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?

Le Petit Ballon

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…).

le petit ballon

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!

Le Petit Ballon

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.

Le Petit Ballon

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.

big fernand

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.

big fernand

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.

big fernand

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

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.

It’s no secret I love a good cocktail, so I was delighted to be invited to the preview event for Cocktails In The City in the plush Apartment at The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch.

cahoots cocktails in the city

If you aren’t familiar with it, Cocktails In The City is a three day celebration of Londons internationally renowned bar scene which is held across two weekends in 2016 – 10th to 12th March and 29th to 31st July. The March event will be held at One Mayfair, a beautiful Grade 1 listed building, formerly St Marks Church (you can see some pics of the venue from when I was there for Bulmers Live Colourful Live last year).

Cocktails In The City will showcase twenty London bars across three floors, as well as a few from other European cities including Little Red Door from Paris, Door 74 from Amsterdam and Ruby from Copenhagen.

It’s designed to be an immersive experience – guests will be able to try drinks from top bartenders, many of which will feature some more unusual and rare ingredients. As well as the cocktails on offer, there will be tastings, interactive demonstrations and entertainment.

I love how they’re planning to layout the event. In the Crypt (and obviously I’m dying to visit the crypt!) you’ll find some of Londons hottest newly opened establishments for concept cocktails. The Grand Hall (where Live Colourful Live was held) will house world famous cocktail bars serving classic drinks as well as creative cocktail themed dining at the feasting table. The aforementioned international guest bars can be found on the mezzanine level, and at the rooftop bar (which apparently has a spectacular view) you can enjoy a barbecue.

At the preview we had the chance to try some of the concept cocktails and watch how they were made. It was great fun!cahoots cocktails in the city

Cahoots in Soho, a bar which I’m yet to visit (and which features on my bucket list) was obviously my first stop. They’d teamed up with Martin Miller’s Gin and Fentimans (a bit off topic but I love Fentimans soft drinks in cocktails after trying a few at their Greenhouse pop up bar in L’Escargot last year) to create The Mayfair Miller, a cocktail which also included lychee, elderflower and spiced berries.

This one was delicious, way too easy to drink! And it was beautifully presented.

cahoots cocktails in the city

Next up I tried The Rhubarb Radler from The Whip in Mayfair, a drink they’d created with Chase Rhubarb Vodka. As soon as I hear rhubarb I’m there, I love anything rhubarb!

the whip cocktails in the city

This was quite an interesting drink – it looked as though it would be citrus based rather than rhubarb. As well as lemon juice, sugar and bitters it included Wild Goose Chase pale gooseberry ale from The Wild Beer Co. I am desperate to try this ale by itself and will be hunting it down!

wild beer co

I’ve never been to The Whip, now it’s on my must go list!

chase vodka cocktails in the city

I went for another gin cocktail next, this time The Root Gimlet from Powder Keg Diplomacy in Wandsworth, using Plymouth Gin. This is another bar which wasn’t yet on my radar, but I’m told it’s Victorian themed and now I really want to go!

As well as Plymouth gin, The Root Gimlet contained lemon  juice and something a bit more unusual – carrot and horseradish cordial! Sounds disgusting, but tasted delicious!

powder keg diplomacy cocktails in the city

To round up the evening I visited the station where Sophie Bratt of OXO Tower on South Bank was creating a cocktail using Patron Tequila (mmm, Patron…). Sophie actually was a contestant in the Patron Perfectionists Cocktail Competition, so it was a natural partnership!

patron cocktails in the city

I loved how pretty Sophie’s creation, Love Buzz, was. It was perfectly named for its ingredients – as well as Patron it included Yuzu, vermouth infused with strawberries and a dash of rose syrup. Beautiful. And potent.

oxo tower cocktails in the city

I had a little chat with Sophie after her presentation, and found out she had a lot to do with one of my favourite afternoon teas in London, the slightly boozy Not Quite Afternoon Tea at OXO Tower Brasserie (if you’re sweet toothed you have to try it, it’s awesome and changes seasonally so you can go time and time again…). Anyway, that’s a little off topic!

Other bars which are confirmed to be at the March event include Coq D’Argent, Reverend JW Simpson, Dishoom, Looking Glass Cocktail Club and Hush.

Perfect for everyone, from cocktail connoisseurs to someone who just likes a nice fruity drink, Cocktails In The City will be a super fun experience which I’m excited for!

If you’re not one of us spoilt for choice Londoners, Cocktails In The City will also take place across two days in three other cities; Leeds on 7th and 8th April, Manchester on 19th and 20th May and Edinburgh on 27th and 28th October.

Tickets can be bought from Design My Night or YPlan, priced at £15 for the London event which includes one cocktail, multiple sensory experiences and a cocktail booklet. Psst… If you haven’t used YPlan before you can use my code LEVANS88 to get £5 off!cocktails in the city

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

L xx

All photos my own.

