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Tuesday 30 July 2013

BOOM Burger - Trailer Happiness - Mau Mau Bar

Thursday July 25th - It's really hard to catch up with blogs when you keep going out, but I can't help myself.  Thursday was a particularly fatty day, starting with lunch at the wonderful Flat Iron in Soho with my friend Mary.  Read about my first visit a few months ago here.  Going at lunch on a weekday was a totally different experience as we were seated and served straight away.  The steaks are still as fantastic as ever - I can't bring myself to order the Flat Iron burger incase I get steak envy.  Anyway, a few hours later, having walked off all of the steak-based calories of course, I met my friend Stu at Westbourne Park to try out some places in Notting Hill.  Our first stop was BOOM Burger, which is currently located in the Earl of Portobello pub.  Check out their website as it is a work of art!

BOOM Burger started life in the garden of Joshua de Lisser, a burger afficionado who grew up in Jamaica. He has combined his foodie experiences in Jamaica and London to create a burger menu that manages to stand out from the crowd, with inventive ingredients and great flavours.  We ordered the BOOM Burger (beef, cheese and bacon jam - that's right, BACON JAM - BOOM) and the Jerk BOOM (jerk chicken with fried plantain, mango sauce and paw paw sauce) with a side of Plantain fries.  Be aware, it's a cash only service, and you are going to want to eat everything so come prepared.  The burgers came, and then quickly went into our tummies.  The Jerk BOOM was ever so slightly the winner, thanks to its slightly spicy sauce, but the BOOM burger with its bacon jam was still delicious.  The plantain fries were BOOMin' lovely - deep fat fried to perfection, and a welcome alternative to french fries.

We squeezed along our outdoor table to make room for some local BOOMtown rats and entered into a fair amount of BOOM banter.  They figured that I might be a blogger after reeling off way too many burger alternatives, and Nataliya from Peckham said "Are you a famous one? Are you Burgerac?".  Sadly not, but if you want all the latest burger news, read his blog here.  Stu and I got food envy as Griff from Hammersmith and Joe from Portobello tucked into their burgers, so we ordered some BOOM Wings for seconds.  They were outstanding again, with a tasty sauce on the side.  The food was some of the best that I have had since starting the blog - up there with everything that Street Kitchen produce, and the Lazybones pulled pork sandwich.  Make your way over there as soon as possible!

Our next stop was the delightful little Tiki cocktail bar and kitchen, Trailer Happiness, on Portobello Road.  The food menu including Porno Prawns and Tea-Smoked Duck is tempting but after a steak and a burger, it was a step too far.  The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, with a little DJ hatch playing some great swing tunes. Most importantly, the drinks are of the highest quality.  Corn & Oil is a drinkable rum twist on an Old Fashioned, and Om Nom Rom & Pom is a refreshing combo of spiced rums, lime and pomegranate - both beautifully made by one of the many excellent bartenders.  Rum is the order of the day, and I will need to return for their legendary Rum Club on Mondays - free events with talks, tasters and mischief.  See picture below for flaming the copper lined ceiling!

Our seats of choice
Our final stop of the evening was Mau Mau Bar, also on Portobello Road.  We were here to see the annoyingly talented pianist Corey Henry playing with members of Snarky Puppy (the best band in the world) on the tiny stage, all for £7 thanks to Jazz Re:Freshed.  It is ludicrous that you can watch guys like this perform close up for under a tenner, and I find it hard to spend £50 on stadium gigs when you can do this instead.  The bar itself colourful and quirky, and has its doors wide open with people spilling out onto the street most of the time.  The pool table is usually out, but as the gig gets close to starting, people pitch in to move furniture out of the way.  Two guys were lucky enough to bag seats on the sofa that was put on top of the pool table giving them a comfy vantage point.  The atmosphere was electric throughout the gig, and the barstaff worked very hard to keep everyone happy on the drinks front.  Prepare to get very sweaty, as it's a small hot room - it's totally worth it.

