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delaunay

    9 of the Best London Afternoon Teas – 2018/19 Edition

    I simply had to draft out a round-up of the 9 best London afternoon teas I’ve enjoyed in 2018/2019, especially as someone, somewhere in the universe has designated this week national afternoon tea week. I mean it’s only the best time ever to reminisce about afternoons of luxury – who needs more excuses to book a few more!?

    Not all afternoon teas are created equal. Crumbling scones, dry sandwiches and, horror of all horrors, having to share or barter around the delicate confections of cake that crown afternoon tea tiers. But. None of these have made it onto this list.

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    St John’s Wood Restaurant Review: Soutine

    There’s a special kind of magic when a group of people gather around a table – all the way from a humble cup of tea, through to intricate tasting menus that titillate the palates. Soutine is elegantly in the middle, a Parisien corner of Salon de thé, a St John’s Wood restaurant in a glorious period building. Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the newly opened Soutine but as ever, all dreamy pastel metaphors are very much my own.

    St Johns Wood Restaurant Soutine Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We gathered, a group of four expats – talking of life, love and kettles (long hilarious story) over a table filled with delectable dishes.

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    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London

    Normal Londoners will rush through the Temple area of London, race along Fleet Street and possibly settle into a cosy chair somewhere delicious along The Strand.

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Instead of doing the above, the next time you find yourself with a spare half an hour or so fancy a ‘London Kiwi’-style tour of the area instead? For medieval history, cats, Hollywood movies, Charles Dickens and a decent cup of tea read on. 

    Background

    Temple is an area of central London in the vicinity of Temple Church. It’s one of the main legal districts of the capital, an independent enclave free from governing by the City of London, and a notable centre for English law, both historically and in the present day. You can start the tour from Temple tube station (on the District and Circle Lines) and it pretty well loops back there. Easy squeezy ‘guv. << Click the title links for longer blogposts, and use the Googlemaps for navigation. >>

    Middle Temple Hall

    The Temple area of the City of London consists of the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, which are two of the four Inns of Court and act as local authorities in place of the City of London Corporation within their areas. The Middle Hall is a beautiful, beautiful double-hammer beamed scion of history.

    I’ve visited before, both as part of Open House London and enjoying a summer lunch in the grounds, but recently I was invited on a Blue Badge tour of the historic rooms and to have lunch in the gorgeous banqueting halls. Sima from the Curious Pixie was also there, and wrote a far more thorough treatsie on our experience – click here to read her experience in Middle Temple Hall, and click here to book your own lunch or tour.

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Visit Temple Church

    Orchestrated by a secret brotherhood, the Priory of Scion and protected by a military arm called the Knights Templar, Tom Hanks – I mean Robert Langdon – found himself flown to London, and held at gunpoint by a rogue monk demanding he solve one of the longest running religious secrets in history. (He broke in though, I’d recommend checking the visiting times ahead of the tour.)

    2,000 years of history, Hollywood film crews and a rounded honey-stoned church still bring visitors through the beautiful, religious heart of the medieval Inner and Middle Temple, two of England’s four ancient societies of lawyers the Inns of Court.

    Dr Johnson’s House

    Dr Johnson was quite a man. His best known work, Johnson’s Dictionary, was the first comprehensive English dictionary taking over 9 years (it took 40 Frenchmen 40 years to compile theirs) was a definitive title for over 150 years. It “offered insights into the 18th century and ‘a faithful record of the language people used'” unlike many of the day. He also had a very special cat called Hodges… (For visiting hours to Dr Johnson’s House click here.)

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Seven Stars Pub

    The Seven Stars pub was built in 1602 and in all likelihood was built specifically as an alehouse (the evidence has some patches to contend with) but in modern times, it’s a retreat for celebrating legal eagles who like cozy interiors.

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    One of the most famous residents – a black and white ruff wearing cat called Tom Paine – has alas passed from this mortal coil, but a young fur-fellow called Ray Brown also keeps a close eye on the goings-on, wearing his Elizabethan ruff and eschewing photographs. (If you’re still thirsty, I’d recommend a stop off at the Cittie of York too.)

