Game on! Enjoy a carnivore feast as pop-up restaurant Struie Road returns

© The Wild Game Co.

Venison Chateaubriand @ Struie Road pop-up
© The Wild Game Co. 2014

It’s already made quite an impression on the game-ing community last time it ran… and no I’m not talking about fans of consoles, I mean the wild, carnivorous kind of game. After a break this summer, the Wild Game Go are returning with their monthly pop-up restaurant Struie Road. Named after one of Britain’s most remote places and home to top produce, which also happens to be where WGC founder Andy Waugh hails from.

Just in time for the autumn game season, Struie Road will offer an eight-course tasting menu featuring wild treats from Scotland when it returns from September. The main attraction will be the Grouse dish, which will be served on a Forest Floor salad’, using Foraged Mushrooms, Dried Cranberries and a Pine and Oat Crumble. Two new dishes on the menu for the new season will be Pickled Herring and Wild Boar Chipirones.

Old favourites previous diners may recognise are also returning; the ‘Surf and Turf’, slow cooked Ribs and Oysters, the Venison Chateaubriand and seasonal Ripe Cheese and Hokey Pokey Shards. The dishes will be accompanied by a recommend wine list, to complement the flavours.

The Wild Game Co. was established by Waugh back in 2010. A street food concept, it uses high quality meat from his family’s butchery business just outside Inverness. Wild Game Co. has already received many accolades, including winning Young British Foodies Street Food Award 2012-2013, on Evening Standard’s Top 5 Places to Eat Game in London and a shortlisted finalist for BBC’s Food and Farming Awards 2012.

  • Struie Road is open for diners on Friday 26th September, Friday 17th October, Friday 21st November and Friday 5th December 2014, but seats must be booked in advance. It takes place at Workshop Coffee Co., 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN. Nearest tube/train: Farringdon. Tickets: £49 per person including complimentary cocktail on arrival, from 7pm. To book, visit Design My Night, or for more information, check out the Wild Game Co website.

For Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Celebrate ‘Year Of The Bus’ at the TFL pop-up restaurant at DesignJunction for London Design Festival

© Transport for London

An artist’s impression of the TFL ‘Year Of The Bus’ pop-up bar and restaurant at DesignJunction
© Transport for London

Although the London Design Festival kicked off last Saturday, one of the highlights of the annual event is DesignJunction (18-21 September 2014). Located in the old 1960s Royal Mail Sorting Office in New Oxford Street, DesignJunction is a multi-level showcase featuring the best furniture, lighting and product design from around the world. As well as host of displays and shops, the unique venue also plays host to pop-up eateries.

For the third year in a row, DesignJunction has teamed up with Transport For London to incorporate the latter’s iconic designs into a restaurant. As 2014 is the ‘Year Of The Bus’, TFL will be celebrating the centenary with a themed pop-up bar and restaurant. In conjunction with the East London Liquor Company, the space will feature a huge version of the General Map of Outer London, which was designed in 1921 by MacDonald Gill. With furniture provided by Modus and seating upholstered in familiar TFL-style moquettes by Kirkby Design, the restaurant will feature vintage enamel bus flags and poles by Trueform dotted around as well as archive shots of buses and the people who work on them.

The pop-up will offer ‘urban international’ food with old favourites such as smoked bacon sarnie, scotch egg and sausage roll to continental choices including croissants, pastel de nata and broad bean, pea, mint and feta toast, as well as a range of salads. The East London Liquor Company will be serving special cocktails using their own gin, vodka and rum, as well as locally brewed beer.

There will also be the opportunity to buy 10 limited edition Oyster card holders featuring the bus theme, including a central London bus map and different interpretations of the London bus. All items in the restaurant will be available to buy from the TFL Shop, including the limited edition original Bus Stop flags.

  • The TFL-themed pop-up runs at DesignJunction from 18-21 September 2014. Opening hours: Thurs 18th 11am-9pm, Fri 19th and Sat 20th 11am-8pm, Sun 21st 11am-5pm. Entrance to DesignJunction costs £8 in advance or £10 on the door. DesignJunction is located at The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1BA. Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road or Holborn. For more information, visit the TFL website.
  • The London Design Festival runs from 13-21 September 2014. For more information, visit the LDF website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

For Metro Girl’s review of the 2012 TFL 1950s-themed pop-up restaurant at DesignJunction, click here.

