Thursday, 30 October 2014

Eat Me. Flesh and Buns, Covent Garden London

Stepping into Flesh and Buns last week for dinner, I thought I had been transported back to Melbourne for a moment. This modern Asian restaurant has such an urban-cool-feel (which is escalated by its underground location) that I was sure I must have been in a Flinders St back alley. I wasn’t – you’ll find this place in Seven Dials near Covent Garden where the cobblestoned alleys are also pretty cool.


I stumbled across this restaurant after doing some Googling for a fun dinner place with a fellow Aussie expat. When I started mentioning my choice to my housemates and was greeted with very positive nods and smiles I figured I had chosen the right spot – we were all right.


Step inside and you’re greeted by what can only be called an urban-oriental bunker. On a Wednesday at 8pm this place was absoutely packed so I can only image what it looks like on a weekend. We sat for a drink at the bar while our table was prepped, before pulling up a chair at a communal bench table which seats over 30 people - there are also booths and singular tables available if you are more than a pair. With a tinder date to our left and an obnoxious American to our right, we sipped our wines and checked out the menu which immediately had my mouth watering. We’re talking all the Asian classics with a modern twist – miso, edamame, sushis, ceviche, Korean wings, and of course their pièce de résistance; a selection of “flesh and buns”. Simply choose your flesh; chicken, pork, duck or various steaks, add some steamed buns and you’re set.


We had the edamame, salmon avocado sushi, salt and pepper calimari and the duck with two servings of buns. Everything was delicious and whilst very filling it wasn’t the kind of food to make you feel like you need to be rolled out of the restaurant. The flesh and buns was definitely my favourite – the duck is served with hoisin, pickled beetroot and salad so you can make up a nice little bun to devour. By London standards prices are fair although when I compare it to Australia I still feel like I’m being robbed. I suppose with the lifestyle that this city offers though I can’t complain.


I simply must return for dessert; they give you your own fire to roast mashmellows and make smores. Just when you think these restaurants can’t up the ante anymore, they drizzle it in hoisin sauce and take it to the next level. 5/5

Where: 41 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LX
Bookings: Essential
Phone: 020 7632 9500


Flesh and Buns on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Plate Up. Lemon Butter Biscuits

Since I’ve moved to London I find myself watching Jamie Oliver a lot… a lot a lot. I sit on the couch with my hastily put together omelette because I’m too busy to cook and I watch him [with a grumbling stomach] as he whips up all manner of divine creations – his Comfort Food series has to be my favourite.

Back in Australia I was a huge cook, I loved to whip up dishes whether savoury or sweet but here in London I will say the lifestyle is generally very time-poor, not to mention the kitchens aren't functional and my landlord was anything but generous when he stocked our implements. I literally have two saucepans, an egg pan, a colander and a mixing spoon to work with - no baking trays, cake tins, mixing bowls or beaters – needless to say it’s been an adjustment.


But last weekend I thought it was time I put my chef’s hat back on and whip something together. With my basic implements, I decided the only thing I could bake was biscuits, so here we are, inspired by Mr Jamie Oliver himself – I give you Lemon Butter Biscuits [perfect with a cup of tea].


What you’ll need:
125g butter, room temperature
50g caster sugar
50g brown sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons
A pinch of sea salt

What to do:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray. Mix together your butter and sugar and then add in the egg. Make sure it’s well combined (I used a fork and some serious arm power but if you do have access to a beater this might be handy). Add the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt and combine until doughy.

Roll up dessert spoon sized balls of dough in your hand and flatten onto the tray making them about ½cm  thick. With Christmas approaching you could also cut out some little shapes. Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are just turning golden. Cool on a rack and then dig in.

Photos by Krissie.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

One Day. Top 10 things I love about London

Well we're at the 3-month mark now so I think I can officially call myself a London resident. That of course means claiming everything that goes with the title like knowing my way around the tube without a map, having a list of the best clubs and bars, being asked for directions and actually being able to tell the person the right information, and understanding instinctively how to dress for this crazy weather. I truly believe that London is where I've always been meant to be - I love this city and it seems it loves me too. Here are the top 10 things I love about London...

