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
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Halal Gems Street Eat Food Festival

My sisters and all recently went (although all of us at different times!) to the Halal Gems Street Eat Food Festival at Spitalsfield Market in London, which was an a pretty iconic event in that it brought more attention to diverse halal food, for Muslims and non-Muslims.

I’ve been to food festivals before, and even halal food festivals, but this one was an interesting one to go to because of how much publicity it got, and the different vendors who would be at the event. One of the things we liked was that there was a lot of fusion cuisines, and a chance to try food from places I’d been meaning to visit but hadn’t got around to (either because the restuarants were a little far away or I jsut never got the time!)

I managed to try a slow-pulled smoked brisket burger from Meat & Shake, haloumi fries from Oli Baba’s and a mango soda from Square Root London and finished off with my friend’s tumeric-and-brownies ice cream sandwich from Blu Top – all of which I really liked. The food was a little pricey for a food festival for me, and the queues were huge (although luckily I came early so didn’t have to wait as long), not to mention some foods selling out so not everyone got a chance to try it! I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make the most of the different dishes because I got full pretty quickly, and the fact that I couldn’t spend too much, as some of the food was a little expensive.

I think this was aimed at a lot of younger families and working professionals, and certainly we saw a lot of these at the event – people who had come for lunch, after work or even just with their families.

I think it’s a really nice way to bring halal food to the fore and raise awareness, and we saw a lot of non-Muslims enjoying the festival as well. We also managed to make the most of the games available – although I will admit, we managed to get distracted from these by the shops and markets nearby and ended up shopping instead!

Floral Vibes at Bourne & Hollingsworth

I recently met up with a very old friend for brunch, after a very long time (ten years!) and celebrated at the beautiful restaurant Bourne & Hollingsworth. They don’t have a halal menu unfortunately, but there’s plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and I really enjoyed my order at this restaurant.

One of the things I loved about this B&H was the floral vibe it had going on – it really reminded me of Rudyard Kiplings stories which I used to read when I was younger, which gave a really lovely atmosphere. I also loved the fact that the company’s business cards are basically a sketch of the restaurant, such a cute idea!

There’s also outdoor seating too, it was a little chilly for us so we opted for the indoors, but it’s opposite a park and feels very peaceful and quiet to sit outside too.

So let’s get to the food, I ordered a poached eggs hollandaise, while my friend ordered the savoury courgette pancake. I LOVED my meal, it was light, fluffy and the sauce was amazing, while my friend’s pancakes were pretty tasty and full of flavour.

And of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert – we both opted for chocolatey brownies in hot sauce, which finished off the meal nicely.

The restaurant gets pretty busy (which we found when we had to book to reserve a table!) but the atmosphere is quite chilled out, and I love that there’s small details everywhere in the decor to create the look of the restaurant – a piano for the front desk, a vintage bathtub in the bathrooms, tiles walls in the private dining area – there’s something appealing for your eyes most places you look.

I really enjoyed having brunch at this restaurant, and would love to come back again. I can imagine that it’s perfect for a light meal, and somewhere to sit and feel like you’ve been transported to another era.

EVALUATION:
HALAL : NO
VEGETARIAN & VEGAN OPTIONS AVAILABLE: YES
PRICE : £7 UPWARDS FOR BRUNCH, £15-18 FOR LUNCH
RATING OUT OF 10: 7
LOCATION: 42 Northampton Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HU

Chilli Burgers at Habaneros

I’ve seen a huge rise of the gourmet burger restaurant in the past couple of years, and I’m sure that the fact that there are a lot of halal restaurants make them even popular. I’ve been to quite a few halal (and vegetarian!) gourmet burger places, and am starting to get the hang of what makes a decent ‘gourmet’ burger, as well as what separates them from the standard ones you get in a normal chicken-and-chips shop down the road.

Hubby and I recently went to Habaneros, a gourmet burger chain in West London, which was a little out of our way, but having heard it was one to go to, we decided to give it a shot.

One of the things which makes a restaurant memorable for me is not just the food, but the atmosphere and the care taken in in the decor – it makes the place something more attractive for me to come back to. The decor in the place was pretty funky, lots of wall art, subtle lighting spaces for sit. Although the diner isn’t huge, there’s space to sit and eat and it gets pretty busy at lunch-times and after work!

