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.

lami malo 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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With just one sleep National Margarita Day (a holiday I have Leslie Knope-level thirst for), it seems to be the perfect time to take you on a tour of my recent adventures with Jose Cuervo.

This month, Jose Cuervo appointed the UK’s ‘Salt Sommelier’ – Max Venning – to travel the nation in search of the most Cuervo Margarita-worthy salts.

I could hardly turn down the opportunity to joined the team behind the world’s number one selling tequila on such a quasi-culinary journey…

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food blogger
The unlikely string linking a decade of dinner parties? The hysterically diverse threads I’ve worn to each of them.

When I’m fortunate enough to be invited to a friend’s, I go all out; sparkles, heels, and a bottle to match.

When I throw my own, I tend to go all…well…in; a onesie, an empty bottle, and the closest thing to a smile I can muster after having compulsive meltdown in the kitchen.

I am the keenest of home chefs. And I love hosting. But the combination can be a nightmare for a perfectionist.

Discovering La Belle Assiette was a game-changer.

The service offers Londoners a choice of affordable private chefs for any and all culinary needs; dinner parties, romantic surprises, birthdays, et al.

It sounded like the ideal exploit for catching up with friends after the holidays.

After long days at work, five of my most discerning foodie amigos arrived to an out-and-out feast without so much as a consideration to what they might want to eat that night.

Chef Ali, who arrived two hours prior to prepare his menu, curated a four-course banquet of dining room dreams; a herbed chicken amuse bouche (with shaved parmesan, sherry vinegar anchovies, parmesan croutons & a caesar dressing), wild tuna Salade niçoise (with soft-boiled eggs, served with English new season potatoes, green beans, heritage tomatoes, red onions & wild rocket), chicken stuffed with smoked tomatoes & goat’s cheese (with beetroot puree, smoked garlic, crispy mint fondant potatoes, roasted baby onions, carrots, Himalayan salt, &jus), and a white & dark chocolate tart with peppermint cream & fresh berry confit.

It was a roaring success.

With nothing to deliberate beyond which wine we wanted with each course, La Belle Assiette truly put the party in dinner party. Right the way through to the discovery of a spotless kitchen (with zero washing-up!) after the world’s most mutinous game of Monopoly.

The entertainment, of course, is rather deliciously left up to you and the merriment of your tribe.

I would live the entire evening again in a heartbeat. For the opportunity to crack out every thread of sparkle in my wardrobe, alone.

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