Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse

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Courtyard at Soho Farmhouse. NHYM 2017. 

‘Celebrity rural retreat Soho Farmhouse is unrealistic, silly, utterly  contrived – and absolutely fabulous.’ – The Mirror 

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to check out Soho Farmhouse – I’d heard how uh-mazing it was about a million times – but a few things had been in the way of me and the milk float that takes you around to rural bliss. But this past half-term, the perfect opportunity came up for me to check into one of their ab-fab cabins and I took the chance before I could say, ‘Old-Nick-Jones-Had-a-Farm’.

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Cabins on the river. NHYM 2017.

As soon as you arrive to Soho Farmhouse, you are whisked off in a 1950s milk float to the cabins, which are interspersed along a ‘river’ (stream) that intersects the main grounds.

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Our cabin No.1 had a great, central location. The standalone cottage is seen behind. NHYM. 

But let’s get one thing straight. This is not ‘real’ country. This is for city folk pretending to be country folk. Just like me. Each cabin is equipped with bicycles which are the official mode of transport around the grounds. But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry, BMWs are available to pick you and drop you off at your leisure, so you never feel completely out of your comfort zone.

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Inside the cabins. NHYM 2017.

The cabins were my favourite part of the whole Farmhouse ‘experience.’ As someone wrote, it’s less ‘Little House on The Prairie’ and more ‘Little House on La Prairie.’ They are cosy, comfortable and warm and you could really just spend your whole weekend watching movies, taking baths and playing old records without ever having to leave. (There was an old record player that our ‘Farmhand’ didn’t know how to use, his excuse: ‘this was before my time’. I had to laugh)

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Kitchen in the Cabin. NHYM 2017. 

There is a kitchen for those who want to pretend they want to cook, but really, the restaurants will very happily fill you up without having to raise your little finger. The facilities at Farmhouse are great too, including the indoor-outdoor swimming pool that must be amazing in the summer, the Asian restaurant next to it and the heaven-on-earth-for-a-4-year-old kid’s club, which unfortunately is only for members. There are chickens, pony rides and zip lines that would put any 4 year old in hysterics. There is even a horse-and-carriage that will take you around the grounds, crazy golf and pigs rolling around in the mud.

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Outdoor tents. NHYM 2017. 

There are also new tents that have been erected for those who want more of a ‘be-at-one-with-nature’ experience but people we ran into who spent the night there came out freezing and in their bathrobes: there are no toilets or bathrooms in the outback. Which leads me to the fact that within 24 hours we ran into 5 people we knew: work people, school people, neighbours and even distant relatives! This is not where you go to have a quiet, relaxing weekend. This is where Central London convenes and puts on a Barbour jacket and Gucci wellies instead of owning a country pile to inhale the fresh air.

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Inside the tents. NHYM 2017. 

It’s so popular with Londoners that David Beckham is building a farm literally next to Farmhouse, that’s how much he loves it, but doesn’t want to slum it in one of the cabins.

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Inside the Barn. Courtesy of the Internet. 2017.

Soho Farmhouse is a Disneyland for adults, a Butlins for Toffs, a Center Parcs on luxury steroids. It is equally fabulous as it is fake, but it is a whole lot of fun. It is ‘the’ place to throw a birthday party, and it is a dream place for kids too – my daughter cried when we had to leave…

But, one of the main downsides is that non-members are no longer allowed to stay at the weekends, and there is a slight ‘members’ vs ‘non-members’ taste that irritated me when they told me the kids couldn’t go to the kids club. Very smugly irritating. Especially when Ron Burkle, a complete suit, owns pretty much 60% of it…. So despite how wonderful it is, I probably won’t be staying again any time soon – but I’ll just have to find someone to throw a fab fortieth to get into that milk float again.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Review: West 36 Restaurant, Golborne Road

West 36 Restaurant

36 Golborne Road, London W10 5NR

Tel 02037520530

http://www.w36.co.uk

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** All Photos in this Post Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015.**

Food: 4 stars

Service: 3 stars

Atmosphere: 4.0 stars

Design: 4.5 stars

Price/value: 4 stars

Overall: 4.15 stars

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West Thirty Six, the latest venture by Robert Newmark, the man behind the Beach Blanket Babylon franchise, is West London’s newest hipster hangout, with bearded staff dressed up in overalls, suspenders and bowties. The Telegraph Newspaper has called it ‘West London’s answer to Central London’s Chiltern Firehouse and East London’s Shoreditch House.’  When I went last Saturday, Ellie Goulding was there on a ‘date night.’ You want to know where the hipsters go for date night? Here’s your answer.

