Helene Darroze At The Connaught: A Tasting Menu To Remember

If you’re a self-proclaimed foodie, you may have considered delving into the world of Michelin starred restaurants at some point in your life. Although it can be incredibly overpriced at times, there are plenty of lunch menus that don’t have to break the bank, with dozens of 1 Michelin starred restaurants offering 3 course meals for as low as £30 in London. With 2 Michelin stars, Helene Darroze at the Connaught is not one of those places, but celebrating a special occasion can often justify a ‘treat yoself’ moment, which this certainly was. Although Chris and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary in lockdown, we vowed to go to a fancy joint once we were free to do so, and Helene’s ‘Summer Tasting Menu’ definitely fit the bill.

Advertised as 7 courses, this tasting menu actually ended up being about 14 courses with all the little treats on the side. Though I was never quite able to guage what a restaurant would have to do in order to receive the coveted second Michelin star, after experiencing this menu, I now understand. With impeccable service and clever flavours, it was certainly a gastronomic experience I’ll never forget.

Below is a picture of every course, as well as a link to the menu at the bottom:

The dish that stood out to me was the lamb main, which despite the surprisingly dainty plating, was packed full of strong, well-balanced flavours. I also really recommend the raspberry pre-dessert which you can’t get as part of the five course version of this menu. Whilst reviews online highlight how filling the seven course menu is (and it really is!), not trying the sorrel sorbet with various elements of raspberry (an absolute revelation) would be an incredible shame! I could probably go on and on about how amazing the spiced scallop was, and how the saltiness of a kalamata olive paired with chocolate is an absolutely sensational idea, but I really don’t want to ruin the little surprises the chefs have in store for you.

The dinner lasted for 3 hours in total and we definitely left feeling very satisfied. But a word of warning, the drink prices are a tad extortionate and can definitely bankrupt you if you’re not careful – a bottle of VOSS water is a staggering £13 and a standard glass of wine starts at £20. If you’re intending on drinking, I’d go to a nearby bar prior to your reservation. 🙂

If you do visit, let me know what you think in the comments!

3 Healthy Smoothie Recipes

We all love a good smoothie on a warm summers day: it’s refreshing, delicious and filling when made right. Since it also achieves the healthy feeling of ‘new body hu dis?’, you can’t really go wrong when you’re feeling peckish but want to have a snack that tastes like a treat. However, in order to ensure that it’s actually healthy, you need to make a few adjustments. If it’s often filled with juice or loads of sugary fruit and sweeteners, the pros are often counteracted by the cons. So, here are three healthy smoothie recipes that have some excellent superfoods thrown in and don’t taste like you’re drinking grass.

Note: The below often work best if you have a variety of pre-frozen fruit. I often freeze fruits with low water content that I was unable to eat before it went off for this very purpose! 🙂

The Berry One

300ml of Coconut or Almond Milk, unsweetened
1tsp of Manuka Honey or Yacon Syrup
1tsp of Cacao Nibs
1tsp of Chia Seeds
A third of a frozen banana
A chunk of frozen pineapple
Handful of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries)
(Optional: Handful of spinach)

The Green One

300ml of Coconut or Almond Milk, unsweetened
1tsp of Manuka Honey or Yacon Syrup
1tsp of Wheatgrass Powder
1tsp of Spirulina Powder
Quarter of an avocado
A third of a frozen banana
A chunk of frozen pineapple
Handful of spinach/kale (or both)
A generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice

The Chocolate One

300ml of Milk, Coconut Milk, Almond Milk or Oat Milk, unsweetened
1tsp of Manuka Honey or Yacon Syrup
1tbsp Almond Butter/Peanut Butter/Cashew Butter
1tsp of Cacao Powder
1tsp of Cacao Nibs
1tsp of Coconut Flakes
Quarter of an avocado
Half of a frozen banana
(Optional: Add a scoop of your favourite choccy protein powder for a more filling serving)

The Only Chocolate Cake Recipe You Need

Whenever I google a recipe and find one with high ratings, I excitedly click on it, only to find that the author has essentially decided to write a novel before finally revealing the recipe right at the end. I scroll endlessly to get to the good stuff, and still, after seconds of arduous scrolling, I’m reading about how the recipe came to them in a dream they had after waking from a nap in some meadow somewhere in the countryside. As this has always been infuriating for me over years of cooking and baking, this post will not be one of those posts. I love to write, and I’m all for a good story, but I know you’re only really here to bake a delicious chocolate cake and get on with your life. So here it is: a quick, no fuss recipe for the lightest, tastiest chocolate cake you could ever want, given to me by an old friend in college.

