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Category Archives: London
On a gorgeous sunny autumn day a few weeks ago I met up with one of my close friends for brunch in my old hood, Notting Hill. When on Westbourne Grove I can never resist snapping pictures of Wild at Heart – one of the most stunning flower shops in London. I mean how can you not want to capture of all this floral loveliness?
Also on Westbourne Grove, just by Wild at Heart, was our meeting place for brunch, New Tom’s. In this same spot used to be the well known Tom’s Deli (which I adored) but that sadly closed down last year after 24 years of operating! Anyway, luckily Tom Conran has now reopened in this great Notting Hill location with New Tom’s which is going to be a 12 month pop-up restaurant serving ‘avant-garde modern cuisine’.
He’s brought in chef Tom Straker (who trained with Heston Blumenthal at Dinner) to serve up unique and interesting dishes using only the freshest ingredients all from Chef Tom’s family farm in Herefordshire. The interior has also had a bit of a revamp giving it a lighter and more contemporary look but I like that he’s kept the traditional British sweet shop at the entrance as a homage to the old Tom’s Deli.
Food wise the breakfast menu offers dishes like; Slow cooked duck egg mushroom duxelle, parmesan, bacon & onion brioche // Toms Eggs Benedict // Brioche french toast, summer berries, mascarpone & fresh fruit syrup // Pinhead oatmeal, rhubarb & crème fraiche // Delicious pastries plus good coffee and a good selection of healthy freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. We both however decided on the Poached hens eggs, avocado, sweet onions & sourdough toast + home smoked salmon.
The poached eggs were slightly overcooked for my liking, but then again I love mine very runny. The sweet red onions and an avocado/mayo like mouse were an interesting – but nice – addition. I probably have to admit that I preferred the original concept of Tom’s Deli a bit more but I do like the more modern menu of the pop-up. It’s also a little bit on the pricier side for brunch but maybe that comes with the fancier menu and top chef. I think the New Tom’s pop-up is open until April 2015 so do check it out before it closes (they take bookings – hooray!) and I am very curious to know what Tom Conran will open in this spot after that..
226 Westbourne Grove
London, W11 2RH
Have I ever told you that I suffer from a weird phobia of getting my hair cut? Well basically I dread going to get my hair cut or trimmed because I am worried they will just put the scissors in it and I will lose a huge chunk of length. My hair actually grows soooooo slooooow and that’s why I just never want to cut too much off. Silly I know, because trimming your hair regularly keeps it healthier and probably will make it grow longer (as dead ends won’t keep snapping off). Anyway, recently I decided to face the facts that I really did need a haircut as my ends were looking awful.
I was recommended to visit the Neville Hair and Beauty salon in Belgravia/Knightsbridge so I booked myself in for an appointment to see Reece for a cut and blow-dry. And oh boy, am I glad that I did. The salon is well established and seems to be very popular amongst models and celebs in London. Hey what’s good enough for them, is good enough for me!
The interior is clean and modern and service is effecient and offered with a smile. You can order a range of drinks and even anything to eat from breakfast through to afternoon tea. Also you can immediately tell that the stylist that work here know what they are talking about. Reece and I discussed my fear of haircuts and he quickly made me feel at ease and offered some suggestions, after I showed him some photos of a more layered hairstyle. He said I would actually suit a more straight cut at the back (that way keeping my length) and for a change, as this doesn’t happen often, I felt I could trust him and he would make my hair look great – without losing too much of my precious long hair! After cutting my hair he blow dried it into gorgeous wavy bouncy curls. The did this with a round brush – a technique I’d never seen before and I loved the result. Insert quick mirror selfie ;)
I would definitely go back to Neville Hair & Beauty to get my hair cut or get it styled for a special event. Reece was great and we even talked about our joint love for a textured long bob (also called the ‘lob’) hairstyle but don’t think I am that brave just yet – baby steps, baby steps ;)
White low V Neck Jumper from H&M (link) // Plaid scarf from ZARA (similar HERE) // Wool with leather trim jacket from ZARA // Gorgeous wavy curls by Neville Hair and Beauty Salon // CatEye Sunglasses by Bailey Nelson London (link)
A week later and I am still loving my haircut, it feels less heavy and looks so much healthier. Do you ever get scared of cutting your hair like me or am I the only weirdo that feels that way? ;)
Neville Hair and Beauty
5 Pont St, London SW1X 9EJ
Phone: 020 7235 3654
The Oak London is one of those restaurants I have been to so many times, but shockingly have never featured it on the blog. Located in fabulous Notting Hill on Westbourne Park Road, it actually used to be within walking distance from my house making it my local favourite for a cosy dinner. The Oak London is known for their delicious wood fired pizzas but everything else on their Mediterranean inspired style menu is also very tasty!
