It’s Saturday afternoon at 3pm and you’re starting to get ready for a dinner out with 12 of your nearest and dearest to celebrate two friends turning 21 for the 8th time, when the phone rings……… Breathlessly you are informed that the restaurant that was booked has lost gas and that all of a sudden it’s looking like the choice will either be McDonalds or a liquid dinner. Re-booking dinner for 12 people in central London this late in the day is not an easy task, so where do you go?? Well Bethnal Green of course!
On the outside, Bethnal Green is not known for its thriving restaurant scene. Admittedly, once off the tube and wandering along the high street we were a bit concerned about what was going to be on offer for our dinner. After a ten minute stroll we turned down Wadeson Street where we believed the restaurant was, walked all the way to the end then again once around the block. Slightly bemused and concerned, we doubled back on ourselves only to be rescued by a dashing chef (I do love a man in chefs whites) who asked if we were looking for Bistrotheque? He then pointed us through a white courtyard and up a flight of stairs.
Birstrotheque can only be described as a destination restaurant, and by that I meant a restaurant you go to for an experience despite its rather dodgy surroundings. As we clambered up the stairs, an uneasy feeling settled in as I pictured entering a world exclusively for the beautiful, rich and cool, a member of a club to which I definitely do not belong. However, once the door opened we were greeted by both a white expanse of warehouse and a smiley and welcoming member or staff. As we running a little early we sat down at the bar for a quiet beverage.
The drinks choice is good and the boys in the group chose The Kernal, a very tasty Pale Ale brewed locally in South London.
Once the gaggle had arrived we were ushered to the table with a slight air of urgency and asked to order as soon as possible. Understandably, they had taken us as a last minute booking and admittedly we were running a few minutes behind, however it was felt by a number of the table that this pushiness was a little over the top and lowered my opinion of the otherwise good service.
The philosophy behind the Bistrotheque menu is that they offer seasonal, simple food produced in the spirit of a French bistro. If you visit the restaurant before 7.15pm or after 9.45pm they have a pre fixe menu which is 3 courses for 17.50 as well as their à la carte offering. The great thing about being in a group of 12 is that in a restaurant such as Birstotheque is that you can often get to sample a majority of the menu, and we did! The starter choices varied from ham hock terrine to crab salad, all which came in good sized portions. The ham hock had a good taste without the gloopiness that the gelatine can sometimes offer and there were rave reviews from those eating both the crab cake and asparagus. Main courses however, offered up a slightly different perspective. All of those on the table who went with the pre fixe menu opted for the onglet steak, a long, thin cut of meat which is known for its rich flavour. However, upon delivery the steaks took up a variety of forms in terms of shape and size. Aside from this, all of the steaks were cooked as requested and had the rich and full flavour desired. Trouble however, brewed down the other end of the table when one of the dishes arrived a good few minutes after the rest of the group had been served and a burger which had been requested well done was delivered distinctly on the pink side and had to be returned. Credit must go to the front of house team though who handled the situation superbly, including taking the two dishes off the bill without so much as a whisker of a complaint.
One of the more unusual dish choices of the group, steak tartare, was hailed by our resident expert as being season perfectly and delicious. Somehow we managed to squeeze in desserts including salted caramel tart and chocolate cake, which were all judged as ok but nothing special.
Conclusion: The best way to sum up Bistrotheque is a mixed bag…. Would I go again? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Maybe. Would I say that it is one of the best dining encounters I have had in London? No. Whilst the experience of going to Bistotheque is an adventure in itself, I couldn’t leave without the feeling somehow the wow factor was missing. The food is very nice, the prix fixe is great value for money, however, without the mystery location it is simply another good restaurant, and one of many others which are dotted all around the London landscape, but if you are in the area it would be rude not to go.
A TweetedReview score of 3.75/5
Here at TweetedReview we love a good tweet, so imagine our delight when we heard about the ‘world’s first social media driven light show’ driven by tweets!
At 9pm every evening until the end of The Olympics London will be lit up by another light show, but this time using The London Eye; excitingly it will be lit up using the energy of the nation’s tweets around The Olympics.
SoSo Limited (some clever guys from MIT) and Mike Thelwall (a clever British professor from the University of Wolverhampton) have devised a way of not only tracking the sentiment of the Great British public but to display it all as a light show, hence creating the ‘world’s first social media driven light show’. You can of course go to the London Eye and watch the show but for those who can’t, it is also being streamed live every night from the Daily Mail hub. If you do make it to the London Eye, make sure you visit their mission control which will give you a far better insight to how it all works than this article ever could.
