises in coffee and they are coffee traders and a roastery. The decaffeinated cappuccino was really smooth and made a good end to the feast. Hot water was also served and this was given in a teapot.

The only qualm that I have about Caravan is that they only give diners two hours and fifteen minutes at the table. So the issue that we came across was that when we were told that our time was up at the table, the staff still let us order more drinks. This brought about some confusion as in where were they expecting us to drink the drinks if we had to leave the table. It seems like the days are gone where you can just spend as long as you want out for dinner. It is a shame to have to be time conscious, especially when you are out for a special occasion.

On a plus note, when Caravan was emailed prior to the booking, asking about certain dietary requirements and queries about their food, they did respond with some good suggestions. The staff and service was good and friendly.

All in all the evening out at Caravan was a success! The main thing is that the birthday girl did have a good time for her dinner out with friends. Guess we should start planning something for next year!

Caravan, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square (off Goods Way), London, N1C 4AA

Rating: ★★★★½

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Shimla Spice – Shipley

Reviewed on April 26th, 2015 by Dina

Shimla Spice looks quite decadent with its flocked wallpaper, ornate silver mirrors and little lights covering the ceiling. It has the banner in the window stating that is the Best Indian Restaurant in England 2013 from the English Curry Awards.

The Shimla Spice Vegetarian Mix was a good combination of vegetable pakoras, onion bhajis, paneer pakoras and vegetable samosas. It came with a side salad. Although all of the items were fried, there were not at all greasy. The batter and pastry encasing the various items were crispy.

Shimla SpiceShimla Spice Vegetarian MixShimla Spice InteriorShimla Spice Balti Veg PaneerShimla Spice Saag PaneerShimla Spice Vegetable Masala

The Vegetable Masala was a combination of aubergine, cauliflower, pepper, peas and carrots in a thick sauce. Peas and paneer made up most of the Balti Mixed Veg Paneer. A side dish of Saag Paneer was also had. The spinach was not overcooked and not too mushy. The paneer pieces had a grilled texture to them. All of the dishes had a lot of flavour and were not too spicy as requested. The naans that accompanied the meal were freshly cooked, soft and fluffy.

Even though we had enquired about the closing time to make sure we could dine without time being an issue, the waiters did not give us an enjoyable dining experience. Throughout the whole meal, the staff were constantly hovering over us, taking away plates even though we were still eating. The main dishes were brought out as soon as the starters had been finished, without letting us have a gap in between.

Shimla Spice was given the benefit of doubt, thinking that this was just a one off experience. But we have returned a couple of times, only again to be rushed through the entire meal. It is a real shame as the food is of good quality.

If you want curry in a hurry, then Shimla Spice is the place to go. If you are looking for an enjoyable relaxed evening out, then it may be better to head to another eatery in the vicinity!

Shimla Spice, 69 Otley Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 2BJ

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Shimla Spice Shipley on Urbanspoon

Roti King – Euston

Reviewed on April 17th, 2015 by Dina

Down a random side street near Euston is the place to get authentic Malaysian and Singaporean street food. Don’t let the look and the size of the eatery put you off in any way. Two signs, one of Roti King and the other of Euston Chinese Takeaway mark the site.

Roti King is nothing fancy and it is all pretty basic. A very small eating area, together with the chef making the rotis at the front by the entrance is pretty much what Roti King is. Queues of diners going out of the door and up the stairs to street level eagerly wait for a table so that they can have some of the roti and curries. The place is so small that tables are shared between diners and there is a quick turnaround with food and customers. Quality is no way compromised though.

Roti King Roti Telor and Dahll CurryRoti KingRoti King Roti Canai with Curry Fish

Flaky, buttery, crispy, hot rotis are made by the skilled chef. It is mesmerising to see the Roti King chef at work. You can watch his skills from the covered glass area. Everything happens front of house, from the roti making to the washing of the dishes.

The way the rotis are made are first the chef flattens the dough ball fairly thin. Then through a series of flips and turns, he makes it paper thin. With some additional folds, rotations and more flattening, he makes it a round shape ready for the hot plate. After the roti is cooked, back it goes onto the stainless silver work surface to be scrunched up. And there you have it, the Roti King has worked his magic and the roti is ready to be served with your curry.

Two dishes were chosen for this weeknight meal. One was Roti Telor which was the roti with egg in the middle. This was had with the Dahll Curry. The Dahll Curry was a combination of a dahl with a curry base which gave it a wonderful distinctive moreish flavour. The roti was perfect to dip into the tasty, mild Dahll Curry.

The second dish was the Roti Canai with Curry Fish. Fried pieces of fish in a slightly spicy sauce accompanied the plain rotis. Again a wonderful and delicious dish.

Roti King provides pure comfort food. As the size of the curries are not huge, you don’t feel overly full. A bigger portion of curry could have easily been eaten. There are also some noodle, soup and rice dishes on the menu which looked tempting when other customers had ordered them. If you have a sweet tooth, then sweet rotis are also on the menu. But we did not have room for them, as we were happily full from our dose of the savoury rotis.

If you want to know exactly what Roti Canai is, the menu states:

“Roti canai is a type of Indian- influenced flatbread found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is often sold in Mamak stalls in Malaysia. It is known as roti prata in Southern Malaysia and Singapore, and is similar to the Indian Kerala porotta”.

Roti King is closed on Sundays and also they have a rest time between 3pm and 5pm on the other six days. It is always best to get there early to avoid the queues.

Roti King, 40 Doric Way, Euston, London, NW1 1LH

Rating: ★★★★☆

Roti King on Urbanspoon