Spotlight on: Bonapeti – Freshly prepared and healthy food delivered to your door!

2015 Update: Bonapeti is now live, so you can all try out their tasty and healthy, freshly prepared meals! Rather excitingly, they’ve vastly extended their delivery area which now stretches down as far as Wimbledon to Vauxhall south of the river and Cricklewood to Kentish Town north of it. Better still, they’ve introduced a special code for 40% off first orders (plus free delivery) – simply use the code BON201502. Check out www.bonapeti.com, and happy ordering!

I had the pleasure of trying out the Bonapeti food delivery service a few days ago, being treated to a full three-course meal of their freshly prepared and healthy food.

Bonapeti’s meals arrive in a smart chill box emblazoned with their logo – and opening it up as rather exciting as you see the delights of food that you’ll be eating that day. The box is well insulated, and everything arrives neatly packed so there’s no fear of your food being harmed in any way, even if it is left for you for a few hours before you come home.

Bonapeti
L: Opening the Bonapeti chill box R: Delivery’s here!

Placed on top of the box I received were three cards detailing and explaining what I’d be eating – as well as instructions on how to construct each course, and the all important ingredients, allergy and nutritional information. I say ‘construct’ – if anyone’s now thinking “hang on, this is a delivery service…why am I having to cook my own meal?!” it’s nothing remotely taxing in the slightest! As meals arrive cold (so, again, they can be stored for a few hours before eating) most mains simply require a few minutes warming in the microwave, or oven if you so prefer. Side dishes and desserts simply require assembling; such as mixing in some salad dressing (no soggy salads sitting around for hours!) and topping fruit with crunchy nuts. Seriously, it took me barely minutes to get everything prepared…plus a little longer for me personally as it seemed a shame not to present it nicely!

Bonapeti
The full selection of items to assemble dinner

Bonapeti’s website does suggest that their items could also easily be used to cook up your own delicacies if you so wished, which I think is a great idea – a really easy way of obtaining healthy, delicious and perhaps slightly unusual ingredients that can be readily adapted as you like.

I tried the carrot salad with pumpkin seed Dukkah; the coconut tamarind curry Laksa with marinated tofu Pasembur (essentially tofu fritters); and the chilli marinated roasted pineapple, toasted coconut, mango and papaya salad. Now, although I’m not a vegetarian I do indeed love vegetarian meals. Bonapeti’s meals had nothing missing for me, personally, because of an absence of meat – and I was (honestly) rather stuffed towards the end of dinner, not even being able to finish my dessert. However, I can easily see how easy it would have been to add in some meat or fish – perhaps prawns to Laksa, or chicken pieces to accompany the fritters – to further extend the meal.

The Laksa (I love a good laksa!) was mild with intriguing flavours and worked well with tender chunks of roasted squash. The accompanying tofu fritters came in a great spicy peanut and sweet potato sauce and were practically melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous; the bed of veggies (carrots, cucumbers) that came with them were a great crunchy contrast.

Bonapeti
Carrot salad with pumpkin seed Dukkah
Bonapeti
Coconut tamarind curry Laksa, with the marinated tofu Pasembur

I personally ate the carrot salad as a starter – the shredded carrot was well complimented with chickpeas and pomegranate; covered with the Dukkah spice mix and tossed with a lemon dressing, the salad overall was an interesting, light yet gorgeous mix of tastes and textures.

The pineapple, mango and papaya fruit salad was the perfect end to the meal – another dish of fascinating flavours (chilli!) that really set the tastebuds alive!

Bonapeti
Pineapple, toasted coconut, mango and papaya salad – with plenty of crispy macadamia nuts as a toppping!

As mentioned, this was indeed a very filling three-course meal. Although the starter/side dish and dessert perhaps sound on the light side, they are anything but – and the main (the Laksa with a side of tofu Pasembur) was a very generous portion indeed.

