Lela London – London Travel, Food, Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog
I love London. I sign things London. London is the key to my heart it deserves some writing. Be it a travel blog, fashion blog, food blog, beauty blog, music blog, or something entirely different...I just like to think of it as a place where I can jam my tongue in my cheek, spread love, inspire adventure, and make you giggle.
I love a bouji staycation and I’m very aware that turn of phrase makes me sound like an absolute trollop.
There’s just no way around it; hotels are to good times what good times are to a Lela. To date, the record of extraordinary days to days I’ve ended up face-planting into sheets someone else has mace is one-for-one. I back staycations for all occasions.
For my recent birthday, newly opened aparthotel The Chronicle had my name written all over it.
Though the building nestled just a street back from Chancery Lane (and, most importantly, a quick Uber to Shoreditch) it is unbelievably quiet and spacious. As parent company Supercity Aparthotels’ reputation might suggest – a veritable home away from home.
The Chronicle boasts 53 elegant apartments (five of which have private terraces) with comfort-minded living areas, beautiful bedrooms, original – and typically cheeky – art, luxe bathrooms, Kerridge-ready kitchens, and all associated amenities.
It was the perfect pad to fill up (and glam up) before a boozy birthday brunch with drag queens and an even better hangover hideaway.
In fact, the complimentary Sky TV package (including sports and movies) really helped with the latter.
Despite frequenting The Alchemist for a number of years, I’ve never given the cocktail citadel a proper review.
This could be, perhaps, because I’ve typically only drank in the bar’s North England venues. The first Alchemist launched in Manchester’s Deansgate in 2010 on the site of a former 19th century ‘den of iniquity and alchemy’ (giving the bar its name) and I hadn’t actually visited the brand’s London sites since my hometown return.
Luckily, the whole affair met past expectations – their St Martins Lane outpost is a little bit of alco-theatre in the theatre district. And then some.
The cocktails fizz, smoke, pop and – well – transmogrify like they have for years while the food menu tantalises in its own way; there is a little bit of everything and a lot to keep your mouth watering.
After toasting with a Smokey Old Fashioned (Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, Jerry Thomas bitters and smoke), my dinner date and I shared tempura prawn lollipops, steamed pork buns and duck gyoza – all of which went down a simple but delicious treat.
I was especially surprised to see the menu championing seitan (both in ‘nuggets’ and boneless ‘wings’) but decided to forgo my vegan favourite for a later date so we could share some mains.
Forgoing the pant stretch of the Vietnamese Banh Mi (my favourite street food of all time), we opted for the tandoori seabass (unbelievably flavoursome) and poke bowl (which, while loaded, was a little more ‘great vegan salad’ than ‘poke bowl’).
All in all, it’s wonderful to know I can line my stomach with an array of affordable yet appealing bites when fate leads me, inevitably, back to The Alchemist.
Their Penicillin (Ardbeg 10 yearr, Chase Marmalade vodka, lemon and burnt cinnamon) is the only dessert I’ll ever need.
I am a murder mystery kind of woman. Like many of you, I was raised on ridiculous slasher films and televised crime scene investigations that were as entertaining as they were disconcerting.
In fact when Billy and Stu proved my killer theory correct (horror OGs, you know what I’m talking about) at the ripe old age of seven I genuinely considered a career in crime-solving. At least cinematically.
Murder mysteries are puzzles, personified, and I could not get enough.
After receiving my code it took nothing but an e-mail to book a night at one of Murder 57’s London murder mystery dinners and that fateful night (I could contain myself, but I won’t) began with a mingle around a Kingston hotel’s bar.
Before long, ‘dinner guests’ became cast members and a woman I’ve never met got bludgeoned to death. It was bloody fantastic.
Over the course of the next few hours, The Boy and I took short breaks from a delicious three-course meal to play a modern Nick and Nora Charles. With the requisite level of booze and banter.
At £179 for two, it was killer value (excuse the pun). The night was immersive, the room was cosy, and the clues were complex enough to elicit the most ridiculous murder motives I have ever seen a group of adults come up with. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Not sure how to spend Halloween this year? This has your name all over it.
It has been a hot minute since I’ve recommended a bar-first venue to you gastro-obsessed babes (takes one to know one!), but I think The Little Blue Door might just tick all your boxes.
