Tag Archives: dating

Evans and Peel, Much Ado About Nothing, Oddisee and long term confusion.

12 Mar

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EAT: Evans and Peel Detective Agency has been on my London to-do list since… well, since about 6 years ago when I moved here actually. So, I suggested a speakeasy style bar and restaurant where you have to make up a fake case for a detective before you’re allowed in and my friend Jude didn’t need any further convincing to come.

We arrived and buzzed: by the time we got let in (they open at 5pm – had to call for a reservation, old school) there was another 4 pairs of people waiting for their 5pm appointment. So, after waiting for the guys ahead of us to finish their chat with the detective, we were let in.

So, the story we decided to go for (I say we, Jude had nothing to do with it although he did a good job at playing along and not being embarrassed by me) was that we wanted the Evans and Peel to investigate the suspected Ghost Brothel next door to my flat. I was pleased to see a genuine look of confusion on the woman’s face when I presented this, but she played along well – asking how we knew they were ghosts and/or prostitutes, had we heard any noises coming from next door? Etc. When the play acting was finished (it lasts about 3 minutes) our case was taken and a bookshelf swings open to reveal a dimly lit, prohibition-era bar. In we went.


Jude and I went all out – cocktails, beers, mains, dessert. Mainly because the atmosphere of the place was wicked – fantastic music (instrumental of course and perfectly in keeping with the prohibition style of the bar) and we basically just wanted to hang around for as long as possible! The menus are delivered to our table by a server, in plain brown envelopes (but the fancy kind which you have to loop string around in order to close them) and you’re also kitted out with the likes of a magnifying glass too.

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For mains, we went for burgers. The menu is a little limited – but not bad at all (see above) – and standard London prices. We also had a couple of beers to see us through too – again, limited selection, but a GOOD selection, which is the key thing. The burger was good. The way it’s cooked (on an old fashion grill or something) means you can only have it medium well done. It actually comes out medium which I wasn’t loving, but I ignored as most people like their burgers this way and it was still a tasty burger. Chips were solid too, as were the sauces; nowt ground-breaking (Patty and Bun have nothing to worry about) but you do get bacon and cheese with it, as well as coleslaw. All in all, a good burger.


Where Evans and Peel really shines is the spirits. The cocktails are pricy (£7-£15) but worth splashing out for just once. I went for a fruity one (passion fruit, egg white, rum) and Jude selected a Bourbon from their EXTENSIVE whiskey and bourbon list. They have stuff on there which is £25 a shot (seriously), so make sure you grab the magnifying glass and have a look!

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When I said we went all out, I meant it. I also opted for dessert (as did Jude) and we both went for the ice cream cookie sandwich – blueberry ice cream with jam sandwiched in between two chocolate chip cookies. SO GOOD. I warned Jude not to try and bite the bloody thing because it would go everywhere… which it totally did. Tip: eat one of the cookies first and then you can bite your way through. Super simple, really yummy.

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Basically; I loved Evans and Peel. It’s a KILLER date venue –  a little bit different, off the beaten track and the vibe is perfect for some romancing. It’s also a great place to catch up with friends. What it’s not is a place to ‘go out out’ for pre-drinks. Just sayin’. Seriously – go. It’s a place you’ve got to try while in London; I’m gutted it took me so long to get down there!

SEE: My favourite Shakespeare play is Much Ado About Nothing. I’ve seen it performed countless times, abroad, in London, in Stratford. And the latest production, currently showing at Theatre Royal is a really strong production. I should know… did I mention it’s my favourite Shakespeare play and I’ve seen it countless times? Yup? Cool.

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The setting is Autumn 1919, with the soldiers (Benedict and Claudio) returning from the war. The staging is simple – all the action takes place in a few different sets and, I admit, it got off to a slightly slow start. Benedict was fantastic the whole way through though; the scene where he overhears that Beatrice loves him was fantastically funny and I think the actor carried Beatrice a little bit at times, to be honest.

That’s not to say Beatrice wasn’t good, but the comic timing just wasn’t there at some points. The actor totally nailed the ‘give a shit’ disposition of Beatrice, but the scene where she overhears that Benedict loves her was lukewarm, with all the actors not really going as all-out as the male cast members had done.

For £10 however (which is how much I got my ticket for) it was a fantastic production and I can’t recommend it enough. Go!

LISTEN: I went to see Oddisee at the Islington Assembly Hall last weekend. I’ve seen him before, a few years back at the Jazz Café, but this time he was playing to a significantly bigger crowd, with a live band and a kick-ass new album.

If you haven’t heard of Oddisee, how can I describe him? He’s for people who want Drake to rap about something meaningful and put some thought into his music. BURN. But seriously; Oddisee blends hip hop, soul, funk and thrown in a hint of pop on a track here or there.