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Third floor bottle service. 2015.

The Service

Although it has only been open for a month, I have already been there twice and I already have a reservation booked in the next few weeks, even though when I was there opening week, the service was laughably atrocious. Despite waiting for our food for 40minutes, the staff not speaking English and our food being sent to the neighbouring table, I still really wanted to go again. So, how could a restaurant still convince me to return when the waiter, as cute as he was, looked completely overwhelmed and admitted to being completely stressed out and unable to manage his tables? This review will mostly be of my second time there, since the first time would have been dragged down by the confused, disorientated, and clearly first-day-on-the-job staff (It was like being served by a better looking Charlie Chaplin waiter with a bow tie and suspenders and a One Direction haircut, but he had enough Latin charm to pull it off and be forgiven by the end of the night.)

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First floor dining area. 2015. 

The Design

So, why, you ask me, would I ever return to a place where the staff is picked based on attractive looks but not their knowledge of English, the food arrives 40 minutes late and ends up on someone else’s table, I was charged for my dessert twice on the bill, and the waiters look at you cluelessly when you order a Pisco Sour is? Turns out, the design at West Thirty Six, made to look like a ‘member’s club’ without actually being one, is just very cool, the atmosphere is fun, and the food is surprisingly good relative to the service you receive.

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Ground floor, open plan kitchen and bar. 2015.

The ground floor is a brasserie-style restaurant where a lot of the action is, with cramped, small, metal tables are scattered around the main shiny bar and crowds of people trying to a) enter the restaurant b) have a drink at the bar being squeezed by people trying to get through c) squish past the waiters to get to the stairs to go to the first floor. The tables are so close together on this floor that you are practically sitting on your neighbour’s lap. There is door by the stairs where the staff keep appearing from, but always when you are trying to get up the stairs and therefore causing constant human traffic jams. Whoever designed this place had the aesthetics right, but was not a spatial engineer; the space was not designed for this many people.

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First floor dining room. 2015. 

The first floor has a bar and small lounge area with leather chairs and low, wooden coffee tables on the left, and on the right is another dining area, Soho House style, cozy, lounge-y, and full of candles, which I have wanted to try to but am still not hipster enough to get a reservation there (there are mostly tables for large groups in this dining room). The top floor is reserved for ‘bottle service’ that you can book through the Manager, and where I believe Ellie Goulding was partying until 1am (way past my bedtime, ladies and gents). This floor is meant to be seen as a ‘member’s area,’ where you can keep your bottle until the next you come, or as a place to work during the day.

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The chunky chips, ribeye steak and mac ‘n’ cheese. 2015. 

The Food 

The menu here is a ‘man’s man’ menu; lots of meats, chips, and more meats. Vegetarians need not apply. Steaks, chicken wings, ribs, lobster were all on the menu to get the men salivating, following the Steak & Lobster trend. For the sides, there were skinny chips, big chunky chips, mac ‘n’ cheese, and bone marrow mash. Everything looked delicious when we looked at our neighbour’s table. For starters, we ordered the beetroot salad and the blue cheese salad, both which were tasty and of hearty proportions, and the maple syrup chipotle chicken wings, which Mr.T said were the best wings he had ever had.

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Half a rack of ribs. 2015.

For the mains, Mr. X and I had juicy, tender ribeyes, which were nicely done medium rare. Mr. T had an entire rack of ribs, which was enormous and fed all four of us, while Ms. D had the lobster which was delicious but the dressing was perhaps a bit too flavourful, which she said took away from the lobster taste. All the portions are huge, so no one was about to leave with an empty stomach. This is hearty ‘brasserie’ food with hearty portions, whose portions will probably start to decrease as time goes by (which restaurants always do after the first few opening weeks), but for now, keep on bringing those ribs.

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Lobster. 2015. 

As a dessert, we had the famous Apple Pie which is brought in its baking tray to your table and dolloped on your plate, as well as a ‘Make Your Own Sundae,’ of vanilla and chocolate ice cream sprinkled with salted caramel popcorn and bitter caramel sauce (Note: half the toppings were unavailable).

The Verdict

The service was much better the second time around, and even though you feel cramped and squished from the moment you enter the restaurant, I still plan on coming back. The building is a huge space of multiple nooks and crannies, rooms and drinking dens that charm you, reminiscent of Paradise by Kensal Rise. The outdoor areas, from the first floor outdoor terrace to the Toolshed smoking area, look all like they will be a great alternative to the Westbourne in the summer.