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Open House London 2014: Tips and highlights

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Visit Guildhall in the City Of London

Without a doubt, Open House London (20-21 September 2014) is one of the best events in the capital of the year in my opinion. This annual weekender opens the doors to some buildings we would never otherwise get to see… or let us in places we would usually have to pay to see. This is my third year in a row at Open House London and like many others I have been studying the guide attempting to whittle down a shortlist of places to see. While most buildings are available to those who turn up and potentially queue, there are some with ballot-only or pre-booking entrance, such as 10 Downing Street and the Antony Gormley Room at The Beaumont. If it’s your first time, you’re in for a treat. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to Open House London, featuring top places to visit, tips to get through the day and some reviews of previous years’ buildings I have seen.

Tips to making the most of Open House London

  • Comprise a list of places you attend to go and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long.
  • Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
  • Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
  • Buy an official guide book (available to order here) or download the app on iTunes.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged so you can access Google maps… or bring an A-Z.
  • Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it while queuing.
  • Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, which will inevitably end up getting searched at many buildings.
  • Go the toilet whenever you find a public convenience. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities.

 Highlights of 2014 Open House London

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin. Open Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm. 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP. Nearest tube: Bank, Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

Bank Of England. Open Saturday and Sunday 9:30am-4pm. Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8AH. Nearest tube: Bank.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm. 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD. Nearest tube: Harlesden.

Cabbies Shelter, Embankment Place. Open Saturday only 7am-6pm. Embankment Place (close to Playhouse Theatre at bottom of Hungerford Bridge stairs), WC2N 5DE. Nearest tube: Embankment.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Get inside the Lloyd’s Building at Open House London

Caroline Gardens Chapel. Open Saturday only 8am-3pm. Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SQ. Nearest train/Overground: Queens Road Peckham.

Guildhall. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Gresham Street, City of London, EC2V 7HH. Nearest tube: St Paul’s, Mansion House or Moorgate.

HM Treasury. Open Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm. 1 Horse Guards Road, Whitehall, SW1A 2HQ. Nearest tube: Westminster or St James’s Park.

Lambeth Palace. Open Saturday only 10am-4pm. Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7JU. Nearest tube: Lambeth North.

Royal Albert Hall. Open Sunday only 9.30am-3pm. Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest tube: South Kensington or Gloucester Road.

Rudolf Steiner House. Open Sunday only 2-5pm. 35 Park Road, Regents’ Park, NW1 6XT. Nearest tube: Baker Street or Marylebone.

The Leadenhall Building. Open Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm. 122 Leadenhall, EC3. Nearest tube/train: Liverpool Street.

Westminster Hall. Open Sunday only 10am-5pm. House of Commons (Cromwell Green entrance), SW1A 0AA. Nearest tube: Westminster.

Metro Girl’s reviews of Open House London buildings

Middle Temple Hall: Legal life, Twelfth Night and a rare survivor of Elizabethan architecture. Middle Temple Hall, Middle Temple Lane, EC4Y 9AT. Nearest tube: Temple. Open Sunday only 1-5pm.

Highlights gallery from Royal Courts of Justice, Foreign Office & City Hall.

  • Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, WC2A 2LL. Nearest tube: Holborn or Temple. Open Saturday only 10am-5pm.
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, Whitehall, SW1A 2AH. Nearest tube: Westminster. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm.
  • City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill. Open Saturday only 9am-6pm.

Neo-classicism, masques and an execution site: The history and beauty of Banqueting House. Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER. Nearest tube: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm.

Visit the ruins of an old Roman bath house with Open House London. Billingsgate Roman Bath House ruins, 101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL. Nearest tube: Monument. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm.

Inside out: A rare chance to step inside the Lloyd’s Building at Open House. Lloyd’s Building, 1 Lime Street, EC3M 7HA. Nearest tube: Bank or Aldgate. Open Saturday only 10am-4pm.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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London Dungeon review: Scare yourself silly as you travel through the city’s gruesome past

© Copyright 2014 Merlin Entertainments

The London Dungeon features live actors guiding you through the horrors of the city’s gruesome past
© 2014 Merlin Entertainments

The London Dungeon is a stalwart on the city’s tourism attractions and has long been on visitors’ places to see list during their trip. Now located near the London Eye and the Houses Of Parliament on the Southbank after decades down the river at Tooley Street in London Bridge, the new Dungeon has been reinvented as a scarier and more immersive experience for customers.

