Looking for a quiet place to work and eat? Bored of Starbucks or cramming yourself into the tiny and trendy hangouts that notoriously offer infamous artisan coffee, yet never have anywhere to sit?

If you live in London and you are within reach of Farringdon, ‘Ask for Janice‘ could be your new little spot for some uninterrupted work and interesting food.

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The decor is definitely trendy and in-keeping with that of many cafes in the East, with exposed pipework an brick work, recycled furniture and edgy artwork. However, the service is far from arrogant.

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Friendly and happy staff were happy to greet me upon arrival and I was eating from the breakfast menu within fifteen minutes of arriving. Albeit the fast service, there wasn’t a “rushed” environment at all, I spent just under two hours with my laptop, free wifi, breakfast and various hot drinks before I decided to go.

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The earl grey tea was loose leaf and really delicious.

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The mushrooms on toast with a poached egg was the perfect little vegetarian brunch for me this morning! The poached egg had a perfectly cooked runny yolk, may I add.

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Just be careful if you sit by the door, on a colder day the “wind tunnel” action that occurs down Long Lane could make it a slightly less pleasant dining experience than you had expected, but on a warmer day like today it was welcomed.

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Customers moved in and out of the restaurant quickly, meaning that it never felt overcrowded. However, due to the restaurant being so close to the city and offering breakfasts from 7.30am, I can imagine it’s much busier before 9am, around lunchtime and after 5pm (for their famous gin list). So, if you have a free day, then go during the quieter periods like I did and you’ll have a spacious and uninterrupted work place.

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The closest tube stations are Barbican and Farringdon, so if you are looking for a new space to do a bit of blogging or work, then try out Ask For Janice.

Chelsea is an area of London which is abundant with independent restaurants, quaint cafes and friendly staff. The night before my graduation I headed to Gastrovino on Kings Road with my parents, an Italian which has been described by many as a “hidden gem”.

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The style of food is Italian tapas, but bigger main dishes are on the menu too. We started off with a sharing board, which always excites me as it takes me back to eating in Florence a year ago where the majority of the evening is dominated by foodie related conversation.

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The waiter was quick to recommend a red wine once we had said we fancied a syrah to go with the meal and he got it spot on. The arched walls and wine bottles littering the restaurant just screamed “wine bar”, which added a lovely feel to the evening.

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Generally, I’ve only eaten steak tartare in pricier restaurants, but Gastrovino offer a tapas plate to share for £7 which was such a bargain and so delicious.

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Aubergine Parmigiana

For three people we ordered one sharing board and six dishes to share, which was more than enough. The aubergine parmigiana was comfort food at its finest, a rich tomato sauce with a generous amount of melted parmesan.

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Sea bass carpaccio on the left and calamari and king prawns on the right

As a family, we are obsessed with seafood! I’ve never had sea bass carpaccio before, but it’s a really light and refreshing dish, especially with the mustard and watercress mayo. The sea bass was sliced very thinly and had a perfect texture. For any sashimi lovers out there, this is a different type of raw fish experience, so it’s worth trying out. I could have stayed here all evening and sampled all of the different but I was well and truly stuffed!

Gastrovino is one of those places that you know you’ll be coming back to very soon the moment you finish your meal. A meal for two with wine is around £80 and if my blog hasn’t fully convinced you yet, then the dazzling five-star reviews on Trip Advisor should put this on your London restaurant bucket list.

Take a peak at the website http://gastrovino.co.uk

When I think “West End”, the hustle & bustle of soho and the theatre immediately come to mind. However, even though I’m partial to a show and a meal, I’ve never succumbed to the traditional “pre-theatre dinner”… until now. Like many people (I can imagine), I normally don’t like being offered a limited menu or eating at awkward times – but MASH completely changed this!

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After watching the first half of The Cursed Child, we made our way to MASH on Brewer Street. If you’re a fan of double puns, you will love the fact that MASH stands for “Modern American Steak House”, on top of their infamous “mash potato with onion and bacon” on offer.

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a sneak peak at the normal menu

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We started with the salad and charcuterie to share (unlimited bread was also given to us). The salad was dressed deliciously and the nuts were honey glazed, a lovely surprise.

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I chose the Uruguay Rib-eye and George had the American Steak. Even though MASH serve the finest cuts of steak such as Wagyu on their norman menu, we weren’t expecting anything special from the £22 two-course menu (when the average price for a London steak will cost in excess of £30). However, the American steak won me over! It was packed full of flavour and very tender, my Rib-eye was slightly fatty in some parts but generally an incredibly tender piece of meat. We sat there in silence, beaming from ear to ear, trying to make it last as long as possible.

