I went to Bistroteque at the weekend. Hidden down a backstreet in the depths of Bethnal Green, Bistroteque is a veritable foodie haven, not to mention minimal marvel for all who enter.
Housed within a repurposed warehouse, there is nothing to indicate Bistroteque is anything other than just that until you notice that it’s been recently painted and there’s some elegant lighting over the entrance-way. The staircases are still paint-splattered and suitably rough around the edges, it’s only upon entering the main dining/bar area (up 2 flights of stairs) do you realise you’re in a stylish mecca favoured by the trendies of the east.
Having recently opened Shrimpy’s in Kings Cross, in some ways the focus has moved away from the original Tom Collins restaurant, however with a newly revamped Manchichi bar and a mouthwatering selection of cocktails on the menu – think passion-fruit caipirinhas to name, but a few..this still has a special and undiscovered feel to it.
Stepping away from the bar and into the dining area, complete with starched tablecloths and grand piano, you can indulge in modern european treats of dorset crab and steak tartate. However, what caught my eye was the ‘Hot fromage!’ – so exciting it has an exclamation mark next to the name in the menu and the pudding drinks which included the ever-popular Espresso Martini and lesser known ‘Silk Stocking.’
All in all, a great place for dinner with friends or alternatively sit at the bar and work your way through a plate of oysters. However, I’m intending on coming back for brunch..my new favourite meal! Yum.
23–27 Wadeson Street
London E2 9DR
Anyone who is into their fashion, can’t have failed to notice the shops are currently saturated with 90s gear. From crop tops, to Cat boots, check shirts to bomber jackets, it’s all about reliving your awkward teenage years, but in considerably more stylish fashion than the first time around.
So, it was with great concern, I found myself emanating a certain 90s music video with my clothing choices of late. Yes, my current style inspiration is the Take That boys’ holey jumpers from the Sure video. Pretty specific, I’ll admit, but somehow this look seems completely fresh in 2012 – 18 years since the boys rocked them (badly) in the 1994 classic.
A 90s Gary Barlow awkwardly modeling the holey jumper from the video.
So, the good news is that there are plenty of options out there in order to recreate this look. However, what is key to remember is that this was not considered stylish at the time and still isn’t now, what matters is HOW you wear it. My recommendation is to buy oversize and pair it with some patterned leggings and ankle boots. There are plenty of tie-dye, print, panelled and high-shine leggings doing the rounds at present so be daring and bring back the holey classic! Here are my favourites.
Ladder stripe sweater, Topshop, £26
Antipodium, Sporting Chance Pull Over, ASOS, £120
Sparkle & Fade, fisherman’s jumper, Urban Outfitters, £45
For my friend’s 30th recently, we treated her to a surprise brunch at Dean Street Townhouse. Part of the Soho House Group, the restaurant (and hotel) is situated in the heart of Soho and as such is a popular choice for those looking for a bit of sophistication and class. It’s classy, yet laid back which is exactly how it should be in my opinion.
We kicked off with compulsory bellinis all round before inspecting the menu which boasted a twice-baked smoked haddock souffle, ham hock hash and eggs cooked in every way possible along with a wide range of croissants, fruit and an all-day breakfast. It was going to be a tough choosing.
The popular choices were the eggs benedict and smokes salmon / scrambled eggs combinations. They were all served with lashings of sour dough toast presented on classic silver toast racks. Everything was delicious! Our only criticism was our skitzophrenic waiter who was one minute telling us off for taking photos (insane!) and the next being overly helpful. Most bizarre! We were in excellent company, discovering half way through the meal that Stanley Tucci the actor was on the next table over. Certain members of our party struggled to maintain composure.
All in all, a hugely enjoyable way to spend your morning and for me, the perfect way to start a day. The meal came to around £25 each which seemed very reasonable. I think brunches are going to soon become a permanent fixture in our weekend routine and I cannot wait!
Dean Street Townhouse
69 – 71 Dean Street London, Greater London W1D 3SE
It’s festival season and for those of us who are preparing for a cold weekend of camping in the delightful british countryside, a lot of the preparation for suitably warm, yet stylish clothing is already underway.
