When my mum came to visit last, about a month ago, she came from Paris on the train and meeting at St Pancras seemed like a good idea. Funnily enough, just a couple of days before we had talked about the German Gymnasium at work, and when I saw that it was in Kings Cross I just couldn't get it out of my mind.
German food isn't generally high up on my radar, although I do love schnitzel and I sauerkraut intrigues me. We went with a very safe choice of chicken schnitzel sandwich that was served with crisps. I had a headache so didn't enjoy it as much as I would if it was a normal day, which means I have to get back there soon to try out something else on the menu.
I'm sure I have blogged about this place before as it isn't the first time we have had a meal there, but it always impresses so it's worth another mention. Prix Fixe is in Soho and it is one of those restaurants it's easy to forget about in the Soho jungle of new openings and places you have to queue to get into. There are a lot of those... I'm not sure I have mentioned this before, but I HATE queuing for a table.
Prix Fixe is easy, good prices, GREAT food and serious portions. We never really have much space for dessert as the menu is just too full of amazing starters and mains we want to have instead. On this occasion I went for crab and avocado toast to start and I almost didn't have space for my main. The crab mixture was delicious on the crispy sourdough bread and I just couldn't stop eating until my plate was empty.
For main I just couldn't resist the steak and fries. Honestly it was just the perfectly cooked piece of meat with crispy, delicious fries and drenched in garlic butter. I was so happy with my choice! My mum had a delicious piece of pork belly and the husband went for fish. Everything was delicious, as usual. I just can't fault this place and I know we will be back before long. Perfect for a casual date night, for a meal with friends or just any night really.
If there is one thing I never do, that we never do, it's to go to the cinema. For some reason, I am just not so into it. Don't get me wrong, I can go to the cinema, however I am just as happy doing laundry while having a Netflix gem on in the background. You know what I mean? No?
So yeah, cinema trips are never high on my to-do list. But then Backyard Cinema came along and I was sold. If you send me an email and ask if I want to book tickets to watch the Jungle Book in a fake jungle, yeah, I'll be there. Fun story, when I was little I LOVED the jungle book sooooo much (we watched a Norwegian version of the musical about 3 times when I was 4 years old) and asked if maybe I could change my name to Mowgli. Sadly that didn't happen, but one of my brothers still call me Mowgli when he wants to wind me up. And my other brother calls me Tarzan when he wants to wind me up. Family, am I right?
All this led to the husband and I getting into the car last weekend and driving to Elephant & Castle to find this fancy jungle cinema. As usual we were a bit hangry (maybe just me, but sometimes you just NEED food) and rushed to find the nearest place serving food. Funnily enough we stumbled upon this large food market and only after eating a delicious burger and inhaling some fries, did we realize that the jungle cinema was actually in the same space. Funny coincidence, and super convenient.
I loved the yellow tables (plenty of them, not difficult to find a space to sit), the flowers in red plastic crates, salad grown in beds around the property and that industrial metal structure along the wall. Not sure why that was there, but I liked it. Almost as much as I liked my burger. We ordered from Brew Tap Burger and their burger was exactly what I needed, a good size for me (tad bit small for the husband, and he even had a bite of mine) and it tasted so good. Mine had some sort of miso something on it, and it was all kinds of right.
The fries were also just right. It might have been just that I was very hungry by that point, but they had a very delicious seasoning on them that just made me want to order several portions and munch my way through.
Part of the food market is also an actual shop where you can buy cheese, meats, drinks and basically everything else you want to buy at a deli. Anything you buy you can also eat at any of the tables provided in the rest of the space, if the actual food stalls don't tickle your fancy.
After food and an ice cream that was just that bit too big (but delicious, so I ate it all!), we made our way to the cinema. To get in we had to climb through a hold in the wall and suddenly we were in the jungle and had to find our way out.
How amazing is that? it was so well done, and to get out of the jungle you had to jump off a cliff and into a pit of boulders where you had to navigate your way out carefully. Quite difficult in heeled ankle boots if I say so myself.
Also, those weren't really boulders, but I guess you got that already?
When we finally made it out of the jungle we were in a lovely room decorated like the jungle complete with a rain forest soundtrack. The cinema chairs were beanbags, how fun! We gratefully sunk into ours after the ordeal of navigating the jungle and were lulled into almost sleep while we waited for the film to start. I don't think I have been that relaxed in a cinema, ever.
I am not so great at film reviews, and I'm not going to start improving right now. But I will say that I really enjoyed the film, even shed some tears at times, and I still think it is a magical story. I was a bit sad that there were not more songs as that is what I was OBSESSED with as a child (although it was the Norwegian version, in theater, that I fell so madly in love with) but the film was still so beautifully made. So yeah, watch it.
If there is one thing I love it is to have a little time out on my own, preferably in a cafe, and get some time to read and think. I read every time I'm on public transportation because it makes the time go by so much faster, but for some reason I can't get myself to read "useful" books. You know the ones, where you learn something useful for life. So I read all these crime books that are very entertaining, quick to read and makes commuting a lot more fun and save the serious reading for coffee breaks.
