Review: Breakfast at The Walkie Talk (Darwin's Brasserie)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

I always joke say that I'm a morning person and a night person, its just the part in between that I struggle with. Even if you're not a morning person, it's worth getting up at a stupidly early hour to see the sunrise from the top of 20 Fenchurch Street (a.k.a. The Walkie Talkie). For my friend S's birthday we had breakfast at Darwin's Brasserie - an all day restaurant right in the roof of the building above the infamous "Sky Garden".

The combination of the early start and airport-like security to get in to the building did make me feel a bit like I was going on holiday (no liquids over 100ml or food allowed, fyi) - upon stepping out of the lift on the 36th floor the space feels vast and slightly airport-like. The brasserie itself is cosier (and warmer!) and was busy but not packed at 8am. The breakfast menu is really good value, especially considering the location. The crowd was mainly City folk but that is to be expected on a Tuesday morning - I imagine that in the week the restaurant is a prime spot for impressing clients and that the majority of people eating here will be putting it on expenses. The waiting lists are pretty long for the Sky Garden and Darwin's but if you can face the early alarm clock then breakfast is a great way to experience the views while the sun comes up.

Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
7am. The thing with tall buildings is that you can see them all over the city until you actually need to find the entrance.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
The Brasserie is simple and minimalist - the views are obviously the star attraction here.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
The menu has a good range of breakfasts - I am a sweet breakfast person and while it was too early for a basket of pastries the breakfast brulee sounded amazing.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
Served with an Instagram-worthy mini smoothie.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
My friend H had eggs bendict (Cumberbatch) with smoked salmon (although I always thought this was "eggs royale"?)
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
The breakfast brulee was so good - a little bowl of berries and seeds and a warm caramelised brulee of fruit and yogurt definitely made a nice change from porridge at my desk.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
S had eggs Benedict with spinach.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
For photographs the Sky Garden is better - Dawin's is almost too high in the roof to have the best views. The Sky Garden is pretty cold in the winter but the fur theme warms it up. If you're on a budget then book the Sky Garden and treat yourself to coffee and cake from the bar.
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
Good morning!
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
The Cheesegrater and Gherkin - our skyline is changing so much. Tower 42 (on the left) used to be considered "tall".
Darwin Brasserie Sky Garden
I could have sat up here all day enjoying the view if I didn't have to go to work. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes on the website as I've promised my parents a visit here soon. Booking info (including how to book a free visit to the Sky Garden) here.

Looking for something similar? Duck and Waffle in the Heron Tower also serves up great views and slightly quirkier food.

Review: Lunch at The Folly

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

To celebrate Mummy Lipstick's birthday (it can't be helped but surely January is the worst month in which to have a birthday?) we headed to The Folly for lunch. Located on Gracechurch Street in the heart of the City, at weekends The Folly is a really chilled out destination for brunch, lunch and 4pm G&Ts. In the week it's rammed with City folk but at the weekend the City is really quiet and actually quite pleasant to wander around - Leadenhall Market and the garden of St Dunstan's In The East are my favourite hidden gems among the banks and growing collection of novelty buildings like the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater. I also love some of the street names in the City - Threadneedle Street just sounds so lovely and Milk Street and Honey Street always make me smile. While a lot of City bars and restaurants have quite a bland, corporate vibe The Folly is really quirky and doesn't require a banker's bonus to work your way through the cocktails list.

The Folly Review
Mummy and Daddy Lipstick had the Sunday roast which they said was really good.
The Folly Review
I had possibly the most blogger cliche plate of food possible - a halloumi and hummus burger with the bun substituted for avocado and a side of sweet potato fries, definitely all of my favourite foods on one plate...
The Folly Review
...which I then Instagrammed. Unashamedly basic bitch, I know. The fries were so good and halloumi is practically a food group for me so I was happy.
The Folly Review
This is the "Goldfish In A Bag" cocktail which is a must-try - gin, vodka and less than 100 calories.
The Folly Review
Our shared dessert was flaming baked Alaska - I'd never had this before but it was so good.

