It’s a Sunday. Therefore we needed a plate of roasted foods for lunch. So after seeing a number of tweets about Dizzy Gull‘s food at the Brighton Beer Dispensary, we meandered up the road to get some grub. They start serving at 12, so thanks to the fear that good Brighton eateries have instilled in me in that if you haven’t booked, you won’t get a seat, we arrived at 12.01pm to get a table. We were literally the only people in there for at least 45 minutes. They don’t take bookings, but we were there until gone 2pm and there were plenty of tables, so don’t worry about rushing down there.
Luckily for me, the very nice lady behind the bar was very helpful in guiding me towards a beer, and I was soon handed a Brighton Bier and we settled ourselves in to the back corner with Connect 4. Then we ordered one beef roast, one Dizzy burger, beerkins and three cheese fries (to clarify: this is one portion of fries with three cheeses on it, not three portions of cheese fries). In hindsight, this was too much. The beerkins were crisp and salty when they arrived, deep fried in batter and served with mustard mayo. As a gherkin lover, I was a fan. The boy isn’t such a gherkin fan but agreed they were pretty good. Sadly, our food arrived super quickly so these got abandoned and as soon as they got cold they were just a bit oily. The beef roast was delicious. As usual in a pub roast, the potatoes weren’t the best; but the beef was tender, the Yorkshire was fluffy and the accompanying veg was good. My main issue was cauliflower cheese. I don’t like this at the best of time and I don’t appreciate cheese in my gravy.
The boy’s burger looked yummy, and as he picked it up juice and sauce came dripping out and covered the plate – perhaps a second plate is needed for people like me who actually put their food down during a meal. His review was “it’s structurally sound, tasty and attractive”. Despite the amount of sauce that dripped out, the bun held itself together and the chips were well seasoned and fluffy – again, like the roasties they could be crispier.
The chips carried on with the three cheese fries. Dripping in smoked applewood, Brighton blue and Sussex charmer they were really yummy. For the four I managed to eat. Sadly we grossly over estimated the amount of food we wanted as the first meal of the day. But these lasted way past our meals and a few more overly competitive games of Connect 4 and were still pretty yummy when cold.
We ended up somehow paying £42 – £12 for the roast (very reasonable), £10 for the burger (very good), £5 fries and £4 beerkins, which left £10.40 for two beers and a lemonade. Would we go back? Yes. The food was nice and freshly cooked, the staff were super lovely and it wasn’t rammed so we didn’t have to fight for space or yell to hear each other. Plus they have board games so it’s a winner in my books.
Have you been to Dizzy Gull? What do you think? Let me know on Twitter and Instagram!
After seeing Jess and Josh Cook’s Instagram photo of their burger fest at No. 32 Duke Street, I decided it was time to drag everyone along with me for all the meat. We arrived just after 6pm on a Tuesday and it’s pretty empty. As in there are two other full tables. The waiters are clearly bored and in 20 minutes we had four different waiters ask us if we wanted to order our drinks. We kept saying we were waiting for a friend but they did not get the hint. When Catriona finally arrived with her mangled foot (not as gross as it sounds) we ordered our beers. Our drinks arrived promptly then they seemed to stop caring and it took a while for someone to take our food order- one classic burger, a spicy burger and a Brie burger. All with chips. Obviously.
Because I’m lame I got really excited that their napkins are slightly better quality than usual. Feel luxurious but still rip-able and clearly disposable. But they feel like they might be reusable.
The food finally arrived and boy were the chips good (for two of us anyway). Not too crisp but not to soft and super salty. My spicy burger was, frankly, a disappointment. No hint of spice. It came with a huge amount of blue cheese that was particularly whiffy and yummy, kimchi that could have not been there and made no difference, and mustard mayo. The blue cheese overwhelmed everything – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what I wanted or expected. I admit that I like super spicy food, which most places don’t do as they have to cater to everyone. I get that. But don’t call something spicy that has no spice in it. Pungent Burger might have been a better name for it. Nice bun though.
Catriona: “I ate the No 32 Classic with no tomato relish. The mustard mayo was an unpleasant surprise, but overall the burger was tasty! Until the last few mouthfuls. I found a bit of gristle in my patty and that, coupled with a greasy/fatty bit of bacon, I’m done. Chips were phenomenal though.”
Lisa: “Brie burger was okay. Brie was all in one lump but lovely when you found it. Chips were okay but too salty.”
So, all in all, a mixed bag. To sum it up, I would say it is fine. Whilst I won’t be hurrying back for the best burgers ever (oh hey Coggings and Co), if I was in town and had a hankering for a burger, you could certainly go worse places (oh hey, JB’s Diner). Burgers priced around the £12 mark with chips included is good in my books – I hate when you go places and they charge you £12 for your burger then an additional £3 for chips. Beer is well priced – a bottle of Brooklyn Lager was £4.50 which is, sadly, about right for the tiny bottle. On a weekday they also do a burger, chips and milkshake deal for £10 which is a bargain.
They also have insanely huge toilets. I thought there was a mirror in the middle, it wasn’t. It was more toilets. Well done team.
So after our burger and beer fest, we pootled off to watch Suicide Squad feeling that perfect level of full – not hungry but also not so full you can’t move.
We heard about Zio Peppe as one of Catriona’s students is the manager. So we decided to pop along before our cultured evening of Shit-Faced Showtime (Pirates of Penzance for those interested). We rocked up at 7pm on a Saturday to find our reserved table in the window – the perfect seat for people watching and spotting your friends walking in the wrong direction. If you search for the restaurant on google maps, it sends you to the wrong place. It’s actually between Costa and Cafe Rouge. Not down the little alley way to East Street.
Federica is a wonderful host. After explaining everything on the menu and the specials board (remembering a conversation she’d had with Catriona before and knew my love of friarelli from VIP Pizza). Ordering a round of drinks (red wine, orange juice and two Peronis) and some starters (two cheesy garlic breads) we settle in for a natter – and a free bowl of olives that Federica magics onto the table. Every time Federica wanders past we have a chat and get to meet her brother Lorenzo, who is also the pizza chef.
The garlic breads arrive, with a surprise bruschetta for Catriona. The garlic bread is brilliant. Soft, chewy bread and a really generous amount of mozzarella melted on top. Jenny B’s words “none of that frozen shit here, perhaps a slice too much for a starter but worth it.” The bruschetta comes loaded with fresh tomatoes, rocket, parmesan and balsamic dressing. Catriona’s words “Good bread, good and fresh and not too filling. Tomatoes aren’t soft and squishy and I don’t feel hot and stuffed, just warmed up and ready for the next course!”
After a little wait, the mains arrive. Turns out, didn’t need starters. My pizza is huge. Jenny B and Lisa’s pasta bowls are loaded up, and Catriona. Well. She ordered the lamb shank with fries. What actually arrives is the lamb shank with a pile of veg, roast potatoes, fries and – to top it off – a bowl of the mushroom risotto which no-one ordered but Federica insisted we try as it’s her favourite dish.
We’ll start with my pizza (my blog, my food first). The dough is wonderful, an interesting mix of a crisp outside and fluffy inside. There was a super generous amount of cheese and friarelli. The sausage is the only disappointing thing. There’s no flavour to it and it’s a bit gristly in some places. Other than that, I am a HUGE fan of my pizza.
Jenny B’s carbonara is “good, authentic and home-made”, Lisa’s napoli is “tasty and filling, really good!” and Catriona’s lamb fell apart when she put her fork in it. The meat was tender and smothered in an aromatic red wine and rosemary sauce. The fries are crisp and salty. The mushroom risotto I did not touch because, well, mushrooms, but Catriona enjoyed the few mouthfuls she managed. We all ended up taking doggy bags home with us (kindly labelled so we knew what was what! The carbonara is as good the next day as it was that evening).
