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Empire Building

Empire Building


The Empire Room restaurant at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate in Kent, has been included in the prestigious Harden’s restaurant guide for the first time.

The 2018 edition of annual guide of the best UK restaurants – the 27th – is based on a survey of 8,500 diners who contributed 50,000 reviews of their restaurant experiences. Ratings are provided for food, service and ambiance, where a score of 5 is exceptional, 4 is very good, 3 is good, 2 is average, and 1 is poor.

The Empire Room ranks highly with 4s in each of the three criteria, with the Guide reporting: “Freshly landed fish straight from boat to kitchen, prepared by chef Craig Mather’s delicate touch ... with the ambience of a private dining club ... excellent value set menu.”

Empire Room is one of eight Thanet restaurants to be included in the 2018 edition. Ramsgate’s only other entrant is Flavours By Kumar.

Another debutant is Stark, which joins Wyatt & Jones from Broadstairs

In Margate The Ambrette, Bay at Sands Hotel, GB Pizza, Hantverk & Found are featured.

Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2018 guide is available from bookshops and online for £15.99.


Curry Diet

Curry Diet


Dieters looking to detox and shed a few pounds in January following the excesses of the festive season, are being advised not to leave curry off their diet in the New Year, by an award-winning Kent restaurateur.

Spicy foods are known to stimulate the metabolism, boost the immune system and boost the spirits on cold, damp dark winter days. Popular curry recipes contain turmeric, cumin, allspice, cardamom, ginger, garlic and capsicum - spices with strong anti-bacterial properties.

Rob Khan, the owner of The Rajdani near Sevenoaks, which was recently named Best Indian Restaurant in the South East at the Asian Curry Awards, says that contrary to popular belief, Indian food is not fattening: “When do you ever see an overweight Indian waiter, or even a rotund Indian chef?” he asked, with the proviso, “Some of the richer dishes laden with cream and butter should be avoided if you want to lose weight – and go easy on the lager.”

Apart from promoting weight loss, the spices use in Indian cookery offer a whole host of health benefits. Natural herbs and spices were used for their health-giving qualities for thousands of years before the invention of modern medicine. Many of the synthetic chemicals used in prescription and over-the-counter drugs, are derived from the active ingredients originally found in popular culinary flavourings.

“When I feel a cold coming on, my body instinctively craves spicy dishes like Jalfrazi, Dansak and Madras,” said Rajdani’s head chef Jimmi Shab.

“If my body energy levels are low I go for easily digestible, sizzling dishes like Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Fish or lightly spiced Shashlick (kebab) with capsicums, onion and vegetables.

“Rich Masala and Korma dishes are great for boosting energy – as long as you keep the portions small,” added Shab, who will be adding new lighter dishes to his menu with more vegan, vegetarian, fish and gluten-free options.


Sloe Gin Champs

Sloe Gin Champs


Sloe gin makers from across the world gathered at a village pub on the Kent/Sussex border to vie for the ‘Sloe Gin World Champion’ title on Sunday 10th December.

An annual event, hosted by The George Inn in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, this was the 9th such competition, it attracted 36 entries from as far afield as Canada, Germany and Scotland, raising over £2,000 for charity. Over 200 people attended, making a donation to sample the gins.

Last year’s runner-up, London-based Mother’s Ruin, scooped the top prize in the commercial category, with local Anno Distillery of Marden in Kent, being awarded the silver medal.

There were also notable entries from The Lakes Sloe Gin in Cumbria, Devine Vineyards in British Columbia in Canada, Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods of Malton, in North Yorkshire, Addingham Fruit Liqueurs in West Yorkshire, and Demijohn from Edinburgh, who were all Highly Commended.

On the winning sloe gin, judges noted: “intensely flavoured with delicious rich notes of plum and almond, balanced perfectly with the gin botanicals. It is made gin using a recipe handed down from the owner Becky Griffith’s own mother. She employs an old school approach of cold infusion over a very long period of time, which is hand-made, hand filtered and hand bottled.

The homemade category, which attracted more than 30 artisan entries, a record number, was won by pub regular George Shaw, a restaurant marketing consultant, who attributed the success of his winning concoction to the use of demerara, sugar, cinnamon, almonds and dried apple, measured in traditional Imperial, rather than metric, units.

“With two German contestants this year, I’m just glad it didn’t come down to penalties,” said Shaw.

The runner-up was Liz Rayner from Mark Cross in East Sussex

Proceeds were donated to the MS Society which supports people with Multiple Sclerosis. One of the Sloe Gin World Championships founder, ‘Merlot’ Mike Mattews, who died suddenly in September this year, had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. The ‘Merlot’ Mike Matthews Memorial Trophy will be now presented each year to the winner of the home-made category.


Greenwich Curry Club Awards Winners

Greenwich Curry Club Awards Winners


The winners of this year’s Greenwich Curry Club Awards, sponsored by Goa Premium Beer and held in association with the Greenwich Visitor – a local newspaper, which publishes a regular curry column – have been revealed

All the awards were chosen by local curry lovers, who voted online for their favourite restaurants and takeaways, except for the Goa Beer Greenwich Curry Club Special Award, which was chosen by members of the Greenwich Curry Club.

Restaurants and takeaways Greenwich, Maze Hill, Blackheath, Westcombe Park, Lewisham, Ladywell, Deptford, New Cross, Charlton in south east London were eligible.

The Darjeeling in Lewisham scooped the main award, being named, the Greenwich Curry Club’s Favourite Restaurant for 2017.

