Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the mostly highly anticipated films this year. Named after the iconic hit single, the movie tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen in the lead up to Live Aid in 1985. Ahead of its release, the Carnaby district of London has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an immersive exhibition and light installation inspired by the rock legends.
For the art installation, fans of the band will see Freddie’s lyrics for one of the greatest rock songs of all time shining brightly over the pedestrianised shopping hub. Giant neon words will bring Queen’s 1975 song to life, including the opening: ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’, along with the iconic ‘Galileo’ and ‘Figaro’. The Queen crest – designed by Mercury – will also appear on Carnaby’s famous arches.
Meanwhile, a pop-up shop and exhibition will open on 18 October so fans can get even closer to the rock gods. There will be a showcase of photographs, prints, footage and costumes from the band. Official film merchandise and Queen-inspired products will also be available to buy. Visitors can also pose for a selfie with the official Madame Tussaud’s Freddie waxwork. Meanwhile, the shops, bars and restaurants of Carnaby will also be joining in with Queen inspired products and menus.
The light display, shop and exhibition are launching to coincide with the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie on 24 October. It stars Rami Malek as Freddie, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Gwilym Lee as Brian May and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon.
- Bohemian Rhapsody Pop Up Shop & Exhibition, 3 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Open from 18 October 2018 – January 2019. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
Chips and dips are the staple of any party. A great snack to stave off hunger in between meals. When it comes to regular crisps eaten solo, I can take it or leave it. However, I’ve always loved chips with dips. When it comes to dips from the supermarket, we’re usually limited to the likes of guacamole, salsa or houmous. Here’s where Hipchips comes in, a casual dining destination offering chips and dips.
Located on bustling Old Compton Street, Hipchips is an interesting concept restaurant with a simple premise. It stands out from other eateries because it offers snacks. Having opened in 2016, it caters to those looking for a mid-afternoon or evening snack rather than a meal. While the premise sounds strange, think of comparing it to a savoury (or sweet!) version of an ice cream parlour or cake shop. The menu is very straight-forward – a choice of sweet (cinnamon sugar) or savoury (salt) chips and a huge selection of dips. The chips themselves are made from a variety of seasonal, heritage potatoes, such as Highland Burgundy or Shetland Black.
Depending on your mood or tastes, deciding on the chips is the easy part. While there’s a huge range of dips to choose from, you don’t have to limit yourself to one flavour. Hipchips offer a variety of menu options, from a small chips and two dips for £4.95 to the large portion with six dips for £12.95. My friend and I were interested in trying both sweet and savoury and up for experimenting.
Before picking up your first chip, I recommend setting the boundaries on ‘double dipping’ if sharing with a friend. The chips can be pretty big so one dip is not always going to cover it. Although I’m usually not mad about beetroot, I was pleasantly surprised with the Beetroot and Lemongrass Marmalade, a lovely combination of sweet and savoury thanks to the Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Salted Caramel) and Crème Fraiche. I really enjoyed the Veggie Ceviche (Chunky Tomato, Lime, Coriander, Red Onion and Chili), which had a nice kick. However, my favourite savoury dip had to be the Baba Ganoush (Smoky Aubergine Dip with Lemony Yoghurt and Garlic).
Moving on to dessert dips, I was spoiled for choice. As someone with a sweet tooth, I was torn between the flavours when it came to a favourite. Every month, Hipchips develops a different dip, with the August offering being a Banana Mousse with Rum Caramel. The combination of banana, rum and caramel was a winner for me and I anticipated I was going to love it before trying it. Thankfully, I was right. I thought the Peanut Butter and Jam swirl was particularly interesting. Taking a popular sandwich filling and turning it into a dip is a clever concept. Meanwhile, chocoholics will also enjoy the Campfire S’more (Chocolate Mousse with Marshmallows), one of the chunkier, thicker dips that can be a bit trickier to scoop, but worth the effort.
Overall, Hipchips is a quirky concept that is a great place for a stopgap in between meals. It’s fully licensed selling a selection of wine, beers and ciders so could be a sensible option to those looking to line the stomach on a night out. The staff was friendly and can give you helpful menu descriptions if you are struggling to decide. Worth a pitstop next time you’re in Soho feeling peckish.
- Hipchips, 49 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 6HL. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Hipchips website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of HipChips for this review. However my views are, as always, honest and my own.
The capital is hot, hot, hot! Although these sizzling temperatures won’t last forever, it will always be summer in London’s newest pop-up. Casa Bonita is bringing a taste of Latin America to Carnaby. Soho’s newest venue opened in Kingly Street in June and aims to refresh thirsty Londoners until Christmas.
