Thursday, June 28, 2012

Prohibition, 23rd Jun

Prohibition is a night run by Bourne & Hollingsworth who are supremos when it comes to alternative nightlife. As the name suggests, a night at Prohibition is a night that takes you back in time to the roaring 20s when alcohol was on the downlow and flappers were in their ascendant. They are incredibly popular and always sell out in advance. Doors to the secret location (revealed a couple of weeks prior) open at 8, entertainment starts at about 9 and the doors to the ‘speakeasy’ close at 2, which means that it’s quite a short night by most other clubs’ standards. It also means that you don’t want to make the mistake of drinking elsewhere until 11 and then turning up as you will have missed a lot of the action.

People are not only encouraged to dress in period costume, but you are told that entry without making an effort (ie avoid jeans and sneakers) isn’t allowed. The organisers probably don’t have to worry too much that anyone is going to take their chances with the dress code though, as the people who go clearly enjoy making an effort. It’s a great period of time to dress for - sexy, shimmering dresses and fun, feathery head gear for the ladies; pinstripes and flattering waistcoats for the gents.

This time the event was held in the glamorous Bloomsbury Ballroom. We arrived at about 9:30 and put our coats away. There was a trio playing in the hallway, and two rooms. 

One room had the main stage and dance area, with a bar. The second was showing silent movies (think Charlie Chaplin), had tables and chairs and also the gambling pit where you could try your hand at blackjack. Upon entry you were presented with a fake $100 bill which you then cashed in with the croupier for chips to gamble with. At least, that is the idea. Me and my party must have arrived at the wrong time as we didn’t get offered any money to gamble with, fake or not. I don’t really think this would have been a problem had we insisted on participating – it’s all about joining in and having fun. 

Cocktails and bottles of beer were the order of the day for drinks. Innocuous books were placed nonchalantly at the bar, but when 
you opened the first page, you could see the short cocktail menu. There were four or five to choose from, all priced at normal bar cocktail prices - ie £7.50. Except for the ‘signature’ cocktail at 
£8.00 - the Gatsby - which, along with one other, was served in teacups. Well, you don't want the feds busting in and sussing
you've got moonshine on the go! 

About an hour after we got in, the live entertainment in the main room started. I didn't dance as much as I'd hoped to this - I was too often waiting at the bar for our cocktails - the downside of having mainly cocktails to choose from is that they take longer to prepare, leading to longer queues leading to feeling like I’d missed out on some of the night. Just can’t resist the illicit booze! The Gatsby, incidentally I found very sweet and preferred the gin fizzes overall.

When the band were done DJs took up the reins to keep you going until the place closed, playing retro sounds right up to the 50s and 60s and by this point everyone was getting down and cutting a shine in the main room. The second room remained quieter, for those who needed a respite and to rest their feet, or who preferred the sophistication of dancing with Lady Luck on the blackjack table.

I thought Prohibition was fun and I’m glad I went. If I were to rate it out of ten, it would probably lose a couple of stars, though I can’t put my finger on why. I think, perhaps, that the Ballroom was a bit too big for the number of people. It’s nice not to be overcrowded, but a little intimacy helps build atmosphere. I will definitely try out some of their other nights as soon as I can though, such as the Blitz party, and the one I particularly like the sound of – the Belle Epoch. Bustier ahoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

