Posted in Food, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Jimmy’s world grill @ O2

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After our adventure on the Emirates cable car which you may have seen on a previous post, we returned to Greenwich in search of something to eat.

As well as being one of the countries largest music and events venues the o2 is also home to a vast amount of food and drink establishments including well known restaurants such as Harvester, Nando’s and Pizza express. We decided we wanted to try something a bit different and opted for a mixture of food at Jimmy’s world bar and grill.

We thought the £9.99 price was really reasonable although I was surprised that this didn’t include soft drinks like similar buffet restaurants I have been to. I suppose the price would be higher because of the prime location. Children under 10 are half price and children under 3 are free which is great if you have little ones! unfortunately I don’t!

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The restaurant itself is really large and seats 400 people. It was about half full when we arrived so seemed to be a popular choice for visitors to the o2. Usually you are given a 2 hour slot but because of the time we arrived we only had 50 minutes, this is because between 4 and 5 o’clock the restaurant changes over to the evening menu and so we had to leave by 4. If I had known this before going in I probably would have eaten elsewhere because I then felt like I had to rush my food and didn’t really get the opportunity to browse all the dishes that were available.

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When we were shown to our table we were told that a waiter would come and take our drinks order and we could help ourselves to food. The waitress didn’t arrive until we were on our second plate of food which is another reason why a place that is so big should offer an option to include drink in the price so you can help yourself.

The food was tasty and filling but I was expecting a much wider range (maybemore is available in the evening as the price does go up then) I think because the food is kept in large lidded metal containers it puts you off trying out different meals because you cant be bothered to lift them all up to see what is in them We stuck with the curry and the pizza dishes but wanted to leave room for dessert too.

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As our table was quite far from the food I asked the kids to bring me dessert while they were getting theirs. They thought the ice cream was really nice but wasn’t impressed with the options on offer.

Our experience of Jimmy’s wasn’t really great but I would go back because I think if we had more time we would have enjoyed our meal more and got better value for our money.

There are six branches of Jimmy’s across the country, have you ever visited any?

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Rum kitchen with the cake app

The cake app is like the Uber for restaurants, book a table, turn up, order, eat and pay using your mobile phone…simple! (sorry no cake involved, unless you order it for desert)

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When I was offered the chance to review the cake app I couldn’t really say no, I seem to have become accustomed to eating out lately…get me! and I love to try new places.

Our experience didn’t start off too well, we arranged to eat at Counter restaurant in Vauxhall but upon arrival we were faced with a note on the door saying it was temporarily closed and had to book a table somewhere else. Luckily there are over 150 quality restaurants that all accept the cake app so it wasn’t difficult to find an alternative.

We thought we would try somewhere a bit closer to home (just in case there were anymore hiccups) and opted for Rum kitchen in Brixton. My partner comes from a Jamaican family and we eat Caribbean food all the time so we were really looking forward to trying what rum kitchen had to offer.

I had no idea how the cake app worked before first use and was a bit paranoid that my battery would die or the Wi-Fi would stop working and I wouldn’t be able to open it. As we were seated I opened the app and was surprised to see that it was welcoming us to the restaurant and asked if we wanted to grab a tab but then I got worried when I opened it again to show the waitress our tab number and it just showed the loading symbol for a good five minutes.

The restaurant was really spacious, well decorated with shelves displaying rum and chilli sauce and an open kitchen so you could see all the mouth-watering dishes as they ready to be served. Now you can’t visit somewhere named the rum kitchen without sampling the rum so when the app eventually worked we placed our order.

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Luckily it was happy hour so the cocktails were on offer. We ordered a Ting Wray and a happy daiquiri and with the strength of the rum in these I was a little tipsy before the food arrived.

I ordered the jerk bowl which contained three boneless pieces of jerk chicken, rice and peas and coleslaw with watermelon and pineapple, it seemed a bit strange having the fruit in with the food but it added a nice sweetness to the dish, the only problem was the watermelon seeds were not removed so I had to pick them all out.