I’ve been obsessing over all things khaki / army-themed. Camouflage is back this season with a vengeance, but instead of the 90s multi-coloured monstrosities synonymous with Girls Aloud (the early years) and Tammy Girl, it’s all about authentic gear and so I’ve spent the week hunting down the perfect jacket which will not only be warm, but also look great with my various outfits over the weekend.
Ecote Classic Surplus Jacket, Urban Outfitters, £75
However, if you’re not keen to splurge at Topshop or Urban Outfitters why don’t you try Amazon for something half the price?! I found this very affordable cotton jacket which will be great layered up with a black / grey American Apparel hoodie when the sun goes down.
Surplus Lightweight Military Style BDU Mens Cotton Jacket Washed Woodland Camo, Amazon, £26.99
Alternatively, if none of these are for you – do what I did and hit up eBay. I found a fab vintage Superdry jacket for less than £20 and I’m pretty sure it does the trick.
Where to go in central Edinburgh for excellent food at ridiculous prices? There is only one answer – Le Sept!
A delightfully authentic bistro just off the Royal Mile on Hunter Square, this cosy restaurant has an excellent range of choices on the menu from £11 for two courses at lunch and £18 for dinner. All high ceilings and retro black and white photos, the light and airy dining room makes for a laid back atmosphere during the day. I can imagine at night, lit with candles, it’s similarly relaxed. Additionally, the staff were super friendly and accommodating and we didn’t have to wait long for the food.
The french onion soup and goats cheese with beetroot puree were our favourite starters. We were equally pleased to discover the main course of moules and coq au vin were both generous and delicious. The only criticism would be the savoury crepes which were very heavy with a cheese overload, even for the most fervent of cheese fans. However, this is hardly worth a mention as everything else was outstanding, especially for £11.
Our final bill came to £20 per head which included a large amount of reasonably-priced wine. This was the perfect way to set us up for exploring the city. I will definitely be returning to Le Sept on my next trip!
Le Sept, 5 Hunter Square, Edinburgh, 0131 225 5428
Sophie Hulme, double plate tan tote, £535 (Liberty)
If you’re as obsessed with bags as me, then you can’t fail to have already discovered the beautiful creations of Sophie Hulme. A British designer, graduating in 2007, she set up her own label within two months and the rest as they say is history. Now stocked by all the finest retailers – Selfridges, Fenwick and Harvey Nichols to name but a few, this is the result of huge ambition and excellent design.
Sophie Hulme Black Leather Satchel, £255 (Selfridges)
Sophie’s bags are characterised by the brass plates which adorn both the large totes and smaller satchels. They signify genuine luxury, but with a tough edge. I found myself gawping when coming face to face with one on the tube recently. They really are beautiful up close! And it’s not only the bags which have been given the expensive brass treatment – I’ve fallen for this chip fork necklace..it’s somehow elegant and fun at the same time. Amazing!
Sophie Hulme, brass chip fork necklace, £60 (Coggles.com)
So, if you’re in the market for something special, but understated, this is the brand for you.
Visit Sophie’s website – SophieHulme.com
I’m back!!! After a 1 month break from the blog, I decided it would be rude not to share my latest adventures with you. During this time, I have sampled excellent cuisine in Sicily and Edinburgh to name, but a few..so what better way to come back, but with a cocktail recommendation from the 5* Hotel Metropole in Taormina.
I spent a week in Sicily in May eating my body weight in arancini and discovering my new favourite liquer – Vino di Mandorla (Almond Wine.) On the final night in Taormina, I went to the Metropole for cocktails – admittedly not the first time, but it was certainly worth a return visit for the antipasti alone! A vertitable feast of goodies which, in true Italian style came complimentary with the cocktails. We enjoyed a mojito and an incredibly potent margarita!