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The absolute highlight of the meal for both of us was the creamy spinach. I have never had anything like it. In many of the steak-houses I have eaten at, creamy spinach is normally a delicious wilted spinach, garlic and cream concoction. MASH, however, added cheese into the mix and it was almost impossible not completely inhale it. The portion sizing of the sides was suitable due to the richness of both the spinach and the mac and cheese, but this is one of the reasons I will definitely be heading back here soon! Two two-course pre-theatre dinners (at a reasonable time) in the heart of Soho and a bottle of wine (including service) came to £75, it doesn’t get much more of a steal than that.

Next time you’re thinking pre-theatre and you’re in the mood for steak, you know where to go!

 

 

Chiltern Firehouse is renowned for it’s affiliation with celebrities and high flyers. Unlike some other top end restaurant’s in London, Chiltern Firehouse has no dress code but “smart-casual” is preferred – it’s entry policy is more based upon who you are rather than what you’re wearing.

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We started off with champs as we ogled over the wine menu. Something I was unaware of before I arrived was the “hidden garden behind the mirror” … but more on that later. Now for the bit you’re all waiting for, the food!

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Bacon cornbread with chipotle-maple butter 

The menu is packed full of wicked and wonderful unique creations. You’ll be able to find certain ‘classics’, but they’ll be combined with flavours to create dishes that I doubt many people will have experienced before.

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My starter was a “steak tartare” – packed with chipotle and hot sauce to add a spicy twist to this classic

I seriously could have eaten more of this, I loved the spicy kick.

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George had “Hay-roasted pigeon with walnut mole and yoghurt” – beautifully presented

I was nervous to try pigeon for the first time. Nevertheless, I’m never one to shy away from experimenting with food. All I can say is that it reminded me of a rare duck breast, but with a faint gamey taste – it wasn’t unpleasant by any means.

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The ‘Alice in Wonderland-esque’ “drink me” bottle was filled with BBQ sauce, combined with the dill on the toast was a unique fusion of flavours.

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“Aged beef fillet with mushroom caramel and roasted onions” 

My beef fillet had a hint of “oak-smoke” on the crust, which gave it a blackened outside and a perfectly rare interior, just the way I like it! Unfortunately, it seems like they left the whole “wow factor” of the plate down to the texture and quality of the meat (which in all fairness was incredible). However, the onions were a little too vapid for my liking as big bold flavours are my thing and the mushroom caramel didn’t add too much either, but they made my plate look charming nevertheless.

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George’s slow-cooked lamb with artichoke was beautifully tender.

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The meal was finished off with a bang as they brought out my chocolate pudding (of course I chose the chocolate pudding) with a personalised “happy birthday.”

After all of the wine and lovely food, we carried our drinks down to the loo’s (yes, the loo’s), which aren’t unisex but both contain mirrored doors that lead to a hidden garden.

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 Head out here for “Cigarettes and men” 

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The heated outdoor area made us feel like we were on a street in Bali and the soundproofing added a wonderful serenity to the area as we sipped on our Malbec’s.

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Thank-you Chiltern Firehouse for making my birthday extra special!

Hello everyone, I’m back on the blog after a few weeks of focusing on intense of Uni work and this one’s a real corker!

What’s better than chocolate? Chocolate dipped in chocolate of course.

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‘Said’ is an exquisite chocolatier on Broadwick Street in Soho. The scent of cocoa, coffee and indulgence hits you as you walk through the door.

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Here comes the fun part! Said’s infamous melted chocolate mecca will make you lose your mind.

Choose your preferred hot drink or sweet treat including the popular “chocolate cup” (yes, thats purely a cup made out of chocolate) and have it smothered in melted chocolate. This really is a chocaholic paradise.

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There’s no embarrassment here, as you take a cheeky look around the shop you’ll notice everyone else licking their cups clean, so go ahead! At the bottom of the cappuccino was a glorious surprise, even more melted chocolate.

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I felt like I had been transported into Willy Wonka’s world where everything is edible and there are no limits to how extravagant you can make your order. However, if overindulgence isn’t your thing, then they offer unique individual chocolates such as “black tea and mint” for the adventurous foodies.

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Beware, Said is extremely popular and we were lucky to arrive before a queue started forming out of the door. Similar to a few niche places in London, you may have to wait a while for service due to it being so busy but it will be well worth it.

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So, if your mouth is dribbling and all you can envisage for this weekend is drowning in chocolate, then head to Said.

If you want to visit: 41 Broadwick St, London W1F 9QL