Category Archives: Grub

Restaurants, cafes, takeaways.

For a list of all MOAMG’s reviews, visit https://memoirsofametrogirl.com/london-restaurant-reviews-bars-listings/

Calling all avo lovers – The Avocado Show pop-up is coming to Bluebird Chelsea

© Avo Garden

The Avocado Show pop-up is coming to London in March 2019

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you may have noticed the avocado is having a moment. In fact, this is more than a moment as it has been happening for a couple of years now and you’d be hard pushed to find a brunch spot without avocado on the menu.

With this in mind, avo lovers are in for a treat this spring as Amsterdam’s famous The Avocado Show is coming to London for a limited time. The team behind the world’s first all-avocado concept will setting up camp at the Bluebird Chelsea from 11th to 24th March. The Avocado Show pop-up will be serving their stunning, stand out dishes using sustainable and socially responsible avocados.

The menu will feature creations influenced by chef Jamie van Heije. Among the dishes on offer include The Avo Garden (salad composed on top of an avocado), The Bun Burger (a wagyu beef patty with bacon and toppings served between two avocado halves) and The Benny Boy (poached eggs with house-made hollandaise served atop crispy bacon slices and avocado halves). The Bluebird Café will be transformed with plenty of foliage and greenery. Staff will be wearing branded The Avocado Show shirts as they bring TAS’s unique vibe to Chelsea.

The Avocado Show was launched in 2017 and was a big hit with foodies and critics. Today, The Avocado Show is open in several locations, has published a cookbook and developed avocado fries for sale.

  • The Avocado Show Pop Up runs from 11-24 March 2019. At Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information and booking, visit the Bluebird website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.

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Where to celebrate Burns’ Night 2019 in London

A guide to London’s best Burns’ Night events

© The Little Blue Door

Celebrate Burns’ Night with Mac & Wild haggis pops at The Little Blue Door

A cold January night is the perfect time to tuck into some hearty Scottish fare and a dram or two of whisky. January 25 is an annual festivity to mark the birthday of Scottish poet Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns, who died in 1796. Traditionally, people feast on soup, haggis, tatties and neeps, washed down with lots of whisky to celebrate his life and poetry. With a host of Scots living in London, there are tons of Burns’ Night celebrations.

  • Burns’ Dinner and Music @ Boisdale Mayfair (22 – 26 January)

Scottish restaurant chain Boisdale will be hosting a series of Burns evenings, featuring four-course meals and matching wines and whisky with live bagpiper. Menus £74.50pp.

– Boisdale, 12 North Row, Mayfair, W1K 7DF. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Boisdale website.

  • Week Of Burns @ Mac & Wild (22 – 28 January)

Scottish eaterie Mac & Wild will be celebrating with a whole week of Burns inspired menu and events at their two London locations. Including a Silent Ceilidh (25 Jan), Haggis Making Masterclasses and Burns’ Night tasting menu. Foods on offer include the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Burger and Deep-Fried Mars Bars.

– Mac & Wild Fitzrovia: 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS (Nearest station: Oxford Circus) or Mac & Wild City: 9A Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN (Nearest station: Liverpool Street). For booking and more information, visit the Mac & Wild website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Mac & Wild.

  • Burns’ Night Supper @ Cub (25 January)

Progressive Hebridean Distillers (PHD) will be showcasing their Port Charlotte Whisky and The Botanist Gin at Cub. Guests will enjoy a Burns-inspired 10 course set menu of 5 dishes and 5 drinks. Tickets: £75pp.

– Cub, 153 Hoxton Street, Hoxton, N1 6PJ. Nearest stations: Old Street or Hoxton. For more information, visit LyanCub.com.

  • Bobby Burns Party @ The Little Blue Door (25 January)

The flatmates from The Little Blue Door are teaming up with Scottish foodies Mac & Wild, Islay legends Port Charlotte Whisky and The Botanist Gin are hosting a Robbie Burns’ party. Featuring complimentary drinks and Haggis Pops. Dress code: Tart or tartan. From 7pm-1am.