His latest album, The Iceberg is fantastic. Stand out tracks include Hold It Back, in which challenges inequality between women and men in the workplace, which refers to the current political climate; “We gon’ push the demons deeper in the closet, It ain’t no secret they just seeping out regardless, We’re keeping logic hostage”. Another of my favourite tracks is You Grew Up, which tells the story of Oddisee’s childhood friend. His (the father’s) friend loses his job, blames ‘immigrants’ like Oddisee’s father for it and their friendship has to end. Forward a good few years and we learn that his childhood friend is another white cop guilty of killing an innocent black man. There’s some ACTUAL shit going on in this album, but it’s thoughtful. It hasn’t been thrown together in anger; Oddisee is interrogating the situation with his lyrics and putting them against a blend of funk, soul, hip hop music, all played by an actual band rather than a Drake 808.

Cannot recommend the album enough. And if you love The Iceberg and Oddisee, check out the rest of his tracks on Spotify. I have a soft spot for ‘Miami’ – an instrumental off his album Travelling Man. For now, I’m going to leave you with a recent track: Like Really.

LOVE: So, I’ve been on a few dates with a few people over the last couple of months. And something wasn’t sitting right with any of them. That was, until the last guy I dated – then boom. It hit me.

The guys I meet online and usually on Tinder (so you can never tell if they’re looking for anything serious, but they’re usually not). Or, they’re on OK Cupid and they’ve listed ‘Long term relationship’, ‘Short term relationship’, ‘New Friends’ and ‘Casual Sex’ in their ‘Looking For section to make sure all bases are covered. Which is fine.

But now, I’m filtering out the guys who include ‘Casual Sex’ and ‘Short term relationships’. Because I’ve realised I want something a little more significant than that. I only realised this when I was sat with a perfectly nice, attractive, intelligent guy on a date, but who I know has just got out a relationship and isn’t looking for anything serious.

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Which is fine. But when I left the date, I realise I just want someone I can rely on to do stuff with. Hence why I’m not removing ‘New Friends’ from my OK Cupid searches – I want someone who will go to gigs with me. While I vent about my day to. Who wants to explore new restaurants in London. And I either need them to do this as friends or as someone I’m in a more long-term relationship with, because that’s the only way you can totally be yourself, right? If you’re dating someone short term JESUS it’s exhausting. The conversation, having to rock up looking great, having to always plan ahead in terms of what you’re doing. Second guessing the way they respond to you or touch you. Take all that crap out of the equation and I want a friend with time for me to explore London or I need to get past all that stressful dating stuff and just be comfortable.

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So, all this dawned on me. And I turned the last perfectly nice, intelligent, attractive guy I went on a date with down when he asked for a second date because ‘we want different things’. At least he knows his thing is sex. Mine? As you can tell from my rambling, I guess I’m still not 100% sure. Ho hum.

Dominic Ansell Bakery, Stour Space Gllery, Ice Cube and the definition of pedantic.

9 Feb

EAT: At long last I made my way down to the Dominic Ansell bakery near Victoria Bus Station in London. For those of you not in the know when it comes to all things baked good, Dominic Ansell is a chef from New York who came up with the ‘cronut’ (croissant combined with donut). As a result of this joyous invention, his bakery in New York has now found its way to the UK.

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The seating area in the café if small (and it is a café, not a restaurant) but service is reasonably fast, depending on what you order. I went for a green tea, cronut and cookie shot cup. So worth all of the calories – totally could have gone for their banoffee paella (all sweet, no meat, don’t worry) if I felt I could have justified it!

The cronut was delicious. Flaky and sugar-crusted on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. The lemon icing complimented the vanilla frosting on the inside perfectly and it’s basically as good as it looks/you imagine.

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And then there’s the cookie cup: a dark chocolate chip cookie turned into a gooey vessel, filled with vanilla milk. The cookie stays strong enough to hold the milk for a good while, but once the milk is gone it’s all nice and gooey. Yes yes, it’s essentially milk and cookie, but the novelty factor paired with the fact it tastes great make it well worth a shout.

I only have one negative about the experience (it’s absolutely not the desserts) – the service wasn’t great. Once you order, you’re given a number and your desserts are brought to you. I got my cronut right away and had to ask twice over the course of 20 minutes for my cookie cup. It rocked up, eventually, but only when I accidentally caught the manager and told her ow long I’d waited. That aside, I pretty much want to eat EVERYTHING there and I have no doubt that I’ll head back at some point to try one of their main dishes (macaroons, flowering hot chocolate) or one of their specials (the banoffee paella looks insane).

SEE: If you actually bother reading my blog on a regular basis (unlikely) you may remember that in my last post I mentioned Hackney Wick – I headed out there to visit the Olympic Park. Well, last week I went back out East again to go to an exhibition that caught my eye at the Stour Space – part creative space, gallery and café in Hackney Wick.

The exhibition was all about the song by Ice Cube, ‘It Was A Good Day’. Basically the song is about an amazing day that Ice Cube had, and someone actually worked out the only possible day Cube could have been talking about was January 20th, 1992. The blog post below is printed out for you to take, and also framed to start the exhibition.

