Bistro East


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.

Bistroteque
23–27 Wadeson Street
London E2 9DR

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Styled by Take That

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

A classy brunch

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

French bistro finery

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

Cocktails at The Metropole

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

Go nude for the wedding

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

Chow down in Chelsea

On one (extraordinarily) sunny evening last week, I went to The Phene. A beautiful hidden gem in the heart of Chelsea, The Phene is gastro-pub-tastic in super-civilised surroundings – they even have their own-brand candles!

We were seated in the restaurant area at the back which is bright and airy thanks to the generous skylight. The food was good, but not exceptional. It’s above-average pub fare. My steak was disappointing and for me, that’s always going to be a bit of a sticking point. Still, we worked our way through 2 bottles of delicious Manent Colchagua valley Sauvignon Blanc from Chile which certainly made up for any disappointments we had with the cuisine!

The puddings were, however another matter. We couldn’t decide whether the earl grey and dark chocolate creme brulee or the chocolate fondant was the more tempting of puddings so we opted for a platter of them all to share! (A genius invention.) The earl grey flavours were rife in the creme brulee and as you’d imagine the fondant was suitably oozy. Highly recommended!

Expect the odd red-trousered type or wannabe cast members of Made in Chelsea, but if that doesn’t put you off, it’s well worth a trip! PS. There’s a superb glamorous pub garden – all fairy-lights and large white umbrelles as well as (now-obligatory) patio heaters thanks to extreme UK weather conditions! Go forth and make like it’s Ibiza.

The Phene, 9 Phene Street  London SW3 5NY

Who is Ayah Marar?

Earlier this week I randomly stumbled across a rather amazing woman with an even more amazing voice – introducing Ayah Marar!

Seeing her perform at The Old Queens Head in Angel was a hugely unexpected joy – pure, powerful vocals with plenty of sass and wit thrown in..the crowd were instantly in raptures. On stage with only a solo guitarist for company, this woman needed nothing more to impress us. Altho I think what I liked most was that she was sipping red wine in between tracks – my kind of woman!

Ayah, originally from Jordan, is set to be huge in 2012. She’s been making waves in the music scene for well over 5 years now, callaborating with Calvin Harris and DJ Marky to name, but a few. Now everyone is clamboring to remix her tracks and she is finally getting the airplay she deserves from Kiss and Radio 1Xtra. She’s currently touring (catch her at Brixton Academy on 6th April) and there’s an album in the pipeline.

Check out her latest track ‘Mind Controller‘ and other gems such as ‘Follow Me‘ and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Trust me, it will not be long before everyone knows her name.

(Check her out at http://ayahmarar.com/ or click on the link below to watch her latest video!)

Ayah Marar – Mind Controller

Yum at Yalla Yalla

Why aren’t there more Lebanese restaurants in London? It seems strange that such a fabulous cuisine is somewhat overlooked. Hopefully not for much longer as Yalla Yalla is bringing it to the masses in the most delightful way.

Perfect for lunch with friends, Yalla Yalla is touted as ‘Beirut Street Food’ which instantly gives it a cool edge. There are 2 bases in Soho serving up truly scrumptious Lebanese dishes, and more to come (Kings Cross). For anyone who hasn’t tried it, I’d describe Lebanese cuisine as a cross between Moroccan and Turkish. Plenty of fresh ingredients, bursting with flavour thanks to all the herbs and spices being used.

The Fatoush salad is unreal. I’m no salad fan, but could eat this forever. Composed of toasted, crunchy pieces of pitta bread combined with fresh greens and herbs, it’s completely moorish (and healthy – bonus!) Another treat is the Samboussek (pastry stuffed with feta and halloumi) and Soujec (homemade sausages) which are suitably spicy and flavoursome. Also on offer are some unique juice combos – my particular favourite is the apple, mint and ginger. Very refreshing and wholesome.

Yalla is always full which is a real sign of success. You can expect to spend around £10-15 per head on food depending on what you choose which to me seems like a total bargain for something so fresh and tasty. I’ve been twice with the girls now..and feel another trip on the horizon! Alternatively you can get takeaway from the Winsley Street branch – working lunches will never be the same again!

(Visit Yalla Yalla for some foody goodness)

To the Aztec zone!

I grew up in the 90s in the UK. This may explain my love of prawn cocktail (rife on many a restaurant menu circa 1990) and cheesy gameshows (the only thing to watch if you wanted to be cool at school.) Anyway, my gameshow of choice was The Crystal Maze. A hugely creative concept with 4 different game areas, I spent most Saturday nights wishing I could go to the Aztec Zone.

(The highly authentic Aztec Zone from The Crystal Maze)

Almost 20 years on and I still want to visit the Aztec Zone, but instead have settled for a more realistic alternative – I will be channeling it through my fashion sense. As such, I’ve found this graphic, sequinned skirt from Zara. It has a real exotic luxe feel to it and is the perfect example of Aztec styling in an elegant form. I can see it looking fabulous with a peachy vest and gold sandals come Summer..

(Printed sequinned skirt, Zara, £79.99)

For a casual weekend look, I’m rather taken with this cotton waterfall jacket in a vibrant black, white, red and orange ikat-style print. Be sure to steer clear of traveller / hippy territory by pairing with a chunky necklace (see All Saints or Marni’s new range for H&M – out mid-March) and some chunky Hudson boots. Hot!

(Free People Ikat Print Cardigan, ASOS, £43.50)