I love London. I sign things London. London is the key to my heart – it deserves some writing.

In Review: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, London

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I have been thinking about this review for a number of hours. Fretting, almost.

The jist of the matter is not-so-simply that L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon showed me the best meal I have had all year, and putting something like that into words is never an easy feat.

Every single factor a restaurant could be judged on was inarguably faultless – even when presented with the ‘challenge’ of my vegetarian, alcohol-free, and nut-allergic girlfriend. Though we are both knowingly aware that her list of ‘can’ts’ throws up a challenge or two, the manager, chef, and kitchen team took it completely in their stride. And then some,

Opting to dine around the counter area on the ground floor (the first floor is a tad formal for a catch-up between two expressive women), we nestled in alongside our Michelin-loving countermates and gawked through the bar as we watched the chefs creating a flurry of meticulous masterpieces.

Variety may be the space of life, but I’m not sure anyone could convince me to sit away from the action.

Juiced from the arrival of a berry-filled mocktail and glass of champagne, we decided to leave our food choices up to gastronomic fate (while informing the chef of my dear accomplice’s food restrictions) and sat back to let the chips fall.

And this is where the review gets tricky. Something about chef Xavier Boyer’s menu feels sacred…experiential in a way that begs for trial. Some of the less extravagant-sounding dishes ending up becoming real highlights and pinnacles of innovation (rather than an afterthought, as I’ve experienced in quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants). I wouldn’t dare to review dishes on their own; the menu is ever-changing, seasonal, and merits fresh, explorative eyes.

(Though I will say you’d be a pesca-fool to miss out on the caviar-topped salmon tartare.)

As far as its Theatreland locale is concerned, L’Atelier is the only restaurant you’ll find where dinner is the show.

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In Review: Dirty Tommi’s at Dirty Bones, London

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From the very day my male best friend and I met, we bonded over an appreciation of ‘dirty’ food. In fact, for a woman who sings the praises of kale and spirulina to anyone who will listen, I have a penchant for massive dirty feasts whenever we catch up.

The second I found out about Dirty Tommi’s, he was guaranteed an invite.

Dirty Tommi’s, you see, is a limited time Sunday pop-up collaboration between Tommi’s Burger Joint and Dirty Bones. Being held at the latter, the pop-up combines some of Ross Clarke (Dirty Bones) and Siggi Gunnlaugsson’s (Tommi’s) most celebrated dishes alongside some special creations.

The evening went a little something like this:
– Oozing over my dining partner’s Dirty Bounty hard shake (Bacardi gold rum, Wood’s overproof rum, coconut cream, chocolate ice cream, milk, chocolate sauce) while sipping a rather dangerous cocktail of my own.
– Glazing my face in the homemade barbecue sauce of the sticky pork ribs and trading one for a lemon, chilli and spring onion-covered chicken wing.
– Diving headfirst into the incredible creation that is the Tommi’s Burger Dog; Tommi’s burger served doggy style with confit onion, Dirty Bones short rib, crispy shallots, dirty cheese sauce, and dill pickles
– Wishing I had the appetite to go for my companion’s Dirty Mac Burger; Tommi’s beef patty, Dirty Bones steak glaze, and charred lettuce, all topped with Dirty Bones mac and cheese
– Managing to get halfway through an order of Sloppi Dirty Fries before realising there would be no way I’d have room for the milk and cookies I had targeted on my earlier menu perusal…
-…but knowing that triple cooked fries covered in Tommi’s sloppi joe mince, Kimchi sauce, spring onions, and gravy (optional) was so worth it.

Dirty Tommi’s is open – for now – every Sunday (that’s tomorrow!) for lunch between 12-4pm and for dinner between 6pm-11pm. I urge you to go so I can keep Burger Dogs in my mealtime inventory.

dirty tommis at dirty bones
dirty tommis at dirty bones
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Going Blonde at Gro London (+ Vlog!)

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I’ve gone blonde. Some would say from brunette to blonde, but realistically I’ve gone from ginger to blonde. With a bit of ginger left in. A blonde balayage, to be specific.

