Tuesday, 29 September 2009

London Splat!

Pardon me Father for I have sinned. It's been years since my last Babybel. 
Anish Kapoor, born in Bombay, and now a British citizen, has stunned me with his art. The last time I saw his pieces, it was at the Mak in Vienna, a museum with such grandiose space that anything would have made an impression. 

The majority of the material he uses is made up of this red pigmented wax, which makes you want to grab it form the floor, peel it off, only to find a plumpy piece of yellow cheese inside. Unfortunately, the cheese part is fantasy and clearly a figment of my cheesy imagination, but the wax part is not. That is why his style triggers a range of crazy emotions. From fun and serious, to condemning and childish, you will feel something so intense just by being in the presence of this gargantuan blood-like material, and you will want to stand and stare for hours long

There is something about this Babybel-like material splattered on the wall (check out this video of "Shooting into The Corner") and glued to the bottom of our shoes, which really makes you stop and think. I had never witnessed art that used the space to such an advantage and really made my heart stop. His "Shooting into The Corner" piece is as startling as his other pieces if not more and also stays with you through its resonating sound effects. It is fun, phallic, and immensely majestic. Other pieces of his include the "Svayambh", which resonates as much as all of his other brilliant creations, in that it also, like its "Shooting into The Corner" counterpart, stands for creation and destruction all at once. "Svayambh" (2007) is a long track dotted with arcades and clotted with the sticky red goo again, evoking a long and narrow train track, and according to the Financial Times , representing the Auschwiz deportation trains, slavery, colonialism and other historical horrors. The red wax here, with its blood-like color, carries huge symbolism and historical baggage.

You can find Kapoor's collection now at the Royal Academy of Arts . It is worth the detour and I promise that you will enjoy this truly zesty experience by witnessing his gigantic and glorious talent.

‘Anish Kapoor’, Royal Academy, London until December 1

Monday, 28 September 2009

Mayfair Lady at the Rose Bakery

I am moving again! Weeeeeee! Not far, just a smidgen south of where I am at the moment. My flat is a mess, my head is a mess, my life...well, is a mess, but surprisingly I am still standing. My student days are behind me, and I am looking forward now. To what? Yeah. About that. I have no friggin clue but at least I am looking forward, right? I've always been a fan of staying positive, though, and enjoying the wee things in life that make you feel special. Like for example: I looooove cupcakes or any baked goods with frosting on top. There's something about the fluff of the dough mixed with the nutty crunchiness and the smoothness of the creamy rich squirt of heaven that they put on top, that makes me feel all fuzzy inside. It's a mystery to me why I haven't keeled over from gluttony yet. My friends at work used to call me the closet fat kid. Soooooo un-PC, right? I thought so. Take a cinnamon roll from Gail's for example.  Isn't funny how something so sweet and delicious can give you a better perspective on life. What about a lovely dinner with friends on a Saturday night? Isn't fantastic how being around the people you love makes you feel warm, happy and full of glee. 
A good friend of mine visited from Paris last weekend. As we were aimlessly meandering down Piccadilly on Friday, she had the glorious idea of popping into Dover Street Market for a bite of lunch. No need to express to you how awesomely quirky this store is. Most of you Londoners have probably already been and it's no news to you that this is a real London hot spot...even though you probably don't end up buying anything most of the time (Comme des Garcons...um, who wears that?). You also probably have elevatored yourself up to the fourth floor (4F) where you catch yourself standing in the middle of a magical London lunch spot. The Rose Bakery at DSM is what I call a true London gem. It has everything from the yummy soups, quiches and salads, organic granola and cappucinos (cappuccini?), the absolute best carrot cake you have EVER tasted, and it is crowded with the cool Mayfair fashion, art and advertising professionals, who add to a decor that is at once sophisticated and relaxed. It is the hub of all that is cool in Mayfair. And the great thing is, on a warm and sunny day, you can take it all outside onto the balcony, where you can look down onto Albermarle Street and the rooftops of the Brown's Hotel. You'll enjoy a truly fantastic London moment and will leave happy, satisfied and a wee bit plumpier.

Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market

Carrot Cupcake at the Rose Bakery

Friday, 25 September 2009

Logos a Gogo

What do you think of my new logo? Pretty adorable, eh? Well I can't take all the credit for this gorgeous creation...I was lucky enough to get a little help. This contributor wishes to remain silent, so I should respect his privacy, but should you wish to contact him for any freelance graphic design gig, I can put you in touch!  

