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!

brunch1

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.

pancakes

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!

omelette

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.

brunch2

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.

brunch3

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!

brunch4

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.

Yep, I skipped a week again! I think we can safely say I now do these little life updates as and when rather than every Sunday, because life just gets in the way! But at least I have plenty to report back on…

Valentines Gift from Kraken

Who needs a man to buy you flowers when one of your favourite alcohol brands sends you a beautiful black rose which would outdo anything else you received anyway? Following on from their black Christmas trees (which you can read about here), for Valentines Kraken were sending black roses with Kraken miniatures to select people. And I was one of the lucky recipients.

kraken black roses

This year I was single on Valentines Day for the first time in nine years. And I was cool with it. I’m actually loving single life right now. But that’s not really something to talk about on this post.

blackrose

So thank you Kraken, it was much appreciated!

Valentines Extreme Garnishing with The Robin Collective at The Hoxton

You may remember Extreme Garnishing from my pick of alternative Valentines events? I love playing with my food so I was super excited to be invited by The Robin Collective along to the Valentines edition of their workshop, held at The Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I seem to be visiting quite a bit at the moment!

extreme garnishing

We learnt some cute garnishing tricks, played with liquid nitrogen, made a love potion and ate cider sorbet. It was awesome. There will be a post dedicated to the event coming soon.

XMen Screening at BFI with BGo and Joe Blogs

I love a good superhero movie, so a private screening of XMen at BFI in Soho with some of my favourite bloggers, including Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat, Kariss of Shy, Strange, Manic and Haydy of Squibbvicious was a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

bgo

Thanks for a lovely evening Joe Blogs and BGo!

Bring Me The Horizon at Electric Brixton

One thing I love about my favourite band is the frequency with which they play small venues (although it’s a pain getting tickets!). This time they played a Brits Week show at Electric Brixton, a venue I’ve not been to before. Through choice I went up to the balcony, and had a perfect view – so rare for me at a gig!

bmthheart

As always, their performance was spot on.

AntiChrist at Electrowerkz

I had a couple of great nights out this fortnight with my favourite girls, Luisa and Georgia. Here are some drunk selfies of the three of us at AntiChrist at Electrowerkz in Angel. I loved my blue wig!

ac

Gin Festival at Tobacco Dock

If you’re a reader of this blog, or are on any of my social media, there’s no way you’ll have escaped the fact that I was the guest blogger for Gin Festival!

gin festival

You can read my full post here, or the official post on the Gin Festival website here.

London Beer Week

Another day, another alcohol event… Drink Up London kindly gave me a couple of wristbands and a few drinks tokens for London Beer Week so on the opening night I visited the London Beer Week Hub.

london beer week

Held at Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the hub was a really nice little set up! More about London Beer Week soon.

Pasta Night with House of Godo and Yelp

You should know by now that I’m pretty involved in the Yelp community, and attend a fair few of their events. This one was a Newbie night, to welcome new Yelpers, and sample some delicious pasta dishes at a new Italian takeaway on Park Lane, House of Godo.

house of godo

The company was excellent as always (and the lovely Kariss was there, which is always a plus!) and the food really exceeded my expectations. I’m not a person who ever really orders pasta when out, so it was nice to give it a go! The lamb ragu and tiramisu were especially good.

Thanks again Yelp!

Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues Launch at Smiths of Smithfield

I was really spoilt when it came to food and drink this fortnight! One of my most anticipated events for a while was this lunchtime launch at Smiths of Smithfield for the Love Food Hate Waste Meaty Issues campaign.

lfhw

As well as finding out about the campaign, we were treated to a delicious lunch and a butchery demonstration. You can read all about the event here.

Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha

And finally, myself, Luisa and Georgia attended the Kurious Kittens Hot Sake Party at Geisha, the late night element of members only dining destination Ramusake in South Kensington. We wore masks, Japanese inspired outfits and watched latex clad dancers. I’ve had worse nights.

geisha

And yep, I’m wearing a wig again!

So that was my rather busy fortnight, I’m hoping this one coming will be a little quieter…

L xx

All photos my own.

A few people have asked where the wigs are from – I always get mine from Mad World at Charing Cross station.

