Thursday, December 24, 2015

OOTD: Icco's with my Asian homie.

Icco's pizzas are perfection. This is what I wore to dine there for roughly the 20th time in 2015 with my mate Kieran:

Jumper: China
Jeans: Marks and Spencer
The Revenant-style earrings: Dorothy Perkins

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pirate DVD alert.

I was in my local secondhand DVD store, and saw this on the back of the DVD for True Romance:

   photo 20151213_152208_zpsmjb5jwqn.jpg

True Romance was re-released in the UK last month, and when a film is re-released, it gets re-rated by the BBFC. Often it will retain its original rating, but with modern sensibilities, it's not unusual for the rating to change (it usually goes down). However, in the case of True Romance, which was given an 18 when it first came out over here in 1994, it retained its 18 certificate, for many reasons, the chief one being strong bloody violence. Which is, as you can tell, is completely different from that pictured on the DVD.

However, you don't have to be a BBFC obsessive like me to smell fish. As I've previously mentioned on here in my lengthy analysis's of why movies get certified what, films these days have to be pretty hardcore to get an 18 certificate. So the consumer information for an 18 just would not contain the word 'moderate' anywhere. So not only is the photographed DVD a pirate, but a bad pirate.

And it's all thanks to my obsession with film certifications that I spotted it!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

So hurry down the chimney tonight!

In case you were wondering what the writer of this crappy blog sounds like... enjoy!

 And if you wanted to hear an actually decent cover of Santa Baby, this duet by my girl Ariana and Liz Gillies is the epitome of 'sultry'.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

o2 Priority freebie haul: no. 3 - Star Wars toy

Review: The Table Cafe (Southwark)

As with The Breakfast Club just a few streets down, The Table Cafe boasts a no-reservation policy and as such, has a queue of people waiting outside in the freezing cold. That, already, puts it in a realm with 10 Greek Street, which irritates me because it automatically signals that the restaurant cares more about their overall revenue than they do about the dining experience of the punters.

The food itself was OK, but nothing special. I had a coke float which was very sloppy indeed - by the time the waitress set it down on my table, half of it had spiked onto the table. Classy. To eat, I had the Borough Full English breakfast, which, whilst tasty, at £12.50, was just an overpriced, over-decorated version of English breakfasts I can get on my high street for £5.99. The menu boasts: 'two fried eggs, bacon, pork and leek sausages, slow-cooked Borough baked beans, grilled tomato, herb mushrooms and toast'. Well, firstly, I couldn't taste any 'leek' in the sausages (which were horrendously burnt), secondly, no-one's fooled by that lazy smearing of pesto over the tomatoes in an attempt to look fancy and the 'herb mushrooms'? Have a look at the picture, judge for yourself:
Furthermore, for twice the price I'm used to paying for my English breakfasts, this is roughly half the quantity! (super examples: un et deux et trois. All so much better).

Overall, The Table Cafe is definitely a case of style over substance. It’s very easy to buy into the hype of a place if there are people standing outside, but I’m disappointed to report that that was a misleading signal. We queued for 45 minutes. For that time and money, I could have had three times the time in most London cafes. When you're sat in a poncy restaurant and you're wishing you went to McDonald's, I have to tell you, it ain't great.

Grade: D

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Discovery from stalking the BBFC app that interests me and only me #1:

I'm probably the only person who's amused with this, but a film called Gladiator contains 'gladiatorial  combat'? Who knew!?

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Just won a pub quiz!

Being a nerdy film obsessive loser with a film blog who only I read has its perks occasionally ;)

Saturday, December 05, 2015

yellowbluepink States of Mind exhibition at the Wellcome Collection.

On Thursday, a friend and I visited Ann Veronica Janssen's installation/exhibit at the Wellcome collection. Basically, you enter a room which is pumped with coloured mist, the colour of which changes throughout, and in doing so, altering your mood with the colour. I bought along my Moschino Lolita sunglasses and a lot of photos were taken!

a usual OOTD:
dress - Quiz
earrings - Topshop

All this making the most of being in London is turning out to be rather good fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

REVIEW: 10 Greek Street (Soho)

Just on the fringes of Soho, a thriving hub of nightlife on all evenings on the week but in particular Fridays, is 10 Greek Street. It’s one of these curious restaurants that seems to be making a renaissance in London which neither has a fixed menu (instead, the food itinerary changes on a day-to-day basis depending on the whim of the chefs), nor takes bookings. Whilst I’m fine with the former – it’s good to keep things fresh and allow cooks their free rein, I’m much less fond of the latter. I can understand why not taking reservations works from a point of view of revenue for the restaurant, as it avoids annoying punters who flake out, I like to plan my evenings in advance and am genuinely a bit thrown when you have to go away for an unforeseeable amount of time until a table becomes free, especially as, in order to stay within proximity of the restaurant, you choices of drinking holes are basically restricted to a bunch of over-priced Soho places which charge for the pleasure of being in the location rather than the quality of the drinks they’re serving.

As for the food, the menu that day (chalked up on the wall in handwriting that could stand to be more legible) featured a dainty seafood thing which I ordered. It was well-presented and appetising to eat, but for £9, there really wasn’t anywhere near enough of it and I consumed the whole dish within three bites (admittedly, I was hungry from the enforced trip to a nearby bar that this restaurant’s no booking policy forced me to endure… see how it works? Don’t allow us to take bookings, suffer the brunt of this critic’s foul mood). The minute quantity of the starter filled me with trepidation for the main course…

…And perhaps this had been a calculated move on the part of the chefs, in a wacky ‘expectation management’ move, because the main met my expectation of what a good restaurant should offer and then some. We ordered the duck dish to share, and I think you’ll agree from the photo, that the quantity was very generous:

As for the taste, wowzers. The sauce was a brilliant type of gravy that I haven’t tasted before, and the potatos were delicious (and there was a perfect amount of them, not too much, not too little). Even the greens tasted good, and you could tell they had been cooked, as opposed to just stuck on the side as a way of token healthiness. Overall, it was a treat and one of the best mains I’ve had in a restaurant in 2015. Which I was not expecting at all given the lah-dee-dah nature of the place when I first walked in.