West End Live, 23rd June

As 3 guys on a London Bus and Diamond Geezer pointed out, this weekend there was a glut of things to do, several of which were on my List. I knew, however, that it would be too much of a challenge, even for me, to fit in most of it, so I decided to concentrate on West End Live as it was central and I had some other things to do in town. After carefully planning my route in so that I would end up at Leicester Square, I arrived there to find it strangely empty. Where was West End Live? Wasn’t this the most obvious location to represent the West End? And, more to the point, wasn’t this where it always was? A quick check of twitter and I discovered that this year they were in Trafalgar Square. I quickly trotted over there to be met with a queue of people waiting to get into the West End Live area. This was a much bigger affair than I was expecting. I’m sure a few years ago I came across West End Live in its infancy, and it just took up a small corner of Leicester Square. I was not expecting all this, especially not the queuing.  The weather was changeable and I didn’t have an umbrella. I was beginning to think my W.E.L. journey was coming to an end. There were a lot of people around but it was still possible to just about see and hear what was going on on the stage, from the outskirts of Trafalgar Square. The big screens either side of the stage helped. I watched a couple of songs from Dreamboats and Petticoats and as the queue was still there, decided to walk around the Square.

Which is when I came across some of the cars from the movies. There was a bit of a queue to get into see them up close, but if you didn’t mind not touching them, then there was plenty of space at the barriers to take pictures.  I hadn’t even noticed these from the entrance barrier so I was thankful for the queue forcing me to walk around. I then went to the other side to see if there was anything similar over there. There wasn’t, but two of the decorated phone boxes were on the island so I went over to the them to have a look. 

And discovered a plaque saying that this was the spot from which all London distances are measured - I can’t believe I’d never seen that before.

I walked up to the top of the Square and discovered that on this side, there was no real queue, just a line of people steadily walking in. So I joined and went into the area. It wasn’t very crowded in there after all. Yes, there were people but there was also a lot of space and you could easily make your way quite close to the stage. Around the edges (inside) there were booths from places such as Madame Tussauds and the Film Museum, giving you a chance to have a picture taken with a couple of wax models or see some movie artefacts. And obviously to encourage you to go to the real thing and see the rest.

I got in and saw the Spamalot time slot. I really had not timed my visit very well. I wanted to see some snippets of shows I hadn’t seen but wanted to, and instead I got there to see Spamalot which I’d already seen, and then the children-oriented shows like Angeline Ballerina and Horrible Histories. (Actually, the latter was quite amusing.) I did also get to see a sneak preview of The In-Between, a sort of fantasy musical, but I wasn’t too impressed by the songs I heard.

Also, in between the sets, the hosts would chit chat amongst each other, trying to gee up the audience and there was often a few moments where the camera would cut to a 'reporter on the beat' who brought us news of what was happening in the surrounding tents. It all felt a little unnecessary, and I wished they would just get on with the songs. However, it did lead surprisingly to a highlight - they had one of the cast from War Horse in the crowd - with puppet horse. I managed to get quite a good picture.

I stayed about an hour, leaving just as The Big Dance was finishing. This was a dance troupe who came on and danced Zumba for a few songs. I think the audience was supposed to be encouraged into participating but this wasn’t very clear and there were very few people dancing along. If you were a few rows back you suspected that maybe the front was dancing, but the cameras stuck to the stage, not the audience so you couldn’t be sure. I think they missed an opportunity here to get a bit of a flash dance mob going. And the dancers on stage weren’t even very good. So, off I went in search of sustenance.

Wapping, Execution Dock, 23rd June

This could be the place...
Wapping is a gorgeous little part of town, slightly off the beaten track. It’s on the Thames, east of Tower Hill and has several charming pubs with outdoors that allow views of the Thames. And, if you’re sitting outside doing just such a thing, then you may very well be sitting on top of the site of Execution Dock. Well, probably not on top of, but possibly alongside, especially if the pub you happen to be supping your pint in is the Captain Kidd, so named after one of the pirates to be put to death at Execution Dock.

Scary stairs
The exact location of the grisly landmark is somewhat debated over. I went down here last week, starting on the opposite side of the Thames in Rotherhithe, I used the guidance of a BBC show to walk down to a point opposite the Captain Kid, which is where they said you could see the famous site. We then crossed over and popped into the Kidd’s beer garden for a close up look. Then I went home and read in my Time Out guide that the site was actually at 62 Wapping High Street and marked by an ‘E’. So I went back and went to this address. I couldn’t see and E but I did find Wapping Old Stairs which lead right down to the water’s edge, if you care to go that close. I didn’t. 