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It is already packed full, which shows its popularity. And I am fuelling this, since despite the dazed and confused service at times, I still really like it. It’s buzzy and busy, maybe even a bit too much, which creates a good atmosphere. Both times I was there, I befriended our table-neighbours, mostly because of the size of the our rack of ribs, but also because we were playing footsie with them due to our close proximity. But rubbing shoulders with your neighbours in this restaurant is a rather pleasant experience, which makes it OK. This is exactly what this place is about: meeting friends, making new friends and leaving feeling very full.

An after-dinner drink was impossible, the place was so packed, and we were not quite feeling young and trendy enough for the bottle service upstairs, so opt for a pre-dinner drink when it is less busy, or head back towards Portobello and have a drink at Santo for a night-cap.

See you there next week.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

West Thirty Six on Urbanspoon

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Photos, Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel

Shoreditch House, Hotel and Restaurant

Where…‘Big Brother is watching you and guests should refrain from wearing corporate attire’

Shoreditch House, Hotel and Restaurant

Ebor St, London E1 6AW

+(44) 02077385040

https://www.shoreditchhouse.com/

Rooftop

Overall: 4.5 stars

Hotel:

Hotel Service: 5 stars

Amenities: 5 stars (Highlights include the Cowshed Spa & Rooftop Pool)

Rooms: 4 stars

Value for money: 4.5 stars

1 small room per night £265.00

Restaurant:

Food 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Atmosphere: 4.5 stars depending on who you sit next to

Value for money: 4 stars

London Staycationing

‘You’re going far.’ Our Eurocrat single Hedge Fund Founder Friend sarcastically commented when we told him we were staycaying in East London for our 6th anniversary. He was clearly childless. It had been 8 months since the birth of Baby X and I was dying for some time away with Mr. C. Unfortunately, there are granny-nanny wars going on at the moment in Casa NHYM and we are unable to leave Nanny Y with our two yummy daughters for a whole week, so we have opted for an overnight London ‘staycation.’ We had previously stay-cay’d at the Berkeley Hotel after M’s birth, but it was such a baby-blur that I don’t even remember going. After looking down a list of 5 star hotels and feeling rather underwhelmed, I had the brilliant idea of trying out the Shoreditch House Hotel, which is half the price of any 5 star hotel in London, and sounded perfect for our needs.

‘No Suits’

I received multiple confirmation emails for my room reservation, including the House Rules, which ended with this statement: ‘Finally, we foster a non-corporate atmosphere. To preserve this casual environment, hotel residents should refrain from wearing corporate attire and are also responsible for ensuring their guests abide by this rule.’ I had applied to be a Soho House member on various occasions, but like the British driving test, I failed at each and every attempt. But I am a writer! I dejectedly wanted to defend myself. Perhaps they had Big Brother cameras everywhere and knew that I was a NHYM and my husband was a ‘Suit’, and that I come from a long line of ‘Suits’ (The New York Soho House famously dis-membered 1,500 suits after its first year, which caused outrage in the Wall Street community).

Therefore, when I entered the lobby of Shoreditch House, I was intimidated but prepared for the looming ‘No Suits’ sign at the ‘lobby,’ slightly afraid that Big Brother knew that Mr. C would be coming straight from work in his ‘Suit’. Welcome to the Big Brother East London House. There are two separate receptions, one for the Members Club and one for the hotel as well as two separate elevators. I was welcomed by a super cool chick at the hotel reception, who could have been my new BFF if she’d let me, and was absolutely lovely. She showed me to my room and immediately sent up a bottle of Prosecco when I mentioned that it was our anniversary (Ok, so Prosecco’s not really my drink, but I can’t complain when it’s free).

The Room: S*x and the East End City

The room itself, although called a small room, didn’t feel too small unlike some city hotel rooms (ie. Tribeca Grand), and had a warm, ‘lived in country,’ Hamptons-white-shutters feel to it, not too fussy with clean, white lines. I was particularly impressed with the bed and thread count (nothing worse than going to a hotel with a hard bed and the linens giving you a midnight body scrub). I also liked the old school black telephone  and the bathroom products, all from Cowshed Spa, which she told me to ‘use as much as you can while you’re here, but you’ll have to pay for them if you take them home, so lather up!’ Then, I saw in the multitudes of cotton buds, combs, toothbrushes and earplugs, a neat packet called ‘Condoms.’ It was as if someone was reading my mind and knew why I was here. How did they know that all I really needed was a room without the threat of a nuclear baby breakdown, a phone that probably didn’t work, a good bed, and some extra protection for some out-of-the-West-End-World s*x to get my mojo back? Big Brother was really watching.

