Restaurant Review: Hankies Cafe - Soho, London

hankies cafe soho london

Dining at the Hankies Cafe in Soho was one of the treats my family and I enjoyed during the Easter break. At first I was a bit concerned about the availability of parking but on calling up the manager of the Hankies Cafe, I was told that I could find a parking at the Soho Square which was hardly 5 minutes walk from the cafe. Normally, the parking charge at the Soho Square in London is £4.9 per hour. However, we got lucky as it was a bank holiday and the parking was free. Also, we didn't have to pay the congestion charge so that was a bonus! We were easily able to locate the Hankies Cafe on the main street and it took no time for us to settle down. The interior and sitting area has an Indian cafe-like touch with wooden tables and benches which were however, comfortable for me and actually reminded me of my university days.

nimbu pani

We started off with the drinks which were Nimbu Pani (£4) and Guava & Tonic (£4). They both came with ice but since BabyN' is very fond of drinks, we decided to get rid of the ice because the drinks were already cold. As the name suggests, the guava drink had guava and naturally light fevertree and had a slightly bitter taste. Nimbu Pani consisted of ginger syrup, lemon, soda and mint was refreshing and sour but personally, the sweeter version appeals me more.

chive prawns

lamb chops

fish tikka

Starting off with the food, we first had the Yellow Chili Fish Tikka (£5), Chive & Garlic Prawn (£6.5) and Chili Lamb Chop (£4.5). All of these came in small plates, with some salad and a yogurt dip in each plate. I enjoyed all of these thoroughly and added some lemon on my fish tikka for an extra flavour after which it tasted even better. 

dahi puri

kachori poppers

Moving on, we tried the Dahi Puri (£4) and Kachori Poppers (£4.5). I love Dahi Puri and these ones were sweet with yogurt and tamarind chutney so I totally enjoyed it. Husband prefers the Pani Puri so he found them sweeter and that gave me a chance to get an extra share for myself! The Kachori Poppers were served hot and crispy. Pairing up with the tamarind chutney further enhanced the flavour but they're best enjoyable when eaten fresh. 

Next up were the mains, which were again in small portions but perfect for 2 to share and another plus point is that you can have variety because the portion sizes aren't massive and therefore, priced accordingly. If you've read my previous posts, you would know that I love eating at buffet restaurants because of the variety available there. So I liked the concept of small plates served at Hankies as I was able to enjoy an assortment of food.

chicken dhaba

kidney and keema

Kidney & Keema (£5.5) and Chicken Dhaba (£5.5) were next, that we considered as mains and these were served with the hankies, more popularly known as the 'Roomali Rotis' in the subcontinent. I've had loads of them before so I knew about these type of rotis. They are really thin (say like a paper) and big in size. Now don't worry about the size because they're really thin, so an adult can easily eat 2 at a time! The roomali rotis are actually hand spun till they're thin enough to read through and then cooked on a hot roomali round black tawa that looks like a huge bowl turned upside down. Having said enough of the hankies, let me also tell you that both the mains were delectable and appetizing. 

truflle roomali hankies cafe london

roomali roti hankies cafe london

We ordered the normal hankies (£1.5 each) and a truffle hankie/Roomali roti (£4.5) just to try this version of the Hankies Cafe. The truffle Hankie was actually a normal hankie with butter and folded with some shredded cheese in between. I was expecting the cheese to be melted but it hadn't, and although it did taste good, it could have been even better with melted cheese oozing out. 

To end the meal, we ordered a Gajar/Carrot Halwa (£4) and Pistachio Kulfi (£4). Both our selections were on point because they were both AMAZING! The carrot halwa was served warm and was topped with some cream, just like the way we like it and I have no words for the Kulfi as it was AWESOME! Also tried the Gulkand/Rose Kulfi (£4), which was slightly sweeter than the pista kulfi but I totally loved it! For me, the Kulfi was actually the 'showstopper!'

gajar ka halwa

kulfi london

Definitely going there again, and would highly recommend Hankies Cafe in Soho (London) to you guys too! 
--------------------------
Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Meat: Yes (all, except for sheek kebab)
Child-Friendly: Yes
Alcohol Available: Yes

Contact Hankies Cafe: 
Telephone: 020 78 716021
Location: 67 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6EX
Website: www.hankies.cafe
--------------------------