– The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 5HP. Nearest station: Parsons Green. For more information, visit The Little Blue Door Facebook page. Check out Metro Girl’s review of The Little Blue DoorRead the rest of this entry

Aqua Shard review: Brunch with a view at one of London’s highest restaurants

Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Tor Bay Harbour Lobster Benedict at Aqua Shard

Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

We had a great view from our table, despite the drizzle

The Shard is home to six restaurants, all boasting amazing views of the capital. I’ve been to the bar in Aqua Shard on several occasions for drinks, but had never dined before. So I was thrilled when my boyfriend treated me to a surprise brunch at the venue for our anniversary. When dining at a sky-high venue, it’s always hit and miss if the weather will be on your side. On the afternoon we visited, London was suffering from questionable weather, but we managed to get a clear enough view for the first hour of our meal before the rain came down. We were fortunate enough to be given one of the best seats in the place, with seats looking out over the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and the rest of the City.

We were opting for the weekend brunch set menu, which features 3 courses and two amuse bouches for £48. I made sure I had eaten a light breakfast to prepare myself for such a big meal early in the day. Our first amuse bouche was pumpkin soup, which was lovely and creamy and tasted sweeter than I anticipated.

To start with, I opted for a brunch favourite – Tor Bay Lobster Benedict (Cackleberry Farm Egg, Roasted Lobster Hollandaise and Sea Greens). The serving had just the right amount of Hollandaise sauce so as not to overpower the egg and lobster. The seagreens were an unusual, but good accompaniment.

Crispy Cod Cakes (Pickled Lemon, Samphire and Cucumber Salad, and Spiced Kelp Aioli

For my mains, I went for another fish dish – Crispy Cod Cakes (Pickled Lemon, Samphire and Cucumber Salad, and Spiced Kelp Aioli). As a regular consumer of fish cakes, I was pleased by the quality and the accompanying sides gave the flavour a different approach than usual.

In between the mains and dessert, we had another amuse bouche of Yoghurt Sorbet and Crispy Strawberries, which really cleansed the palate. For my final dishes I decided on the English Bramley Apple Crumble (Toasted Almond Crumb and Nutmeg Ice Cream). When it arrived, it was a very different crumble to I’m used to – sort of a deconstructed twist on a traditional favourite. Although the portion was small, the rich sweetness made it very filling and was the perfect end to the meal.

Overall, we had a fabulous brunch. The weather wasn’t on our side, but we still got to enjoy a decent amount of times with good view before the rain came down. The service was good and the menu choice offered something a little different from the usual brunch offerings.

  • Aqua Shard, Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge, SE1 9RY. Nearest station: London Bridge. Weekend brunch is served from 10.30am-3.30pm. For booking, visit the Aqua Shard website.
Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Dessert was a deconstructed apple crumble, a different approach to an old classic

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

Aqua Shard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Will you ‘brie’ there? An Evening Of Cheese returns to Borough Market

Evening of Cheese © Borough Market

Will you ‘Brie’ there? Roque (fort) down to Borough Market for an Evening of Cheese in December

Returning to Borough Market this December is the hugely popular celebration of cheese. With Londoners planning their festive cheeseboard, this is a great place to get inspiration for your next special dinner. This annual late-night shopping event offers Londoners than chance to meet over 20 of the market’s cheesemongers and explore a huge range of cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheese from UK and international producers.

On Wednesday 12 December 2018, ‘An Evening of Cheese’ returns to Borough Market. Expect to see cheese stalls taking over the market, with experts on hand to advise you on your festive cheese needs, including cheese recipes and drink pairings. There will also be a cheese-based cooking demo in the Market Hall’s Demo Kitchen.

Among the world cheeses taking part include:

  • Drumlin – Heritage Cheese (Ireland).
  • Oude Beemster Gouda – Borough Cheese Company (Holland).
  • Canarejal Cremoso – Brindisa Ltd (Spain).
  • Roquefort – Mons Cheesemongers (France).

On the night, market traders will compete in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’, while local choirs and carol singers will bring some Christmas cheer.

  • An Evening Of Cheese takes place on 12 December 2018 from 6pm-9pm. At Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Free entry. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
  • Borough Market is open every day during the Christmas period from 5 December until 4pm on Christmas Eve – including Sundays.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

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Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs in 2018

Shop for unique gifts and soak up some festive cheer at one of London’s many Christmas and markets and fairs this November and December 2018.

If you’re looking for something a bit different for your loved ones this Christmas, why not to head to one of London’s Christmas markets and fairs. There’s a host of long-term, charitable and weekend fairs on in the capital throughout November and December. Most are free entry, however some do charge a small entry fee with the money usually going to charity. Here’s a guide to the best Christmas markets in London for 2018.