The Oak London is always feels super cosy because of the dim lighting and candles galore. It is the perfect place for a dinner with friends or that special romantic date you might have coming up! I had birthday drinks down the road, at the Westbourne Pub, recently so me and two girlfriends decided to catch up and line up our tummies beforehand at The Oak in London. We started of with some wine, it was Friday night after all, plus the Nocellara del Belice olives and the sautéed chorizo with fennel seeds and lemon. These large green olives are my favourite, they are so soft soft & almost buttery in flavour.
For mains, we ummed and ahhed for a while over the menu but in the end decided on their good-old-fave pizzas! Their pizzas at the Oak are always excellent. A real wood fired oven (that you can see from restaurant) produces the perfect base; crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and they offer some yummy toppings. I had the Prosciutto (tomato, mozzarella, parma ham, wild rocket with parmesan) and my friends had the Campagnola (mozzarella, porcini, caramelised onion, wild rocket, goat cheese with truffle oil) and the Salsiccia (tomato, fresh buffalo mozzarella, Tuscan sausage, girolles mushrooms, with Gruyère).
When it comes to dessert I always seem to have the Affogato at The Oak! Delicious hot coffee poured over vanilla ice-cream, plus if you’re up for it you can also add a some sneaky alcohol in the form of Amaretto, Grappa Di Moscato or Brandy! Nom nom…
The Oak London in Notting Hill is definitely a winner. To-die-for pizzas, great food, friendly service and a cosy and romantic setting are the perfect formula for a lovely evening. And they have a great bar on the 1st floor which is perfect for pre-drinks (while you wait for a table on busy nights) or head there after dinner for some post-dinner cocktails!
The Oak London
137 Westbourne Park Road
London, W2 5QL
(020) 7221 3355
Brixton, once known as a more dodgy side of South London, has now actually become a bit of a foodie mecca. When I first moved to London I lived in Clapham and I have to admit that I didn’t venture to Brixton much, but over the last 4 years the area has really changed. At the heart of the foodie scene in Brixton is Brixton Village Market. Once a rundown arcade, Brixton Village Market is now the home to more than 20 fantastic cafés, restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. The Village Markets are only a two-minute walk away from Brixton Tune station and it’s pretty much a collection of small little avenues, mostly undercover – together making up a bustling foodie heaven. The hardest part really of a day or evening out at Brixton Village Market is deciding where to eat! I recently caught up with some friends for a fun Thursday night at the Markets! We started off with some (3 for the price of 2 – oh oh) margaritas at Jalisco, followed by dinner at Franco Manca!
Franco Manca, opened their first restaurant in Brixton in 2008 – which was a roaring success, and since then they’ve opened 5 other locations in London. However, the word around town is that the original Brixton branch is still the best of the bunch. Franco Manca is known for their simple but epic pizzas! All pizzas are under £7 and their wood-fire sourdough style has been claimed to be (amongst) the best in London. Their pizzas are made from a slow-rising sourdough that is the baked in in a Neapolitan wood-burning oven at temperatures of around 500 °C. Flashed in and out in a matter of minutes this produces the perfect base that is crispy yet soft and stretchy. The menu is uncomplicated with only 6 pizza options to choose from + the choice of additional toppings.
Me and my friend both had the ‘Tomato, cured organic Chorizo with Mozzarella’ pizza with the addition of mushrooms and my other friend had the ‘Tomato, Garlic, Oregano, Capers, Olives, Anchovies and Mozzarella’ pizza. All washed down with a lovely crisp glass of their house organic rose at only £3.50. The food was delicious and the vibe is fun and relaxed.