    The Royal Courts of Justice

    The building is reminiscent of a cathedral in both style and scale. Soaring arches and beautiful stained glass windows ornamented with the coats of arms of Lord Chancellors and keepers of the Great Seal, combined with a mosaic marble floor leading to a maze of enchanting corridors to create a majestic setting or exciting visit to one of London’s best-kept secrets. (For booking a tour into the Royal Courts of Justice click here.)


    Oranges and Lemons, say the bells of St Clements


    This East End nursery rhyme (with rather a dark back story) rings out across the scurrying business people who probably don’t ever look up, or explore the area that they dash about. If you can time walking past on the hour, you’ll be treated to a peal of musical chiming.

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Twinings Tea Shop (and Museum)

    Fun fact for the day: Approximately 165,000,000 cups of tea are sipped on average a day in England alone (and I’m sure that doesn’t include the half cups that are left behind, victims of busy lives.)

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Museum (ahem, Shop) is a tiny cabinet of curious. Sandwiched a stone’s throw from the internationally famous Fleet Street, the narrow frontage sits between two much larger buildings on the Strand. The figures proudly characterise the history of this tempestuous foodstuff.

    Play darts in the Cheshire Cheese

    Wander into this higgledy-piggledy traditional pub with timber beams and open fires. The former haunt of Charles Dickens isn’t a polished to within-an-inch-of-it’s-life-gastropub, but a proper little locals’ pub, full of character and often has four-legged visitors wagging their tails.

    Found this gem of a pub on a quiet side street ❤️

    A post shared by Amelia Noel (@amelia.noel) on


    And then, if you’re still thirsty, along Aldgate the Waldorf Astoria has a lovely cocktail bar, Roka does a lethal bottomless brunch, The Delaunay has an inspired cake selection, Christopher’s does an American style menu, Eneko at One Aldwych has a lovely Basque-inspired menu or you can nip into the Savoy.

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Choices, choices!

    Here’s a map for easy navigation:




    Have you spent much time in the Temple area of London?

    Pin for later adventures:

    8 Hidden Secrets of Temple, London Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    10 of the best luxury London brunches (I’ve tried so far…)

    Balance. Ying & Yang, fruit and vegetables, salt and pepper, knife and fork. Having recently scribed a list of my favourite 15 of the best London Brunches for under £15 it felt only right to redress the other side of the table, and relive a few of my favourite luxury brunches.

    luxury

    ˈlʌkʃ(ə)ri/

    noun



    1. a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense.

    Darwin Brasserie 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London KiwDarwin Brasserie 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    It seems to be a term bandied around with abandon these days, but luxury really is a personal thing. For some it’s half an hour without a baby crying, for others it is a state of being that very
    much involves gorgeous handbags and opulent surroundings. One of my favourite luxuries is a good coffee first thing in the morning. I’m on my own, might have a book in my hand and when really lucky there is sun peeping through the clouds.

    For me a luxury brunch is something special, a little out of the ordinary. Peaceful aside from me and good friends giggling, excellent coffee (not negotiable), an excellent menu, beautiful surroundings, a glass of something cheeky and that little something to make the meal feel special.

    Duck and Waffle Darwin Brasserie 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    The Ivy
    Served in carefully beautiful spaces, the Ivy (whether Kensington, Marylebone, Chelsea or Covent Garden) does beautiful, un-messed with British classics. My salmon and
    smoked haddock fish cake, served with creamed spinach, soft poached
    hen’s egg and hollandaise sauce fulfilled a deep brunch need, whilst
    around the table we tested the a la carte menu including the succulent
    slow roasted Lamb shoulder, the Ivy’s famous Shepherds pie, and
    elevating grilled chicken salad with quinoa, avocado, kohlrabi,
    pomegranate, toasted seeds, coriander, yoghurt, ginger and lime
    dressing.

    Hungry yet?
     