But there is more to it than that, EDF Energy, who are one of the London 2012 sponsors have also launched a portal so you can see the ‘Energy of the Nation’ in real time, showing you everything from trending athletes to the most positive place in the country. While on the energy map you can see virtual tweet worms moving around the area from where they have been sent.
An Iphone app called Energy2012 has also been launched which also shows you the map and lets you pan, zoom and search locations. (you can only see the sentiment of the tweet worms when it’s paused) Update: An Android version has now been released. Their Facebook app goes even further and shows you how positive your Facebook profile is; we got 49% which is only 1% below our glass being half full.
Have a play, watch the show, after all this is truly the first social media Olympics
Niki is a food blogger and currently undertaking the ultimate gourmand (read: greedy) challenge: 365 days of dinner blogging. Follow her journey (and plates) at http://dinneroftheday.tumblr.com/ and http://twitter.com/breakinglon
South African Wine Festival – 22nd to 24th May
After a sell-out South African Wine Festival in 2011, Vivat Bacchus has announced this years line up for the festival in May this year. Over three evenings, they will give visitors the opportunity to taste some of South Africa’s best wines and chat to the very people that made them. You can choose from the five-course Wine Dinners, with South African producers wines matched expertly with the Head Chef’s food, or simply go along earlier in the evening and just taste the wines.
With five producers showcasing their wines each evening, there is much to look forward to. Paul Cluver, Bouchard Finlayson, Meerlust, Ernie Els, Rustenberg and Graham Beck are just some of the wineries taking part.
It promises to be a great opportunity for fans of South African wines to try both some classic South African wines and some more unusual, artisan ones.”
Vivat Bacchus South African Wine Festival runs from May 22-24, for full line-up and to book, visit their festival website: www.southafricanwinefestival.co.uk
Grape Afternoon for London – 13th May
Our friends Laura & Kiki from A Grape Night In love travelling the world to find new and unusual wines, but at the end of the day they call London home and where else better than to enjoy a chilled glass of wine! In the capital there is such an abundance of wine to choose from – name any variety, any region, or any style and you will find it somewhere in this fair city.
In May, when wine aficionados from across the globe converge on London for the London International Wine Fair, Laura & Kiki are taking the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the city that is dearest to them. Join the girls from A Grape Night In for an underground journey from Notting Hill Gate to Oxford Circus via Bank.
Contact A Grape Night In for you Grape Afternoon for London tickets, at the ‘fare’ price of £19, which includes an interactive tasting of 5 wines which represent key tube stops of London (with nibbles) all hosted by Laura & Kiki from A Grape Night In.
Limited Edition packages
Taking inspiration from the May wine buzz, A Grape Night In is offering two Limited Edition packages to have at your place - ‘London Calling’ where we will raise a glass to our fine city by tasting wines that represent London with a little Monopoly fun thrown in - and ‘Grape, Naturally’ for an event to tickle your taste buds with organic, biodynamic and even orange wines!
To Find out more visit: www.agrapenightin.co.uk
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Would you describe yourself as lucky?? This is a question I have thought long and hard about this week…… And if lucky means being surrounded by wonderful family and friends, having a boy that brings you soup when you’re poorly and working in a job that you actually enjoy 95% of the time I would have to say yes. However, if we are talking about winning the lottery and guessing the correct numbers of marbles in a jar then until last week I would have answered quite a resounding ‘NO’! However let’s start at the beginning….
About a month ago my partner told me about a follower he had on twitter; @wearelucky1. Wearelucky is a project which has been set up by one guy to ‘selectively pass luck and responsibility onto others’ through the unique approach of giving away £1000 a day to strangers with the one stipulation that the money must be spent on something good. There is no formal selection process and encounters are governed by luck. I know what you’re thinking; ‘yeah right!’ but after reading the case studies on http://www.we-are-lucky.com/ I’m sure you will have a change of heart.
Unbeknown to me, the 18th of April was going to be more than just another rainy Wednesday in London. Having just finished a meeting I was wondering back to Waterloo when a tweet from @tweetedreview caught my eye. It was a pub recommendation to @wearelucky1, who were looking for somewhere for a quick pint in Waterloo. Minutes later I get a text from ‘the boy with the soup’ (who may also happen to be the boy behind @tweetedreview) that Wearelucky were in The Wellington Pub and if I happened to be near there I should pop in. After a quick moment of contemplation I decided that since I had both no idea where the pub was and an incredibly bad sense of direction, that it was not meant to be and carried on my merry way, straight past the open door of The Wellington. After having a ‘hold on a minute’ moment and spurned on by the boy, I ventured into the pub and had quick glance around before nerves got the better of me and back out I went. I then stood outside for a good couple of minutes thinking “ok so you might go up to the wrong person and make a fool of yourself but apart from that what’s the worst that could happen?” and so back I went. Based on the fact that only one table had a laptop with them I walked up, introduced myself and asked if they happened to be involved in the project.
