Sunday, 22 August 2010

Friendly Fika

When you think of Brick Lane what's the first thing that comes to mind? Ah ha, well yes, there are a LOT of curry houses, but if you make your way to the top end of the street there sits a fun little Swedish bar and grille that goes by the name of Fika.

This funky place is clad in light pine wood, with quirky ornaments and antlers. Fika means 'coffee break' in Swedish, and the name suits it perfectly. It's very chilled out, no one's in a rush, and you feel you could sit there all day. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming and all of the staff are SO friendly!

Food wise - the menu is, well, Swedish. The drinks list is at least 4 times the length of the food. Each dish is accompanied by a drink recommendation. I was there on a deliberate detox Tuesday night, and so we didn't opt for the 'snaps' shot with our starter. But I can imagine that later on in the week it's harder to resist the friendly waiters' encouragements.

We had some yummy reindeer salami to start with (sorry Rudolph), which we didn't think tasted any different to normal salami, but hey ho, it was yummy anyway!

For main I had the vegi version of their signature dish 'planks'; a smoked oak plank with grilled mash potato, a grilled tomato and a chick pea burger. I wasn't wowed by this, but it was what is said on the tin so I couldn't really complain.

Other things I gathered; they are big on crayfish, and even have crayfish parties occasionally?! Fika's weekend brunch menu sounds delicious. Its lovely chilled out atmosphere would be the perfect remedy for a Saturday morning hangover, or fitting for a relaxed start to your weekend. There is also a lovely roof terrace which is good to know if you want somewhere to sit outside in the summer.

So when you're next in the area and feel adverse to vindaloo, I recommend you check out friendly Fika.



The indulgent supper club hit Circus restaurant in Covent Garden last week for our latest culinary treat. I’d heard good things on the grapevine about this place, and was intrigued whether the concept of having an acrobat swinging over my starter was going to sink or swim.

Circus is on the further side of Long Acre to Charing Cross where it changes from big high street brands to kooky boutiques and fun restaurants, so the location is pretty spot-on. The big black doorway with no sign above it isn’t exactly welcoming, but you definitely get the vibe of exclusivity. The reception is like a flashy club rather than a restaurant. But I guess that’s what they’re going for. After all it’s not meant to be your normal dining experience.

A very glam hostess escorted us to our table. We were there for the first sitting at 7.30 pm and the place was packed! The interior was designed by none other than our Brit hero Tom Dixon. This cabaret come restaurant is decadent and sexy. Diners sit at intimate spot lit tables, and funky beats pervade the achingly cool atmosphere.

The centrepiece is a wide banqueting table under the main atrium, where all the action happens. The stairs leading up to the ‘stage’ and hoop suspended from the ceiling kind of give the cabaret game away. You expect Nicole Kidman singing 'Diamonds are a girls' best friend' at the top of her lungs to swing over your head any minute. There is a real excitement in the air. Perhaps it's in anticipation of the performances or just its vibrant vibe.

On to the food... The Pan American menu is as you'd expect. Full of American classics like slow roasted beef short ribs, fried squid, and Mac and cheese… Pas pour moi, but there is something for everyone I guess. To start I had the Red and Golden Beet salad with almonds and goat’s cheese. Nothing special but not bad either. The Crispy fried baby squid was yummy though.

For main I had the Spicy Crab Cakes which were good, but the accompanying veg wasn’t cooked well and my mushrooms were burnt. I hate to say, but the service wasn’t great, and they got my order wrong. However in their defence the portions were decent and they rectified their mistake by bringing me my correct order really quickly. But we knew the food wasn’t the main reason we were there, and as we finished our first course the lights dimmed for the show.

The opening act was a contact juggler who moved like he was made of rubber. He rolled the ball all over his body, throwing it up and catching it on his head, neck… and then moved his hands in such a way that the ball looked like it was floating. Amazing!

The second slot was a balancing act. Two gorgeous blondes in skin tight black suits, holding each other in crazy balancing positions. It was rather depressing watching their super hot flexible bodies as I tucked in to more chips, but it was a definite treat for the boys.

The third and final act was the hoop. I expected a tiny girl in a leotard to spring up there, but instead we had a gothy grumpy bloke in skinny jeans. He was ok, but not as impressive as the previous two.

I thought that the performances might be a disturbance but they were such a welcome part of the evening. They didn’t last too long, came in 45-minute intervals and were all really entertaining. There are loads of different acts on all the time, so hopefully you'll see something new each time you go. Once dinner has finished the whole place seamlessly turns into a dance floor and it's cocktail o'clock. Sadly we couldn't stick around for that, but I can imagine how fun it must be.

