Category Archives: Cafes

5 Lessons You Learn In Your 30s: Tess Gallagher

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Happy Monday, wee Gazers. I’ve just read a wonderful article – “5 Lessons You Learn In Your 30s” – which I had to share with the 30 somethings – or the approaching 30 somethings amongst you – from the lovely Tess at The Passion Mill.

The opposite of what you’d expect, Tess saw herself moving from totally freaking out about approaching the big 3-0 – to feeling all kinds of excited about turning 32. Ok….. What’s the score there then?!

If you, like me, want a slice of her secret, check out her short n sweet article in the above link. It stilled my fluttering heart.

#phew

#positivelearnings

#hownotwhat

Poppy’s Place, Parsons Green, London

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Where?

Located at the Lillie Road end of Munster Road, Parsons Green, this new little cafe-diner is as kooky as it is tasty. Nestled on the corner of Bronsart Road, the glass facades provide a light, airy space which won’t induce Sunday morning hangover claustrophobia.

Poppy's Place, 255 Munster Road, Fulham, London SW6 6BW, United Kingdom

The Decor?

Poppy’s is beautifully decorated with white wooden walls and flooring giving it a beach-like, summery feel perfect for a summer’s day treat. A rustic, duck-egg blue cabinet houses a delicious spread of jams and breads (even crayons for your tots), while the vintage server at the front is bedecked with tea cups that little girls dream of. Cute wooden tables are adorned with beautiful fresh flowers in coloured glass vases and lab-like stools complement the uncluttered vibe.

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The Grub?

The menu is varied and affordable and the quality of food, top-notch. Nothing on the breakfast/lunch menu exceeds £10 which is a pleasant surprise versus some local joints so if you’re after a bargainous, slap-up brekkie, take your pick. There’s something for everyone here, from smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and a choice of sides such as grilled bacon or chorizo to bacon baps, porridge with winter fruit compote or greek yoghurt with seasonal fruit.

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The Lunch?

Lunch options are equally diverse from house burger and macaroni cheese to a range of toasties, salads and baguettes. Steak, horseradish and rocket is a personal favourite. There’s even a Little Munsters Kids’ Menu including fish finger sandwiches, chicken wedges, baked beans on toast and boiled egg and soldiers.

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Dinner too?

Open until 11pm, the dinner menu also includes a range of mouth-watering dishes, from fresh catch of the day to ribeye steak (sourced from premium Lake District Farmers, this is the priciest dish on the menu at £25). The only health-warning of note is that you’re likely to become a regular if you visit this place. After a mouthful of these goodies, you’ll be chomping at the bit for more.

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Details:

Address: 255 Munster Road, Parsons Green, SW6 6BW

Telephone: 0207 920 6420

Nearest Tube: Parsons Green

Website

Lateral, Las Huertas

Lateral, Santa Ana

What’s Lateral?

One of the most well-known tapas joints in Madrid, Lateral’s terrace in Plaza Santa Ana is a truly pleasurable place to while away an evening. A top of the range chain with a distinctly ‘unchainy’ feel, Lateral is located throughout Madrid, including the popular Calle Fuencarral in Malasaña. Understated, chic and well-run, Lateral is great value with a diverse choice of tapas to boot.

Lateral, Malasaña

What of the food?

While it may be known for its top quality Tortilla, there are many other delicious dishes to choose from, from the Murcia Blood Sausage (a personal favourite a bit like black pudding), the OxTail, the Avocado and Salmon or the Pork with Melted Brie. Add a Tinto de Verano or a generously sized Gin and Tonic to the mix and you have the perfect feast.

Lateral, Arturo Soria

What’s the decor like?

If al fresco’s your cup of tea, this is the crème de la crème. Slatted wooden tables sit beneath a discrete cream canopy with flame heaters to keep you snuggly. With buzzers table-side, there’s no escape for lazy waiters who are, quite literally (or perhaps more aptly, laterally), at your beck and call.

Lateral, Santa Ana

What’s nearby?

If tapas isn’t enough for you, you can chose from an array of desserts and cocktails. Situated in the heart of possibly the prettiest square in Madrid, there are bars aplenty for after dinner digestifs or rooftop glamour atop the famous ME Hotel (next door).

In short…

Well-located, scrumptious and beautiful, this is a great stop for visiting friends and family.

Contact:

Address: Plaza Santa Ana, 12

Website

Tel: 914201582

Nearest Metro: Anton Martin / Sol

“La Infinito, café-libros-arte”, Anton Martin, Madrid

Where is it?

