Sunday, 31 August 2014


So this is a tale of two halves. I was sooooo looking forward to our night out at Gilgamesh; it had been in the diary for 6 weeks and was something we'd set aside cash for as we knew it was going to be extravagant. However, I can't help but feel it was one massive let down (more on that later). But, to give credit where credit is due, the food and setting were both amazing. So let's focus on that first...

As we approached the entrance of Gilgamesh, we were instantly in awe. The building itself is situated slap bang in the middle of Camden Lock and is hard to miss due to it's single doorway opening onto an escalator and the carved wooden exterior which is a theme throughout the building. It's hard to miss and, if you've ever been to Camden, it's probably somewhere you've walked past before without actually realising what it was. 

Once at the top of the escalator, we found ourselves in a foyer waiting for our booking to be found. Through the door we could see the bustling, lively, atmospheric and beautifully wooden carvings of the main restaurant. However, to our disappointment, we were led through the bar area and sat in what can only be described as an overflow section (brace yourselves...I'm leading up to a massive rant).

Once seated, we began to browse the menu. Gilgamesh runs a pan-Asian theme throughout the menu with the sushi being the key feature. Yes, it was pricey. But I kind of expect that when it comes to good quality sushi. I'm not sure I'd trust "bargain bin" raw fish to be honest!

We decided to have a selection of starters to share. Sashimi was an obvious choice for us as we both experience weird non-pregnancy cravings for the stuff from time to time, but I can't see squid on any menu without wanting it so that was quickly ordered too! As you can see, the presentation was amazing. Served on a bamboo mat over dry-ice, it definitely had the wow factor. This selection here (salmon, tuna, yellowtail and seabass) was £17.50 which, having compared this with other sushi brand sashimi, is actually pretty reasonable.

Scallop sashimi was added as afterthought as I'd heard it being raved about but was yet to try it myself. It was nice...but think I'd stick to cooked scallops in future!

This was the crispy squid with garlic chips and chilli, presented to look as if it is a portion of chips. I LOVED this! The chilli and garlic made a very normal dish into something a little bit different. 

Time for the mains. My lovely lady friend (don't get any ideas) opted for the Beef Bulgogi with Chive Mash. £22.50 for this which, for a very good quality piece of meat, didn't seem too bad. Can't say it was my cup of tea but she seemed to enjoy it!

I went for the Hoba Miso Chilean Sea bass. I'd spotted this as soon as I opened the menu. However, at £32.00 for this piece of fish on it's own, I thought it was a total rip off! I accept that sea bass is naturally quite expensive but I thought this was ridiculous. To be honest, it was pretty average flavour-wise and could've done with being served to me a few degrees hotter. Definitely a poor judgement call by me on this occasion...

To finish, we shared a dark chocolate pudding with a centre of lemon curd and pistachio ice-cream. It was nice but very sickly.  I'm not a massive chocolate lover at the best of times but this really was a bit much. The ice-cream was lovely though and was a welcome refreshing relief after everything we'd just eaten.

I can't fault Gilgamesh for the setting or the food (apart from the misjudged sea bass!). It was luxurious and lavish, which is what we had been expecting. However, when it comes to the overall service, I don't even know where to begin with how rubbish it was.

I suppose an obvious place to start is 6 weeks ago when I made the inital booking. Having seen on their website that they do a set menu for £55, I decided to call Gilgamesh to see if we had to pre-book that menu option or if we could just choose it on the night. I was told that we could choose that option on the night and, subsequently, decided I may as well make my booking over the phone there and then which the lady on the phone took all the details for.

