The first cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) hit our British
It’s been hard to write this as I don’t want to be negative but from the energy I can feel around me when I’m and about… I can’t brush it off and ignore it.
shores in late January. We are now approaching mid-March and the situation has not changed much in terms of case numbers and fatalities as compared to other European countries. However, the mentality and behaviour of people in the capital has become less welcoming… well, according to my own experiences anyway.
As a Vietnamese woman, I look Chinese. Over the years I have learnt to become comfortable in my own skin but I won’t lie to you – these past few weeks and especially last two days have tested me. It’s made me doubt myself and left me feeling paranoid and anxious to say the least.
On the underground, some people avoid being too close to me, for fear that they will catch coronavirus – even though I am not sick nor coughing nor feverish. Others make sly comments when I’m passing by or near them… here are some examples of what I’ve experienced so far; a young child in IKEA shouting “coronavirus” to his sister as they both passed me down the aisle. A man and his friend sniggering whilst looking at me and saying “oh shit, coronavirus… we’re in for it now!” And the latest one which I overheard in a conversation between the bartender and a woman when he mentioned about the outbreak in Italy, “well, who do you think brought it there?” It seems that Chinese people are being blamed for the coronavirus spreading worldwide.
I feel like I want to just hide away in a corner or stay at home and not go outside. When I board an empty train carriage, I find solace in its silence and can feel at ease with myself. It also gives me time to reflect on myself and my thoughts.
My friends would normally tell you that I am one of the happiest and bubbliest person that they know. I’m usually always smiling, happily greeting those who I pass by but these past few days I’ve retreated inwards, keeping my head down and just keeping it moving. It’s not been easy and certainly not as welcoming as it was pre-coronavirus.
Luckily in my little town, everyone is more inclusive. There is more sense of a community in which my family and I are accepted and treated without stereotyping or prejudice. I used to think that a city as diverse as London would always be so welcoming, inclusive and non-judgmental but in light of recent events, I’m now starting to doubt that.
I’d like to think that things will get better soon but I’m not sure how. I would like to believe that the passive aggressive comments and racial comments will stop – but I don’t think they will anytime soon. I would also like to think that people will stop stockpiling household items like toilet roll but I don’t think that will either. Who knows what the near future will look like for London but with all these talks about lockdowns and cancelled flights etc, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a fun summer.
I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! New Year celebrations are a great way of getting everyone together, especially if it’s with family and loved ones. I’ve been actively trying to be less consumed by social media but it’s pretty hard when as soon as you open instagram, a million and one fabulous places pop up and then your bucket list of places to go just gets longer.
I created this post because I wanted to share some of my favourite places and some insta-famous places in London where you can get something to eat (or perhaps drink). I’ve only been to a couple but committed to getting out more and exploring these wonderful places.
The most instagrammable places & restaurants to eat in London
Bob Bob Ricard, Soho Best known for… the champagne button
After being introduced to this restaurant by my best friend it’s now become one of my favourite restaurants. It’s fine dining so slightly pricey but the portions are generous. It’s not child-friendly so be aware if you have young children and wanted to dine with them,. Under 14s are not permitted at BBR however if you’re planning a meal with friends or a loved one, it’s a fabulous place to eat. The food cuisine is Russian and British which threw me off at the beginning but it’s fantastic and everything is cooked with perfection.
We went here for Daddy P’s 30th birthday (see photos of our day) and I was blown away again by the opulent decor and good food. Our favourite thing to order was the pelmeni for the starter, mariner’s fish pie and lobster mash for the mains and for dessert, the BBR signature chocolate glory which looks amazing and eating it is really a little experience in itself! The waiter/waitress comes over to drizzle hot chocolate sauce over your beautiful gold ball to reveal the delicious goodness inside… amazing!
The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea Best known for… the floral installations
I’m sure anyone who passes the doors of The Ivy Chelsea Garden is bound to be tempted to take a photo. Look at the glorious arrangement – it always looks so opulent and beautiful! For this festive season, they’ve kitted it out in the style of a gingerbread house – check it out on their instagram page, @ivychelsgarden
I have been to the Ivy Cafe in Blackheath and really loved the environment. The Chelsea Garden branch is like a super-magnified version of that – all the photos of the interior decor is amazing and so beautiful. However if you’re not a big fan of botanical plants and flowers, it may not be the best place to eat for you. It really does feel like you’re dining in a garden at The Ivy.
