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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Babel House to Open in Mayfair

Babel House, a new restaurant located in the heart of Mayfair, will bring the vibrant sounds and delicate salty air from the multicultural port town of the Black Sea to London in early May.

Babel House combines the residential London feel with the elegant historic Odessan references. Designed by award winning firm AvroKO, the restaurant pays homage to the flow of ideas between the East and the West. With nods to modernism and Odessan Art Deco homes, the touches of white and green marble are complemented by accents of satin brass, dark wood and patterned tiles, whilst natural light pours from the cypress tree-lined outdoor seating area into the foyer and glass atrium.

Its menu will serve the Black Sea’s finest seafood, with fresh produce being delivered from the infamous Odessa Privoz. Traditional recipes will be served in generous portions on communal dishes and complemented with classic Eastern European liqueurs to recreate a gastronomically enhanced Black Sea food ceremony.

Appetisers consist of super-soft pike caviar with Borodinsky toast (all of their breads are made in house), traditional Salad Olivier with salmon and seared scallops, the house salt pickled vegetables (honey roast pepper, watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes), along with traditional lamb soup with Georgian spices and red borscht with sour cream and garlic. The main dishes include an array of seafood from the region such as pan-fried Black Sea Turbot, Blue Fish which is prepared in the in-house smoker and Goby, as well as traditional dishes such as slow cooked lamb shoulder, Beef Stroganoff, Odessan honey marinated duck, and many more.

The cocktail menu is inspired by Isaac Babel’s famed 1931 short stories called The Odessa Tales and its protagonist.

With a causal lunch service running from midday and dinner served until midnight, Babel House seats 110 covers and unites a personal service with a home away from home feel in the lavish Mayfair neighbourhood.

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Japanese Cakes at Yutaka

Yutaka, the Japanese food specialist, is launching its first ever sweet Japanese cakes with a range of mochi cakes knows as daifuku. These cakes are perfect for spring and are Japanese favourites at blossom picnics accompanied by Yutaka green tea.

The mochi cake is a traditional Japanese rice cake made from mochigome, which is a short-grain glutinous rice. It gets pounded in an age-old ritual until it can be shaped into small round cakes. Its centre is filled with a sweet, red bean paste to provide a tasty treat, as well as bringing those who eat it luck.

The original cakes used to be much larger and they were flavoured with salt instead of sugar, as the sugar was considered a luxury. Back in the 18th century, an entrepreneurial woman started selling sweet mochi cakes in her bakery and that’s when they became a phenomenon.

Yutaka’s range will include three varieties: Pink Mochi, White Mochi, and Yomogi Mochi, green in colour and flavoured with the Japanese Mugwart herb. These frozen cakes will be available from the end of April in single packs of 95g, priced at £1.50 – £2.00 each. Into the trade, they will be sold in boxes of 24 single-colour units with the boxes bundled as four.

Introduced to the UK market in 1995, the Yutaka range of authentic Japanese food products includes ingredients for sushi, sauces, soups, rice, noodles and easy to use meal kits. As it was the first brand in the market, it continues to be the leading authentic Japanese range in 16 countries across Europe and the Middle East.

The name behind the Yutaka brand, Tazaki Foods, was the pioneer of Japanese food in the UK when the company opened the first Japanese restaurant in the country. Since then, the company has been the leading supplier to the Japanese restaurants, hospitality industries and food manufacturers in the country.

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The Collective Launches Kefir Range

The Collective is launching at the end of this month a range of cultured milk drinks packed with billions of live cultures, called kefir. They will be available in 500ml bottles and in three delicious flavours: Natural, Mango ‘n’ Turmeric and Coconut ‘n’ Honey.

“We’re so excited to launch our kefir range in the UK as we’re big believers in the holistic health benefits of fermented food and are ready to take dairy to the next level with our kefir. We take pride in creating great tasting products, and kefir is no different. Our team has carefully selected innovative and delicious ingredients and a diverse blend of 13 culture strains to develop three great tasting and nutritious products,” said Amelia Harvey, co-founder of The Collective.

The Natural kefir is a creamy tasting drink with some slightly tart notes similar to the traditional natural yogurt and a gentle effervescence that makes it refreshing and moreish. For the Mango ‘n’ Turmeric product, the team has used the finest Alphonso mango and has added a pinch of turmeric that pair perfectly with the juiciness of the tropical fruit. The creamiest kefir is the Coconut ‘n’ Honey one, made with coconut milk, blossom honey and vanilla.