This is what I ordered, a classic Habanero burger with cheesy fries, while my husband went for a spicy Samurai burger and fries. I liked that both burgers were big enough to be filling, but not too massive. As much as I like getting my money’s worth when it comes to food, I prefer quality and not overloading – I have been to some gourmet burger joints in the past where I’ve had to cut up my burger to eat it in portions!

The Habanero burger isn’t particularly spicy but is very juicy, the meat is tender enough to taste great but has a nice grilled taste to it, and blends well with the sauces and salad. I was slightly disappointed with the cheesy fries as I thought the cheese would be melted cheese on top of the chips, and this was more of a cheesy sauce, but they tasted okay and we did eat them all!

Hubby’s Samurai burger was surprisingly more chilli than mine – I think this was mainly due ot the sauce in the burger, but it was a lovely sweet-and-chilli taste which I liked.

I liked that this is a very reasonably priced place to go – burgers cost about £5.95 each and they are made pretty quickly – perfect for any rush-hours too. I’ve already been back to this place to get another burger, although I will admit, as an east-Londoner it is a little far!

Evaluation:
Halal : yes
Vegetarian options available: Yes
Price : £5.95 upwards, depending on whether it’s just a burger or a meal
Rating out of 10: 6.5
Location: 3A Walm Lane Willesden Green London NW2 5SJ

Bright Lights at Dalloway’s Terrace

My friends and I managed to get a table at the constantly-booked Dalloway’s Terrace restaurant, which took us about a month to get, but was worth it for the visual experience and the ambience. The restaurant is known for it’s pretty decor and looks lovely at night – which was the first thing my friends and I noticed as soon as we got to the restaurant.

The decor which was up was mainly lights and lanterns, painted pine-cones and white trees and rushes, which made for a very intimate feel to the restaurant. The seating is centred around the trees and the lights and it feels pretty surreal to sit in the middle of it because it feels a little like being in a fairy-like enchanted woods (without the cold, there were heaters everywhere!)

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The food itself is a little limited in terms of halal, but we were re-assured that the chicken in this restaurant is halal. There is a mix of cuisine, with mainly English and a dash of Meditarranean and Asian. We all opted for some fondues and also chose a meal each as well – I picked a miso cod on a bed of quinoa, with spinach leaves in cream (and we also got chips for everyone to share, becuase why not!)

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My friends also picked a mix of food – one went for a mixed sea-grill, another went for bruschetta, while my other friend was in the mood for dessert and went for fruit-tarts and a hot chocolate! The food was presented quite nicely, and I personally liked the dish I picked – it was tender, juicy and had a good mix of sweet and savoury. I think our favourite thing was the fondues though – we ordered a cheese one with fruit, and another white chocolate fondue with strawberry which really completed the night (not to mention fighting over and stealing each other’s fruit from the fondue pot!)

The bright lights have been taken down from Dalloway’s Terrace now (which will be back at the end of the year at Christmas time) but it’s still worth a visit when the restaurant re-opens in May with their springy green decor. I really enjoyed myself at this restaurant and would love to try afternoon tea in the summer at this place – I’m sure it will be just as fun an experience!

Have you been to this restaurant? What dish did you like best?

Night Lights Ambience

One of my favourite things about winter (when Im not shivering from the minus-degree temperatures and binge-eating seasonal chocolates) is to look for all the beautiful lights which have been installed around the city. Because it gets dark so quickly (at the moment, the sun has been setting at 4pm) it’s easy to explore all the lights in the area and see how lovely they look.

Unfortunately, I’m sure many of you photographers will know that the bane of taking photos when going out are low-light photograph – it’s difficult to get a decent picture without it being too grainy or blurry! Here’s one my husband took of me after dinner, where we explored the O2 arena a few weeks ago and strolled around. The best thing about this was the night-time atmosphere, there were plenty of tourists and lots of shops and restaurants open, which really created a pleasant buzz.

One of the things I am intending to do this year is to learn when to relax and enjoy the moment – I’m one of those freaks who is always simultaneously Snapchatting, Instagramming, Whatsapping and using a DSLR to capture a beautiful sight. Thankfully my husband is used to it, but it’s something I’m trying to cut down on! Let’s see how it goes this year – quality photos over quantity!

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Foodie Review: Sweet, Mile End

I was recently invited to a Blogger’s Meet at Sweet, Mile End, a trendy dessert place in Mile End who wanted us try their desserts to review whether we would enjoy the food. I was pretty please to be invited, as I would be going with with some bloggers I know (either in real life or online!) and it was a great opportunity to hang out, gossip, eat great food and relax.

You can see the other blogger’s reviews here: Hijabi in London; Yasmins Intro; The London Haloodie – be sure to check their blogs out!

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Sweet is mainly a dessert restaurant, which provides a wide range of milkshakes, mocktails, cakes, waffles, crepes and cookie doughs – as well as their signature ‘Alto-Shakes’, which are crazily-extravagant milkshakes topped with icing, cakes, syrup, more toppings and chocolate!

 

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We were lucky enough to try a range of desserts and drinks and we each decided to try a few different things so we can mix-and-match and share our treats. Funnily enough we all had very different tastes – I’m a huge cheesecake and chocolate fan, while the others loved the idea of a waffle, milk shake or the salty desserts. You can see below some of the things we ordered – don’t they look amazing? They actually tasted yummy, the desserts were presented amazingly on each dish and tasted great, balancing salty flavours with sweet, rich flavours with sharp and tangy.

Having tried a lot of options, I loved a lot of these desserts, but my favourite was the Ferrero Rocher chocolate cheesecake (I’m a sucker for cheesecakes!) and the fruity mocktails, although I did like the sound of the ‘gulab jamun’ and ‘gajar ka halwa’ ice cream! I also really liked the mocktails – perfectly fruity and not too icy cold.

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I also liked the decor in this restaurant, which was very London-centric with the pencil-drawing art on the walls, mixed with muted colourful lights and a soft atmosphere – a great place to sit and unwind after work.

I had fun at this restaurant and it was great to meet like-minded bloggers (sharing blogger problems like the art of taking ten thousand photos of food pictures to get the right angle!)
Dessert places in London are becoming pretty popular and it’s not surprising, they’re the ideal places for hangouts and who can resist a good dessert? The other thing I loved about this place was that it’s fully halal, so there’s no worries for Muslims in east London looking for a sweet treat after dinner in this area. I’m sure I’ll be dropping by in Sweet again – let me know if you’ve been and what you think of it!

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Carnaby Street Eat

I was lucky enough to be around central London last weekend with a friend, so that we could make the most of the annual Carnaby Street Eat – a mini food festival perfect for foodies like us!

I love hearing about events like this around London, especially since it’s such a diverse, busy place with plenty happening (like my favourite event from this year, Lumiere London) – and the the best thing is that a lot of these are free (if you hear about them in time and know where to find them!) and usually involve wandering around discovering London!

My friend and I headed down to Carnaby Street and found plenty of food stalls, which was perfect with the summer weather and the beautiful surroundings. I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to, but here’s a few pictures from my Snapchat app!

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One of the things I love about Carnaby Street is the decor – there’s plenty of colour all year around and the shops regularly have funky decor to match. Carnaby Street had some added decor around the street, with plenty of food trucks, DJ decks for music and even a long strip of (false!) grass patch for people to sit and relax in.

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The food, of course looked amazing – most of them were from restaurants and bars nearby, so it was nice to see that you can sample food from new places. Unfortunately not a lot of these places had halal food, but there were a few vegetarian options, and we did manage to find an Indian restaurant selling burgers! As well as savoury food, there were plenty of desserts – rainbow meringues, cupcakes and biscuits, as well as free lemonade and ice-cream sandwiches being handed out.

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My friend and I managed to find a spot on the grass to sit and relax (and also manage to snag a huge floor cushion to sit and relax in!) and we enjoyed the beautiful sun and sights. We also stopped for desserts and plenty of drinks!

 

I like that there were things around all of Carnaby Street to catch your eye and add a little colour – from silly signboards and beautifully decorated walls to foosball table games and deckchairs – something for everyone. It’s not often an event like this comes to London, and it was great to see everyone come out to enjoy themselves.

We had a great time at Carnaby Street Eat, and manage to catch a little suntan as well – although I don’t think my tan lasted too long! I’ll be keeping an eye out for more events like this in London, especially as summer as finally arrived and there’s plenty of sun to enjoy!

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Afternoon Tea at the Sky Bar

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!

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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.

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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.

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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…!

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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!