So, the restaurant began in a deficit with me for the pretentious ‘no booking’ rule, but by the time I had finished their delicious duck meal, I realised it was worth the wait. The starters are extremely overpriced but the main was damn near culinary perfection, so I’ll be kind with my score.

Grade: B+

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Fathers and Daughters get a 15 by BBFC for 'infrequent strong sex references'

I saw the trailer for Fathers and Daughters before Brooklyn on Saturday (great movie, Saoirse Ronan is a goddess). It didn't really strike me, apart from the fact that I was happy that Jesse off Breaking Bad is getting film roles. It looked like standard PG-13 mother-daughter fodder that Amanda Seyfried seems to specialise in.

However, looking on the BBFC website this afternoon, I was struck by the BBFC rating: a 15, for 'infrequent strong sex references'. Clicking on the further details here tells us that it basically due to a passing reference to ejaculation. I looked on IMDb and the film is yet to be rated by the MPAA, although I would be very surprised if it got anything other than a PG-13. The trailer just screamed PG-13, and reading the rest of the BBFC report indicates that the film was made with a view for that rating (moderate sex references, one or two uses of the f-word, etc).

Anyway, this rating decision interested me because this makes Fathers and Daughters another film, in addition to Easy A, Dumb and Dumber To, What If... and White Chicks that got rated a 15 over here despite being clearly directed at the PG-13 market (so the 12A). This in itself is not that rare - quite a few horror movies are made for the PG-13 audience but get a 15 over here because the BBFC decide that tonally, it's just too strong for 12 year olds and below, which is fair enough. (that one year age difference between 12 and 13 does make all the difference, plus you have to factor in cultural differences between the Brits and the Americans). But the four films I listed, and Fathers and Daughters, quite obviously, are not horrors. The clincher that gave them the less commercially viable 15-rating as opposed to the 12A-rating, is the sex references.

Dumb and Dumber To featured a rather crude scene in which Jim Carey's foolish goon is tricked into fingering an old woman. Easy A, a modern day spin on 'The Scarlet Letter', featured pretty much non-stop sex jokes which whilst being tonally less strong than the aforementioned scene in Dumb and Dumber To, did allude to sex toys and STDs, topics that the BBFC would rather not have in 12A-rated film. Similarly, White Chicks had a rather crude, protracted scene where one of the men, disguised as woman, plays with a sex toy, and finally What If..., a Canadian rom-com starring Daniel Radcliffe which is by all intents and purposes quite amiable, had a few dicey references to STDs, which, as we know, is no-go at 12A.

I find all this very interesting because in terms of depiction of actual sex in films, the BBFC are much more liberal than the stuffy MPAA. We classified Match Point, Never Let Me Go, 2046 and various other films a 12A for 'moderate sex', but these scenes of supposed moderate sex were judged too steamy for PG-13 and instead slapped with an R rating. Given how the Americans don't have a 15 or 18, and just an R, this really is rather final. One of the films which got an R for this reason and a 12 over here was The Invisible Woman, which I recall had one brief scene where a woman moves on top of her husband, but I didn't think was more graphic than, say, the sex scene in Chicago, and in another one, she apparently moans, but I must have been dozing off at that point because it was a blink-and-you miss it scene.

So in just a handful of decisions pertaining to rating a movie a 12A or a 15, a PG-13 or an R, we can see the nuances in cultural differences in what the British and the Americans view as more harmful. The BBFC don't seem to mind showing sex scenes to 12s and under, provided they're relatively discrete. They're more worried about sex jokes, particularly on more adult issues such as STDs, sex toys, and fingering old women. The Americans, on the other hand, are less offended by the latter, and would rather focus on censoring [or at least limiting the audience] on actual sex scenes. 

I'll end discussing a film scene that is really, neither here nor there. In Reservoir Dogs, there is that infamous ear-cutting scene. It's made all the more grisly by what you don't actually see. Tarantino depicts the sadism of the tormentor brilliantly, both in terms of choice of background music, and the way the camera pans away; the 'conceal and reveal'. Using this device and analogising it to sex references and sex scenes on the 12A/15 border, the Brits like to conceal the references, and reveal the sex themselves. There's your duality.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bar/restaurant review: HARRY'S BAR (Moorgate)

A classy venue with some superb cocktails, Harry's Bar is the kind of place I'd go when celebrating a happy occasion.

My main meal, steak, was succulent and meaty, without reaching the realms of the excellence offered at Hawksmoor. However, they were aided by the thick ridge cut chips which were rendered even more delicious with the generous portion of Hollandaise sauce they came with.

The cocktail menu featured all of the classics (Negroni, Pornstar, etc) as well as a few individual creations, all made with pretty generic ingredients. As the first picture illustrates, they were presented with style and professionalism, without quite reaching the je ne sais quoi that Reverend JW Simpson's cocktails boasted.

Still, the fact they they were drank greedily exposes the folly of places like others and their fixation with trying to dazzle the client with wacky ingredients such as dust, when the end product doesn't do anything for the drinker other than make a considerable dent in their bank balance.  