Is it kind of funny that I’m writing this the day after a post which had raw meat as its featured image? In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m quite a meat eater. My idea of a perfect meal is a bloody blue steak or a perfectly pink in the middle burger.

So, as the reactions of friends who I’ve so far told about my new venture have reinforced, I’m pretty much the last person you’d expect to cut meat out of their diet. And not only am I cutting out meat, but also dairy, eggs and other animal products. Yep, you read that right, I’m going Vegan.

At least for January. I’m taking on the personal challenge of participating in Veganuary.

veganuary

I first came across Veganuary back in October when I attended Vegfest London with Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat (she actually wrote an awesome blog post on the event here which is well worth a read) where I spoke to the founders, signed up and was given a cute wristband.

So what exactly is Veganuary?

Launched last January (2014), Veganuary is a non-profit global campaign with the goal to change public attitudes toward veganism by encouraging people to try Vegan for the month of January, while providing support to those transitioning to a plant based diet.

January was chosen as it’s generally seen as a time for resolutions and new beginnings. And I suspect it must have been a little factor that the portmanteau doesn’t work as well for any other month!

Why am I doing it?

I’ll be honest – it isn’t about the animals for me (not that I don’t love animals, I mean, who doesn’t?). A lot of people are doing the Dryathlon this month, I did contemplate that, but realistically Veganuary is more of a challenge for me. And I like a challenge.

My current diet consists heavily of meat, alcohol and junk food. I eat out or get takeaways constantly and rarely think about the impact what I put in my mouth will have on my health. I’m not saying that meat and animal products are unhealthy, and it isn’t my intention to cut them out long term (but who knows, by the end of January that might change!) but I think that participating in Veganuary will help change my attitude toward food, and have a knock on effect on my health.

I’ve always considered a dish without meat to be a side dish – I want to change that attitude, and also to eat more fruit, vegetables, grains etc as my diet is seriously lacking in them. I may also actually give cooking a go! Although I doubt you’ll see any recipe posts or cooking tips from me anytime soon!

And maybe, just maybe, I might lose a few of the lb I’ve piled on lately, haha!

What will be my main struggles?

Without a doubt, my upcoming long weekend in San Diego will be the most difficult few days. Not only am I going to the USA where I usually love to indulge in all the super sized unhealthy foods they do so well, but I won’t have cooking facilities and have less of an idea as to what my options eating out will be. I also have several hours between flights early morning at JFK Airport. For medical reasons I won’t be able to not eat a meal during that period and don’t know what will be open.

I have prepared myself for slip ups, whether intentional or not, while I’m over there. If that happens I will at least be eating a vegetarian diet for those four days, and will extend Veganuary by a further week at the beginning of February to compensate. That may sound like a cop out, but I’m being realistic, and it’s better to have a plan if it happens than to just give up on the whole thing if I hit an obstacle.

Foodwise, I think that cutting out eggs will be the hardest. Not only am I a massive fan of eggs, but they’re a hidden food in so many things.

I also hate seitan and vegan cheese which I discovered at Vegfest. Oh, that reminds me, at Vegfest I did have this delicious vegan pad thai and fresh lemonade…

vegfest

How will this affect Girl At The Rock Show?

It won’t really. I know my readers have come to expect a certain type of content (meat heavy!) and I have plenty purposely stored up to keep you reading!

I’m not going to go on about the benefits of veganism here because quite frankly it’d be hypocritical and I don’t know enough on the subject yet! In fact, don’t expect that kind of content on my blog – my focus in my posts about Veganuary will be my own experiences. Maybe a food diary, or some restaurant reviews, and of course a round up at the end as to how it went.

If you want to know more about Veganuary or Veganism, take a look at the Veganuary site – it’s got a ton of helpful information whether you’re an established vegan or know nothing on the subject at all (like me!).

But overall, I hope that this will help make my blog a little more well rounded and also attract some new readers!

So what did I eat on my first day as a Vegan?

I think I’ve done pretty well really. I had half a pink grapefruit for breakfast. I haven’t had grapefruit for years, it was good.

At lunchtime I went to Wagamama with a friend. Wagamama seems to be a really good choice of chain for vegans, as there are a few vegan options already but also ingredients can easily be substituted.

wagamamavegan

I went for the Yasai Yaki Soba (soba noodles with mushrooms, other vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds) for my main course. But I asked for no egg and because the soba noodles contain egg I substituted those for udon noodles (which are my favourite anyway).

