London has always been about the company rather than the attractions for me. It’s a big, busy city with loads to do, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than with friends. The moment we arrived, Keith and I were immediately welcomed to Pat and Afsar’s home with a fabulous party with our Sonar buddies, and we ate and chat and danced till the sun rose (we’re not that wild — the sun rises at 4am).
The following afternoon, Keith and I started our day really well with a chance encounter with Comptoir Libanais in South Kensington. We did the Asian thing of queuing because there was already a queue. And we were right! It was crowded because they served great food.
Get the hearty Lamb Kofta (£9.45). It doesn’t look like a big portion, but you’d be surprisingly filled towards the end. I also preferred Keith’s option with the Basmati rice compared to my couscous one.
Then we headed for Hyde Park in hopes of basking in the sun.
But the joy was fleeting because it started to drizzle… then rain properly… then drizzle again.
Thankfully, the weather cleared up promptly before dinner, and we decided to Boris bike to the restaurant.
These rented bicycles do not have good brakes at all… So those of you who are planning to hop on one of these, do buffer a larger distance between you and whatever you’re hoping not to crash into.
Arrived in 1 piece at Big Easy at Covent Garden after cycling down Oxford Circus during weekend peak hour! It was a fun ride though.
The heart attack-inducing Grand Appetizer Platter (£49.5). The Voodoo chicken wings on the left was the winner. Order this only if you’re a group of hungry hippos like us. If you’re not near starvation, I’d say skip this and just indulge in the Lobster Bake (£24.5) below.
This was exceptional. You’re looking at a mouth watering pan of half lobster, giant shrimp, mussels, crab claws and potatoes, all drowned in garlic white wine cream. It was fresh, tasty, and everything seafood should be. Looking at this photo just makes me want to go back again.
The next morning, while Keith went about his work, I met up with Bacchus PR at one of the establishments they represent, Sketch.
It houses 5 different dining concepts under one roof, and each room is wonderfully designed. The most whimsical corner has got to be the sci-fi washroom above the East Bar, which has individual cubicles shaped like giant alien eggs.
Next up, Carsten Holler’s interactive exhibition in Hayward Gallery at Southbank!
The slides are the exits of the exhibition, so you have to go through the rest of his other equally whimsical works before you can get on the slides.
The exhibition starts with a choice between the A or B tunnel entrance — hence the exhibition title “Decision”. We picked randomly, and suddenly found ourselves in total darkness. We were walking through a tunnel, with no indication of where it turned or dipped (it’s a slight descend but it’s scary!) except for LED lights that were few and far between. Navigating it got us shouting and laughing like little kids. Not sure what the difference between the 2 choices was, but I’m sure they both led into the dark tunnels.
An enormous shroom mobile which you can help rotate by pushing it sexily like Keith did.
Keith and I decided to stay in the long queue for this flying machine even though it didn’t look that exciting, partly because we paid £15 for this exhibition. We waited for around 45 minutes, got strapped into silly suits and then hooked up to a structure that was revolving really, really slowly. It was exciting to take the leap from the platform into midair, but that’s about it. The view was nice from up there, but after 4 rounds, it started to get quite boring. Worth the queue time? No. But we’ve got to do what tourists do.
These goggles have mirrors which flip everything. It’s a funny experience trying to re-orientate. And even more hilarious when you try and take a selfie with it on.
The slide was amazing! Would love to go on it over and over again but too bad you can only exit the exhibition once. I will also never forget how loudly Keith screamed while sliding down.
Keith highly recommended Alounak for lunch, and we were not disappointed! The waitress got our orders wrong, so instead of more lamb, we got more chicken instead. Out of all the different types of meat, the minced lamb was the best. It was juicy, tender, and was cooked with the right amount of herbs. The basmati rice — on which you have to add on a chunk of butter while it’s hot — was so damn sinful and delicious. I’m not a rice person, but I can easily wipe out an entire plate of this. The hummus is great as an appetiser too. Total damage with soft drinks: £19. Not too bad considering the size of that main course!
For our last dinner together, we indulged at a hotel restaurant called Berners Tavern. It’s the kind of place that makes your jaw drop once you step in. I couldn’t believe I was going to eat at such a posh restaurant. I’m never one to indulge on expensive meals, but I’m glad I agreed to this one. It’s beautiful, and the crowd is not as stiff and pretentious as I expected of a place as grand as this.
The good thing is, we’ve been eating the entire day. And after that massive Mediterranean lunch, we couldn’t stuff much more down our throats. So we shared 1 starter and 2 mains, and saved ourselves from busting our budget. I like that the wait staff didn’t give us dirty looks when we said we wanted to share the dishes. The beef tartare (£18) is fantastic, and so was the seafood risotto (£26), but the whole dover sole fish (£35, not pictured) was forgettable.
On my last night in London, Ade made bak kut teh (with chicken), and I finally met Boogie!
That wraps up our very indulgent, very delicious London trip! It was lovely to spend time with Keith and Ade here — everywhere’s amazing with those 2.