So then I looked it up on Wikipedia and found an image of an old map showing that Execution Dock stairs were, in fact, closer to the Captain Kidd, or possibly even Wapping Overground station and so I had to satisfy myself that I’d got as close to the spot as I could. Such a shame that it hasn’t been preserved. Maybe it was thought too macabre to do that, but I would have appreciated it!

As I walked in to Wapping I passed by the Tobacco Docks and a pirate ship, of which I know little but thought I’d take a picture anyway. I also stumbled onto the Wapping Summer Shindig which looked pleasant but I had other goals for my day (West End Live, Canela) so I didn’t hang around. 

Canela, 23rd June

Canela is a Portuguese based restaurant/café. They have a place in Seven Dials and another little one on Oxford Street, and they used to have one near Carnaby Street but that is now Pitt Cue Co. I had been planning on having some feijoada, a traditional Portuguese stew with sausage and black beans but when I got there it was a little more expensive than I was expecting. I didn’t want to pay over £11 for what I was thinking would be a snack, not a sit-down main meal. However, they have a counter full of sweet things (pasteis de nata, chocolate fondants etc) and savouries (lots of quiches, salads) that were of the right size and price range. I chose a chicken coxinha because I didn’t know what it was and it sounded suitably Portuguese, and a Pao de queijo (cheese bread). The man who took my order asked if I wanted them warmed, and I assented. I paid my £4.80 and took my delights with me.

Pointy 'scotch egg'
Its true contents are revealed!
The coxinha was a bit like a Scotch egg. Except that instead of an egg in the middle, it was chicken. And instead of it being encased in sausage, it was encased in potato. And instead of being round it was pointy. But otherwise very similar. So, actually, a coxinha is a filled potato croquette. It was quite nice - the chicken was very nicely seasoned, but it was a little dry. Some sort of hot sauce or dip would have made it really good. 

Mmm cheesy
And then I moved on to my cheese bread. I can imagine me developing a habit for these. They were light, but at the same time reassuringly dense, and chewy. Very cheesy and decadently buttery. I’ll be coming back for more.

Canela on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Musical Bingo, 20th June

Why did we think a fourth bottle of wine would be a good idea? Whose arm was around me as we danced on stage? Where did my jacket go? These are the kinds of questions you will be asking yourself when you go to the crazy party that is Musical Bingo.

If you’re at all familiar with bingo, you’ll pick up Musical Bingo in no time. You get a card and on it is a grid with nine song titles. When they play your song you cross it off. First prize is one line, second prize is two lines, third prize is three lines and then you carry on until someone gets a full house. Each round also has a different theme. The first one was British music, the second was love (aaaahhh) and so on. 

 This was Musical Bingo’s 5th birthday so we knew they were going to pull out all the stops. There were some pretty decent prizes on offer – the grand prize being tickets to Leefest, but also bottles of wine, and decent bar tabs/free meals for Concrete and Pizza East which were the host venue for the evening. Each round was compered by a hostess. And for the first time ever, all three hostesses were sharing the stage! 

[Poor] Photographic evidence of the landmark occasion
These saucy minxes obviously didn’t have to call out numbers, but kept the party going and, all important, faciliated deciding any tie breakers. You see, if you got a line (or two or three) you raced to the DJ booth to get your card checked. But what if more than one of you reached bingo at the same time? I thought it might be a case of first come first win, picturing cut-throat races to the DJ booth, people tackling other people out of the way. But no. In the case of a tie-break, however many people were claiming victory were ushered onto the stage to compete for the prize. Such contests included a hula hooping competition, a limbo contest, and rock paper scissors. Being the grand exhibitionist that I am after a few glasses of wine, I was mortally disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to try my hand at any of these, as I didn’t win a single game. I think in the whole night I managed to cross off only one measly line (way after the chance to win that had passed). But as you might guess, it didn’t mar my enjoyment.