© 2014 Merlin Entertainments

The London Dungeons are now located at County Hall on the South Bank
© 2014 Merlin Entertainments

Having grown up in London, I visited the original Dungeon back in the ’80s when I was pretty young so my memory of it is pretty hazy. I had been intrigued to return as an adult to the new and improved Dungeon, so recently paid a visit with some family members ranging in age from 20s to 60s. Immediately upon entering the attraction at County Hall, you are plunged into near darkness, setting the scene for the creepy goings on. The tickets are time-slotted as you move through the experience as a large group. Stepping back in time centuries before, you are treated to the sights, sounds – and sometimes smells – of old London, through the Medieval, Georgian and Victorian periods. Essentially a history lesson brought to life, the Dungeon focuses on the most grim aspects of the capital’s past, such as its diseases, serial killers and cruel capital punishment methods.

The Dungeon is a walk-through attraction featuring a combination of special effects, live actors and rides to demonstrate the horrors of London. As we moved from the different zones, there was constantly a tension in the air and we found ourselves on edge, trying to prepare for something to suddenly jump out at us. Despite our attempts to pre-empt, we inevitably did end up screaming or yelping a few times with fear. As the audience, we were invited to participate in history, with my godmother being handed a note to deliver to a 17th century soldier hiding out in the basement of the Houses Of Parliament waiting for Guy Fawkes. I have to applaud the cast of live actors who appeared as executioners, victims and serial killers along the way. After a saucy introduction by Mrs Lovett in her pie shop, we had a particularly creepy experience in the pitch black barber shop as Sweeney Todd pondered over his next victim while we sat in chairs. Of course, no trip down London’s horror lane would be complete without Jack The Ripper, which was explained over several different rooms, including a meeting with one of his potential victims and a visit to the Ten Bells pub – where two of his victims were regulars. In the Victorian period of the Dungeons, we also ended up in court where several visitors ended up going on trial for a variety of bizarre cases. For me, this was the funniest part of the experience, with the crowd laughing our head off and the innuendos by the actors (which will go totally over the head of younger visitors so need to worry parents!).

© 2014 Merlin Entertainments

Step back into 17th century in the basements of Westminster Palace to check out Guy Fawkes’ explosives
© 2014 Merlin Entertainments

For me personally, the rides were my favourite part of the Dungeon. The first ride was Henry’s Wrath, a fast-moving boat ride along ‘the Thames’ to the Tower for execution, which was incredibly dark and somewhat confusing as I didn’t know quite was going on and what direction we were travelling in. Jack The Ripper’s Whitechapel Labyrinth – essentially a hall of mirrors – was particularly good – it was confusing, disorienting and eventually left the whole group feeling helpless when we couldn’t find a way out (temporarily of course!). Drop Dead – a dark plunge ride which sees you drop three storeys – was a thrilling climax to the Dungeon experience.

Although it could be easily dismissed as a scary attraction for horror fans, history buffs will also find plenty to interest them as it lifts the facts and figures out of the text-book into reality. Overall, I did enjoy the experience. The actors and rides were brilliant and I couldn’t believe the sheer size of the attraction. As well as trying to scare you, the actors also provided plenty of humour to counteract the heebie-jeebies. My only negative was I would have preferred our group to be a bit smaller. I think families and teenagers will particularly enjoy the Dungeons and would definitely recommend it to visitors with an interest in the dark side of life.

  • London Dungeon is located at Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest tube/train: Waterloo or Westminster. Tickets start from £17.50 for adults or £15.94 for children, cheaper if booked online in advance. Opening times vary. For more information and tickets, visit the official London Dungeon website.

For a review of the nearby London Eye, click here.

For Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on in London this month, click here.

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Books About Town: Follow a literary trail around London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Mary Poppins bench by Darel Seow is located outside St Paul’s Cathedral

Just like the streets of New York City are renowned as the location to thousands of films, the lanes and roads of London are home to many a literary creation. Some of English literature’s most memorable characters have walked the streets of our iconic city, such as Mary Poppins, Oliver Twist and Sherlock Holmes.

After the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascot trails around London, Wild In Art teamed up with the National Literacy Trust this summer to create an interactive street art project which promotes literacy. Over 50 benches, shaped as open books, were created by different artists depicting different stories and characters.

The benches have been dotted around London in four areas – Bloomsbury, the City Of London, Greenwich and the South Bank from Waterloo to Tower Bridge. After the exhibition ends on 15 September, the benches will then go up for sale at a public auction at the Southbank Centre on 7 October, with proceeds going to the Literacy Trust.

