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

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Be the ice cream

This weekend, I decided to get my pastel groove on.

Having purchased yet another mint-coloured item of clothing – (the 3rd in as many months – read my post from March), I decided that instead of using them to brighten up my usual black or navy jeans, I would pair them with my new sugar-pink jeans.

And just like that, ice-cream heaven was born!

The reception from my friends was generally positive, but with some inquisitive looks, scratching of heads and finally some practical questions. How can one virtually dress like an ice-cream? The answer is – like this..

Peach + Lemon

Peach Topshop Blouse and Carven Lemon TrousersPeach & white striped casual shirt, £28, Topshop
Carven yellow casual skinny chino, £160, Farfetch

Mint + Choc Chip

Mint Dorothy Perkins blouse and Mole spot skirt H&MMole spotted skirt, £19.99, H&M
Mint sleeveless blouse, £24, Dorothy Perkins

Raspberry ripple!

Spot cami, £25, Topshop
Pink jeans, £30,  River Island

And finally, if you can’t find a combo which works, you can always take things literally and wear it as a print! Eat me.

Sugarhill Boutique Shirt Dress in Ice Cream Print, £50, ASOS

Devastatingly Dabbous

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There’s a new bar in town and it means business! Hidden down a side street in trendy Noho, is Dabbous – the new venture from michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous and cocktail impressario Oskar Kinberg. The fusion of low-lit, fine dining with an industrial-chic basement cocktail bar is the work of these two master craftsmen and as such, is receiving rave reviews around town at present!

The unassuming exterior at first looks as though it’s a stylish lighting shop or gallery. Indeed those of us working nearby, never really clicked it was a restaurant at all. But this is half of the charm and in some ways very au courant – take Spuntino or 10 Greek Street as current examples of this.

Upon entering the dimly lit restaurant, you are met with industrial cantina styling serving up modern british cuisine. However, skip that and head straight to the basement which is a concrete playground with exposed brickwork, wooden trestles and plenty of swagger (the barmen that is!) Cocktails are good – and as you’d expect, there are a number of ‘game changers‘ to get excited about. Take one of the ‘beer-based’ cocktails, such as Giddy Up which contains tequila, elderflower, honey and is topped off with Sierra Navada IPA – impressive!

The bathrooms are unisex and discreetly labelled – in fact it’s almost luck if you can see them at all in the almost pitch-black interior! All in all a good place for cocktails – suitable for impressing clients, entertaining your friends or just a great date. Word of warning though, booking a table is virtually impossible at present due to the popularity of this place, so you may have to settle with a trip to the bar this time! You won’t be disappointed..

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF.

Deco delights

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(Flapper dress, Oasis, £75.)

So, I’ve spent the past week hunting for 1920s gear. I’ve always been a huge fan of the art deco style anyway, but as I’m off to The Great Gatsby night at Wilton’s Music Hall in a few weeks, I need something fabulous and so the hunt has begun!

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(Limited edition twin frill dress, Topshop, £85.)

This is proving to be a particularly tricky task. Despite the fact that this style is hugely fashionable right now, finding anything affordable and suitably embellished is tough. French Connection have a wealth of beautifully beaded dresses starting from £200 if you have the budget. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for drop-waist beauties, fringed skirts and sequinned shifts.

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(Pearl queen strappy dress, French Connection, £350.)

The best club

Friday was a dramatic day for those of us working in media-centric Fitzrovia. The “armed siege” (as dramatically proclaimed on Sky) rather took over our lunch-time conversation. However, we counteracted our fears over whether our office was going to be blown up, by fueling up on fab club sandwiches courtesy of one of the best locals; The Lukin.

I’ve been a fan of this rather shabby pub for some time. A bit rough around the edges, it’s less consciously cool than the other nearby pubs and as a result, gets a roaring trade from our office. And so it was, for the second Friday in a row, I found myself chomping down on their mouthwatering club sandwich.

I’m not the kind of person to EVER opt for a club sandwich. When I think of one, I have visions of soggy bread cut into triangular shapes, with rather pathetic pieces of chicken and bacon, accompanied by sub-standard salad all speared with cocktail sticks. This club is NOT one of those. A magnificant rustic sourdough loaf sliced in half containing a giant piece of straight-off the grill chicken and delightfully smoked bacon served up with skinny fries – this is the club sandwich of champions!

For only £6.70, I’d highly recommend you try it. Oh and while you’re there, make sure you sample some of the home-brand tangy ketchup – it’s spectacular!

The Lukin, 4 Conway Street, W1T 6BB.

Red skirt flirt

(Sunblaze, red lace skirt, Anthropologie, £148.)

My campaign for colour continues as the rain beats down on yet another day in London. Today, I’ve sourced some rather fabulous skirts for you to moon over. As this season is all about ladylike chic and looking well pulled-together, you can’t go far wrong with a statement skirt paired with a simple tshirt or cami.