The OH had jerk wings with spicy fried chicken and a side of callaloo, spinach and ackee (he has a big appetite) he liked the food but said it wasn’t as authentic as his home made dishes and described it as a Caribbean nando’s. Saying that I am not sure if they are trying to be completely authentic, it seems more like they are putting their own spin on the Caribbean cuisine.

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I wasn’t going to order a desert but then I saw a coconut ice cream with coffee which I was intrigued by. I thought it would be ice-cream with a coffee flavoured sauce but when it arrived I was a bit confused.

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Do you drink the coffee and then eat the ice-cream? Eat the ice-cream and then drink the coffee? Either way would have played havoc with my sensitive teeth so I just decided to pour the coffee on top, that seems right doesn’t it? but then it just tasted a bit weird like a coffee flavoured milkshake but anyway, it still went down ok!

So we reached the end of the meal and it was time to use the app, I was expecting to put it on and already have the bill ready to pay as I thought the purpose was to cut out having to call the waitress back over but it instructed me to inform the staff that I was ready to pay so they could update it, it would be useful if the staff just automatically did this when you place your final order.

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The waitress asked me to refresh my page to show my bill so I reloaded it only to be faced with the loading page again, I could have probably paid the bill about five times over before the app had finally loaded. To be fair the signal was really bad in the restaurant so I am not sure it was the fault of the app but it was really frustrating having to wait for it to load in order to pay. I was going to go outside and see if worked faster but I thought they might think I’m doing a runner without paying so I waited it out until I had finally paid the bill.

I think the concept of the cake app is great, a few of the positives…

  • The app is really easy to navigate and simple to use
  • If your friends have the app you can find them on your app so everyone pays their own share
  • There are loads of participating restaurants
  • Many restaurants give you a discount in the form of credit.

Rum kitchen gave me 10% of my bill back. I was kindly given £40 credit in order to review the cake app and my bill came to £52. I paid the difference using my card that I had previously registered and was then rewarded with £5.20 credit to use at any participating restaurant in the future.

Although my first experience didn’t go as smoothly as expected I feel much more confident about using the cake app and will definitely be giving it another try, there are so many more restaurants to try and I need to build my credit up.

 

*written in collaboration with the cake app, all thoughts my own

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Exhibit – Balham

My darling daughter recently turned 15 and with her birthday on a weekday we didn’t really plan any sort of celebration. She had already arranged to go out with her friends at the weekend and we were going to have a family meal or takeaway at home on the day. Birthdays have always been a big deal for Kyra, as soon as one is over she starts planning the next (This will soon wear off once she gets to the late 20s I’m sure) and she does enjoy being the centre of attention. After finishing school she was adamant that we all had to go out to celebrate her big day so I had the task of finding and booking a restaurant at short notice.

Restaurants are not cheap when you have a family of six so my first port of call was my Tastecard app. Not many restaurants offer a discount for six people either but then I came across Exhibit in Balham.

Exhibit looked like a really fun space, described as a youth club for adults, it features a bar, restaurant, cinema and hosts different events throughout the year.

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Situated just outside of Balham station (you can see it while standing on the platform) it is just a few stops on the train for us so I decided to book us a table. The lady on the phone was really friendly and happy to book us in at short notice.

On arrival I assumed that we would go to the restaurant section upstairs but we were told that it was closed and we had a table downstairs in the bar. I didn’t really mind this as it wasn’t too busy and seemed to have a nice vibe.

Décor

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The décor was fairly nice, it felt somewhere in between a café and a restaurant but there were a few shabby parts including a hole in the wall next to our table.

Food and drink

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We ordered a range of items from the menu and unfortunately some were not available. My son had the chicken burger which looked delicious but my daughter ordered the gluten free version which disappointingly arrived with the bun substituted for two pieces of gluten free bread, this didn’t look very presentable and was also awkward to eat. I think if you are going to offer alternatives they should at least go with the dish you are serving.

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I decided to have the healthy option and went for the powerbowl which was surprisingly tasty, I did however get bored of the green parts after a while and shared the burger with my daughter! We would have liked to sample their desserts but we knew we had a big birthday cake waiting at home so gave them a miss.

We all enjoyed our meal at Exhibit and left feeling full. The waitress that served us was friendly and chatty and all the staff were really laid back. The bill came to around £90 including the tastecard discount which we felt was a bit pricey for what you get. We probably wouldn’t have a family meal there again but I have heard good reviews about their bottomless brunch, which includes unlimited prosecco, so may have to check that out next!

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Le Grand Bistro – Paris

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Before arriving in Paris we decided to book a table at a restaurant that we had already looked up so we wouldn’t waste time searching for one while there. Le grand bistro is situated in Maillot – St Ferdinand, a short distance from the Arc de triomphe and runs a set menu. The menu includes an aperitif of a cocktail and olives, followed by a starter, main course, dessert and coffee to finish. Each meal had a selection of around ten dishes to choose from and included a bottle of wine.

Décor/service

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We arrived early as is typical for me because I hate the thought of getting anywhere late. We were warmly welcomed and charmed by the swanky décor and comfortable seating, it was like having our own little corner sofa. The tables were all finely laid out and the waiter promptly took our order. I was quite impressed that he was able to remember everything we wanted without having to write it down! The restaurant seemed spacious while empty but as it was filling up it started to feel a tad cramped. We had two different waiters for the evening and they were both friendly although not overly chatty.

Food

We had already looked at the menu online before arriving so we knew what we wanted to eat. For starter we had a pate with bread and snails in a garlic butter. I have had snails before and wasn’t very keen but the OH seems to enjoy them.

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For the main course I chose the lamb served with dauphinoise potatoes and a little pot of gravy. I sometimes find lamb a bit fatty and chewy but this was tender and tasty and the potatoes were a perfect creamy accompaniment. The OH had steak that looked delicious and good quality, it was served with chips and a mayo sauce.

344A4051344A4054For dessert we had crepes and crème Brulee that were both lit at the table which I wasn’t expecting and nearly set myself on fire! They were a great end to a lovely meal, we gave the coffee a miss because we seemed to be sitting for so long and was eager to stretch our legs.

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Our food at Le Grand Bistro felt like a perfect Parisian meal out and at 44 euro a head we felt it was very reasonable for a fine dining experience.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Breakfast with a view

Situated on 20 Fenchurch street, just a short walk from London bridge, you will find a commercial skyscraper that is commonly known as the walkie-talkie due to its shape. Hidden away 155 metres up inside this building is an oasis overlooking the city that believe it or not is open and free to the public!

The sky garden opened in January 2015 and I have wanted to visit for ages. There are two restaurants that sit above the centre of the gardens and I booked a table at the Darwin Brasserie which seemed to be the more relaxed (less posh) of the two.

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We arrived nice and early for breakfast which is split into hour slots and we were free to wander the gardens before and after our booking. The restaurant was really modern and chic looking and luckily we got a table next to the window so got to eat our breakfast with a lovely view over London.

0X1A1528The menu has a few choices of cooked meals and a continental buffet style breakfast for a set price. We chose the buffet which had a choice of cereals, pastries, yoghurts, fruit and muffins with tea, coffee or juice.

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Typically when at a buffet you have a few bites to eat and feel miraculously full up so not sure I really got my moneys worth and if I went back I would probably chose one of the hot meals instead. The staff were lovely but we had a problem finding our waiter because for some reason they all looked really alike.

If you were planning on visiting but didn’t want to book a table you could still buy food and drink at the city garden bar and sky pod bar situated in the gardens.

The gardens open from 7am and it is fairly quiet but doesn’t take long to fill up. Although it is free to visit you do need to book a slot online to visit the gardens if you don’t have a restaurant booking as it is very popular and would be overcrowded otherwise.

