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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Electric Brasserie

20 May

As dates go, Saturday 28th April came round extremely fast!  And what better way to round off a great month than meeting with The Brunch Club Ladies?  April showers did not disappoint and showed up in full force as we made our way to the Electric Brasserie on the trendy Portobello Road, in the heart of Notting Hill.

Booking

For those of you reading this who I have been in contact with, you will remember how busy the month of April was for me.  From birthdays to trips, meetings, assignments and everything in between, no two days were the same.  And so when it came to booking the restaurant, it was a close call!  Luckily,  I had the Electric card up my sleeve.  I had booked the venue a few months back, and although I didn’t end up up going, it stuck in my mind as  a great place to take The Brunch Club.  Once I called up, and confirmed the reservation, it was a done deal.  Nice ‘n’ easy!

Gist!

SO!  The afternoon was extremely eventful and to be honest, I’m not sure where to start.  Is it the lateness of some of our ladies(!) or the stolen handbag saga?  I guess the only place to begin is at the beginning so here goes…

Don’t be tardy for the Party Brunch Club!  Ladies, ladies, ladies!  I used to be so guilty of this crime, that if I was to pay £1 for every time I kept someone waiting, I would be certified bankrupt!  I will swiftly use this platform to apologise to everyone reading who I have kept waiting in the past.  Sowwwy!  But this year, I made myself a promise. Wherever I had to go, I would at the very least, be on time and if I could push myself that bit further, I would be early.  So far, it’s been working and I haven’t broken my promise (well maybe by 5-10 mins, but nothing later!)  And so by becoming a punctual lady, I thought that this was the general consensus and everyone lived by these same rules.  Be on time and it’s all good, right?  WRONG!  Knowing that the restaurant might be a little sticky with table turnover for such a large group, I emphasised the importance of everyone arriving on time to ensure we made the most of our wonderful afternoon together.  However, my ex affiliate tardiness reared its head and for a change I was the one kept waiting.  Whilst the vast majority of the Ladies arrived on time, a few arrived 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours and the latest up to 3 hours late!  Yes 3 HOURS!!!  Needless to say at that point, food had been eaten, bill paid and we were preparing to leave.  I have grown to love each one of the Ladies Wot Brunch, and we were recently coined Brunch Club Sisters.  So sisters, please take heed: please please please pretty please be on time!!!

Hair done, nails done, everything did! In between the conversations and raucous laughter, I couldn’t help but notice two things: beautifully manicured nails and deliciously assembled hair.  Fantastique!  Stories were shared about the several hours spent on personal grooming and the money spent to look good.  It is not a cheap pastime!  But just look at these girls in the slideshow below: isn’t it money well spent?

The handbag that got stolen… and retrieved within 72 hours! Yes, you read correctly!  It was an emotionally trying afternoon, but thankfully, all ended well.  Amidst the chatter and jokes, we did not notice when an unfortunately disgraceful piece of filth (yes, I am not this thief’s fan) entered the restaurant, placed his coat over one of our Lady’s handbag and swiped it.  It was only when it was time to pay up that we realised what had been happened.  The police were called, a report was filed and CCTV tapes were watched.  As the criminal was on the police’s radar, a known thief and drug addict, once all the paperwork had been completed, we followed in the direction the thief had gone in the hope of locating the discarded bag.  From what we gathered in the CCTV footage, he had gone right when leaving the restaurant and if he was only after drug money, he would have dropped the bag.  But despite our efforts, a large group of handbag searchers hitting Portobello Road en masse, it was to no avail.  What had started as a wonderful day, ended up on a bitter sweet note.  But as women of faith and believers of speaking positively and employing our faith in all situations, we prayed that the bag would be found, and everything intact.  And whadduya know, our God who has never failed to date, came up trumps yet again!  At 20:59 the following Monday, a lady called to say the handbag had been left in her back garden, yards away from the restaurant!  And when the bag was collected, EVERYTHING was inside it!  Including bank cards, house keys and personal documents.  A valuable lesson is to be learnt here: in all situations, no matter what, we must remain positive and whenever things go missing, no matter how small or large, pray this simple prayer – “there shall be no loss”.  It always works!
Food

Well, there was certainly plenty of it!  The menu was simple and with one page’s worth of meals to choose from, simplicity was the order of the day.  Many of us opted for the Full Electric, which comprised of pretty much errrrrting!  Bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, toast, black pudding, tomatoes and as if it wasn’t enough, a few of us finished it off with a side of hash browns.  I can’t tell you whether it was Electric’s particular blending of these staple full English breakfast foods, or whether it was the appetite that the nasty glum weather outside evoked, but I lapped up everything on my plate.  EVERYTHING!  The vegetarian full electric also looked and tasted good  as did the sea bream and macaroni cheese.  The fresh juices were also delish!  The food is not pretentious, despite the restaurant’s chic location and celebrity guest list.  Good grub, good prices, yummy in our tummies!

Service

Despite our prime time Saturday afternoon sitting, the restaurant staff were very friendly and attentive and despite what we had been advised, we were not rushed out.  Food arrived promptly and the Ladies who joined us later were also served swiftly.  Even after the stolen handbag debacle, the manager came out, personally attended to us and offered her assistance.  My only comment would be regarding the warning that they give out regarding theft in the area: there should have been one!

Overall

In short, the afternoon was lovely.  Despite the damp weather, and dim, daft, dumb thief we had an enjoyable time.  Electric Brasserie is a great venue for a hearty bite to eat and a spot of people watching in between bargain hunting and vintage shopping.  The venue is reminiscent of large cafes on the continent and though the space is a little tight, if you have a smaller party, you might enjoy the booths which sit 4-6 people comfortably.  I’m a bit of a hard head and if something goes wrong, I need to repeat the action again in order to correct the associated memory.  So in order to get over the theft, at some point, I will return to Electric.  And as repeat venues go, it aint a bad option!

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For Ladies wot Brunch… At Harvey Nichols!

2 Apr

March 25th was special for 2 reasons: One, it marked the one month anniversary of our faaabulous trip to Paris and two, it was the date of our March meeting: a meeting with a twist.  Now we usually meet up on Saturday as it’s the perfect prelude to the weekend, but this time I thought it would be nice to switch it up and meet on a glorious Sunday afternoon instead.  The venue chosen was Harvey Nichols’ famous Fifth Floor Restaurant in the heart of Knightsbridge, London.

Booking

Booking on this occasion should have been straight forward, but unfortunately ended up being sticky tricky.  Being the organised person that I am, once the date was confirmed, I wanted to book the restaurant as early as possible to avoid disappointment and first booked the restaurant a month in advance.  The reservation was made via TopTable and my confirmation email came through a day later.  HOWEVER for some reason unbeknown to me, the reservation was cancelled.  Between TopTable and Harvey Nichols, there was an apparent miscommunication and in the end I had to go directly to the restaurant myself to secure the booking and arrange the deposit.  Note to self: if you need something done, Do It Yaself!

Gist!

As ever, whenever we get together, we’re bound to have hilarious conversation.  Our new Ladies who joined us for Afternoon Tea brought a refreshing outlook to the group and introduced some new remixed vocabulary such as having a “discerning descending spirit” (I can’t shouuut!), whilst our existing members continued to have us in stitches of laughter.  Here are some of the things discussed:

Bedmatics!  Yes BEDMATICS aka the mathematics of the BEDROOM!  Please don’t readjust your screen, this is now a real and official Brunch Club term!  We were told about a friend who was having her final send off to her husband’s household after the wedding ceremony, a tradition in Nigerian culture.  As the bride sat in her husband’s family home and listened to the pearls of wisdom being bestowed upon her from a female elder, there was one particularly heavy pearl which landed with full force:  “…And if your husband wants to sleep with you, don’t deny him access o!  Give him all the bedmatics necessary!”  At this point, we burst into fits of laughter, and had to catch our breath before we were able to receive the broken down definition of bedmatics.  So, what are bedmatics??

Well it turns out that women from Calabar in Southeast Nigeria have the gift of the goodies and know exactly how to turn the heat up in the bedroom.  Fascinating!  And if care is not taken, and conjugal gymnastics are not performed for the said husbands, the common (but not absolute) notion is that there is a Calabar lady ready to funk it up on the wife’s behalf.  As the saying goes, anything you can do, I can do better and whilst we may be classy Ladies Wot Brunch, we’re not too stuck up to learn new tricks and have since put out adverts for Calabar Ladies to teach us de ting!

