Monmouth Kitchen

Covert Garden is a hotbed for tourists, and most of the time it’s a no-go area for me as I’m someone who rolls her eyes when people stand on the wrong side of the escalator. But I was enticed to the area by Monmouth Kitchen, who were offering 50% off food during their soft launch. The restaurant is located in the heart of the Seven Dials and serves Italian and Peruvian-inspired small plates. I’ve never tasted Peruvian cuisine, so I was excited to see what was on offer.

It’s happened to all of us when we have had our hopes so high for a restaurant, just for them to be knocked down as soon as you walk through the door. Our table wasn’t ready when we arrived at 9pm, and Scott and I quickly exchange an eyebrow raise of ‘but it’s way past peak dining time, how are you not ready for us?’ – so were quickly seated in their bar area. The restaurant was very sleek everything was white or black and all the table tops were marbled. Once seated I ordered the only Rosé on the menu, and I was immediately disappointed, I found it too tart for my taste buds.

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We were taken over to our table in the main dinning room only to be greeted by a DJ, so the only way Scott and I could commute to each other or the service staff was by shouting at each other. Our waitress explained the menu perfectly to us and we order a range of bites and nibbles. In total we were served by a least 10 different people and I would so much prefer less people at the table.

Now eating here doesn’t come cheap and the portions are small. We ordered some of the chicken tacos and our waitresses warned us that they were mini, but they were the size of a 2p piece. All I could taste was spice which completely downed all of the other flavours – a real shame. The only bright side of the dish that they they weren’t a mess to eat like normal tacos.

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Our next dish was the mushroom and ricotta ravioli which was served with a sage butter. It was lovely, however we only had one raviolo each – I wouldn’t suggest ordering this dish if there’s more than two of you wanting to eat it.

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I love Pardon Peppers and I have them quite a lot at home as a simple starter, so I thought this dish was ridiculously over priced for what they offered. Unfortunately they were under-cooked and quite chewy.

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Next came the King Prawns, which were served butterflied with the shell on. I felt like it’s the type of place where people would judge you if you used your fingers instead of your knife and fork, so this dish just didn’t work for this restaurant.

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We were then brought the Chicken Lollipops, and so I had to use my fingers to eat these and I was past caring what my fellow diners thought of me. What annoyed me about this dish was that it wasn’t easy to spilt between two. Again, I thought this were overpriced for what is just flamboyant chicken wings.

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Our last dish was the Calamari – which they had completely forgotten about and had to remind twice to bring. Now, you can’t go wrong with deep fried food and this dish was pretty tasty and we were brought a decent portion size.

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We decided not to stick around for dessert as the food  we had so far was a not of good enough quality to charge the prices asked. The type of food served here is appropriate for a bar or standing dinner, but it’s just not right for a sit down dinner.

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Monmouth Kitchen, Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street, 20 Mercer St, London WC2H 9HD

 

 

 

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Don’t KERB your love of street food

Camden’s West Yard had just had a street food make over and London’s street food craze has no intention of stopping. Kerb are taking London by storm and they have finally committed to a permanent location in Camden and are bringing 35 street food traders with them.

Now, it would be next to impossible to review all 35 stalls in one article, (almost as impossible as trying to get to get Scott to go to Camden on a bank holiday), so I’ll simply point out my highlights…

Oil Baba’s

Deep-fried cheese, yum. Do I need to say more?

These fingers of halloumi are fried until they are crispy on the outside and squidgy in the middle. They’re topped with yoghurt, mint, chilli and pomegranate seeds. They’re perfect for sharing between two.

kerb camden halloumi fries

Ink

I must admit, I was nervous approaching this stand. Squid can so easily be over cooked and go horribly chewy. These little bits of Squid were deep fried to perfection and they’re served with the choice of three pastel mayos.

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The Mac Factory London

I can’t resist Mac ‘n’ Cheese – nothing can beat pasta covered in cheese sauce. But what makes them so addictive is their sourdough-based parmesan and thyme crumble.

kerb camden mac factory

Blu Top 

Desserts are often an afterthought at street food festivals, but make sure you save room for these ice-cream cookie sandwiches. Creamy ice-cream is sandwiched between two soft-baked cookies, you can either add caramel sauce of chocolate chips.

blu top kerb camden

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Kerb Camden, West Yard, Camden Market, Camden, NW1

 

 

A North Londoners Guide to Eating in North London

If you’re ever spent more than 5 minutes with me, you’ll know how much I love North London. I currently live in Southgate, but I’m counting all my pennies and hoping to move to Finsbury Park. It’s somewhere I’ve always dreamed on living – it’s close enough to the city so I can lace up my trainers and either run or cycle to work, or pop home for a Sunday lunch (or bbq knowing my family).

