So yesterday myself and Luisa-Christie of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat shared a lovely candlelit dinner. Naked. Now before you get too excited, we weren’t taking our friendship to the next level – we were visiting The Bunyadi, London’s first naked restaurant, on it’s trial run.

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Image from The Bunyadi

Don’t expect this post to have many pictures because we weren’t allowed to take photos into the dining area, for obvious reasons.

So, what is The Bunyadi? And, well, why?

Pronounced bon-ya-dee, bunyadi is apparantly a Hindi word meaning fundamental, base, natural. Although I could only find an Urdu translation, giving it the meaning substantive. Both however, seem to get to the point that The Bunyadi are trying to make.

The Bunyadi is the new creation from Seb Lyall of Lollipop – the man who brought London the Breaking Bad bar, ABQ (you can read my reviews of ABQ here and here).

After serving over 65,000 Breaking Bad fans self mixed molecular drinks in the cult yellow trailer of ABQ, Lollipop have gone for something completely different this time – taking diners to “a beginning where everything was fresh, free and unadulterated from the trappings of modern life”.

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Image from The Bunyadi

The intention was to really go back to basics – guests are enveloped in The Bunyadi’s immersive Pangea-like world, free from technology (yep, that means no phones!), electric lights and even clothing.

The ingredients for the set five course meal are natural and home grown, and the wood-flame grilled meals are served on handmade clay crockery with edible cutlery. The only light in the dining area comes from candles, and the furniture is just tree stumps.

“We believe people should get the chance to enjoy and experience a night out without any impurities: no chemicals, no artificial colours, no electricity, no gas, no phone and even no clothes if they wish to. The idea is to experience true liberation.” Seb Lyall

I didn’t have much of a chance to chat to Seb, but my friend Alex did (he’s recently started up a new blog called Eat Play Pixels which I promise you will be all kinds of awesome), and you can check out his convo with Seb in his post about The Bunyadi here.

The Venue

Now, I’m not allowed to tell you exactly where The Bunyadi is. The official reason being they want to keep it a secret and don’t want others to get involved. To the outside world it’s just a cocktail bar.

But I can’t help thinking it might have something to do with the hate mail Seb has received as a result of this new project (yep, HATE MAIL, and threats, from haters of nudity across the world). The Bunyadi has been covered by press in over 110 countries – and not all of them are as open minded as us Brits.

So I’m just going to tell you it’s an inconspicuous (to the point it is kind of obvious something’s going on, if you get what I mean), blacked out bar somewhere South of the river.

The venue is designed to be split into two sections (“pure” and “clothed”), and has a capacity of 42.

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Image from www.thebunyadi.com

“We have worked very hard to design a space where everything patrons interact with is bare and naked. The use of natural bamboo partitions and candlelight has enabled to us to make the restaurant discreet, whilst adhering to the ethos behind it. No doubt, this has been the most challenging project for us yet, which makes us very excited about it” Seb Lyall

The Experience

Once you’ve made it past the bouncers at the door, you step into a dark bar area – so dark that it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the soft lighting. When they do, you feel as though you’ve stepped into some kind of secret, exclusive spa – guests around you are dressed in white towelling robes, sipping on cocktails and sitting on tree stumps.

This is the ”non naked area” – where you wait to get changed before the experience, or come after for some drinks while still gowned.

The bar is the focal point of the room (I imagine it’s a permanent fixture in the venue as it doesn’t quite fit the aesthetic). We were a little early so we grabbed a couple of cocktails. They were great, really fresh. and our bartender was fantastic – so friendly and happy to substitute vodka for gin in my chosen cocktail.

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Photo from The Bunyadi

While we sipped on our drinks, we read through a list of rules we were handed on entry. There are lots of rules.

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When one of the changing rooms became free, we were led down the ‘path to purity’ (an unlit corridor) into a very small room with some lockers and a curtain for privacy. Inside each locker was a towelling robe and some slippers (which you can keep). You leave EVERYTHING in your locker – when you leave the changing room it’s just you, your robe, slippers and a key.

So we got into our robes and returned to the bar area until it was time to dine.

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Photo taken by Alex Shebar

Once again walking down the path to purity, we were greeted by a very attractive, very pert, almost naked waitress. By almost naked I mean she wore a flesh coloured thong with some leaves decorating it.

I was taken by surprise – when I’d read that clothing was optional and diners could remain in their robes, I had expected the servers to. But nope, we were treated to lots of lovely boobs. I mean there were male servers there too, but meh, boobs.

And while I’m talking about boobs, maybe this is the time to emphsasise the point that The Bunyadi is not a sexual experience. Remember rule number one – No indecency or nuisance or any sexual activity of any kind is allowed.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the female form. Anyway…

The dining area, which is the ”naked and pure” area was a lot more private and a lot less intimidating than I had expected. Each dining table is hidden behind bamboo partitions – you can have a little peek through and make out what’s going on around you if you like, but in our little kind of cubicles, with the soft candlelight, I actually felt quite comfortable. Not what I’d been expecting at all.

