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    Tapas O’Clock at Kazbar, Oxford

    As soon as my friend and I stepped into Kazbar on Cowley Road in Oxford, we felt as though we’d been transported into a rustic Moroccan bar… in Spain.

    The glass conservatory, which holds the bar, created the illusion that we were outside.

    Green ivy, foliage and twigs crept their way up the faded-mustard coloured walls and were draped in beads, flickering candle holders, pieces of fabric and random ornaments, which all contributed to the restaurant’s consciously shabby decor.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Decor - My Culture Craving

    Once we’d stopped ourselves from drooling over the cocktail menu at the bar, we were led through to the restaurant area, where the Moroccan charm waltzed up a gear.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Lamp - My Culture Craving

    Greeted by intricate, glowing lanterns of all shapes and sizes, which were randomly scattered throughout the restaurant, endearing large Spanish posters plastered tastefully across the ochre walls, strings of twinkling fairy lights dangling in the windows and shabby chic stone benches plumped up with inviting deep red, fluffy cushions. All of which, were topped off with cute, mosaic tables and grand, green potted plants, which both added to the al fresco dining feel of the restaurant.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table Setting - My Culture Craving

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table - My Culture Craving

    Team all of this with the sweet smell of incense sticks and the mellow beat of flamenco music, and you’ve got yourself a Mediterranean haven.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table Decor - My Culture Craving

    As I was driving, I couldn’t indulge in one of their mouth-watering cocktails or largeeee refreshing beers however, both the Fig and Vanilla Daiquiri and Marrakesh Express sounded particularly delicious (damn you driving!)

    Nevertheless, as there was no alcohol in the mix, this only meant one thing – we had to make up for it in food… and that, my friends, we did…

    Wanting to sample anything and everything on the menu (looking back, our eyes were definitely being farrrr too greedy for our bellies), we ended up choosing eight tapas dishes and a side of bread between the two of us. Ranging from tasty paella and fragrant beef tagine to succulent, paprika infused octopus and flavoursome gambas pil pil, everything was scrumptious and reasonably priced (approx £3-8).

    We left feeling as plump and round as the comfy cushions we reclined onto after we had finished stuffing our faces.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Tapas - My Culture Craving

    Whether you are looking for a chilled out bar to slurp on a cocktail or two and enjoy your surroundings or a restaurant to have an evening meal, Kazbar oozes relaxation yet, excites every one of your senses at the same time!

    Pop in and let Kazbar bring the Mediterranean to you… Surely that’s an offer no one can refuse?

    Have you ever been to Kazbar on Cowley Road, Oxford? What was your favourite part of the experience? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    A Taste of Mumbai in London

    When my friend told me that she had arranged for us to go for lunch at Dishoom, a Bombay-cafe inspired restaurant in Covent Garden, London I was over the moon.

    Loving anything and everything, which sparks my fond memories of my time in India, I headed to their website to tantalize my excitement even more. Once I’d browsed their menu, scanned their rave reviews on TripAdvisor and unraveled a lot of heartwarming memories of my time in Mumbai, I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself!

    After finding my way from Leicester Square tube station, I entered the restaurant to the strong, comforting smell of Indian spices and chai.

    The hustle and bustle of the restaurant instantly reminded me of the cafes in Mumbai… albeit, with a luxurious, modern and opulent twist.

    The rustic framed Bollywood photographs and original ads from Bombay newspapers, which line the walls, the low hanging filament lights that weave their way along the ceiling like black intertwined electrical wires, the traditional Indian silver water cups, which are stacked up on the table, just as they would be in a classic Indian cafe and the cabinets of authentic Indian toiletries in the bathroom, all bring the balance of tone, taste and tradition together, perfectly.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Decoration - My Culture Craving

    And that’s before we’ve even discussed food and drink…

    As we hadn’t booked a table (go here for the restaurant’s terms on reserving tables), we had around a 40 minute wait. However, this just meant we had time to indulge in a tasty tipple at the bar downstairs beforehand.