The decor at Harry's Bar was low-key but elegant and the waiters were attentive, obliging to any request you gave them.

The bill came to a sum more than I could make a habit of spending on a regular basis, but I left the place with a smile on my face, meaning I didn't think the money I parted with was poorly spent.

Grade: B+


For more restaurant and bar reviews I've written, click here.

Bar review: REVEREND J W SIMPSON (Goodge Street)

Tucked away behind one solitary door, Reverend J W Simpson juggles clandestine positioning yet popular location to give the visitor of the bar a distinctly 1920s, Prohibition-era vibe. Such an enterprising display means that you can find somewhere to go drinking on a weekend evening in central London, and still benefit from an intimate, unobtrusive ambiance.

The service in Reverent J W Simpson is impeccable, with waiters and waitresses topping up your water level without needing to be prompted. Booking in advance means they'll find a decent amount of space for you to sit (on comfortable sofa-type lounging), rather than shove you on a bar stool, which was very much appreciated. Evening badinage is always so much more fun when your bum's well-placed on plush seating!

There were an abundance of interesting-looking cocktails; particularly loved the Aphrodite (pictured above), which was a must for people who like fruity drinks! The decor was quirky yet elegant.

The only downside of Reverent J W Simpson is that the toilets, which consisted of a door in the wall, would have been very easy to miss after you've had a few drinks. The gents and ladies were all in one room as well, which I didn't love.

But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at this drinking hole. An ideal spot for a date!

Grade: A-

Friday, October 02, 2015

Review: AMORINO (Islington, Camden Town)

Over the past few months, I've visited Amorino ice cream parlour twice, so thought I'd share some photos, and my thoughts on the experiences.

Trip 1: Islington

£3.50 for three scoops, including mango sorbet, raspberry sorbet and the dulce de leche. All delicious, albeit a bit too fruity for my tasting. Hence, I learnt my lesson and stockpiled my cup with sweeter tastes on...

Trip 2: Camden Town
Four £4.50, you get four scoops! This was much more sweet in flavour, with only lime sorbet acting as the fruit component, and every scoop was absolutely wonderful. If you're going to go here, what I recommend that you know in advance whether you want sweet or fruity, then make sure one scoop in your cup is something else, just to counterbalance the rest of the sweetness, for example.

There were many other enticing flavours which I look forward to trying out. The place was clean and the staff polite. My only foible, and it's a small one, is that for £3.50 and £4.50, respectively, I expected a fraction more, for example, what you get for that amount at Cream's.

Grade: A-

Monday, September 21, 2015

On point quotes in Manhattan.

It's no surprise that I was so taken with Woody Allen's Manhattan: it tells the story of a neurotic, unlucky in love bloke in a gorgeous city and is peppered with film references. You could basically take the film, set it in London and bung me in Allen's role, and that would pretty accurately capture my many romance-related failures. I adored it, and the writing was faultless.

Here are some lines in it that I thought were particularly relevant.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Restaurant review: ARBINA (Warren Street)

During the summer, one may be more inclined to eat lunch outside. Arbina has the facilities for this,  with its outdoor seating in snug little tables.

The paella was a little phoned in. It really didn’t taste that different from the oven-bake ones you get from Tesco. It could definitely have done with having more seafood.

Below are the croquettes and potatoes:

If you compare these to the way the food was enticingly presented in Barrafina, there’s absolutely no comparison. The preparation and presentation of Arbina’s meals were utterly perfunctory.

Portion sizes are a bit on the meagre side, too. Given the croquettes cost £5 for a plate, one would hope for a bit more than what was given. Four paltry meatballs is also a bit of a cheap excuse for a dish, in my opinion.

Arbina is a prime example of one of those restaurants which coast by one its central London location. I daresay those who don’t have much dining experience may be reasonably satisfied dining here. But as someone who has experience the highs of Barrafina, which actually does authentic Spanish tapas dishes, as opposed to dumbed-down dishes that I daresay have been cynically designed to swindled as much money from British punters as possible, Arbina really doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

Overall, for good Spanish tapas, I’d recommend Iberica or Barrafina. They make authentic Spanish dishes. The food here was edible, certainly, but lacked invention and thus, wasn’t very inspiring. 

Grade: C-

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Diary of a Teenage Girl and the 18 Certificate

Yesterday, I watched Marielle Heller’s Diary of a Teenage Girl, which tells the story of 15-year-old Minnie Goetz’s sexual awakening after she loses her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend. It was a good film, sadly not quite as funny as I’d hyped it up to be in my mind, and there were tonal issues with it that didn’t quite sit right with me. Thankfully, it was elevated by a transcendent performance by British actress Bel Powley as the protagonist, without whom, the film would have completely sunk. Her fearless, honest performance truly captured what it’s like to be a teenage girl, even when parts of the screenplay didn’t quite ring true. Minnie makes poor decision upon poor decision and you find it increasingly difficult to get behind her, but Powley’s large grey-green eyes and childlike visage reinforce that at the end of the day, she is just a misguided kid trying to find her place in the world, and it is our mistakes which form us. I can’t think of another young actress who could have imbued Minnie with the realism that she did – Jennifer Lawrence would have overplayed it, Kristen Stewart would have underplayed it – and it’s for Powley’s acting that the movie is worth a watch.

In the build-up to the UK release of Diary of a Teenage Girl, director Heller, actress Powley and Twitter feminists across internet have been voicing their displeasure with the British Board of Film Classification’s decision to award the movie an 18. The director argues that by doing so, the all-male certification board are putting black box around female sexuality, in a way that male sexuality is never questioned. Naturally, feminists have jumped on this bandwagon, lambasting the BBFC as being backward and threatened by women who embrace sex. I can't help feeling their arguments would have more clout had they actually watched the film first before crying sexism.