Note that Franco Manca operates a no booking policy, so be prepared to queue for it – but that said, they turn around their tables pretty quickly so the wait shouldn’t be more than 15-30 minutes at the most of times.
Franco Manca Brixton
4 Market Row,
London, SW9 8LD
Aside from Franco Manca there are many other fab places to visit at the Brixton Village Markets, like:
- Brixton Village Grill – A grill restaurant offering tiger prawns, steaks or peri-peri chicken wings all char-grilled the Portuguese way // brixton-villagegrill.com
- Honest Burgers – Delicious burgers and love their rosemary-salted triple cooked chips! // honestburgers.co.uk
- Mama Lan – Chinese. Born from a supper club, this tiny cafe apparently is the place for Beijing street food, with the dumplings worthy of the high praise received. Can’t wait to try this place! // mamalan.co.uk
- Jalisco – Mexican. You can’t beat simple Mexican food sometimes and their margaritas are strong, tasty and perfect to kick of a fun night! // Twitter: @jaliscobrixton
- Seven – Spanish. Although Seven does serve food, and tasty tapas at that, you really go here for the drinks and the atmosphere. Cocktails are all at £5 pounds and unique options // sevenatbrixton.wordpress.com
- Elephant – Pakistani street food served from a tiny kitchen. Cheap and small menu but much raved about food! // elephantcafe.co.uk
- Cornercopia – cosy corner shop style restaurant which is all about ultra-local food and sustainability // brixtoncornercopia.co.uk
- The Joint – ‘Chef meats Baker’ Fast food with a twist – Think BBQ 16 hour pulled pork burgers, Asian slow-cooked chicken burgers and BBQ baby back ribs. And finish off your meal with a side of hushpuppies – fried cornmeal batter rolls that are set to be your next food addiction // the-joint.co
- Senzala – Crepes with ‘Brazilian’ flair. Offering a huge selection of over 20 crepes and galettes (a sort of wholemeal pancake). Delicious fillings for both savoury and sweet tooth’s // senzalacreperie.co.uk
- When it comes to bakery/coffee shops, the places to visit are Breads Etcetera (the main deal being their DIY breakfast with toasters on the table and butter and spreads provided and for a great coffee head to Federation Coffee.
As you can see, foodie options galore! And I guarantee that a day or night at the Brixton Village Markets is unpretentious, exciting and great fun! I definitely recommend a visit to the Brixton Village Markets if you’ve not yet been. Brixton Village and the other market arcade, Market Row, are open Mon-Wed 8am till 6pm. Late nights are Thurs-Sat 8am till midnight, and Sundays till 5pm. Have you been to Brixton Markets before?
Last night me and a friend went to the opening night of Taste in London Winter to see all the foodie action in person at the London Tobacco Docks. And let me tell you, Taste of London Winter was truly a winter feast! Taste of London Winter is basically one big food festival, featuring some of the best chefs and restaurants of London’s restaurant scene. So if you’re a food enthusiast like me you will understand my excitement about being able to try dishes from amazing restaurants like Andina, Ember Yard, Kurobuta, ShakeShack and Hixter.
Some of the other things to explore at Taste of London : Catch the latest food trends from the culinary masters in the Electrolux Taste Theatre as they showcase their skills and you can free your inner chef // There’s a big fire pit where some of the biggest chefs in London will bring the BBQ to life this winter, including dishes like char-grilled deer to flame-smoked salmon // Sample drinks and cocktails at one of the many bars at the venue! For example the LP Winter cocktail at the Laurent-Perrier Bar which is a combination of refreshing combination of Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne, cloves, honey water, lemon juice, sloe gin and a sprig of rosemary // Sample delicious goods from 180 fine and boutique food and drink producers including the Meringue Girls, Big Mama’s, Popcorn Kitchen, Cinzia Cicolella and plenty more!