    The restaurant is made up of two floors. The first floor, where the hectic open kitchen stands proudly, is more light, laid back, and suited for lunch. Whereas the downstairs, which houses the cocktail bar, is more dark, atmospheric and befitting for dinner.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Kitchen - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Seating - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Restaurant - My Culture Craving (2)

    Whilst we relaxed at the bar, I ordered a traditional, spiced chai.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Chai - My Culture Craving

    Looking back, I wish I’d pushed the boat out and tried one of their unique spins on the classic Indian drinks of chai and lassi. The Bailey’s chai and rose and cardamon lassi sounded divine however, I couldn’t help myself but stick with what I knew, loved and missed…

    The traditional chai was scrumptious and burst with the delicious taste and smell of an Indian, spice bazaar.

    Once we had been seated, we quickly reeled off the order we had been drooling over ever since we had set eyes on the menu. We then sat goggling at the other table’s food until ours arrived.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Menu - My Culture Craving

    We started with the vegetable samosas (£3.10), which were crispy and jam-packed with flavour. We then followed with a selection of dishes to share – the mattar paneer (£7.50), chicken ruby (£8.20), masala prawns (£11.20), chicken berry Britannia biryani (£8.50)… all accompanied with a batch of garlic naan (£2.20) to mop up the heavenly sauces.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Food - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Curry - My Culture Craving

    Although everything, which touched my palate was exquisite, the chicken ruby was just… WOW. The combination of succulent moist chicken and a deep rich, flavoursome sauce was out of this world. I completely understand why this dish is a recommended favourite at the restaurant!

    We left Dishoom not toooo worse for wear on the money front and very happy that we weren’t overly full… a feeling, which I’m sure we can all vouch for, usually happens after a hefty Indian.

    If you are looking for some great quality Indian food with attentive and bubbly staff and a buzzing atmosphere, then make sure you head to Dishoom!

    They also serve hearty, traditional Indian breakfasts from 8am-11.30am on weekdays and 9am – midday on weekends. Check out their menu, here.

    And, if you don’t happen to be in the Covent Garden area, they also have restaurants in Kings Cross and Shoreditch.

    Enjoy, and let me know how the Bailey’s chai are… I’ll definitely be popping back in for one of those babies!

    Have you ever been to Dishoom in Covent Garden? What were your favourite dishes? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    Too Many Pies, Too Many Many Pies…

    During my recent trip to Edinburgh my friends and I stumbled upon the perfect hangover cure… A TRADITIONAL PIE SHOP.

    Looking a little rough around the edges from the outside, The Pie Maker could be mistaken for a dodgy diner. However, like a lot of traditional eateries, once we took the plunge inside, it was a gem.

    It was everything you could ever want from a pie shop.

    Traditional, wholesome, cheap (£1.50 pies!) and delicious. I went up to the counter at least three times to try as many of their heavenly pastries as possible.

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Shop - My Culture Craving

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Food - My Culture Craving

    From freshly baked steak and ale and chicken and mushroom pies to Scottish haggis, turnip and mash pies, mac n’ cheese pies and tatty dogs – a yummy marriage of hot dog and fried potato – here, you can be as adventurous or traditional as you please (check out their menu here).

    After admiring their wide choice of succulent pies, slices and sausage rolls as well as their mouth-watering sweet pastries, we chose our pies and perched on the stools, which lined the room. I went for the haggis, turnip and mash pie (£1.60), which was scrumptious and, a great way to sample some of Scotland’s traditional delicacies!

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - My Culture Craving

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Haggis Pie - My Culture Craving

    I then delved into the ever so unhealthy yet, ever so irresistible mac n’ cheese pie…

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Mac n' Cheese Pie - My Culture Craving

    After sampling everyone else’s pies and tatty dogs, we decided that it was time to stop eating, waddle our way to the nearest pub and wash all of the food down with a warming glass of red.

    If you are heading to Edinburgh anytime soon, make sure you check out The Pie Maker! It is cheap, cheerful and yumtastic!

    Keep an eye out on the blog for more posts on my trip to Edinburgh.

    I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a Happy, Sloshy New Year!  

    Tequila, Burrito, Por Favor – Club Burrito, Canterbury

    When I visited Canterbury a couple of weekends ago, my friends and I made the most of being back on student turf and did what students do best… we ‘painted the town red’ two nights on the trot (woahhhhowow).

    However, after an alcohol fueled night on the Friday, we awoke on the Saturday morning feeling a little worse for wear and desperate for something stodgy to soak up the remaining cider sloshing around in our stomachs.