The 5th floor Bar and House Kitchen: A lesson in East End Hipster Style

When Mr. C. got dressed for dinner with a white collared shirt and blue blazer, I hissed at him ‘You can’t wear that! They’ll kick us out!’ ‘What are you talking about? I am sure everyone will be in the Mayfair uniform here’. He responded. ‘Trust me, put on that Zadig & Voltaire skull & bones sweater and those ripped jeans and you’ll be fine.’ As we arrived in the 5th floor Bar, I was clearly right. They forgot to put in the reservations memo that all men should be wearing the hipster uniform: cropped hair with long beards, lumberjack shirts, skinnies, and black combat boots. I kicked myself thinking that I could have flown Mr. C over to Brooklyn for a quick beard-implant-make-over to play the part.

The 5th floor is huge and we went for a walk-around looking for a table to sit, first passing the bar area, then the ping pong tables (‘When did ping pong get trendy ?’ I asked Mr. C. ‘It’s been trendy for the past 5 years!’ I am feeling un-cooler by the minute), the delicious looking display of Mediterranean inspired food looked divine and the back lounge area was already all filled with more hipsters. We finally found a table in the bar area and were greeted by a waiter: ‘Do you have your membership card?’ he immediately asked Mr. C, who handed him our temporary card from the hotel and I turned to him ‘See, they know we don’t belong here!’ I am feeling overdressed with my IRO jacket and wearing Mayfair earrings that I am about to take off, when Mr.C tells me to get a grip, so I silently gulp my Green Machine instead, which is excellent (Kiwi, Banana, Mint and Spirulina), fascinated by the Hipster Scene.

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The 6th floor Roof Terrace Restaurant: Who needs Christian Grey when you’ve got Daario Naharis? 

I can finally breathe better on the 6th floor, which is more my style. We are seated in close quarters between two couples on either side. On my right is a mixed Indian/British couple in their late 40s, the man looks like a skinny version of Anish Kapoor (Has he been on a 5:2 diet? I wonder), the woman is British and both are lovely and smile to us as we arrive. On my left are two men who look like they are on their first date, slightly nervous and trying to impress the other. One is a good-looking, East End kind-of-guy, and across from him is a slightly uptight, trying-to-be-cool, American Jew. It was an odd combination, I thought to myself, until I realise who the street guy was – I kick Mr. C and un-subtely point at him. Mr. C is clueless when it comes to celeb spotting and this one is a hard one so I am very proud of myself. It’s Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones! (Not the current one played by Michel Huisman, but the original who I later find out is called Ed Skrein IRL. I only recognised him because we just finished Season 3 in preparation for the upcoming Season 4 on Sky). Daario aka Ed Skrein is steaming sexy in Game of Thrones with his long hair, bulging muscles and overbearing confidence and charisma, you could just imagine him throwing you over his shoulder and bringing you back to his lair before you could even say ‘Oh, Daarioooo!’ Here at Shoreditch, he fits the part with short, cropped hair, in East End Hipster Style, so it is his teeth I recognise. (I have a thing with teeth and can recognise people by their teeth alone. I know, weird but wonderful).

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(courtesy of the internet)

As I am eating my delicious quinoa and sweet potato salad starter, I realise that this is going to be a dinner where Mr. C and I might as well not talk to each other because the conversation next door is so much more interesting than ours could ever be. This is man-to-man territory and an insight into what men really say to each other over dinner. Ed and his friend, whom we shall call L.A. (as he turns out to be his LA agent/lawyer, not sure which), start their conversation very sweetly by talking kids and wives and sharing photos of their 3 year old. I want to join the conversation and show pictures of M too and how cute she is but luckily stop myself. Then comes their interests; travel (L.A. recommends Brazil ‘the women are incredible there, you’ve got to go),’ which seamlessly drifts to football and the World Cup when Ed Skrein mentions his football team, Liverpool. ‘Is that Liverpool here in London or the Beatles Liverpool? Ed politely replies ‘Liverpool as in the Beatles Liverpool.’ ‘Well I know there is a Liverpool Street here and all’ L.A. naively and somewhat ignorantly comments. They talk about their similarities and their differences, where they grew up, both wanting to be musicians, Ed in North London, L.A. in South Florida among the retirement community. L.A. talked about desperately wanted to be a musician but his Jewish parents wouldn’t allow it, so he went to law school instead, like a good Jewish boy, before heading out West.

