Alcoholic Architecture: Travel through the world’s first alcoholic weather system

Alcoholic Architecture is the world's first alcoholic weather system, allowing guests to inhale alcohol © Garage CCC

Alcoholic Architecture is the world’s first alcoholic weather system, allowing guests to inhale alcohol
© Garage CCC

A new boozy experience is coming to London… and this one doesn’t actually involve drinking at all. Alcoholic Architecture is a new venture from food wizards Bombas & Parr which will please even the laziest drinker. You won’t need to lift a finger to enjoy a cocktail, because you’ll simply inhale it.

Situated in a Victorian basement by Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral, Bombas & Parr have created the world’s first alcoholic weather system. Guests will wear protective suits as they enter a cloud of fine spirits and mixers at a ratio of 1:3. Instead of your traditional mouth entry system, alcohol will enter the blood stream through the body’s mucus membranes, such as the lungs and eyeballs! With the room full of clouds of alcohol and at a humidity level of 140%, it’ll be tricky to see far so slow and steady will be the way to travel. And here comes the science bit – by inhaling alcohol, it actually bypasses the liver, meaning you absorb less calories, but also means you can get the same effect by drinking 40 per cent less than you would do normally. Once inside, you’ll also have the opportunity to order further cocktails from the menu to complement the taste of the breathable mix.

With its location near the historic Southwark Cathedral, Bompas & Parr have drawn on the influence of the Gothic building and its previous site of a monastery with the design, staff uniforms and drinks menu. Guests can enjoy the tastes of spirits and beers created by monks, including Chartreuse, Benedictine, Trappist beer and Buckfast.

Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr, said: ‘With Alcoholic Architecture we are going for maximal intensity of cocktail experience. With every breath you take, notice a fresh botanical or flavour in the spirit that can be hard to discern in a regular drink. Taste the cloud, savour the sky.’

Sam Bompas, director of Bompas & Parr, added: ‘Creatively the installation draws inspiration from Borough Market’s produce, medieval history and weather to create a sci-fi fantasy where meteorology and mixology collide. Visiting Alcoholic Architecture will generate the same sort of awe and wonder we have all probably experienced when gazing up at the night’s sky. Imagine Disney meets De Sade in Barbarella’s castle by way of Medieval Times with flagons of ale.’

Guests will be limited to an hour within the cloud to ensure responsible consumption of alcohol. Bombas & Parr have also worked with respiratory scientists and chemists to calculate the safe length of time to remain in the cloud.

  • Alcoholic Architecture launches from 31st July 2015 for six months and will take place at One Cathedral Street, Borough Market, Borough, SE1 9DE. Nearest station: London Bridge. Tickets for hourly slots: £10 off peak (Mon, Tues and Wed all day, Thurs & Fri before 5pm), £12.50 peak (Thurs post-5pm, Fri post-4pm and Sat all day). For more information and booking, visit Bompas And Parr’s official website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London for families over the summer holidays 2015

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Find out where to keep your little darlings occupied this summer

As much as we love summer, the season also means one thing for frantic parents everywhere – how to keep their children occupied during the school holidays. Of course, my monthly what’s on guides includes many child and teen-friendly activities, but I’ve also done a round-up of attractions in the capital I’ve previously blogged about that would appeal to families, both free and ticketed, to give you some ideas.

For the July guide to what’s on in London, click here.

(The August guide will be published at the end of July).

  • Carsten Höller: Decision

Soar above the rooftops on a flying machine or whizz down a huge slide at this fun, interactive art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank. Runs until 6 September 2015. Tickets: Adults £13.50-£15, Concessiosn £11, Under 12s free. Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • Serpentine Pavilion

Kids will find it an adventure going through the multi-coloured, multi-layered pavilion, which also includes a café so parents can put their feet up and enjoy a slice of cake. Open until 18 October 2015. Free to visit. Open 10am-6pm. Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, Kensington, W2 3XA. Nearest tube: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Serpentine Gallery website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • Alice’s Adventures Underground

Enjoy an immersive theatre experience with different shows available for varying age groups. Adventures In Wonderland for 5-10 years old and Alice’s Adventures Underground is for 11 plus and adults. Runs until 30 August 2015. Tickets for Adventures In Wonderland: Adults £18.50, Children £12.50. Tickets for Alice’s Adventures Underground: Tues, Wed and Sunday £35, Thurs £40-£47.50, Fri and Sat £47.50. The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Alice’s Adventures Underground website. For Metro Girl’s review of Alice’s Adventures Underground, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Slide out of the Hayward Gallery at Carsten Holler’s Decision

