All posts filed under “Pop Up

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F.A.T by Freddie Residency @ Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski

A cut above average..

A buzz cut. A neck shave. An espresso. Or, a sandwich!? Sharp’s can fix it for you. This is a relatively hip barber’s formerly located on Charlotte Street. Recently, it was seduced to a new *flagship* site on Windmill Street. The operation is split into two parts, as trend has it in Fitzrovia. The front bit is a premium coffee shop by consultancy coffee brand DunneFrankowski, known to those from the East (of London). The barbers are kept in the vintage grooming ground in the back. According to TOB, who has been a loyal Sharp’s customer since its Charlotte Street site, if you get a cut, you can get a free barista-grade coffee. (I can’t verify this as I have my haircut at an internationally corporate, expensive and soul-less hair salon elsewhere). The sandwich that I speak of is a fabulous two-month addition at Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski.

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Andy Oliver & Thai Grill @ Bar Story

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver is a chef with a substantive skill set and no PR boost. He was a semi-finalist of Masterchef when the show was far less a self-promoting bypass to UK restaurant industry. He spent years working, washing and wok-ing under David Thompson at Nahm London. He went on to travel in Southeast Asia and spent more than half a year in Thailand learning the language and continuing his training as a Thai cuisine chef at Bo.Lan Restaurant. (One of my most loved places in the world). Last year Andy returned to London and headed up the operation of Naamya Cafe with David Thompson and Alan Yau. Now he helps run the operation at The Begging Bowl (quite possibly the best Thai restaurant in London) and waits for the right opportunity to open his own restaurant.

According to my book, Andy’s name surfaced, during his time at Nahm, via the Loft Project, and I had the chance to try his cooking at a one-off pop-up in East London years ago. Then, for a *farang* cooking Thai food, he was promising. And it was that experience that brought me to Thai Grill @ Bar Story.




Thai Grill @ Bar Story

Bar Story is housed at one of those railway arches behind Peckham Rye Station. The venue features an indoor cocktail bar and an outdoor drinking space. Very eclectic, with a lot buzz from cool South London crowd.

Thai Grill is a stall separate from the kitchen of Bar Story and stations at this venue on Mondays only. The menu scribbled across a few blackboards is concise and features what Thai blanket as Gai Yang + Som Tam (Grilled chicken + Papaya salad). Andy plays around with the Thai “Yang” category and extends the menu to encompass other favorite grilled items usually found at Som Tam carts in Thailand. There are grilled sea bass (£12), pork skewers (£4), chicken thighs and drumsticks (£5), prawns (£4), home-made fermented pork sausage (£5), and minced beef in betal leaf (£5). (If this isn’t easy to imagine, think Burnt Enz but Thai). £6 for a peanut-y Som Tam and £1 for a bag of sticky rice. You grab your drink from the bar.




I ordered everything from the menu and it was SENSATIONAL. The perfectly steamed, sticky and fragrant Sticky Rice arrived, as it should in Thailand, in a flimsy plastic bag. I started off with salt-grilled seafood dishes. Goong Pao (Grilled prawns) was spot on. The prawns were marinated in a traditional concoction of coriander, garlic, pepper and turmeric and grilled at a controlled low heat for delicious springy-ness. I also enjoyed Plah Pao (Grilled fish) very much. The sea bass was gutted, cleaned and stuffed with a healthy dose of herbs (lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, etc.). It was first grilled at low heat and finished on higher heat for a crispy effect on the skin. The result was as I hoped for – soft and moist meat with peel-able, lightly crispy skin. (It could have been a little crispier). Both the prawns and the fish were served with freshly prepared seafood dipping sauce (garlic, coriander and green chilli). The latter boast great citric tang and herbal refreshment.

Som Tam (Papaya salad) was done peanut-y Central-style. (Thai call it Som Tam Thai, as opposed to Som Tam that are from the Northeastern and enjoy Laotian influences). The best way to get the Som Tam you want (anywhere in the world) is to tell the chef which flavors you prefer (one or two chilli? sour? salty?). I asked for sour and spicy and it tasted superbly authentic. Yum Taeng Kwa (Cucumber salad) appeared very much soft-core (food) porn. The dish featured a spicy salad of cucumber slivers with coriander, mint, shallot and ground dehydrated shrimps. The salad itself verged on being too spicy but the gooey soft-boiled egg was instrumental in balancing out the heat.

