Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Boobs, Bums, Tea & Happy Tums

By Faye Armstrong.

Sunday is God’s day; a day of rest. And what better way to rest than over Sunday Afternoon Tea, and what better way to show your appreciation of God and his fine, fine work of creation than sitting in silent gratitude watching beautiful Eves of the modern day perform tantalising burlesque? Only these Eves have yet to taste that fateful apple, their nudity shows no sign of embarrassment.

Holborn’s burlesque bar, club and resaturant Volupte has had the fantastic foresight to merge two of my favourite things and now offer a Time For Tease ‘Sunday Tease’: the explosive combination of Time For Tease Afternoon Tea and several hours of varied burlesque acts. God couldn’t have had a better idea himself.

I start upstairs among the ornate cushions and plush sofas and watch as fellow revellers order from the large selection of cocktails. The expert bar staff shake and stir better than Tom Cruise in Cocktail; until one breaks the illusion of mastery and drops the shaker like it is hotter than Jennifer Lopez (apparently the hottest woman in the world. I’m obviously the second.)

Our table is ready and so we leave the entertaining scene to descend downstairs and enter the dining area through a heavy red velvet curtain. It’s one room, booths hug the back wall for larger parties and there are round tables just in front for intimate groups of two. With a glass of fizz (part of the Time For Tease Afternoon Tea package), I’m seated at one such table; only it’s not intimate. Today I’m with my editor, Christian. Watching half naked ladies with your male boss is an interesting experience; discussing them, even more so.

First is Liberty Pink, a seductive singer with as much raw magnetism as Marilyn Monroe. She weaves between tables, running her finger across men’s shoulders. She has stage presence, that’s for sure. All eyes are on her and, more precisely, her breasts, which look dangerously close to making their own stage appearance. She leans on our table, arms straight, bum in the air, and correctly identifies where my editor’s eyesight is directed, stating “Yeh, they’re real” mid song [see video below].

With the concluding appreciation of whoops, whistles, claps and a ‘Shabam’ from one onlooker, the next act takes to the floor. It’s Ginger Blush [below], a red-haired lady, playing on the fact with her very clever and funny Elizabeth II themed act. I won’t give it away, but through the use of adapted song and some very inventive props, Ginger Blush gives what my editor describes as his ‘favourite burlesque act of all time’. She’s what burlesque is all about; the embodiment of both humour and sex in a way which exudes class and entertainment, not sleaze and sordidness.

The acts are interrupted – sorry, interspersed – by Afternoon Tea. First there is a selection of finger sandwiches – minus the crust of course, dahhhhhling – including cream cheese and salmon, curried chicken, egg mayonnaise, and parma ham, cheddar and rocket, and a large selection of teas (I opted for Darjeeling as I’d never tried it before. It was nice but I still favour the fizz. Shocker.) Then there are homemade scones with a selection of jams and clotted cream, and finally, the homemade cakes; brownies, lemon cake and mini pavlovas. Following this, the rubbing of a full belly and groans of both glutinous pleasure and pain.

I’ve been to quite a few Burlesque shows in my time (I realise that sentence makes it seem as if I’m 40 years older than I am) but the show at Volupte is the most varied I’ve seen, a great choice if you’ve never been to burlesque before and want to sample a bit of everything. A ‘burlesque buffet’ if you will.

Even I, with all my burlesque familiarity, was introduced to something I had not previously been exposed to: Gateaux Vivants [above]. These women act as ‘living pictures’, posing suggestively with objects such as cherries, holding the position with statuesque precision. Take a snap, scrawl ‘Wish You Were Here’ across it, and send it to everyone you know.

Scarlett Daggers [pictured above] uses a parasol to get the crowd worked up and the final act of the Time For Tease Afternoon Tea comes in the petite form of Marianne Cheesecake [below]. She enters with balloons attached to her underwear and through a series of ‘pops’ in between a series of alluring twists and turns, she exits with no balloons and a lot of sparkling dust covering her perfectly formed body. I fear I have too much appreciation for the womanly form.

