Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Little Bat, 6th May

Little Bat is Callooh Callay’s little sister and you would think that people would be all over it. But, sitting as it does, off the main strip of ‘Supper Street’ in Angel, it seems to have avoided the attention of the masses. Primetime on a Friday night (9:30 pm), the place had patrons, but you could easily walk in and be seated at a comfy booth rather than sitting up at the bar. I do like sitting up at the bar but sometimes a cosier seating arrangement is more appropriate. Say, if you were on a date, for example.

While I waited for mine to arrive I perused the menu. Compared to some menus these days, there was a huge amount of choice on offer making a decision rather difficult. My friend helped me out by picking for me (and luckily he has good taste) so I had the G & T martini – gin, rose-infused vermouth and crème de violet being the main ingredients. My companion had an old fashioned because he is a man and that is what men drink. There were so many drinks that sounded interesting, I wanted to try them all but picked the hedgerow smash for my second – rye, bourbon hedgerow cordial and black walnut bitters! I was really pleased with both of my drinks – strong but tasty – not too floral or fruity for my tastes. The old fashioned was met with approval buy my friend’s second drink – An Apple a Day – he felt was bordering on bitter and medicinal tasting, rather than the apple pie in a drink you might expect.

It may not feel quite as quirky as Callooh Callay, lacking the ‘secret entrance’ that the other has, but if you want somewhere that has the same inventinveness that Callooh Callay brings, without having to worry about whether you’ll get in, then this is the bar for you.  

Little Bat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Thom Foole's House Party, 5th May

What even is Thom Foole’s House Party, we kept asking ourselves as we waited for the upstairs to open. None of us were sure what we were letting ourselves in for. But we took the gamble and it paid off.

It’s a comedy night of s special sort. With our inimitable host Wilmot Brown, several acts took to the stage and had many of the audience literally crying with laughter.

These comedians are all ‘character’ stand-up with their own stage personas. And none of them were afraid to push the envelope. It was all very surreal and I can see that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like things a little off-kilter and making very little sense, then dive on into this night. We had a blast.

Wilmot himself is an older ‘gentleman’ (played by Marny Godden), certainly not suffering from a lack of confidence even if his career has seen better days. He’s a frisky sort too – at one point a member of the audience had been captured and was sequestered to the bed (why is there a mattress on stage??) for potential romantic liaisons later. 
The Establishment were the first act of the night (and perhaps my favourite) – two uberposh men, who crept through the audience uttering nothing but ‘mmmms’ and lasvicious ‘yeses’ as they peered at the audience members they passed. They were quintessential country Englishmen and dithered about onstage giving us a little window into their lives of silliness and casual arms dealing. 
We then had Lee Kern whose persona was someone incredibly awkward whose comedy act was to give us a presentation on the history of Rock and Roll. It was boring, it was dry and factual, he danced awkwardly, it was hilarious.

In between acts we had games! Yes, games. Musical statues, the equivalent of grandmother’s footsteps, charades, one lucky guy even got to play Kiss Chase with Wilmot. And there was a maypole dance. Oh – and Limbo! Yes, this night has it all.

Oh Standfast did what he called poetry/standup/art depending on whether you laughed or not (don’t laugh and it’s poetry, laugh and it’s standup – don’t get it? It’s art). And Sophie Pelham came on board with her two plastic babies strapped to her chest. I really liked the premise of her act and thought there was potential although it didn’t get quite the same belly laughs as some of the others.

The headline act was Mr Frank Sanazi himself. This old rogue is a crooner with the Axis of Evil rat pack, belting out the hits of Old Blue Eyes with a decidedly fascist twist. Expect lots of clever wordplay, taking some of the lyrics you’ve got to know and love and making them altogether more sinister. I think Frank was a pretty class act - he managed to get down the mannerisms of Frank Sinatra yet segue seamlessly into an impersonation of Mr Hitler. Who would have thought that combination would work so well?
If you’re of a sensitive nature then this night may not be for you, but if you’re up for a laugh, then you will get many at this event. Thom Foole knows how to throw a party.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Egg Break, 1st May

My insta feed is always full of eggy goodness pictures from newly opened Eggbreak in Notting Hill. So it was the logical choice for a brunch date a few weeks ago.

Of course, I had to choose an egg dish. I had the corn cakes with poached eggs and sriracha hollandaise. I have to say, the cooking was uneven. One of my eggs had the most watery yolk when I pierced it. It gushed everywhere in a way that was almost offputting enough for me to send it back. The other egg, however, was overcooked and didn’t ooze anywhere at all. Flavourwise, the dish was fantastic so I forgave them the consistency. The hollandaise had a pleasant piquancy to it and the corn cakes had a lovely texture and flavour.
My friend had the crunchy French toast which was stuffed with banana and blueberries. If I liked berries then I would have had complete food envy, the bite I had of the plain French toast was divine. Crunchy is the way forward.

I ordered a bloody mary as well (it’s brunch – dem’s the rulz) but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

The place had a bit of a country pantry feel to it, bright but homely. And our waitress was super – she bonded with my friend over shared travel experiences.

The friend I went with came from way out West to meet me so Notting Hill was kind of in the middle for us. I did like the place and if I lived locally I’m sure I would give it another shot or two. I especially like that they do eggs all day – I wouldn’t have to worry about sleeping all day and missing brunch o’clock as I often do. 