In my head, a load of naked diners were sitting at tables in one big room. Just like a regular restaurant but no clothes. The reality was actually rather pleasant.

It was starting to feel like a spa. Or a sauna. It really was overly warm in there.

The tree stump furniture wasn’t comfortable. And I’m glad I had that robe because, y’know, splinters. Which would have been very bad.

We were served five courses (naked vegan or naked non-vegan) over around 90 minutes. It was perfectly timed – leisurely but not slow. Service was fantastic (as well as easy on the eye) – our waitress was lovely, knowledgeable about the food and the experience, and seemed to really enjoy telling us about the inspiration behind each dish.

The Food

Although the food claims to be cooked on a wood fire, I’m pretty sure everything I ate was raw. But that was okay because it was all surprisingly delicious.

You have a choice of naked vegan or naked non-vegan menus. Although only courses two and three actually differ.

I went for the naked non-vegan. Luisa, of course went for the naked vegan and you’ll be able to read about that on her blog very soon.

I’m a recent convert to raw food (after the lovely afternoon tea I had at RAW La Suite West) and I really enjoyed the food at The Bunyadi. I had been concerned that the food may be sub-par, with the emphasis on the experience as a whole, but this is not food to turn your nose up at.

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Photo from The Bunyadi

It was all really fresh, well thought out and beautifully presented. These were quality ingredients and exciting combinations. Edible flowers made an appearance on several occasions.

The highlights for me were the coriander steak tartare main with goji berries and basil and nettle oil, and the dessert of chia mousse with blackberries and raw crumble. If it were a regular restaurant I would return and order these. Probably a few times.

And the raw veg first course, with it’s serpent like spice filled skewer of cucumber and a dressing which was a kind of appley, cucumbery soup, was surprisingly enjoyable. This one was inspired by the Garden of Eden, and I couldn’t help but smile at the enthusiasm our waitress showed when telling us all about it.

You can take a look at sample menus here.

The Drinks

The bar in the non naked area served a variety of classic cocktails, wines, lagers etc, as well as some signature cocktails which perfectly fit with the theme. I went for the Jal with watermelon, berries and agave, substituting vodka for gin. It was a good cocktail, worth the £9.50 price tag.

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Now one thing that was a slight annoyance – in the dining area you could only order wine (by a half or whole bottle), or drink the rather lovely cucumber water from the pitcher on the table. If you want a cocktail or other drink you have to get it in the bar area, and take it through, decanted into a ceramic cup as your glass isn’t allowed in. You can’t order more once you’re in there.

You can take a look at the cocktail menu here.

What did I think?

Well, as a blogger, I’m one of the worst culprits for photographing everything I do, tweeting during dinner… you get the picture. Without access to our phones, Luisa and I actually focused on each other, which was actually quite lovely.

I really enjoyed the food and the experience – I had been sceptical beforehand. It isn’t something I’d do again, but that isn’t criticism and the intention of The Bunyadi isn’t for it to be a regular evening out.

As a one off experience I would recommend it. If it’s within your budget. Once you’ve paid for the meal and a couple of drinks you’re looking at around £100 per head.

So how do I get to go?

The Bunyadi will be open from this Saturday for around three months. It’s priced at £68.99 which includes the 5 course meal, a robe and slippers (although if you visited ABQ you can purchase tickets at a reduced price of £49).

You can sign up to go on the 40,000 strong waiting list of people wanting to buy tickets and make a booking here.

If you go, I’d love to hear what you think!

L xx

*Although the meal was provided free of charge by The Bunyadi, this has not affected my opinions or the content of this post.

Last week I scored an invite to what is basically my perfect foodie event – BBQ and beer at Bodean’s!

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Photo provided by Bodean’s

To celebrate the recent opening of the Covent Garden branch, Bodean’s put on a special food and beer pairing for us in collaboration with some of their favourite breweries.

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Now I tend to avoid pairings usually as they’re usually wine – and while I like a nice glass of red now and then, too much of the stuff will have me under the table. But, beer on the other hand… beer I can drink!

The Pairings

Course 1 – Kona Brewery from Hawaii ‘Big Wave Golden Ale’ with Mexican Chicken Salad

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When I think Bodeans I don’t think salad. Well, I might in future because the Mexican Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken was pretty special.

With avocado, tomatoes, black beans, radish and wild rice, dressed in honey, lime and coriander, this was basically a naked burrito. And I love burritos. In all their forms.

I’ve recently started thinking I need to do something about my weight, but I love food so much! This salad however has made me realise that there are healthy options even in the most unexpected of places. And without the chicken this is a fantastic Vegan option – I didn’t expect anything Vegan friendly at Bodean’s!

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Big Wave Golden Ale was the perfect accompaniment. Smooth and easy to drink, with mango and lychee aromas, I could drink this one all day.