Earlier this week, I followed the City Trail from the Tower Of London to St Paul’s Cathedral, taking photos when possible (when people weren’t sitting on them!). Here’s a gallery of just some of the benches.

  • Books About Town finishes on 15 September 2014. For more information and maps of the trails, check out the Books About Town website.

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For Metro Girl’s blog on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics mascot trail, click here.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September 2014, click here.

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Honky Tonk Clapham review: Burgers, cocktails and a taste of Americana

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Chow down: Halloumi burger with rosemary fries at Honky Tonk in Clapham

There has been a resurgence in burgers in recent years, and as a result, American diners are now popping up in London. Originally dismissed as fast food, American cuisine is now finding favour with foodies. Following the success of their first Chelsea branch, the team behind Honky Tonk opened their second branch by Clapham Common last autumn.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Carnivore: Pulled pork sandwich with rosemary fries

Located moments from Clapham Common tube station, with alfresco seating for the warmer months, Honky Tonk is an American-inspired diner, with exposed brick, plush leather seating and vintage-style artwork, giving it a very New York feel. Although most of the seating is at a regular level, unfortunately our party of five were placed at a high table with bar stools, which wasn’t as comfortable as we would have liked. The first thing that struck us about the restaurant was the noise. Honky Tonk prides itself on its vintage playlist and live music, but the volume could have been just a little lower. We were dining from around 7-8pm ish on a Saturday and could barely hear the person beside us talking. Admittedly, the DJ and musician were good, but it was still too loud. Our party was a mix of 20 and 30somethings and all left in agreement that the volume had lessened our enjoyable experience of the venue somewhat.

Noise and seating aside, everything else about the venue for a positive experience. Our waitress was very attentive and speedy and we gave her a good tip. All anticipating the main meal would be pretty filling, we decided to share a plate of Smashing Nachos (tortilla chips topped with smoked applewood, red Leicester and cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream and tomato salsa), which was swiftly demolished. Not too greasy, the nachos’ good flavour was down to the evident freshness of the ingredients. For our mains, most of our party opted for the Pulled Pork Sandwich (Slow roasted shoulder of outdoor reared pork smothered in barbecue sauce and apple slaw in an onion bun with a side of rosemary fries). My friends said the pork was cooked well, tasted good and was filling. As I’m a pescatarian, I chose the Halloumi Burger (Roasted aubergine, peppers, flat mushroom, lettuce, tomato, homemade burger sauce, grilled halloumi cheese and guacamole) which was really tasty. The halloumi was cooked perfectly so wasn’t too chewy and the burger wasn’t too overloaded so it was possible to actually eat it without making a mess (like some other burgers I have eaten!).

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Smashing Nachos were… smashing

Accompanying our meal we tried some drinks from the short, but sweet cocktail list. The Over Proof Zombie (Triple rum with pineapple and passion fruit) was pretty strong, but fruity and zesty. I also tried the more refreshing USA Elderflower Martini (Hanger vodka with mint with elderflower liqueur) which was really good. The venue is renowned for its milkshakes, which I usually love, but we were strictly drinking alcohol on the night in question as it was a celebration so I didn’t get to sample.

Billed as a bar/restaurant, this is probably not the venue to come to if you want a relaxing meal. While the food is admittedly good and filling, the energetic ambiance means it’s near impossible to have a decent conversation. For those looking for a night out, there’s a fun atmosphere and is open until 2am on weekends so a good place to pop into for a cocktail or two.  The food was enjoyable so I’m considering returning, but maybe earlier in the day or a weeknight to see if it’s a bit quieter.

  • Honky Tonk, 16a Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For booking and menus, visit the Honky Tonk website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in September 2014

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Books About Town is on until 15 September

It may be September, but that doesn’t mean the summer is over. While technically autumn, Septembers over the past few years have had lovely warm weather. Tourism dies down a bit from peak season and the school holidays are over meaning it isn’t so crowded, providing a much more pleasant way to enjoy some of the festivals and exhibitions on in town.

For a guide to open air cinemas in London, click here.

For a guide to the last of the summer music festivals in London, click here.

  • 1 – 30 September : Totally Thames

Replacing the former 10 day long Thames Festival, Totally Thames is a new month-long celebration of our city’s main waterway. Among the many activities taking place are the Fire Garden by Caboose, Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, St Katherines Docks Classic Boat Rally, Barge Driving Races (14 Sept), The Great River Race (27 Sept) and many more. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 3 – 26 September : More London Free Film Festival

There will be free screenings of films in The Scoop, near Potter’s Field Park. Films include Philomena, Life Of Pi, The Goonies, Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom and The Truman Show. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the More London website.

