Restaurant Review: Capri Cafe & Bar, Lytham

Capri – Lunching In Leafy Lytham

Capri Lytham, not a 1970s Ford-themed eatery, but a quaint cafe-come-bar furnished by ladies-who-lunch, just distant enough from Blackpool to feel safe. Being warmly greeted by the ethereal manager Leigh set a positive first impression: one reinforced throughout the afternoon by the support act of smart, sprightly servers.

The combination of the howling wind and amicable bar staff encouraged me to loiter around Capri’s well-stocked shelves with intent. Boodles Mulberry Gin with Elderflower Tonic was recommended – transpiring to be the ideal autumnal afternoon elixir. Additionally, Capri’s well-thought-out cocktail menu, produced an intriguing ‘Gin Zombie’ and elegant ‘Pomegranate And Elderflower Spritz’.

Regarding mains; the impressively meaty, yet wonderfully tender, tuna steak was served admirably rare as promised. The quality of this hunk of boldly-seasoned saltwater fish was obvious, the accompanying aioli was a delight, while the simple, fresh side salad did a job. Capri’s mushroom pizza successfully negotiated the culinary tight-rope of truffle; not enough is pointless – too much induces projectile vomiting – just enough provided a world of flavour. The pizza base carried through authentic smokey elements and retained its thin and crispy integrity; however, the crust lacked ambition. Although the mushrooms were oily; overall, the pizza packed a satisfying umami punch. Additionally, two sets of sweet potato fries were gloriously salty, impressively crispy, yet concealed soft and flavourful interiors.

What followed was a billowing freshly baked scone of such rustic British beauty, I requested the national anthem over Capri’s Spotify account. All that was left was to slurp a robust, yet velvety flat white, before settling a not cheap nor unreasonable bill.

Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review

Rare Tuna Steak w/ Sweet Potato Fries

Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review

Rarer Than Hen’s Teeth

Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review

Mushroom & Truffle Pizza

Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review

Autumnal Gin Serves

Capri Cafe & Bar Review Summary

Atmosphere 9/10    Cost 7/10    Quality 9/10    Service 10/10

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Restaurant Review: Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, Manchester

Rudy’s Pizza – Worth The Dough

Entry to Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza was a lottery: like a meek sixteen-year-old slipping into Wetherspoons with fake ID and an even faker moustache, I prayed for access. Rudy’s Pizza is too cool for bookings and the queue was an hour. Fortuitously, Seven Bro7hers BeerHouse was ready and waiting moments away, temporarily quenching hunger pangs with excellent craft ales.

I was chirpily greeted and ushered to ring side seats opposite the chefs. I asked about the different Mozzarella – I couldn’t tell a word they said – but felt their passion and gratefully received delicious samples. Rudy’s Pizza is about simplicity; dough contains only four ingredients (flour, water, salt and yeast) and pizzas are only cooked for one minute. Rudy’s is proudly Neapolitan – not ‘thin and crispy’ and absolutely not ‘deep pan’.

Rudy’s pizzas are a thing of beauty. Billowing doughy crusts, rising and falling, before popping with lightly charred edges, run down to tissue paper thin bases. This is the pizza you lament you’ve only had in Italy. The luxurious salty cheese, nostril filling basil aromas, umami pumped tomatoes – this is what no frills Italian cooking is all about. However, toppings inelegantly slide from base to plate, like a collapsed drunk falling from a taxi and everything was very salty; but, with so much savoury deliciousness filling your mouth nobody cared.

Rudy’s interior was rather plain but the atmosphere carried a real buzz. Considering the characterful wine and reasonable price point – give me Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza over High Street chains any day.

Rudy’s Pizza Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 9/10    Service 8/10

Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza Review Northern Quarter Manchester

Great Value Red

Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza Review Northern Quarter Manchester

Mozzarella Magic

Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza Review Northern Quarter Manchester

Just look at that crust…

Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza Review Northern Quarter Manchester

Slice of Heaven

Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza Review Northern Quarter Manchester

Polenta Cake

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Restaurant Review: L’Escargot Bleu, Edinburgh

The Early Bird Catches The Snail

In 1295, the ‘Auld Alliance’ brought Scotland and France together through shared interests in controlling England’s aggression. Written by John Balliol and Philip IV, it primarily formed a military and diplomatic alliance, but more importantly for Scots, brought a steady supply of vin francais. I wondered: had the seven hundred years of French culinary influence behind L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh elevated Scottish cuisine, from deep fried everything and Irn-Bru to haute cuisine?