Beautiful Bergen – Part 2

While staying in Bergen we managed to see quite a lot of sites in the few days that we stayed there, and tried to make the most of the long days and various attractions. One of the things which really struck my husband and myself was how well-spoken the Norwegian citizens are, and also how healthy and fit they seem – we spoke to several inhabitants who told us about regular walks up and down the mountain, the beautiful fresh air and various fresh fish they had for meals which was caught by the wharf.

There’s quite a few things which stood out for me in Bergen, so I’ll list some of my favourite below – let me know what you think of these!

Bergenhus Fortress, Rosenkrantz Tower & Haakon’s Hall
One of the things I was looking forward to seeing in Bergen was the historical sites, which were medieval buildings which go back as far as the 13th century. Begenhus Fortress is mainly the hall (Haakon’s Hall) and the Rosenkrant Tower (which is an old keep which used to have dungeons), which ares apparently a throwback to the Viking days, although the Hall was properly used for weddings and feasts from the 13th century. We didn’t get to see inside the Hall because we arrived too late, but we did get to wander around the grounds which we loved (and you can see the inside of the Hall here), where there were plenty of old structures, statues and large walkways to explore.

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Statues
There are several statues around the city of Bergen, which can be found in various spots, some of which are a commentary on society, with a certain message from the artist. The most memorable one was this hidden away, nameless statue of a homeless person below, which is apparently the most photographed statue in the city – it is meant to make the viewer think about why it is there and what it means. There are also several statue tributes to Norwegian historical figures – generals, presidents and well-loved figures whose images are around the city with plaques and scripts. There was one which always made me jump every time I saw it, because I kept thinking it was a real person – it was a statue of a young girl (below) at the corner of a doorway to a McDonalds restaurant – it catches your attention from the corner of your eye and makes you think there is someone standing there waiting for a friend!

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The Bookcafe
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love quirky libraries and bookshops – I make it a point to look out for beautiful bookstores while abroad and haven’t been disappointed yet! It took me a while to find a pretty bookstore like this one, as I saw a few scattered in different areas but some were shut, and the others were not very memorable. I found this one the day before we left Bergen, with beautiful decoration, hanging books, scripts on walls and seating inside which showed it was a cafe for people to read and relax.

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Town square
I’ve already written about the town square, which is surrounded by colourful hotels and restaurants, and further along the high street you come to the more modern part of the street, which is a street lined with designer shops, and has a giant water-feature with a sort of stone obelisk in the middle, with carvings and statues on it. I loved the carvings along the stone faces of this landmark, it seems to show the story of settlers and Viking boats travelling to new places, as well as various religious pictures which seem to be a big feature with Norwegian history. Similarly, the statues were all dressed in different eras to reflect the different centuries, which looked great.

Anne Madam
One of the biggest problems my husband and I found was the expense of the food – a lot of the normal restaurants ended up costing around £30-40 per person for a normal meal, and even the usual burger-chains like Burger King and McDonalds were pricier than we expected – more than they cost in the UK! Luckily, we managed to find a new restaurant which had opened a few days after our arrival, and which was offering traditional Norwegian food at a discounted price. The traditional food in Bergen is mainly various types of fish, since it is a fishing town, so naturally we wanted to try some, and managed to get some at Anne Madame, which is in the heart of the city opposite the wharf. This plate is a traditional hake and potato pieces which were given with a light tartar sauce and coleslaw, and which was delicious – we loved it enough to come back here again before we left!

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Things to look out for
We went to Bergen in the first week of May, which is  one of the warmest months to visit, and the start of the tourist season – so there is plenty of things happening for tourists to see. We were lucky enough to see a drummer’s parade going through the town (I love the sound of loud drums, it always makes me want to dance!), and found plenty of quirky shops like a moose shop (below), a troll shop (the trolls are not the cute 90s kind but uglier ones!) and shops with beautiful hand-crafted goods and clothes. We also saw a lot of beautiful buildings, mixed against a backdrop of green mountains and beautiful lakes, which made it a really peaceful place to spend the day.

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All in all, my husband and I loved the beauty of Bergen – it is one of those places where you feel like there is every natural beautiful landscape to be found. A friend of mine visited Oslo recently, and complained that it was less beautiful than Bergen – there are most commercial buildings, more lights and less colour, and I certainly agree – there is a lot of beautiful colour and nature to be found in this city.

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