On the side I had the Wok-fried Greens (tender stem broccoli and bok choi, stir-fried in a garlic and soy sauce) which were DELICIOUS. And I tried one of the new raw juices, Blueberry Spice (blueberry, apple and carrot with a taste of ginger).

It was a good meal – tasty and satisfying.

And later I snacked on cherries and a Nakd Cashew Cookie Bar (I bought a load of Nakd bars and nibbles at Vegfest!).

So, stay tuned to see how I get on! I’d love to hear any vegan tips people may have, or from anyone who is also doing Veganuary!

L xx

All photos my own.

Psst… apologies to anyone vegan/vegetarian reading this post who may not like to see meat – I suspect the ‘you may also enjoy’ feature of my blog below the main post may suggest meat based posts, unfortunately I can’t control what it displays.

I actually didn’t eat a lot – not for me at least! This may have something to do with a terrible hangover I had on day two…

Day One

I arrived at Gare Du Nord station at about 10.15, and was starving, so we just went to a little cafe opposite – I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called!

I just had a croissant (delicious) and the BEST HOT CHOCOLATE I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. I think this cafe will definitely see me again.

garedunordcafe

We then headed to Hard Rock Cafe for an early lunch. I do like Hard Rock Cafes, and I’ve visited them in a lot of different countries. I usually prefer to find local gems, but sometimes it’s good to go for something familiar that you know you’ll enjoy. I normally like their cocktails, but I didn’t want to start too early, so I didn’t indulge this time.

Both myself and Chloe went for a starter as a main – the Tupelo Chicken Tenders. They’re normally served with mustard or hickory barbecue but we were awkward and asked for the Heavy Metal sauce instead. This sauce is seriously SO GOOD.

I went for a side of the parmesan fries with garlic aioli. Chloe had the biggest side salad known to man. It was a good meal.

hardrockparis

After dropping my bag off at Chloe’s adorable apartment, we hit the touristy spot of Montmartre after research led us to some rock bars in the area. It seemed most things in Paris were closed on Mondays, at least until later on, and a few of the bars we looked for were closed down permanently. We finally found a promising one, but went for some dinner to kill some time.

When in Paris, there are some things you just have to eat. Steak tartare is one of them. We were seriously picky about where we had dinner. We left the first cafe because it didn’t seem clean. We left the second because a Yelp review mentioned insects. And we finally settled on one down one of the shopping streets, Le Saint Jean, because it seemed to have a lot of locals in, which is always a good sign.

steaktartare

We also saw the cutest thing, check out this dog at the counter!

dogbar

After dinner we finally found an open rock bar – Rock & Roll Circus. I loved it. Happy Hour was 6-8pm, and had 3.50 caipirinhas. Strong caipirinhas. And we had too many. Quite a few too many. Oops.

drinks

Seriously though, if you’re looking for a dive bar with good music (of the heavier persuasion, you know my taste by now) and well priced generously poured drinks, this is your place.

Day Two

Well, this is embarrassing. Day One ended on an eventful note with a lot more alcohol so Day Two was a lazy hangover day! We did go to a local supermarket in Jourdain to get comfort food – mine was in the form of speck (Austrian ham) and some amazing bread from a little bakery. I also had this delicious ‘chocolate snail’.

chocsnail

Day Three

Things got a lot better on Day Three. We started with a Burger King at the metro station (which I didn’t photograph- but I had an XL Bacon Cheese) before we headed off to Versailles.

At the Château de Versailles I was excited to find a branch of Angelina and even though I wasn’t hungry, I had to have cake there!

We shared some macaroons in dark chocolate, pistachio, caramel and blackcurrant.

macaroons

And I went for the festive version of Angelinas signature patisserie, the Mont Blanc in yule log form.

yulelog

To drink I went for their famous Iced Chocolate L’Africain. Never again, it was the richest, most chocolatey thing I have ever drunk. I left most of it.

