Every year I get ridiculously excited (for a 30 something) about pancake day. I think the feeling is hard wired into my brain. For as long as I can remember, at this time every year, I couldn’t get home quick enough. No need to ask what’s for dinner, no enforced balanced meal, just as many pancakes as I could imagine and the toppings of my choosing. Even as an adult, when I could eat pancakes any day of the year if I wished, I get the same feeling.

Of course I do eat pancakes at other times of year. But lately, James and I have had a few brunches where the pancakes on the menu have run out. This left me with pancake cravings that only increased as we got towards today. So we decided on Saturday to go to Where the pancakes are. Pancakes guaranteed.

You can book, but I left it a bit late so we decided to go early instead. Like 9am early. Now you could call this meal breakfast but these days brunch seems to define the type of meal you’re eating rather than the time you’re eating it (unless you go down the route of brinner, breakfast dessert etc). So let’s call this brunch.

We ambled along the quiet streets of Borough before spotting a curious door.

You’ll find the pancakes in a place that’s just opened up – Flat Iron Square. A sort of indoor/ outdoor food area, with three restaurants, four street food vendors and a few bars. (I have a feeling it’s going to be popular when the weather warms up!)

It didn’t take long before we spotted the archway of choice.

(You’ll immediately notice the decor is Instagram worthy.)

We ordered coffees and checked out the menu. Although, we’d pretty much made our choices on the way there thanks to the internet and a hungry appetite.

In case you also wonder what a Spanish latte is, it’s a double espresso with condensed milk. A bit too sweet for me but James loved it.

We both went for the American, a stack of buttermilk pancakes, bacon, blueberries and maple syrup. I wanted to try something different like the ‘hummingbird’ with its cinnamon poached pineapple, but I wasn’t feeling adventurous and figured it would be a good excuse to go back.

Not much longer later a steaming stack of delicious pancakes arrived.

Light but more substantial in that buttermilk way. Hot so the maple syrup absorbed right in. Bacon just how I like it, crispy. I managed it down to one last bite, which I felt would tip me over the edge into being too full.

Satisfied our brunch pancakes cravings had been fulfilled, I got to plotting pancake day.

Do you love this time of year? Where have you had the best pancakes so far?

You can find Where the pancakes are here. Booking details, opening times and the menu are up on their website.

In case you’d prefer someone else to flip your pancakes, it’s open till 11pm for pancake day this year 🙂

As you might expect, London does the hotel restaurant quite well. Far from the buffet English breakfasts of the UK’s favourite hotel chains (the saviours of post-wedding hangovers), in the capital you’ll be able to find a more sophisticated offering. From the luxurious heights of Claridges, to the cosyiness of The Hoxton Holborn and the uber-trendy Ace Hotel. There’s something for everyone. But you don’t need to spend a small fortune in an overnight stay to sample the style each hotel has to offer.

Artist Residence was the latest boutique hotel to catch my attention with its restaurant The Cambridge Street Kitchen. It takes its name from the street where you’ll find the hotel, tucked away in the lesser explored neighbourhood of Pimlico.

James and I booked brunch there all the way back in August, when the leaves were full of trees and the sun shone high in the sky (doesn’t summer seem like a lifetime ago). I had decided that brunch would be my birthday meal of choice. Since we could book a table at The Cambridge Street Kitchen (only a week or so beforehand) and the reviews I’d seen around then were pretty positive it was a no-brainer.

High on birthday love from family and friends, I practically skipped my way to brunch. I was only stopped in my tracks by temptations to walk amongst the tall townhouses of the area. But after a short walk from the station we spotted the red striped awnings and stepped up our pace.

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The Artist Residence in London offers just 10 rooms, befitting of its boutique status. I’ve longed to stay in one of its three locations (you’ll find them in Brighton and Cornwall too), the interiors are modern yet cosy and they’re all in great locations. (Check out Giulia’s post for a sneak peek and her usual brilliant food photography.)

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We took our seat by the window.

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And ordered coffees.

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They use Allpress at Cambridge Street Kitchen and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint.

As for the food menu, I’d chosen what I was having long before I’d arrived. So it was just down to James to make his choice. Whilst he pondered a menu full of fresh, organic and locally-sourced (wherever possible) produce, I enjoyed our surroundings.

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The warm wood and brown leather, against the white wash walls, seriously cool lighting, colourful prints and soft furnishings made it feel warm, cosy and welcoming whilst being modern and fun.

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It’s enough to distract you from hunger until your food arrives.

I predictably went for the star of the breakfast menu – banana pancakes, vanilla cream and maple syrup.

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Once you’ve seen a stack like this you’ll find it hard to resist. They have certainly perfected the american-style pancake, producing the lightest and most fluffy pancakes I’ve had in London so far.