  • London Dungeon

Maybe more suitable for older children, a journey through London’s more gruesome history, including rides for those daring enough. Tickets start from £17.50 for adults or £15.94 for children, cheaper if booked online in advance. Opening times vary. Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest tube/train: Waterloo or Westminster.  For more information and tickets, visit the official London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • London Eye

Enjoy some of the best views in London – and 360 degrees of it – from the big ferris wheel by the Thames. Opening times vary. Standard tickets (always cheaper online!) start from adults £19.35, children 4-15 years £13.95. Tickets can be bought from the Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest tube: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the London Eye website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Eye, click here.

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Storeys: A new rooftop pop-up bar is coming to Television Centre in West London

© Afternoon Delight LDN

Up on the roof: Storeys, a new pop-up rooftop bar, is coming to West London on 31 July
© Afternoon Delight LDN

When the sun comes out in London, one of the best places to be is a rooftop bar. The wind in your hair and no need to worry about the shade that inevitably encroaches on the pub gardens down below. After being somewhat neglected in the rooftop bar area compared to East and South London, West London is the destination for the next rooftop nightspot.

Launching on 31 July 2015, Storeys will be offering sky-high drinking, food and entertainment on the top of the former BBC Car Park at Television Centre in White City. The venue will be spread over two levels, covering a huge 24,000 square feet, giving stunning views over West London.

Le Bun

A rotating choice of street food will be available, including French-American fusion Le Bun

Providing the grub will be a rotating line-up of street food traders, including Le Bun (French-American fusion), White Men Can’’t Jerk (Caribbean street food with a twist), Crabbieshack (soft-shell Folkestone crab burgers), Randy’’s Wing Bar (buffalo wings and homemade hot sauce), En Brochette (a skewered alternative to carb-heavy street food) and Aji Ceviche (fresh Peruvian ceviche and anticuchos). On Saturday and Sunday mornings, brunch will be on offer, featuring Nicaraguan coffee, organic tea, free range BBQ sausages and smoked bacon rolls.

Meanwhile, the bars will be well stocked with a wide variety of drinks, including expertly-crafted rum cocktails from the Rum Shack and tropical fruit sharers, ice cold beer and more from the TV Bar.

In keeping with such an urban setting, the venue will feature some striking artworks including murals, art installations and bold graphic designs from young artists and London street artists. Among the various seating options will be comfortable day beds for those who wish to stretch out underneath the sunshine.

To keep you entertained while you eat or drink will be daytime game areas, evening DJs, outdoor film screenings and yoga sessions with Serene Social for Saturday early risers.

  • Storeys will open from 31 July 2015 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Open Fridays 5-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm and Sunday 11am-8pm. Storeys, Multi Storey Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City, W12 7RJ. Nearest station: Wood Lane. For more information, visit the Storeys website.

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

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

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Comedy In The Courtyard: Alfresco laughs in St Martin’s Courtyard

St Martin's Comedy Festival

Aisling Bea and Joel Dommett are on the bill of the St Martin’s Comedy Festival

If you can’t get up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, why not let the a taste of fringe come to you? St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden is holding a one-day, free comedy mini-festival later this month. Situated in a courtyard off Long Acre, guests will be able to pull up a seat at an open-air pop-up comedy club.

On the bill at Comedy In The Courtyard are top British and Irish comedians, including Aisling Bea, Justin Moorhouse and Joel Dommett. Ireland’s funny woman Bea, known for her TV appearances on Russell Howard’s Good News, McIntyre’s Roadshow, Live at the Apollo and Cardinal Burns, will be headlining. Phoenix Nights fans will recognise radio DJ and comedian Moorhouse, while Dommett is one of the fastest rising stars on the comedy circuit. Chris Gilbert, who has hosted events for Ricky Gervais, Michael McIntyre and Tim Vine, will be overseeing the evening as compere.

The event will take place on Thursday 30 July 2015 at 7.30pm. Tickets are free, but you need to register your place online through a ballot. Winners will be contacted one week before the event, giving a ticket and a plus one to seats in the courtyard. There will also be a small allocation on the door from 6.30pm on a first come, first served basis. Meanwhile, Italian wine bar Dalla Terra will be serving wine and bubbles from their pop-up bar during the show.

