It’s that time again – Taste of London festival is in town.
I took my regular Taste buddy James on Thursday, who was kind enough to come up from Brighton, to help me eat and drink my way around Regent’s Park.
Maybe it was the impact of the Britain’s current financial woes, but this year appeared better value at Taste than last, and there were certainly some deals to be had – not least the chance to try some fantastic plates from impressive London restaurants for the equivalent of 3-5 quid.
I was ravenous when I first arrived, and quickly snapped up two plates from recently refurbished Japanese restaurant and sushi bar – Sake No Hana.
An exquisite seared tuna and green tea soba salad, was swiftly followed by a king crab and rice cracker croquette – which didn’t quite have enough crab for my liking.
After much wandering round, I spotted a particularly appealing tapas bar – Pinchito (I must confess to being the Spanish equivalent of a Francophile, and so naturally lean to all things Spanish).
The bar was cute, and ran by a characterful manager – who while we were there was told he had come second in the Ketel One Bloody Mary competition.
He was visibly unimpressed in not making the top spot, although I think he was number one in the trade tasting. If it’s any consolation I’ll definitely be popping in to try one of his Bloody Marys if the Whiskey and real lemonade we sampled at Taste is an indication of the love and care he puts into his drinks.
We took a pit stop to put our feet up and enjoy a quick drink – and some of the best Boquerones I’ve had recently – before exploring the rest of the festival. I loved the fun, informal vibe and quality of what was served and so will be checking them out in Old Street or Bedford Square sometime very soon for another cheeky tipple and tapas trip.
I bit of potato vodka tasting, a bad rum tasting and some nom cheese sampling later we moved onto Gaucho. I love the whole look and feel of Gaucho Piccadilly and did a very successful event there last year. Admittedly most of the menu is wasted on me (being a non-meat eater) but a sneaky peek at the extensive wine list and a sample of the seafood dishes (the shrimp was superb) is enough to make me want to treat my very carnivorous husband to a meal there.
My one moan about Taste is I really wish they would depart with the tiresome Crowns system, as I constantly flitter between not having enough and worrying about being lumbered with too many which I have to try and spend at 9:25 as everything closes.
I then go into panic buying mode, similar to what I do at airports when trying to spend the last of my foreign currency and end up with a bag full of randoms. This year’s bag included a collection of pickles and pastes from Khanum, Asian and Oriental food specialists.
For a dedicated foodie and/or a very lazy one, this is a must-stop visit on the London events calendar. If you haven’t already been this weekend – you absolutely should! There are so many little gems waiting to be discovered in the same little stretch of park, your tastebuds won’t forgive you for not popping by.