WHAT’S GOING ON?
This is the weekly update of “What’s happening?”, “What’s opening?”, “What’s new?” and “What’s good?”. This lists events, openings, streetfood, bars, plus anything interesting which has sprung up on my radar. It IS NOT a comprehensive listing, as there are way too many in our great city and there are others already doing a great job of that right now.
Every year this particular week is crammed full of events from the excellent London Cocktail Week and London Restaurant Festival. It started with The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show (Sat 09th / Sun 10th) will finish with Rum Fest (Sat 13th / Sun 14th) and the start of London Chocolate Week (14th – 20 Oct)
– PipsDish (Modern European, Covent Garden) OPENED Tue 08th Oct
– Vivo (Italian, Islington) OPENED Wed 09th Oct
– Texas Joe’s OPENS Fri 11th Oct
– Far Rockaway OPEN Fri 11th Oct
– Champagne & Fromage (Cheese & Champgane, Brixton) OPENING Tue 15th Oct
COCKTAIL WEEK POP UPS:
– ‘Bloody Mary Garden’ by Twist London (Cocktail Bar, Covent Garden)
– BBFB Professional Hub (Professional Cocktail Training, Covent Garden) *BAR PROFESSIONALS ONLY*
– Buffalo Trace’s ‘Mad Men’ Buffalo Bourbon Empire (Bourbon Hub, Aldwych)
– KERB W9 (Streetfood Market, Maida Vale) Sat 12th 10h-15h
– Miss Cakehead’s Edible Cake Shop (Edible Cake Shop, Carnaby Street) Fri 11th
– London Cocktail Week, Mon 07th Oct – Sun 13th Oct
– London Restaurant Festival, Thu 03rd Oct – Sun 21st Oct
– London Chocolate Week, Mon 14th Oct – Sun 20th Oct
– London Rum Fest 2013, Sat 12th Oct – Sun 13th Oct
Of the five listed below I have only visited the excellent Pipsdish and the meaty Texas Joe’s. Unfortunately the week has been so busy that I missed the launch of Vivo on Upper Street. Champagne and Fromage is a sister venue to the existing store in Covent Garden.
Pipsdish Covent Garden (Modern European, Covent Garden)
OPENS Tues 08th OCT
Pipsdish started in a disused Citroën Garage in Islington and migrated to Hoxton Square earlier this year. Their ‘no-menu, you-eat-what-you’re-given’ approach, allows them to serve whatever is fresh and available on the day. There will be no reservations. Breakfast will be a help-yourself experience for £7.50, a selection of small dishes and sharing plates for lunch and early theatre suppers (£10), and the usual PipsDish 3-course dinner with canapés for £30, Mon-Sat at 8pm.
For wine lovers, the selection will be a very small, affordable, ever-changing wine selection is available with few special bottles for the discerning wine buff “all chosen by a well-known Master of Wine”.
Although I missed the Islington popup, I did try lunch at Hoxton Square. Recommended for the friendly communal atmosphere and good no-nonsense home cooking.
Vivo (Italian, Islington)
OPENED Wed 09th Oct
Vivo is self described as an ‘Italian bakery-café-bar’ with focus on all day dining from Brothers Ben and Will Thompson. The venue opens in Upper Street, Islington, with a 50 cover venue plus 35 on a roof terrace. Great news for Islington, which is still synonymous with big-chain restaurants. However, with the opening of more foodie friendly options like ‘Le Coq Restaurant’ and Neil Rankin’s, ‘Smokehouse’ it looks like Islington is evolving for the better.
Texas Joe’s (US Style BBQ – Shoreditch)
OPENS Fri 11th Oct
Fresh from his stint in Dragons Den, the Texan behind ‘Original Jerky’ actually rejected the terms offered to him by Peter Jones after the show. He is now backed by craft beer favourite BrewDog and will be launching a Barbecue joint at Brewdog’s Pub in Shoreditch.
I was fortunate to try some of the bounty from the newly installed smoker last weekend. I can confirm that are very generous on the wood-smoke, take a look at the picture.
Far Rockaway (American Diner with top street art, Shoreditch)
OPENS Fri 11th Oct
If you love street art you MUST come down here. There is art by a ridiculous number of street artists covering all the walls and even the restrooms. I was fortunate enough to have a sneak preview and a long chat with both ‘Hunto’ and ‘Suki & Bitches’ who were busy decorating the venue. Also look out for works by Benjamin Murphy and Captain Kris! Skateboarders, look up and you’ll see that the ceiling is covered with decks by Alien Workshop and Consolidated
The food and drink offering looks promising too. The bar will serve locally sourced artisanal beers and the food here will be the American, as expected from the name.
“NY snack-style, featuring pizza by the slice to eat in or go. A rotisserie oven will prepare spit-roasted organic chicken and suckling pig. More menu highlights include slow roasted baby back cola ribs, blackened salmon fillets, pulled five-spice duck and traditional Knickerbocker Glory desserts”
Source: Press Release
Note: This venue has a 02h00am licence on Wed-Sat, great for a late night hangout.
