Special offer at the Jasmine Restaurant

Detail of the Kapalishvara Temple, Chennai
Detail of the Kapalishvara Temple, Chennai

Avzol from the Jasmine Restaurant on Shooters Hill e-mailed about my search for the perfect naan, and with a special offer for e-shootershill readers. He wrote:

Special offer for all at E-Shooters Hill  and also for your readers and subscribers. 20% Off* on all collections and deliveries at The Jasmine Restaurant until 19/03/2013.

*when paid in cash 10% otherwise, offer excludes king prawn dishes, chef’s specials and drinks.

Avzol thought that the secret of a perfect naan was in the preparation and freshness of the dough; they make their dough just before the restaurant opens and keep it chilled,  but they only make enough dough balls to last the evening, so it’s fresh every day. In his wide and long experience of tasting naan, he has “never found any naan tastier than those made by street vendors across India and Bangladesh, I suspect their over use of ghees make it that much more tastier”. So the more fat, the more flavour but the less healthy! At the Jasmine they aim to provide healthier food by using fresher ingredients and less salt, oils and ghee.

Seems like a good excuse to go for a curry.

The Jasmine Restaurant
The Jasmine Restaurant

French Evening at City View

Shooters Hill Campus
Shooters Hill Campus

City View Restaurant at Shooters Hill Post 16 Campus are holding a fund raising event on the evening of 7th February  to help pay for a  trip to Paris in April for their level 2 & 3 students. Most of the food will be donated by their suppliers, 3663, and other suppliers have either donated a raffle prize or given a discount. The Paris trip will also be funded by diners’ tips over the last year.

While in Paris the students will be having a go at croissant and baguette making, as well as seeing the sights of the city.

The evening costs £30, and starts with a tasting of some of the college’s French wines, with the opportunity to buy some to drink with your meal. The menu has a very French theme:

Wine tasting Reception
Escargots a l’ail
Snails in Garlic Butter
Cuisses de Grenouilles Provençale
Frogs Legs Provençale

Second Course

Quenelles de Brochet avec Bisque Sc
Quenelles of Pike with Bisque Sauce

Main course

Coq au vin

Plateau de Fromage
Selection French Cheeses


Tarte aux Citron
Lemon Tart

Chocolat Tarte
Chocolate Tart

Pot au Chocolat avec Madeleines
Chocolate pot with Madeleines
Café & Petit Fours

Tables can can be booked through the City View web pages or by phone on 020 8319 9790. If the food is anything like my recent visit to City View then it will be an excellent evening, though best approached with an empty tummy.

City View Restaurant

City View Restaurant at lunch time
City View Restaurant at lunch time

It’s not often that a meal out ends with the chefs coming out of the kitchen to hear what you thought of their cooking  and to share the tricks of their trade, but that’s what happened at the end of my Fine Dining evening at the City View Restaurant. In fact everyone in the crowded restaurant gave the young chefs a round of applause in appreciation of their cooking skills.

Before I visited City View I didn’t know what a Lemon Liaison was, now I know how to prepare one.

The chefs at the restaurant at the Shooters Hill Campus on Red Lion Lane are students studying for NVQs in catering and hospitality. At the Thursday Fine Dining Evening they all wear the red caps showing they are advanced, level 3 catering students – the level 2s wear black caps and level 1s white caps.  As well as preparing and cooking food for City View, students take on the role of greeters and waiters at the restaurant and prepare food for the campus canteens which cater for up to 250 students a day. Last year 100% of the students passed their NVQs;  work destinations for alumni include the Ivy, the Tate Modern restaurant and the Tudor Barn.

Earlier this year students had the opportunity to work with Michelin-starred chefs Richard Corrigan and Ron Blaauw on the catering for Sail Royal Greenwich Olympic tall ships cruises on the Thames. The London Calling  web site explained their task:

Michelin-starred chefs Richard Corrigan and Ron Blaauw (from Holland) have combined their skills to create recipes and menus designed specifically for the Sail Greenwich Ltd Olympic cruises. Under Corrigan’s and Blaauw’s guidance and supervision, three choices of menus (Walking Dinner, Gourmet Buffet or Buffet – each with a lunch and dinner variant) are produced by catering and hospitality students at Shooters Hill Post 16 Campus college. These students are already famous for their successful City View Restaurant, and the food served on Thalassa promises to be equally appetizing.

