Making your Appetizers look Elegant and Appetizing

There are many ways to give an elegant touch to your party appetizers. They can be very simple and understated or expensive and unique but they will all draw attention to the foods you have so lovingly prepared for your party or special event. 

Trays and Other Containers

An elegant silver tray will make your appetizers more formal and appealing. Flat baskets of Italian breads will look warm and inviting. A copper chafing dish with meatballs or egg rolls will keep them warm and appetizing.  A Mexican sombrero brim can be filled with tortilla chips to go with the seven layer dip and homemade salsa you have chosen. Use containers that match the theme and colors of the event for impact and impression.


Sometimes just a simple garnish alongside the foods will draw oohs and aahhs from your guests. A Christmas salmon tray would be complete with a cream cheese Santa Claus. Fruit kabobs for a baby shower would look just right with a watermelon baby carriage centerpiece. Sometimes just a dusting of chopped red and green pepper or parsley flakes will make your foods come alive.  

Method of Service

Instead of just setting appetizers on a flat table, create elevations for more interest and easier access. Use crates or boxes of varying heights, cover with linens and set trays on top.  Hire a gloved waiter to pass easy-to-serve foods as well as wines and other drinks. If you wish to serve meats with tiny pocket rolls and condiments, consider displaying large pieces of tenderloin, prime rib or New York strip that can be carved in front of the guests by a uniformed chef or cook and then served. If you have several different types of appetizers, consider spreading them around your home or party area in different stations where guests can mingle and sample at their leisure.


Surround your appetizers on a buffet table with delightful and interesting accents. Candelabra, fresh flowers, ice carvings and seasonal centerpieces are just a few that can be used for extra impact. Add votive candles all around the foods for evening functions.  Use different shaped tables for a more elegant but eclectic look. Linens and table skirting will also add color and texture.

There are so many ways to elegantly serve appetizers at your event – the methods you choose will depend on your food selections, your budget and personal preferences. Choose the ones that will suit the theme and tone of your event in the best way possible. 

Restaurant Recommendations for Liverpool

Traveling to Liverpool England this year? If so check out one or all ten of the best restaurants for your dining fare.

The Brasserie at Formby Hall is located at Southport Old Road, Formby on 135 acres of superb parkland. This is England’s Golf Coast, and you can partake of a few rounds during your visit. Why not create your meal by sampling the “Charred quail with chili, Lime & oregano, fine bean & plum tomato salad.”

If this is not to your liking you may choose the most exquisite Thai cuisine in England at the Chaophraya Liverpool, located at Liverpool One, 5-6 Kenyon Steps, Liverpool. Enjoy either lunch or dinner in this relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Going to downtown Liverpool? Simply Heathcotes Liverpool, is the place to enjoy traditional British dishes like grilled Welsh goat’s cheese salad, or seared fillet of sea bream with pearl barley & tarragon, red peppers & garlic for the main dish. Simply Heathcotes works with local farmers. They bring the freshest local meats, cheeses and produce to you. Children are also welcome within this stunning glass and granite landmark building.

If Italian is more to your liking you must see Il Forno Italian Restaurant Liverpool, located at 132 Duke Street, East Village. Be entertained by a Fire Breathing Mask pizza oven, or enjoy pasta and an evening special of Salmone Affumicato (Smoked Scottish salmon with beetroot).

Sapporo Teppanyaki Liverpool, located at 34 Duke Street, East Village, in the center of Chinatown, is a Japanese delight, and known as one of Liverpool, England’s best restaurants. In traditional Japanese style, you can enjoy theatre style seating while watching your chef cook chicken or lamb. A Sushi bar and a more traditional seating option are also available.

Perhaps you want an intimate dining experience for a business deal. If so check out The Brasserie at Malmaison, located at the Princes Dock, in Liverpool. Known to locals as the “Mal”, you will find the best Lancashire and Cheshire produce used here. Two private rooms are available seating 10, one of which boasts a “chef cam” where you can view your meal being prepared.

Searching for something a little less formal but still in the top 10? Make your way to 25-27 Castle Street, to the Olive Press Pizzeria Bar & Grill. Located in the middle of the financial district, this is the perfect place for that quick business lunch. Totally Italian, you can get pizza and various kinds of specialty dishes. When the business day is done take the family, as toddlers eat free, not to mention they offer a cooking class for kids.

