Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A London Date

It's Date Night (or day)!

So, it's that time again. Date time. Whether it's a date with a mate or something more romantically geared, who doesn't have a certain penchant for such nights (or days)?! They present the adventurous among us with an excellent excuse to explore somewhere new and exciting while providing those who are more set in their ways with a perfect reason to hop on back to their favourite haunts.

If you're looking for a bit of a shove in the right direction, or somewhere to drag your most entertaining platonic pal to, check out a few suggestions from The Little Brown Book. 


TO MUNCH



Flat Iron - Deliciously juicy £10 Steaks. Miniature meat cleavers, casual cool, salted chocolate mousse. Done.

Flesh &Buns - Japanese hirata buns filled with mouth watering meat, do-it-yourself s'mores and a seriously great weekend brunch.

Sticks 'n' Sushi - Overwhelmingly large selection of flavoursome sushi to mix and match to your heart's content. Fill your pockets because once you get going, there's no knowing when you'll end!

Imli Street - A unique take on Indian dining. Small plates with a more street foody vibe - no sickly sweet sauces here. Order the Onion Bhaji - it comes in bite-sized pieces as opposed to a whopping great canon ball.

Barnyard Ollie Dabbous' little house on the prairie and comfortingly American without the 'I've eaten all the ribs, have descended into meat sweats' and will require an immediate coronary angiogram' kindof feeling. My current favourite spot for a weekend lunch. (Don't let the no reservations policy put you off, this is not one to miss).

Kintan - The first Japanese grill-your-own to reach London (and perhaps even Europe). The 2 person set menu is £70 but will easily feed 3. You're in for a feast whatever you go for!


TO WOO


Berners Tavern - A jaw-droppingly spectacular masterpiece-filled restaurant to impress. Perfect for those with a soft spot for art and opulence (and fine dining). Just don't expect your date to ever want to leave (you or the restaurant)!

Duck and Waffle - Sky high dining, excellent service and the masterpiece that is the duck and waffle. To avoid serious food envy, choose the signature dish and drift into maple syrupy heaven.

Hakkasan - Unashamedly divine. Dim sum fit for the gods, the best duck salad on the planet, mouth watering presentation and moody lighting. Sunday brunch will not get better than this.

The Wolseley - A classy yet casual spot in what used to be a car showroom back in the chivalrous days. White table cloths, shining silverware, the best eggs benedict in town and an excellent (and enormous) wiener schnitzel.


TO SIP

The Shop - Jam jars, milk bottles, unpretentiously cool and comfortable to put everyone at ease. Artwork for sale around the walls and the furniture too if you fancy it! Also serving seriously scrummy fish tacos.

Discount Suit Company - An underground speakeasy in an old tailors. Push back the velvet curtain to find cocktails and a cosy vibe that you'll be craving as the traditional English weather returns. Follow your ears, this East London gem is easy to miss.

Graphic - The largest selection of gin in London, this is a G&T lovers paradise. Settle at the bar, make friends with the bar man and commission some unique combinations tailored to your taste. Oh and cocktails in paint pots to fit the creative theme.

Bourne & Hollingsworth - Your Gran's electro-swinging lounge. Cocktails in tea cups, charmingly kitsch wallpaper and a Fitzrovia favourite.

Mr Fogg's - Taxidermy, hot air balloons, penny farthings and live theatrics (if you're lucky). Sign in the guest book, take a seat in this Jules Verne inspired cocktail bar and join Philleas Fogg on his adventure around the world in eighty days!

Cecil's - A 1930's Shanghai speakeasy, who, apart from concocting delicious cocktails, have ingeniously teamed up with a local Chinese takeaway and will bring you all the spring rolls and prawn crackers you could ever wish for to munch as you sip. On the first Thursday of the month, meet Jonny Woo, the ever so fabulous drag queen who will lead you through a cabaret night of flirtatious fun.

TO CHARM

The Blind Pig - Here is the secret, mahogany-coated cocktail masterville above Jason Atherton's Social Eating House and hidden behind a door marked only with a blindfolded shiny pigs head. Wow your date with your insider knowledge as this bar oozes cool out of every nook and cranny.

BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) - Another secret location, this time underneath a juice bar. Bring a bottle of the tipple of your choice and let the man behind the trolley of delights whip you up all manner of creative cocktails. Reservations only, this place is sure to impress!

Opium - Turns out I'm a fan of the hidden locations. Tucked behind a sign-less black door in China Town, marked only by the doorman, sits the Dim Sum cocktail parlour of the hour. A rather devilish feeling envelopes you as you disappear inside as the likelihood of being spotted here by anybody you know is slim. Not that this is a reason to go, but it certainly adds an element of excitement to the night. Just don't tell ALL your friends!

Sketch - With 5 different rooms to choose from, you'll be spoilt for choice at this creative explosion. Unlike anywhere else in London, Sketch will leave you feeling exclusive, excited, bemused and entertained all at once. Delicious cocktails, insane decor and some seriously crazy toilets.

Cellar Door - Cabaret and cocktails in a matchbox. Welcome to the 1920s/30s/40s ish and an underground speakeasy at the confusing location of Zero Aldwich. Let the jazzy tunes and huskily sexy singers drag you out of the London bubble to transport you back in time. Fancy some snuff? It's available at the bar.

Purl - Another basement speakeasy filled with an eclectic mix of leather chairs, antlers, globes and theatrical cocktails. Settle in for the night and cosy up to Mr Right..(or wrong..listen to the live jazz musicians and distract yourself with the surroundings if you really have nothing to say to your date)!


***

So, date night sorted! If you'd like some more tailored options, just drop me a note/ tweet/ pigeon/ message in a bottle with your requirements for the evening and I'll get my thinking cap on!


Happy dating!


Friday, 29 August 2014

A Little Brown Competition

Win £30 to spend on a weekend brunch for two at The Proud Archivist with Zomato

I've recently discovered the wonderful world of Zomato, a website bringing together all things food. Because they are lovely and keen on making our stomachs smile, I have teamed up with them to offer one lucky person a bit of a treat. FREE FOOD! Come on now, who could turn that down?!.. especially when it comes in the form of a weekend brunch at one of the most delightful places in the pages of The Little Brown Book. Welcome back to The Proud Archivist, the perfect canal-side getaway! 




All you have to do to win, is head over to my Twitter page and retweet the following message: 

"#Win £30 to spend on weekend brunch @ProudArchivist, simply RT and follow @EllaPaskett and @Zomato - http://bit.ly/XPGD0j

.. simples!!

On my last visit to The Proud Archivist (here), I was stunned by the tranquility of the location. Sitting dreamily on the canal near Haggerston station, The Proud Archivist will take you out of London without leaving the city. Filled with an ever changing art exhibition in its gallery which surrounds the refreshingly bright restaurant, this is a gem you'll wonder why you haven't visited sooner.  


Here are a few of my favourite brunch menu choices at the Proud Archivist, to get your drool on!


* Proud granola- with hazelnuts, almonds, dried berries, Greek yoghurt and maple syrup*
* Eggs Royale – Proud Archivist English muffins topped with smoked salmon, wilted spinach and two poached eggs *
* TPA Burger, Emmental, Aioli, Leaves, Chips *
* Pork belly, spiced vermicelli, courgette *
YUM!
***

Now for a little bit about Zomato ...



If you do have the pleasure of being crowned the winner, please pop a word or two onto Zomato and spread the Proud Archivist love. Aside from it being a website to discover new restaurants, Zomato is also an ever expanding social network for foodies, travellers and inspiration hunters alike. Using their handy app, you can have the restaurant world at your fingertips with menus, reviews, contact details and hints to help you find exactly what you didn't even know you were looking for! 


Don't forget to get tweeting! Good Luck my fellow adventurers!
(One last little word: this fantabulous prize expires on the 30th September 2014 so make sure you redeem it before it's too late!)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bocca Di Lupo

Italian Stallion

It happened again, a new favourite to add to my list of ever growing 'favourites'. Here at Bocca di Lupo (which appropriately means 'into the mouth of the wolf'), you'll find a different and more authentic take on Italian dining.