Commitment Rings make the difference: Rings are of course a big deal in the group and one our lovely Ladies who is also married was giving us the low down.  Being on point with her bling bling swag, she discussed the importance of her rings.  Before she got married, she was given a commitment ring and we were told it made such a diference.  After an argument, when things looked bleak, she’d look down at the ring and think “if we were married, what would I do?”  If her and her other half came to loggerheads and they both wanted to just go their separate ways, she’d glance at her ring and again ask “would this be enough of a reason to call it a day?”  Even after trivial things such as him leaving the toilet seat up, she’d chuckle whilst eyeing her ring and ask, “would I divorce him over this?”  And in all cases, the resounding answer was no.  The commitment ring proved to be a symbol of patience and unity, something which is so important for both courting and married couples.  It was food for thought.  Ladies (and gents) make sure you apply patience and really take the time to think things out thoroughly in your relationships from here on out…

My Bride Price is STILL high!  Sunday was absolutely stunning and as we slinkily stepped out of the restaurant we thought it would be a waste to end the day there.  So we went to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel nearby for some post tea drinks.  As we walked in, one of our effervescent Ladies said – and I quote – “if our Bride price is still high, someone will be buying our drinks for us today.”  We all laughed and left it there, seeing as chivalry in London is pretty much dead and the likelihood of this becoming a reality was slim.  We were seated, ordered our drinks, laughed and gisted as we sipped our cocktails and wine.  And when the time came, we asked for the bill and paid up, ready to leave, only to be approached by the waiter with the following message, “the gentleman across the way has offered to order you another round of drinks if you’d care to stay…”  HAAAA!  The said gentleman was completely inconspicuous and it was only when we did some investigation that we discovered who he was.  After thanking him and engaging in some light conversation, we discovered he was on a business trip from Canada and had been so riveted by our varied conversation, ranging from politics, to bedmatics(!) that he couldn’t bear for us to leave just yet and wanted the charming chatter to continue.  We of course happily obliged!  Cheers to you sir, you are a true gentleman!

Food

As you would expect, Afternoon Tea is a social pastime, bringing gorgeous Ladies together to catch up whilst nibbling on some light munchies which are designed to be eaten in a ladylike manner.  And so I was expecting to be greeted with an assortment of finger food, and nothing more.  To be honest, the sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones by definition are finger food(!) but there was so much of it, that I was actually full!  Or maybe that was my motor mouth action which usurped my appetite?!

The general consensus was that the sandwiches were fine and varied, ranging from mini salmon and cream cheese sesame bagels to egg rolls, chocolate ganache and battenburg cake to plain and fruit scones served with clotted cream and exclusive Harvey Nichols preserve.  The vegetarian and cheese-free varieties were also very tasty.  However, the dishes which stole the show were the ones ordered from the á la carte menu.  Duck parfait and fish cakes – yummy!  We’ll definitely have to return and sample the á la carte menu robustly!

Service

We were greeted by our immaculately dressed hostess (her skin, dress and nails were stunning!) who ensured everything was done accordingly on the day.  From rearranging the tables to allow the large group of Ladies to sit together, to organising extra sandwiches free of charge for those of us with a heavier appetite, we were very pleased with the service rendered on the day.

Overall

The restaurant represents a piece of Knightbridge luxury, with large windows which allow you to bask in the glorious sunshine and phenomenal floral arrangements reminiscent of a private botanical garden.  The varied clientele was an added bonus: the gorgeous elderly guests were so sweet and complimentary to the group and the trendy young’uns joined us for a bit of afternoon banter.  As we roll deep wherever we go, we are always a focal point of the venue, and during the afternoon we were constantly asked what we were celebrating.  My response:

“Every day is a day worth celebrating!”

The winning factor of the day was being in the company of gorgeously dressed, witty women.  If we are to return, I think we’ll skip the Afternoon Tea and instead sample the á la carte menu.  But that said, whatever we eat, wherever we go, no doubt it will be a fun-filled, laughter infused time.  The Ladies Wot Brunch are a great bunch.  They’re amazing.  And a great group to have Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols with.  Fantastique!

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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Harvey Nichols (Sally’s Snippet)

25 Mar

Today we went to The Fifth Floor Restaurant in Harvey Nichols and I had such a fabulous time.  It was sooooo wonderful!

The full blog post will be coming shortly, but in the interim, check out what our lovely Sally thought here.

And make sure you check out her blog too!

http://todayimafabulous.tumblr.com/

For Ladies Wot Brunch… In Paris!

12 Mar

After months of planning, several hundred emails and countless meetings, Saturday 25th February 2012, the date of our very first trip abroad arrived!  Woopie!  The crisp morning welcomed 15 effervescent young ladies, ready to have fun and rock ‘n’ roll in the French capital.

We met bright and early at St. Pancras International Station and everyone was surprisingly alert and perky!  Although, this may be attributed to the copious amounts of caffeine which was bought and consumed in record timing (we had to drink all liquids before passing through security!).

After a few hours of gist with each other, networking with the other passengers (everyone in our carriage knew who For Ladies Wot Brunch were by the time we arrived in Gare Du Nord!) miniature munchies and several aggregate hours of power naps, we arrived in Paris, ready to show the Parisians how fabulous we were!

The countless hours spent planning the trip meant that we had an airtight itinerary: every minute was accounted for!  Our day’s activities included a trip to the stunning Louvre Museum, sightseeing at the Eiffel Tour, a cruise along the River Seine and shopping in Galleries Lafayette and environs.  But of course, with plenty of activities, we expected we’d build up a hearty appetite and so a sumptuous pit stop for a delicious dejeuner would be required.

Food

Chez Francoise, situated near the Eiffel Tour was the venue chosen for our French lunching experience.  My research churned out rave reviews, and the restaurant promised to have something to offer each diner.  On arriving at the restaurant, we were a bit sceptical: from the outside, it was not the most glamorous, nor the swanky looking of venues, however on entering, all our fears were allayed.  The decor was low key luxury, mood lighting relaxed our eyes and hushed French accents created a sumptuous background hum.  We were seated at our table and swiftly greeted with complimentary champagne.  Salud!

As the majority of us opted for the seasonal set menu, we ended up having an array of French dishes spread across our table.  The voyeuristic diner in me was disappointed that typical French fare such as snails and crème brûlée were not on the menu, but of course, this didn’t stop me from ordering: I was starving!

The group’s favourites on the menu were the Game Pâté for starters, the Cod with Langoustine Linguini and Parsley Sauce for mains and the Chocolate Fondant cake with Vanilla Pod Ice Cream for dessert.   Several of the Ladies, who initially ordered the veal for their main course, ended up having to send it back and order the cod instead, complaining that it tasted like kidneys…  Ewww!

Although the food was not to everyone’s taste, where the food fell short, the service and decor made up for it by a mile.  Our personal waiter Luke, was an absolute darling!  Catering to 15 divas is no easy feat, but he handled us like a gentleman answering the several translation questions we had and effecting and fetching various amendments to our orders.

The restaurant staff overall were also fantastic, greeting us with their suave French charm and bringing out the food and drinks graciously.  They even corroborated with my sneaky plan to organise a birthday cake for one of our Ladies who was celebrating her birthday that day and all came out to sing joyeux anniversaire to accompany the celebratory sponge cake.  Tres joli!

Highlights

As you can imagine, there were several gist fuelled conversations, lots of picture taking and lots of shopping!  Here are the highlights of the day:

Louvre-licious Ladies: As soon as we arrived at the museum en masse, it was difficult to miss us: clearly 15 glamtastic women don’t hit Paris very often!  From the security guard who was so keen to speak with us and find out about the group that he let us in for free (Dratz!  We shouldn’t have been so efficient and pre-purchased our tickets!) to the Japanese tourist who was so convinced we were models that she insisted on taking photos with us, our first stop at the home of Paris Fashion Week gave us a little snippet taster of what we could look forward to if we ever decided to change careers…

Snooze and you don’t lose! After a hefty 2.5 hour lunch and a last minute dash to make our River Seine cruise, we were all happy to rest our feet and view Paris from the comfort of the luxury liner.  Some were perhaps a little too happy…  It was perfect for a power nap! Zzzzzzzz!

