FOOD: Caravan, Kings Cross, London

Last night after finishing a pretty tough module in University, went to Caravan in Kings Cross’ Grant Square as a well deserved reward. This place has been open now since 2012 and I’ve been eager to try it out since then too, so it was nice to finally get a chance to visit. I’m quite enjoying this ‘sharing’ culture going on at the moment, it’s nice to try new foods and flavours so to order a host of smaller dishes and get the chance to dip in and out is always a treat. The interior of a restaurant is always so crucial for the determination of atmosphere and ambience, and something I always mention when reviewing an eatery. Caravan nailed it, the industrial feel paired with the stylish warehouse furniture and dim lighting just worked. f1438f899adaefb0bcce910738e80aedIt was a Monday evening when I went along, so it wasn’t heaving which I really like. Mondays are quickly becoming my favourite night to eat out because there is always a better chance of reserving a table last minute. Service was very friendly, I love it when the waiter/waitress is able to recommend a dish to you, to pair up a dish with another, and is generally attentive throughout the evening. Kicking off with a ‘Seoul Shrub’ cocktail, the food menu was large, with something to suit everyone and spoiling you with so much choice. My personal stand out was the gochujang ketchup, beetroot slaw and pickled cucumber that accompanied the Pork Belly, it was the right combination of tanginess and spice. The Smoked Mackerel was also a great choice with the pickled beetroot. If you order the Beef Cecina, make sure you get a bread dish with that because it works better, we got the Jalapeno Corn Bread which on its own would have been equally as delicious also. There is also the option have larger plates or a pizza if you are feeling selfish and want a meal to yourself. I think that it’s a great place to visit for a social evening catch up over some interesting and contemporary dishes. Prices are reasonable and for a good two course meal with cocktail you are looking at about £30 per head. Reservations can be made online: http://www.caravanrestaurants.co.uk/kings-cross.html

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FOOD: Newington Table, Newington Green, London

A couple of weeks ago I tried out a local restaurant/brasserie to me along with a friend- ‘Newington Table’ just off Newington Green. This was a hidden gem. I had not heard any reviews about this place, but from the outside peering in you get the impression that this is a place where neighbourhood folk could hang out all day every day in exchange for reasonably priced breakfast, lunch and dinners. It also works well as a location to meet for a coffee by day or a stylish drink at night. Newington Table has successfully achieved something many London hangouts have not- an attractive and alternative venue for whatever suits your mood at whatever time of day. I went on a Monday evening and it was not swamped however I can imagine this place piles up at weekends when people have more free time. The warehouse feel inside is all the rage at present throughout the city with regards to interior design. imageWith the rise of the urban hipster, we are all looking for something new we can tell all our friends about and Newington Table in my opinion appears to have succeeded in filling a gap in the market. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed and the staff are exceptionally friendly and attentive. I thought that the interesting collection of dishes on offer were fascinating, with many foods on there that I had not ever heard about or would not have ever thought about combining before. The stand out dish for me was the ‘Burratta, artichokes & hazelnuts’ that alongside a fine selection of bread, went down so well with a carefully handcrafted Gin and Tonic. After food, we had a Negroni a piece which rounded off the night perfectly. I even managed to pick up a couple of pastries on the way out for breakfast the next morning which even though they were not fresh the next day, tasted incredible. Newington Table is great for whatever you fancy and whenever you fancy it and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the prices or offerings.

http://www.newingtontable.co.uk/

FOOD: Kipferl, Angel, London

This past weekend I joined a friend for a late breakfast in Angel, Islington. I have been dying to try out a new Austrian/Viennese Café ‘Kipferl’ located on Camden Passage for months now, it is always heaving with customers and the menu looks authentic and reasonably priced. Be prepared to wait for your table at weekends, Kipferl take no reservations so it’s all down to luck. We had to wait about ten minutes in total for the two of us which was a lot shorter than the waitress predicted. The atmosphere was relaxed, the service was good. Breakfast is served all day so we had the option to choose between both breakfast and lunch. fullsizerenderThe special of the day was a rather tempting goulash, however I had already made my mind up that I was on the hunt for a breakfast as from the moment I walked in, I’d eyed up a few pans on tables full of bacon and eggs! I opted for the Bauernfruehstueck; a potato, onion, bacon and egg stir fry which was tantalisingly tasty, well-portioned and just what I needed at 11am. Thankfully I still had some room left to try a generous portion of my friends Organic Mountain Cheese Omelette; a special combination of rocket, walnuts and rye. Every flavour worked so well together and I actually preferred it to my own choice! What I did feel sad about was how I couldn’t try out everything else on the menu because it all looked fantastic. Beautifully colourful hand-crafted cakes and pastries are on display in the centre of the café so even if you just fancy coffee and cake to test out the place, I would highly recommend! I would love to return just to try out that goulash another day, and to compare their evening menu to the breakfast! Alongside a stingingly rich coffee, Kipferl was a great place to shut off from the world and take a ‘European moment’ for an hour or two.