  • 4 – 5 September : Experience Cinema @ Madame Tussauds

Watch classic films alongside the ‘stars’ of the movies themselves at after-hours screenings at Madame Tussauds. Films include Romeo & Juliet, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Top Gun and Pretty Woman. Tickets £22.50 (highly recommend to book in advance). For more information and booking, visit the Experience Cinema website.

  •  4 – 14 September : Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival

Ten day festival featuring free screenings in the Peckham and Nunhead area at various locations, including The Montpelier, Bussey Building, Old Nun’s Head and the Peckham Liberal Club. Nearest stations: Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road Peckham and Nunhead. For more information and listings, visit the PNFFF website.

  • 7 September : Angel Canal Festival

One day festival in the City Road Lock, Basin and Regents Canal towpath. Featuring a children’s fun fair, Punch & Judy, story-teller, boat trips, art projects and galleries, live music and street theatre. Free admission. 11am-5pm. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.

  • Now until 7 September : Animals In The Wall exhibition

A unique collection of late American artist William S Burrough’s works, including some never before seen, alongside other contributing artists. 11am-7pm daily. Free. Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DP. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Guerrilla Zoo website.

  • 12 – 14 September : Kings Place Festival

Music and arts festival in Kings Cross, including classical, contemporary, comedy, folk, spoken word, jazz and family. Tickets range from free to £6.50. Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG. Nearest tube: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Kings Place website.

  • 13 – 21 September : London Design Festival

Festival celebrating innovation and creativity at various events in the capital, including exhibitions, talks and the chance to buy. Among the 300 events on in town including the Double Space installation at the V&A Museum, A Place Called Home project in Trafalgar Square, a pop-up London Transport-themed restaurant at Design Junction and film screenings. (To read Metro Girl’s blog on last year’s Endless Stair creation for the festival, click here). To find out more, visit the Design Festival website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Thames Festival has now been replaced by Totally Thames, and is a month long

  • 13 – 21 September : Colourscape Music Festival

The travelling festival combining contemporary music and art pitches up at Clapham Common for a week. Featuring colour and music workshops and weekend concerts. Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest tube: Clapham Common or Clapham South. For more information, visit the Colourscape website.

  • Now until 14 September : Portobello Film Festival

Two and half week festival returns to Notting Hill with screenings and events at the KPH, Pop Up Cinema in Acklam Road and Westbourne Studios. Free. Nearest stations: Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park. For more information, visit the Portobello Film Festival website.

  • Now until 14 September : Digital Revolution

An immersive exhibition of art, design, film, music and video games exploring the future of the arts through digital. 11am-8pm. Tickets: £12.50. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.

  • 14 September : Tour Of Britain

The Tour Of Britain cycle race comes to London – the final stage of the eight day professional cycling race. It will start at Whitehall around 11am-1pm, going along the Embankment, onto Upper and Lower Thames Streets, to Tower Hill land back again. Free for spectators. Many roads and bridges will be closed to traffic. Nearest stations: Westminster, Embankment, Temple, Tower Hill, Blackfriars or Cannon Street. For more information, visit the Tour Of Britain website.

  • 14 – 16 September : Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival

Seventy events including literary walks, a kidsfest, workshops, speed pitching and book bites. Speakers include Charles Spencer, Lynne Reid Banks, Jane Costello, Hugh Pym, Linda Grant, Saul David, Penny Vincenzi, Monique Roffey, Tom Wilkinson, Jenny Colgan, Alex Brummer, Robert Sackville-West, Ann Treneman, Nick Harkaway, Claudia Roden and Tanya Byron. At various locations in Hampstead and Highgate. For more information, visit the Ham & High Literary Festival website.

  • Now until 15 September : Books About Town

Benches shaped like books featuring illustrations of famous literary characters and novels have been dotted around London on four different trails in Bloomsbury, The City, Greenwich and on the South Bank. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the Books About Town.

  • 17 September : BP Big Screens presents Rigoletto

Royal Opera House productions will be broadcast live on big screens in Trafalgar Square, Walthamstow Town Square , Woolwich’s General Gordon Square and Canary Wharf. Free. For more information, visit the Royal Opera House website.