Course 2 – Boulevard Brewing Co. from Kansas City ‘Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale’ with Pulled Pork and house coleslaw

Ah, the pulled pork – one of Bodean’s stand out dishes. What can I say about it? What do I actually need to say about it? It was delicious. But you knew that already.

I will give the house coleslaw a mention though, as it’s unusual for me to actually like coleslaw. I really dislike mayo, and coleslaw is usually basically just that. Not this coleslaw though. This was cabbage heavy and light. A perfect contrast to the pork.

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Boulevard Brewing Co actually had a representative at the event who gave us a little insight to the drinks of theirs we were sampling (as well as Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, an IPA was served with course 4).

Tank 7 was my favourite of the beers we tried. Typical given it had a whopping 8.5% alcohol content – trust me to like the one that will get me wasted! Named after the rather difficult fermenter number 7 it was brewed in, Tank 7 is a complex, fruity Belgian style ale with a dry finish. I’ll be honest, this is one I’d prefer for standalone drinking to pairing with BBQ though.

Course 3 – Sierra Nevada from Chico, California ‘Tropical IPA’ with Cajun Swordfish with mango salsa and pan fried okra

Now this dish was the most interesting for me. I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to fish – I’m always a little hesitant to try it. And not only was this my first time trying swordfish but also okra! I’d heard bad things about okra but it was actually pretty nice. It tasted, erm, a bit furry? But not in a bad way. I know how weird that sounds.

Anyway, the swordfish. It was really nice! Texturally a bit meaty, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what generally eating swordfish is like. I’m not sure it was particularly ‘cajun’? But it was good so I didn’t really care.

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Funnily, the foods I hadn’t tried before were served with the one beer I had – Sierra Nevada’s Tropical IPA. So I already knew I liked it. Tropical IPA is their special seasonal beer for Spring 2016 – created as part of their Beer Camp in which beer fans visit the brewery to make their own creations. Each season one is picked to go into production. I’m not surprised this light, refreshing IPA with hints of mango, papaya and bitter orange made the cut, it’s lovely.

Course 4 – Boulevard Brewing Co ‘Single-Wide IPA’ with Baby Back Ribs with seasoned fries

Apparantly Bodean’s do the ‘best ribs this side of the Atlantic’ (no idea who actually said that but it’s quoted on their site!). I won’t argue to be honest because if I have had better baby back ribs in London then I don’t remember them. Not too messy but just messy enough, the meat just falls off the bone. Meaty, barbecuey perfection.

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They were served alongside another Boulevard Brewing Co beer – this time the Single-Wide IPA. I do enjoy a good IPA and this was a nice one. Medium body, medium bitterness with a floral aroma and slight caramel flavour. Another that I could just drink and drink.

Course 5 – Fullers Brewery from London ‘Black Cab Stout’ with Homemade Chocolate Brownie and vanilla ice cream

Does anyone ever make it to dessert at Bodean’s? I was stuffed by this point but who could resist a mini portion of homemade chocolate brownie? Decadent and delicious.

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And it went perfectly with the Black Cab Stout. I was a little unsure of this one – I’m not usually a stout drinker – but it was good! With hints of red berry and caramel, the chocolate malts in the stout made this perfect to go with dessert. Not sure I could drink it all the time though!

The Restaurant

Now, if you’re not familiar with Bodean’s, I’m pretty certain you’ve either not been to London or just don’t like BBQ food.

But just in case – Bodean’s is London’s original smokehouse, with six branches across the city – Soho, Fulham, Tower Hill, Balham, Covent Garden and the newly opened Old Street.

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Photo provided by Bodean’s

Located in the heart of London’s theatreland, the Covent Garden branch is a pretty recent addition, having only been open a couple of months. I’d never been to this Bodean’s before but now it’s one of my favourites!

I love the detail that has gone into the décor – there are little pigs all over the place!

From the bar…

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to this giant artwork made up of lots of teeny piggys…

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to the flashy BBQ sign. Cute.

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I had such a lovely evening with Bodeans and some other bloggers – including a couple of my favourites; Kariss from Shy Strange Manic and Milly from Mini Adventures.

Thanks for having me Bodean’s!

L xx

All photo’s my own unless specified otherwise.

Bodean's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You won’t often find me posting about wine – I’m more of a spirits person (and I get way too drunk way too easily on anything grape based!) – but when Le Petit Ballon invited me down to their Spring Aperitif event at my favourite burger restaurant in London, Big Fernand in Soho, well how could I say no?

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Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

Le Petit Ballon are a French wine specialist who, as well as having their own store in Paris, provide a wine subscription box service in France, Belgium and the UK.

The Box

A pioneer in the world of wine subscription boxes, Le Petit Ballon is a fun, easy to understand wine box. Perfect for a novice (like me!) but equally as good for a connoisseur – there are actually two boxes to choose from;

The Apprentice (£24.90 per month) – Recommended for those wanting a head start in the world of wine, the Apprentice offers something a little different, but excellent value for money.

