Thursday, 25 July 2013

Burgers: How Do You Eat Yours?

A prize to win a burger masterclass with MasterChef finalist Tom Whitaker and a BBQ for you and 10 mates inspired Christian Rose-Day to share his burger eating methods.

The latest competition from Youngs Pubs is really simply to enter. If you’re a burger lover, all you need do is send in photos of yourself devouring your favourite meal, in your favourite manner; much like the Supermodel method....

Or the Hollywood method...

Or, in my case, the Dr Seuss method...

I like my Youngs burger....

On a slate.

With a mate.

Standing up.

In a cup.

With no shoes.

Whilst reading the news.

Without fear.

And with a beer.

It's really easy to enter this competition, so give it a go. You'll probably want to eat a burger soon anyway, right?

The Brook Green Hotel pub, where I channelled the spirit of Dr Seuss through into my burger, is also currently running a Monster Burger Challenge whereby if you can eat a burger made of three beef burger patties, three different types of cheeses, 6 fried gherkins (pictured right), a bucket of slaw, and a bucket of chips, all within 15 minutes, you get the whole lot for FREE.

The legends leader board so far is looking decidedly slim. Fancy your chances?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

9 Reasonably New Basement Bars In London For Cooling Off In The Hot Weather

In this unusually hot weather, Nina Koo-Seen-Lin discovers some of London’s cool, new(ish) subterranean hideouts. 

Harrison’s basement bar in Balham (pictured above)
Co-owned by Rick Stein and Sam Harrison, the restaurant in one of the most sought after areas in London has recently undergone a refurbishment and serves delicious cocktails in low lit, swanky surroundings. Try the Gateway to the South cocktail (a concoction of Southern Comfort, peach liquor lime juice, lemongrass gomme and cherry) which will keep even the most devoted of north of the river dwellers in the Balham basement bar.

214 basement bar in Bermondsey (pictured above)
There was a time when gin was cruelly named Mother’s Ruin but that’s all changed. Gin is in and Bermondsey Street is a culinary cabaret. One of the top places to visit is 214 Bermondsey where bottles of gin come from distilleries all over the world (and also just around the corner).

Lupita East basement mezcalaria bar near Spitalfields (pictured above)
The sister venue of the Charing Cross Mexican restaurant of the same name, Lupita East boasts an underground mescal bar where restaurant diners can cool down after a mini Mexican feast of nopales (cactus) tacos. The Mexican theme is here to stay in London, but at Lupita East you’ll find authenticity.

Quiquiriqui basement bar in Shoreditch (pictured above)
Another mezcalaria (the first in London in fact) down a Shoreditch side road. If you want strong, hard liquor in a traditional-looking Mexican roadside drinking den, then this is the place to go. Embrace rounds of smoky handcrafted mezcal, and house margaritas. Ask for Jenny and you’ll receive a lesson on mezcal culture.

Reverand JW Simpson basement bar in Fitzrovia (pictured above)
Don’t worry, we haven’t fallen so far into desperation to descend into the underground cellars of the churche. The boys behind Bourne and Hollingsworth have taken over the old abode of a former clergyman. The place has been left as it was taken over, so the wood chippings and pastel tiles add the humble atmosphere that Bourne and Hollingsworth do so well. Cocktails have a vintage England feel to them, such as prune Manhattans, sherry cobblers and Port in a Storm.

Smith’s basement bar in Hammersmith (pictured above)
Downstairs drinking dens may not be the first choice on a hot summer’s day - roof terraces and beer gardens usually get the lion’s share - but come rain, come shelter and Smith’s is happy to provide. The cocktail bar underneath the Brook Green Hotel has private booths and serves free bowls of popcorn and a homemade veggie platter. Classic, martini and signature Smith cocktails are all worth a sip, but if you’re looking for something more gargantuan, look for Gustav Holst (a prim and rummy take on the fishbowl).

Vaults of Voltaire basement bar in Blackfriars (pictured above)
The private but spacious grottos of Vaults of Voltaire provide a basement bar for City of London workers to sit back and relax after a hard day in the office. Decorated in silks and animal prints and adjacent to a champagne bar with a colour palette inspired by champagne, caviar and cigars, this basement bar, perhaps, appeals more to the City gentleman.

BYOC basement bar in Covent Garden (pictured above)
Although it’s just one flight of stairs to reach this speakeasy bar, you’ll still have to work a bit harder to gain entrance to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail). You must book (via email) in advance for a rather short but spectacular two-hour slot, costing £20 per person. The concept is to bring your own bottle of spirits and the bartender will create bespoke cocktails using an array of juices and syrups from an old-fashioned drinks trolley.

Coya pisco basement bar in Piccadilly (pictured above)
The summer sun in Central London can all become too much, we know. Luckily for everyone there’s a solution. Coya Pisco Bar transports you to Peru via a Piccadilly basement. It’s the place for some of the best Pisco Sour cocktails outside of South America. Munch on the cooling palm of hearts salad (made from the stem of the trunk of a palm tree) and baby squid layered with Peruvian marigold and quinoa. End with another Pisco Sour.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Waterside, Alfresco, Pop-Up, Whisky-Inspired Menu With Views Of Tower Bridge: The Pictorial

Fluid London’s Christian Rose-Day checks out a special short term whisky and food menu at one of London’s best riverside restaurants. 