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Essentially, a series of artworks which directly relate to the song have been curated and displayed. The song mentioned basketball, so there’s a fantastic screen print with gel of a basketball on display. I also really liked this ‘Saw the police and they rolled right past me’ print – there was also a collage about this particular line too. The blimp was represented too (in the song, Ice Cube sees a the Good Year blimp which says ‘Ice Cubes’s a Pimp’ (cue huge print of this blazoned on a blimp).


Most of the artwork was literal and it was quite an amateur exhibition, and I really enjoyed it. I admit, it could have been improved by having the song played in the area the artwork was presented in, or having the lyrics somewhere so it’s easier to understand the links between the artwork and the song. But, that aside, it was a different kind of exhibition and the Stour Space is a little hidden gem.

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In fact, I loved the café there so much I’m bunging my lunch into the ‘See’ section of this blog post. I had butternut squash and coconut soup with sourdough bread which was absolutely beautiful and SO filling. Amazing quality (and quantity!) for a fiver. I also indulged in a hot chocolate rather than going for one of the many delicious cakes they had on offer. The café space is a fantastic place to free-range too – people were in there working, reading the newspaper, stopping off on their dog walk… it’s well worth a visit. Especially when the sun is out, as they have a terrace right on the canal with a view of the Olympic stadium. GO!

LISTEN: Had to be this. Enjoy.

LOVE: I’ve reaslised I really like having my relationships defined. Not in a ‘so what are we, where is this going, wah wah wah’ way. It’s an internal definition which allows me know where to draw the line with guys and how to prioritise.

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Guys I date usually fall into the following categories:

‘Someone I’m casually sleeping with’ – regularly not leaving the house – to the point where we don’t ‘go out’ on dates. Super casual.

‘Someone I’m casually seeing’ – early on, may not have slept with them, but have been on more then five dates and we actually go out (restaurants, exhibitions etc) – making memories and having experiences together outside the bedroom.

‘Seeing someone’ – the above, with sex, but has been going on for months rather than weeks. Could turn into something, but not in a relationship (so can see other people but might not have the desire to do so’.

‘Boyfriend’ – the above, but monogamous (stop dating other people unless we’ve agreed to be in an open relationship) and don’t have to think twice about messaging them first and all that kinda dating crap you go through on dates 1-5.

Anyone else compartmentalise dating in the same way? I find I have to otherwise it gets too complicated. Especially if I’m ‘casually seeing’ two people, for example. I’ve only really had these descriptions set in my mind for the last year, but they seem to work. Plus, so long as I know where we’re at, I just don’t feel the need to ask the guy who the hell he thinks is going on until we’re verging on ‘boyfriend’ stage. Which NEVER, EVER happens. Pretty much gonna be in perpetual ‘seeing someone’ mode I reckon, haha.

AMAZING burger pop-up, the history of the universe, Passing Clouds and what I don’t want.

9 Oct

Long time (well, kinda) no speak! I’ve been reasonably busy over the last few weeks… mainly heading on three holidays in September, so don’t feel sorry for me. But it did mean I was a bit slow updating the ol’ blog as I now have just TOO MUCH to chat about. So: I’m going to do a bit of a London update and then next week I’ll write up my September holiday highlights (Berlin and Barcelona – both places I’ve been before). Until then, enjoy reading about some of the things I’ve got up to recently!

EAT: A few months back I blogged about a Malaysian pop-up at Soho pub, the Sun and 13 Cantons. It was epic. And now, another can’t miss pop-up has taken residency in the kitchen of the Sun and 13. Chef Adam Rawson won the Slider Decider award and he’s brought his burgers to Soho for a limited time. And fuck me, they’re delicious.

If you’ve even read this blog ONCE you’ll know I’m a burger fan. So when I saw ks_ate_here (delicious food porn from around London) Instagram a gorgeous looking burger at the Sun and 13, my lunchtime was sorted. As was the lunchtime of half of the people of work with because we all follow ks_ate_here… and the Sun and 13 Cantons is about 30 seconds from my office!

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So, this is the deal: the burger above is the Pan Con Chicharron (Aged Galician patty, smoked cheddar, aji  rocotto ketchup, aji Amarillo mustard, salsa criolla & crispy pork ). The only side available (which OF COURSE I got as well) are onion rosemary and aioli chips. The chips were really good – very strong aioli, which I loved, and a generous helping of the stuff too, balanced nicely with the rosemary so it isn’t completely missed. Plus, crispy onions which are always welcome. True, no rosemary chips will ever beat Honest Burger’s in my opinion, but these were damn good.


The burger was one of the best I’ve ever had in London. The patty was thick and flavoursome – juicy so you can get a perfect bite with the brioche-esque bun, and it wasn’t overpowered by all the yummy extras. The onions were SO SO GOOD (plus, c’mon, really pretty) and the bun held together really well. One of my colleagues had the veggie options (Crispy aubergine, truffle aioli, wild rocket, gorgonzola & balsamic onions ) which looked packed and not the rubbish excuse for a burger some veggie options are – again, loads of filling and sauce, paired nicely with the right about of crispy aubergine.

