Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Desserts in London

A quick scroll through my Instagram feed reveals that I've got quite the sweet tooth (and so do my trips to Eastman Dental Hospital for root canal treatments). And, I'm practically always the first in line to try a new dessert (as evidenced by this article in the Evening Standard).

So, I've rounded up a list of my favorite places to hit for dessert in London. That's right - I've been known to skip lunch/dinner and just head straight for the sweet stuff (just ask Shikha of WhyWasteAnnualLeave - our first meeting was at Tsujiri, the Japanese ice-cream bar known for its matcha and hojicha soft-serve, where we ordered two rounds of matcha soft-serve each, before getting kicked out at closing time. On a Monday night. So hardcore, right?).

In no particular order:

Bubblewrap Waffle's bubble waffles

The newest kid on the London-dessert-block, these waffles screamed of nostalgia when I first spotted them on Instagram. In the hawker centers of Hong Kong and Vancouver B.C., these bubble waffles are served plain and served  - piping hot - in paper bags. I'd pick at this delicious, eggy waffle and slurp my bubble tea while my parents went shopping. Bubblewrap Waffle's newly opened store in Chinatown's Wardour Street takes the original waffle to another level with its gelato filling and a copious amount of toppings, like fresh strawberries, mochi, oreos, and caramel sauce. I couldn't resist.

Milk Train's cotton-candy adorned soft-serve cones

"It looks like someone shat on a cloud," a Facebook user commented when I posted this to a local foodie group. Yeah, smartass, a shit-on-a-cloud or just the BEST THING EVER. I managed to get the cotton candy successfully stuck in my hair, my face, and even my arms, so ... yeah. Bring Wet Wipes. Try the hojicha soft-serve in the summer - it's my favorite. Delightfully refreshing and more subtle in flavor than matcha, which can come on a little strong sometimes.

Fabrique's cinnamon buns

I work near Fabrique, so I often make a slight detour during my lunch break to stop in for one of their delicious cinnamon buns and ask for it to-go. They're about as big as my face and I always get the sugar all over my hair, clothes, and keyboard back at work, but they're delicious - with a hint of cardamom. And comforting when enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Maitre Choux's eclairs

These ornate, picture-perfect eclairs need no introduction. Udita bought some for my birthday last year and I actually squealed when I saw the bag. Like, high-pitched, bounced-up-and-down-like-my-three-year-old-niece kind of squealed. And they taste just as amazing as they look. Masterpieces.

Dominique Ansel's cookie shots

In college, we had a tradition called "milk and cookies" (or M&Cs, as we called it) and each dining hall would set out a varation of milk and cookies (it could be milk and brownies, for example) every school night at 9:30 pm. It was a great study break, but also a fun way to meet up with friends and chill out in the dorms. Dominique Ansel's cookie shots recalled this tradition for me ...

Hotel Chocolat's salted caramel hot chocolate 

This is the ultimate hot chocolate: piled high with chocolate whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, it makes quite the impression. So much so, that a lady passing by in Seven Dials stopped to ask me where I got it from. Sure to leave you with a whipped cream mustache, this is one for instantly lifting your spirits when you've had a horrible, no good, very bad day. Or, you know, if you just feel like treating yourself.

Tandoor Chop House's malted kulfi

I mean, I loved (like, loved) my lunch at Tandoor Chop House recently, but if there was one thing that I could bundle up and take away with me to a desert island, it'd be the malted kulfi with caramelised bananas and salted peanuts. That first, ice-cold, rich and creamy mouthful blew me away with its intense flavor and incredible sweetness. It's one to share - I felt myself feeling a bit sick after tackling about a third!

Yolkin's macaron ice-cream sandwiches

Warning: these beauties are pretty to look at (and delicious too), but a pain to eat. I'd advise working on the ice cream in the middle until you've got a thin layer left on each macaron half, then eating the halves like a cookie

Tsujiri's matcha soft serve

Who knew that matcha soft-serve + rice krispies + sweet red bean paste could be such a magical combination? Well, Tsujiri did, and their sundaes are one of my favorite sweet treats. The houjicha milk float is just as delicious: ice-cold, refreshing, with a wonderfully creamy taste.