Nestled amongst the stone elegance of Edinburgh’s new town, away from the Playhouse traffic, into the neatly set, dimly lit, late Georgian streets sat L’Escargot Bleu. Behind the proud French navy façade, the interior was tastefully all matt grey, dark wood and flickering candles.

L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh started with Sea Bass Ceviche, arriving oddly hidden under glossy leaves. The dish was vibrant, refreshing – full of citrusy tang. The fish was skillfully sliced, the onions deftly shaved and all and sundry kept their textures determinedly. It was excellent, yet I wanted more. L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh didn’t match the eponymous ‘Don Ceviche’, by London’s Ceviche restaurants which I’d previously enjoyed; however, they’re Peruvian and double the price. Some well-seasoned, fresh mussels in breadcrumbs were served al la Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, which was tasty, but not entirely convincing.

Regarding mains, the cod was a hauling beast of pristine white muscle, yet carelessly fell away from my fork’s gentle glance. The aquatic Olympian was gifted texture by a coat of crumbly, salty deliciousness; and, dutifully guarded by purposeful mussels, all lovingly coated in a boldly seasoned, ethereal light sauce. The deep Burgundy coloured Venison Skewers were of a supreme quality: if you’re into murdering majestic mammals this should be why. The deer was fiercely seasoned, sublimely tender, and rested on perfectly formed couscous.

The Vegetable Gratin was more impressive than any side had any right to be: it was a miracle of engineering, being so rich in dairy goodness yet enigmatically light. Solid seasoning, punchy garlic and a weighty dose of (I suspect) nutmeg added a magical je ne sais quoi.

L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh’s cheeseboard wasn’t as compelling as it appeared: fine but unoriginal fromages, tediously uniform biscuits, avec oily, completely unnecessary salad leaves. However, the goat’s cheese was something special – thick, creamy, pungent mouth-filling titillation of the highest order.

With charming staff, quaffable wine, frighteningly good early-bird value and cosy, continental ambience, L’Escargot Bleu is an Edinburgh gem.

L’Escargot Bleu Review Summary

Atmosphere 9/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 8/10    Service 9/10

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu is listed as ‘Best Newcomer of the Year’ in The List Eating & Drinking Guide, features in the Michelin guide each year.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu is listed in the ‘Five Best Restaurants in Scotland’ by Pete Irvine.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu & l’escargot blanc’s chef patron Fred Berkmiller was a finalist for the ‘Chef of the Year’ title at the CIS Excellence Awards 2016 and has been named a ‘Food Pioneer’ at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu aims to: “unite the finest French and Scottish produce to provide a dining experience you will not forget”.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

£14.90 Two Course Early Dinner

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

“Provenance is key; there is only one rule in [their] kitchen – quality.”

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Restaurant Review: Northcote Manor, Blackburn

Northcote – Lancashire’s Lone Star Lunch

What better way to congratulate Jesus on rising from the dead, then sniffing out posh Sunday lunch? Northcote Manor, surrounding by sodden pastures and grey skies, is home to Lancashire’s only Michelin star and the formidable Nigel Haworth and Lisa Allen.

A sense of Michelin hospitality was undermined by walking both in and out of Northcote Manor without acknowledgement, and neither my coat nor dripping umbrella was offered to be removed. Service was organised, and the smartly presented young Northcote team were cordial, but the bus conductor inspired maître d with his rapid fire: “Have you decided – what would you like – what can I get you?” was less than comforting.

Lunch not exceeding an (outstanding) Amuse Bouche was a ‘first world problem’ par excellance: the first bite had the bittersweet honour of being Northcote Manor’s highlight. Melting magenta shells fleetingly fizzled, birthing a tart, sizzling beetroot flavour, that slapped my taste buds ’round the chops in no uncertain terms.

There was no choice but to accept the Dinner Jacket Potato Soup, which was more butter than jacket. The trendy foraged herbs added freshness, although someone’s hair added the opposite.