Ingredients

Cake:
225g Plain flour
200g White granulated sugar
100g Good quality cocoa powder
1.5tsp Baking powder
1.5tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2tsp Vanilla essence
2 Eggs
125ml Vegetable oil
250ml Milk
250ml Boiling water

Icing:
200g Chocolate (Preferably half milk, half dark – but play around with this depending on desired sweetness)
250ml Double cream

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Combine all the cake ingredients in one bowl, apart from the boiling water, and whisk until combined.
  3. Gradually add the boiling water to the cake mixture, whisking as you do, until you have added it all and it has become a very runny consistency. Do not let the wateriness worry you as this is key for a very fluffy cake base. Trust me on this.
  4. Thoroughly grease a baking tin with butter, or sunflower oil, and pour in the cake mixture. If you find it difficult to cut a cake in half, I recommend baking it in two identical tins but please note that this halves the cooking time.
  5. Chuck the cake in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife comes out clear after you have given it a stab.
  6. Whilst the cake is baking, it’s time to make the icing: simply get a pan, pour in the cream and break in the chocolate.
  7. On the lowest heat possible, gently stir the cream until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is thick enough to coat your spoon.
  8. Take the icing off the heat and leave to cool for 1-2 hours, stirring it every 20 minutes or so to speed up the cooling process. As the temperature drops, the cream should become thick enough to spread.
  9. Once your cake is out of the oven let it cool completely (please be patient with this, as cutting/icing a cake while warm is a disastrous process) and cut it across the middle.
  10. Spread the icing on the middle layer, place the other half on top, and cover the remainder of the cake with all the icing. Voila! You should now have the most delicious chocolate cake on the planet, ready to chomp with your loved ones. Oh, and as much as you probably won’t want to, please do share this cake with others, as I don’t want to be responsible for fattening my readers.

Serving suggestion: I really recommend serving this with some double cream, and if you’d like to freshen it up, some berries of your choice.

The Best Sushi Spot in London: Oka, Kingly Court

I have been relatively addicted to sushi since my aunt introduced it to me at the youthful age of 10, and although the alarming mercury content of salmon put me off for a while, I still can’t resist a sushi meal at least once or twice a month. I spent a lot of my adolescence gravitating towards the famous high street chain, Wasabi, and failing its presence, its inferior counterpart Itsu, purely on the basis that it was convenient, cheap and surprisingly tasty. However, needless to say, the cheaper boxed alternatives don’t quite hit the spot like a good quality Japanese restaurant does, and when I discovered Oka at Kingly Court in Central London, I could never go back to Wasabi without feeling like I was being cheated.

Firstly, I would absolutely recommend you try the Salmon Nigiri (£3.50). The portion of fish atop the rice is incredibly generous, with a ratio of almost 2:1, and will leave you wondering whether or not to sack off the entire menu and just buy 10 more rounds of nigiri. Following that with some Salmon Hosomaki (£5.25), which is again full to the brim with the good stuff, will leave you ready for the pièce de résistance, the Red Dragon Roll (£11.95). Topped with spicy mayo and tuna tartare, this panko prawn roll will steal your soul and send you to heaven. One of the reasons I keep going back to this restaurant is simply because of this little beauty – which you can see a snapshot of in the instastory below – alongside, of course, the gorgeously crispy but overpriced Karaage Chicken (£8.25) and a confused boyfriend (came free in a cereal box).

The beautiful feature image of this post is of the Mixed Sashimi (£13.95) which is a brilliant choice if you’re feeling a little spenny. Including salmon, tuna and yellow tail, it’s a great option if you want to keep things light by shying away from carbs. However, despite being a scrumptious option, I would say that it isn’t completely worth the price tag when there are some excellent, and more filling, rolls with better flavour profiles on offer at the £8 – £10 price mark.

Sadly, I didn’t have much room for dessert after all that food, but peeking over at my neighbouring tables made me realise I’d have to go back and eat a little less sushi in order to try what looked like the gooiest hot cookie dough I have ever seen.

Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable sushi spot in London that isn’t going to leave you homeless (ehem – Sticks’n’Sushi), definitely give Oka a shot if you haven’t already. With decent prices and a very adorable ambience, it’s perfect for a casual catch up with friends or an intimate date. Located in the heart of London with branches in Primrose Hill, Chelsea, Barnes and Marylebone, you really have no excuse not to pop in. And hey, in the bitter end, if your company fails you, at least you’ll have fond memories of melt in the mouth fish to keep you going.

Have you read my introductory post? Check out https://overtoaila.com/2020/01/08/a-saturated-market/ for a peek.