I’ve heard about this a few days ago – KitKat is opening a chocolatory (very much like the popular ones in Japanese) in London – specifically, east London at Westfield Stratford! So when the store opened today, I popped down at the first chance (i.e. lunch time) to take a look for myself – and loved what I saw!
The store is located at The Street, Westfield Stratford and is a lovely, bright pop-up shop where you can customise your own bespoke KitKat – from flavours, colours and toppings and even box design – on a computerized screen which is brought to life by a group of chocolatiers, all while you watch.
I really like the idea of a bespoke KitKat (you get to design an eight-fingered bar, so at least it’s big enough!) which I think really appeals to Londoners who like something a little creative. And of course, seeing lots of melted, sumptuous chocolate always makes me feel happy too.
You can watch a mini clip of how the KitKats are made below – sorry for the grainy quality!
If the bespoke KitKat is too pricey (or takes too long!) for you, there are also various ‘Special Edition’ flavours – new flavours are introduced every week, I’m told.
Here are some of this week’s flavours, don’t they look beautiful – almost too pretty to eat!
Chilli & Mint
Caramel and Sea Salt
Black Forest Gateaux
Popcorn, Toffee and Sea Salt
I think that this a really interesting concept brought over from Japan – I’ve always been fascinated with the quirky flavours from Japan like matcha, lavender, cheesecake and there’s even a potato flavour! (not sure I’d try that one though). I’ve already posted a few of these pictures on my social media and the viewers are loving the idea – although be warned the KitKats are slightly pricey for £7 to design your own bar.
The pop-up KitKat bar is open for the next 5 weeks until mid-November – pop down if you’re around! You can also see more pictures here of the opening today – what do you think of this?
It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper afternoon tea, so when my friends suggested a tea at lunchtime in the middle of work today, I didn’t resist for a moment. We’re lucky enough to work locally to Westfield Stratford in east London, which has a variety of restaurants and shops for us to indulge in every now and then (not everyday otherwise we’d all be bankrupt!)
So off we skiddled along to Sky Bar, which I never knew existed until I walked in, a beautiful balcony restaurant overlooking the random skyscrapers, train stations and restaurants of east London while having a lovely tea. The best part about this is that there was a 50% off deal going on as well, so it was cheap and guilt-less indulgence too!
I always love beautiful decor when visiting a new restaurant, and this place fit tickled my imagination nicely – a huge ceiling with cool wooden floors and metal decoration, beautiful lanterns and quirky paintings at the entrance.
Onto the good stuff, the food – I think the picture below sums up how pretty this tea was. I wasn’t expecting a lot for what we paid, and was pleasantly surprised by how nicely put together everything was. Teapots with fresh roses, jugs of tea and milk, plates of scones, jams, sandwiches and tea, lemonade water (for people like me who aren’t tea drinkers!) and beautifully made desserts.
We loved how well presented each plate of food was – between three of us we couldn’t finish this three-tier of sandwiches and cakes, and we had great fun swapping different flavoured macarons and cupcakes (by swapping, ‘sampling’ each other’s cakes!). My husband always says having afternoon tea is a bit of a girly thing, and that there are never enough sandwiches for his liking – personally I think afternoon tea is for everyone but I did love how girly and vintage-themed the flowers and crockery were. I also loved that there was a good mix of food for everyone, lemon cake, brownies, rich cupcakes, macarons, scones and three different fillings of sandwiches.
I also love how full the table looked by the time all of the food arrive – I never like paying a lot of money for an afternoon tea experience which makes you feel as if you didn’t really get much. Half of the tea can sometimes be the visual experience and the beautiful decor to match beautiful food, which in this case certainly worked well together. My favourite thing was a little cute case with a single macaron with an ‘eat me’ label on it! Sadly enough I wasn’t allowed to take the little case home (I did eat the macaron inside though, it was an almond-flavoured one), but it did give me ideas for future tea parties…!
All in all this was a lovely afternoon (even if we did have to go back to work after a long lunch!) and a perfect way to end the working week, and begin the bank holiday weekend!