The Beetroot was the prettiest plate I’d ever seen: vibrant hues and floral shapes, elegantly intertwined in an act of vegetarian poetry. The sweet and acidic elements energetically danced but lacked a focal point. The alien looking Duck was heavily entombed but worked affably alongside the uplifting sorrel.

The Salmon proudly commanded the plate, yet unselfishly yielded to the fork’s graze. The boldly seasoned fish and convivially sweet roe double teamed the earthy mushrooms, creating a bravely balanced dish, which spoke of land and sea in matrimony. While the Japanese touch of soy, shitake and ikura (roe) worked charmingly. The thoughtfully composed Lamb was quality dead baby sheep but lacked a je ne sais quoi. It was so rare it walked passed the oven while being properly seared and heartily seasoned. The mash was superlatively silky and the scorched and pickled onions added textures and talking points.

I seldom want sandwiches for dessert – bread with the Cheeseboard wasn’t required. However, the trio of cheeses was delicious, especially a terrified looking puddle of something Brie related. Northcote Manor’s cleverly crafted Cream Egg was an enchanting nod to the season, providing deftly constructed contrasting textures, and my personal favourite flavour combination of hazelnut and white chocolate.

Northcote Manor Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 7/10    Quality 8/10    Service 8/10

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Beetroot Amuse Bouche

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Jacket Potato & Foraged Herb Soup

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Three Beets, Yellow, Red & Candied, Pickles Shallot Hearts, Horseradish, Herbs and Flowers

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Crunchy Goosnargh Duck, Sorrel Cream, Oxalis

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Roasted Salmon, Shitake Mushroom, Wilted Watercress, Soy

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Bowland Lamb, Crème Fraiche Potato, English Onion, Pickled, Scorched

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire

Three British Cheeses, House Crackers, Breads, Fireside Chutney and Fig Chutney

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn

Hazelnut Chocolate Cream Egg

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Restaurant Review: Malmaison Brasserie (Chez Mal), Manchester

Malmaison Manchester – Birthday Brasserie at Chez Mal

Organising a Saturday night group booking in Manchester was a surprising pain in the derriere. Despite the plethora of culinary hotspots the fine city offered, it became oddly frustrating: El Gato Negro (no bookings), Refuge By Volta (limited tapas menu), The Hawksmoor (hates vegetarians), Mr Cooper’s (no availability), Iberica (brilliant, but went recently), Manchester House (too expensive)…Then, down a dreary Piccadilly, the shimmering mirage of Malmaison Brasserie rose from the horizon and my anxiety washed away with the rain.

On paper, Malmaison Manchester ticked the boxes required for this 30th birthday. It appeared suitably ambient, dark and sophisticated, while the menu was diverse, interesting and not extortionate.

On arrival, Chez Mal was gently buzzing away. Men in jackets and ladies in denial of Manchester’s Baltic conditions filled the space. My parties interest didn’t register a flicker of emotion with the staff, and I slouched to the bar. Some bourbon based beverages were mixed together with too much sugar and not enough rapport.

We slipped to the large tables in anonymity and given only the Al La Carte and Wine List in silence – The Chez Mal Set Menu was mysteriously withheld. Some well-chilled dry white wine arrived in a laboured manner, sluggishly followed by fresh bread, served with the panache of a prison officer issuing their least favourite death row inmate’s last meal.

To start, the Tuna Tartare was elegantly presented with sophisticated, vibrant flavour combinations – if only there was more of it. The Duck Ragu Soup could have passed for a school canteen’s Sponge Pudding; fortunately, it was delicious. Despite its suspicious beige, lumpy demeanour, the depth of flavour and balance of seasoning was superb. One guest was allergic to prawns, and so asked for the Tempura Calamari & Prawns to be adapted – this was ingeniously accommodated by serving half the starter at the full price. The smell of the Spatchcock Quail made my omnivore mouth water with jealousy. The dead bird was wonderfully smoked without it drying out, with the pomegranate providing an exotic touch.