Would you like a relaxed and unique Thai experience brought to you by the same owners of Chaophraya? Then you must visit Yee Rah Bar & Grill located at Liverpool One, 14 Paradise Street, Liverpool. From traditional Thai to outstanding international dishes, Yee Rah combines the best.

Looking for Liverpool nightlife and poker? Look no further than 110 Brasserie located at Circus Casino, Queen Square,. While you choose from a variety of casino games like Three Card Poker, Blackjack or the Electronic Roulette table; you can partake of dishes like tempura battered shrimp, English steaks, or soups of the day to mention a few.

Last but not least is the Fraiche – Birkenhead. Located at 11 Rose Mount, Oxton, Birkenhead, if you are hungry for a 15 course French meal.

There you have it, the best restaurants in Liverpool. Don’t delay, fly, set sail; however, you travel, be on your way and check out the top of the line dining destinations today.

Foods to help you Sleep

What we eat does indeed affect how we feel, and it just so happens that certain properties of foods combined with their often psychological associations of comfort and warmth can work to enhance relaxation. The fact that you can actually eat to relax and reduce anxiety is a wonder, but which foods can do this?

Foods containing the amino acid tryptophan are excellent choices as they, especially when paired with calcium or magnesium, produce melatonin and serotonin – two powerful neurotransmitters that cause the brain to relax and encourage sleep and a restful mood. Complex carbohydrates like oats and magnesium are also elements that can encourage repose.

Here are some foods that have been proven to enhance feelings of calmness. In addition, not only will these foods help you to relax, but will also ensure you’re not deficient in any of the essential and restorative nutrients they contain.


Turkey is often, at least in western contexts, associated with holidays, comfort foods and a heart fulfilling and satisfying meal. It is often the centerpiece for thanksgiving or Christmas tables or even Sunday roast dinners in England. However, it also contains good amounts of tryptophan. So that healthy turkey stir-fry or turkey soup can be an excellent comfort food that actually produces feelings of composure and comfort.

Dark chocolate

Yes, for lovers of chocolate who want to relax, opt for dark chocolate as opposed to the high sugar content of standard milk chocolate bars, which can have the opposite effect and work to excite instead of unwind. Dark chocolate also happens to contain tryptophan, and when paired with milk, (which also contains the amino acid) you’ve got yourself a double-winning combination! Especially since warm milk has long-time been a traditional source of comfort, which has been used for eons to help one relax and nod off to sleep. Why not make a dark hot chocolate? Slightly sweet, warm and comforting to help you repose from the frustrations of the day.


Soup is a suitably soothing option for many reasons. First, it has the psychological associations of warmth and comfort, something eaten to get better if sick or on a cold wintry day. Secondly, it’s fulfilling and satisfying, mainly due to the large water content. However, it can be much more than all of these benefits and be a powerhouse of nutritious nutrients that can help you unwind. Consider adding tryptophan-rich foods, such as turkey, but also consider adding magnesium-rich foods like spinach. Magnesium is excellent because it works to relax tired nerves and muscles, a deficiency of which can cause tension, cramps and just general overall feelings of fatigue. You can make a creamed spinach and turkey soup, where the cream will contain some added vitamin D and calcium as well as tryptophan – which all work in harmony to enhance feelings of restfulness.


Complex low-energy releasing carbohydrates, such as oats can, when paired with milk manufactures serotonin, which produces feelings of restfulness. Besides, the many other benefits of oats, like its lowering-cholesterol properties and suitability for people with diabetes, it has the potential to heal feelings of hunger and contribute to feelings of well-being. Why not gain maximum benefits and a pair a bowl of oats with milk and sprinklings of dark chocolate for a harmonizing relaxation-inducing meal?

Are the most Expensive Restaurants in the World Worth their Pricetags – No

Just like everything else in this superficial world we live in going out to eat is a status symbol. Going out to a fancy restaurant is just as important as BEING SEEN in a fancy restaurant. It’s quite similar to being seen in a high end retail store like Coach or Louis Vuitton. People will go in to these stores with no intention of buying their overpriced accessories. They look around, touch the merchandise, then hope someone they know sees them. After that they go to Wal-mart and get the handbag or footwear that they need.

I have been to just about every restaurant type imaginable. Along with fast food and chain restaurants, I’ve been to steak houses where the steak cost more than my monthly car payment. I’ve been to Italian restaurants in which the total check made my eyes leave their sockets. Of course who can forget the tourist traps we all go to when we’re on vacation. We figure we’re on vacation so who cares if we spend 20 bucks for a hamburger.