The Master (£39.90 per month) – Featuring more prestigious and well known labels, this one is perfect for building your wine cellar (living in London I can’t imagine I will ever have space for a wine cellar, but that isn’t the point here…).

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With a Le Petit Ballon subscription, you received two bottle of wine per month, carefully selected by their sommelier, Jean-Michel Deluc, based on your preferences. You also receive their monthly magazine, ‘The Gazette’, and some handy tasting notes (the ‘cheat sheet!’). Oh and subscribers get a discount at their online store too!

It’s a nicely presented package – modern yet classy and I can’t help thinking the branding is aimed at a younger, newer clientele – people like me.

The Wine

You’re in safe hands with Jean-Michel – as the former Head Sommelier at The Ritz Paris, he’s a man who knows his stuff. I was given the opportunity to interview him at the event but I’ll be honest, I was clueless as to what to ask!

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Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

I know next to nothing about wine, and if I’m honest I find it all a little bit daunting. My wine selection is usually based on what’s on offer or what has a pretty label, haha! But I think Le Petit Ballon have really stripped back the wine selection process and made it a little more accessible and easy to approach for people like me.

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Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

One thing I found handy in selecting my wine at the event was the ‘cheat sheet’ which Jean-Michel and the Le Petit Ballon team developed to ‘classify’ their wines. The classifications are indicated in their online store to help you pick a wine you’ll like and if you aren’t sure, you can take their little quiz to give you a better idea.

The Food

Now I know this event was about the wine, but I can’t let an opportunity to mention the food at Big Fernand slide.

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Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

It’s no secret I like my beef mooing, and it’s hard to find a rare burger in London. But you can have a Big Fernand burger blue if you want one. And of course I wanted one!

I’ve visited the restaurant a few times now, and it’s been consistently amazing. Sort of fast food like, you order at the counter and wait for your food, which you take on a tray to your table, Maccy D’s style.

I can’t believe I just compared Big Fernand to McDonalds, haha! They are worlds, WORLDS, apart.

Big Fernand are gourmet burgers at their best. Beautiful Charolais beef (or chicken, or veal, or Portobello mushroom, whatever takes your fancy), French cheese, fresh vegetables and herbs all served on a perfect sesame seeded bun.  I’m pretty certain there is no other burger comparable to this one in London at the moment.

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Oh and the sides and desserts are pretty good too.

You can actually find some Big Fernand recipes in the current issue of The Gazette. Unfortunately, The Gazette I had was in French! Don’t worry though, the English subscription copies will be in English, I just quite liked my French copy.

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Thank you for a lovely evening, Le Petit Ballon!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Big Fernand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Last night I joined Talented Talkers at the Pullman Hotel St Pancras for the ‘unveiling of their new musical universe’. In other words, the launch of an exclusive new song to represent the brand – the result of a collaboration with French electro pop duo Sauvage.

To celebrate the occasion we, as well as other members of press and the media, were treated to an exclusive, intimate Sauvage gig at the hotel.

The Song

So why does a hotel need a song? That was the question of the night I think!

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Image from Accor Hotels

With the intention of strengthening the ties with its guests, Pullman Hotels wanted to provide a musical experience comprising of contemporary, sophisticated songs – to match their identity as the cosmopolitan brand in the Accor Hotels group.

Reinforcing the brands slogan, ‘Our world is your playground’ with a unique track, Pullman will be using the song throughout their 108 hotels worldwide – in the lobbies, restaurants, spas, even the hold music.

The song in question, entitled ‘You Feel Right’ was composed specifically for Pullman by Sauvage, in partnership with BETC Pop and their artistic director Christophe Caurret. The duo took inspiration from the art of travel and discovery, as well as their perception of the Pullman brand.

Two versions of the song were created – one instrumental and one vocal.

The Band

Up and coming duo Sauvage are made up of Parisians Pierre-Alain Grégoire (vocals) and Edouard Perrin (guitarist and percussionist), who joined forces in 2010 whilst in La Reunion, a French Island located in the Indian Ocean.

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Image from Accor Hotels

Accor being a French company, and the Pullman brand geared toward ‘a new generation’ of travellers, it seems an association with a modern, young, French artist like Sauvage was quite a natural choice.

We had a little chat with the band after the gig and, true to form, I had a little too much champagne so most of my questions were completely irrelevant, such as asking for their bar recommendations for next time I visit Paris and whether they’d ever be likely to collaborate with Miley Cyrus. Oops.

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But, I did find out that they named themselves Sauvage (meaning ‘savage’) as it summed up what they were creating – a sound which was natural and raw. Both Pierre-Alain and Edouard take influence not only from other EDM artists, but also from other genres such as rock. Edouard is actually in a second band, Pepite, which is apparently a bit rockier. Both of their dreams as a band is to play at Coachella, and both of their celebrity crushes are on Eva Mendes. How great are my interview skills…?!

Sauvage are part of Apaches, a young Parisian collective of musicians who regularly collaborate with each other not only in creating new music but in live performance. The bands, whose styles range from R’n’B to rock, include: Jon Son, Bumby, La Hero, Form, J.Aya, Ael, The Serpent and Pepite.

