I doubt a crystal ball could have predicted the tumultuity I witnessed in the corner booth of Lucky Voice Islington.
For a fraction of a moment (maybe even A Moment Like This by Kelly Clarkson…), I genuinely believed I had left a private karaoke room and entered a parallel universe.
At the start of a uncharacteristically large ‘night out’, I was befuddled to witness 10 out of my 11 companions inoculate the evening with more liquid courage than an impending 2-hour sing-song deemed sensibly necessary.
With a number of less-than-impressive musical theatre years under my belt, I found it hard to believe there was only one other – obviously wonderful – human in our hesitant tribe who liked the idea of singing/shouting all their favourite songs with friends as much as I did.
Alas, the onset of bottomless Prosecco emboldened a change in tune. Or a tune whatsoever.
Once we passed the inevitably awkward hump of initial song selections (8,000+ spanning current hits and oldies mean you’re spoilt for choice), the X Factor versions of every single one of my formerly tentative podmates erupted across the microphones.
What was lost in Instagram Stories’ 24 hour cycle is forever imprinted in cerebral pools of 90s DIY megamixes, surprisingly perfect Tinie Tempah renditions, and countless espresso martinis (thanks, in large part, to the booth’s ‘Thirsty’ call button).
Next time you’re finding it difficult to convince your friends to a little private karaoke merriment, steer them towards Lucky Voice and let the rest take care of itself.
Unlike the famed Covent Garden original, The Ivy‘s new Tower Bridge restaurant is tempered, brasserie-style rendering of all that the holding company have earned their reputation on; notoriously attentive service, beautifully British comfort food, and an arguably more fetching
potpourri of patrons.
Determined to put the restaurant through its paces on opening night, my dinner date and I headed for the south side of Tower Bridge and settled into their undeniably handsome new digs for a fully-fledged menu investigation.
Perusing the selection over chilli, coriander and lemon-sprinkled Gordal olives and Prosecco, we eventually decided on Atlantic sea scallops (with pea purée, broad beans, lemon zest,
sea cress & crispy shallots) and Yellowfin tuna carpaccio (with tomato, watermelon, ponzu dressing, miso mayonnaise & toasted sesame for less than £10 – an absolute steal for both the quality and area).
Diving further into their moreish Yellowfin offering, I then opted for their seared and sesame crusted fillet (with shaved fennel, edamame, wasabi sauce and daikon cress) while my date gushed over her 7oz grass-fed English steak; a covetable border to truffle & parmesan chips, green beans & roasted almonds, and Béarnaise (natch).
As the evening chill approached, we wrapped ourselves in the alfresco terrace’s complimentary blankets and ate dessert (crème brûlée and frozen berries) as a stunt aerialist bathed herself in a sea of Tower Bridge-ogling tourists beside us.
Before this meal, The Ivy has felt – dare I say it – predictable to me. Tower Bridge is exactly what the brand needed to shake things up and get a new generation of London-loving foodies through the door.
There are few places in this world as intoxicatingly vibrant, inclusive and diverse as New York City and nowhere else could compare as the crescendo of Lela Takes The Crescent.
Ironically, the cross-country sleeper train adventure also marked the five year anniversary of my first trip to the Big Apple as a Sex and The City repeat-obsessed twentysomething. A trip that had such a profound effect on me I have designed countless excuses to return to the city every time I cross the Atlantic.
I know Manhattan well. Very well. I know where the local foodies eat (don’t worry – a food guide is coming shortly!), which streets to avoid when tourist-dodging, what residential buildings have better views than the Empire State, and then some.
But I didn’t know it like I now do after Accomplice The Show.
Accomplice New York – an immersive theatre adventure through downtown Manhattan – was the irrefutable highlight of my time in the city and one of the best ‘tours’ I have ever experienced.
Without giving too much away, Accomplice blends all the best parts of theatre and scavenger hunts so seamlessly you feel as though the journey is a fundamental part of the city’s unique and ever-altering complexities. Like Mission: Impossible. Albeit with less risk and more alcohol.
Over the course of three hours, the city’s iconic streets become part playground, part playhouse. With some of the most hilariously quick-witted actors to guide you along the way.
Whether you’ve never hit US soil or you’re a New York native, I can almost guarantee you a fabulous time. I will cherish the adrenaline-pumping afternoon spent with Accomplice for my entire life.
(Note: All photos featured are a selection from Accomplice and my general time in the City to keep spoilers at a minimum. The starting location will be revealed a day or two before your event via phone call and varies dependent on the show of your choice.)
I spend an obscene amount of time and money eating less-than-pleasing boxed salads between meetings. For all that is health conscious, it is a necessary but grating evil and one that had me so outrageously bored last week I decided to pop in to wagamama for something a little more flavourful.
As casual dining goes, they are a quality-focused go-to of mine so I was delighted to see they had launched a selection of incredible-looking Summer dishes while I’ve been in the States.
To start, my lunch date and I nibbled on beef tataki (lightly seared marinated steak) over a few sips of sake. The tataki – served chilled and dressed with citrus ponzu & japanese mayonnaise alongside pickled beetroot and coriander – rivalled some of my infinitely more expensive London restaurant favourites and braced us for our respectively delicious mains.
My date went for their seared nuoc cham tuna steak (on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion, peppers, and garnished with coriander) while I went for the nutrition-packed pad thai salad. The salad blends ginger chicken and prawns on a bed of mixed leaves, mangetout, baby plum tomatoes, shredded pickled beetroot, carrot, red onion (I’m allergic so went without), and fried shallots. Then serves it with a side of peanuts and a nuoc cham & ginger miso dressing.
For the time and money it would have taken me to source a sub-par boxed salad, the restaurant more than deserved a rave review. Thanks for keeping my culinary sanity in check, wagamama.
As politically-driven as I am, it seemed improbable I managed to avoid a stop in Washington, DC over ten years of travel to a number of the capital’s neighbours.
Thankfully, Lela Takes The Crescent provided the perfect Amtrak-convenient opportunity to immerse myself in the most American flag-packed streets one could imagine.
Read on for secret Capitol tours, the best sandwich in North America, impromptu trips to Virginia, and more…