Bonapeti’s ethos of providing ‘real whole foods’ (meaning no artificial additives, preservatives or flavouring, or trans or saturated fats) made up of plant-based ingredients means their meals are healthy and wholesome. The service is great for anyone that’s looking for the ease of getting food home-delivered but wants restaurant-quality courses; wants interesting and mouthwatering items but a healthy diet. (There’s also plenty of options each day for those looking for wheat, gluten, dairy and nut-free or vegan choices.)

Bonapeti are launching in January 2015, and will be offering their delivery service to select postcodes in West London. More on Bonapeti and the team behind the company can be found at www.bonapeti.com, where you can also see a preview of the dishes they will be offering. And do also keep up to date with all their latest news from Bonapeti on Twitter and Facebook!

Kensington: Dirty Bones Review

Kensington of course has some very fine eateries and cafes, everything from ultra-posh (as you’d probably expect) to places that are more casual and laid-back. It’s home to many a fine pub, as well, with more and more of these turning gastro – and providing a very reasonable dining experience indeed. But the proper ‘fun’ places are rather few and far between.

But at the start of this year, along came Dirty Bones. Located at the start of Kensington Church Street, this basement bar and restaurant certainly tries to amp up the fun, styling itself as something of a dive bar. (Luckily – I love dive bars!)

Dirty Bones Review
The Asian dog

The bones in the name refers to chicken, ribs and fish of course, although there’s dogs here too. Hot dogs, I mean. And, unusually, I’d always gotten the impression that Dirty Bones were far more famous for their hotdogs than their bones. (Though including ‘bones’ in the name seems to be a popular choice for restaurants in 2014.)

Early on a Tuesday evening, we descended into Dirty Bones to give it a whirl. The bar area you walk through first is supremely funk-ily decorated, with the actual restaurant area a little more muted. We were very well attended to, being asked multiple times whether we need help with the menu, or wanted any recommendations. Starting off with cocktails, with opted for a Dirty Bones Negroni, the Mutt’s Nutts (great name) and a Top Dog (…); cocktails are reasonably priced, by London standards, at around £8. My negroni was certainly well made, and the feedback from the other cocktail inbibers was positive too.

Keep with the dog theme for cocktails, we opted for three different dogs for food – one Brit Dog (with bacon, cheese and mustard), one Mexican (with pulled pork, salsa and guacamole) and an Asian (kimchi puree, wasabi mayo and crispy seaweed). And then, to round things off, three different sides – triple cooked fries, dirty fries (as the previous, but with chilli cheese and BBQ sauces on top) and a good ol’ mac ‘n’ cheese – that we wanted to share as one big pile in the middle of the table.

Oddly enough (especially for someone going to a hotdog restaurant), I’m not the biggest fan of hotdogs – but am a fan of dogs pilled high with delicious toppings. And given I’ve been on a bit of kimchi fix of late, the Asian dog was perfect for me. The actual kimchi flavour was pretty delicate and the wasabi mayo on the lighter end of the scale; the crispy seaweed gave each bite an unusual bit of texture. (I opted for the beef version – all hot dogs can be pork or beef.)

The dirty fries were insanely more-ish – their description on the menu makes them sound a bit over-the-top, but I couldn’t get enough of those bad boys. The naked version (i.e. ‘just’ triple-cooked chips) were equally tasty, and the small portion of mac ‘n’ cheese was as well. An unsual colour (more reddish than the usually cheesy yellow!), I can only assume there was some cayenne pepper or paprika in the mix somehow.

Dirty Bones Review
Mac ‘n’ cheese, dirty fries…and regular triple cooked fries to complete the set

My one main gripe was the price of the beer – £4.50 for the cheapest option, and that for a 330ml can! Sure, the price of a pint is expensive in London these days but £4.50 for roughly 3/4 of a pint sure is cheeky. (Or £5.50 for Brooklyn lager…)

All in all – bar the beer pricing – it’s a reasonably priced and rather fun place for some tasty ‘junk’ food…a welcome addition to the Kensington dining scene. And bar scene too – it’s a useful place to know about for some darn good cocktails. With names to giggle about.