There’s also a competition to win pair of VIP tickets for those who follow St Martin’s Courtyard on Twitter @SMCCoventGarden and keep checking the website.

  • Comedy In The Courtyard takes place on 30 July 2015 at 7.30pm. St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register for your free ticket, visit the St Martin’s Courtyard website.

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

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Twin Peaks pop-up diner is coming to London: Finally, somewhere to get a ‘damn fine cup of coffee’

The Owls Are Not What They Seem Twin Peaks popup

Immerse yourself in David Lynch’s world of Twin Peaks in the new pop-up The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Fans of the cult Nineties show Twin Peaks have recently found out the revival has been put on hold until 2017. So to whet their appetite in the meanwhile, a new immersive dining experience will transport London-based Twin Peakers into small-town America.

Coming to London in August 2015, The Owls Are Not What They Seem is a new adventure inspired by David Lynch’s surreal Washington town. Guests will feast on a three-course meal at the diner, including a slice of cherry pie and a ‘damn fine cup of coffee’, just like the one savoured by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. There will also be an entire evening of entertainment where visitors can meet the characters and immerse themselves in the installations and sets. The evening will finish in a late night bar with secret missions, bespoke cocktails and more theatre.

Guests are invited to dress the part so they fit right into small town life. Think surreal small town/extravagant Lynchian chic such as Agent Cooper’s smart suits, Shelley’s waitress uniform or the Log Lady. There will be nightly prizes for the best dressed.

The Owls Are Not What They Seem is a new experience by events specialists Lemonade And Laughing Gas, who specialise in immersive, hyper-theatrical experiences and encounters, who have teamed up with food design and experimental wizards Blanch & Shock. Tickets go on sale at 12pm on Friday 17 July 2015.

  • The Owls Are Not What They Seem will take place in a secret London location from 27 August to 17 October 2015. Tickets on sale from 12pm on 17 July 2015. Tickets: £65. Preview tickets for 27, 28 & 29 August at £50. Bar-only tickets: £5. For more information and tickets, visit

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

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HOP review: Fast and healthy Vietnamese food for those on the go

HOP © Charlie Richards

A range of Vietnamese street food at HOP, including noodle soups and Bánh mì
© Charlie Richards

Vietnamese cuisine has steadily been growing in popularity in recent years in London. While Dalston has long been the destination for Viet food lovers, it’s about time the rest of London had some venues offering authentic and tasty Vietnamese cuisine. Last month, a new venue offering Vietnamese street food for breakfast and lunch opened in Broadgate and, this week, I went to check it out. Located in Finsbury Avenue Square, just off Broadgate Circle, Hop is the latest addition to the circle’s revitalised dining hub, which is becoming a huge draw for City workers on their breaks.

Hop is a light and airy venue with some seating should you wish to stay in. I particularly liked the fact the food was well spread out into different sections, not crammed in as you often get in takeaway venues which can make for tricky scenes in the busy lunch rush. Having visited Vietnam myself last year, I can attest the cuisine is incredibly varied depending on what part of the country you’re in. The Hop menu features various dishes from across the country, including noodle soups, protein salads, bun noodle dishes and summer rolls. Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon, is famous for its Bánh Mì- a dish influenced by Vietnam’s former colonists France – which consists of a baguette stuffed with cold cuts, herbs and mayonnaise. When I was in Vietnam, I struggled to find any Bánh Mì suitable for vegetarians or pescatarians so was pleased to see Hop had a spring onion omelette one.

However, on this particular visit, I was feeling in need of a healthy boost so opted for one of the protein salads – eventually plumping for the Prawn and Mango (£4.50). Salads are rarely my first choice of food when eating out, but the ingredients used and the addition of fruit (I’ve always thought more salads should include fruit), swayed me. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed and really enjoyed my dish. The shredded vegetables, prawn and mango were well complemented with the aromatic herbs and Nouc Cham dressing.

Aside from the food, there is also a wide choice of drinks including the famous Vietnamese coffee – which should be particularly handy for busy City workers. Overall, the HOP experience was fast and friendly. The staff were informative and helpful. I found myself initially torn between dishes as they looked so appetising so I will definitely have to go back to try more. If you’re looking for healthy and tasty food on the go, then hop into Hop!