Fast forward to 6 weeks later, standing at the bottom of that infamous escalator, waiting for the lady with the clipboard to find our booking. Nothing. "Are you sure you booked for Gilgamesh?" she asks. Eeeeerm yes I am absolutely sure. After 10 minutes of faffing about, we get taken to the foyer where we go through the same routine of being asked when/where/how/who/what made our booking. At this point I was asked to show them my confirmation email of which I had none. I explained that my booking was verbally confirmed to me over the phone and I had no idea I was even meant to expect a confirmation email. FINALLY we get told we can have a table but it won't be in the main restaurant area. We get led to the bar area which has nice tables in the window so we think it's going to be OK, until we get told that, despite being asked to choose a table, we actually can't sit anywhere near there so we end up in the above mentioned overflow area. Gutted much??

Issues continue when we open the menu to see no sign of the set-menu. When asking the waitress, we are told the set-menu does not exist. To this, I get their website up on my phone and show her the "non-existent" menu. She disappears off and reappears telling us it is not available on Saturday or Sunday nights. At this point I am fuming. I explain to her I originally called the restaurant in the first place to discuss this menu option and was told it was all doable. Regardless, we realise it is not specifically her fault so basically have to sit down and shut up. Because of this, our bill ended up being £100 MORE than what we had prepared for due to ordering from the a la carte menu. I'm all for having the occasional pricey dinner but, quite frankly, that was taking the piss. 

We tried to make the most of it and did have a nice evening but it was massively tainted by the cock-ups which were made from the start. To top it off, I sent an email of complaint to them the following day (something which I genuinely have never done before) and didn't get any sort of acknowledgement from them until over a week later. Now, I could be wrong here but, in all the restaurants/companies I've worked for, any complaints should be acknowledged within 24 hours, even if it's just to say that they are getting around to looking into the issue. From looking at recent reviews, it seems we are not alone on thinking their customer service leaves alot to be desired...

As I said at the start, I really did want to love Gilgamesh and I hate having to write a bad review. But it'll take a lot for me to hand over (a lot of) my hard-earned cash to them again.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Gluten-Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

I love baking. Whether it's making a summery cake for a sunny day or simply something to do when stuck inside the house, there's something strangely therapeutic about it. I generally prefer the process of baking the actual cake than eating the finished result! This is probably because, as much as I like to bake, I'm the first to admit that my attempts often fall flat. Don't ask me why (although I personally blame the oven). 

Regardless, this recipe is one to give a go purely to see what the magical addition of mashed potato does to it. Yes, you read correctly, mashed potato. No, I'm not having a "Rachel from Friends" moment as my housemate thought when he assumed I must have got my pages muddled up (he was the first one to eat his own words...and pretty much the entire cake for that matter). 

As the name suggests, this cake contains no gluten, and therefore, no flour. The starch from the mashed potato basically adds to the cake structurally in a way which flour normally would. The added bonus is that, due to the natural water content obviously gained from using potato, the resulting cake is incredibly moist and fluffy. So, here's how it's done:

You will need:
-300g unsalted butter
-300g golden caster sugar
-6 eggs
-265g ground almonds
-375g mashed potato
-zest 5 lemons
-4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
-6 tbsp granulated sugar
-juice 2 lemons

Before you begin, make the mashed potato in the usual way and allow to cool significantly. It doesn't matter if the potato is still a little bit warm if you're short on time but, ideally, have them chilled.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 6. Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the almonds, cold mashed potato, lemon zest and baking powder.

Tip the mixture into your prepared tin,level the top, and bake for 50 minutes. The top should be golden and a skewer should come out clean after being inserted into the cake. If in doubt, bake for longer, checking every few minutes. 

For the drizzle, mix the lemon juice and sugar together and spoon over the the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. Getting overexcited and slicing it when still warm will result in a sloppy mess on the plate! 

Although the butter and sugar content in this recipe seem like a lot, this cake will serve 12 people easily so don't feel too guilty! 


Wednesday, 13 August 2014


I don't know about you but, when it comes to food, I want to try everything. I'm lucky enough to work in an environment where weird and wonderful foods are often at my fingertips which suits me perfectly...the weirder, the better! Tapas is a perfect all-rounder. The small plates make it ideal to share numerous dishes between a group or, if you'd prefer to stick with what you know and like, ordering a couple for yourself works well too. In my experience, tapas style restaurants often come at a cost. Too much food is usually ordered to begin with when everyone has eyes bigger than their stomach, and a whopping bill is delivered at the end. I am pleased to announce that I have learnt from my mistakes! 

