Pretty Treats at Primrose Bakery

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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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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.

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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!

Back To The Future Day – 21 October 2015

It’s here! It’s finally arrived! The day that Marty in classic Back to the Future II dials to find goverboards, microwavable pizzas, self-lacing shoes and flying cars – although not all that we’ve been promised have been developed yet!

I’m off to celebrate with a Back to the Future Marathon, pizza that doesn’t microwave and a skate board – but it’s amazing to see how time flies. No, I don’t feel old at all!

You can read some live updates here and here by The Guardian, and BBC here.

Happy Places: Libraries & Bookshops

I have a few places which I’d call my happy place (a shop with colourful pens, for example!) but one I think are one of my go-to happy places are libraries. I don’t go to libraries as often as I used to since I got my electronic book reader, which I use (when I do get time to myself!) or I end up forgetting I have a pile of books in my room (I currently have five next to my bed) and start reading something else.

I went to a local library yesterday, and loved the fact that although there are many changes to libraries, there’s still that magic of hundreds of books and the potential of a new world to step into. It reminds me of my childhood a little as well, since my sisters and I used to visit the library every week (and take out the maximum number of books allowed) – one of my earliest memories of the library is my dad taking me to the library as a child, and the estatic joy at seeing all the children books – so it’s no wonder that this feeling has stayed with me.

Whenever hubster and I go somewhere new, I always look for a bookstore or library to make myself home. This is a picture of one of my favourite discoveries – a beautifully quirky bookshop we found in the city of Istanbul, which had art, beautiful old books and a big curved staircase which just made the whole thing amazing.

So here’s one of my happy places, being surrounded by books. I just need to find that library which had the huuuuge books in them, so I can stand on top and pretend to be a tiny person lost in Book Land…!

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Dishoom: A Spicy Chai You Need To Try

A BOMBAY CAFE IN LONDON

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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