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Restaurant Review: The Famous Flames - Camden, London


Located opposite the entrance of the Camden Town underground station, The Famous Flames is a burger joint that sells fast food such as burgers and sandwiches, wings, sides and drinks. It's located outside the congestion zone of London and parking is easily available nearby. Although it's paid in the mornings but it's free 6:30 pm onward. The restaurant has recently updated their menu and is now serving burgers with the Martin Potato roll buns. The Famous Flames in Camden is a venture of Bea Vo, also the founder of Stax Diner and Boondocks

As mentioned earlier, the menu includes fast-food and the restaurant specializes in flame grilled burgers and so that's what I sampled there. I ordered the Famous Flames cheese burger (£7.5) & Honey Habanero Chicken sandwich (£6.5) along with the waffle fries and cheesy waffle fries. The Famous Flames burger had a grilled beef patty on a Martin’s Potato Roll bun and some lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and American cheese. The chicken sandwich tasted good too, and the sauce inside was what actually kicked off the flavour. Also tried General Tso's chicken wings (£5.5 for 6 wings), those were great and actually had a Chinese touch in them. The idea of introducing waffle fries is great but the cheese on the cheesy waffle fries didn't compliment very well according to  my taste. 

The restaurant is great if you're looking to grab an 'on-the-go' meal or even if you want to stop by for a quick-bite. They have placed high tables with stools to accommodate those who want to sit inside and eat. 



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Rating: 7/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Meat: Everything is Halal
Child-Friendly: No
Alcohol Available: No

Contact The Famous Flames: 
Telephone: 0203 468 0403
Location: 11 Kentish Town Rd, London NW1 8NH
Website: www.thefamousflames.com
--------------------------
Which burger joint is your favourite & which burger do you like the most? 


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Top 5 things to See in Paris


Eiffel tower paris

The Eiffel Tower

I was lucky enough to see this most popular tourist attraction of Paris twice, both during day time and at night! At both times, there were lots of tourists gathered around the place and it felt great. The tourists can also take a tour of The Eiffel Tower, but for that they need to purchase tickets. I would advise using a Hop-On Hop-Off bus to see the tourist attractions around the city, because that's more convenient but Paris does have a strong public transport network as well, which you can use if you want to save money. There is a train station very near to The Eiffel Tower, so immediately after you walk out of the train station, you can spot the tower right in front of your eyes! 



Galeries Lafayette

If you love shopping for luxury brands, then Galeries Lafayette in Paris should definitely be a stop during your visit to the capital of France. The place attracts both men and women and has a beautiful interior - you would be sure to indulge in some shopping on your visit! You can also find Galeries Lafayette in Dubai inside The Dubai Mall, so if you're visiting the city of sand dunes, then you'll have the chance for some more shopping from this popular French store as well. 


 Champs-Élysées 

Now this is another popular tourist attraction of Paris which is full of tourists most of the time. It is an avenue, 1.9 km long and 70 m wide and is known for luxury stores, cafes and theatres. I did check out different luxury brands across the avenue, and even went to see Louis Vuitton. You may be a bit surprised to know that there was a queue outside the store and the tourists actually had to wait for their turn to get in the store. I also waited, but luckily the wait wasn't long as I had to get back to the hotel to catch my flight for the Netherlands. Earlier, the previous day I had my lunch at a popular restaurant on the street and then went for a sweet treat at Haagen Dazs. Every restaurant, cafe and other eateries I passed were full of people so you will have to be a bit patient to wait to get seated, especially if you want to eat at a popular spot. 


Arc De Triomphe & Historic Monuments

One of the most famous landmarks in Paris is Arc De Triomphe and that's also easily accessible if you're planning to use a train as it's right in front as you walk out of the train station. Mostly, there are lots of tourists seen in the area photographing the monument itself and taking selfies. Paris also has lots of other historic monuments and buildings all over the city and the architecture of those buildings is amazing!









The Louvre

The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, has a very historic value in Paris and is also a central landmark that exhibits more than 35,000 objects because of which it is the second most visited museum in the world, after the Palace Museum in China. Millions of tourists visit The Louvre each year so if you're in Paris and love history, then make sure to visit.




If you've been to Paris, then what's your favourite tourist spot in the French city? 

