Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bite Me Burger Co. Launch Party!

My lovely bestie Joss (who you may remember from 'The Travel Diaries') recently landed in the UK to come and stay with me in London for a month! (YAY!) Luckily for us, on Monday I was invited to the opening party for the Bite Me Burger Co. so we both went along to see what this new pop up was all about.




The Bite Me Burger Co. is hidden away within an existing restaurant in Holborn and the pop up is introducing us to an entire new burger concept - burgers by the dozen!

Yes you heard that right, dozen!




Essentially, there's a diddy menu with a surprising range of burger types in it (including duck, lamb and a bloody Mary burger!) and a whole bunch of milkshakes. These burgers all come in 'slider' size - i.e. small enough that it's socially acceptable to consume more than one...




You pick up to twelve burgers which are then packaged in cute little boxes.




Anyway, since it was the launch party, the burgers and milkshake shots were free flowing and Jossi and I did the only sensible thing - grabbed a box, filled it up to bursting point and found a corner to devour our plunder!




My favourite thing about Bite Me has to be the range of choice of interesting flavours. For starters, there are five choices of different beef burger, plus a chicken one (served with an yuzu mayo which was delicious) and the aforementioned duck and lamb. The duck is served with truffled mayo and hoisin, where as the lamb is served with mint and cumin!)  Additionally, there's a veggie option where you can have any of the fillings, just replacing the meat with aubergine (for once the veggies aren't left out!).





The milkshakes also cannot be forgotten. Weirdly, two flavours which I really didn't think I'd rate turned out to be my favourite - the peanut butter and the coconut shakes!





Essentially we were two very happy girlies in the corner, stuffing our faces with tasty tasty food! (For one person, really two or three should be enough, but hey, six down and we were still going!) I really enjoyed the opening party and I have to say, I feel the restaurant will do very well - who doesn't want a selection of burgers to go? Maybe then I shouldn't have been surprised when I heard whispers of a more permanent venue soon to be popping up - keep your eyes peeled!



Sunday, 18 June 2017

Tooting Broadway Market: The Hill Station Cocktail Bar

I've never been out to Tooting before. It's a bit of London that you hear quite a lot about - it's 'up and coming', 'the new edgy place to live' or 'the authentic version of Brixton', but also perhaps not the closest place to get to. However, on Wednesday evening I was invited to 'The Hill Station' cocktail bar and this has inspired me to find out what other gems could be hidden in this corner of South London.

Finding the bar was perhaps not the easiest experience. Frankie and I must have walked up and down the high street at least three times before a friendly passer by directed us into a small market entrance. Then, we wandered around a maze of an undercover market, where during the day time, there would be small shops offering hairdressing services and stalls selling fresh fish among other foods.

Eventually however, we stumbled across The Hill Station.





From the outside, the bar was modeled on an authentic Himalayan mountain shack, decorated with flags and cheery blue shutters, with benches for people to sit. On the inside, the bar was tiny! There was perhaps room for about 10 people in the seating area and room for a couple more propped up at the bar its self. This cozy venue was decorated all over with colourful cushions, photographs and glass hanging lanterns, giving it a warm atmosphere.

We settled down and read through the menu, before picking a 'Darjeeling Iced Tea' and a 'Hillary's Hibiscus'. Then, incredibly looking plates of sushi were deposited in front of us! Nibbles had arrived from the next door 'Hi-Ki Robata Grill and Sushi Bar'. Beautifully served and incredibly delicious, this was a real unexpected treat! The sushi was lovely and fresh, but it was the little meat skewers which really stole the show!


 

 

 



Soon, we tucked into our cocktails. These were prettily presented and also very tasty. The Darjeeling Iced Tea I especially liked as it had a strong taste of spicy peppercorns and even came served with half a pepper on top which was rather unusual!


 

 




Over the course of the evening, we managed to sample an extensive range of the menu. Each cocktail was carefully made with a host of interesting ingredients. I even got to try a whole tamarind fruit which blew me away slightly, much to the amusement of our hosts! I'd never seen it in its fresh form before and loved how it almost looked like a giant, slightly furry peanut, filled with soft fruit. My favorite cocktail I think would have to be a Tibetan-Thai which was a sweet, rum-soaked concoction.