Lola Hi-Rola

The night was sold out – you have to book a table in advance by email for £7 per person. We were shown to our seats by Johnny and had time to get some drinks in before the bingo started at about 8. At first me and my more competitive teammate found the going a little slow. There was absolutely no chance of someone being too lethargic to miss their song, miss their chance to cross it off and thus boost our chances of winning, as they played each song in full. We were raring to go to hear the next one, in a hurry to be the first to win. But then, after a couple more glasses, that urge wore off and we were enjoying listening to the music. Starting to groove along and dance in our seats even. They were playing some cracking songs – ranging from The Buzzcocks to Stevie Wonder (the Happy Birthday song of course!). Soon, if they cut the song short to move onto the next one, we were disappointed. Slowly but surely, the impending chaos crept in. People started not only dancing in their seats, but standing up to jig about. Then, (no doubt inspired by miss Lola Hi-Rola gallivanting on the benches), others were getting up onto the benches and tables to dance (and swiftly being told to get down by the bouncers). Until, as soon as you’d crossed off your song, or realised you didn’t have it, people were moving to the area at the front to dance between songs. I had my moment in the sun when my friend and I, who need little to no encouragement, were taken by the hand and pulled onto the stage. Now it was all about the dancing – me just hopping off stage to cross off a song before jumping back to continue dancing. It all culminated with circles breaking out and strangers’ arms finding strangers’ waists while we kicked our legs and swung around to Zorba the Greek. And I haven’t even mentioned the conga line – or the gambling your prize for the chance to win . . . who knows! Something amazing, or maybe just a Justin Bieber mask. Utterly exhilarating and fabulous fun – I really can’t wait to go again. They have just started a new night called Last Man Standing and if it's anything like Musical Bingo, it deserves a place on my List.

Bobbing for marshmallows to win the team free shots

Unfortunately there was a bit of a bum note towards the end – while we were gallivanting on the stage either an overzealous bar person, or a sneaky bingo player relieved us of the half a bottle of wine we still had. And I couldn’t find my jacket when we left at the end of the night – if anyone took it by mistake (or even on purpose), can you please return it? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Epping Forest, 5th June

My bank holiday, like everyone else’s was a washout. But Tuesday was holding up reasonably well and so we thought we’d try to take advantage of the break in the rain to get outside. But where? I hit upon Epping Forest. It was reasonably near – we could go there on the tube, have a wander around and then walk back. (Except, of course, by the time it got to walking back it had started raining again and we wimped out of that part, despite taking care to bring our cagoules.)

Epping Forest is not where I thought it would be, namely Epping. In fact, it’s nearest tube station is Snaresbrook and then you just cross a road and you’re there! Epping Forest, is also not what I thought it would be, namely, a forest. It has some foresty areas with trees and woody trails, but in the main it’s like a big grassland park. 

It has a lovely pond at the top, and then another rather large lake on one side, where there are plenty of birds to make you feel like you’re amidst real wildlife, and if you go further on there’s a shop from which you can hire canoes. We didn’t do that because it was cold and wet, which didn’t make us feel like exerting ourselves, but we did stop and watch the swans for quite a while. One particularly amusing moment, for me, was when a dog owner and his dog stood by the edge of the lake and one of the swans took offense at this action. It glared at them (probably concentrating mostly on the poor little pug which hadn’t even barked) and drifted slowly towards them, it’s wings puffed out to make it look bigger, and hissing in an ominous manner. The owner, very sensibly, lead the dog swiftly away. I wouldn’t have wanted to mess with that swan. But apart from that, they were very placid. Even the geese, which can be menacing, mark my words, were very well behaved, happy to swim around drifting toward you with the tide.

The ‘forest’ was quite small, really. We took a route which I thought would lead us into the woods and less than an hour later we found ourselves right by the swan lake again. We realised we had probably walked through most of it and it was time to head home. The heavens opened and reaffirmed our decision.

