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

Nostalgic Decor at Proper Burgers

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!

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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.

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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:

OVERALL:
Food: 7 / 10
Decor: 8 / 10
Atmosphere: 8 /10
Cost: Around £20 for 2 people
Halal status confirmed

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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Wicked: A Good Green Witch’s Story

My sisters and I recently went to see Wicked: The Musical at Apollo Victoria recently to treat ourselves, and enjoyed it thoroughly – each of us had been wanting to see this for a while and it was amazing fun to see all the singing, acting, costumes and sets sliding around on stage and creating a funny and emotional story.

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As is the case with most plays, we weren’t allowed to take photographs during the play’s duration (not that I haven’t tried before, but the accidental flash in the past has taught me a lesson if I don’t want to be removed from the theatre!) We did manage to get a quick shot of the stage before the play started (although these are courtesy of my sister who took these ones below) and which shoes a huge map of Oz as well as a dragon on top of the stage which moved every now and then during the play.

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Wicked is a great play – and it’s even more interesting to see if you’ve read the books originally written by Gregory Maguire, who re-imagined the story of The Wizard of Oz to give it more depth, and to tell the story of the misunderstood Elphaba, more widely known as the Wicked Witch of Oz. Having said that (and I was one of the ones who had read the books years ago), it does spoil it a little if you know what’s coming – although in this case, the way the story was translated onto the stage was brilliantly done and a lot more lively than I expected.

Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, daughter of the Governor of Oz who suspects that she is not really his daughter, and resents her green skin – just as she is arriving at University. Meeting the self-absorbed Glinda, trying to protect her wheelchair-bound sister Nessa-Rose and dealing with the isolation from her peers, Elphaba finds love, magic and most importantly, a passion for Animal rights, which leads to her eventual fate as the “most hated woman in Oz”.

The main difference I noticed between the play and the book is the politics and rebellion, which deals with the treatment of talking Animals as they are discriminated against by the laws of the mysterious Wizard of Oz; and Elphaba’s struggles with her professors, her peers and the friends she ends up making. The play does deal with this – but also attempts to wind together a lot of complex issues by focussing the story on Elphaba as a character and what she tries to do – whereas the book has a wider range of characters who all deal with their own struggles and situations that merge under the canopy of the the Animal rights issue.

I won’t talk too much about the novel, since it’s a very different style to the theatre, and translates to a more exuberant show that works. The play itself is brilliantly created – the main characters of Elphaba and Glinda (or Gah-linda, as she pronounces it) are well acted, and easy to love. The songs are, of course, what make the show, catchy, passionate and beautifully sung, with funny dances, subtle expressions and lots of one-liners that catch you laughing.

My favourite scene is one in which the glamorous, conceited and sparkly Glinda tries to teach the socially-awkward and shy Elphaba to be beautiful, to flirt and laugh – it reminded me of so many girls that I know (I won’t name names!) that it made me laugh – what probably made the scene most memorable was the fed up look on Elphaba’s face, as she stands on a stage that she looks like she wants to run away from!

I’m looking forward to seeing more shows – I’ve seen a few in the past with my friends and my husband, and have a long list of more to see! Have you seen this play? What did you think of it?