Firstly, the concept is ridiculous. The venue itself is hidden behind a blue residential door and is managed by a ‘bunch of friendly flatmates’ who want you to treat their quirky little house like its your own.
If you’re not drinking the hipster Kool-aid, you’ll realise that it is – in fact – a bar. With food and cocktails. Like other bars.
What sets its apart is its infectious attitude. The Fulham-standard ‘flatmates’ are audacious, unusually attractive, and welcome you with the affection of a best friend at a house party. It’s weird. And wonderful.
Settling into their Shoreditch-style sitting room, I sifted through their list of cocktails (all based on the flatmates’ favourite films and TV shows) and settled on the Godfather Part II. Like revenge, it’s a drink best served cold, and blended a promising mix of Slane Irish Whisky, Disaronno, apple and cloves.
My mid-week sensibilities opted to steer clear of their house party hooches (like The Mick Jagger Bomb -Bombay Sapphire Gin, Crème de Violet, Maraschino & Prosecco) but bookmarked them for a future weekend visit to their ‘recovery buffet’.
The food, after all, was surprisingly great; the best philly cheese steak I’ve had this side of the Atlantic (with arguably better bread), a truffle-heavy mac & cheese, chips as crispy as their salt & pepper squid, and all the trimmings.
I planned my second visit (supper club, I’m coming!) before I finished my first. It’s a schismatic set-up but one every guest seemed to love – if that’s not blog-worthy, nothing is.
When you grow up in the Big Smoke, you learn to shy away from anything more spectacular than a midweek battered cod. Landlocked London has forever fought a losing battle against sustainable seafood that tastes anything better than mediocre.
The new restaurant (which, like a lot of my new favourite restaurants, decided to hop on the gentrification wagon in Westbourne Grove) is the great British high street’s own little slice of Croatia.
An ex-Gaucho team have flipped a failed American-style diner into a rustic luxury beach shack with a spring in its step and the menu to match.
As its name suggests, small and large seafood buckets are their calling card but a tummy tide pulled me elsewhere on my introductory visit.
Their innovative small plates drew me in; I ebbed into salmon crudo (with grapefruit,pink peppercorn & lime), grilled squid steak with lemon purée, and tuna tartare (with breakfast radish, avocado mayo & seaweed crisps) with reckless abandon, expectations far exceeded from my first bite.
Indulgently, I added three oysters (with a selection of vinaigrettes) to compliment a Zacapa Old Fashioned (Ron Zacapa, Pedro Ximenez, chocolate bitters, & orange). They weren’t the best I’ve ever had – keeping in mind I used to eat them straight from the water as a child – but they were the best I’ve had in London. Especially at the side of such an infallible cocktail.
Bucket-wise, my date and I opted to share a small bucket of coconut and chilli mussels alongside a sesame-sprinkled seaweed and cucumber salad. Both touted a sensational, balanced flavour profile and interesting Southeast Asian touches.
At the recommendation of our incredibly friendly and attentive waiter, I took a pre-dessert pause with a Seaweed Martini which – despite looking like actual filth – blended Hendrick’s, St-Germain, seaweed, sea algae, & cucumber to umami perfection.
While I was tempted to carb up on my booth neighbour’s lobster mac & cheese and dive into the rest of the cocktail menu, I decided to bookmark such plans for a future visit and wrap things up with pineapple carpaccio (with pink peppercorn, lemon thyme cream & coconut ice cream) and a bite of my date’s mascarpone-heavy tiramisu.
Whether you’re popping in for £1 oysters* or a Lela London-style feast, there is no doubt in my mind you would leave anything less than thrilled. But I have to put my wind behind the sails of the latter.
It is quite literally a Bucket list restaurant.
(* With any bottle, jug, cocktail or bucket of beers. 4-7pm on weekdays and 4-6pm on weekends.)
The never-ending stream of ‘National’ days and weeks that PRs seem to throw around the Twittersphere has me wildly disconnected. A little petulant, truth be told. I refuse to eat burgers on National Burger Day. I refuse to relax on National Relaxation Day. I may even go as far as supergluing my mouth shut on National Smile Day.
The exception was always going to be National Afternoon Tea Week. The one I’m currently clotted cream-ing our way through. I take afternoon tea unnecessarily seriously.
