I really like the idea of cafes that turn into cocktail bars and have started to make a byline for them in the past year. Earlier this year, iconic north London music venue The Garage had a major refurbishment and makeover, with a new standalone all day bar and café The General Store opening next door.
Last week, I popped ‘up north’ to check out it out and also sample their new summer cocktail menu. Taking over the site of the former gloomy Mini-Bar, the light and contemporary General Store could not be more different. The venue brings a slice of old town Americana to Highbury Corner, with vintage gas pumps, huge US fridges, cosy leather booths and retro tiling. The GS serves coffee, cake, cocktails and craft beer so enough to keep you watered from daytime to night.
Arriving on a warm summer evening, my friend and I were definitely in the mood for cocktails. The menu features some classic drinks with a twist, such as the General Store Mai Tai (Hibiscus-infused rum with lime juice, sugar and coconut water) served in a short glass, which my friend noted had quite the kick. I was in the mood for something lighter (and can’t resist elderflower) so went for the English Garden (Hendricks Gin and Elderflower Liqueur shaken with Apple and Lemon), which was very refreshing. With such tempting concotions on the menu, I threw caution to the wind and mixed my spirits, opting for a Apple Caipirinha (Cachaca Rum served with Sherry, Apple Juice, Syrup and served over Cubed Apple), which was the right amount of sweet and strong.
Accompanying our cocktails, my pal and I decided to share a slice of cake. I gave him free rein to surprise me with his choice. When he came back with a gluten-free piece, I was initially sceptical as previous experiments with GF haven’t worked out well for me in the past. However, I’ve got to praise the GS for baking a thoroughly delicious GF chocolate and raspberry cake, it was delicious.
Overall, it’s a great spot to catch up with friends over coffee or a cocktail. Located next door to The Garage, it’s a perfect location for pre or post gig drinks, with the venue open until 3am on weekends if you’re up for a big night. Having met friends often over the years in the area, it’s good to see a decent drinking venue on Highbury Corner at last.
- The General Store, 20 – 22 Highbury Crescent, Highbury East, N5 1RD. Nearest station: Highbury & Islington. Open Mon-Wed 10am-11.30pm, Thur 10am-1am, Fri-Sat 10am-3am, Sun 12pm-11pm. For more information, visit The General Store Facebook page.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
While a lot of people enjoy sparkling wines, London’s champagne bars tend to be rather exclusive and expensive destinations. With the rise in popularity in the more affordable Prosecco and Cava in recent years, the capital has been ripe for an alternative. Opening in Soho this summer is the capital’s first dedicated sparkling wine bar. Fiz Bar is having a 10 week residency at the Lights Of Soho, offering a range of bubbles and food.
I popped (excuse the pun!) along with a gal pal last week to check it out in its first few days. The venue has taken over the ground floor of members’ club Lights Of Soho in Brewer Street. Immediately walking in the atmosphere was a world away from champagne bars – bustling, casual and full of energy. We pulled up a stool at one of the side tables so had a good vista of the busy bar and kitchen area. The drinks menu features a range of sparkling wine including Prosecco, Cava, English sparkling, Cremante and more by the bottle or glass, with most of the latter in the £5 range. If you’re with a friend who’s not into wines, there’s also a small selection of other drinks, including cider, lager and spirits to keep them refreshed.
As the day on question was pretty hot and summery, I was in the mood for some sparkling rose so started with the Paternina Cava Rose, a fruity wine which went down very well. Next to shake things up I hoped across the Mediterranean to Italy for a glass of Canal di Rajo Lemoss Frizzante, which had a fuller aroma and richer taste because it was unfiltered. Finally to finish off, I enjoyed a couple of glasses of the 47 AD Prosecco, a lovely soft and refreshing wine.
Of course, with all this quaffing going on, it was only sensible we should be lining our stomachs too. Quite wisely, Fiz Bar serves a mix of buns or sharing dishes ranging from £3.75 to £9.50. We opted to share the Grilled asparagus with salsa verde; Smoked Trout with Fennel, Dill Pickles and Charcoal Sourdough; and Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Comte, Emmental and Ogleshield. All three dishes were delicious. I thought the charcoal sourdough was particularly interesting, with the trout absolutely yummy. The grilled cheese was very naughty, but incredibly moreish.
