That Time I Brunched at Home with Friends

The heatwave has arrived in London, so I’ve been making the most of the weather, with ice-cool drinks, random visits to pretty cafes, relaxing in the park and meeting up with friends now that we all have a little free time.

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the popular rise of Brunching – it’s fashionable, instagrammable and usually healthier than a standard fry-up.

When I go out with friends, we usually opt for brunch – it’s sometimes cheaper than lunch, looks more photogenic and we usually feel pretty satisfied with a decent meal. Having said that, I can see that these days it is easy to get caught up in the brunching/afternoon-tea-ing/girl-about-town lifestyle, which means spending a bucket-load of money to feel like you had an ‘experience’ worth showing off to others.

A friend and I were talking about how it is easy to have this lifestyle and mentality become normalised – there is nothing wrong with going out with friends to eat, but it can be easy to spend more than you intend to, or indulge in too much unhealthy food because of the whole ‘FOMO’ fear behind the ‘Instagrammable’ life. So we decided to opt for the best of both worlds – pretty, photogenic food but the comfort of our home, with healthy(ish) food which didn’t cost much – below you can see the results!

I’m not sure we’ll always be able to manage brunch (or afternoon teas, gourmet dinners and so on) at home, especially with the busy lives we lead. Not to mention the fact that sometimes it can cost the same to buy all the pretty food we want, even if we’re just going to have it at home! Having said that, it’s nice to have something cosy at home, with lots of banter and gossip, and a chance to kick off your shoes and relax : )

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Happy Eid everyone!

It’s been both a long and a short month (is that possible??) of fasting – on the one hand, the days seemed long, hot and all I thought about was what to cook that day. On the other hand, it really feels like the days just sped by and 30 days of fasting were gone already!

We had a lovely long weekend of celebrating with family, full of dinners (where everyone’s stomach still feel shrunken so we are all getting full very quickly!)

Here’s a peek at our Eid, which we spend at my mum’s, my sister’s, my brother’s and at my aunt’s for meals. I love that even though we don’t have a huge family in the UK, we still have lots of family around us to celebrate with and it always feels like we aren’t short of dinner invitations. I’ve always said to my husband that I can do without a new outfit (even though I buy a new one every Eid) and the bling, but it’s the memories with family which make it Eid.

Hope you all enjoyed the celebrations and had a lovely Eid – I feel a bit sad I didn’t have time to put mehndi on this time around, but I’ll see if there are any mehndi cones lying around!

I’ll leave you with a short story of my little nieces and young cousin, whom I found in my sister’s garden – one niece was lying down while the other two were poking her. When I asked them what they were doing, their response was that they were playing ‘the dead bee game’. My sister wandered out a little while later to find that they had switched places and another niece was playing the dead bee!

Kids!

Waffles for Brunch

I’m sure you’ve seen that brunches have become very fashionable these days – who does breakfast and lunch separately when you can go for the cool menu and have something special (and instagrammable?)

I’ll admit I love the idea of brunches – it’s more filling than breakfast and usually prettier than a lunch. And here’s another thing – it’s usually cheaper than going for lunch but still comes in decent portions! Having said that. one of the things I’ve always said about living in London (and enjoying a social life in London!) is that it can be pricey – eating out can add up and sometimes it isn’t always worth it.

One of the things I am starting to do more is make quality food at home where I can make something easy, and understand how to put it together. This is a waffle and fruity brunch my friend made for me when I visited her recently (we even melted chocolate and poured it over as artistically as we could, which wasn’t much), which we sat for a little while and enjoyed some banter – it was filling, cheap and best of all we didn’t need to go out in the cold at all!

Floral Cabanas at Coppa Club

I’ve been hearing (and seeing) a lot about the Coppa Club beautiful cabanas (especially after they had some very cosy igloos in the wintertime for customers!), and took the chance to go there recently with a couple of friends to try some lunch there on a warm day. The restaurant is situated next to Tower Hill, and has a perfect view of the River Thames and its various buildings, so unsurprisingly, it was extremely busy and most of the tables were taken!

We didn’t get to spend long in the cabanas as they were all booked up, but the staff did let us sit in one for a short while, until we were moved to our proper table. The hanging flowers looked beautiful, and made us feel like we were in a secret garden – a really lovely atmosphere.

As for the food, we ordered some light lunch – a salmon and cress toast, a watermelon salad and a fruity trifle with some mocktail drinks. The food was not bad, but I did think it was slightly pricey for what we got – I imagine this is due to the prime location of the restaurant. The salmon was pretty standard, but the dessert was nice – the only thing I was a little disappointed with were the drinks, which didn’t have anything special about them.

I’ve been meaning to go Coppa Club for a while now since they’ve had the cabanas, and it was lovely to sit and enjoy the view. However I will say that it was very, very busy which definitely affected the customer service – we asked the staff several times for a few things and they just never came back to us, or said they would speak to the manager and then didn’t give us an answer. One of the things we wanted was to change our tables, as we were seated in a very uncomfortable spot under a very hot sun, but despite asking for over 45 mins if we could change, we never got another table and eventually just left after we ate. For me, this affected the experience pretty negatively, which made me feel like the hype wasn’t enough for the quality of food and customer service you get.

One of the things which is on the rise is beautiful looking food, flat-lays and pretty restaurants, especially with food bloggers and Instagram making everything look so appealing. My experience here has warned me not to always believe the hype – it may look pretty in the pictures but sometimes it might not be as amazing as it looks!

EVALUATION:
HALAL : NO
VEGETARIAN & VEGAN OPTIONS AVAILABLE: YES
PRICE : £10 UPWARDS FOR light lunch, £15-30 FOR LUNCH
RATING OUT OF 10: 4
LOCATION: 3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames St, London EC3R 6AH

Gourmet Burgers at Olive & Lemon

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.

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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.

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OLIVE AND LEMON (1)

OLIVE AND LEMON (2)

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!

Flashback Fridays: Fruitpot Fruityness

Something from a special day this time last year – fruit pots from my wedding day! Can you believe it’s been nearly a year since that day? There’s a lot of little details that didn’t quite register with me on the day, but this was one of the most popular things we had. We always do fruit and a sweet bar, but my sisters went all out with our fruit bar for my wedding and got a lot of compliments, not to mention all the fruit getting devoured – even our professional caterers were pretty impressed.

And I must say, they had reason to be, don’t these look lovely all lined up together?

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Weekend Pretty…Ripe Red Pomegranates

One of the best things about Turkey was the fresh pomegranate, lemon and orange juices available on almost every corner, which was made from bursting full pomegranates and fresh citrus fruit that tasted amazing. I haven’t seen as ripe fruit like this in London (maybe not til summer at least!) but it’s something I already miss, because the taste when we’ve tried making our own is just not as fresh or sweet.

On the bright side, we bought back some spiced pomegranate tea, so that’s something for the winter evenings!

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