  • 18 – 21 September : Vodafone London Fashion Weekend

London Fashion Weekend follows London Fashion Week, giving access to everyone who loves fashion (who has tickets!). Featuring fashion shows, makeovers and opportunities to shop at discount prices. Strongly recommended to buy tickets in advance, which are available for different prices and packages. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple or Holborn. For more information, visit the London Fashion Weekend website.

  • 18 – 21 and 25 – 28 September : Oktoberfest

German beer festival comes to London at Kennington Park. Free admission daily apart from £10 on Saturdays. As well as the chance to sample a wide range of beer and German cuisine, there will also be live music, including a Rednex gig on 18 September and the chance to rent Lederhosen and Dirndl. Kennington Park, St. Agnes Place, Kennington, SE11 4BA. Nearest tube station: Oval. For more information, visit the Oktoberfest London website. 

  • 20 September : Bermondsey Street Festival

Celebration of music, dance, arts, cuisine and creativity from the local area. Featuring fashion shows, dog shows, live music, stalls, food and a fete. Free. 11am-7pm. Bermondsey Square, 2 Bermondsey Square, Southwark, SE1 3UN. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Bermondsey Street Festival website.

  • 20 September : West Dulwich Community Autumn Fair

Annual autumn fair organised by All Saints Church in West Dulwich, including music, craft stalls, local groups, circus workshop, BBQ, tea and cakes and children’s activities. 2-5pm. Free. Lovelace Road, SE21. Nearest train station: West Dulwich or Tulse Hill. For more information tel: 07432 118859 or

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Visit buildings normally off limits to the public at Open House London, such as City Hall

  • 20 – 21 September : Open House London

This annual event is hugely popular and sees buildings that are not normally open to the public, throw open their doors for just two days. Some buildings are strictly ticket only and you need to apply for a ballot to gain entry. Be prepared to queue for the more popular buildings, such as City Hall and The Gherkin. Free. (To read about Metro Girl’s guide to Open House London and for past reviews, click here). Check out the Open House London website for more information.

  • 21 September : Carnaval Del Pueblo

Celebration of Latin American culture, including live music, food, drink and dancing. Free. 11am-7pm. Burgess Park, Camberwell, SE5 0RJ. Nearest tube: Kennington. For more information, visit the Carnaval Del Pueblo website.

  • 24 – 28 September : LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair

Five day fair in Mayfair with the opportunity to buy fine art and antiques, including furniture, jewellery, carpets, tapestries, antiquities, clocks, ceramics and silver. Local Mayfair nightspot Mr Fogg’s will also be hosting a pop-up bar serving cocktails and champagne in a Victorian-themed speakeasy.  Tickets: £15. Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1. Nearest tube: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the LAPADA London website.

  • 24 September – 5 October : Raindance Film Festival

UK’s largest independent film festival returns to the capital. Featuring over 100 films and 150 short films screened in the Piccadilly Circus area. For more information and tickets, visit the Raindance website.

  • 26 – 28 September : Real Street Food Festival

Food festival returns to the Southbank, outside the Royal Festival Hall. Featuring street food from around the world. Free. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Real Street Food Festival website.

  • 26 September – 4 January 2015 : The Art Of The Brick

Nathan Sawaya’s ART OF THE BRICK exhibition is created with millions of LEGO building blocks and is unique in its scope which ranges from new conceptual pieces to replicas of iconic classical artwork. Tickets: Adults – £14.50-£16.50, Children under 12 – £8-£9.50. Open daily, hours vary. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit The Art Of The Brick website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Get inspired at the London Design Festival

  • 27 September : Japan Matsuri

A celebration of Japanese culture returns to Trafalgar Square. ‘Matsuri’ means festival or holiday so expect plenty of entertainment, food and drink and other chances to buy Japanese products. Free. 11am-9pm. Trafalgar Square, WC2N. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Embankment, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Japan Matsuri website.

  • 27 – 28 September : VegFest

Festival for vegans and vegetarians, featuring food market, shopping, meet the experts, entertainment, cokkery demos and kids’ cookery. Tickets: £10 adults, Free for under 16s. Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Nearest tube: Olympia. For more information, visit the VegFest website.

  • Now until 28 September : London Wonderground

The London Wonderground Festival returns to the Southbank for a third year – an entertainment extravaganza in Jubilee Gardens, near the foot of the London Eye and by the Southbank Centre. It includes cabaret, children’s show, comedy, burlesque, funfair and alfresco drinking. (For Metro Girl’s blog post on last year’s Wonderground, click here). Open all day until 11pm every night. Free to get in, but entry fee for shows. Nearest tube or train: Waterloo, Embankment or Westminster. For more information, visit the Wonderground website.