The eating continued with Nham Yang (Grilled fermented pork sausage). Andy has my respect for making his own sausage for Nham Yang. (Young generations of Thai rarely know what actually goes into it). The taste, however, was not spot on. That is, the taste of the sausage was saltiness leading to mild sourness from the fermentation process. It should have been the other way round, in my opinion. Correctness aside, the dish was yummy. The pork used for fermentation was much better in quality than you would find off a street cart in Thailand. The only non-Thai dish on the menu was Bo La Lot (Grilled minced beef in betal leaf). It was bigger and more protein-led than most Bo La Lot I have come across. I enjoyed the gradual release of herbal aroma in the minced beef. The home-made Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) was elegant.

Moo Ping was sex pork on skewers. These were shoulders and loins marinated (coriander roots, pepper, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar) and crisscrossed with fat pieces on skewers. When being grilled, the fat dripped into burning charcoal and created a burst of smokey perfume. And before finishing, they were brushed my coconut milk and left for the last sizzle. The taste – sweet, garlicky, porky, smokey – captured my nostalgia of Thailand. Eating with the sticky rice, I had my orgasm moment. Also peaking was Gai Yang (Grilled chicken), served with two kinds of home-made dipping sauce (sweet chilli sauce and “Jeaw” sauce). Here chicken thighs were grilled whole and then jointed. The turmeric based marinate was carefully applied only to the skin. Again, they were grilled at low heat for roughly 20 min (so be patient) and finished with a brushing of sweet and musty sauce. The result was another orgasm nostalgic moment. The chicken meat was juicy, had a good depth of taste and just fell off the bone. The special brushing sauce proved bloody special. (Andy has a special purveyor of organic and rare palm sugar from Thailand, and it makes his recipes quite extraordinary). My only criticism goes onto to the Jaew dipping sauce, which I found a little too sour. (You may see from the pile of paper dishes in the last photo. We had 3 portions for Moo Ping and 3 for Gai Yang).

Andy’s strength, from what I have tasted, lies not only in his cooking and understanding of Thai food, but also in knowing the limitation of cooking authentic Thai food in the UK. (Say, herbs suffer from jet lag and many other items aren’t allowed in according to Custom laws). Accordingly, he uses the very good produce that tastes and can be found in the UK to wisely construct his menu. Nothing is processed or comes from a tin. No MSG. The result is something simple but sublime, genuine and utterly zingy.

The team was also very helpful and friendly.

(Another criticism, though. If there is a bunch of Thai walking in, please provide spoons with forks).

Updates on menu and specials can be found here.





213 Blenheim Grove
SE15 4QL

Bar Story on Urbanspoon

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City Caphe + Sho Foo Doh (at Pacific Social Club) = My Fave Asians!!

Two of my most favourite Asians <3 <3 <3

City bound..

City Caphe on Ironmonger Lane seems just another Vietnamese takeaway shop, and I was once fooled by its recyclable crockery and a menu typical to any Vietnamese joint in London. After many visits, however, I began to feel this little paired-down shop IS the best Vietnamese food outlet in London. The proprietor Julie and her family run this small business with heart and soul. This, as you will see when at the shop, has earned them strings of very loyal lunch-crowd followers (in other words – possibly one of the longest and fastest-turning queues in London).

City Caphe is opened only during the week, roughly from 11am until 4pm. (Many items are sold out before 3pm). The menu is simple but not short. There are Pho, Bun Hue, Cuon, Bahn Mi, Spring Rolls and a superbly authentic and highly sugared Vietnamese Iced Coffee. All (apart from the coffee) come with a variety of stocks and toppings. The flavouring is well-judged and thoughtfully modified in ways that the recipes do not depart from authenticity. The portion is substantial and the price never goes above £6.50. Summer Roll (£3.75) – tightly packed with springy prawns, tender simmered pork and fresh herbs – was refreshing and delivered exactly what you’d expect from a proper summer roll. The sweet peanut-based sauce added velvety richness. Bahn Mi is freshly prepared and instantly assembled per orders. My Classic Pork Bahn Mi (£3.95) was tightly packed with multi-textured Vietnamese sausage slices and sweet pickles. City Caphe doesn’t bake baguette on the premise but has it tailored specially for them. Beef Bun Hue (£6.50) was consistently feisty. The good quality beef slices were perfectly poached. The Bun noodle was slurpy-licious. The intense beef stock went down a storm with the garlicky, spicy pungent-ness of chilli oil. An additional herb bag containing basil, chilli and lime wedge was a generous touch showing the kitchen does their best not to strip away authenticity. (The chicken version was very good, too).