Stephen was confused that the place should be so small because he thought he had been there before and it was like the forest I had imagined it would be, and then we deduced he had probably been at Wanstead park instead. So, I was a little disappointed with Epping Forest. It is pleasant enough, and would probably have been even more pleasant had the sun been shining. But I don’t think I’ll be putting extra money on my oyster card to visit it again. Can just as easily go to a park in Central London.

The hotel opposite the park - anyone know from whence it gets its name?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Scoop. 13th June

I follow 3guysonalondonbus through my blog and yesterday they did a post on The Pantaloons putting on their production of The Importance of Being Earnest at The Scoop. From the write up urging people to go see them, I decided spontaneously to do just that. The Scoop at More London was on my List and this seemed the ideal production for it. The weather was . . . reasonable for the moment, and knowing I was supposed to be away the next two nights, I grabbed the chance.

The Scoop is an outside amphitheatre at the location known as More London on the Southbank. Every summer they have a programme of free theatre, music, film screenings etc and as I love free stuff, I wanted to check it out at some point.

The very name The Pantaloons together with the description reminded me of another act I’d seen who I’d never heard of before but had been very pleasantly surprised by – Pappy’s Fun Club. Funnily enough, when doing a bit of research on the troupe today, I discovered that one of their founders also was a founder member of Pappy’s. He must like things beginning with P.

Anyway, so I dashed off straight from work, expecting people to flock to a free showing and wanting to be sure of getting a seat. I needn’t have worried as there was plenty of space, and indeed it didn’t end up filling up. Maybe the grey clouds scared people off. However, my promptness did mean we got to sit very near the action. Set and production-wise, the show was bare bones – a few props and no mikes, so sitting close was sensible if you wanted to see and hear everything. Not only do they act but they play instruments as well.

I am happy to report, that for my first show at The Scoop, I don’t know if I could have picked a better one. If they’re all of this quality then this is definitely worth checking out, and for free as well! As people filed in the actors got in amongst the crowd to entertain us while we waited. At around 6:30 the play began – with a song of course. A song in which the audience sang the chorus “Have a banana”. What else would you expect from a version of The Importance of Being Earnest?

This very much set the tone for the rest of the play. It was very silly and very, very funny. They ran through the whole thing without breaks, using song montages and ‘gameshows’ to seamlessly segue into the next act. There were five performers in total, playing all of the roles, and not above giving a wry nod to the fact that this sometimes meant that two characters couldn’t appear on stage at the same time. Oh – did I mention they had a ‘gameshow’ at one point? Yes, halfway through, to avoid Wilde witticism fatigue setting in, they had an ‘X-factor’ style competition to see which part of the audience could best perform the infamous line ‘A Handbag?!’ We were divided into three sections; section A was the right half of the audience, section B was the left half of the audience, and section C was one unlucky lady in the middle called Vanessa. Section A was called upon to recite the line (which we did very well. I had been rehearsing for this, little did I know it, my whole life, loving as I did this line as a child). Section B was called upon to better us. And then poor section C had a go, rising to the challenge wonderfully. Unsurprisingly, and deservedly, she was awarded the prize. 

Another delight was when, after this break in the action, they did a 'movie recap' managing to shoehorn in an impressive number of catchphrases while they reminded you what had happened thus far, with the appropriate movie theme music being played in the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed this romp of a show. I even almost forgot I was sitting on cold stone for a good two hours (they hire out cushions for a pound but these are minimal comfort). Towards the end of the evening the cold was setting in a bit, making it a little hard to concentrate, but at least it didn’t rain as I’d feared. There were programs for sale (I didn't buy one) and at the end of the performance, they asked, if you enjoyed it for a donation (which I gave). If we ever get some more summer weather, do check out the Scoop's line-up and give it a try. If it's anything as good as The Pantaloons, it will be well worth it.