With a friend was in town and on the hunt for her first taste of British teatime, I had to go heritage. Home House‘s English Country Garden Afternoon Tea heritage.
The jaw-droppingly beautiful member’s club and hotel shook their afternoon tea menu up to incorporate country garden themes right on time. We booked in, skipped up Robert Adam’s opulent staircase, and settled in to their neo-classical Drawing Room with a glass of Moët & Chandon for the quintessential afternoon tea.
Simply heightening the traditional, we started with a sandwich selection of roast beef & horseradish on onion bread, smoked salmon & cream cheese on granary, cucumber & cream cheese on white, and cressed-up wholegrain egg mayo on white.
The fresh scones – with plenty of clotted cream and jam – were next, riding on a Darjeeling sea that led to spectacular dessert plates. While I rarely take more than a bite of teatime’s sweet treats, the mini Pimms trifle, Eton Mess meringue sphere, cherry & chocolate dacquoise, honey & thyme mousse sable, violet & blackberry open macaron, and raspberry & rose tartlet vanished within minutes.
If you’re looking for a traditional tea that won’t disappoint, I couldn’t think of a better spot to settle in for the afternoon.
It sounds like the start of a terrible pun; two chefs walk into a shipping container and – spoiler alert – walk out with the best small plates I’ve had all year.
Alas, it’s the non-pun Smoke & Salt have made a reality. The micro-sized shipping container restaurant is the culinary chief of its POP Brixton neighbours, serving seasonal British small plates with an emphasis on smoking, curing and preserving.
From the arrival of their Old Post Office Bakery sourdough and smoky whipped butter I knew I wanted to try more than their absurdly affordable seven-course tasting menu (most gluttonous sentence ever?), so opted for a few suggestions from the owners and settled in for a treat.
Negroni Blanco in hand, I set into the roe deer tartare (with smoked gooseberries, rapeseed, and sorrels) to start, followed by a plate of tomatoes, smoked ricotta, whey, and toasted buckwheat.
Both dishes were undeniable unusual, yet phenomenally balanced. And the perfect amount for two people to share.
We moved on to new potatoes with beef heart (heightened with chimichurri and gorgonzola), chalkstream trout (dressed with the most intensely delicious raspberry/chipotle concoction), chicken schnitzel (underwhelming compared to the other dishes, yet better than others I’ve had and a last-minute substitute for their typical veal schnitzel), and thick grilled chorizo (paired with aubergine and an exquisite burnt lemon mostada).
As the sun set, I watched an eager queue build up for late dinner reservations and smiled to myself. It has been quite some time since I’ve felt this excited to see what a new kid on the block does next.
Smoke & Salt is what London’s foodie underbelly is all about.
Old Spitalfields Market really finds itself up against it. On one hand, you have neighbouring destinations of dreams for tourists and locals (Shoreditch, Boxpark, Old Street, et al). On the other hand, you have neighbouring destinations of dreams that mean you’re bypassed altogether.
What do you do to draw them in?
You get all the best hipster-loved culinary joints in London under one roof at The Kitchens – the market’s dynamic and developing street food hall curated by Nuno Mendes.
It’s a crowd-captivating concept in and of itself. One only heightened by the arrival of Summer’s seasonal wave of new traders.
The historic Victorian market now plays host to a phenomenal range of traders including High Mood Food – a health food concept with a unique focus on fermentation. Co-founder and chef Joey O’Hare makes the most insane, flavour-packed salads (and living dressings) which all prioritise gut health.
I genuinely had such a mind-blowing working lunch with them recently that I went back to pick something up for a dinner date. At the same time, I got so distracted by the signature shengjianbao (aka soup dumplings) from Dumpling Shack that I was temporarily diverted.
I mean, the Shack’s creators have spent three years perfecting their Shanghai-inspired dumpling recipes with regular immersive travel. It couldn’t be avoided.
My future trips (and yours!) will surely include Mazi Mas’ persian menu, Good Mood Matcha’s iced watermelon take on the frothy drink, Pleasant Lady Trading’s succulent Jian Bings, and the Insta-worthy Taiwanese treats from Wheelcake Island (for pancakes filled with everything from adzuki bean to Oreos).