I haven't been outside, visiting, touring and fulfilling my zesty duties for a really long time, spending most of my precious hours finishing and polishing off my dissertation. So bear with me for a moment. But I've finished it, I really have! Woop woop hooray hooray! I am officially no longer a student and while it hasn't quite sunk in yet, I believe I've been hit with occasional waves of freaking out...or how do you say, unemployment anxiety?

Well, I guess I've also been suffering from a mental breakdown these past couple days, what with all the cabin fever and the staring at a computer screen like a lobotomized monkey all day long, for weeks and weeks at a time.

So I thought I'd let a bit loose and just tell you about this one teeny tiny zesty gem that I've been hiding from you ever since I discovered it. You see, I have a weakness for cinnamon. You name it, cinnamon toast crunch cereal, cinnamon buns form cinnabun (yeah so? I just said weakness...this is me confessing, ok?), cinnamon butter, cinnamon alone, cinnamon apples, Big Red cinnamon chewing gum. I could go on. But I won't. And for anyone else who has a weakness for cinnamon, you will understand why I have kept this secret from you, when you bite into this magical cinnamon sensation from Gail's Bakery on Portobello Road. I swear to you, this is the best cinnamon roll I've ever bit into. It has crunch, it has moist (gross, hate that word), it has spice, it has sweeetness and it has everything of the magic a cinnamon roll: it has about a gizzillion calories. Well, this isn't Starbucks, so no need to spoil your coffee/sweet break with a calorie count. So head over there on your next Portobello trip and enjoy a bunch more delicious treats at Gail's and grab a cappucino with it so you can dunk it in French-style. Ohlala!

Gail's Bakery, Portobello Road

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Pho London

I traveled to Vietnam a few months ago and experienced the miracle that is Pho. I know, it's a little narrowing to talk about soup when referring to Vietnam, especially when I adored every last bit of the trip, but I have to stress how much  the Pho experience has had an impact on me. On my first day in Saigon, after a night of tossing and turning from the jetlag and confusion of time, my friend and I made our way through the hussle and bussle of the mopeds, tricycles, and shouting Saigonese early risers in the street, to eat some breakfast. Needless to say, we were a little perplexed when we set foot in a local soup joint at 8am with the sound of slurping and masticating buzzing in our ears. The bowl of soup was tossed in front of us and we had no choice but to wolf down our bowl of hot salty liquid at 8 in the morning. We looked at each other in complete awe,  with our jaws dropped and a smile made its way on our faces. This was the best breakfast we'd ever eaten. The Vietnamese version of our greasy heavy sticky eggs and bacon had won us over. It was about 35 degrees outside, drops of sweat were sizzling on our foreheads and we couldn't have been happier. The noodles were just the right amount of soft, the beef was tender and the broth was silky. For the days to follow, we were unable to eat anything else for breakfast.

                           Eating Pho at 8am in Saigon, Vietnam

Ever since my return from Vietnam, I've been on the hunt for the perfect Pho. Rekindling that feeling of ecstasy has proven to be a difficult task. But after days, weeks and months of hunting, I believe I've found it. The Old Street joint Cay Tre in Hoxton, one of the only places in London to serve a cheap, yummy, tummy-growling bowl of Pho in all of London, has got it! And the place is a true gem. Yes, I know, it is not that much of a secret anymore, and the long wait outside will prove that to you, but the food is oh so delish. The first thing I did when I sat down was to ask for a Pho to start, while we waited for our main dishes to arrive. I couldn't wait very long as you can imagine. The staff was ecstatic when they found out I had been to Vietnam a few months prior and overjoyed at my enthusiasm for Vietnamese food. Needless to say, the mains, after that, came very quickly. The Cha Ca La Vong was a delight. This is a specialty of theirs and one of the best fish dishes I ate in Hanoi actually. I even tried to replicate it at home...ahem, yeah, not easy.

                                             Cay Tre, Old Street, Hoxton
You'll love the decor, the staff and the crowd. Cay Tre has everything about a local joint but with a splash of cool and a whole lots of exotic. And the food is cheap and to die for! I'd say that's a bonus!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Spittalfieds-the Banksy Unit

Believe it or not, I first heard of Banksy's street art when I arrived in London over a year ago. It's funny and disconcerting how, when living in New York, you may think you know all there is to know about art, but actually, you don't know squat. Well, not that Banksy is a genius to equivocate with Bacon or Rothko, but at least he is a pioneer in some way. Born and emerging from the underground scene in Bristol, his art is at once fun and serious. He depicts scenes of war, street crime, simple day to day stuff and other anecdotal situations. His graffiti has been known to attract art lovers like you and me who feel an emotional connection to it, just because it's fun and symbolic of London's funky art scene- and also because it can be cheap, very cheap (£50 or less for a small print). It is also known to appeal to the wealthier art aficionados, like Brad Pitt and other Hollywoodies of his type, as the prices sometimes can shoot straight up to £100,000 at auctions.