The talk from there went on to Ed’s future career and his current films. L.A. told Ed to prepare himself because his life was going to change drastically and that he was going to be a huge star. This was probably the script he spat out to every new, young, rising star (He mentioned how crazy Josh was at the Cannes Film Festival, I assumed he was talking about Josh Hartnett, as it sounds like L.A. specialises in hearthrobs). L.A. told Ed that his role was to build his brand, to protect him and his reputation. ‘Stay true to who you are, don’t accept any film roles just because you’re all of a sudden getting an avalanche of film roles.’ I google Ed later and find that he is replacing Jason Statham in the next Transporter movie. He has a number of movies in the pipeline, including Tiger House, Kill your Friends and Transporter 4, which would be the one to launch him into Superstardom if the movie is a hit, but by the success of past Transporter films, it is almost guaranteed. This is the real reason why he left GoT, I am convinced. By the end of  dinner, I have been too enthralled in the conversation so have completely forgotten about the food. The menu delivers standard fish, pizza, and meat dishes and does what it intends to do; good, solid, reliable food that you can come back to, day after day.

As their dinner finishes, Ed Skrein gives a toast: ‘May today be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today’ which I thought was quite endearing (He can whisper that in my ear any day), but Mr.C found it incredibly cheesy, but that is probably because he knew that I was secretly wishing Daario would swing me onto his shoulder back to his lair tonight.

Day-time at Shoreditch House: Sneakerheads at a Sneaky Show

Day-time in Shoreditch felt like I was in the Meatpacking district without the 7 hour flight and jetlag. After a very good Eggs Benedict at the 6th floor restaurant surrounded by brunching young families, we ventured out into the East End, which for me, was a first. We went like tourists to Spitalfields Market where we saw a 50 yo Chinese couple playing ping pong before opening their stall, wandered to Brick Lane where street artist Fanakapan was graffiti-ing elephants, and saw a never-ending line of people near the Truman’s Brewery, wondering which concert they were waiting in line for. I asked someone who looked like a man-in-the-know what they were waiting for and he told me: ‘A sneaky show.’ I am of course conjuring an x rated, sneaky, exhibitionist show in my head but had to stop myself as the attendants looked way too young, so I ask him to explain: ‘It’s a trainers market, people come here to see, trade and buy trainers like special edition Nike and Reebok.’ (The next day I ask my part time nanny what she did over the weekend she tells me that she was at a convention. ‘What kind of convention?’ I ask, when she shows me her newly acquired, impossible-to-get, black Nike high tops, that the ‘sneakerheads’ have all been clamouring to get. Wow. Where have I been? I thought sneakers were left in the eighties).

Flowers on rooftop

We finished off the morning with a coffee at the Boundary Rooftop, which is by the way, one of the best rooftops in the city, before Mr. C surprised me with the best pedicure in my life at the Cowshed Spa. Post-pedi, we headed for lunch around the pool, another Green Machine and Quinoa salad for me and a pepperoni pizza for Mr. C, which was unfortunately nowhere near as good as the Diavola Pizza at the Oak. I wanted to jump in the pool but Mr.C dissuaded me, ‘You don’t know what’s been in this pool’ although I am thinking that there’s nothing a little Vodka can’t clean. By the afternoon, the families had disappeared for a nap and the hipsters had exchanged their skinnies for board shorts, swanning around looking like Russell Brand, Florence the Machine and Alexa Chung (although I think it really was Alexa Chung, judging by her Hipster entourage). The scene was ‘young and cool’ against ‘Cityscape’. There was also a good gay scene, noticed by us when a young, lithe-bodied, Adonis answered the waitress when she asked the usual, ‘What can I get you?’ with: ‘A boyfriend, please. Preferably a good-looking one’.

Rooftop pool

As we left Shoreditch Hotel, Restaurant, Pool and Spa, we smugly felt that we could still hang with the ‘cool’ crowd, that is, until we saw a big graffiti outside fobbing off Shoreditch wankers and realized that we had just dropped one echelon of coolness again (although, street artists like Banksy are very happy to pick-pocket ‘Suits’ any day). Shoreditch may not be everyone’s scene, but for 24 hours, it made me feel like I had been away for a week and got my Mojo back with the help of Big Brother’s hipster scene, 500 thread count linens, condoms and Game of Thrones hotness.

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Shoreditch House on Urbanspoon

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East End Weekend

Light Jars at Shoreditch House

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East End Weekend

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