For mains, the Lobster Risotto was suitably Al Dente, with well-formed, proud standing Arborio, draped in well seasoned, rich stock. Unfortunately, the dish was lacking lobster and thus its raison d’etre. The fleshy morsel placed on top was really a delicious garnish. The Venison was an excellent autumnal thing – well rested, properly seared and satisfyingly meaty. I also had it on good authority the Chez Mal Burger managed a respectable account of itself.

For desserts, the Chocolate Fondant was a black hole of sensual cocoa, which I liked so much it was embarrassing. Finally, the gooey Le Fromage Tray sluttily spread itself everywhere and was as good as any I can remember. I wasn’t advised what constituted it – unfortunate, as this was Malmaison’s highlight.

Chez Mal, Malmaison Review Summary

Atmosphere 7/10    Cost 5/10    Quality 8/10    Service 3/10

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

My Kind of Love Note

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Zingy Flavours & Stingy Portions

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Grilled Spatchcock Quail

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Slow Roast Highland Venison Steak

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Lobster Risotto

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Valrhona Dark Chocolate Fondant

Malmaison Manchester Restaurant Review

Le Fromage Tray

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Restaurant Review: Sticks ‘N’ Sushi, Covent Garden

Sticks ‘N’ Sushi – You Maki Miso Happy

I never understood what the fuss was all about. Sushi – uniform slivers of translucent fish, wrapped up in something or other. I mean, what was there really to get excited about? I thought sushi was an overpriced excuse for a meal, something for the pretentious and anorexic. How wrong I was. Sticks ‘N’ Sushi opened my eyes to a new world of flavours and exotic ingredients, each more exciting than the last.

Once seated, I was handed the sexiest menu in existence. Although overwhelming, I leafed through this glossy erotica, dribbling over the sheer aesthetics of it all. I was interrupted by exceptionally elegant cocktails promptly arriving; the ‘Yuzu Zoo’ ethereal citrus and plum notes delightfully danced around a distinguished gin base.

Sticks N Sushi followed a tapas format, with small but perfectly formed plates arriving quickly and often. For those with big appetites and expensive tastes, Sticks N Sushi was potentially exorbitant. However, the lower priced options were delicious, and dishes quickly added up to become surprisingly satisfying.

The Tuna Tartare was one of Sticks N Sushi’s premium dishes, and stunning was an understatement. Dressed up like a miniature fairy tail garden, the fine muscular units of tuna hiding underneath were world class. The tartar was so graceful in its presentation and flavour combinations that I savoured every morsel like Charlie Bucket with his Wonka chocolate bar.

The Spicy Tuna Maki was another dish I’d suggest is essential eating. Miso Aioli lovingly clung to the handsome tuna, which was itself maternally embraced by perfect rice. I now predict Miso Aioli to become the hipster condiment of 2017, dethroning 2016’s Flying Goose Siracha. I loved the Masago element too – tiny orange gems, tactfully adding colour, texture and taste.

The grilled sweet potato had a clever smokiness, and its Teriyaki dressing lifted this humble ingredient to something of status. The Gypsy Rolls were carefully prepared and offered decent value for money. Unfortunately, the desserts were something of a non-event. Diners choose from a variety of colourful things in the shape of golf balls, none of which left an impression. My advice is to skip pudding and take another look at the excellent cocktail menu.

Currently ranked 122 of 17,720 restaurants in London, Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden earned this pedigree by offering thoughtfully prepared majestic dishes in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan environment.

Kanpai!

Sticks N’ Sushi Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10   Cost 6/10    Quality 9/10    Service 9/10

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review

Maki – Gypsy Roll

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review

Maki – Spicy Tuna

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden London Restaurant Review

Yakitori – Satsumaimo Yaki

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review

Tuna Tartare

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review

Fondant, Mochi Ice Cream & Dark Chocolate

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Afternoon Tea Review: The Colonnade Hotel, Maida Vale

The Colonnade Hotel: Not Tea Total

Maida Vale, a place where buying a semi-detached house demands winning the lottery – twice. Strolling by the meandering canal of Little Venice, admiring the surrounding handsome creme Regency mansions, I almost overlooked the plethora of tantalising kebab opportunities down Edgeware Road, just spitting distance away.

