Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

The best recipes are almost always circonstancial.

Whether it’s a trip to the farmer’s market, a recent visit to a new favourite restaurant or simply a massive fridge forage and the realisation that half of what’s in it needs using, those lightbulb moments are what inspire me most in the kitchen.

With Autumn being very much on its way, I’ve been craving comfort food more and more in the last few days.

So of course, I turned to Italian classics, because as much as I wish the French would do better at it, nobody does comfort food quite like the Italians…

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

With bolognese on my mind, I went on a little bit of a fridge/freezer forage.

Memories of a beautiful pasta dish we had in Paris, the last few remaining pieces of rabbit my grandma brought in her luggage when she last visited, a can of olives fished from the back of a cupboard, a few bits and bobs from a previous Farmdrop order

… slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and this rich and zingy Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe was born!

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle (serves 2-3)

Ingredients: 250g fresh pappardelle (I get mine from La Tua Pasta via Farmdrop), 1/2 rabbit (about 600g, preferably leg pieces as they have fewer small bones), 1 small shallot (finely chopped), 2 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into small pieces, handful of cherry tomatoes (about 200g, chopped roughly), small handful pitted black olives (about 15, sliced), 1L good quality chicken or vegetable stock, zest of 1/4 lemon (grated), 2 bay leaves, 1 fresh sprig of thyme, pinch of smoked paprika, 5 pepper corns + freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, good quality olive oil, grated parmesan to serve

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil, then add the rabbit pieces. Season with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook over high heat for a few minutes until golden. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns, then pour in the chicken/vegetable stock. Cover the pot, reduce to a small simmer and cook for about an hour or until the meat starts falling off the bones, topping with a little bit of water if necessary.

2. Take the rabbit pieces off the cooking stock and let if cool off before taking all the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and shred the rabbit to bite-sized pieces.

3. Cook the pappardelle according to packaging instructions.

4. In a large pan or wok, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and the bacon bits and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start breaking down (about 5-10 min), adding a bit of the cooking stock if necessary. Throw in the sliced olives, lemon zest and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 min.

5. Drain the pasta, add to the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan.

What inspires you to get cooking?

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Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

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Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

Aaand relax! Himalayan Ritual massage at Thai Square Spa

I have a massive confession to make.

I’m not really a massage sort of person. (please don’t throw stones at me!)

Now, I know many people swear by them for relaxation and health purposes, but I always struggle to let things go to benefit fully from it.

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

However, learning to let things go and trying new things are two of the things I want to focus on this year (am I the only one making new year’s resolutions on my birthday?)

So when an email popped into my mail box, inviting me to try out Thai Square Spa‘s new Himalayan Ritual Massage ON MY BIRTHDAY, I decided it was clearly a sign and that it was time for me to give this massage thing another chance!

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

Housed within a beautifully converted Victorian Turkish bath on Northumberland Avenue, the venue itself is breath-taking.

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

With the eclectic mix of Thai, Roman, and Turkish spa décor element, Thai Square Spa is a peaceful environment to nurture the spirit of modern life.

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

Spread over two floors, Thai Square Spa offers extensive facilities, including a dozen massage rooms, Vichy Shower treatment room as well as an ice fountain, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as an in-house beauty salon… the very definition of a restorative haven!

But the prettiest of all the pretty rooms?

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

Thai Square Spa’s unique Himalayan Salt Room, where the Himalayan Ritual Massage is performed. Complete with authentic Himalayan Salt walls and white sand for a floor!

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

Found deep within the rivers and valleys of the Himalayan Mountains, these salts have been celebrated for centuries for their healing properties, and the Himalayan Rituan Massage promises to reduce stress, relieve pain and soreness.

Thanks to the use of essential oils and fruit & flower extract, it also detoxifies, hydrates and soften the skin and leave you soothed and relaxed. It can also helps with some medical conditions such as psoriasis or acne, reduces stress and promotes a better night’s sleep.

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

The massage itself is a 1 hour, full body massage combining various Oriental massage techniques, allowing for the ultimate personalised therapy.

A true haven for all the senses that made me a total massage convert!

Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

There’s something so relaxing about letting go of all your every day worries and focus on just being while you get massaged and smoothed until you feel completely melted.

So if the pressure of the London life is getting the best of you, there’s only one thing to do: take half a day off, and book yourself an afternoon at Thai Square Spa.

By the time you get out, I garantee you won’t even remember what it was you were stressing over. Utter bliss indeed!

Check the full range of treatments & services available here

Thai Square Spa, 25 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5AP

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Himalayan Ritual Massage at London's Thai Square Spa | Cake + Whisky

I was invited by Thai Square Spa to rewiew their new Himalayan Ritual Massage, but all love of pink salt bricks & life-changing opinion of massage therapy my own. Pictures courtesy of Thai Square Spa and Scarlett PR.

Aaand relax! Himalayan Ritual massage at Thai Square Spa

5 tips to plan a city break

This year, my holidays have been very city break oriented.

No big trip to exotic destinations for me, but many (long) weekend getaways to closer, yet just as exciting/interesting/beautiful destinations.

And to be honest, I rather like it that way. Not having to spend hours in a plane means my legs don’t get swollen, and having less days to plan for makes it both easier and much less stressful.

Or does it? The only issue with short city breaks is that, well, they’re short, and giving that old  Fear Of Missing Out friend many opportunities to take over.

Is it really the ultimate way to make the most of my time there? Should we visit this or that? Could we really not do both? Is having 5 meals a day the only way to try it all? …You know how it goes!

But I have a few tried, tested & approved tricks to use when you plan a city break to keep FOMO and travel stress at bay.

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

1. Do your research:

Now, I know this one might seem obvious, but researching your destination will save you tonnes of time (no more pondering your options every morning or wondering what to do next!) & ultimately allow you to pack more into each day.

If it’s your first time in a city, you might want to include some of the ‘obvious’ sights in your itinerary. I find Google & the city’s tourism board website to be the most useful source of information as they’ll give you the full must-see run down.

For additional research (especially for lesser known sights or food recommendations), I usually run a few Pinterest searches. Not only is it an especially attractive search engine for visual people like me, but it’s also a fantastic way to easily find detailed reviews of local places that might not be on the map of the big industry players. Oh, and you can also save all your research right there (I tend to create a secret board that I share with my travel companions), and even get a rough map of each pin’s location, which is really quite handy as well.

2. Plan ahead:

Once you’ve done your research, it’s important to sort through the (hopefully many) ideas to optimise your (limited) time.

My strategy consists of putting all my potential ideas onto a Google Map, and then group them by location according to which ones are close together to limit transport time.

I then use my absolute favourite travel app, Sygic Travel, to create custom itineraries for each day of the city break.

This app truly is a technology god-send: it tells you roughly how long to schedule for each visit, optimises the order of the different things you pin to reduce travelling time, keeps all useful information (including opening hours, ticket prices…) in one place and provides you with an OFFLINE ACCESSIBLE map and directions to go form one sight to the next.

Absolute Travel Grail as far as I’m concerned (as long as you manage to keep your phone charged, that is!)

Evelyn's Cafe Bar, Manchester | Cake + Whisky

Evelyn’s Café, Manchester

3. Be flexible:

No matter how ready you are, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, things just don’t work out the way they should.

Sometimes the weather’s just not playing along with your master plan. Sometimes, the queues are so long they’ll ruin your chances to see anything else that day should you decide to go ahead with your original plan.

And it’s okay. It’s life.

Just make sure you know which sights you absolutely want to see (and if possible, book them ahead as it’ll save you from having to queue up for tickets), and which ones you won’t regret missing out on.

If some visits are strongly weather related, it might also be worth considering switching things up a bit even if it under-optimises your plans a touch.

Worse come to worse, just look for a nice café/restaurant/coffee house nearby and make new plans for the day over a glass/plate/cup of something nice. Or simply explore the little streets nearby. Some of my best travel memories came with spending hours getting lost in such places.

Last but not least, don’t over-plan and try to pack too much in one day/weekend. There’s no point doing things just for the sake of ticking them off your bucket list if you’re too tired to enjoy them. Please take that advice from the girl you one thought it was a good idea to go to the Louvres and the Invalides museum on the same day (it wasn’t).