I get pretty tried of people simply describing North London as only Kings Cross, Islington and Camden. There’s so much more to see and do! Let me take you on a little adventure down the Piccadilly line through your stomach…

Kings Cross

Kings Cross is a huge transport hub for London, and it would be silly for me to ignore it in my guide. Since the development of Granary Square, Kings Cross has become a foodie’s paradise. You’ve got the likes of Granger and Co, Caravan, The Grain Store, and of course Dishoom.

I’ve been to Caravan numerous of times and it never fails to disappoint – their coffee is the perfect pick me in the morning, and their sweet potato and cumin waffle is to die for.

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Holloway

Getting my family to come to this part of London is a nightmare – they’re avid Spurs fan and my dad actually refuses to get off the tube at Arsenal (and still refers to it as Gillespie Road). Some of my highlights include Zia Lucia (a newly opened Pizza joint using black charcoal bases), Vagabond and Le Coq.

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I recently visited The Highbury Arts Club for my sister’s birthday extravaganza – it’s a cute little cafe serving up tapas with exposed brickwork, cosy corners and communal long tables. The food here was so good, I’d highly recommend their pandron peppers, tortilla, and coquettes (and whilst you’re at it.. you might as well order their whole menu). They also do amazing dessert – Scot and I devoured their cheesecake.

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Finsbury Park 

Now I could write a whole post about Finsbury Park, and narrowing down what to include in this section has been incredibility hard.

Get Brunch at Fink’s Salt and Sweet and get to their Avocado Toast. The portion is more then generous and is topped with goats cheese and comes with a harrisa spread – it’s such good value for money.

finks brunch

Grab a cup of joe at Blighty Coffee. They’re got signature drinks like the Orancino, which is basically Terry’s Chocolate Orange in a cup, and the Spitfire, which is served with cinnamon and chocolate.

Hit up either Yard Sale Pizza or Petek for a spot of lunch or dinner. Petek serves up spot-on Lebanese food, their portions are generous and everything is incredibility tasty.

Finally, grab a pint at the Faltering Fullback. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s always full or the main room looks like a cross between a sixth-form common room crossed with a 1970s pool hall. It has the most stunning beer garden – it’s quite simply one big treehouse.

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Harringay 

I’ve only recently started exploring Turnpike Lane and Woodgreen since Scott moved here. You’re got to go for a spot of food at Blends, and I simply adore their eggs on sourdough with asparagus and hollandise.

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Mosaica at The Old Chocolate Factory is another one of my favourites – it’s the perfect date spot. It’s in the middle of an industrial estate in Wood Green, but I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Southgate 

You’re almost at the end of the Piccadilly line, and here’s where my foodie journey ends. But before it does, make sure you visit Green’s Steakhouse. They do week day offers, and from Monday till Thursday can grab two steak dinners and a bottle of house red for £39 – bargain.

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The Winchmore is one of my favourite local boozers, run by a brother and sister duo and boasts over 70 gins. Their bar staff are incredible as well,  simply let one of them know your favourite fruit and they will whip up a gin for your taste.

Let me know if you visit any of these places or if you have any hidden gems you’d like to share!  

A Disappointing Brunch at Dickie Fitz

I’ve been in two minds about writing this post as  I’ve wanted my blog to showcase the best London has to offer, and unfortunately Dickie Fitz just doesn’t fall into that category. I went for Brunch here with my friend Naomi after sweating our butts off at Another Space.

I won’t deny it – the interior is beautiful. It’s light and airy with white walls, tables and chairs, creamy-yellow benches, and a stunning art deco stained-glass staircase.

We were seated on a corner table and were immediately brought table water which was infused with cucumber. I also ordered myself a matcha latte as I’m completely obsessed with its earthy flavour at the moment.

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Now, it’s definitely not your traditional breakfast menu, and on their weekend brunch menu there’s no eggs benedict or full english in sight. I love trying new things but it does take a lot for me to branch out from my standard avocado and toast order. Unfortunately the menu didn’t inspire me – sorry I don’t want a short rib burger or lamb with tabbouleh at 10 o’clock in the morning. So I went ahead and ordered their smashed avocado with charred tomato, kale, feta on a piece of grilled sourdough.

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I was so disappointed by the size of the dish and everything was incredibility salty. I understand that quality and quantity don’t always go hand in hand. However you’ll receive one piece of sourdough and about half an avocado pear. For £11, I expect more then this.

The meal didn’t fill us up at all so we wandered to Ben Cookie’s to treat ourselves after such a disappointing brunch.