Sadly we noticed the time and had to get a move on, but not before Federica presented us with limoncello and handed me a takeaway box of tiramisu for later!
Phenomenal service aside, we were big fans of this place. Big portions of good food, what more do you need? I admit that I think some of the options were over priced, for example I actually wanted the scallop and king prawn linguine with chilli and garlic. But at £22 I felt this was a bit much – had it been £16-£18 I would have felt that was more reasonable. The steak (no size stated) was also above £20. But this aside, lovely décor, perfectly located for people watching and outstanding service. And the service wasn’t just for us, the couple next to us had two screaming children (for which they were very apologetic) and when the toddler threw her pasta on the floor, another waitress simply got her another portion to go and played with the baby and were perfectly happy and friendly to all customers. My meal – a Peroni, a garlic bread and my pizza – came to £23 (we were super lucky and got the limoncello and tiramisu for free).
This Easter weekend, Catriona, Lisa and I spent a few days in Dublin. And boy were we busy. We also listened to a LOT of Irish pop music, if you fancy listening along whilst reading you can listen to my Spotify playlist here (yes, it is mostly Westlife…):
On Wednesday we got up at 6:30am (not too horrific) and we made the lengthy (30 minute) trek to Gatwick. We had some reservations as we were flying the day after the horrific and pointless bombings in Brussels, but everything was absolutely fine. Not even an increase in police presence. After a short flight and a downed prosecco (the drinks trolley took a bloody long time to get to us!) we landed in the Emerald Isle and headed to Abigail’s Hostel on the river Liffey. Dumping our bags we headed out to explore. After a wander to Trinity College and through Temple Bar, we ended up at the Leprechaun Museum. Short but sweet, the museum is a 45 minute tour with a story-teller looking at Irish folk-lore such as leprechauns, giants, fairies and changelings (seriously, fairies are bastards). It gives a brief overview and not a huge amount of detail, but the giant’s room is fun, the rainbow room is magical and don’t forget to take a #selfiewithseamus. From here we walked around the corner to a random church Lisa had heard about. St. Michan’s Church is similar to other churches, and is fairly unassuming until you go down
into the crypts. In there are four preserved bodies. A combination of dry air (limestone walls), methane gas (leaking in from the ground) and a constant temperature has left their skin freakishly in tact. Totally worth €6. Just one road up from here is the Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery. Technically not a distillery any more since they moved production out to the countryside, but the tour looks at the process of whiskey making, slags off Scottish whisky and gives you some free drinks. Hurrah. I learnt that whilst I do NOT like straight whiskey, I am a BIG fan of whiskey, ginger and lime. Absolutely knackered we wandered back to the hostel for a wee rest before dinner.
Dinner that night came from Thai Orchid, just opposite Trinity College. Great food, fairly shoddy service. Yes the waitress seemed to be running the place on her own, but she did so with a grumpy expression, no apologies, told a customer off for seating himself after she ignored him and ignored me after I tried to ask for the bill. The food however was pretty damn good. My prawn Singapore noodles were nice and fresh, Lisa’s cashew stir fry had one of the best sauces I’ve ever tried and Catriona was delighted to find extra tofu in her chicken pad thai (vom). After a little walk, we ended up in a pub with traditional Irish dancing which was fun to watch. Luckily we were tired and pretty sober so we didn’t try to copy them/embarrass ourselves!
Day two started with our free breakfast – we seriously would recommend this hostel, who doesn’t love free toast? – before we decided to wander down to the Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol (points to any non-Irish folk that can pronounce that!) On the way we got distracted by the Castle (not very castley) and the Windmill (definitely not a windmill) then we popped into Guinnessland to buy our tickets (via a few photos in front of the Guinness signs). We eventually got to the Gaol via my scenic route (stupid vague map) at midday to find the queue would be at least an hour for a tour that was at 3pm. Nope. So instead we went to the pub opposite for some lunch (priorities). Two bowls of sup and a pulled pork bun later, we went back to the Storehouse for a super fun afternoon. For people who actually like being educated in museums and stuff, the first few floors provide insight into the brewing process and the history behind the company. Then you get a sample of their Porter, a mini pint of Guinness in the tasting rooms (breathe in through the nose, take a sip, swallow, out through the nose then the mouth). On floor 5 is the best part, after enjoying all of the selfie opportunities with the various advertising models, you exchange part of your ticket for a masterclass in pouring the perfect pint. Pint in hand you can head up to the Gravity bar on the seventh floor for panoramic views of the city. In theory. In reality it’s a bar RAMMED with people so you can’t get near a window so you get to chill at the circular bar instead. And it turns out that I really enjoy Guinness.