I’d never been to Tobacco Docks before but was very impressed with the venue. It felt like a winter wonderland and and exploring all the different areas was a lot of fun (albeit a tiny bit of a confusing maze sometimes, but maybe it was more the wine that made us get a little lost occasionally haha). Here some more photos of our delicious and wintery fun night out at Taste of London Winter 2014, showing you some of the scrumptious dishes we tried!
‘Nasu Dengaku – Sticky Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied Walnuts’ or also known as the best Miso Aubergine in the world, from Kurobuta! Just had to have this dish again after my visit to Kurobuta in Chelsea last weekend. It was the first dish of the night we had and both of us went “oehhhh, ahhhhh sooooo gooood” a lot! // Christian Stevenson, aka barbeque legend DJ BBQ, in action on the Fire Pit. I can tell you that the smells coming from this were incredible! // The ‘Charcoal Grilled Octopus Pinchos with Saffron Alioli’ from Ember Yard. I just love the combination of chorizo and squid/octopus!
I am a big fan of Ceviche restaurant in Soho so was keen to try a dish from their newest east London restaurant called Andina. We absolutely loved their ‘Seabass ceviche with avocado, sweet potato, golden berries, cancha corn, red onion and amarillo chilli tiger’s milk’. I am going to East London tomorrow for lunch so might try out Andina because this ceviche tasted like more more more // We chatted for a while with the guys from Deliveroo which I think is one of the best things to hit London in a while. Basically it’s a food delivery service that allows you to get your favourite local restaurant food delivered to your door in an average of just 32 minutes, at delivery cost of only £2.50! I so can’t wait to try this service, nom nom just think of all the amazing additional ‘takeaway’ options now all of a sudden available to us all!
How can anyone resist a mini burger? Check out this yummy ‘Lil Shack Burger’ Aberdeen Angus beef cheeseburger from ShakeShack // The ‘Hyderabadi Duck Haleem’ from Roti Chai which was a slow cooked duck wheat and saffron stew. Warming, spicy and did I mention delicious?
One of the stands we just had to visit was the Action Against Hunger 5 Star Haute Dog restaurant. Once again this year Action Against Hunger, one of the leading charities fighting against child malnutrition around the world, is the main charity partner for Taste of London. This year for their stand they worked with 5 top chefs to design their ultimate 5 Star Haute Dog, with all the proceeds supporting their worldwide programmes.
The ‘Haute Dogs’ on offer are; ‘The Jose Pizarro’ – Diced Spanish chorizo with Manchego and caramelised onions // ‘The Jason Atherton’ – Apple puree with onions, topped with crispy pancetta and grilled Gruyere // ‘The Valentine Warner’ – Alpine inspired cheese sauce and smooth apple sauce, with diced gherkins and crispy onions // ‘The Alfred Prasad’ – Mumbai ‘vada pav’ hotdog with chilli coconut chutney, mint chutney and red onions // and ‘The DJ BBQ’ – Fiery chilli con carne with Red Leicester cheese and sour cream. Hot sauce available for the daring!
It was too hard to decide on just one, so we got the Jose Pizarro and the Jason Atherton! And we also got the ‘Sweet mango, cashew and pomegranate slaw’ to add some greens into our dinner that night ;) The hotdogs were pretty amazing – which Haute Dog do you think you’d choose?
Last but not least we feasted on the ‘Truffled Mac and Cheese’ from Ember Yard – which we had spotted earlier in the evening and had especially saved a little final spot for! // Plus our last crowns (how you pay for your food at the event – uploaded onto a Taste Card) were spent on the ‘BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy’ from Kurobuta. I love this dish (as seen here) and my friend had never tried it, so I just had to introduce her to this food-deliciousness. It’s my duty as a good friend right?
Time flew by at Taste of London and at 10pm when it closed, we headed on our way home as two very happy and full ladies! To see the full Taste of London Winter restaurant line-up click HERE and for the full Chef line-up click HERE. Taste of London Winter is on from November 20th until November 23rd. Tickets are available to purchase from www.london.tastefestivals.com or by calling 0871 230 7132. Ticket price is between £19 and £23.50. Are you keen to check out Taste of London Winter this year? Then book your ticket now before it’s too late!