Just a stone throw away you have the likes of The Riding House Cafe, The Breakfast Club, and Berners Tavern. Dickie Fitz really needs to up their game if they expect to compete with these guys.

I do feel that it’s a bit unfair to completely write off a restaurant after one visit and one dish – but living in London means I have so much choice when it comes to food, so why would I come back? It’s such a shame as I really thought I was going to love it.

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Dickie Fitz, 48 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1QQ

 

Things to do if you’re new to London

Moving to a new city can be extremely daunting, especially to London as it’s a big old baffling place. When I moved back from home from Leicester everything I knew had  completely changed. There are a thousand and one things to do here and here’s my list of fun ideas and some advice on how to fit in and feel at home in the capital.

Tweet me at @anna_boast or @activeinldn if you try any of them out!

 

Walk Everywhere 

It’s seriously the best way to orientate yourself in London. The tube map is incredibility misleading and most station are only a stones throw away from each other. Use Transport for London’s walking tube map to discover how near or far stations really are. Since I got my FitBit I walk everywhere and I can’t wait to move out of the suburbs so I can run to work.

Catch London’s Cheapest Bus Tour 

So, walking isn’t your thing. That’s fine, how about a tour of London’s major sites for just £1.50? Hop on the number 11 bus and you’ll get to see some of our most-loved landmarks. It travels from Liverpool Street to Fulham Town Hall, taking you past the Bank of England, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

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Don’t go up The Shard 

Seriously – don’t. It’s a complete rip off at £30. Instead head to the Walkie-Talkie building and visit the Sky Garden which is completely free! Avoid the queues and book into one of their early morning yoga sessions. Nothing beats watching the sunrise over London.

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Go for a £10 Steak

There are few places where you can get a cheap steak dinner, but Flat Iron serves up the best. Their menu is incredibility simple and some of their branches are attract queues of up to two hours. Luckily, they work the queue with an app so you can have a few pints at a pub nearby whilst you’re waiting.

Wander along the South Bank 

It’s home to dozens of street performers, the National Theatre, outdoor food markets and second-hand book stalls. Borough Market is a must see, it’s got every type of food and drink you could ever possibly dream of.

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Attend a Supper Club 

Turning up solo in a restaurant can make a lot of people anxious, so why not book a supper club instead? The goals is to bring strangers together over food. London Pop-ups have a great list here of the regular and best supper clubs in town.

Try a new Exercise Class 

It’s the perfect way to find a new gang of workout buddies, plus London has heaps of unique and insanely fun workout options. I’ve recently tried 1Rebel and Another Space and I can’t wait to go back.

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Follow Active in London

Follow me on Twitter @ActiveinLdn to keep up to date with stuff happening in the City. You can also catch me on Instagram.

 

I’m feeling twenty-two: Birthday Celebrations at Roka Aldwych

This week I celebrated my Taylor Swift birthday, and Scott treated me to such a lovely day out in London – we pretty much spent the whole day eating, exploring and drinking.

 

I’m incredibility lucky to get a bonus ‘holi-birthday’ from work (one of the many perks of working at Goodman Masson). We started my day at my family home and my mum had made my favourite brunch, avocado toast – and of course cake. After all, calories don’t count of your birthday right?

 

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Scott and I headed into London and hit the Leicester Square box office, scoring ourselves tickets for a matinee performance of Kinky Boots.
It’s one of my all time favourite movies and the performance did not disappoint. It’s all about accepting people for who they are and not making judgement about people before you get to know them – A message that everyone needs to encompass.

 

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After the show Scott and I went to Roka in Aldywch. If you’re anything like me and adore Japanese food then you absolutely must go. Everything is perfectly executed, including the rustic yet contemporary interior – it’s definitely a special occasion sort of place.

 

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We went for one of their tasting menus, which is comprised of small plates and is perfect for sharing. I love this concept as it means you can have a bit of everything and you don’t need to be as decisive.

 

sushi

 

Each plate came on at a time, meaning we could really appreciate them. The sashimi was incredible and it was served on a bed of ice – it melted in your mouth and was sliced so finely.

 

dumplings

 

Now, I’m a HUGE fan of dumplings and we were served the black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings which were delicious.

 

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maki

 

The main course options are in no way budget items. Scott and I choice the pork lion and the black cod marinated in miso. Both were delightful in their own ways – though the fish was incredibility hard to eat with chopsticks.

 

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cod

 

It’s not often that I have dessert, I’m much more of a savoury/starter type-of-girl. I can’t remember what I ordered but it came with green-tea meringue and a sesame seed ice-cream.

 

birthday cake

 

I honestly can’t remember Roka Alydwch enough – if you’re wanting to treat that speical someone, take them here.

 

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Roka Alydwch, 71 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN

 

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