    Therefore, keen to make the most of being back in Canterbury, we trudged our way into the city centre, in search of salvation – of the food variety. Having heard a lot about the delicious and affordable burritos, at one of Canterbury’s newest restaurants ‘Club Burrito’, we thought we would check it out. Carbs – check, cheese – check, meat – check… we were always going to be a bunch of easy to please customers.

    Nestled down one of Canterbury’s quaint, cobbled side streets, Club Burrito sticks out like a sore thumb. With its wacky rodeo-esque sign, vibrant colour scheme, quirky graffiti drawings, kaleidoscopic fairy lights and rustic outside seating area, you can’t help but be enticed by this restaurant’s eccentric, Mexican charm.

    The inside of the restaurant has a chilled out hostel vibe. The bar is lined with vibrant bottles of tequila, vivid coloured soft drinks and Mexican inspired beers and spirits, whilst the walls are plastered in rustic panels of wood, interesting pictures and traditional, brightly coloured masks.

    Club Burrito, Canterbury - Inside - My Culture Craving

    After admiring the eclectic decor, it didn’t take us long to find our way to the counter.

    Laid out like a posh Subway, you order at the counter, watch as they create your heavenly Mexican mix of yum and pay there and then – perfect for when you don’t fancy waiting around for your food (or, when you’re hungover and hungry).

    With a choice of burritos or tacos and a filling of beef, chicken, pork, veggie and toppings, you’re bound to be spoilt for choice. Whatever you choose, everything on the menu is £6.50 (50p extra for guacamole) and of a substantial size. They even serve the burritos wrapped in cute personalised paper and cradled in adorable baskets (it’s the little touches).

    Club Burrito, Canterbury - Burrito - My Culture Craving

    Despite being a little bit messy to eat (I looked like a starved warthog as I devoured mine), my chicken burrito was ‘delicioso’ and really hit the spot. My friend even went back for seconds!

    As well as being a hip place to chill out for a spot of lunch, Club Burrito also hosts a diverse range of exciting events. From open mic nights and live bands to club nights and poetry readings, there’s something for everyone at this upbeat saloon.

    So, head over to Club Burrito for a couple of cocktail potions, a tequila slammer and some slurred poetry…

    I’m hoping next time I visit I’ll be feeling a little more up to sampling one tequila, two tequila, three tequila… four?

    Find out more on their website or on their Facebook or Twitter page.

    4 of my Favorite Restaurants in Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire

    Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the surrounding area are home to some of the most highly esteemed restaurants in the country. From Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck in Berkshire to Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin star restaurant, Le Manoir in Oxfordshire, there is adventurous and exquisite food in arms reach of my front door… food, which unfortunately, I can’t bloomin’ well afford (wait until I’ve got into full swing of this employment malarkey, I will treat myself to a meal at one of these restaurant… for blogging purposes only, of course).

    However, in the mean time, my family and I have become experienced in the art of hunting down restaurants in the area, which deliver quality food at an affordable price. Here are our picks of the best restaurants close to our home village, Brill:

    The Angel Restaurant, Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire

    This may be a slightly biased choice as I have worked at The Angel Restaurant for over 6 years now however, I have no doubt that the restaurant’s regular diners would agree that eating at The Angel is a culinary delight.

    Known for its outstanding selection of fresh fish, charming character, beautiful conservatory (especially when their Christmas decorations are up) and friendly and attentive staff (if I don’t say so myself), dining here is a must if you’re in the area!

    Whether you are looking to enjoy a refreshing pimm’s on the terrace during the summer or snuggle up next to a roaring log fire during the winter, The Angel is a memorable experience all year round.

    With meals ranging from £12 – £28 (for the fillet steak) and a great value set menu on offer during the week (two courses for £10.95, three courses for £15) there is no excuse not to check this gem out.

    Dishes you must try: The Thai spiced lobster risotto, twice baked blue cheese souffle, smoked haddock (main course) and chocolate fallen angel.

    The Mole and Chicken, Easington, Buckinghamshire

    Set in the tiny hamlet of Easington, The Mole and Chicken is blessed with scenic views, a homely atmosphere and top notch food!

