Brewhouse and Kitchen, Islington, June 2018 #2

A second visit this week. My course is over, and my train home isn’t for a few hours, so there’s time for dinner and a couple of beers as I wander my way through the streets of London from Old Street to St Pancras.

A couple of drinks to accompany dinner. First up, Britton, a 5% American Brown Ale brewed on site, a brown ale with good balance of malt and hops.

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I also had Chaplin, a 6% American IPA also brewed here on site. It’s sweet and malty, but your brown ale shouldn’t have more hop character than your IPA…

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After I had paid and ordered, they let me know about their secret offer where you could get three halves for a special price. Thanks for that.

Dinner next, chicken ham and leek pie with a dollop of mash and broccolini. It looks a bit uninspiring, but the pie was very tasty. There wasn’t really enough mash and the broccolini wasn’t cooked to perfection, a touch on the soggy side.

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A decent dinner though and enough to keep me going until I get back home later on.

Brewdog, Camden, June 2018 #3

Back again for some more food and football before I have to go back to the hotel and sit some mock exam papers before tomorrow afternoon’s two and a half hour exam. Oh how I’m looking forward to that.

I was pretty certain that if I chose any other pub to watch the England match, it would be absolutely rammed, and probably with some fans that I wouldn’t fancy watching football with. So I’ve returned to my World Cup safe space for some more interesting beers and a bite to eat. Beers first.

First up tonight was Gose  from Hi-Wire Brewing, a 4.2% sour with mild tartness and a subtle saltiness.

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Also accompanying dinner was Tepache  from The Wild Beer Co. I was looking forward to this one. Tepache is a traditional Mexican soft drink made from spontaneously fermented pineapples flavoured with spices. A beer version of that sounded most interesting, but there was just a very slight hint of pineapple, and a sort of cinnamon flavour lurking. Thought this one might be amazing but sadly not.

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Tonight’s burger was Cluck Norris, sesame and poppy seeded brioche bun, southern fried chicken, avocado, red onion, cajun mayo & coriander. A decent bit of fried chicken.

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That’s the end of my Camden Brewdog adventures for now. It’s still about the best bet for a decent beer around here, only Caps and Taps a little way to the north is better, and they have limited opening hours and no food, but I will get there one day.

For the record I should probably note that a much changed England side lost 1-0 to Belgium but progress to the next round to play Colombia.

The Crown and Two Chairmen, Soho, June 2018

Good to be back at my new favourite Soho pub after another evening at the Soho Theatre. A typically manic performance from Robin Ince (trying to squeeze a good few hours of material into an hour slot).

On my last visit, they were in the middle of a Thornbridge craft beer residency, a kind of mini-tap takeover. The next instalment of craft beer residency just happens to be up and running now. It’s an American theme this time, with Sierra Nevada and Anchor both represented here tonight.

First up was West Coast Hazy IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Yes, that’s a west cost NEIPA, very easy drinking and refreshing, and only 4.2% too.

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Alongside this was Blood Orange Blonde from Anchor Brewing Company, a rather non-descript blonde ale with not a lot of blood orange in evidence.

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Dinner was a simple pub classic, fish’n’chips. Nothing to get excited about, just plain fodder. Some pub fish’n’chips are fantastic, others are just ok. This was just ok.

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Still a great Soho pub, just avoid it at the weekends as it gets absolutely rammed! It was busier than usual because they were showing the World Cup, but the game was almost over and it soon emptied out afterwards.

Craft Beer Co, Islington, May 2018

A pleasant day in London town. Once again, I was looking out for somewhere to grab a beer and something to eat before heading for the train home. I was pretty certain that the beer would be good after visiting another of their bars this year, so it was worth taking a chance on the food.

On to that beer. First up Jessamine from Thornbridge, a jasmine and orange ale with Wiillamette hops. The jasmine comes through and a touch of pithiness from the orange. Interesting. Also making appearance tonight was Windle, another Thornbridge beer. This was clean and smooth with a lemon note somewhere in the background.

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Dinner was a chicken burger, aka posh KFC, aka The Southern Bell, which comprises of a spicy butter fried chicken breast, guacamole, iceberg lettuce (boo!), tomato, chipotle mayo and rosemary fries.

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As posh chicken burgers go, it was pretty good. This is a pleasant old school pub with a modern attitude to beer and food. Given that’s it’s only around a 15 minute walk from St Pancras, I suspect I shall find myself here again this year.

Prince of Wales, Kensington, February 2018

When you’re in an area for the first time, you like to explore and find somewhere to eat. The secret in Kensington is to go down the side streets, since there’s not a lot of decent pub action on the main High Street. I tried that, and sadly ended up in a Greene King pub. At least there was a decent beer on so there was no need for Greene King “IPA”.

