A few odds and ends to mention from the last few weeks, starting with some food on Northcote Road:
Wednesday 12th June - After failing to get in to the private launch party of the Toyshop Bar in Putney (more on that when I actually finally make it!), List Leader Natalie and I moved on to Clapham Junction to have a drink somewhere fun. We were too late for the excellent happy hours around (King of Ladies Man / Dime Bar / Southsider all good choices) and instead of making the sensible choice of having a swift pint in the excellent Northcote Draft House, we greedily decided to have our second dinner of the evening at Franco Manca.
They only take reservations for large groups so there is often a wait for a table, but they are quick to give you a No Logo bottled beer to pass the time. As it was quite late, we were seated after only 10 minutes. The menu is simple and incredibly cheap - the pizzas range from £4.50 to £6.95 which is astonishing considering the quality. They also do takeaway, but sadly not delivery - Domino's wouldn't last a day. The pizzas arrived quickly and were dispatched even quicker. The dough is wonderfully squishy and moreish, and the toppings are delicious. I could definitely eat two or three in one sitting, especially at under £6.95. Head to you closest branch (Brixton Village, Westfield, Chiswick, Battersea) as soon as possible, and stop going to Pizza Express.
Odonno's late night ice cream parlour is dangerously situated just over the road from Franco Manca. I couldn't resist, and I was confident that despite her claims of being full, Natalie would give in to peer pressure. I also needed to start investigating more gelaterias after my completely unfounded claim to a randomer that Gelupo served the best ice cream in London. Sure enough, once we got inside, Natalie caved and ordered two enormous scoops - she was seduced by Peanut Butter and Pistachio. I went for Salted Caramel and Hazelnut to directly compare with Gelupo, and they are hard to choose between. I have to say that there were more flavours in Odonno's that got my heart racing, which led to discussions with people in the queue about getting one of everything as a team. I can see the Franco Manca + Odonno's double bill happening again soon, especially if we ever get anything resembling ice cream weather.
Tuesday 28th May - This was a long time ago now, but I thought I would fit in with some other foodie mentions. I was lucky enough to be treated to lunch at Babylon in the Kensington Roof Gardens complex by an extremely generous parent of one of my violin pupils. Babylon is situated on the 7th floor and has lovely views over London and the gardens below. The prices aren't astronomical considering the location, and there is a very reasonably priced lunch menu. We worked our way through 2 excellent courses and coffee which came with a cute complimentary box of chocolates. The drinks menu is interesting - the Sunbeam cocktail with Proseco, Peach Liqueur and Sunflower Tea Tincture stood out. There also 4 bottled aged cocktails to choose from - Negroni, Martinez, Manhattan and Hacienda. They amusingly list their free water in the wine and champagne section - Thames Cuvée Brut - simple, light and refreshing. The much loved water of the Thames lightly carbonated to give a defined mousse. This year's vintage is quite amazing.
Afterwards we went for a wander around the gardens that form part of the club downstairs. There are three themed gardens to explore - Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and English Woodland. During the height of summer this has to be one of the best places to go out in London, if you can get in. Where else can you sip on a cocktail with Virginia the cow and a bunch of flamingos (Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks) wandering around? Dress to impress and keep yours fingers crossed - the club is open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Friday 14th June - Last one to mention is Bangalore Indian restaurant next to Waterloo Station. Similar to Buona Sera At the Jam on King's Road, Bangalore has bunk tables that you have to reach via a ladder. The design isn't quite as cosy as at Bueno Sera as the restaurant is much bigger, but it is still a fun concept especially after a few drinks. Book ahead for those as we didn't manage to get one when we turned up without a reservation. We stayed anyway as we were starving after an evening of wall climbing, and Maggie (flatmate / climbing guru / monkey) highly recommended the food. We shared some fantastic naan wraps and enormous dosas which were very good value, and a welcome change to the usual poppadom, naan, rice and curry combo. Delicious, cheap and extremely well situated - Bangalore is a no brainer.
Three more points for that pesky List Leader (please keep coming out) and 1 for flatmate Maggie which edges her ahead of flatmate Ali. The current List Leader has spoken of saving money and cutting back on List trips - could the door be opening for Sam or Tim to mount a challenge in the second half of the year?