Tucked away in the quiet backwaters of Anton Martin and Lavapiés, La Infinito, café-libros-arte is a book-filled, bohemian musical-café on a sunny corner. Like walking into the cosy lounge of a really interesting journalist-musician hybrid, this is the sort of place you can settle down into for an afternoon.

What of the grub?

Whether coffee, tea or brunch, the food, prices and service are stellar. Juice, tea, toast with nutella and a giant bowl of cereal with yogurt and fruit will set you back a mere 4.5 euros with the priciest item on the breakfast menu being 6 euros.

If music be the food of love play on..

Apart from the deliciously kooky decor, one of the best bits of La Infinito, café-libros-arte is the musicians you can watch here. With a little glass stage, it’s home to intimate gigs such as Celia Carballo’s recent performance, mixing soulful classics and brunch for a mere 12 euros! To see the sort of quality we’re talking about, check her out performing with the Black Bones here. Incredible.

Why visit?

If you like literature, character, cosiness and great value food, give this whirl. La Infinito, café-libros-arte is super cute, super cool.

Details:

Address: Calle de Tres Peces, 22

Nearest metro: Anton Martin

Events: Check out the Facebook pages of “La Infinito, café-libros-arte” and Celia Carballo via “The Tribulettes”

Opening Hours:

Mon – Thurs: 11am – 12am

Fri: 11am -1am

Sat: 11-2am

Free Wifi

 

Librería “La Central de Callao”

Where is it?

Situated a stone’s throw from El Corte Inglés and Gran Via, this place is completely unique. A mix of academic-chic, La Central de Callao is a 3 floored treasure chest combining over 70,000 volumes of specialized books in philosophy, history, social science and literature and a super cool bistro to boot.

What’s it like?

If unpretentious Bohemia is your thing, the bistro is a real find. Open until around midnight most nights, it boasts a great selection of cakes and savoury treats and would be an original substitute to grand alternatives.

Surrounded by books a-plenty, La Central’s bistro has a unique energy. Combining the soulfulness you find tree-side, the inspiration you find in bookshops with a cosmopolitan cosiness typical of Madrid, this little eatery is a real treat.

What else is on?

The lectures and presentations on offer are fascinating ranging from this month’s GRAF presentation dedicated to comics and illustration to Yasmina Khadra (one of the most important and famous writers of Algerian literary scene, with work published in more than forty countries) speaking next month.

Why go?

If you’re a creative type who gets excited by books and new places, try La Centrale. It’s good for the soul.

Details:

Dirección: Calle del Postigo de San Martín, 8, 28013 Madrid

Website

Teléfono: 917 90 99 30

Events

Horarios (El Bistro):

Lunes, martes y miércoles - 9.00 – 00.00

Jueves, viernes y sábado - 9.00 – 01.00

Domingo y festivos - 10.00 – 22.00

Barossa, Parsons Green

Where?

Neatly positioned on the New King’s Road, a stone’s throw from Parsons Green tube station, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Barossa is another mainstream cafe.  Not so. An independent Coffee House & Australian Kitchen, the understated facade of the cafe belies its character.

How eggcellent is it?

My first encounter was the result of months of sibling raving and suspicions that said sister might have over-egged the pudding, so to speak.  I must say, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  The eggs were cracking as promised with a Bondi Brekkie feast complete with smoked bacon, corn fritters and poached or scrambled eggs.  Now I’m a regular, I like to mix up the egg treats – whether benedict, florentine,or royale, I am yet to be disappointed.

Healthy alternatives?

I’m a particular fan of the sourdough toast which is an unusual addition to the fry up, giving it a healthier taste you wouldn’t associate with a naughty treat.  If you’re looking for something lighter, there are various options on offer, from avocado on toast with tomato and feta, to toasted banana bread or granola with greek yoghurt and blueberry compote.

Scrummy lunches?

If it’s lunch you’re after, you’re spoilt for choice.  With a delicious range of all day sarnies, from the classic BLT or a sausage feast, to crab cakes with chilli and lime or the superfood salad with chickpeas, quinoa and feta, there’s something for everyone.

Tea for two?

Thirsty for coffee or tea – you’re in for a treat.  A range of loose leaf teas are served in funky see-through tea-pots which sit atop your mug and are activated by pressing southerly while coffee beans are sourced by Caravan Coffee, roasted by hand in small batches daily and stamped with a frothy heart or leaf.  

Sweet tooth?

