A little bit of insight to London; art, bars, cafes, clubs, restaurants, and other things to do in this wonderful multicultural city.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Whitechapel Gallery

I’ve walked past Whitechapel Gallery about 500 times throughout my time in London. Finally when my friend Gabi was here we decided to go inside. We didn’t go to the main temporary exhibit that was going on because there was an entrance fee, but we did however walk around the rest of the gallery. We were able to admire the art work as well as building. 
On the lowest floor there was a huge room with a room inside it. The internal room was made out of books relating to history and anthropology. Inside this room made of books there was a little staircase that had a mirror at the top. This mirror allowed you to see yourself in the room as a sort of outsider. I really liked this. 
Upstairs there were a few rooms available to visit for free. One was a collection of historical pieces showing the history of the gallery and the events at the old gallery. The other room had a collection of older pieces showing a combination of mixed media. Overall, I really liked the gallery space, but I’m certain that next time I’m going to pay to see the temporary show. 

Here’s their website: http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/

Monday, 24 February 2014

Motown Desserts

Motown Desserts is a cute little ice-cream shop right off of Whitechapel High Street. My flatmate Emily and I went there one evening because we had an ice-cream craving and we didn’t want to get some from a supermarket. So I suggested we go to Motown. 
Sadly on the outside it doesn’t look particularly good because it’s covered in scaffolding. But the inside is quite quirky. The bar is covered in old vinyls, there are comfortable brown armchairs in the seating area and a huge light up sign showing the way to the seating downstairs. 
The ice-cream itself was really inviting. So I chose to get a combination of creamy, chocolatey flavours, and a separate mango sorbet. I tried their cookies and cream, honeycomb and a hazel-nutty flavour that I can’t remember the name of. My favourite was the hazelnut flavour because it had soft hazelnuts laced throughout the ice-cream. Their flavours are very thick and vanilla-y so I don’t recommend going crazy like we did by getting so many flavours. The mango sorbet was a perfect refresher after all that cream, its really worth trying. 

Here’s their website: http://www.motowndesserts.com/

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Costa vs. Starbucks

Coffee in London isn't that big of a problem, there are so many beautiful independent cafes that you could have coffee from a different place every day. But when going to airports, or shopping centres, or smaller English towns you have to make a choice, Costa, or Starbucks?

I'm a little biased because my flatmate works at Costa, so when things expire on a Monday she brings them home for us to have. I may have had one too many chocolate twists. When I look for good coffee I go for Costa, because they only use their coffee once to make espresso shots. Whereas Starbucks uses theirs more than once, so the coffee is weaker. But if I'm going for iced, or sweet, its Starbucks all the way. 

I think the Costa food is slightly better, especially when looking at their fresh baked goods. Starbucks does have amazing carrot cake though. The Costa tea is better, but they don't entertain you by spelling your name incorrectly on the cup.

It's really a toss up. I tend to go to London City Airport and they only have Cafe Nero once you've passed security so I never get coffee there. What I love about Costa and Starbucks is that they complete each other. What one is lacking the other has. I want a Frappuccino on some days, but on others I just want a Mocha Latte. I guess I'll never be one of those people that order the same things over and over again. I just need to mix it up a little. My best compromise is to alternate between the two. But if I need coffee for my 9am class, I know I should go to Costa. I'll have Starbucks as my afternoon pick-me-up. 

Here's the Costa website: https://www.costa.co.uk/
Here's the Starbucks website: http://www.starbucks.co.uk/
(They are listed in alphabetical order)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Body Language at the Saatchi Gallery

I recently went to see the new show at the Saatchi Gallery. It's called "Body Language". There were a lot of colourful varied pieces with a lot of different influences. Sadly, my trip there was sort of ruined by two groups of students there on a school trip. They were really uninterested and making it very difficult to appreciate the art. So I rushed through the gallery staring longer at the pieces that intrigued me most. 

One of my favourite things about the Saatchi Gallery is that they integrate paintings, photographs and sculpture. This then leads them to use the space in a really interesting way, and it may be part of the reason for why I keep going back. They also always have things that you can't see any where else. The selection of pieces is always broad and diverse and thought provoking even if all you're thinking about is the composition.

The Saatchi Gallery is just one of my favourite places in London and it makes me happy to live here. It is one of the few places where I can be completely alone and be surrounded by ideas without feeling lonely or overwhelmed. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sugar Sin

Being European I get random cravings for liquorice. And I can never find liquorice in normal British food shops. So when I went down to Covent Garden one day I knew I had to go to Sugar Sin. My Swedish friend Kristin always used to go there and now I know why. They have a huge variety of candy, sweet, sour, soft, hard, chewy, etc. Everything is brightly coloured and the place is just so inviting. 
I think I literally spent 30 minutes in there trying to decide how much of certain types of liquorice I wanted to buy. You can buy already packaged candy, or you can pick up a bag and a scooper and get as much of everything as you want. It's a fun place to go with friends and there is definitely something there for everyone. They even have gluten free sweets! 
The staff there is really friendly and will always help with any of your candy questions. Its one of the few places in London where you can find sweets from all over. Also, it is in such a convenient location. I really love the decor of the place and the cute and quirky fantasy designs they have for their bags. 
Here's their website: http://sugarsin.co.uk/