Before I got my Eurostar back to London, we had a late dinner at a brasserie opposite Gare Du Nord, La Maison Blanche. Time for two more typically French dishes – Chloe had the French onion soup and I had rare steak.

onionsoup

The food was really good, not badly priced and service was fantastic. I’d definitely go back if I’m hungry and need to kill some time pre-departure.

steak

And after that, it was back to London for me! I’ve decided that, with Eurostars being so cheap (my return ticket from St Pancras was less than £70!) I need to go to Paris more often, so expect more posts like these!

L xx

All photos my own.

Yes, I know, I skipped a week! But it’s been a bit of a busy fortnight so I’ve been a bit slack on my blogging – I’ve had my birthday, a trip to Paris, Christmas… But the main reason I’ve been a bit quiet is that I’ve focused on a few job interviews I’ve had (and yes, they went well!). So here are a few things I got up to over the last fortnight…

Le Bun Brunch at The Zetter

To be honest, it’s a small miracle that I haven’t yet posted about Le Bun since, in my humble opinion, they’re the most exciting thing on the London food scene (okay, I may have given them a little mention in my post about National Burger Day, but trust me, they deserve a post all of their own!).

I make a point of visiting Le Bun at their every venture, and I was extra specially excited to visit their residency at The Zetter in Clerkenwell for brunch, to try their Bloody Mary with cheeseburger garnish after I saw pictures of it on social media. So on Sunday 13th myself and a date went for an early brunch (followed by some drinks at the new Brewdog nearby). It did not disappoint.

bloodymary

I ate so much – after starting with the Bloody Mary, I had their delicious Truffles & Waffles (I’ve eaten a mini version of this before, it’s one of my favourite street food dishes – so I couldn’t resist a full sized version!). I also ‘shared’ (by shared I mean I ordered it ‘to share’ but ate it myself) an avocado benedict.

lebunwaffles

If you get a chance to try Le Bun do it! They currently have a burger van at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park until January 4th.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and The Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl

This is actually the first gig I’ve been to at Brooklyn Bowl (inside the O2 in Greenwich) and it’s now one of my favourite venues! We had a meal in their diner pre-gig, which was a bit of a waste of time as they also catered the VIP area for the show, so I really had my fill of their (delicious) French bread pizza.

Anyway, it was a really great evening – I’m a big fan of Frank Carter and his various ventures (except Pure Love, they really weren’t my thing) and this was my first time seeing him with The Rattlesnakes.

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And The Bronx are one of my favourite live acts. It was also great to catch up with a couple of old friends.

brooklynbowl2

Winter Wonderland

Every year I visit Winter Wonderland on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, it’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember.

ww

I was actually really pleased to see that Winter Wonderland was a little less commercial than the past couple of years – it started to get a lot of stands for larger brands to just give out non Christmassy samples and promotions. This year it seemed to have a bit more of a German Christmas market feel again, although there were still a lot of fairground rides.

Look how pretty Hyde Park looks…

wwtrees

The Bavarian Village is predictably my favourite bit – I’m not sure why there was a giant with a bird there this year? Given my heritage, if it’s a Bavarian thing I really should know, so if anyone can enlighten me…?

wwgiant

I actually popped back to Winter Wonderland on the Saturday too, with Luisa (Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat) where she purchased (without me knowing at the time) some beautiful red rose lights for my Christmas gift. We ate pretzels and drank cider before heading back to hers to exchange gifts with the other (non-blogger) member of our friendship trio, Georgia.

luisaww

Yelp’s Festive Afternoon Tea at Ma’ Plucker

Before meeting Luisa to go to Winter Wonderland on Saturday 19th, I went along to Ma’Plucker in Soho to have a festive afternoon tea with the guys from Yelp. I’ve really got into Yelping lately – it’s so much more than just a review site. I strongly recommend checking out their events, as they have some really cool stuff on – like this afternoon tea, which was complimentary.

mapluckertea

I had such a great time and will be giving a full review shortly, but you can have a little preview on the Yelp site if you’re interested! If you’re on Yelp, or want to join, feel free to add me as a friend – you can find my profile here.

The Glam Clam

It was a busy Saturday! In the evening I was fortunate to have been a guest of Design My Night for an evening at The Glam Clam – a pop up jazz club and drag cabaret in Tufnell Park, with a dinner menu by Gizzi Erskine. It was pretty special and you can read more about it here.glamclam

Birthday Lunch at BoxPark

Sunday 20th December was my 28th birthday. As it’s so close to Christmas I never do anything for my birthday – this year I just had a quiet lunch at BoxPark in Shoreditch. We had a couple of vegetarians/vegans with us, so the layout of BoxPark made it really easy to keep everyone happy!

