Monday, 27 July 2015

Chick n Sours

Cluckin' Great

Another carriage has been added to the Stokey train and this one is full steam ahead into poultry land. Chick 'n' Sours rolls onto the platform with superbly succulent chicken cooked in various guises accompanied by tankards of tongue tingling sours. It's all in the name!

The tiny laminated menu ticked the cute factor but also the incredibly difficult to read in the unflattering neon light factor too. Once we'd had our grandad moan about locating our reading glasses, we turned to beverage ordering. 

A strong sours list ranging from their popular House Sour (Gin, Sugar, Lemon, Raspberry, Chilli Vinegar, Vermouth,) to their Tequilla based Paloma Sour and their Negroni Rosewater Sour kept us busy. Also on offer are house wines and Fourpure Pills Bermondsey beer with a guest beer changing as and when.

Interior wise, Chick 'n' Sours has strayed away from the stripped back look that we have come to know and love (or love to hate, or hate to love, or just hate), and grabbed a ton of wrapping paper (I guess also known as wallpaper) and covered every exposed brick with that instead. 

Add a couple of neon lights and ram a sweet, sticky disco chicken wing into the mouths of anybody who complains. That should keep 'em quiet! (Seriously, those chicken wings are up there with some of the best).

I'm not going to say how the chicken had me clucking with delight because on the pun scale, that's pretty low in the pecking order. *hangs head in shame* Instead, I'm simply going to suggest that instead of staying cooped up at home, you make the journey to this new roost. 

We visited not long after opening and suffered at the hands of popularity .. they seemed to have run out of buns so the burgers were lettuce wrapped, a healthier version than we had expected but still delicious. While I thoroughly enjoyed this method of guilt-free burger consumption, the boys were not so convinced. This wasn't going to put anybody off however, with Korean fried thigh, Gochujang Mayo and crunchy slaw amongst guest chicken fry's, grilled Szechuan aubergine and fries all still very much available.

Teething problems aside, when all the chicken they had left in the kitchen arrived to the table, we were happy as Larry. Oh Larry you shouldn't! The chicken marinades were sticky, sweet, spicy and packed just the right amount of punch. Pickled watermelon, corriander and peanut salad won the sideshow, fresh, tangy and sweet all in one juicy mouthful.

After we'd gobbled up our table, the bill arrived and (to our delight and total distraction), business cards in the form of temporary tattoos. This little piece of creative genius has us entertained with damp napkins flying around and chickens slapped on all exposed skin. 

Tats applied, (these guys were never coming off), we paid up and went our merry ways, excited for the next trip (it's going to have to be brunch because yes, they do brunch)! Who's in?!

 Chick 'n' Sours opening times:

Monday - Closed

Tuesday - 6pm - 10pm

Weds - 6pm - 10pm

Thursday - 6pm - 10pm

Friday - 6pm - 10:30pm

Saturday - 12pm - 3:30pm | 6pm - 10:30pm

Sunday - 12pm - 3:30pm | 6pm - 9:30pm

390 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AA

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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Sager & Wilde

Wild for Wilde

So, London has cocktail bars down to a tee. Sultry basement speakeasies, rooftop gardens, secret doors and negronis galore. What it hasn't accomplished with such flying colours and in such quantity are the wine bars. There is a splattering such as Gordons, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and Terroirs, and then your Vinoteca's and your 28º-50º's but the choice is by no means extensive in comparison. 

This is why, when you find somewhere particularly special, it's time to grab the bull by the horns and refuse to let go. Hello Sager & Wilde in Hackney.

I appreciate that I'm a couple of years late to the game with this one since Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde (the super couple behind the wine bar) have already had their second child, Mission, which opened in Bethnal Green last year but better late than never. Hats off to a new addition to #teamfun, who completed the intuition test by introducing me to this 'utter gem.'

Pulling up a seat at the bar was our first success. Raised from the ground, the bar top was fashioned from cast iron and glassy brick paneling and got me all a flutter. 1920's station lights hang from the ceiling and dripping candles ooze from the tables adding to the cuddle of warmth that eludes from this remarkably unpretentious drinking den. 

And then comes the wine. Over 30 different varieties are available by the glass, from the well known to the obscure including bottles from £20 that you'll have a difficult job finding elsewhere. Shining, thin-stemmed, tall goblets of delicate beauty await the sacred liquid (yes, this is how I speak now) and there is always help at hand to select a glass to suit your mood.

To accompany our Pinot and Beaujolais, we went coastal and ordered the sardines. Wrapped in a paper parcel (not tied up with sting), I was obviously on board, it's pretty much Christmas (or Chanukah) come early. Peeling back the satisfying tin lid revealed the newest zero-fuss staple in my life. Wine & cheese, steak & wine, wine & wine, and now wine & sardines.

The bresaola and mozzarella disappeared without my camera noticing, it was a little too distracted by beard. No East London establishment would really be complete without it.

I have a strong mind to move in an Easterly direction and make this little haven my office. It is a well known fact that wine promotes serious and tangible business ideas and it goes without saying that 'a glass a day keeps the doctor away'.