Élan Cafe, various locations Best known for… the pretty pink flower wall
Élan cafe, also known as EL&N (Eat, Love & Nourish) must be one of the ULTIMATE pink cafes that is known for it’s insta-worthy status. I love the style of this cafe and it really is one of the prettiest cafe in London – it’s definitely the pinkest! It’s a great place to go for an all girls catch-up.
As they don’t have a reservation system, you can end up queuing for a while as it’s really popular with models, influencers, bloggers and anyone wanting a piece of the insta-worthy-selfie-pie. Turnover for your table for 1.5-2hrs max so don’t think that you’ll be able to spend a whole afternoon at this gorgeous place.
8. Little Miss’ bday brunch at Elan Cafe
The prices are really high (somewhat extortionate for some drinks) so it’s a place for a treat than a regular coffee spot. You’re looking at £6 for a matcha latte, £4.50-4.80 for a regular latte or cappuccino and snack bites start from £5. I’m not a massive fan of their food, drinks are okay but the winning dessert has to be their giant strawberry macaron which actually tastes as good as it looks. They are almost everywhere with their 8th store opening at Bicester Village shopping outlet.
SushiSamba, Bishopsgate Best known for… the bamboo ceiling & the drinks
A great place to eat, drink, and party! Sushi Samba is a very popular place to go after work and even more so on the weekends. The decor is simple but very stylish – I really love the bamboo ceiling, it’s something you don’t normally see with London architecture. I haven’t been here yet so hard to comment on the nightlife here but everyone has told me the atmosphere is very lively and amazing.
Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street Best known for… the rooftop garden
Sky Garden is a rooftop garden in the middle of the city which you can visit for free but entry needs to be pre-booked online. You also need to make sure you have a valid form of photo identification to enter. Families and children are permitted to enter but under 16s are not permitted to enter without an accompanying adult. There are several restaurants and bars at Sky Garden including the Fenchurch restaurant and the Darwin Brasserie which overlooks the garden.
It’s a great place to visit which is on my to-do list but as the entry is so popular, the free tickets always sell out before I can book them. Admissions go live on their website every Monday for two weeks ahead. It’s only an hour’s admission but if you can book yourself into one of the bars or restaurants, your entry to the Sky Garden is free. Be aware, the temperature is similar to the weather outside so if it’s a cold day, wrap up warm as it’ll be chilly inside the Sky Garden too.
Aqua Shard, London Bridge Best known for… the views of London
I have only been here once for a friend’s birthday but the food was great and the views were even better. Service was good and the food tasted delicious but slightly on the small side for me. It’s not a place where you can arrive hungry and expect to leave feeling full or with a food baby. You need to have something light to eat beforehand to leave feeling ‘content’. The tables are lovely and even if you’ve not got a window seat you can still catch a glimpse of the skyline.
If you’re planning to head here for just the drinks, the bar area gets really busy. Not ideal if you’re short like me because everyone else felt like they were towering over me with their sky-high stilettos. Some advice – if you’re dining in the evening, dress to impress. It’s a formal dress code so make sure you’re looking glamorous!
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden Best known for… the romantic setting
A restaurant after my own heart. Look at that romantic atmosphere, the ceiling is adorned with fairy lights and cheery blossoms… and with the fireplace blazing… absolutely beautiful! It’s been dubbed as ‘World’s Most Romantic Restaurant’ and it’s not hard to see why!
Clos Maggiore serves contemporary French cuisine. I haven’t dined here but my sister has and she said she loved the setting but not a fan of the food. Check out their menu before booking so you’re not disappointed because it’s not the cheapest place to dine either.
Palm Vaults, Hackney Best known for… the vegan cakes, hanging plants & rainbow lattes
I first came across this cafe through a friend – she posted an instagram story of her pink latte and I instantly fell in love… after that I was on the hunt for pink lattes. I love matcha lattes and before rainbow lattes were popular, the hulk-looking latte was the only coffee alternative you could get. At the cafe, I tried either the velvet rose or pink velvet tonic latte (the difference is rosewater in the velvet rose one) which tasted okay but not what I expected. However, their pink latte was so so much better than the one at Élan cafe and for a cheaper price too!