Situated in the heart of Carnaby, Casa Bonita is a flamboyant Latin hybrid bar, celebrating the best of Central and South America. This boozy hideout will be serving fabulous rum, tequila and cachaça cocktails to the strains of Reggaeton, Cuban Hip Hop, Brazilian beats and other Latin beats.
If you’re a fan of the classic Latin cocktails, you won’t be disappointed with an extensive menu featuring Mojitos and Old Cubans made with the finest Barcardi Carta Blanca, Caipirinha made with Leblon cachaça or a Margarita made with Patrón Silver tequila. There will also be frozen Pina Coladas and ice cold Cervezas if you’re feeling hot.
Casa bonita can also keep you fed as well as watered with a menu of Mexican-style street food, such as chicken & chorizo empanadas or cheese & jalapeno quesadillas. Sports fans will be pleased to hear Casa Bonita will be screening Wimbledon and World Cup matches.
As well as two bars inside (with the basement available for private hire), there is also some alfresco space on Kingly Street if you want to enjoy the fresh air with your tipple.
- Casa Bonita, 5 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PF. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Opening hours: (Ground Floor) Mon-Sat 2pm-1am, Sun 2pm-11pm. (Basement) Mon-Sat 5pm-1am, Sun 5pm-11pm. Also available for private hire. Tel: 0203 696 0070. For more information, visit the Casa Bonita website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in November 2018, click here.
It’s June so that means summer is officially here! What better way to greet the best season (in most people’s opinion!) than a month-long celebration of the capital’s rich musical heritage. Taking over W1 this month is Soho Music Month, featuring a host of cultural events in venues across the area.
With 2018 being the centenary of women getting the right to vote, part of the festival will celebrate females in the industry. Independent label Market will be curating an all-female line-up, while female founders of independent labels will be taking over Berwick Street Market (16 June) selling their roster’s best vinyl. Meanwhile, three female DJs Xanthe Fuller, Sophie Callis and Cherrie Flava will be broadcasting live from the market on Soho Radio.
Throughout the festival, the hub and exhibition space Platform LDN will be opening its doors at 3 Carnaby Street. Daily throughout June, it will play host to a variety of free events, including a GRM Daily panel discussion, Reprezent Radio’s live broadcasts, book signings with DJ Jumping Jack Frost and DJ Target, of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra fame. Check out the Carnaby website for listings and to register for a place on one of the sessions.
Every Thursday evening (5pm-9pm) in June, there will be a series of free outdoor gigs in the Newburgh Quarter. A pop-up stage will appear under ‘The Plug’ light installation on Ganton Street with a lawn and bean bags. Kicking things off on 7 June will be an all-female hip-hop DJ battle with Melody Kane, Emily Rawson, Ellie Prohan, Fearney and Sandra Omari. Following on 14 June will be Alex Tracey and his funk and indie pop-rhythms, presented by Stageside, a platform for unsigned, emerging or breaking artists from Instagram collective @London. On 21 June, will be a showcase of new talent from Platform LDN, NME Emerging and TuneCore. Closing the month on 28 June will be resident female DJs from NYC restaurant Dirty Bones, spinning old school hip-hop, R&B, funk and soul.
Throughout the month, there will be a host of musical events taking place in the streets, boutiques and restaurants of the area. Expect to see jazz sessions at The Duck & Rice, instore performance from Swedish singer-songwriter Natali Felicia at Sandqvist, ‘Bring Your Own Vinyl’ listening parties at Shinola and Campfire Music Sessions at Filson. There will be free guided walking tour on the music heritage of Carnaby and Soho. Meanwhile, Dirty Bones will be launching a limited-edition Doo Wop cocktail in homage to Lauryn Hill, as well as selling limited-edition Mac Daddy sliders, with a portion of the sales going to charity partner Youth Music.
- Soho Music Month takes place from 1 – 30 June 2018. For more information, visit Carnaby website or ThisIsSoho.co.uk.
For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.
If you know your gin, then your taste buds are required to help find the world’s best gin. Graphic Bar in Soho are hosting the Gin Off 2018 awards to hunt down the finest ‘mother’s ruin’. Sixteen of the planet’s most exciting brands will be competing for the top honour in a series of heats.
Each gin brand will put forward a mixologist to create a cocktail that makes the most of their tipple. The rules state the cocktail must be served in a disposable vessel, so expect to see drinks served in quirky alternatives, such as an ice glass or hollowed-out cucumber.
The Gin Off has been taking place annually since 2015 and Audemus Spirits’ Pink Pepper Gin have reigned supreme for the past two years. For 2018, Audemus have stepped out of the competition, leaving the field open for a new champion. Brands big and small are taking part this year, including Haymans, Beefeater, Fords, Marylebone, Copperhead, Nordes, NGinious, Brooklyn, Scapegrace, Nicholson, Daffy’s, Vidda, Boxer, Thomas Dakin, Monkey 47 and Bols.
Round 1 has already taken place on 30 April, but there’s three more rounds before the semi-finals and final take place in November. For this exciting competition, it’s the guests who have the power. Each gin lover is given a polling card before going on to sample four different cocktails and voting for their favourite. The overall winner will be crowned with a Copper Still trophy and will be featured on the Graphic Bar’s 2019 cocktail menu. Graphic Bar is a stylish, contemporary bar located in Soho and boasts a selection of over 300 world-class gins.
The remaining fixtures in the 2018 Gin Off are:
Round 2: 21 May – Haymans, Daffy’s, NGinious, Scapegrace.
Round 3: 25 June – Bols, Nordes, Monkey 47, Brooklyn.
Round 4: 30 July – Copperhead, Marylebone, Boxer, Fords.
Semi-final: 24 September.
Semi-final: 29 October.
Final: 26 November.
- The Gin Off takes place on Mondays once a month until November 2018. At the Graphic Bar, 4 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HT. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Tickets: £10 (include 4 gin cocktails). From 6pm-9pm on relevant dates. Tickets available through Eventbrite or email email@example.com. For more information, visit the Graphic Bar website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October 2018, click here.
Last week, I ended up dining in Soho’s hottest new opening by accident. A friend and I had been at a launch party so were feeling peckish after canapés failed to satisfy our hunger. Walking down Frith Street, we spotted Freakscene, a pan-Asian fusion restaurant which opened just a month ago. The bar-style seating overlooking the kitchen gave the venue a really buzzy feel and easily pulled us inside. We grabbed two stools and were immediately hit with the amazing scents coming from the Kobata grill. I’ve visited South East Asia quite a lot and the love the hawker open-kitchen style so this really appealed to me.
Freakscene’s arrival in Soho comes after a hugely successful pop-up in Farringdon from Chef Scott Hallsworth and co-founder Phar Shaweewan. Like many, we were intrigued by the name and Phar told us it was named after a song by 90s grunge band Dinosaur Jr. Hallsworth was previously head chef at Nobu, Park Lane for eight years before finding Kurobuta Izakaya on the King’s Road so really know his stuff when it comes to Asian cuisine. The menu describes Freakscene’s dishes as ‘curious Asian plates’, which I interpreted as pan-Asian fusion tapas.
As you would expect, we started with drinks. As it was a warm night, I was attracted to the Freak Smash (St Germaine, Gin, Grapes, Mint), a light and refreshing cocktail. We also ended our night with the saucily titled Wet Pussy shots (peach schnapps, vodka and a twist of lemon and lime), which was quite nostalgic as we reminisced drinking schnapps a lot as students in the ’90s.
When it came to the food, the menu is short and manageable, with a selection of around 12 dishes and sides to choose from. As we had eaten a bit already, we went for a small dinner than usual, but enjoyed everything so much, in hindsight probably could have ordered more. Like in a tapas restaurant, the various dishes just arrive as they’re cooked so your meal is stretched out into a relaxed and informal sitting. Our first dish to arrive was the Chili Crab and Avocado Wonton ‘Bombs’. Served in a crispy taco-esque wrap, the ‘bomb’ really packed a punch with a flavour explosion, with the avocado cooling down the heat of the chili. After our first bite, my friend and I actually looked each other and murmured ‘soooo good’ in unison. The crab bomb set the bar high for the remainder of our evening and we were not disappointed. My friend chowed down on the unusual Chicken-Fried Chicken with Peanut Soy and Picked Cucumber, which she thoroughly enjoyed. As a pescatarian, chicken was off-limits, but I was kept occupied by the Foil Baked Garlic Mushrooms with Sake, Soy and Butter, a tasty light side dish. The garlic was evident, but subtle so I wasn’t overpowered by the flavour. We finished with the Miso Grilled Black Cod Tacos with Sushi Rice and Scorched Red Chili Salsa, which was pretty special. As a huge fan of Mexican and Asian cuisine, this creative mix was a perfect combination.
I cannot recommend this place highly and have already been telling numerous friends to go. I am not exaggerating when I declare it was one of the best meals I’ve had in London in a long time. Every single dish was delicious and so different from anything I’ve tasted before. If you’re a fan of more informal dining in more of a bar atmosphere, than Freakscene is definitely for you. This venue is a cool and valuable addition to the Soho dining scene in a time where there’s too many chain restaurants creeping in for my liking. As Arnie says, I’ll be back… and soon!
