Where to Eat in London: FOLD Vietnamese

fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-2FOLD | Vietnamese | Brick Lane | Website
– reservations are available –

My love affair with Vietnamese food started over a year ago, shortly after meeting V.A (chopstickpanorama). It was a new venture for me, and one that I would undoubtedly come to love. Much like my love for Japanese food, I enjoy the light, subtle flavours in Vietnamese cuisine. Luckily my office is close to Kingsland road (the best place for Vietnamese food in London), so I am able to enjoy these flavours pretty often. That said, my favourite dishes are those made by V.A herself – a restaurant could never compare to good home cooking. Thanks to her kind nature she has introduced me to a variety of dishes, of which my favourites are Banh Cuon and Shaking Beef. So when she told me of a new Vietnamese restaurant opening even closer to my office, I just knew we had to check it out.

FOLD is based on Brick Lane and offers up “Vietnamese folding food” – aka rice paper dishes. Walking in I was impressed with the contemporary, clean interior. We took a seat on a communal table, and began to browse the menu. This is where I start to sound pretentious – the dish names are not in Vietnamese. Instead they have descriptive English titles, which is a little confusing. I searched the menu for my beloved banh coun. I think V.A could see the worry in my eyes, so she asked the server. Luckily we were told it is indeed on the menu (Steamed Rice Paper Pancakes). We ordered a selection of other dishes and were served pretty quickly. Most of these dishes can be prepared in advance, which makes the service very smooth.

For me the stand-out dishes were the Beef Carpaccio Folding Set (reminiscent of shabu shabu), the Salt & Pepper Tofu Folding Set (light and crunchy) and the Vietnamese Coffee (come on, as if you weren’t expecting that). Unfortunately the Banh Cuon was a bit too thick, and lacked flavour. That said, I liked how they filled it with egg rather than shrimp or pork – making it edible for almost everyone.

I can see myself going back for lunch, and sharing a folding set with a friend. However I’m afraid to say that I probably won’t go back for dinner at this price. These are not expensive ingredients, and whereas I understand Brick Lane is not a cheap place to rent, I just can’t justify £40 a head (we paid £21 with a cocktail thanks to the discount). I’d suggest trying it out with the 50% off during their soft launch (on until 6th Nov) though. Check out FOLD Vietnamese for more info.

Thanks to V.A (Chopstickpanorama) for the photos of me.

fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-4fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-londonfold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-5 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-1 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-6 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-3

Where to Eat in London: COUNTER Vauxhall

counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-4

COUNTER Vauxhall | European | Vauxhall Arches | Website
– reservations are available –

Brunch isn’t something you get to enjoy every day of the week. And in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. Brunch is a relaxing occasion where you gather with friends/family to fully enjoy your food and free time. I try to have brunch at least once a week, as it spares me the time to appreciate the food I’m eating, and the company I’m keeping. Plus, who doesn’t love getting up late on a Sunday and eating tons of food? Step in Zomato. Or more precisely, a Zomato meet-up at COUNTER* in the far away land of Vauxhall.

COUNTER is a modern restaurant based in Vauxhall’s railway arches, less than a minute outside of the station (it’s literally next door). Walking in I felt a real Mad Men 1950/60s vibe to the place, albeit with a contemporary twist. A pianist was playing by the front of the restaurant – whom I would later find out took requests – and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s so nice to walk in to a restaurant where people are talking, rather than sitting on their phones (yes, I did just go there as a blogger). We started with Peach Bellinis (one of my favourites), which was actually part of a £20 DIY menu that included a bottle of Prosecco, peach puree and sliced peaches. That’s really not bad for a boozy brunch with your fave group of people.

I ordered a flat white and the New England Crab Cake, with artichoke, smoked salmon, poached egg, and chive mayonnaise. My coffee was ok (I sound like a coffee snob), but it was my Crab Cake that rightfully stole the show. It was soft, flavoursome, presented beautifully, and just the right size. You couldn’t ask for more. If I had the option of eating it again, I most certainly would. I also shared some Bacon, Mac & Cheese Balls with the ladies (so so good) and some sourdough toast (toast is toast). After our brunch we were offered a dessert menu. Dessert…with brunch!? Of course, I love finishing my brunch with something sweet! Being the peanut butter fiend that I am I chose the Peanut Butter Parfait. I am most definitely a peanut butter snob, and I can tell you that this dessert had the perfect amount of the holy paste. However there was a little too much jam for me in some parts – I’m not a PB&J kinda gal – so I didn’t finish it entirely.

The wait staff were friendly and incredibly helpful, making sure we had everything we needed; I noticed this was the case for the tables around us also. Price-wise my brunch came to about £20 – including my share of the Prosecco deal. We were at COUNTER for almost 4 hours, so the £20 doesn’t seem like a lot, when I consider how much I ate and drank. I had a wonderful time. My tip? Ask the pianist to play your favourite song…or the Jurassic Park theme tune – it’s awesome!