In these trying economic times, people are staying home more than ever. Restaurants are suffering. They are doing whatever they can to bring in customers. I get more coupons and special offers from eateries than I do junk mail these days. My wife and I take advantage of these deals and use whatever they send us when we go out for dinner…it’s silly not to.

Why go to an expensive restaurant and give them an entire week’s paycheck when I can go to TGI Fridays and have a quality meal for a fraction of the price? In my opinion, there isn’t much difference in the quality of food. Essentially, you’re paying for the ambiance and decor of the restaurant. Also mixed in to the prices are what I like to call a, “right to be there” fee. It’s almost like a cover charge. For those who are all about status, it’s worth it to them.

Wealthy people can certainly afford a high end restaurant. A 50 dollar steak to them is like a McDonald’s hamburger to the rest of us. This isn’t class envy of jealousy on my part, this is just about practicality. There are far more people who struggle and live week to week than there are millionaires. Those who cannot afford upscale places but go anyway are playing a dangerous game of chicken. Is being seen at a restaurant you can’t afford more important than making sure your essential bills are paid? Sadly, for some people the answer is yes.

I understand the food is prepared differently and the overall quality of service is better at high end eateries but when you boil everything down, steak is still steak…pasta is still pasta…seafood is still seafood. Living above our means in this economy is foolish, especially when middle of the road restaurants  make it worth your while with their myriad of offers and discounts. I can take my family out for a wonderful, yummy dinner and spend no more than $40. What would $40 get you in a trendy mid-town Manhattan night spot? You’d probably need $40 just to give the Maitre D to get a table. Living within one´s means, or failure to do so, is one of the reasons that cause the economic meltdown of 2008. We all enjoy going out to eat every now and treating ourselves to a good meal. There are plenty of affordable places to go. Leave the expensive restaurants to those who can afford them.

Winter one Pot Meals

There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a hot and filling meal. Cooking main dish and vegetables in one pot saves you time, fuel, washing up and fuss. Stews and casseroles are the one-pot dishes that most cooks know, however, stew is not the be all and end all of one-pot dishes, and there are so many imaginative meals that you can cook using the one-pot method. Filling one-pot meals do not even have to be calorie laden; some recipes make meals that are less than 400 calories per person.

Slow cookers are excellent for cooking one-pot meals and save fuel. They also have the advantage that once you prepare the food you can leave it to cook quite safely. Using a slow cooker is an ideal way to cook when you are very busy, for example, during the run up to Christmas. You can be busy and still serve the family a nourishing, warming and filling meal.

Here is one recipe filling enough for the coldest winter day

Cowboy’s Chow

A little butter and a little flavourless oil

2lb plain sausages, that is without herbs

1 small or ½ large onion finely chopped

Small can plum tomatoes

1tsp tomato puree

can baked beans (15oz)

Tsp dried thyme or equivalent fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

2 tsp cornflour or cornstarch to thicken

Worcester sauce or a little Tabasco to taste

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan or skillet pan and quickly brown the sausages. Drain the fat from the sausages and place them in a slow cooker with the other ingredients. Cook on high setting for between 2 and 3 hours or 4-6 hours on the low setting. 30 minutes before serving blend the cornflour, or cornstarch, with a tiny amount of water and stir into the chow.

This is an excellent winter meal suitable for the whole family, and kids love it. You could serve with crusty fresh bread or rolls. You could also serve it with sauté potatoes, French Fries, English chips, or potato wedges.

You could always make an old-fashioned stew, which is tasty and warming but one-pot meals can be so much more versatile. Home style Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy is a great way to cook a whole meal in one pot and use a variety of seasonal winter vegetables. On the same web page, South Western style Beef and Potato Bake is a different take on the British favourite Cottage Pie and again provides a complete meal in one pot.

A slow cooker is so useful for cooking one-pot meals and there are many wonderful slow cooker recipes on the Internet. Slow cookers use very little fuel, and once you place your prepared ingredients into the pot, require little attention. Slow cookers also enable you to use the cheaper cuts of meat, which require slow, gentle cooking to make them tasty. Slow cookers concentrates flavours making one –pot dishes even more satisfying.

There some excellent, imaginative slow cooker recipes on the Internet, try Italian Vegetable Bake, (for American cooks, courgette is zucchini, and aubergine is eggplant) a tasty, colourful dish, just the thing to bring sunshine to a winter day.