My friends know by know, that when you take me to dinner, I’ll always love a diner with quirky decor, good food and even something to remind us of the 90s and our childhood. So when my best friend took me to Proper Burgers in East London, and she told me I’d love it, I was happy to find she was right – the food was great, decor was fab and the restaurant was something I did love!
The most striking thing about this restaurant is the statement wall – an entire wall of cassette tapes stuck to the wall that I loved. My friend also took her little children on a previous occasion to the restaurant and told me they didn’t know what the cassettes were, which I thought just shows how times move so quickly!
This wasn’t the only decor which I loved, there were dramatic prints, art-deco style lamps, light-up pineapples and quirky pieces like typewriters and vases of flowers, which all brought together a very friendly atmosphere. I also liked the fact that the restaurant wasn’t cluttered – there were mostly simple seating and clear spaces which is great for families (especially big ones!)
This is what we ordered, I ordered hte Proper Burger (classic quarter pounder meat) while my friend ordered a veggie burger with mushrooms, both with a side of chips (my friend ordered cheesey fries) as well as a lemon and vanilla milkshake.
Because these were gourmet burgers, they were a pretty decent size, and the meat patty used was a decent quality. My friend’s veggie burger was well cooked and each burger came with plenty of filling, salad and cheese with a generous dollop of sauce. The lemon milkshake was also lovely, although a little subtle in taste, which went well with the burger and fries.
This is a great place for a casual meal with friends (or family!) and the service was great too – we got served quickly and the staff were very friendly. I particularly liked the fact that they stopped to tell us about our food, as well as about the restaurant, which is nice to know about, and they also encouraged me to take more pictures of the restaurant!
I’m sure I’ll be coming back here again, I loved the decor and it’s always nice to find something like this in the heart of east London. I’ve been keeping an eye out for more places like this, so let me know about any suggestions:
Food: 7 / 10
Decor: 8 / 10
Atmosphere: 8 /10
Cost: Around £20 for 2 people
Halal status confirmed
Primrose Bakery is a little tea-and-cake shop I found hidden away near Covent Garden yesterday while wandering around the cobbled streets after lunch (and making my husband step into makeup shops with me to buy new lipsticks). I love luxurious, sumptuious afternoon teas but every now and then I prefer something quirky, sweet and prettily put together with odds and ends for a boho, funky look.
I’ve been trying to moderate how much chocolate I eat these days, so we stuck to a single (very chocolatey) cupcake with some coke (for me) and a latter (for him). I loved all the little touches, like the fresh flowers on the table.
I love finding places like this because you can see from a glance how much character it has, and also how much work has gone into it to make it memorable and beautiful. It’s also great to see everything is freshly-made and that there are books, posters, aprons and cupcakes everywhere to create a great atmosphere.
There was a little corner hidden away in the room for those who wanted some privacy (to stuff down their cupcakes) which I thought was really cute too, not to mention the random clothes-line!
A quick mention of the treats too – there were plenty of different flavours of cupcakes and brownies, including a ‘Flavour of the Month’ (this month is lemon meringue, last month was cheesecake!), all waiting to be lusted over by customers.
Its worth stepping in if you’re walking past this place, it’s slightly hidden away but it’s in a great location, just a stroll down from the busy shops in Coven Garden – worth sitting in to relax after tiring yourself out shopping!
The Olive and Lemon is a small bistro-style restaurant which is close-by to my workplace, so friends and I have often ended up there for lunch for a more luxurious lunch. It’s also handy because the majority of the food served is halal, there’s a good range of dishes and they also serve quickly in the lunch hour, being used to a crowd.
I also love the quaint decor of this place – it really lives up to its name of ‘olive and lemons’ with citrus trees scattered around, boxes of herbs and olives, mis-matched buckets and baskets of flowers hanging around the walls.
(Excuse the bad quality of my photo, I only had my mobile phone to take pictures which isn’t the best!) You can see that the decor really creates a warm atmosphere, which is even more beautiful in the summer should you want to sit outside.