It’s all over, and so too is my happiness. OK so that’s a little dramatic. I’m happy that Burlesque exists and that Volupte exists in particular. God may have created woman but Volupte created woman at her finest.

The Time For Tease Afternoon Tease at Volupte are available on every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from 2.30pm – 5pm or every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month from 3pm – 5.30pm for only £42. Money can certainly buy you happiness.

Do the wise thing, either book yourself in at Volupte right now using this clever booking thingiemabob OR visit the Time For Tease website for listings and booking links

And if you’re looking for more burlesque bars and clubs in London, follow this link.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Basement of Manicures & Masterclasses

By Greg Hall.

London. Friday night. Good times.

It didn’t matter that the rain was hammering, spirits were rising. For us, Curtain Road was calling.

My girlfriend and I hopped on the 35; like a pumpkin turned into a pristine horse and carriage, it dropped us from our doorstep to the black, spiral staircase of Ninetyeight Bar. Ah yes, that spiral staircase. For many passers-by, it eludes them, confuses them, not realising Ninetyeight is in a basement underneath an estate agent. That ornate gateway tripped up my partner too. Literally. Her five inch heels clashed with the metal, with the elements against us, and only armed with a flapping umbrella, together we battled through the ordeal, to reach that gratifying grotto of a cocktail mecca that is the one, the only Ninetyeight Bar.

Now as far as I’m concerned, this bar could stage a night hosted by The Association of British Fungus Groups and it would still be damn interesting. The entire venue is a visual master class in endearingly erratic décor. I just wish they’d stop with the bland dance music.

That night, the lubrication coursing through the veins of the evening came courtesy of liquor giants, Cointreau, with their theme night, Rendezvous – Prive.

Oui, tres bien, I thought. Pour moi, Cointreau meant boozing bonhomie. In terms of taste, the orange infused tipples were magnifique, but aesthetically they lacked va va voom.

The setup in Ninetyeight was pretty cool. The main bar was rammed, filled with chatter and laughter; pleasure that one should associate with any respected establishment. Moving down; cocktail lessons were taking place with a top fella, Arg (not the bloke from The Only Way is Essex) giving quick-fire classes.

A mixer shake and a lick of salt later, Arg had taught my lovely counterpart and I how to make a mean Cointreau St. Clements and Margarita. The St Clements was refreshing, the Margarita was fiery.

Navigating towards the port of the good ship Ninetyeight, through a sea of Zoolander type models, we ventured to makeover central. In one corner, it was manicures galore. If one wanted to have the very core, the very essence of the manifestation of the sub conscious, the indicator of the inner psyche, your dress sense, politely assessed by two immaculate fashionistas from John Lewis, you could. Which was nice. We stuck to the cocktails and a bit of mingling.

During our sojourn in this haven of mixology we took a shine to some of the fine ornaments displayed around the place. Regarde.

Despite the cordiality of the evening, the crux of the matter is that Cointreau is a fine brand, promoted in a fitting hub. However Ninetyeight sparkles like a diamond in the rough when it is open to the public. When they manage to find it that is.

Looking for further cocktail bar inspiration in London? Follow this link to the Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in London

Friday, 24 June 2011

Dropping The C-Bomb At The New Giraffe

By Cat McGovern.

When I hear the word Giraffe in conjunction with dining, visions of squawking children running around with balloons often springs to mind. Sometimes I just want a restaurant that has the same dishes as Giraffe, without the worry of accidently dropping the F or C bomb in ear shot of these precious little darlings. Fortunately, for my potty mouth, there is now an adult-friendly Giraffe establishment in the heart of Soho. Thank flippin’ goodness.

As I enter, I notice that the downstairs acts as a restaurant, whereas the upstairs is bar territory and has a more laid back relaxed feel. Still wary that there might be children, I plonk myself at one of the communal wooden tables in the bar.

Drinks are being dispersed freely and when I ask for a cocktail, the waitress asks me in return “rum or gin?” Being a gin fiend, I opt for the Bramble. Loaded with a more than generous amount of juniper, I sip on it contentedly. Its purple colour reminds me of Ribena and, as such, I drink it as so. My friend asks for rum and receives a mango and lime daiquiri which is perfect on this muggy day.

