Chicken Shop, Owl Cafe, Montage of Heck and not talking to nudists.

27 Apr

I’ve been a bit crap at updating the blog recently – no real excuse other than being on holiday/being busy at work/getting addicted to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Anyway, I’m back now and ready to share some of the stuff I’ve been up to in London since the last blog post.

(I keep meaning to do a write up of my NJ/NYC/DC/Toronto trip but the time keeps escaping me, but it’ll be coming soon!)

photo 3 (1) EAT:  On an unassuming corner near Tooting Broadway is a place called Chicken Shop. It’s as basic as it sounds, and also incredibly delicious. From the Soho House team, I was expecting good things.

There are no reservations, so expect queues. It’s a small space, but as you walk in the door you’re greeting by rotisserie chickens over an open fire and the place (so long as you’re not a vegan or veggie) smells divine. I went with my friends Katie and Olly, and Olly is one of those guys that can eat a whole pile of food and still stay slim, so he went for a whole chicken (£16). The other options? A half chicken or a quarter chicken. Aside from those three options, you only have a few sides (salad, sweet corn, chips or coleslaw) to go at. Some unless you like meat… stay away.

photo 1 The chicken comes in bowls and is delicious. It’s a messy eating experience, the skin is smoky and the chicken is lovely and tender. They have house-made hot sauce, smoky sauce, but you can have regular mayo/ketchup too (but don’t. Definitely have the sauces).  The chips were good – thick and crispy, good portion size too. Coleslaw is more of Meatliquor style coleslaw – really creamy and definitely worth getting. The main meal was basically really good, and good value too. I got two sides and a 1/4 chicken for £14 and that was MORE than enough food for me.
photo 4 Let’s move on to dessert. Oh dear god, the desserts. I ordered the Apple Pie and it was amazing. Deep-filled, lotsa cinnamon, warm and gooey with yummy pastry too. The portion size is huge and it comes with ice cream too. Massive thumbs up from me (and they’re not just massive due to the stupid amount of food I ate…)

SEE:  A month or so ago there was a huge uproar about an owl ‘cafe’. The press compared the pop up own cafe to the ones in Japan where the owls can fly around, people get drunk, etc. Animal rights activists went mental and the team running the owl cafe had to work very hard to correct their assumptions.

So, Annie’s Soho had to move from Soho to a secret location Shoreditch. It had to cut the alcohol and really hammer home the animal safety message. Now, there’s a cat cafe in London and numerous other animals cafes worldwide. I can only assume owls hit a nerve because they’re naturally less social with humans than cats, so I was interested to see exactly what the ‘cafe’ was like.

photo 1 (1) photo 3 (2)

The space was small with owl-related artwork hanging all over the room. It was quaint and the lighting was low, with silent owl footage projected onto a screen. We were given very detailed safety instructions, again, to hammer home that the owl’s safety and wellbeing is their priority.

So, a summary: the owls are from a sanctuary and the owls were with their (very knowledgeable lovely) handlers the entire time. When the owls are brought into the room, you have to whisper, the music gets turned down and you can only have the owl perch on you – you can’t stroke them or really have them on your arm for more than about 30 seconds.

photo 4 (1) While you’re waiting for the owls (most of the event really) smoothies and nibble were served (they had to cut the whole alcohol and dining thing because of the owl safety). While the smoothies and the food is very nice, the highlight was the owl handlers. One of them was happy to answer questions, very professional and gave us information as he went around the room.

Now, the owls were beautiful. However, I feel that due to the uproar around the safety concerns, the cafe didn’t really have enough to keep people interested for the duration of the time they’re in there. Now, don’t get me wrong: it was well run. The owls were handled well and well looked after. The smoothies tasted good and the nibbles provided were totally fine. But there were big gaps while you were waiting for the owl to come round and once they did, it was over very quickly. Due to the noise levels having to remain low, the atmosphere was a bit flat.

photo 2 (1) Much  as I enjoyed learning about owls and holding them, I think if I’d applied for tickets and paid full price I would have felt a little short changed. At the end of the day, I understand that owls were chosen because the guy who set up the owl cafe has a passion for them and wanted to do something different, but I just don’t think they were the most stimulating animals to put in a cafe environment. I enjoyed my time there and hope the cafe did well (I believe it recently finished its pop up run), but I think unless you’re very specifically into owls, maybe pick a place where the music’s a bit louder and the drink a bit more alcohol…

LISTEN: I went to go and see the new Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck the other day. I adored Nirvana and Cobain as a teenage and whenever I re-visit Nirvana or the numerous books/DVDs/magazines about Kurt Cobain I totally turn back into the Cobain fan-girl I was as a teen.

The documentary was very good. Lots of home footage and insight into a brilliant, creative man who was riddled with self-doubt and addiction. I liked the fact that, unlike most Cobain documentaries, his suicide was hardly focused on. Instead, you learn a lot about his childhood and how he because who he was. You see his ambition, how fame impacted him and lots on his relationship with Love and his role as a father. The footage is both mesmerising and heartbreaking in parts.

So here’s my favourite Nirvana song (well, one of many). “I miss the comfort in being sad”.

LOVE: I am currently in the midst of a self-imposed dating drought. I basically got so bored of dates being expensive and never going anywhere, that I decided to save time, money and swap dating for the gym. As a result I’ve lost a load of weight, but I do slightly fear that I’ll forget how the hell to date people.

After returning to OK Cupid for about a week, I quickly remembered why online dating is both reasonably futile, and absolutely addictive and hilarious. I have had a man ask me, after a very brief period of everyday conversation, ask if he could ‘be blunt’ and say that he wants to only have a one night stand and didn’t want me to get the wrong idea because he doesn’t see me as a long term ‘thing’. Now, fair enough: I admire the honesty. But hardly the right words to use to get me into bed, flattering as they were…

Then there’s this guy:

photoNow, firstly – I’m all for nudists. I imagine that it’s incredibly liberating. There’s actually a nudist resort in France which when I get old and saggy, I’m TOTALLY hitting it up (or before then, be warned, haha). However, I have a few doubts…:

  1. That there is nothing sexual about his request. You can accuse me of being a cynic, but I’m reeeasonably sure that if he somehow managed to get a woman naked on a webcam, his penis would take centre stage.
  2. The conversation. Now, two total strangers meeting, fully clothed, in public, on a date, have a whole lot of awkward conversation to get through. And that’s after you’ve been chatting with them online/via Whatsapp/whatever. However, I am convinced that immediately jumping on webcam with a naked stranger, each of you perched on your beds, would result in a LOT of awkward conversation. I imagine most of it would be about each other bodies and then when the conversation dries up, you just slooooowly cover up the webcam and ‘go offline’.
  3. I don’t understand the term ‘semi-nudist’. Does that mean he puts clothes on for work then gets naked at home?People get naked in bed, the shower, they wander around the house naked when everyone is out (c’mon, we ALL do that)… but I wouldn’t call myself a semi-nudist. Perhaps this is something we can talk about naked?

You’ll be (relieved?) to hear I didn’t reply. Mainly because I’m reasonably sure it’s a regular guy, getting desperate, and messaging liberal women who he knows will be cool with the idea of nudism and who he thinks will therefore get naked. Perhaps I’m wrong but I’m not putting myself in a position where I can be proved wrong, soo..

There you have it. That’s the best offer I’ve had in the space of a week. I’ll persevere (because meeting someone IRL is just too unlikely), but also because it gives me something to write about until I actually decide to remind myself what a date is like.

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