Watching the film, I thought the 18 certificate was wholly merited. The sex scenes in it aren’t anywhere as lengthy as those in, say, Blue is the Warmest Colour, but there are a lot of them, in range of positions, featuring, in want of a better phrase, what the BBFC describe as ‘mechanical thrusting’, as well as Minnie’s ill-fated adventures, of which include her and her friend blowing two random guys in a bar toilet for some money. Minnie is an aspiring artist so there are also sketches of various parts of the male and female anatomy littered throughout the narrative, as well as strong verbal sex references in which Minnie and her promiscuous best friend casually discuss the next guy they’re gonna fuck. Film critics have remarked on the irony that teenagers (between 15-17) won’t get to watch a film titled ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’, but if this is the life of a teenager being presented, I’d argue that that isn’t the worst thing.

In terms of precedent, the filmmakers of Diary of a Teenage Girl have pointed to Fish Tank, a similarly-themed movie about an Essex girl who sleeps with her mother’s boyfriend (played by the dishy Michael Fassbender), which got a 15. However, in that movie, there were only two sex scenes (one between the girl and Fassy, and another between her mum and Fassy), both of which, whilst featuring thrusting, are brief and do not match any of Diary of a Teenage Girl’s impact. Secondly, Fassbender’s characters actions are condemned pretty strongly and he is painted to be a sleazy shit. Minnie’s love interest, on the other hand, played by Alexander Skarsgård, is portrayed with more easygoing affability, even though his actions illustrate him to be quite the douche. I don’t think you can make a direct comparison between these two films at all, and if we’re going to be banding about bargain-basement arguments like ‘oh it’s about teenagers so teenagers should see it’, why not make Battle Royale and Kids a 15 as well then?

I wrote this blog in defence of the BBFC, because I feel they get a lot of misplaced slack these days. Last year, there was a media frenzy over Paddington getting classified a PG, because people couldn’t believe that a film about the friendly bear they grew up watching could be anything other than Universal. But, watching it, I thought PG was the correct decision – there were the odd curse words, and more pertinently, Nicole Kidman threatening to stuff a bear with a variety of threatening looking knives. It’s hardly Saw, but it was mildly unsettling, and it’s good that the BBFC acknowledged that, rather than pandering to public nostalgia. Similarly, when Gone Girl got an 18, lots of under-18s complained, with some poor sap with too much time on his hands even launching an online petition to try and get the rating changed (lol, because the rating of the film is the biggest problem in our lives). Cinemagoers need to understand that just because you’ve read the book and like David Fincher, doesn’t mean the BBFC have to dish out a 15 rating when the strength of the scenes in the film command something higher. The BBFC do not exist to make decisions just to appease you.

Part of my affection for the BBFC is that I don’t think British filmgoers realise how good they have it compared to the MPAA. The BBFC treat heterosexual and homosexual sex scenes the same, which the MPAA do not. Furthermore, despite what the crew of Diary of a Teenage Girl would have you believe, getting an 18 here is not that big a deal. It doesn’t kill off a film’s chances of succeeding at the box office. In the case of 50 Shades of Grey, I think we would have been surprised if it had gotten anything other than an 18. The MPAA’s ‘NC-17’, however, is extremely restrictive, and essentially kills of a film’s chance of getting advertised. And the way the NC-17 is dished out is, spurious, to say the least. (but that’s another essay for another day).

That’s not to say I agree unequivocally with every decision the BBFC make. I will never get over how the hyper-stylised violence of the two Kick-Ass movies didn’t earn them 18s, comedy as a mitigating factor or not. 2 Days 1 Night getting a 15 for a failed Xanax overdose also seemed a touch draconian (I maintain that if a 12 year old can take Heath Ledger’s shoving someone’s head into a pencil or, more disturbingly, Kate Winslet’s hand sliding down a sweat-steamed window then they’ll definitely be able to handle that, especially as the overdose wasn’t successful). Generally, some of the more adult 15s I watch I think could be 18s, so I would encourage the BBFC to err on the side of caution more. But that probably says more about my prudishness when it comes to cinema than anything.

In summary, I am delighted that the BBFC stuck to their guns about Diary of a Teenage Girl. To accuse the board of sexism and stifling female sexuality is a cheap, lazy tactic. In Diary of a Teenage Girl, Minnie goes on a destructive road of self-discovery before she truly understands into who she is, and what makes her. Perhaps the filmmakers could do something similar with their underage sex-riddled film before pointing fingers at the BBFC.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Outfit of the Day: #CheekyNandos

Cardigan: Mango
Dress: Oasis
Earrings: online
Glasses: Red or Dead
Beaded belt: Monsoon Accessorize

On Wednesdays we wear pink, ya see.

Pub review: The Bull and the Hide (Liverpool Street)

Another LivingSocial deal, another review. I purchased a deal for Sunday roast for two at The Bull and the Hide and thought I’d give my thoughts about the dining experience there:

- Venue: relatively easy to get to from Liverpool Street Station, although be aware that the dining takes place in the upstairs of the pub.
- Ease of LivingSocial use: excellent. In fact, I’d called up previously to arrange usage of the voucher a week previously, but due to over-booking, I had to reschedule for the following week and the staff were extremely helpful and obliging about it, which is more than can be said for many other
LivingSocial/Groupon deals, which operate on a ‘one strike and you’re out’ basis. Furthermore, after the meal was over, the waiters let us go without tacking on an unwanted tip on the bill, which was ace!! As I was lamenting in my review of Tierra Peru, nothing ruins the taste of a good meal more than a barely deserved tip.
- Quality of food: Not the best Sunday roast I’ve had, and not the worst. The meat wasn’t the best, but I loved the potatos and the gravy, but sadly, both were on the sparse side (I adore gravy, had you noticed?). The vegetables were healthy and well-cooked. The choices of dessert were good, but stupidly, I went for the least impressive option, which was a glorified plate of strawberries.
- Quality of wine: I’m not the biggest red wine fan, but I drank it all, which is something.