Being up above the streets of Soho and watching people bustling along is quite fascinating. As we delight in our cocktail creations, we witness an argument between friends, a mad chase, and a group of confused Korean tourists looking lost and equally spellbound by London. It’s quite a sight.

Suddenly, large platters laden with food present themselves at our table. Skewers of roast pumpkin and beetroot, grilled halloumi, chicken, beef and prawn are nibbled and they are all mighty. Whenever food is served at new launches, people’s manners wane and the need for food compels people to grab and snatch like they have never eaten before. Suits and well dressed ladies lose all decorum and paw over the offerings. This is pleasing as I am also one of those types of people.

So they have good cocktails and food on a stick? Brilliant! Two things that just go hand in hand. Next, flat breads, which are essentially pizzas, distributed and addictive. The thin, crisp base, loaded with cheese and chunky toppings, go down a treat. It is on par with my favourite pizza; Firezza and that’s saying something.

As the night comes to a close and people disperse, I am left alone on the communal table. I can see myself sitting up here tapping away on my laptop, whilst I do some important work (read: Facebooking), whilst piling through many a cocktail. And you know what, I might just do that!

Find your local Giraffe restaurant, follow this link

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Exercise Is For Fools (And Other Such Excuses)

By Cat McGovern.

(To my boyfriend) “How did I get home?”
Boyfriend: “I put you in a cab.”
Me: “What about the restaurant launch?”
Boyfriend: “We went and it was great.”
Me: “My head hurts.”
Boyfriend: “Yes dear, now go back to sleep.”

Normally when I go to new bar and restaurant launches I am composed, witty and attentive. I fear that my Irish roots, on this very rare occasion, had come to the surface and obliterated that carefully constructed image.

It all started by going to the gym before heading to the brand new west London restaurant, Baity Kitchen. This was my first mistake.

Exercise is for fools, it seems, as it causes dehydration, leaving you to reach for anything liquid. I chose Prosecco. Upon entering the calming vibes of Baity Kitchen - situated in one of the poshest parts of Chelsea and just round the corner from Bibendum - I was handed a flute of this delicious nectar and mistook it for water. Oh dear, one glass gone.

The manager explained that the food is Mediterranean/Arabic and is made fresh on site. All the ingredients are seasonal and, because of this, there isn’t really a fixed menu, just what the chef cooks up for that day. I have to say that, as my glass was topped up, the food in the cabinets looked fantastic, particularly the artichokes. This was when I probably should have eaten, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Their piece de resistance was the quaint terraced garden at the back. The billowing trees and subtle scent of lavender was an oasis of calm in the craziness of Chelsea. I decided this was the best place for me to be and make myself comfortable for the evening, right next to the blossoming strawberries growing there.

I started to feel a bit light-headed but thankfully samples of their menu were distributed around. Spoons, filled with a sort of steak tartare base, pleased my palate, as did the lamb koftas. However, these small bites did not aid with my tipsy feeling. Third glass down and now the PR lady was encouraging me to have another. Oh go on then, it was nearly the weekend, I jested; why not.

My boyfriend knows when I’ve had too many, so he rightfully guided me through the restaurant and to a black cab. Well done him.

The next morning, as I struggled to get ready for work, I noticed a Baity Kitchen tote. I peered inside and saw a big bag of herbs, raspberry jam and what appeared to be a cupcake in a jar. At first I thought it was loot that I had collected over the evening, however my boyfriend reassured me that it was indeed a parting gift of thanks. Phew.

And just so you know, the cupcake in a jar cured the hangover; along with gallons of water. I think next time I’ll skip the gym; it does more harm than good.

To find out about more brand new bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs in London, follow this link

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Shackles Came Off At Syncronized

By Greg Hall.

Where would we be if we stayed in our comfort zone? Personally, I dread to think what I’d be doing. But seeing as we live in an era where lying is fashionable, where porky pies are embraced by the government and those rotten eggs at FIFA who wear them like they’re strutting down the catwalk, I’m going to be refreshingly open.