If you’re going to be single at Valentines Day, what better place to be than London?

I’ll be honest, I’m not overly fussed about Valentines, but there are so many fun events coming up over the next couple of weeks that I may as well get into the spirit of things! And I’m not talking overpriced romantic dinners surrounded by starry eyed couples, haha!

So here are my top five picks of the anti (or just not quite so traditional) Valentines events going on this year. You’ll most likely find me at a couple of them…

Valentine’s Extreme Garnishing

You know I like my weird and wonderful food events by now, right? Well The Robin Collective put on the most interesting pop-ups, from re-creating the Eiffel Tower out of toast to making miniature gardens from coconut grass and brownie soil.

sweets

I’m super excited to be joining them for their Valentine’s workshop – Extreme Garnishing at The Hoxton in Shoreditch. Not entirely sure what to expect, but I hear there will be molecular techniques, love potions and even cooking with explosives! I can’t wait!

dynamite

Extreme Garnishing is happening on Tuesday 16th February and tickets are selling like hot cakes, so pick one up for £20 from Design My Night.

If you’re intrigued by the toast, there’s another toast build coming up – look at their upcoming events here. Oh, and I’m also keen to try some of their Medicinal Marshmallows

Blindfold Date

If you’re British, and unless you’re way too young for me anyway, there’s no way you won’t know what Blind Date is (and I hear it’s making a comeback!). On Wednesday 10th February (so great timing for you to actually make plans for V Day at the weekend if they manage to match you up with Mr/Miss Right), It’s Unknown will be hosting a gameshow type night at Concrete in Shoreditch.

blindfolddate

As well as one lucky contestant being blindfolded on stage to ask questions of three potential soulmates, there will be plenty of other chances to find love – including tombolas of love (?), love shacks and slow dance sessions (that’s my nightmare, right there!)…

I’ll be at Blindfold Date with a a few hot girl friends, so get involved! Tickets are £6 advance from Design My Night.

Psst… It’s Unknown have plenty more cool events up their sleeves – sticking with the love theme there’s Musical Bingo’s Heart Make Hotel later this month.

The Bloody Valentine Cabin

If you’ve seen my bucket list, you’ll know I’m dying to try out one of the cabins at York & Albany in Camden – and obviously a horror themed version is ideal! From 11th to 14th February, the cabins are decked out in blood splatter, with screenings of horror movies and themed cocktails and snack platters. Prices start at £30 per person (for snack platters and a cocktail), but there is a minimum spend of £120 per cabin for groups of 4 or less (£180 on Friday and Saturday).

yanda

You can book a cabin by emailing experiences@gordonramsay.com or for larger groups, you can book on Design My Night.

Eat Your Heart Out

I love a good supper club, and you know when it’s being held at House of Vans in Waterloo it’s going to be a fun one! With mischieviously named dishes like ‘Cupid’s a Cock-tail’ and ‘Sour Grapes’, their anti-Valentines supper club is in conjunction with Grub Club, so you can take it as a given that the food is going to be good.

lovebites

Dinner is on Saturday 12th February, and tickets are £30 each, but currently YPlan have a great deal with tickets at £25.50 (also, you can save another £5 using my code LEVANS88 ).

Or, if brunch is more your thing, House of Vans and Grub Club are holding an anti-Valentines part 2 on the day itself, with their Boozy Bill Murray Brunch – a Bill Murray double bill, bellinis, Bloody Mary’s (or, erm, ‘Bloody Murrays’), unlimited waffles and pancakes and a whole load of American style sharing dishes. Pretty good for £20.

billmurray

House of Vans also have a couple of anti-Valentines double bills (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Lars & The Real Girl or Before Sunrise/Her) and a cute card making workshop.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Nothing says anti-Valentines like preserving a heart and putting it in a jar, right? Not one for the faint at heart, a couple of places are holding macabre classes in pickling lamb hearts and placing them in jars. Has anyone else noticed that taxidermy is so in right now? I don’t really get it, but anyway…

hearts

The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch (which makes an appearance on my bucket list for its Brothers Grimm themed rooftop) is holding their workshop on their rooftop terrace on Saturday 6th February for £55 (or £100 for a couple). Tickets available here.

Or The British Academy of Taxidermy have two sessions on actual Valentines Day priced at £50 each (or £70 for a couple) at the Islington Arts Factory. Tickets available here.

Dirty Lovin’

Yes this is number 6, and I know, it isn’t exactly a Valentines alternative but I wanted to give it a mention. The Kensington branch of one of my favourites, Dirty Bones (you can see a review post here) has a Valentines Tasting Menu night on February 14th, featuring some brand new dishes – for £25 you get two courses, sides and a cocktail.

dirtylovin

Also, from 12th to 14th February, the to die for Banana Toblerone-tella Waffles are available all day, not just for brunch at both Dirty Bones Kensington and Carnaby.

