Review: Tayyabs (London)

We recently spent a long weekend in London. Now I quite like London & have been quite a few times & on this trip, my plan was to go to a lot of the foodie places I’ve heard of but never been to. Needless to say, it didn’t quite happen that way! However, I did get to go to a few amazing restaurants that naturally I want to share with you all. This was meant to be a post summarising those places but I have too much to say so I’m splitting it into 3 posts – enjoy!

My previous trip to London last year, I was introduced to the indian restaurant Tayyabs in Whitechapel. Tayyabs is a bit of an institution when it comes to Indian restaurants & I’ve seen Gizzi Erskine rave about their takeaway on instagram. When you enter the restaurant, there’s people everywhere. Literally, there’s queues of people – one queue for people who have a reservation & another for people who have turned up trying to get a table. We had a reservation as I remembered my previous visit at 8pm on a Friday night & the place was rammed full despite having 3 floors!

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The menu itself isn’t fancy or containing numerous dishes, just a select number of starters & mains. No matter where you sit, you will always be passed by waiters carrying dishes of sizzling grills or curry that smell amazing. As soon as you are seated, a selection of dips, salad & poppadoms are placed for you to munch on whilst picking from the menu. One point I should also mention is that it’s BYOB here, with no corkage charge. Yes that’s right, no extra £5 a bottle for the priviledge of drinking what you want. Bet you don’t find that in many places in London!

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We opted for 2 starters to share: masala fish & chicken tikka. Both dishes are shown on the menu as 2 pieces but are 2 pieces for a reason as they are quite large! The chicken tikka was on the bone thigh & leg which meant getting your hands dirty! The meat itself was so tender as it seemed like it had just been cooked & no more. The masala fish was just as soft, flaking away as we tried to take a piece each from the griddle. The masala fish went really well with the mango chutney that was on the table, the sweetness mixing well with the masala spices.

As Tayyabs is such a busy restaurant, the dishes arrive as soon as they are ready. This meant that whilst we were still eating our starters, our mains arrived. I don’t have an issue with this but it does mean that towards the end of the meal, the mains can be a bit cold.

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We again shared our mains: keema curry (spicy lamb mince) & dry meat. The only way to describe dry meat is tandoori beef with light marinade/sauce covering it with peppers & onions. It doesn’t sound like much I know but it is so moreish! The beef is lean, fragrant & not heavy like regular indian dishes. I also prefered the keema here to other places I have had it as it was not overpowered with any additions like lemon juice. It was just straight up spicy lamb mince. Although I was edging on full, I was determined to finish my meal as the dry meat was that tasty!

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Despite how busy Tayyabs is, we didn’t feel rushed at all during our meal, even when the mains were brought out whilst still munching our starters. I should probably mention the price – for our meal, along with a roti & a portion of pilau rice, it came to just over £30 for the lot!! If you love Indian food & are paying London a visit, not popping into Tayyabs for some food would just be wrong!

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Review – Gusto

When news came about that Grill On The Corner’s sister restaurant Gusto was opening in Glasgow, I have to admit, it didn’t excite me in the slightest. This was primarily due to another chain coming to Glasgow, which we’ve seen enough of in the past year! I was asked to go for dinner to review the restaurant a few days after it opened & figured I’d go & see if they could open my eyes.

Whilst Grill On The Corner is all about the steak, Gusto focusses on Italian dishes, with a wide range of pizza & pasta dishes on offer. First glance at the menu & I was pleasantly surprised at the wide range of healthier options in the form of salads & fish dishes. This was music to my ears as I’m currently watching what I eat, even though I’d kill for a big pizza most days!!

I really enjoyed the decor of the restaurant, with its large globe lights & crackled effect walls. It gave the restaurant a 1920s feel to it, without trying hard. This was further enhanced with the water jug & candle holders on the table. The staff were all dressed immaculately in black waistcoats & ties. This gave the restaurant a high end feel to it but the atmosphere is anything but pretentious like you may expect. Instead, the waiting staff are all happy to chat away to you & ensure you’re having a good time.

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For starter, I could not resist ordering the salmon tartare whilst A opted for the deep fried salt cod ravioli (which I had my eye on as well). The salmon tartare was neatly stacked, with a quails egg & creme fraiche accompanying it. The creme fraiche went really well with it, adding a bit of moisture to it. In all honesty, I didn’t know why the quails egg was on the dish. It didn’t add anything to it & it feels like it was just there to pad out the dish, which was required as the salmon was so fresh. With every mouthful, I wanted more. I could have easily eaten another portion of it, it was that good! I tried a bit of the salt cod ravioli & it was crispy on the outside with flaky cod on the inside. A commented that there wasn’t much of a salty taste to it which was expected given the dish’s description.

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After looking at the menu, I had my heart set of the seared tuna steak for dinner. It’s a dish I really enjoy & just can’t get it right at home so wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to have it made properly. However, as it was ordered, the waitress informed me that it had disappeared from her tablet screen, indicating that the last one had been ordered. Although I was really impressed at the technology they were using, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the tuna wasn’t available. On the waitress’ recommendation I opted for the salt baked seabass instead.