Here’s what we actually opted for the last time I went with some work friends – I went for a grilled chicken burger with chips, my friend had the ‘Chef’s Special’ burger (which, when we asked what it was, were told it was just ‘mindblowing’ – it turned out to be a lamb burger) and another two of us opted for chicken and falafel wraps.
I’m not sure how flattering the pictures are, but the food was actually quite nice, and reasonably priced – not to mention the big portions. The burger I got was pretty big with a lot of salad and seasoning, and was decently cooked (the ‘Mindblowing’ burger was apparently not that mindblowing, but reasonable!). We also got huge sides of salad and chips with our food which was great for what we paid as well, which was around £5-6 each.
I love finding small spots which are
While the Olive and Lemon isn’t exactly a high-end restaurant, it’s not your average chicken-and-chips shop either, they take care to make each dish appetising and most of it feels quite healthy. I also loved that a lot of dishes reminded me of food I’ve tried in Greece and Turkey, which really adds to the Mediterranean feel they have.
Good grub for a lunch-time break, and a nice place to sit around with friends for a chat – and if you tell them you’re on your break, they’ll bring your food out quicker too!
The original Bombay Cafes have almost disappeared. Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, their faded elegance opened all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turns slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.
I recently visited Bombay Cafe Dishoom, Shoreditch branch, which has been on my list of restaurants I’ve wanted to visit for a few year now. There a few branches open all over London now, and I’ve been told by a few friends who have been to this place how great this place is, so I had high expectations of this place. My friends and I booked a lunch to go one weekend to experience some culinary (and visual) delights, and were not disappointed.
Dishoom harks back to an older era which mixes chai in metal cups with fusion dishes and art deco and art noveau decor; there’s random railway signs (which remind me of old Bollywood films from my childhood), funky bits of clocks and machinery, sepia-coloured family photos and gorgeous fabrics and flooring, all mixed together for an old-timey but very friendly atmosphere. There’s nothing pretentious about this place at all, and the staff who work here are just as friendly.
The best thing about this place is it’s eccentric decor and the way everything seemed to come together – everything is placed together in a mix-and-match way without feeling cluttered or over-crowded at all, and there’s plenty of seating for the customers.
When we wear seated, we were giving metal cups and a water jug, with condiments and pretty plates. One of the things which really stood out from this restaurant was these plates, which were laid out with small personal stories on each one, in patterns and swirls and which added a really nice quirky touch. It really tied in with the history of the restaurant and gave a way of making us feel part of the restaurant’s Story and how it works.
Of course I have to comment on the food, which is the initial reason we came. Dishoom apparently does a brilliant breakfast, which I have yet to try but we came for a (slightly late!) lunch and loved what we had. Our meal was pretty traditional in its cuisine, but there was plenty of juicy flavour and variety, and there’s something special about each dish. The rotis (traditional chappatis/round bread) were huge and delicious, not like the usual naans you get in standard restaurants but something closer to what my mum makes, and the drinks were traditional South Asian drinks – no coke or Pepsi here, you’ll find what is served in a normal Bombay Cafe.
And what meal is complete without tea and dessert? I loved the Dishoom take on some traditional desserts – the ‘Memsaab Mess’ and ‘Guju Chocolate Mousse’, combining traditional English desserts with an Eastern touch. I also loved the drinks menus – there’s seven types of chais alone, each with their own dash of unique flavour.
And of course I must mention the signs in this place – they’re humorous and to the point – it’s nice to be reminded sometimes not to sleep in the toilet!
I love the way there is a juxtaposition of old style glamour with modern retro decor, everywhere you turn you’ll see wooden chairs and screens mixed with painting, odd bits of machinery on display, from the welcome counter at the front door to the ground floor bathrooms and bar.