I also tried the ‘blue moon’ tea latte (Thai butterfly tea, lavender, oat milk) and it was AMAZING! I would definitely order this one again as it tasted like a mild lavender latte – really delicious and it tastes nice. The vegan cakes are delicious and the icing doesn’t taste overly sweet. Check out Sweet Monday’s review of Palm Vaults for an idea of what to expect. This place is currently one of my favourite vegan cafes.
The Oval at the Wellesley, Knightsbridge Best known for… the fine dining experience
I’ve only just discovered this place and it looks amazing. It looks really fancy so I don’t think it’s a place you’d feel comfortable cam-whoring at but a shot like the one above would be dreamy!
The Wellesley also have a jazz lounge where they have live piano music playing daily and serve afternoon tea. Again, it’s another pricey place to eat but the menu looks good.
Sketch London, Mayfair Best known for… The Gallery aka David Shrigley’s pink room
This is one place I am dying to go! According to Secret London, Sketch is one of the most beautiful restaurants in London. Again, not a cheap eaterie but it’s different compared to your usual dining experience. Afternoon tea here in The Gallery aka the pink room, surrounded with artwork and crockery commissioned by David Shrigley is amazing. The cute little tea cups, tea pots and plates are labelled with creative text (they are also available to buy!) and the sandwiches and pastries look good… and very instagrammable indeed!
9. Afternoon tea at Sketch London
*updated review* I went here with a girl friend for afternoon tea and I can say it was a lovely experience, the food was very tasty and you can get endless refills on teas and sandwiches however I wasn’t a big fan of the atmosphere – slightly pretentious and everyone seemed more concerned with taking selfies or photos of their food than actually eating it.
Tonight Josephine, Waterloo Best known for… the cocktails & THAT neon sign
Okay, so this one is not really a restaurant or place to eat but it is DEFINITELY one of the most instagrammable places in London! Tonight Josephine is a new and trendy bar that popped up in Waterloo. They have another trendy bar opening soon in Shoreditch which will also be kitted out in the same pink glitzy glamour.
I’m not a drinker so I haven’t been but my other sister went for a night out with her girls here and they absolutely loved it. Banging tunes, fantastic cocktails and mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) and of course, loads of chances to cam-whore with the surroundings and especially those insta-famous neon signs. Just type in the hashtag #tonightjosephine on instagram and you’ll see what I’m on about!
I hope you like the list!
If you have any suggestions of other instagrammable places to eat in London, let me know. I’ll add it to my bucket list of restaurants to visit!
Okay this post is long and overdue I do apologise but having Ethos on my mind for the past couple of days, I decided I needed to post this instead of leaving it to sit in my drafts folder.
A few months back (Oct/Nov times) I decided to try out this popular vegetarian restaurant with my bestie Coco who turned pescatarian almost a year ago. She hadn’t really ate out at vegetarian or vegan restaurants so I wanted us to try out a new dining experience which didn’t involve me stuffing my face with meat and her watching me. She has said a few times she misses meat and poultry so I wanted us to be on the same page this time. I found out about this trendy little restaurant called Ethos through another friend who’s pescatarian. It had just opened up earlier in 2016 I believe and became really popular for non-meat eaters. There’s loads of vegetarian and more vegan restaurants popping up now which I think is great.
Ethos Foods is located on East Castle street, just a stone throw away from London’s bustling Oxford Street. When you’re at Oxford Circus station, the restaurant is a short 7-10 mins walk away. The restaurant blends in well with its surroundings so you might walk past it without knowing. Nestled between other buildings, the beautiful glass front shows off the natural looking decor inside.
The decor inside is simple but modern. As I went around October/November times, the restaurant had a wonderful autumnal display. Lots of oranges and browns (colour theme) which looked warm and inviting. I was also very impressed with the shop front. The wide floor-length windows allow you to eat and admire the outside at the same time. I loved the black leather (I’m guessing it’s faux-leather!) booths and marble table tops. I found the birch trees a bit weird at first but grew more and more fond of them whilst at the restaurant.
It’s not a massive restaurant – the image above of the shop front is basically the length of the whole place but I think this gives it a friendly and intimate feel. In terms of the space, I can’t really say the place is buggy-friendly. Yes the doors can open up for large or double pushchairs it’s a little difficult to navigate around to the seats with a bigger pram. My advice would be to ask for a seat nearer to the buffet stations and doors. The staff are very attentive so I am sure they would be smart enough to work that out should it ever happen. I was a little apprehensive about the space beforehand (even though I only have a tiny little Mamas & Papas Urbo) I didn’t bring it because I wasn’t sure I would be able to move around the restaurant comfortably with the pram. The seats are positioned quite closely together and when I had to move about with Baby Girl in my baby wrap, I felt a bit cramped and the restaurant wasn’t even busy.