Macaroon Wars: by the time we arrived at Galleries Lafayette, there was limited time available to shop.  Throughout the course of the day, the Ladies had quietly joined one of two camps: Ladurée or Pierre Hermé Macaroons.  Which do you prefer?  Both sides presented their arguments, laced with personal experience and filled with pride.  When the culmination point arrived, the Ladies purchased several boxes of delicious french fancy.  I personally could not reach a conclusion, perhaps another 2-3 boxes will help me decide… Tee hee hee!

Overall

I can honestly say that the day was an absolute blessing.  The laughter, the company and the positive energy made The Brunch Club’s first trip abroad a memorable one.

A huge thank you goes to Feyi who worked with me closely to plan the trip and of course each and every single Lady Wot Brunches who attended and ensured the day was a success.  They brought exactly what they were asked to: positivity, a smile and the penchant to have some fun!  I’m already itching to plan the next trip!

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For Ladies Wot…. Ahhh! It’s Games Night!

18 Feb

Saturday 11th February was the evening on which we had our very first Games Night: Hoorah!  As Ladies Wot Brunch, Dine and generally like to have a good time, we’re always looking for new and exciting things to do.  And given the fact that this year, the month of February is spectacularly different and hosts an extra day, we decided to switch things up too and have a catch up with a twist.

We all really enjoyed the impromptu games played at our last meeting and so it was decided that a chillaxed Games Night was the way to go.  Our lovely and bona fide hostess with the mostest Feyi welcomed us into her home and ensured we had a fabulous evening.  And what a barrel of laughs it was!  We chatted, laughed and ate way too many sweets, chocolates, biscuits and savoury nibbles and washed it all down with copious glasses of wine and soft drinks.  To make sure we didn’t lose our foodie element, we also ordered a whopping… Chinese takeaway!  YUMMY!

Here are some of the evening’s highlights:

Not one, not two, BUT THREE engagement stories!  Alas, we are amidst a wedding frenzy and the evening welcomed three beaming brides-to-be who had us all oohing and ahhhing at their romantic stories.  Awww!  Check out the bling bling action!

Taboo Teams Rock!  It’s inevitabe that whenever games are played, competitive streaks begin to emerge and the Ladies show their true colours.  We played several rounds of Taboo, each one highlighting descriptive prowess and very loud voices!  Hilarious!

Supporting the cause: The evening was also dubbed a Show and Tell opportunity and the Ladies were invited to bring along their business ventures.  From sexy jewellery to glamtastic hair extensions, there was lots to see and even more to buy!

A huge thank you goes to Feyi for hosting us and to each one of the Ladies Wot Brunch who attended and made our Games Night the enjoyable evening that it was 🙂

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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Hawksmoor Spitalfields

5 Feb

Saturday 21st January was the date of our first Ladies Wot Brunch meeting for 2012!  Whoopee!  As it had been a while since I’d seen the Ladies together, I was looking forward to catching up with them all, seeing their beautiful faces and hearing the latest news.  The venue chosen was Hawksmoor Spitalfields, a British Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar in East London.  On their offering, they state “We don’t just do steak feasts. We feel that we shouldn’t do anything new unless we can try doing the best version in London” and they go on to proffer the best Brunch at their Spitalfield’s restaurant,  one of three Hawksmoor branches.  And so of course, we had to check it out!

Booking

The restaurant, like many establishments, has an OpenTable online booking system, which is easy to navigate and provides a confirmed booking in a matter of minutes.  Although the system suggests bookings can be made for up to 20 people, the reality is that they only accept online reservations for tables of up to 6, and for larger parties, a phone call or email is required.  In my opinion, this defeats the purpose of the self serve function 😦  I spoke with a member of staff, who confirmed that the Spitalfields’ arm was where the breakfast action was at.  Unfortunately due to logistics, the maximum number the restaurant could seat at one table was 14.  However, in comparison to the other restaurants I had previously called, they were very enthusiastic about hosting such a large booking and so I went for it.  A day before our visit, I was given a reminder phone call and the opportunity to amend the booking (which on this occasion was not necessary).  For ease and if applicable, the intuitive online booking system is the way to go.  However, if like me you need to discuss details, booking over the phone is not a bad alternative by any stretch of the imagination.

Gist!

Gehn Gehn! (please excuse this outburst of Yoruba exuberance, but it’s the only word that sums up the giggles that erupt when I remember the afternoon!)

Our meeting was packed with information on what’s in store for the Brunch Club, welcome greetings to the new faces and ice breaker games led by Adaeze to introduce everyone and test memories (some of you guys may want to up your cod liver oil intake…! tee hee heee!)

Given the number of wedding ceremonies which were attended in the prior weeks and proposals which shook inboxes and instant messaging accounts across the group, it was only natural that marriage was a focal conversation topic.  Whenever you get a group of women together, and the subject of marriage is broached, talk is likely to go deep and there were very passionate opinions and observations shared.  If you are an odd male, or a random non-marriage enthusiast, your best bet is to take off your spectacles and stop reading NOW!  And if like us, you love all things fruitcake and confetti, here are some of the things which were said about the M word:

Prada Primark wedding shoes: SOOO we return to one of the blog’s favourite TV shows, BBC Three’s Don’t Tell The Bride, where on this particular episode, the groom, who had run out of money, decided to buy his bride-to-be a pair of Primark flats.  This caused a lot of controversy and the group quickly reported to one of two camps: Camp A was comprised of those who believed it was an absolute FARCE!  The argument was that it was highly irresponsible for him to buy her a pair of £8 shoes and flats for that matter (insult upon injury!), especially since he spent A LOT more than £8 on his own shoes. They believed it was rude and a very poor decision.  Camp B on the other hand, believed that this was not as heinous a crime as some thought.  The lady did not complain about the shoes but instead, accepted them with glee.  Not only did she support the decision her husband-to-be made on her behalf, she also appreciated the thoughtful decision to buy flats which would ensure she had comfortable feet all day long!  We did not conclude on who was right or wrong as both camps had equally strong arguments.  We did however agree that men planning weddings isn’t a bad idea at all (so long as it’s not broadcast on Don’t Tell the Bride!).  We also agreed that the act of bridesmaids wearing different heels is an OFFENCE!  Why would you do that?  Why?!?!  No matter where they’re from, even if they’re Primark’s finest, they must match unless you want the wedding photos to punch your eyes like Ike punched Tina.  NO!

The sanctity of marriage is definitely being defiled of a daily basis!  We were told about one wedding at which a recently married man showed up, but not with his wife and not one piece of arm candy; The man decided to rock up to the place with TWO hotties decorating each arm!  And to add salt to the wound, his mother who was also in attendance, didn’t seem to bat an eyelid, all the while his wife was at home none the wiser.  It is sad to see how vows are easily laid to one side in pursuit of a bit of frivolous fun and no one is correcting this irresponsible behaviour.  And it’s not a sport exclusive to older men; young men nowadays are also engaging in the same reckless behaviour and extra marital activity.  On a lighter note, we were also told about a Sugar Momma who was parading her toy-boy barely in his twenties around town.  She’s older.  She’s hot.  And she’s SINGLE!  Kudos Ma!

How many people should you invite to your wedding?  Now I belong to the 100-or-less attendees’ camp, and want an intimate ceremony, filled with only my nearest and dearest.  But this is not everyone’s dream.  We were told about a wedding recently held which had over 1000 guests.  YES!  1000 GUESTS!  You would be forgiven if you mistook it for a circus!  People were hustling seats inside and there was a marquee erected outside for the latecomers.  Snooze and you lose bebe!  What causes people to have such huge, lavish weddings?  Is it a status thing?  I can understand if you’re marrying royalty and have to satisfy political protocol, but otherwise, surely 1000+ guests is excessive?  We had a mixed bag of responses to this story: some people love big and bashy weddings; some have to please their large families; some want a huge party that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives and some, between them and their partner, actually know 1000 people!  ‘Tis true!  These Ladies are a sociable bunch!  I guess the most important thing is that the day is special and exactly what the couple want, whether it’s big or small.  And I will happily be one of a thousand attendees for my lovely friends’ weddings!