Finally, anyone who tried both my burger and the Global Traveller said the Global Traveller was better. Don’t get me wrong, my burger (the Pan Con Chicharron was DAMN GOOD… but the Global Traveller is really damn good, basically. It comes with Aged Galician mince, truffle aioli, wild rocket, gorgonzola, Balsamic Onions & Pancetta.

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Go while you can, eat allllll the things and then go back again to eat everything you didn’t try first time around. It goes without saying I’ll be returning to feast on the Global Traveller burger! Burgers are between £7.50-£9 and chips are £3.50.

SEE: My Dad got me tickets to see Brian Cox live, and I found myself on a Saturday night learning about the cosmos, how many universes there are (hint: loads), learning about the big bang, how the universe is expanding and how bloody wonderful Einstein’s theory of Relatively is as a model. Plus, there were loads of stunning photographs and simulations of our solar system which I loved.

I was actually really happy to see a packed theater (about 1,200 people) paying £30 to sit and learn about physics on a Saturday night… it gives me hope that we’re not all happy with settling for dumbed-down X Factor as our Saturday night entertainment. And it WAS entertaining; Brian Cox is an engaging speaker anyway and he does a good job of making things simple enough for people to understand. I reckon I probably ‘got’ about 50% of it which, honestly, I’m very happy with! Plus, Robin Ince was there to break things up and give a little comic relief in parts, which worked well.

We were shown how a bowling ball and a feather fall in a vacuum (so, how gravity actually affects the motion of masses without pesky air resistance getting in the way). On top of this, we were told about how far back we can see in space (basically, no more than 30,8 billion years because before that point the atoms in the universe were opaque, and not transparent, so light couldn’t get out). True, I may never use that fact again. But that’s not why we learn – it’s to pique our curiosity and to have a better understanding of the world… galaxy… universe… etc.

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One of the highlights for me was the Cosmic Calendar. This is our universe, but shown as an Earth year. Basically, our galaxy has only been around since September (when Earth was formed). Complex organisms (predators, animals with eyes and teeth) evolved on December 17th (my birthday, whoop!) Dinosaurs became extinct on December 30th. And humans rocked up in the final seconds of New Years Eve. Which is a lot to get your head around and exceptionally humbling. It’s fascinating that our galaxy has been ‘stable’ (in terms of temperature and no supermassive black holes massively fucking things up) for billions of years, which is a key in factor in why life on Earth was able to evolve.

Anyway. I’m rambling and not explaining anything anywhere NEAR as clearly as Brian Cox did. But it was a great show which I’d recommend seeing – or, catch him next time he tours, for sure. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday night.

LISTEN: I went to a march a few weeks back to show Hackney Council, London and the rest of the UK that London cannot keep losing venues of such community importance as Passing Clouds. The venue was sold by their landlord to a developer who is going to strip away my favourite venue, a place with live music, poetry, dance classes, community projects, charity work and more, to be turned into yet more dull offices.

Trying to stop my spiritual home from being taken away @itspassingclouds #savepassingclouds

A post shared by Hannah (@hannahlujah123) on

So, I marched. I marched from Shoreditch to Haggerston, along with hundreds of other people, peacefully protesting the closure of the venue. We also marched to raise awareness of Passing Clouds, as they are trying one last thing: they’re applying to Hackney Council to become a listed place of community importance. Which, honestly, it is. They give up and coming artists and musicians a stage, they run soup kitchens and other charity initiatives and it’s the most inclusive and colourful/safe space I’ve found in London to go out.

If you would like to help, you can do so by simply signing the petition (for Hackney Council to list Passing Clouds as a place of community importance) here. Thank you. x

LOVE: So it’d been a fair few months since I’d been on a date (I decided to take a break and head to the gym instead), but in September I thought I’d give dating a bit of prioritisation (after food, sleep, holidays and work, lol) and I dating three different guys over the course of the month.

And in September, I realised a few things about what I want in a person. So, although I didn’t meet anyone who was right for me, I’ve learned some things which aren’t right for me. So, here those things are (mainly for my reference so I don’t make the same mistake again!)

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  • Much as I respect people’s choices, dating someone who is not only vegan, but also a tee-total anti-capitalist was a bit much, I Cannot stress enough that I have no issues with any of those things. And if he’d only been vegan/only been tee-total/only been anti-capitalist, I think it would have been fine. But as a meat eating, drinking woman who works in the advertising industry, there just wasn’t the meeting of minds that there needed to be to progress to a second date.
  • Dress sense matters. I happen to dress very colourfully and, much as I love a guy who embraces colour, I’m realistic and can happily deal with jeans and a white t-shirt. However, when someone rocks up to a date dressed like a pimp (velvet jackets, purple silk shirt, chain) AND then starts on men at the bar, it’s all a bit much. (This happened.)

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  • I hate the world spark. I really do. But if whatever physical thing you need to want to sleep with someone isn’t there, then it isn’t there. I think I have to admit that looks DO matter… what kind of looks I don’t know, but someone could have an amazing personality and want the same things as me in life… but if I don’t want to jump them, then there’s no point persevering with the dates.