Forward to Hackney!!
East London is *in* and I have come across a handful of fun-filled places worth travelling for. (More posts for East London to come). One of these is Sho Foo Doh by Fumio Tanga, which was first set up as an okonomiyaki stall at Chatsworth Road Market on Sundays. Very quickly SFD became the words of mouth and Fumio is now a frequent lodger at nearby Pacific Social Club doing what he does very well – flipping Japanese pancakes!!

Born in Hiroshima (where okonomiyaki is the stable of life), Fumio moved to the UK a decade ago and has become pretty Hackneyed. He fuses, at Pacific Social Club (a cafe that might be described as a run-down space of polychromatic hipness and great vinyls), a nostalgic taste of home with a carefree spirit of East London. The specialities are, of course, booze and Japanese pancakes, but there’s a catch. Japanese pancakes that people outside Japan know are the popularised Osaka-style (a kind of fluffy mixed-meat, cabbage-y patty). For SFD, Fumio alternates this Osaka style with a Hiroshima counterpart. The latter is more layered than mixed, with sautéed noodle forming the base and a thin sheet of pancake to cover it all up.

At Pacific Social Club, Fumio is manning the hot plate in the evening from Thursday to Saturday. The menu changes according to his mood. The price for small plates hover between £3 and £6. The flat rate for an okonomiyaki is £8 but the price goes up depending on how many toppings (50p – £2) you would like to add. Chilled Aubergine (£3) was revitalising. The cooked aubergine chunks were left to marinate and sponge up the clear gingery dashi broth. My Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki was..errr… HUGE!! The pork belly mingled well with the springy squid. The noodle was mildly tossed and cooked in Fumio’s “secret” sauce. The shredded cabbage was layered and perfectly steamed between the noodle and the pleasantly chewy pancake sheet (on top). The generous sprinkling of chopped spring onions not only contributed zing but helped refresh the palate. I also had another one of sweet corn and cheddar cheese concoction which was equally utterly soulful and joyous.

Do note there are a few guest appearances at Pacific Social Club, including Bao London.





8 Clarence Road
E5 8HB
Pacific Social Club on Urbanspoon




17 Ironmonger Lane

City Càphê on Urbanspoon

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Burnt Enz + Rita’s Dining: The Cool New Breed(s) of East London Pop Up

East.. of London

East London is home to many cool people and happenings. In Elizabethan England actor-entrepreneur James Burbage found success in The Theatre (before dismantling it and moving on to inaugurating what is now known as Shakespeare’s Globe). In Victorian England, Jack the Ripper found whores to murder in the environ of The 10 Bells. Emily Pankhurst, in the early 20th century, found an office in Bow to put into actions her suffragist ideals. After WWII, multinational immigrants found home in London’s East. A few decades later, thanks to those immigrants, artists Gilbert & George found a restaurant that has ever since become their daily dining spot. Most recently we found the inconvenience of London 2012. And I have found joy in Eastenders and two cool spots to eat..



Burnt Enz is a grill restaurant that pops it up at the uniquely laid back Climpson & Sons Roastery, and it has, by now, won raves from London’s food enthusiasts and prompted wicked collaborations with UK’s best young talents (i.e. Junya Yamasaki of Koya, James Knappett of Bubbledogs& and Ben Spalding formerly of Roganic). The project itself is manned by Dave Pynt, who comes from Australia, via the internationally acclaimed kitchen of Asador Extebarri, off San Sebastian (Spain), and has been instrumental in the setup of Nuno Mendes’s The Loft Project.