Egg Break Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blondies, 30th April

I thought Clapton was meant to be cool but on a Saturday night you're apparently hard pressed to find anywhere with a proper party vibe. Blondies was the best place we found and it's a damn shame it shuts at midnight as it seems to be crying out to be the late night (good) party bar Clapton needs.

We got in there at about 10:30 and stayed for a drink, soaking up the loudish music that was pumping out some of my favourite RnB jams. They even played Twista Slow Jams. You hardly ever hear that one out.
I actually got there earlier than Carolyn (no change there then) and was persuaded by the lovely girl behind the bar to have a shot of their house shooter Blue Moon while I waited. At only £3 I couldn't say no. It was fruity and pleasant to sip on before we started on the real drinks. Carolyn of course had a Cindy - a grapefruit margarita (she loves fruity things) and I went for good old Brenda, otherwise known as an espresso martini.

Blondies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We probably should have stayed there the rest of the night but we had other, misguided plans – we went over to the Clapton Hart which stays open until 1, thinking we'd find a young and lively crowd. It was kinda empty. So we went down to the Windsor Castle. I'd been before and it's a lovely pub. But quiet. The Bonneville was also a place I'd happily visit for a lowkey night. Not Saturday night material (though the toilets are worth a trip themselves - like a recreation of Victorian cobbled streets, they are quite eerie!)

So we ended up at Biddle Bros which I would describe as sketchy at best but at least had people dancing until the early(ish) hours. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

68 and Boston, 14th April

If you cast your mind way, way back you may remember my friend Alison and I used to frequent both the basement and the upstairs of Central & Co. One of the things I really liked about it was its wine pricing policy. Every bottle was £20 which meant I felt completely liberated to try something I might not otherwise because of the price tag. So it is in the downstairs (which is actually the ground floor, a little confusingly) of 68 and Boston.

I met up with a friend for a catch up and we decided to take a punt on a Uruguayan Sauvignon Blanc. Sauv isn’t particularly exotic but the region was a little different and maybe not something I would have gambled on if it were a different price.

The bar is fairly sleek, as you would imagine from Soho, but not too overly designed. The staff were also pretty friendly and very good at keeping both wine and water glasses topped up.

We had one more glass. I thought I had ordered the white zinfandel but what turned up was a very full-bodied red. No matter! It was quite a nice, cosy drink rather like having a port at the end of the evening and we didn’t mind at all.

Upstairs is the cocktail bar but we didn’t venture up there this time around. A good excuse for a return trip…

68 and Boston Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Queen Adelaide, 9th April

The Queen Adelaide is sort of the reincarnation of the George and Dragon, a famous LGBT venue in Shoreditch that was one the many victims of London’s nightlife crisis (rent hikes in this case). I never got there before it shut, but the people behind it have moved along the same road (closer to me in fact) and re-opened the Adelaide to recapture what the G & D used to provide.

On a Saturday, at 1 am my friend and I decided we should probably go out for a drink after all, and as the Queen Adelaide is open until 3, decided we should probably go there. I’m glad we did. We headed straight downstairs to where the party was going in the main bar area. But there are plenty of other little rooms and nooks if you’re not in the dancing mood to just hang out, which is what we did. People were friendly and we soon got chatting to a couple of guys who were out on a bit of a bender.

The crowd is quite obviously, but not exclusively, LGBT and the music policy was pretty decent in terms of playing ‘floor fillers’. Sometimes a little too poppy for me, but they played quite a good selection of RnB type stuff, and also a bit of retro 90s stuff too. Ace of Bass I particularly remember featuring.

3 am came around very quickly and we, and those remaining, rather reluctantly made our way out of the venue. So good to have a fun (late) local.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Black Rock, 22nd March

Black Rock is cool. It just is. Which is not surprising given its big sister is the Worship Street Whistling Shop around the corner.

While the Whistling Shop specializes in gin, Black Rock specializes in whiskey. In a big way. If you don’t like whiskey, you really shouldn’t bother coming to this bar – every cocktail has whiskey in it, be it highball or short and strong, and the only other option is four beers. Because that’s not the point.

Running along the middle of this sleek but bijou bar is a table made out of a 166 year old oak tree, in which whiskey sits aging. There are two kinds – Table and Cherry and a dram of either will cost you £6. Then there are six cabinets stuffed with whiskeys from all over and separated according to flavour profile – sweet, fragranced, spiced etc. We only had two drinks and stuck to the cocktails so I didn’t get a chance to dip into these cabinets of wonder. Next time.

The cocktails were pretty perfect – my preference were for the first two we had as I’m just not a Highball kinda gal – too much liquid, not enough boozy flavour, but we tried them anyway for variety. I had the 40 Shades (no idea why it had that naughty reference) with apple and fennel pollen. It was slightly carbonated and I have to say the apple was very light and not too fruit-juicy. The fennel got a bit intense towards the end but was otherwise a refreshing drink.

The Campfire was a take on an old-fashioned but with extra oomf from the two whiskies and a deeply satisfying sweetness from the marshmallow gomme. The White Dog Martinez was a much lighter drink paring whiskey with cocchi instead of another whiskey but still pokey enough and with vanilla rounding off the flavour this time. Quaffable.
Service was excellent – everything was well explained to us and water kept topped up without being intrusive. A lovely joint.

Black Rock Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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