  • 28 September : Pearly Kings & Queens’ Harvest Festival

Pearly Kings and Queens are an iconic part of London culture, who aren’t seen around the capital as much as they used to. Unsurprisingly, they are likely to be the main attraction at the festival at Guildhall, which also includes traditional entertainment, a parade and a Harvest Festival service. Starts at Guildhall Yard at 1pm, before the service at St-Mary-Le-Bow Church at 3pm. Nearest tube (to Guildhall): St Paul’s or Bank. Find out more information on the Pearly Society website.

  • Now until December : Bond In Motion

An exhibition of James Bond vehicles. Tickets – Adults: £14.50, Children: £9.50. Booking in advance highly recommend. (Visit National Rail’s Days Out Guide website for details on 2 for 1 tickets here). London Film Museum, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the London Film Museum website.

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The Candlelight Club review: Go back to the roaring ’20s at a pop-up vintage nightspot

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Bee Knees dancers at The Candlelight Club

Vintage has never been bigger and with the release of The Great Gatsby movie last year, it appears the roaring ’20s have been… well roaring again. There is now a host of Art Deco and Speakeasy-themed bars in London as entrepreneurs catch on to the soaring popularity of drinkers wishing they were in another time.

Taking the 1920s theme a step further is The Candlelight Club, a touring pop-up nightclub featuring live music, cocktails, dancing and overall ambiance from yesteryear. I had wanted to get tickets for some time, but finally got round to booking them when I was tasked with organising a hen party recently. The Candlelight Club takes place on sporadic dates in various secret London locations – with them only being revealed a few days before the event, so you need to keep an eye on the website for dates.

A group of nine of us booked our £20 tickets quite far in advance and were able to take advantage of the early bird deal. In addition to your entry, there are options to dine or have a table for an extra cost. As expected the dress code was 1920s so lots of fringing, pleats, spaghetti straps, feather boas, long pearls and Mary Jane shoes. Although hen parties – such as our group – are welcome, try to blend in with the theme so no bright pink sashes or inflatable genitalia! We bought our bride a ‘bride to be’ rosette badge which was the same colour as her dress which was a subtle and simple. The venues of The Candlelight Club tend to be different and all the time, and on the night in question we attended, was a stunning building built in the 1920s in West London lit by candlelight.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Secret location: The Candlelight Club takes place in different locations every time

In addition to the Twenties theme, The Candlelight Club also has a further theme each night – ours was the Excelsior club, a grander version of the usual club with sweeping staircases, waiters in full suits and a grand venue. Leading the entertainment was Champagne Charlie and his Bubbly Boys with dancing by the Bee Knees. We arrived about an hour after opening and missed out on any unreserved tables, but managed to get a few chairs for our group. It was rather quieter than expected at first before the live music started and with many people eating, which left guests soaking in the atmosphere, having costume envy and sampling the vintage-themed cocktails or bubbly. I particularly liked the bubbly being served in coupé champagne glasses, which nestle in your hand a lot easier than regular champagne flutes.

The atmosphere really changed once Champagne Charlie came on stage with his band. His mix of cheeky humour and singing soon got the crowd going. He also came over to our group and teased the bride with some risqué jokes. We were also treated to several performances by the very glamorous Bee Knees dancers. When the band weren’t performing, there was a vintage DJ spinning tracks so you could attempt the Charleston. In between shimmying, we could be found at the bar which was staffed by very dapper and friendly mixologists and barmen.

I can highly recommend Candlelight Club for a unique night out. The entertainment was brilliant and the venue was totally stunning. It was a refreshing change to my usual weekends to step back into the 1920s for the evening.

  • The Candlelight Club takes place on various dates in various secret locations. Tickets highly recommended to be booked in advance. Check out the Candlelight Club website for dates and tickets.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Very old school! Champagne Charlie and the Bubbly Boys helepd the audience transport back to the Twenties


 For a guide to other 1920s bars and venues in London, click here.

Or if you fancy a trip to the 1950s instead, check out Metro Girl’s review of the Jive Party at the Rivoli Ballroom.