Inside the gardens there are a few seating areas and stairs to explore the wide open space, it is a great place to do a photoshoot and as everyone has cameras you don’t seem out of place taking photos. Although there is loads of greenery I thought there would be a few more exotic, fancy plants to admire but I suppose everyone is more taken with the amazing views than to worry about looking inside.

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The balcony is great for spotting landmarks over London and I could have stood out there all day, my daughter actually asked me if we were ever going home because I made myself so comfortable that I didn’t want to leave!

I was recently asked where my favourite place to visit in London is and the sky garden was the first place that sprang to mind, if I lived closer I think I would be there every morning with a coffee and a newspaper.

Have you ever been to the sky garden?

Where is your favourite place to visit in London?

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Partying at Pizza Express

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I have been to a pizza making party for kids and I have been to a pizza making party for adults and I have to say, the adults party is much more fun!

I was invited to take part in a pizza making party at the Gloucester road branch of pizza express where there seemed to be flowing drinks, tasty food and great company. As I don’t like to arrive anywhere late I was instead very early, so early in fact that I had time to explore the area and stop off at a lovely little coffee shop beforehand!

Upon arrival to the swanky looking pizza express I was greeted by the lovely Alex and showed to a table while the party was being set up. I met with lots of other blogging ladies and had a chance to get to know a few of them in real life, as opposed to via 140 characters on Twitter, which was lovely.

After donning our hats and aprons we were let loose with the dough, luckily it was just a practice as they were being flung all over the place and one ended up covered in prosecco…mmm prosecco pizza…

Our two guides Alex and Gianmaria were great teachers and loads of fun. We were provided with a selection of toppings and my pizza, aptly named Oh Pretty Pizza, had a red onion, chicken, ham, mushroom, lots of cheese and herb topping. It tasted as delicious as it looked!

Once we had devoured our handmade creations the awards were given out, best pizza, biggest tosser and don’t give up your day job we’re the accolades of the day and fully deserving the winners were 😉 We finished the day with a lovely dessert, a vanilla latte and a blogging gossip.

I wouldn’t have thought about a pizza making party myself but if you’re gonna go out for a meal it’s a great way to add a bit of excitement to the evening and at least you’ll know what’s going in the food.

If your looking for a perfect way to celebrate or even just have a catch up with friends then book a table at your local Pizza express and let the dough throwing competition begin.

 

*written in collaboration with pizza express, all views are my own

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Sushi at the Southbank

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I do like sushi but it is usually something little I pick up at the supermarket for a snack. I have never actually eaten out at a sushi restaurant before and am new to the Feng sushi franchise.

We were exploring the southbank and saw that the Feng sushi restaurant was on the tastecard list so decided to give them a call and head down there.

Decor

The restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived but filed up quickly. The seating area isn’t large but the tables are spaced out nicely so it doesn’t feel cramped. We were sat at a high table with stools and had a large fish tank next to us, this could be a bit unnerving when you’re eating sushi!

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Food

As sushi is normally served in small portions we thought we would need a lot of food to fill us up so may have over ordered a bit. When the food arrived we were overwhelmed and struggled to eat it all.

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I had never tried gyoza dumplings before but they were really nice and the katsu curry was delicious and really filling. I did want to try their salted caramel ice cream but was just too full to order dessert.

service/atmosphere

The staff were pleasant but not overly friendly or enthusiastic which is what we have come to expect when eating out. The food was reasonably priced and as they accept the tastecard we got 50% off our food bill but luckily we called ahead as they did ask when we presented the card. Sitting on the table next to us was Martin Lewis (the money saving expert himself) so you know it must be good value for money, although I didn’t notice him using a tastecard!

I really liked Feng sushi and would definitely return. Where is your favourite place to eat sushi?

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Tiger Tiger – Haymarket

Searching for somewhere to eat around the west end on a Saturday afternoon can be a bit of a task. I really wanted to try Shake Shack but noticed that there were people standing up and eating and after strolling around Soho for an hour I wasn’t really in the mood to do that. A short walk down the road and we came across Tiger Tiger. I know this place more as a club that is quite popular with students but the restaurant looked nice and there was loads of space so we decided to sample their lunch menu.