Pierre Herme's macarons

They're soft, with an intensely-flavored ganache - and I much prefer them to the macarons from that other, popular macaron maison with the pale-green boxes. You know the one I'm talking about. The ingenuity of the flavors is impressive: from fois gras to salted-butter caramel and apples (yes, really), there's no shortage of inventive, exciting taste-sensations in these beautiful, two-toned confections.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Have you tried any of these desserts? Sweet treats are my absolute weakness!

p.s. totally unrelated, but have you ever seen people misspell "dessert" as "desert"? It gets me every time! I can't resist making a joke about it either.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Before and After: Our Guest Room Makeover

You may know it as the room I use for all my selfies and flatlays (because of the excellent, natural lighting and the floorspace), but our guest room also serves two other purposes: a guest room, for friends and family who are staying over (duh), and John's "getting ready" room.

This is one of two guest rooms in our house (the second one is currently used as a laundry room, which is a bit of a shame considering we've got a gorgeous sofa bed from Heal's in it), but it's my favorite, and it's where I sleep when I'm sick, so I often refer to it as the "quarantine room" i.e. "I have a sore throat and a cough, so I think I'm going to sleep in the quarantine room tonight."

But the real reason why I use it as my sick room, and why all our guests love it (look, they said it, not me) is because the bed feels heavenly: it's soft but firm at the same time and essentially feels like you're swaddled in clouds. It's just the old IKEA bed frame and John Lewis mattress that John and I used to sleep in (before we traded it in for a swankier, pocket sprung, super king mattress and bed frame from Warren Evans), but it's so comfortable. Not only that, but the light casts a beautiful glow on the restored, wood floors and I love the warm, cozy feeling I get every time I walk into the room.

When we first bought the house, this room was a no-go area (I would have put up police tape if I could, because it looked like a crime scene): it had yellow walls, tired, blue curtains, a paper-thin carpet that was peeling away, and several mysterious, unidentifiable stains (*shudder*). Let's just say, it had been neglected.

Here's the before:

And the after:

The first thing we did was strip back the carpet and expose the beautiful floorboards underneath. Builders came in and sanded and sealed the floorboards over the course of a few days. We then painted the walls white, just to give it a fresh, bright and airy feel, and we added floor-length blackout curtains in a neutral, oat color.

Because John uses it as his "getting ready room" in the morning (he leaves for work around 6 a.m.), we bought this Scandi-inspired clothes rack from John Lewis where he keeps his suits, shirts, and shoes. I always joked that I wanted my home to look like "a store! That I live in!" and this room is very close to fitting the bill.

We sourced an antique French set of drawers that we fell in love with at our local garden center, which hosts a French antique furniture shop on the top floor called Maison & Mirrors. The turquoise blue and the marble top looks beautiful against the natural wooden floor and bright white walls.

I added vintage prints to the walls and the map of the US we brought back from an antique dealer in Bordeaux (the corresponding UK map hangs in the second guest room). I love looking at the map from the bed and it also works as a great distraction if you can't get to sleep!

To feed my #shelfie addiction, John installed this ladder shelf, for which I curate little trinkets and items. I typically place towels on the bottom rack so guests can help themselves.

Beautiful, luxurious bed linen is (in my opinion) the key to making a guest room look and feel extra special (and, okay, I like to sleep on nice sheets when I'm sick!). I've been loving the chic, understated patterned bed linen from Secret Linen Store and recently used bedding from their new Tulips collection for the guest bed.

I don't know about you, but I've had such a hard time finding high-quality bed linen that isn't white or ... white. This linen has a subtle, dove-grey pattern and is 100% cotton with a sateen finish, so it feels heavenly to climb into. I love it so much, I'm thinking of getting this tiny stripe grey graphite set for our master bedroom as well (I also just love that they have a section devoted to grey bedding - my favorite color).

Buying our sheets from Secret Linen Store felt personal too: my parcel was delivered with instructions for making dresses from old pillowcases for the charity, "Little Dresses for Africa". It's enough to make me want to dig out my mini sewing machine and get started.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into our house! I'm obsessed with before/after posts, ha! I used to watch Extreme Makeover in the States and cry my eyes out when the "after" was revealed.

Our Tulips bed linen was provided courtesy of Secret Linen Store, whose products and ethos I love. All opinions are my own. Shop the collection here. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Too Too Tasty: Tootoomoo's Bottomless Brunch

I love the politeness of British culture. What we might term, "ALL YOU CAN EAT" back in the States, is subtly translated into "Eat as much as you'd like!" or, the even more appealing, "bottomless" here in the UK. The mere mention of "bottomless brunch" evokes images of mimosas being poured, glasses clicking, and piles upon piles of pancakes and waffles and floral dresses on a sun-drenched terrace somewhere. 