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

New York

4. Location, location, location:

Accommodation is cheaper when you’re away from the city centre. True. But that also mean you’ll spend a lot more time and money in transport.

And when time is limited, that’s a trade off that’s not really worth it.

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

5. Pack light:

Leave all the ‘just in case’ items behind. You and I both know you’re going to be wearing the same things all the time anyway.

Having to register a suitcase will cost you both time and money (not even mentioning the lost/broken luggage-related stress).

Plus the more you carry, the least room you’ll have to bring awesome souvenirs back home!!

What’s your top tip to plan a city break? Any brilliant resource I need to have on my radar? Any part you especially struggle with?

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5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

5 tips to plan a city break

The Cinnamon Club

Was it the Colonel Mustar with the wrench in the library?

As I was perusing the cocktail menu while waiting for the Mr. to get to The Cinnamon Club for his birthday feast, Cluedo-themed flashbacks kept popping into my mind.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

And for good reasons, as Chef Vivek Singh’s flagship restaurant, an instution in the world of Indian fine dining, is set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Opened 15 years ago, The Cinnamon Club has a long history of serving innovative and creative Indian cuisine in a magnificently majestic setting.

And the restaurant’s bar is no exception and is an absolute heaven for book- and cocktail-lovers alike.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Books all round, old London maps, beautiful, plush chairs in deep-blue, elegant charcoal and vibrant yellow shades…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

… and stunning cocktails to match!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Pisco Punch (turmeric-infused pisco, herbal liqueur, lemon juice, pineapple syrup & preserved pineapple)

Refreshing, tropical but not too sweet, it’s the perfect drink for the season!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The Cinnamon Club’s signature cocktail, the Affinity (Mango infused Scotch whisky, sweet and dry vermouth, herbal liqueur, bitters) was an even bigger hit as it was perfectly mixed and just the right balance of strength and sweetness.

The perfect start to any celebration if you ask me!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Shortly after, we were led to our table in the restaurant’s main dining room.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

And what a stunning room it is indeed: massive, luxurious yet so restrained, it’s the perfect backdrop to highlight both the building’s stunning features and Chef Vivek’s incredible modern Indian cuisine.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The perfect spot to get lost into a good book…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

…or, you know, a good menu!

Soon after, the table started getting covered in fragrant plates.

As soon as we finished one, another immediately appeared in its place.

Much like having dinner in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’s enchanted library, really.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

First things first, more cocktails and some Champagne!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The amuse-bouche of the day, a cube of rice sponge (similar to South Indian Idli if only a bit more dry) with tomato chutney and other bits…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Super moist & succulent Reshmi kebab of Norfolk free range chicken, with excellent yoghurt raita & coriander chutney.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

But the star of the whole evening was the dish that made us book a table in the first place after tasting it earlier this year at Taste of London: the restaurant’s signature Smoked Herdwick lamb fillet and galouti kebab mille feuille.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Layers of delicately spiced mince lamb meat, seared lamb fillet & velvety lamb kebab, with picked vegetables, raita & coriander chutney.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

An extremely technical dish, where every element was cooked to perfection and came together to form one of the best things we’ve eaten all year.

So good in fact that the Mr. said he couldn’t get a better version of that same dish anywhere in India (and he’s really demanding when it comes to kebabs, so that’s really saying something!)

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

There was also Black lentil Makhani dal, which was very nicely spiced if only a touch too ‘bit-ey’.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Mopped up with sweet, soft Garlic naan (what else?)

