Saturday, 2 February 2013

#Challenge2013 - January

Like most people, January for me has been less indulgent than the month before.  My biggest curse has been not only an attack of the winter lurgy but a torn ligament preventing me from running, neither of which are conducive to shedding the inevitable few pounds I gained over christmas.  I have however joined the gym and am working that stepper like nobody's business!

In terms of #challenge2013, January was inevitably the easiest month as, quite obviously it was the first month of the year eating out.  I managed to eat at a variety of restaurants; some large chain, some less so, additionally, in a somewhat mental month at work, I ended up having takeaway one evening (from my desk - boo) but as ever I managed to find the lowest calorie takeaway which Surbiton has to offer; Figo Chicken - a Nandos-style grilled chicken place where pitta and salad are also easy to come by!

Here are my January highlights:

New Years Brunch at 'The Breakfast Club'
Ok, so this was psychologically the last day of Christmas and not the first day of a detox so I trekked into Soho to enjoy brunch with some chums at 'The Breakfast Club'.

Firstly a hint; don't arrive here hungry as you will have to queue (we were inside over an hour and some people queued all this time).  This was my first visit, and frankly, within about thirty seconds, I could see why people were willing to queue.  A quirky restaurant with a delightfully varied menu and friendly staff, it really did tick all the boxes.

I opted for a 'Huevos Rancheros' which consisted of fried eggs, tortilla, refried beans, chorizo, salsa, sour cream, cheddar and guacamole - hardly healthy, I will be honest.  The entire breakfast was cooked to perfection and was a welcome change from a regular full english which is usually the hangover-cure supreme!

Cheap and cheerful mid-week Pizza.
One thing is true in contemporary dining, you can never go wrong with a good voucher code and Pizza Express really does provide one of the best value, simple and now with the addition of their 'legerra' Pizzas, there is a fantastic selection of low calorie treats too.

I opted for the 'Pollo Ad Astra' which is a ring of pizza with salad in the middle, like all in the legerra range with chicken, onion and low fat mozzarella to top it.  This was a light but satisfying weekday treat, and at 40% off with our voucher it really was the perfect accompaniment to a girly catch-up with one of my favourite people (whose blog can be found here).

A birthday at Inamo
Scallop Gunkan
Inamo is an Asian Fusion restaurant on Wardour Street (yep, Soho again) which is quite frankly, out of this world.  Well the starters, mains and cocktails are.  I was underwhealmed (to say the least) at the dessert and the wine (which at over £7 a glass even in central London I would expect to be very drinkable but for a dry wine was remarkably sweet).

I had sushi-inspired starters in the form of scallop gunkan, which consist of scallops marinated in a wasabi-miso sauce wrapped in nori with sushi rice and some chicken and lemongrass dumplings.  For my main I opted for the less healthy berkshire pork shoulder which was served with a confit of apple and a spicy chocolate sauce.  The pork here was perfectly tender and the sauce was divine; not too sweet but with a slight tang from the spice.  The pudding of macaroon with white chocolate mouse I certainly would not bother with again; I would instead try an additional small dish!

But the real gimmick and one of the coolest things about Inamo (apart from the cocktails, which I cannot recommend enough) was the interactive tables.  You ordered from the table, called the waiter, could view the kitchen, change the pattern or 'ambience' and play games. Yep, battleships and pairs.  Personally I am not a fan of the games as for me, going out for dinner is an opportunity to speak to people and catch up, but I can see if you did not know the people you were out with, a game of battleships would be a good icebreaker.

All in all I would totally recommend Inamo - a great experience and great food.

A tapas-full thank you
In my spare time (contrary to popular belief I do have some) I volunteer with Kingston Young Carers.  Young Carers are an organisation who really know how to look after their volunteers and twice a year take us out for a meal to say 'thank you'.  So, the last week in January we went to La Tasca in Kingston.  Even though I am not vegetarian I was disappointed that even the vegetable dishes were cooked in the same oil as meat, causing problems for the vegetarians with our group.

I have only eaten in the La Tasca chain once or twice, but as with most chain italian restaurants, I always find the food just 'fine', never outstanding but always perfectly edible.  Locally, if I am to go for tapas then Pincho in Twickenham will continue to win out in terms of menu selection, atmosphere and location.

And now, back to the kitchen!

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