Champagne & Fromage (Cheese & Champgane, Brixton)
OPENING Tue 15th Oct
This second store in Brixton is so new that they don’t even have a press release yet! However it is expected to be similar to its Covent Garden sibling with a focus on French Champagne, cheeses, and charcuterie along with a French Bistro. With the popularity of Spanish charcuterie such as of José and Bar Tozino can venues like Champagne & Fromage and the excellent Casse Croute bring the same crowds to the Gallic side?
COCKTAIL WEEK POP UPS:
This week’s popups are dominated by activity from London Cocktail Week. There are a ridiculous number of events all vying for your attention to drink responsibly. However, this is my pick of the bunch. I visited all of the these last year (and many the year before). Use them as a stopgap between your visit to the deluge of bars participating in London Cocktail Week. This year I have yet to visit the Buffalo Trace ‘Mad Men’ popup but if it was anything like last year’s Buffalo Trace event, fans will be in for great cocktails, guided tastings and some educational talks.
‘Bloody Mary Garden’ by Twist London (Cocktail Bar, Covent Garden)
(Open 12h00-20h00 daily until Sun 13th Oct)
Bar consultancy Twist London have annexed the entire basement of the Thomas Neal’s Yard shopping centre, engulfing the Euphorium Bakery area next to ‘Flesh & Buns’. They claim to make the “The Best Bloody Mary You Ever Bloody Tasted” but also have a selection of Vodka, Gin, Rum and Absinthe cocktails all for £4.
If you’re a drinks aficionado, make sure you find the secret garden where ad-hoc tastings will be held. I attended a session yesterday for a new absinthe called “Green Velvet”. If you like your wormwood, ask the Twist London team as they may still have some hidden away.
More Info: Bartenders Lounge
BBFB Professional Hub (Cocktail Training, Covent Garden) *BAR PROFESSIONALS ONLY*
BBFB is the ‘Bacardi Brown Foreman Brands’ Training Team. This gang of elite bartenders Ian McLaren, Leanne Davidson, Ossiane Fanghanel (Ozzi) and Joey Medrington return every year to impart knowledge to those who work in the drinks industry. These talks are very informative but will be aimed towards those with prior knowledge, so if you’re an industry professional make sure you check these guys out.
DIY Drinks Kitchen by Monkey Shoulder (Cocktail Training, Covent Garden)
(12h00-22h00 Every day until Sunday)
Every wanted to be a bartender? Pop into the Monkey Shoulder and learn how to make one of three classic drinks. Your creation will be charged £4 instead of the usual £8-10 in most London Bars. Instructors are all experienced bartenders including Charlie McCarthy, Creative Director of bar consultancy All About The Cocktail and the lovely Andrea Montague (Bar Manager Callooh Callay, Head Bartender LAB Bar) who gave me a few tips on making a great Old Fashioned.
Full Details: DIY Drinks Drop In
BEWARNED: When you their website there appears to be a monkey doing something dodgy in the lower right corner of the screen…
Buffalo Trace’s ‘Mad Men’ Buffalo Bourbon Empire (Bourbon Hub, Aldwych)
I haven’t visited yet this year, but if it was anything like last year this will be a fantastic venue for bourbon lovers with cocktails, talks and tastings. Expect the old style ‘two-drink minimum’ advertising ambiance.
“Located in the heart of London’s vibrant West End, this year’s pop-up channels the spirit of 1960s Americana and the world of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising; the Mad Men. From the sharp suits, to the retro decor, to the classic American cocktails on offer, Buffalo Trace will transport you back to the world of 1960s New York advertising. So step inside The Buffalo Bourbon Empire, and just like Don, prop yourself on a stool, loosen your tie and order yourself a Buffalo Manhattan.”
Full Details: Buffalo Bourbon Empire
KERB W9 (New Streetfood Market, Maida Vale)
(Every week from Sat 12th Oct 10h-15h)
Street food fans may be feeling a little lost on Friday nights as Street Feast is taking a well earned break after a phenomenal summer at Dalston Yard. However, KERB follows up from last Friday’s First Birthday celebrations with a new street market near Little Venice in West London. The market will be six streetfood traders and six producers. As of today, the streetfood vendors will be Fundi Pizza, Kimchinary, Miss P’s Barbecue, The Bowler and The Grilling Greek.
Full Details www.kerbfood.com/maida-hill-place
‘Baketopia’ Miss Cakehead’s Edible Cake Shop (Edible Cake Shop, Carnaby Street)
Fri 11th Oct – Sat 12th Oct (Free but priority to those who book in advance)
Anyone like cake? Miss Cakehead is a cake-maker with a serious attitude. She competes with Bompas & Parr in my world for “people who make crazy food”. For National Bake Week she is creating a completely edible pop-up store which will be devoured over 2 days. I suggest you visit early if you don’t want to be staring at a pile of crumbs…
Book Free Priority Entry Tickets: baketopia.eventbrite.com
“Inside Baketopia, you will be able to dip frog-shaped cookies into a milk fountain; harvest meringue mushrooms; break honeycomb pieces from a bee hive; catch pastry butterflies and even pull hyper realistic looking carrot cakes from chocolate cookie earth. The centrepiece is a giant unicorn made from rainbow cake, created by the Tattooed Bakers, complete with edible gold leaf embossed hooves and horn”
London Cocktail Week
MON 07th – SUN 13th Oct
London is one of the centers of the cocktail universe. With so many great bars in the capital it is no surprise that the annual London Cocktail Week continues to thrive. I’ve attended at least the last three of these. There are usually lots of talks and demonstrations, discount price (£4) cocktails, cocktail tours and events throughout the week.