Vegetarians will find some excellent one-pot recipes on the Internet. You could alter some of these recipes to make them suitable for cooking in a slow cooker.

There is nothing more comforting or satisfying than soup on a cold winter day. Main course soups or chowders with chunky meat and/or vegetables are the ultimate one-pot meal. Just serve with crusty bread, croutons, toasted slices of baguette, or other soup accompaniments.

Traditional dishes such as macaroni cheese, stews and casseroles make super satisfying one-pot meals. However, there is much more to one-pot meals than traditional favourites. A browse through some internet recipes will reveal imaginative, satisfying and tasty one-pot meals to delight your family’s taste buds all winter long and comfort you on the coldest winter day.

Restaurant Reviews Rodeo Grill Beach Rotana Hotel Abu Dhabi Uae

The Rodeo Grill is one of a number of restaurants open to the public within the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. As in most of the United Arab Emirates, alcohol is not served outside hotels, so its clientele – in keeping with its neighbouring establishments, tends toward tourists and foreign business people. The Rodeo is an American-style steak house serving grills and seafood, with the slightest of non-committal nods in the direction of vegetarians.

The décor is American-inspired, with a variety of seating to accommodate all tastes (including armchairs, more traditional tables and booths). In keeping with most hotel establishments, the staff speak excellent English and service tends to be attentive (even slightly intrusive) but impeccable. The menu is mercifully brief, concentrating mainly on steaks, which are served with two different types of sauces (including Béarnaise, mushroom and green peppercorn) and two sides from a lengthy list of alternatives.

Prices, like most hotel establishments in the Emirates, are eye-wateringly expensive, with appetisers around GBP £15/USD $25, main courses at £30/$50 and deserts at £10/$15. The restaurant serves a wide variety of alcoholic drinks, with well known wine labels across a range of budgets and bottled American and European lagers. We ordered two bottles of beer and a large sparkling water, which was served and deposited in an ice bucket to keep it cold.

Weary from our long-haul flight from the UK, and not wanting to overdo it before going to bed, we decided to skip the appetisers, and both of us ordered the 300g ribeye – one medium and the other rare. These were to be accompanied by market vegetables, chunky fries, gratin potatoes and a mixed salad (i.e. two sides each).

A few minutes after placing our order we were served a “carousel” of fresh bread – six individual buns of different bread baked together to make one loaf. It was warm and delicious and quickly devoured. While we were busy scoffing the bread, we were each delivered an “amuse bouche” of a soft salmon concoction dressed with salad leaves and a reduced balsamic vinegar dressing. It was an unexpected and successful surprise.

The main courses arrived fairly quickly and were garnished with some satisfyingly chunky (if a little oily) fried onion rings and a baked tomato. The rare ribeye was tender, flavourful and cooked to perfection– the lack of blood on the plate testament to the fact that it had been hung and aged properly. It was almost a travesty to assault it with the Béarnaise sauce, but even that was well balanced, complementing the meat rather than dominating it.

We declined puddings in favour of coffee, which was served with a pair of round chocolate balls, which looked very much like truffles. However, I was mildly surprised when I bit in to one and found that the dark chocolate contained a centre of lemon sorbet. A chilly, but enjoyable shock that also served as an effective palate cleanser and full stop to a well constructed meal.

Once you get past the expense of eating in the Emirates, and start comparing offerings not on expense, but on culinary merit, it’s easier to recommend the Rodeo Grill as a great option for the incorrigible carnivore. The service and food are top notch, but the restaurant itself lacks a little ambience and atmosphere despite (or perhaps because of) the themed décor -which seems an odd contrast to the white-robed Emirati’s sipping coffee and tea in the hotel atrium, just beyond its entrance.

Jimmy Cantlers Riverside Inn Annapolis Maryland

Crabbing in Maryland is an experience that first timers will either love or hate. The concept is as simple as it is rustic. You get a bushel of freshly steamed crab, seasoned with a local spice called “Old Bay” (a heady mix of several ingredients including mustard, paprika, bay leaf, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, and ginger) a mallet for cracking the shell and not much else other than cold beer and fries.

Getting to Cantler’s is as much of an experience as eating there. You’ll find it at the end of  a single lane road that offers a wide variety of scary looking accommodation, interspersed with some lush looking houses. Given its location on Mill Creek, right on the Chesapeake, you really need a car or taxi (or boat, should you be so lucky!) to get there. Cantler’s is a family run business that has been around since 1974. It’s eponymous owner worked as a waterman on Chesapeake Bay.

