Category Archives: Food

Afternoon Tea at Sketch

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For me, afternoon tea is one of those occasions where you want to be taken away from reality for a couple of hours. A little bit of glamour, a lot of indulgence and a sprinkle of fantasy. London boasts a host of afternoon teas, from the classic scone and tea cup affair right through to the weird and wonderful. Whatever you fancy, it’s there with a tier of finger sandwiches and mini pastries for you to spoil yourself. I’m no expert but I imagine Sketch is up there with the best of them in the city.

Situated in Mayfair on Conduit Street, right in the centre of everything, Sketch offers all you want from an afternoon tea experience – exclusivity, fascination, indulgence, charm and the perfect setting to lap up the luxury. Walking through the black curtains, across the chalk hopscotch and through the enchanted forest themed Grace Room; there is something to marvel at with every glance.

After leaving my coat and bag in the cloak room I was taken through to the gallery, a room to keep all senses entertained at all times. Everything is draped in a dusky pink, the velvet chairs lined with a rose gold trim base, a grand circular skylight overlooking the room and the walls covered in David Shrigleys signature art – simple, slightly absurd and full of humour.

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I joined my friend Stacey at our table and from the second we sat down, we were looked after – our every need attended to. Because it was 1pm on a Monday afternoon we played well-behaved and opted not to have a glass of bubbly but stick to a sugar high for our poison of the afternoon. As we waited for our treats we noticed that even the tableware had something to offer thanks to Shrigley.  Stylish, white, ceramic and all with a message to share – again in true Shrigley signature style; simple and playful. Our favourite being the ‘Forget About It’ memo at the bottom of our cups.

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Once settled I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about the famous Sketch toilets that people have talked about. From the hazy pink glow of the gallery I walked through to the bright white lights of the toilets and followed the sound of farmyard animals (yes, you read that right) up a large white staircase to be met with a futuristic wonderland – a space age, farm-yard, disco dancing room that fills you with imagination, almost making you forget that you are there to pee. A giant bird’s nest sits under a brightly coloured ceiling that looks over the space age cocoons topped with geese (not real ones) – you enter a pod to use the loo and are greeted with the sound of geese whilst you do your business – strange but true. Even the sinks had their own flare with wall sculptures, plinths, and quotes to see you on your way right.

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Returning to a tower of delicacies, the mini offerings were an exploration in themselves. The classic finger sandwiches of cucumber, salmon and egg were jazzed up with caviar, a warm quail’s egg and fresh ricotta cheese. Warm cheese pastries wrapped up in paper and a yellow bow, tiny circular apple crumbles, mini macaroons and blueberry éclairs – all tasting too good not to say yes to a second round when asked by our waitress (who was also lovely). Although I opted for coffee as I’m not a tea fan they had a wide selection of really amazing sounding teas to go along with the finger food.  We finished off with a fresh scone served with homemade jam and cream.

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Sketch is a work of art, an experience to remember and definitely one worth trying. It’s a must for any afternoon tea lover. To be honest, I would advise you to go – even if it’s just to check out the toilets. This is another glorious London gem.

https://sketch.london

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Burger & Lobster

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When I finally got the opportunity to go to Burger and Lobster, it felt like I was the last one on the boat. Most people I know had been and the hype around it was huge. Despite being renowned for its lengthy waiting times as well as its lobster roll, my lovely friend Stacey and I decided to accept the over an hour wait challenge and go see what all the fuss is about.

A good idea which I think other restaurants should take note of, if you do have a long waiting time for a table, the B&L team take your mobile number and give you a call 5 minutes before its ready. That way you’re not just standing around waiting and can go and grab a drink somewhere close by. Burger and Lobster is in the heart of Soho so there are plenty of options.