The quality of The Colonnade Hotel’s Afternoon Tea was ultimately disappointing. The scones were exceptional, but M&S sold superior sandwiches, cakes and pretty baked things Yummy Mummy’s like. Pret A Manger felt like a Michelin star in comparison. Some drinkable ‘champagne’ made an appearance, which was probably as French as Winston Churchill.

The Colonnade Hotel’s staff were smiley and organised. Curiously, I planned on booking for one o’clock but was asked to arrive an hour later due to a preceding large party. Not a problem, but rather than any residual buzz, the Colonnade Hotel’s atmosphere was as dead as Rolf Harris’ career.

The Colonnade Hotel’s subterranean bar needed obvious attention; the aqua and peach colour scheme was nobody’s cup of tea. If this was genuinely four-stars, go glamping and drink Prosecco from a Thermos instead. Weather permitting, there’s a charming raised garden, but the skinny trees only marginally muffled the traffic distractions. Actually, the garden was preferable to The Colonnade bar regardless of the weather.

As the afternoon tea was bought heavily discounted through Groupon, the experience provided fair value for money. London’s an expert at fleecing tourists, but even by its shameless standards, The Colonnade Hotels full price was ridiculous.

The Colonnade Review Summary

Atmosphere 4/10    Cost 5/10    Quality 4/10    Service 6/10

The Colonnade Hotel Afternoon Tea London Review

Standard Issue Afternoon Tea

The Colonnade Hotel Afternoon Tea London Review

‘Champagne’

The Colonnade Hotel Afternoon Tea London Review

The Caliphate of Maida Vale!

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Restaurant Review: The Kazbar, Oxford

Rocking The Kazbar

The Kazbar spread a sleazy smile across my face, like warm tetilla smeared across a crusty bocadillo. The shining sun lit up the riad-esque interior, flooding back hazy memories of Marrakesh. The orange washed walls, shimmering tiles and shabby chic furniture, created a unique, bohemian setting. This, combined with a zippy live band and hardworking, happy staff, produced a vibrant atmosphere that I was in no rush to escape from.

The annoyingly handsome beatnik main server provided genuine rapport throughout; his straightforward but conscientious approach was amicable without being overbearing. All The Kazbar’s Señoritas cheerfully glided around, although when one spilt an over-poured margarita over the table, her lack of resolution or even acknowledgement was irksome.

Cocktails are obligatory. I salute The Kazbar for having the rare decency to produce proper Margaritas (the drink, not the pizza). As requested, the venomous Bloody Mary didn’t take any prisoners. Sherry should also not be forgotten, magically pairing with everything in the tapas world. The Dry Amontillado was good value and perfectly sippable without food. The Manzanilla was the driest drink in the world; worth a try, but an acquired taste.

Some Kazbar dishes were better than others. The wonderfully light Smoked Mackerel Pate was the unexpected delicious highlight. The Prawns & Chorizo billed as the main event, were rather anaemic in a watery tomato sauce. The Moroccan Lamb, Beef & Harissa Sausage was the kind of tapas dish everyone wanted; ballsy (metaphorically, I hope), with a satisfyingly rich meaty flavour. The Gambas were adequate, but not inspiring. The Pig’s Cheek dutifully fell apart, with a beautiful depth of flavour. The Spiced Minced Lamb & Hummus was tasty, authentic but lukewarm. Some mysterious Latino Mozzarella substance from the specials board was divine. The well formed Membrillo Cheesecake graciously introduced two of my favourite things – Licor 43 and quince jelly. Finally, the Marrakesh Express commendably combined coffee and dessert with a delicious cinnamon finish.

The Kazbar’s squeaky clean plates spoke for themselves, my wallet didn’t feel violated, and I’m yet to review another a restaurant in Oxford with a warmer atmosphere – bravo!

The Kazbar Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 7/10    Quality 7/10    Service 9/10

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Restaurant Review: Beigel Bake, Shoreditch

Beigel Bake – Brick Lane Brashness

Beigel Bake is an institution. There is a magical quality to this small piece of East London, offering authentic, no-nonsense, affordable food. Honest, family-owned, working-class eateries should fuel a city. Despite London’s vibrancy, residents lament the ubiquitous sandwich chains and predatory fast-food corporations everywhere. Foodies fighting for freedom against these globalised monoliths suffer the burden of £4 loaves of bread. Beigel Bake is extraordinarily industrious – open 24/7 and cranking out an impressive 7,000 bagels a day.