The porch is impressively decorated with both local and national awards and acknowledgements, and leads into a cozy dining-room lined with bench-like tables covered simply with plain thin cardboard table cloths. The restaurant has an outside area right on the creek as well as an inside dining room. It has an obvious nautical theme, and its wood interior and low ceilings give it a real faux-shack feel. The area to the left of the door is dominated by a large bar (which serves food and snacks at bar side stools) and the constantly swinging door in and out of the kitchens. There is a natural bustle to the place that just adds to the atmosphere.

Service was immediate and attentive, with several young ladies in Cantler’s T-shirts (yours for only $17.95 in a variety of fashionable colors!) making the rounds to explain the system. Their “Feast” package, includes aforesaid crabs, generous helpings of steamed shrimp, giant, Olympic-sized onion rings, lashings of French fries and tubs of coleslaw, along with buckets of canned beer on ice, including the unlikely-sounding Yeungling’s – the oldest continuously operating brewery in the US, operating up the road in Pottsville, Pennsylvania (and anglicized from the German name “Jüngling”). This was all to be polished off by a selection of home-made deserts. A swift crab-cracking tutorial followed before service commenced. Incidentally, those not partial to seafood or alcohol are offered suitable alternatives.

You’ll never have to work harder when you’ve paid to eat. Maryland Blues are around five to seven inches across and getting into them requires a bit of muscle and graft. That said, there is something oddly primeval and satisfying in taking a large wooden mallet to a crustacean, and you kind of get into the flow of things. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll end up making an almighty mess, so make sure you don’t arrive in your Sunday best. The crabs themselves, once you get into them, are perfectly cooked and seasoned, so that dipping them in the little pots of drawn butter provided almost seemed like sacrilege.

Given the crustaceans are the main event, its easy to forget the sides. The onion rings were delicious – real, giant rings of onion covered in a delicate and flavorful batter that didn’t overwhelm them. Even the standard French fries were a cut above the ordinary. Only desert was a teeny bit of a let-down, with the archetypical local version of death by chocolate being wheeled out, and proving a little too rich and sickly sweet after three or four forkfuls. There is a display of the “merchandising” in a glass cabinet between the toilets, which, incidentally, were quite small and cramped for a restaurant the size of Cantler’s, and as such, not particularly clean.

Appetizers go for around $10, sandwiches around $12, and mains from around $20. Soft drink refills are free, and as mentioned before, they also do a limited menu of steaks, ribs and chicken for “land lovers”. Tipping is expected, with 18% added for service to groups of ten or more. If you’re planning on going, their web site ( is a must visit, providing directions, booking details, opening times, recipes and several how-to guides on buying, preparing and eating crab. Parking on-site is limited, so car-pooling is suggested, and if you’re lucky enough to be going by boat, there is free mooring for patrons. They are open seven days a week, and will not take bookings during their busy season, so its first come first served. 

So is Cantler’s worth the diversion? Absolutely. Its reputation as a local institution is well justified. Sure, your hands will be stinking of crab and you’ll be sweating out Old Bay for a few days, but it’s well worth the experience – and that’s what it is really – a social experience that’s perfect for a fun night out, provided no one is too fussy to join in.

Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn
458 Forest Beach Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: 410-757-1311

Restaraunt Reviews Taste of Thailand Etobicoke Ontario Canada

I fear I may be a biased writer as I write this restaraunt review, however if you are looking for the best Thai place West of Toronto, look no further than Taste of Thailand!

Located on 5310 Dundas Street West, Just about a block from the Kipling TTC stop, tucked across the street of the Canadian Tire and curiously (or suspiciously?) next door to the “Adult Video and Play Store” This Thai restaraunt offers fine fare, great food, a lunch special menu stocked full of goodies and a selection of other fine menu items and drinks!

I have visited “The Taste of Thailand” on more than five different occsions and I have never left disappointed. I particularly like the curries that they serve, but for those with a taste for something nice but not quite so spicy the signature Chicken Pad Thai never disappoints either.

Lunch specials are served from 11:30am to 3pm, with a soup of the day and a spring roll. I’ve enjoyed the tang and bite of a Thai hot and sour soup, and a nice aromatic and wholesome pumpkin soup that they once served on a seasonal basis. Special Menu prices range from Six to Ten dollars, but are well worth the value given.

A good selection of curries and seafood and other dishes are available off the regular menu. One of my favorites is the Ginger Duck, the tender meat mixed in with a variety of vegetables and the ginger flavoring really leaves the taste buds begging for more. Full Menu prices range from Eight to Fifteen dollars, and the portions are well worth the prices!

The Taste of Thailand has a liquor license, which allows them to serve various drinks and offers a fair standard selection of beers and wines. Outside of perhaps one of the Thai beers, I had not noticed anything particularly exotic or different from what you could likely pick up at a local Beer Store or LCBO.
My drink suggestion for this restaraunt is of the non-alcoholic variety.
Ask for a Thai Iced Tea. A mixture of a blended Thai Tea, the flavoring is a succulent and sweet assault on the taste buds, with a heavy cream decadence that just lingers there for a few moments. This drink compliments a good spicy dish nicely for cooling down the heat. For coffee lovers Thai Iced Coffee is available too.

However, hands down, if you are looking to share or split one of the restaraunts appetizers, they have one of the finest most decadent creations of an appetizer I have ever had the pleasure to crunch down upon.

The best appetizer that makes Taste of Thailand rather unique in just about the ENTIRE greater Toronto area, as I haven’t ever seen it on any menus elsewhere in the GTA to this point, is a bit of a ‘steal’ from the New England area Thai Restaurants, it is the dish of Crab Rangoon.

Crab Rangoon takes the deliciousness of a wonton wrapping, stuffs it full of a mixture of imitation crab meat, whipped cream cheese, chopped chives, crushed garlic and a few other ‘secret ingredients’ and then puts it in a deep frier to toast it to a warm perfection. It comes served with a sweet Thai sauce with small red pepper flakes suspended in it. At a reasonable Five dollar appetizer price you get four rather large Rangoon-Meteorites served at your table.

On repeated visits my friends and I have re-named it, due to the decadent nature of the dish “Crack Rangoon”.

Visit Taste of Thailand, and enjoy many tastes and dishes for yourself. Keep them in business, as they certainly deserve it, and I would be heartbroken if my only local source of “Crack Rangoon” disappeared without a trace.

Expensive Restaurants Restaurants Fine Dining Eating Food Culinary – Yes

A restaurant experience is what one makes of it. Each day, some diners choose to purchase a $1.00 burger at the local fast food joint and others opt for a delicately plated ice cream sundae with gold shavings for $1000. What is good for one (either for the palette, the pocket or both) may not be good or desirable for another. Dining is about the food as much as it is about the experience. What may be desirable to one may not be to another.

So, are the most expensive restaurants in the world worth their price tags? Sure they are! Because the people who choose to dine there are dining for the food and the experience. The amount of the meal connotes a value that is acceptable to them, hence why they pay the price to dine. Each time one makes a purchase, we expect that the return will be greater than the price we have paid. The return could be anything, such as the satisfaction for enjoying a fine dining experience. A person appalled by someone who would purchase a $1000 ice cream sundae may be appalling to someone else because they spend what they may perceive to be a high price on something else. Expensive is relative, worth is determined on an individual basis.

For many, dining is an experience that is meant to be enjoyed and pursuing a variety of dining experiences is a key part of life no matter the cost. Those who are willing and able to pay the price for a culinary experience that many may consider “expensive” feel that the worth of the experience justifies the cost. The price one is willing to pay for a good or service isn’t right or wrong, nor can another tell a person what the worth of the experience should be. We are free to choose the dining experience that we desire and to embark upon the culinary journey that bring our palette and all of our senses delight. For some, dining has been described as a spiritual experience, Charlie Trotter once wrote “All four elements were happening in equal measure – the cuisine, the wine, the service and the overall ambiance. It taught me that dining could happen on a spiritual level.”

According to Forbes (2005 list), some of the most pricey restaurants in the world are: Aragwa (Japan), Arpege (France), Eigensinn Farm (Canada), Sketch (London) and Tetsuya’s (Sydney).

Kenza Devonshire Square London

Kenza (which means “treasure” in Arabic) is located in Devonshire Square, a traffic-free series of connected courtyards teeming with shopping, bars and eateries that is located between Liverpool Street and Aldgate. Along with Kenza, the area boasts the Cinnamon Kitchen and a Marco Pierre White steakhouse. As expected, it’s very popular with the professional crowd, as trains and tubes home are just round the corner. The entrance is off the main courtyard and down an unassuming side passage – just walk toward the red carpet – the only thing of real colour in the alley. Parking in the area is difficult at best, so public transport is your best bet.

First Impressions

The ornate entrance, which leads to a softly lit spiral staircase, is a small taste of things to come. It leads to a fabulous basement dining room richly and lavishly decorated with fabrics, soft furnishings, and intricate Moorish art. The room offers a variety of seating arrangements such as long tables, private booths, and secluded corners, with a private dining room also available for small groups.  Settings are each laid with a dark red napkin adorned with a single red, silky rose petal. Once seated a drinks order is taken, and there is an intriguing selection of cocktails available (menu on the table). That said, beer was limited to either Efes (Turkish) or Cobra (Indian) which didn’t really seem in keeping with the theme. The menu provides a broad variety of familiar hot and cold meze, and a large selection of grills and bakes for the main courses.

Moorish Meze

Some excellent green and black olives, crudités and a tahini-based dip are served while waiting for appetisers to arrive, which consisted of delicious, fresh warmed pitta bread, along with a pretty good hummus, a fantastic baba ghanoush (a tahini and aubergine dip) and a decent tabbouleh nestled on a romaine lettuce base. After a short interval the hot stuff followed – a patata harra (reminiscent of patatas bravas in tapas, but a LOT spicier), deep fried lamb and bulghur kofteh filled with mince, onion and pine nuts, and sambousek – a delicious concoction of shredded chicken with onions and walnuts. The food effortlessly matched the lushness of the décor. Portions were very well sized, leaving plenty of room for the main courses to follow.


Once the hot meze was demolished there was something of a pause. The piped music, which to that point, was a rather incongruous mellow house mix, suddenly changed tack and started blaring out cheesy Arabic pop. The reason for the change of pace soon became apparent as three scantily clad belly dancers started to make their way through the dining room wiggling for all they were worth. The whole performance seemed a little twee and forced, and frankly, could have been done without. The female diners studiously ignored them, whilst their male partners kept eyes down, with the occasional surreptitious peek so as not to offend their dates. After about ten minutes of strutting their stuff to some distorted wailings over the in-house speaker system, the dancers withdrew, never to return. The music reverted back to mellow house and it was as if the whole thing never quite happened. Surreal.

Middling Mains

After the dancing, the main course arrived – a veritable mountain of various barbecued meats piled on a plate of rice and salad. It looked quite promising but unfortunately, in keeping with the dance performance it followed, it was something of a disappointment. Apart from the spiced minced lamb (kafta lahmé) everything was too dry and more than a little overcooked. The lamb cubes (lahem meshoué) which should have been quite tender were especially stringy – much more in keeping with a local kebab house than a City eatery charging a premium for it. The chicken cubes were quite flavourful and well marinated, but the taste was let down by its texture. Only copious helpings of the garlic and harissa sauces provided saved the mains from mediocrity.

By 9pm (on a Tuesday evening) most diners had been and gone, and no one seemed to be coming to take their places. Apparently, the restaurant is only open until 10pm. In any event, it seemed the waiting staff had disappeared with them, as we barely saw anyone for five minutes at a time. Eventually, the equivalent of a North African chaiwallah appeared with a pot of sweet mint tea and made a grand performance of pouring the tea from a great height into the glass cups on his bronzed tray. With the tea dutifully distributed, a tall dessert stand arrived, generously filled with Turkish Delight, some decent baklava and sweets, and a large helping of fresh fruits.

Tragic or Treasure?

So, is Kenza worthy of a special night out? Given that the a la carte menu offerings average around £5.50 a plate for the meze, £18.00 per main and £6 for puddings, a couple could expect to part with around £50 a head (including a £1.50 per person cover charge and the “discretionary” 12.5% gratuity added to your bill). Cocktails are priced around a tenner, which is average for this neck of the woods. There is no doubt you are paying for the location (a hop and a skip to Liverpool Street), the décor (certainly interesting and different) and the lack of competition (there are very few of these joints in London, never mind the City), but even with all of the quibbles it is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

That said, food-wise there is better value to be had elsewhere in London – such as any of the Marroush empire in the less salubrious surroundings of Edgware Road, but Kenza has its place and is worth a look.


Booking Details


10 Devonshire Square

London EC2M 4YP

020 7929 5533


Mon – Fri 12:30 to 3:30pm (Lunch)

Mon – Sat 5:30 to 10pm (Dinner)

Closed on Sunday