What I hadn't anticipated was heaping platefuls of gyoza, popcorn rock shrimp, stir-fried pad thai noodles, yuzu salmon sushi maki rolls and pitchers of cocktails, which is precisely what pan-Asian restaurant Tootoomoo (with branches in Whetstone, Crouch End, Islington and Highgate) is currently offering in their new bottomless brunch menu.

John and I nipped down to the Islington branch of Tootoomoo, carting around a giant lampshade we'd bought at Heal's the day before - and promptly needed to return (because it looked totally wrong in our living room, despite me voicing my hesitation at the point of purchase). After awkwardly depositing said lampshade in a corner of the restaurant (it's tiny - I think I counted eight tables, as they mostly operate on a takeaway basis), we sat down, appetites primed (I ate nothing that morning and shouted at John when his hand reached for a box of muesli) for the vast number of options laid out before us.

Tootoomoo's bottomless brunch is priced per sitting: 1.5 hours cost £35 per person (food and drinks included) and 2 hours, £45 per person. Diners can select dishes from across the entire menu. It's a good bet for 1) the morning after a particularly heavy night (the intense flavors and fried options are super appealing for hangover-mode) 2) brunch with a gaggle of friends before heading out to explore London (because after all that food, you'll be staring straight down the tunnel of a food coma if you don't move quickly) or 3) just a fun, weekend treat.

I'm not usually a fan of pan-Asian cuisine (for me, it raises doubts about the authenticity of the dishes) and while Tootoomoo certainly gives this definition a wide berth, with influences from Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cooking, I enjoyed the spiciness of our chicken Rendang curry; the piping-hot gyoza with perfectly crisp bottoms; and the sticky BBQ pork ribs with char siu sauce and sesame seeds - all washed down with a pitcher of the "Cinderella" mocktail (orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice, plus grenadine and soda water).

The interior of the restaurant is colorful and fun, recalling street food markets we'd visited on our travels to Thailand and Singapore. A family of four came through the door about half an hour after our arrival, having booked a table, so it's clearly a local favorite.

If you're in the mood for something a little different, or are searching for a place to meet up with friends or family on a lazy Saturday/Sunday afternoon, I'd suggest this bottomless brunch. John and I didn't really do it justice, despite arriving with empty stomachs, but for an hour and a half, we had fun pretending to be gluttons, and it gave us plenty of energy to cart that lampshade all the way back to Heal's (where we left with a new one after another hour of debate).

We were guests of Tootoomoo Islington at 279 St Paul's Road, N1 2LH. All opinions are my own. Book a table for their bottomless brunch here, served every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Season, New Watch

I've had my WellyMerck Classic Zurich watch for about a week now and I've worn it every single day. I'd been lusting after a rose gold mesh-strap watch for some time (despite my growing collection of watches!) and this one fit the bill. Not only is it incredibly lightweight (I often forget I've got it on), but it's super pretty to look at too.

I have baby, bird-like wrists, so I often have problems finding a watch with a) a strap that fits and b) a watch-face that doesn't overpower my wrist (although I know that big watches are still very much "in"). I liked being able to take this watch out of the box and wear it without having to visit a jeweller to remove links. The clasp can sometimes be a little fiddly and the other night, while watching TV, I had a mild panic when trying to pry it off my wrist and John calmly suggested I try using a teaspoon (which worked) after I nearly broke three nails in my desperate attempt to rip it off. I love that it doesn't move up and down on my wrist (or turn to face inwards) throughout the day, as most of my watches do. At the same time, it doesn't leave a mark when I take it off at the end of the day.

The watch is also surprisingly scratch-resistant - I'm the clumsiest person ever and am constantly shoving my wrists into zip-lined pockets without giving my jewellery a second thought. I half-expected to see it covered in scratches after a week's worth of wear, but to my astonishment, it still looks shiny and new. Thank goodness.

I was a little surprised to see the watch arrive from Hong Kong, despite the company being billed as a "Swiss watch brand". I asked about this and was told that, while the company's headquarters are located in Switzerland, the watches are being temporarily shipped from Hong Kong.

Still, despite my initial reservations, I have to admit that I've really loved pairing this watch with my wardrobe as we transition to spring. The watch crown is located at the 4 o'clock mark, rather than the typical 3, which is a little unusual, but keeps bracelets easily stackable alongside the watch itself (which is great for me, as I love to layer and stack bracelets).

What watch (if any) are you wearing right now? Do you change your watch according to seasons, or match it with what you're wearing? I'd love to know. And if you're interested, you can shop WellyMerck watches here.