Check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-3 counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-1 counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-5counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-2counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-6

COUNTER Vauxhall Arches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Duck and Waffle, Will You Marry Me?

duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-1Duck & Waffle | British and European | The City | Website
– reservations available –

Last week Experian invited me up to Duck and Waffle for a leisurely lunch, and a chat about weddings. No I’m not getting married just yet. Even if my family do enjoy continuously asking “when’s the big day?” Instead we were talking about the cost of weddings for those who attend. I’ve managed to avoid having to attend any friends weddings, purely because none of them are getting married yet. However I’m sure a lot of you will probably know this pain all too well. Apparently 11% of people have spent over £800 on attending weddings. Just think of how many visits to Duck and Waffle that is! This made me realise that my idea of a destination wedding probably isn’t the most practical for some people. Definitely food for thought!

Food based puns aside, I know you’re all dying to find out what I thought of Duck and Waffle. Well I must say, it lives up to the hype. So much so that I went back two days later with a bunch of friends. The food was expertly prepared, and presented in a jovial, rustic fashion. Duck and Waffle is pretty special. They’ve managed to create dishes that sound, and look, as good as they taste. Our Chef’s Sharing Menu was full of eclectic British and European dishes. It’s fair to say I loved everything that was put in front of me. However my top dish by far was the BBQ-Spiced Crispy Pigs Ears. Don’t be deterred by their name, these are no doggy treats. Arriving in a wax sealed paper bag (oh yes they did), the smell is the first thing to hit you – a hefty American BBQ aroma. The smell is pretty damn good, but of course it’s all about the taste. These thin strips of pork crackling are full of immense flavour. Somehow they manage to be sweet, spicy and a delicate umami flavour all in one. Don’t ask me how they do it; this is sheer magic. If Duck and Waffle did takeaway, I’d have the meat sweats everyday of the week.

If you can’t get enough of finances (you crazy party animal), check out Experian’s Money & Relationship Guide for some interesting graphics on mixing love and money.

duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-2duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-financeduck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-4 duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-5 duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-6 duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-3duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-8

A London Life… on Foot

london-life-bloomzy-architecture-kings-college Southwark | Nearest Tube: London Bridge

Walking is one of the few forms of exercise I can get behind. In fact I walk a lot! London may be big, but it’s pretty easy to walk between tube stops, or around a specific area. Of course it helps when the city you live in is so beautiful. Yes, I genuinely mean that. London is a wonderful mixture of old meets new – history and culture seep from it’s streets. Speaking of, the streets are incredibly inspiring in London, especially for a budding photographer such as myself. I often find myself stopping to take a photo or two. The architecture is like nothing else in Europe. Paris may have it’s charms, but I could walk for hours and only snap shots of London’s buildings.

Of course the people are just as interesting. That’s why whenever I walk I always make sure I have a companion. Lately it’s been V.A. After taking her on a tour of Dalston/Stoke Newington, she returned the favour and showed me around Southwark. It’s very different to my part of town – East. It’s more polished (in parts), but that doesn’t make it any less compelling.

View more of the  ‘A London Life…’ series

london-life-bloomzy-architecture-the-shard-borough-market london-life-bloomzy-architecture-the-design-museumlondon-life-bloomzy-architecture-bermondsey-white-cube london-life-bloomzy-architecture-bermondsey-white-cube-2 london-life-bloomzy-architecture-bermondsey-white-cube-1

Where to Eat in London: Bourne and Hollingsworth

where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-1Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings | European | Clerkenwell | Website
– reservations are highly recommeded –

I don’t always base my brunch choices on the interior of a restaurant, but when I do, it’s Bourne and Hollingsworth. Joking aside, I will openly admit that I chose to visit Bourne and Hollingsworth for their interior design. A bright, spacious restaurant filled with greenery and marble…it’s a bloggers dream! However it would seem that bloggers are not their only fans, as their table booking system made evident. This is one London establishment where you won’t get a seat without a reservation. However a few weeks after I originally gave up trying to get a table, something amazing happened. The site refreshed itself, and there it was, a table for 2 at 11:45 on a Saturday. I grabbed it!

When we arrived the restaurant was busy, but chilled. This is the usual at B&H. We were shown to our table at the back of the building, exactly where I had hoped to sit – lucky me! I knew precisely what I wanted to order – the Drop Scones with Clotted Cream & Summer Berries. All thanks to Katy. Our dishes arrived pretty quickly and I immediately tucked in. The drop scones were devilishly light, and buttery rich. The clotted cream had actually been whipped, so again it was rich and creamy. It was beyond delicious, especially when paired with the raspberries. Unfortunately about 3/4 of the way through, I began to give up. The clotted cream was too rich, and it had all begun to taste like…yes you guessed it, butter. Something I personally love, but only in small doses. My suggestion to B&H? Ease up on the red currants and blueberries, add a few more raspberries. Oh and maybe hold back a little on the rich ingredients. A great dish like this shouldn’t be it’s own downfall.