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Tandoori breast of Anjou squab pigeon, tawa mince of legs, black stone flower reduction

Juicy, pink pigeon breast, strong, almost offal-y mince, served alongside a generous quenelle of velvety, spicy mash, it was a lovely combination that could only have been improved by a bit more of the aromatic sauce on the plate…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Roast saddle of Romney Marsh lamb, corn sauce, pickled root vegetables, masala cashew nut

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

An unexpected combination that worked wonders, carried by eye-rollingly good lamb (I actually did) and subtle spicing across the plate.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + WhiskyThe Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Another shining example of The Cinnamon Club’s chefs way with lamb, and a beautiful combination with a glass of dry Bourgogne wine.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + WhiskyThe Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Pudding came with a bit of flambé-ing tableside show…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Baked Jalandhar, an Indian-inspired take on the classic Baked Alaska.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + WhiskyThe Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

With layers of thandai (a traditional drink combining almonds, fennel seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar), saffron and carrot halwa ice cream topped with spiced meringue and set on fire before your very own eyes!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The ultimate exotic show-stopper of a pudding!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least, Green cardamom brulée with rose petal biscotti.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + WhiskyThe Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Silky smooth, with a good cardamom taste and a thin layer of caramelised sugar on top, it was everything a good brulée should be.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The birthday treat, complimentary Lassi panna cotta was also perfectly crafted.

Light, creamy & jiggle-y, it’s the perfect pudding for those times you wish you could manage pudding but aren’t sure you actually can.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Encouraged by the attentive and truly hospitable team, we linguered over chocolate truffle petits fours (and a sneaky little glass of sticky Pedro Ximenez) until late in the night.

Chatting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

The very best way to celebrate your nearest & dearest special day, and I cannot recommend The Cinnamon Club enough, especially for a special occasion.

It is not cheap, but considering the quality of the food, the drinks and the service, as well as the stunning venue and felted atmosphere, it’s well worth it and I garantee you’ll leave feeling like a Maharajah!

The Cinnamon Club, The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BU

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The Cinnamon Club

London Best Burgers

Tomorrow’s #NationalBurgerDay.

You know me, I’m not one to not take advantage of that sort of opportunity (making plans as we speak).

But in case you need a little push (with loads of drool-worthy, cheese-heavy pics!), below are 10 of London best burgers!

1. Bleecker Street Burger‘s Bleecker Black

Bleecker Burger, Spitafields | Cake + Whisky

This is a divisive one. Haters gonna hate, but in my opinion, the Bleecker Black is THE BOMB!

Two just seared signature beef patties, with umami black pudding, melted cheese and a sweet onion garnish to balance it all off.

Very, very naughty but so, so good! ➡ Read my Bleecker St. Burger review

2. . Lucky Chip‘s John Candy

Lucky Chip at The Old Queen's Head | Cake + Whisky

If you had told me a few years ago that some day in the near future, I would be eating a burger that tasted of beef with a hint of vanilla Coke, I would have laughed in your face.

And I would have been wrong. Because this is the wonkiest, most brilliant burger sauce I’ve ever tried.

That said, if the John Candy’s not available (it’s a special, but it comes back on the menu quite often), the Kevin Bacon isn’t half bad either… oh, and make yourself a favour and get a side of those amazing spicy mayo & cheese fries, okay? ➡ Read my Lucky Chip review

3. Meat Liquor‘s Dead Hippie

If you’re after London’s best cheeseburger, stop looking. This is it.

A bit of a shame that the fries aren’t quite as good though (which explains why I haven’t written a full review of Meat Liquor yet #friesbeforeguys #andburgersactually!!)…

4. Patty & Bun‘s Ari Gold

Patty & Bun | Cake + Whisky

The Ari Gold is Patty & Bun’s take on the classic cheeseburger, and one of the very best at that!

It comes all wrapped up in greaseproof paper, and opening it is almost as good as present unwrapping on Christmas morning, but with more meat (and cheese!)

Definitely my kind of Christmas in July August! ➡ Read my Patty & Bun review

5. Mac and Wild‘s Veni-Moo

Scottish brunch at Mac & Wild | Cake + Whisky

I think that picture, paired with the fact that the Veni-Moo has been awarded best burger in London in both 2015 and 2016, tells you everything you need to know.

Oh, and when you’re at it, you might want to try mixing whisky and Irn Bru… #justsaying ➡ Read my Mac and Wild review

6. Honest Burger‘s Tribute

London best burgers - Honest Burger | Cake + Whisky

With American mustard, smokey bacon & all the usual suspects, it’s the most American of them all (if American burgers relied on stunning ingredients and came with a side of rosemary fries, that is…)!