Overall, Fiz is a great addition to the London bar scene, offering something different from craft beer houses, champagne bars and speakeasies that are becoming so commonplace. The staff were really friendly and the quality of the food and drink is exceptional. Fiz Bar is in residence until August so check it out while you can.
- Fiz @ Lights Of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. Open Mon 6pm-11.30pm, Tues-Thur 10am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am; Sun 12pm-4pm. For more information, visit the Fiz Bar Website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Vauxhall’s main streets and stations is a little summer oasis. Returning for a fourth year is the Vauxhall Street Food Garden, an open-air garden full of food, drinks and entertainment. Open every weekday and selected weekends, the Garden is a great spot for lunches or summer evening socialising.
Situated just moments from the train and tube station, the Garden is a free-to-enter urban space featuring street food stalls with food and drink from around the world. Foodies will be spoilt for choice with offerings from City Burger, Win & Lily, Beefcake London, Big Mama Food, Feast UK, Macstreetboys, Opa Opa, The Wrap Game, Malobi’s Joint, Bulgarian Grill, CARIB Catering, Laurel Foods UK, Dogers, Fratelli Diteglia UK, Kerbside Kitchen, Mackie Jerk Stop, Sfornat, Smokings Barbecue, Texas BBQ, Wandercrust, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Bam Boo, Biff’s Kitchen, Food Gangnam Style, Magic Churros, The Lo Food, Frakes Malay, Cubano, Don Donburi, Eat Well, Jam Rocks, Kuzinaki, Sweet Nothing Bakehouse, Crazy For Pasta, Arostape Italian Skewers, Yaay Yaay, and more.
Meanwhile, visitors looking for some alfresco drinking can check out the The Smirnoff Bar and the Red Bull Lodge. There will be a wide choice of soft and hard drinks, with Love Taste making fresh fruit smoothies daily. As well as serving seasonal cocktails and mocktails, the Red Bull Lodge will be hosting the daily entertainment programme. Among the fun events on offer will be Monday Movie Nights; monthly Tuesday events with London Gaymers; Wednesday Quiz Nights; Thursday dance classes; charity events; and wine tastings (11 July, 8 August, 12 September). Meanwhile, the selected weekend openings will have more entertainment, including DJs and the full line-up of food and drink stalls. For those looking to make a party of it, there are beach huts available for hire and a massage service.
- Vauxhall Street Food Garden is open from now until September 2017. Open Mon-Fri: 11.30am–10pm. Open weekends: 1-2 July, 5-6 August, 9-10 September. Free entry. Located at 6A South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1RT. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Street Food Garden website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
Shopaholics rejoice! There’s a new festival where you can get your summer wardrobe sorted while indulging your appetite and your passion for Prosecco.
This Saturday 10 June, over 100 shops, bars and restaurants will be taking part in a free shopping and food event. Fashion Feast in Seven Dials will feature a host of events, freebies, entertainment, workshops and exclusive offers.
The streets of Seven Dials will be closed to road traffic with an urban garden popping up around the central dial monument. London steak specialists Hawksmoor and Fords Gin will be serving free gin and tonics on the lush summer lawn dotted with deckchairs. There will also be free taco tasting from Monmouth Kitchen. Meanwhile, there will be free ice cream from the Benefit van on Shorts Gardens, where Japanese tea specialists My Cup of Tea will also be offering free iced teas.
Foodies will be able to pick up some cooking tips from the ‘In The Kitchen With…’ stage hosted by Jamie Oliver’s social protégé vlogger Katie Pix. Chefs from the area’s restaurants, including Native, Hawksmoor, Chick ‘n’ Sours, Monmouth Kitchen and Talli Joe, will be showing visitors how to make their signature dishes.
Diners at some of Seven Dials independent eateries, Cure & Cut, Canela and 26 Grains, will be able to enjoy their dishes outside for an afternoon of alfresco dining. While chowing down, visitors will be entertained with live music from Entrée and London 5-piece band Version.