As lovely as the faux-leather booths were, it was a little tricky to sit in as the tables are pushed quite closely to the chairs. The other thing was that you don’t get a booth to yourself – for Ethos to make use of the space, the booths are split into two so they can sit two sets of guests in them. It’s a clever way for utilising space but not the most friendliest for parents with young children… but then again I guess we’re not their main target market. The family-friendly space is the only downfall of Ethos though, everything else if above standards.
Now onto the food…
Food, Glorious Food
The food at Ethos is absolutely amazing. O.M.G! The flavours, the varieties, not to mention the desserts. Oh my. We’re not a vegetarian family so I’ve not been to many though I am choosing to go to more as I really liked them. The first veggie restaurant I went to was Mildred’s in Camden and I had the most amazing halloumi and char-grilled aubergine flatbread burger. From that day onward, I knew I loved the vegetarian dining experience and Ethos Foods didn’t let me down. There was plenty of fresh food to choose from (hot and cold) and the self-service buffet meant I can easily pick a little of everything I fancy.
The food is priced on a pay-by-weight basis which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. For me, it meant better portion control and the price per kilo was affordable. I think I paid about £12 for my full plate and then I spent a little more on desserts (charged separately, around £2-3 per slice.. I chose 2 things) and opted for tap water my whole lunch was around £20.00. Okay, £20 for lunch is not what I’d spend daily but it’s a good price for an occasional lunch with friends, etc.
I had miso roasted aubergines, halloumi bites, spinach and ricotta cheese balls, green beans, Hungarian goulash, seaweed salad, cous cous, massaged kale salad with kumquats, and a broccoli with carrots cashew cream curry. My favourite was the aubergines, spinach/ricotta balls, the goulash and cashew cream curry. Everything was packed-full with flavour and spices. No-one can ever tell me that vegetarian food is bland and boring! On purpose, I tried to avoid having too much carbs simply because of having Gestational Diabetes in both pregnancies it puts me at higher risk of developing it later in life. So for that reason only I am a little cautious but it doesn’t mean I cut out carbs, just limit it to a decent amount. I resisted the sweet potato fries and creamy potato gratin but had a little bit of gnocchi instead. 🙂
Now that autumn is over, I am sure the menu at Ethos would be a little different. I recently checked out their sample menu online and some things are not on there like the spinach and ricotta balls and seaweed salad. However it is a ‘sample menu’ so you could still stumble upon it at the restaurant.
I wasn’t going to get dessert but then I thought why not as who knows when I’ll be back lol … I can’t ever imagine going here with both LO and Baby Girl – not while they’re still young as they’ll probably make so much noise and disturb everyone else’s dining experience haha! I tried to be as good as possible and only picked two things – the peanut butter bomb (an Ethos favourite) and a raspberry and vanilla raw square. The peanut butter bomb was incredibly rich, I shared half of mine with my friend and still thought it was rich. Amazingly delicious though, there was only one left which I picked but if there was more I’m sure I would’ve gone back to buy two more. They taste like Reese’s peanut butter cups but way better!
The raw square was fabulous and just as I would expect for a raw dessert. If you’ve never tried raw desserts before you are seriously missing out. It was so mouth-watering, softly whipped and had a slight coconut taste because I think they used coconut to make the base of the square. Absolutely yum!
My friend also bought herself a raw raspberry square and a black bean brownie which I tried. It was so tasty but again so rich in taste and texture. One brownie was more than enough for the both of us. I really want to try and make my own black bean brownie and a few other raw desserts but I haven’t got round to doing so yet. I may have to put some time aside next week to do so!
So if you haven’t yet gathered from my raving review, I highly recommend giving Ethos a visit whether you’re a vegetarian/vegan or not. If the food hasn’t won you over at least pop in to give the desserts a try – you won’t be disappointed. It’s not somewhere I would say to eat for a work lunch but great if you’re with a couple of friends and looking for a place with good vegetarian food, a lovely atmosphere in the heart of Central London.
Enjoy & Bon Appétit!
Here are some other bloggers who’ve also been to Ethos and written about their dining experience: