It’s time I talked about my stint in the clink.

The CliffsNotes version of the story? I’ve considered leading a life of cocktail-intended crime ever since I escaped the joint. For my two-hour sentence, Alcotraz Penitentiary huddled a room of booze-smuggling strangers together to bring our respective Orange Is The New Black/Shawshank/Bad Girls dreams to life.

Alcotraz is the world’s first immersive prison cocktail bar; starchy orange jumpsuits, jaw-dropping convictions, unstable wardens, cell shakedowns and all. With carefully-hollowed bibles and 70cl-friendly pillowcases to support the inebriation of its inmates, Alcotraz is as good as immersive theatre gets.

Though they’re putting an applaudable spin on your everyday tequila slammer, the experience won me over with a dedication to absolute madness. This crowbar hotel would be the perfect precursor to any East London night-out.

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lami malo london

As a food writer I am quick to respond to restaurant suggestion demands across every corner of London, but Liverpool Street has always stumped me. While there are the obvious choices, great independents are swamped by chains and nondescript watering holes until you get closer to Shoreditch.

New restaurant L’ami Malo is an exception to the rule.

Nestled past the boozing bankers of Artillery Passage, this contemporary French crêperie has taken inspiration from the traditional French town of St Malo (famous for its high quality galettes) and executed the cosiest of culinary concepts.

We’re talking crepes and galettes pushed to their limits.

To start, my date and I split buckwheat goat’s cheese croquettes (atop roasted heritage
beetroot, and kasha seeds with a honey & thyme dressing) before delving into their similarly galette-inspired ‘maki rolls’; ham hock (his favourite – with gherkin, watercress, and piccalilli) and smoked salmon with capers, shallot, dill, keta caviar, and crème fraîche (obviously my favourite, but rich enough to warrant sharing).

Though the menu ran the risk of galette overkill, their star interpretations were so incredibly well-cooked I almost forgot buckwheat had anything to do with them. My own main, confit duck leg, included braised red cabbage, a caramelised pear, tenderstem broccoli, and a red wine jus in a way that could truly only have been heightened by a bottle of 2015 Château Coudray-Montpensier Chinon.

(A herbaceous and heavily-berried choice which, of course, they had.)

I would order the confit leg or slow-cooked red wine ox cheek (with confit baby onion, heritage carrot, buckwheat polenta, and crispy kale) again in a heartbeat.

With the recommendation of our l’ami-personifying waitress, we ordered their take on a vanilla cheesecake (a delectable arrangement of cakeless ‘cheese’ with baked dutch rhubarb and crispy crepe swirls) to end.

L’ami Malo is a restaurant I would recommend to anyone. Without hesitation. And I never do so lightly.

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short black hair
If being a woman has taught me anything about beauty, it has taught me we all give a lot of f**ks about our hair.

To an extreme. A, dare I say it, religious extreme. We wake up most mornings thinking about it. Praying our efforts don’t get ruined by forces out of our control. We obsess over the loss of it, change of it, silver-crept ageing of it, and more.

And few of us are atheists. Despite priding myself on my intellect and kindness far above my follicles, I have spent decades tonging, bleaching, and masking my hair. If anything ‘of the flesh’ was to consume me, it would be the mass of tortured strands on my head.

The realisation came unexpectedly and I knew I had to break the chain.

Aptly named as it could could be, The Chapel provided a personal hair mecca.

While my first visit had little to do with hair whatsoever, the environment left such a positive imprint on me I knew it was the place to turn to cut more than half my hair off. To finally fill in those over-bleached ends. To get over the use of hair as a security blanket*.

In two separate appointments, Oliver (and a slew of truly kind salon accomplices) took me from weighed down to the glossiest, bobbed version of myself I could hope for. With the service, laughter, and know-how of proper barnet apostles.

