October is the month of the London Restaurant Festival – yes, the whole month – so if you didn’t know this already you have been missing out!
It’s an excuse to visit places you’ve never been before and a really good chance to try the venues you read about in magazines and newspapers but never thought you’d be able to afford. There are money-saving deals to be had everywhere. Visit the London Restaurant Festival website and you’ll see what I mean.
The deals on individual restaurants like Atelier De Joel Roubouchon, STK London and Babylon Roof Gardens are fantastic but what’s really cool about the festival is the opportunity to visit several different restaurants in one day. Why have the starter, main and dessert in one place when you can visit up to six restaurants and sample a dish and a drink at each? It’s a great opportunity to see what eateries you like the most so you know where to book in for a full meal another time.
The tours available are a Japanese Journey, a Chinatown Tour, a Tapas Tour, a Cicchetti Trail and a Carnaby Village tour. I tried the Carnaby Village tour to test out the concept. The best thing about this one is you get to try a variety of flavours with Indian, Italian, American, Chinese, Japanese and even Peruvian restaurants.
This is how I got on:
(1) Cinnamon Soho
Bengali spiced crabcakes with tomato and mustard mayonnaise and a Mango Kick cocktail.
They weren’t wrong when they said this vodka based cocktail had a kick!
Blueberry and bananas with maple syrup pancakes or half 1/2 lb classic cheese or pineapple burger
If I was on death row, these pancakes would form part of my last meal…
(3) Pizza Pilgrims
Slice of Ndjua pizza or Tomato arancini stuffed with buffalo mozarella
This restaurant serves up pizza with an added slice of humour. The pizza dough is incredible – so light!
(4) Shoryu Ramen
Ganso Tonkotsu pork broth ramen
OR barbecue char sui pork hirata bun
I could live on these buns for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I’d still enjoy each bite. The hirata bun is like a little cloud from heaven which contrasts with the sweet and succulent pork.
(5) Senor Ceviche
Sea bream and king prawn ceviche with aji amarillo tiger’s milk, red onion and crispy baby squid
This fish was so soft. I am a sushi addict and I would say this is better than some of the sashimi I’ve had at Nobu. I want to go back for more!
(6) Cha Cha Moon
Spring rolls or Crispy Chilli Beef
This is one posh – but affordable – Chinese. It’s owned by Alan Yau of Hakkasan and Yauatcha fame and there’s just as much skill in the cooking as well as a super cool interior. We’ll be back!
Was I satisfied at the end? Absolutely! The highlights, for me, were the pancakes at Kua-Aina (it satisfied my sweet side and having blueberries baked into the pancake kept it juicy) and the Char Sui pork bun at Shoryu Ramen (as the meat had a sweet glaze that contrasted perfectly with the light dough).
As we walked in between restaurants I didn’t feel as uncomfortably full as I would have done if I sat in the same place. If you consider that tickets are £55 and this is basically your lunch and dinner, refreshments and 6 hours of entertainment then it’s pretty good value for money.
The only catch is that you need to book quickly if you want to join in! The next date – and final – date you can book a tour is Saturday 25 October. So get to the website quickly.Read more »