Enjoyed around the world for over two thousand years, kefir has been linked for centuries with positive health and well-being. The drink is made by fermenting milk with live cultures, much like a traditional yogurt, with the difference that kefir contains a diverse blend and sheer number of live cultures. Live cultures are widely known for improving lactose digestion in people who have difficulty digesting lactose.

The Collective branded kefir 500ml range will be available all around the UK starting with the end of April in Sainsbury’s and other retailers soon after, priced at £2.50 per bottle.

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GCA Completes ResDiary Transaction

The latest hospitality technology transaction led by GCA, the global investment bank, involved advising ResDiary, a provider of online restaurant reservation software, on its sale to French-listed hospitality group AccorHotels. This transaction follows a number of high profile tech deals for GCA with international strategic acquirers, such as Google, Verizon, ADP, and Amazon.

ResDiary is a leading software as a service (SaaS) platform for restaurant reservation and table management, used by over 8,600 venues across 60 countries and seating more than 160 million diners a year. Founded in 2004, the Glasgow-based company provides hospitality venues with a high-end table management solution that optimises food and beverage revenues, while controlling operational costs. The software is used globally and the company’s customers include TGI Fridays, Loungers, Sapporo Teppanyaki and over 35 Michelin-starred restaurants.

“ResDiary is a real UK SaaS success story. ResDiary has a differentiated proposition which resonates with its customer base, reflected in the Company’s rapid global growth and outstanding SaaS metrics. It has been a pleasure working with the ResDiary team and in AccorHotels they have the ideal partner for future growth,” said Adrian Reed, Managing Director at GCA Altium.

As a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator, AccorHotels offers unique experiences in more than 4,300 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 10,000 of the finest private homes around the world. The company provides innovative end-to-end services across the entire traveller experience with an unmatched collection of brands and rich history spanning close to five decades.

“We have had a very successful relationship with AccorHotels in Asia Pacific, and all the ResDiary team is thrilled to join the Group. We are looking forward to expanding our service on a more global level with AccorHotels,” said Mike Conyers, ResDiary Co-founder and CEO.

The ResDiary transaction was led by GCA Altium’s Adrian Reed and Sam Fuller, with support from Jon Stead and Durgesh Panchani, while a Brodies team led by Will McIntosh provided the shareholders with legal advice.

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Iceland Bans Palm Oil from Its Brand Products

Iceland has officially announced that it will be removing palm oil from all of its own brand products and a response from Greenpeace UK appeared without delay.

“Iceland has concluded that removing palm oil is the only way it can offer its customers a guarantee that its products do not contain palm oil from forest destruction. This decision is a direct response to the palm oil industry’s failure to clean up its act,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.

“As global temperatures rise from burning forests, and populations of endangered species continue to dwindle, companies using agricultural commodities like palm oil will come under increasing pressure to clean up their supply chains. Many of the biggest consumer companies in the world have promised to end their role in deforestation by 2020. Time is running out not just for these household brands but for the wildlife, the climate and everyone who depends on healthy forests for their survival,” he further explained.

Figures from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) show that around 24 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforest was destroyed between 1990 and 2015 – an area almost the size of the UK. The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry indicates 2.7 million hectares of deforestation between 2012 and 2015, which is 1 football pitch every 25 seconds.

To tackle this problem, Greenpeace challenged 16 leading members of the CGF to demonstrate progress by disclosing the mills that produced their palm oil, and the names of the producer groups that controlled those mills.

Under pressure from Greenpeace and other NGOs, eleven brands have made steps towards transparency: General Mills, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, PepsiCo and PZ Cussons. The other five brands involved, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, and Smucker’s, have failed so far to take even this step.

Greenpeace recommends that the next step would be for brands to remove suppliers, producers and traders known to be destroying rainforest from their supply chains, and then to take responsibility for investigating the remaining producer groups to identify any that are clearing rainforests or peatlands, or exploiting workers or local communities. Ultimately, brands and traders must exclude any producer that refuses to reform, even if the palm oil it is supplying to them comes from different concessions to those it is clearing.

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Royal Lancaster London Celebrates Its Staff

Royal Lancaster London celebrated in March its 31 colleagues that were nominated for the ‘Long Service Awards’. The 31 members of staff had a combined length of service at the hotel of 355 years. Many other colleagues who worked at the hotel for five and ten years were also recognised, as well as two people who have been there for 34 and 40 years respectively.