I'll leave you with a Snarky Puppy video - it doesn't compare to seeing them live (put it on your bucket list) but it's a good start - is there anything better than a Moog solo?  Notting Hill has many other delights, some of which I visited last time I was in the area - read more here. Thanks to Mary for steak and Stu for BOOM, rum and sweaty jazz times.

Square MealSquare Meal

Saturday 27 July 2013

The Dolls House - #R3D Market

Friday 27th July - After a fairly lazy Friday, I decided to get back on the trusty Overground to meet uni friends Lee and Jane to try out the brand new The Dolls House on Hoxton Square, unsurprisingly from the same team that run Dead Dolls Club in Haggerston.  I was a big fan (read more here) of their place on Kingsland Road, so I was keen to get down to their new venue early on.  They have temporarily set up shop in a building due to be turned into a residential block next year, so head down there sooner rather than later! Set over four floors, the decor is very similar to Dead Dolls Club, with the wonderful addition of a cosy roof terrace overlooking Hoxton Square.  The other three floors consist of a bar, dining room and ballroom, and there is apparently also "The Drawing Room" - a secret place to share with friends.

Ground Floor bar
First Floor Dining Room
It is a members only bar, though membership is currently free (apply on their website).  Jane and Lee signed up online an hour before and picked up their cards on the door from Adam (presumably Adam Towner - one half of the Dead Dolls team).  Members can bring guests, but the top two floors are members only, so you might as well join while it is free. The front door (no.35) was shut but it was clearly the right place so we pushed on through where we were greeted by a man possibly dressed as a pirate for some reason.  We worked our way through the cocktails and also made our way to the roof which is a lovely, well-lit, chilled space with chairs and blankets laid out over fake turf.  The Baronness, The Cook and the Bloom G&T were particularly tasty and refreshing, which is no surprise as the gin heavy drinks menu at Dead Dolls Club was impressive.  On the food front, Mumma Schnitzel are currently in the house, but street food chefs will rotate in and out every week, starting with Chef Patty next week - bear in mind that it is only open Wednesday to Saturday, from 5pm onwards.  Mumma Schnitzel make seriously delicious chicken burgers, but we wanted to sit outside where you can't take food, so I had to go without this time around.  The dining room looks like a fun place to eat, and will become really popular when the weather cools down a bit.

After a few drinks, we decided to head round the corner to #R3D Market at the Old Street end of Rivington Street to grab a final drink and some street food.  The market is supposedly only open for a couple more weeks - it runs every Thursday and Friday from 5 til 11.30/12 and brings together some of London's best street food, cocktails and DJs.  It is outdoors, but there is plenty of covered space in case of rain.  We walked in with no queue and did a lap of the vendors before buying some Meantime Pale ales.  The atmosphere was great, and the queues for food were minimal compared to Street Feast (who have just moved to a new home), though there wasn't as much variety.  I went for a delicious Duck Confit Bap from The Frenchie - shredded duck leg, crispy duck scratchings, caramelised red onion chutney, mustard & rocket with goats cheese and truffle honey - it tasted as good as it sounds, and I received a £1 for following them on Twitter!  For dessert I went for Hix Fishdog's doughnuts with salted caramel sauce, which were a huge step up from your average churros with chocolate sauce.  The whole place screamed of hipster with a "beach" area complete with industrial pipes (which people seemed to want to sit inside) plus some sand and a hammock, and a frisbee training corner - hats off to the ingenious use of a curved piece of cardboard attached to the back of a van which allows you to throw frisbees to yourself or someone next to you.

