Jun 30, 2011

Finally! A Bistrotheque pop-up

Last Bistrotheque pop-up was epic. In the middle of the Olympic site, amazing views, great food, convivial atmosphere, tequlia cockails (thus convivial atmosphere).

Now they're finally back with a new pop-up, somewhere near Canary Wharf, how fitting, the epicentre of all things 80s and slightly gaudy in London. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, there's an 80s theme.

Hopefully they won't be pulling a Blumenthal and making glorified toasties.

You need to book ahead, actually, you need to book right now, on the link below.


It's £45 a head, with booze. DO IT. NOW.

May 31, 2011

Cass Art and Art Macabre Drawing Salons

I just got a pamphlet for what seems to be a really cool life drawing class. Kind of a macabre theme, to mix things up. I quite like the idea, life drawing can be a bit square. Something about the presence of naked people makes everyone act solemn.

Well maybe except for those sessions at the Joiners.

The first session is today, 31st of May, wit a Death at Sea theme. Knots and rope bondage.

images courtesy of http://deathdrawing.wordpress.com/

Then on the 14th of June, Kiss of Death, a murder romance kind of thing.

Then finally 28th of June Drop Dead Gorgeous, with a Miss Underworld 2011 Beauty Pageant and all sorts of vicious stuff.

Cass Art
67 Colebrooke Rowe, N1 8AB
7:30 PM,
tickets £8 at the door, including materials.

May 30, 2011

The Princess of Shoreditch: spoiled, superficial and inconsistent.

Feckin fitting. The darling gastropub of Shoreditch is just as much a vacuous wannabee as the crowd that now infests the neighborhood.

Just as the gritty, cool, authentically care free and creative generation that made Shoreditch is now copied by empty, overly produced shells, so is the Princess of Shoreditch a try hard, mediocre place to eat.

Yeah, there's some nice fluorescent portraits, and everything is in the de rigueur shabby chic, muted style. But the food is crap. I mean, the sticky toffee pudding was great, granted. But I've pulled better things out of my own ars£$%$. My friend had this ravioli, which turned out to be this doughy, oversized, clumsy mess.

The roast was £15 quid, and I can get better for half the price around town. The bloody mary was appalling.

And Mischa Barton, darling, you desperately need a new colourist.


Counter Café, Brunch aaall the way in Hackney Wick

I finally made it to Counter Café. Hell, I've been reading about this place for a bloody epoch. But each time I decided to go, checking the address on Google maps left me completely deflated. The gnarling pangs of a hungover Sunday morning demand immediate appeasement.

And yet this Sunday, by a random conjunction of stars I finally made it. Yes, me lads. The intrepid blogger has once again prevailed.

Veni, vidi, vori.

I came, I saw, I devoured.

I'm reticent to utter this on the unerasable WWW, but the vibe upon entering the place was amazing. I'm sorry. I'm not usually this corny.

Said conjuncting stars had granted us a further happy coincidence, a hippie quirky danish festival on the grounds. There was some folky live music, people selling stuffed birds in cages. I admit by the end of the visit the folky music felt like somebody had put a feral cat into pillowcase and was batting the shit out of it. But that's what all folky music does to me after a while, so no offense taken.

The food was what you would traditionally expect of these industrial, rustic hip places that have popped up in East London recently. Eggs benedict, chorizo, arugula, cherry tomatoes, artisan cheese. All rearranged in someway or another on these menus, in one order or another, but samey samey. Sorry, I'm doing a quick rant about the easy formula that is unfortunately homogenizing the restaurant scene in Britain. Bear with me, it's almost out. I would just like for someone to say fuck understated and go nuts, not in a ponsey Heston Blumenthal kind of way.

The eggs were cooked to absolute perfection, and of a fluorescence of orange only the Kobes of chicken can procure. Regular pat downs, the odd shot of bourbon, I surmise. The latte was a bit watery. As usual.

Hackney Wick, it turns out, isn't that terribly far. There are two buses that make the trek from Stokey, and I suppose other bits of the East. The Counter Café is in a warehouse space, on the canal, exactly opposite the Olympic Stadium. It's a great little cycle along the canal. Quite the nice change of scenery. There are several sofas and tables across which sprawl a mix of patrons, from the eccentric to the decidedly suburban.