  • HOP, 2 Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, City of London, EC2M 2PA. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. Open from 7-11am for breakfast, 11am-4pm for lunch. For more information, visit the HOP website.

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

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London In The Sky: Fine dining suspended 25 metres in the air

London In The Sky

Fine dining in the air with London In The Sky

Calling all foodies with a head for heights! Move over The Shard and Walkie Talkie – this is fine dining with a view with a difference. A new pop-up restaurant is coming to London in September with diners suspended 25 metres (82 foot) above the ground. London In The Sky will be offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and Champagne Taittinger sessions while hovering over St Katharine Docks.

Twenty-two guests can be accommodated at a time, with diners being securely fastened in to their seats before the platform is raised from the ground. Some of London’s finest chefs will be in the centre of the table preparing meals in front of their customers. Among the chefs taking part are Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle, Robert Ortiz of Lima, Sophie Michell of Pont Street, Michael Reid of M Restaurants, Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, Tom Aikens of Tom’s Kitchen, Calum Franklin of Holborn Dining Rooms and Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwell’s from Marcus Wareing. They will be serving up a menu of signature dishes, with dinner guests being treated to a Champagne Taittinger reception before their meals. All lunch and dinner guests will have their food paired with Villa Maria wines.

Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle enthused: ‘London is now one of the leading food cities in the world. As if that wasn’t enough, we took it to another level with London in the Sky. It’s a view we are used to at Duck & Waffle being located on the 40th floor but to have the opportunity to cook outside suspended with a view of one of London’s landmarks, Tower Bridge, and being able to directly connect with our guests is something very special indeed.’

  • London In The Sky takes place on 17 – 30 September 2015. Tickets go on sale on 17 July 2015. Breakfast: £50 per head, Lunch: £125 per head, Dinner: £200 per head and Taittinger In The Sky flights at £75 per head. St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill. For more information and booking, visit the Events In The Sky website.

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

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Carsten Höller: Decision – Interactive art, flying machines and slides

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Soar above the roofs at the Southbank on the flying machines at Carsten Holler: Decision exhibition at the Hayward Gallery

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Forget the gift shop, exit down the slides instead

Most of the time, going to an art exhibition means keeping a safe distance from the art in question and definitely no touching. However, that all changes with Belgium-born artist Carsten Höller’s new exhibition Decision, which opened last month at the Hayward Gallery.

This new exhibition explores perception and decision-making. From the beginning, you are given the first of many decisions to make – to go through Door A or Door B. The door we chose immediately plunged us into darkness so we had to rely on our sense of touch, gingerly walking along the sloped dark tunnels while touching the walls. While it was very disorienting, it was fun, although I was glad to eventually reach the light again.

The first room in the gallery kick stars the theme of a suspended reality. The room contains Flying Mushrooms, which invites the visitor to be part of the machinery which sends them spinning above our heads. Another room contains a huge pile of white and red pills which are dropping from the ceiling. There’s no sign to say what they are so if you can, put your trust in the artist that they won’t be harmful and swallow one if you wish.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Get transported into another world with the virtual reality headgear

One of the big draws has been the robotic beds, which glide around a dark room. People can actually pay £300 to spend the night on one. In the same room, are virtual reality headsets which transport you into a dark, snowy forest. The headset left me feeling confused, dizzy and a bit freaked out. Another dizzying experience was the Upside Down Goggles, which had my friends and I stumbling around a balcony looking at the London skyline from upside down, which was very clever.

For those with a sense of adventure, there’s two interactive pieces to give you a thrill. Two flying machines on  one of the balconies see you strapped into a hand glider-style frame with a safety harness ensuring you won’t fall. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a wait and my visit to the exhibition was within a strict time frame as I had plans afterwards so didn’t get the chance to try. There was a queue of about an hour and riders are given a substantial amount of time to fly above the rooftops, so bear this is mind if you want to try it out. Finally, to exit the exhibition you are given the option of sliding down the Isometric Slides – picking left or right. I was actually surprised by how fast I went down and the slides gave me more of an adrenalin rush than I anticipated.

Overall, it was a fun way to spend an hour or two. It was definitely a very different experience than I am used to having from an art exhibition. I really felt like all my senses have been fully exercised in different ways.

  • Carsten Höller: Decision runs at the Hayward Gallery until 6 September 2015. Tickets: Adults £13.50-£15, Students £11. Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website.