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Restaurant Review: Meat & Shake, Tooting - London

halal steaks london

If you're in the look out for new Halal steakhouses and burger joints, then you must definitely read till the end. Meat & Shake, a restaurant having three branches across the city (Warford, Tooting, Ealing) serves Halal steaks and burgers in London. The interior has been designed to give the place a casual look with brick walls, yet it gives a welcoming touch. 

Paid parking is available on the nearby streets for £2.60 per hour and is free 6:30 pm onward. Meat & Shake (Tooting branch) has a brilliant location, and by that I mean that you won't have to go around streets looking for it, rather it can be spotted easily. 
halal steaks london

It was lunch time when my husband and I arrived at Meat & Shake and after parking the car in the nearby street, walked towards the restaurant. We started off with the spicy beef and lamb Hot Link Sausages (£4.50) served with pickles and mustard. Initially, we were thinking what to order but I left it on my husband to take the decision and although, I personally don't enjoy sausages much, these were great! When the platter arrived, it wasn't what I had in my mind as the aromatic sausages had been sliced. They were well spiced but dipping them in the mustard and sauces available on the table were perfect for adding an extra hot taste to it. 
halal steaks london

I wanted to try the mocktails, however the Tooting branch doesn't do them anymore so I am hoping to try them next time in one of the other branches of Meat & Shake in London. As the name mentions the word 'shake' itself, we had to try one of their shakes and opted for the small Coconut and Mango shake (£4.50). The milkshake had desiccated coconut in it, the thickness was perfect and it tasted good too! So that was the only milkshake we tried (husband and I actually shared) because we wouldn't have been able to finish the food otherwise. 
mango milkshake

Our side was Dirty Fries (£7.8) that had chili corn carne and was topped with jalapeños mustard, sour cream and cheese. The chili corn carne is actually a spicy stew containing meat, beans and peppers and is seasoned with other spices. I've had Dirty Fries at a restaurant before, but these ones tasted different. They were hot but enjoyable - I actually LOVED them! 
dirty fries

halal steak london

Our mains were steaks - the Sirloin steak (£19.90) and the Rib Eye steak (£21.90), both 300 grams. Another name for the Sirloin is Porterhead steak. Both steaks had been marbled generously, were served with green salad and already had some sauce on it. Meat & Shake does have a few options to choose from, if you prefer another sauce and we tried Peppercorn and gravy. However, it wasn't really needed if you're happy with the BBQ flavoured sauce already drizzled on the steak. I found peppercorn a bit mild in taste if compared to the gravy or maybe it was because I had tried the latter first, and it quite a strong taste. There is also blue cheese on the menu, if anyone prefers that with steak. Moreover, they do have a variety of sides, but they aren't included in the price of the steak, so have to be ordered separately.
halal steak london

fresh green salad

halal steak london

halal steak london

Smoking bandit (£10.90) was our choice for the burger which included chipotle mayo, cheddar, turkey bacon and leaves, all smokey! I really liked Meat & Shake's innovative concept of serving it. They dish out the burger and then fill smoke inside, through a pipe and keep it covered so the smoke stays inside. If I was just going to eat a smoking bandit for lunch, I would have easily eaten two of them especially when I'm too hungry. The burger was recommended to us when placing the order as it's the most popular burgers served at Meat and Shake, had it not been recommended, it would have really been a challenging task to make the choice from the list on the menu card.

halal burger london

Mississippi Mud pie

For the dessert, it was the chocolaty Mississippi Mud pie (£6.5) served with vanilla ice cream and some chocolate sauce drizzled on it - perfect to end a Saturday lunch!


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Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Meat: Everything is Halal
Child-Friendly: Yes 
Alcohol Available: No

Contact Meat & Steak: 
Telephone: 020 8355 4496
Location: 47 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7TR

--------------------------

What's your favourite steak cut and combination of sauce to go with it? 