Friday, 14 February 2014

Skylon Mixology Masterclasses

My friend Klaudia and I attended the Skylon Mixology Masterclasses last Monday. The classes are held from 2pm to 4pm and you get to discuss with a bartender the whole time. We arrived a little early and got seated at a table with some nibbles and glasses of water. After talking to our bartender we decided we wanted to learn more about Whiskey, Tequila and Gin. He brought out bottles of all the key Whiskeys in their collection explaining why they were different based on country of production and flavour. Klaudia then decided she wanted to make a Whiskey based drink. So he brought out a cart with all the items she would need to make the drink. 
We each took turns learning about the drinks we were interested in, and making them ourselves with his instructions. I learned how you're supposed to properly shake a shaker and a few other small tricks of the trade. It was a really good way to spend the afternoon, gazing over at the Thames, enjoying a drink and learning something too. The location is beautiful and it's the perfect place to bring a date on a special occasion. The staff is very polite, helpful and kind. They were constantly refilling our water and were really attentive the whole time we were there. 
The class is free, but you pay for what you drink. Both Klaudia and I spent 25 GBP each. It was worth the money, I learnt so much and I actually think I'll use the skills I learnt again in the future. Now if only I hosted a cocktail party and I had a shaker. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Wright Brothers

Walking around Spitalfields I noticed that there was a new and slightly different restaurant. So one Sunday I brought my friend Dominique to discover what it was. It was Wright Brothers, a seafood restaurant specialised in lobster, crab, pretty much anything with a shell. We got there at about 5pm and sadly the kitchen only opens at 6 so they offered us a cold menu. After deciding we didn't want to share oysters we settled for brown crab. 
They served us bottled water and I got a sweet and sour juice to go with the food. While we waited we had some amazing brown bread and our crab was right in front of us before we knew it. I started by digging into the shell, letting Dominique have the claws, and off we went tearing the poor crab apart. The meat in the shell was strong in flavour and thick. When I got to opening up the legs I struggled with opening them and had a whole leg land in my lap. Lucky I was still wearing my napkin. The meat from the legs was a lot more tender and it contrasted greatly with the meat from the shell. 
After sharing the crab both Dominique and I were quite full so we called for the check. Overall, I really liked Wright Brothers. They had perfect calm music to go with the lighting and atmosphere of the place. I loved sitting at the bar and being served food. The staff was really friendly and kind, I was genuinely happy to leave them a tip. I already know I have to go back to try their hot food.
Here's their website: http://www.thewrightbrothers.co.uk/

Monday, 10 February 2014


When my friends Gabi came to visit I wanted to take her somewhere new and exciting. I had originally planned to go to Love Shake (my favourite milkshake place ever) but then we stumbled upon Ziferblat, the "pay as long as you stay" cafe. After walking up the stairs and stepping inside a kind lady explained to us how the system works. You write the time you arrive and your name on a sheet and you hang it up, you take a clock with you too! After that you're free to use any of the tables, sitting comfortably with others, and get yourself something to drink.
Both Gabi and I chose to have some tea, and there was a huge selection of teas to choose from. There are cute tea cups as well as fun mugs and glasses. There's a box with cookies laid out next to the sugar that is a little too inviting. Next time I'll probably have coffee, if I feel like playing around with the coffee machine. All around the open space there are people chatting or typing away on laptops. But even if everyone is doing their own thing there is a huge sense of community. Sitting with people tends to make you feel more at home and relaxed. 
We ended up staying there for a little less than an hour, because I was getting hungry, so we paid 1.20 GBP each. Which is nothing for a cup of tea and a cookie in London. I really liked the place and will probably go there alone if they stay open (sadly, they're having some landlord issues).
Here's their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ZiferblatLondon

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Broadway Bookshop

I love Broadway Market. It is one of the few roads in London that feels like home but feels new at the same time. Everyone is really friendly and on Saturdays this time of year they even tough it out in the rain. I wasn't used to facing the rain so I quickly walked into Broadway Bookshop to hide from the bad weather. I got a warm friendly greeting as I walked in and started browsing through the books. 
They have their books set up differently from every other bookshop I've been to. They place them by author, but firstly by country. So you'll find London guidebooks right next to literature about London or by Londoners. It was really calm and a happy atmosphere filled the rooms. There are several stairs you can go down to look at more and more books but there are also a few compelling photographs lining the staircase. 
I would have stayed longer if I had not just bought 5 books the previous week. I loved being there. Small bookshops motivate me to read more, to discover books I would never think of reading. And not only immerse myself in the book, but also into the culture around reading the book. That's why I like reading in caf├ęs so much. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Miss Chu

A cute little restaurant opened near Whitechapel Gallery a couple of months ago, and my flatmate Emily and I were finally able to try it out one Wednesday over lunch. You have the whole menu handed to you on a paper, and you tick the boxes of what you wish to eat. You then go to the desk where you make your order and pay. They then bring you your food where you're seated. They also do home deliveries!
We chose to sit outside and enjoy the food with a little glimmer of sun. Everything arrived really quickly, and all of a sudden our table was full. Iced coffee, jasmine tea, prawn dumplings, duck and rice rolls, crab rolls, spring rolls, you name it.
Sadly it was a little cold for the rice rolls, but we enjoyed everything else a lot. I wished I had gotten more prawn dumplings.
Everyone was really friendly, and they checked up on us quite often even if we were the only table outside. I enjoyed the food and I'll probably eat there again when I'm craving some dumplings. Which should be soon.
Here's their website: http://www.misschu.com.au/