- Freakscene, 54 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SL. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. Tel: 07561 394 497. Open Tues-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm. For more information, visit the Freakscene website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
It’s time to kick off the new festival season and you don’t even have to worry about leaving London. This May, Carnaby are hosting a free, four-day festival celebrating fashion, lifestyle, food, drink and grooming. The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place on 10 – 13 May 2018, featuring a host of workshops, panel discussions and special events. There will be the chance to enjoy exclusive discounts and promotions in over 50 boutiques, bars and restaurants across the district’s 14 streets.
Model Jack McGuinness kicks off the Weekender on Thursday 10 May (6pm-8pm) with an exclusive fashion panel, featuring sartorial tips and where to find the best buys. Aspiring fashionistas can find how to get started in the industry in a talk hosted by independent Carnaby business owners James Scroggs of M.C. Overalls and Dane Butler of FINLAY London on Friday 11 May (6pm-7pm).
There will plenty of opportunities to update your look, including complimentary men’s haircuts from Pankhurst London. Ben Sherman and New Era hats will be offering complimentary monogramming and embroidery. You can also personalise a pair of the new Onitsuka Tiger trainers. Meanwhile, Nixon have created two limited-edition custom watches with only 20 available for sale. During the event, there will be exclusive discounts across the Carnaby brands, including Jack Wills, Pretty Green, Dr. Martens, OFFICE, Shinola, TOMS, Lazy Oaf and Skinnydip.
Ladies can head for a pamper with Urban Decay and Pixi offering free consultations and makeovers. Those who book in for a Detox Pedi at Cowshed can receive a complimentary Neville Travel Set, while Johnny’s Chop Shop will be marking their second birthday with live music and drinks on 10 May.
Throughout the Weekender, head to the Carnaby hub daily to try the free afternoon and evening workshops. Watch a carving demonstration in a Jamon Iberico masterclass at Charcuterie and tapas bar Dehesa. Make a collage with London’s unique souvenir store We Built This City and Collage Club London. Meanwhile, tequila lovers can learn how to make the perfect Margarita in a cocktail masterclass at Breddos Tacos’ bar. Pastaio are offering free Prosecco slushies with food orders after 9pm, while Senor Ceviche will be offering Peruvian Old Fashioneds for just £5. Wright Brothers Soho will be selling oysters for £1 each from 12pm-6pm.
- The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place from 10 – 13 May 2018. In the Carnaby Quarter on and surrounding Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. To find out more about the weekender, visit the Carnaby London website or to book a spot on the workshops or talks, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
Soho is known for being the home to London’s creative, fashionable and flamboyant. So the area is the perfect location for a new pop-up concept. Setting up camp for four days this April will be Mrs And Mr Bateman, an art, fashion and interiors installation. Taking over the Victorian-fronted premises of 15 Bateman Street, The Batemans will transform the space into their ‘home’ for inspiration, discussions and shopping.
Mrs and Mr Bateman (note the Mrs appears first!) is a new project from three talented women – artist Selena Beaudry, vintage fashion dealer Clemmie Myers, and interior designer Natalie Tredgett. They have created the home of the fictitious Mrs and Mr Bateman, which is open to the public.
Throughout the four-day long house-warming, there will be plenty of creative opportunities for learning and inspiration. Events such as a panel discussion on creatives and their different processes, how social media and technology can be a good or bad thing for creativity, and how other art informs their work. There will also be an immersive creative writing evening (27 April, 6.30pm-8.30pm). Parents will be able to watch their children learn new skills (28 April, 11am-2pm), including hat-making classes with milliner Jess Collett, while Clemmie will be creating a fancy dress box for fantastical fun.
Art fans will have plenty to gaze upon, with Selena creating a wall installation specially for the show. Meanwhile, artists and makers from Europe and the US will be featured, including Barrie Benson, Jess Collett, Frederike von Cranach, Phil Goss, Iva Gueorguieva, Daniel Hernandez, Marie Jacotey, John-Paul Pietrus, James Shaw, Margit Wittig, Ian Vail and Bari Ziperstein.
Fashionistas will be able to check out Clemmie’s curation of vintage clothing throughout the home. She has also customised several pieces for the installation, as well as setting up a boudoir for guests to try on the Bateman wardrobe. Throughout the home will be the striking decoration by Natalie, featuring vignettes that celebrate objects as art. She will demonstrate her signature use of colour, pattern play and an amalgamation of old and new to fit the vibe of the Batemans.
The installation will kick of with an opening party on 25 April 2018 (6.30pm-8.30pm), with a multi-sensory experience from DJ Henri.