A great little escape. Highly recommended.

Counter Café
4a Roach Road
City of London, Greater London E3 2PA
07834 275920

May 26, 2011

Stik exhibition London

You've probably seen his minimalist graffiti around London. The little stick figures, very little information, so much expression. I'm a massive fan.

Turns out he's having an exhibtion, going for another week, at Lava Gallery, in Carnaby Street, only until the 4th of June.

Not to be missed.

LAVA Gallery
1.11 Kingly Court, Carnaby Street,
London, W1B 5PW

May 23, 2011

Dalston Roof Park

I have mixed feelings about this. Usually when I find somewhere amazing, I can't wait to come home and brag about it on the blog.

This place, well, I'm reluctant to share. And yet, I immolate myself for my art. Plus Time Out featured it so screw secrecy.

This is, as the name implies, a rooftop garden, with a tab, sangrias, and on occasion corn on the cob.

It's so rare to get some respite from the flat oppression of London's uneventful geography. A view, a larger share of sky. Expansion of the horizon.

Priceless on a summer afternoon. Use in moderation, please.

all images by Samantha Holmes

London Jews

Hey, I'm a London jew. A totally secular, clueless London jew. But still.

I know "they" hang out in Stamford Hill, right near my place. I know they used to hang in Brick Lane, and there's even a famous bagel place there to mark the spot.

I know they fry gefilte fish in Britain. Surely a Scottish jewish invention.

But I just saw the most amazing documentary on the Stamford Hill hasidic community, and have decided to explore the area. Maybe I can find me some hipster hasidic scene. Will report back shortly. Meanwhile, here is the link to the documentary.


May 5, 2011

Lunch menus at top London Restaurants

You may have gathered I quite enjoy fine dining (and pizza). Unfortunately, my wallet hasn't taken to it as much as I would have hoped.

So welcome to fine lunching! Most top London restaurants offer significantly cheaper lunch menus that allow you to sample the goods without breaking the bank. I'll be going to the dentist a lot more around 2pm it seems (wink, wink).

I've gone and done the dirty work, and checked out which top restaurants do lunch menus, and what they offer:

1. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester: no secret this is my favourite place to eat in London. The lunch menu is at £50, with two glasses of wine and three courses. Still expensive, but considering the quality of the food (and the three stars), a steal. http://www.alainducasse-dorchester.com/

2. Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley: a minimal lunch menu, with some great looking fare: Cornish Pollock, orecchiette, dead nettle, preserved lemon, olive. £50 with glasse of wine, three courses, as above. http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/marcus_wareing.aspx

3. Dinner by Blumenthal: I was totally underwhelmed when I went, I have to admit. The food was well prepared, but rather uninspired. But it's lovely at lunch time, with a nice garden, and the three course menu is really quite decent at £38 for three courses. Really not bad for a celebrity chef. http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

meatfruit at dinner, photo Paul Winch-Furness / www.paulwf.co.uk

4. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: there is a menu du jour, three courses for £27, no wine. A rather informal menu, oxtail, spaghetti... http://www.joelrobuchon.co.uk/

5. Hibiscus in Mayfair: this seems like the best deal so far, £29.50 for three courses, throw in another tenner for two glasses of wine. The menu looks grand, with an amazing foie gras ravioli for a starter. I'm dying to try out this place! http://www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk/

6. Pollen Street Social: just opened, and already hyped. Former Maze chef moves on to hipper pastures, it seems. £23.50 lunch menu for three courses, best price yet, and considering this is set to be a staple round town, best have a go at the "Cornish native brown crab risotto, finished with seaweed butter" and see what the fuss is about...http://www.pollenstreetsocial.com/

Pollen Street Social, photos Paul Winch-Furness / www.paulwf.co.uk

7. Sketch: this place is a bit much for my taste, too pretentious, too overly decorated. But it is certainly an experience, and if you're loitering about shopping in Central London, this could be a really cool lunch. Also a great one to take tourists (including those you know and like). Three courses for £35, or £50 with wine. Steep. http://www.sketch.uk.com/

sketch restaurant, photo from www.sketch.uk.com

8. Tamarind: uber posh Indian? on a shoestring, why not! The lunch menu at Tamarind looks amazing, and you get three courses with wine for £29.50, or without for £19.50. http://www.tamarindrestaurant.com/