Dirty Bones
20 Kensington Church Street
W8 4EP
dirty-bones.com

Feng Sushi in Kensington introduces their Grab & Go takeaway range

Most of you Kensington locals will surely have taken a delivery of Feng Sushi at some point in their lives – I’m certainly no exception! From their 11-piece salmon box (which I keep all to myself and never share with anyone) to their seaweed salad, their Japanese fish and chips – I’ve certainly indulged a number of times of the years.

News reaches us that Feng Sushi have recently launched a number of takeaway options – their Grab & Go range – which is available at some of their branches including Kensington Church Street. So rather than calling up to arrange a delivery or pick-up, you can simply pop by and pick up one of their selection of sushi boxes and some of their hot mains  – perfect for lunch, or perhaps to share as a snack amongst your friends or colleagues. (Unless you’re like me and you don’t “do” sharing!)

Feng Sushi Kensington Church Street
Feng Sushi Kensington Church Street

I sampled one of their sushi boxes yesterday,  the salmon and avocado roll box. Ten very generously proportioned maki in brown rice made for a very filling meal although – as with so many of Feng Sushi’s options – one that’s pleasingly light too. The fish tasted extremely fresh; Feng Sushi’s salmon is sustainably sourced, as is all their fish – in this case from Loch Duart, Scotland . The heathy serving of edamame was a very welcome addition (why don’t more places include this in their sushi boxes?!) as a side snack which I had fully intended to “save for later” but unfortunately became far too more-ish for that to actually happen!

Feng Sushi Grab & Go
Salmon & Avocado Box
Feng Sushi Grab & Go
Tasty Salmon & Avocado Maki!

Priced at only £4.75, is a very reasonable option for a proper lunch choice that will certainly satisfy your hunger. There’s of course larger options too: the Salmon & Tuna Box featuring rolls and sashimi (£8.75 – pictured below) that’s one of their most popular boxes, or smaller items such as the soba noodle salad (£3.75). For those looking for something a little more warming – perhaps on a dreary London day – you can choose from Katsu Curry, Vegetarian Katsu Curry, Miso Salmon with Udon Noodles or the Tuna Hot Pot.

Feng Sushi Grab & Go
Salmon & Tuna Box

Based on my experience, I’d say that Feng Sushi’s takeaway sushi boxes easily match (actually, exceed!) any of the other takeaway options on the High Street. Their prices are very reasonable indeed, especially given the portion size and what’s included in each “box”.

I also sampled a portion of their katsu curry which, despite being just a taster size, was very nicely displayed with a snug ball of white rice, pickled ginger, katsu curry sauce and a slice of deep fried butternut squash on top. I’ve never actually tried a vegetarian katsu curry option, but the butternut squash was a very tasty option that went well together with the katsu curry sauce which was simply divine. Now that’s something I’ll certainly be coming back to.

If you’re hankering after some sushi or a hot Japanese dish today, why not pop in to Feng Sushi on Kensington Church Street and see what takeaway options they have in store?

Don’t forget that Feng Sushi have a location on Notting Hill Gate where their sushi Grab & Go options are also available.

Feng Sushi
24 Kensington Church Street
W8 4EP
www.fengsushi.co.uk/feng-sushi-restaurants-in-london/kensington/

and

101 Notting Hill Gate
W11 3JZ
www.fengsushi.co.uk/feng-sushi-restaurants-in-london/notting-hill-gate/

Review: Bill’s in Kensington

Although Bill’s Restaurant opened in Kensington quite a few months ago, I only paid my first visit to it last week. And although this chain of restaurants seem to have popped up all over London in the last year or so (from never having heard of them before, I’m now seeing them everywhere!), it’s also my very first visit to a Bill’s ever.

Popping in on a Friday afternoon, I was pleased to finally be able to make it down. Bill’s in Kensington occupies a space within the Kensington Arcade collection of shops (and the Underground station of course) where, most recently, Kew used to be. Upon seeing the ‘coming soon’ hoardings, I remember wondering how they’d be able to fit in a full restaurant in the space; the answer is – they’ve done it well!

