After a week of box-hauling and inevitable yet unforeseen expenses, I hopped out of the shower and straight to the wardrobe to shake things up from the norm; untamed hair, that ‘difficult’ wardrobe item that never seems right for the day’s occasions in the morning, and a wine-phobic pair of white jeans that managed to survive the day.
California has, without a doubt, been one of the most consistent food destinations I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. My last trip to LA alone felt like a constant stream of fresh, innovative and health-conscious delights. When ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant Pomonas suggested their new menu could offer the same in its impossibility rich London postcode, I was dubious.
Nonetheless, executive chef Wolfe Conyngham‘s eclectic menu hinted at well-considered food play and I am not one to ignore the latency of culinary surprise.
My date and I settled into the restaurant’s uber West Coast (yet unfortunately empty) belly with open minds and a dish of smoky Salamanca olives.
Tf ‘Californian food’ doesn’t get you from the outset, Pomonas’ dedication to sustainable, nutritional and seasonal produce surely will. At the end of the day, Pomonas serves food that is as good for you as it is for the planet. With zero forfeit on flavour.
I perused the menu over a lovely little Ford Martini (gin, lillet blanc, benedictine) but felt so spoilt for choice I left the decisions up to Conyngham and co in their open kitchen.
Grilled halloumi with burnt salsa, goats cheese croquettes, and soft shell crab with guac arrived alongside a slim plate of cucumber bed crispy duck ‘rolls’ with plum sauce, spring onion, and sesame seeds that I haven’t stopped craving since.
We then split a perfectly-cooked welsh lamb rump, quinoa/avo/broccoli/pea/cucumber/mint/parsley salad, street-style South American pork, and Indonesian chicken curry which challenged every misconception I had about curries having to be sweat-spurring spicy to be worthwhile.
With a bottle of 2017 Schroeder Malbec ‘Alpataco’ for a healthy balance, natch.
By the time we broke the sponge of the chocolate fondant, my date and I were pawing through our calendars to find dates we could return for our second meal.
Pomonas is truly as California as London gets.
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.
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.)
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.