So there we go. I learned a lot and had some interesting dates with some lovely men, but it just wasn’t going to work out. Onwards and upwards. Well… onwards, at least (I’m being realistic) 😉

Streetfeast, Albert Bridge, Wildbirds and Peacedrums and a common theme.

21 Nov

EAT: I went to my first Streetfeast this week. To be more specific, I went to Hawker House in Canada Water. True, it’s the middle of nowhere but I was looking forward to trying something new.

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First stop: Chuck Burger. I’d never heard of Chuck Burger so as someone who has had a fair few burgers around London I had little choice but to give it a go. The burger above is the bacon cheese burger: beef, bacon, cheese, onion and chuck sauce. GET ME, HAVIN’ A BEEF BURGER EH.

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The burger was nice, but not overwhelmingly good. I heard the server chatting to someone asking more about the business and they don’t seem to have any kind of unique selling point. Just guys from North West London who have a burger joint or two and are trying to get better known. Burger was really nice, but nothing as special as Bleeker or Street Kitchen. However, if you like a good burger, give it a try. Comes in at £7 and if you can work out what the chuck sauce is, lemme know (it didn’t really taste of anything specific).

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I also went to Spit and Roast’s stall (photo above taken from their Twitter feed) because I wanted to try something different. As soon as we spotted the Roast Pork Belly Laos Curry Poutine, we headed straight over. It’s essentially roast pork belly mixed in with a slightly spicy yellow curry sauce and dripped over chips. And it’s gooood.  Really good! Not too hot and a great one to share. Meat was well cooked and the chips were actually nice too.

Honestly? The space is nice, there’s lot of food on offer (tacos, steak, burgers, seafood, indian etc). But there’s no live music, nothing special going on in terms of entertainment. You have to pay to get in for the pleasure of standing around, chatting with your mates and then paying on top of the entry fee for yummy food… which you can do in places far more convenient that Canada Water. However, if you really want to stuff yourself and try some interesting new food then give it a go. Certainly not a BAD place to go on a date or with your friends but I’m just failing to see what you get for the entry fee you don’t have to pay to get into most bars and restaurants.

SEE: Albert Bridge, Battersea. At night. Beautiful. The best bridge in London and a wonder to behold as I walk home from the tube station. I’m such a sucker for fairy lights and anything that looks remotely magical.


LISTEN: I’ve got into a band called Wildbirds and Peacedrums recently. Can’t remember how, but they’re a bit bluesy with strong rhythmic drums making a regular appearance in their music. They have some elements of pop and jazz too… all in all, right up my street.

This song is from their 2010 album Rivers and rocks. Beautiful vocals, interesting beat… give it a listen.

LOVE: Have you ever seen the film Kissing Jessica Stein? It’s about a woman who goes on plenty of dates, has no success and blames the men for being stupid – hence why she can’t comprehend going on a second date with them. This is a terrible way to view dating and is rarely ever correct. What people hate to admit is that the one thing a string of failed dates have in common, is them.

I’ve dated shy men, outgoing men, short and tall men, older men, men the same age as me, men with all sorts of jobs, men who have wealthy families or high paying jobs and men who don’t have well paying jobs or a rich family, men who are British and men who aren’t, men of different races, men who share my hobbies and men who don’t… you get the picture. And it hasn’t worked out yet. You know what they did all have in common? That the person they went on the date with is me.

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I’m not being hard on myself – there are plenty of reasons my dates don’t work out and sometimes they like me more than I like them and vice versa. I just wanted to put it out there that you/people/women/men shouldn’t blame others or themselves for things not working. If you’re having a rough time out there that’s all it is: you just haven’t clicked with anyone. And if you manage to easily go from relationship to good date to relationship then, well… possibly your standards are too low BUT it’s likely that you’re just lucky and you click with all kinds of people.

I’d love David Attenborough to create a Human Dating Documentary. Watching people date and having him look at the psychology, signals and everything in the way that he does with animals? That would be incredible and significantly better than the ok, not great, dating shows that are around at the moment. Attenborough ftw

Anyway, that’s my ten cents. Happened to be watching Kissing Jessica Stein and the scene struck a chord I guess!

Loaded Burger, #RunRarebitRun, Savage Salad, Top Dog, London Parks and being picky.

12 Sep

Ok, so I keep going out to eat, or to fun places (hold on, this isn’t just me showing off) and I never find time to write about them. At the end of the day this blog is a diary for me and hopefully a source of useful info for the rest of you, so I’m pretty much letting everyone down.

That’s right guys, this blog is SO IMPORTANT that I’m letting EVERYONE down.

Anyway. Rather than rambling for three or paragraphs per section, I’m going to do a quick summary  of the eats I’ve experienced and things I’ve been doing in London before order is restored and I throw you a music link and tell you some terrible dating story. Kay? Cool. Let us begin.

EAT: So most of my eats are burgers, obviously. I was wandering around Stoke Newington drunk and I stumbled across Loaded Burger: it looks reasonably unassuming and new. Went in and very quick decided I was impressed with their menu – they seem to know what they’re doing.