Below, a few photos...

Lady Bracknell is dismayed at the engagement
Miss Prism and The Rev flirt
The entire ensemble in the denouement

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beijing Dumpling, 2nd June

After a day of strolling along the Southbank, attempting to get in the mood for the Jubilee by looking at the tall ships lining the Thames, we had worked up quite the appetite. My two companions were in the mood for Chinese and so I persuaded them to go to a place on my list – Beijing Dumpling.

I found this place because one day I suddenly recalled the soupy dumplings I’d had in New York and wondered if I could find them here. I did some research and found a couple of potential places. Beijing Dumplings sounded the best of the two and made the list. As we walked in, the place was quite full but we were able to be seated within a few minutes of arriving. In the window by the entrance you see the women cooks making the dumplings by hand and they looked good. Coupled with the warm and welcoming décor, slightly unusual for a place in Chinatown, we thought we’d come to a decent place.

Almost forgot to take a picture!
Unfortunately, I have to report that the food was a bit of a let down. I was actually pretty happy with my two dishes, but my dining partners fared less well. I had come for the dumplings and so dumplings I had. You can have soupy dumplings, or soupy dumplings in soup. I chose spicy pork dumplings without soup, and then a side of salt and pepper chicken. You get about 10 dumplings in a serving so this seemed more than enough food. They come in a steamed basket and at first I was disappointed. They were tiny and didn’t seem to have any soup in them! But they did, just not all that much, so in a few of them, the juice seemed to have evaporated. But in others there was enough for me to do the ritual of making a small hole, pouring out the soup into my spoon to enjoy, and then eating the rest dipped into the vinegar provided. And they were yummy. My other gripe with them is that Stephen got the regular pork dumplings, and there wasn’t much difference in the level of spiciness between them.

My second dish of chicken was lightly floured chicken, then fried and it was quite a light, tasty dish. Definitely the best of the lot bar the dumplings.

Stephen ordered beef ho fun with his dumplings and declared that he’d had better elsewhere. There weren’t enough peppers and onions included, and the noodles weren’t as good as in other places. 

Oh dear, looks a bit slimy
The third in our party had a mini-banquet in comparison.  I tried each of his dishes and wasn’t impressed with any of them. First he had a hot and sour soup which was weirdly thick and claggy. I'm doing you a favour by not having a picture of it. Then he had some chicken and cashews which was exactly what it said it was – no more, no less, no sauce. Actually, that wasn’t too bad, it just wasn’t that exciting either.

And finally, he had chow mein, which was a little dry and underwhelming. I had no food envy whatsoever.

I may go back for the dumplings, but I wouldn’t bother with anything else. And if I can find somewhere that’s less stingy with the soup, I may not go back at all! Does anyone have any xiao long bao (soupy dumpling) suggestions?

Beijing Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dalston Superstore, 1st June

I had very different expectations of Dalston Superstore compared to the reality. I had heard that the door staff were unfriendly and if you didn’t dress to impress in your ultrahipster chic or weren’t gay, you wouldn’t get in. I’m happy to say that in our experience (going with two straight guys who while yes, are technically dressed, could never be said to be dressed for anything, let alone impressing) that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Granted, we did go quite early (around 11 pm) in order to avoid the crowds, given that it was a free night but we were greeted with smiles and let right in.

The night in question happens downstairs monthly at Dalston Superstore on a Friday. It is called BREED and is hosted by Rex the Dog, a DJ who my friend is a fan of. The ‘superstore’ could more aptly be described as a ‘minimart’. It’s tiny. The bar area upstairs was adorned with dogs in reference to BREED I assume and is pretty small and narrow. The club downstairs is bigger but still fairly intimate.  I had been picturing some sort of converted warehouse that didn’t look dissimilar to the large Indian supermarket on Brick Lane. For some reason, the fact that they do food only reinforced my false impression, picturing as I was a space large enough for several picnic tables upon which skinny, bearded people tucked into pancakes and OJ. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but my expectations of the venue influenced the kind of night I thought it would be. I imagined dancing with abandon in wide spaces until the early hours. This venue leant itself more to bopping about and sometimes bopping into other people, which is always a good excuse to say hello and make friends.