Looks cosy
The beach and hammock

Frisbee training
The Frenchie - Duck Confit Bap
Hix's Fishdog - Doughnuts with Salted Caramel Sauce
If you like the sound of #R3D Market, then Street Feast is another excellent option - they have just moved home to Dalston Yard near Dalston Junction / Kingsland.  Read my blog on the old Street Feast here.  Head there on Friday nights and Saturday all day - the Gin Store will keep you busy once you have filled up on food.  Night street markets are the new clubbing so get on board while the weather is good!  Thanks to Lee and Jane for assembling at the last minute - Lee is sneaking up the leaderboard after a strong performance in Bermondsey last week.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Bermondsey Beer - Kernel - Partizan - Brew By Numbers - Bar Tozino

N.B. To any new visitors, this post is pretty old, so a lot of the information here isn't correct. There are many more breweries in Bermondsey now than when this was first written, and the Kernel no longer opens on a Saturday for drinking in. Jezza on Beer Guide London tends to keep things fairly up to date, so it's worth checking out his posts -

Saturday 20th July - My day started bright and early at the Gilbert Scott for brunch, but I'll talk about that another time because the rest of my day was spent wandering around railway arches in Bermondsey, one of the best areas in London to spend a sunny Saturday.  It also explains why it seems like I was drinking lots of beer and eating nothing - fear not, I stuffed myself at the Gilbert Scott first.

Breweries are popping up all over London at an extremely fast rate, which is a good thing as long as the quality of beer being produced remains as high as it has been so far.  I can't think of a new brewery that I haven't been impressed with so far.  Many of them seem to be in Hackney, but Bermondsey has five of its own in close proximity.  I decided to meet Bermondsey local, Lee, at Kernel Brewery, the most established of the five, and more importantly, the one that opens and shuts the earliest on a Saturday (9am-3/4pm). Sadly the Kernel no longer opens for drinking in on a Saturday.

Kernel constantly change their recipes.  You might drink a Pale Ale that they made using some hops that they found in a corner of the room, and then you'll never see it again.  They are always reliable though, and I favour the slightly stronger IPAs that are on offer.  The brewery opens from 9am-2pm on Saturdays, and has grown massively in popularity since the last time that I went.  That said, there's no need to go early as it doesn't take long to get served.  They offer a couple of keg options as well as bottles and always have a wide range of beers available from Table Beer to Stouts.  Lee tried the new 3.8% London Sour which was... sour.  The beer is bottled "alive" so if you take any home, make sure you drink them fairly quickly to get the most out of it.  Kernel are part of the Spa Terminus collective of food and drink producers, and there are more worth checking out - Monmouth Coffee is made here, Little Bread Pedlar make tasty pastries, and Ice Cream Union also looks great.

Our next stop was Partizan Brewing, which is slightly further East towards South Bermondsey.  They are operating out of a tiny space on Almond Road (which is barely a road), and they are open on Saturdays from 11am-5pm.  You very much feel like you are in the know when you are sitting on a crate outside a railway arch on a deserted road drinking beer with 4 other people in Bermondsey on a Saturday afternoon.   I particularly like the effort that has gone into their drinks list - a ripped piece of cardboard with beers scrawled on or crossed out, balanced on a bottle bin.  They currently only have bottles to sample, but I would expect they will expand to having keg beers available once they have grown in size.  They brew a variety of Saisons, IPAs, Stouts etc and have been very well received so far.  Their label designs (by Alex Doherty) are fantastic - slightly different to Kernel's minimalist style!

Our final brewery stop was Brew by Numbers, back the other way past Kernel near Maltby Street.  These guys have been brewing since the end of 2012, but only opened their brewery doors the weekend before last which Lee discovered by chance from a conversation with the Partizan guys.  Our route wasn't the most economical which was distressing for two mathematicians, but it was in line with which breweries were open the longest, and Brew by Numbers stays open til 5. We were joined by two more mathmos, T Rex and Henry, who often accompany me on jaunts around London Bridge / Bermondsey, plus two more beer fans Kathryn and Danielle who the boys do a pub quiz with.  They had been round the corner at Maltby Street Market, which I still need to properly report on.  We whiled away a couple of hours at Brew by Numbers running through some classic quiz questions such as "Which two star signs other than Pisces are connected to water?", "Which tube stop has no letters in common with the word mackerel?", "Which three tube stops have all 5 vowels?" and "Which tube stop has 6 consonants in a row?" - leave a comment if you know the answers, no Googling now!  