At Burnt Enz, Dave does nothing but grill. (Well, he may, allegedly, help clean up). You may expect very little grilled things (say, scallops) to very massive grilled things (say, a whole turbot or a suckling pig). And Dave’s philosophy is to stay true to Spanish “asador” spirit, where the grill is done over charcoal fire and the flame is masterly adjusted according to the ingredients.

Burnt Enz operates an a la carte menu at weekends and/or pre-paid “Thirty Thursday Feast” dinners. (My meal below – £45 & BYO – was part of the latter system). The dishes on offer change regularly, on the basis of best available British produce. I was greeted with fresh oysters and lime, and once seated, a platter of charred fennel bulbs was served alongside torn burrata and orange-infused oil. The fennel was gently grilled in low heat and achieved tender but biteful texture. The aroma from the applewood char and the fennel’s very mild aniseed-y taste married pleasingly with the citric orange essence. The burrata, loosened up by the heat, was melting-ly gorgeous. Then came the huge stack of bone marrow with watercress salad and lightly toasted bread. This was a testament to Dave’s highly commendable grilling skills. The bone was well encased by heat but not to the point that the marrow melted. The results were the perfect wobble (when the marrow was forked out) and the delightfully burnt gelatinous skin. The beefy grease from the marrow was nicely countered by the peppery leaves.

Sea breams were also grilled to divinity, boasting the crispy skin that separated and the meat that flaked beautifully. The salsa verde provided herbal acidity that elevated the breams’s natural juicy sweetness. The side of courgettes – also grilled – came with fragrant burnt enz (pun intended). Watery. Sweet. And explosive. They cleansed the palate well. The parade of savoury dishes concluded with lamb shoulders that were as big and buffed as Louise Smith’s. (Sorry I can’t find as fitting a comparison. And sorry for having no photo of either). The heat-blasted skin and trimmed fat (of the lamb, not the gymnast) was crackling. The meat within was robust and moist. It found finishing touches in a comfortingly good mint sauce, lamb jus and broan beans.

Burnt Enz may be finishing its pop-up period at The Climpsons’ Roastery very soon. (Dates here). But Dave and his flame will still be the ONE to watch!


Rita's Bar and Dining on Urbanspoon

RATING: 2.5/5

Rita’s Dining, currently taking residence at Birthdays in Dalston, is a collaborative food-and-drink project by REAL GOLD, Jackson Boxer of Brunswick Cafe, Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn. This venue is an industrial sort of bar. Think a cluster of low tables and a mismatch of metallic and vintage school chairs. (To feel comfortable when sandwiched between those two items, you will need either flaccid thighs or small balls). No air-con. Raging degrees of hipsters, really. It was a fun crowd, nonetheless.

The food served was redone South American – fried chicken rolls, tacos, beans and some patty melt. The price range was kind, between £4-£6.50. After a lengthy wait I settled for Patty Melt (£5), Ox Heart Taco (£5), Fried Chicken Roll (£6.50), Green Chilli Mac&Cheese (£5), and Pulled Pork & Duck Heart Baked Beans (£5). The Patty Melt filling of minced beef laced with bone marrow and finished with cheese and onion jam could have made a lovely foil against toasted bread. The patty, in my case, was lacking in quantity and therefore did not have much of a melting effect. For the taco, I enjoyed the zingy dressing, but the ox heart was overcooked and the homemade tortilla wrap (authentic tasting) was quite thick and doughy. The chicken roll, arriving in a Rita’s-stamped paper bag, was SUBLIME. The chicken was expertly coated and even more expertly fried. The crumb-y coating was grease-free, crispy and toothsome, while the meat inside oozed heat but retained perfect moisture and tenderness. It was served encased by a white crusty, with a smearing of cayenne pepper infused mayo and shredded iceberg lettuce, to taunt my palate with filthy, saliva-induced piquancy. UTTER BRILLIANCE. Sadly, this redemptive moment did not last long. The kitchen seemed to have missed chilli and cheese in my Mac&Cheese. The result was dry macaroni with quite a bit of oil. The baked bean dish was also left in the oven for far too long, and all the elements landed in front of us dry and overcooked. TOB fiddled with them a little, and we agreed to order one more round of the fried chicken roll. Overall, Rita’s showed promises, but the execution during my visit was flawed.