So there you have them, my top picks. I’d love to hear what other single people get up to!

L xx

All photos from the relevant establishments/PRs.

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.

brooklynbowl1

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.

voodooxmascounter

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.

Last night myself and my friend Kat were lucky enough to get a table at the newly opened Dirty Bones in Kingly Court, Soho, without a reservation. Having only been open a week, it was unsurprisingly fully booked on a Saturday night!

I love Kingly Court. Just off Carnaby Street, it’s a three storey dining destination with a open roofed courtyard (for al fresco dining at the ground floor restaurants). It’s really lovely, day or night, but can get a little busy. It has some great restaurants and bars, and something to cater for all tastes. If you haven’t been, I’d definitely recommend it. I actually love the whole area around Carnaby, it’s so lively and uniquely London – with some fantastic one off shops as well as popular chains.

kingly

Anyway, Dirty Bones… At first glance it appears to be another American diner in London, offering burgers, fried chicken and hot dogs. But it’s not your average diner food, it’s a little more special than that. The quality of the ingredients and the cooking are top notch.

We started by sharing chicken wings glazed in lemon, topped with chilli and spring onion (£6) and deep fried mac balls with DB sweet chilli sauce (£5.50). The chicken wings were a decent portion of 5 half wings, and the citrus flavour was a nice change from the usual honey mustard, barbecue or hot sauce offerings at places like this. The mac balls were incredible – 3 of them between 2 wasn’t enough!

dbstarters

Unsurprisingly, for my main I went for The Burger (£8.50) to which I added beer cheese and bacon (which added an extra £2.50). This was a good burger, and I could tell it would be just from looking at the toasted brioche bun. The bun is such an important factor in a burger (which a lot of places seem to overlook) and this one was spot on, and was perfectly toasted.

dbbun

I requested my burger rare – I find it reassuring when restaurants will actually do this, as you can really tell the quality of the meat when served this way. It really was rare, and absolutely delicious. The DB burger sauce provided a bit of flavour without being overpowering, allowing the flavour of the patty to shine.

dbburger

We also shared a portion of Double Dirty Fries (£6.50) – skinny fries with DB BBQ sauce, cactus salsa and pulled pork. These were so good we’d finished them before I remembered to take a photo!

Cocktails are also good – on my servers recommendation I went for the Top Dog (£8) which comprised of Finlandia Vodka, fresh strawberry, chambord, lemon and Jeio Prosecco. Served long, it was refreshing and well balanced. It made up for the disappointment of them being out of shakes! (I love a good milkshake!)

dbtopdog

Regrettably we had no room for dessert, but I see another visit to Dirty Bones in the not too distant future, so I’m not too fussed!

dbbill

For the two of us, the bill came to £46.12, which included 12.5% service as well as a mystery £10 discount. Not bad, especially for the quality of food.

L xx
Dirty Bones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This afternoon, mid retail therapy, Luisa of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat and I stumbled upon a (very quiet) launch celebration for Skinnydip London‘s new collaboration with Fox and The Simpsons. There wasn’t a lot going on – there were free Krispy Kreme doughnuts (I’m not one to turn down food when it’s on offer!), a photobooth and an Instagram competition.

krusty1

But the focus of this post isn’t the event – it’s the products. And they were pretty good. Simpsons collaborations aren’t exactly rare – one of my favourite brands, Drop Dead had a great Itchy & Scratchy collection not too long ago (you can still buy a few of the pieces online), and Living Dead Clothing have announced that their Halloween collection includes licensed Treehouse of Horrors pieces. Skinnydip have chosen Krusty, exclusively, to feature on their products.

I really love that, in this collaboration, Skinnydip have retained their identity – the products are easily recognisable as Skinnydip. There’s the trademark oversized silicone phone case, this time in the shape of a ‘Krusty Shake‘ (£16) and clear plastic phone case (£14) / backpack (£35)/ cosmetics bag (£16) with an all over Krusty print.

krustytray

One of Skinnydips most popular pieces, the drinks cup cross body bag, has been reinvented as a pink glittery ‘Krusty Shake‘ (£32).

krustyshake

Top of my wishlist though are two pieces which are a little different. There’s the adorable pink coin purse (£14) emblazoned with Krusty’s face and a tassled zip.

krustypurseAnd there’s the KrustyO’s embroidered pouch (£30). Really bright and colourful, with interesting textures (it features embroidery, glitter and suedette) – this bag would really add something to an otherwise plain outfit.

krustypouch

What do you think of the collaboration? Will you be buying anything?

L xx