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Restaurant Review

    Saturday Brunch at The Providores

    Mother restaurant to Kopapa, we’ve heard so many rave reviews about The Providores in Marylebone Village we had to head over and check it out. With two lovely wing-ladies, a rendezvous was arranged for 10.30am, knowing that the restaurant gets busy, hoping we could get a table in the lower non-book Tapas (known as such because of the Tapas cloths on the walls) portion of the restaurant. We had pretty poor seats as the luck of the draw went, so enquired about getting a table upstairs, enjoying our scrummy Spirulina’s in the meantime.

    After a wee bit of confusion we were sent upstairs to the where it was much quieter – no loud music  and more formal. The service was fine, nice and unobtrusive without being over attentive.

    Overall the food was good; my Turkish Eggs were delicious as usual, the French Toast looked incredible (though a wee bit too Banana heavy) and the “Goats’ curd, baby beets, candied walnuts, char-grilled artichoke, chestnut and pomegranate salad with tamari ginger dressing ” looked amazing, though again I think a wee bit small for the price. C’mon peeps, it’s a salad for goodness sake; make it a bit more beasty! Presentation was good.

    We felt the (undisclosed by the Tapas Room staff) £5ish cover charge unfair as there is also an added 12.5% service charge, but it was offered to be removed at the point of paying when requested.

    Verdict? The Providores is Peter Gordon’s first baby, with Kopapa a relative newcomer to the fold, but the consensus is that Kopapa is better. More brunch friendly; not as noisy, slightly larger and the food is just as good. Another mark against The Providores – no Date Scones. It doesn’t take much to make a happy Kiwi does it! Maybe The Providores is a better evening venue, though it’s certainly busy enough.

    However the company and conversation was excellent, a lovely way to begin the weekend.

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    The Wong Kei, the Chinese version of Faulty Towers – Reviewed.

    The Wong Kei, although less of a fine dining restaurant and more of a London experience is good, value for money, has quick food and is always busy, full of students and local Chinese people, which is always a great indicator of good local food. Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We love it. It’s a local landmark and for a quick, cheap, central meal almost can’t be beaten. It’s also notorious. Years ago the waiting staff used to be incredibly rude hurrying people along whilst they ate – for instance years ago hubby saw a punter wanting to pay by cheque – he was screamed at and chucked out. These days it’s still very blunt, but in some ways, it’s nice to be left alone to enjoy your food. The Wong Kei even has it’s own Wikipedia entry.

    The service is more of a novelty than anything and anyone who considers themselves a Londoner has sat in one of the four floors of the restaurant. There is still a scrap of the old school service – upon entering you will be asked: “how many”? then directed upstairs or downstairs depending on the size of your party. Try to listen, and be warned you may be directed further upstairs as you go.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We often go with big groups, and they can always accommodate us. If you’re in a smaller group or a couple they will pop you on a large table seating 6-8 which is always interesting (and somewhat disconcerting for unsuspecting tourists). I love people watching, and this is the best time to do it. You order individually (separate from the other groups) and it’s really interesting to covertly watch them whilst you wait for your food.

    One time I swear to you there was an awkward first date happening. Whilst this is a good pre-/post-/during-drinking meal, it’s not a swanky restaurant to designed to impress. Sorry fella, bad choice – I’m not sure you’re going to have a second. One year at Chinese New Year we ended up seated next to a Giant Chinese Dragons head – it was and after the parade the dancers came in for dinner, bringing the head with them.

    The menu is immense and has every conceivable dish you can think of, and a few I’m not so sure I’d be keen to try.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The food is well priced (though slowly rising through the years) but hot and fresh. Our friends love the;

    – Wonton Soup
    – Sesame Prawn Toast (We’ve not found better yet)
    – Duck pancakes (it’s quite something watching the staff pull it off the bone on your table)
    – Tomato Beef Rice
    – Scrambled Egg Chicken Fried Rice
    – Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour Pork
    – Hot/Cold Meat of your choice & BBQ sauce on rice
    – Chinese Greens in Oyster Sauce – so so good
    – The addictive chilli sauce always on the table (though of late it’s kicking quite a punching).

    last, but best

    – the bottomless pot of free jasmine tea on the table. There is something just so good about this Tea that we’ve tried to get our own but it never quite comes close. Top tip: if you happen to run out of the tea during the course of your meal, simply leave the lid off the teapot and a waiter will come along with a fresh pot almost immediately.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Go! It’s a roulette now whether you’ll see the bad service, but when you do it’s ever so funny. One time the server decided that hubby was clearly blubbering and wouldn’t speak to him, asking me everything and hurling our change across him to me at the end of the night.

    Warning: don’t try and pay by card. In this case, refusal won’t offend, it’ll be offensive. If you’re lucky.

    The Wong Kei is found about 5 minutes walk from Picadilly Circus at 41-43 Wardour Street London W1D 6PY.

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    Sunday Brunch at Kopapa

    To round off the weekend, brunch was arranged with a new friend at Kopapa. I have to confess, we definately were keen to check it out, not only as the reviews are great and chef is Kiwi Peter Gordon; but also as afghans, good coffee, date scones and spirulina were calling – a varieties of good Kiwi fare.

    We really enjoyed it; great food, good company and all out of the pouring rain.

    Hearing so much about them, I couldn’t not order the ‘Turkish eggs’ from Changa restaurant in Istanbul – 2 poached eggs with whipped yoghurt, hot chilli butter & flat bread. Delicious. I liked it so much (in between gossiping), I made my Mum try a mouthful over the table. Though not to her taste, I loved this twist on poached eggs. You dip your spoon into this warm concoctions of lovely oozy-ness, the chilli not being too hot but just enough for a zing (I don’t think I’ll ever be a food writer!).