You can listen to Sauvage on Soundcloud and also find them on YouTube, Deezer, Spotify…

The Hotel

This was my first time visiting a Pullman Hotel, but I don’t think it’ll be my last.

We were given a little tour of the hotel, including two of the guest rooms. First we were shown a ‘nature room’ featuring deck chairs and cactuses.

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It even had a cute little guest book for visitors to share their favourite green places in London – a lot of people commented on the city’s beautiful parks unsurprisingly.

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The nature room was an example of a selection of rooms with little themed touches that Pullman like to surprise regular guests with – such a cute idea!

The second room, a suite, was pretty impressive. It had amazing views of London (which can also be seen from the lobby – unsurprisingly my photos don’t do the view justice!).

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The décor was really to my taste – simple and modern yet elegant and luxurious. I’ll definitely be keeping this one in mind if I need to stay in the neighbourhood.

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It was evident throughout the hotel – from the lift lobbies with their rock’n’roll photographs (an aerial view of the main stage at Monsters of Rock Festival caught my eye) to the entrance with its huge chandeliers and giant globes scattered around – that the Pullman brand like to immerse themselves in the world of contemporary art and design.

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As well as collaborating with Sauvage, they’ve worked with architects, designers, photographers, illustrators… Those Monsters of Rock photographs I mentioned earlier? They were the result of a partnership with rock photographer Richard Bellia.

I was pretty impressed with the bar – it had one of those cool wine vending machines, and over 200 types of whisky. Yep, OVER 200. This is my kind of place.

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Actually, Pullman St Pancras really is my kind of hotel. I’ve stayed in some ridiculous hotels of many extremes – from shoddy hostels in Amsterdam to 7 star hotels in Dubai – and my preference is for contemporary, interesting places without too many unnecessary frills. And Pullman fits the bill perfectly.

I had such a lovely evening, and it was fantastic to catch up with some bloggers I hadn’t seen in a while, and to meet some new faces! You should check them out – Erica of I’m Being Erica, Flick of Flick On Music, Claire of Country Mouse Claire, Charley of Captain Charley, Emily of The Cookie’s Room and Julie of Julie’s Notebook.

Thanks for fantastic company ladies, and thank you Pullman and Talented Talkers for having me!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

You’re going to start seeing a lot of afternoon tea on the blog – I’ll tell you about my current project in detail soon –  and I’m going to kick it off with one that’s a little bit out of character for me – the guilt free vegan afternoon tea at RAW in Bayswater.

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Don’t be put off by the name, or selling point, of the afternoon tea at RAW – it may be guilt free and vegan but it’s delicious and satisfying nonetheless.

Located inside boutique hotel La Suite West (just over the road from Bayswater tube station) visitors are greeted at the front desk with a complimentary smoothie of the day – on the day I went it was pear, apple and lemon, and was lovely. Service excels from the moment you walk in.

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You can choose whether to take your tea inside the restaurant or outside on the terrace. Despite its location, the outside seating area is peaceful and relaxing, as it faces onto an attractive residential area rather than the main road.

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The afternoon tea itself is priced at £27 per person. For that you get a glass of non -alcoholic fizz (RAW doesn’t serve alcohol) which I thought tasted a bit like apple juice, and as much loose leaf tea (in varying flavours) and coffee as you like, as well as, of course, the nibbles. Oh and the yummy smoothies!

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The selection of finger sandwiches have interesting fillings; my favourites were avocado chilli mousse with rocket and roast tomato with sunflower seed pesto.

Of the canapes, the hummus on gluten free bread were surprisingly moreish with a nice bite to them.

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And I would never have guessed that the cheese in the filo pastry bites with asparagus was actually made of almonds!

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It was unanimously agreed amongst my group that the highlight were the scones – homemade and served with strawberries and whipped coconut ‘cream’, they were light and not too filling.

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The desserts were also surprisingly good – the sticky toffee and chocolate fudge cake bites were decadent and as good as any dairy version I can think of.

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And the mini squares of lemon cake topped with cacao cream, coconut and pomegranate… I’m convinced the cacao cream was Nutella!

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For an unhealthy eating, heavy meat eater, I was really surprised how impressed I was by RAW. They certainly challenged the misconception that vegan food has to be boring! I will definitely be going back for dinner sometime.

Thank you so much for having me La Suite West!

Next up for afternoon tea I have the Anarch-Tea at the W London Leicester Square – I’m off to the launch event tonight. Should be an interesting one!

I’d love any suggestions for good, unusual teas that anyone might have – I’m putting together my afternoon tea bucket list as we speak!

L xx

All photos my own.

Disclaimer: I was invited along for a complimentary afternoon tea with no obligation to blog about it. This is a genuine, honest review.

RAW - La Suite West Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If anything is going to have me up for a 10am start on a Sunday, it’s the promise of bottomless bubbles! So this morning I dragged my lazy self out of bed for the Rock’N’Roll Brunch, which Hard Rock Cafe London kindly invited me to for a review.