And remember folks: Marriage is for life, not just for Christmas…!

Food and Individual Reviews

When I previewed the menu I knew I was in for a carnivorous afternoon.  We were offered both the breakfast and lunch menus which were packed with different meat options.  As there was so much to choose from and I am currently battling my inner greedy pig which tries to convince me that ordering everything on the menu is alright (it really is NOT alright), I’ve asked the Ladies to share their reviews on the various dishes that were ordered on the day and their overall experiences –

Feyi

Food score 9/10

I had the traditional lunch burger and triple cooked fries with a side of peppercorn sauce. I must say being the only one in the group that had this I was a bit sceptical, but to be honest I was quite impressed. I requested for the beef to be well done, and I got just that; the bun was soft and fresh, and the meal itself was quite filling. I was very satisfied!

Besides the food, I loved the atmosphere in the restaurant, and most importantly, the service from Ned. He won the entire group over, his patience and attentive nature was well appreciated, as he took the time to explain each dish to all, as requested.

 Esther

Food score 6/10

I arrived at another fabulous rendezvous a la Ladies Wot Brunch with high expectations and an empty tummy. The venue had a very warm and homely ambiance, and actually reminded me of Christmas, with the layout of our table and the merriment of the people. We laughed, debated and finally ordered.  Our waiter was very informative, friendly and always had a smile which is always great to see.

First we all ordered our drinks, to ‘whet the palette’ as they say. I ordered a very yummy virgin mojito with an apple juice base.

Then, I opted for The Hawksmoor Breakfast (for 2 to share). Looking at it on the menu, I was overwhelmed by the variety of that particular selection, it included;

Smoked Bacon Chop

Sausages (Pork, Beef & Mutton)

Shanagans Black Pudding

Short Rib Bubble & Squeak

Grilled Bone Marrow

Trotter Baked Beans

Fried Eggs

Grilled Mushrooms

Roast Tomatoes

Unlimited Dripping Toast and

HP, Onion and Bone Marrow Gravy

Needless to say I had no doubt I’d be full afterwards.  When it arrived, I couldn’t help but notice the size of the bacon chop, it was huge! Either way, we tucked in to this traditional English breakfast. I was very excited; the Trotter baked beans were delicious, very different to Heinz or any other brand of baked beans I have tasted.  I’m not a fan of black pudding and I haven’t changed my mind on that either! Haha! The toast, mushrooms, fried eggs and bubble & squeak were just how I like them. However the bacon chop proved to be extremely salty and simply unbearable to eat. Overall I really enjoyed the meal, it didn’t exceed my expectations but it was good. I would definitely visit Hawksmoor again, to try the other selections on their menu.

Tolu

Food score 4/10

I had the sausage HK muffin. I was eagerly anticipating it as I was starving and I was also looking forward to trying their breakfast menu. I didn’t think there was a huge selection to choose from but having made my choice, I waited in deep anticipation for my meal. Disappointment!!! It was overly salty and though I devoured it due to starvation, I don’t think I would have been able to eat it otherwise. On the upside, I also ordered the cornflake milkshake and that was simply divine. The texture, the smoothness the dairy goodness – yum!

Adaeze

Food score 7/10

As usual, an afternoon with the Ladies Wot Brunch was a great time. The atmosphere and company were both amazing, the stories and games with this very eclectic bunch always brighten up my day!

Now for the food, myself and Esther opted for the Hawksmoor Breakfast to share. It looked great on the menu but when I came to the table it exceeded both our expectations… It was huge! It arrived in one of those sizzling dishes and had sausages, roasted mushrooms and tomatoes, a bacon chop, black pudding, eggs, bubble and squeak and dripping toast! I enjoyed the most part of my meal, especially the bubble and squeak, eggs, sausages mushrooms and tomatoes. This was my first time trying black pudding and I must say I most likely won’t be trying it again! I was disappointed with the bacon chop, it looked very juicy on the plate so I was excited to dig in. I even saved it till last, but as soon as I took the first bite it was like someone had given me a table spoon of salt to eat… Not good!

The next time I visit Hawksmoor, I’ll definitely try the Lobster and roasted sweet potato.

Gabby

Food score 8/10

I ordered the Hawksmoor take on Surf n’ Turf: The lobster perfectly cooked, beautiful! And the rump was good; nothing against the way it was cooked but I will definitely go for the fillet next time (which is what Nana ordered).  Fantastic!  The fillet beats the rump hands down!

Buky

Food score 2/10

I ordered the toast, bacon and eggs – classic breakfast/brunch food, so for a place that serves this you would expect it to be good!

How wrong I was!

Dripping toast – Yuck! But that’s just a preference thing. (If you don’t want your toast covered in fat then it’s definitely one to avoid!) What made it worse was that by the time I got the food in front of me it was already cold and so the fat had started to solidify on my toast! That white wax looking stuff! – I still tried it but it wasn’t for me. Oh and on top of that the toast was burnt! Cold, burnt toast covered in fat! (Sound appetising?) Toast – no go!

Bacon – Also burnt and rock hard as it was cold by the time it was placed in front of me.

Eggs – Ok, nothing special, and definitely the best thing on the plate, but again these were cold!

Nothing else to say!  Oh except my white leaf tea was LUSH Hurrah! And the tea selection was nice and slightly different.

I (Deborah) also shared a Hawksmoor breakfast and echo the comments in the reviews above.  It was a lot of food, a definitely enough to feed a hungry pair.  The beans were very tasty and were the first to go.  The sausages and bubble & squeak were also very flavoursome and you could tell they were made by well seasoned meat connoisseurs.  I could have eaten the bubble & squeak alone 🙂  I was really disappointed with the pork chop, which without sounding melodramatic, tasted like meat seasoned with 10 kilos of salt!  The toast was also quite charred and I usually like well toasted bread, so perhaps a minute less on the grill might have been mitigated the problem.  The bone marrow was also very strange: by the time I got round to eating it, it was simply a load of congealed, cold fat, which after a little nibble did NOT tickle my taste buds.  I asked what the purpose of the bone marrow was, and was told that it was usually used to spread on hot steak, which begs the question “what was hot?” and “where was the steak in the breakfast we ordered?”  Seeing as neither returned an answer in the affirmative, I think they might want to reconsider the marrow inclusion in the Big Breakfast selection.  That aside, the mocktails, cocktails and milkshakes on offer were spectacular.  I’m not a fan of banana based mock or cocktails, and so a special mocktail was mixed for me.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember what it was called and to be honest, I don’t think it even had a name.  OR MAYBE they’ll name it after me!  If you visit Hawksmoor and you see a “Deborah” on the menu, do not be surprised!  The drink was extremely refreshing, bursting with fruit and was surprisingly wholesome.  I was on the one drink and an accompanying glass of water during the entire afternoon.

For those who like a bit of a kick in their drinks, Hawksmoor also have an extensive wine and cocktail list as well as a selection of hot beverages.

Service

A HUGE shout out goes to Ned, who was our waiter for the afternoon.  Ned had the tricky task of catering to a group of demanding women with a million and one requests and he did it with such professionalism and charm.  Once we were all seated, he introduced himself, before taking our drinks ordered.  He came up with solutions for everyone: from those of us who didn’t like certain fruits in our mocktails, to those who wanted a beverage which married something fruity, refreshing and something warm together.  Once the time arrived to order our meals, we were given a mini talk about the types of steak on offer, what they would look like, taste like and how they were weighed and subsequently priced.  Very informative!  And for those few minutes we all became eager students listening attentively!  Although the food was not to everyone’s taste, and unfortunately one meal was brought out cold and long after everyone else had been served, overall Ned did a very good job!  If you can, make sure you request him when you visit!

Overall

“To be fashionable nowadays we must ‘brunch’. Truly an excellent portmanteau word, introduced last year by Mr. Guy Beringer, in Hunter’s Weekly, and indicating a combined breakfast and lunch.”