Décor

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I imagined eating at Tiger Tiger as a bit of a pub lunch so was quite impressed with the ornate layout of the tables and atmospheric lighting. The chairs were comfortable and the tables were far enough apart that it didn’t feel you were sitting on the laps of other diners. It was all rather fancy until the waitress came and plonked a bottle of tomato ketchup and vinegar on the table! While taking a trip to the toilet I noticed loads of long tables reserved at the back so I assume it is really popular with large groups of people as it has quite a range of food and drink on offer.

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The restaurant was both a mix of couples and families enjoying their Saturday afternoon in the heart of London. It was probably less than half full so fairly quiet so I was surprised that it seemed to take so long before the waitress approached us to ask for an order. After placing the order I noticed somebody paying and using a Tastecard so we asked the waitress if we could use ours, she went off to speak to the manager and returned saying that because we already placed an order that it was too late. I understand that there is protocol and we should have checked beforehand but I don’t think it would have been too much of a problem for them to accept it as we hadn’t even started eating yet.

Food

We ordered a mix of starters and my favourite was the deep fried macaroni cheese although it was piping hot so I nearly burnt my mouth eating it!

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Myself and my daughter had the cheese burger and chicken burger which were really reasonable at £6.50 each served with chips and salad. The OH had the sirloin steak served with two sides which was a bit disappointing for the price of £18.00.

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The food was OK and managed to fill us up but I wouldn’t class it as one of my favourite places to eat.

Have you tried Tiger Tiger?

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Taking a break at Borough Market

I feel a bit like I am drowning in work at the moment and my to do list seems to never end. I am a few weeks into the second semester of my second year studying for a photography degree, the projects and tasks I am currently working on include…

  • Creating a photobook of Elephant and Castle including archived images that I have to source myself
  • Setting up a photography website
  • Writing an essay on photographic debates, my subject is questioning the ethics of the paparazzi and whether celebrities have a right to privacy in public (your views on the subject are welcome in the comments)
  • Mentoring first years on a commissioned project
  • Collaborating with sound design and digital design students to create a film
  • completing different types of work experience (paid or voluntary) to gain new skills across the industry
  • Creating a live portal installation in collaboration with a group of creative industry and engineering students based in London and Toronto to be placed in the windows of our two universities. (This is a competition that has 10 groups of students, the winning team get to fly to Canada to install their idea…no pressure!)

Now I am really enjoying the work and it is exciting to get to meet and work with new groups of people but being the biggest procrastinator there is I am always looking for a distraction and what better place to take my mind of it all than somewhere filled with loads of food!

I had to visit the local history library in Borough to look at their archived images so decided to meet my daughter for lunch while I was there as she works around the corner.

I haven’t been to Borough market for many years and was surprised at how big and how busy the place was but it may have been because it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone was on their lunch break.

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You can pick up just about anything you feel like eating, from fish to fresh fruit smoothies, the finest cheese to the fluffiest chocolate brownies, it’s probably best not to go when you are too hungry because you might want a bit of everything.

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There is a mix of stalls where you can buy products (anyone for liquorice covered in white chocolate and chilli powder?) or cooked meals. I really like the way you can pick what you want and then watch the chefs cook it for you.

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After walking around for a while we decided to eat at Café Brood as they had a nice seating area away from the crowds. We chose the steak sandwich with fries as it sounded the most filling and we were salivating from the smell of food everywhere. I do like steak but don’t order it very often. At £7 I thought it was quite expensive for a sandwich but I have to say this was one of the nicest pieces of steak I have eaten for ages so was well worth the price.

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Visiting Borough market was on my list of 10 places to visit in London so I can now tick that off but I will definitely be back in the future to try out some more of the dishes as there was so much to choose from.

Have you got a favourite food market?