9. The Boundary: they're now doing weekend lunches, which means you can hit the Columbia Road market or Brick Lane and have uncomplicated food for £24.50. Bonus points for a drink afterwards soaking in the view at The Rooftop. http://www.theboundary.co.uk/

Conran's The Boundary, photo from http://www.theboundary.co.uk/

10. Helene Darroze at The Connaught: I love this hotel, home to arguably one of the best cocktail bars in the World. The chef has quite a following in Paris, though the menu, including wine, is on the steep side at £42.00. http://www.the-connaught.co.uk/helene-daroze-london-restaurant.aspx

I think I'm going to start with Hibiscus, because I have no personality and it made the Top 50 list so I'm curious...

Hackney commuity website

I LOVE LOVE this website. It's a Hackney community website, with forums on all sorts of things for people from the area. If you're an East London chap, so well worth a visit....


May 4, 2011

Best pizza in London, Datte Foco rules!

This is amazing. I've found the best pizza joint EVER in London, and it's right here in Stokey. I could cry.

They do pizza al taglio, in square, crunchy, perfect slices.

Wait. They deliver, and they're not expensive.. Pizza for two at around twenty pounds.

We had a slice with mozzarella, a slice without tomato sauce, with sausage and smoked cheese. So good and creamy and peppery over the crunchy dough I was scarfing it down straight from the box in the kitchen. Not pretty. We also had the classic rosemary potato. Scrumptious.

Their premises are quite small and uninviting, so I would say this is more of a take-out option than a restaurant. The staff are truly lovely though.

I guess they're quite new, and quite down the street, which is why people are still settling for the uninspired stuff from Il Bacio. FORGET Il Bacio. This is where it's at.

Datte Foco
10 Stoke Newington Church Street
N16 0LU
020 7254 6055

Foraging in London

Check out this amazing video from The Guardian about foraging in London. I think she's at New River Walk, just round the corner. It's my secret happy place (not so secret now...)

Apr 26, 2011

New Banksy!

Corner of Clipstone Street and Cleveland Street, W1.

Apr 25, 2011

Google Maps tour of East London

I've done it, finally. I made a google maps tour of East London, so if you've got people staying, or don't know the area, you can explore.

There's some nice places to eat, some of the good graffiti spots in East London, nice markets, vintage, the works...


View Getting to know East London in a larger map

Apr 21, 2011

Lunching with Miss Daisy - The Princess of Wales

I had the looooveliest time this Sunday, enjoying the sunshine. We had Sunday roast at a pub with live jazz music in Primrose Hill.

Easy Nan, the roast is kind of rubbish, but don't despair. The company was spectacular, it was a senior crowd, average I would say 70. It was actually a lot of fun and quite lively.

And the classic jazz in the spring sunshine, the bloody mary buzz. delightful.

Check out the ambiance in the little video:

will be back, geezers!


The Princess of Wales
2 Chalcot Road,
Live jazz Sundays from 2pm

Apr 19, 2011

The World's Top 50

We have two in London!

The Fat Duck (of course), and Hibiscus, which I've never been to.

Noma is No.1 again. Wowzas.

Look at this interactive map from The Guardian:


Apr 1, 2011

London Cheap Eats: The Guardian

This is The Guardian's selection of cheap eats in London, this article is for East London, but they're covering all boroughs...


(I prefer mine).

Mar 24, 2011

Dirt at the Wellcome Collection

Squirrel ragout, breat milk ice cream. This blog just gets creepier by the minute. I guess it was inevitable, since I'm the weirdo in charge.

Everyone knows I like to go on about how ridiculous our contemporary germophobia is, what a massive symbol it is of our alienation from nature, the historical roots of this massive hysteria, and the fact that people in India are quite ok with cow poo.

I once licked the handle of the 73 bus just to prove my point. I think Priscilla still has nightmares.

So hurray! The Wellcome collection are beginning a new expo on Dirt, and our relationship with it, that I'm massively excited to check that out.