The Hill Station was a great little surprise and it's amazing to see how areas of London are regenerating and making way for little businesses like this bar and the neighboring sushi restaurant. It also paves the way for a new kind of dining experience. One where you may start your night in the Hill Station for a cozy drink with your friends, before moving next door for the first part of your dinner and perhaps a little deeper into the market for pudding. Not only are you supporting local start ups, this gives you an amazing freedom to try a myriad of different dishes and cuisines. Personally I love the concept and hope that we see it spread across the capital!

 
 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Time for an Update: Meet 'Soup & Champagne'

I think it's time for an update. 

A revamp. A make over, a bit of an overhaul. 

Over the last few years, I have been blogging here and there about my life. From small updates to places I've been and things I've experienced. My blog has always been a place where I've enjoyed writing my memories (mostly so I don't forget them!) and sharing details of my life with anyone who can be bothered to listen.

However, as time has passed, I've grown up and the contents of this blog has evolved along with me. When I started Katie's Rose Garden, I was a student studying law. In the time since, I've graduated university, done a fair amount of travelling, moved to London and started a job in tech consulting. 

Two and a half years into this job, I reached a milestone - promotion time! (Woop woop!) But this got me thinking - maybe it was time Katie's Rose Garden reached a milestone too. A re-branding one to be precise. 

So, with no further ado, mean 'Soup & Champagne', aptly named after the contents of my fridge (or rather the lack of it). 




 (For those who may be concerned, I most definitely love to eat. However, as busy city girl, my fridge tends to be rather empty and any food I cook tends to go straight from shopping bag to stove...) 

So, raise a glass and join me in toasting to this new chapter. Cheers!


Please bare with me while I get everything transferred over - hopefully everything should be fully working soon! Let me know if you spot any issues or if you have any comments you'd like to share! :) 

Big thank you to Sophia from designbysophia.co  for helping me with my new logo!

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Seaside Escapes: Brighton

Bank Holidays are both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, well, you get an entire extra day off work for completely free. A curse because inevitably, you over stuff them with so many activities that the lovely refreshing rest you really were rather in need of just doesn't happen.

Following this pattern, it was hardly surprising when this May bank holiday I perhaps overstretched my time just a tiny bit.

So, after a whistle stop visit to my Mum's and a rather boozy brunch in Covent Garden, I found myself on a train to Brighton on the Sunday evening.

I arrived just in time to drop my stuff at our lovely little Air BnB, before being whisked out the door and off to cocktails and nibbles.

Frankie, like the organised lady she is, had managed to find a wonderful little cocktail bar hidden away in what seemed to be quite a residential area. 'The Cocktail Shack' (inside what we later realised was a boutique hotel called 'The Artist Residence' was rather snug, with plants hanging from the ceiling and a bar which took up most of the floor space.




The menu was definitely not bog-standard and before long we were happily sipping away.




Once we'd finished our drinks, we popped next door to 'The Set Cafe' where we ordered a collection of small plates to share, which turned out to be the perfect amount of food for a warm Sunday evening.






Having finished eating and drinking, it was time for a bit of an explore, so off we wandered down to the sea front.




Being a Bank Holiday weekend, it seemed like half of Brighton was out to celebrate! The bars and restaurants by the sea were heaving and music pumped out over the pebbles.

We paused to pose by the sea (much to our own hilarity), before heading on to the pier for essential ice cream and sugared doughnuts.







Finally, feeling rather full, we headed back to our apartment for a good night's sleep before the next day's activities...

Monday morning we were up bright and early for one reason and one reason only. We were going to Choccywoccydoodah for breakfast...

Now, if you haven't heard of Choccywoccydoodah, you might have to ask yourself why on Earth not?! But, to fill you in, let me tell you that it has to be one of the most spectacular chocolate companies in England. Starting in Brighton, (but now with a branch in London too) this rather avant-garde company makes towering cakes coated in chocolate models or, sometimes, forgoes the cake entirely.






Coincidentally, it's also not perhaps the place to visit if you're on a diet....

Anyway, back to breakfast.

We turned up outside the store at exactly 10am, queuing up expectantly outside the door. Once opened, we trooped up stairs to the little cafe and took our seats on a FANTASTIC chaise lounge.

Then, we ordered our breakfast cake. Having perused the menu, we decided that the cake sharing plate (at £24.99) made both economical and practical sense.

The ensuing conversation with the waiter went something like this:

"May we have the cake sharing platter please?"