Like it’s name, (‘Dishoom’ is the sound you used to get in old Bollywood movies when heroes threw a punch, think ‘kapow!’), this restaurant packs quite a punch and certainly lives up to its name. I loved my visit here, for both the food and the style of this place, and it’s great when the visual experience you get is just as good as the food. I’m already planning to come back soon, and have recommended it since to about three people who went and said they loved it too. Maybe I’ll try another branch next time, Convent Garden maybe?
I love trying new food, but sushi is still a new one for me, I’ve had it a few times and I’m still getting used to it. I love Chinese and Thai, but Japanese food took me a little longer, mainly because the first time I tried sushi (a good few years ago!) it was just too weird for me and I never tried it again.
Recently my sister-in-law convinced me to try it again, and it’s still a little strange but I’m getting used to it – not to mention I’ve tasted more cuisines so I feel more open to new tastes! I loved the other dishes I tried though, katsu is a new favourite for me along with the crispy pumpkin and buttersquash dish, something I didn’t know I’d like!
So here’s a shot of my dinner, doesn’t it look lovely and colourful?
I won’t bombard you with too many photographs in this post; the last two days in Santorini were quiet for us and we spent the last couple of days relaxing and wandering around. Because we’d already visited most of the sites on the island, we weren’t in a hurry to visit everything the way we had been before, and we picked and chose the places we wanted to go. It would have been amazing to go on another cruise to further out islands, or do a day trip to Athens, but this would have taken hours by boat, and we wanted to be able to take our time. We’ve decided to take a separate trip to Athens on another date, so more planning in the future!
We spent a lazy morning at the local beach after breakfast, sitting in the sun, looking at the sea and the quirky things around town (we wanted to try a hammock but it looked unsteady so we didn’t!)
We went to a really interesting local restaurant called Gecko for lunch – we’d been here for dinner a few times and loved the impeccable service and cheap food. This was a newly-opened restaurant, and the chef was willing to tweak anything we wanted to menu – with some amazing egg sandwiches, clubs and veggie burgers, as well as their signature piece called Tornado Potato (a twisty piece of potato skewed all along a stick , very nice and crispy!)
After wandering around for a while and looking at the signs, we took a bus from Perissa to walk around Fira one last time and see what we could buy.
We also spent rest of the day souvenir shopping – there were some local shops with a lot of beautiful hand-crafted goods, such as these different glass and clay beads which I thought were beautiful. We also got the standard fridge magnets, bookmarks and touristy stuff as well, and had a look at some t-shirts (which we didn’t end up getting because they were surprisingly expensive!)
After one last peek over the edge of the cliffs towards the beautiful sea, we headed back to the hotel to get our things ready for the flight the next morning.
The drive to the airport was strangely surreal, after seeing all the blue seas, sandy beaches and beautiful buildings, we drove for a while through green fields, hilly mountains and past mis-matched buildings and shops.
The airport itself is tiny – we’re used to the buzz of London airports and this one was pretty small, with a small cafe to wait in, a tiny duty free corner and a long queue to get to the place. The surroundings of the airport is quite sparse, but there are a few ruins around the area (including a fake building which is on the edge of the runway below, which is bigger than it looks and gives a taste of what is waiting in Santorini!)
It was really relaxing holiday for us, and lots to see – we got back to London pretty quickly (back to drizzly weather!) with a beautiful view of the countries below from the airplane window, and plenty of good memories. : )
We decided on a change of scenery for this day, and decided to visit the southern part of Santorini to explore the beaches and archeological sites there. Since we didn’t want to take any taxis, we opted for public transport again to travel.
Ironically, we had to travel to Fira by bus in order to take another, shorter bus journey back South again to an area called Akrotiri, which had been recommended to us. We had looked at the idea of hiring quad bikes to get around (they cost about €20 at the local vendor we asked at), especially as we’d seen lots of people using them to get around. In the end we didn’t go with the quad bikes because it was a bit risky to drive long distances with these, and it would have added up after a few days plus petrol!
The picture on the left is our first view of area Akrotiri itself, there was a small archeological site and exhibition before this which we had a quick look at and saw a few ruins at (but we didn’t have time to go in, which I regret!), before we walked down to the strip of shops, restaurants and alleys at the pier.