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When the mains came, the seabass was a spectacle. It arrived in a large platter, absolutely covered in salt & was prepped by the waiter before being placed on my dish. I chose to have a side of green beans & shallots with my fish. The fish itself was cooked perfectly, with slightly crispy skin & tender, flaky flesh. As the waiter scrapes off most of the salt, there wasn’t much left on the fish at all. The side dish was also a hit, with buttery crunchy green beans & soft grilled shallots. Very moreish! The pasta dish that A ordered I wasn’t too keen on after a taste. It was tagiatelle with prawn & garlic in a sweet chilli tomato sauce. For me, the sauce was too sweet giving it an almost chinese takeaway type taste to it. A, however, enjoyed it, commenting that the only issue for him was that the pasta was a bit soft.

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Gusto’s dessert menu is one of the few that I could actually pick quite a few dishes off it. I think I must be getting a sweet tooth in my old age! The highlight being the nutella & marscapone calzone – who could resist that?! Unfortunately, I had to due to watching what I’m eating. Instead, I chose the strawberry & passion fruit mess whilst A went for the sticky toffee pudding. Alas, it was not to be as I was informed by the waitress that the fruit mess was not available. It was the third strike for us as one of the house beers wasn’t available when A tried to order it. It was quite disappointing given the restaurant had only been open a few days & it’s a chain so they should know what to expect. Either way it was probably a blessing in disguise for me as I was actually quite stuffed from what I had eaten! Naturally I stole a bite of the sticky toffee pudding. The sponge was melt in the mouth soft, with a sweet toffee sauce. I was surprised A didn’t lick the plate in the end!

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Although it was clear that there were some teething problems with Gusto, it did not detract the fact that the dishes we’d eaten had been of a high standard & really delicious. Having seen other diners eating the pizzas, I know we’ll definitely be back so I can have one! Given the recent influx of burger & steak oriented restaurants in Glasgow, it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air being introduced into the Glasgow restaurant scene.

Disclaimer: We were given this meal for free & all views are of my own with no influence from the restaurant or their PR company. The PR company has also asked me to share the restaurant’s twitter account, which you can access at @gustoglasgow

 

Get Stuffed Chronicles – Bringing the Bake Back

As the title suggests, I’ve found my baking bug again. Last year, I did several fairs which involved spending 1 full day & at least 3 nights a week baking. I think it was a bit of overkill for me as 50% of the time, the fairs were quiet & it was quite disheartening given the amount of effort I put in. Since Christmas I haven’t really done much baking so decided to sort that out the other week.

Since Easter is around the corner, I decided for Mother’s day to bake a couple of seasonal goodies. I’ve always fancied trying hot cross buns, even though I’m not a big fan myself. I did not realise how long they took to make! Honestly, they require more proving than your average loaf!! However, after a labour of love, I produced my first ever batch of hot cross buns that I was very pleased with. I think longer proving would have improved the size of them but they were scoffed down by family which is always a good sign.

My sister had given me the idea of making mini egg brownies as I already make creme egg brownies. Mini eggs are pretty much the only Cadbury’s product I love so it was a no brainer! Of course the baking gremlins had to ruin this idea! I used my go to brownie recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery (if you’re ever in London, pay them a visit!) but with my focus being too much on the hot cross buns, I didn’t put my oven to the right temperature. This meant a batch of what looked like cooked brownies but they were all gooey & underbaked inside. That said, my husband & sister still ate some as they were still nice & chocolately if not the right consistency.

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This sunday I also tried a couple of experimental bakes with double choc m&m cookies & protein brownie. I was so pleased with the cookies & will be posting the recipe shortly. I’m on a weight loss journey at the moment (I won’t bore you with details) so decided that the recipe for protein brownies from Mike Samuels of Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting sounded worth a shot. For me, since I’m used to making “real” brownies, the consistency of these was too weird. It was a sponge-like texture & tasted a bit strange. That said, once mixed with a bit of agave syrup, greek yoghurt & berries, it was perfectly edible. Further experimentation is required for this one…

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It’s not all been about the bakes in the world of Get Stuffed! I actually have eaten at 2 restaurants I’ve not been to before – Butchershop & Ichiban. However, on both occasions I was not in blogger mode so did not take any pictures of my meals to share. Shock horror I know! Sometimes it’s not all about the food but about the company & having a good meal with friends, which both of these occasions were so it completely slipped my mind to take pictures.

For dinners recently, I have been really impressed with the quality of the dishes I’ve made using some BBC Good Food Recipes. I got a subscription to the magazine as a Christmas present & have been hooked ever since. The bonus is that a lot of the recipes are on the website too for ease instead of digging out old copies of magazines! Recently I’ve made Chicken Cacciatore, Dan Dan Turkey Noodles, Soused cabbage & Vietnamese Caramelised Trout. My favourite being the Chicken Cacciatore as it was so full of flavour, just like a dish from an Italian restaurant & so easy to make! (PS follow me on instagram @getstuffedbakes to see regular foodie photos)

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Carrying on from the last time, here’s some foodie news & openings:

  • Gesso Lounge – a new coffee bar at Charing Cross
  • Chop Chop – Edinburgh’s well known authentic Chinese restaurant has opened a restaurant in Mitchell St
  • Nonna Gina’s – an Italian restaurant & bar opening in The Avenue in Newton Mearns, 26th March
  • Nic’s NYC Deli – They have converted the crepe a croissant on Byres Rd into another Nic’s. But fear not crepe lovers as this branch will also be serving some crepes.