Punch, August 1 1896

This quote was stylishly included on the breakfast menu, to remind us that there was no crime in eating a hearty steak early in the afternoon.  As a group of fashionably blended Ladies, it also was a nod to our Brunch journey, which on this occasion veered us away from the usual pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Going forward, we decided it would be good to award aggregate group scores for each of the venues and the following are what we awarded Hawksmoor Spitalfields:

Menu selection 6/10

Service 9/10

Overall Experience 7/10

The general consensus is that although Hawksmoor Spitalfields may not offer the best Brunch as promised, they do offer great service (although good service on top of good food will tip the scale) and good quality meat (when not over salted!).  We believe that the menu could be expanded quite a lot and for example, the seafood offering could include prawns. The  shabby chic gastropub-esque decor gives the restaurant it’s own smart-casual ambiance.  Given its location in the heart of London’s business district and trendy E1 postcode, I’d recommend it for lunch or dinner and just skip Brunch altogether.  That way, whether you’re after a hearty slab of meat to take your mind off the day’s trading or low key meaty nibbles before you peruse the quirky market stalls, Hawksmoor should have something to offer you.

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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Tom’s Kitchen

8 Jan

On Friday 30th December 2011, we went for our last meeting of the year, dubbed The Survivor’s Brunch!  “But what is a Survivor’s Brunch?”  I hear you ask?  Well, many of our Ladies Wot Brunch travelled to sunnier climes for the Christmas and New Year Break, leaving the rest of us here in good ol’ Blighty to fend the cold and survive the brutal British Weather.  Forget Destiny’s Child!  WE were the REAL survivors!  And so, to build up our stamina, we decided to go Tom’s Kitchen, the Chelsea brasserie opened by Michelin Star Chef, Tom Aikens.

Booking

The process was ridiculously straight forward.  Once I decided where we’d be brunching, and checked the website, I opted to call the restaurant directly to make our reservation given the fact that the attendee list was fluid and I wanted to discuss my options.  I was assured that numbers could be increased or decreased easily and after a few minutes of conversation, the reservation was done and dusted.  Although I did not receive a booking confirmation following the call, I felt pretty confident that all would be a-ok.  And a day before the brunch, I received a confirmation phone call.  Lovely!

Gist!

We welcomed some lovely new Ladies who certainly had a refreshing outlook on life and this was expressed in our conversation trail.  From the weirdo who thought it befitting to take one of the Ladies on a first date to the beach… at night(!), to our responses to celebrity singers throwing out their phone number on £50 notes, I learnt a lot and laughed my head off!  Here are some of the funniest stories shared:

Michelin Star Mami: Brunching in Tom Aikens’ eaterie, it was apt that the subject of fine dining came up.  Now I’ve been to many social gatherings with one of our Ladies Wot Brunch in particular, and when prompted she insists on being taken out on dates to Michelin Star restaurants.  When we delved further into this, her theory was that a man who could excite her palette would be more than likely to stimulate her mind.  And the effort and energy put into selecting and dining at a Michelin Star restaurant spoke leaps and bounds about the kind of man he would be in a relationship.  C’est vrai ou faux?  Would it be better to go on a date to Nandos if the guy says he is cutting his coat according to his cloth?  Would you appreciate it if he took you to a Michelin Star restaurant on a 2 for 1 offer?  What is the acceptable criterion?  And how important is fine dining on a first date?  Thoughts please!

First date on the beach?!  This one HAD to be shared! It all started when this particular young lady, who at the time was studying for her University finals, decided she needed a break.  One evening, she went out with her girlfriends and met a sexy something in the club.  He obviously seemed like a nice, happening guy and so when he suggested they swap numbers, she thought nothing of it.  They arranged to meet soon after, except his proposed meeting spot was the beach (she studied in a coastal town). “OK, perhaps we’ll be meeting there and heading elsewhere”, she thought and so she happily obliged.  But when they met and Mr Man was gassing without making any signs of the leaving the shingle-shore, the alarm bells started ringing.  And rightly so!  I should also add that at this point, we were all screaming “what the heck were you still doing there?!”  And it gets worse!  It’s getting dark and Mr Weirdo is still chatting smack, then all of a sudden he starts coming up with some ludicrous conspiracy theories:

“I think Michael Jackson is actually dead (at this time he was definitely still alive and kicking)

“Biggie and Tupac on the other hand, are very much still alive”

“Why don’t we see many pregnant women walking about the place?  It’s because aliens were dropped here on earth.  That’s the only explanation for the sudden appearance of grown people.”

“If money can’t buy your love, then Starbucks can.  As in Star + Bucks.  As in celebrity money [insert useless immodest laughter here]”

It is now dark.  There is no one else around this beach.  And this man is quite clearly a stark raving loony!  What to do?!  Luckily, she had planned an exit strategy and managed to escape to a friend’s house who lived nearby, even though he insisted on following her all the way there, and becoming borderline aggressive when she wouldn’t let him enter the flat.  What a mad man!  Thankfully, she’s now found a lovely, sane boyfriend who takes her on dates to much better places!  Moral of the story: Romance your books!  They will never lead you to the beach at night!

Who pays for the cab ride home?  I’m sure this is not the first time this question has come up amongst groups across the globe.  Who is responsible for the cab fare home?  A few months back I went out for a night of drinks and dancing and had a great time.  We were vibing, sipping champagne and the dude had rhythm!  So when the night drew to a close, we reluctantly agreed that cabs needed to called and homes needed to be returned to.  As a gentleman should, he arranged both taxis and let me know once it arrived.  I was put in the cab and spent the journey smiling as I recollected the great evening we’d spent together.  But the smile was abruptly removed when I got home and the taxi driver said “That’ll be £20 please love.”  WHATTT?!  The dude had not made the arrangement?!  I was quietly indignant, and that night, although he was not relegated to the do-not-answer-phone-calls pile, he definitely received a strike against his name.  But when I shared this story with the Ladies, I had a mixed bag of responses.  My thinking is that if you have requested my company for the evening, I am in your care and for those few hours, my wellbeing is your responsibility.  It’s totally different to going for dinner or drinks with your male friends, because you both know what the 411 is.  There are no romantic intentions, no one is trying to impress anyone and therefore no financial obligations exist.  I have no problems splitting bills and paying for my own taxi fare in these platonic situations and on occasions have even spotted the entire food bill too.  In short, I am not against women paying!  HOWEVER, when you’re out on a date, it’s a different ball game, and I know that men can and do pay for taxis because in a similar previous situation, the gentleman not only paid for my cab home but also my cab to the venue!  Am I spoilt for expecting this?  Is this not the norm?  Some of the Ladies believed that his responsibility ended once he called the taxi, skipped a few steps and then started and ended again once he called/text/instant messaged to make sure I got home ok.  Really?  What is the official rule?  Does one exist?  Do you weigh it up based on how good the evening was?  Whatever the conclusion, one thing it reminded me was to make sure you gats ya £$€ with you at all times!  Do not forget yourself and allow any person to disgrace you because you’re expecting them to foot the bill.  Boys are getting brazen, and feel no way to humiliate you!  Do you want to be looking fresh, hair done, nails done, everything did, with £1.50 in your purse, a London Transport travel card in your pocket and a hefty taxi bill staring you in the face?! NO!  Be warned!  Be aware!  Be prepared!

£50 phone number:  A group of girls went to a concert and were lucky enough to be at the very front of the audience.  During the concert, the artist kept making eyes at one of the girls in particular, singing to her and smiling.  It was not surprising when he eventually came over and sang a heartfelt song to her, holding her hand and looking deep into her soul.  So when the song was over and she felt something in her palm, she knew it would be something special.  She opened her hand carefully and privately to avoid the mass of other women around attacking her for her new found treasure, and what did she see?  A £50 note with his number and the words “call me” written on it!  HA!   The story was shared amongst the group and reactions were sought – would you call?  And the responses were hilarious!  Some said yes they would.  Others said they would, but only because it was a £50 note: a £5 note would not get the same love (!) and there would have to be some serious consideration if it was a £20.  It was great to hear that at least half of us would happily flip the £50 over, write our number and hand it back to the artist – good old fashioned values have not died!  And it was even better to hear that if we left the concert with the £50, call or no call, that money was getting SPENT!  Believe that!

Food

If you’re after some sumptuous nosh which looks as good as it tastes, you need to get to Tom’s Kitchen!  We started off very conservatively, ordering typical brunch fare such as Pancakes, Eggs Royale and a good old fashioned English fry up with fresh pressed juices, smoothies and coffees to accompany.  And when they came round, they did not disappoint.