Two days ago I took some time out and went to a cafe in Tufnell Park, which is an area I don't really know at all even though it is so close to Kentish Town, which I know quite well. I wanted to try out Bear+Wolf and I can't for the life of me remember where I found them originally, Instagram maybe? the weather was pretty bad, so I had to escape the rain and feed myself (I forgot about lunch, who am I??) and anything with salmon, avocado and a poached egg is the best thing ever. The whole menu was very enticing, and it was a hard choice to make. But look at that poached egg, and the avocado and the smoked salmon. Oh it was so good, although very spicy! And the side salad had a pretty epic salad dressing that I would like the recipe for please.
I sat really close to this cake display, which is always dangerous. Didn't have any though, which is great. I'm really trying to be better at eating healthy although it is so very hard sometimes. Cake in my heart.
I had a lovely time out with my book (that I finished, it was super short!), delicious food, and a coffee which was...honestly, I just find it really hard to get behind these coffees that are watery, bitter aftertaste and absolutely tiny and still set you back closer to £3. I need to find another drink to order when I'm out because I can hardly take it anymore. Neither can my wallet.
Right now I am sitting on the sofa on my own with CSI on the TV (if you know one thing about me it's that I love a good old episode of CSI) and typing up this. I am not eating because it's after 8pm and I am in "fasting" mode, although I desperately feel like snacking. I think the key to a successful diet (man how much do you hate that word??) is to be busy, so you are never bored and want to fill your time with snacks. But it also doesn't help to look at pictures of delicious food like pasta. Am I right?
Back to the point, last night we decided to go out for an early dinner because the husband is staying in a hotel in central London and I am staying in our less than central London apartment. It's nothing sinister, he is just working loads for a couple of days and it made sense to stay in a hotel close to the action. While I prefer him to sleep in the same bed as me, it was a bit nice and exotic to meet for dinner after work and then go our separate ways. Like a first date or something. It's been a while since I had a date like that!
We decided to go to Padella, close to London Bridge Station, for some delicious pasta. It's basically all they do, and I am ok with that. All the pasta is fresh and you can see it being made in the open kitchen. They do also have some simple starters like burrata, salami, a radish salad and bruschetta. All very simple, but good flavors. We tried both the burrata and the salami with a side of bread. All delicious, but I do think it's not the best value for money for starters, but I guess for a restaurant where there was a constant queue, they can get away with simple and quick.
For mains we both had pasta, obviously. I went with a beef ragu and the husband chose a spicy sausage and ricotta pasta. Both were so good, I would gladly scoff one of those plates right now. Or both to think of it. Our waiter said a table of two earlier that day had ordered one of each pasta to try, and I wholly get this. If you go hungry, and don't have any starters, then you could possibly manage two each. At a stretch. But maybe plan for a long walk after to let all that deliciousness settle comfortably in your stomach.
I loved having an impromptu date with the husband and a quick and easy meal, that was also good, on a casual Monday. I do have to mention that there was a queue and we were in it for a while. At the same time there were seats in the restaurant that the hostess didn't fill up and it made me think maybe they couldn't handle the amount of guests or maybe the queuing is a ploy to make them look even busier? Who knows.
If you want to give them a go you can check them out here.
Man I'm so ready for a snack, why is this fasting thing so difficult suddenly?
the I think I mentioned that we moved recently and we have moved to South West London. Since moving to London we have always lived in North West and in the same area. Basically in two apartments that were 50 meters apart, very adventurous. And now we have gone super far out of our comfort zone and headed down south. Honestly, I never thought this would happen but it just comes to show that we don't know what the future brings.
When you move somewhere the first fun bits (if we don't count buying new things for your home) to do is to get to know the local area. Over Easter the husband and I managed to find some time to go for some walks in the area and try out some local restaurants. On Easter Sunday we went to Hood for a bit of brunch and people watching. I tried the english muffin with ribs hash and and egg, with a side of onion rings. Probably the best onion rings I have ever tried to be honest. I need to go back for more, soon. The muffin was also really good and extremely filling, with a generous and flavorsome serving of hash. The husband had a sandwich and was equally happy. Safe to say we need to go back quickly to try out some other bits on the menu. There was a pork belly dish on the lunch menu that was definitely calling to me...
Temporary living has many downsides, like not knowing where anything is, never having much to wear or the right cooking utensils, but a good thing is it makes you discover a new area. We have been slumming it (only joking, it's lovely here) in Canada Water for the last 3 months and when there are only 3 pots and a pan in the kitchen, going out for dinner seems like a great option. We have been trying out a couple of places in the local area and my favourites are collected here.
