HomeFeatures#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

After the #FtLionAwards 2023 Best Beverage of the Year (proudly sponsored the multi-award winning cola company Gusto Organic with ethically sourced and fully traceable drinks), we continue with Best Starter of the Year.

15% OFF & FREE SAMPLES: In addition to offering an exclusive discount via their website (enter code: LION15 (valid 31 Dec 2023) at checkout), Gusto is also offering businesses samples of their incredible range of products (email [email protected] to receive a selection of drinks).


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

Buckinghamshire’s leading Halal steakhouse, The Grill Steakhouse in Aylesbury, served us one of the most unique dishes had this year: the cheesy-umami Grill Baked Tikka Camembert.

An inspired dish that had a soft and milky camembert cheese disk surrounded by a rich and mildly-spiced tikka sauce. Covered in a piquant cheese, it was smothered in plenty of crispy onions, and baked to a crispy finish. The addition of the mint sauce only helped balance things out, while the naan bread, which was coated in a sweet red onion glaze, completed a superb starter.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

Indian fine-dining venue Kinaara at the 5-star InterContinental hotel, while already having the sophisticated Pink-lit Sunset as a beverage contender, served us their version of a malai chicken.

This melt-in-your-mouth dish was sublime, with the breast being infused in the unmistakable aroma of saffron. Add to that the subtlety of the cardamom cream cheese offering a touch of sweet fragrance, and this Saffron Malai Tikka set a high benchmark right off the bat.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

With ‘Asian-fusion’ steakhouse Meet Bros in London Paddington in contention with a beverage, this time it’s these White Prawns which we were told was one of their best-selling dishes.

The beautifully tender prawns were drizzled in a subtly sweet and spicy “jam oil”, and came with a trio of fried mantao – savoury doughnut balls that were light and fluffy on the inside.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

High-end Indian restaurant Noir in north east London’s South Woodford also has a drink in the running for an award.

They served us a ‘Lobster + Love’ kebab starter, which was some of the most delicious and most unique we’ve ever had! They were executed with the precision necessary at finding that optimal balance between the soft and firm; and yet still remaining utterly succulent.

What elevated these beyond superlatives was the distinct charring achieved by the traditional charcoal tandoor, which accounted for the incredible smokiness lingering in the background, before being topped with translucent globules of zesty lime which easily passed for cavier. One of the dishes of this review.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

In addition to the Pink Cloud drink we nomintaed, #FtLionAwards ‘Best Restaurant’ 2022, Ribeye, in Birmingham, placed before us this ingenius Firecracker Chicken “Bang Bang”, with a uniquely compelling coca cola-based marination whose vinegary-sweet hit is offset by the hint of spice.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

Indian restaurant Ritu in London’s St John’s Wood isn’t just looking at a beverage that’s up for an accolade, but also these Gunpowder Prawns.

Plump, meaty and juicy jumbo prawns whose smokiness, courtesy of some tremendous tandoori charring, complemented the spicious marination. Dipping these in the accompanying sauce, and chasing that with some pickled onions, resulted in a superb combo.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

Sticky Mango in London’s Tower Bridge had Chef Patron Peter Lloyd serve us these Black Pepper Prawns.

Here was an innovative plate where we had plump and tender prawns coated in a rich and flavourous peppery marination being beautifully tempered by chunks of dehygrated pineapple, with bits of white Mexican turnip called jicama adding a light zingy edge.


#FtLionAwards 2023 Starter of the Year shortlist

As part of FtLion’s Halal food tour of Wales (sponsored by Harmony Farm in Torfaen), Wing Stack is the UK’s first Halal chicken wing restaurant to collaborate with a Michelin-starred chef, Chef James Sommerin, who created these uniquely memorable chicken wings.

If these Sommerin’s Wings prove anything, they prove that Michelin chefs are cut from a different cloth. When it comes to chicken wings, Sommerin’s were utterly unique in every respect, with a flavour profile that will long live in the memory.

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