Blacklock Shoreditch

There’s no shortage of great bbq joints around East London but I think I’ve now found a solid favourite, by way of Blacklock which has three locations in Soho, Monument and Shoreditch. Their restaurant in Shoreditch is their biggest site and it’s the one Conor and I visited for some late birthday celebrations.

You’ll find their Shoreditch chophouse based in one of those classic Shoreditch ex-warehouse spaces, complete with exposed brick walls, large industrial-style windows and polished concrete floors. They have completed the renovated the old furniture factory with dark leather banquette seats and mid-century furniture.

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For those unfamiliar with Blacklock, they serve chops. You can opt for them ‘skinny’ at a mere £4 a pop, or ‘big’ served in increments of 100g. They come in various forms, think lamb cutlets, lamb t-bones, beef rump, beef rib, pork belly, porterhouse – I could go on, the list is endless.

All their meats are sourced from The Warren Family Farm in Cornwell whose animals are allowed to roam on the moors and live on a natural grass-fed diet. At Blacklock, they cook all their meats over charcoal and they sear them with an antique Blacklock Foundry clothes iron from the 1800s.

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But first, let’s talk about their drinks. They have a decent selection of cocktails for a fiver, namely the Gimlet, Negroni and Beefy Mary, and then they have their more ‘expensive’ cocktails priced at £7.75 (although in London that’s an absolute bargain)  with 25p from each cocktail being donated to End Youth Homelessness.

Anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a Bloody Mary and for a woman who loves her meat, the added beef jus was a massive bonus and is the perfect accompaniment to the chops.

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To start, we opted for the pig’s head on toast and burrata on toast. For me, the burrata wasn’t runny enough, when you cut into it, it should ooze all over your plate and bread should be used to soak it up. Mine was served already cut in half and solid, like standard mozzarella. Don’t get me wrong, it still tasted creamy and delicious and paired beautifully with asparagus ribbons, radishes, fresh peas, pea shoots and spring onions.

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But the clear winner was the pig’s head. The fatty meat from the cut coated the charred slice of toast and topped with (a rather generous amount) of sliced red chillis, which cut through the oiliness of the meat perfectly. The best way to enjoy this dish is to pour liberal amounts of gravy all over it – I swear Conor and I would have drunk it straight from the jug if we were in the comfort of our own home.

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After the starters, we decided to go ‘All In’, which is the best way to go at Blacklock at a steal for just £20 per person. First, you receive three varieties of pre-chop bites – they’re basically little canapes. We were served a mix of egg and anchovy, cheese and pickle, chicken and horseradish, atop of circular crispbreads. I wish egg one came with more scrambled egg because the anchovies sure packed a salty punch and drowned out the rest of the flavour from the small bite. The chicken was by far our favourite, the unconventional pairing of horseradish was surprisingly delicious.

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Next up comes the pile of perfectly cooked beef, lamb and pork chops sat on top of two thick slices of flatbread, which help to soak up all those meaty juices. The meats are perfectly cooked, with the pork belly being the highlight from the platter. The fat was well rendered and starting to caramelise. Be prepared to use your hands here, otherwise you’ll miss out on all the scavenging possibilities.

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With the deal, you also receive two sides. We opted for the beef dripping fries and charred broccoli, sugar snap peas and asparagus (this is probably you’re only opportunity to get some greens in). The chips were crisp on the outside but tasted like they had been reheated – dip them in béarnaise and you won’t notice.

Blacklock is a meat lovers paradise and makes a meat feast so much more affordable than your traditional steakhouses. Come from a plate of chops, it’s bound to put you in a food coma.

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Blacklock Shoreditch, 28-30 Rivington St, Hackney, London EC2A 3DZ

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Pachamama East

Pachamama East is the Shoreditch off-shoot of the Marylebone original and is the latest restaurant from the team behind Chicama in Chelsea. Like its sister restaurants, they are still serving up Peruvian food, but this time with Japenese and Chinese influences – and let it be known, it’s seriously delicious.

The interior is something that you’d want to stick on Pinterest, think exposed brick, festoon lighting, marble tables, pink geometric floor tiles – But it’s not style without substance.

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Start with a cocktail (a pisco is a must) and a side of prawn toast whilst you browse the menu.

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The menu is divided into small plates categorised as Land, Soil and Sea. I recommend going heavy on the latter, it’s all about the ceviches when it comes to Peruvian food. Eat them all with a spoon and as you’ll want to be having as much of that citrus-y dressing as humanly possible. The salmon ceviche was divine, paired with a rich and zingy tigers milk and cubes of avocado and tomatoes. For me, the tuna on a bed on smashed avocado topped with jalapenos and radishes was one of my favourites.