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I ordered the Buffalo chicken: chicken streak, fried, smothered in buffalo sauce (mildly hot) topped with mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, aioli + sour cream and chives. It sounds like a LOT, but take a look at the size of the chicken and the bun. The brioche can more than hold its own and the chicken needs a lot of sauce and good stuff to balance out the meat and the hot sauce. All in all, a very satisfying drunk-at-the-bus-stop eat. Will deffo give them an eat-in try if I’m back in the area!

EAT: I’ve blogged about Byron Burger before… but not like this. I had a bite of their new special, Run Rarebit Run, on Tuesday. And I thought about it every day. Literally, every day. You know why? BECAUSE IT WAS BEEF AND I LIKED IT.

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Look at it. Fml. I literally never order beef burgers – I don’t usually like them, they’re too heavy.  But this is divine. I had mine well done and it’s £10.95 for Run Rarebit Run is a British twist on a classic bacon cheeseburger: a 6oz hamburger topped with vintage Cheddar rarebit made with Byron Pale Ale, plus dry cure bacon, pickled cucumber and English mustard mayonnaise. FYI I don’t actually like mustard either but it doesn’t matter: this burger is so bloody good they could put mushrooms (EVIL) in it and I’d still eat it. Go. Get it. IMMEDIATLY.

EAT: Right, we’re going to take a break from burgers and move to salad. Yeah, I know, but stay with me, this salad is actually really good. Savage Salad sits as a food stand in Berwick Street, Soho and for about £5 you can get a chicken (or halloumi, or both) salad – the base changes each day and it always comes with pitta.

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I’ve previously has beans, cous cous, roasted peppers and onions, pickled cucumber, coleslaw, leaves with balasmic vinegar and cherry tomato with feta cheese. It’s in a lovely box and it always tastes bloody amazing. Plus, because it has the word ‘salad’ in it, it means it’s healthy…. right?

EAT: About 4 months ago I went and got 50% off a hot dog place in Soho. The hot dog place in question was from Top Dog and I got the BBQ dog (BBQ sauce, caramilised onions and cheddar). I also went for the salted caramel shake.

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The hot dog wasn’t that amazing. It was actually quite small and wasn’t that BBQ-y. Also didn’t have enough onion for me… it’s more cheese than anything else. The milkshake however was the tits. It tasted SO good… as you can see from the photo, I drank half the shake before I even bothered with the hot dog.  Not much more to add about the place than that!

SEE: Right, now we’re on to the see bit of the blog post. FYI, in order to not become something akin to a beached whale due to all the food I eat, I go to the gym a lot and I also walk around a lot too. So this little bit of the blog post is about the oft-spoken about London parks and what I love about each one.

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Hyde Park is great for ‘stuff to do’. There’s an art gallery, the serpentine, restaurants and numerous pop ups. It’s the place to go if you’re super central, if you want to run or cycle. I tend to head there when I want to socialise, rather than being alone. Unless you go to the bit at the back of Hyde Park where the longer grass is, there’s not a lot of quite time to be had in Hyde Park. There is interesting artwork like the one above at the Serpentine Gallery though (until Oct 18th)!

Green Park is nice when you’re in the middle of the city but you want to get away from it all. It’s just swathes of green. ALL the green. Hence the name… (this isn’t the most insightful blog post, I’ll admit). But so long as you don’t go too near the roads, it’s actually very peaceful and a nice place to sit and read (which is exactly what I end up doing there, see below).

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Battersea Park is really near me and is a great place for walking and jogging as it’s right by the river. Some parts of it are lovely for sitting and reading (see below… most middle glass reading picnic EVER) but there’s also a little farm, lots of sports courts and irritatingly I suppose it’s really good for kids. Hence why I stick to the corners and don’t venture near the middle where the ice cream trucks are!

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The point of this rambling crap is to say that don’t underestimate London’s parks. Walk there, take a book or some friends on a sunny day and it’s not only good excersise but the parks are bloody lovely too. Hence why I probably love Parks and Recreation and Leslie Knope (best TV show ever) so much…

LISTEN: I have no idea how I haven’t yet blogger about the Jurassic Park theme music. Every Friday at work I curate a playlist and it always starts with this theme tune. It was actually my old boss Adam’s idea and I’m not completely conditioned to associated the music with work ending, drinks and Friday night. If I ever get forced into marriage (I don’t believe in it, but I’m using it as a compromise when I tell someone I don’t want kids) my wedding is kicking off with this music. As is my funeral. I’s just such epic, beautiful music. Listen to it and looooove.

LOVE: I use OK Cupid for dating, usually. I like the scoring system – if I get messaged by someone who I match 90% with (it’s done based on common answers to questions) then I can bet they’re liberal, with reasonably good taste in culture and have good morals. Most of the time, when I meet a 90%+ match, we get on just fine but I maybe won’t feel a spark… personality will get a tick, but the extra something isn’t there.


