Glorious, brutalist London

London, Photography

I recently attended an event at FTI Consulting, where we had drinks on their terrace at 200 Aldersgate. With incredible views over the city, we looked out on the Barbican estate in all its brutalist glory. An ugly concrete building it may be, but a beautifully ugly one at that. I don’t think anyone could disagree that in the summer evening light, the city has never looked better.

The verdict

Cannot beat the city views in the early evening summer light.

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Dinner diaries: M Restaurant

Food, London

I was lucky enough to be taken to the new M restaurant on Victoria Street in London the other day, with a friend and her uncle whose Argentinian wine, Alpasión, is stocked in the restaurant and wine shop upstairs. The restaurant is run by Martin Williams, a former manging director of Gaucho, who met us with a warm welcome and tour of the restaurant, including the plush members’ lounge where each member has their own bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue label in the cabinet. In the members lounge I’d recommend the tangy lemon and gin cocktails made with Tanqueray 10.

cocktail M restaurant

[Source: Timeout]

In the main restaurant the emphasis is on the steaks and grilled meat. Each main is meant to represent a different country; I of course went for the Argentinian steak to match the Alpasión wine, the Argentianan Malbec. The food was delicious – the sweet potato mash was the creamiest, tastiest mash I think I’ve ever eaten – it’s a must! I must admit the steak wasn’t as good as my all-time favourite: Hawksmoor.

Back to the starters, I had my eyes on the venison salami, which came with hazelnuts & toast, or the red prawn coconut curry. But unfortunately these were unavailable (we were pretty late sitting) so I went for the buttermilk fried chicken instead – the poshest version of KFC there is.

The restaurant itself is luxuriously decorated in duck-egg blue with boothed seating round the side. For a grill restaurant the décor was refreshingly feminine in comparison to the usual dark-wood, brown leather and dim lighting you find at the likes of Hawksmoor. With the meat hanging on display in a fridge, you know you’re in for an authentic experience.

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M Restaurant, Victoria. [Source: The Standard]

So a little about Alpasión…

The wine is from Argentina, and comprises the Alpasión Malbec and the Private Selection, which is made from a blend of grapes – I didn’t get to try this one. The design of the bottle label makes this brand particularly unique; on the label are the fingerprints of all the brand’s owners. It’s only UK stockist at the moment is M – but keep your eyes peeled as something tells me this won’t be the case for long.

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[Source: Alpasion Instagram account]

The Verdict

A little haven of luxury in the busy Victoria. Make the most of the well-chosen cocktail list before dinner. Be sure to get the best cut of steak you’re willing to pay for and a bottle of Alpasión Malbec, of course.

Store watch: Smug, Angel

London, Retail, Travel

A personal favourite store is Smug found in Camden Passage in Angel, Islington.

The small store offers a curated range of stationary, homewares and magazines, all in candy-pop pastels. The tiny two-floor lifestyle shop has a mini coffee shop downstairs with just enough room for a few people to sit down in the winter, or there’s seating outside when its warm. Stationary from Wrap and homewares from HAY are among the delightful products on offer here.

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See the Smug website here: https://www.ifeelsmug.com/

The Verdict

The go-to place for cutesy birthday gifts and home inspiration.

Clerkenwell London/155 Bar & Kitchen

London, Retail

Clerkenwell London is an innovative new concept store that has opened in the heart of the capital’s design district, with its own bistro and wine bar. The lifestyle shop offers everything from fashion, jewellery and homeware, to food and wine, as well as music, art and literature. It even has its own in-house perfumery where customers can mix their own perfumes, making the store a full multi-sensory experience.

ZETTELER_ClerkenwellLDN_Images by Ed Reeve-LR_12

Contemporary interior at Clerkenwell London. Source: Ed Reeve

At Clerkenwell London, the focus is on discovery. In store, each room is curated to a theme and the product range is constantly updated. There is a strong focus on the designers and makers behind the products sold, with Clerkenwell London describing itself as ‘a destination for the discovery of niche and established designers, creatives and artisans’. This focus on the creatives behind the products adds a sense of authenticity and individuality to the range on offer.

Neat little touches include neon-lit signs that read ‘undressing rooms’ above the changing rooms and an arrow with ‘the path to enlightenment’ leading the way to the wine bar downstairs.

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Yet Clerkenwell London is not just an innovative concept store, it is a destination in itself, offering retail, dining and leisure experiences. The store has its own bistro, 155 Bar & Kitchen, offering a modern British menu, as well as a vinyl lounge, Martini bar, wine library and piano lounge – taking customers from breakfast to the evening and beyond. With events such as Saturday Sessions, a music-orientated brunch session with DJs playing all afternoon, who wouldn’t want to spend all day here?

The Verdict

Clerkenwell London represents a new age of retail, where the focus is on discovery and experience.