Tiers of Joy Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon tea is one of my favourite things in life. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savoury and the unlimited plates mean you don’t have to feel guilty about stuffing your face with finger food.

Therefore when I heard about the newest “Tiers of Joy” afternoon tea in London I thought it’d be rude not to find out a little more.

The whole shibang involves a lot of cake (natch) and the name alone suggests some pretty intense food. The best thing of all – the food for each course is served with matching Taittinger champagnes.

When it comes to the food you’ve got the usual sandwiches, such as: egg and cress, beef and horseradish and these come out with a glass of Taittinger’s original Brut Reserve (or a cup of Earl Grey).

Then it’s onto the scones and finally a delicate selection of sweets including lighter than air raspberry macaroons which will literally leave you crying with joy.

The whole thing is available at The Royal Park Hotel and costs £40.

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The Adidas Originals ‘90s runner is back

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All across London people seem to have turned running crazy recently, whether it’s marathon training or just pure enthusiasm.

While we haven’t (quite) gotten on board with all this physical activity we’ve spotted the ultimate running trainer to help us out when we do.

It’s the classic retro runner from Adidas Originals which may bring back some nostalgic memories of your youth.

The ‘Tech Super’ is back for women in a mix of colours with EVA cushioning and a rubber out sole making it the perfect thing to boost your running performance in style.

It was originally a training show for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, remember them?,  and now you can get your own for £90 from the Adidas website.

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The V&A Teams Up With Coast

The Victoria and Albert Museum has collaborated with Coast to bring out a range of ballgown dresses which are now on sale in the high street branches.

In the collection there are six beautiful dresses reminiscent of the glamour and glitz of the 1950s.

The range was inspired by last year’s exhibition – Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 – and features both floor-length gowns and shorter knee-length dresses.

Suki Waterhouse was brought in to model the gowns and they look slightly magical, with piles of delicate tiered chiffon and art-deco style applique.

Lauren Sizeland, the V&A’s business development and licensing director, said: “The designs truly reflect the allure of ballgowns and grand occasion wear evoking the glamour and splendour of their inspiration,”

“These gowns will give the opportunity for customers to indulge in a little piece of fashion history.”

However, although they look spectacular they come with a starting price of £550 so won’t be in everyone’s price range.

Images: Daily Mail

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The Athenaeum

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Walking down Park Lane you’re almost falling over yourself with five-star hotels to visit, be it for a cocktail, afternoon tea or maybe if you’re feeling plush or in charge of an expenses card, an over night stay.

As there are so many it can be hard to pick and as most menus require you to spend a month’s budget over one meal, it’s important to pick the right place. The competition is fierce but one which has managed to retain it identity without becoming outdated is five-star The Athenaeum.

One of the best things about the hotel is its whisky bar, serving more than 270 different varieties of the amber spirit. It’s lovely and traditional and as a whisky novice, I was a little out of place, but the staff are friendly and helpful and ready to help you pick out a good drink if you’re not a connoisseur.

After a warm-up drink in the bar, my friend Rav and I tried out the hotel’s restaurant last week. It’s an elegant room, with padded chairs covered in velvet and cushions making you feel a little like royalty. The room is also set out well for intimacy as each of the tables are cleverly placed in booths leaving you quite separate from your fellow diners.

The menu is simple but successful with classic British dishes cooked well. We had the onion soup, creamy and subtly infused but nothing too special with tuna carpaccio, which was brilliantly delicate with a slightly spicy edge from the peppercorn coating.

Onto the main meals, salmon parcels with a green salad and wild mushroom risotto. The salmon was fresh and juicy wrapped in flaky pastry with spinach squished into the mix whereas the risotto, possibly a bad menu choice on Rav’s part, was pretty bland.

By this stage, after sharing a bottle of Riesling and after our initial whiskey starters, things were beginning to feel a little unbalanced. To soak up the alcohol we ploughed on to puddings and went for a squidgy chocolate pudding and a beautifully light crème brulee with crunchy shortbread biscuits on the side.

All in all the night was pleasant but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s a classic place built on tradition and everything from the décor to the food served up is based on this idea. The average age of most of the punters is around 50, so if you’re not of this age maybe find some older friends or take your parents along.

If you’re looking to go somewhere traditional it’s a strong contender in Mayfair and you won’t be left with too much of a financial hangover.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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Sophie’s Steakhouse

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London has gone steak mad recently with restaurants popping up across the city promising to serve the best-cut steak in the UK or sometimes even on the planet.

However, one steakhouse which caught my fancy is Sophie’s which can be found in Covent Garden or Chelsea.

On visiting the Covent Garden branch I was pleasantly surprised to find somewhere which kept up with the oh so high standards for steak-eating in London and gave a little bit extra.

It’s a huge restaurant and generally packed on most nights with a mix of locals, suits and tourists but don’t let this put you off. There’s also a lot of good steak on offer, a lively and exciting atmosphere and the prices aren’t as ridiculous as some meaty chains will charge you.

Starting off there’s a small selection of mini plates, with nothing that out of the ordinary. I opted for the beef Carpaccio which pretty much melted off the plate and into my mouth in a delicious delicate way. My friend went for the scallops, which again were cooked to perfection and served with pea puree to smother on top.