Though I hadn’t been blonde for a good number of years, scrolling the socially-shared images of Gro London instinctively dared me to make a colour change (you have to look at their rainbow hair work). On top of that their six salons are all situated in the suburbs of London – the Hamsptead location being a convenient walk around the corner from my best friend’s house in Finchley Road.

From the second I made my appointment with Serafina, I experienced a level of customer service that echoed through my entire visit. Before going in, we exchanged a few inspirational images (thank you, Pinterest) and discussed the current state of my hair so we both knew exactly what to expect when appointment day arrived.

And because looking at hair is so much more interesting than talking about it, I filmed the entire experience to share with you in the vlog below. As you’ll see from the video, the experience went perfectly from start to finish; from proper discussions and colour examples to complimentary lattes and the most welcoming environment you could expect, I wouldn’t change a thing. It also doesn’t hurt that the blonde balayage is bangin’.

From this point, I’ll probably go a little bit blonder once my hair recovers from the lightening process (though, to be fair, a mix of Oribe and coconut oil has left me with no breakage or problems since the first home wash).

Stay tuned for more Gro London adventures…

The Dead Sea Salt Glow at Gina Conway

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Now that I’m a good two months into my crazy eye-bleeds-laser-surgery fiasco, I have become obsessed with everything sensual and tactile. Especially in regards to beauty treatments.

Having taken something of a visual vacation, I have become rather critical of my other senses and have found myself pursuing a range of physical experiences. The best of which has been the Dead Sea Salt Glow treatment at Gina Conway.

For a demure-looking Chelsea salon, their underground spa is an absolute haven. As soon as I descended the staircase and entered the dark, plush treatment room, every stress (and trace of city-smoked chaos) melted away.

Obviously, the Dead Sea Salt Glow didn’t hurt the cause, either.

After undressing, laying down, and inhaling a variety of flower and plant essences, I chose my preferred fragrance (to be mixed with Pure Dead Sea Salts) and allowed myself to be lulled into REM while the customised concoction was smoothed over my body.

While this is particularly good for exfoliation, hydration and circulation (see ya, cellulite!), the following shower and customised cream massage was the icing on the cake of my mini staycation from the real world.

5 stars.

In Review: Afternoon Tea at Hotel Cafe Royal

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I have frequented Hotel Cafe Royal a number of times over the past two years and each visit – inclusive of afternoon teas, dinners, champagne and caviar excursions, et all – has been a pleasure.

Nothing, however, prepared me for this afternoon tea. Swapping the Ten Room for the gold-dipped Oscar Wilde Bar, Chef Andrew Turner’s newly-launched London High Society afternoon tea menu ticked every opulent box you could imagine.

I would endeavour to put the Oscar Wilde into words, but you simply have to experience it for yourself. ‘Royal’ is an understatement.

Settled in among a hidden congregation of fellow afternoon gluttons, The Manfriend and I cheersed our glasses of Veuve Clicquot and perused the tea menu before the amuse bouche was served. The ‘Low Sidecar Muffin’ was a fluffy and savoury delight accented by truffled cream cheese and a miniature pipette of jus.

Shortly thereafter, my pot of Queensbury (a refreshing, herbal infusion of lemongrass, fennel seed
and liquorice root) arrived alongside three tiers of savouries. For each person, there was a wild boar, crackling, pickled apple and mustard bun, a goat’s cheese puff with wine jelly, a Mary Rose prawn cocktail canape, a London Cure smoked salmon and quail’s egg pastry, and an artfully presented “Cucumber and cream cheese” sandwich…

…all preceeding a palate cleanser of chocolate marshmallows and a shot of fruit tea, of course.

Pausing to take a mid-tea teabreak (oh yes, there’s more) while the pianist tinkled the ivories to a few familiar melodies, we finished our pots and welcomed the sweets and scones with open plates.

Though neither of us has a particular sweet tooth, we are veritable SconeHeads so chatted, jammed, and clotted-creamed our way through the small basket of fresh scones between bites of the other fruit-filled treats.

High points: Absinthe green fairy macarons, edible flower pots, and individual tubes of lemon curd.

High society may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cafe Royal’s edible version is instinctively praise-worthy.

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