For those in the mood for a pamper, there will be a Sassoon styling station for quick up dos and haircare advice; skincare experts Fresh and Neal’s Yard Remedies giving beauty tips and demos; Murdock London providing outdoor barbering and Another Space fitness experts putting on spin performances. Fashion fans can head to the pop-up style hub on Neal Street to check out the brands from Seven Dials and enter a competition to win a £1,000 shopping spree. There will also be a photobooth to capture your fashion moment.
If you’re in the mood to shop, brands across Seven Dials will be offering up to 25% discount. Register for a free ticket to obtain discounts at over 30 fabulous names, including Caudalie, Ron Dorff, Larsson & Jennings, Coco de Mer, Frame Set and Match, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Ollie Quin, Office and Offspring.
- Seven Dials Fashion Feast takes place on 10 June 2017. From 12-5pm. Free entry. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register for your discount, visit the Seven Dials website.
For a guide to what else is on in June, click here.
I love the concept of supper clubs, although I haven’t been to as many as I should due to the advance planning required for many of them. However, as a lover of quirky and unusual London events, when I heard about Basement Galley’s Underground Supper Club, I was eager to experience it.
Basement Galley originally started in a Brixton flat run by two friends Tom Fothergill and chef Alex Cooper in 2011. However, it is now an established catering company who host supper clubs on a decommissioned 1969 London Underground carriage in Walthamstow… which, obviously, belonged to the Victoria line. The carriage is now on street level and sits in the grounds of the Walthamstow Pump House Museum. Having huge success with their evening supper clubs on the tube, they recently expanded to offering brunch – one of the most popular weekend activities for many Londoners.
I visited recently for a Saturday brunch with my boyfriend. When booking, you have several options depending on how intimate you want your experience or size of your party. In the traditional Supper Club spirit, we were happy to join a communal table so we were seated in a typical row of tube seating with a table in the standing area for £39pp. However, there are also two and four people seating options if your party wants more privacy. Arriving at the yard, we were greeted with a welcome shot of Bloody Caesars with Smoked Vodka, which certainly woke us up. We entered the tube through the driver’s carriage which was fascinating getting to see the old signage and various controls.
Admittedly, we were initially rather distracted by the details of the vintage carriage to look at the menu. As someone who has grown up with Brixton as my closest tube station, I have a particular affection for the Victoria line and had ridden this particular tube stock for most of my life until they were decommissioned in 2011.
The set menu changes seasonally and includes three courses with bottomless tea or coffee, with options to order Prosecco or G ‘n’ Ts. To start with, we snacked on picked crudités and sipped orange juice and tea/coffee while getting acquainted with our fellow table guests, a friendly and jovial mix of mostly professional 20-30 somethings. Our first course were Cauliflower Fritters with an Avocado Dip. I really enjoyed the contrast of the crispy fritters with the smooth dip and it didn’t spend long on my plate. For mains, was an Irish treat of Colcannon Mash, Poached Egg and Pancetta Crisp, which was really delicious, but not so photogenic as the other courses (hence the lack of image in this piece!). Admittedly, I felt rather full afterwards, but just about managed to find room for the very naughty Caramelised Banana Brioche and Peanut Ice Cream, which was tasty, but very sweet.
Overall, it was a great brunch experience. The food was brilliant, the service was attentive and friendly and the setting which was pretty special. I highly recommend for any Londoners looking to spice up their usual weekend brunch routine with something a little different.
- The Basement Galley Supper Club takes place at the Walthamstow Pump House Museum, 10 S Access Road, Walthamstow, E17 8AX. Nearest station: St James Street. For booking, visit the Basement Galley website.
For Metro Girl’s other restaurant reviews, click here.
Every year, the UK throws away an estimated £13 billion worth of food that could be eaten. Pretty disgusting figures I’m sure you’ll agree when so many people are starving or struggling to afford nutritious meals. A lot of the blame can be put on people not knowing the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates or the volume of BOGOF deals at supermarkets, meaning we are buying more food than we need.
One group of young Londoners are doing something about it by selling surplus food in the school playground and to the local community. Over 400 children aged 5 – 12 years from West London have just launched Bubble & Squeak, a new initiative named after the classic English dish made from leftovers.