Choose from different sized sharing plates which you can mix and match to your heart's and stomach's content before you focus your attention on the delicious and award-winning wine pairings that compliment the dishes and with a large array of both to choose from, you'll be hankering for a return visit to try them all. 

Freshly grilled fish will be prepared infront of your drooling lips along with a sublime, creamy duck ragu papardelle to rival the best of it's kind (Trullo, you have some competition)! 




Our feast also included a pulled pork salad, Pumpkin flowers filled with mozzarella and a plate piled high with beans mixed in a chunky tomato sauce.



I am a firm believer in being able to leave a restaurant in at least a semi-upright position instead of having to hire a crane to lift me out of my seat and Bocca Di Lupo have achieved the perfect balance of satisfyingly full but not bursting. The inventive menu is constantly being amended to keep in line with the season or chef preference and everything is prepared with a light simplicity leaving you feeling (almost) guilt-free. Tasty olives too. 




Glowing bulbs surround the diners who can either sit at the bar and observe the magic or be seated in a more traditional restaurant environment away from the grilling and chopping.


And now for dessert. I couldn't resist the espresso gelato and my companion went for a creamy egg-based short coffee. Both were the sort of choices that send one spiralling into a caffeinated heaven to which I fully intend on finding again soon!

After a cheeky trip to the toilets to check they lived up to the high standards set by the meal we had just inhaled (they did), it was home time.. (well, actually we hopped over to Opium, but I'll let you in on that secret another time)!


The restaurant is a busy one and booking is a must as it is no secret to Soho. It's popularity reflects the quality and comfort oozing out into the street from the brightly lit windows and luring unsuspecting diners inside. Here we have something special and I am strongly considering moving into their kitchen. 

Bocca Di Lupo on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Brooklyn Brewery & #LondonMash

Dinner on The Farm

London never ceases to surprise and a couple of weekends ago I made my way to Surrey Docks Farm for a delightful dinner and event run by Brooklyn Brewery and London Mash who had collaborated for a week's worth of fun and games celebrating a sense of 'community represented by thoughtful food, whimsical beers and good, solid company'. I couldn't have put it better myself! 


We were serenaded by jumping bluegrass music care of The Absentees who inspired jaw aching grins and many a tapping foot!


Our jars were never left empty for long and the craft beers and ales kept on flowing throughout the evening. We clutched the drinking vessels which were now our very own to keep.

These ingenious arancini balls kept us entertained with little pipettes filled with lemon to squeeze in and over. 

The guys from Cold Brew were manning a stall of this unique, new coffee concept; a (surprise, surprise) cold brewed coffee which was served with ice and had a extraordinarily fruity taste. 

We were treated to cheese tasting from Kappacasein dairy in Bermondsey who made nutty and smooth English cheeses which can be found in Raclette and grilled cheese form at Borough Market. 

This fully functioning, inner city farm looked out over the river and onto the towering offices of Canary Wharf. Totally oblivious to it's bizarre location were a multitude of animals that excited me probably more than they should have considering I have seen many a duck before! 

Also a goat, apparently I'd never seen one of these strange creatures either!


We prepared to take our hay bale seats ... 

And were introduced to dinner; a refreshing array of salads, meat, vegetables and cheese, all sourced from the farm and prepared by Chef Craig Morris of the farm's very own Piccalilli Caff and Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson. 


The food was absolutely delicious and as we sat munching, it was decided that dinner on a farm was the perfect way to escape the stress of London while never actually leaving the city.

The Cold Brew boys joined the group and sat rocking their Cold Brew t-shirts.


Scones piled high with cream and summer fruit were devoured in true British fashion.

As the sun set over Canary Wharf, it was almost time to leave and we felt a twinge of sadness that this excellent way to spend a Sunday evening was nearly over. Even though the Brooklyn Brewery Mash has now moved overseas back to America, the Piccalilli Caff is definitely one to return to for a surreal taste of the countryside in London.

Make sure you say hi to this cool creature when you visit, she just wants a bit of the action!

Thanks must go to London Mash for inviting me, it was definitely an experience not to be forgotten and hopefully one to be repeated soon!