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In Review: Bob Bob Ricard, London

bob bob ricard review
For almost three years, I have identified Tom Aikens as the best restaurant in London; the restaurant I recommend to every tourist, Londoner, and acquaintance in between…

I’ve swapped camps. My sadistically pre-emptive ‘last meal’ will now have to be taken at Bob Bob Ricard. To be frank, it kicks some luxurious ass.

In the middle of London Fashion Week, three of my nearest and dearest joined me at the Russian-influenced restaurant for a spot of lunch between shows. A caviar-topped, triple-coursed, and champagne-fueled spot of lunch, that is.

Cheersing over a bottle of Ayale Rosé Majeur NV (a fresh and fleshy champagne – in my opinion, as drinkably refined as it gets for rosé), we chose to leave our starter selections in the hands of our waiter, hoping it would be a strong indicator of the restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses before it came time to order our mains.

Unfortunately, every dish was as delectable as the next.

In a frenzy of visually-triggered starvation, we rushed to feed each other a feast of Oysters de Gaulle (grilled with Bearnaise sauce and chervil), Oysters Brezhnev (baked with parmesan and black truffle), lobster Pelemeni (served with Salmon Roe), truffled potato and mushroom Vareniki dumplings (served with crispy onion and Shimeji mushrooms), seabass ceviche with avocado (made with cucumber, tomato, coriander, jalapeno peppers and lime), and a small glass of vodka to wash it all down.

When in Rome.

Tortured by the idea of missing out on a spectacular dish, we agreed to share as many bites as we could spare and order from different sections of the menu.

Naturally, I still managed to throw a metaphorical lock and key over my venison steak tartare as soon as it arrived. Steak tartare is my number one comfort food (try to ignore the psychological profile that gives me), but Bob Bob Ricard’s version – with raw quail egg and double-bite croutons – was, essentially, The King of Tartare.

Not that the other dishes don’t deserve their own distinctions, my friend’s chicken, mushroom and champagne pie was a monogrammed masterpiece, the Filet Mignon Rossini (28-day aged Scotch beef with seared foie gras and confit apple, served with truffle gravy) was the most indulgent and rich plate of food I’d ever laid eyes on, and the Fresh lobster macaroni and cheese (specifically, swiss and parmesan cheese) was a comfort food dream come to life.

Even the carrots and parsnips (roasted in beef dripping with honey and thyme) made my difficult-to-please, carnivorous male friends swoon.

Feeling it was time to finally play with the Press For Champagne button (Bob Bob Ricard is almost infamous for their indulgent button system), our waiter promptly sashayed over with a bottle of Ayale and topped our glasses up. A gimmick to some, but a gimmick too rewarding to deny

By our waiter’s suggestion, we paused to share 30g of Alverta Imperial caviar (absolute salty perfection and known for its larger eggs and lighter colour), already planning our next visit.

As I become less and less of a ‘dessert person’, I made sure to enjoy my share of Alverta and went – once again – with our waiter’s recommendation for dessert. While my friends made marriage proposals to their Dulce de Leche creme brulees and strawberries and cream souffles, I took a bite of my friend’s Eton Mess en Perle (lime meringue, strawberry sorbet, raspberry, marshmallows, and cream) and had an epiphany.

When dessert shows up looking like this, I am absolutely a dessert person.

One pour of mint creme anglaise of chocolate and mint souffle later and I was sold: Bob Bob Ricard is the best restaurant in London.

Ding ding ding ding ding ding!

A photo posted by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

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In Review: Supercity Apartments (The Rosebery), London

supercity apartments review
This is going to be one of those posts where press Publish and subsequently kick myself for sharing a hidden gem that I wish could stay hidden forever.

You know I love you guys, right? I love you so much I want to introduce you to The Rosebery (one of Supercity Apartments’ properties).

Every Fashion Week I toy with the idea of getting a hotel room to act as my charging station/temporary wardrobe/nap centre, but often talk myself out of it, knowing most London hotel rooms lack the creature comforts and space that I’ve come to love.

Not any sane soul could talk themselves out of The Rosebery.

Battling all of East London’s hotels, this Clerkenwell-based ‘aparthotel’ comes with fully furnished supersized suites, every amenity one could could possibly need (including a plethora of ccutlery, crockery, glassware and Nespresso pods), air con, iPod docks, fast (!!) wi-fi, a luxury bathroom, and more closet space than even a Fashion Week wardrobe could fill.

All in all, my stay was flawless. I worked, played, ate and drank as comfortably as I would have at home, yet found myself a mere five minute cab away from every show, meeting, and meal planned throughout Covent Garden and Soho.

The second they start to look for a live-in blogger, I plan on tying up the lines…

supercity apartments review
supercity apartments review
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In Review: Chess-Inspired G & T Afternoon Tea, Le Meridien Piccadilly – London

le meridien piccadilly afternoon tea
As far as concepts go, the chess-inspired G & T afternoon tea from Le Meridien Piccadilly ranks second to none. Combining my two favourite British traditions (tea and gin), the afternoon tea – which is held in the hotel’s Terrace Grill & Bar – has something for everyone.

The special part? As the restaurant’s art exhibitions change, the afternoon tea themes follow suit, meaning Francesco Ridolfi’s chess-themed portraits will be hanging above restaurant patron’s chess-themed afternoon teas until April 1st.