True, I’m probably too picky. The way I see it: if they’re not right for ya, you think you’re being picky. But if they are a good’un, then it’ll just seem like an easy, obvious choice. I always remember a guy I work with moaning about clients: “Clients want things to be good, quick and cheap. That’s impossible. If it’s cheap and quick, it’s shit. If it’s good and quick, it’ll cost you. And if it’s cheap and good, it’ll take a long time”. I 100% agree with that – you can’t have everything.  You just need to get your priorities in order.

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For example – last week I went on a date recently with a 95%+ match guy. He was intelligent, successful and easy to chat to. However, when I met him it turned out that he may be very liberal, but he also seems to think people in advertising are evil (I work in advertising… sooo…). He’s fixated on data privacy – which is fine of course, I admire people who are informed and passionate about something – but fixated to the point that he refuses to go through scanners at airports so has to get to airports an extra hour early. He is morally opposed to visiting America because they take fingersprints. All well and good, but he’d be a nightmare to travel with! He also told me he doesn’t really like being that spontaneous, whereas I’m still young enough that I have that lust for life still. So, it didn’t progress to a second date. On paper, we were perfect. In reality? Not so much.

I find that fascinating – that you can match on grand things like politics, morals, culture, education etc. But it’s the icing on top of the cake which really ends up having the sway in some cases.

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.

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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.

Carnaby Burger Co, The Valley of Astonishment, Work playlists and being upfront and honest when dating.

13 Jul

I’ve been a bit rubbish with the whole ‘updating the blog’ thing; BUT that is because I’ve been doing a lot of the whole ‘having a life’ thing, which does mean I have lots to talk about and share with y’all.

EAT: It feels like months since I went to the Carnaby Burger Company and scribbled down my thoughts. Probably because it has been that long. Nonetheless I DO remember the burger and the place, so I promise you won’t be short-changed in terms of my review.

I’d heard very mixed things about the CBC. Those of us who know our stuff seemed to like the place but don’t consider it one of London’s top burger joints. However, the general public seemed rather impressed (that sounds snooty and pretentious and I’m sorry… but how else can I phrase it? ‘People who don’t chase burgers around the city’? Actually yes. That’s better.)

Firstly – they have a lot of variety, which is great to see. They have more than one veggie option (FOUR nonetheless!) and six chicken options. I went for the Melted cheese, Jalapeño peppers, crispy bacon and tomato salsa grilled chicken burger. Side-wise my friend and I shared ‘Posh Fries’ (Our original recipe of sweet chilli & ginger dressing and chunky guacamole).

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There isn’t a huge amount to say about the fries other than they’re tasty, but without a kick. They’re also quite fluffy, but soggy (due to the huge amount of sauce on them, which isn’t always a bad thing). I should also point out these are 100% NOT fries, but chips. They’re nice enough, but relatively lacking in flavour considering the number of condiments they come with.

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Onto the burger. The bun was good – held everything together, tasted nice enough, so they done good there. The guacamole was, like it was with the fries, quite lacking in flavour. I sense it’s in the burger to make it feel less dry and salty, considering the way the chicken is seasoned and the inclusion of bacon. I have toi say, the bacon was good – nice bite to eat, salty but not overwhelmingly so. The chicken was tender but not hugely flavoursome (again, the inclusion of the jalapenos in this burger was necessary to give it a kick). Cheese was forgettable.

Now, this sounds like a bad review, but it’s not all bad. The burger was ‘fine’. Not top notch, but it could have been worse, The meat was cooked very well and the bun held up. But compared to the big guns in London, this place doesn’t stand the chance. Which is why, nestled in Carnaby Street, it catches the people who will be impressed with this place. More so than I was at least.

In summary: good, not great. I can see why average Joe is impressed, but for me everything doesn’t come together, it just sits on top of each other. The texture of the burger was nice, but the flavour was lacking. And there you have it.

SEE: I went to see  The Valley of Astonishment at the Young Vic this week. It’s been running for a couple of weeks and I believe yesterday was their final show. I admit, that makes this review a little pointless as I’m essentially bringing something to your attention which you can no longer experience… but I enjoyed myself and I want to honour the show with a good write up!

“Imagine a world where every sound has a colour. Where every colour has a taste. Where the number 8 is a fat lady”. Synaesthesia is quite a remarkable condition, and one you’ll probably be aware of without knowing what it’s called. The most top line description I can give you is that synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which people’s sense get confused – they can experience more than one sensual response to a stimulus, rather than just one. So, someone with synaesthesia could ‘see’ colours when they ‘hear’ a number aloud. The number seven could be a blast of purple. The number three could have a green hue. The Valley of Astonishment sees a number of characters, all with varying types of synaesthesia, talk through their experience and how it affects their lives.
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The cast are quite remarkable. Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Jared McNeill play, at different times, someone with synaesthesia, secondary characters and doctors conducting neurological research. Kathryn Hunter was absolutely superb. Her character doesn’t realise that there’s anything different about her, however her boss realises that her phenomenal memory deserves special attention. It transpires than her character is able to remember things with such pinpoint accuracy by assigning each thing she needs to remember with an imaginary form.

