The Dragon’s Kitchen Team love to visit places where their love of food makes it a great experience. Here we share some of our thoughts.

Caribbean Scene (Royale)

In the heart of the Docklands is ‘the best caribbean restaurant in London 2006/07′ (as it said on it’s door) so we thought, why not give it a try!

After watching my sister win the national F1 in schools competition for the second year running, and finding out that she was off, along with the rest of her team, to Malaysia, I think I can be forgiven for wanting a treat for myself. Just a little bit of jealously perhaps! My mum had already mentioned this little place after noticing it on the excel center’s website so after the awards ceremony we headed off in search of it. In fact it is located right on the waters edge with a nice view of the O2 arena and the new regenerated area of the docklands, not bad surroundings.

At first I was a bit apprehensive due to the lack of customers, but then again, it was only 6 o’ clock and it was a caribbean restaurants which usually serve till later anyway. I decided to look at this in a positive light instead as it meant quicker service and less noise to compete with. However, less people does mean you get less time to think about your order, the waiters have nothing else to do but ask for your choices! After a quick look at the drinks menu I thought it would be rude not to have the ‘caribbean scene beer’ which in fact was very nice, a light lager that was very easy to drink. The other slightly different choice chosen by our party was atraditional caribean bottled beer called ‘carib beer’ (imaginative names, i know!). I was not as big a fan of this one, it seemed to be a more floury version of corona, without the lime.

The next time the waiter came round it was mains time. Although the menu was not greatly vast (hardly surprising due to the small kitchen  which was visible from our table) I was wisely told that ‘it is better to have a smaller menu cooked well, than a larger menu cooked badly’, which I suspected may just be the case. Our menu choices it turned out, were even less imaginative than the names of the beer! Our table went for 3 ‘flamed jerk chicken’ and 1 ‘curry goat parcel with coconut shaving’. Myself, having the jerk chicken, was pleasantly surprised. This is because it is not a dish I have had on that many occasions and in fact the last time it was cooked for me by a house mate there was a lot of spice but not a lot of flavour. However, as you would expect, this chicken hit all the right boxes. Whilst having a little bit of spice the flavours were there for all to taste. I honestly thought the chicken was cooked to perfection in terms of texture and flavour. Personally though (and this was a point of disagreement at the table) I was not as impressed with the rice, I did not feel it did the chicken justice as it was bit dry. This view was not universally held though! The other dish on the table, the goat curry, most definitley had to get at least 9/10 for presentation. In the menu it is described as being ‘served in a filo pastry parcel’ but it did not give a real indication of what was to be expected. The curry was in fact served in filo pastry crown! It looked very impressive, and my mum, who ordered the dish was impressed with the taste also. Being the ‘goat’ I am, it would have been rude not to finish what my mum could not but if I’m honest I still preferred the chicken. This may be though that I it was my first real try of a goat curry, and not being a huge lamb fan, it could of been predicted. This is not to say the flavours were not there and not good, just in my opinion, the jerk chicken was a class apart, a real recommendation!

So overall, what was my view of the ‘best caribbean restaurant 2006/07’? Well, having not been to that many caribbean places I have not got that much to compare to but the food was  much better than any home attempts I have previously made and I would recommend it just for the ‘caribbean scene beer’ (which I am going to try and get hold of!) and the jerk chicken alone. One little tip I would offer is though that it is worth checking their website as they do have offers on there and details of their 2 other establishments, the ‘quick’ and the ‘family’ version.

The Mango Tree, London

Sitting in my bedroom staring blankly at google because my mum had decided I  should be in charge of finding a place to eat for a family celebration, a big deal in my family! So into the search engine went ‘restaurants near Victoria’ and at the top of my screen appeared ‘mango tree 50% off’ and due to being a student this instantly caught my eye. Looking at it further I discovered the restaurant to be one of Michelin recommendation, and it served thai, it couldn’t get much better!

A week later and the student mind is boggling at the £4-55 33cl Chang. Then it was reminded that at least the food was half price!  To further ease the worries, the safety of mum and her credit card then appeared through the door! After being seated, the starter seemed relatively quick to choose (especially compared to the mains) with the us ordering 2 Kor Moo Yang (barbequed pork with cucumber and typical Thao nam jim sauce) and then 2 Gai Hor Bai Toey (Deep fried chicken fillet wrapped in pandan leaf served with sweet chilli sauce). Myself, having the pork, was very impressed! The mix of flavours provided by the Thao nam jim sauce excited all the taste buds, whilst giving them a kick of heat as well! This was complemented with perfectly cooked pork. However although in presentation the chicken (each individual peice was wrapped in a leaf that was like a puzzle to undo) met the expected standards of this tastefully decorated establishment, I feel the food itself let the dish down, I felt the chicken was perhaps a bit over cooked, however the chilli dip seemed to satisfy the 2 girls who had it!

Now after telling my girlfriend not to be boring and have the green thai curry, what did she go for? Of course, the green thai curry! I went for the panage gai, a red coconutty chicken curry, whilst my mum had the yellow curry with monkfish and the birthday girl had Pad thai gai. I have been reliably informed the yellow curry was excellent and after tasting the pad thai, I would also give that the same recommendation. However, whilst the red curry was very moreish and the chicken itself being cooked to perfection it lacked a little wow factor. The shocking thing for me was who the real star of the meal was, after all my doubting, it was the green thai curry (which I don’t think my girlfriend will ever let me forget)! Easily the best one I have ever tasted and you could really taste the thai origins of the restaraunt in the dish.

So in all in all this was a great dining experiance (made even better by the 50% offer we manged to take advantage of – got to thank for that). I would recommend this place to all lovers of thai food except maybe don’t visit it as a pre-theatre meal as we all agreed we would rather of had more time to enjoy the wonderful food and impressive surroundings!

Pipe of Port. Southend.

This is a lovely cellar bar/restaurant. As soon as you walk down the steps and enter into the bar area you know this will be  an interesting experience. Flagstone floor, light sprinkling of sawdust, fantastic array of wines and ports to tempt you. Whilst you wait at the bar you can see and smell the Specials as the really friendly and knowledgable waitresses keep the hungry customers fed.

The food is great and we usually have a jug of tawny port with our meal. Different and delicious. January is particularly good as there is a variety of dishes with haggis – mmmmmmmmmmmm.

84A High St
Southend-on-Sea SS1 1JN
01702 614 606

The Nest. Burwash Manor, New Road, Barton. Cambridge.

On of 16 independent shops set in lovely rural setting. The website address sums up the shop – homestuff with history. A lovely eclectic mix of things for the home with some great foodie stuff. The whole complex is worth a visit including the Wine Cellar.

Free parking, children`s play area and tea shop. Lovely place to visit for a couple of hours mooching.

Burwash Manor, New Rd, Barton, Cambridge. CM23 7AY

Junction 12 of M11

CD`s, 181 Moulsham St. Chelmsford.

As a  coffee and a bacon sandwich snob it is unusual for me to be able to recommend a place which scores highly on both fronts. But CD`s on Moulsham St produced the goods – excellent stuff. Whilst there having very late breakfast a couple of customers came in ordering early lunch. One was tempted by the salmon freshly roasted that morning on the premises with lots of salad choices. Another was taking a really interesting salad box away for the healthy lunch we all know we should order. Clean and welcoming. Great independent place on one of Chelmsford`s often forgotten areas – Moulsham St.

Published on February 28, 2011 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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