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‘Drinking Pit Stops’ Category

  1. Gymkhana | Michelin Indian style

    February 15, 2014 by Dini

    Birthday private dining


    15th February 2014

    Birthdays are smashing, an occasion for good company and pushing the boat out. With this in mind, Gymkhana was my first port of call for luncheon date with a gaggle of five gregarious girlfriends. Since opening in Mayfair in the autumn of 2013, it had been a hot ticket and I wanted to get in before gaining an inevitable Michelin star*, like it’s sister restaurant, Trishna in Marylebone.

    After some wrangling in the form of telephone queues, emails and a visit to see Front of House, I landed the plush private dining vault in the basement. A group on a budget, I was also granted the set three course lunch,for £30, as a ‘one-off’ as the vault is normally chargeable for a higher priced tasting menu. I took this as a minor win in addition to my determination to land a hotly contested table.

    Image c/o The Independent

    Image c/o The Independent

    Soft mood lighting, swathes of cushioned velvet banquettes and no worry of your table being turned at the two hour mark are three thankful advantages of dining in the vault. Starting as we meant to go on, aperitifs to hit our table included carafes of punches and a couple of Bloody Mary’s.


    The punch above is the ‘Bombay Presidency’ namely ordered as it featured Ceylon Arrack, poignant as a tipple from my motherland. I loved the theatre of pouring my punch over ice and grating the fragrant nutmeg as a garnish.

    To share and try as many dishes as possible, we tried a combination of all of the dishes available on the set menu. We also ordered recommended dishes such as the vindaloo suckling pig, which was so tender it fell apart and the Dosa with Chetinaad duck and coconut chutney.

    I rarely go for an ‘Indian’, as a Sri Lankan I can dine from sub-continent dishes at home. Therefore, to pay for it, is certainly an extravagance, and to be disappointed is just dismaying. Having dined at Trishna (Gymkhana’s sister restaurant) previously and enjoyed my experience, I knew it wouldn’t be a disappointment, it’s worth a visit just for the superb wine flights. The reason why I chose Gymkhana is that it takes Indian food and raises the sophistication bar. It isn’t the paneer or chicken I could even dream of recreating myself. I would say though that the dal  (lentils) dish didn’t cut the mustard with me, it just didn’t have any punch. Notably dal is a subjective dish, where most have a bias towards their regional style of preparation, whether with tomatoes, mixed lentil varieties or with a kick of dried red chillies.

    Would I go back? In a heartbeat… the ambience, sumptuous surroundings and delicacies on offer leave you fulfilled in every way. For an afternoon, you can definitely feel like a Maharani, transported back to the days of the Raj. There is of course an underlying hankering to make another reservation there and then, to return to try more dishes or work your way through the dangerously good cocktail list.

    *Added note in 2014 – Gymkhana has since been voted National restaurant of the year and gained one Michelin star, to be included in the 2015 guide.

    42 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4JH
    020 3011 5900

  2. Harrods Wine Tasting

    May 27, 2011 by Dini

    ‘Slurping’ in Harrods

    25th May 2011

    Courtesy of Stylist Magazine I won two spots at a Harrods Wine Master-Class hosted by Alex Redfern (Wine Expert). Taking my friend on the  ‘jolly’, we were in vain hope of sipping exuberantly priced Wines & Champagnes that we wouldn’t ordinarily sample… on that note we weren’t disappointed.

    Just off the Lower Ground Floor of the salubrious Wine Shop, nestles the Tasting Rooms for our evening session. Simply shelved with some prized wines and gleaming spittoons this was a room that signalled business and we were ready for the taking.

    Guiding us through different categories in the making of, how to nose, describe the appearance and the palate. We made notes fastidiously in the handy guide we received, as we sampled the selection of wines. This being an introductory class, we skipped through the wine processes for: Whites, Sparkling, Reds, Sweet and Fortified. My favourite tipple was the Duval-LeRoy Brut Rose NV, this was the least dry of the options and I
    preferred it to the Cuvee, or perhaps my sweet-tooth did.

    As an introductory jaunt to wine, I thought this was an informative and yet relaxed event. An added bonus for each attendee was a beautifully displayed olive wood platter with moreish Charcuterie, cheese and olives.  Alex was knowledgeable and engaging on the subject and generous with the serves, much to the delight of the attendees (a gaggle of ladies).