  1. The pinch me moment I get everyday as I go to work, navigate the tube, wander west end or visit the river. I live in London and it's amazing. Maybe there's something in the water because we're all totally poor, battling crowds everyday and contending with truly awful weather yet we wouldn't choose to be anywhere else.
  2. The double decker buses, or as I liked to call them when I was little, recka-steckas. There's nothing I enjoy more than cruising round the streets sitting on the top level of the bus by the front window - it gives me a content-life-is-good feeling. I highly recommend it.
  3. The nightlife. Going out in London is insane, the bars and clubs are next level, the bottle service is limitless and the music is just beyond.
  4. The characters of the city. Back when I was working in the financial district I would see this little old man at the exit of Monument station each day as he called 'good morning' in his sweet little Peruvian accent. I never took a paper but I always smiled at him and he smiled back. Another favourite of mine is the tube announcer at Victoria station - this dude is Jamaican and never ceases to make everyone smile saying something along the lines of "chill out, kick back, no need to let anybody cramp your style, rastaman driver, take these beautiful people to their destination". Day made.
  5. The unspoken rule that everyone here must walk at a pace as though they are being chased, despite whether they are in a hurry or not. I have always been a fast walker so I totally belong.
  6. Bike riding through Hyde Park with squirrels dashing along next to me.
  7. Being able to plan trips to Europe in a weekend. Just a two hour flight and I can be in Germany, Spain, Austria or Italy - how fabulous.
  8. The new friends I have made - this city is full of wonderful people who are always happy to meet someone new.
  9. It's the centre of the world - at some point or another, everyone comes to London so you're guaranteed to have plenty of visitors.
  10. The diversity - I am surrounded by all these different intriguing cultures and languages. I suppose it can be expected when 37% of the population here is born outside the UK. Another bonus is that it means there is always different authentic foods to try - yum yum.
Photo via Pinterest.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Eat Me. Eight Over Eight, Chelsea London

A Sunday full of sunshinyness called for a London adventure. This last weekend I had a few big nights out on the town but when the sun made a welcome appearance on Sunday I thought I ought to drag myself out of bed and kick my hangover with a dose of sunshine. With the warm air as inspiration, my housemate and I started off on a walk towards SW3 [for those non-MIC fans that's Chelsea] with Eight Over Eight in mind for lunch - after all a 3km walk ought to be rewarded right?

Eight Over Eight is one of the four modern Japanese venues that make up Ricks Restaurants (I dined at another of his, E&O, back in August, you can read my review here). With a grumbling stomach and a taste for sashimi we settled ourselves inside. An insider secret that isn't widely known is that Eight Over Eight offers 40% off to all diners on Sundays which brings this moderately priced restaurant into the friendly priced range - bonus!


With a much needed diet coke in hand we ordered a few dishes to share. Starting with the salmon sashimi (an absolute essential if you're dining Japanese), followed by the duck and watermelon salad, the tempura soft shell crab and some good old fried rice [we were in need of some serious carb-loading].


The dishes here are always eloquently presented and the flavours are a hit. The duck salad is really delicious and I would probably class this as their signature dish. You really can't go wrong here no matter what you order off the menu. The only area that they dropped a few marks for me is the ambience of the restaurant, which is a little stark by day, and the somewhat slow service. But all in all it's a great place to dine, I'll definitely be back - it's now my Sunday hotspot. 4/5

Where: 392 Kings Road, London SW3 5UZ
Bookings: Recommended
Phone: 020 7349 9934

Photos by Krissie.

Eight Over Eight on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 16 October 2014

One Day. A London Day in Numbers

Living in such a fast paced city, it’s all about the numbers. Money, time, distance and quantity come into play with absolutely everything I do. Here’s a look at my London day in numbers…


7 the time the clock reads as I roll out of bed

3 the number of outfit choices I usually try on before I make my choice [it’s a tough gig working in fashion]

2 minutes to spare as I dash out the door with breakfast in hand

10 the number of people I usually crash into as I brave the tube station at peak hour

1672 [totally an estimate I didn’t count] steps to walk from the tube to work

3 hot beverages to get me through the 50+ emails I receive every morning

4,000 words of copy on average written each day

8 is the chilly temperature as I get out of the office [I don’t call this autumn]

5 the number of friends I check in with for evening plans

9 songs to listen to as I get ready

37 the size of my new shoes I’m wearing to dinner

2 is the number of courses I order because it’s a cardinal sin to skip dessert

15 photos I’ve snapped that day to scroll through on my way home

12 the time I see on my clock as I close my eyes

Photo via Pinterest.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Eat Me. TOZI, Victoria London

Dining anywhere in and around Victoria and Sloane Square and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be going to a nice venue. Even better, at TOZI is that not only is the atmosphere and décor great – the food is amazing too.



Once again I find myself dining Italian; I just never get tired of it. TOZI is Italian with a bit of a twist though – think Italian dishes served Spanish-tapas-style. The word “tozi” is apparently Venetian slang for a bunch of guys or a bunch of friends which seems appropriate when you step inside; the restaurant has a very communal feel with an open plan. The chefs cooking are on display with flames leaping from a clay oven, dangling hams and salume, piles of bread, prosecco on tap and homemade barrel-aged negroni.

