Thursday, 29 August 2013

La Bodega Negra. Shh...

Apparently, I'm a litte bit OCD when it comes to travelling. I came to London armed with tickets for Wicked and Skate Kings Cross, print outs of restaurant reservations, flight and hotel details... and a list of everything I wanted to see and do, places I wanted to shop and restaurants I wanted to eat at. Top of that restaurant list was La Bodega Negra. The week before we left I phoned ahead and made dinner reservations for our first night.

La Bodega Negra serves authentic Mexican food from their cellar restaurant on Soho's Old Compton Street and is probably one of London's worst kept secrets. To the unwitting passer-by La Bodega Negra is a sex shop, concealed behind the bright neon "adult video" and "peep show" signs that light up the windows. I imagine it would be pretty awkward if you wondered in actually looking for either of these! You are greeted by this kinky lady...

...and another (much friendlier) lady who will give you the nod when you reveal that you have reservations. We headed down the stairs to the dark, cavernous restaurant and were led to a cosy candle lit table in the corner. Being totally honest, we found the menu hard to negotiate. I'm a big fan of Mexican food but my repertoire goes as far as fajitas, enchiladas, burritos and chilli con carne - none of which were on the menu. We ended up googling things like "camarones" (shrimp, in case you're wondering) just to be on the safe side. Eventually we decided on quesadilla rustica and pescaditos fritos for starters. Plus a couple of cocktails from the tequila-based drinks list. My frozen mango margarita went down a treat!

Pescaditos fritos literally means fried fish. It seemed a safe option! The salty, fried white fish was served with a jalapeno sauce and was even better than I'd expected. If you're creeped out by eating fish that still has eyeballs, it's probably best to avoid these! The cheesy quesadilla was served as if it were pizza and the mix of flavours was perfect! I'd highly recommend it.

That last unattractive looking picture was Gordon's main dish. He ordered the ribs and, although a bit pricey, messy and super spicy, he really enjoyed them. When I first saw my main - the fish tacos - I was taken aback by the tiny portion. The menu does say "served in pairs" but I expected them to be a bit bigger. I guess the idea is to order a few different ones to share. As it turned out, my eyes were bigger than my belly anyway. I helped Gordon polish off the sweet potato and if I'd had anything more I wouldn't of had room for pudding! In keeping with the Mexican theme I managed to resist the cheesecake and ordered churros for dessert and Gordon went for chocolate torte with mole ice cream. Holy shizzle, the mole ice cream! My mouth was on fire after the tiny taste I had! It reminded me of them little red Fireball sweets that we used to trick my Nan with. My churros came with a chilli chocolate dip which was much more chocolatey than chilli, thank God.

Despite our confusion with the menu our dinner at La Bodega Negra turned out pretty well. It was an experience in itself and you get that smug, special feeling of being in on a naughty little secret that the other tourists don't know about. There is a cafe as well but I think the atmosphere of the covert restaurant would be far better. The Soho location is handy for after dinner drinks as well! Find everything you need to know on La Bodega Negra's website or call 0207 758 4100 to book a table.

Primark dress, blazer & necklace // River Island bag
Firetrap t-shirt // River Island jeans

Have you ever been to a hidden restaurant?


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Breakfast in the City

Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it's my favourite. I always make time for a yummy, healthy breakfast to kick start my metabolism in the morning - usually porridge. So while we were in London I did my best to keep this up. We went somewhere different each morning and each one was a big hit, so I thought I'd share them with you.

The Breakfast Club

An obvious place to start. London bloggers seem to take over my instagram feed with The Breakfast Club every single Sunday. So obviously I had to see what all the fuss was about. We headed to the Soho branch (there are 5 in total, but this is the original one) as it was the closest to our hotel.

Gordon turned into an English breakfast connoisseur on our trip and had one every day! The Breakfast Club's "Full Monty" came loaded with fried potatoes and he actually struggled to finish it. I went for the porridge which was served with mixed berries and honey and, although nothing fancy, it was delicious. Washed down with a good cup of green tea and a stolen slice of sourdough toast - cheers Gordon! I'd recommend The Breakfast Club - and it's quirky, retro decor - for a quick, no fuss back street caf' style breakfast with a healthy portion of tongue-in-cheek humour. If you're visiting later in the day, their cow vs pig burger sounds epic! Find your nearest Breakfast Club here.

