Review: Blixen, Old Spitalfields Market

When it comes to flavours, atmosphere and interior design, the people at Blixen speak my language. My, oh my, as we walked through the wood panelled, high ceilinged former bank, with ochre leather banquette seating, dark veined marble surfaces and gleaming brass railings, I wondered how it could get better. We were led through to a stunning conservatory, lush with greenery, overlooking the colourful clothing stalls of Old Spitalfields Market. “Rustic opulence” springs to mind as the perfect description for the character of this charming brasserie, and as we sunk into plush canvas benches and laid eyes on their dreamy menu we realised this was just the start of an afternoon of sensory heaven.

Now I know I am gushing, but bear with me; Blixen is a place that needs to be gushed about. Take their menu for example, a finely balanced collection of old favourites and the latest culinary trends with plenty of unique Blixen twists. From pork belly with spaetzle, kale and quince to cauliflower steak with curry leaf, toasted coconut and wild rice, it’s their flavour combinations that really get the mouth watering.

Arriving around midday, we were in perfect time for brunch (served from 10am to 2pm). Their signature potato rosti sounded too good to resist and temptation has never tasted so good. As silky orange yolk from a perfect poached egg enrobed rich, succulent salt beef, creamy hollandaise and crisp potato rosti, it was instantly clear I had made a winning choice. My sister’s bacon and fried egg sandwich was elevated by game-changing tomato jam and delicately naughty skinny fries. To top off this glutton’s feast, we gave in to sharing the buttermilk pancake stack with whipped marscapone, a delicious blueberry compote and warm maple syrup. Washed down with fragrant, floral cocktails like Hedgeland – gin, spiced apple cordial, elderflower, lime and creme de mure – it was a brunch we won’t soon forget. Safe to say we waddled out of there with grins as big as our food babies.

So if you’re in Shoreditch and struggling to choose between the oodles of trend setting, instagram loving eateries, give Blixen a try. You will be rewarded and then some.

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London in a day: Westminster to Covent Garden

See London’s most famous sights in this one day tour of Westminster and Covent Garden…

10am Begin the day taking in iconic views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge. Treat yourself to a guided tour of Parliament or Westminster Abbey to learn more about these historic institutions.

11.30am Stroll down Whitehall, past Downing Street and through Horse Guards’ Parade to St James’ Park. Enjoy coffee or an ice cream from one of the many vendors or try some of the delicious treats at Peyton & Byrne’s Inn The Park restaurant. Buckingham Palace sits resplendently at the end of The Mall.

12noon Take in the atmosphere at Trafalgar Square before experiencing an art exhibition at the National Gallery. Every year, the free BP Portrait Award exhibition attracts even non-art lovers to the National Portrait Gallery.

1pm For sophisticated British cuisine, lunch at The Portrait Restaurant with views towards Westminster and the London Eye. Alternatively try out the varied eateries of Neals Yard or St Martin’s Courtyard.

2pm Stop at TKTS in Leicester Square to purchase reduced tickets for an evening show en route to Seven Dials, where you will find a diverse mix of independent and chain shops in the narrow streets.

4pm Pause to watch the street performers in Covent Garden while enjoying a life-changing cookie (seriously) from Ben’s Cookies, still warm from the oven. A quieter experience can be found in BB Bakery, just round the corner where you will be spoilt for choice of gorgeous cupcakes, pastries and macarons.

5pm If you’re not full yet, an initmate pre-theatre dinner can be enjoyed at Le Garrick Brasserie, a wonderful candlelit cellar sequestered beneath Garrick street, serving authentic French classics.

7pm It’s time for a west end show – from musicals, to comedy to ballet and the opera, there is something for everyone.

10.30pm Finish the night in style with world-class cocktails at eclectic Brumus at The Haymarket Hotel or the lavish American Bar at The Savoy.

London in a Day: Southbank

A one day tour of the best venues and attractions London’s Southbank has to offer…

10am Start the day with breakfast at vibrant Borough Market. Struggle for choice as you peruse the stalls, laden with delectable treats.

11am Head west on Bankside and take your pick of attractions along the way. Go back in time at the Golden Hinde, The Clink Prison Museum or The London Dungeon; admire abstract art at the iconic Tate Modern; enjoy a variety of unusual and enthralling exhibitions at The Southbank Centre; or check out the ever popular London Aquarium.

2pm Grab lunch from one of the many food trucks and cafes around the Southbank Centre. At weekends a food market takes place behind Royal Festival Hall, while The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden is a perfect spot in the summer.

3pm Take in some of the free attractions along the Thames, from the street performers at Jubilee Gardens to the independent shops and galleries of Gabriel’s Wharf, or have a ride on the famous London Eye.

5pm Sit down for an early dinner, with views over the Thames, St Pauls and City of London, at the OXO Tower Brasserie. Alternatively, the selection of smart restaurants occupying the terraces of the South Bank Centre offers a variety of cuisines.

7.30pm For a special end to the day, see a live performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall or London Wonderground (May-September). For the latest blockbusters, classic or independent films, the BFI IMAX, BFI Southbank and Curzon Mondrian (weekends only) all offer a superior cinema experience.

Review: Funny Girl, Savoy Theatre

With less than six weeks till the final curtain call, Funny Girl is a must see in London’s West End. I’m no expert critic, but over 1000 people leapt to their feet in rapturous applause at the end of the production, having laughed, wept and cheered their way through the evening. That has to mean something.

Funny Girl is a musical based on the life of Fanny Brice, a Jewish-American comedienne who rose to fame during the early 20th century. Fanny begins her career as a tenacious amateur performer in Brooklyn who, undeterred by criticism, finds her niche in comedy and transforms into a Broadway star. Meanwhile, the charming, audacious Nick Arnstein strides into her life, sweeps her off her feet and the two begin a fervid and tumultuous love affair.

Sheridan Smith’s stunning portrayal of Fanny ensures we fall heart and soul in love with her from the start. From her humourous expressions to her ungainly walk, Smith brings Fanny to life in such a way you can’t help but feel all her emotions with her, from giddiness to devastation. The stellar cast and ingenious set design work together to create an artistically, musically and emotionally beautiful masterpiece.

Without doubt, Funny Girl is one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen. Don’t miss your chance to see it before it completes its run at The Savoy on October 8th, 2016.

 

Welcome to LifeGems

LifeGems is a collection of notes, designed to provide honest insights into real life events. Shorter than standard blog posts, LifeGems present only a glimpse of the experiences that inspire them, allowing each one to deliver a focussed message. Some offer advice, some review places or events and the rest are purely snapshots from someone’s true story. Pick a category or search for LifeGems relevant to you. For now, LifeGems are the thoughts of just one person, but hopefully the future will make room for many more to share their experiences.