I had a festive pizza from Voodoo Rays,  with pigs in blankets on!

pizza

Paris

Obviously, I’ll post about my three day mini holiday to Paris seperately, but for now just know I went, okay!

How awesome is this Disney toy tree at St Pancras…?

disneytree

Christmas

Christmas is a tricky time of year for me, as I have pretty much no family, and this year I’m single at Christmas. But, for the second year in a row, I volunteered on Christmas Day for the Rotary Club, serving Christmas dinner to the elderly at Battersea Evolution.

You won’t see any haul posts from me – I don’t really have anyone to give me gifts, although, as I mentioned above, myself, Luisa and Georgia did exchange them this year. It’s cool though, believe it or not I’m not a very materialistic person, and I find volunteering at Christmas really rewarding.

So that’s my life lately, sorry it was such a long post, but it was a fortnights worth! I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog much recently – I mentioned earlier that I had a couple of job interviews. Well, I was successful in both, and have been offered a new opportunity by my current employer, so I’ve been focusing my thoughts on making the correct career choice. I think I’m finally almost at a decision!

I hope my readers have had a lovely festive period (yes, I know, it isn’t quite over yet!) and I will be making more of an effort to blog regularly for 2016, I promise! I already have some cool things lined up, including a January trip to San Diego so watch this space!

L xx

All photos my own.

We all know by now how much I love a good burger, right? I mean, just look how much I ate on National Burger Day, haha!

So of course I got overexcited when my favourite burger joints brought out their festive specials! Anyway, here are my five favourites from this year, in no particular order…

MeatLiquor

I actually ventured out of London to try the XXXmas menu at MeatLiquor – it was my first visit to their branch in Brighton. I think it might actually have my favourite interior of the whole chain, but this post isn’t a restaurant review so I’ll focus on the food…

MeatLiquors festive menu appealed to me the most out of the ones I saw (and trust me, I looked at a lot of festive burger menus), which isn’t surprising really. I love the chains aesthetic, and their food is always interesting.

Top of my list to try was their XXXmas Garbage Plate – fries, sausage & stuffing patty topped with slices of roast turkey served with gravy, cranberry sauce and crispy stuffing sprinkles. I’m a fan of fries with OTT toppings anyway (I love a good poutine) so this was always going to be my favourite. It was basically a junk food version of Christmas dinner – my kind of meal!

garbageplate

Yes, I know this isn’t technically a festive burger, but I did have the XXXmas Burger too and it was a tough one to beat! Instead of your usual beef, this burger had a sausage and stuffing patty, roast turkey, crispy bacon, gravy and cranberry sauce. It was delicious and tasted like Christmas – the most specifically festive tasting of the burgers I tried. Literally Christmas Dinner in a bun.mlxmas

It was very similar in flavour to the garbage plate (obviously, since it has virtually the same ingredients) so I would suggest ordering one or the other – not both like I did!

I also tried the Xmac & Cheese – deep fried camembert and stilton mac and cheese with a cranberry and port dipping sauce. These were divine. I love the regular mac and cheese bites but these were extra oozy and cheesy and the sauce was perfect. I definitely over cranberried on this meal!

mltray

In case you’re wondering what else is on the tray, we also ordered the Chicken Parma Burger and the Fried Pickles (my favourite side!).

Honest Burgers

Honest Burgers will always be one of my most visited burger chains in London – it’s so hard to find a good burger served on the rare side, so when I find one it automatically becomes a favourite. I tried the festive special at their branch in Tooting.

Honest kept it quite simple with just one festive option – a burger comprising of a Ginger Pig beef patty topped with a well sized slab of brie coated in poppy seeds and breadcrumbs, smoked bacon, cranberry sauce and rocket. Perfectly pink in the middle, no overly dominant flavours – my only niggle was that I’m not overly keen on poppy seeds, but I can’t really make personal preference a criticism. It was festive but not over the top so, and the brie was a generous slab, no stinginess on toppings here.

honestxmas

Pssst… I can’t talk about Honest without giving the infamous rosemary salted chips a mention. They’re served on the side with every burger and are proper squishy yet crispy chip shop style chips to die for.