The Climpsons’ Roastery
Arch 374
Helmsley Place
E8 3SB



33-35 Stoke Newington Road
N16 8BJ

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The Young Turks @ The Ten Bells (Round 2)

Get in

The Young Turks at The Ten Bells is fully booked for the whole November (if you have not seen my first post about The Turks, click here). However, the phrase “fully booked” in the restaurant world does not necessarily suggest there is no possibility of getting in!

There is the waiting list, first and foremost. But, there is also another way to fast track your wait…

No. You didn’t need to know people; you didn’t need to pay bribe for a table; nor needed you sneaking in via the toilet like those two chaps above. Just ask… nicely!

Here, at The Ten Bells, the tables are turned around 9pm or 9.30pm. I tried my luck walking in after some email exchange and there I was, in the same dining room as last week, sipping “Les Perrieres” and looking forward to my dinner.


The £39-fixed-price menu “bistronomique” at The Ten Bells is thoroughly rewritten on a weekly basis, and what read “Raw Fore Rib, Oyster & Dripping Toast” and “Fried Duck Egg, Chestnut & Duck Hearts” on The Young Turks’s frequently updated site sped up my second trip to this guerrilla bistro-dining. This prevented the three-month pop-up from being just a one-off experience for me.

There was the usual procession of nibbles. Lightly salted crisps came with mayo and hot bean powder. More addictive was Buttermilk Fried Chicken, which once made an appearance at The Turks’ previous pop-up. Moist chicken thighs (I believed) in golden batter and coated in pine-infused salt. The distilled perfume of pine was just subtle and elegant. The nibble got more racy with what I came here for – Raw Fore Rib, Oyster & Dipping Toast. Premium quality beef was served tartar-style. The sumptuousness came from tender but robust beef being lubed by the smoky oyster cream to contrast with the holy crispy-ness of the paper-thin toast. Big, big love!!

Then came Smoked Trout, Pickled Cucumber & Celtic Mustard. It was highly accomplished in flavours. The burnt hay aroma teased my nose even before I picked up my fork. The trout cut as if butter, while the dill-infused cucumber gel and seaweeded mustard gave the dish mouth-watering sparkles. My only criticism was that I would have liked more acidity to juxtapose from the pickled cucumber. Fried Duck Egg, Chestnuts & Duck Heart did not soar above the ordinary. While all the elements were nicely done – smooth chestnut paste, crispy dehydrated chestnuts to contrast, hugely yolked duck egg, and rather effete hearts – the dish lacked the je-ne-sais-quoi element and verged on being two dimensional – yolk-y and sweet.

Pheasant, Swede & Quince was, arguably, the dish of the night for me (The Other Bib thought the dessert was the star). Look-wise, this meat course reminded me of a Sunday roast. It even arrived with a tub of pheasant jus. However, there were lots of magic involved. Say, the salty acidity of the jus worked wonders with very sharp quince paste – a sort of a delectably sour lubricant for the succulent, expertly roasted bird. Comforting and perfect for all occasions. This was followed by extraordinary Jerusalem Artichoke, Vanilla Ice Cream & Savory. The bean-y artichoke was prepared three ways. The cream and mash, along with the aromatic vanilla ice cream, created layers of smoothness (sans vegetable smell); the crisps provided texture contrast and distinct saltiness, while torched savory cream and fried savory leaves left a refreshingly thyme-y note. A genius touch :-D


I don’t quite know how to sum this up. The Young Turks meals have always been different and exciting in the London scene. (It somehow reminds me much of another sensational pop-up Roganic). This weekly menu change is outrageously risky but at the same time it shows James and Isaac’s courage and belief in their innovations. That said, their dishes so far at The Ten Bells have been comfort with incredibly unique touches, not at all gastronomically intimidating. A kind of British “bistronomique” that toys traditions with skilled kitchen alchemy. Some dishes work better than others; some make you crave for a reprise; others make you want to follow The Young Turks and see what else they will come up with next..

..and (I promise) you will hear of that in a week’s time :-D


Again the dining room was still too barely lit for my humble camera >_<

Enough said,

My head rating says, “10 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “10 out of 10″.