- Mrs and Mr Bateman is open from 25 – 28 April 2018. Open to the general public: 10am-6pm. Mrs and Mr Bateman, 15 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 3AQ. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. Check out the Mrs and Mr Bateman website.
For a guide to what else is on in London, click here.
Standing across the road from the Tudor-style Liberty department store is a striking building which couldn’t look more different. Palladium House is a Grade II listed Art Deco office block on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street. With its Egyptian detailing and black granite, the building wouldn’t look out-of-place in Manhattan. So it’s not surprising to discover it was built as a smaller twin to another skyscraper across the pond by an American architect for an American company.
Great Marlborough Street dates back to the early 18th century when the road was named in honour of the Duke of Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim in 1704. The Duke of Argyll then added Argyll Street in 1736. Various buildings came and went over the remaining centuries, with the site becoming empty and ready for Palladium House in the early 20th century.
Today, we tend to think of radiators as a relatively modern invention, with many British homes not embracing the technology until the 1970s and 1980s. One of my childhood homes had no central heating when we moved in and installing some was fortunately my parents’ first priority. However, the central heating we have today stems back to the mid 19th century thanks to inventors like Franz San Galli, Joseph Nason and Robert Briggs. In 1902, the National Radiator Company was formed in Pennsylvania, USA, with the hopes of bringing this technology to homes across America and beyond. By the 1920s, the NRC’s business was going so well they bought a plot of land in Bryant Park area of Manhattan, New York City. American architect Raymond Hood (1881-1934) and French architect Jacques André Fouilhoux (1879–1945) co-designed the American Radiator Building with a combination of Art Deco and Gothic styles in 1924. Today, the building is one of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and is now home to the Bryant Park Hotel.
Despite their success in the US, the ARC had global dreams. They had already had a factory in Hull since 1906, and had subsidiaries in France and Germany. A few years after erecting the American Radiator Building in the Big Apple, they bought a plot of land in London’s West End for their UK headquarters. They brought Hood over from America to design their new building and enlisted British architect Stanley Gordon Jeeves (1888-1964). Their design was in the Art Deco style and a scaled down version of its New York counterpart. Palladium House is the only European building by Hood, who also designed or co-designed Chicago’s Tribune Tower and New York City’s Rockefeller Center and New York Daily News buildings. Meanwhile, Jeeves went on to create the Earls Court Exhibition Centre and Dolphin Square flats in Pimlico. Read the rest of this entry
The address 100 Wardour Street has long been associated with Soho life – be it as a restaurant, bar or nightclub. I had visited various establishments on the site over the years, including Floridita and Meza for meals and cocktails. However, in 2016. the venue was reborn as 100 Wardour Street, a dining, drink and live music destination.
The 100 is split across two floors – a lounge area on the ground for more casual drinks and all-day dining, while the grand basement space features the huge restaurant and club. After dropping off our coats in the cloakroom, we wound our way down the grand staircase to the atmospheric basement, with low-lighting and designer furniture. The main focus of the room is the stage, which hosts live music throughout the week.
We were shown to a cosy booth, with room for five of us and space to look out across the expansive room. We kicked off proceedings with an apéritif, as I chose a ‘Respect Your Elder’ (Tanqueray Gin, Elderflower Tonic, garnished with lemon and edible flowers). Our party had opted for the set menu, with four options in each course. To start, I had the Crispy Baby Squid, Fennel Salad and Yuzu Dressing. What I liked about it, is that it wasn’t as greasy as regular calamari and had a lighter feel.
Confit Duck with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives
The mains available were mostly traditional British-European offerings, such as Roast Pork Belly, Confit Duck and Rigatoni. However, I settled on the Grilled Scottish Salmon Fillet and Warm Vegetables à la Grec. The salmon was cooked well with a crispy skin (if you like that sort of thing). By salmon standards, it was OK, but could have done with more a bit more flavour. Meanwhile, a few of my table opted for the Confit Duck, served with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives, which was a universal hit.
To finish, I couldn’t resist the Chocolate and Peanut Butter brownie with Milk Ice Cream. The brownies itself was pretty rich as you can imagine, but the subtle flavour of the ice cream really diffused the sweetness and complemented it well. Meanwhile, I had also been enjoying a saucily named cocktail ‘The Madame’ (Vodka, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice with Mint), which was refreshing with just the right amount of fruitiness.
Overall, we had a great evening. I really liked the venue and atmosphere. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive. Although my mains was OK, I really enjoyed my starter, dessert and cocktails. I would definitely return.
- 100 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 0TN. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. For booking, visit the 100 Wardour Street website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.