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

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.

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.

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.

meatfruit at dinner, photo Paul Winch-Furness /

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

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!

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...

Pollen Street Social, photos Paul Winch-Furness /

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.

sketch restaurant, photo from

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.

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.

Conran's The Boundary, photo from

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.

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...)