If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I'm a big fan of the team over at Zomato - their site, app, and the brilliant events they put on for the community. I attended my first Zomato gathering almost a whole year ago, and it's amazing to see how much they've grown in such a short amount of time!
For this most recent dinner, it was a stunning day - the perfect weather to sit outdoors for a while to enjoy the aperitifs and canapés. We were spoilt with the luxurious setting of the Courtyard at St. James Court, A Taj Hotel. After a horrendous tube journey, having to hop on an Uber and being half an hour late (and I hate being late more than most people), it was the best thing in the world to be able to sit down in this beautiful place and chat with familiar and new faces.
Oh, and you know, be given a Laurent-Perrier champagne flight. No big deal.
Three different types of champagnes, each paired with a canapé - salmon and caviar, avocado and ceviche, and a perfect mouthful of ratatouille.
So the idea of this evening was to experience a culinary journey, stopping by a few of the different restaurants at this iconic hotel. In other words, this was just the beginning.
While it was still light outside, we were lead in to the Bistro for round two. There, we were presented with beautifully cooked sesame crusted tuna, which is just my kind of thing. Fresh, light, flavourful, and accompanied by a crisp white wine. The restaurant boasts a contemporary European menu that is likely to please most people's tastes, and the service was lovely, too.
But we weren't there for too long, as we headed for the next stop on the map...
Which was the highlight for most of us, because Quilon has a long-standing Michelin star with good reason.
We had a long, stunning room all to ourselves, and had wonderful dishes to match. On our plate, we had "Fisherman's Catch" (pepper shrimp, crab cake, lentil fish and grilled scallop), "Quilon Fish Curry" (cubes of halibut simmered in coconut, chilli, and raw mango sauce), and "Malabar Paratha" (soft refined flour dough beaten to thin sheet and folded to form layered bread, cooked on a skillet with pure ghee).
The chef came out to explain the menu to us, chatting to us about the benefits of the coastal cuisine of South West India, which is centred around seafood and a lack of animal or saturated fats. I absolutely loved everything we tried here, and would happily go back for a full meal there. One day soon, I hope!
We were all feeling our appetites waning by this point, but being a bunch of enthusiastic foodies, we could definitely manage just one more place... Kona was our last stop, and it did not disappoint. We were treated to a dish of Norfolk "roam free" chicken, which was perfectly tender and delicious, along with a beautiful strip of vegetables that were light but full of flavour. It was the ideal dish to end with, as it wasn't too rich but still managed to hold its own, even after the Indian feast.
Of course, we couldn't leave without ending on a sweet note - which was a gorgeous chocolate dessert that I wish I could eloquently describe to you, but I'll let the photos do the talking.
After balancing out the generous glasses of wine with some detoxing green tea, the evening reluctantly came to a close (I always have so much fun chatting at these things!) and I left with a very full and happy. Although the St. James Court is right by Buckingham Palace, it feels like a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle and it's a romantic little spot, too. Even just to go for a drink in that beautiful courtyard is worth the trip.
Thank you again to Zomato, and to St James Court, A Taj Hotel for a wonderful dinner (or dinners?). You can find my profile here - join the club!