yauatcha london
I seem to have made an accidental habit of going on a gargantuan food splurge at Yauatcha at the tail end of every Fashion Week.

Only this time, my fashion celebrations coincided with Yauatcha’s 10th birthday celebration.

Throughout September, the Michelin-starred dim sum teahouse have been releasing weekly off-menu celebrations centered around the restaurant’s four points of excellence; the Chinese kitchen, teahouse, patisserie, and cocktails. They began with Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee’s secret Dim Sum Platter, moved onto Senior Bar Manager Eder Neto’s Eight Butterflies green tea (which – while combining cranberry, rose petal and chrysanthemum – quickly became my dream tea), then featured Executive Pastry Chef Graham Hornigold’s secret Pumpkin Caramel (soy caramel puffed rice with roasted pumpkin choux bun filled with pumpkin, vanilla cream and pumpkin compote, with a spiced crunch topping).

Sneaky peak? Starting tomorrow, the final week will introduce an off-menu glass of Bollinger Rosé Champagne served with two miniature jugs of mixers and a micro-cocktail class by the waiter (you can thank Head Wine Buyer Christine Parkinson for this brainwave).

Secrets aside…the meal itself far surpassed my prior experience. Stellar as it was.

For this visit, The Manfriend and I chose to chow at the mercy of our waiter. With a simple request to trial the plates so sublime they could convert a vegetarian, we were presented with a bounty of diverse dim sum delights.

A cacophonous delivery of Chinese delicacy and innovation; lobster dumplings with tobiko caviar, buttery venison puffs, prawn and beancurd Cheung Fun (a drool-inducing revelation), and more. Followed by a hand-carved quarter of Crispy Aromatic Duck with all traditional trimmings, the selection made up a spectacular feast for two.

By this time, we were splitting at the spine, thus decided to accompany our off-menu tea with four handpicked (and rather exemplary) macarons.

If I ever regain my appetite, I shall plan to do it all again.

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one new change 2
The second I walked through the glass-cased shell of One New Change, I knew I had left it too late. While I was well aware of its status as the only shopping centre of its size in the City of London, I had no idea how beautiful it was from the inside (and, as you can see from the photos, the very tippy-top).

The day before London Fashion Week SS15 reared its chaotic head, I scheduled a few hours out of my 60+ hour week for a few treats and trials.

First stop? Strip for some ‘fun’ (ahem) with their famous So Berry lycon wax. While waxing may not be every woman’s idea of a pampering sesh, Strip’s sensitive vanilla extract-packed wax is a treat for any Brazilian-having babe. The staff – who are extremely welcoming and professional – are also second to none.

For a more traditional treat, I then pranced around the corner to Hershesons and Dermalogica for a luxurious blow dry and facial. That special duo of pampering that turns your brain into a happy mush of rainbows and sunshine.

There is something hyper magical about One New Change.

Less than two hours after walking into One New Change, I left my final ‘appointment’ feeling as though I had exited a Pretty-O-Meter. My sensitive skin – which flares fire-red when I am under any sort of stress – was calm, hydrated, and picture-perfect enough to take me straight through to a makeup-free champagne lunch at Searcy’s.

I kid you not.

While an indulgent lunch of caviar, champagne, salad and sandwiches would call for a vampy red lip (at the very least), the results of my morning store visits left me feeling hyper-confident and happy.

After soaking it all in (bubbles included), The Manfriend and I decided to work off our lunch by strolling around the eager city lunch-breakers, super-coiffed shoppers, and ended the excursion with a rooftop wander through the fog as the city buzzed below.

One New Change is home to 60+ high-street stores & restaurants and is open 7 days week, making it the perfect place to socialise, and pick up your fashion and beauty must-haves.

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one new change searcys caviar
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old crown pub london
I have never made a particular effort to do pub reviews because 1) pubs – bar gastropubs – serve notoriously awful ‘food’ and 2) no-one in their right mind takes an SLR to drunkytown.

Natch, an exhausted end-of-day pit stop at The Old Crown Public House tossed the rules out of the proverbial window (the pub has some rather lovely floor-to-ceiling windowed doors that I wouldn’t dare to throw a rule at).

Situated between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, the little pub was full of surprises; piña coladas (a traditional pub must, AMIRITE?), helpful and chirpy waiters, and some positively perfect pub food.