"You know that usually serves 8 to 10 people?"

*Three pairs of eyes are met, nods exchanged*

"We'll have the platter please."

Oops.

It was quite large.





Especially for breakfast....





Luckily however, we could box the (large amount of) leftovers up and took them with us...

After our monster breakfast, we didn't have a huge amount of time left in the city, so we just went for a wander around the shops, taking in the sights.

Beautiful tall town houses and twisting little lanes are everywhere. We even got lost in an Aladdin's cave of a vintage store which seemed to have everything from beautiful piece of furniture to seemingly ugly and useless fragments of broken knick-knacks.

Sooner or later however, it was time to hop on a train home.Laden with our uneaten cake slices, before we knew it we were trundling away from the sea side.

Brighton is super close to London and for that reason alone it's worth a visit. There's a whole host of things to do and it's easy to walk everywhere (especially if you don't mind a hill or two!). Combined with large volumes of reasonably priced chocolate cake, it's a recipe to please all!


Friday, 9 June 2017

An Unexpected Development

Recently, I started doing something that I never expected I ever would. In fact, previously I've been so profoundly staunch in my opposition to ever undertaking said activity that, on finding my self heading out the door to undertake it, I had somewhat of an internal shock. That activity is running.




 What was my exact reason for rejecting running? Well, I had a few which, in my previous mind, were well thought out arguments:

1) I have delicate ankles and knees - running is high impact, ergo, a no go
2) I already go to the gym (although admittedly, NEVER on a treadmill)
3) I'm not the kind of person who is going to get up at 5am to plod around a park in all manners of weather, namely rain/frost/cold

 So, as you may imagine by now, my reaction to my boyfriend suggesting that we go running together was 'absolutely, no way, not a chance!' However, he wore me down and, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself off on a slow 5km trot around Wimbledon. This has been followed by a few runs since, including one particularly pleasant venture down the backstreets and along the Putney river bank.

 Now, I am a relatively fit 24 year old, but I can't say I've been finding 5km particularly easy. But I do enjoy one aspect of my trips which I feel reveals rather a lot about my personality... I love discovering all the little areas around where I live- essentially, being nosy! There's nothing quite like coming across a beautiful front garden or a weirdly built house in an unexpected place. Or even a corner store selling everything under the sun including those strangely posh brands of iced tea you never see anywhere but on restaurant menus...

 So, if you're adverse to running, may I make one suggestion? Look at it differently - it's not painfully drawn out exercise, it's actually a valid reason to (swiftly) wander down all those little nooks and crannies you'd never normally visit. And hey, you may get fit in the process!

Monday, 5 June 2017

London Bridge: London Theatre's Party at Gatsby's

"The honour would be entirely mine if you would attend my little party."

Last night, I went to a party at Gatsby's. It was a raucous affair, full of dancing, jazz and dramatic interludes. It was if I had slipped back in time to the 1920s, landing slap bang in the middle of all the action.

Earlier that evening, I donned my flapper dress and copious strings of pearls whilst Andrew dug out his finest braces, before we jumped on a train towards a secret location in London Bridge.

Down a quiet street, we were suddenly met with the sound of jazz and people chatting. Light spilled over the pavement as flapper girls raised their glasses. We had arrived.




We met up with the rest of our party as the metal shutters rolled down behind us, driving us deeper into the prohibition themed bar. Suddenly, Nick Carraway was in front of us, setting the scene and introducing us to our host, the notorious Jay Gatsby.




As the evening unfurled, so did the plot of this famous tale. We were lead from scene to scene, as scandal after scandal came to light. We were whisked away to rooms where juicy details would be revealed, before being taken back to the heart of the set to enjoy a song or a dance. Involvement was encouraged, with the audience being picked on to play the part of a waiter or bar tender. This was immersive theater at its best, where different strands of the tale were divulged before all coming together coherently to reveal the big picture. No single journey through the story was the same, yet all took you methodically through the plot's twists and turns.






We had an absolutely fantastic evening - the cast was incredible, the story consistently well told and totally immersive - it definitely exceeded our expectations and I would highly recommend the show to anyone considering getting tickets.







It was also great to see everyone there. Following the awful terrorist events of the previous night in London Bridge, I had called prior to arriving to check whether the event was cancelled, given it was being held very close by. The response I got? "The Show Must Go On!" And go on it did.