The first time I visited Spittalfieds Market, I fell in love with East London and was determined to live there, go out there, breathe its air, and become one with it. I quickly realized it just wasn't me. I only pretend to be cool and alternative, but actually need my clean streets, my clean and tidy supermarkets and my pretty-people watching, which I got accustomed to living in the vicinities of Notting Hill. However, walking around Commercial Street, Brick Lane and so on, I fell in love with the sounds, the buzz and the smells of the area. Walking down from Liverpool Street Station towards Brick Lane on one of my first adventures East, I stumbled upon the colorful windows of the Smudge Gallery and lured in as I peaked at the vast collection of Banksy prints available inside. 

                  The Smudge Gallery, Commercial Street, Spittalfields Market


They offer a wide range of prints from the famous Kissing Cops in Brighton to the Little Girl and the Red Balloon. The latter I am absolutely obsessed with as I see myself as a little girl, cherishing and adoring my red balloon and walking around the street with it, as if it were my imaginary friend. Anyways, next time you're in proximity to Spittalfields or in Shoreditch, Liverpool Street etc., make a quick stop at the Smudge Gallery, and who knows? You may not end up leaving empty-handed.

As fun as gallery-hopping is, and as cool as art-buying is, you will need to fill your stomach up with some Brick Lane deliciousness on your way out. Get a table at the hip and cozy Story Deli Pizza, where you can eat one of the most superb pizzas on the east side of London. 

Friday, 18 September 2009

Waky waky, eggs and baky!

Have you ever craved eggs and bacon so much that you were ready to do anything, absolutely anything???!! Did that anything include waiting for just a little too long outside on a cold winter day, in front of a breakfast joint in Islington, til your bum was numb, your nose boogers turned into icycles and your fingers were about to fall off one by one? hmmm, wait, that was me...

Way back when I lived in the city of Angel (no, not LA, I mean the area around Angel tube station, where the cool kids hang...yeah right, like I could ever live in LA...), I used to drag myself to Camden Passage off Upper Street just to make it to the phenomenal breakfast place, famously known as The Breakfast Club, by 9:30am, opening time. I am quite the early riser and also fancy the early bird special occasionally, so that is no hard task for me. The problem is though, I have a growling, grumbling, angry stomach by the time I've gotten out of bed, brushed my teeth and smacked my lip balm on, and it just won't settle down til I stuff something, anything (!!!) down my throat to calm it down. At The Breakfast Club, you will wait a teensy bit long if you arrive, on a weekend, 5 minutes past opening time. SO that's why, ever since my arms, hands and feet alike, nearly fell off my body, I have learned my lesson.Well, lesson well learned and lesson well worth it! This breakfast is by far the best breakfast I have ever eaten in London, so far.


Not only is the food so damn good, but the smoothies and shakes will absolutely rock your world! So if you're not full after you've wolfed down your sizzling crispy bacon bits and atomic yellow scrambled eggs, you can just settle for the over-the-top flufftastic pancakes or just a freshly squeezed OJ or smoothie. The wait is a bit off-putting especially when it's cold outside, but the staff is friendly and the food is just too good to pass. So go get fat and happy! You won't regret it! The great thing is, if you're around the hood for lunch on a weekday, lunch is equally good, but the wait is non-existent!

                           The Breakfast Club, Camden Passage, Islington

The adorable pedestrian Camden Passage is tucked away behind the Upper Street madness and is jam-packed with little boutiques, furniture, vintage clothing and antique gems if you're up for a digestive walk after your feast. Make a short stop at Annie's Vintage Clothing and Costumes for a fun flashback to the roaring twenties a la London, and breathe in the delightful cacao smells and goodies by checking out Paul A. Young's fine chocolate store, yum yum yummmmmm!!!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Road with All the Cool Saints, continued

The autumn has officially kicked off and I'm sure you ladies are all eager to get on with the Autumn gear and slip into those hot boots of yours. Let's face it, boots are cool, and yes, very very London. I have a favorite pair myself that I have been saving for a very special autumn day. They are eagerly waiting for me to pick them out of my sea of ballerinas, sandals and little white tennies. They are perfect and I love them and I wouldn't swap them for any other pair ever, nuh uh...I just have to switch out of summer mode...hmmm.