Angloyankophile readers can receive 20% off any purchase at WellyMerck with the code 'ANGLOYANK20', valid until 5 April 2018. Happy shopping! My Classic Zurich watch was provided by WellyMerck. All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Amazing Things That Happened When I Took a Digital Detox

We went to Iceland a few weeks ago, and I decided to delete all the social media apps from my phone. We were only going for three days, and I didn't want to be preoccupied with editing photos, posting them, and responding to comments. More importantly, I wanted to enjoy spending time with John. Like, really spending time with him - not pretending to listen to him while I adjusted the filter on a photo. So, before we left for the airport, I took a deep breath and hit that "x" button next to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The effects were immediately apparent: the instinct to check my phone every five minutes or surprised me. I hadn't quite grasped the extent of my social media addiction and noticed that I'd reach for my phone whenever I was bored or wanted to procrastinate. In short, it was a distraction. And nothing more than that.

I remember getting the train to Luton from City Thameslink and laughing when I came across the strange cluster of four seats somewhat randomly arranged in the middle of the station. I pulled out my phone to take a snap and share on Instagram stories/Twitter before remembering that those apps no longer existed. Confused about what to do next if I wasn't sharing every single detail of my everyday life, I finally pulled out this thing called a book and started reading while I waited for John to get to the station. Novel, right? (Pun intended.)

That was just the beginning. Here are five amazing things that happened during the rest of my digital detox:

I felt more relaxed.

For the first time in a long while, I didn't feel any of those familiar physical symptoms of anxiety building up as we embarked on our trip: my chest didn't tighten, I could breathe properly, and that gnawing feeling in my stomach had miraculously disappeared. On our first night at the Silica Hotel at the Blue Lagoon, we waded out into a secluded, pitch black patch of the private lagoon, the voices of other guests in the distance, and I rested my head on my arms near the edge, listening to the water trickle into the stream below. It felt utterly amazing. And because of this ...

... I had the best sleep ever.

Without a bright screen to keep me awake and the constant, anxiety-provoking buzz of posts, captions, and comments to create a whirlwind of emotions in my mind, I was able to sleep ten times better than I had in months. By the time we reached our beautiful Airbnb in Borgarnes, I felt lighter. Happier. The fresh air helped, too, and after a long hike, followed by a home-cooked dinner, I found myself nodding off around 9 or so and waking with the sun when it began to rise at 8. My body clock was restored.

I felt more connected to my surroundings.

Because I work full time, I'm constantly looking for Instagrammable subjects at every free moment away from the office - or, at least, thinking about it. 'Obsessing' would probably be the better word for it. Whether it means waking up an hour early to compose a flatlay in the best-lit room in the house or stopping by a newly opened restaurant during my lunch hour just to snap a photo of the newest food trend, it all requires so much effort. Enjoying our trip to Iceland sans social media was entirely the opposite - it felt completely effortless. I didn't think about how to communicate my experiences in real time because I literally couldn't - I'd deleted all my apps. As a result, I've never felt more "present" and at one with my surroundings than I did during those moments. Conquering the sheer slopes of Mount Hafnarfjall felt metaphorical, powerful, and intense. I'd been missing out on that intensity for so long, I'd forgotten that it was possible to feel that way.

I felt more connected to my partner.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson of my experiment was recognizing just how much time, attention, and love I'd taken away from John on our holidays every time I picked up my phone. Without the distraction of "performing" for this invisible, anonymous audience, I laughed more; played more. We talked more, sure, but the most precious times we had together were those moments when we weren't talking but watching the sun set from the deck of our Airbnb or jumping over not-so-tiny streams on our shoreline walk to a lighthouse.

When we came back to London ...

... I decided to delete Facebook forever.

When we got back, I reinstalled all the apps but quickly realized how unhappy Facebook made me. All the posts, the troll-like comments, even the news stories - made me either angry or depressed. So, I deleted it again - this time, for good. I hardly ever update my personal page anyway (except for the occasional outrageous news story from the US, which happens - let's face it - every other day), but mainly use Facebook to share posts from this blog.

I enjoyed my digital detox so much, I'm tempted to do it every time I travel. Don't get me wrong - I still snapped photos wherever we went (and shared them when we got back), but then again, I've always done that. It's always just been the pressure of editing photos and posting at the optimal time and adding the hashtags and replying to comments and tagging the right people, places and things and (admittedly) checking the number of likes - that has nearly ruined my vacations. Because when that happens, it's no longer a vacation - it's work.

So, that's why I decided to keep my trip to Iceland out of that tangle. I wanted to reclaim that time for myself. For that time to be personal and precious; to be mine. To be ours.