The hotel itself has an air of exclusivity about it which proves a good deterrant for your average tourist. Upon entering the main atrium, we were met with the soothing tones of the piano which set the mood on the balcony where we took our place overlooking the sea. Situated on the edge of a cliff, the balcony is literally as close as you can get to the water’s edge (bar the infinity pool below) and has a real atmospheric quality to it.
While away an hour or two before dinner here and it will certainly lift your mood or if you are lucky enough to hit sunset, you can enjoy the blue/pink skies evolve and change before you as the fire burners are lit. This place isn’t cheap, but it’s certainly worth every penny for atmosphere!
Hotel Metropole Taormina – Maison d’Hôtes
Corso Umberto, 154 – 98039 Taormina (Messina) Tel. (+39) 0942 625417
It’s that time of year again – wedding season!
Whether you love it, hate it, are taking part in it or are indeed – the bride, there is always the question of what to wear on ones feet. Too high and you’ll be cursing come evening when the dancing begins. Too low and you’ll feel frumpy. Equally, how fancy does one go? To match the shoes to the dress or not? So many questions – eeeek!
Violet leather court shoes in peach metallic, £65, Office
So, there really are no hard and fast rules, but I think the following tips will help. Go down the neutral or metallic route when the summer season hits. You have probably been wearing black for the rest of the year so this is your chance to wear a lighter colour and even brave a bare leg – oooerrrr! (NB. This may be optimistic based on the current climate.)
Darling D soft rose leather courts, £85, Dune
Steer away from satin or suede as you’re bound to destroy them if your wedding involves any of the following; drunk people, outdoor dining and excessive dancing. (That’s most weddings right?!) All the shoes I have picked have potential for wearing past wedding season and will hopefully carry you through the summer. Viva la nude shoe!
Faith nude leather patent bow courts, £50, Debenhams
This year is set to be the year of Gatsby! With the movie due out in December in the UK, the arts and fashion scenes are gearing up for 1920s mania and what better excuse to don your finest drop-waist gown and head out for some prohibition-esque activities!
I went to see the stage version of The Great Gatsby on Friday. Hosted at Wilton’s Music Hall, you could not have found yourself in a more authentic location. Located in east London near Tower Hill, Wilton’s Music Hall is all crumbling plaster with a genuine historical charm dating back to around 1743. Now grade 2 listed, it is one of London’s last remaining concert halls. It was as though we had genuinely stepped back in time.
We queued up at the bar while the sounds of Al Johlson and the Charleston set the scene. From Side Cars (brandy, cointreau & lemon juice) to Mint Juleps (bourbon, mint & soda), all the original cokctails were there to choose from. My favourite however, was the punch with gin, maraschino liqueur and elderflower with plenty of berries to top it off.
As we settled into the play, we were all transported to another era and by the end were all wishing this moment in history was something we had somehow been part of. This may have partly been down to numerous cocktails consumed, but there was equally something very exciting about living in these times – especially if we had been lucky enough to have attended one of Jay Gatsby’s house parties!
The Great Gatsby
20th April 2012 – 19th May 2012, Wilton’s Music Hall.
Today, I want to share with you a brand I love which has been on the scene since 2009, but which (in my opinion) still remains rather an undiscovered secret for the 20-something market. Mint Velvet markets itself as ‘relaxed glamour’, and with a collection comprised of elegant pieces in neutral tones with quality lace, bead and button detailing, it does just that.
Stone embellished top, £69 and mink battered sequin skirt, £149
Set up by three ex-Arcadia employees with backgrounds in establishing Principles and Topshop as leading brands, it is evident that these ladies know their target market inside-out and with highly desirable butter-soft leather jackets and on-trend shell tops, they tick all the boxes.
Foundation lace dress, £129 and Caitlyn print dress, £89
Available both online, at a number of standalone stores as well as being stocked at John Lewis and House of Fraser, Mint Velvet is slowly taking over the world. Prices start from a very reasonable £29 for a silk-front top and top off at around £249 for a leather jacket, so get involved and get classy now!
Mink sequin, £89 and bead top and sorbet cropped jeans, £59
Visit the Mint Velvet website.