Brew by Numbers (open 10am-5pm) have much more space than Partizan, and look as if they are well funded.  The brewery bar is currently just a fridge, which is filled with whatever they have brewed that week. I got hooked on the delicious Golden Ale while others sampled the Saison, Stout and Porter on offer.  There was also a dubious looking tank of liquid at the bottom of the fridge, which turned out to be home made lemonade - not what we were originally thinking until we discovered there was a toilet at the back.  The numbers refer to style and recipe so 08/01 and 08/02 would be two different recipes for Stout for example.

UPDATE: Two new breweries have recently opened in Bermondsey bringing the total to 5.  Read about my trips to Fourpure and Anspach & Hobday here:

Anspach & Hobday (with Bullfinch Brewery)

It seems silly not to visit them all in the same day when they are so close, and with such amazing food on offer round the corner at Maltby Street Market / Borough Market / Spa Terminus / Bermondsey Street, it is a really easy day out! For more on Saturdays in Bermondsey, click here.

Saturday opening times for the "Bermondsey Beer Mile":

Partizan Brewing Co. - 11am-5pm
Brew by Numbers - 10am-5pm
Fourpure - 11am-5pm
Anspach & Hobday - 11am-6pm

When Brew by Numbers closed for the evening, we made our way to nearby Bar Tozino in Lassco Ropewalk, part of Maltby Street Market, where we joined by Lauren.  Bar Tozino claims to be London's first and only Jamón Bodega (sounds better than Ham Bar doesn't it?).  It is open til 10pm every day except Sunday (shuts at 5pm) and is a great, relaxed place to sit outside with wine / beer eating some jamón. Resident wine expert Henry picked out a very nice red, and Lee and I worked our way through a jarra of Spanish beer, whilst we ate the free olives and some very nice cold meats with bread.  The inside of the bar is also atmospheric, with hams hanging above your head, and meat ready to be sliced in clever contraptions. Top tip - toilets do exist, right down the other end of the street, giving everyone a perfect opportunity to show off their best strut / walk of shame.  T Rex won it with a perfectly executed cartwheel.

We finished off our evening in the Dean Swift, a wonderful pub for food and craft beer, but hard to recommend due to astronomical beer prices.  I paid £6.50 for an English craft ale from the Moor Brewery, which I have had much cheaper elsewhere.  The barman's response was "...but it's so tasty!" - great.  They did however chuck in some free chips after a bit of moaning - that suggests that they almost agree with our complaints so maybe it's not in their hands anyway.  I'd rather they just lowered the prices though.  If money is no object then go for it!

Thanks to Team List for a hard day's work, especially Lee for starting early and making it through the whole day.  I am going away next week, but I will try and write some stuff before I go that I can put up during the week as I am really behind already! Last thing - here is a fun new blog started by my veggie friend who is fed up with only being offered Mushroom Risotto in restaurants.  It is excellently named Rage Against the Mushroom - enjoy!

Square Meal

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Frank's Cafe - Rooftop Film Club at Bussey Building & Queen of Hoxton

Sunday 30th June - Many people are aware of Peckham's myriad delights, but some are still fairly terrified. Fear not, The List has done a recce for you and I can happily give you the all clear, as long as you are ok with walking up to the top of a multi storey car park.  On the roof you will find Frank's Cafe which has been running for a few years now as part of the Bold Tendencies art project.  Bold Tendencies makes use of the top four floors of the car park and is free to visit from 11am to 11pm, Wednesday-Sunday, until 30th September.  There aren't many signs to comfort you on your way up the car park, but have faith and you will be rewarded.  Peckham Rye is incredibly easy to reach via the Overground, but this wasn't working so we were instead slow-cooked on the 345 for an hour.  Keep an eye out for Multi-Storey who put on incredible one off orchestral concerts each year in the car park - see the video below (which just won Best Documentary at the SE15 Young Filmmakers Competition - made by Joanna Beaufoy).