Cheese & Meat Board  

Calamari

Octopus

Following along with the communal feel, when you order it is suggested you choose 2-3 dishes per person and share – suits me fine, you know how I love to try multiple things. We ordered the cheese and meat board to start which certainly got the palette going – their mortedella is the best I’ve had. Next we had the tuna tartare, the calamari (not the greatest I’ve had probably wouldn’t order again), the octopus, the buratta cheese (this traditional Italian cheese is a flavour sensation you must try if you’ve not had it before), and we finished with the scallops which were my personal favourite, just melted in the mouth!

Buratta

Scallops

All the waiters here are genuinely Italian and it’s lovely to see the culture of the restaurant mixed with a modern take on the food. I left feeling utterly sated in the best way possible and look forward to returning. 5/5

Where: 8 Gillingham Street, London SW1V 1HJ
Bookings: Recommended during the week, essential on weekends
Phone: 020 7769 9771

Photos by Krissie and TOZI.

Tozi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Style It. Autumn Outfit Ideas

I think autumn would have to be my favourite season for fashion. The air is crisp but not too cold, you can still enjoy the outdoors and all the gorgeous cooler fashions are arriving in store. You can rug up in all the chic essentials like hats, scarves, ponchos and coats just for the purpose of style without having to worry about actually wearing five different [bulky] layers in winter. My go-to autumn outfit is usually a chunky knit with skinny jeans and heeled ankle boots - you can't go wrong. Other stylish essentials I love include capes, faux fur stoles, fedoras, blanket scarves and trench coats. Here are four autumn outfits that are sure to have you looking stylish this season.



Get wrapped up [chic capes save the day] 
When the weather cools down the fashions heat up and you can’t beat a cape or poncho for a serious style statement. Oxblood has to be one of the season’s hottest colours, so work the sultry shade into your outfit wherever you can.

Mono-a-mono [black loves white]
They say that women who dress in black and white lead the most colourful lives – being one myself I certainly have to agree. You can’t go wrong with this proverbial “clean-slate-outfit” in classic cuts and bold shapes.

Top it off [knit + skinnys + fedora]
Every respectable fashionista knows that a good autumn outfit needs a hat. Fedoras add instant style, transforming what was a simple knit and denim combo, and taking it to a whole new level.

Tonal trench [a classic autumn staple]
Meet the humble trench coat, your new best friend. From laid back to luxe and everything in between, this neutral wardrobe addition will be with you through thick and thin.

Photos via Pinterest.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Eat Me. Nobu, Mayfair London

I feel like all I do lately is share my restaurant reviews but I’ve gotta tell you the food here in London is just next level [provided you go to the right places of course]. With several locations around the world Nobu is well renowned for being the best Japanese restaurant there is, full stop, end of story. I don’t dispute it. Regular diners include Bill Clinton, Madonna and Sienna Miller (Robert De Niro is also a part owner) and Madonna is famous for saying “you can tell how much fun a city is going to be if Nobu is in it”. Well that just says it all, doesn’t it?


I honestly can’t fault a thing about this place; the décor is subtle and chic, the service is absolutely five stars [no request is too much] and the food… the food is just probably the best thing I have ever tasted. I don’t think I can do it justice in words but I will do my best.

I went with a group of girls which allowed us to sample quite a few things on the menu – here everything is so good that you want to be able to try as much as possible so I recommend going with more than one person [unless of course you have a hot date!].

We ‘cheers’ with our flutes of Dom and perused the menu before settling back and soaking up the atmosphere. One by one our dishes arrived and each was more tantalizing than the next. We started with yellowtail sashimi followed by lobster salad, next tempura shrimp, then came the new style salmon, the seared yellowtail in miso sauce, and the black cod before a sushi and sashimi platter finale. It was undeniably perfect. Everything just melted in the mouth and the flavours were subtle yet so engaging on the palette. I guarantee that any sashimi or Japanese you've eaten before will pale in comparison to this.


The quality of ingredients and the skill of the chef at Nobu is just something to behold. It would have to be the best dining experience, food-wise, that I’ve ever had. You could easily spend a week’s wages here in one night but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience it is well worth it. 5/5

Where: 15 Berkeley Street, London W1J 8DY
Bookings: Absolutely essential and with plenty of notice
Phone: 020 7290 9222

Photos by Krissie & Nobu (I'm sorry I didn't snap everything, it was just too delicious).


Nobu Berkeley on Urbanspoon