Bill’s comes across as a very friendly and relaxed kind of place. On the Friday afternoon that I visited, there were people having a merry champagne lunch (it is the Christmas season!), others enjoying tea and cake, and plenty of families with small babies. We turned up wanting a light but late lunch, and Bill’s certainly fits this purpose rather well.

Sitting in one of the booths towards the back of the restaurant, we settled in and got to choosing. I opted for the marinated chicken skewers, whilst my dining companion went for the classic Bill’s hamburger. Drinks wise, we kept it simple – just some tap water (and they thankfully they brought a bottle full) and some lemonade. I was a little surprised when rather then something quite basic I received a bottle of pink lemonade and a glass with cut strawberries in it, but hey – it tasted good!

Bill's in Kensington
Pink Lemonade!

The marinated chicken skewers were artfully presently on top of a bed of strikingly orange-coloured couscous, with three warm halves of pitta bread and a small dollop of tzatziki. The chicken was tender and tasty – its topping gave just the right hint of flavour without being too overpowering. And the chicken pieces were easy to take of the skewers (is chicken flying off a skewer anyone else’s fear or just mine?). I would have liked more of the couscous, and perhaps a bit more of the tzatziki too, as both of these seemed a little light, portion-wise, in comparison to the three skewers full of chicken. The pitta bread was lovely and fluffy and a great accompaniment to the whole plate.

Bill's in Kensington
Marinated chicken skewers
Bill's in Kensington
Bill’s Hamburger

My companion’s burger – set in a sesame bun with salad and mayo – was equally craftfully presented on a wooden board, with a small tin pot of skinny fries on the side. The burger did the trick as far as burgers go, although it’s perhaps not quite up to par to some of the speciality burger joints that have sprung up in London. The skinny fries were ridiculously more-ish, and only just surpassed by the sweet potato fries that we chose as another side to share. By this point, we were far too stuffed to contemplate dessert, although we certainly had a good time eye-ing up the choice of cakes on the menu!

Bill's in Kensington
Sweet potato fries

We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxed mid-afternoon meal, and I could certainly imagine coming back another time for some afternoon tea (whether the set option of sandwiches, cakes and scones, or just tea and a slice of cake) or for a lazy brunch – their breakfast choices are pretty tempting too.

A special mention must go to the friendly and helpful staff – service was quick and efficient, and always with a smile.

Bill’s is a welcome addition to the High Street, and I can certainly imagine that it will do well amongst locals and visitors alike.

Bill’s
Kensington Arcade
125 Kensington High Street
W8 5SF
bills-website.co.uk

Review: Spaghetti House Kensington

I was very happy to be able to pay a visit to the Kensington branch of Spaghetti House last week to sample some of their delicious dishes. Although this was my first visit to Spaghetti House Kensington, I had been a visitor to some of their other venues in London over the years although – clearly erroneously, given my enjoyment of my evening in the Kensington branch – have not dined with them for a number of few years.

Entering the restaurant at just after 7pm on a Wednesday, I was happy to see that the venue was almost entirely full, with a real mix of dinner guests – from several large tables of families (young kids and adults), young couples and older groups of friends. In many ways, it was pleasantly surprising to see a restaurant already so full early on in the evening, but no doubt the hearty food at this excellent central Kensington location (opposite Kensington Gardens) had enticed many a diner.

Now, it wouldn’t be too overboard to say that I absolutely adore Italian food. Not just pasta, as delightful as that is, but almost anything that an Italian restaurant can produce. I’ve yet to discover an Italian dish that I didn’t enjoy and as wonderful as the country is, I unfortunately can’t visit that often for fear of coming back about two stone heavier. (I exaggerate a little bit there, of course. But only a little bit.)

Settling in to our cosy table towards the back of the restaurant, we started with a refreshing glass of prosecco and a a couple of assagini (little appetiser plates) to start – the nocellara del belice olives (the large, bright green, meaty olives – I’m not an olive connoisseur, but I am always delighted to be offered these) and the pane rustico, a selection of bread choices including crisp Sardinian music bread, which has to be one of the most more-ish bread options ever created.