Darjeeling owner Foyeg Kazi, who has been running the restaurant for 15 years, said: “We have a loyal following so it is thanks to them we have picked up this award. I’m thrilled for the team and we will keep working to serve up good quality food at real value prices.”

Darjeeling also won the award for Restaurant Offering Outstanding Value, an award they have now won three times.

This is the first year the awards have been sponsored by Goa Premium Beer, a gluten-free pilsner, brewed in Indian, that is ideal with spicy food, has sponsored the Awards.

“Thanks to the support of Goa Beer we have enjoyed our best ever Awards and are delighted that they joined us in celebrating the restaurants, takeaways and staff that make this such a great industry in our area,” said Daniel Ford, founder of the Greenwich Curry Club.

Mogul Home Dining Kitchen, located along the Trafalgar Road in Greenwich, picked up the Favourite Takeaway award. This year Mogul celebrated its 40th anniversary. Its Home Dining Kitchen opened in 2011 to offer a dedicated takeaway service.

Mountain View, also on the Trafalgar Road, was voted as the Restaurant Offering Outstanding Service.

Kasturi, Charlton’s “classy” Indian restaurant, announced its arrival onto the local scene by picking up the Favourite New Restaurant award.

Members of the Curry Club decided that this year’s Goa Beer Greenwich Curry Club Special Award should go to the Royal Nepalese in Westcombe Park in recognition of its outstanding main dish Langtang Lamb. This succulent Himalayan dish, cooked with garlic, ginger, green chilli, fresh mint and mango chutney, had even the grumpiest of members cooing in delight and that in itself is worth an award.

"The Greenwich Curry Club Awards are an excellent initiative, recognising the merits of best local curry houses and encouraging ever higher culinary standards," said Goa Premium Beer MD Ben Parmar, who added, "We applaud Daniel Ford's endeavours and hope other areas of the country will take Greenwich's lead and organise their own, similar local awards scheme".

Darjeeling will host a celebrator dinner for up to 50 regulars on 23rd January, serving with a special £15 3-course meal including a complimentary bottle of the award-winning Goa beer.



Empire Room gourmet takeaways to aid Kent coast

Empire Room gourmet takeaways to aid Kent coast


The critically acclaimed Empire Room restaurant at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate in Kent, has announced a Tiffin Club takeaway scheme, aimed at reducing marine plastic pollution. The takeaway Tiffin Club service for local residents will launch in the New Year.

As an alternative to single use plastic containers, multi-use tiffin tins are widely used in India. They usually consist of a tower of three or four interlocking steel containers, which clamp together with a carry handle.

Explaining the decision for his archetypal British restaurant, serving seasonal menus of locally sourced ingredients, to use containers from the Indian subcontinent, hotelier James Thomas said,” I was attending a wedding in India recently and thought tiffins would be ideal solution for delivering hot meals to guests in the hotel’s 27 bedrooms.”

James Thomas began his career in hospitality, working for London’s top hotels – The Savoy, Claridge’s and The Berkeley. The traditional form of trolley-based room service practiced in these 5-star venues, reliant on roomy lifts and wide corridors, is not an option in the rambling, 5-storeys of the boutique Royal Harbour Hotel, set in three Georgian terrace houses.

Tiffin tins are perfect logistically, for both room service and takeaway orders.

“Regulars to the Empire Room, disillusioned with the standards of typical fast food takeaways, have expressed an interest in options with higher culinary aspirations, like those available in London – and using tiffins is logical and environmentally friendly,” said Thomas.

“I was moved by David Attenborough’s excellent Deep Blue BBC II TV documentary series, showing the damage plastics cause to the environment, and decide we should be making a contribution to the health of our seas.

Guests at the Royal Harbour Hotel regularly take sea safaris to see a local seal colony, basking on sandbanks at low tide in a national nature reserve.
The Empire Room’s Michelin-trained head chef, Craig Mather, expects his gourmet tiffin takeaway menus, costing around 25 per cent less than dining in the cosy, club-like, 40-cover restaurant, to be especially popular for dinner parties.

Members of the Empire room’s Tiffin Club scheme will pay a nominal fee, which includes a deposit on the tiffin tins and a £5 donation to an environmental group committed to removing plastic waste from Thanet’s 7-Blue Flag beaches. Customers simply wash and swap the tins with their next takeaway.

“Because of the Empire Room’s theme – recalling days’ of the Raj, the fact that we overlook the sea and are dependent on locally landed, sustainable seafood – an ecologically sound Tiffin Club, aimed at protecting marine life, makes perfect sense,” said Craig.

Mather is also considering offering a small, optional donation of 25p for marine conservation, matched by the restaurant, in the price of each tiffin takeaway order.

To launch the Club, the restaurant is looking to host a charity fund-raising dinner in aid of marine conservation and will be donating £5 Tiffin Club meal vouchers to Thanet Coast Project volunteers taking part in their annual ‘Beachwatch clean up, as part of the Great British Beach Clean. Details at www.thanetcoast.org.uk/how-to-help/beach-cleans.

The restaurant is backing Chancellor Philip Hammond’s intention of introducing a levy on single-use plastics to tackle an issue which Greenpeace has deemed "a global emergency". The 5p tax on plastic carrier bags has been sufficient to cut their usage by 85%.

Tiffins are ubiquitous in Indian cities and at railway stations along the country’s 40,000 miles of tracks. India has one of the longest rail networks in the world. The introduction of the railways by the British during colonial times, saw the advent of ‘Railway’ mutton and chicken’ dishes served in tiffins. The dishes can still be found on some UK curry house menus today.


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