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.

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Where to Eat in London: COUNTER Vauxhall

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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.

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

A London Life… at Bettys Tea Room

bettys-tea-room-yorkshire-tea-party-london-4Bettys Tea Room Blogger Event | A London Life Series

Betty’s tea rooms in Yorkshire are famous worldwide. Their afternoon teas are a luxurious treat that people travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles for. I remember staring in awe at the opulent cafe on my first visit to Harrogate, as a small child. I thought to myself “when I’m an adult, I will have afternoon tea here everyday”. Flash forward quite a few years, I have been unable to keep my promise to mini me. However last weekend my inner child was indulged when Bettys visited London for their first ever blogger event.

I was given the chance to test out of my piping skills, which I thought had improved after the Konditor & Cook event. I was wrong. As my dad put it “your cakes would give children nightmares”. Well, I suppose if I’m gonna excel at something… Anyway, after the piping challenge – which my lovely table buddy Emma deservedly won – we were told to decorate our tables. With boxes of cakes. Yes you heard me correctly. Boxes of cakes! If some of those boxes had also contained puppies I would have assumed I’d died and gone to heaven. My team (me, Emma and Charlotte) grabbed some crockery and accessories, and got to work. It didn’t take us long before we’d created a work of art (check out the photo at the top of the post). We had: Grand Cru Chocolate Sachertorte, Fox Cupcake Brownie, Champagne Truffles, Chocolate Fruit Clusters, Yorkshire Shortbread and tea. If my will power hadn’t been at full capacity on this particular day, I would have easily gained a stone in chocolate weight.

It felt so wonderful to be invited to a Bettys event. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the tea rooms are very special to me. Feeling that excitement and energy once again, reminded me of just how much we take some experiences for granted. Sure, I’m not going to win the next series of the Great British Bake Off, nor am I going to get a job at Bettys as head cake decorator (not with those piping skills), but that doesn’t matter. Because just by tasting their cakes, teas and pastries you realise how much love and time have gone in to making them. Whether you’re a child or an adult, Betty’s will make you feel pretty special.

If you ever have the chance, I highly suggest you pay a visit to Bettys.
If you really can’t visit, the magic that is the internet will now allow you to buy their creations online.

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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.

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Yauatcha Soho | Mooncakes and Macarons

yauatcha-london-soho-afternoon-tea-patisserie-mooncakes-2Yauatcha Soho | Dim Sum & Patisserie | Soho | Website
– reservations available –

It’s not everyday I’m invited to a Michelin star restaurant. I know, shocking right? I should have told you to take a seat before I made such a life-changing statement. Joking aside, even though I have visited several Michelin star restaurants, I do still get a little starry eyed when I walk in to one. I mean, any foodie would, right? So when Yauatcha invited myself and V.A to visit for afternoon tea, I was more than happy to accept. The Dim Sum and Patisserie has been on my list for several years now, but I’ve always been too absent minded to book.

We headed to the restaurant around 3 on a Saturday afternoon. I would like to add at this point that it was possibly the hottest Saturday ever…in existence. The sun was roasting us slowly, so the prospect of tea and cake in an air conditioned restaurant was exhilarating. Inside we were greeted by the maître d’ who showed us to our table. We were then given a small tour of the patisserie, where we were shown the new mooncakes that Yauatcha are serving up for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We chose to try both of the mooncake options available. Of course we took several minutes to stare in awe at the other worthy cakes on offer. It was difficult not to choose the most beautiful (which is pretty much all of them), however we managed to whittle our choices down to only three: Raspberry delice, Passion fruit mango dome, and Red fruits fromage frais.

The cakes were delightful. Each encompassed it’s own subtle flavours, however they all shared a light and airy texture. Perfect for afternoon tea, no? We paired our cakes with a pot of Classic Beauty Blue Tea (I love Taiwanese tea), and two cocktails; Lalu and Nashi Momo (Japanese pear AND peach? Yes please!). The tea was thirst quenching, and went down smoothly. A pot easily nourished us both, however I would gladly order a pot for one next time, as it was so refreshing. As for the cocktails…well, they were gigantic! And don’t assume that these cocktails were all style and no substance. In fact there was an abundance of flavour. The Nashi Momo was my personal favourite, as it shared the subtly sweet taste, and the slightly grainy texture of it’s namesake. I would order it again in a flash!

As for the mooncakes, they were smaller than the usual “family size” version, which made them perfect for a single serving. I wasn’t particularly won over by the mooncakes by themselves as they’re a little stodgy, however when paired with ice cream (an a la carte option, or a diy for at home) they were extremely moreish.

Price wise, Yauatcha isn’t as expensive as you would think; our bill came to a total of around £60. In my opinion £30 each is not much at all for what we received. I would gladly pay it. After all, I can see Yauatcha being a lovely place for friends to get together, chat and celebrate over tea and mooncakes. It certainly was when me and V.A went at least. It was wonderful to have our own mini Mid-Autumn celebration, even if it did feel like the Sahara outside.

Mooncakes are available at Yauatcha until the 27th September.
You can check out V.A’s post here and watch our first foodie video at the bottom of this post.

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Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

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.

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

Where to Eat in London: BIRD

where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurantBIRD | Fried Chicken | Hackney | Website
– reservations available –

Fried chicken is my guilty pleasure. In fact it’s one of the few things I think I could eat everyday…without growing sick of it. Even though it’s relatively common in the UK, it can be difficult to find good fried chicken. BIRD isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. But in the short time it has been open, it has made a pretty good name for itself. I’ve been a few times myself, what with the restaurant being only a 10min walk from my office. So when BIRD invited me back to try their new lunch menu of course I said yes.

I had been drooling over some of the new additions to the menu, such as the Korean Burger (fried chicken, gochujang glaze and kimchi slaw) and the Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich (freshly baked buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, honey butter & hot sauce). Naturally we ordered both when we arrived, alongside some fries and pickled cucumber. I had been excited for the biscuit as it’s something I have only had in America (and loved). It was crunchy outside and soft inside, with a slightly oily aftertaste. Although I felt it definitely could have been bigger, it was pretty authentic. The chicken was moist in both the sandwich and the burger, with a slightly crispy outer. The Kimchi Burger boasted a delicious slaw and oozed hot sauce. This is one messy burger. Over all it’s wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve had, but it made for a good lunch. I saved my doughnut for later, and boy was it worth the wait. I honestly think BIRD make the best doughnut dough in London. This one was bigger than my hand, and I finished every last bit of it.

Our lunches came to £10 each (without drink), which included a main, side and a doughnut – or £8 with a side or doughnut. The difference between BIRD and other fried chicken restaurants is definitely in the ingredients. The chicken is brought in fresh everyday, and cooked twice to make sure that it is perfectly done. The doughnuts are made daily in-store, and the flavours change to match. The fresh, quality ingredients are definitely reflected in the taste, right down to the special seasoning on the fries. In fact I loved the little details so much that I ended up taking away the recipe for the seasoning, and jotting down the name of the hot sauce. BIRD may look like a hipster joint, but it the food feels more like home cooking. This may mean a few mishaps here and there, but more often than not they get it right.

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

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