28 November 2013

Classical Spectacular at The Royal Albert Hall


Last Saturday night I visited one of my favourite London venues, The Royal Albert Hall, to attend the Classical Spectacular.


When I go to the theatre, I'm one of those people who spends more time with my eyes on the orchestra pit than I do on the actual stage. I've always been fascinated by the sheer talent of the musicians who've spent their lives mastering their instruments. There's always part of me that wishes I was down there, plonking away on my xylophone like I did at primary school...


Seen by more than two million people worldwide, this show features classics such as Nessun Dorma, Rule Britannia and Land of Hope & Glory.  The Royal Albert Hall is the perfect place to experience such a magnificent event using lasers, lights, dancers and fireworks to decorate the venue. Some of the performances were truly spine-tingling.


It ended up being the perfect date night for Alex and I. A fantastic show with such a patriotic, positive atmosphere. Unfortunately we hadn't picked ourselves up a flag on the way in but I think there were enough people waving theirs on our behalf!

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26 November 2013

Leaping onto the burger bandwagon - Honest Burgers, Camden


I'll be honest with you (pun very much intended), I'm not as big of a fan of burgers as everyone else seems to be. Don't get me wrong, I'll thoroughly enjoy a patty in a bun at a barbecue or even the odd Big Mac but it's unlikely I'd choose one from a restaurant menu if there's a nice chicken & leek pie or a fillet steak on offer. 

Having said that, it's hard to ignore all the celebrated burger joints exploding into London these days. You've got Five Guys, Shake Shack, MEATliquor, Rotary Bar, Patty & Bun....the list goes on. Perhaps I've been missing something here.

Honest Burgers has just recently opened its fourth 'beef bar' in Portobello Road but today I was visiting its little sister in Camden. And when I say little, I mean it - it took me a while to find it, hidden as it was amongst several other food vendors round a little corner in the market.


With only four small tables and one long bench, on a busy day you'll likely have to be prepared to wait or get yourself a takeaway box. Alex and I arrived before the lunchtime rush and grabbed a rather chilly corner.


My attention was grabbed by the burger listed under the Specials: beef with deep fried Camembert, smoked bacon, cranberry sauce and rocket. It sounded amazing.

Alex ordered the Honest Burger: beef, red onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. 

On the pleasingly minimal menu (the less they do the better it must be, I tend to conclude) there is a chicken and a vegetarian option with gluten free buns available.


And here are those all important burger pictures


This is the Honest Burger:


And my menu special:


Look at the size of it!


The beef was plump and beautifully cooked medium rare, dripping with juicy joy. The huge chunk of Camembert cheese oozed over the meat once cut and the cranberry sauce was a fantastic fruity hit. The side of gloriously crisp rosemary-salted fries were an added delight.

So I may have been converted - this burger experience was pretty damn good!

But can Honest Burger be beaten? For me, it's certainly knocked MEATliquor and Rotary Bar out the park but like I said, I'm no burger expert....

Where should I try next?

Honest Burger
Food
★★★★★
Cocktails
N/A
Atmosphere
★★★
Bar Service
N/A
Waiter Service
★★★★
Value
★★★★
Toilets
N/A
Bouncers
N/A
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24 November 2013

Friday Night in Covent Garden: The10 Cases & The Crazy Bear


We had finished our meal at Circus and were looking at where to go next. We'd originally planned to venture somewhere lively where we could have a dance but we just weren't in that mindset this particular evening. I consulted the Design My Night app on my phone and up popped The 10 Cases.


The 10 Cases is a dimly lit little wine bistro just over the road from Circus. It was very busy - there are only ten tables and we had to wait a while to get one - but at the same time it had a pleasant laid back atmosphere. Candles flickered on each table as friends and couples chatted over their carefully selected bottles of wine. The staff were friendly and it just felt nice and homely; a sanctuary from bustling Covent Garden outside.


Feeling patriotic, we decided to try an English wine - the award winning Three Choirs Coleridge Hill, made in Gloucestershire.


Dry, crisp and very easy to drink.

All it needed was a cheeseboard to accompany it!


Yes I know we'd just eaten a huge dinner but needs must!

The 10 Cases have a delicious sounding food menu too and are open for both lunch and dinner. I might have to pop back soon to try it out!

Our final port of call for this Friday evening in Covent Garden was The Crazy Bear.


I hadn't realised that it was a strict private member's club when we'd set off to find it otherwise I may have not taken the risk. Luckily, after ringing the doorbell and explaining to the man that we were not members but were just two gals looking for a decent cocktail, he kindly agreed to let us in. 

From the outside The Crazy Bear just looked like a rather bog-standard London pub but as the man led us through to the cocktail bar, we realised that the inside was a different story. 


The entire place was covered in lashings of gold, silver and velvet. The leather sofas were studded with diamonds and mirrors adorned the walls.

I think Elvis would have felt quite at home here.


Downstairs there's a restaurant serving Thai food as well as a sushi bar and lounge area but we didn't venture down there. Instead we settled into the opulent upstairs bar and saw the evening out with a couple of their wonderful cocktails.


That's one of the great things about London town; there are so many places just waiting to be found.

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22 November 2013

Dinner With A Difference At Circus


I've wanted to visit Circus since I saw it featured on Made In Chelsea a few months back. Acrobats and actors doing their thing on top of the very table you're eating at? Intriguing!

In celebration of Mary's birthday, we booked ourselves a table. The restaurant isn't easy to spot, especially when the man with the big top hat - who I was reliably informed makes it easier to find - was absent!

To help you guys out if you visit, the outside looks like this:


The inside of Circus was nothing like the understated entrance.

Decorated with glitter balls, spiked walls and mirrors, it's on the rather surreal side!


We were seated at our table, handed menus and told that the restaurant needed the table back in two hours. In fact, we were informed of this two or three more times throughout the evening! Way to make us feel welcome!

We ordered ourselves a cocktail and a selection of dishes to start.


Edamame beans, prawn and chive dumplings, mushroom spring rolls and the irresistible duck and watermelon salad.


As our food was brought to the table, the cabaret entertained the packed restaurant. The acrobats, dancers and burlesque performers used the long banquet table as a catwalk and stage.


Pretty impressive stuff!

The entertainment is sporadic throughout the evening and during the next break, our main courses arrived. I'd chosen the Canadian Lobster with sichuan spinach, chilli and garlic. Mary went for the Scottish Black Angus Fillet Steak with shiitake mushrooms and soy.


Just as we started tucking into our beautifully presented dishes, the show was back. 


We polished off the beef and lobster, luckily leaving ourselves with enough time for dessert before our table was reclaimed.

Check out the Doughnuts & Magnums and the Vanilla & Ginger Cheesecake!


How could we not feel excited when these gorgeous desserts were placed in front of us? There were so many different flavours within both plates and we finished off the whole lot.


Before we knew it, our time was up! The dessert was a heavenly ending to a very nice meal. Ok, so we weren't blown away by the food but it was certainly enjoyable and the cabaret was fun. The service was a little on the pretentious/grumpy side and the two hour limit seems a little harsh when you inevitably want to stick around to see the entertainment. I didn't even get to see hula-hooping Elvis! Rules are rules I suppose...

But this wasn't the end of our night. 

Next, I'll tell you about the two other little gems we found!

Circus
Food
★★★
Cocktails
★★★
Atmosphere
★★★★
Bar Service
Waiter Service
★★★
Value
★★★
Toilets
★★
Bouncers
N/A
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