For a sweet accompaniment you can choose from a fluffy freshly made muffin, a slice of red velvet cake or other fondant fancies a guilt-ridden glutton might term ‘terribly light’.

Best bits?

Best features of Barossa? The large glass fronted facade, the delightful window seat, the range of artwork on sale and the fantastically friendly staff who give their local competitors a run for their money. If that isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, there’s also the option for hire for after-hours events, lunches, meetings and parties for up to 70, complete with canapé menus and even a wedding cake package. Tick, tick and tick.

Contact:

Address: 277 New Kings Road Fulham, London, SW6 4RD

Tel: 0207 751 9711               

Website

Nearest tube: Parsons Green

The Troubadour, Earls Court

One of my favourite venues in London, the Troubadour is a cafe-bar-restaurant-club extraordinaire you have to visit at least once.  With pots, pans and all sorts of trinkets hanging from the beam-lined ceilings, this is a fantastical hubbub as magical as Alice’s Wonderland.

Music, you say?

Located at 263-267 Old Brompton Road and established in 1954, The Troubadour is one of the last remaining coffee houses of its era in London, with a club room in the cellar which has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.  Steeped in artistry befitting its name (a Troubadour was a lyric poet or performer from the High Middle Ages), it continues to host live music and poetry, mainly by performers who write their own material.  The performance area downstairs remains an intimate space for 120, with a cosy underground jazz club feel, dance floor and cocktails served until the early hours.

What’s the cafe like?

The ground-floor cafe is a spell-binding affair which caters for every taste bud and budget.  From The Brompton Burger and chunky chips to ‘The Troubadour Trio’ – a scrumptious spread of hummus, taramasalata and pumpkin dip with pitta bread and crudités – you will not be disappointed.  The jungular garden nestled at the rear of the cafe is but another feature to enjoy on a warm summer’s eve.

What’s the Wine Shop like?

The variety doesn’t stop there, with the neighbouring Wine Shop providing a calm alternative to the fast pace of the cafe and club next door.  Available for private parties, it was also awarded the ‘Best Argentinian Wine Retailer of the Year’ in 2010.  Wine-tasting evenings and Troubadour Feasts are superbly hedonistic events involving a several course dinner based on a chosen region or country in return for paying a fixed fee and the promise of meeting new and interesting people (The Troubadour tends to attract engaging sorts).

Do they do private parties?

If that’s not enough for you, The Troubadour Gallery is an elegant room perfect for use as a private party room for drinks for up to 70 guests or a buffet lunch or supper for up to 50 people.  Located on the first floor, it is designed in classical fashion with wooden floors, large windows and high ceilings.

Not sure it’s your bag?

If you’re an artistic soul who enjoys the eclectic, visit The Troubadour.  It’s one of a kind.  And if you’re a touch nutty, wear a hat on a Tuesday and you’ll get a free dessert!

Contact

265 Old Brompton Rd, London SW5 9JA

Website

020 7370 1434

Music Gigs: £5 for advance online bookings / £7 on the door

Poetry Evenings: Mondays Fortnightly 

Hours: 9am-Late  

Duck & Waffle, London

Balancing atop the 40th floor of London’s Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle’s unique food and panoramic views give other city haunts a definite run for their money.

Inspired by broad European and British influences, the restaurant offers feast, fizz and fun 24/7 – from breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner through to late night menus.  And when I say 24/7 – it literally is open all night.  The all-day menu is served from 11am to 2am; the late night menu, from 2am until 6am; and breakfast, from 6am to 11am – hardly your average post-Disco venue.

With prices being generally medium-range (brunch or breakfast averages at about £20-£25 per head), it’s pretty affordable given its vertical appeal and designer vibe.  Though tempting to opt for your typical choices for breakfast or brunch, the restaurant’s name-sake dish – the duck and waffle – really is a must try.  Consisting of confit duck with fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup, it might sound stomach churningly rich, but is a real treat for the taste buds and a great sharing plate if you want to balance it off with your standard fry up; with other unusual dishes including BBQ spiced crispy pig ears, bacon wrapped dates, spicy ox cheek doughnut and pollock meatballs with lobster cream.

Finally, if you’re on the hunt for a great private room with outstanding views, the restaurant has possibly the best in the capital.  With capacity for 20 people and a minimum spend of £1,000, it’s pretty reasonable value when all’s said and done.

So if you’re not vertigo afflicted and want to experience unrivalled, panoramic views with dishes and choices to match, Duck and Waffle it up.