Dip & Flip

I love Dip & Flip. Seriously, a branch opening in my neck of the woods (Wimbledon) has not been good for my waistline. I’ve tried several things from the menu, and they’re all pretty faultless.

I’ll be honest – the festive special here is nothing revolutionary, but to be fair, their regular menu with it’s roast meat topped burgers lends is easily adapted to a turkey version.

Their are two variants on the festive special – the Dip (thinly sliced turkey in a roll) or the Dip & Flip (cheeseburger served topped with thinly sliced turkey). Both are topped with stuffing and cranberry slaw, and are served with the usual tray of gravy.

I went for the Dip & Flip. The burger patty, served medium, was perfectly cooked, with a bit of pink inside but a really nice slight charring outside. They’re generous with their toppings too, the cheese just oozed out of this one. Oh yeah, Dip & Flip is messy – not somewhere for a first date! The turkey was lovely and moist. I couldn’t really taste the cranberry though which was a shame.

dfxmas

If you’re wondering what the other dish is in the picture, it’s a favourite menu item of mine – the bacon and green chilli cheese fries, which are a bit like a poutine. Seriously filling though, you only need one portion between two of you.

Shakes are good too and the specials are usually pretty exciting. The festive shake is a vanilla mince pie version – try it with bourbon, trust me!

Dirty Bones

Ah, I love Dirty Bones! And you’ll quite often find me in the Carnaby St branch.

Their festive menu rivalled MeatLiquors to be my favourite. I think I like when places actually put some proper effort in, rather than just creating a special burger. Dirty Bones had festive burgers, side, cocktails, desserts…

dbxmas

Anyway, the Get Elf’d Burger – aged steak patty topped with deep fried cran-brie, torn slow cooked gammon and stuffing mayo. I’m all about gammon at Christmas, so this was a no brainer! Nice, good quality pink in the middle (have we established by now that I like a rare burger?) beef, a generous portion of flavourful gammon and a big chunk of breaded brie – well played Dirty Bones, well played.

You could double this one up but I chose not to. Only because I needed space for the Double Dirty Fries (see my review here for more about these) and dessert…

dbdessert

So the dessert – the Smashed Mince Pie, which I’d read rave reviews about. I’ll be honest, I was a little underwhelmed. It was just a nicely presented broken up mince pie with brandy butter gelato and coconut ‘snow’. Nice, but not £6.50 nice.

Voodoo Ray’s

Okay not a burger but I had to sneakily add this festive pizza in! I’ve talked about Voodoo Ray’s before here – I’m a fan. And the festive pizza I tried, Santana’s Little Helper, was delicious! I visited the branch in Shoreditch BoxPark.

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I mean who could resist pigs in blankets on a pizza? It was also topped with red onion, rocket, marinated tomatoes, cranberry and parsley. I strongly recommend you try a slice.

voodoo

So, those are my top picks of the London chains for festive junk food – I’d love to hear if anyone else has any recommendations.

L xx

All photos my own.

Obviously, I like my music, but it hasn’t really been until recently that I’ve become a bit of a snob about what I listen to it on (I blame Sennheiser and my ace Momentum headphones). No matter what you’re playing, if it’s through a poor quality pair of speakers, it sounds a bit crappy right? But I was yet to invest on a decent pair for my home.

So, last month (yes, last month, I told you I’d been a little slack with my blogging lately!) I was excited to be invited by Joe Blogs and Currys PC World up to the recently opened Sonos Studio in Shoreditch to preview the new Sonos Play:5 speaker and participate in a speaker ‘building’ workshop.

sonosbuilding

Photo by Joe Blogs

You may not be familiar with Sonos? They’re an American company who produce products and software to tranform the home sound system for the digital age. Using their wireless speaker systems they aim to make listening a valuable experience and optimise the quality of music within the home.

sonos

There are a variety of products (and even streaming services!) within the Sonos range (which starts at £169 for the Play:1 speaker), but I’m going to talk to you about the Play:5 and the new Trueplay software.