There are some great pictures of Richard Corrigan and Ron Blaauw with Shooters Hill students on the Uretopia Flickr site.

The menu for the evening looked interesting; it included several dishes I hadn’t tried before:

Tomato & Basil Soup

Garnished with Chicken Quenelles and Lemon Liaison


Smoked Salmon and Prawn Parcels

Lime and Dill Mayonnaise


Pan Fried Calves Liver with Crispy Pancetta with Lime Butter and Raspberry Vinegar

Served with Boursin, Sage & Potato Beignets

Grilled Parrot Fish with Ginger Garlic Dill & Turmeric Marinade

Served Creamed Potatoes

Cassette of Baby Vegetables

& Wild Mushroom “Choron”

Followed by

A Choice of Dessert, Fresh Fruit Salad or Cheese from the Sweet Trolley


The food was really very good; my only criticism was that the portions were too generous, and I had no room to try any of the amazing looking confections on the well-stocked dessert trolley. Our menu started with Tomato & Basil Soup garnished with Chicken Quenelles and Lemon Liaison which was delicious. The quenelle was surprisingly light, with a definite lemony nip to the chicken filling. A  bottle of Australian Chardonnay, costing a fraction of the price charged by most restaurants, matched it well. The Smoked Salmon and Prawn Parcel had a generous portion of creamy prawns with a tang of lime, wrapped in smoked salmon.
Smoked Salmon and Prawn Parcels with Lime and Dill Mayonnaise at City View Restaurant
Smoked Salmon and Prawn Parcels with Lime and Dill Mayonnaise at City View Restaurant
Then the delicately flavoured fish,  perfectly cooked, on a mound of smoothly creamed potato, with a creamy dill, prawn and caper sauce. And was it my imagination or had the sauce been shaped into a picture of a blue whale? When the post-prandial cup of decaffeinated coffee was accompanied  by a dish of chocolate-swirled cinder toffee I was starting to feel like my “waffer thin mint” moment was approaching.
Grilled Parrot Fish with Ginger Garlic Dill & Turmeric Marinade served with Creamed Potatoes
Grilled Parrot Fish with Ginger Garlic Dill & Turmeric Marinade served with Creamed Potatoes

The Fine Dining Evening costs £20 per person excluding drinks, which  just about covers the cost of the ingredients. The restaurant is decorated with photographs and art work produced by students and has great views over the city.  There’s been some changes since City View was last mentioned on e-shootershill: they now accept payment by card and cheque and they have relocated the smoking area. There are plenty of car-parking places in the evening, though we enjoyed the walk  down the hill.

City View also opens at lunch time from Tuesday to Friday. A full four course menu is available, but it is possible to choose which courses you have – for example just the soup course. When I visited at lunch time the main course was a generously portioned slow cooked braised lamb shanks served with buttered mash and greens, but I stuck to a starter of polenta crusted salmon goujons with spiced tomato and red pepper relish, which was delicious and enough for lunch.

Both lunch and the Fine Dining Evening can be booked through the City View web pages or by phone on 020 8319 9790. The web site has been redesigned recently and now includes a City View blog page for diners’ comments. If you want to really spoil yourself the college also have very reasonably priced, well equipped  hair and beauty salons.

City View Restaurant is well worth a visit, and you never know you may have a meal prepared by a future celebrity chef.

Shooters Hill Campus
Shooters Hill Campus
City View Restaurant in the evening
City View Restaurant in the evening

In Search of the Perfect Naan

Flower seller in the market in Bangalore
Flower seller in the market in Bangalore

My ideal for the perfect naan is one that I tasted on a business trip to Bangalore a few years ago, at the then Taj Residency hotel. The subtleties of air-fare pricing meant that it was cheaper for me to stay for an extra couple of days and come home on Sunday, even allowing for the cost of the – for India – extremely expensive business hotel. So I had a Saturday buzzing round the sites of Bangalore on a tuk-tuk – including the famous Nandi temple, Botanical Gardens and a crowded market. Exhausted at the end of the day, and faced with a 4 am alarm call the next day, I collapsed in the hotel buffet and feasted on hot, cooked-to-order naans and a selection of curries. Their naan, in my memory, had the right balance between lightness and doughiness, absorbency and firmness: a perfect vehicle for a spicy curry.

Before then I had always preferred chapatis, probably based on my introduction to Indian food at the Chakwal restaurant in Leeds, where a bowl of curry and three chapatis cost less than a pound, with a second bowl half price if you still had room –   perfect for a hungry student.