James ordered eggs benedict with a side of sausages and although regretting his choice after seeing my dish arrive, he thoroughly enjoyed his all the same. With no photographic evidence to provide, you’ll just have to trust him on that one.

The service was good, the atmosphere was relaxing, the prices were affordable and the food was tasty. Overall, a London brunch you should try at least once.

Have you had a good brunch worth recommending lately?

You can find Cambridge Street Kitchen here. You can take a look at the menu and book online through their website.

It’s Thursday, which means I’m getting pretty thirsty for the weekend. Are you?

Most of my weekend will be spent trying to choose where to go for this year’s Open House London and getting in a bit of chill time to myself. But tomorrow night I’m hosting a small cocktail party with some friends and it reminded me that I needed to tell you about Seymour’s Parlour. A much more decandent lounge than my own, offering delicious cocktails that its owner is well-known for, just a heart beat away from busy Oxford Street on the quieter streets Marylebone.

I came across it as I was looking for somewhere to have a birthday cocktail last month. I’ve been meaning to go to the cocktail lounge at The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell for ages, it always gets rave reviews but I never seem to be able to make my way over there. I couldn’t believe that the hotel had opened another branch right under my nose in Marylebone. Just a 15 minute walk from the office and with a cocktail lounge equal to its established sibling. So it was settled, Seymour’s Parlour it was.

Like its sister in Farringdon, the entrance is unassuming and could be mistaken for any other lovely home in London (which I’d no doubt be posting to Instagram without hesistation).

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I hesitated for a minute, before carefully opening the door into a cosy lounge.

I’d booked a table in advance because I wanted to guarantee a seat, but at 6pm there were a few other tables free. I was with Lucinda and we got caught up in a usual post-work natter, before taking a minute to concentrate on the menu.

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I’ll admit I had to google a couple of those ingredients under the table before choosing. But with a little bit more knowledge it was a surprisingly tough decision. After a debate over our choices we put in our order and got back to catching up on life of late.

Eventually, we took a moment to have a look around at the kitsh interior. A sort of upmarket shabby chic, perhaps an aquaintance of Mr Fogg.

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Our cocktails arrived not too long after. Lucinda ordered the Valaiz Fizz and I went for Le Sphinx.

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Of course we both had a sip of each other’s. Both were really refreshing.

We carried on with our conversations and once our drinks had been drained went in search of food. We both agreed that although getting someone’s attention to order drinks had been a little slow, we definitely needed to head back after work again in the near future to work our way through a few more cocktails on the menu. I have a feeling it will be even more cosy once the nights draw in and perhaps the fire in that fireplace is roaring.

Have you been to either of the cocktail lounges at The Zetter Townhouse? Have you been to any new cocktail bars that I should try next?

Seymour’s Parlour can be found here. It’s open until midnight Sunday to Wednesday and 1am Thursday to Saturday. All the details can be found on the website here.

When Summer rolls around I whip out the wishlist, eager to start ticking off my favourite activities in a season that feels short but oh so sweet. Although street food can usually be done all year round, in *almost* any weather, there’s something ridiculously satisfying about being able to eat in the warmth of the evening sun. So as soon as there was a glimpse of better weather ahead (back towards the end of May!) James and I went slightly South-East to check out Hawker House.

Last year, Street Feast found a fourth home in Canada Water, filling a cavernous warehouse with thirst-quenching drinks and tasty dining options. I didn’t manage to get there before the temperatures tumbled and social hibernation began, but when I heard it was planning to take on a tropical vibe for summer I was keen to squeeze it into a bit of a busy summer schedule. So the begining of summer it was!

We arrived before 7pm to find the place virtually to ourselves.

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Plenty of space to consider each option without the worry of having to make a quick decision and join a big queue. We were starving so we started small with street food favourites, Breddos.

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Crispy fried chicken on a soft tortilla, topped with crunchy carrot and onion and a spicy sauce.

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The combination of textures and flavours was delicious.

Before we carried onto our next dish we wandered around, Hawker House (or any street food event) is a great place to people watch. Doesn’t everyone seem so happy enjoying street food?

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Bob’s Lobster won the award for snazziest set up.

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But I had my eye on Yum Bun from the start.

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Who can resist those fluffy buns and that super succulent pork belly?

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James was ready to move on to his main pretty quickly and joined the queue for Smokestak.

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Naturally I had to sample the juicy meat and salty chips, whilst I sipped on my cocktail. (Blogger research purposes and all that…) The meat was lip-smackingly good. The rum cocktail got me into the summer vibe.

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Before I made my mains choice I made sure I double checked all of the options available, returning back inside…

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And examining the tiki huts outside.

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I was keen to try some street food I hadn’t had before so I went for Yu kyu.