The Bubble & Squeak gang aim to take surplus edible food from local businesses, markets and supermarkets and redistribute it to the local community on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. The children from Old Oak Primary School & Old Oak Community Centre are hoping to change attitudes to food waste and give less fortunate families the opportunity to buy healthier ingredients.
Having launched last week, Bubble & Squeak are currently crowdfunding to raise £4,500 for a customised shipping container to store the surplus food and sell from. The deadline is 23 May 2017 so if you can, please donate to this worthwhile cause.
- To donate to Bubble & Squeak’s campaign before 23 May 2017, visit their crowdfunding page here. Or to find out the latest new from the kids and their mission, visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
Tredwells regularly appears on lists of London’s top eateries, having been named London Restaurant of the Year by the AA. Located on bustling Upper St Martin’s Lane, Tredwells is a foodie haven with contemporary British cuisine by top chef Marcus Wareing. To celebrate my sister’s birthday, a group of five of us headed to the venue for dinner and had my expectations surpassed.
Entering the sleek, dark venue, we were guided to one of the cosy booths (who doesn’t love a booth?). We opted for the set menu, featuring three courses, a cocktail and chocolates to take home for £28. Firstly, we all enjoyed the refreshing and light Grey Goose Mint and Chamomile Fizz cocktail which kicked off the festivities nicely.
To start with, I opted for a rather unusual, but intriguing dish – Sweetcorn Mousse, Pickled Mushroom, Truffle and Sourdough Croutons. As it featured some of my favourite foods, I was easy to please, but I invited some of my party to try my dish and it was universally pleasing. Meanwhile, some of my fellow diners opted for the Crispy Cod Cheeks with Kimchee and Buttermilk, which were light with a bit of a kick thanks to the Kimchee.
For mains, a popular dish on our table was the Chargrilled Hangar Steak with Braised Shallot and Peppercorn Sauce. The meat was cooked perfectly to everyone’s specifications and the sauce was commended for its taste. Meanwhile, I was enjoying the lighter dish of Slow Cooked Cod, Caramelised Celeriac, Remoulade and Walnut Pesto. The accompaniments and sauces really gave a different, refreshing approach to the fish and provided an interesting variety of flavour.
Finally for dessert, there was no question I was going to have the Salted Caramel Soft Serve with Honeycomb. I love both salted caramel and honeycomb, but rarely indulge. As I anticipated, it was super sweet, but if you’re up for the sugar hit, it’s great. I did manage to sample a bit of the Valrhona Caraibe Chocolate, Basil and Lime, with the latter ingredients breaking up the intensity and richness of the chocolate.
Our party universally enjoyed our food, but what really stood out to us all was the exceptional service. Our waitress knew the menu inside and out and could give us in-depth descriptions of unfamiliar flavours or ingredients. When she recommended things to us, she was sincere and enthusiastic. The darkness of the venue, coupled with the fact we were seated in our own booth, heightened the intimate feel to the evening. I’m definitely heading for many a return visit.
- Tredwells, 4A Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2H 9NY . Nearest station: Leicester Square. For booking, visit the Tredwells website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Despite the recent trend for clean-eating, if many people are honest with themselves, eating a pizza is a lot more appealing than a salad (well, it certainly is to me!). But how many of us have actually made our own pizza from scratch?
Well, Covent Garden’s newest eating venue BungaTINI is offering diners the chance to enrol on pizza making classes. From 11 April, the Italian eaterie will be hosting weekly classes every Tuesday. The fun-filled lessons will include a welcome drink and 90 minutes of kitchen tuition.
During the evening, the aspiring pizza chefs will be taken through lessons on the history of pizza, dough making, dough throwing, pizza topping and, finally, pizza eating. While working up an appetite in the kitchen, guests will have a choice of a complimentary Peroni, Prosecco, Aperol Spritz or red or white wine. After eating the fruits of their labour, guests will receive a goodie bag full of treats and a group photo.
BungaTINI is a new all-day pizzeria and aperitivo bar from the same team behind the famous Bunga Bunga in Battersea. For those in the mood for some late-night revelry, diners can pass through a meat locker door to Bunga Bunga Covent Garden next door for some singing and dancing action.