Long-term markets

Some festive markets are popping up for the whole Christmas period, with some even running into the new year. Be aware, most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

  • Christmas tree © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 20189 November – 5 January 2019 : Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

  • 9 November – 6 January 2019 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 15 November – 31 December : Kingston Christmas Market

Christmas market pops up in wooden huts pops up in Kingston town centre. Free. Kingston Market Place, Market Place, Kingston, KT1 1JH. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, check out the Visit Kingston website.

  • 17 November – 23 December : Solo Craft Fair @ Winterville

Craft fair featuring independent designers selling art, jewellery, ceramics, kids’ clothing and more. Fair taking place on Saturday and Sundays only. 12pm-5pm. Entry: Sat £2 after 12pm & £5 after 6pm. Sun £2 all day. Winterville, Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.

  • 22 November – 6 January 2019 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 24 November – 23 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza

Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (7 and 21 December). Featuring over 40 stalls, street food and more. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.

  • 29 November – 2 January 2019 : Christmas by the River

Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 7 – 11 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, crafting studio, Hampstead tea room and Champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £15 (Adults), £8 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 8 November : Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party

Shopping party at over 90 shops and boutiques of the Carnaby district. Including on-street entertainment and various store activities. Enjoy a 20% discount by signing up for your free ticket on the Carnaby website. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website

  • 14 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. From 3-7pm (lights switch on at 6pm). Free. North end of Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street, Marylebone, W1G. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

Winter Wonderland Christmas market © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Shop till you drop with a thoroughly festive atmosphere

  • 15 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring music from a live orchestra and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 5pm-9pm. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 16 – 17 November : Hyper Japan Christmas

A Christmas edition of the popular summer celebration of Japanese culture and products. Includes cuisine, shopping, mix of pop and traditional culture. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-5pm. Tickets: £18.33-£31.59. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Hyper Japan websiteRead the rest of this entry

Rinkside drinking and dining at London’s first curling bar and diner the Sin Bin @ Queens

© Queens Sin Bin

The Sin Bin is a new rinkside drinking and dining space at Queens

QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl has added a new attraction to its versatile venue – a rinkside bar and diner. The Sin Bin offers beers, cocktails and burgers just moments from the action on the ice. What’s special about QUEENS is that you can do more than ice skating on its indoor rink – it also offers opportunities to play ice hockey or go ice karting or curling.

Queens Sin Bin cocktails © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A St Lawrence (left) and Silver Angel (right) cocktails

I went along to the launch last week to try the Sin Bin’s cocktails and burgers and make my second attempt at curling. Despite being rinkside, the bar is thankfully lovely and cosy with heaters warming you up after you’ve been chilling on the ice. The long, slender space has a dive bar vibe with plenty of seating, including many stools looking out on the rink. The rinkside setting means people who don’t feel confident on the ice can watch their companions in action from a more comfortable, non-slip space.

When it came to drinks, we decided on cocktails from their menu of creative originals, mostly reasonably priced around the £7.50-£8.50 mark. I tried a lovely, sweet Silver Angel (Finlandia vodka with peach and passion fruit topped with fizz), while my boyfriend opted for a St Lawrence (Woodford Reserve with maple syrup, lemon juice and a dash of bitters). I continued the vodka theme with a Henrietta Fizz (Grey Goose Poire vodka with pear, strawberry and fresh lemon topped with fizz), which was deliciously light, something that would make a great aperitif.

Queens Sin Bin curling © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Try a spot of curling for something different

The food menu is from MEATliquor, who have already established a diner at QUEENS. MEATliquor’s full menu is available to Sin Bin diners, including popular favourites, Hot Mess (hash browns with blue cheese sauce, jalapenos, buffalo sauce and pickles), deep-friend mac ‘n’ cheese, and chicken wings. During our visit, my boyfriend and I had the cheeseburger (beef patty, cheese, red onions, pickles, lettuce, French’s mustard and ketchup) and the halloumi and mushroom burger (halloumi, mushroom, red onions, pickles, lettuce, French’s mustard and ketchup) respectively. When it comes to food of a ‘fast’ nature, I don’t always have high expectations, however we agreed our burgers were really tasty and I could have easily eaten a second. Our burgers were accompanied by some delicious Cajun fries, with the seasoning really giving them an extra something.