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I could have eaten all of these options but when an ample portion of fried chicken and potato wedges was handed to me, I realised there was no chance I’d squeeze in pumpkin croquettes too. If only you could temporarily grow a bigger belly for greedy occassions like these.

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It did make a nice change to the pulled pork I’m often drawn to on evenings like this, but I struggled to eat it all. I was also tactically saving space for dessert. There was no way I was going home without trying Chin Chin’s nitro ice-cream.

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It was like watching a science experiment, seeing dry ice swirl up form the food mixers and blow torches burn marshmellow topped hot chocolates.

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(I’ll be going back for one of those come autumn!)

But the end result was more delicious than anything I’d have managed at school.

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Burnt caramel ice-cream sandwiched between a cookie/brownie sprinkled with flecks of salt. Yummy! I definitely need to go to their ice cream parlour in Camden now.

Fully satisified and carrying a decent food baby we left the revellers to enjoy the rest of the evening and wandered back towards home in the sunshine.

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A lovely early summer street feasting. I’ve definitely got the taste for it again. I’ve got my eye on Little Market before the summer’s end (Read Jessi’s review here!)

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Hawker House is pretty family friendly early in the evening and great for groups later on. It felt much more spacious than the ones I’ve been to that are closer to the city, which gives it a more laid-back vibe.

It’s open Friday (5pm to late) and Saturday (Noon to late). It’s less than five minutes away from the tube station, on the Jubilee line and Overground.

Have you been street feasting yet this summer?

Ladies and gents, I have finally had brunch at Duck & Waffle. I’ve never been the leader of the pack when it comes to restaurants, much preferring to let others check it out first and report back, but fours years after the restaurant opened its doors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is a long wait. Since then I’ve dribbled over Dan Doherty’s Instagrams (enjoying countless virtual sunrises/sunsets too), let my stomach rumble over review’s like Jaime’s and imagined what my brunch order would be a good few times.  Finally, four of us found the perfect excuse for the brunch treat, Lucinda’s birthday.

You can only book up to two months in advance and it does get booked up. This actually works well for those hard to secure, needs planning weeks in advance sort of catch ups, but is a bit tormenting when it’s quite a long time until you actually get to go there. That said, time flies these days (is it really June next week?!) so before I knew it we were hurtling our way up in the glass lift to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower.

Once my ears had popped and I’d steadied my feet from the ride, I had chance to take in my sky-high surroundings.

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The bar greeted us with sparkling chandelliers and the kind of blue tiles I wouldn’t mind putting down in my own home. The contrast with the large graffiti wall lets the place get its stamp of trend-appeal. It’s a great place to grab the first Mimosa of the morning, like Lucinda and Ben, who had eagerly arrived a bit early for our booking (or I was running just a tad late and thirst had got the better of them…)

Our table was ready on arrival and we were taken around the corner to be seated.

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I was fully expecting a huge restaurant, but Duck & Waffle is rather modest in size. It partly explains why it’s so popular and always fully booked at brunch.

I expect the second reason is the delicious and at times slightly daring menu (crispy pigs ears anyone?). The four of us had pretty much decided on what we were having before we arrived. Three duck and waffles and one full Elvis were ordered.  They turned up after just enough time to catch up and feel super hungry for our dishes.

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Which is a good job when you have a waffle, duck leg, a duck egg and a shot of mustard maple syrup placed in front of you.

Then there’s the ‘Full Elvis’, which was mine of course, that the waiter had warned would be an effort to finish and cheerfully brought to the table with a wink.

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A whole soft waffle, topped with peanut butter, jam, banana brulée, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and chantilly cream. It was epic and I managed to eat almost all of it but I thought I should let James try some 😉

The final reason it’s on a lot of brunch wishlists is THE VIEWS. Forty floors up at the edge of the City grants some pretty amazing sights across the city and a great close up of the Gherkin.

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It was the London Marathon that day and I think we had one of the best views of the runners going past. Sure, it’s not the same as the atmosphere on the ground but it really does give you a sense of the scale of the event!

The vastness of the capital is pretty apparent from this view too.

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Life gets dwarfed by the sky scrapers that surrounds it and the quiet countryside you can just about glimpse seems so far away.

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We decided that our experience wouldn’t be quite complete without a farewell drink at the bar. Three Mimosas and one Celeriac & Bee Pollen Bellini were ordered.

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I was clearly embracing being the odd one out, choosing a slightly savoury cocktail of celeriac juice, bee pollen liqueur and Prosecco, over the classic freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne. But I enjoyed the unexpected flavours and it reminded how much talent there is in London when it comes to creating original cocktails. It’s part of their ‘Drink your greens’ menu and I could easily have worked my way through a few more.