    Tasting Selection:

    1. Isabel Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Malborough, New Zealand
    2. Colombe Torrentes 2010 Sala, Argentina
    3. Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2008 Limari, Chile
    4. Duval-Leroy Champagne organic NV/ Brut Rose
    5. Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2008 Western Cape, South Africa
    6. Chateaux de la Roulerie Chenin Blanc 2005 Chaume, Loire
    7. Sandeman Royal Corregidor Olorosso Sherry, Spain
    8. Dows Quinta do Bomfim Port, Portugual


    Harrods holds monthly Wine tastings, Dinners and Educational Courses, details here

    Harrods Ltd

    87–135 Brompton Road
    London, SW1X 7XL


  3. Rare ‘Tea’ Lady Lunch

    April 29, 2011 by Dini

    Springtime Tea Luncheon:

    27th April 2011

    The Engineers Pub nestling in the heart of Primrose Hill was great gastro-pub that played host to an unusual tea luncheon jointly hosted by Ed (Manager) and Henrietta Lovell (The RareTeaLady and Tea Extraordinaire.) I say ‘was’ because this Autumn M&B pub chain overtook the pub and the Team and great offering has since moved to the Hampshire Hog (in Ravenscourt Park, London, W6).

    I’ve come across Henrietta Tea’s in fine dining restaurants such as Dinner and in the aisles of Waitrose. Her mission is simple, to introduce tea-drinkers to great quality loose tea and ‘de-bag’ Britain. Ed an appreciator of the ‘finer things in life’ brought the tea to life in another dimension by mixing them into alcoholic concoctions.


    To start the event with a kick, we were served a Jasmine, Elderflower & Hendricks Punch, using a heavenly scented silver tip


    Double baked Gruyere & Dorstone goats cheese soufflé, basil puree, tomato compote & confit cherry tomatoes

    Twice Baked Cheese Souffle

    With Iced Chinese Oolong cocktail


    Green Tea-smoked sea trout ballotine, pickled cucumber, fennel, shimijii mushrooms, seawater & Green-tea

    With Whole leaf Green tea


    Earl Grey infused crème brulee, Jasmine tea sugar shard & old English tea cake

    Earl Grey Creme Brulee

    With English Breakfast cocktail, orange bitters


    This was a light and well-balanced match of dining courses with tea cocktails, perfect for a Spring day. With charming dining company and great anecdotes from Henrietta, on her tea travels and suppliers, the afternoon was wiled away.

     My donation towards lunch, was in aid of The Hope Foundation –


  4. Purl

    January 11, 2011 by Dini

    Molecular Mixology ‘Purl’ Cocktails


    I discovered Purl on London Cocktail Week’s calendar (Oct 2010), a speakeasy bar running events during the week with a molecular mixology twist. The bar, a mish-mash of different era’s from room to room, from Victoriana to Art Noveau, reflecting their menu of drinks harking from times of by-gone era’s.

    It’s a small world, as on my first visit, I discovered that two of the Bar’s owners (Tom & Tristan, were ex-colleagues of mine). I was somewhat blown away by their enthusiasm and expertise shared to the Cocktail Week event attendees, displaying all manner of mixology techniques. On showcase were gels (a great edible alcoholic toothpaste that gave Aquafresh a run for it’s £ – well in colour & form), fogs, mists, foams, caviars and powders (that’s not an illegal substance being cut and passed around!).

    On following visits, I realised that the chaps change their menu’s seasonally, always trying to showcase a technique and display it with real theatre… displaying the ‘wow’ factor with liquid nitrogen.

    Purl Signature Serves:


    Mr Hyde’s Fixer Upper

    Mr Hyde's Fixer Upper

    Mr Hyde's Fixer Upper (pic c/o T.Stephenson)

    Ron Zacapa 23 rum and homemade cola and orange bitters served in a smoke injected, wax sealed potion bottle with Lapsang fog


    A Green Fairy Sazerac

    Green Fairy Sazerac

    Absinthe foam sweetened with Cognac and tweaked with lemon peel and Peychaud’s Bitters


    I’ll have to hold my hand up and confess, that it was after a few visits that I took up a temporary post working with the chaps and their Co. – Fluid Movement, so I’ll end my post here. After my stint ended I did visit their new bar, Worship Street Whistling Shop (Shoreditch), which has more of a Victorian Gin-Palace feel to it and gives them the space to really entertain and combine an interesting food offering with Temple & Shian.

    Address: Purl, 50/54 Blandford St, London, W1U 7HX

    Reservations recommended via: