He might have left the country as Rick Stein. But he’s going to be returning as Rik Waller if he’s not careful. This new series sees the chef taking a gut-busting culinary tour of India. And it’s hard not to feel intensely jealous – the smells and flavours of the country practically jump off the screen. So does India’s brilliant bedlam – wisely, Stein doesn’t fight India’s kaleidoscopic chaos but instead, allows it to feed into the show.
The result feels pleasingly organic; as any visitor will know, much of the pleasure of India is to be found in the happy accident, the chance encounter and the feeling of letting things flow. Tonight, Stein visits Kolkata and Chennai, sampling deep fried flour balls, curried eggs, mulligatawny soup and much more. He also makes a beef Madras; a partial homage to the Anglicised curries that first launched Britain’s love affair with the food of the subcontinent. Thoroughly enjoyable.
If Rick James and Jay Gatsby got together to throw a bash, I reckon it would look like Fitz’s Bar. Jazz Age plumage fluffs up from behind chairs while a giant glitter ball hangs from above; the back bar’s arches hint at art deco elegance while bright modern art punctuates the walls; and music drifts from up-tempo funk to mellow jazz. Fitz’s sits inside The Principal London, just on the corner of Russell Square. This hotel comes from a UK group with prestige, and you sense it from the marble-heavy lobby leading into this disco decadence. Staff in floral print were accommodating from the get-go, showing off their new home as we entered and offering suggestions on where to take our night when we came to settle up. They promptly poured water and served Twiglets on the side, a fittingly retro touch. Snacks from the menu are well worth your attention, too – from oozing bone-marrow croquettes dressed with capers to salty hasselback potatoes topped with sour cream and caviar. Gatsby would approve. The cocktail menu is filled with illustrations and word clouds to help you figure out flavours. A fizz-heavy Spy Princess (£17) was served in a coupe with a splay of pretty petals on its frothy top. Veer from champagne cocktails and you get a more affordable hotel bar experience – £14 will get you a quirky and sublime cucumber-flavoured daiquiri or a Vesca Negroni, the classic drink lifted with coconut and rosehip. The team hails from London bars Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay – and it s
Venue says: “A Bloomsbury bar with a touch of timeless glamour - the perfect spot to escape the everyday.”