If I were to remain in a sedentary state, I’d probably be at home eating chicken and playing X-Box 360. As Ron Burgundy said in Anchorman, “It’s boring, but it’s my life.” Luckily, I’m malleable to my mate’s suggestions. I wouldn’t call it peer pressure, but after a bit of arm twisting a pal of mine managed to get me to leave my reassuring cocoon of South East London and venture with a crew over the river, north, to Shacklewell.

Now admittedly this part of town isn’t as sizzling as Shoreditch or as down as Dalston (although near to both), but this component of the capital has a little sparkling gem by the name of the Palatine Bar. To state the bleeding obvious, that was where we were going. The reason; to sample some deep house grooves and neck a few beers. It proved to be a fruitful pursuit of pleasure.

The name of the event was ‘Syncronized’, which was apt, as we had a serving of kinetic cohesion, fuelled by the ballistic rhythms of Rico Casazza, Beatplate, Beatfield and Real Design. I’m no dance expert, but I love a night out at Fabric and Cable, and the laidback Palatine Bar was like an intimate version of those buzzing clubs, minus the sweaty t-shirt.

For the casual punter a dance night at Palatine Bar is well worth it, and it’s no surprise considering who the governor is. That certain ‘guv’ would be Scott Martin, who has ten years of experience in the competitive Ibiza club scene. While Shacklewell isn’t quite San Antonio, we got a taste of the Balearics with the likeable yet lethal ‘Hiebas’ liquor. That herbal concoction was the perfect companion to the scintillating set the ‘Synchronized’ boys put on.

While I could have happily stayed in with a bit of Pro Evo Soccer, which is admittedly very sad, I made the right choice; Palatine Bar had a cool crowd, a rustic setting and top tunes. Check it out.

Looking for more Clubbing inspiration in London? Check out the Top 10 Night Clubs in London

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

London’s Summer of Spanish Street Parties

By Philippa Morton.

“Dubba Dubba Dubba Rrrrrrrrrbaaaa!” echo the sounds of Latino singers on this beautiful Sunday evening in Kings Cross. If you’ve lately had dim thoughts of being the gristle in the mince grinder of London, think again. No time for a holiday? Take a trip to Camino Bar & Restaurant instead. You’ll be in for some exceptional customer service, where your choice actually matters. And you can listen to the jiving rhythms of Spanish tunes. Tonight was the first of the Fiesta En La Calle street party events at Camino. Our spirits were down in light of the recent Champion’s League football defeat to Barcelona, so we decided that if we can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

Tapas, the order of the day, naturally - my favourite, the juicy and spicy chorizo sausage - and Spain wouldn’t be Spain without a little seafood, the pick being the baby squid. Wash this down with el Gaitero cider, and you’ll be away, which is just where I wanted to be; away from the inside, towards the outside where the bands were playing. But at least I had a little time to observe our surroundings. You’re definitely in Spain when you’re at Camino; the walls are covered in relics of Catholicism, woodlands and all things Spanish; except for the foosball machine, perhaps, which was regularly exercised.

Feeling like a child dying to get out into the playground, I forced my last mouthful of Ewes Cheese down (creamy and tangy, I had no issues with that!), before removing myself outside. Who could have thought dancing under the stars in London was possible? An adult crowd appreciated hips-a-hoolaring, created an awesome party vibe. A few MILFs sat confidently waiting for their bait, while an energetic, friendly crowd danced around. No partner? No worries. Friendliness is so part of this vibe, you might not have a choice BUT to dance! The passion for the music starts with the players. The trills and frills are magical from guitars to trombone. Be prepared to lose yourself from 6pm until 2am.

So how much will all this set you back? A 5 and 20 will do the trick for a little munch, a few Spanish swigs and a dessert. Dessert is a guessing game, as it is all in Spanish on the menu. We greatly enjoyed the fun of discovering what it was we actually ordered. How much to transport yourself to a magical place in Spain via musical tunes? That’s FREE! And the good news: there are more of these street parties to come. I’ll be there, will you?