We ate at a pretty place which was hidden away on the side of a turning called the Cave of Nikolas, which was an unpretentious place with quirky decor in the shape of a hollow, which reminded me a lot of Bilbo Baggin’s home! I went for battered codfish with a mash-and-garlic side, and my husband went for calamari with something called ‘tomato balls’, which is batter and tomato and seasoning (which reminded us very much of a dish we have called pakoray!)
Entrance to the ‘Cave’
Our table, with a sea-view
Our meal, sea-food galore!
Our complimentary honey-and-lemon cake
After eating, we decided to stretch our legs and make our way down to the famous Red Beach. We stopped at a few shops and restaurants along the short strip on the way, and took the scenic route to the main clearing towards the Beach. As with other parts of the island, the water was ubelievably clear, there were a few boats anchored nearby, and there was ample relaxing space, although again, the sand was quite pebbly so we didn’t take our shoes off for long!
From the bottom of the entrance to the Red Beach to the actual beach itself, is a bit of climb, and a little scary. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the scenery, and it really is beautiful seeing the red cliffs and blue water stretched out, but you also need to be really careful when walking to the beach because it’s pretty rocky.
Wear appropriate footwear! This is really important, because there’s no proper staircase or steps, you have to have good grips over the rocks (although there is a beaten pathway where other hikers will have gone so that helps!)
Same goes for clothing – not that you’d expect to wear hiking gear, but it helps if you wear comfortable clothes that are easy to move around in and that you don’t mind a bit of dust on.
Don’t try to be adventurous! There isn’t much in terms of safety and rails, so it’s better to follow everyone’s lead and go along the same tracks.
Take food or water down with you if you want to relax in the main beach area of the Red Beach – we didn’t see any shops or food places at the bottom, and we noticed people brought their own towels to relax in after they went swimming in the sea.
It was a scary climb to get to the bottom of the beach but from the very outset, it’s easy to see why it is named the Red Beach – the sand and soil were a unique beautiful reddish-brown colour, and it as easy to see why this volcanic-sand beach is one of Santorini’s iconic landscapes.
Shades of reddish-brown volanic sand
Boulders and rocks to climb up on
Our view along the way
We we reached the bottom, we could see the White Beach, another iconic landmark in Santorini, in the distance. The only way to get to this beach is to take a ferry there, but there weren’t any scheduled for the time we arrived at the beach so we didn’t wait for the next one, rather choosing to relax, admire our surroundings, take pictures and dip our feet in the (really cold!) water.
After a couple of hours at this beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying the view, we got a little restless after a while and climbed back up the rocks again to the top of the beach (where we found another bridal shoot happening!) and we rested at the top for a while. We had a look at the Agios Nikolaos or St. Nickolas Church (below) which is built into the mountain at the Red Beach, and also some of the souvenir stalls nearby.
We then made our way back to the bus-stop, although we took another route back from the way we came, spotting a home-made preservative shop, some sea-food restaurants and plenty of flowers everywhere we went.
View through an arch
A shop selling home-made jams
This was a really interesting view of Santorini, compared to the hustle and bustle we’d seen in Fira the day before. While it was just as beautiful as the views we’d seen before, it had a much wilder look to it, maybe because it didn’t feel as man-made as the city had, and not as touristy as Perissa had. Climbing up and down the reddish mountains was quite tiring, and by the time we got back to our hotel we were ready to relax and have a good night sleep!
It’s not often that I get to enjoy a meal somewhere different, and this river-side cafe tucked away near the River Thames was a perfect spot to enjoy a light meal and a cool breeze, and watch some ferries go by.
It’s nice to enjoy the warm weather and take a break after a long day’s work (especially after convincing your husband to take you shopping and ending up with a bag full of cookies).
I’m hoping to explore London and wander around more this summer, but for now, this is a snap for Mondays, to start the week off with some luxury and some food!