Overall, it wasn’t the best LivingSocial deal I’ve purchased, but due to the politeness of the staff, the refreshing fact that what we saw was what we got with no extra LivingSocial stipulations, and the cute way they created name-labels on the tables, I’ll be generous and give this place a B.

Grade: B

Monday, August 03, 2015

Restaurant review: FOUR HUNDRED RABBITS (Crystal Palace)

You may have noticed there’s a few actors and actresses who I have a fondness for, given I mention them in pretty much every film post I write about. Similarly, when it comes to what tickles my culinary senses, I also have quite the penchant for pizza, as it’s my go-to comfort food and can never get enough of the combination of carby base and explosion of flavours on top. I’d already had a pizza on Friday, but such is my predilection for pizza that I had no qualms about having another one the very next day.

The menu at Four Hundred Rabbits is extremely uncomplicated, featuring just six different types of pizza and two specials, which change on a daily basis. This has pros and cons: on my first visit to Four Hundred Rabbits I’d had the chorizo pizza, and on Saturday I had the beef one, and those two were the only two flavours which really pique my interest, so, were I to go again, my choice would be limited if I didn’t want to repeat an order. The upside, however, is that what they do produce, is of very high quality, all for affordable, reasonable prices (the six staples range from £6.75 to £9.75).

The flawless sourdough base really accentuates the toppings, and as was the case in the most expensive topping, the one I had on Saturday: ground Hereford beef, green chillis, onions (KEY!!!!!), tomato and mozzarella, the chefs don’t scrimp on ingredients. The crusts, which are usually the part of a pizza I don’t consume, were light, so I ate more of the crusts here than I usually do.

The food is intricately crafted and aesthetically pleasing (see photo above). There was a healthy selection of drinks, including craft beer on tap (one of my favourites), which washes the pizza down a treat. On Saturday, I ventured out of my comfort zone and had a vodka seltzer with rhubarb which complemented the pizza a treat! For dessert, there are ice cream sundaes, an unpretentious delight which very few would turn their noses up at.

My pleasant trip to Four Hundred Rabbits was accentuated with the efficient waitress, who was very attentive and noticed when our supply of water was dwindling, replacing our water jug without prompting. This makes a welcome change from most restaurants in central London which are grossly understaffed, and you have to ask several times for such a courtesy. Naming no names, of course. That would be shady and it’s not like me to be shady. Is it? But yeah, kudos to Four Hundred Rabbits for that, because on a busy Saturday evening, they certainly weren’t at any lack of customers, so the fact that they paid all their punters equal attention merits praise. 

Overall, Four Hundred Rabbits is comfortably the best pizza place in south London that I’ve had the good fortune of visiting.

Grade: A-

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Over-accessorised outfit for a football match of the day.

Shirt: Chelsea megastore (with Cahill 24 on the back, in case you were wondering)
Hoop earrings: New Look
Skirt: hand-me-down from a friend
Lolita sunglasses: Moschino (one of the two items of designer label things I own!)

Sandals: Accessorize (reviewed here)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Outfit of the Day that I wore to drink an insane banana-and-Nutella milkshake in The Diner yesterday:

Blue vest top: Topshop
White vest top: Jane Norman
Hoop earrings: Debenham's

First Day of the Month Pedantry

I was flipping through the latest issue of Empire and noticed these two discrepencies:

 As someone who knows the BBFC website like the back of my hand, I could tell straight away that something was awry. Trainwreck is actually a 15, not a 12A, and Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation, which I saw on Thursday and reviewed, is a 12A, not a PG.

I like pointing out random film classification-related mistakes because I like to think all that time I spend on the BBFC website is put to good use, amirite?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review

On the hunt for the elusive ‘Syndicate’ in London, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, admirably unfatigued) realises that they’re onto him, and not only that, they’re three steps ahead of him at his own game. At the same time, the C.I.A. (led by Alec Baldwin, terrifically uptight) have reached the end of their tether with the unorthodox methods and messy results of the IMF, leading them to shut them down. Which leaves Ethan with no support, hunted, and seeking the head of the terrorist organisation, hoping to shut them down before they shut him down. Mission Impossible, indeed.

I’ve seen the first three of the Mission: Impossible movies but not the critically acclaimed Ghost Protocol, which is a shame because I love me some Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg. Fortunately, they reprise their roles in Rogue Nation, and with some aplomb. Renner is the king of finely walking that thin line between surly and charismatic (and look how pretty!!!), and Simon Pegg, whilst he appears in a few too unfunny ‘comedies’ for my liking, was born to play the comedy sidekick that he does here, and the bromance between him and Cruise carries extremely well on screen. In another Summer action blockbuster I watched a few weeks ago, Ant-Man, Michael Peña served a similar role, and he, too, lit up the screen whenever he was on. It’s no coincidence that I was amused and entertained by M:I5 and Ant-man throughout.