In my opinion, the concept seems to have worked - Circus definitely swims. It’s been open for 9 months and it’s still tricky to get a table. It’s good for a fun night, and a great date destination. The intimate dimly lit tables are romantic, and the intermittent acts mean that you wouldn’t run out of things to chat about! Things to bear in mind – book in advance, and I wouldn’t have wanted to sit at the main banqueting table. Much nicer to sit further away and watch from afar.

To sum it up, Circus is good for the gimmick but not for the food. And that’s fine because that’s what you’re there for and you get a good show. In this respect the menu is reasonably priced considering what you get for your buck. But I'll definitely be going back for another piece of the drama, and hopefully I'll get to have a go on that swing!

Move over Nicole...


Sunday, 15 August 2010

Chin Chin

Camden lock has another crazy string to its bow... Over at Chin Chin Laboratorists they're using liquid nitrogen to make ice-cream on demand. It sounds like a school chemistry lesson gone right. Read more here.

Heston's got a run for his money. 



SAS. London is teeming with them. Successful Attractive but Single women on a mission to find a man. But the big smoke is a pretty huge place… and after countless Saturday nights of glammed-up girly cocktails and clubbing, you realise that no matter what you do it’s not always easy to hunt one down.

But savvy single ladies have discovered how to rein these stray cats in… by way of the ‘Safari Party.’ If this hot new trend is new to your ears then let me explain. In essence, it’s a mixture between speed dating and a dinner party. Sounds fun? It is.

Here’s how to start. Group together an equal number of single guys and gals, and then divide this number by however many lodges can host a dinner party. For example, if you’ve got 30 guests and 3 lodges, then each lodge gets 10 guests. But here’s the catch... After each of the 3 courses, the girls stay put while the boys prowl to the next destination where they’re greeted by whole load of fresh meat. By the end of supper everyone has had a chance to eye up their prey. When you’re all thrown into the wild at the end of the night, it’s the aim of the game to corner your target and go in for the kill.

So the Safari Party uses the traditional format and role of the dinner party for an ulterior motive. But the question is, what role does food play in this jazzed up speed date?

The leaders of the SAS pack have a lot on their plate. It’s their responsibility to create an environment that will nurture the first seedlings of romance, so it’s super important to get the menu and mood right. After all, in this SAS-rich, time-poor game it’s make or break for first impressions.

The ambiance has to be conducive to courting but also keep the party beat up… Do you go Chris de Burgh or Chris Martin? Candles and fairy lights, or disco ball?

As for the menu, garlic or red onion is a no-go. Rather chewing gum all round please. Spag bowl isn’t the prettiest thing to eat when you’re trying to impress potential pulls. Any sort of tomato sauce proves disastrous if it get’s on your killer outfit. And getting oregano stuck in your teeth is a sure way to send your predator packing.

So do you go for the aphrodisiacs? The right wine and fodder to fuel their carnal instincts… Champagne and oysters followed by chocolate covered strawberries. Or is that too cringingly obvious that you’d blush as red as a berry as you tried to seductively devour your pudding? More likely dribble it down your front. Sexy.

Perhaps the food is in fact made redundant. Although it’s used as the vehicle to bring these singletons together, is the haute cuisine eclipsed by the human feast before them? And for some wild cats it may be an eating is cheating scenario. The wallflowers need a bit of Dutch courage to make the pulling pounce.

There’s also the element of competition amongst the Safari hostesses. Who’s the big cat of the kitchen? As species of social Darwinism we’re all smitten for a good cook. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and all that.

To make life easier, here’s a suggestion for a summer Safari Party menu; something scrummy to feed those predatory appetites.


Nibbles - Sweet potato dips with crème fraiche and sweet chilli sauce dip, and a lettuce with shredded chicken and ginger wraps

Starter - Antipasti style, ham, Parma ham, salami, mozzarella, manchego, houmous, rye bread/sour dough

Main – Roast chicken, Ottolenghi salad, couscous with feta and roasted peppers

Pudding - Elderflower and vodka granita with a lemon and basil sorbet and a choc brownie bite

It’s a good idea to pre-prepare the food so that you’re free to flirt easy on the night. You can pull out all the foodie stops, or make it very simple. To be honest I think the party goers are more worried about saving a piece of gum and what they’re shotting later than eating anything gourmet. A good old lasagne and ice cream wouldn't go a miss!

So get your claws out. Find your pack and hit the wild. Remember that as hostess no one can get in the way of your tactical seating plan. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get lured back to a Lion’s den…

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Fancy a snog?

I am desperate for my first Snog. This frozen yoghurt place looks AMAZING! And it's good for you (sort of!).

They seem to be taking over the Fro-Yo world. And I can't wait to taste what all the fuss is about. Yum yum.

I just need the Sun to come out again as another excuse to have one.