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The tapioca marshmallows were another highlight from the menu and a real revolution. It’s chewy, but not cloying, and the fish has the exact springy texture of a marshmallow. It’s served with a drop of fiery chilli sauce on top (which was way too spicy for me) and the fish itself is packed in a crisp casing which oozes as you bite into it. Don’t be put off by the name – it’s a real winner.

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Get a couple of dishes from the ‘soil’ section to balance it all out. I highly recommend the caramelised aubergine with peanuts and asking for the plantain for dessert. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth and this dish comes with feta, black olives and yacon syrup. It’s an incredible fusion dish and right up my street.

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It’s the perfect place to have in your arsenal when you want fresh seafood. Prepare to want to go back often.

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Pachamama East, 73 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HR

 

Psycle London | Spinning in Shoreditch

If you asked me about spinning over a year ago, you’d have got a very blunt and definite answer – I hate it. But now, I’m a total convert – and that’s all down to Amy Bateman’s class at the Virgin Active in Barbican. I’m now one of these city-dwellers who is addicted to spinning, booking into my class in record time before it inevitably gets full.

In my bid to explore London’s best spin classes and get my high-energy cycling fix, I tried out Psycle – The name blends cycle and ‘psyche’, which is Greek for soul or spirit. Could it really be that different from the spinning classes that I take part in at my normal gym? I mean, spinning is spinning… right?

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Classes at Psycle start from £20 for 1 credit, but they offer an introductory pack for 2 credits for £20. I went one weekend to their studio in Shoreditch, which hidden down an alleyway decked out in street art. The space is white, open and very minimal, a complete contrast to the spin studio; which is down in the basement, with no windows and flashing LED disco lights.

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Cycling shoes are included in the price (always a nice bonus), and as a newbie, my instructor came over to me and helped me get my feet into the pedals and adjust my bike. As you enter the class, you’re also told to grab some hand-weights. This is because the classes are designed to give you a full-body work out using choreography and weights, which focus on the riders all riding in sync together with the music rather than just racing on your own.

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Music is a big theme at Psycle and the tunes really help to carry the class – and one thing I love about this studio is that you can check out a snippet of the instructor’s playlist online before you book into their class.

If it wasn’t for my shoes being strapped into the bike, I would have fallen off at the end of the class. After our cooldown and stretch, I wobbled towards the door, ready for a sweaty high-five with my instructor, full well knowing that I’d be back for more.

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Psycle Shoreditch, 17-23 Whitby Street, London, E1 6JU

 

 

 

 

Brunch at Strut & Cluck

If you’re anything like me, your weekday breakfast often consists of eggs or avos – so by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m in the mood for something different. That’s where Strut & Cluck step in. Originally just specialising in dishes featuring the turkey, they’ve branched out to a menu which really showcases Eastern Mediterranean flavours, which they’re known and loved for.

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You’ll find Struct & Cluck on a prime spot on Commerical Street, literally around the corner from Shoreditch High Street overground station. It’s got a glass-fronted exterior which looks into a brightly lit room. It’s filled with rustic wood tables, exposed light bulbs and hanging plants. The now-classic East London look and definitely something I’d love for my own flat.

I went post-gym class at the Adidas Studio and met up with my sister. She ordered the hand-pulled turkey shawarma, which is topped with a fried egg and served with dates, pine nuts, tahini on top of a pita.

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I went for the classic shakshuka, two eggs cooked in a pan with tomatoes, peppers, onions, chilli and chorizo, served with a warm pita for scooping. My eggs, unfortunately, were served undercooked, but the staff took the dish away no problem and gave me a free coffee as an apology.

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It’s a calm little oasis in the heart of Shoreditch – a perfect spot to rest your legs and refuel after a morning of touring East London.

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Strut & Cluck, 151 Commercial St, London E1 6BJ

*Main photo courtesy of Strut & Cluck

 

 

Adidas Women’s Studio | Brick Lane

In London, decent gyms can cost a small fortune (and how I wish my local gym membership was cheaper) – but this year Adidas have launched their women’s only studio in Brick Lane. It’s completely FREE and they host weekly run clubs and classes. You just need to sign up via Facebook messenger and then you can pop along to any of their sessions. The schedule is announced and unlocked on a weekly basis, and then users can reserve spaces for all events.

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I’ve been going for a couple of weeks now and I’m becoming obsessed. So far I’ve been to a Barre class, HIIT workout, and this week I went to two yoga classes – I’m yet to sign up to any of their run clubs though!

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Given a 45 minute workout elsewhere in London can set you back £15 to £20, the Adidas Studio is a steal. The studio is located in a warehouse on Brick Lane, right opposite The Old Truman Brewery. It’s sleek and naturally-lit, with all white everything and potted plants.