The story is, as with Fast and Furious 7, flimsier than a Victoria Secret bikini and a barely-veiled excuse to line up noisy action sequence upon action sequence. But, as with F&F7, the action sequences themselves are so thrilling, and so textured, so bombastic, that as soon as the film started and we were launched into Cruise jumping onto a moving plane, I was just hooked. 

The introduction of Rebecca Ferguson as a British undercover spy who Hunt may or may not be able to trust, was an inspired piece of casting: at 31, she’s still great to look at (dat lime green dress at the opera), but she’s considerably more experienced than the naïve ingénue, and as such, much more believable in her kick-ass role. The fight scenes where she and Cruise collaborated to beat up the baddies were incredibly satisfying. A cameo by Tom Hollander as the Prime Minister also made for a diverting watch.

Overall, Mission: Impossible -  Rogue Nation raised the bar for action films; I wasn’t able to keep my eyes off the screen. Excitement buzzed in every frame, from an adrenaline-pumping motorcycle chase, to Cruise jumping into a security system immersed deep underwater with only 3 minutes worth of oxygen and an extremely tense finale sat around a London cafe. Furthermore, whilst in the three M:I movies I’ve seen, I definitely didn’t doubt Hunt’s dedication to the cause for defending his country, a pleasant addition in Rogue Nation was the lengths he went to to protect his friend Benji. 

I know I’ve already used the word ‘bromance’ in this review, but the bickering and banter between Cruise and Pegg was a delight to watch, and added some much-needed levity between all the life-risking.

I’ve namedropped a few 2015 action movies in this review, so one more can’t hurt. Sam Mendes’ follow-up to his last James Bond movie, Spectre, is out in October, and the trailer has me salivating, not least because the movie boasts the rather beautiful Léa Seydoux playing a doctor. If that lives up to the previews, then 2015 is going to be the most illustrious year for action movies since… I don’t even know when. Thrilling stuff!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Restaurant review: Tierra Peru (Angel)

I booked a Groupon deal to try out the seven-course tasting menu at Tierra Peru. By my count, that makes it the first Peruvian restaurant I’ve ever been to. In terms of ease of using the Groupon deal:

- I called up in advance to book a session a few weeks before the time we actually went, and the only permissible time windows were 6pm and 8pm, which was inconvenient for me given it was a Friday and we wouldn’t have gotten to the venue from work in time.
- The time slots available on the weekend were more suitable to my schedule, so the second time I tried to arrange a session, was more successful.
- About 50% of the Groupon/LivingSocial deals I try out stick a tip on at the end of the meal, so I wasn’t surprised when they tacked one on. However, the value of the tip was 12.5%: more than the service merited.

As for the deal, there were some non-entities (starters were a tasteless mound of rice), but overall, they were a culinary delight. 

My favourites were the cheese balls, the potatoes and the prawns (the latter of which there was lamentably little of). My least favourite plate was the pork, and I would have liked less of the chickpeas for some more meat instead.

Another shortcoming over dining at Tierra Peru was a bottle of Inca Kola was £5 for a big bottle, when it didn’t come with ice and tasted far too warm for my liking. 

Overall, I enjoyed the dining experience there, but for the price of Groupon, the tip and the drink, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of "discount".

Grade: B

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review of two karaoke places (The Old School Yard, China City)

I’m quite a big fan of karaoke, and am looking to test out various places in London, then let y’all know my thoughts on them, so if there’s anywhere dire, you don’t have to do that to yourself!

The Old School Yard (Borough)
The place was relatively easy to find, just a quick walk from Borough tube station. The room we were given was a very generous size, so everyone had place to sit down, dump their bags, with there still being plenty of space left over, and the décor was relatively well-maintained, which is more than can be said of other places I’ve been (Bloomsbury Bowling Lane). The song-list was totally modern (One Direction, check. Shake it Off by Taylor Swift, check. Wrecking Ball, check) and facilities extremely easy to operate, and I particularly liked the addition of a cute disco ball in the room to add ambience. If you go during Happy Hour (6pm-8pm), you can get cocktails for £4.50, and they represent decent value for money because after two Long Island Ice teas I was singing loudly and freely with abandon. My trip to the Old School Yard is my favourite memory of going to karaoke; singing out-of-tune and joyfully with my girlfriends was just the greatest fun, and as you can probably see in this photo, I had the time of my life!
Grade: A

China City (Chinatown)

China City is the first place in London where the deposit for the karaoke went on our food, so in essence, the karaoke came free with the food. As a restaurant, there’s definitely better places in Chinatown. The food was overpriced (probably to earn back the cost of operating the karaoke) and over-oily, and, whilst the people I was with didn’t complain that much, I think that was because a few of them didn’t eat Chinese food regularly. I do, and there are several places in Chinatown that outshine China City. The waiters were also very surly and rolled their eyes at me when I asked for serviettes, but that’s nothing new for a Chinese restaurant.

But in terms of karaoke, I can’t fault it. The song-list was up to date and had all the songs that I love jamming to – Fancy, Kanye West, One Direction, and I had a jolly time doing so. The slight downside of having karaoke whilst we had our dinner were that lots of people were reluctant to get up from the dinner table to sing. In fact, the most disappointing factor about this visit was that we were with some self-absorbed preeners who were far more interested in laughing at the bad way I was singing during karaoke than joining in themselves. The popular cheerleader schtick ain't fooling anyone, you're not in high school any more, sweetheart. (My ex, who was there at the time, chose to act aloof and refused to sing. Should have known then that we weren't a good fit). But I won’t let that cloud my opinion of China City. The food wasn’t the best, but I know that with the right company, I could have had a fantastic time here.
Grade: B+ 

If you have a karaoke place you'd like me to review, send me an email at

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Cabana (Shepherd’s Bush)

A day out shopping in London just isn’t the same without a fulfilling meal at the end of it, and Brazilian barbecue chain Cabana has set up sticks in both Westfield Stratford and the Shepherd’s Bush venue, which is the one I visited. With colourful, welcoming interiors, and jaunt Portuguese crooners singing in the background, I probably would have paid it a visit sooner rather than later, but the fact that they accepted Tastecard made eating there even more desirable.