It's called "Dirt, the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life".

Here is a little exerpt from one of the videos.

Shocking sociology, right up my alley.

Mar 17, 2011

50 best B&Bs

Ooooh. Spring is coming round, time to hit the countryside.

Here is The Independent's guide to the top 50 B&Bs in the UK. Very nice.


Vietnamese restaurants in Hoxton

These joints are London classics. For some reason there are several adjacent vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road. These places are always packed, and swarming with the hipsters de rigueur....

My absolute favourite is the Viet Grill. I shall do a better review soon enough, with photos and what not. I guess this is a place I come to so often, I end up never getting round to doing this properly.

There is also its little sister on Old Street, Cay Tre. Gorgeous food. Curries, Pho, seabass, lemongrass. Outstanding.

But this is the ultimate London cheap eat. I UUUURGE you to pop round.

You can have a tipper at the Jaguar Shoes afterwards, classic Shoreditch night out it is...

Viet Grill
58 Kingsland Road
Shoreditch, London E28DP, United Kingdom
020 7739 6686

Quirky bake sale for Red Cross Japan

This Friday, in Shoreditch, some of the city's top bakers are having a bake sale for charity. All the money is going to Red Cross Japan.

The cakes look amazing, shaped like sushi and other cute japanese-themed stuff. Top London patissiers such as Ms. Cupcake, Ed Kimber and Molly Bakes are contributing.

all photos from cakesforjapan.wordpress.com


Japan Bake Sale
Maiden, 188 Shoreditch High Street,
London, EC2.


Mar 11, 2011

More weird stuff. Fancy squirrel confit?

And after the breast milk ice cream debacle, we proudly present...the squirrel confit.

I guess it's like eating pigeon? Just another small creature, right? A restaurant in Clapham called Trinity has added squirrel to the menu, in pot roast or confit form.

Would you? I'll pass, but only because Clapham is a bit far for me nowadays...

Unfortunately these are farmed, and not hunted in Clapham Common with a BB gun. That would be cool.

Trinity actually seems like quite a nice joint, and has picked up a Time Out award for best local restaurant. Inerestin....

4, The Polygon, Clapham Old Town
Tel. 020 7622 1199

Mar 8, 2011

Morito in Exmouth Market

I'm in love. I just have the biggest food crush ever since moving to London. Wowzas. I'd heard about Morito several times, but because they don't take reservations never really ended up making it.

Well, what a waste of my time it has been to spend so many years this close without coming at least once a month to this place to gorge on the SPECTACULAR tapas.

The place is lovely, a tiny little spot, unpretentious, tiles and orange formica, tucked next to the mothership Moro in Exmouth Market. It's just what a tapas bar in Spain looks like, boisterous, busy, and fun.

And the food is out of this world. We started off with cute little pomegranate and cava cocktails, and got to work picking our tapas. We kicked off the festivities with a lamb and prune tagine. This is probably one of the best pieces of meat I have ever eaten. The spices (a hint of cardamon), the tenderness, just outrageous.

Then we had a classic pan con tomate, which was a bit too much tomate for the pan, but still lovely. We followed that with a bocadillo of bread, with jamon and fried quail eggs. I'm a sucker for a runny yolk, and this was just delicious, runny, crunchy, savoury, and beautifully cut by the acidity of the tomatoes.

We moved on to spinach with red onions, anchovies, pine nuts and raisins. Also nice, but maybe a bit heavy on the onion. We ate that together with some goat cheese, and everything worked rather nicely together.

And then, finally, lamb chops, succulent, doused with cumin and lime, exploding with flavour. Amazing. Finger licking good.

The bill was quite decent, five tapas, four cocktails, two beers, £60 pounds. Considering the quality of the food, a steal in my book.

I'm coming back here all the time. The food is on another level. The service is fantastic, the staff are lovely without being forced. The only hassle is the non booking policy, which basically means you have to arrive, leave your name at the door, go for a pint in the pub in the corner, and come back 45 minutes later when they call your mobile. A bit of a drag, but truly worth it.

32 Exmouth Market
Tel. 020 7278 7007


Shoreditch High Street station taking shape...