Camino – King’s Cross, London (UK)

Amid the new restaurants cropping up all over the King’s Cross area, Camino has remained steady and true. It’s a chain, but one that has maintained high standards and quality despite its multiple locations. There are currently four restaurants in London (King’s Cross, Bankside, Monument and Blackfriars) plus two bars (Copa de Cava specialises in cava and Bar Pepito in sherry). In fact, Bar Pepito is adjacent to Camino, both tucked away in Varnishers Yard in The Regent Quarter, a short walking distance from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. Unless you are “in the know”, you could be forgiven for overlooking it. Its charming location in a hidden courtyard feels like a world away from bustling London.

Camino Exterior

Camino sign

Camino’s interior is all brick and wood, with stunning circular roof lights letting in the sun’s rays. The place is well laid out with a sweeping bar and tables that are close together but don’t encroach on personal space. Lively music enhances the cosy ambience but doesn’t overpower it. Service is welcoming and friendly.

Camino Outside

Camino’s focus is on authentic tapas from all over Spain with a slight bias to the north as Executive Chef Nacho del Campo hails from the Basque country, widely recognised as the gastronomic heartland. Call them tapas or pintxos… either way they are supremely delicious. The menu features all of the better-known favourites such as patatas bravas, tortillas and croquetas but there are some other fantastic dishes for the more adventurous. All of the tapas go extremely well with Camino’s impressive drinks list featuring the best in wine, beer, cider, brandy, sherry and cava from Spain as well as gin (both Spanish and British) and cocktails with a Spanish twist.
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Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar – Haymarket, London (UK)

I have to thank Trafalgar Transformed for introducing me to fine Indian dining at Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar in Haymarket. To celebrate the run of family comedy-drama East Is East at Trafalgar Studios, they ran a Twitter competition on photo fails. The prize was 4 tickets to the play as well as dinner at Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar. This was my winning entry:

fail

Needless to say I was thrilled because I love the theatre and of course, I love food! In fact, food writer Zoe Perrett discusses precisely this combination on her blog specialising in Indian cuisine, Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe. Her post on food and the East Is East cast is a great read: An East Is East Feast – Talking Food with the Play’s Cracking Cast.

Collage Mint Leaf

After we enjoyed the brilliant performance of East Is East, we headed to Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar with our stomachs rumbling in anticipation. As we arrived slightly before the restaurant opened for dinner at 5pm, we waited at the bar where the extensive cocktail menu was too good to pass up!

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Cabana – Westfield Stratford City, London (UK)

Cabana Brasilian Barbecue has a few locations around London. The one I visited is located at Westfield Stratford City’s Chestnut Plaza, which boasts the advantage of two outdoor terraces. Whilst Cabana retains the Portuguese spelling of Brazil (that’s Brasil with an ‘s’), it is not a typical Brazilian restaurant, although the flavours and ingredients are indeed Brazilian. In my opinion, this is a good thing as the menu offers up some fresh, decent Brazilian-inspired fare that appeals to a wide segment of the population.

Cabana Outside5

Collage Cabana Outside

The decor is beautifully thought out with some wonderful upcycled furnishings, such as tables made from wooden cheese shelves and seating covered in jeans. The ambience is comfy, cheerful and fun, complemented by the colourful printed posters that adorn the walls and the friendly servers dressed in Brazilian colours. We arrived as soon as they opened for lunch and most people were seated outside on this warm, sunny day so I had the opportunity to take a few photos of the inside while it was still relatively empty. It filled up quickly afterwards!

Collage Cabana Inside

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Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack – Covent Garden, London (UK)

American barbecue and seafood restaurant Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack is a relatively new addition to the Covent Garden restaurant scene. Housed in a former electrical power station, the place is huge and spread out over 2 floors. The décor is crabshack-meets-industrial, but it works.

Cover

CollageInside

We popped in for lunch at around noon (coincidentally it was the 4th of July, Independence Day) and were fortunate to get a table without a reservation. The place did fill up quickly soon afterwards. I was really pleased that our servers were helpful and friendly. In fact, all of the staff were just fantastic!

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