As my hair grows out, the gloss will fade into a healthy version of the natural colour I can barely remember. And I can’t wait.

the chapel london
the chapel london
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dinner time stories london

While I am undoubtedly tech obsessed, the receipt of press release with the words “multisensorial projector-based dinner show” at the top made my combatively anti-millennial instincts flinch to throw my laptop at the wall.

Since when did good food need anything more than a fork? Since when did it need projectors?!

I masochistically read on.

Le Petit Chef was the latest dining concept from the well-received innovators of Dinner Time Story.

This time led by a diminutive 3D animated chef who likes to spend his evenings travelling across tablecloths.

Nonetheless, their London outpost was going to be held in the roof of Shoreditch’s TT Liquor and was safe in the knowledge I could spend an evening drinking some of my favourite whiskeys if all else failed.

I’m also far too curious to ignore anything that would charge £95 for a ‘concept’.

At the start of the dinner, guests were seated around communal tables with a blank storybook in front of them. For the two hours after that, you are thrust into a culinary and augmented reality exploration. While still seated.

And I have to hand it to Dinner Time Story, they took me there. To the Silk Road, Middle East, Western France, sea, and sky. While producing six small homage-yielding courses and cocktail pairings at each stop.

With soundtracks and scents to elevate each imagined destination, that damned “multisensorial projector-based dinner show” really got to me. It heightened what was arguably a mediocre menu to an evening well-worth it’s price tag.

It was whimsical, charming, and full of potential. I simply hope the food (besides the deliciously cumin-heavy tagine croquette) catches up.

(Dinner Time Story is currently running in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Berlin and Belgium, and expansion plans for China and Scandinavia are already underway. Keep an eye out for their next pop-up.)

dinner time stories london
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I’m a proper adult. 🎉

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Nights out in London don’t get much more memorable than tormenting strangers in an adult ball pit with your loved ones.

Better yet, tormenting them a ball pit bar.

In that and many other senses, Ballie Ballerson is the best answer to nostalgic deviance Shoreditch has to offer.

The bar and their world-famous balls draws a crowd of fun-loving millennials happy to spend their hard-earned cash pretending to be children. And that, my friends, creates one electric atmosphere.

To maximise your time at Ballie, I would advise booking your time slot in the ball pit an hour or so after you arrive. There are plenty of cocktails to try, songs to shake it to, and new friends to make in the interim.

The pit itself was deep enough to swallow all three members of my girl gang at different points of the night. You don’t want to miss out on recovery quests with a buzz, I promise you.

(It was also large enough that a man in a plastic crown was able to crowd-surf into the pit. Before he stuffed a few balls down the back of my bodysuit.. .no, there was literally no better way to phrase that sentence.)

Between trips to the pit, we took advantage of Rascals – Ballie’s adjoining restaurant andthe world’s first waterproof dining room – to fuelled for further frolicks.

Though I have yet to figure out why a restaurant would require precautions for aquatic exploits, Rascals’ food and cocktails surprised me. It came across as the sort of thing Kylie Jenner would serve at a dinner party.

On a Rob Kardashian price tag.

The value of the tapas-style dishes was incredible. £6 Cheeseburger spring rolls (a revelation), £6 burrata with basil pesto & a parmesan crumb, £8 truffled mushroom risotto with parmesan foam…every dish was infallible and perfectly complimented by a small menu of innovative cocktails.

Cactus Margarita £10 Reposado Tequila, Mezcal, Cactus, Lime, Buzz Button Tincture, Szechuan Salt /
Yuzu Pretty £10 White Brandy, White Rum, Yuzu, Matcha, Lime, Whites /

My favourite was Tonka The Plonka (Solera Bourbon, fig, tonka bean, and black walnut) but the Yuzu Pretty (white brandy, white rum, yuzu, matcha, lime, and egg whites) and Cactus Margarita (Reposado Tequila, mezcal, cactus, Lime, buzz button tincture, and szechuan salt) were close seconds.

We spent the rest of the night dancing around Rascals like it was the school disco of collective dreams long after our time in the pit was up.

We had a literal f***ing ball.



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