“It is an enormous achievement for both our colleagues and for us as a hotel to be able to celebrate their 35 and 40-year careers at Royal Lancaster London. The hotel has gone through so many changes in the past 50 years since it opened, and to have retained our staff through the years and in today’s fluid employer market is just fantastic,” said Sally Beck, General Manager at Royal Lancaster London.

Located on the boundary of Hyde Park, Royal Lancaster London had recently completed its £80 million refurbishment, which included the lobby, all 411 guestrooms and suites, the brand new Hyde Lobby Bar and reception lobby for the Nine Kings banqueting space.

Moreover, the hotel was recently announced as one of the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for, retaining its spot in the ranking for the third consecutive year. Royal Lancaster London sits alongside businesses that display the highest standards of team engagement, proving that its colleagues are truly some of the happiest in hospitality.

Royal Lancaster London opened its doors for the first time in 1967 and now it is a contemporary, stylish hotel that offers rooms and suites over 18 floors, with panoramic views across London’s Hyde Park. Two restaurants, a gym and a central London location make it the preferred choice for leisure and business in London.

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The Malted Waffle Company to Expand with Santander

Santander Business Banking has decided to support the UK’s leading waffle machine and waffle-based food product manufacturer, The Malted Waffle Company, and fund its plans to start exporting into international markets, including Europe and the United Arab Emirates. The business is looking to capitalise on the strong momentum it has in the UK to expand overseas and capture new growth opportunities.

Between 2016 and 2017, the family run business managed to achieve a 33% year on year growth, which led to the business looking to increase this growth in the future. The company will focus on driving sales both domestically and internationally, as well as increasing the leasing of waffle machines to the hospitality industry to grow sales of waffle mixture.

“Now that we are established in the UK, we want to set our sights overseas. In the short term, this means targeting Ireland, Spain, France and the UAE; longer term I want our aspirations to be global. We have developed a great business supported by a strong business model and top quality products, and we truly believe we can grow in new markets. The funding and insights from Santander have been instrumental in opening up this opportunity,” said Georges Barret, Founder of The Malted Waffle Company.

Apart from offering to fund the business, Santander Business Banking also included The Malted Waffle Company to its events, where it showcased its products to relevant stakeholders and prospects, and offered it access to Santander’s co-funded intern programme. The company currently employs 11 staff and is looking to increase its employee base to accommodate increased sales in the UK and overseas.

“The Malted Waffle Company is a very strong business and we are proud to be able to help it meet growth targets for the years ahead. George and Laura make a fantastic management team and we look forward to supporting them in their aspirations to becoming not just the UK’s leading supplier of waffle irons and products, but the world’s,” said Georges Barret, Relationship Director at Santander Business Banking.

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Eckington Manor’s Chef Named Finalist in ‘Chef of the Year 2018’

Mark Stinchcombe, local award-winning chef and the head chef at Eckington Manor, was named as a finalist in the prestigious competition British Culinary Federation’s ‘Chef of the Year 2018’. He will compete for the accolade against nine other renowned chefs from across the UK.

“I’m very humbled to be named as a finalist in this acclaimed competition. The British Culinary Federation highlight the very best of the culinary arts, so to have my named amongst the finalists is quite an honour,” said Mark. “It’s been an incredible journey and I know I’m going to be coming up against some the best chefs this country has to offer, so whatever happens at the finals, I know I can hold my head high.”

Mark was previously named MasterChef: The Professionals winner in 2015, as well as winning the titles of Young National Chef of the Year and Master of Culinary Arts. Now he uses his culinary excellence to create unique dishes with produce from Eckington Manor’s award winning farm, orchard, vegetable and herb gardens.

The luxury hotel and restaurant, which is situated away from the hustle and bustle in the Avon valleys on the border of the picturesque Cotswolds, prides itself on producing fully traceable and honestly prepared food, all of which contain natural flavours. Additionally, the hotel hosts its very own cookery school, where Mark passes down his culinary skills to aspiring chefs and interested amateurs.

“Eckington Manor is very passionate about food and its farm allows me to showcase dishes that I know are made with the freshest ingredients. We’re obviously very proud to demonstrate a farm to fork journey in all of our dishes, which enhances the special experience of dining with us,” said Mark.