Canada Water Cafe
Mostly a place for coffee and teas in my kind but they do have a good food menu as well. On my second day in the area I felt like life was not being so great to me and I went to Canada Water Cafe and treated myself to eggs Benedict to cheer me up. It worked. I also spent way too much money on take away coffees on early, cold mornings when I felt I needed a little motivation and treat.
Don't go to cafe east for the decor or atmosphere, there isn't much of either, but the food is worth a visit. The menu is pretty simple and there is no alcohol served so it's a great place for a quick dinner or a weekday treat. We had the pork spring rolls and they were so good. The husband had prawn soup and I had noodles with loads of stuff. Absolutely delicious, quick, good price, and exactly what we wanted.
Salt Quay Pub
On NYE we wanted to do something to mark the occasion, but with a bit of an interesting living situation (maybe ill tell you all about that later) we didn't want to do anything at home and London on NYE is generally quite stressful. So we found a local pub and booked dinner for 2. It's the most low key NYE I have ever had ( not counting the year I was on my own with a migraine, had Indian take away, vomited most of the evening and saw the fireworks through the bedroom blinds while hoping it would all end. NYE 2011 you were a challenge) and it suited life right now. This year I want a huge party or dinner with loved ones so I'm going to have to make that happen. But back to the Salt Quay pub. Loved the food, the atmosphere was like a normal pub, and the crowd was a happy one. With menu prices being seriously blown up on NYE our 3 course menu for around £25 was a bargain.
I'm a convert to our local area, and I have been for a couple of years. London is amazing, with all the restaurants and things to do, but it's easy to forget where you live when Soho is calling your name. Well, don't do it. Not only is it easier to get home, the food is probably cheaper and the restaurant is less busy where you live. Unless you live in Soho I guess. Anyway, we aren't too far from Kilburn, and although I wouldn't call this area a gem, just yet, but there are some places that are worth a visit.
A couple of months back Kilburn Ironworks opened it's doors and it was actually my hugely trendy colleague who told me about it. She loved going with her boyfriend for drinks, and sometimes to share some small dishes. The husband and I decided to try them out for dinner soon after they opened, and we were not too impressed. Hold on, that's not what we are discussing though, because most restaurants need a bit of time to get comfortable. So although the dinner wasn't too impressive, we went back on an early Friday evening for some drinks and to try out their new-ish menu.
I love having different things to share and so we ordered generously (we were also starving!) and got deep fried courgette, welsh rarebit and succulent fried chicken bits to nibble on. The food and service has had a huge improvement and we would definitely go back. The atmosphere is great for just a drink after work and I'm just so excited that there is a restaurant/bar/place in Kilburn that looks like it should really be in Shoreditch. Almost too trendy for North West London...! Almost.
So last Tuesday we woke up at home and spent the morning getting ready, doing laundry, organizing life, you know, boring stuff, before we quickly packed our suitcases and headed towards Ascot. We were going to Coworth Park for a mini break, to spend some time together, finally. There has been a lot of work lately, for both of us, and it's easy to forget to take care of your partner when you are taking care of work related things. So yeah, it was nice getting out of London and spend some time together.
We started the visit with a walk around the estate, highly recommended for a light walk and plenty of time to chat and catch up. The view is pretty good too. After being checked in, we were shown our room (bigger than our living room back in London, just saying) and I went straight to the bathroom to draw a bath. We were staying in the Stables and the most important thing in the Stable rooms are the copper baths. They are huge and beautiful, the best bathtub I have had the pleasure of knowing.
After the bath, some light reading and chilling in the room, we made our way down to The Barn, one of the restaurants, for dinner. I really love The Barn, it has a great setting, very homely and cosy, and quite small. We had 3 courses and basically ordered the same, and the food was good, but not as amazing as I remembered. We started off with Thai fishcakes, had a creamy pasta and finished off with Sticky Toffee pudding (spoiler: we were not hungry again after this meal, for 3 days. Yes, that happens). Such a relaxing start to our stay and the perfect day, we even had lovely weather!
Where we live there aren't too many nice looking, independent cafes to frequent. There are about 4 Costa's withing 10 minutes walk of our house but I would rather go to an independent cafe if there is one, so when one of the local places closed down, I was a bit surprised and unhappy. But fear not, they have re-opened and now it looks like a cafe that should really be in trendy South/East London and not trusty old North West, but I'll take it!
The decor has improved (think industrial elements, black metal, exposed lights and dark wooden surfaces) and so has the menu. I was starving so went for a pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries and it was delicious. Crispy bread, lovely pork with not too much BBQ sauce and a little bit of cheese to set it off. The only thing I would change would be the fries, as they were not worth it. I was debating asking for a salad instead but just didn't bother, and once I tasted the potatoes I wish I had. They were just a bit soggy and boring, so I left them alone and focused on the sandwich. Which was more than enough and very filling. Finished off with a lovely coffee. I think maybe I have to go back next week to try something else off the menu.
I'm Christine and I currently live in London with my husband where I do my best to go to as many restaurants as possible, bake, DIY and occasionally let my hair down and go to a museum. x