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

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2015: A tunnel of colour by Selgascano

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

This year’s Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Selgascano, headed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano

It’s that time of year again – when an international architect is invited to design a temporary structure in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery. Now in its 15th year, the opening of the Pavilion has become a big event on the London art scene. This year, the structure has been created by Spanish architects Selgascano – headed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, who have been inspired by the London Underground. They follow in the footsteps of past architects who have created Pavilions for the Gallery, including Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer, Sou Fujimoto and Smiljan Radić. The Pavilion will stand on the lawn outside the Serpentine Gallery over the summer.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The Selgascano Pavilion is the 15th to stand on the site

This year’s creation is a polygonal tunnel of colour, which can be entered from different points. It also includes a secret corridor joining the inner and outer layers of the structure. As the light is diffused through the coloured panels, it gives a stained glass effect. Inside is a café serving Fortnum & Mason sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries.

  • The Serpentine Pavilion is open from now until 18 October 2015. Free to visit, but also contains a café inside. Open 10am-6pm. Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, Kensington, W2 3XA. Nearest tube: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Serpentine Gallery website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The light streaming through the structure gives a stained glass effect

For Metro Girl’s post on last year’s Pavilion, click here.

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

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Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley review: Handmade pastries and brilliant service in a stunning setting

 © @helloamylorna on Twitter

Time for tea: Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley is served traditionally in silverware and china

The Wolseley has only been open since 2003, but has steadily become an institution on the London dining scene. I’ve wanted to go for years and have heard many friends raving about dinners and brunches. I finally went for Afternoon Tea with a friend recently and thankfully was as good as I hoped.

© @helloamylorna on Twitter

Three tiers of delicious! Sandwiches, scones and desserts

The building itself features an impressive façade which really stands out on Piccadilly. It was originally a car showroom, Wolseley Motors Ltd, when it was built in the early 1920s, with the architect William Curtis Green taking inspiration from Venetian and Florentine design. Unfortunately, the car business didn’t last long and the building was taken over by Barclays Bank in 1927.

The Wolseley is described as a ‘café-restaurant in the grand European tradition’ and upon walking in, it did remind me of some of the grand cafes in Paris and Budapest I have been in. High ceilings, sweeping staircases, large windows and marble made for a dramatic setting.

I visited recently with a friend for a belated birthday celebration on a Friday afternoon. We were seated at a lovely black wood and marble table, which just about had enough room for our numerous plates and cups we would accumulate during our setting.

When we booked, there were various options of Afternoon Tea, depending on your appetite and if you wanted to add some fizz. We initially decided on the traditional Afternoon Tea (£23.75), before ‘upgrading’ it to The Wolseley Champagne Tea at £33.50 per person when we arrived.

© @helloamylorna on Twitter

Yum! Battenberg, Cherry & Pistachio Cake, Rhubarb Tart, Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Éclair and Vanilla Cheesecake

We decided to have the champagne first – perhaps unwise on an empty stomach – which was light and refreshing. For tea, they have a wide choice as you would expect, including their own blend, with myself plumping for Earl Grey. The tea was presented in sterling silver teapots and brewed with tea-leaves, so you’re able to fully taste the flavour and aroma of the tea.

When it came to the food, we were presented with a three-tiered cake stand featuring assorted finger sandwiches, fresh fruit scones and a selection of pastries – all made on site. On the day in question we visited, the desserts were Battenberg, Cherry & Pistachio Cake, Rhubarb Tart, Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Éclair and Vanilla Cheesecake, which were all delicious and presented beautifully. The scones were probably my favourite and I liked the little touches of the silver serving spoons for the clotted cream and jam actually embossed for their purpose. As I’m a pescatarian, I warned The Wolseley ahead of time about my dietary requirements so they were able to give me a good selection of non-meat sandwiches.

As we expected, the service was top-notch. our waiter was very attentive, giving us refills of tea and sandwiches. We were rather leisurely as we paced ourselves with such a lot of food and didn’t feel under pressure to move on. Overall, the food, service and setting were brilliant and I highly recommend it. For those looking for a traditional English afternoon tea, I think you’d be hard pressed to find better.

  • The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St James, W1J 9EB. Nearest station: Green Park. Afternoon Tea is served from 3-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 3.30-5.30pm Sat and 3.30-6.30pm Sun. For more information and booking, visit The Wolseley website.

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

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