Contact

Address: The Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Phone: 020 3640 7310

Website

Del’Aziz, Fulham

Nestled behind Fulham Broadway station on Vanston Place, Del’Aziz is a sensory experience extraordinaire. Like stepping into a Moroccan souk, this restaurant/cafe is a treasure chest of colour, texture and whispers of faraway lands.

Dimly lit come evening with candles galore and a variety of spacious sharing tables to choose from, the relaxed deli area is the perfect place for a laid-back date while the elegant restaurant offers the more traditional dining experience.

Tagine-tastic

With Eastern Mediterranean and North African roots, Del’Aziz boasts a host of exotic dishes from Persian shish and mezze platters with fresh tzatziki to couscous and slow cooked tagines served in beautiful terracotta pots.

Pricing

Prices range from £5 for a small mezze dish to £8-15 for most bigger plates, with meal deals including a Sunday burger, fries and a glass of wine or beer for £10. Pretty reasonable for an unusual joint with unique selling points a plenty.

Cocktails, Jazz ‘n’ Belly Dancing

The cocktail menu is extensive, with Mojito Night every Thursday and Friday in the Fulham and Clapham branches (£3 a pop until 11pm).  For music lovers, there’s live jazz every Thursday from 7:30pm while the more risqué amongst you may enjoy the belly dancing displays most Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00pm. The Clapham branch also boasts the atmospheric downstairs Zahra bar, with club nights every Friday from 10pm till late.

Fit for Kids?

If it’s a tot-friendly outfit you’re after, the children’s menu for under 8s is a snip at £5.50 for chicken fillet with saffron rice or chicken nuggets with chunky fries.

Other Branches

Whether you want to eat-in, take-away or are looking for ready-made canapés, full-on dinner party delights or part or exclusive hire of a kooky venue for a special occasion, Del’Aziz covers every base.  With branches in Bankside, Bermondsey, Swiss Cottage and Clapham, this is an escapist adventure I would recommend to all.

Contact 

Address: 24 – 32 Vanston Place, London SW6 1AX

Website

Nearest tube: Fulham Broadway

Email: reservations@delaziz.co.uk

Tel: 020 7386 0086 

Jak’s, Chelsea

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jak’s is a sprawling underground club.  Having replaced the vast space that was ‘Public’ on Lots Road, that’s exactly what I assumed. Described by my sister as a ‘must-see, chilled underground bar’, I felt obliged to see for myself. The reality didn’t disappoint.

A completely unique concept, Jak’s is a treasure-trove of character.  Walking in is like stealing a peek into the Parisienne bohemia of the Moulin Rouge. Like peering down the kaleidoscope of an eclectic mind, one thing Jak’s is not is mainstream Kings Road chic. Second to the Walton Street branch in South Kensington, the Chelsea hideaway is much larger, more magical and feels like a well-kept secret known to few. Dim lighting illuminates earthy woods and rich leathers, vintage rocking horses and other circus-like trinkets – most un-yah.  

A jaw-dropping delicatessen runs the length of the main sitting area with gastronomical delights a-plenty. Whether you’re after a scrumptious array of pitta, humous and feta or zingy prawn kebabs, this is a feast fit for a prince. With a cocktail menu as long as your arm and old-school sofas in every direction, Jak’s is an escapist paradise you can really sink into.

One of its USPs is the juxtaposition of space and cosiness. Spanning the full breadth of the old club, you can choose from sitting in the vast lounge area, the candle-lit bar or the adjoining lounge with cosy seating hubs perfect for intimate catch-ups.

Despite its distinctively eclectic vibe, Jak’s maintains a refreshingly civilised ambience – something of a contrast to its more raucous predecessor. A wonderfully relaxed setting, it combines a sense of occasion with understated wow-factor. Big enough to dodge a wrong-un and intimate enough to woo a good-un, this would be a great venue for a first date – the visual extravaganza providing ice-breakers aplenty.

Open from 8am until late, with feasts for every palate, I really couldn’t rave more. The only note of caution would be to avoid eating here on a Saturday night. The club vibe awakens proper at the weekend and it’s fair to say that skimpy dresses, high heels and full-frontal cleavage merge less than seamlessly with a low-key evening meal… The knock-on effect is delayed service and slightly cool food.

That said, if you’d like a trip to the magical French capital but can’t quite stretch that far, this would be a pretty good second prize.

Contact:

Address: 533B King’s Rd, London SW10 0TZ

Nearest tube: Parson Green/Fulham

Website

Tel: 0207 751 4400

Capacity: 400 people

Free rental and wifi