“London Cocktail Week is a unique celebration of our capital’s unrivalled cocktail culture. Through a host of seminars, pop-up bars, tastings, parties and master-classes, aimed at both novices and experienced professionals, London Cocktail Week will inspire, educate and unite cocktail lovers. This year, the festival’s events will again be held in the historic and beautiful Seven Dials in the heart of the West End – so come and explore our wealth of pop-up bars and soak up the street party atmosphere.” – Source: www.londoncocktailweek.co.uk
London Restaurant Festival
FRI 03rd to SUN 21st Oct
Self described as “a citywide celebration of eating out”, this two week festival is actually a series of events and special “Festival Menus” by 350 participating restaurants. These are designed to give diners a chance to sample a restaurant menu at an accessible price. The events include restaurant hopping tours such as the ‘Tapas Tour’ and ‘Japanese Journeys’.
I’m pleased to hear that this year’s chairwoman is Gizzi Erskine, big supporter of the London street food renaissance and one of the hardest working women I’ve met. Good luck Gizzi!
The London Restaurant Festival always overlaps with London Cocktail Week. So for those of you who like their food and drink, this is going to be a very busy week.
London Chocolate Week
Mon 14th Oct – Sun 20th Oct
London Chocolate Week is (obviously) a celebration of all things chocolate. As a series of events across the capital everything from chocolate graffiti to chocolate ‘fashion show’ and afternoon chocolate tea at The Langham! If you’re a serious chocoholic visit their website for a full list of events. Here are some highlights from their press release…
London Chocolate Week Events
• Salon du Chocolat, 18-20 Oct The world’s largest chocolate show comes to the capital for the first time. Featuring the world’s best chocolate, demonstrations and tastings from top chocolatiers and pastry chefs, children’s workshops and a chocolate fashion show.
• Chocolate Graffiti, 18-19 Oct Mighty fine kitchen brings the world of street art and chocolate together with an exciting series of events that see some of the world’s leading street artists creating unique pieces of chocolate edible street art.
• An Evening of Fine Tequila & Fine Chocolate, 16 October Join chocolatier Paul a Young and Aqua Riva tequila queen Cleo Rocos for an exclusive evening of tasting, pairing and discovery.
• Don your chef’s hat at The Corinthia Hotel, 15 & 17 October Budding chocolatiers will discover the art behind creating a truly scrumptious chocolate desert from Head Pastry Chef Kimberly Lin-McCartney, as well as delving into the origins of the world’s favourite sweet treat.
• An Evening of ‘Chocolat’ various dates during Chocolate Week Eat chocolates along with Johnny Depp and Juliet Binoche in as Bea’s of Bloomsbury and Valrhona host a special experiential Chocolat screening.
• The Four Sisters Bar launches Divine cocktails, throughout Chocolate Week Head Bartender Andrei Marian has put his mixing techniques to the test by creating North London’s ultimate flavour matched drinks to reflect and enhance the rich textures and aromas of Divine Chocolate’s two newest flavours, Chilli and Orange and Toffee and Sea Salt, as well as the popular 85% Dark Chocolate.
• Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, various dates during Chocolate Week Visit the best chocolate shops in London with your personal Chocolate Ecstasy guide on newly updated routes throughout Mayfair and Chelsea.
• Chocolate Story Time & Painting with Steve Smallman, 19 October Rococo Chocolates welcome award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, Steve Smallman, to the Moxon Street Shop where he’ll be reading a selection of his books while the children enjoy some tasty chocolate.
• Valrhona Chocolate Afternoon teas, across London, throughout Chocolate Week Venues across the capital host delectable chocolate afternoon teas using Valrhona chocolate, including the Langham Hotel, The Lanesborough and Pennyhill Park
• An Evening with Bertil Åkesson in Alexeeva & Jones, 16 October As one of the most successful fine cocoa-producing plantation owners, Bertil Åkesson oversees the entire process of making chocolate from the cocoa bean to chocolate bar, which allows him to create a very distinctive style of chocolate.
Source: Press Release
London Rum Fest 2013
Sat 12th Oct – Sun 13th Oct
Rumfest is an annual festival of rum organised by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell. This year promises over 400 rums to taste, plus master classes featuring guest speakers from Angostura Rums, Black Seal, Ron Botran and ‘Rum & Marshmallow’ pairing by Ian himself.
If you decide to visit, a word of advice. Get there early! It’s much easier to visit the brands you want and you will be competing with fewer people for the attention of the rum representatives.
Here are some pictures from Rumfest 2013. They say it all really…
HOW TO FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING:
London is an awesome city for events. I am asked what is happening a lot. There is no way I can cover everything happening, however there are several good sites to use, depending on what you’re seeking.