On The Menu: Indian pizzas; posh pastis; Diamond Jubilee-food; pre-packed ravioli; The Orrery
This week I've been eating...
Roti Chai, the Indian restaurant that opened its doors last year, includes a "Street Kitchen" upstairs, a bright canteen-like area open all day, while downstairs houses the "Dining Room", a darker, more seductive space. Tucked away on a mews behind London's Oxford Street, it caters for anyone from hungry shoppers to curry aficionados.
Upstairs offers street food you might find at the roadside, such as railway lamb curry, somosas and Bengali fish curry. Their current special is naanzas, or Indian pizzas. If you're squeamish about "exotic" pizzas, you might be tempted to give this one a miss. But with a naan base, it is more interesting than some recent variations – although they could probably give the melted cheese a miss. While there, don't forget to sample the refreshing Indian-influenced cocktails.
Roti Chai, 3 Portman Mews South, London W1. rotichai.com
French friends mock my liking for pastis. One of my fancier Parisian friends likes to claim the mass-market stuff is for football hooligans (hmm). One pastis that certainly isn't for necking before you get on the terraces is Henri Bardouin's. Distilled in the hills of the Luberon in Provencal, it stands miles apart from its competitors. It has a fantastic complexity to it (due, presumably, to the 60 herbs and spices that go into the mix) and a real whack of star anise. They say mix it with 10 times the water, but I think it works much more nicely with about six. £25.99, thedrinkshop.com
This week I'm inaugurating Diamond Jubilee-food watch, a search for the most absurd use of the Queen's 60th on a food product. Life Water will print the Queen's stately visage on labels from next week. While Byron Burgers' "chilli queen" burger sounds delicious, I'm not sure if there has ever been a recorded incident of the Queen munching a quarter pounder. Top prize goes to Tabasco, for a limited-edition pack in honour of the well-known crown-wearing spice-lover.
Pre-packed ravioli has a bad reputation. It has that definite student lunch and dinner (and, possibly breakfast, too) thing going on, suffering, perhaps, for its own time-saving convenience. But, that said, little plump pillows from Dell'Ugo are actually rather fine. The 60-year-old firm does the same flavours as all the others – think spinach and ricotta, pea and pancetta, butternut squash – but it does them much better, and makes them that bit fatter. They do a rather natty limited edition Crab and Crayfish variety, too. £2.99, ugogroup.co.uk
So the weather isn't being very kind, but believe it or not, summer is just around the corner. This must be true because the terrace at The Orrery restaurant has just opened. On top of a converted stable block overlooking St Marylebone Church gardens in West London, it's a lovely place to catch your breath and quench your thirst on a sunny afternoon. orreryrestaurant.co.uk
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