Unfortunately, Beigel Bake’s staff are outrageously rude. After my first visit to Beigel Bake, I attributed this to a stressful day, thinking nothing of it. I empathised that 24 hours in front of a perpetual line of Shoreditch hipsters could turn Mother Theresa into Robert Mugabe. The second time, the same older lady unnecessarily barked menacingly. The third I time waited patiently, and meekly pleaded: “Can I have four almond croissants please?”. The patron saint of impatience rolled her eyes so far back she toppled over. Every time, irrespective of customer’s behaviour, they are treated like a student telling their PE teacher they’ve forgotten their kit. I’d get my atonement by summoning the courage to ask for a bacon barmcake sarcastically, but I’m terrified of getting a hot cleaver hurled at me.

Regarding the food, Beigel Bake’s salt beef bagel’s are the star of the show. The meat is thickly sliced, hot, juicy slabs with a mouthwatering depth of flavour. The mustard packs a real punch, and the pickles are an absolute necessity. If the mustard brings too many tears to your eyes, the salmon and cream cheese is a reliable alternative. The bagels themselves vary from soft to chewy, and the mustard portion control fluctuates between a splodge and a deluge. It’s either a by-product of working so industrially or just spitefulness. On various occasions, the fillings were pelted toward the bag, rather than served on the bagel itself. However, this scatter-gun approach to bagel production was forgiven as the prices were so reasonable. It’s not all bagels; the giant croissants are the best possible way to spend 50p in Shoreditch.

Beigel Bake’s perpetual stream of jolly police officers, snap-happy Brick Lane tourists, irritated local alcoholics and cooler-than-thou shell suit-clad students, all eagerly anticipating their 30p doughnuts, is as far away as Great British Bake Off as possible – which isn’t a bad thing. To learn more about Beigel Bake, this charming short film provides a nostalgic bagel-focused memoir of the food and people of Shoreditch (when it was a ditch).

Beigel Bake Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 8/10    Service 1/10

Beigel Bake Shoreditch London Review

Beigel Bake Hard At Work

Beigel Bake Brick Lane Shoreditch London Review

Beigel Bake Hard At Work

Beigel Bake Brick Lane Shoreditch London Review

Proper Bagels

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Bar Review: The Elephant’s Head, Camden

The Elephant’s Head – Victorian Camden

Camden Town, the simulacrum of whatever it used to be or thought it was. This one-time home of John Lennon, Charles Dickens and Sir Ambrose Fleming, saw a heroin-chic renascence in the early naughties. The skinny-limbed antics of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty preceded Noel Fielding and Russell Brand entertaining audiences by competing to have the silliest hair. Today, Camden’s biggest export is Dappy from N-Dubz. Camden falls over itself screaming how alternative it is while trying as hard as possible not to care, as carefully as possible. Camden is a hangout for biker gangs without motorbikes, the worst cocaine in Europe, and enjoys a working-class brashness despite one bedroom flats renting at £3,000 a month.

The Elephant’s Head was a scruffy, characterful pub full of scruffy characters, the kind that makes the past-time of London boozing a uniquely British pleasure. I love dark Victorian London Pubs; I like to imagine Jack the Ripper sitting at the bar, nursing a pint of mild, fiddling with a Soduku. The Elephant’s Head dates to 1832, being once part of the famous Camden Town Brewery, producers of ‘Elephant Ale’ in the 1800’s. Feeling like Julian Barrat in Nathan Barley, I sought refuge in something genuine – something with more purpose and age than me – away from the surrounding nonsense. The classic checkered floor, dark wooden bar and low ceilings filled me with hope.

The pub was teaming with leather clad punters, holding what I assumed was a piercing convention. The standard issue Full English and a pint of bitter both did the job and weren’t unreasonably priced, given the fiscal hell-hole that is Zone 1. Unfortunately, members of The Elephant’s Head staff were the sourest, patronising and most abrasive as I’ve come across.

The Elephant’s Head Review Summary

Atmosphere 6/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 5/10    Service 1/10

Elephants Head Camden Pub Review

Camden Street Artist (Of Sorts)

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