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Staycation in London, with FG Properties

fg properties london

You know how fond I am, of travelling and exploring new places and activities, especially in London. It was on a recent trip to London for which we had booked one of the lovely Kensington Hazlitt Hideaway apartment for a mini staycation in the city. Isn't it a bonus when you find a place to stay, which is both welcoming and affordable? It's not very common to find such places but FG Properties, a short term fully furnished property rental entity is definitely something to be considered. They not only have properties in central locations in London, but also in Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. They have well managed to provide a luxurious, bright and hotelesque feeling to the guests, but at a better price than the hotels. So especially if you're meaning to travel in a group, this option will definitely get more points.

fg properties london

The booking process was extremely smooth and simple and I got a confirmation email from City Relay, the company that manages the property. The check-in time starts at 3:00 pm and the very lovely Josephine personally came to receive us and show the property around. Most of all, it was delightful seeing the pretty bouquet of fresh flowers and chocolate on the dining table. Check-out time is 11:00 am. 

fg properties london

The first impression on entering the property was fantastic. I personally love high ceilings, brightly lit places and minimalist decor. Both bedrooms and the living cum dining area were spacious and the property was equipped with all the modern furnishings (most of them from IKEA), and amenities such as a widescreen TV. Really liked the screen size by the way, however the SKY channels weren’t working so we only had access to the Freeview channels. The comfortable L-shaped sofa in the living area was convertible (not referring to a car, but a bed) and could easily accommodate 2 persons. The living area just had two lamps, a floor lamp and a table lamp, that were working. However, the lighting after sunset seemed inadequate as the ceiling lights were out of order, which unfortunately also couldn’t be fixed at an urgent basis so we decided to bring another floor lamp from one of the rooms to brighten the dining area a bit. If you have children, I would recommend seeing the place around to ensure their safety. We actually spotted a few pieces of glass which had been overlooked by the cleaner because of which I thoroughly had to vacuum clean the blue rug. 

fg properties london

fg properties london

fg properties london

The open plan kitchen in the property was good enough to fit one person in the kitchen at a time (I like more space), but had all the modern amenities such as oven, microwave, fridge, kettle, toaster, washer cum dryer and all kitchen utensils (metal cutlery including spoons, forks, knives, dessert spoons, cooking spoons, tin opener, pots and pans, serving dishes, plates, bowls, glasses and mugs). They had also provided kitchen towels, dish washing essentials and table mats. There was an under counter fridge at the property which included a small freezer section inside as well and it was very thoughtful of them to include complimentary tea/coffee and sugar for the guests. 

Both the bedrooms were brightly lit (before sunset), with comfortable bed and bedding, and with lots of storage spaces that also had extra pillows, linen, hair dryer and hangers. They had also provided towels, linens and complimentary hotel-style toiletries. However, the lighting in the second bedroom was insufficient after sunset because the ceiling lights were out of order and just one table lamp was working. It took me a while to sleep at night because there was lots of noise coming from the outside (probably because the windows weren't double glazed), in the main bedroom so I decided to sleep in the living room. However, the foot steps of the people staying in the apartment just above ours throughout the night were a nightmare. I waited till 2:00 am but it seemed as if they had been walking in the property all night. The same continued on the second night even though I decided to sleep in the second bedroom, but the noise was still very clear. 

fg properties london

fg properties london

fg properties london


I really liked the bathroom, and although there wasn't a window there, it was brightly lit with ceiling lights with dimmer and a fantastic sized bath with space for storage. 


fg properties london

fg properties london

fg properties london

fg properties london

fg properties london

Since our property was situated in the heart of West Kensington, we had access to the city center and most chic areas of London. BabyN’ is really fond of animals so my husband and I decided to take to the Natural History Museum the next day, it was Sunday so we easily found free parking nearby. There are also many Halal eating spots in the area, which was a bonus for us, and we decided to have our dinner at an authentic Indian restaurant in Fulham. You can read about my experience, here. There are also many other museums in the same area including the Leighton House Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum, if you’re interested. Besides, there were also many other tourist destinations such as Harrods, very near to the Kensington Hazlitt Hideaway apartment. 

The property has parking available right outside and is free, 7:00 pm onward till 9:00 am in the morning on a weekend. Otherwise, it is £2 per hour. Since we weren’t much aware of the area, we initially paid for a few hours but thinking of it to be a rip off, my husband went outside to explore the area around to find a better parking option, and luckily found a free parking spot at the Milson Street just 2 streets across our property, and almost 15 minutes by walk but it helped us save a lot of pounds. Other than a few nitty-gritty things, our stay at the property was great, both in terms of comfort and ease, and I look forward to booking the stay with FG properties in future too.


How has been your experience of staying at hotel apartments, if any? 


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