London

+ The Attendant Cafe - London: Review

Yesterday I ate french toast in a toilet. Well, a converted public toilets under Foley Street in Central London called The Attendant Cafe. Me and four friends had made plans to meet for lunch somewhere central, and we were struggling to whittle down the thousands of London establishments to just one. This seemed like the best option as it was something different, located centrally and didn't seem too formal for what was a quick catch-up.

Seating Options

A friend and I turned up around 12.30pm, and the first thing that struck me was the exceedingly small number of seating options available. After all, this is a converted toilet! Thankfully, round the corner to the right there's a couple of tables with bench seating, so we managed to get an area for the five of us. It's not possible to book ahead as far as I know, so I would recommend only going here if there's just two of you to avoid disappointment.

The Food

French toast was about £8 each, and sandwiches ranged Chorizo & Bacon, Royale Chicken to Mushroom and Halloumi. By 12.30pm they had ran out of the other brunch specials. They also had a selection of pastries and cakes on offer at the counter too.

The Atmosphere

The staff are SO nice! As well as that, their soundtrack was top notch and the lighting was just perfect for an underground venue. I particularly liked the fact that so much light filters through from the main entrance, making it feel that little bit bigger. It was a bit cramped, and the couple next to us kept having to hunch over their table so people could get to the toilet. As such, this is not the place for a two-hour long natter. It has an in-n-out vibe, you wouldn't expect to be here for more than 45 minutes especially as the food is served pretty quickly.

This is by no means the first converted toilet in London (Cellar Door and Ginglik are just two that spring to mind), but the space is beautiful, light and if I worked that little bit closer to this place, I would definitely pop in here for a pre-work caffeine fix.


+ 10 Fun London Birthday Ideas

The first birthday I spent in London involved me renting a limousine which took me and some friends from my hometown to an American-themed restaurant called Jailhouse Rock (sadly no longer open!). Since then, each year I've been in London I've always spent a lot of time researching nightclubs/bars/restaurants in the hope that I find the ultimate destination for my birthday celebrations. Let me share with you some places I've trailed out since I moved to London in 2010 that are perfect birthday London ideas:

1) Proud - Camden

I spent my 24th birthday here with friends, and have also attended numerous friends' birthdays here too. You can book yourself a stable which is really fun - the one my boyfriend booked had a pole for dancing which got used a LOT as the evening progressed! It's not as claustrophobic as your standard nightclub, thanks to the fact that it has two dance floors, the large stable area, an outside bar and more space for chatting around the bar.

There are so many bars within the club to choose from and more than different music playing in each dance area, plus the in-club entertainment has been known to include women on stilts and flame eaters!

2) Drink Shop & Do - Kings Cross

I love how fun and unique the event nights are here! I've only been for drinks here so far, but booking a themed night is on my to-do list.

You can pre-book an area in the bar downstairs for groups of ten or more, and they also do a special food menu for parties.

3) Gordon's Wine Bar - Embankment/Charing Cross

Gordon's Wine Bar

4) Bounce - Holborn

I've only been here once or twice, but the venue is MASSIVE, is centred around a really fun sport which gets more fun after a cocktail or two, and the place has a great playlist.

> You can play on a London 2012 Olympics table!

> For up to 25-30 guests, you can hire the Gallery Table and ensure you have a nice area for all your friends.

> As told on their website, "Bounce is located on the very site where the game of Ping Pong was invented and patented in 1901 by John Jaques III".

5) Barrio Central - Soho

Warning! This place gets really sweaty and full. If you don't like the idea of having to spend half your night pressed up against a load of tourists you should a)rent a private area or b) avoid at all costs.

> You can rent an area called 'the porch' which is at the very back of the bar on the ground floor. This area seats up to 20 people. This is as far away from the main dance floor (in the basement) as you can get, so you might also want to consider the Stone Clad as this seats the same amount of people and is right in the thick of it. There's also the 'Love Shack' in the basement, right next to the DJ.

6) Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes - Bloomsbury/Holborn

> This place has karaoke rooms, bowling lanes (obviously!) and also a dancefloor/bar area which is open until 3am.

> What sets this place apart from other London nightclubs is that it's one of the rare venues to serve food too. Ray's Pizza and Diner is only open until 10pm, but it does mean if you want just one venue for your whole evening (dinner, drinks, dancing) you're covered!

7) The Blues Kitchen - Camden

This venue gets crowded really quickly, but you can book ahead for a booth for dinner, and (from what I remember) you can usually use that as a base for the rest of the night. This venue offers free live entertainment if you get there before 9.30pm, and after that it's around £5 on the door.

8) Metro Garden & Bar - Clapham Common


From the outside this is a dark and mysterious bar, but if you walk through to their outdoor area, you'll be pleasantly surprised. This venue has high-quality and has a real touch of sophistication, a far cry from how Clapham high street often looks on a Saturday night!

I'd recommend this place for some early evening Pimm's on their outside daybeds, and then when it gets a bit darker the fairy lights come alive and the whole place transforms into something from a fairytale!

9) Circus Bar - Covent Garden

Circus Bar, London
You'll likely miss this bar when you go looking for it - the front door is a non-descript heavy steel door and you can barely see the 'Circus Bar' sign. You will need to book ahead for dining here, but most evenings after work I've been able to visit here for a glass of vino with friends.

> Every 30 minutes or so, a new performance act will come 'on stage'. By stage I mean the massive dining table which is usually reserved by a large group for dining.

> I've never eaten here, but the Sharing Menu could be a great option for a birthday meal with friends.


10) The Boat Show Comedy Club

I went here with my boyfriend a few months ago, and this place was so much better than I had anticipated! Firstly, if you get there straight after work and well before the show, this would be an ideal place to catch up with friends for a few drinks while overlooking the South Bank and Big Ben.

The comedy event itself is obviously the main draw here, and I saw plenty of groups seated in their reserved booths having a great time! There's a bar towards the back of the room, and the quality of comedy acts here is second to none - many well established comedians apparently do warm-up shows while on tour.

We didn't stay for the dance night (after the comedy show they move the chairs and transform the room into a club night) and I haven't heard many people rave about it, but you're at least in central London if you want to carry on the night elsewhere.


+ My Recent London Discoveries

One of the best (and worst) things about London is that there's so much out there just waiting to be discovered. However many places you visit in the evenings and at the weekends, it just isn't possible to fit in everything I would into a week's 168 hours! I'm trying to visit new places every week, so here's a round-up of what I've found recently:

Open Air Shakespeare at Victoria Embankment Gardens <-- The acoustics are pretty poor here so make sure you sit near the front to keep up with all the action, but it's a breath of fresh air hidden away in Central London • The Troudadour, Earl's Court <-- This is where Bob Dylan played in the 1960s, but is now worth a visit for its timeless interior, beautiful garden and their gorgeous potato wedges (picture below) • Le Tea Cosy, Primrose Hill <-- This place does the best lemon chiffon cake I've ever tasted! My friend Mandy has a two-month free trial with Taste Card, and it's given us the chance to try out some places around London we wouldn't normally have known about. The other week we tried out Tod's Grill in Islington, where to start I had calamari followed by a delicious lamb shank. At first we were a bit sceptical because we were the only customers in there, but then pockets of people started to enter the restaurant (eclectically decorated with posters for local events from over the years), thankfully displacing our fears that we had been lured in to an unpopular price just because of a half-price offer!


Calamari at Todd's Grill, Islington Lamb shank at Tod's Grill,Upper Street, London
Potato wedges at the Trouabdour, Earl's Court The garden at The Troubadour, Earl's Court

Things I Still Need to Do in London

• Ronnie Scott's, Soho.
• Watch some live music at The Slaghtered Lamb.
• Have a night out at Lost Society, Clapham.
• Watch a play, any play.
Spark London - Britain's first true-storytelling club night.
• Visit the British Library
• Visit the Nightjar bar in Shoreditch
• Watch a free lecture at Gresham College