SATURDAY JULY 30th - Featuring Cumbé Live - One of the hottest new bands of London’s Latin American music scene!

SUNDAY 28TH AUG – CLOSING PARTY – Line up TBA! Check website for more details!

Live music from 6pm-9pm so get down early! Main act on at 8pm
Drinks Offer: 4 bottles of Estrella Dam for £10

Why not go the whole hog and book a table in advance? To book your spot at Camino use this simple booking thingameewhatsit.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Parliamentary Cocktails, But No Secret Tunnel

By Leo Owen.

Today is a wet day, my bag strap has broken, my date is running late due to the occasional unreliability of text messaging and the cocktail tasting event I'm heading to has been cancelled; only, I don't know that yet.

Arriving at the Royal Horseguards Hotel I'm embarrassed by my bedraggled appearance and the doubled-up plastic carriers I clutch, housing my failed shoulder bag. Tonight promises “masculine cocktails” and all the grandeur of an old-fashioned gentlemen's club, just without the smoking. Entering the reception a little shame-faced, I wonder if they're expecting a man and whether my far-from-chic-appearance will still gain me admittance.

I'm met with nothing but charm and hospitality, lead to cigar expert and Equus Bar Manager, Neil Millington, who's a little puzzled by my arrival. Having established I never received any cancellation messages and that a friend who's travelled across London is yet to arrive, I'm handed a cocktail menu and reassured I'll be looked after nonetheless.

Royal Horseguards Hotel has a tradition of pandering to much more refined tastes than mine. George Bernard Shaw lived next door, WW1 secret intelligence agent Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming used the entire eighth floor as his headquarters during the war, Lord Kitchener stayed here during WW1 and William Gladstone laid the building's foundation stone back in 1884. Not to mention the fact the hotel sits on the site of Whitehall, what was once the UK's largest palace where infamous lady's man and wife-abuser, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn.

These days the hotel's a private haven and convenient retreat for MPs, even boasting a bell that rings fifteen minutes before politically-minded guests need to hot-foot back to parliament to vote. Many moons ago, our nation's leaders would have been able to make the most of an underground tunnel linking the hotel with the Houses of Parliament but today we have to make do with admiring the steps leading to the blocked-off tunnel and the rather unique private function area that surrounds. I only wish I'd had some kind of underground passageway linking the underground and hotel to avoid the drowned-Persian look.

Looking at the cocktail menu, there's no real surprises. Trying to predict decadent masculine ingredients for “modern gents”, I'm already expecting plenty of Whisky, Port, Cognac, Burgundy, Scotch, Bourbon, Bitters and drinks “on the rocks”; Equus, the bar at Royal Horseguards, certainly doesn't disappoint with its historically themed “Signature Cocktails” list paying homage to its famous visitors and whole page devoted to fourteen whiskies. I'm pleased to spot Dunkerton's Organic Cider on the menu and a few reassuringly familiar names (Singapore Sling, Bellini, Apricot Cocktail, Mai Tai..).

Waiting for my companion, I decide to start with a drink named after one of my favourite playwrights. A concoction of Gin, Campari and Cherry Heering Liqueur over ice, The George Bernard Shaw, tastes dangerously potent. As Neil leaves me to sample a spot of George, I soak in the grand décor that surrounds me - plush red and beige shimmer effect chairs, military paintings, white marble floors, a tasteful glass-fronted bar and grey/glass wall panels on wood walls tastefully combine the traditional with the best of modern design.

My drinking companion arrives and Neil is keen for us to sample his signature drink, The Winston Churchill, which includes cigar-infused whiskey. Heavy but easily drinkable, the Churchill reflects the legendary man's love of cigars. Apparently Churchill was never without one from the age of eight and we're given the rare opportunity of seeing a portrait of a young Winston without his trademark talisman (bizarrely resembling a chubbier Martin Clunes).