At the time we visited, Happy Hour was also taking place, and I had a Red Tail Parrot, which went down a treat (but was suspiciously lax on the alcohol, disappointing, given it cost £7). My friend had the Dream Team 1970, which he wasn’t a big fan of, but I thought was fine – the bitterness suited the taste of the cocktail.

As for the food, starters were delicious but far too small had they retailed at the price in the menu, sans Tastecard. £3.95 for three small little rice balls simply didn’t impress. Throughout our time in Cabana me and Joe likened it to Nando’s (despite the latter being Portuguese, the former Brazilian), and whilst Nando’s is a bit overpriced for what it is, at least I wouldn’t feel awful eating there without a Tastecard. Cabana’s prices are fine with Tastecard, but without, nothing short of extortionate. I ate my starters in no more than four bites.

As for the pulled pork burger I had for the main meal, I wasn’t sold. Pulled pork is one of my favourite ingredients, and I’ve had many a delicious meal from my old work canteen with pulled pork in it, and my mouth still waters when I think about the pulled pork from Joe’s Southern Kitchen. I don’t even know how you can get it wrong. But the pulled pork from Cabana was lamentably, on the tasteless side. Pro tip to the chefs in Cabana: sticking a Brazil flag on a tasteless, tiny burger doesn't make it more succulent or larger.

Overall, I’d recommend the place if you have a Tastecard, but sadly it doesn’t pass the ‘would I eat there for the original prices posted on the menu?’ acid test. The food was perfectly satisfying, but take a look at the picture of the burger for yourself – is that worth £10?

Grade: B

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Emsy's Favourite Songs, 2k15 edition

It starts with Kanye West, ends with Kanye West, and has everything from Taylor Swift, One Direction and Nina Simone in the middle.

  1. Homecoming (Kanye West ft. Chris Martin)
  2. Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
  3. Alison (Elvis Costello)
  4. What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction)
  5. Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
  6. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright)
  7. Sinnerman (Nina Simone)
  8. I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift)
  9. Sexy! No No No… (Girls Aloud)
  10. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie (Joanna Newsom)
  11. Off to the Races (Lana del Rey)
  12. Fancy (Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX)
  13. November Has Come (Gorillaz)
  14. Samson (Regina Spektor)
  15. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits)
  16. Run this Town (Rihanna, Jay-Z and Kanye West)
  17. Power (Kanye West)
  18. Untouchable (Girls Aloud)
  19. This is What Makes Us Girls (Lana del Rey)
  20. Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
  21. Talk Show Host (Radiohead)
  22. Lullaby (Dixie Chicks)
  23. All These Things that I've Done (The Killers)
  24. Angie Baby (Helen Reddy)
  25. 22 (Taylor Swift)
  26. Wild Boys (Duran Duran)
  27. Love the Way You Lie Part II (Rihanna ft. Eminem)
  28. Head over Heels (Tears for Fears)
  29. Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
  30. One Thing (One Direction)
  31. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Queen)
  32. Let it Go (Idina Menzel)
  33. Problem (Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea)
  34. Glory Box (Portishead)
  35. Hey Stephen (Taylor Swift)
  36. Empire State of Mind: Broken Down (Alicia Keys)
  37. 2am (The Saturdays)
  38. Adia (Sarah McLachlan)
  39. Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
  40. Baba O'Riley (The Who)
  41. Wildwood Flower (June Carter Cash)
  42. The Loving Kind (Girls Aloud)
  43. California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas)
  44. Chelsea Dagger (The Fratellis)
  45. My Father's Gun (Elton John)
  46. Riding in Cars with Boys (Lana del Rey)
  47. Seasons of Love (Idina Menzel)
  48. When She Loved Me (Sarah McLachlan)
  49. Royals (Lorde)
  50. Hey Jude (The Beatles)
  51. Brandy Alexander (Feist)
  52. Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)
  53. Defying Gravity (Idina Menzel)
  54. Love Affair (Regina Spektor)
  55. Video Games (Lana del Rey)
  56. I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea (Elvis Costello)
  57. Dragon Queen (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
  58. Under Pressure (Queen ft. David Bowie)
  59. Brown Eyes (Lady Gaga)
  60. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren)
  61. Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
  62. Underneath Your Clothes (Shakira)
  63. Beneath Your Beautiful (Labrinth ft. Emile Sande)
  64. Breathe (Taylor Swift)
  65. Travelin' Soldier (Dixie Chicks)
  66. Numb Encore (Jay Z ft. Linkin Park)
  67. Lovely Head (Goldfrapp)
  68. I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free (Nina Simone)
  69. Shout (Tears for Fears)
  70. She (Elvis Costello)
  71. Vincent (Don McLean)
  72. Golden Slumbers (K.D. Lang)
  73. Lullaby (The Cure)
  74. Love will Tear us Apart (Joy Division)
  75. All Along the Watchtower (Devlin ft. Ed Sheeran)
  76. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)
  77. Pennies in my Pocket (Emilio Estefan)
  78. Jackson (Johnny and June Carter Cash)
  79. Wonderwall (Oasis)
  80. Airplanes part 2 (B.o.B, Hayley Williams & Eminem)
  81. The Killing Moon (Echo and the Bunnymen)
  82. The River (Joni Mitchell)
  83. Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol)
  84. Hey Mama (Kanye West)
  85. Braille (Regina Spektor)
  86. Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
  87. O Saya (A.R. Rahman ft. M.I.A)
  88. Baby (Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris)
  89. Chillin' (WALE ft. Lady Gaga)
  90. Take a Bow (Rihanna)
  91. About the Boy (Little Mix)
  92. Work (Kelly Rowland)
  93. Ignition (Remix) (R. Kelly)
  94. Breathe Me (Sia)
  95. Strict Machine (Goldfrapp)
  96. Notorious (Duran Duran)
  97. Too Young (Phoenix)
  98. Call the Shots (Girls Aloud)
  99. Shake it Off (Taylor Swift)
  100. Gold Digger (Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Film review: KNOCK KNOCK (Eli Roth, 2015)

