Monday, 16 November 2015

Waitrose Cookery School, Kings Cross

Saturday was a wet, cold and miserable Autumn day so the hubby and I decided to check ourselves into the Waitrose Cookery School. There are three schools, the latest Kings Cross, the flagship Finchley Road and a Salisbury branch. We visited Kings Cross, which was less than a ten minute walk from the tube station. Take the Regents Canal exit and walk towards Granary Square, you will see the large Waitrose store and this is where the cookery school is located.

The Kings Cross Waitrose is a really lovely store and well worth a little wander before or after your class. The cookery school opens thirty minutes before your session begins and can be found by entering from the main entrance and turning right. There are toilets next to the school too. After signing in at reception you can hang coats and lock possessions in a free locker before taking a seat with a glass of Prosecco to fill in a health questionnaire. Nibbles are provided on the tables too.

There are several work stations across the super clean and well spaced out kitchen. You will work in pairs and be partnered up if you have come alone or in an uneven group. Each pair will be assigned a station, oven, hob and tools depending on what is needed for the chosen class. All of the equipment is state of the art and brand new including induction hobs, which I had never used before!

After slipping on an apron and checking out your work space you will watch a thirty minute demonstration by one of the specially trained chefs. You can sit and watch this on a TV screen or stand by the station for a first hand look. Once the dish has been prepared the class can grab a fork and tuck into the food on offer.

Then, it's time to return to your station and cook up a storm by yourself! There are three chefs wandering the class to help you out as well as front of house staff providing water and anything else you may need. All of your ingredients are included in the price. Some will be weighed out and ready, others you will prepare yourself as part of the session.

Our class of choice was a prawn and mango curry from Laos. We had to make the curry paste, which we doubled and therefore took half home in a tub to use at a later date. We then fried this off, added some coconut milk as well as prawns and mango! We also received a print out of the full recipe to take home.

Once we had finished preparing the meal we plated up and sat at the perfectly laid table to eat our concoction. Wine, beer and soft drinks as well as tea and coffee are also served during the meal.

Waitrose offer a variety of courses from short post work sessions through to full day lessons. There will always be someone on hand to help so nothing will be too difficult. The courses range in price depending on the length of the session. Make sure you book in advance via the website as courses do fill up. The sessions only have a limited number of spaces available to ensure plenty of one on one help is at hand.

As you can see the kitchen is large and spotlessly clean. It also overlooks the bustling Waitrose store. Everything about the session was fun and engaging. We were guests of Waitrose but a two hour course including ingredients, tuition, wine, beer and soft drinks with the meal as well as a welcome glass of Prosecco and nibbles costs £50 per person. I would thoroughly recommend this experience as something completely different to do in London as well as providing you with a new skill! This would be great with friends or as a date. We really enjoyed cooking as a couple!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


The hubby and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Saturday and were invited to lunch at the Michelin starred restaurant Quilon. The restaurant is less than a ten minutes walk from Victoria station and has a grand entrance as well as feeling as though you have stepped into another country when walking through the door! The restaurant is large, light and calming.

Quilon opened in 1999 and Chef Sriram was awarded a Michelin Star in 2008, which has been deservedly retained. His focus is on South West coastal Indian cuisine. Both restaurant and private dining are offered here. The service is excellent and very personal adding to the experience. We arrived at 1pm and the restaurant slowly filled up until by 3pm our area was completely full. There are large tables suitable for group dining and smaller more intimate booths for couples. Much of the food is designed to share so you can try lots of smaller dishes.

We started with mini poppadoms and a selection of dips. My favourites were the tomato, coconut and coriander and the tamarind, which had a definite hint of spice.

We then made our selections from the set lunch menu, which can be found online. I chose the coconut cream chicken, which was incredibly succulent and my husband went for the pepper shrimps, which were juicy and very tasty.

Next up was a small glass of piping hot lentil and tomato soup that was absolutely delicious. I cannot even describe how good the flavours were, you must go for yourself to try it!