Regular winemaker nights and serving food till beautifully late add to the joy of the place. With opening hours like this, there really is no complaining..


Monday 17:00 - 00:00

Tuesday 17:00 - 00:00

Wednesday 17:00 - 00:00

Thursday 17:00 - 00:00

Friday 17:00 - 00:00

Saturday - 12:00 - 00:00

Sunday 12:00 - 00:00

193 Hackney Road
London E2 8JL

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Magic Roundabout

Burger Bear or Prawnstar?

Tom Reaney of Burger Bear and Stokey Bear fame is the wizard behind Magic Roundabout. On a quest to fuse food, beats, beverages and a bloomin’ great time, he launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 raising £36k for his venture. Old Street roundabout is now the home of his mastery and is gloriously open to the public from the early hour of 7am till 11pm. 
Hidden in plain sight, make your way up to the centre of Old Street roundabout from the inside of  station and discover a space brimming with colours, space ships and happy punters in the know. Here's a place to impress the pals with your superior knowledge of London's "secret" spaces.
Every day from lunchtime, get messy with burgers from Burger Bear Tom himself, they're lipsmackingly scrumptious and I'm not going to give the game away. Just look out for the sign below and follow your nose!

Alternatively, travel to the coast without leaving London and visit Prawnography, the seaside wooden shack fully equipped with friendly puffer fish mascot (don't forget to tip your proverbial cap)!

If you're feeling brave, have a tackle at an entire crab. Otherwise, start off gently with buttery tiger prawns (£12) or crab meat fries (£6). Whilst erring on the spendy side, you can't argue that they aren't damn tasty.

When you're ready for some refreshment, head over to relax in Relax, the coffee bar, bar bar and the bloody great hair bar.

Coffee is from Modern Standard and after the morning caffeine rush, hit up the selection of beers and wine, then £7 cocktails developed by Hoxton Street's White Lyan. All the above are served by offensively attractive bar staff with offensively great hair and offensively trendy glasses. I'm not complaining.

The artist and child in me was all full of excitement for the space ships, planets and stars flying above our heads. Even on a grey day, Magic Roundabout stays true to its name and injects a little enchantment into the skies.

So, do you fancy yourself a prawnstar? There's only one way to find out ... AbracaGoToOldStreet.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Once Upon A Time in Brunchland

Welcome to the Jungle, you know, the kind where multicoloured paper birds fly above your head, Bloody Mary's are on tap and if it weren't for all the other humans breezing around, you might even be able to hear the sound of the monkeys swinging through the paper trees. The miniature fantasy land at Stories in Broadway Market makes for an entertaining environment, I'm just holding out for dinosaurs as their next decor theme (we shall return to this).

First let's focus on the Bloody Mary's. There is a distinctive DIY vibe going on. Start with the simple tomato juice and vodka mix then go crazy. Don't apply any sensible reasoning to your creation. Your drink should be overflowing with 50 celery sticks, half a bottle of Lea and Perins, way too much tabasco and as many of the extra bowls of savoury sprinkles as you can ram into your glass. This creates an entertaining experience, before you downsize to create a drink that might resemble more of a traditionally British Bloody Mary.

The rest of the bar is well stocked with a good selection of beers, cider and other spirits, but brunch time is Bloody Mary time so you won't find me drinking anything else (apart from coffee .. all the coffee)!

The main show arrived to the table and our brunch feast could begin. I ordered the pancakes sans bananas although somehow they made their way in. It's a shame I hate bananas to the depths of my soul. Although the pancakes themselves could have done with a little more oomph, (and significantly less bananas), the generous maple syrup drenching kept me smiling.

Our other brunch dish arrived in the form of a gigantic Huevos Rancheros, a bbq pulled pork, corn tortilla and fried egg marriage. Huge both in size and taste, this was a great hit, the sort of dish that has noses turning to discover the origin of the meaty wafts and even a degree of inter-table communication! This is a champions breakfast and not for the faint hearted. Adios hangover.

But there is more to Stories than brunch. Open till late with a whole host of evening activities and entertainment, you could find yourselves heavily involved in their Monday board game evening or trying your hand at lino printing. Once that's done, Kansas Smitty's, Playground & Proof and Netil House are all within walking distance.

While the brunch didn't blow me away, the relaxed 'roll in, roll out' atmosphere is perfect for easing you into the weekend and I'd happily roll in again when I'm back in the area.

Also just around the corner is Netil Market, with Morty and Bobs' shack providing oozings of grilled cheese, Pizzas Don't Cry, ensuring that the only tears are those of pizza joy, and Bao awaiting staff so that they can reopen in their place of birth. There'll be more on all this in another page of The Little Brown Book.

One last mention must go to a great little guy who I met on my journey around London Fields. His name is Philippe and he is glorious. He is also a knitted dinosaur from Best Years (who had a stall by Netil Market) and now a committed member of Casa del Moi. He says hi.

And on that note, Little Brown Book over and out.

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On this occasion, we brunched as guests of Stories.