Even though I turned 25 over two months ago, and thus am now no stranger to watching 18-rated movies in the cinema, for me, it’s something which the novelty of doing doesn’t seem to wear off. Perhaps it evokes nostalgia-filled memories of the first 18-rated film I sneaked into – Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, when I was 16 (under the guise of wanting to watch The Devil Wears Prada, no less), perhaps it’s the feeling of #sophistication it imbues me with, and perhaps it’s the enjoyment of sharing a cinema-going experience with fellow fans without having to deal with bratty teenagers taking Snapchats of the screen throughout the film, but for this seasoned movie geek, watching an 18-rated film at the cinema is something that still makes me feel giddy.

Eli Roth’s Knock Knock is rated 18 for ‘strong sustained and sadistic threat, sex, sex references, nudity’, which is as pithy a summary of the plot as you’re likely to find. Keanu Reeves is Evan Webber, a happily married family man with the quintessential Hollywood family (blonde wife, a son, a daughter and a cute dog), quintessential Hollywood job (high-flying architect who’s CAD-skills are in high demand, meaning he can’t go to the beach with said family one weekend) and quintessential Hollywood house (an urbane bungalow just a few miles from central LA).

When he’s staying at home said weekend, hard at work, he gets a knock on the door. Standing in the pouring rain are two attractive young women, one flaxen, one brunette. They claim to be lost finding a house party they’re meant to attend, and could they dry themselves off whilst he gets an Uber. However, their salacious discussions, casual bending over and stroking of Evan hint at something much more calculated under the randy air stewardess veneer. Evan succumbs to their obvious allure and sleeps with them. And that’s when his problems take a deadly turn.

I’m yet to watch Eli Roth’s Hostel series, and, being one with an aversion for needless torture porn, I doubt I ever will. But I must admit, I was intrigued when I heard the premise of Knock Knock. The idea that the most dangerous thing to us is something that we let into our own house, and that we are the architects of our own downfall, are all themes that pique my interest. Knock Knock is, as expected, not a particularly pleasant viewing experience.

Every scene reeks with amorality and the two girls, Genesis and Bel (played by relative unknowns Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) are on a level of batshit crazy that would make Gone Girl’s Amy seem like the picture of sanity. Watching them torture an affable but hapless guy for one mistake which they essentially entrapped him into, is troubling, to say the least.

But what elevates it from standard exploitation-fare is the sharp script, which balances bathos with the darkest of humour. On more than one occasion in the film, I chuckled (whether that be from being tickled by the writing or nerves, who knows). Despite what some reviews have said about Reeves being miscast, I actually completely bought him in this role, and Izzo and Armas were psychotic in their performances, yet magnetically so.

There were moments towards the end of the film as plot twist upon plot twist just got increasingly more ludicrous, but for a 100 minutes of edge-of-your-seat erotic thriller-meets-sarcastic morality tale, Knock Knock just about suffices. I certainly won't be opening the door of my house in a hurry.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Breakfast watch: Luna Café (Chiswick)

The sausages were a little burnt, but the actual ingredients used for it was very high quality. Big fan of the crispy bacon and the oily hash brown. Decent amount of baked beans, and just look at that deliciously buttered toast! 

The only real downside was that for drink, you could only have coffee or tea. I wanted orange juice! That would have washed the meal down better. And I don't really like mushrooms, so I would have rather had more of the other ingredients rather than the mushroom.

Overall though, very solid.

Grade: A-

Friday, March 06, 2015

Bar review: SUGAR CANE (Clapham)

Sugar Cane, one of Clapham's more affordable bars, has Happy Hour for a few hours every weekday, and I would recommend any of the drinks involving tropical juice, which go down a treat. And £5 for a fairly well-brewed cocktail isn't something I can argue with really, particularly as Happy Hour in most London bars equated to Buy One Get One Free, or two cocktails for a tenner. This is much better because there are no constraints on what your other drink has to be!

One slight downside is that the non-alcoholic drinks aren't as cheap as they could be: a lime cordial and soda was £2, which even for London, is pretty extortionate. So it feels one is being indirectly nudged into getting the alcoholic beverages.

Sugar Cane also has a good ambience (although the lights were a bit too dim), well-cleaned toilets, and boast a decent food menu. I've been to Sugar Cane about five times and the service has been hit-and-miss, the worst being a woman who took an absolute lifetime to make a simple cocktail, and didn't crack a smile once. However, if you get the man who appears to run the place, then you're service will be good - he knows what he's doing.

If you're around Clapham, worth a visit. 

Grade: B

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dish of the Week.

Fisherman's pie (with copious amounts of salmon). Amazing. I went back for seconds! 10/10