When we were shown to our table the menu offering was pretty straight forward. Burger or Lobster all at the same price of £20. You can have you lobster boiled, fried, baked or in a lobster roll. I went for the roll as it was the pinup of the menu. Arriving very sharpish on a tray served with fries, salad and a garlic sauce the delectable lobster roll is chopped lobster with a special sauce served in a brioche bun. It’s difficult to describe just how glorious it was. The combination of the slightly sweet brioche with the fresh lobster was perfection. No faults at all!

We finished up with puddings, of course. I got some chocolate pudding concoction and Stacey got the cheesecake. The puddings were great but if I’m honest, I was still back with the lobster. I could have eaten it all again.

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So, should you believe the hype? In a nutshell, yes!

Yes, there are long waiting times and it’s very busy but the lobster more than makes up for it. On my next trip I will be going for the baked lobster. I want to go and try lobster in every way there is to try lobster. I feel you should too! Lobster is excellent.

Also, as a note, the drinks menu is very cool and even includes a list of non-alcoholic cocktails for us non-drinkers.

If you haven’t been yet, go armed with snacks for the long wait and be ready to be rocked by the lobster. (sorry)

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Rate That Roast – The Beard Of Tail, Shoreditch

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There are a few golden rules when it comes to a good roast. One of those rules is in relation to pork. If someone orders the pork belly, unless they state otherwise, they absolutely DO want crackling with their pork, especially if they have a northern accent. It’s very important to us northerners!

As you can probably tell from that rant, my roast at The Beard of Tail in Shoreditch came without pork crackling, not a good start. It didn’t get much better after that either. The roast potatoes were cold, the Yorkshire was hard and they served pak choi as one of the vegetables, which was just a little bit odd.

The underwhelming roast was followed by a point saving chocolate brownie and ice cream which sweetened the sour a little bit.

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Would I go again? No.

Should you go? No.

That Roast Rating – 3 / 10

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THE CHICKEN SHOP

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It has been described by a few as a ‘swish Nandos with less on the menu’, but The Chicken Shop is so much more than that. I am a big fan of Nandos, in fact, Im a big fan of chicken, so when my flatmate came home one night and told me a rather swanky looking chicken shop was opening down the road in Tooting I knew it wouldn’t be long before I paid it a visit.

There were four of us that went on a Saturday night at around 6.30pm which seems to be the best time before the mad dinner rush. The Chicken Shop isn’t that big and its very popular so if you do go, be prepared for a wait.

The menu is simple, a choice of quarter, half or full spit-roast chicken and an option of sides including fries, corn on the cob, salad and coleslaw. They also have the option of hot or smoky sauce.

The décor was cool, had a rustic feel to it and there were nice ornamental chickens scattered about. I probably would have stolen one if they weren’t glued down. They saw me coming! The place was dimly lit and the spit roast chicken action was right in the centre of things for all to see. This provided us with a cool atmosphere but perhaps a little too dark; when the food came we could hardly see what we were eating. To be honest though, that didn’t matter (too much).

There are only a few words you can really use to describe good chicken. Succulent, moist, cooked to perfection, delectable and so on. The chicken that was put in front of me was all of the above. I would go as far as saying it was one of the best bits of chicken I have ever eaten and I’ve had my fair share. The chips and coleslaw were also excellent and my bottle of coke came in a glass bottle. Yes, I’m that cool person who gets excited about that sort of thing.

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The portion sizes were huge and I left that house of chicken heaven feeling pretty damn happy with myself. My only grievance was that I couldn’t bring myself to try a pudding because I was so stuffed.

I would definitely advise paying the place a visit if you like your chicken, the original is in Kentish Town and the new one, in Tooting.

A few tips for you if you are going to go….

1 – Try and go before the 7pm rush.

2 – Share sides, the portions are big.

3 – Take a torch or some candles.

I also asked my friends who came with me to describe their experience of The Chicken Shop in one word so that’s what I will leave you with.

“Tasty”, “Satisfying” and “Chicken” = The Chicken Shop.

www.chickenshop.com

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The New Food Obsession: Banana Tree

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I have been meaning to write about the brilliant Banana Tree restaurant for some time now; it is very quickly becoming one of my favourite places to eat in London.

