1 | For One Mega Curry Night: Darbaar
Abdul Yaseen has been overseeing the crazily tasty food at the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen for more than 10 years but now, finally, he’s got his own kitchen to play in. It’s called Darbaar and is just round the corner from Broadgate Circus. As you enter, all is darkened and a bit cool, with a vast open kitchen to keep you entertained whilst you eat your meal. And the loos are super high-tech as well – definitely an idea to make your excuses…
You’d best bring a hearty appetite when dining here. The house special is the Menu Daawat which, at £35 per person, is a sort of tasting menu where innumerable dishes will manifest themselves in front of you, each one different and each one bursting with big, bold flavours. The bite-sized starter bites will get you right in the mood (samosas, little lamb kebabs, etc.) and you move onto beautifully done paneer with spinach and spices, and a tender-as-you-like butter chicken. Plus naan and daal and rice and all that jazz. Undoubtedly filling and totally luscious, this is a sure-fire way to pep up curry night.
1 Snowden Street, Broadgate West, London, EC2A 2DQ; darbaarrestaurants.com
2 | For Cocktails and Nibbles: Pachamama
Also with a new chef at the helm is Marylebone’s Pachamama, where we recommend a cocktail evening with a few light bites thrown in. Given how dangerously downable the new concoctions are, you’ll need the grub alongside and, since this Peruvian cuisine is meant for sharing, it is quite the romantic destination.
Go for a classic Pisco Sour if you’re feeling cautious – nice and fresh, and perfect for starting the evening off. Try a Miraflores if you want something floral and sweet but not too sickening (it may be pretty and pink but we have it on good authority that this is a serious guy-pleaser nonetheless) and if you’re feeling really brave try the Tiger’s Back: a pisco shot with a chaser of homemade Tiger’s Milk. And don’t scrimp on the crab churros on the side.
18 Thayer Street, London, W1U 3JY; pachamamalondon.com
3 | For Drinks with the Wow Factor: Galvin at Windows
If you haven’t ventured up to the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane, then you really ought to give Galvin at Windows a try. Yes, we know, it’s Michelin-starred and kind of on the pricey side but that doesn’t mean you can’t have drinks at the bar. The views are spectacular.
And, at the moment, they’ve teamed up with Johnnie Walker to produce a cocktail that will suit even those who approach whisky with caution. It’s called the Gentleman’s Wager and has Johnnie Walker Blue Label mixed with Antica Formula vermouth, a chestnut liqueur from Monaco and just a whiff of chocolate bitters to finish it off. Given the slightly festive ingredients, it’s still incredibly light and refreshing – and absolutely delicious. If you need to impress, get yourself up here.
22 Park Lane, London, W1K 1BE; galvinatwindows.com
4 | For Festive Frolicking: Winterville
You know the score: festive niceties to keep you entertained in a large London park, including ice-skating, ferris wheels, circus acts and, hey, let’s throw in some crazy golf, pantomime and a magical night garden cinema (indoors – don’t panic). Winterville has taken over East London’s Victoria Park for the rest of the month and offers an ideal chance to indulge in some quintessential cold weather fun times.
Best part? Entrance is free. There’s loads of food on the go (including Higgidy pies, Holy Cow burgers with special rosemary fries, and steamed buns from Le Bao) and drinks to seriously warm the cockles (think warm cider and Southern Comfort hot toddies). This Friday night sees Massaoke on the go where, regardless of ability, everyone does one mass karaoke session to Christmas tunes. It’s either going to be epic or terrifying… we’ll let you decide. Just throwing it out there.
Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, London, E3 5TB; winterville.co.uk