Finishing up with a much more light and summery refreshing Russian Spring Punch (vodka, raspberry, cassis, lemon and champagne), I take note of Neil's infallible hang-over cure (fresh lemon/lime, sugar syrup and water). Knowing I have to somehow remain functional enough to pack a bag on my return home, I'm grateful Neil has ensured a constant supply of dried vegetable chips and satay broad beans. Clutching a party-bag of homemade macaroons, I venture out into the cold but thankfully dry outdoors, warmed by some exceedingly strong cocktails.

Looking for further cocktail bar inspiration? Follow this link to the top 10 best cocktail bars in London

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Covent Garden’s Skinnie Minnies

By Leah Harper.

Recently I invested in a personal trainer (I know, I know...), to whom I was required to reveal every detail of my dietary habits and somewhat lax exercise routine. However, it turns out that I actually eat relatively healthily (excluding the odd frappacino fix and late night craving for chips), and I’m stubborn enough to stick to even the most tiresome of workout plans. There was, however, one area in which I was failing miserably: booze.

‘But I’m a Londoner!’ I reasoned with him, ‘everything is done over drinks. Birthday drinks, leaving drinks, dinner and drinks; what’s a girl to do?’

His concern lay not in the fact that my stumbling towards the tube in time for the last train might leave me with an injury that would justify skipping gym sessions for a week or two, but rather in the horrific number of calories that are apparently lurking in just about every alcoholic beverage. Cocktails happen to be one of the worst offenders, but really, unless you’re happy sipping a vodka and tonic, you don’t even want to be thinking about how much sugar goes into your favourite tipple.

Fortunately, Covent Garden’s Dirty Martini bar claims to have come up with a solution. Their appropriately named ‘Skinny Minnie’ cocktails work on much the same principle as the skinny latte and the skinny muffin: guilt-free indulgence. They have just half the calories (and alcohol units) of their full-fat counterparts, and you can still swan around this swanky establishment with a martini glass in your hand; in theory.

In actual fact, Dirty Martini’s bar is so crammed full of skinny minnie people that it’s impossible to actually ‘swan’ anywhere. No matter – if you want to talk to anyone over the sound system you’ll need to be pressed up against their ear anyway, and really it’s much better if you just stand still and pout. Over in the seated section there’s one girl who’s got this down to a tee. She stands silently swirling the cocktail cherry around her glass the whole time we’re enjoying the bar.

That’s not to say this bar is pretentious; it’s not. The majority of the clientele have obviously touched up their make-up in the office loos, and there’s no chance of you running into to any of the cast of Made In Chelsea. Rather than a sense of West End snobbery, Dirty Martini have mastered the New York vibe which they set out to achieve. The only question is whether or not you’ll be able to summon your inner Carrie Bradshaw and brave this packed out bar after a day at work.

The Skinny Minnie cocktails themselves are made with the expertise and precision which goes into all the drinks at Dirty Martini. Currently there are two options available: the Passionfruit Mojito and the Watermelon Martini, although the bartender tells me they’re hoping to increase the selection soon.

You can’t fault the composition of these drinks, but like most decisions made on the premise of ‘being good’, ordering a Skinny Minnie might leave you feeling a little disappointed. They’re a little like squash with not enough concentrate. I feel like I’ve asked for my frappacino without the cream, or my late night chips without the cheese.

In the end it’s almost impossible to watch Dirty Martini’s infamous Chocolate Martini being poured right in front of us while we sip our watery alternative, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I give up and order something suitably sugary, and with a little more of a kick....

Looking for further London cocktail bar inspiration? Check out the Top 10 guide to the Best Cocktail Bars in London

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Breakfast In The Sanctum Of Soho

By Arthur Browne.

I used to work on Warwick Street. In fact, it was just months before the plush Sanctum Soho Hotel flicked the switch on its revolving door and waved forward its clientele. It must be one of the most tranquil areas of the West End. I always thought it astounding that you could be so close to both Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus yet not get driven out into the road by the swarms of commuters and tourists that seem to zig-zag everywhere through that part of the capital.

