Everything we ate and drank at Taste of London 2021

Monday 26 July 2021

I have decided that Taste of London is all about indulgence.

Everything looked and smelt so delicious that I wanted to try it all - and I did, but like I said, that's what it's all about - trying something new, expanding your culinary horizons and indulging in delicious food.

I am not someone who enjoys sharing food, especially with David but on this occasion, it was a great way for us to try as many dishes as possible without filling up too quickly.

So here's a run down of everything we ate and drank:

Champagne and Smokin' Brothers Smoked Salmon Canapes (3 for £12)

We started off in the VIP tent which is where we got the free glass of bubbles, but before heading into the main festival, David was drawn over to the boujie smoked salmon canapes.

Highly over priced in my opinion, but also very high quality. One had an avocado mousse which was obviously delicious but my favourite was drizzled with lime juice, which was a really good flavour combination. I'm a big fan of citrus. 

Heading into the main festival, we were ready for some more bubbles so whilst I went off in search of those, David got in queue for our next dish.

Manthans Ghati Prawn Masala (£8)

Turns out chef Rohit Ghai has quite the reputation when it comes to London's higher end Indian food and with Michelin-stars to his name, these quite rightly stood out from anything I've had before. 

I'd never tried a dish quite like this; I think I saw the word 'masala' and just assumed (stupidly) that it was some kind of curry but actually I was very pleased we tried them because they were delicious - and also a great thing to start with because they worked well as a starter.

Topped with soothing coconut shreds, the big juicy prawns had a good level of spice and a wonderful crunch. Manthan is yet to open but after these, I am very keen to visit when it does later this year. 

Espresso Martini from Artisan Coffee Co. (Approx £12)

David loves an espresso martini so we stopped off for one on the way to the next place. I was just as excited as a kid in a candy shop when the women also gave me a chocolate which they were pairing with the cocktails.

Casa Calaveras Fried chicken taco (£7)

Next was Mexican food which usually I love, but this was just a chicken taco and I wasnt all that excited about it. I took a bite and was quickly ready to find something new. Although having done some more research when I wrote this post, I learnt that Casa Calaveras is part of the Hakkasan group which pipped my interest. But what can I say, it just didnt compare.

Cafe Pacifico Cocktails (Approx £8 each)

Sticking with the Mexican theme, we headed to the Cafe Pacifico stand for some fruity coctails and some free shots of Mezcal which probably wasn't a good idea.

There was lots of talk around agave on their menu, which as a syrup, is something I eat on a weekly basis so I was interested to try. As a spirit however, it's more like tequila and less like honey, go figure.

We went for two different passionfruit cocktails here - a spiced mojito and a caiprinha - my kind of cocktails, both sweet, fruity and strong. Very good.  

Flesh & Buns BBQ Pork Rib (£7) and Exclusive Black Cod Bao £10

This was the highlight of the evening by a mile. 

We actually queued up for the bao buns but once I realised that the black cod was battered and not coated in sticky miso sauce; David went ahead and still ordered one and I went for the next best thing, a sticky BBQ rib - which turned out to be the best thing I ate all night.

The flavour of the sauce was just something else and it was literally dripping in it, with lots of sesame seeds as well. Plus as ribs go, it was big and very meaty, I would have eaten a whole plate of them given the opportunity. So delicious.

Burger & Lobster Original Lobster & Prawn Roll Slider (£7) & Lobster Burger Slider (£7)

It was getting late by now and having forgone the bao, I just felt like I needed some carbs, something comforting. Having always ordered the full lobster in the past, this was my chance to finally try the lobster roll and boy have I been missing out. It was good. 

And surprisinly, so was the burger lobster slider. Initially I just thought it was a burger slider so I was pleasantly surprised when I got a hit of lobster in the little bite I took. I never understood why anyone would go to Burger and Lobster and order the burger but the combination does work very well together so I was gladly proven wrong. 

Even though there were still so many things left that I wanted to try, we had run out of vouchers and it was getting cold so we decided to call it a night and left very full, and very satisfied - even without dessert!

Covent Gardens New Italian Funhouse: Ave Mario

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Ave Mario is the third of the Big Mama restaurants to open up in London; after Circolo Popolare in Soho and Gloria in Shoreditch. These quirky Italian restaurants are well known for their impressive interiors and tasty food, and also that fact that they're almost impossible to get a booking at.

So with news of their new restaurant opening, I had to get smart. I signed up to their newsletter which gave me a little pre-launch nudge. This had me drop everything and log on to find I had the option of any time or day my heart desired within two weeks of it opening. 
I finally got my booking. Well done me!

Inconspicuous on the outside - compared to the inside at least, Ave Mario is situated on Henrietta street which seems to be where it's at this summer.

Once you pass the white net curtain and enter the actual restaurant, it's kinda like you've arrived in wonderland - although it's not just the crazy decor that hits you, its the atmosphere too, it's buzzing.
Like the photos I've seen online of Circolo Popolare, the back wall is stacked with 3000 bottles although Ave Mario is much quirkier and in your face than its older sibling. The first thing you see are the thick lines of black and white tiles running along the walls, across the ceiling and back along the other side; with the addition of trashy fluorescent signs and opulent red velvet wherever you are seated, it's like some kind of fun house.
The huge central skylight is a nice touch.
That was just one part of this huge, crazy place. Head down the little stairs at the back and you're in a different place altogether. Instantly transported to what feels like a little family run restaurant somewhere in rural Italy - tiled walls, wooden tables and much quieter; you know the kind.

Down a further set of stairs you'll find a third dining room come cosy cocktail bar - similar to the first room, plus the most amazing rainbow toilet.

Now let it be said, for me, the food itself is nice enough but not really anything to write home about. I had the exact same thought when ordering from Napoli Gang, which was the takeaway service they opened in SW London during lockdown,
But hear me out; when you pair that with the incredibly fun venue, the electric atmosphere and the theatrics of it all, suddenly this average Italian food is worth traveling half way across London for. By the time our two hours were up and we were asked to leave, I didn't want to go. I could have stayed there all night sipping on giant cocktails. It really was a lot of fun and I am very excited to do it all over again, just as soon as I can get another booking. 

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