Today the alternative beer was Runner by Truman’s Brewery, a standard caramel bitter which was probably not quite at its best. This is a Greene King pub after all.

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Food was my main concern and that was this (sadly slightly burnt) club sandwich with some limp salad and chips.

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It was warm fodder on this bitterly cold winter’s day.

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Mason & Company, Hackney Wick, February 2018

A return visit to this lovely little bar and kitchen. A pleasant February day for working nearby and when the working day is done, I just want to have fun. And a pint. And something to eat. This is a handy place to do all of those things. And just a hop, step and a jump away from the London Stadium. You can read more about it in last year’s post.

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Let’s get down to tonight’s business then. First up, a Five Points Pils from The Five Points Brewing Company (owned by the same people as the bar). This was a a decent lager with an interesting hop profile.

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Once again it was chicken parm for me for tea, Italian fried chicken thigh, marinara sauce, basil aioli, sautéed kale and parmesan crisp on a brioche roll. Very much a posh chicken burger, accompanied by Italo-fries (skin on fries coated in oregano salt).

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Just a bit of time left before catching the Javelin back to St Pancras (with a brief stop at Waitrose to get supplies for tomorrow), so I had a Pintle Pale Ale – Citra & Cascade by Burnt Mill Brewery, a super juicy pale ale, delightful nose and lovely rounded finish. Nom!

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Another relaxed trip to Mason and Company, definitely recommended if you’re in the area.

Afternoon tea, Aqua Shard, London, March 2017

We do enjoy a spot of afternoon tea. Normally it’s in slightly more low key surroundings, but today is Mrs MOFAD’s birthday, and we wanted something special to celebrate. I booked this a few months in advance, and even though it was just an “ordinary” Tuesday, it was just as well that I did because it soon got very busy very quickly.

After a relaxed morning of present opening, breakfast and then an easy train journey (despite East Midlands Trains doing their best to spoil it by screwing up their reservations again), we were soon at London Bridge station, and outside the Shard. We stood and gawped for a little while and then entered the gift shop. Let’s get the Shard facts out of the way and then move on to lunch.

The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London. It is 309.7 metres (1,016 ft) high, currently the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 107th tallest building in the world. That will change soon I’m sure.

The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres (802 ft). It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in 1975.

So, there are the facts, let’s move on to our visit. You arrive at the ground floor, after a short stroll from London Bridge station. You can have a look around the gift shop if you’ve got some time to spare. When you’re ready, you are greeted in the lobby, and then your bags go through an airport-style x-ray scanner. Once they pass, you enter the lift and zoom up 31 floors to Aqua Shard.

We ordered the full afternoon tea experience for our lunch, and spent two hours leisurely grazing our way through it, accompanied by a glass of champagne and infinite tea.

Here is the tower of cake (more on those later).

There’s a huge selection of teas to choose from but we kept it trad with some English breakfast style teas, and they just kept on topping them up with as much tea as you want. You can also spot chocolate/meringue lollipops, more on those later too.

A slightly blurry sandwich shot next, some very traditional ones in this line up. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheese and pickle, egg, bacon and tomato, and cucumber on rye bread. This was the first plate, another was to follow.

Some cakes next, a light sponge with chocolate and caramel, and a shard of chocolate on the outside. If you have a restaurant in the Shard, you have to have a shard somewhere in your food. You can also see a fruity/moussey/crumbley thing.

No afternoon tea would be complete without freshly baked scones, both plain and with golden raisins. You will note that these are pictured being served correctly, jam first.

More cake? Ok then. A light and fluffy victoria sponge with cream and jam. I’m not sure that the WI would quite approve, but I certainly did.

There has to be a chocolate cake somewhere, and this chocolate brownie with an orange cream was a delicious cocoa-ey bite.

And last but not least, that chocolate meringue lollipop, blurred here to show you the view from the Shard.

The service was relaxed, friendly, unhurried. A comedy French maître d’hôtel kept us entertained, jokingly chastising a junior colleague on a small error, photo-bombing some old ladies’ selfies and just generally keeping things light. No need for lots of starched stuffiness. When you opt for a dining experience like this one, there’s always a worry that you will be made to feel uncomfortable if these surroundings are not places you spend a lot of time in. That was not the case.

Nor were we surrounded by hordes of hooray Henries, which is another potential worry. There were a few corporate lunches going on around us, but the overwhelming majority of tables were filled with couples enjoying a pleasant lunch and relaxing, high above the hustle and bustle of central London.

When the bill arrives (as it inevitably must), it also appears with understated elegance.

And even the view from the toilet is rather splendid.

Just time for one last look down before hopping into the lift and zooming back down to the ground. floor

A fantastic lunch. If you are looking for a special experience for a special occasion, this won’t disappoint. Aqua Shard has put together the right mix of everything to make things feel just right.