Let’s face it, a bottomless rock’n’roll brunch has everything I love – breakfast food, alcohol and live music. It couldn’t really go wrong, right?

The Drinks

Our table had a little tray full of garnishes to build your own Bloody Marys, which was great fun! Although, I have to admit, the Mimosas were my preferred drink. And they certainly were bottomless! Our waitress was fantastic, there wasn’t a moment for the entire two hour brunch that we had an empty glass – she was even bringing a couple each at a time!

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Tea, coffee, orange juice and water were also on offer.

The Food

There isn’t really much more I can say about the drinks, so onto the food. It was a three course brunch – the food wasn’t unlimited by the way, the ‘bottomless’ refers to the drinks, as I’ve found it generally does for brunch.

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We started with bagels and stacks of American pancakes – with a selection of toppings (whipped butter, maple syrup, warm strawberry compote and smoked salmon cream cheese with pickles). I’ll be honest, by the time I’d finished these I was already pretty full!

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The second course was my favourite – baked eggs with red peppers, spinach and feta, topped with grilled courgette and parmesan. Which was weird as I was sceptical at first, it was a bit like a Spanish omelette, and I’m not really an omelette fan.

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The final course, the one everyone was looking forward to, was your classic American brunch platter – Southern fried chicken and waffles, streaky bacon, huge chipolata sausages, diced potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cowboy beans and grilled tomatoes.

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The Music

Entertainment was in the form of a live acoustic band performing covers of popular rock and blues songs (and everything else inbetween!)- with everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Outkast. The band, led by AJ Moore and Jonathan Tingall, played three 15 minute sets to go with each course, and they were great!

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If they’d simply played the whole time, it would have perhaps stifled conversation as it was so loud, but the sets were well timed for when everyone had their mouths full, so it worked really well!

The Venue

It was a nice set up. We were seated by the window, with a view of the park, which was lovely since it was a sunny day. It messed up my photos though! (But let’s face it, I’m hardly a skilled photographer, haha!).

As a music fan, I do love the interiors of Hard Rock Cafe – there’s always interesting stuff to look at, and I love the laid back yet cool atmosphere.

Did you know that Hard Rock Cafe London was actually the first Hard Rock Cafe to be opened? It’s funny how many tourists we saw having their photo taken with the sign – and that must be why!

I am a fan of the Hard Rock brand – whenever a Hard Rock Hotel is an option I always stay there (the HRH Tower suites in their Las Vegas hotel are my favourite rooms, but that’s for another post sometime…) and I’m one of those people who tend to visit a Hard Rock Cafe in the cities I travel to (did you know that each Hard Rock Cafe has it’s own special burger, created to reflect local tastes?).

Enough, Hard Rock propaganda – I promise I’m not paid to say all this, haha! But I do get involved in a few things with Hard Rock Cafe London (remember the Grease Pop Picturehouse event?). I have a couple of events there coming up soon actually – Pop Picturehouse have some cool movies planned, and Yelp are holding a Beer Pong Bash in Hard Rocks Back Room Bar which should be super fun!

I’d definitely recommend the Rock’N’Roll Brunch for a casual Sunday breakfast – it runs every Sunday in April and you can get tickets from Design My Night here for £29.95 (not bad for a bottomless brunch in Mayfair!).

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Psst… If you want to see someone elses take on the brunch (and some much better photography!) Lauren from Saharasplash wrote about it here.

After a quiet few weeks (I’ve recently started an awesome new job and been recovering from a chest infection), things are starting to pick up again, and I’ve actually done some pretty cool stuff this week!

Le Boutique Bazaar

Le Boutique Bazaar is something I want to tell you about in more detail at some point soon, so for now I’m just going to say what it is and what I bought. Held at McQueen in Shoreditch, it’s an alternative fashion event, I believe run in conjunction with Torture Garden – think latex, corsets, bondagewear and accessories all with a festishy twist.

Usually things I want at Le Boutique Bazaar are out of my price range, but this time I picked up a couple of things.

Elissa Poppy does some gorgeous lace effect latex pieces, and I bought a really great value (£10!) wrist and ankle cuff set, which will be perfect for an event I’m going to in the next couple of weeks – The Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

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I also put down a deposit for a bespoke ring collar from Darkest Star. You can see it in the picture below with gold rings – mine will have silver.

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Photo from www.darkeststar.com

At a discounted price of £112.50 it isn’t cheap. But it is really great quality and it’s so very me.

I also won a competition with Beautifully Undressed and got myself a lovely gift set from Tallulah Love with some lacy panties and an eye mask. I never win anything so I was over the moon!

Yelps Golden Ticket Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Event

You’ll have noticed by now that I do quite a lot with Yelp, and this event was one of my favourites so far – there were limited spaces and I was so lucky to get one!

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I’ll be telling you all about it in the next few days – we started with some chocolate making at Hotel Chocolat in Covent Garden and finished with the musical Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (remember the ghost stories? You can read about them here).