To refuel, The Manfriend and I decided to attack the ‘Colonel Can Do One’ burger (butterfly chicken breast, American cheese, fried crispy onions with sweet chilli sauce), a pulled pork-loaded ‘posh dog’ encased in a fresh baguette, and spicy chicken wings with homemade chilli sauce. The verdict? Delightful, simple, moreish meals that are heavy on the taste and light on the wallet.

It is a thumbs up from this Michelin-obsessed woman.

old crown pub london
old crown pub london
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one o one london
Looking for great seafood in London? I would strap on your water rings – there are some rough seas ahead.

Having experienced each end of the spectrum – both gristly scallops and unblemished caviar concoctions – I can now confirm One O One as one of my favourite fishy spots in the city.

Warming my expectations with the almost-immediate delivery of fresh bread and curled seaweed butter (an unexpected phenomenon), it took me no time at all to fall in love with One O One. Not counting the restaurant’s quality and understandably steep price tags, One O One is not very ‘Knightsbridge’ at all; it battles all hoity misconceptions with a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and a curtained separation from the Sloaneys.

And with such a lack of pretention, you would almost argue the residence of Michelin-tracked chef Pascal Proyart (see: the Sea Grill in Brussels and Le Divellec in Paris).

That is, until you’re greeted with a dish like Proyart’s wild scottish scallops – these relatively enormous molluscs are pan-fried with duck foie gras, Jus Gras wild mushrooms & spinach, and Vermouth Chives Beurre Blanc. Melancholic molluscs, if you will.

But that (alongside warm and wild sweet chilli-ginger Norwegian red king crab legs) was only the starter.

Further into the meal, The Manfriend and I swapped many forkfuls of his line-caught yellowfin tuna ‘steak tartare’ and my own decoration of Norwegian white halibut. The tartare dream-teamed it with an accomplice of hand-cut goose fat chips, but were a shadow in the victory of the roasted halibut’s own plate friends; prawn dumplings, Paimpol coco beans & black truffle cassoulet, and Nantua sauce.

While I barely remember dessert (sweets and seafood are not my thing), I remember every single flavour and texture of the aforementioned cassoulet.

If any budding chef was looking to create a signature dish, I would use One O One’s halibut as your benchmark.

(And if that doesn’t get you there, I don’t know what will…)

one o one london
one o one london
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portrait restaurant london
Holy hidden gem, you guys.

I have yet to hear a single foodie friend talk about Portrait Restaurant at The National Portrait Gallery in London. Why? The logic escapes me. I haven’t had such a lovely, friendly meal (with portrait-ready views, to boot!) in quite some time.

Before heading off for a weekend in Paris, I wanted to tick a tourist spot off of Tiffani’s casual traveller list by taking her to Trafalgar Square. While I rate very few restaurants in the area, the lure of Portrait’s simple menu (and the Portrait Gallery’s Virginia Woolf exhibition) sealed the deal and took our reservations for our the last few hours in London.

After an afternoon trawling the visual centuries, we made our way to the top floor of The National Portrait Gallery and instantly lost ourselves in the views  (pictured below).

From the London Eye, to Big Ben, to Nelson’s column and more, the views are just ridiculous. If you don’t request a window seat, you are going to regret it.

Of course, we weren’t only there for the views..

Reading through the menu while we drank in the views (and our fair share of champagne), my dining companion settled on three dishes from their original menu, while I chose options from their collaborative Summer menu with Herbfest.

For my dining companion, Gnocchi Romana with prosciutto and sage butter, followed by corn fed chicken breast, summer vegetables, and herb creme fraiche, and a chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and Chantilly cream for dessert.

On the herbier side of the menu, I opted for Dorset crab with fine herbs, avocado, cherry vines, and brown crab dressing, followed by an impeccable slab of sea trout with shaved fennel, radish & baby spinach salad, and tomato & herb relish. I even managed to make room for the British cheese selection (‘managed’ as in ‘I can’t say no when it comes with fruit bread crostini and quince jelly’).

Flitting between bites of each other’s dishes, both sides of our small table were met with infallible, low-key, high-quality plates and the most attentive, charming service for miles around.

As hidden gems go, I feel like it’s my duty to get you to Portrait. In my opinion, you cannot see London in a better way.

portrait restaurant london
portrait restaurant london
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