    I have never been disappointed by the food at this charismatic restaurant and my family and I continue to go back here as often as possible (or, as often as one of us will agree to be designated drive… soooo not as often as we’d hope).

    We went for a meal here last week for my Sister’s birthday (I pulled the short straw… no wine for Lydia) and the food was just as scrumptious as ever!

    Although the food may seem a little pricey, it is well worth the set back and is a small percent of what you would pay at one of the Michelin restaurants close by.

    Dishes you must try: The confit duck salad, steak (the sauces are, stick your finger in the jug and lick the plate, yummy) and shoulder of lamb.

    The Sir Charles Napier, Chinnor, Oxfordshire

    If you’re a fan of Made in Chelsea, you may recognize this restaurant from the scene when Richard takes Kimberley on a first, ridiculously extravagant, date.

    However, this restaurant has A LOT more to offer than it’s Made in Chelsea claim to fame and helipad, one of these things being its well deserved Michelin star!

    Nestled among the secluded Chiltern Hills, The Sir Charles Napier provides mouth-watering, quality food in an idyllic setting, at an affordable price.

    Although their a la carte menu may appear pricey (as would be expected from a Michelin star restaurant) they offer a set lunch and dinner menu from Tuesday – Friday at the unbelievable price of £19.50…. I KNOW!

    Whether enjoyed among the unique sculptures (by Michael Cooper) that are dotted around the restaurant or on the blooming veranda, which fools you into thinking you’re in the South of France, the food is so exquisite it doesn’t really matter where it’s eaten!

    Dishes you must try: The haddock and cheese souffle, John Dory and chocolate and orange pave with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn… put your tongue back into your mouth and stop drooling…

    The Pheasant, Brill, Buckinghamshire

    Overlooking the fabulous windmill, The Pheasant is the perfect place to relax with a crisp glass of wine and watch the sun set over the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire.

    Although The Pheasant is a lot more ‘pub-like’ than the other restaurants and the service is more laid back, the food is delicious, wholesome and not pretentious (basically… people like my greedy Dad don’t go hungry) and can be enjoyed looking over one of the best views in Bucks!

    Dishes you must try: The fish sharing board, pork belly and pie of the day (great value and big enough to feed a small army).

    The Epic of Gilgamesh in Camden, London

    Having read the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ for my English degree, when my Mother proposed going for dinner at this swanky Pan – Asian restaurant situated in the heart of Camden Stables Market, I was intrigued.

    Known for its mishmash of oriental cuisine and extravagant, Babylonian décor, Gilgamesh is a memorable experience for all of the senses!

    After making our way up the escalator (it is very grand) we were greeted by an ornate wall strewn in intricately carved dark wood.

    As we were shown through to our table it became visible that this carved wood spread throughout the restaurant like a beautiful disease – chiselled into the walls, ceiling, chairs, bar and tables.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, London - My Culture Craving

    The awe-inspiring embellishments were something you would admire in a museum – and they were everywhere.

    The tables and chairs were just as complex as the rest of the restaurant. Offering a mixture of grand, red booths and striking, throne-like chairs decorated in carvings of Babylonian king’s heads and arms – they were both bizarre and majestic.

    This royal ambiance was further enhanced by the table decorations. Scattered with red petals, candles and authentic table wear, all complimented by the twinkling fairy lights which were draped around the restaurant – I felt like I was dining in a royal chamber.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, London - Camden - My Culture Craving

    The food was just as splendid as the décor.

    We ordered a mixture of different oriental dishes including, pomello banh trang, prawn and scallop dim sum, prawn tempura, vegetarian red Thai curry and Gilgamesh fried rice.  Although all of the dishes were delicious, the red Thai curry was outstanding and tasted exactly as it did when I tried it in Thailand…

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, London - Food - My Culture Craving

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, London - Feast - My Culture Craving

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, London - Curry - My Culture Craving

    If we had not been in such a respectable restaurant I think I would have licked the bowl!

    However, as the food is a little on the pricy side, if you are on a budget, you could always pop in for one of their many yummy cocktail (unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to try one so can’t recommend) and have a nosy around…

    And you know, while you’re at it, you may as well order a bowl of red Thai curry as well.

    I promise you. It is a decision you will not regret…