You can have the sandwiches, pastries, and scones served with hot tea or opt for your choice of ‘G & T’ herbal or fruit-infused gins and tonic syrup. I think it’s all too clear which one The Manfriend and I went for.

A pot of vanilla and chilli-infused Sloane’s (a gin-lovers treat) and rose buds and fresh raspberries-infused Martin Miller (suited to a sweeter palate) for two, please.

As we poured our gin like alcoholic debutantes, we nibbled our way through the scones and sandwiches; Scottish Smoked salmon with dill and citrus crème fraiche on wholemeal, roast beef & rocket with horseradish on caraway seeded bread, free range duck egg mayo and cress on wholemeal, and cucumber cream cheese & chive on white.

Naturally, the chess theme went full-force on the pastries; mini crown-topped Queen’s opera cakes, Pawns’ coconut & pistachio frangipanes, chequered bitter chocolate tarts, and Knights’ sable biscuits.

To my own taste, I preferred the savouries to sweets but can’t wait to see what the hotel’s following art exhibition inspires!

le meridien piccadilly afternoon tea
le meridien piccadilly afternoon tea
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The LelaLondon.com Photoshoot

lela london
As a so-called ‘media figure’, it was a cruel inevitability: in all likelihood, I would end up in a studio photoshoot one day.

Now, I’ve done a handful of ‘shoots’ in the past for magazine features and interviews, but have always taken solace in the fact that they were essentially recreating my own brand of street style photography. Natural light, no looking into a camera, and props/people around me to almost create an illusion of DSLRlessness.

When I worked as a stylist, studio shoots were always the most harsh and revealing, even for the most beautiful model. I swore I’d stay away as long as I could. Yet here I am pretending I’m some sort of Campbell-Delevigne.

How did it happen? The Powers That Be decided it was time to do some promo shots for myself and the blog. Shortly thereafter, Image 1st Studio pitched and the rest is history.

The Studio is located just around the corner from Farringdon station, is completely private, and – as a package – comes with the friendliest, nerve-curing studio staff you could hope for. A week or so before arriving, they sent me very clear tips, information, and genuinely made the whole experience comfortable from the get-go.

On shoot day, Doren (the MD) greeted my moral support and I at the door and took me straight through to be painted and preened by the lovely Emma.

As make-up artists go I am as picky as they come, but Emma understood exactly what I liked (less is more, with an exception for lips) and took me to personal perfection in no time at all.

Grabbing a drink on my way through to meet Luke (the photographer), we went through the outfits I’d put together, decided the shoot order and backgrounds we’d use for each look, hung everything up in said order (hello, OCD), and set straight off to set.

A whirlwind hour of blushing and prancing later, we wrapped up the shoot and I left with a disc of a billion-plus images ready to send to all my boyfriends.

Or use for professional purposes. Whatever.

Not bad, eh?

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lela london
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In Review: HKK’s Chinese New Year Menu

hkk london
Since my last trip to HKK, I have awaited an excuse to return. 15-course meals call for an occasion, to say the least.

Thankfully, the restaurant chose to celebrate Chinese New Year with a ten-course culinary journey through the country’s most influential provinces and traditions. Hello, occasion!

With eight courses and two desserts awaiting approval, my multi-continental best friend and I settled in with a glass of champagne and began a three-hour feast. As we launched to regale months of travel tales, the first dish arrived: from Suzhou (Jiangsu), marinated Duke of Berkshire pork with Osmanthus wine jelly.

Reality very rarely meets expectations, but this dish surpassed them. I had forgotten just how good the food really was. Even the next plate – a revival of the cherry wood roasted Peking duck from Beijing (Shandong) – seemed more delicate and flavourful than I remembered.

Shortly thereafter, I paused to meet my soulmate: the rhubarb margarita. I wouldn’t typically go for cocktails with a tasting menu, but I had to make an exception for HKK’s blend of Tapatio Reposado tequila, rhubarb, lime, vanilla and Falernum liqueur (finished with a vanilla and chilli rim). It is, dear reader, even better than it sounds.

Next up for consumption? The paintbrush-accompanying dim sum trilogy (from from Guangdong). Similar to the version I obsessed over during my last visit, this menu’s offerings were as moreish as they come.

Keeping things light as we worked through the middle of the menu, ‘Monk Jumps Over The Wall’ soup (from Fujian) and pan-grilled Chilean seabass in Sha Cha sauce (from Hunan) followed, leading into jasmine tea smoked poussin (from Anhui) before landing on The One: from Zhejiang, braised King soy Wagyu beef with Merlot. A heartbreaker.

Knocking another one out of the proverbial park, the savouries finished with chargrilled New Zealand scampi (from Sichuan), quite seriously securing the entire menu a 10/10 rating. Perfect portions, unusually sumptuous flavours, and a variety of techniques executed to perfection. It doesn’t get any better.

To finish? A trio of dark chocolate dumplings with yuzu and ginger infusion (a devilishly good treat), followed by a cacophony of white; sheep’s milk mousse, pandan curd and caramelised puff rice.

As we wrapped up our tales with the meal itself, I was once again making a mental note to find creative excuses to return. Clients, expect one hell of a lunch meeting coming your way.

hkk london
hkk london
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