Play:5

The new Play:5 wireless multi-room speaker is an upgrade to the original Play:5, their first wireless speaker released in 2009. My understanding is that this is the first time that Sonos have retired a product and reinvented it – and from reviews I’d read of the original version in the past it was a tough one to follow.

play5

But they seem to have managed it. The new Play:5 is, aesthetically, simpler and more modern. It’s an attractive piece of kit, available in either black or white and can be orientated three ways (horizontally, or both ways vertically) – which I believe explains the clean design, required to support this function. This versatility in orientation allows greater flexibility in placement and makes it look a bit more natural when paired with another speaker (since the release of the Play:5 Sonos have announced stereo pairing so perhaps this was deliberate?).

One thing I find interesting about the new design is that it’s actually larger than it’s predecessor – looking at other consumer electronics (classic example being the Playstation) the general trend is for upgrades to be smaller and thinner. Now this may be a little above my tech understanding but I believe it’s something to do with the quality of the bass – by getting rid of the bass port the bass sound is cleaner and deeper, which is worth losing some sleekness for in my opinion.

play5apart

There are other changes in appearance too, such as the front grille, which is now plastic rather than metal so as not to interfere with the wireless performance. But we’re not talking cheap looking plastic, this is classy stuff! The top mounted touch controls (play/pause, volume and track change) are sleek and alter dependent on orientation which is a nice touch.

The Play:5 features six speaker drivers (an increase to the five featured on the original model) with six matching Class D amplifiers, three custom designed 10cm mid-woofers and three tweeters. Now that’s all a bit techy for me, but I can tell you 100% that the sound that comes from this single speaker is HUGE. In case you can’t tell, the Play:5 is most definitely on my wishlist! It’s a shame it’s out of my current budget at £429 – but if it’s affordable to you I’d definitely recommend it!

Trueplay

With the release of the Play:5 comes some impressive new software called Trueplay. Before I tell you about Trueplay, I should perhaps mention that the Sonos speakers can be controlled via a phone app. And it’s a surprisingly easy set up.

Anyway, Trueplay – we had a nice demo of this at the workshop using a speaker placed under a sofa and turned against the walls. Trueplay tailors the output of speakers to optimise the sound dependent on where they are placed within a room. Using the app you can kind of scan the room – I believe it uses the microphone to measure speaker response and adjust the sound accordingly.

Now to my mind Trueplay has one negative – it’s currently only compatible with iPhones/iPads/iPods, Android isn’t yet supported. But as you only need to analyse a room once, you could maybe find a friend with an iPhone if you don’t have one?

On the plus side, although Trueplay was released with the Play:5, you can upgrade the software on existing Sonos speakers to work with Trueplay. Actually, the ease with which you can upgrade the software to Sonos products was something I found really impressive. Sonos design their speakers to last around ten years, so the ability to update the software regularly will keep them performing at their best. Almost makes that £429 price tag seem affordable, right?

The Challenge

After learning about the Sonos range and Trueplay we were split into two teams and challenged to build our own speakers Blue Peter style, as well as to come up with a marketing plan and sales pitch.

speakerbuilding

Photo by Joe Blogs

Despite me being a shy and retiring wallflower I had to do the talking for my team. Needless to say we lost, haha!

The Studio

I found the Sonos Studio to be a very interesting place, and a little gem in a convenient location in Shoreditch. The studio itself is on the first floor, and features listening rooms where consumers can test out the different types of speakers before buying. It’s a great space, with the main area designed to just seem like a living room. There’s also a little workshop – I’m not sure exactly how much development is actually done there, but it gave a good effect!

sonoslounge

Something I was excited about was the ground floor cafe. It’s a lovely, quiet, creative space with plenty of power outlets – absolutely perfect for some quiet time to get some work done if need be, or even just for a coffee and chat with your friends.

The drinks and food were reasonably priced and looked delicious. I tried the toasted banana bread with a hot chocolate and it was lovely. I even liked the look of the salads, and I’m really not a salad person!

sonossalad

I would definitely recommend popping in to Sonos Studio, if not for the speakers, than for the food!

sonoscafe

Thank you for having me Sonos, and for giving me the opportunity to have a sneak peak of your awesome new product!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

You can take a look at the official Currys PC World blog post on the event here.