For the main course I chose the Quilon fish curry that consisted of cubes of halibut simmered in coconut, chili and raw mango sauce. It was creamy and light, which is perfect for lunchtime. The hubby went for the lamb biryani that was polished off quickly hence got the thumbs up from him!

The main courses come with a variety of sides for the table to share. We had lemon rice that had a very distinct lemon flavour, if you don't like lemon then ask for plain steamed rice. Pineapple and pomegranate with yoghurt, ground coconut, cumin seeds and mustard to cool the dishes down. Some spinach with mustard seeds and grated coconut. Then the best side in my opinion, which was a chickpea masala and a Malabar paratha each. The paratha was a flour dough beaten to a thin sheet and folded to form a layered bread and was deliciously buttery.

For our dessert we chose to share a mango sorbet that was amazing. It was sweet and full of mango flavour, I would definitely try this for a light way to finish your meal. We were also presented with an anniversary dessert. This was a pistachio cake with melted black sesame fondant pistachio ice cream. The cake was moist and not too sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I saw others receive cakes for birthdays etc and I think it's great to dine in a restaurant that acknowledges special occasions.

As we left the restaurant I was also handed a gift wrapped box of two chocolates. I thought this was a lovely touch. Our meal was complementary but the lunchtime options are a two course, three course or tasting menu for the table and are all reasonably priced. There is a long drinks menu to suit plenty of budgets. A glass of sauvignon blanc and two Mongoose beers were priced at £22 in total. Quilon does not accept service charge, all service is included in the menu prices and there is even a note to remind you of this when presented with the final bill.

If you are in the mood for something different at lunchtime then definitely check out Quilon's set lunch. The menu has plenty of choices and will leave you feeling satisfyingly full and ready for an afternoon nap!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Film & Fizz @ One Aldwych

Last Friday the hubby and I attended Film & Fizz at One Aldwych. On arrival at the hotel we were guided to the private screening room in the basement. The room had thirty wide leather armchairs with drinks holders. Seats had been allocated so there was no fighting and as the cinema wasn't full guests had been really well spaced out.

We were handed a large box of salty or sweet popcorn each and could have taken more if we wanted to. We were also offered a glass of Lallier champagne or could have opted for the Halloween cocktail of vodka, peach and pumpkin. They also had carved, lit pumpkins decorating the screening room ready for the Halloween special movie; Scream.

After the movie we were swiftly escorted upstairs to the Indigo Restaurant and were given a glorious table for two over looking the lobby with it's beautiful Autumnal flower arrangements. We were presented with a three course dinner menu with suggested wine pairings as well as access to the full drinks and wine list.

The homemade bread with garlic oil was delicious and we had a second round to soak up the starters!

The hubby went for the smoked salmon, which as you can see was beautifully presented and tasted delicious! I chose the partridge. I really enjoyed my dish, although it was a little chewy in places and am pleased I opted to try something completely different.

For the main course I chose the gilt head bream with mussels and the boy went for the large pork chop. Both mains were devoured and thoroughly enjoyed.

For dessert we shared a chocolate parfait and the spiced pumpkin cake with salted caramel and pecan ice cream both of which come highly recommended from us! For an extra charge you could have had a cheese course if you didn't fancy any of the three desserts.

Film and Fizz is priced at £55 per head and includes the film, unlimited popcorn, a glass of champagne and a three course meal. Wine and service charge (12.5%) will be added to your final bill at dinner. One Aldwych will also take your credit card details when booking as there is a penalty for late cancellations. Pre booking is essential and the schedule for the season can be found on the hotel website. Therefore this is definitely not a cheap date night, however, to watch a movie in style, taste some delicious food and to try something completely different and luxurious I would recommend the experience. This is definitely an idea to impress a date! For those that want to really splash out they have a package, which includes an overnight stay and full English Breakfast!