All Bar One

I first discovered All Bar One when a friend took me to their Glasgow bar. Think of it as a classier Weatherspoons. If you live in England, Glasgow or Edinburgh you'll probably have been in an All Bar One at least once in your life. There's loads in London. We found one right around the corner from our hotel on Ludgate Hill (next to St Paul's Cathedral) so headed there one morning for convenience. Gordon had another full english and this time I opted for granola. It was actually described on the menu as "Strawberries, Bananas & Granola with Greek-style Yoghurt" but when it arrived there was strawberries, raspberries and no banana. Not a big deal, but still... it was enjoyable anyway. All Bar One has a good selection on their breakfast menu and is really reasonably priced. The full breakfast was £7 and the granola was only £3.75! Their lunch/dinner menus are worth a look as well and they do a "Five O'clocktails" deal where you can choose from a selection of cocktails for only £4.95 each after 5pm! Find your nearest bar on their website.


On our last morning we were heading to Covent Garden for last minute souvenir shopping. I remembered spotting a Bill's nearby when we'd been here earlier in the week so we made this our final breakfast destination. Bill's is another restaurant I've spotted on Instagram a few times so I trusted it would be decent and was not disappointed. Again it's reasonably priced. £7.95 for the "Bill's Breakfast" - which, surprise surprise, Gordon ordered - and £3.95 for my porridge. The blueberry and buttermilk pancakes were tempting, as was "Bill's healthy breakfast board" but I reckon I made the right choice! Normally porridge looks a bit gloopy and messy but Bill's served it with style! Not only did it look amazing, with it's swirl of honey and scattered hazelnuts and bananas, but it tasted amazing! Creamy oaty goodness! There are 11 Bill's Restaurants in London and another 2 on the way so it shouldn't be too difficult to find one. Check their website here.

Duck and Waffle

Saving the best for last, our most memorable breakfast in London has to be Duck & Waffle! That view! The restaurant is on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, making it the highest restaurant in the UK, and offering an impressive panoramic view of the capital city. You reach the restaurant via a glass elevator (FROM HELL) that travels at 5mps and convinced me I was going to DIE! (I didn't. But I don't recommend looking out while it's moving!) Once we reached the 40th floor and were back on non-moving ground I was happy. We were lucky to be seated in the far corner of the restaurant where, when we weren't too busy looking for London landmarks, we could also watch the chefs hard at work in the open kitchen. It was a beautiful morning that day. The sun was streaming in through the windows and our seats gave us a magic view of the nearby Gherkin and Tower Bridge in the background.

We started with tea and coffee while we perused the impressive breakfast menu. You can choose from classics like the english breakfast and baked pastries or sample something a little bit different, such as the foie gras all day breakfast or the namesake duck 'n' waffle. I'm sure by now I don't even need to tell you what Gordon had. His English breakfast did look seriously good here though, especially the hash brown and trotter-braised beans! This was my only "treat" breakfast on our whole trip but I just couldn't resist the waffles. The waiter wasn't going to let me either; I told him I couldn't decide between them and the granola, to which he simply said "waffle!" with a horrified look on his face haha. He was right. I chose the banana 'n' nutella waffles and oh my god, they were amazing! The banana had some sort of sweet, honey glaze and the nutella melted in the sun, making a big chocolatey waffle mess from heaven.

Duck & Waffle was the most expensive breakfast we had but it was definitely a treat and well worth it! The full English comes in at £14 and the waffles were £8.50. Personally I'd say the extra cost is worth it just for the view but the food itself exceeded our expectations and justified the cost. The restaurant is actually open 24/7 so you could check out their other menus but I'd imagine they're even more pricey. This place is not to be missed though so if you're on a budget at least head to Duck & Waffle for breakfast. Start your day with amazing food and breathtaking views. I promise it'll set you up for the day! You can book online here.

Where are your favourite breakfast haunts? I'm especially on the lookout for recommendations in NYC if you know of any?


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Rollin' with the homies...

Yep, Clueless is on as I write this post and that line just seemed appropriate! After reading about Skate Kings Cross on Rosie and Joelle's blogs, I decided that we had to go play while we were in London. It just sounded like far too much fun to miss! So I booked tickets online (organisation is key people!) and we headed to the roller disco on our last night in the city.