Next up, the steak course. You can go for something else if you want but why would you.

There’s sharing dishes such as the chateaubriand, but as a greedy person I prefer to have my own cut and went for the fillet steak while my friend had the rib eye. Both were cooked pretty much exactly how we asked, if not a tiny bit over done, and were excellent cuts of meat served with thick chips to soak up all the delicious meaty juices.

Forget pudding, the list isn’t worth a look, and go for a cocktail. There’s an extensive cocktail menu and the Covent Garden branch is open until 1am so aim to try a few.

This is not a place for an intimate dinner, it’s an open setting and packed full of people so better for a large group. As Sophie (the founder) is the daughter of Jeremy Mogford, founder of Brown’s, you can slightly see the mass-produced similarities.

But although it’s a little chainy you can’t knock the steaks. It’s not a place for meat connoisseurs but somewhere to go and have some fun while enjoying a decent, honest steak and some amazing cocktails with your friends.

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Are You Ready For Free Ice Cream?

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch right? Wrong, well when lunch means ice cream (yes, I have done it before).

The lovely people over at Ben & Jerry’s have recognised out obsession with the sweet stuff and have made Tuesday 9th April (put it in your diaries now) Free Cone Day.

Free Cone Day you say? Don’t panic, the wafer will be filled with your choice of ice cream.

Back in 1979 the founders Ben and Jerry hosted the first Free Cone Day giving out scoops of ice cream to the local community and it’s been going on ever since.

This year the day is also helping the Supporting Better Dairy Campaign which is working to the introduction a minimum standard for European dairy cows. Ice-cream eaters will be asked to sign a petition in store to support the campaign.

So how can you get yours? Well it’s only available at selected scoop shops and I’d advise going early to avoid the queues.

Also – although you’re only allowed one scoop, you can go back for as many as you want.

“There is nothing else in the world like Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day,” said Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim.

“We’re fortunate to have people who support us, so we continue the yearly tradition just to say thanks again,” he adds.

Log on to www.benjerry.co.uk to find your nearest participating Scoop Shop and make sure you check the Facebook page for more updates and news.

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The North Pole

north pole

An authentic London pub is a hard thing to find, one which also serves a range of American-themed comfort food is even harder.

Now I realise the two hardly seem comparable and I can hear you screaming this already and you are completely right, but paired together they make a strange yet ultimately charming duo.

You’ll find the pub a stone’s throw away from Essex Road among the classic Victorian town houses of Islington which to me are the antithesis of the area’s appeal and feature heavily in pretty much every Richard Curtis film ever made. On the other side of the road, there’s a long stretch of grim, concrete housing blocks creating a strange paradoxical clash where of North meets East London.

Among this divide of cultures, you can find the The North Pole pub which exudes a welcoming, homely feel making a pleasant change from the numerous gastro pubs across North London which more often than not are utterly soulless.

This pub is different as can be seen from the rustic, but not in a trying-to-hard manor and the friendly staff who will gladly talk you through the extensive drinks list.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned it twice already I’d better explain. The pub specialises in real ale and craft beers and not only has a strong selection of local brands but also bottled and on- tap varieties from around the world.

Now although a lot of pubs advertise this fact, this one really means it. So that’s 10 real ales and two ciders on tap, and these are constantly changing as they only include independent suppliers.

The London Fields Brewery is a regular along with Brew Dog in Camden and Meantime in Greenwich. There are also 12 different beer kegs and more than 20 different bottled versions.

With such a selection in front of you the main question will be what to go for first and secondly how you’re going to get home after drinking so much. While I’m not a massive beer or ale enthusiast, I tried several on offer and was pleasantly surprised by how each matched my requirements of a ‘light tasting beer without the headiness you’ll get in a dark ale’.

My friend Hugh on the other hand is a self-confessed drinks snob and he managed to quaff down several beers, both bottled and on-tap, and gave each an enthusiastic applause, the more so the further we ventured on in this drinks flight.

Now by this stage Hugh and I, after several half pints of the sweet stuff, were ready to embark on some stodgy food to soak it all up. To meet our requirements, there’s a snack menu, (one for £4, two for £7.50, three for £10,50) and these are the perfect afternoon filler between lunch and dinner – or if you’re just feeling greedy and want something extra
alongside your main meal.

In the snacks there are all the pub favourites such as a very runny scotch egg, pork scratchings with spiced apple sauce, a pint of prawns and finger licken’ chicken strips with ranch dressing. As a warning to those like me with eyes bigger than your stomachs (do people still use expressions like this?) the servings are big so if you’re planning on going past
this part stick to one or two each.

The mains are pretty standard pub food fodder apart from a few American-inspired dishes thrown in such as the mac and cheese and jerk chicken with rice, peas and coleslaw.

For the sweet-toothed fiends, the pudding menu changes all the time but when I was there featured delights such as waffles with maple syrup (carrying on the American theme), cheesecakes and fruit crumbles.

It’s nice to find a pub which hasn’t been too affected by the gastro-pub force and still retains a bit of tradition while serving well-cooked pub grub with a bit of a twist and independently-sourced ales and craft beers.

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