Dalston Superstore is a gay club and it couldn’t be more evident when you go upstairs. They had a tranny DJ playing poptastic dance stuff (I think they played Hot Chip when I ordered my whore’s handbag cocktail [had to be done – and it was delicious]). Less than two hours later the upstairs bar was absolutely rammed – mostly full of skinny bearded guys snogging each other while the DJ announced that he preferred it bareback in the 90s. But the club is ‘straight friendly’ and my two friends dancing downstairs felt perfectly comfortable.

I have no complaints about the night – it was fun, but it wasn’t AMAZING. It probably doesn’t help that just a week later I went to Krankbrother’s Street Party after party and that absolutely smashed it, making my night in Superstore seem tame by comparison. In fact I think I even left before the place closes which I almost never do! However, I did have fun and I enjoyed the music both upstairs and downstairs so I wouldn’t rule out going back; I just didn’t fall in love with the place.  

Square Meal

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pavilion, 4th June

In the endless requests for good places for brunch/eggs benedict/breakfast that get sent into Secret London on twitter (seriously, does no one ever bother to see what people have said previously?), Pavilion gets mentioned often. It’s just up the road from me in Victoria Park, but for some reason I hadn’t yet really wanted to bother trying it. Until we went up there for a picnic and I saw the menu, the dishes coming out and the freshly baked bread sitting on the side.

Two weeks later and the weather had gone decidedly downhill but we thought this would work in our favour for getting a seat at this small but popular place. It turned out they were doing a roaring trade (and we overheard that they were much busier than even they were expecting) but luckily we still managed to nab a bit of table inside. Pavilion’s name gives you a clue as to what it is – it is a little Pavilion in the park and isn’t much to look at. There are a few outside tables, and of course, the entire park to take your meal to, and inside are a few bench-type tables with basic chairs, and probably some remnants from the last person’s meal on or around your seat.

But the quality of the food is top notch. They serve breakfast type dishes like three all kinds of eggs (benedict, florentine, scrambled etc), various brekkie-type sandwiches and a choice of two full breakfasts – one with black pudding and two eggs, one with mushrooms, tomato and one egg (or something like that, Stephen had the non-black pudding one by mistake). They also have a pancake option which sounded delicious. Then they do some lunch options such as a few different salads and the irresistible-to-me chorizo, aioli, roasted red peppers and rocket focaccia sandwich.

Both our choices were delicious and it was obvious from the taste that Pavilion use top quality, organic or free range ingredients. They even tell you on one of their big boards who is producing the food you’re eating. One slight complaint was that the sausage in Stephen’s breakfast was a little dry (which I’ve noticed seems to be a sign of sausages made from good quality meat, maybe not enough of the fatty bad stuff is in them!). The beans I think were worth a special mention, and you can tell from the colour of that yolk that it was a good'un. 

That looks a bit like black pudding on the plate, but I'm pretty sure it's mushroom.

My only complaint of my sandwich was that it was huge and difficult to eat. I could probably have been happy with just half of it. The chorizo was full of flavour, as was the roasted pepper - one of the best roasted peppers I've had in a good long while. The rocket did what it was supposed to do - but through the fat of the sausage and all topped off with lovely garlickiness, which I can never get enough of.

There is chorizo in there somewhere - lots of it!

There were also some cakes and coffee for sale but after eating our brunch we had no room for any of that. We had hoped to get a loaf of bread to take back with us but they didn’t seem to have any so we had to take a walk up to E5 Bakehouse instead (certainly no hardship).

This is definitely going to become a regular haunt for us. It's great value for money (eggs on various things around £6.00) and I can't not try their pancakes. 

Square Meal