So last night we had the pleasure of attending Le Pont de la Tour French restaurant in Shad Thames, which I have reviewed on a previous occasion and loved on that previous occasion. This time we were visiting to sample a special whisky inspired food menu.

The John Walker and Sons Voyager 1920s style luxury yacht (pictured above) is in town very briefly on its non-stop world tour before it heads up to Edinburgh. To celebrate the occasion, Le Pont de la Tour and Johnnie Walker whisky have devised a menu that pairs food and whisky which can be enjoyed for only a short time period from now until Sunday 21st July.

The menu is 3 courses for £45, which includes a dram of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label with dessert. For those who a little nervous around whisky, this is the best option because the final pairing of the Blue Label whisky with the dark chocolate mousse cigar was definitely our favourite.

We actually opted for the £75 version of the menu which also included a dram of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve with the cured organic salmon starter, and a dram if Johnnie Walker Platinum Label with the roasted Yorkshire duck breast a l’orange, and a pre-dinner cocktail. This is the option true whisky fans will want to take and is, as Colin Dunn, Johnnie Walker Brand Ambassador (cool job!), told us, is “whisky in HD.”

The JOHN WALKER And SONS VOYAGER limited editoion menu at Le Pont de la Tour




Book a table using the reservations calendar below.
The flowers that border the alfresco terrace outside the restaurant; whilst inside off in the distance a live pianist can be heard offering his classical rendition of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky'.

A refreshing Johnnie Walker and elderflower, citrus pre-dinner cocktail. There were only notes of whisky, the citrus calming the darker liquid quite easily. A debate started across our table about whether whisky before your meal is a good thing. It's always good to hear both sides of the argument. We called that one a draw.

The salmon blini starter. Colin Dunn, Johnnie Walker Brand Ambassador, came to the table to tell us about some of his favourite whisky and food pairings, unbiasedly so, and then explained that, in this instance, how popping the cured organic salmon blinis in the mouth, then part macerating, holding on the tongue, and then adding a dribble of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, helps to bring out the top notes of the fatty salmon flesh. Thanks Colin.
You only need a little dribble. Do not take a big swig otherwise it will overpower your salmon or your duck.

The Platinum Label Johnnie Walker whisky was slightly easier on the palette, with the main of roasted Yorkshire Duck Breast a l’orange with crispy skin.

There's that view once again, this time with the bridge beginning to raise for a giant cruise ship being tugged back out to sea. Just to the left is the pop-up Johnnie Walker bar which was surrounded by posh glamourous folk. The 3 masts you can see in the centre of the picture belong to the John Walker and Sons Voyager 1920s style luxury yacht. The GM of the restaurant also told us about the plans to install a winter screen so that it will be possible to dine alfresco 365 days of the year on the terrace.

This was our favourite of all the food and whisky pairings: Dark chocolate mousse ‘cigar’ with Johnnie Walker Blue Label. The whisky seemed to be placated somewhat in the presence of such strong chocolate flavours, three types of.

 Over coffee and petit fours, the 2nd debate of the evening raged: is wine with dinner a better option than whisky with dinner. General consensus: yes, but then if you are a whisky lover, there’s nothing at all wrong with the stronger liquid with your food. 

If you don’t like whisky, Le Pont de la Tour is still a class restaurant and will have dishes and wines to match your tastes.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Photos From The Love Supreme Music Festival

You know writing for Fluid is a pretty tough job. Not everyone is up to the challenges and hardship of journalism. I mean, take my last job of attending the Love Supreme Jazz festival, courtesy of those lovely people at Grand Marnier.
First I had to leave London, and go foraging through the wilds of Sussex to find it.

Then my poor arm was weighed down with my weekend wristband, my VIP wristband and my unlimited free drinks at the Grand Marnier bar wristband. God that was tough.

They tried to make it easier on us poor journos shipped in from the safety of London with glamping accommodation.

And put us in with VIP camping, so we didn’t have to be with the rest of the plebs.

But you know, the conditions were hard, hot, dusty – it’s almost a miracle that we made it. Some poor souls couldn’t take the heat and excess.

They cried out for water and rest. 

But as for me, I am an intrepid journalist to the core. If I’m sent to a festival, I’m going to cover every angle. You want to know what the Grand Marnier bar is like, I’m going to spend some time there finding out.

You want to know whether the Grand Marnier cocktails circle glasses ensure that it is extremely hard to tip your drink over when sitting on the grass, I’m going to sit on the grass and drink cocktails – just to find out (by the way they are genius for picnic drinking).

You want to know what vegetarian Indian food for breakfast tastes like, I’m going to try it and find out.

You want to know what it’s like to sit in a field and see Murray win Wimbledon. 

And then go back to dancing to music, I’ll try it out.