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There’s also a cafe on the ground floor, hosted by Bel-Air. Their prices are pretty reasonable and if you’re booked into a morning class, I can guarantee you that you’ll want a coffee afterwards to help you face the day.

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The barre class I attended was hosted by Aimee Victoria Long. Having never done barre before I was pretty nervous as my balance is terrible, but she made me feel at ease. It’s definitely something I want to do more of.

I also loved my HIIT session, which was run by Lisanne van Sonsbeek, a PT from Move your Frame. The workout was similar to my usual gym sessions, but toward the end of the class she paired us up and made us workout with another girl in the group. Which really pushed us to work even harder for the last 10 minutes.

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The studio is open until October and it’s definitely something to get involved in.

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Adidas Women’s Studio, 152 Brick Lane, London, E1 5EG

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Eight things I ate this December

I ate a lot of food last month and reminiscing about everything I ate over the period Christmas is making me incredibly peckish…

This first weekend in December I headed to the Peak District with my family and we went straight to The Red Lion in Litton. It’s one of my favourite pubs and serves good, hearty food (and the fact that they’re dog friendly is a huge bonus!)

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A boozy Christmas lunch with my colleagues happened at The Blues Kitchen  where they’re all about big plates of BBQ food. I indulged in their Christmas burger, ‘the baby cheezus’ – a turkey burger served with cranberry sauce and bacon, wedged between two brioche buns, topped with a pig wrapped in a blanket, served with both sport coleslaw and sweet potato fries!

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Buying groceries for one is a challenge, you either over buy or end up having the same meals again and again, and that’s where Gousto step in. Scott swears by them and has whips me up a meal from them every time I stay at his flat. I loved their spicy haddock linguine, creamy with a hint of chilli, plus there’s hardly any prep!

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Scott’s birthday falls in December, so of course, we got burgers and craft beer at The Exmonth Arms in Euston with a dozen of so friends. They’ve got 32 bottled beers displayed on the ‘wall of beer’ – nothing beats a Beavertown gamma ray with a mac n cheese burger served with hashbrown bites.

For Scott’s actual birthday, I took him to Maltby Street Market, and these buttermilk waffles served with fried chicken and maple syrup where the highlight of the market – a perfect combination!

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I also took Scott to Camino for a birthday meal after we visited the Escape Rooms. It’s a great place to head to and you’re always guartenned good food and all the Spanish classics. Although the food itself it quite basic, it’s still incredibly tasty.

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I’m guilty of heading into Central London when it comes to going out for dinner, and I’m attempting to try out all of my local restaurants. Last month I headed to Thalassa with my parents. The food here is plentiful and delicious, but the restaurant itself needs a refurbishment.

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To ring in the new year, Scott and I headed to The Isle of Man, where we dinned at 14 North, a cosy restaurant located in Douglas in the North Quay. I loved the fact they only use seasonal and local ingredients to showcase what the island has to offer. If you’re ever in the Isle of the Man you’ll seriously regret not going here!

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Indian Smallplates at Gunpowder

Shoreditch is notorious for Indian restaurants, and more often than not they’re the type of curry houses where you get that all too familar carb slump after filling up on bowlfuls of chicken korma, lime pickle and poppadoms. But at Gunpowder you’ll find none of the above.

I’m currently making my way through TimeOut’s Top 100 Restaurants in London and it’s no suprise that Gunpowder are ranked in the top 20, they whip up outstanding and innovative small plates cooked with authentic Indian spices.

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Gunpowder is tucked away on a small lane in Spitalfields and this narrow Indian restaurant barely has space for around two dozen covers. But the cramped conditions are worth putting up with for the quirky dishes that come flooding out of the kitchen.

We started with the patrani maach,which was described to us as a river fish cooked in a banana leaf – it simply fell apart and had a delicious, subtle lemongrass and mustard seed flavour.

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Next came the aloo chat, a dish which potatoes are roasted in a spice mix and then smashed and covered with yoghurt, chickpeass, tomatoes – a beautiful combiation which gives a sweet and tangy taste.

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Soft-shell crab isn’t a dish I’d expect to find on an Indian menu, but at Gunpowder the risks pay off. The crab is encased in a crisp, light batter and serves to really enhance and protect the juiciness of the crab within.

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We also devoured their outstanding okra fries – a crispy triumph and a beautiful accompaniment to any dish served up at Gunpowder.

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To finish we had the molten chocolate cake served with masala chai custard. Spiced custard is truly the way of the future.

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And, if you’re in the mood for booze there’s some interesting Indian cocktails too. I had a bellini served with chilli and corriondar, and boy it packed a punch.

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Gunpowder, 11 White’s Row, London E1 7NF