    Sumptious Date Scones – the winners of the day – piping hot from the oven. These were like mana.

    And a divine Spirulina shake. Spirulina, oh, how we’ve missed you! I’ve now found a couple of recipes and will be trying to recreate these little green machines.

    The rest of the table ordered various forms of fry-up which were very much enjoyed – reviews were simple, delicious and great flavours; but possibly needed a wee bit more substance to be a ‘proper kiwi fry-up’?

    I must say I’m intruiged by Spiced banana French toast with grilled bacon, orange blossom labne, tamarind raisin relish & orange vanilla syrup and will definately have to go back soon to try it.

    As an ex-hospitality worker, the service at Kopapa was great in some respects – the manager caught one of our table sadly eyeing a table empty of Date scones and nipped over to reassure us that more were in the oven; but patchy in others, being a little slow and the server getting one of the orders wrong and not being too happy. It’s so so busy in there with hungry brunchers it can be forgiven to some extent, but it let down an otherwise delectable dinner. If you want to go for brunch on the weekend, pre-booking is pretty much essential.

    The decor is very modern trendy, but fairly clean; and suits both brunching and evening soirres – and we were eyeing up their champagne cocktail list.

    I love that the below greets you as you walk in – people gathered at the breakfast bar, drinking lovely flat whites, eating eggs, reading newspapers and generally catching up.

    Right, I’m off to the gym now – I’ve got some work to do to make up for this weekends indulgence!

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    Posh Afternoon Tea

    Saturday was lovely. Champagne, tea, dainty treats and a lot of laughter (excuse the blurry photos, I didn’t want to get my camera out as I felt enough of a berk with my phone on the table…)

    Afternoon tea was a last minute decision, and as they go, sometimes they can be the very best. My mum and I have been saying for a long time that we should treat indulge ourselves. Through a series of tough eliminations (read: a quick read through website listings) we decided on the Reform Social Bar & Grill, in Marylebone Village.

    The “50 Shades of Earl Grey” cocktail we were greeted with consisted of an Earl Grey tea infused bitters and sloe gin topped up with Champagne and elderflower. Oh my. Subtle, sweet and lucious.

    We then picked Tea from the large range of loose leaf teas – Mum ordered the Whole Rose Buds Tea, and I opted for the Black Vanilla. Thankfully this was the hardest portion of the evening – deciding which Tea you had to leave off trying.

    So, armed with individual pots of tea, our slowly disappearing cocktails and very refreshing champagne, we settled in for the afternoon, nattering and catching up. A really lovely Mother/Daughter afternoon – still buzzing about the musical we went to last night.

    You are offered two menus – the Vintage Afternoon Tea Menu, and a Gentlemans Afternoon Tea Menu. As we are ladies of a delicate sensibility (and didn’t fancy the idea of the hanger steak & Herefordshire snails sandwich which comes with the Gentlemans’s Afternoon Tea) we picked the Vintage Afternoon Tea. Quite simply delish. After a wee delay much to our servers dismay and apologies (honestly we didn’t mind as we had unlimited Champagne with our Afternoon Tea deal) came out the following lovelies.

    Favourites you ask? The Salmon Sandwiches on Pink bread were scrummy and not just because they were on pink bread, the quintessential Cucumber sandwiches and the scones. Just delicious – so simple and presented so sweetly, what more could you want? Mum loved the Battenburgs, the wee Apple Pastry & the Scones.

    We also made a couple of new friends – two lovely ladies whom I will definately remain in contact with. We ended up chatting so much, we scooted our tables together in order to speak – the only complaint I have about the restaurant was about halfway through our afternoon tea, the music was turned ona wee bit loudly – and you know ladies, we like to chat but we struggled to hear each other a bit.

    I simply wanted to share what an awesome time we had, two Kiwi lasses on the lash in fashionable Marylebone. We had a lovely time. Great staff – attentive, friendly but not hovering, delicious food, flowing champagne and lovely surroundings. I will definately be back.

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    Teppenyaki at Sen Nin

    We love sampling new cuisines so
    when an offer for Sen Nin popped up in my inbox for a Teppenyaki
    meal, we corralled a couple of friends and booked straight on in. Whilst in
    Japan on holiday in January (what an amazing place!) we tried Yakiniku which
    you sit around a table (we were in the suburbs, at a table not meant for our
    Western legs!), but this Teppenyaki experience was the full deal.

    We loved it – it was scrumptious
    and entertaining, our chef Ballam taking great delight playing with his knives,
    setting fire to the plate, throwing food at us, then preparing our feast.


    We started off with Sake
    cocktails (Mango or Cranberry), Miso Soup, and a Chefs Selection of California
    Rolls, shortly followed by crisp Tempura Vegetables whilst the hot plate
    heated.
    

    This photo does no justice to the flavour…

    




    I’m not going to spoil the
    egg routine, but we were howling with laughter by the end of it, and it wasn’t just
    the Plum Wine (oh how I love thee). Swiftly followed our main – Calamari for me, Chicken Breast for Hubby, Egg-fried rice and Stir-Fried vegetables. They even ask
    you how much garlic, butter and seasoning you like on your dinner. We finished
    with Strawberry Cheesecake & more Plum Wine.

    What more could you want?


    Todays Workout: Belly Laughing & Catching flying eggs – both of which I assure you is great for toning.

    Have you tried Teppenyaki? Attempted the tricks they use?

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