Secret Cinema – 28 Days Later

Another thing I want to tell you about in more detail – Secret Cinema, the 28 Days Later experience. It was SO GOOD. For now, have me and my friends Kat and Georgia in our scrubs and masks…

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Ginder

You know I love gin, right? I mean I even did the blogging for Gin Festival recently (see my post about it here). Oh, and a review of the Gin Explorer subscription box is coming soon. Anyway, I digress.

On Friday I received an invitation (through Yelp) to the Ginder experience at World of Gin in Bethnal Green. Running for this weekend only, World of Gin were hosting half hour gin tasting sessions to match you with your ideal gin and tonic combination. It was fun. And boozy. Check out their upcoming events on their website – I believe they have Cardiff and Birmingham coming up.

Psst… it’s only on writing this that I’ve realised that Ginder is a play on Tinder, it’s all about finding your perfect match. Clever.

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So, that’s about it for this week. But I have another fun filled week coming up, so watch this space!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

This weekend I attended my first Gin Festival – I was so happy to be their guest blogger as the event sold out pretty quickly! Held across three days at Tobacco Dock, this was the London edition of the touring festival, which started in 2012 as the brainchild of husband and wife team Jym and Marie Harris.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from Gin Festival, as it isn’t entirely clear from the website, but I like gin (obviously!) so I was excited to give it a whirl! And I was very happy I did, because it was a very enjoyable, sociable and good value evening. It won’t be any surprise to readers of this blog that accompanying me was Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat.

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Pro tip: Get there early! The queue was long. But it wasn’t all bad, gin drinkers are my kind of people so I made friends in the queue! In fact, it was easy to make friends all over the event. And you will want to get there at the beginning of your session, as you’ll want plenty of time once you’re inside!

On entry, you receive a lovely little badge indicating which session you’re attending (so you can come and go as you please), a great big Gin Festival glass, ‘The Gin Book’ guide to the event (which is now my gin ‘to do list’!), an event map, an order form should you wish to purchase any gins you’ve sampled and a Gin Festival pen. I was pretty pleased with my loot before I’d even tried any gin!

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Also at the ‘Welcome & Information’ room you can leave your coat in the cloakroom, have a photo taken with silly props, find out Masterclass timings and, most importantly, buy your drinks tokens!

So, how much does it cost?

Standard entry tickets for the London festival were priced at £10 and included entry only. Pricing apparantly varies based on location so check the website to find the cost of your nearest one.

Drinks tokens were priced at £5 each and sold in sets of four. One token could be redeemed for a 25ml measure of gin in The Gin Bar, or two tokens could be redeemed for a (rather large) cocktail in The Cocktail Bar.

The Brands

If taking the natural route around the festival, the first room you come to (and, in my opinion, the best!) showcases ‘The Brands’. Eleven brands were on hand to tell you about their gins, how best to serve them and give you a little taster. I didn’t anticipate having the opportunity to have proper conversations with the distillers, or to receive quite so many samples, or how generous those samples would be!

I found the mixture of brands really interesting, ranging from those even non-gin aficionados would know of, such as Sipsmith and Pinkster, to some more unusual ones including one of my favourite new discoveries, Whitley Neill. Here are my pick of my five favourites from the brand room;

Sipsmith

As a gin drinker, obviously I’m a fan of Sipsmith! One of my favourite little things about Sipsmith is Prudence. Prudence is a copper still built by Sipsmith when they launched in 2009. But what really makes her special is that she is the first copper still to be launched in London in nearly 200 years. Yep, TWO HUNDRED YEARS. Pretty impressive, right? You can read more about Prudence here.

I love a brand with personality, and Sipsmith have it in buckets. Everything on their stand was interesting, from the small batch sloe gin they were sampling, to the love it or hate it Marmite gin (seriously!). If you’re wondering, I loved the Marmite gin, haha!

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Another interesting thing I discovered from Sipsmith at Gin Festival was that they have A Sipsmith Sipping Service on IndieGoGo! I’m quite interested in gin subscription boxes at the moment, and will be posting a bit more about them soon.

Whitley Neill

Whitley Neill was a brand new discovery for me at Gin Festival, and I think it was my favourite. I loved everything about their stand. It was interesting without being cluttered, the lovely ladies were friendly and informative, and the gin itself was delicious, and a little bit different.

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Handcrafted in the UK by Johnny Neill (the eighth generation in a family of distillers!), but inspired by Africa, Whitley Neill gin uses rare African botanicals. It’s very smooth, with flavours of herbs, cocoa and candied lemon peel. It’s the most unique gin I’ve tried.

Masons

As well as the love it or hate it Sipsmith Marmite gin, other brands had specials they’d brought to Gin Festival. One of my favourites was Masons Gin Yorkshire Tea Edition, which you can purchase from the Gin Festival site for £40. I mean, what’s more British than a tea flavoured gin?