As a pancake fiend (see my last post), I of course went for the blueberry pancakes.  And I definitely got a pan-CAKE!  When it came out, I wasn’t sure if I’d received the right order, but on slicing it, it all made sense.  Tom’s Kitchen take the pancake to the next level, serving a thick and sweet fried cake infused with succulent blueberries and dusted with icing sugar to finish.  It looked mad and tasted even crazier.  It reminded me of a tortilla española – Spanish omelette, but was a sweet, fruity version.  The accompanying maple syrup ensured the pancake was moist but not sickly and though it took a wee while to finish, I ate it all up!  Also selected were the Eggs Royale, Eggs Benedict and a hearty portion of Brioche French Toast, all of which were good, although the French Toast could have done with an accompanying sauce, perhaps the maple syrup.

Given the food envy we soon started to experience, we went for a second round of lunch fare and between us ordered a mixed leaf salad with house dressing, macaroni cheese and the steak and ale pie of the day.  Each meal was well prepared, and although the pie contained minced meat instead of meat chunks, we enjoyed our orders.  From the mouth watering vinaigrette which accompanied the salad, to the pastry atop the pie, the second round of food was consumed with content.  Our only criticism lies with the pie, and as Gabby said, “the pie could have been better.  Even Jay Rayner (food critic) agrees!”

Service

Although it started off a little shaky, probably because we arrived a little late *ahem*, service at Tom’s Kitchen was what you’d expect at a Chelsea brasserie.  We were lucky enough to be served by a sprightly, young man named Tosin (such a sweetheart) who was extremely attentive and went out of his way to ensure we enjoyed our time there.  From advising us that the Brunch menu would be ending soon, to automatically ordering extra dishes as the additional Ladies who were running late arrived, bringing out extra tableware as requested (and we made many requests), to making honest, unbiased recommendations, he played the part of a true gentleman-cum-waiter.  If I’m honest, I think he was really happy to see a group of sisters at this Chelsea hole-in-the-wall and went the extra mile to render a Chelsea-graded service.  Not to say that he wouldn’t have done so otherwise; Tosins are the most kind natured, amazing people you will ever meet! 🙂

Overall

If I had to give Tom’s Kitchen a score out of 10, it would be an 8.  The booking system was simple and efficient, the food was yummy, the service was top notch and they accommodated our raucous and loud conversations without complaint.  Although it’s not on a main road, it is very easy to find and its location in a quaint understated residential area adds to its private and exclusive charm.  It’s dressed like an English brasserie: large wooden, rustic tables and chairs, pictures on the wall, and an open kitchen so you can catch a glimpse of the chefs preparing your meals.  It’s not pretentious in nature, ensuring you feel comfortable in your jeans and boots, the moment you walk inside.  The venue is family friendly and in the hours we spent there, several parents, grandparents, children and couples came, ate and went.  I would highly recommend it as an alternative to your Saturday hangover recovery joints or as a Sunday Brunch spot with a twist.  Tom we would love to return to your Kitchen!

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For Ladies Wot Dine… At Shaka Zulu

1 Dec

So that time of the month came round again, and on Saturday 19th November, a group of fabulous ladies got together, broke bread and had a great time.  Only this time, we decided to do it a little differently.  At our last meeting, in between the drinking and gisting, the Ladies suggested it would be nice to meet up in the evening, and as a true Brunch Club facilitator-cum-hostess, I was happy to oblige…

Booking

As I had been to Shaka Zulu before, I was familiar with the booking process, and as booking processes go, it was pretty straight forward.  A telephone call was made to a seemingly friendly booking manager and Voila!  C’etait fini!

Shaka Zulu have many promotions, encouraging non adventurous diners to experience a night in “South Africa” so it’s worth mentioning any offers or discounts you may be using when making your reservation.

Gist!

Although this time we were fewer in number (ladies, you were missed!), whenever we get together, there’s always something to laugh about.  Always an update to share, a joke to tell and tears of laughter to shed.  The entertainment provided at the restaurant kept us amused in between our conversations, which were fuelled by a combination of rich rioja and rosé.

Here are some of the topics that gave us the giggles that evening:

White boys can get it!  OK, so let’s be frank – as a group of predominantly non Caucasian women, the race of the men we date and marry is a popular topic.  Amongst the group,  we have a decent amount of experience dating outside our cast.  And more recently, have shared stories about blond haired, blue eyed hotties.  There is nothing wrong with having a preference and sticking with it, but it is equally important to respect other people’s decisions.  Aside from being 21st Century women understanding that the world is constantly evolving, and with this evolution comes development of ideas, tastes and desires, we at The Brunch Club are very REALISTIC!  Whatever rocks your world and floats your boat is what you should go for.  Black, white or otherwise.  The tale shared on that particular evening recounting how a dashing young Englishman swept one of our members off her feet in a very debonair fashion, coupled with sexy specimens like Gary Barlow and Matthew McConaughey confirmed that white boys can indeed get it!

Wolves in sheep’s clothing aka Young Pastors:  *Disclaimer* Not all pastors fall into this category!  But the experiences we collectively have, makes me question what these young disciples are really focusing on nowadays.  I recently bumped into an old acquaintance, who told me that he’d answered the Lord’s call and was pastoring a congregation.  Well done!  Good for you!  I was genuinely happy to hear this and so when he asked for us to swap numbers and catch up, I didn’t think anything of it.  Weeks down the line, the calls began.  When they became overbearing, and I stopped answering, the text messages followed suit.  And when I stopped responding, the prayer points/visions/prophesies/attempts at mental manipulation took root.  This man actually believed that if he could see into my life and predict the great and marvellous things I was going to experience, then I’d be more inclined to speak with him, share my inner most fears and aspirations and eventually fall hook line and sinker, head over heels in love.  Mr Pastor Man – the man who saw into my heart(!).  Except, I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears several stories of women who fell into this same dogged trap and dated and married MONSTERS!  Pastors by day and wife beater beasts by night!  Olorun maje!  *clicks fingers over head*  GOD FORBID!  I will use the same Holy Ghost Fire to rebuke you to the pits of hell and I suggest all women out there who may find themselves in a similar predicament do the same!

Abokoku Babes!  People please help me!  A VERY significant part of some of the ladies’ evening was spent outside on the phone with their better halves (you know yourselves!), which lead to a conversation about how far some women are willing to go for their men.  An Abokoku (woman who will do anything to keep her man “till death do them part” in Yoruba dialect) is willing to surrender all for her partner and will happily annihilate anyone or anything that may stand in her way.  Although none of our Ladies Wot Brunch illustrate these extreme tendencies, it was pointed out that God helps those that help themselves and even the Bible says possess your possessions!  So the advice which followed detailing how a very zealous and scandalous office PA would be finished if she even tried to come near the narrator’s boyfriend was listened to attentively.  Yes, I even took notes!

Food

As well as taking you on an authentic South African lounge experience, Shaka Zulu also promises to tickle your taste buds with its Taste of Africa menu .  To be honest, we were not very focused on the food, instead diverting our attention on the live entertainment and our conversations and so we didn’t realise when we all ordered exactly the same starters and mains.  And being so caught up in the afore mentioned, I kinda failed with the pics too (sorry!)

The starter of deep fried soft shell crab with rose harissa and lime was quite nice.  It was definitely flavoursome and crunchy but I found it a little messy and wasn’t too clear on what to do with the excess shell(?!)

By the time the main of spit roasted Kariokor beef with dry rubbed spice and peri peri fries came round, we were all so spent from chatting, no one finished the meal!  The meat was thoroughly cooked (we had been assured that it had been roasted for 7 hours!), but I thought it could have been slightly more moist and not so chewy.  Trying to chew chewy meat after chatting is a chore!  Tee hee hee!  The peri peri fries on the other hand were lovely, excellently seasoned and cooked to perfection to ensure they were crispy and light.  I ate every last one!

The dessert selection was very interesting.  Between us, we opted for the Koeksisters – deep fried braided doughnuts dipped in honey sugar syrup; Melktert – baked vanilla custard tart  with roasted cinnamon and; Coconut crème caramel and passion fruit.  The Koeksisters were yummy, but very rich and after several glasses of wine, I found it difficult to finish them.  The tart and the pudding however did not pack as much of a punch on the palette, infusing their milk bases with several familiar and some not-so-familiar dessert spices.  If you like rice pudding, cheesecake or ice cream, these would be the desserts for you.