(Aztec skirt, Monsoon, £42.)

From red-soled shoes to sporting a red dress to a wedding (a definite no-no), the colour is synonymous with sex appeal and flirtatious behaviour, whether intentional or not! So, to counteract this, I’d keep the top half simple or neutral and your heels below 8cm (think a K-Middy special), especially if you’re intending to work this look in an office environment. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re on the pull!

(Carven tweed skirt, Matches Fashion, £277.)

Party like you’re Berlusconi

Today is all about dancing! You’ve gotta love it. Give me a large dance floor and the opportunity for a dance-off and I’m there.. so I was in my element this weekend when I finally made it down to Bunga Bunga – the latest venture from the guys behind Maggies and Barts.

Situated in Battersea, just over the bridge from the Kings Road, Bunga Bunga is a pizzeria and karaoke bar which becomes a serious party venue after dark. It’s a lively place with a good sense of humour, kitsch decor and people who aren’t ashamed to let loose on the dance floor. But unlike the original definition of the name, there’s no swingers or corrupt ex-Prime Ministers in there!

We gatecrashed a private party in the glass-roofed Osservatorio room. The walls were covered in vintage astrological charts and peppered with telescopes. It felt as though we’d stepped into an eccentric’s drawing room! The rest of the bar was equally bonkers. From the ground floor where the barmen were dressed as pizza delivery boys to the second floor Eurovision room, it was fun every step of the way!

A word to the wise – be prepared to queue if you get there after midnight. Also, if you’ve been reading the papers recently and are going there to pick up Prince Harry – you may be disappointed. Rumour has it, he’s only actually been there once, although Princess Beatrice was there the same night as us, but you’d be hard-pushed to tell – the upstairs bar is virtually pitch black!

Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Road  London SW11 3BA.

Rock the block

(Cross my heart midi dress, Three Floor, £118)

Need some inspiration for the weekend? Today, I’ve been taken by the colour-block trend. It’s grey outside so I refuse to wear a colour palette of dark, dingy colours – it’s our chance to fight back and reclaim the rainbow. French Connection recently devoted a whole promotion to breton stripes, Marni took on H&M and Whistles’ blog is awash with colourful combos. Fashion just got exciting and it’s all thanks to the block!

(Striped knit with block border, Jaeger, £114)

So, I’ve sourced some of the best colour block items around right now for your viewing pleasure. A few ground rules before you kit yourself out head to toe as Beetlejuice. It’s all about sophistication. You don’t want to look like you’ve had an accident with a paint roller so stick to a maximum of 3 colours or if you’re going for more than 3, keep it tonal. Also, don’t mix and match. Either a top or trousers, skirt or a jacket. Going all-out will result in bag lady comparisons. And nobody wants that!

(Colour contrast skirt, Karen Millen, £115)

All down The Alma

The Alma – a popular name for a pub it seems and not only that, good pubs. I’ve visited The Alma in N1 a number of times. Great food, great atmosphere and definitely the kind of place to while away the hours with a couple of pints.

The other night I went to another Alma – this time in Wandsworth. A pub, dining room and boutique (so it claims) hotel and found that it lived up to the Alma name in terms of quality and experience. The pub itself is a little rough around the edges – still has more of a boozer vibe as opposed to re-furbed gastro. It’s also packed with commuters so maybe worth a miss. What isn’t worth a miss is the dining room..

They have an excellent, extensive menu with more than enough exciting options to tickle your fancy. We were quite intrigued by the smoked mackerel rarebit and my heavily pregnant friend was wowed by the chorizo-stuffed corn fed chicken supreme. They also feature your standard pub grub – sausages and mash, pie, burgers…but all with a nice twist such as supplying venison sausages as opposed to pork for example.

All in all, a good place for dinner with friends and some guaranteed tasty eats. So, next time you’re at a loose end near Wandsworth Town station…

The Alma, 499 Old York Road, Wandsworth, SW18 1TF.

Furnish yourself with a Furla

It may have been a while since we last spoke, but I’m back and I wanted to share my recent handbag obsession with you!

An Italian brand which has been supplying bags, shoes and accessories to the masses since 1927, Furla epitomizes understated cool without being flashy, label-heavy or as expensive as half the other designer brands out there. I love the subtle fastenings and good quality leather they use and so I find myself this season hankering after one of their beautiful bags..

Get yourself down to their Regents Street store for some lunchtime eye-candy or browse online..your choice. Here are my favourites!

(Montmartre Boston Bag, Furla, £370)

(Furla, Equestre Large Top Handle Bag, Saks Fitch Avenue, £614.19)

(Globetrotter Messenger Bag, Furla, £315)