Duck & Waffle is definitely the kind of brunch for a treat, a celebration or to impress a visitor with the views and food.  The service was good and efficient, the food was delicious. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth adding it to the list for those views alone. I’m still pretty keen to go back for sunrise and more waffles.

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Duck & Waffle can be found here. All of the details (including menus and online bookings) can be found on their website.

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Have you had brunch in the sky at Duck & Waffle? Have you found a favourite place for brunch I should try next?

Each year, finding the time to meet friends and planning somewhere nice to sit down and have a proper catch up, with a steady supply of cocktails, seems to get harder.  Quick, last-minute catch ups squeezed in between work and life can be easier but I’ll always value quality time with my friends much more. Is there anything better than putting the world to rights and getting fully up to speed with the people who you care about, who know you best and who you feel most comfortable with? It’s such a nice way to spend an evening and I’m pretty sure has some health benefits too 😉

Lucinda and I had been talking about getting a cocktail hour in the diary for ages. Despite working in offices next door to each other, work and after-work life has often got in the way of catch ups outside our quick lunch dates. But the other week we finally managed to find a Friday night before wedding season kicks off and we were determined to find good cocktails. After consulting Time Out London’s Best Cocktail Bars and the London’s Best Cocktail app, we’d shortlisted a few places. As you can guess from the title we ended up choosing Bar Americain. It’s super central, being right next to Piccadilly Circus, and it gets great reviews.

Bar Americain is part of Brasserie Zedel, which was once part of The Regent Palace Hotel and opened in 1915. It was redecorated in an Art Deco style in the 1930s by the widely respected Oliver Percy Bernard, but after World War II its popularity declined and it fell into disrepute. The Crown Estate brought it back to life some decades later, carefully restoring its Art Deco past whilst bringing it up to 21st century standards and raising its reputation. Today, you’ll find a grand restaurant, with a lively cabaret and jazz bar, and separate cocktail bar in the basement.

We arrived at Bar Americain not long after 6pm without a reservation and managed to grab one of the last few tables for two near the bar.

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I loved the American Art Deco interior, the aviation/ travel theme makes it feel like being in a first class airport bar from the 30s (I’m not entirely sure they existed then but that’s what I decided it felt like.)

One of the great things about my friendship with Lucinda is that we’ve known each other long enough we can happily sit in a minute of silence whilst we deliberate our choices.

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I had ‘The French Aperitif’ to start – Gin, Byrrh, Lemon Juice, Orgeat, Bitter Lemon and Cherry Bitters.

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Tart, crisp and refreshing, combined with that Friday night thirst it was enjoyed pretty quickly. I loved how the gold stripes tied in with the Art Deco theme. It’s definitely details like this that make the difference.

Lucinda had the ‘Lady Day’ – Gin, Blackberry, Raspberry, Apple, Lemon & Soda

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A sweet combination of flavours with just enough sharpness from the gin and lemon to avoid it becoming a bit sickly.

This was followed by two ‘Parisian Summer’ – Citron Vodka, Lillet Rose, Cointreau, Cranberry.

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This was one of my favourites. There’s something about drinking out of saucers like this that feels so decadent.

(I can’t deny that I currently have this scene from Great Gatsby in my mind as I write this!)

 

I finished with a ‘Millionaire’ – Dark Rum, Sloe Gin, Apricot, Lime.

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Rum always provides a bit of a tropical slant in a cocktail (maybe because it’s the spirit of summer holidays for me!), but the other ingredients were enough to make it in-keeping with the bar theme. Of course, this one went down well too.

And for Lucinda’s last cocktail… Hmmm, I can’t remember the name of it!

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Possibly the ‘Aviation’  – Gin, Maraschino, Lemon? Memory loss, perhaps one of the first effects of drinking three cocktails before dinner!

After handing over more money than we were intending to spend on cocktails that night (oops!), we left a bustling bar full of cabaret customers, passers-by, and planned small parties.

Bar Americain is definitely a great option for a pre-dinner cocktail or catch up with a friend. The table service was efficient and we weren’t left without a drink for too long, which can be quite a feat in a cocktail bar like this. Whilst it was at the more expensive side of cocktail bars, sometimes it’s worth paying the extra for somewhere that isn’t overcrowded and you can hear people speak, with good service that means you don’t get that irritated feeling when waiting for a drink.

You can find it here (the cocktail bar is in the basement next to the cabaret bar).  The nearest station is Piccadilly Circus. It’s open Monday to Wednesday (4.30pm – 12am), Thursday to Friday (4.30pm – 1am), Saturday (1pm-1am) and Sunday (4.30pm – 11pm).

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Have you been to Bar Americain or Brassiere Zedel? Have you found any other great cocktail bars recently?