After a recent visit to 
Boqueria, I was incredibly impressed by the quality and the overall cost (or lack of it) at the end of the evening. Situated within easy walking distance of three tube stations (Brixton, Clapham Common and Clapham North), Boqueria is not to be missed. The impressive wine menu is a visual as soon as you walk through the door, with a simple bar area available if you need to wait for a table or if you fancy a drink before your booking. The staff here are ridiculously friendly in a non-annoying, non-suffocating way which, compared to some places, is refreshing. The menus were laid out conveniently acting as a place mat so we could begin feasting our eyes as soon as we sat down. Take a look; the choice is amazing.

 After ordering ourselves a bottle of prosecco and olives to nibble (la-di-dah indeed!) we moved on to the good stuff. As I said, learning from previous lack of judgement, we paced ourselves by ordering a couple of dishes at a time(kind of). 

First up, Pimientos de Padrón (salted peppers to you and me). These are the epitome of simple, yet effective. The salt acted as a flavour enhancer as opposed to being over-powering and the charred effect added a smoky flavour to what, on paper, sounds quite bland. These are a perfect appetiser and suitable for most people due to being vegan and gluten free.

Next came the Chorizo a la sidra (chorizo with cider). I'm not a massive meat eater but, as I said, I will try anything and these were well worth it. I've always been put off by chorizo as I tend to find it very fatty and chewy but these were the total opposite. The meat was so tender and the sauce, although not screaming out cider, was incredible and added a nice level of heat. Also gluten free. Winner. 

Patatas Bravas. Probably one of the most well-known dishes served up in any half decent tapas restaurant. I have to admit, the appearance of this surprised me as I've usually had them served up in more of a chopped tomato base with garlic and spices, but these were nice nonetheless. I could give or take them to be honest! 

Now this is more up my street. Carpaccio de atún con ajo blanco y soja (tuna carpaccio with garlic, almond, soy sauce and tomato). If it's from the sea, I'll eat it. Although this was full of flavour, it was more from the marinade than the tuna itself. It was almost as if the carpaccio was TOO thin (if that's possible) so, on it's own, the flavour didn't stand out. However, it was delicate and light which was a nice change to the stodge of the potatoes and chorizo.

Queso de cabra con cebolla caramelizada (goats cheese with caramalized onion and red fruits). I'm not gonna lie...I've just had to text my partner in crime to remind me of what this was. As you can tell, by this point, so many different plates had been put in front of us, they all began to blur! This however, pretty much does what it says on the tin. Nice, but forgettable (clearly).

The penultimate dish. Cochinillo asado (suckling pig with parsnip, sweet potato crisps, apple sauce & lemon sorbet). Sounds weird, tastes incredible. The suckling pig was so moist (everyones favourite word) and went surprisingly well with the lemon sorbet. Anyone who knows me well knows I hate mixing sweet stuff/fruit in savoury food. I'll make an exception for this! Definitely one of the stronger features on the menu.

As you can imagine, we were pretty stuffed by this point. But for the benefit of this review, we shared a desert to round it all off nicely (aren't I generous). As with the starter, this was simple yet effective. Helado de vainilla con pasas y Pedro Ximénez (vanilla ice cream with raisins and Pedro Ximénez sherry). This was relatively light but the sherry added a touch of something special to something otherwise quite bland. The best dessert on the menu in my opinion

Before we slowly waddled off clutching our stomachs, there was a bill to be paid. All the above, plus the prosecco, came to a reasonable £62.00. Take it from me, having been to large chain tapas restaurants where the quality leaves a lot to be desired, this is impressive! I will definitely be back here again. In fact, I may make it my mission to work my way through the menu if anyone cares to join?