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The comic timing of each actor couldn’t have been more perfect. Everything they said and did was on point, including the musicians who were tucked to the side of the stage. One played piano and a minor character and another simply played a variety of instruments. Music was deployed at just the right times – to the point where it lifted the stage action to another level and made me tingle (look, theatre is great ok? I’m allowed to tingle if I want to).

I imagine that The Valley of Astonishment will return to London as there didn’t seem to be a single person around me who didn’t enjoy themselves. It’s funny, poignant in places, beautifully directed and all on a sparse stage – the show did not require more than a few chairs as props – the effects of synaesthesia were brought to live superbly through the monologues by certain characters and the beautiful lighting.

The play is an hour and fifteen minutes long with no breaks, but at the Young Vic that’s fine. The seats are exceptionally comfortable, it’s easy to move around and as I’m under 26 I managed to get my ticket for only £10. So I have no cause for complaints at all – a wonderful show, well worth catching if you can. It’s moving, funny and a fascinating look at living with such a uniquely varied condition.

LISTEN: Where I work, we’ve set up what could wankily be called a ‘collaborative’ playlist. Basically, my boss sent an email round our floor inviting people to get involved with the playlist and people can add whatever songs they want to the play queue. You can vote songs up too – meaning if your favourite song is 20 down the song queue, you can bump it to the top. The playlist is continually playing – even when you close Spotify, the songs just play on rotate, meaning you usually get to listen to a nice variety of tunes.

So, how to do it? Firstly – get Spotify. Secondly, add  ‘Soundrop’ on Spotify (it’s a free app you can download, just search the app store). You can get Soundrop here.  Then – set up your playlist and invite people to it. Once you’re in, start adding songs!

Obviously on the playlist at work my songs are the best (am I joking? Probably not). But someone else added the song below and I’ve been loving it recently. Have a little listen, and then do the above and make your work a far more fun place.

LOVE:  I’ve decided to give up on dating. The reason? Well, there are a few.

Aside from the fact I’ve dated around 60 different people over the course of the past 2 years (by dated I mean, at the very least, I have been on one date with them. Also, for clarification, when I say dated I do NOT mean I slept with them, as some people seem to think…) The men that like me I’m usually not interested in. They either don’t challenge me, they’re not ‘interesting’ or they have no ambition. The men I like usually don’t like me either (of course I’m not sure why exactly, but I imagine it’s because I’m a bit outspoken and not a size 8, so no real surprises there). And the guys where there was a mutual attraction? Something always got in the way – life, ex partners, work etc.

But the main reason I’m giving up dating is because I am becoming increasingly frustrated at how difficult it is to be upfront and honest about things. When I’m honest about not being interested, I (basically) get ignored. One guy has been in contact with me for months now. I told him months ago I didn’t see us together and he’s nice, but it’s not going to be anything more than friends for me, so we should call it quits. I was ignored and he is still messaging me, asking me out on dates. Which at first was sort of sweet, but then… think about it. I said no. Bless you for trying, but I thought guys liked not being messed around and being told what’s what? Apparently they only actually take it in if it’s what they want to hear…

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Ok, perhaps things aren’t quite as simple as the above, but if we lived in a world where it was that easy that would be just swell.

 

And on the other hand, when a guy isn’t interested in me, they don’t seem to realise that I’m a grown up and I can absolutely handle it. After all, if we’ve been on one date, why on earth would I get offended if they’re not interested? 95% of the time I’m not either, and when I am, I’m not emotionally invested in them in any way, so their opinion of me doesn’t actually matter. But instead they tiptoe around things, which I find very bizarre.

True, some women don’t like you to be too blunt. Their feelings do get hurt. But I am not one of those women. Not being honest wastes my time and that annoys me. Which is why, when I’m not interested, I just tell a guy. Some men appreciate this, and they listen, and don’t get in touch again. Others stick their fingers in their ears and keep pushing forward. Others respond very badly. I once went on a date with a guy and we, very clearly, has differences in opinion when it came to our views. I’m very liberal, him not so much. So, when he asked me out again I declined and said that I had a nice time, but we wouldn’t work. He asked why and I told him. He asked me to elaborate on the ;difference in views’ thing and I commented that I could never see myself with someone who doesn’t believe in equality for all, and I don’t want to be a stay at home woman who is looked after by a man.  He responded by telling me I’m a stuck up bitch who will never find a husband. I’m well aware that very few men are actually like this today. It’s usually the dickhead men who shout “nice tits” at women from afar who then call a woman a bitch for not reciprocating their ‘interest’.

But yes – it’s the fact I’m not able to be upfront and not play games which stresses me out the most when dating. Damned if you tell the truth, damned if you don’t is my experience. I think people need to realise that rejection after a first date really doesn’t matter.  And if you are rejected, don’t take it personally. Everyone is looking for something different – you can’t be all things to all people. However, until men in the dating pool catch up I think I’m going to bow out with grace.

Over and out dating, over and out.