New Look cami // Primark shorts // Dorothy Perkins boots // Mulberry oversized Alexa

The pop up skate rink is located right next to Kings Cross and tucked away down the side of Central Saint Martins - where Alexander McQueen and so many other fashion legends have studied! As you can see I was pretty happy to be here. What I really wanted to do was run through the fountains with the kids but I'm a sensible grown up and I hate fun I wouldn't want my Mulberry or my hair getting wet, would I?

If I really hated fun I definitely would not of been here! The roller disco was such a good laugh. It reminded me of play scheme at the community centre when I was little. Gordon kept showing off, skating backwards and spinning around but he fell on his ass loads, much to my amusement! Nobody likes a show off eh? I was just chuffed I could go in a straight line. My skating skills leave a lot to be desired but after the first 5 minutes or so, I got the hang of it and managed to stay upright the whole time - chufty badge for me! Each session lasts 2 hours but you'd be surprised how hard roller skating actually is. After about an hour of constant skating round the rink we were sweaty Bettys and my legs were aching, so we gave up and headed to the bar.

Disco Bistro are on hand at the rink to fuel any hungry skaters with some pretty epic looking burgers. We'd already eaten before we came so didn't have any food but judging by looks and the conversations I overheard lugged in on, I'd say the burgers are worth a try. The bar is serving up beer, wine, cocktails and soft drinks if you get thirsty as well. I had a lemon pimms mojito which went down well! You could also head back outside to cool down and watch the little light show from the fountains at night - so pretty!

Skate King's Cross is only in town until the 6th September so if you fancy testing out your skating skills, you'd better be quick! You'll get a good giggle at least. Tickets are £14.30 each including booking fees and skate hire.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Another weekend... in London!

Those of you who follow me on twitter or instagram will probably be aware I was in London this week. I've been to cities on the other side of the world yet had never visited the UK's very own capital so I thought it was about time I sorted that out. Gordon and I flew down early on Sunday morning and stayed in a Premier Inn for 4 nights. I had a super fun time and wish we could of stayed forever. I love the buzz, the culture and the endless possibilities that the city provides.

London has some pretty impressive architecture to show off. We visited Kensington Palace, the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral and even popped round to see Liz at Buckingham Palace (she wouldn't let me use her loo!) but my favourite building was definitely Liberty. The Natural History Museum is another impressive design. It offers free entry so we had a quick wonder round the exhibits before heading to the butterfly tent.

I managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping while we were down but not as much as I would of usually liked! Somehow Prada took all my money off me so I skipped the torture of the flagship stores on Oxford Street and visited some of the city's most wellknown shopping meccas for a browse instead. We did Carnaby Street, Harrods, Liberty, Camden markets (more on that here) and I dragged my rather unimpressed boyfriend down Brick Lane for a nose in the vintage stores and boutiques. The newly opened branch of The Village Bicycle was a personal favourite! Following so many London based bloggers was a huge help while we were there as I stumbled across so many different places I'd of never heard of if it wasn't for them. Places like The Diner which was a big hit for lunch - I recommend the peanut butter shake! 

There's so much on offer in London and we were constantly on the go, flitting from one underground to the other and snapping landmarks on the way. The weather was absolutely beautiful while we were there so we stopped by the Ice Bar to cool down! 

My favourite part of the city was Kensington. If When we go back I'll try to book a hotel in this area. Our hotel was next to Blackfriars bridge so it was still nice and central but I prefer a relaxing stroll through pretty streets to the hustle and bustle of city workers rushing to business meetings. We had an amazing dinner at Bumpkin in Kensington before we went to see Wicked at the Apollo theatre. When I was young I went through a stage of  being obsessed with the Wizard of Oz and I still love it now. Wicked was amazing - I laughed loads and the story kept me hooked the whole way through. If you haven't seen it, you don't know what you're missing!

There's so much more to share on the blog but I think I'll stop here for now, otherwise this will be the world's longest blog post. I could go on forever! I'll be writing up a few separate posts on our favourite food haunts and other stuff we got up to so look out for them. We squeezed loads into our 5 days here but there's still so much we didn't have time to do. Another trip is definitely on the cards! Have you ever been?

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