- Pizza Making Classes at BungaTINI take place every Tuesday from 6.30pm-8.30pm. £28pp. BungaTINI, 167 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5PG. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Holborn. For more information, visit the BungaTINI website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.
Forget boring quinoa! For me, a hearty weekend brunch has got to come with baked beans. Heinz Beanz have been satisfying British appetites for over 100 years and, this year, marks the 50th anniversary since the ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ advertising slogan was first coined.
This spring, Heinz are celebrating 50 years of its Beanz slogan by launching a pop-up bar in London’s iconic Selfridges department store. The counter will be serving Beanz with a modern twist, including with crispy bacon, with smoked ham hock or scrambled egg. There will also be the chance to opt for an additional cheddar cheese topping.
Meanwhile, Heinz is also launching a limited edition can to mark the anniversary. The commemorative design will only be on sale in Selfridges, featuring different iterations of the Beanz Meanz Heinz slogans, such as Beanz Meanz… Yummz, Famz, Chatz, Spudz, Eggz, Morningz and Brekkiez. Meanwhile, Beanz fans will also have the opportunity to buy 50 collectable cans numbered individually and personally signed by copywriter Maurice Drake, who came up with the slogan in 1967. Proceeds of the cans will go to The Ideas Foundation, a charity which identifies and nurtures creatively gifted 13-19 year olds, as well as working to increase diversity in the creative industries.
- The Beanz Meanz Heinz Pop-Up Bar is open from 27 March – 23 April 2017 at the food hall in Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. Opening hours Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm. For more information, visit Selfridges website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in April, click here.
The Langham Hotel is one of the capital’s most established luxury accommodations, having been housing visitors to London since the 1860s. The hotel’s Palm Court has been serving Afternoon Tea since 1865 and remains a popular destination for foodies seeking their scone fix today. However, cakes aside, the Palm Court also offers regular dining featuring British and international cuisine, which I recently experienced.
With a relative visiting from the United States, we booked a table at the Palm Court for an evening of fine dining. When we first arrived, I was struck by how intimate the venue felt – it was a lot smaller than I anticipated, but in a good way. The selection of armchairs and sofas looked comfortable and inviting, while the Art Deco interiors was certainly to my taste. Adding to the atmosphere and a total surprise to my group was the live jazz performances, which happens every weekend.
We were shown to a cosy table for three with our own individual armchair, which was lovely to sit on. For those looking for good value fine dining, I can highly recommend going for the set menu, as we did. Three courses and a glass of bubbles for £35 per person. We kicked off proceedings with a flute each of Barbameto Prosecco Millesimato, which was light and not too sweet.
The set menu had a choice of three starters, so I opted for the Isle of Wight tomato salad with burrata and garlic croutons. The portion of burrata was particularly generous and incredibly creamy. Meanwhile, my companions opted for the classic chilled vichyssoise with crème fraîche and chives – another smooth creation which they said was delectable.
Being a pescatarian, I only had one option for mains on the set menu, another cheese-based offering – Buffalo ricotta and spinach ravioli with sauce ‘antiboise’. The ricotta wasn’t too over-powering and the dish had elements of sweet and savoury flavours which actually worked really well. Meanwhile, one of my family chose the Guinea-fowl supreme, served with summer savory and ‘petits pois francaise’, which they heralded as a delicious dish.
Finally, my favourite course – dessert – that I always hope to have room for, but sometimes have to forgo. Fortunately, my visit to the Palm Court was not one of those times so I ordered the Langham chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and caramelia pearl, which was served with strawberries. Unlike so many other chocolate mousses, this wasn’t too rich and was surprisingly light, partially helped by the fruity accompaniment.
Overall, we had a superb evening. The food was enjoyable and well presented, with the set menu offering a great option for good value fine dining. The service was fabulous and the live music really added to the atmosphere. I was in awe of the stunning interiors which gave me plenty to hold my gaze during the meal. I’m planning a return visit for their famous afternoon tea.
- Palm Court at The Langham, 1c Portland Place, Regent street, Marylebone, W1B 1JA. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Regent’s Park. For booking, visit The Palm Court’s website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.