As it turned out these lovely gentlemen were. I then explained how I knew they were there, that I thought what they were doing was amazing and asked how their day was going? After a brief chat about their chosen lucky people of the day I was shown one of invitations that they were giving out, with the simple request ‘£1000 is yours, you just have to do something good with it……’ I then tried to give it back (promise!) but was told that I was to be one of the lucky recipients of the day and that I had 48hrs to think about how I would spend £1000 to do good. Now at this point maybe I should have said thank you and left, however not being known for my quiet temperament I
piped up “I already know what I would do with it” and promptly moved onto to explain that I set up my own mini charity a couple of years ago called Straight Aims. The aim of the charity is to have a direct impact on improving the provision of education and we were lucky enough to raise enough money so that I could go over to Ethiopia and teach within a wonderful school called English Alive Academy for a few weeks in 2010. However, since then it has all come to a bit of standstill, it turns out that running a charity is a lot harder than I thought! I therefore explained that if I was lucky enough to receive the money, that it would go towards one of the wonderful projects that English Academy Alive are currently trying to implement.
Anyway…. after explaining all of this, Wearelucky then proceeded to root in their bag and present me with a second envelope, can you guess what was in it?! Yep, £1000 in cash! Now at this point it all gets a bit fuzzy, even now I have absolutely no idea how I responded (lets hope that the word thank you was involved though….) What followed was a whirlwind of photographs, tweeting, thanks and the guys explaining that they had to rush off to meet their next lucky person.
So I left….. And suddenly my phone rang and beeped numerous times, mainly the boy asking “what’s going on?” “are you really there?” etc… I then proceeded to phone my parents, director and basically anyone else I could think of at the time to tell them the very random and amazing story. Once I had finally calmed down I had a look at the questions that Wearelucky had given me, which they ask you to answer and then put in a case study. If you want to read all of the answers have a look at www.wearelucky.com but the one that stood out to me most I will share. It asked: do you feel lucky or responsible? In response I would have to say both. I feel incredibly lucky that I found myself in the right place at the right time. However, I also believe in karma at that if you try to be a good person then good things will happen one day, and maybe on that rainy Tuesday I was put in the right place at the right time on behalf of English Academy Alive. On the other hand although £1000 may not change the world (although it may do if I have my say), being given the money is a great responsibility. I have been given the challenge by Wearelucky to ensure that every pound I spend makes a difference to someone, somewhere and that is not something to be taken lightly. I am now two weeks into being a lucky person and so far I have brought a number of small presents to send across to English Academy Alive, however the real challenge is how £1000 can really make a difference and as Wearelucky so aptly put it ‘do good’.
For more info about Lucy’s adventure visit We Are Lucky
A special thanks to Time Out London’s Blog, which if we hadn’t read we never would have been part of this random but amazing experience – see their original post here
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They say money makes the world go round, but there is a good argument to be made that it is in fact coffee that does, or at least it does in our case. Good quality coffee has become a must for the masses. As anyone who lives in London will testify, it is awash with coffee shops. It is almost impossible to walk down a street in London without walking past a Pret, Café Nero, Starbucks or Costa which offer coffee of a consistent quality (that doesn’t mean it is any good). The real gems are often the independents; from the coffee kart by the tube station to the funky one off’s like the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Leather Lane, with its edgy bare brick walls and obvious love for a great coffee. To the down right bonkers, but lovely Bertie and Boo in Balham where you can enjoy a coffee and a cup cake on a deck chair and watch the world go by. Of course no self respecting article about coffee shop would be complete without a mention of Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market, which is now more of an institution now than a coffee shop.
So the London Coffee festival is back for a 2nd year and launches today (Friday 27th April) at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane with the promise of Espresso Martini’s and music. The rest of the weekend promises coffee and food samples galore, plus home brewing and roasting demonstrations. More live entertainment and Artisan & Street food market. So if coffee means more to you than simply keeping you going during the week, then get yourself to the London Coffee Festival. You might find a new favourite blend and throw that Nespresso machine in the bin.