7. Big Fernand‘s Le Big Fernand

London best burgers - Big Fernand | Cake + Whisky

A very Frenchie burger indeed, focusing on stellar ingredients (dry-aged beef, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley & cocktail sauce) and perfectly cooked patties.

So French, so good! ➡ Read my Big Fernand review

8. Shake Shack‘s ‘Shroom Burger

London's best burgers | Cake + Whisky

Cheese-stuffed mushroom… Need I say more? Definitely the most EPIC vegetarian burger around… Cheese fries absolutely compulsory! ➡ See what else is good at Shake Shack

9. Tommi’s cheeseburger

The most basic of them all, but coming with a serious array of sauces of all sorts to choose from, Tommi’s burgers are perfect for picky eaters & condiment nerds alike.

10. GBK‘s Avocado + Bacon burger

London best burgers | Cake + Whisky

Now, I know that’s a pretty basic one (#basicblogger much?) but avocado in burgers is ACE and if you haven’t tried it yet, you should definitely get your butt to GBK fissa & give it a go.

So creamy, so healthy…

Now the only question is, which one will you go for? And which one should I try next? 

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London best burgers | Cake + Whisky

 

London Best Burgers

Basement Sate Dessert & Cocktail Bar

A party without cake is really just a meeting.

And birthday meetings aren’t really a thing, so cake was most definitely needed after our Bao feast.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Dessert bars are having a bit of a revival in London, and Basement Sate was one of the trend-setters.

Created by two friends who love well made drinks, decadent desserts and meaningful music in equal parts.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Inspired by the revival of Soho, they created a place where people can sate (= satisfy (a desire or an appetite) to the full) themself in an informal and social setting, and where the music is as vibrant as the cocktails & desserts.

Cocktails + dessert it was then!

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Little Japan for the Mr.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

An unusual but intoxicating mix of Japanese whisky, artichoke liqueur and sweet vermouth.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

El Pampa (pisco, almond & champagne syrup, granny smith juice) for me.

… and then the puds!

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

The Hazelnut Rocher.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

A Ferrero-inspired wonder combining hazelnut praline brownie, chocolate espuma, milk chocolate sphere, dark gianduja, caramelised hazelnuts, chocolate caviar and caramelia pearls.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Between smashing the chocolate dome & all the endorphins, it’d be a delicious cure for a bad day (and the perfect way to make a good one eve better!)

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

And then there was fruit.

Cocktail-inspired fruit-based pud’, that is…

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

The beautiful, zesty & exotic Bitter Orange.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Basically a Negroni in dessert-shape, with white and pink grapefruit jelly, gin-infused rhubarb wind, vanilla poached rhubarb, chocolate crumble & orange sponge cake.

Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Creative desserts & cocktails, Basement Sate definitely lived up to the expectation and is the perfect venue for any special celebration (or any time you want to treat the sweet-toothed in your life!)

Only one thing left to say: ‘Pip Pip Hooray, it (was) my birthday’

Basement Sate8 Broadwick Street, Soho, London W1F 8HN

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Basement Sate | Cake + Whisky

Basement Sate Dessert & Cocktail Bar

Bao Soho – To queue or not to queue?

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

About a year ago, Taiwanese milk bun sensation Bao went from street food stall to brick-and-mortar and opened their first restaurant on Lexington Street.

And people have been queuing ever since.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

That is, in fact, the main reason why, despite my overriding curiosity to find out the reasons behind the 32-seater’s success, we didn’t make it to Bao earlier.

Because it takes a lot to convince the Mr. to queue up. Especially when said queue goes all the way around the building within 30 minutes of the restaurant opening its doors.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

The only way to get him to do so, really, was to say that Bao was were I wanted to go for dinner on my birthday.

Which is exactly what I did.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + WhiskyTo queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Now, if you want to get your hands on some fluffy buns, there’s only one piece of advice I can give you.

Go early.

We arrived before 6:30 PM on a weekday and still had to wait for about 35 minutes before we got seated. By the time we did, the queue was at least twice as long as when I arrived.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

The restaurant itself is very no-frills, small but perfectly formed, with loads of warm wood and clean aesthetics, very similar to the style most Japanese spots go for nowdays.