Introduced to the Indochinese restaurant by the second worst date of my life so far, the food was pretty much the only good thing about the whole evening, just as well really since he wanted to stay for three courses and talk to me about his whirlwind career in online poker. Yes, it was as thrilling as it sounds. Thankfully that evening sparked my long-lasting love affair with Banana Tree.

Since that eventful first trip I have frequented the eatery on numerous occasions and NEVER been let down by the food, even if I have been by the company.

The menu is so full of tasty treats that I struggle not to order everything and now, being somewhat a self-proclaimed connoisseur of ‘the tree’, I have my darlings that I will always go to and the ones that I consider to be the best bananas on the menu.

On my last visit, I opted for something that I had never had before as a starter, the Street Style Crispy Dough, which came with an incredible Kajang Satay sauce. Other favourites on the starter menu include the spring rolls, satay chicken and dumplings.

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When it comes to the main event, I have two dishes that I find it hard not to go back to, and I take great delight in repeatedly cheating on one with the other. The first love is the crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce. It is exactly what it says is, its crispy, sweet yet fresh and not overpowering. My second love is the string tied braised pork belly with green coconut juice. The pork falls apart like it has been stewed to perfection and the sauce is the sort you sort of want to drink from the bowl afterwards. No? Just me?

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For desert I always go for the same thing because a) it is pancakes and they are my favourite. b ) it involves nuts and coconut and they are my favourites. c) the pancakes are bright green. That is everything anyone should ever want or need from a dessert.

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Another thing that is worth mentioning, especially for people who don’t drink alcohol or love a good fresh juice, their raw juices are to die for. My favourite is the passion fruit mix.

Of course, ‘the tree’ has lots of other delightful things on the menu. They have a few in London spread around so definitely one to bear in mind for an awful date or an excellent dinner.

Check out the site here for more details

 

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The New Food Obsession: Pinkberry

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I am assuming that most know of the wonderful and magical creation that is Pinkberry BUT just in case you don’t, I am here to spread the word.

Pinkberry is a glorious guilt free treat! A pot of frozen yogurt that comes in an array of flavours including pomegranate, watermelon and many others, including salted caramel, my personal favourite.

You can be naughty or nice with your toppings with a choice of fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, sweets and sauces.

The salted caramel with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and almonds is a winner!

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I find Pinkberry is best enjoyed after a gym session on a Saturday afternoon with one of your favourite people. It is also a good shopping day break.

http://www.pinkberry.com

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The New Food Obsession – Nakd Bars

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I’m not going to lie, I have become a tiny, little bit obsessed with eating healthily at the moment. There’s nothing wrong with that surely?!

After 30 days of strict detoxing I found pleasure in places I never thought possible. Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods and B Green were all names I used to know, maybe not love though, well now its different. Having to find replacements to feed my craving for sugars I was VERY happy to discover Nakd Bars and the fact they are good for you.

One of my favourite bloggers is Madeleine Shaw. She’s an amazing nutritionist and health coach who provides awesome recipes, food tips, lifestyle advise and even a good inspirational quote. I like to check her blog regularly for recipes and the like. It was Madeleine’s post about healthy on the go snacks that put me on to Nakd Bars.

So, down to the nitty gritty. The little bars of delight are made up of dried fruits and nuts and are free from gluten, dairy and wheat. They come in loads of flavours to keep things interesting (my favourite is the cocoa orange flavour) and they genuinely taste great.

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You can pick them up in Holland & Barrett, Whole Food Stores and in most supermarkets in the whole foods aisle. Also check out their website for some good deals and more info: http://www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk/nakd-fruit-and-nut-bars/

If like me you’re wanting to stay healthy check out Madeleine Shaw’s website as well: http://madeleineshaw.com

Follow The New Obsession on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thenewobsession

Follow Nakd Bars on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nakd_wholefoods

Follow Madeleine Shaw on Twitter: https://twitter.com/madeleine_shaw_

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