Star of Spice window
Star of Spice window

The local, Shooters Hill,  curry restaurants frequently come close to my ideal naan, but never quite meet it. The Star of Spice in Herbert Road is our usual destination, and I always enjoy their curries: not over-cooked or over-spiced, but with distinguishable spicy flavours and al-dente vegetables. And of course a cold beer or two, usually Kingfisher in memory of holidays in the Indian sub-continent where the bottles informed us that it was “Most Thrilling Chilled”.

The Jasmine Restaurant
The Jasmine Restaurant

For the sake of fairness, and variety,  it was necessary to visit the Ruchita on Shooters Hill as well, and that was equally enjoyable. It has recently changed hands, and name: it is now called the Jasmine. The new chef seems to be as good as the previous one, based on our first visit. Their Cauliflower Bhaji was just about perfect and their Chilli Masala Chicken made my lips go numb, in a nice way. The naan was good as well, but still not meeting the perfection of the platonic ideal naan.

The other Ruchita, the take-away on Herbert Road, is handicapped in the naan stakes by the foil bags that keep the bread warm during delivery: however quickly you open the bag it seems impossible to avoid that little bit of condensation that prevents the naan achieving perfection. Their portions however are very generous, and there’s always some left over for the freezer.

My favourite Indian restaurant isn’t in Shooters Hill, unfortunately. It’s a South Indian vegetarian restaurant over in Stoke Newington called the Rasa. The starter selection, of different and unexpected types of poppadom and vibrantly flavoured pickles, alone is enough to justify the journey through the Blackwall Tunnel from time to time. However, since I find their Dosas irresistible – especially the Chilli Onion Rava Dosa – they are exempted from the search for the perfect naan.

So the quest continues. If nothing else it’s a good excuse to eat more curries.

Nandi Idol at the Bull Temple in Bangalore
Nandi Idol at the Bull Temple in Bangalore

Palm Beach Nkwobi Spot

Woolwich is getting “Back to Business” after the riots, and in response to calls to support local enterprise, it occurred that one way to do so might be to make a beeline for the Nigerian businesses that have, in some ways, helped to keep local commerce alive in the years between the exodus of the Woolwich Building Society, Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society et al, and the arrival of new investment from the council, Berkeley Homes and Tesco.

For several years now there’s been more and more Nigerian shops in the SE18 area, and having followed the food related ponderings of local musicians Afrikan Boy and Tinie Tempah, the time seemed right to try out some West African cooking.

I went to Palm Beach, which is opposite the swimming pool. The reception there was possibly the most good-natured I’ve ever had at a restaurant in this country, and the family that run the place provided a fun and detailed explanation of Nigerian eating and drinking. Broadly speaking there seems to be no wheat or potatoes, and key ingredients include eba (cassava), yam, egusi (melon seeds), beef (nkwobi is hoof stew), tropical fish, and enough scotch bonnet pepper to give you a long and pleasant afterglow. For drinks I tried Palm Wine and Nigerian Guinness, which is much stronger than the Irish type. Overall, I found the intensity of this style of cooking very enjoyable, and am looking forward to trying some more West African fare in the near future, probably at one of the other Woolwich restaurants. At Palm Beach, the cost of mains and drinks was £10-15 per person.


Recently links have been added to the site for two restaurants on shooters hill, one for Ruchita Bengali Cuisine (31 Shooters Hill London SE18 3RL. Tel 020 8319 2233), just down from the red lion pub and chummys shellfish van, and one for City View Restaurant (Red Lion Lane, London, SE18 4LD. Tel 020 8319 9790).

Ruchita, which was previously known as Dhanshirry, and still has the same menu and plates, was awarded a food hygiene certificate in June 2009, and has its own tandoor oven, and so offers good naan, chicken, and lamb dishes.

City View, which is part of the catering school in the Shooters Hill Post 16 campus on Red Lion Lane, also holds a current food hygiene award (which surprisingly few eateries in greenwich achieved), and offers an ever changing and very fancy menu for relatively low prices – the only down side of going there is the walk of shame past all the smoking youngsters by the front gates, plus they only take cash, or at least that was the case when I visited a year ago.

The Red Lion and Bull pubs also got their food hygiene certificates, and only one of eleven eateries on Herbert Road did not get their award, Herbert Best Kebabs, and that was in mid January 2009, so hopefully things have improved there.