And it was. Now, I have glorious memories of floating in the piping hot, private lagoon; looking up at the inky night sky and feeling the rain on my face; tempting curious Icelandic ponies to come closer so we could pet them.

Have you ever taken a break from social media, or even your emails? Would you do it again?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bangalore's Hidden Gem: The Taj West End

Back in November, John and I made a whirlwind visit to Bangalore, where my best friend Udita's family is originally from. And ... it was amazing!

Although we were only there for five days, we had a wonderful introduction to India and even attended our first Indian wedding! Her family hosted us for lunch and dinner, and we had a wonderful time exploring the city - getting mid-afternoon massages, hopping into tuk-tuks, eating ghee-drizzled biryani with our hands, and shopping for home decor.

While we were there, I fell head-over-heels in love with our hotel, the Taj West End - a tranquil, hidden gem of a green oasis amidst the dusty, bustling city.

I chose the Taj West End for its beautiful botanical setting: the grounds, thick with vegetation across 20 acres, made me feel as though we were in a jungle and the hotel's reception had the most magical marble floors I've ever seen (I think I took quite a few #ihavethisthingwithfloors #shoefies while I was there!). Once we crossed the gates and entered the circular driveway, it felt like we left all the car horns and Bangalore traffic behind in another world.

On our arrival, we were starving and headed straight for the hotel's beautiful garden for French toast and masala tea while our room was being prepared. By some stroke of luck, we ended up in First Class seats during the flight over and Udita and I were so giddy with excitement, we didn't sleep for the whole 10-hour flight.

As excited as I was to be in India, I couldn't wait to curl up in bed and catch up on some rest - which we did as soon as I polished off the French toast, as my head was nearly dipping into my masala tea.

Once we were fully rested, we set off to explore the city with Udita and to join in the pre-wedding festivities with her family. Still a little overwhelmed by our incredible surroundings, John and I treated ourselves to a couples' massage at the hotel's beautiful Jiva spa. It was wonderfully peaceful and a great way to unwind before rushing home to host Christmas at our house just a few days afterwards.

We relaxed by the Taj West End's two gorgeous pools (John swam - I sunbathed) and marvelled at the sight of palm trees and blue skies above us in late November.

Staff at reception were exceedingly friendly and, by the end of our trip, they knew us by name. It's one of those places that makes you feel like you're special - like you're the only one to have ever stayed in that hotel - even when you're totally not!

The Taj West End's level of customer service was put to the test when Udita dropped off a sari to the hotel for me on the day of the wedding and I had to call the concierge for sari assistance! It takes so much skill and experience to expertly wrap a sari - all those folds and tucks - and I didn't exactly have time to YouTube 'how to tie a sari'.

Moments after ringing the concierge with my dilemma, a kindly, middle-aged lady with gold-rimmed glasses appeared at the door. First, she studied the blouse I'd put on before announcing, with a wry shake of her head, "Madam! You've put this on backwards!" We laughed as I turned it around and she expertly tucked the sari in all the right places, securing it with lots of safety pins since I was convinced that one trip to the bathroom would result in it completely unravelling.

I love wearing saris and wish I could wear them every day, like many women in India do! They're so elegant and flattering; creating long, lean lines. Udita and I had waited patiently as auntie after auntie cut in front of us in line to have henna applied at the mehendi party. You can just about see it on my hands in the photo above, but the henna turned a much darker color a day or two later, before sadly fading practically during our flight back to London.

On our final night at the Taj West End, we took the concierge's (complimentary) "Heritage Tour" of the hotel's grounds at dusk, which took us through the history of the hotel, from its founding in 1887, to its use as a film set for 'Passage to India', to its long list of famous hotel guests (most recently, Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel).

During our short stay, we tried each of Taj West End's three restaurants, Mynt (for breakfast and my beloved French toast), Blue Ginger (for Vietnamese noodles and mains) and Masala Klub (for delicious modern Indian cuisine).

That same evening, with Udita's help, we managed to convince the staff and guests at the Blue Bar to take part in a mannequin challenge. So random, yet totally epic - and a great memory to leave with!

Sari and mannequin challenge dreams fulfilled, I felt so sad to leave the Taj West End. Udita's there again for work this week and I couldn't help but feel a pang of jealously when she texted before takeoff.

Have you ever been to India? I'm dying to go back! Rajasthan and Jaipur are high on my list of places to see and visit.

