Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Little Yellow Door

Pop up and Pop in 

It’s almost Thursday and you have itchy feet. Definitely time for a night out, but it’s cold, wet and all of your friends are ‘too tired’. So now what? Give in, pour yourself a bottle of Merlot, light some candles and belt out a nice bit o' Buble? While that actually sounds like fun (and you definitely didn't do it last night), it’s about time you made some friends with better stamina. 

Alternatively, you could engage your powers of persuasion and employ your secret weapon. Cue The Little Yellow Door, hidden in plain sight, appropriately named for a page in The Little Brown Book and your home away from home.

This is the pop up to blow all others out the back door. Give a grin to the bow tie donned doorman and slip behind the yellow door to the house party of your dreams. The bohemian explosion of eclectisism and creativity have positioned The Wandering Chef team in the forefront of pop up prowess and they've absolutely gone and done it this time! With an entertaining array of thrifted antique decor, the concept is based around a fictional flat share that will see you entering with one mate and leaving with ten.

There are menus hand written inside magazines, Lego to fiddle with and present to your new pals as a symbol of your creative dexterity, piles of books to entertain yourself while your companion spends too long in the loo enjoying the wallpaper (guys you’re in for a treat), and all manner of tricks and trinkets. The personal touch is more of a full on embrace, with shoes arranged neatly by the door that belong to the founders of this den of delightfulness.

Where the food is concerned, and in true house party style, they've gone for a fridge raid approach, think a mini Sunday roast with all the trimmings; roast chicken wings and potato stuffed sausages. Shots in egg cups and drinks inspired by TV shows won’t fail to excite ‘My Name is Earl Grey’ arrived in a tea cup with a nostalgic jammy dodger perched on the saucer .. oo how civilised! 

Thursdays will gear you up for the weekend when the real house party vibe is ramped up to full volume whereas on Fridays the room is transformed into a dinner party setting. With food provided by The Wandering Chef, founders Jamie and Lalie are intent on creating a truly immersive experience to thrill, excite and transport you to a parallel nostalgia you never want to leave behind.

Deliciously unpretentious and comfortable to the point of no return, The Little Yellow Door has filled a hole in my heart that I wasn’t aware of until I walked inside and fell head over heels in love. Let's keep all our fingers and toes crossed that their nine month lease is extended for ever and ever amen!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Wig Wam Bam

Marshmallow Toasting

For some it’s the rosy red Starbucks cups, for others, the explosion of Christmas lights over the city. Even if we moan and groan about the stuffy tubes and the miserable weather, us Londoners are a foolhardy breed and can dig up something about Winter that will make us stick that toe out from under the duvet and emerge into the cold. Cue Wig Wam Bam and all the dreams you have ever had about cuddling round a fire, toasting marshmallows to your hearts delight.  

With not a drop of rain in sight (oh England, thank you), we skipped down the road to The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch. Once through the doors, it was a case of duck and run. Avoiding the pint waving crowds at the bar, we made a beeline to the stairs and up we went. Onwards my fellow adventurers, to the wig wam we go!

Mugs filled with steaming spiced cider, hot chocolate whisky and buttered rum were clasped in the hands of shining, happy people around us. We got involved immediately and shuffled through the nostalgically aromatic playground wood-chip to the bar.  In the middle of the wig wam, plates of roasted meat were being passed around and had we not stuffed ourselves to the brim with Yum Bun, Patty and Bun and all of the wings from the nearby Night Tales (add that one to your list too), we would have dived straight into the smoky lamb and wild boar being grilled, caveman-style at the center of the tent.

We were certainly not too full for marshmallows however and clutching our boxes filled with the little devils, made our way through the animal hides, sawn-off log seating and autumnal dried leaves to the miniature bonfires outside. Perched on toadstools and illuminated by strings of glowing fairy lights, we grinned from ear to ear. This was our Winter wonderland for the evening. 

Whatever anybody says, I have a fool proof, fail safe, maximum impact, sure fire method of Marshmallow toasting. Poke the beast onto the skewer, manoeuvre it inside the glowing embers, wait for it to catch fire in a ball of mesmerising blue flames and gently blow it out just as it begins to develop a carcinogenic outer layer (if the latter does happen, no matter, we all love chewing on charcoal right)?! Then, gently pull off said toasted layer and return the gloopy mess to the fire. My record of the evening was six magical repeats of the aforementioned procedure and while monumentally sticky, I was pretty chuffed . 

The rooftop atmosphere was buzzing and friendly. Bar creepers were replaced by a wholly more entertaining variety of bonfire sidlers and our triumvirate was approached by two enthusiastic Scottish chaps. Whether you want to snuggle up with a date or poke marshmallows at your mate, Wig Wam Bam is most definitely the one. After discussions ranging from tartan and tweed to Mario and Pokemon had become decidedly more strange than they had started, we called it a night, and having coated ourselves in eau de bonfire, made our way home.

It is safe to say that Winter has officially arrived but with cosy hideaways like this, all I can say is bring it on!

(This post is also featured on Dojo's blog here, a brand new and frankly pretty brilliant little app to help London fun lovers on their adventures).

Monday, 10 November 2014

Typing Room

Playful Perfection

Book now. The end.

Only joking ... but seriously, The Typing Room's reservations line is 020 7871 0461

There's a feeling you get when you're in the presence of excellence; a smile raising, heart warming, tear jerking flurry of emotions. It is a rarity, a delight and I had the privilege to experience it at Lee Westcott's Typing Room at The Town Hall in Bethnal Green this weekend.

Just inside the entrance to The Town Hall sits the restaurant where a hint of the Scandinavian is apparent in the elegant simplicity of the furniture, combining muscovado sugar wood and egg shell marble table tops. 

The waiting staff are stylishly kitted out in jeans. That isn't to say they don't look smart, because they do; super smart with neat brown aprons and pale blue shirts. They're comfortable and it makes all the difference. We're relaxed from the moment we walk through the doors and as the restaurant fills up, it is clear that everybody else is too. This is an enviable environment and I'm pretty damn pleased I can add it to my list. 

After absorbing the glowing atmosphere around us, we turned to  the appropriate type written menu. Our adventure was beginning and we were on the edge of our seats.

To all the profiterole lovers out there, your lives will not be complete until these creamy courgette filled mouthfuls are in them. Sprinkled with black olives and topped with miniature basil leaves, I don't think there's any going back. Savoury profiteroles are officially the way forward.

Atop the crispy fish skin perched drops of smoked cod, oyster and dill, the combination of which blended in our mouths on each bite and packed a perfect pescetarian punch.

These little guys are something else entirely. Crunchy coated pigs trotter topped with a bacon and brown sauce jam, eaten in one meaty mouthful and dreamed of for hours to follow. Squeal-worthy indeed!

Now here's something else to call home about. Rye IPA sourdough with a moussy marmite butter that negates the universally acknowledged fact of marmite dividing the nation. I am a hater no longer, at least I wouldn't be if Lee felt like providing me with a lifetime supply of the stuff .. No? Worth a try eh! 

Smoked mackrel with cucumber, raspberry and apple caused eye rolls of pleasure at each mouthful.

My partner in crime chose the rabbit, heritage carrots and chervil which sent her straight into an etherial dreamland from which I'm pretty sure she hasn't returned from. I'm not sure I have yet either.  

A choice that I wish I could make time and time again is selecting the scorched cod, pear and turnip. Scorch away my friend, scorch me to the moon and back. A light gin broth was drizzled over as the plate arrived at the table and delicately tied the dish together giving the sweetness of the pear, the crunch of the turnip and the saltiness of the cod that last little kick into heavenly realms. 
And here comes the pud. Miniature puffs of meringue, nestled between blobs of toffee, mounds of apple and hazelnut sprinkled ice cream. This was one sexy dessert, infact the whole meal was pretty sexy and to our delight there was yet more to come!  
Cheeeeeese! A lovely selection of just the right amount with a pot of sweet homemade chutney. We were liberal with our spoon exchanging, none of this Joey doesn't share food nonsense, we made sure we tried a bite of everything! 

Our table was perfectly positioned in sight of the open plan kitchen where Lee Westcott and his team were making the magic. There's no crashing, clattering and sweatiness here, this is one hell of a smooth operation and the chefs bought dishes to the table with the same relaxed composure we felt from the moment we arrived. 

Last but certainly not least, a pebble and a plank were placed in front of us. A flourish of chocolate, ganache, crisp cocoa and passion fruit completed our culinary adventure and we were left in a delightful, floaty state of true satisfaction. 

We hopped across the hall to Peg & Patriot (more about this here) to reflect on our meal at a safe distance from the kitchen which we were both contemplating calmly chaining ourselves to. Each dish was sprinkled with a playfulness that was both refreshing and exciting. I have a feeling that Michelin stars may be just around the corner so watch this space and get on over before it becomes impossible to get a reservation. 

Come on, anywhere with a chair as ridiculous as this in the entrance is worth a peep inside. Go on, you know you want to stroke it...

A huge thank you to everybody from The Typing Room for making our experience that extra bit special, you guys are great!
Typing Room on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Game On!

I’m sure you are all familiar with that well known quote ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness spooned upon them.’ No? Well, you should be, it's a fabulous quote and pretty well reflective of my joyful jaunt to dine at Rabbit in Chelsea.

Like a beacon, the light which oozed from the windows beckoned us towards the door and put an immediate halt to our hunt for Italian. Pasta postponed, we tumbled into our new hideout for the evening where, as luck would have it, a table had just become available. Fate for sure, as the restaurant was bursting at its seams!

Rabbit, as the name might suggest, specialises in good ol’ British meat and game and is a homage of sorts to Beatrix Potter who one can imagine settling in rather well with the oaky, countrified interior. The atmosphere is of the warm, all-encompassing friendly kind and you half expect a tweed clad farmer to come trudging in from the fields!

The menu is bursting with foods of the countryside. Rabbit is the brainchild of the Gladwin Brothers; Gregory the farmer, Oliver the chef and Richard the hospitality guru, the perfect triumvirate. I love the collaborative family aspect and the weird and wonderful ingredients that have been freshly foraged and sourced from the brothers' farm in Nutbourne.

It didn't take long for us to get stuck into the menu which was priced at between £8 and £14 per small sharing plate. They recommend two to three per person, which for once is actually pretty accurate and will leave you satisfied with just enough space for dessert if you so wish!

Our rustic ceramic plates lay in wait for the food to arrive, handmade and in keeping with the countryside farm feel of the place.

First to arrive was a chorizo and labneh dish, topped with crispy kale and crisp bread. As we were dipping and scooping, along came number two, a lamb and onion squash number sprinkled with sunflower seeds. This was my winner of the evening, with the lamb cooked to that perfect tender pink, subtly seasoned and not too 'lamby' (to use the very technical term).

I've always been a promoter of the 'surprise me' option on a menu and while I was fully aware of everything we had ordered, the excitement of not knowing what would come next kept us entertained since each dish was brought to the table separately.

Our next delight came in the form of venison stogey's, not (as we were sad to discover) pronounced 'stodgies'. While the root of our decision to order this particular dish stemmed from a childish entertainment at our erroneous name, we were not disappointed when they were placed infront of us. Wrapped in filo pastry, they stood to attention upon a creamy tarragon sauce and when bitten into were crunchy and meaty all at once.

The partial namesake, aka the rabbit ravioli was accompanied by lovage pesto, resulting in the standard debate of 'name something savory that doesn't go with pesto' - as usual, pesto won. The ravioli itself was rich without being too intense and the handmade pasta was melt in the mouth creamy, with wafer thin chanterelles and an extra punch from the bone marrow.

Hard at work, we looked over to see Oliver the chef plating up the dishes before they were whisked away to the tables around us.

Last to arrive was the Beef, rainbow beetroot and spinach. The explosively colourful presentation and the portions of just the right amount were particularly appealing and I was glad I'd be able to leave the restaurant feeling comfortably satisfied instead of 'heave-myself-off-the-chair' ill. (Not that I ever wanted to leave the restaurant, here's another kitchen I would be more than happy to hide in)! 

So, if you're looking for a relaxed taste of the countryside with a stylish twist then you're bound to find it here, and even if that isn't your usual style, 'hop' on over to Rabbit anyway and give it a go. The staff know the menu inside out and will passionately guide you through any elements that you haven't come across before. After such an enjoyable experience, it's time for me to 'bound' over to the Gladwin brothers' other outpost; The Shed in Notting hill and see if it matches up!

Rabbit on Urbanspoon