Eat: Earlham Street Clubhouse

Monday, 26 May 2014

Nineties nostalgia, pizzas and cocktails - Earlham Street Clubhouse down in Covent Garden excels at them all.
As soon as I arrived I felt like an American college student, the entire building is designed to look like a frat house and the attention to detail is immense; Nineties advertising images, a jukebox, college sports team paraphernalia and some random objects like a mermaid. Everybody remembers stealing random stuff like traffic cones and cafe signs to bring back to their student digs after a drunken freshers night so this felt fully authentic. You didn't do that at uni? Oh. Just me and my uni pals then, who I happened to attend Earlham Street Clubhouse with. My friends and I are dubbed 'Group A' and we are kind of our own version of a sorority without an annoying 'kappa gamma bamma boo' song.

We started at the bar where the drinks menus hang from the ceiling (we broke at least two of these...ooops!)

All of the cocktails are named after or reference 90's films and culture. I don't think I need to even say how excited this made me! The drinks are specially designed by award winning cocktail guys Soulshakers and offer a 'modern touch on many classics'.

I started with a Cruel Intentions (love that film) and the others had Heather's Revenge, Milky Bar Kid and Rolling With The Homies (Clueless!)

We headed to our booth which are cute, darkly lit nooks with phones to call the other tables. Dreamphone anyone?

All that's on the menu is pizza. Well if you're sick at one thing why bother with anything else?

Any ideas what gassed me about the menu?
We all decided to Ross and Rachel (WE WERE ON A BREAK!!!) and go half and half on 20" pizzas - between 6 we ordered everything on the menu. We managed to fit the huge wooden slabs that housed the pizzas on our table, no easy task with all our cocktails!

I had an American Beauty; thin crispy base, gooey cheese, delicate shavings of grilled aubergine and courgette and peppers. The Plain Jane was a simple classic - not too dry, not too tomatoey.

There were no complaints from the meat eaters either...

The cocktails and chatter kept flowing for so long we didn't have the time or space to try the Crodough, the very latest in food hybrids...but I will next time!

Even the toilets are plastered with yearbook photos of celebrities when they were young, I wish I'd got a photo of those!
The music was in keeping with the theme and actually incredible - we rocked out to Sisqo Thong Song, The Fugees Ready or Not and Bobby Brown Two Can Play That Game among others

Shanika Says - there are only 7 booths so I'd advise booking especially if you plan to go on a Friday or Saturday or in a large group.
Oh and you are never too old to mess about on the phones.

Read: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Saturday, 24 May 2014

I had seen lots of tweets proclaiming 'This book will make you cry!' and as a part-time softie, fully expected to experience the waterworks while reading this novel about teenage cancer sufferers falling in love. But I didn't.

That's not to say the tragic plight of 17 year olds, Hazel with thyroid and lung cancer and Augustus with osteosarcoma, is not emotive, as they are handled with grace, sensitivity and dark humour. For me it was that the characters didn't always read as natural in a book rooted in naturalism - the young characters suffered from what I call Dawson Creek Syndrome, sounding like fully qualified analytical psychiatrists in there everyday speech bar the odd 'whatever'. The dialogue often felt forced and overly pretentious which detracted from the characters believability. 

The tender intensity of first love however, is delivered beautifully in the softer, less OTT moments, such as the pairs habit of simply saying 'Okay' to each other when they didn't know what to say, or to check on each other or for a number of other reason all wrapped up in this one word.

Another line that really resonated was the concept of how you can fall in love with someone at different paces. Augustus professed his love early on for Hazel but she tried to hold back, determined for there to be as few victims as possible because of her illness, she tried to keep their relationship platonic but eventually admitted to herself 'I fell in love the way you fall asleep...slowly, then all at once'

With Hazel's prognosis terminal, mortality is a huge theme in the book. Probably the most heartbreaking moments were ones that looked at Hazel's fear of hurting her lost ones.

"I'm like. Like. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?"

'"NO!" I shouted. " I'm not eating dinner, and I can't stay healthy, because I'm not healthy. I am dying, Mom. I am going to die and leave you here alone and you won't have me to hover around and you won't be a mother anymore, and I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it, okay?!"'

The moment's when Hazel sounded her age, like a regular teenager always hit home harder the injustice of losing someone so young.

The concept of legacy from the point of view of a person so young, who has known they were never going to live long, is an interesting one and Hazel and Augustus felt differently about it. Do we need to make an impact on the whole world or is touching the hearts of our loved ones enough?

"Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.

I want to leave a mark."

Despite my misgivings, the book is incredibly well written and researched; the hospital and cancer detail and terminology is detailed yet treated glibly by the weary survivors and this makes it all the more poignant. The book is clearly aimed at young adults and I'm going to try and get my 16 year old sister to read, as the sombre topic and offbeat characters are right up her teenage angst ridden street.

The Fault In Our Stars has been turned into a movie too starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and will be in cinemas June 6th. Check the trailer here:

All images taken from The fault in our stars, and

Eat: Gallus

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Watch out Nando's, there's a new chicken restaurant in town. Serving up skewers, wings, salads and burgers with 'world flavours' such as Jerk, Cajun BBQ, Katsu, Tandoori and Miso Teriyaki, Gallus Restaurant's plush booths and sleek breakfast bar are all muted shades and chic simplicity in contrast to to the gaudy warm colours of everyone's favourite chicken chain. The simple touches of the metal buckets of cutlery and Gallus reward cards on the tables make all the difference at this restaurant that promises 'good honest food the healthier way'.

I started with a strawberry milkshake - made with yoghurt rather than ice-cream it's lighter and fresher than a traditional milkshake, in keeping with the healthy-ish vibe.

But that all went out the window when the glorious burgers arrived. For the boy, the Gallus burger, a chicken burger served with homemade Gallus burger sauce.

And for me possibly the best portobello mushroom burger I've ever had. Served on a super soft seeded bun with halloumi cheese, roasted mixed pepper and garlic mayo I was in veggie burger heaven...

Sides wise - skin on wedges and coleslaw complimented our burgers but it was the corn on the cob that won the prize for best side on the menu. Why have I never squeezed fresh lime on corn on the cob before? Or had corn with chilli butter? Delicious really.

I told you that corn was demolished!

For dessert we shared a light fluffy chocolate brownie with ice cream and the brownie was just chocolatey enough. You know how sometimes brownies can be too dry or too rich and chocolatey? Yeah well this wasn't. Just right.

The service was attentive and it wasn't very busy when we were there, perhaps because it was quite late but I can't imagine that Gallus will stay low key for much longer. This chicken restaurant is making its mark.

Shanika Says: Get down there before everyone jumps on the hype and say you were one of the first.

Gallus Restaurants
103 Charing Cross Road

Sega Sundays by The Reztron @ Aquum Bar

Monday, 12 May 2014

Just a quick one about last nights date! 

I saw that one of my favourite bar/restaurants, Aquum in Clapham were holding a retro gaming night and snapped up tickets for me and the boy. 
I won lots of girlfriend points for this one! 

The Reztron specialise in taking over bars with their old school Sega game consoles and it was fun to step back in time and play them. The Boy knew a lot of them; I just had fun being Chun-Li and playing the fighting games, even if I lost. 

There was also 70's karaoke and obviously drinks from the bar. The Boy was already thinking of heading back with his pals so I think he enjoyed himself!

Check out The Reztron on twitter: @thereztron or online