The Pret a Manger Restaurant Experience (Pret Good Evenings)

pret good evenings
Since 2009, a large chunk of my income has been spent at Pret a Manger. I was almost tempted to go through my accounts and tally up the exact numbers before writing this, but I’m almost positive it would make you guys worry about my avocado and crayfish salad consumption.

To me, Pret has always been the perfect blend of convenience (there is one on around every corner in Central London) and delicious, healthy food (self explanatory). When they announced they were trialling table service and dinner menus at their Strand branch, I wanted in on the action.

Upon entering, a charming young lady asked ‘Are you here for dinner?’ (nod!), passed us two clipboards of menus and took us to a table, explaining we would order and pay at the counter (per usual) but be given a number to take back to our seats for table service.

Perusing the menu, we were not disappointed. It currently features thirteen mains (Rye and Sourdough toasties, salads, soups, quinoa hot pots and mac & cheese) with a selection of small plates – all catering for health-conscious carnivores and veggies alike.

Deciding to sip on a glass of Prosecco (Bisol) and Pinot Noir (L’Hospitalet) while we waited for our food, flurries of traditional customers stopped in to grab an evening bite, often visibly amused by the fact people were drinking bubbles across the room from them.

Combined with the mass of Londoners and tourists weaving in and out of each other of the pavements outside, it was people-watching perfection.

The food was also perfection of its own category. Knowing we wanted to try as much as we could, we shared some polenta and spice-seasoned sweet potato wedges (£3.95), a Korean Gochujang BBQ Pulled Pork hot pot (with quinoa rice and pickled red cabbage – £5.95), the Chicken and Bacon Cobb salad (utilising lemon & rosemary chicken, grilled bacon, Cashel Blue cheese, free-range eggs, avocado, mixed leaf salad and Dijon – £6.95), and Prosciutto Mac and Cheese (tubetti rigati with bechamel, cauliflower florets, and chopped parsley – £5.25). I have tried to coerce myself into picking a favourite but I’m not sure I can; I would genuinely order ever single dish again.

Pret Good Evenings gets a very satisfied thumbs up from me. I can’t wait to see how and where this concept expands.

pret korean bbq pulled pork
pret chicken bacon cobb
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In Review: Host Your Own Roast, Beach Blanket Babylon

beach blanket babylon sundy roast 8
Though it took me well into my adult life to be sat in front of one, I developed a love for Sunday Roasts the day my Yorkshire-born boyfriend’s mother invited me to hers.

When Beach Blanket Babylon announced they would be launching ‘Host Your Own Roast’ I was dubious. Though I’ve had nothing but great experiences and food at BBB, I have always associated their cavernous cocktail dens and extensive menus with the evening.

Of course, I would have been a fool not to give a £25 feast with unlimited Bloody Mary pitchers a shot.

Seated in one of the Shoreditch venue’s windowside banquettes, the food came almost as fast as we could say ‘chicken, please!’ (you have a choice of lamb shoulder, suckling pig, rib of beef or chicken as your roasting joint).

Though the roasts are intended for five to eighteen guests, The Manfriend booked as a twosome meaning our chicken was pre-carved. Larger groups benefit from their very own carving knife, apron, and chef’s hat.

Either way you’re getting one tender, juicy mass of chicken.

Of course, a Sunday Roast is no Sunday Roast without trimmings and BBB are well aware. The feasting package includes honey-roasted veg, county-sized Yorkshire puddings, thick gravy, steamed greens, and roasties so perfectly fluffy-crunchy I almost forgot that carbs are the enemy.

Having wrapped the meal up with a final Bloody Mary and enormous slice of warm apple pie (The Manfriend opted for key lime), I was hard pressed to see why any Sunday should be spent elsewhere.

It was the best Sunday roast I’ve had (making it an irrefutable contender for the best Sunday roast in London). Just don’t tell my boyfriend’s mum

beach blanket babylon sundy roast 3
beach blanket babylon sundy roast 4
beach blanket babylon sundy roast 11
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A Weekend on Regent Street

regent street 1
There is a strange ritual many Londoners adopt wherein Bank Holidays become an excuse to leave the city.

My thoughts? That’s just more city space for me!

Rather than fleeing, I invited one of my best lady friends – Jen – down from Leeds to spend the weekend exploring Regent Street with me.

Read on for an intimate introduction to The Langham, Aubaine, The ICE Bar, Momo, Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, tibits, Margaret Dabbs at Liberty, Ristorante Frescobaldi, and more. This is ‘a day in the life’ times two, dear readers: image-heavy is an understatement.

regent street 3
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In Review: Royal China, London

royal china
When I arrived at Royal China Baker Street for the first time, I entered behind a queue of fifteen Chinese women…

(…as good a sign as you can hope for with dim sum on the crave, I believe.)

The restaurant itself is more vast than the exterior would suggest, with decor wholly ‘smart casual’ in its own cozily oriental manner.

With a long catch-up and business meeting on the cards, the latest addition to Team Lela London and I played Battle Royale with the dim sum menu.

Kicking things off with fruity bubble drink mocktails (strawberry and passion fruit, respectively), we moved our way through various must-have mainstays; vegetarian dumplings, scallop dumplings, beef meat balls, mixed vegetable noodles, et al.

Before ordering, two people had independently recommended the honey roast pork puffs – as I often feel dubious about an excessive use of honey (hate!) and fatty pork (double hate!), I begrudgingly added them to the list of things I actually craved.

Thank goodness. They were so incredibly flavourful – melting in the mouth with each bite – that we almost ordered a second plate. Unfortunately, we fell victim to the ‘it’s so affordable you must not get a lot!’ assumption and overordered from the get-go.

Though service was smileless (which always throws me off at restaurants), the dim sum was as fresh, moreish, and true-to-tradition the flock of Chinese women led me to believe.

All things considered, I’m very pleased to enlist Royal China as my failsafe dim sum spot in London.

royal china
royal china
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In Review: Duck & Waffle, London

duck and waffle
Duck & Waffle is one of those rare, delightful restaurants ideal for tourists and Londoners alike.

For tourists, you have 24-hour availability and floor-to-ceiling, 40th floor views of London town. For Londoners, you have all that and some stellar British and European cuisine that won’t empty your new Burberry cardholder.

My latest visit was part of a project I filmed last month but I won’t give the game (or the views!) away just yet.

As you step past the ropes into Heron Tower and rush to the windows of the restaurant’s transparent elevator – even at 5am – it feels like you’re seeing London for the first time. With each floor ascended, the panorama slaps you in the face with an additional landmark. It is a true spectacle.

As is the food. After filming, our crew of eight ordered up a storm. A few of us went for their eponymous staple (a fried duck egg atop crispy duck leg confit atop a belgian waffle – mustard maple syrup optional), while the others picked out a variety of options that seemed a little less, well, ‘drunk food’.

My personal favourite came, unexpectedly, in a vegetarian dish – Duck egg en Cocotte (a soldier-dippable creation of wild mushrooms, Gruyère, truffle, and egg).

Not to say the Ox Cheek Benedict didn’t hold it’s own. Before my first forkful, I would have found it impossible to recommend a delicious plate of slow cooked organic hen’s eggs, ox cheek, hollandaise, and sriracha in this city.

Or a Full English (or House Breakfast as D&W call it) so sustainable and fresh. As ‘Fulls’ go, the House (pork and herb sausage, two organic eggs, dry cured bacon, grilled tomato, mushroom, hash brown, Scottish black pudding, and sourdough toast) is King.

As far as I’m concerned, Duck & Waffle is the only way to do a sunrise in London.

duck and waffle
duck and waffle
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