Service

 As we were running a little late *ahem* and were finally seated an hour after our booking was made for, we did not have as much time at our table as originally planned.  However, despite our party’s tardiness, our table attendant, who by the way was a tall, black and burly, cockney, dread-locked man, was very polite and paid attention to detail ensuring our beverages and food were served promptly.  We ended up having our desserts in the lounge in order for the next party to be seated, but as the whole restaurant is party central itself, this was not an issue.  The staff, who each had tailored ankara outfits, were very friendly and rendered their service with a sunny South African smile 🙂

Overall

Due to the size of the venue and the hubbub generated by the diners, clubbers, staff, DJs and live entertainment, it was quite difficult to key into the intimacy which is often desired during dinner and if you are looking for the next date restaurant, unfortunately, Shaka Zulu is not it.  However, if you are looking for a party go-go dinner, then you may well have the perfect spot in Camden.  The venue is quirky and the décor is lush.  It is reminiscent of typical western adaptations of Africa, but still maintains an authentic charm and sleek finish. We happily dined, drank and danced in the same place, which is not something you can often say you’re able to do in London.  Given the fact that Shaka Zulu is also very trendy at the moment, you’ll find that the general vibe is nice n’ spicy.  We clocked several sexxxay mamas in even sexxxier ensembles and gents dressed so immaculately, they left with their girlfriends and several admirers in tow.

It’s a young venue: both in establishment age and target audience.  But it’s also a place where you can have some good grown up fun.  We will definitely be going back, even if it’s just for a midnight boogie!

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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Automat

22 Oct

Saturday 15th October was the beautiful Saturday chosen for our second Brunch Club rendezvous.  Following the fabulous feedback on our Afternoon Tea antics, I decided we should go somewhere that would accommodate the barrels of laughter we were bound to have.

The venue chosen was Automat, a typically American Brunch spot, with its generous menu, open plan seating area and understated chic décor set in the heart of Mayfair.

Booking

Once the decision was made, I knew it would be best to book with plenty of advance notice.  Though I have not had any horrible experiences myself, I believe that Automat is best enjoyed when you have a guaranteed reservation.  Given the number of Ladies Wot Brunch confirmed to attend, I called the restaurant approximately 3 weeks ahead of the chosen date and made a provisional booking over the phone.  An email confirmation was sent out shortly afterwards, to secure it.   The restaurant manager was extremely professional and friendly, responding aptly to the million-and-one questions I had.  It was a pleasant surprise and welcomed alternative to the usual automated online booking system.  The personal touch and sexy continental voice on the other end of the phone brought a cheeky smile to my face and I knew from the moment I hung up that we were bound to have a great afternoon.

Gist!

Is dating a hobby? 

How painful is an underarm wax?

What do you say to your boyfriend when he lambasts your new weave in front of all your friends? 

Is dating ok when your boyfriend lives abroad?

Yes.  These are real questions.  And YES!  These were questions laced and weaved into the hilarious conversations we had during the afternoon.

I couldn’t keep track of the topics we oooh’d, aaah’d, gasped and cried tears of laughter over.  From the story about an eager man who sought out one of our young ladies on public transport and desperately attempted to coerce her into going out with him, despite being told that she had a boyfriend, to the discussion about the various colours and textures of a certain part of the male anatomy… hair of course (!), the afternoon was full of hilarious and thought-provoking conversation.

When I caught up with each of the ladies after our brunch, the one thing that no-one failed to mention was the pain they felt from laughing so hard.  I must be honest – I was tempted to share the entire, somewhat explicit conversation trail, which had everyone in stitches.  But alas, there is such a thing as privacy, litigation *cough* and besides, the world we live in is too small.  So I’ll push my stellar idea to one side and share the hottest topics discussed:

Is dating a hobby?  …Or merely an activity which takes you to your desired outcome – being with that significant other?  The question arose when the ladies were completing their member profiles (yes, we are that organised!).  I believe that like a sport, dating is an official pastime: something you dedicate a sizeable amount of time to.  You mostly enjoy it and sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s gruelling, sometimes you want to kiss the person on the other team on the lips, and sometimes you want to punch the opposition’s lights out.  There are no rules in this game; you simply need to play in order to win and lots of us are currently playing.  These were my thoughts and the reason I included it as a hobby/interest on the profile form.   However, other members did not agree, believing that it was something you just had to do to get your guy or gal.  A transitory journey you embark on, learning plenty of important lessons and strengthening your morals along the way, until you reach your final destination.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  We never concluded and in the end our attention was swiftly diverted to the bellinis and freshly pressed juices which were brought round.  What are your thoughts?

Men who are later that a motherf*?!er:  This is a dead dog movement as coined by one of our effervescent members.  I recently had a very unsavoury experience with a seemingly nice young man.  Plans were made to catch up for some drinks in Central London, but lo and behold, the dude decided it was ok to be an hour late.  Yes, ONE WHOLE HOUR!  I was leaving, he was unapologetic, he grabbed my arm and then he nearly lost his eye.  The rest of the story is irrelevant.  And after the energetic rebuke I received from the ladies for even entertaining such a clown, I agreed that this is not to be tolerated. Ever!

WaXXXing:  A bit of a hairy topic (hee hee) for brunch, I know, but it’s an important one.  Plus, I was looking for any opportunity to show off my freshly waxed underarms (tee hee hee!)  Personal grooming is so important for both sexes and the more attention you pay to ensuring you present your face, body and odour appropriately, the better.  We all agreed that hairy legs and *other bits* were not the way forward, and regardless of the method you choose to get rid of your short and curlies, fuzz free women will always win in life.

Men who disgrace their women in public:  Or should I say dim daft dumb nincompoops who have no respect for their women.  I personally do not understand how any of us can stay with men who are so disrespectful and have no regard, instead choosing to humiliate us creatures of beauty and grace.  Boooo!  If you are reading this and are a woman who has accepted such treatment from a man, this is for you – SLAP!  Don’t let it happen AGAIN!  You are worth so much more than that kind of base behaviour.  And if you are man who does not see anything wrong with asking your woman in front of all her friends why she wasted £80 and the entire morning on her latest hairdo, because it looks awful, then this is for you – PIYOWWWN!  You deserve to be shot with the gun of common sense and sensitivity.  Don’t do it again!  Else my pistol will sniff you out boy!

Food

Delicious.  Juicy.  Full of flavour.  Sumptuous.  There are many adjectives to describe the many dishes we ordered between us.   Contrary to what my expanding waistline and chubbying cheeks might suggest, I did not eat all the food, and so the following are accounts of the dishes by fellow bloggers and Ladies Wot Brunched – Remi of Low Radio FreQ and Esther of Diario de Esther:

For me (Remi) to be wearing makeup and heels before 6pm on a Saturday evening can only mean one thing…  I am going to be having a girly catch up with the wonderful ladies at Ladies Wot Brunch.  Having to unfortunately miss the last catch up, I was very much eager to make this one as we were brunching at the Automat in Mayfair.

Whilst my ladies had a sweet tooth and opted to get yummy pancakes with scrumptious toppings, I went for the scrambled eggs with salmon on toast and was not disappointed with my choice! The eggs were cooked just right, not too runny and not too dry.  It made a wonderful combination with the salmon, beautifully fusing with the saltiness of the salmon.  The toasted bread was lovely, not being overdone which could have killed the whole dish, but instead gave the meal the substance it needed.  Another bonus for me was the fact that I didn’t feel the need to add pepper or salt as the ingredients used were just right.

This meal is definitely something to have if you want something hearty but on the lighter side on a Saturday afternoon.

(Esther) Once again the classy and beautiful ladies of The Brunch Club had a rendezvous. We ate at Automat and I ordered one of my favourites, the buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries, I couldn’t resist: it always does it for me and thinking about it right now is making me crave them all over again! *SIGH*

The pancakes were so light, fresh, warm and sweet all at the same time, complimented with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.  Yum!  Every bite gave the same sweet taste in my mouth and I didn’t want the contents on my plate to finish, I could have easily had another plate. But you know what they say, “a minute on the lips… blah blah”. If you’re not salivating right now, there’s clearly something wrong! :-p  Automat are very generous with their portions and I always feel satisfied once I’ve ordered this.  All in all it was another successful brunch date and the food and company was AMAZING!