Perusing the menu for the main part of our meal was a difficult task, insofar as deciding what to pick! Spaghetti House’s menu offers a very vast selection of items to choose from under starters, pastas, mains and sides, and although saying “there’s something for everyone” might sound a bit naff, it is true in this case – picky eaters to light nibblers to those who want a full Italian feast will all find something (actually, much more than just one thing) that will delight them.

I settled on the zucchini fritters – crispy-fried courgette batons – to start, whilst my companion had the traditional prosciutto e melone, parma ham and melon salad. My starter came wrapped in paper and set in a little metal container – very nicely presented, and which also worked well to contain the tender courgette pieces which fell apart easily as I attacked them with my fork. The batons had a very light batter coating which proved enough for a starter dish – anything more would have seen it be too heavy for a first course. The classic parma ham and melon combo didn’t disappoint, and the light dressing was a suitable addition to the ham and the fruit.

Spaghetti House Kensington
Zucchini fritters
Spaghetti House Kensington
Prosciutto e melone

For mains, my companion and I both settled on somewhat similar dishes; with neither one of us willing to budge to something a little different from the other, we went ahead and ordered the Linguini gamberoni (king prawns, white wine, garlic, chilli & wild rocket) and the Linguini vongole in bianco (fresh clams, white wine, chilli & garlic). Unsurprisingly, given their similarity, both of these were presented in steal pans set on a small wooden triangle which certainly gave our dishes a more authentic feel. Although both dishes come with what is essentially a very light sauce, the portions of both pasta and seafood were very generous with both of us – and  there’s no denying that we have rather healthy appetites – proclaiming to be rather full whilst taking our final few mouthfuls. My dish’s delicate little clams provided just the right amount of meaty (or fishy, I suppose) texture to complement the pasta and there definitely wasn’t any skimping on the chilli and garlic side of things – which was lucky for me, as I adore both. (So, not that suitable for someone who prefers things a little more on the bland side – but who does?)

Spaghetti House Kensington
Linguini vongole in bianco

Despite our proclamations mentioned above, it’s hard to turn down an Italian dessert…isn’t it? I certainly couldn’t, but decided to turn my eyes away from my “usuals” – the tiramisus, the creme caramels – to try something different. The torta di ricotta e pera (roast pear, almond & ricotta cake with honeycomb ice cream) was it, and the only reason a slightly dismayed look came over my face as the waiter brought it over was because of the large portion! The cake itself was a delicious, springy sponge cake with slices of pear and a smooth ricotta-based filling, the light taste of which worked well with the sweet honeycomb ice cream.

Spaghetti House
Torta di ricotta e pera

My dining partner did actually turn down dessert (“too stuffed” was the official reason), but it seems that Spaghetti House have just the thing for people like that. Not keen on another course, my companion did perk up at the idea of coffee – at which point he was introduced to the idea of the Caffé goloso. This superb idea is the diner’s choice of coffee, plus a small portion of tiramisu or a profiterole and chocolate sauce – almost ideal for those that say they don’t want dessert, but do end up wanting a sweet spoonful or two!

All in all, my dining companion and I had a wonderful evening at Spaghetti House and greatly enjoyed all of our dishes. A special mention does have to go to the very friendly trio of Alexandra, Raffaele and Fabrizio who were the staff there that evening, and who all served us with big smiles throughout our meal.

If this has perked your interest, then I would highly recommend visiting Spaghetti House Kensington to enjoy their wonderfully vast Italian menu in a very cosy setting. You can find more about their dishes and the company itself on the website www.spaghettihouse.co.uk.

Don’t forget that we’re currently running a competition which will see one lucky winner enjoy a free three course meal for two at Spaghetti House Kensington! In honour of their first anniversary this month and their Celebration Menu, Spaghetti House have kindly donated this excellent prize – see WIN a three-course meal for two at Spaghetti House Kensington – and celebrate their first anniversary! for more details and how to enter.

Disclaimer: I was invited to review Spaghetti House and did not pay for this meal.