They do the trick wonderfully with anything from a mini skirt and some thick grey wool tights to over some skinny blues and a warm cozy jumper. You can get yourself the exact same pair at The Jacksons on the lovely All Saints Road in Notting Hill. And if you're willing to invest for a pair of sandals for next summer, they have a really lovely selection of those too.

The shop is a cute little boutique that you wouldn't normally see if you were to aimlessly walk down the thick artery of Westbourne Park Road on your way to the Westbourne Pub or Portobello Road. But then again, after following all of my fantastic entries on the All Saints Road, you might just know better by now. And after all of my fantastic entries, you are could be closer than ever to reaching local status, and that, my zesty bloggers, is a pretty awesome achievement.

Here is the catch: the boots cost around £240. They're a great investment though and the shopping experience on the All Saints Road and at The Jacksons makes it worth your while. And you might just want to be patient and wait til the sales hit the town so you can get them for a whopping £180, just like I did. Ah, and I love them so, I really do!

                                          The Jacksons, All Saints Road

The Road with All the Cool Saints

I have been in the mood for some alternative sightseeing lately and if you're used to the Notting Hill crowd- no comment, I know, I am one of them- you'll be really excited to discover the breath of fresh air that is the adorable alternative All Saints Road. This street is a little slice of heaven right off the busy Westbourne Park Road and minutes away from the touristy Portobello Road in Notting Hill. The All Saints Road is, in fact, my latest discovery and my most exciting one at that. Remember my entry on the Dutchie bicycle? You must. That was the moment you questioned your LondonZest loyalty and considered navigating away from the crazy bike girl blog and going back to the good ol' Perez. Well, if you're still here- you rock- then you'll probably remember that the Bicycle Workshop was also a quirky inhabitant of this cutting-edge and unique street. I know most of you don't care much for two-wheeled recommendations and that you'd prefer reading about yummy restaurants...Well, hold your horses, I've got just what you want.

If you're craving some Italian home-style cooking and looking for a cool alternative to the Notting Hill classics such as the Oak or Osteria Basilico (no bashing, all loving), look no further cuz you've found your match on the zesty tucked away All Saints Road just heartbeats away. The awesomely divine pastas and pizzas at The Ripe Tomato will make you drool all over your recently acquired American Apparel v-neck tee and make you want to switch from occasional visitor/tourist to local regular. You'll be able to choose anything from the classic Amatriciana and Carbonara pasta dishes to the always-a-success quattro formaggi pizza; and the great thing is, you'll savor every last bit of it, cuz it's just so damn good and well, so damn cheap. This hot spot boasts diners that are trendy, diverse, cool, quirky and original. You'll think that they've just wheeled themselves over with their Dutchy from their quirky flat round the corner just to meet up with their equally quirky and cool friends. I'll have to reiterate this for you: this is a must go and a must check-out!

                                    The Ripe Tomato, All Saints Road

Monday, 14 September 2009

Charlotte G.'s Fave London Hotel (in the movie...)

Charlotte Gainsbourg, the epitome of Frenchness, style and elegance, stars in this sweet, fun and totally adorable film called "Ma Femme Est Une Actrice," which her husband Yvan Attal not only directed but also starred in. If you haven't seen it yet, rent it on your next trip to the video store. It is really lovely. 

The reason I'm bringing it up is not only because I own it and cherish it as one of my all-time favourite movies to watch on a lazy, pajama, ice-cream eating Friday night, but because I recently had the pleasure of watching it again. In the film, Charlotte's character is an actress, filming a movie in London and is shot at several occasions leaving and entering the charming Covent Garden Hotel. Looking at the movie with my new LondonZest magnifying glass, I realized that the hotel was located on Monmouth Street, my favourite street in Covent Garden (where you can also find the delicious Monmouth Coffee Company!) and that I had to go give it special visit. Cozy, homey, full of character and with a splash of Frenchness, the hotel represents everything I love about English-flare design: it is both discrete and colourful, elegant and playful, and bubbly and whimsical. The hotel rooms are dressed with boudoir wallpaper and dotted with attentive decorative details, giving each of them a special jewelry box feel reminiscent of the sexy neo-burlesque era. It is not as girly as it sounds, so boys, you'll feel equally comfortable there.