MUSIC: Frank Ocean – Blonde

With the release of Frank Ocean’s new Album ‘Blonde’ this past week, Twitter has gone wild. After a four long wait between this and his Grammy award winning ‘Channel Orange’, there has been much speculation and anticipation surrounding his newest EP. Starting with the release of his unexpected Visual Album ‘Endless’ frank-ocean-blond-compressed-0933daea-f052-40e5-85a4-35e07dac73dflast week,
two days later came ‘Blonde’, exclusively available to stream on Apple Music. I loved ‘Channel Orange’ and like many other fans, was excited for the long awaited follow up so decided that this was prime time to sign up for my three month free trial of Apple Music. I am not sure what I was expecting prior to listening but at first glance, the sounds are serenely soft and you instantly connect with Ocean’s vocals. You subconsciously isolate his vocals, his lyrics are powerful yet apologetic. This is the kind of album I could listen to alone, when silence surrounds me and when I want to relax. In the past couple of years my appreciation for music as a form of therapy has grown and I feel that its a beautiful medium to be able to enjoy in today’s world. I am a docile fan of Frank Ocean now as I was before and I respect him as a uniquely creative individual. Notable tracks are ‘Nikes’, ‘White Ferrari’ and ‘Seigfried’. I think this album will get the attention it deserves.

REVIEW: London Aquatics Centre, Stratford, London

I went swimming last night at The London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park located in Stratford, London. I have been before however with all this Olympic Fever going around at the moment I could not resist taking a trip over for a swim. If you have not been before, I urge you to go because it’s so accessible and by far the best pool venue in the UK. The Olympic Park astonishes me every time I visit, the regeneration of Stratford is a huge success for the city and it continues to grow, with many fantastic schools, retail units, museums, universities and residences all choosing to locate themselves in Stratford in the future if not already. IMG_2381The Aquatics Centre building itself is iconic, designed by the late Zaha Hadid for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was a breath of fresh air to the UK swimming world and The Aquatics Centre provided a new type of venue, a beautifully well-considered design that represents the waves and ripples of water and my favourite of Hadid’s structures overall. It contributes to the most memorable Olympic Games legacy and you just feel the buzz when you swim in that pool knowing all the greatest Olympians have swum there before you. You pay about £5 per adult to gain entry into the 50m Olympic sized pool and the same price is paid if you wish to use the Training Pool instead. Everything is modern and well designed, and before you leave after your swim you must take a walk up to the top to take some photos of the interior because it’s fascinating looking down to the pool. A great after work trip or something to do at the weekend but pre-book to avoid disappointment because sometimes spaces go fast!

http://www.londonaquaticscentre.org/

ARCHITECTURE: The Serpentine Pavilion 2016 by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)

I headed over to the new Serpentine Pavilion located in Hyde Park, London on Sunday. If you are not aware of the background, every year a new Pavilion Is commissioned to be designed and built next to the Serpentine Gallery for the summer. Previous years have included the work of artists and architects such as Jean Nouvel, Ai Weiwei, Herzog and de Meuron, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. Every year, the Pavilion is drastically different both aesthetically and structurally to what stood there in years previous, so it is exciting to see what reactions are evoked from the public every year from the ‘masterpieces’ of each designer. IMG_2259This year sees the turn of Bjarke Ingels, a Danish Architect who is now quite the celebrity in the architectural world. He fronts the infamous BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) founded in 2005 who have an impressive and ever-expanding portfolio of work to date. Ingels is an architectural powerhouse and his success seemingly cannot be stopped. The pavilion has been designed to appear ‘unzipped’ so to speak using a large amount of translucent fibre-based blocks, a new material Ingels has been working on with manufacturer Fibreline. It creates a curved form both internally and externally and the transparency changes at every viewpoint. Side on, the appearance is rectangular and it looks lightweight and thin whereas when you view the pavilion from the front or rear, its curving silhouette is revealed and the density of structure visually increases. It’s truly remarkable and I think its lovely, one of my favourites in fact and you should check it out before it departs in October.

ARCHITECTURE: The Tate Gallery Extension, London

I went to see the new Tate Modern Extension this week in London, it opened just a few weeks ago as part of a £260m revamp designed by award winning architects Herzog and de Meuron. The ten storey extension provides an extra and much needed 60% gallery space for the Tate organisation which they deem as an entirely new gallery in oppose to an ‘extension’. Director of the Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota exclaims that “The new Tate Modern is an instrument that will allow us to present a changing perspective on the world, offer a rich variety of experiences to visitors and give opportunities to artists to explore new ways of making and showing their work.” tateArchitecturally speaking I feel that it’s a milestone in museum structure and fabric however despite their contextual use of red brick to match the old Bankside Power Station, I think it comes across as a sort of twisty and trendy 80’s social housing block. There is a different story when you veer inside however, the beautiful use of concrete provides a sense of solitude and purity to one’s self. The monolithic, industrial feel is very real and you suddenly appreciate the juxtaposition between the interior and exterior. At level 10 you will find a public terrace offering 360 degree views of the city, including landmarks such as The Shard, St Pauls Cathedral, The Leadenhall Building, 20 Fenchurch Street, the under-construction One Blackfriars and Canary Wharf. What they don’t tell you however is how you also get a rather intimate view into many of RSHP’s Neo Bankside apartments. I felt sorry for those living inside as suddenly their properties had become a piece of art in themselves, being constantly gawped at and commented upon by all, evident also when eavesdropping out on the terrace by me anyway. To get to the tenth floor however, or any floor to be honest, you have to tackle the disaster that is the elevator system. If you get on at ground level which was hard in itself anyway as there are plenty already crammed into each lift, expect to stop and start all the way to the top, you almost get a stomach ache from the constant shudder of the lift stopping, starting, opening and closing. All new buildings have teething problems and this must be reworked as soon as possible. It’s a great addition nevertheless to the Tate Gallery and worth some time to enjoy when you’re headed down that way.