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Masons are a gin I was aware of, but hadn’t previously tried. Their Dry Yorkshire Gin is a small batch (distilled in 200 litre batches) craft gin, traditionally distilled with Harrogate Spring Water, juniper (from their own juniper bushes!), citrus elements and secret botanicals. Each bottle bears its own bottle and batch number. Cute!

Adnams 

At Gin Festival, Adnams had a few gins to try. I’ve previously enjoyed drinking their First Rate Gin, but this was the first time I’ve sampled their Copper House Gin. After looking at the ingredients, it’s no surprise I liked it – it features hibiscus flower, which is a bit of an unusual one. Other ingredients include juniper berries, orris root, coriander seed, cardamom pod and sweet orange peel. It’s quite an unusual, rich, complex tasting gin. I think I’ll be buying a bottle.

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I also got to try Copper House Gin in one of the cocktails Luisa had, the ‘Drunken Tulip’. It was good!

Portobello Road

Portobello Road Gin has been on my to try list for a while, so I was really happy to see them at Gin Festival. I’ve avoided purchasing it in the past as I was aware it contained liquorice root, which is not a flavour I usually enjoy. But the liquorice wasn’t at all strong tasting in the gin, and I actually really liked it! Other flavours include juniper, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, cassia bark and nutmeg.

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I had a nice chat with the guy behind the stand, who told me about ‘The Ginstitute’. The Ginstitute is a little museum of gin – where visitors can sample the spirits as well as learn about the history of gin. It’s located, unsurprisingly, on Portobello Road in West London.

Fun fact: The Ginstitute is London’s second smallest museum!

The Cocktail Bar

Another favourite room of mine was ‘The Cocktail Bar’. A choice of six gin based (obviously!) cocktails, each redeemable for two tokens. There were also mocktails, which I didn’t try, because, well, gin…

Another pro tip: If you get the chance try the Rhubarb Rumble (Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, Advocaat, apple juice, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters) – it tastes just like rhubarb and custard sweets. I liked it so much I went back for a second!

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The Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger is definitely on my must buy list, at only £17, and it is DELICIOUS!

The Gin Bar

On the other side of the event space was the main area, where you’d find ‘The Gin’. It’s basically a big bar, divided into four – two bars for UK gins, one for international gins and one for fruit gin liqueurs and other novelties. You can redeem your drinks tokens here for a 25ml serving of gin, and there are bottles of various Fever-Tree mixers that you can free pour yourself.

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It was a really nice set up – attendees could mingle over shared tables, making for a lovely, sociable atmosphere, and the live music was great in the background. With over 100 gins on offer, I was surprised how organised it was!

Masterclasses

If you had time between all that gin drinking, there were several masterclasses on offer – I went to the Pinkster one, where their representative spoke about the brand, their products and how best to drink them, and we were given plenty of tasters! Although my personal preference is to be out and about chatting to other attendees, it was nice to have a little break and sit down from the crowd, while learning something about a brand I like.

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I may as well take this opportunity to tell you a bit about Pinkster (otherwise I’d have mentioned them as a favourite above!). Pinkster Gin is a pink, small batch dry gin made up of five botanicals, with a hint of raspberry (they hand steep locally grown raspberries in their triple distilled gin).

I’ve actually been a drinker of Pinkster for a while, having discovered the brand at a food fair quite some time ago. And I was really excited to see they now sell Boozy Berries (the raspberries left over from producing their gin).

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The Off-Licence

Gin Festival also had its own on-site off-licence (with free home delivery!), where you could buy the gins you’d tried and liked.gin5

I’d recommend taking a look at the shop section of the Gin Festival site actually, as they have loads of gems on there!

They also had a selection of gifts (I liked the ‘Gin Festival In A Box’ idea – which includes my top pick Whitley Neill).

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Gin Explorer

As well as being able to take your pick from the gins on offer at the off-licence, you could also sign up to Gin Explorer with a special Gin Festival discount.

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Gin Explorer is a new monthly subscription box, which includes a selection of 50ml gins. I can’t wait for my first box to arrive!

Anything else?

There were also artists painting on canvas, live music and a selfie booth (with an Instagram competition!).

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On the lower level you could find street food stands (pretty necessary considering the amount of alcohol on offer!) from a new Tobacco Dock street food project – varying from hearty pies to healthy salads.

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I went for the very moreish halloumi chips with salt, pomegranate, baby spinach and smoked paprika yogurt, which were £5 from Buttermilk.

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And later I had lovely, fresh mixed salad from Vitality Shack, which was £8 for a pint tub.

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Overall, I had a fantastic evening at Gin Festival, and it really exceeded my expectations. I had expected it to be just one big gin bar really, but they put on a nicely varied event – it managed to be nice and intimate with a focus on the gin, without it being one dimensional or boring.

I would recommend snapping up a ticket if they’re coming your way, as they seem to sell out pretty sharpish!

L xx

All photos my own.

The original (shorter!) version of this post can be found here on the Gin Festival website, as I was their guest blogger for the event.