By no way impressive, but the perfect surroundings to let the food shine.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

If you’re going to queue, you better made the best of the opportunity, tick all the boxes and incidentally order the whole menu…

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Which is pretty much what we did (picture above was only the first round! ?)

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Starting with refreshing homemade soft drinks, including some pretty fantastic and zingy Salted Lime Soda

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

And pretty-as-a-picture, sweet and tart Peach Soda, followed by a smogasbord of Xiao Chi (small eats).

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Taiwanese Fried Chicken & Hot Sauce.

A favourite amongst Bao’s many fans, and with good reasons: piping hot fried chicken, deliciously crispy and not one inch greasy, drizzled with the best hot sauce I’ve had in a long long time.

Fiery, sweet and sour all at once, I’ll be the first in line if it ever becomes available for retail.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Perfectly cooked plump Scallops in Yellow Bean and Garlic.

Fresh and saline shellfish in a very dark and umami dressing, the unusual balance of flavours works wonders and the dish is an absolute triumph.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Sweet Potato Chips with Plum Pickle Ketchup is much less challenging a dish, but equally satisfying.

Bao’s chefs avoided all the usual traps (soft or overly sweet chips) and delivered crisp and moreish sweet potato fries, prooving once and for all that they leave nothing to chance.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

The Pig Blood Cake, besides being an Instagram sensation, is a deeply umami, rectangle of black pudding, seared until crispy on the edges and topped with a rich, soy-aged egg yolk.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

This one’s probably much of an acquired taste, and black pudding haters gonna hate, but I’m definitely on the black stuff lovers side, and if you are too, there’s no doubt you’ll love it as much as I did!

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

And of course, a visit to Bao wouldn’t be quite right without ordering a few of the restaurant’s namesake steamed milk buns.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

The Classic Bao (slow braised pork, fermented greens and sweet peanut powder).

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + WhiskyTo queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Towering Fried Chicken Bao with hot sauce and pickle.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Confit Pork Bao.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

All to be eaten while doing your best impression of Bao’s infamous ‘hunched-over man eating a bao’ logo (which the Mr. clearly mastered!)

Now, I know the buns are Bao’s speciality but in my mind, they didn’t shine as bright as the small eats.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + WhiskyTo queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + WhiskyTo queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

…at least, not the way they were delivered to the table, pushing us to bring out our inner Masterchefs.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + WhiskyUndescriptive House Pickles (I was told they were daikon, cucumber and tomato) failed to impress at first, but came in handy for our improvised ‘Fix that dish’ session…

Daikon pickle took the confit pork bao to new hights (and the chicken one was indeed much balance (and manageable) with far less chicken in it)!

Even if they were nowhere near as bao-tiful as the last two dishes to hit the (honey-coloured) table…

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Guinea Fowl Chi Shiang Rice

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

With roasted poultry pieces, crunchy shallots, and a sun-like egg yolk on a bed of the best sticky rice, it’s a comfort food masterpiece and one you absolutely must try for yourself.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least, 40 Day Rump Cap with Aged White Soy Sauce.

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

A rather unassuming, two-ingredients sort of dish that could very easily be overlooked.

Don’t do that mistake.

You’d miss out on some of the finest steak you’ll ever have.

Tender yet packed with flavour, meaty, yet complex, I’ll have that over Hawksmoor’s any day (and that’s really saying something!).

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

A real showstopper of a dish in all its simplicity, and definitely one worth braving the queues for!

To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

So good in fact that I almost wanted to get another portion to take away, but that wouldn’t have been very reasona-bao-le!

But then again, considering what it takes to get a table in this no-reservation world, once you get it, you better make the most of it.

Go early, bring your favourite person (nothing like good conversation (and maybe a sneaky bottle of something nice!) to mae queuing much more bearable!) and order every dish you (even sort of) want to try…

… forget reasonable, it’s really not what Bao’s a-bao-t!

Bao Soho53 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 9AS

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To queue or not to queue at Bao, London | Cake + Whisky

Bao Soho – To queue or not to queue?