London

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

showstopper the musical
Musical theatre has made me a relatively intolerable human to be around.

Some time around the purchase of my first pair of tap shoes, I realised that every moment in life had a song and dance. Also that – regardless of my company’s desires – I would indulge it.

Mine and every millennial’s favourite, Wicked, has graced* my life on almost ten occasions and I have spent most of my OCD-addled adult life thinking there would never be another musical I would want to see as many times.

Then a ridiculous, no-budget musical came along and turned my Elphaba upside down.

Showstopper! – exclamation intended – is an entirely improvised musical for both intolerable show choir graduates (hello, friend) and the musically indifferent.

The Olivier Award-winning ‘Showstoppers’ have created an all-singing, all-dancing triumph of unpredictable genius.
Each show is curated purely on live suggestions from the audience and hilarity ensues at a level often difficult for practiced performers to reach.

Showstopper! takes the sharpest lolz imaginable and almost makes them feel intimate. It was unlike any show I’ve seen before and one I’m likely to stalk as they tour the country.

Do. Not. Miss. It.

Virus-free. www.avg.com

canova hall
While I respect anywhere with the balls to promote a restaurant, cocktail bar, hot desking workspace and nightclub as a single venue, I’m not sure Canova Hall should call themselves a quadruple threat just yet.

The newly-opened 4,500-ft Brixton baby was launched to expand on the success of the owners’ popular London Fields pizza pub, Martello Hall, and fans will be pleased to know their beloved sourdough pies have made it south of the river.

Looking like an old market canteen of hipster dreams, the atmosphere is also rather remarkable. From the moment I sat down, there was a very low bar set to charm my discerning pants off.

The food, however, fell short. The meatballs (in a ‘Nduja tomato sauce with parmesan & pecorino) were drier and less seasoned than my own. The smoked scarmoza & pancetta crocchettas (with rocket pesto) needed the pesto to draw any flavour.

The highlights were the plate of torta fritta (Italian dough balls) with salami, truffle taleggio, pecorino, riccota salata & salsa verde and zucchini fries. But I am looking for much more from a fully-fledged restaurant experience than an adoration for prepared charcuterie and fried vegetables.

Naturally, there will be teething issues. Ones I can only hope I’ve experienced here as their drink selection is incredible.

Canova Hall might actually be the sexiest place to get your drink on in South London. Their beer selections are suitably crafty (Five Points, Yeastie Boys, Fourpure, etc), they have 12 delightful wines on tap, a massive & classically-served absinthe offering, and a Barrel Aged Old Fashioned so perfect I may actually elope with it (Woodford Reserve from their barrel, maraschino cherry extract and orange bitters).

Though I left feeling relatively indifferent towards its culinary exploits, I feel Canova Hall is one to watch. Post-training wheel removal.

(Or visit for a tipsy-binge on zucchini fries, at least).

canova hall
canova hall
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santi london e20
Authenticity has been bastardised by the food industry for far too long. Any old restaurant with a creme brulee on their menu seems comfortable calling themselves an ‘authentic French restaurant’ and great menus of undisputed origin have been lost somewhere in the culinary hullabaloo.

Bizarrely, East Village (London’s former Olympic Athlete’s Village) now has one of the most authentic Italian restaurants I’ve been to in years.

Though it is only one year old, Santi has built a reputation on the handiwork of their Napolitan pizza chef and his specially-imported Italian flour.

Well aware that real Italian food is much more than pizza, I ignored all dough-swooning inclinations and decided the rest of the menu had to be put to the test.

As my dinner date clinked her well-deserved Aperol Spritz with mine, every Italian in East London seemed to decamp across the tables around us in colossal groups. For a relatively frill-free atmosphere and unconditionally Italian restaurant team, this only assured its apititude in the quest for authenticity.

At prices more competitive than any restaurant in the vicinity of Westfield Stratford, we went on to have a deliciously bona fide Italian feast; fresh calamari fritti, involtini di melazane parmigiance (translation: decadently baked mozarella-loaded aubergine), a wildly generous guazzetto (mussell, clam, prawn & sea bass casserole) served with toasted bread, and perfectly cooked sea bass with fries and vegetables.

The addition of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc del Veneto (a dry and elegant Italian pairing for gluttonous flavour chaos) tricked us into believing we had room for dessert. We quite obviously didn’t when a handmade tiramisu larger than my head arrived next to the richest tortino al cioccolato (think chocolate lava cake with a little less lava) in existence.

I only managed a few bites but their mascarpone and espresso-heavy tiramisu was worth a return trip alone.

Santi get my authentic seal of approval and then some.

santi london e20
santi london e20
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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.)

stk london glitter flip 7
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