It's always fun to take my parents to my favourite hang-outs (well, the ones which are parent-suitable at least!).
What would be on your plate of favourite foods?

Lights Of Soho: God's Own Junkyard

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Going to more exhibitions in high on my to-do list this year. Living in London there is always so much going on and many are free - I've started cutting bits out of Time Out magazine and making a list so that I don't miss out on anything.

Last weekend I visited Lights Of Soho for Chris Bracey's "God's Own Junkyard" neon exhibition. The Soho pop-up is now closed but you can still visit the main "Junkyard" in Walthamstow (another one to add to my list) and there's a display in Selfridges, too. I loved the neon creations - they definitely brought some much-needed brightness to a January afternoon and there was an amazing range of retro-style shop signs and neon artworks to admire and photograph.

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

What exhibitions have you visited this year?

Etsy Store: Pieces of Patterns

Monday, 19 January 2015

As part of a big clear-out, a huge box of vintage patterns were unearthed. Many unused and still in pristine condition, the patterns instantly transport you back to a simpler (but definitely harder) time when making your own clothes was a key way to add to your wardrobe and give a unique spin to your style. For better or for worse, there was no Primark in 1950 and so women made use of their skill and creativity and made their own clothes. Even the drawings on the pattern packets are a work of art in themselves and make me wish I had some sewing skill and could do something with these.

Etsy Vintage Patterns
I've set up a little Etsy store to re-home these patterns here. It's called Pieces Of Patterns and I'll be adding more to it in the days and weeks to come as I continue to sort through the box.
Vintage Patterns Etsy

Have you ever tried making clothes from a pattern?

Slim-Fast Challenge: Week One

Sunday, 18 January 2015

When I was contacted by Slim-Fast I first thought of the cans of diet shakes that Mummy Lipstick used to drink in the early 1990s - something which, at the time, looked intriguing but belonged firmly in the "adults only" category along with wine, blue cheese and medicine in tablet form (wot, no Calpol for grown-ups?).

The brand has since changed significantly and now has a whole range to help assist in losing the pounds so, back in the midst of December, I said yes to taking on the Slim Fast Challenge and then fell headlong into a holiday (pancakes for breakfast and G&Ts every evening) and then back to January where endless chai lattes and the odd (/daily) Kit-Kat seem like part of the winter survival kit.

That was, until I stepped on the scales for the first time in a year and realised that this challenge could not have come at a better time - it turns out that despite my regular spin classes my diet of afternoon tea and burgers that often grace this blog has not left my waistline unscathed. (Short backstory - I lost a lot of weight on my gap year by cutting out the bad stuff and not eating a large pizza for lunch on a regular basis, lost a fair bit more while at uni by taking up calorie counting like it was a sport and since starting work have slipped into a social life involving around restaurants and the "one biscuit won't hurt, oh wait four biscuits won't hurt" and the "I'm still in the office at 8pm and NEED a slice of cake" mentality).

The Slim-Fast plan is a low calorie diet but there's plenty of variety and snacking is encouraged. Each day consists of three snacks (a Slim-Fast snack or fruit), two Slim-Fast meals and one healthy 600 calorie meal. I was worried that I'd be staving, moody and miserable but the snacks tasted like a genuine treat and the bars and shakes were a lot more filling than I expected them to be. The shakes, meal bars and snack bars are all on the sweet side so for my one daily meal I actually craved veggies and savory foods.
Slim Fast review
My box of products to last the challenge...eek!
Slim Fast review
Snack time - Chocolate Caramel Treat and a green tea.
Slim Fast review
I've been having my "proper meal" at lunchtime as it suits my working day better - this quinoa pot and green juice from Pret comes in at 600 calories.
Slim Fast review
Chocolate shake for breakfast - these taste a lot better than I was expecting them to!
So one week in and I'm pleased to say I've lost 4lbs, have stuck to the plan religiously (swerving office cakes and boredom snacking) and still socialized and eaten real food. Granted, dark evenings and the general social slowdown of January have made things easier but I'm motivated for the next two weeks, and, more importantly keen to get back on track this year and back into some of the clothing items that have mysteriously "shrunk" in my wardrobe.