During the evening, we stepped on to the ice for a spot of curling. I had tried it a year ago and was pretty bad. However, this year the shoe grips were slightly different and I felt a bit more stable on the ice. This time, we also had access to brooms as well as the curling stones. We were given instructions by experienced curlers and managed to pull off a pretty good game for a bunch of amateurs. It was a lot of fun and definitely offers something a bit different to your usual night out with a group of friends.

As well as the various ice activities, MEATliquor and the Sin Bin, QUEENS also has a bowling alley and arcade. There’s currently plans to expand the site further with five private bowling lanes, the Liquor Lanes, in the near future.

  • The Sin Bin @ Queens, 17 Queensway, W2 4PQ. Nearest station: Queensway or Bayswater. Open Sun-Thu 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am. For more information and booking, visit the Queens website.
Queens Sin Bin curling © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Queens provide grips to put on your shoes so you can walk on ice

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Plant-based brunching and cocktails at new vegan pop-up The Meet

© The Meet

Plant-based brunching at The Meet vegan pop-up restaurant in Clapham

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would have noticed the huge rise in popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets in recent years. This autumn, a new pop-up offering plant-based food will be coming to Clapham. The Meet will be serving indulgent comfort food along with vegan cocktails.

The Meet will launch on 2 November 2018 in an urban, industrial space of railway arches in Clapham North. The pop-up is a new concept from chef Dominic Taylor, former Executive Chef of London favourite, The Jam Tree. His menu will feature popular millennial dishes revamped into indulgent vegan alternatives. Committed vegans, healthy eaters and experimental foodies alike will find a dish to whet their appetite.

Expect sharing plates, burgers and late night bites. During the weekend, there will be bottomless vegan brunches and Sunday roasts. Among the breakfast choices will be cold press juices, ‘uppers’ (Chai seed and acai Bircher muesli pot) or ‘Avo go’ (crushed avocado on garlic sourdough toast topped with jalapeno spiked pico de galo). Meanwhile, among the lunch dishes will feature Seitan and Jackfruit zingy herbs and spices to transform recognisable meaty dishes into unexpected vegan delights. Meanwhile, the extensive drinks menu features fresh pressed juices, vegan cocktails, vegan wines and craft beers. The cocktail menu will comprise vegan reworkings of classic cocktails.

  • The Meet launches on 2 November 2018 (soft launch from 25 October – 1 November). The Meet @ Fu Manchu, 15-16 Lendal Terrace, Clapham, SW4 7UX. Nearest station: Clapham North. Tuesday – Friday 5pm-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-9:30pm. For booking enquiries, visit The Meet website.

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

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Cocktails, hot dogs and movies as Bluebird Chelsea launches Foodflix

Bluebird Foodflix
As the temperatures drop and the nights set in, cosying up in front of a good film is more appealing than ever. This autumn, Bluebird Chelsea is launching a weekly movie night with films, food and cocktails. Cointreau will transform the King’s Road venue’s cinema room into a wintry orangery.

Every Tuesday evening, film fans can enjoy hot food, Cointreau cocktails and popcorn as they settle down to watch a movie. Sit on a comfy sofa or chair surrounded by orange tress as you watch films that have been chosen for their popular soundtracks. Among those being screened include The Greatest Showman, Dreamgirls, Moulin Rouge! and Whiplash. By the time December arrives, things will be taking a festive turn with Love Actually and The Holiday.

On arrival, guests will receive a welcome drink of Cointreau Fizz (Cointreau, sparkling water and freshly squeezed lime juice). Cointreau will also be serving two popular concoctions from their wooden pop-up bar: Royal Sidecar (Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lemon juice) and Hot Cointreau Mulled Cider (spiked Cointreau cider made with Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cider, star anise, cloves and garnished with a cinnamon stick and slices of orange and apple).

Bluebird Foodflix

Sip on a Cointreau cocktail while watching a film

Meanwhile, your appetites are also fulfilled for as your ticket includes a Bluebird hot dog (spiced pork, pickled cabbage and chilli mayo) or a vegan burger (mushroom and edamame with sriracha mayo and baby gem). Additional food and drinks can purchased on the night.

The film programme is as follows:

30 October : The Greatest Showman
6 November : Dreamgirls
13 November : Moulin Rouge!
20 November : Whiplash
27 November : Love Actually
4 December : The Holiday.

  • Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

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The Savoy launches The Tiger Who Came To Tea afternoon tea for families

The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy

The Tiger Who Came to Tea afternoon tea for children is launching at The Savoy

Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.