    The Ivy Kensington 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    The Delaunay, Covent Garden
    Opulent furnishings, delicious modern European dishes, perfectly sized tables for bloggers to pass dishes around, sumptuous cake, excellent coffee, lack of judgement when you have 3 cups – what more could you need? Perfect for celebrating a special occasion or two, The Delaunay is one of my favorite haunts recently with that extra little sparkle of magic. (For proper reviews see Aftab and Angie‘s posts of our group brunch earlier in the year.)


    Sky Garden

    We’ve managed to climb a fair few of the best viewpoints of London – we’ve nipped up the Shard a couple of times, we’ve feasted (and Skyped family in New Zealand) at the Gherkin which is still my favourite view by a whisker, spent a good couple of hours on the London Eye, conquered Big Ben on foot and discovered a free London vista or two. But the Sky Garden has to be the tastiest so far..

    Walkie Talking Sky Garden 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    The German Gymnasium
    Making both of the lists, The German Gymnasium we stumbled on one Sunday afternoon having unsuccessfully tried to break our fast in any of the other Kings Cross brunch bohemoths. I had heard mixed thoughts, but it is a gorgeous space with whip fast service. The central atrium is a thing of beauty, dressed with lovely almost architectural arrangements of floristry and even the bathrooms are a cool feature.

    German Gymnasium 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    The Wolseley
    This was my only hesitation. Whilst the service was lovely, our group was properly squished into/between tables and the hash just wasn’t up to scratch. However the glorious restaurant is stunning and I feel worth a revisit to try their brunch offerings again – especially based on the sister restaurant the Delaunay.

    Dalloway Terrace
    Having visit the pretty terrace for a literary afternoon tea, all bets were off when a group of us were discussing somewhere to partake in a Sunday brunch recently. We founds ourselves, mimosas in hand, pre-coffee and perusing the menu as the sun began to peek through the overcast skies. A bloggers paradise of marble table tops and trellised foliage creeping along the walls, I feel that I’ll be back all too soon… (for proper reviews see Angie, Aftab or Binny‘s lightening fast thoughts.)

    Dalloway Terrace 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    Dalloway Terrace 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    Hamyard Hotel

    Recently visiting with a couple of the usual suspects, we fought dancing hangovers with coffee and delicious meals – is there any better way? After righting the world we also pottered through the beautiful interior, an interior designers arrangement of fascinating curios and beautiful artworks that make you lean in.

    Pachamama

    Crab churros. Crab churros, Crab churros, Crab churros. Sometimes us antipodeans ladies do want to break the brunch mold though, and
    branch out of the egg benedict laden gatherings we delight in. I don’t
    meant by opting for another meal (though we do that too, sometimes) but
    by trying something a little new in the name of brunch. Peruvian. When my lovely brunch date and I were tee-ing up a last-minute brunchy morning a while ago, she
    discovered rave reviews and recommendations of Pachamama and before we
    knew it, it was all systems go.

    Pachamama Marylebone 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    Pachamama Marylebone 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

     

    Duck and Waffle

    Having been AND blogged twice, Duck and waffle has to be the second worst-kept, best secret in London.
    (The first is obviously MI6 – even I knew the game was up as soon as the
    head office of British intelligence was announced over automated bus
    tannoys…). Glorious views, never ending flat whites and oozy brunch
    eggs whilst hanging out in the clouds – and if you manage to arrange brunch at sunrise, it is utterly magical.

    Duck and Waffle 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw  

    Roka

    I think Roka Aldwych more applies to a drunch type label, but put in a quieter corner (a genius move on Roka’s part because
    bloggers giggling can get LOUD), plyed with prosecco (the sheer joy of
    the latest bottomless brunch fashion) and generally left to celebrate
    recent birthdays, engagements, end of study years, recent overseas trips
    and the fact that it was Sunday. The restaurant is a beautiful example of Japanese style. Kitted out in
    leather, polished timber and porphyry stone, the restaurant is
    understated luxury and offering delectable Japanese cuisine.

    Roka Han Setto 10 of the best luxury London brunches Adventures of a London Kiw

    So what are you waiting for? Treat yourself (oh and ALL of these are bookable – none of this queuing malarkey!)


    Have you any recommendations for the next place we try?

     

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