It was the opening night of Frank's and the weather was fantastic, which sadly meant that there were far too many people up there.  There seemed to be a single file line for the bar which wasn't moving at any great speed and we were thirsty, so we didn't hang around for long.  The drinks are affordable (hard t turn down a £5 Negroni) and there is good looking food on offer as well.  The 360 degree views are spectacular, and once the sun starts setting, it is hard to tear yourself away.  Luckily, our next stop was another rooftop that was even higher than Frank's, and about two doors down!

Luke, Natalie, Lauren and I made our way to the Bussey Building otherwise known as The CLF Art Café for Rooftop Film Club.  The Bussey Building has all sorts going on with music, theatre, dance, film and comedy events lined up.  On our way up to the roof, we were passed by a rowdy bunch of villagers who were uprising against the sexual tyranny of their feudal Lord - this turned out to be the cast and audience of Fuente Ovejuna mid-performance.  We were delighted to find the rooftop nearly empty with street food courtesy of Route 66, a bar with a happy hour still on, and enough deck chairs for everyone.  It is worth getting their early to bag your seats for the film to ensure that you can sit together, rather than to get a good view which isn't an issue.  We grabbed some drinks and food and took in the incredible views of the London skyline.  You can see everything from Battersea Power Station to the O2 with the London Eye, St.Pauls, The Shard and The Gherkin (plus Frank's Cafe!) in between.  The Californian style street food was tasty, if a little inefficient - it's the first time I have been served a King Prawn as an accompaniment to a burger.

As the sun started to set, we collected our headphones and slankets (a blanket with arm holes) for the showing of Zoolander, which was due to start as soon as the sun had sufficiently set.  The wireless headphones that you may have used before at silent discos are an excellent idea and work perfectly.  The slankets are definitely necessary even on a hot evening as the wind really picks up.  You are allowed to be on the rooftop just to use the bar before the film, but you will be sent back down once it starts.

We started to notice that the organisers looked a little flustered and were running around a lot.  It then materialised that the projector had broken, and that their only option was to get another one brought in as quickly as possible.  A few people left who probably didn't fancy leaving Peckham on a night bus on a Sunday evening at midnight, but most people stuck around and enjoyed the sunset some more. It is a truly beautiful place to watch the sunset, and it is worth paying the ticket price even if you aren't interested in the film! They did well to get a projector in fairly quickly, but were hilariously slow at getting it to work. Eventually the whole audience joined in with some backseat driving as they managed to flip the image upside down and back to front, and there was a huge cheer when it was finally corrected.  We were all given free popcorn and half price drinks to make up for the delay, and settled down to watch the ludicrous Zoolander at about 10pm.  

Monday 8th July - A week later, I went to try out one of Rooftop Film Club's other venues with flatmates Ali and Maggie on top of the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch.  During the winter this rooftop was home to Wigwambam, but during the summer months it becomes a rooftop garden.  Due to its location, it gets ridiculously busy which doesn't compare well to the Peckham branch.  The majority of people there were not staying for the film, and so the chairs weren't laid out beforehand.  Not knowing this we arrived early to bag seats, but this isn't necessary.  Turn up at 8.30 when they start to kick people out and rearrange the seating. The audience is cordoned off while they sort everything out - this is when you need to position yourself to get the best view!  The seats were like film set director chairs as opposed to deck chairs, and there were only blankets rather than slankets which again made me long for the Bussey Building, and the view of people working in their offices doesn't compare very well at all.  That said, they at least had a working projector, and when it comes down to it, it is still exciting and atmospheric to watch a film on a roof in the open air. Go for the Bussey Building if you can, but the other venues would still be worth going to if Peckham is sold out or doesn't take your fancy.  They have venues in Kensington, Ealing and Hackney at the moment, and seem to be expanding quickly.

In other news, I went to Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man : A Hollywood Fable last night, and it was superb.  I will write more about it at a later date, but for the moment, trust me and go and buy some tickets to this wonderful, immersive, promenade style piece of theatre that is set across four floors of an old postal building in Paddington.

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