In Review: The Diner, London

the diner london
I have been booth-dwelling customer of The Diner for over seven years. Since I first returned to London from the States, The Diner has been one of very few restaurants that deliver on indulgent American dining.

Now with eight locations, the Camden branch is both my favourite and most convenient breakfast spot so seemed like the perfect place to recover from a week in Amsterdam.

Deciding to share a bit of everything, we ordered enough food to feed us for a week; the pork chilaquiles (a mass of tortillastrips, guacamole,tomatilla salsa, two fried eggs, and queso fresco – also available in a veggie or chicken option), fluffy red velvet pancakes (with cream cheese frosting), and chicken & waffles (buttermilk-fried with maple syrup, acon gravy, and coleslaw) that rivalled the best of the best.

Washed down with our respected individual heroes (a flat white and a strawberry milkshake), it is safe to say very few mornings could rival that of this international Americana escapade.

Want to WIN a trip to NYC?!

To celebrate the launch of The Diner’s statement T-shirts, London’s favourite hangout is launching a competition for one ridiculously lucky customer and a friend to win a trip to the Big Apple. The winner of this incredible prize will receive flights, accommodation and dinner at 5 Napkin Burger (a modern New York burger institution). Each customer who buys one of The Diners t-shirts will be entered into the draw automatically, with the winner drawn on New Year’s Day 2016. A win-win scenario!

Fortunately, I have partnered up with my friends at The Diner to offer one lucky reader an edge on the t-shirted masses; a meal for two at one of the 8 Diner locations, two free t-shirts, and free entry to the draw to win a trip to New York – wahey!

How to Enter:
Simply follow the rules on the Rafflecopter widget, below! Competition closes October 12, 2015. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Travel Blog: Amsterdam in 48 Hours

amsterdam travel blog 21
As a token of my eternal gratitude to you, beloved reader, I have whittled five amazing days in Amsterdam down to a 48-hour itinerary that will allow you to experience the best of the best without falling into tourist traps.

Before visiting, I had imagined Amsterdam to be little more than a haven for the debaucherous. Friends and acquaintances had spun stories of supreme naughtiness that all ended with the same hopeful tribute – “…it is a beautiful city, though” – and I wanted to get to know it…intimately.

Sorry, that’s the post-Amsterdam in me.

Click through to find out where to stay, what to do, where to eat and much, much more!

A photo posted by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

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In Review: The Lobby, Amsterdam

the lobby amsterdam
Amidst the omnipresent stroopwafels and cheesy chip cones of the city’s tourists, I was eager to find at least one amazing restaurant in Amsterdam that was still in the thick of it.

First place took the form of Hotel V Nesplein’s trendy backstreet restaurant, The Lobby.

Just a stone’s throw from Dam Square, The Lobby serves impeccable and crowd-pleasing cuisine with heart, soul, and smiles aplenty. In their own words, they stand for pure ‘gezelligheid’- the best that the city has to offer at the bar, at the table, on your plate and in your glass.

With our darling waitress’ recommendation, we kicked things off with salmon tartare (a special), veal tartare (with the most incredible curry mayonnaise & gremolata), and two glasses of Larmandier-Bernier Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru, which took two sips to become my all-time favourite champagne.

Opting for another special as one of our mains (we’re proud supporters of beef bavette and truffle), we also split the vegetarian option – a beautiful plate of pumpkin ravioli with fresh cheese, spinach, and a smoked onion & cepes sauce.

Choosing to keep the dream meal rolling, we then persuaded ourselves to order a two-course dessert; the best cheese board of all time (all from Kef) and a warm chocolate cake with salted caramel & peanut ice cream.

The Lobby is an absolute must.

the lobby amsterdam
the lobby amsterdam
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In Review: Crab Tavern Brunch, London

crab tavern brunch
While brunch – as an ideology – can never really be bad, my recent experience has proved that no-one does it quite as well as Crab Tavern.

We’re talking unlimited Bloody Marys, three moreish ‘courses’, and fancy-free 80s jams.

Launching last weekend, Crab Tavern’s Lovin’ Feeling Brunch took no time at all to rank as one of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in London. On every second Saturday, the tavern will now host a live DJ (from 1-8pm) alongside unlimited drinks (from 1-2pm; beer, wine, Bloody Marys) and a set starter-to-dessert menu with your choice of mains.

Between colada-filled pineapple sips, my friend and I shared the restaurant’s sharer starter (fried black pepper squid, Tavern pork belly ribs, dressed crab Caesar subs, crab and waffle, jerk-fried shrimp, prawn cocktail, and crispy white bait) before moving on to our incredible soft shell crab burgers (served with red pepper jelly and shiso old bay fries).

Your choice of mains spans from Eggs Royale to salads, but I see no point in doing anything less than crab bingeing at a place so renowned for their seafood.

By the time our dessert platter arrived we were committing to week-long fasting pacts but couldn’t resist a few bites of everything (and more than a few bites of their incredible apple pie) while watching the crowd get their jazz hands out for an impromptu boogie.

Two hours of non-stop drinking and eating nestled under the bopping bangers of the Eighties will turn even the most sedate bruncher into a Fly Girl.

crab tavern brunch
crab tavern brunch
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In Review: Shake Shack Westfield, London

shake shack westfield
I firmly believe in shopping as cardio. I also believe in fueling for cardio. To advocate such beliefs, I can assure you that very little beats a pre-shop stop at Shake Shack in Westfield Stratford.

The US chain’s steady UK takeover on recently spread to East London, but Stratford is now my favourite of the shack’s outposts. With a large dining space and the delicious proximity to a retail paradise, there is simply no better spot to binge on Double SmokeShacks (cheeseburger, British free range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce), fresh-brewed iced teas (my sugar-free dream drink), and cheddar cheese fries.

Not forgetting their frozen custard Concretes, of course. Recent Shack discoveries include the Peanut Butter CrunchCrete (chocolate custard, St JOHN Bakery chocolate hazelnut brownie, peanut butter sauce and chocolate toffee) and Banana Pretzel Pudding (vanilla custard, paul.a.young chocolate covered pretzels, caramel sauce, banana and Maldon salt).

If they’re not an excuse to go shopping, I don’t know what is.

shake shack westfield
shake shack westfield
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