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Let The Right One In review: A compelling love story with stunning staging

© The National Theatre of Scotland

Martin Quinn as Oskar and Rebecca Benson as Eli in Let The Right One In
© The National Theatre of Scotland

Let The Right One In – Apollo Theatre

Rating: ★★★★★

Approaching the end of its run at the Apollo Theatre is John Tiffany’s acclaimed production of Let The Right One In. Having already won over audiences and critics at the Dundee Rep Theatre and the Royal Court, it opened at the refurbished Apollo Theatre in the West End in March. After hearing great things about the production, I finally went to see the play in its last few weeks.

The first thing that strikes you is the stunning stage design – the original setting of Sweden from the 2004 novel (by John Ajvide Lindqvist) and cult film adaptation has been moved to a wintry Scotland in the 1980s. The play takes place in a forest full of silver birch trees which looks magical under the moonlight and a spooky street lamp. The plotline grips the audience from the start as a man is killed like a pig strung up on a tree with his blood drained – the first sign this is not a traditional love story. A serial killer is on the loose, which isn’t appearing to ruffle lonely teenager Oskar (Martin Quinn), who continues to hang around in the woods. The son of divorced parents, of which neither is quite up to the job, Oskar finds no support in school either, where he is brutally bullied by Jonny (Graeme Dalling) and his cronies.

It is in the eerie forest where Oskar meets Eli (Rebecca Benson), a pale girl who ‘smells funny’, who immediately informs him they ‘can’t be friends’. Despite her odd behaviour, Oskar is drawn to her and it isn’t long before the two form a friendship, eventually turning to romance. It soon transpires she’s a lot odder than Oskar ever anticipated – she’s a centuries old vampire and the man who appears to be her father, her ‘protector’ Hakan (Clive Mendus) has been responsible for the murders in a bid to feed her blood.

The dysfunctional dynamics between Oskar and his alcoholic mother and absent father and Eli with possessive Hakan brings up many issues aside from the love story. The play explores loneliness in its many forms, no doubt stirring many memories in the audience who would have all felt that emotion at some point in life. Despite being a ‘monster’, Eli appears more human and compassionate than the violent bullies who torment Oskar at school.

Assisted by Ólafur Arnalds’ score and beautifully choreographed movement sequences, the play has moments of horror, humour and tenderness. Quinn’s brilliant performance as awkward Oskar stirs both sympathy and laughter, while Benson is stunning as she shows both Eli’s vulnerability and horrific power simmering within. Let The Right One In brings a moving combination of plot layers, actors, stage design and music, all working together to create a striking piece of theatre. Although the production is about to end its West End run imminently, I am certain we will see this compelling show again, whether it’ll be elsewhere in the UK or New York.

  • The National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Let the Right One is on the Apollo Theatre until 30 August 2014. To book, call 0844 412 4658 (no booking fee) or online at, Right One or (no booking fee).

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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A pop-up with a view: The Garden Gate @ Oxo 2

The Garden Gate @ The Oxo 2 brings the outside in. © The Garden Gate

The Garden Gate @ The Oxo 2 brings the outside in.
© The Garden Gate

Admittedly I’m a bit late to the party, but for those who love eating or drinking with a view, check out The Garden Gate pop-up restaurant and bar in its last week of opening.

With the summer weather unfortunately cooling down at the moment compared to recent weeks, The Garden Gate is a great place to retreat to for a drink or bite. Located in the Oxo 2 venue on the Southbank, the pop-up offers a casual dining menu at their kitchen and bar with views over the Thames, the City of London skyline and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The venue is full of outdoor paraphernalia – such as AstroTurf and deckchairs – so you can imagine you’re outside, but without the wind from the Thames. Customers who bring a garden gnome will receive a free drink.

Who cares if the weather's bad? Enjoy the 'outdoors'... indoors © The Garden Gate

Who cares if the weather’s bad? Enjoy the ‘outdoors’… indoors
© The Garden Gate

On the menu is a host of garden-themed cocktails, such as  Orchard Mojito, Flower Show and Cucumber Fresh, with watering cans replacing pitchers for groups to share.

Among the entertainment on offer includes table tennis, Jenga and coits, or the chance to win a free ice cream by hooking a duck from the pond.

  • The Garden Gate is open from now until Sunday 24th August 2014. Opening times: Mon Wed 5pm11pm, Thur Sat 12-11.30pm, Sun 1210.30pm. The bar closes 30 minutes before. Located in the Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Waterloo or Blackfriars. For more information, visit the Oxo2 website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

For a review of the Oxo Tower bar upstairs, click here.

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