I (Deborah) opted for the blueberry pancakes, my ultimate favourite and on this occasion, they did not disappoint – The fluffy stack of sweet griddled batter, the blueberry coulis artistically drizzled on top and all around, the decorative ripe blueberries which were carefully tossed across the plate, and the dusting of icing sugar to finish, which made it look like an angel had kissed my pancakes just as they arrived at the table.  The dish was hearty enough to satisfy any Saturday morning hunger and yet expertly assembled to avoid it being stodgy.  My pancakes were mine: sweet, wholesome and the perfect accompaniment in between fun infused conversations.  Loved ‘em!

Service

The vibe at Automat is professional and yet cool.  We were welcomed with a smile and led to the chef’s table which had been reserved for us, before our coats were collected and in exchange, we were each given a cloakroom ticket.  During the several hours we spent at the restaurant, our drinks kept flowing, and our waiter was attentive, ensuring special requests were met for the more particular eaters amongst us and food came out as promptly as possible for the ladies who arrived a little late.  There was no pomp and ceremony involved in the service rendered, just good old fashioned table waiting.  The icing on the cake was when our waiter secretly popped into our photo at the last minute and actually blended in.  Unfortunately, For Men Wot Brunch doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…

Overall

In line with our inherent tradition, the Ladies Wot Brunch did not disappoint – the outfits, make up and accessories on display were pretty amazing.  We had an afternoon full of friendship forming, gist loving, purchase admiring and of course eating and drinking.  It is so important that as women we celebrate each other and encourage and support our individual endeavours.  As the newly coined iya oloja (saleswoman in Yoruba dialect) I was very pleased when every single lady supported my initiative and not only purchased some bad ass pieces but also ordered even more.  Aside from the fact there were some beautiful bargains not to be missed up for sale (!), the purchase power hour illustrated the beauty in wonderful women breaking bread together, having a laugh and discussing interests and side gigs.  We identified several business ventures around the table and going forward, I really hope we can continue in the same vein reaching out to our fellow Ladies Wot Brunch to acquire the next big thing on our shopping lists.

Business aside, I think the best thing about this month’s meeting was the smile on my face that I left with.  I had spent an afternoon in the presence of some absolute gems, immaculately dressed, with the most precise eyebrows in town (For true!  Check out the pics!) and we discussed some light and not-so-light but insightful topics.  What started as a few hours set aside for brunch turned into a whole day of fabulousity, which I believe speaks volumes.  The Brunch Club has so much in store…   Watch this space!

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For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Fortnum & Mason

8 Sep

Saturday 3rd September, a blissfully sunny afternoon, was the date of our very first Brunch Club meeting.  Whoopee!  And as Ladies Wot LBrunch, we decided to go straight to the top!

A lovely colleague of mine recently told me that she held her hen celebration at St. James’s Restaurant and described it as a lovely experience.  I’d heard about Fortnum & Mason’s Afternoon Tea service and have seen millions of people carrying the famous mint green bags about town.  So I googled Fortnum & Mason to see what it was all about…

Booking

Booking a table at St James’s Restaurant, the venue for Fortnum & Mason Afternoon Tea, was a straight-forward procedure.  However, I should highlight that I booked two weeks ahead of our proposed Brunch Club meeting.  The website layout was clear and simple to navigate and once I decided which restaurant I wanted to visit, my table was reserved in a matter of minutes.  The reservation system is managed by OpenTable, which also manages bookings for several high end restaurants.  For Afternoon Tea at St James’s Restaurant, it is recommended that you book at least one day in advance for weekday visits and 2-3 weeks in advance for Saturdays.

I was able to book a table (bookings can be made for up to 20 people) and received confirmation immediately.

Gist!

As Ladies Wot LBrunch, we see a lot and experience even more.  And so as a group of intelligent, funny and borderline eccentric chicas, we were bound to have some interesting conversation.  In addition to general affairs, fundraising events and recent radical terrorist activity, there was a lot of thought provoking discussion.  I’ll share some of the afternoon’s hot topics:

Babies getting married: At this stage in life, everyone knows someone getting married and each person present on Saturday had dropped money on a wedding gift list within the last 12 months.  The lowering age of the beaming brides in question was common in all cases.  Now, before I continue, I must state that none of us have a problem with younger ladies tying the knot.  There is nothing wrong with a young, confident woman defining the route in life that she wants to follow.  In fact, it must be celebrated.  However, when young girls, who haven’t even decided if they want to pluck, wax or thread their eyebrows, are now walking down the aisle, signing over 50% control of their lives to men whom they can’t even be 100% truthful with, then there is a problem.  There is no rush, ovarian eggs are renewed on a monthly basis, so you won’t run out I assure you!  And this imaginary woman-in-her-thirties expiration date MUST DIE!

Men who beat their wives: Without going into any such detail, we all agreed that these men are nincompoops.  Only a fool would bring curses on himself by laying his sullied hands on a woman, talk less his own wife.  DUMMIES!

Men who are a little bit too nice: More often than not, women in the dating game come across these males, and a few examples were shared across the table during our conversation.  From men who call/text/ping all-the-tiiiiiiime (calling is not bad, but haba everything in moderation!), to others who refer to themselves as very unfortunate female possessions (?!*&#?) the general (but not absolute) consensus was that rough and ready men just have a je ne sais quoi which keeps us interested…

Food

Where do I begin with the food?!?!  It was sumptuous from start to finish!  Dammmn!  Between us, we ordered the Afternoon and High Tea menus which included of a selection of canapés, followed by more scones, biscuits, madeleines, tea cakes and tea blends than any of us could finish.

After the complimentary amuse-bouche which comprised of a mini egg and caramelised onion tartlet, mini sausage roll slice and prawn bruschetta, I tucked into a crab and saffron tart with side salad.  I kid you not, it was extraordinary!  The crab was full of flavour, fresh and perfectly cooked, without detracting from the saffron or the expertly browned short crust pastry which encased the fragrant freshwater experience.   Though I did not have any myself, I was told that the selection of sandwiches were also delicious.

What was to follow was a sweet-tooth’s dream: plain and fruit scones, fruit preserves, clotted cream, apricot and ginger cake, raspberry jam biscuits (which had a distinctly home baked flavour) and madeleines.  Yum, yum and YUM!  Favourites of the day were the classic scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve – sexy, sweet and moist – this is not a porno, don’t worry.  They were just very good!

As if that wasn’t enough, we were then presented with a selection of afternoon tea cakes.  The favourites were the orange macaroon, which was explicitly described as orgasmic; the raspberry pavlova, again orgasmic (Ooh La La Vasquez); and the coconut crème and lime jelly cake.  You may think the descriptions sound a little embellished, but it was one of those oral moments that you just have to experience for yourself.

The wide variety of tea blends, to compliment the food, was pretty special too.  I went for the house Fortmason aromatic tea, which lived up to its name and packed a pleasant punch on my taste buds.  The peach and strawberry teas also went down a treat, definitely head and shoulders above your everyday Twinings blend.

Service

If we entered the restaurant feeling like common folk, we certainly left feeling like top class babettes.  There was an attention to detail which you don’t find in just any old place.  The immaculately dressed and genuinely pleasant waiters, who had each perfected the art of conversation, engaged with us just enough and yet not too much.  The only downer was when we asked for the bill, which took a lot longer than necessary to come out.  For some reason, no one wanted us to pay and leave. They must have wanted to dwell in the presence of Queens OOOBVIOUSLY!

Overall

The moment I received the booking reminder a few days before our planned Afternoon Tea, I knew it was going to be special –

Please note that we do not have an enforced dress code, however, we kindly request that both sexes lean more toward elegance.” 

I loved reading it then and I still love reading it now.  The dress code was befitting for such a gorgeously assembled restaurant.  From the plush leather sofas which welcomed effervescent ladies and dapper gentlemen to the twinkle-fingered pianist who soothed cochleae near and far with melodious compositions.  The pre-prepared mint green take away boxes for the many cakes we were bound not to finish were a cleverly thought out added bonus.  The quirky ladies’ powder rooms with full length mirrors (we all need them!) were also highly appreciated.

It was every bit what High Tea should be – “a high class, social experience.”

Faaabulous darling!

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