                 The Covent Garden Hotel, Monmouth Street

Now I know many of you Londoners aren't really looking for hotel recommendations, given the fact that you live here, but it might be a good idea for you to take notes in the event that friends or family come to visit and need a nice place to spend some good relaxing times. For all you other loyal LondonZesties who live outside of London, make sure you save this little hotel treasure in your guidebook for your next trip to London.

I should also point out that the Brasserie Max, as yummy as it is, also mixes themes of country and urban chic, borrowing the design patterns of the rooms upstairs, and mixing stripes and florals to make for a perfect breakfast, dinner or work lunch setting. The fare is delightfully simple, offering everything from fresh salads and oysters, to farm chicken and Diver caught scallops (um, cool, really!?). This is another Covent Garden gem. So what are you waiting for? Go fish!

        The Brasserie Max at The Covent Garden Hotel, Monmouth Street

LondonZest Beautifies

There is nothing like a £50 mani pedi to make you think twice about living in London. But yet again, this tends to be my sentiment about London prices in general. Tell me, why is it so hard to find an inappropriately low paid Vietnamese-employed, hygenically-challenged nail salon in this town?? New York has them strewn about everywhere, why why why does London have to be so PC all the time??? 
I have lived here a year now and I've gotten a professional manicure...hm, let's see...twice! And don't even get me started on the waxing. And so, I am ashamed to admit that beautifying and taking care of my girly self has not been such a top priority these days. Instead, I find other ways to brush, groom and paint my body parts and extremities. Yes, like most girls, I do it myself...no pun intended.

As low budget as self-beautifying can be, it does get tedious. At times, it gets boring and at times, excruciatingly dangerous, especially when it comes to applying hot liquids to your skin, in and around obscure areas. But what girl doesn't need to indulge once in a while? I was told that the less you treat yourself to the small luxuries in life, the more you appreciate them. The truth is, the less you treat yourself to the beauty salon, the uglier you get. That's the truth. And no, my friend, ain't no appreciation in an ugly pair of hands and feet or the inability to put on a bikini. And I know a self-made manicure seems like a walk in the park for most of you, but for some reason, I can just never stay inside the lines! Well, maybe it's because I could never do it even when I was little and trying it in my coloring book. 

There's nothing like a little splurge to make you feel fresh and girly again. In fact, I happen to really look forward to my trip to the spa, and also really enjoy it once I'm there. My personal favorite spa in London would have to be the Savannah Urban Spa, on the quiet and charming Hereford Road in Notting Hill, not only because it's close by to my flat, but because the prices are pretty reasonable (bikini waxes range from £20 to 30 and mani pedis from £25 to 35), the service is quick and professional, and they actually really care about their customers. I'll also have to admit that I really really enjoy their mood music; and I'll sometimes find myself swaying side to side until the manicurist has to tell me to stop moving cuz I'm making her slip. But seriously, this place is a true find, so what are you waiting for? Go get pretty!!!
                                Savannah Urban Spa, Hereford Road

Friday, 11 September 2009

I Don't Believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman

I have been developing a secret crush lately...

No, the object of my obsession is not the pretty blonde from the photograph, though that might have made this blog a whole lot more fun to a lot of you...anyways, no, it's not, so get over it. It's what she's holding onto!!! Isn't it adorable?  I love it! I want one! I am simply head over heels, madly in lust, butt crazy in love with the Dutchie Bicycle! It is the picture perfect of what I've always wished for in my first adult bike: stylish, fun, elegant, and with a splash of vintage. And I know this may seem crazy to some of you, but over the last few months, I have found myself to be completely infatuated with this Dutchie cutie, snapping pictures with my iphone left and right, spreading loads of confusion and irritation around me...trying to control my urges to touch, grab, steal! The point is, I want a bicycle!!! Is that clear??? I just want one! Make me a bicycle, Clown!!!
Or to make it clearer (Wedding Crashers, Hello??!!!), I have used the lyrics of our beloved songwriter and amazingly talented performer, Freddie Mercury, to express to you the direness of my need...

I don't believe in Peter Pan
Frankenstein or Superman
All I wanna do is

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle....

Okay, it must have sunken it by now. You've all shaken your booties to this song at an 80s party, don't lie, I saw you, and I was there, shaking it too.
So, I know I'm supposed to write about London gems, and I'm getting there, trust me, but I just thought I should share a couple of my personal iphone pics just to prove to you how obsessed I am.