Spring Wishlist

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Let's not kid ourselves, January is the worst month of the year. Getting on the tube at Bank the other day (an experience I seek to avoid at the best of times), I felt like the world was in black and white - between the grey sky and the black coats of the City folk there was no colour to be seen at all and the days of waking up and leaving work while its light outside feel like a long distant memory. Spring is still a far away event but as spring collections come in long before the weather turns remotely springlike, I'm already dreaming of spring fashion - I'm a summer person through and through and really can't get excited by coats and jumpers so let's pretend that it's March and that payday has arrived and let's dream of florals and pastels:

fashion blogger wishlist
Blue Silk Dress - Topshop Boutique, Pink Column Dress - M&S, Abstract Print Dress - M&S, Camisole - Topshop, Jacquard Skirt - Topshop, Cut-Out Slipper - Topshop

Dresses are my wardrobe staple whatever the season and this blue Topshop Boutique number is far too pretty to be hidden under a winter coat. I've not worn a lot of pink in the past but lately I have been obsessed with the colour - I think my shorter hair makes it a less girlie-girlie look. The bodycon would make a perfect work dress and the scallop-collared dress (both M&S) is just too cute (I can definitely imagine wearing this to the theatre or afternoon tea). Branching out from the dresses, the Topshop skirt and cami would make a perfect spring outfit (and the skirt would work now with a knit until bare arms can even be contemplated). Slipper flats are going to be on my feet once it stops raining and, again, I couldn't resist the pink!

What are you looking forward to wearing this spring?

Afternoon Tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The blog has had a minor shake up - there's now a few categories on the right to make navigation easier on my more popular topics. There's a whole category devoted to afternoon tea so it only felt right that Sunday afternoon was spend eating scones and drinking tea in aid of my friend H's birthday.

Bea's of Bloomsbury has three locations in London now - we visited the St Paul's branch where a cosy vintage tea room has been recreated inside the One New Change shopping centre. The tea room is pretty tiny so definitely book in advance - there were 12 of us and our table took up half of the upstairs space.

The Bea's take on afternoon tea features mini baguettes rather than traditional finger sandwiches with veggie options available, scones with jam and cream, cupcakes, mini brownies, mini blondies, meringues and marshmallows. The marshmallows are not vegetarian so this was swapped for banana cake for the veggies in our group. I wasn't that keen on the sandwiches - the baguettes were not the most dainty things to eat and the fillings were not very generous in comparison with the bread - but the scone was lovely and the famous Bea's cupcake didn't disappoint; one of the best cupcakes I've had in a while with top marks for the frosting to cake ratio. The brownie and blondie bites were super sweet but a good way to try the range on offer at the counter downstairs without falling into a complete sugar coma. There's a good range of teas - I had the green tea which was a good counterbalance to all the sweetness!

The service started off a bit scatty, perhaps due to the size of our party and confusion over how many orders there were. The cakes arrived before the sandwiches, the tea didn't arrive until we'd already tucked in to the food and we had to ask for jam and cream for the scones but we were offered top ups of tea regularly and the option to take away the leftover cakes which was great. We were left to chat for hours and didn't feel under pressure to give the table back which is my pet hate when you feel like you have a time limit. At £19 this is a really good value afternoon tea and there is a lot of food for the price so I'll forgive the not quite on point service as the food was top quality and it was a lovely spot to spend a gloomy January afternoon.

bea's of bloomsbury afternoon tea
bea's of bloomsbury afternoon teabea's of bloomsbury afternoon teabea's of bloomsbury afternoon teabea's of bloomsbury afternoon tea

Have you tried Bea's?