This post was written as part of the Travel Link-Up series, hosted by Emma, Angie, Polly, and Tiffany. Head over to their blogs to read about more hidden gems around the world!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fine Cuts and Quality Naan: Tandoor Chop House, Covent Garden

Occasionally, there's a restaurant that really blows me away: one with impeccable decor, great staff, an inspired menu or concept, and - of course - stellar food. Tandoor Chop House is my most recent discovery of this kind: a marriage of North Indian cuisine and a classic British chop house, it won me over before we even entered the restaurant with this bold proclamation:

For those of you who don't know (I didn't), chophouses first appeared in London in the late 17th century, serving "chops", or individual portions of meat. Indeed, the first photo that appears on Tandoor Chop House's website is a juxtaposition of two very different groups of men gathered around a table, across the world from each other: on the left, four Indian friends perched on benches, with food being prepared behind them; and, on the right, a coterie of British gentlemen with flat caps and pipes at a pub or (more likely) a chop house, pints filled to the brim.

It's no surprise then, that the tandoor section of Tandoor Chop House's menu features proudly and prominently in the middle of the menu, suggesting mouthwatering variations-on-a-theme such as masala boti rubbed ribeye and black pepper chicken tikka. For those wanting a slightly lighter (or vegetarian) option, there's also lasooni paneer and green masala pollock.

We chose the amritsari crispy lamb chops. The spices used in the marinade made the tandoor-cooked meat lip-smackingly delicious, and the meat was so tender, it easily fell away from the bone.

It seemed silly not to try the house tandoor chicken, so we ordered that too. I half expected the chicken to be dry and tough (as with my previous experiences with tandoori chicken), but it was exactly the opposite: moist, flavorful, and wonderfully smoky. Like a high octane Sunday roast. A squeeze of lemon and swipe at the sauce (which I'm dying to know the ingredients for) completed each bite.

We also ordered "snacks" and a side of butter naan: Dexter beef 'dripping' keema naan with green chilli and yogurt and Keralan raw tuna tartare accompanied by coconut and fried curry leaves. Most noteworthy item on the menu, in my opinion? The bone marrow naan - and one to try next time.

The Keralan tuna tartare is one for fans of ceviche: little cubes of fresh tuna sat like jewels amongst pearls of pomegranate seeds (it's a beautiful dish) drizzled in yogurt, while the lime and coriander cut through the sweet flavors of both, immediately transporting us to coastal India.

But the keema naan was my favorite, indulgent and naughty, with the spiced ground beef offset by the fresh cherry tomatoes and mopped up with the crispy, but chewy naan.

More than the food itself, I loved the laid-back, yet smart, vibe of the restaurant. The brasserie-style chairs, marble tabletops, vintage crockery and copper accents show off the food beautifully well, but it never feels fussy or "done" or too try-hard. It might be hard to grab a window seat (because there are only two), but try, if you're dining during the day. The light is beautiful and it feels more intimate dining in that space.

Reluctant to leave, but remembering we were only on our lunch breaks, my friend Rachel and I consulted our watches before ordering a portion of the malted kulfi to share as soon as our plates had been whisked away.

Topped with caramelized banana and salted peanuts, the kulfi had no sooner melted on our tongues before my jaw dropped and I emitted a rather emphatic, "WOW." So glad we stayed for dessert. That sweet - almost too sweet - appeal of kulfi, with a texture denser than ice cream and a flavour more intense than milk, is one of my favorite things about Indian desserts.

That first mouthful brought me straight back to the wedding reception banquet John and I attended in Bangalore last fall, where one-third of a hall approximately the size of three, no four, (American) football pitches long was devoted to serving Indian desserts. There, a man with a chef's hat made kulfi lollipops for guests, scooping the dense, creamy substance into small paper bowls and plunging a stick into the middle. John and I went back for seconds and thirds until, high from the sugar rush, we stayed awake late into the night.

The kulfi at Tandoor Chop House brought me back to that very moment and the manager, who came to check on our progress, admitted that he couldn't take more than four bites before he started to shake from the sugar rush. Not one for diabetics, perhaps, but definitely one for the bucket list.

Situated between Covent Garden and the Strand, Tandoor Chop House is the perfect location for a date night - or a weekend lunch with friends. John practically swooned when he spotted photos of my lunch on Instagram, asking petulantly, "Why didn't you take me?" as I described in exciting detail the keema naan, so it looks like I'll be making a return trip.

See you there?

Our lunch at Tandoor Chop House was complimentary. All opinions are my own. Bookings and walk-ins welcome: Tandoor Chop House, 8 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ.
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