I wouldn’t order the Drop Scones again, but I might be tempted to come back for dinner instead…if I could get a table. The reservation system here works so well that they don’t even need to take walk-ins. Of course this is a shame for those who stop by and fancy checking out the restaurant on a whim. However it does add a refreshing change to London’s usual “walk-in only” policy. Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a beautiful restaurant, with a classic, well-thought out menu. The interior matches the time and care that has gone in to the dishes, and I would highly recommend visiting. Just make sure you plan in advance!

If you liked this, why not check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-2 where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-3

Click to add a blog post for Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings on Zomato
Square Meal

A London Life… at The Canary Wharf Sky Garden

canary-wharf-sky-garden-a-london-life-bloomzy-3 canary-wharf-sky-garden-a-london-life-bloomzy-4 canary-wharf-sky-garden-a-london-life-bloomzy-1canary-wharf-sky-garden-a-london-life-bloomzy-5 canary-wharf-sky-garden-a-london-life-bloomzy-2

The Canary Wharf Sky Garden | Crossrail Place | Nearest Tube: Canary Wharf

Finding tranquility in London is a lot easier than some might think. Although I’m sure most of you would scoff at me if I said you could find it smack bang in the middle of Canary Wharf. An area known for it’s skyscrapers is the last place you’d expect to find a bounty of greenery. However a few weeks ago I made it my mission to find this hidden gem.

With V.A in tow, we battled the crowds of shoppers and made it out to the new Crossrail Place complex. It was eerily quiet outside amongst the skyscrapers, and I half thought we’d taken the wrong exit. However we soon realised we were in the right place, and so we crossed the bridge and rode the escalators to the heavens. Heavens is maybe a slight exaggeration here as the sky garden isn’t particularly high, although it does offer a lovely view over London. However what I enjoyed most was how serene the garden was. Everything has been carefully landscaped, and laid out alongside spacious paths. As we weaved in and out of the tropical plants, it was easy to forget that we were still in London.

Unfortunately the garden doesn’t go on forever, but there’s plenty to see (and Instagram). The variety of plants on display is amazing, and the contemporary architecture is astonishing – just look at that roof! I’m a big architecture/plant geek and I have to say, this is now one of my favourite spots in London. I could easily find myself relaxing here for the afternoon with a book, or sharing a coffee with some friends.

View more of the  ‘A London Life…’ series

Kopparberg Urban Forest Festival

kopparberg-urban-forest-festival-hackney-wick-braid-barKopparberg Urban Forest Festival*

I think it’s fair to say that Britain goes a little festival crazy during the Summer. But I’m not in to camping, so I was all set for another festival-less year. That was until I was invited to the Kopparberg Urban Forest Festival. So on the longest day of the year I headed to Hackney Wick to celebrate the Summer Solstice – Swedish style.

I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect from Kopparberg, as I’d missed last year’s offering. The venue might have been slightly smaller than Glastonbury, but it had all the essentials. There were street food trucks, a photo booth, a couple of bars, hair braiding and even a DJ booth. I headed straight to the bar for a frozen Kopparberg. It sounds a little odd, but it’s perfectly refreshing on a hot Summer’s day. Next we went for food…we have our priorities straight. I chose Le Bun, a French twist on the typical American Burger. I went for Le Duck Frites; a duck confit burger with straw fries and champagne slaw. Ben went for a more Scandinavian affair with The Hackney Pearl’s Swedish Meatball Sandwich. We shared our dishes, and truth be told, we couldn’t decide whose was better. Both were delicious, and perfect alongside our ciders. After our mini feast, I decided to join the queue for the braid bar. The Braid Bar is pretty well known among beauty enthusiasts, and celebrities alike. With my short, thin hair, I wasn’t sure if they would be able to do anything. Luckily they cater for all hair types, as I saw whilst watching others have their hair braided. I went for the Eva – two small side braids. It didn’t take too long and I was pretty happy with the result (although I wouldn’t pay £10 for it in-store).

In true Scandinavian style there were plenty of fresh flowers. But instead of crowns, these flowers were being weaved into our braids, and the mens beards. As my braids were so petite and tight, I went for a more delicate look. I really loved how it complimented the style of the braids. Ben had actually had his hair and beard cut that morning, so I was a bit sad that we couldn’t adorn his hair too. We still had plenty of time left though, so we headed to the photobooth and snapped some memories. After a couple more Kopparbergs, the heavens began to open, so we scarpered. It’s fair to say that this is one festival I can definitely see myself going back to.

The Kopparberg Urban Forest is on until July 12th – entry is free.

london-style-fashion-cos-nikekopparberg-urban-forest-festival-hackney-wick-1 kopparberg-urban-forest-festival-hackney-wick-braid-bar-1 kopparberg-urban-forest-festival-hackney-wick-3 kopparberg-urban-forest-festival-hackney-wick