(from 1 Nov 2011- 29 Jan 2012 only)

The Ten Bells, 1st Flr
84 Commercial Street
E1 6LY

Tel. 075 3049 2986

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The Young Turks @ The Ten Bells

The old boys

The Young Turks, by now, need no introduction.

Rather, over the past 6-7 months, Isaac McHale and James Lowe have epitomised London’s gastronomic hipness with their agile British menus – we’re talking micro leaves, honey granita, or even, grouse sausage – competent cooking and the appealing price tags. They have, in the process, recruited thousands of ardent followers. This three-month takeover at Spitalfield’s historical pub The Ten Bells has, therefore, already drawn a big crowd and may offer a glimpse of what it would be like IF this duo finally opens their own restaurant (I’m not sure if this is their plan together, but never mind!).

Enter with a buzz

The Ten Bells was lively, but when I climbed upstairs to the more demure first floor, there was this nouveau vibe. A sign that read “Live East Die Young” at the entrance to this pub-y dining space was a nuisance to a WC2 resident like me (we are more used to unmistakably green signs of Shrek the Musical or Disney-themed Christmas lights). The intimate, pub-y room was reclaimed with the East End quirk – some sort of “Tracey Emin” neon lights thrown in with a taxidermic fox and Banksy humour. Daniel and Jonny synch’ed the service with immense charm.

The menu waited for me at the table. 4-course tasting-style at £39, which will change weekly over the course of the Turks’s residence at The Ten Bells. It spelled a true British comfort, sprinkled with inventive twists. The wine list also prided itself for being marked up at no more than a tenner per bottle. Before all that came a (free) welcoming cocktail of gin, tonic, cinnamon and apple juice “tea”, which was swiftly followed by the succession of rustic amuse bouche. Oyster & Dulse encapsulated the perfumed flavours of the sea with seaweed-y springy-ness. Home cured Middlewhite Ham, moist and delectably salty, could easily make the Brits forget cliched European delicacies. Serrano ham, what? The feisty Grouse Sausage arrived caramelised in amazing Bordelaise. I fought for the last drop of the sauce.

Green Radishes, Squid & Tarragon, to me, made the least impact. Meticulously shaved radishes not only retained bites but also mild bitterness. They jarred a little with the steeply herbed tarragon sauce. I would prefer just those beautifully charred squid strips with the sauce, though The Other Bib was adamant he could do with just squids and radishes. But, we did eat it all up. The next dish of Artichoke, Onions & Watercress was the MOST criminally sensational. It benefited much from an intriguing layering of sweetness from roasted onion wedges, artichoke puree and deep-fried artichoke skins. The chicken jus bound these three elements with distinctive, lip-licking oily richness, while the cress gave a healthy slap of peppery-ness. The main of Ox Cheek, Celeriac & Apple was huge and satisfyingly mellow. The cheek was braised for an unforgettable melt-in-your-mouth effect; the soft apples boast sweetness to counteract the beef-y intensity; and the celeriac puree infused with chocolate malt oozed vanilla, mash-y and velvety texture. A truthful comfort, re-writing the meaning for autumnal joy. Chestnut Mousse, Pear & Honey Granita felt an ideal dish for Indian summer and was in a slight shortage of a heart-warming effect I much needed at this time of year. While I commended the nearly gelatinous poached pear and the mousse finely textured with crispy chestnut slices, I found the dish too politely flavoured to carry on the taste momentum of the two previous dishes. That said, it might be my fault as I had taken too much time taking pictures, and my granita melted and diluted the mousse. Never mind, I will go back and give it another go!

The way forward..

I love The Young Turks and I also love the risks they have so far undertaken. The menu at The Ten Bells is exciting and marries inventiveness with familiar taste successfully. The price is well synch’ed with skills, quality and portion size. The quirky and tasteful venue completes this package. This is one of the best “bistronomy” applications in London, the exciting way forward of replacing the “fine” in the “dining” with the “fun” and “friendly”…

..and I am much looking forward to returning in a matter of weeks ^_^



Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “9 out of 10″.


(from 1 Nov 2011- 29 Jan 2012 only)

The Ten Bells, 1st Flr
84 Commercial Street
E1 6LY

Tel. 075 3049 2986