But today I moved swiftly from a sanctuary to an inner Sanctum: the funkily modern surroundings of the Sanctum Soho Hotel’s bar and dining area cum breakfast room, dropping in to sample a spangly new spring/summer breakfast menu. The room was full of chatter and I was directed to a comfy bench opposite my chaired companion. We'd both been abstemious with the Shreddies to make sure premature tummy fullness would play no part in our first meal of the day.

I have had a fair few hotel breakfasts in my time; in a range of places and with varied star ratings. The time in Paris when I gorged myself on free croissants excepted, they usually aren't worth delaying your check-out for. Why delay for a watery coffee and a soggy piece of toast?

Good news is, guests and business breakfasters alike will be glad they made a pit stop at Sanctum Soho. I judge a good breakfast by the quality of the full English; after all, anyone can put Bran Flakes in a twisty, transparent cereal holder thingy. It was lip-smackingly bang on. Fried eggs which ran but not like a torrent; bacon where juicy meat was the majority ingredient rather than an afterthought; a sausage bursting with herby flavour. Even the tomatoes tasted like they'd been sourced, and then lightly grilled, with care. My compadre lucked out too with a generously proportioned eggs benedict drenched, but not overwhelmed, with a light Hollandaise sauce.

A very pleasant hour passed swiftly. My one regret: the time taken over the breakfast left no time to leaf through the morning papers in the sunny seat by the window, pausing occasionally to watch the world go by.

To book a table at Sanctum Soho Hotel use the simple booking thingameewidget below.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

When A Good Sausage Comes Near My Lips

By Cat McGovern.

Netball or pub? Netball or pub? Decisions, decisions. Netball finishes at 8pm, so technically could do both. Pub it is!

The venue is The Betjeman Arms in St Pancras station. Every time I go to this pub, it makes me wish I was going on the Eurostar, as it stares temptingly back at me on the pubs’ terrace inside the station. If only I had my passport on me.

Geronimo Inns, who are the smart guys who put their gastropubs into Heathrow airport, are showcasing their own homemade produce this evening and by the looks of it, it’s definitely going to be hitting the right chords with me.

Placed on big barrels are their bread, cheese and sausages, good hearty British staples. I go for the cheese first and, as you can see from the picture, it is mighty. The cheese is made from Young’s beer and has a cheddar disposition. I cant believe it when I’m told that it is in effect beer cheese. I am giddy with excitement and pop a few more tasters in my mouth.

Next on my agenda is the sourdough bread that is also made from beer, this time Adnams. I am fascinated by the thought of beery bread and cheese, declaring that all things should be made of beer if they taste this fantastic. But it is the sausages that I particularly want. They have been staring at me, willing me to try them and I greedily snatch a couple of pieces and scurry away.

Ale samples are offered to me and as I am not one to refuse any type of alcohol (except Jager and Tequila, they can move swiftly along thank you) I tentatively try it. I associate ale with old men and my Scottish boyfriend. I have tried to get down with it many an evening at home, but to me it’s just simply flat warm beer, which is not very pleasant. However, surprisingly, this one is quite nice. It is Young’s Waggledance, which makes me visualise bees doing the dance to tell the other bees that this beer’s a good’un. My boyfriend scoffs at me and says the reason why I like it is because it is considered a ‘girl ale’, making me feel less proud of my ale achievements.

I soon shut him up when I notice that sausage baps are on offer and refuse to get him one. The bap is overflowing with their own piccalilli and I lose all my manners and girly grace by shoving it attractively into my mouth. The piccalilli spills on to my chin but I don’t care, I must devour this roll. Meat juices squirt on to my brand new dress and notebook. I am an animal and my boyfriend, understandably, moves his chair away from me so that it looks like we’re not together. Not my daintiest moment but I’m afraid when a good sausage comes near my lips, it must be appreciated (oooh saucy).

Geronimo Inns have really got it spot on here and who knows perhaps instead of enjoying wine and cheese of an evening, it’s less posh counterpart beer could lead the way for those who are as classy as me.

To book a table at The Betjeman Arms use the simple booking thingameewidget below.