Pretty cute, huh? I thought so...(I'm pretty sure the second one is only a display:)
Attention zesty bloggers! For all interested in purchasing a recycled vintage bicycle, here in London, look no further, cuz you found your gem, and it's called The Bicycle Workshop, located on All Saints Road near the Ladbroke Grove tube station. They offer tons of awesome services, from bike, lighting and dynamo sales, to repair, fixing and smart bike-owner's advice.
                                  The Bicycle Workshop on All Saints Road

What can I say? I'm sold.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Bye Bye Tesco, Hello To The Grocery


One of the many great things about London are its numerous grocery stores, from Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco's, to Wholefoods, Somerfields (really?) and more. I don't think I've had this much fun shopping for food before, especially not in New York, where your choices are pretty much limited to the Food Emporium where you end up buying the same TV dinners and Healthy Choice meals that are easy to prepare and don't require much creativity. Okay, you've got Whole Foods, that's true. And you've got Trader Joe's. But who goes there on a regular basis anyway? One of them is way too expensive and the other one is just messy, confusing and frustrating- though extremely good when speaking of value for money.

A big, fun, part of my daily routine as a thesis-writing student is making a trip to the grocery store. As much as I love and appreciate my around-the-corner Waitrose and closer-than-you-need Sainsbury's, I occasionally get tired of my little franchise supermarkets and start itching for something more exciting. The other day, I was in Shoreditch on one of my walking explorations of London trips, and as I was making my way down Kingslang Road, I fell upon the charming food store called The Grocery. Walking in, my head began to spin. This was exactly what I had been looking for! A non-mega franchise grocery store, where I could not only enjoy my shopping experience, but sit down to drink a coffee (while reading Grazia:) whenever I got too tired.  The place is a true London gem, filled with organic fairtrade dairy, produce, fresh off-the-bone meat and fish, just-out-of-the-oven baked bread and...my favourite: unshaven hippies! The Grocery Cafe is at the back of the store and at first glance may seem cavernous and dark, but then just invites you in amongst its beautifully faded and old-fashioned looking red-brick walls. You can sit amongst the coolest people in London, looking like a complete outsider but really not giving a rat's ass cuz you're in grocery heaven.

                               The Grocery on Kingsland Road, Shoreditch

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Salad Bar Magic in Covent Garden

There is one thing I have been missing here in London and that is a decent salad bar. New York, for example, is spoiled with them. If you're walking around midtown, you see them left and right. Not only the cheap delis offer them, but you can find them at places like Chop't, Tossed, Cosi or Cafe Europa etc. They are certainly not a luxury over there. And for some reason, London has not reached that point yet. When I worked in Midtown, I used to start jiggling in my office chair, counting the minutes til I could run downstairs to my usual salad place. This was the typical drill: pick a meat/protein: $2, pick a cheese: $1.75, pick a fancy veggie (avocado, asparagus): $2,00, then just add on at your leisure. Your salad would cost at most $8.50...$10 if you were really hungry. I miss that so much! Now I may not  be working here, but I've had my fair share of lunches outside of home. London just doesn't have them! And I have no idea why. Maybe the salad bar culture hasn't arrived yet on this side of the Atlantic...or maybe there are a couple, haphazardly sprinkled around town, and if there are a few, the costs certainly reflect that lack of demand. One thing is for sure though, the salad bar culture has definitely not colonized this town like it has New York.
Occasionally, I find myself in Covent Garden for the lunch hour. Covent Garden is so underrated. You just have to know it to like it. There is this one salad place that you just have to check out. It's called Kastner & Ovens. It is tucked away somewhere between Floral Street and Long Acre, and because there is no sitting area, it is best to take it away and back to the office or to pick a sunny day to go sit in a neighboring park and enjoy its pure deliciousness. They offer some wonderful salads and hot meals, from grilled aubergine and zucchini and feta, to chili con carne and beef stroganoff, which appear to be coming straight out of  a cookbook or your grandmother's kitchen. It certainly is no New York salad bar with salad bar prices, but it is worth your while if you're around the hood.

                               Kastner & Ovens in Covent Garden



Don't go home or back to the office without making a detour via the adorable Monmouth Street, where you can grab the best coffee in town at Monmouth Coffee Company (you can also find it at Borough Market).

                            The Monmouth Coffee Company