London

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

stk london glitter flip
Worldwide, STK offers an ambience not entirely dissimilar to that of a first-class airport lounge filled with party-going unicorns.

Or so I’d imagine.

The purple LED walls, the rambunctious international clientele, the nightclub-worthy booths…it is just all so undeniably extra.

It was an organic choice for one of our city’s most celebrated beauty brands to collaborate with STK’s London outpost to launch their latest product.

The long-awaited arrival of Ciaté’s Glitter Flip – an immovable and sparkle-packed matte lipstick – encouraged a partnership of glitter-topped cocktails and desserts with the modern steakhouse.

After being greeted by the manager (not a food writer privilege but a valued facet of the brand’s flawless service), I read through the menu at the speed of a paradoxical turtle. Though a rare fillet was the inevitable choice for an evening of carnivorous fork-waggling, STK’s smaller seafood options were too enticing to go unordered.

To soak up some of the Ciaté Glittertini (a grapefruit, orange sanguine and passionfruit bitter concoction housed in a glitter-rimmed martini glass – conceivably created for Instagram alone), we started with wasabi remoulade-filled soft shell crab sliders (heightened to genuine perfection with pickled ginger) and sesame-seeded tuna tataki plated with wasabi and an avocado & dashi salad.

Decidedly focused on rare fillets from then on, my date opted for his steak pepper-crusted in a peppercorn sauce while my smaller version came beneath an indulgent duck egg and light flashes of Béarnaise. Both were, requisite of eponynimity, high quality but a tad too expensive to give the likes of Goodman any sleepless nights.

The best of the mains, surprisingly, took the form of a shared citrus marinated Burratina salad with smoked aubergine puree, heirloom tomatoes, and olives.

But you guys know how I feel about ye olde mozzarella pouches.

Full beyond any dessert requirement, we couldn’t leave without sampling the trio of Ciaté Glitter Cones (glamorously designed homemade rhubarb ice cream cones) and gargantuan crème brulee.

As the old adage goes; when in first class unicorn lounges

(Until September 29th, guests who order the specially created Ciaté Glitter Cones or a Ciaté Glittertini cocktail at STK London – from Monday to Friday – will be treated to a complimentary full size sample of the Glitter Flip liquid lipstick in Fortune, a £10 Ciaté voucher, a 20% STK London voucher, and a mini bottle of Belvedere vodka.)

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stk london glitter flip 4
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lucky voice london karaoke
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.

karaoke
lucky voice london karaoke
lucky voice london karaoke

the ivy tower bridge 2
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.

A post shared by Lela London (@lelalondon) on


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wagamama covent garden
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.

Drooling yet?

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.

wagamama covent garden
wagamama covent garden

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wing wing london
If I’m raving about fried food after four months in America, you know someone’s doing something right.

In this case, it’s Wing Wing – London’s answer to the ever-growing Korean trend of ‘Chimaek’ (translation: chicken and beer) restaurants.

While it crispy Korean-style wings and drumsticks are their calling card (and available in a soy garlic, hot, or liquorice glaze), I rate their Katsu bao as one of the city’s best. With a lightly fried bao bun, they are a unique take on an Asian favourite and delightfully dirty.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Chimaek experience without the beer and Wing Wing’s spectacular ‘bottoms up’ beer system (which pours an ice-cold pint in four second from an upwards-pouring spout) doesn’t disappoint.

Alco-free? Their ginger beer slush is a sweet and principled substitute.

Impressed with Wing Wing’s eponymous offering, my dinner date and I decided to delve deeper into the menu; seaweed fries, onion bricks, yuzu meringue bao nuts (their creme filled bao-utilizing ‘donuts’), and a strawberry granola ice cream which felt bizarrely healthy after all the aforementioned.

While the counter-serve restaurant may lack its Holborn-based neighbours’ sophistication, it is – after all – a fried chicken restaurant. Go with a group, try a little bit of everything, and try your darnedest not to order some hot drumsticks for the road.

wing wing london
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