From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.

The menu is as follows:

  • Sophie’s Sandwiches

Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.

  • Tiger Scones

Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

  • Treats with the Tiger

Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).

  • Drinks

Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.

  • The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.

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

This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.

CulturedKids

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Go west! Exploring Kensington’s hidden gems and local hangouts

Kensington Palace © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Kensington is world renowned for its royal palace

The London district of Kensington is world renowned for its palace, famous museums and having some of the most expensive property in the UK. From the grand museums of South Kensington to the greenery of Kensington Gardens, each district has its own different character. With its location and tube stations providing easy access to the capital’s attractions, Kensington is a popular base for many visitors.

With the borough boasting an array of museums, it’s no surprise that three of its attractions appear in the top 10 list of most visited free attractions in London. The Natural History Museum had over 4 million visitors in 2017, while its neighbours the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum had over 3 million. Meanwhile, Kensington Palace is No.11 on the list of paid London attractions, with over 645,000 visitors in 2017.

While all three of the big museums are brilliant places to go, there’s a lot more to visit in Kensington. I’ve worked a large chunk of my career in Kensington and have stumbled upon the lesser-known attractions of the area when I’ve not been working. For this blog post, I spent the day exploring some of Kensington’s hidden gems. One particular destination off the beaten path is the stunning Leighton House Museum. Located near Holland Park and Kensington High Street, it was built in stages from 1866 to 1895 as a home and studio for painter Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). From the outside, it looks like a classical, red Victorian home. However, upon stepping inside, it’s like entering a Moorish palace. The main attraction is the beautiful Arab Hall, with its mosaics, Islamic tiles and golden dome. As well as its stunning interiors and expansive garden (by London standards at least!), there is also an extensive art collection, featuring paintings and sculptures by Leighton and his Victorian contemporaries. If you’re a fan of architecture and/or art – particularly pre-Raphaelite paintings – I recommend checking it out. You’re not allowed photos inside, although you can get some good shots in the lovely garden.

© Leighton House Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The stunning Arab Hall in the Leighton House Museum
© Leighton House Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Azzedine Alaïa Design Museum © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Designer dreaming at the Azzedine Alaïa exhibition at the Design Museum

A short walk away is the Design Museum on Kensington High Street. It was previously located in Bermondsey, but moved to the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2016. The spacious 1960s building is worth a visit in itself for architecture fans. It is home to a permanent free exhibition; ‘Designer, Maker, User’, as well as various changing exhibitions and events throughout the year. On my particular visit, I bought tickets for the Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition, which is on until 7 October 2018. Curated with the designer shortly before his death last year, the exhibition features a collection of his fashions from the early 1980s to his last collection in 2017. The museum is an interesting space and the way the team have presented Alaia’s creations on transparent models on mirrored platforms was brilliant and really showcased the layers and angles of each design.

Kensington Phillies eggs royale © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Eggs royale @ Cafe Phillies

When you’re in this end of High Street Kensington, there’s a great little café down a quiet side street if you’re feeling peckish. Located on Phillimore Gardens with a small outdoor terrace is Café Phillies. It’s an independent café and wine bar, popular with locals and serves an all-day breakfast. It’s a cosy venue with contemporary art on the walls and friendly staff. I took advantage of the unlimited brunch hours and ordered an Eggs Benedict Royale for a late lunch. Served on toasted English muffins, there was a very generous serving of smoked salmon and the poached eggs were perfectly runny. A great spot for lunch or breakfast.

If you’re looking for some fresh air, consider walking down to Kensington Gardens. The large park covers 207 acres, with Kensington Palace located in the western end of the Gardens. Known for being the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, parts of the palace are open to the public, including the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments. On this particular visit, I remained outside the palace walls and enjoyed the many free attractions of the gardens. As the palace was the last home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, there are several memorials to the royal, including a children’s playground and a memorial walk. Throughout the Gardens are many buildings and sculptures to check out, including the 18th century Queen Caroline’s Temple, Henry Moore’s arch and the ornate Albert Memorial. The north side of the park features the 150-year-old Italian ornamental garden, built as a gift to Queen Victoria from her husband Prince Albert. Nearby is Queen Anne’s Alcove, a small structure built in 1705 and designed Sir Christopher Wren. Meanwhile, deeper in the Gardens is Queen Caroline’s Temple, a quaint 18th century summer house with views towards the Long Water.  Read the rest of this entry