The competition will take place at University College Birmingham on Monday, the 23rd of April, and it is sponsored by Aubrey Allen and Bord Bia. The critically acclaimed judges include Ashley Palmer-Watts, Raymond Blanc, Sat Bains, Pierre Koffmann, Brian Turner and Roger Narbett.

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Celebrate the Great British Beef Week

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Monday, the 23rd of April, represents the beginning of a full week dedicated to Britain’s most respected and versatile ingredient: beef. This is how a few of London’s restaurants will celebrate it:

Social 24 has not only changed its name but has launched a new menu as well. Diners can enjoy a beautiful selection of dishes that use seasonal, British ingredients, with British beef taking centre stage in two of Social 24’s new dishes. The Buccleuch beef and stout pie can be found on the ‘Social Lunch Hour’ menu, with a thick, puffed pastry lid and a rich, meaty body, while the succulent Buccleuch estate beef fillet, served with duck-fat chips can be found on the evening A La Carte menu.

At LIMA London, guests can enjoy a mix of ingredients sourced from UK producers mixed with Peruvian cuisine. One such dish that combines British and Peruvian produce is the Loma Steak Huancaina which is served alongside Yellow Aji sauce and coriander cress. The beef used is a highly-marbled award-winning Rhub beef, made from grass-fed Aberdeen Angus which is aged for 35 days in a Himalayan salt walled chamber.

If you decide to celebrate Great British Beef Week at the refurbished Tom’s Kitchen Chelsea, choose from two exquisite beef small plates; Cumbrian beef tartare with black garlic aioli, new turnips, puffed rice and mustard seeds and melt-in-the-mouth Soya Braised Beef cheeks with garlic purée and cabbage.

Combine the flavours of Mexico with the local produce of the UK at Ella Canta. Choose the guest favourite Aberdeen Angus beef fillet with black chichilo mole, aubergine ashes and artichokes, served with a rich sauce incorporating up to 50 ingredients that complement the Scottish beef.

On Sunday, enjoy a Sunday Lunch at The Game Bird at The Stafford London. The star of the show is the roast British grass-fed beef carved tableside from a bespoke silver trolley and served with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy.

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City Social Embraces a New Name and a New Menu

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Starting with Thursday, the 12th of April, Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred City Social will be known as Social 24. The new name will also be joined by a new drink and food offering, as well as a resident DJ on Thursday and Friday nights from 9pm. Located on the 24th floor of Tower 42, the new menu hopes to attract late night diners and drinkers to the City.

The new cocktail menu was curated by Group Bar Manager Jay Doy and it will maintain the same flair and creativity as the previous menu. Inspired by London’s landmarks, ‘The Shard’ (£12) is made with Bacardi heritage, lime, watermelon, passion fruit, Sekforde rum mixer and Mojito granita, while ‘The Monument’ (£13) cocktail pays homage to its fiery history with Don Julio, fire roasted pineapple syrup, dragon fruit, jalapenos, charcoal and cinnamon.

The ‘St Pauls’ (£12) cocktail, served inside a pineapple glass, represents Sir Christopher Wren’s integration of the fruit into his architecture and is made with Absolut Elyx, pineapple, sage, chartreuse, communion wine and a wafer. Meanwhile, ‘The Thames’ (£12) is presented in a tea glass and is made with Reyka, Sea rosemary, watercress, apple, celery sugar, citrus and seaweed. There will also be an interesting selection of beers, spirits and non-alcoholic cocktails available, as well as a wide list of wines and champagnes to choose from.

Alongside the drinks menu, Executive Chef Paul Walsh also created a new food menu for Social 24. There will be a 3-course set ‘Social Lunch Hour’ menu priced at £28 and including Heritage beetroot salad, goat’s cheese and watercress; Cotswolds chicken and Madeira terrine with grilled sourdough and a choice of Vanilla crème brûlée or Valrhona chocolate mousse. In the evening, an a la carte menu will be on offer, with a selection of small and large dishes, such as Frenchman Creek oysters with dashi, melon and yuzu; Smoked pork empanadas with harissa and red onion compote and Buccleuch Estate beef fillet with duck fat chips accompanied with béarnaise or peppercorn sauce.

Social 24 will be open from midday until 2am, Monday through to Friday, and from 4pm on Saturdays, providing the City with a chic, late-night bar.

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