Exhausted by this point (Lisa’s pedometer said we’d walked nearly 4.5 miles at this point!) we jumped into a waiting taxi and met Colm, one of the many friendly people that we chatted to over our stay. On our way back, we popped into Tesco to stock up on the all important crisps and prosecco. This was important because on Good Friday it turns out that you can’t buy alcohol in Dublin, or indeed Ireland as a whole. We were a bit naughty and hid ours in our room, defying the signs that said alcohol could only be consumed downstairs. We’re just not friendly or sociable. Dinner on Thursday was at Aperitivo. A tiny cafe we found through Trip Advisor that stays open into the evening serving yummy pizzas – seriously if you’re in Dublin you must go here. Be aware that there are only a handful of tables but a big pizza and a glass of wine came to under £14. I can personally recommend the Mediterranean vegetable one (or the megiterranean one as I said when I ordered) and the Pinot (as always). Just up Parliament Street is Porterhouse. A labyrinth of a pub with lovely barmen, a mix of tourists and locals, a couple eating each others faces and an awesome band on the smallest, randomest stage ever. The stage, seemingly precariously wedged between two staircases above the bar, hosted three grey haired gents singing classic rock songs that made our evening a hoot. A few bevvies later we headed back for an earlyish night.
Friday brought with it an early start – we hopped on a local bus and headed back out to the Gaol (having walked it once we weren’t going to do that again!) We arrived at 9:30am. We queued until 11:40am. Our tour started at midday. On the plus side, Good Friday marked the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Risings and as we patiently (ish) waited for our tickets, we were soon surrounded by people in period dress singing, beating drums and, joy of joys, playing bagpipes. Even my deepest Scottish roots dislike the bagpipes. Once we got in, the music dimmed, but we discovered that there is a reason the queue was so long. Really interesting tour where we learnt that the English didn’t treat the Irish as well as we probably should have… but at least we built some architecturally interesting jails. I mean I wouldn’t have wanted to be a prisoner, bloody cold and that’s after they installed glass in the windows. The East Wing is something to be marvelled at (helpfully given a lick of paint after they allowed camera crews in to film The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins amongst others) and as we stood in the yard hearing about the rebels’ executions, the sound of drumming rolled over the walls and added some real atmosphere to our trip.
After our history lesson we strolled along the parade route and popped into PHX Bistro for lunch. A random find as we walked along the river, boy were we happy. A panini filled with pastrami, monteray jack cheese and chorizo aioli with fries was perfection. Well perfection would have been a beer to go with it but that wasn’t allowed boo. At this point we were exhausted from three days of walking so we jumped into a taxi to head to The Writer’s Museum. This turned out to be a bad decision as, unbeknownst to us, the main road leading up to the museum had been pedestrianised ahead of the Easter Sunday Parade. So we walked. Boo. But on the plus side, the museum was lovely (especially for three book nerds). In an old townhouse that once belonged to the Jameson family, it profiles key authors from Ireland – for example, did you know that not only was Bram Stoker Irish, but also that his name was actually Abraham? I did not, and went on and on about it for days. A quick browse in the book shop later (because it would be rude not to buy James Joyce’s Dubliners whilst in Dublin) we meandered back to our hostel. Now, as I may have mentioned, Good Friday in Dublin means no alcohol, so our evening consisted of drinking our hidden prosecco, eating crisps and going for a late evening walk around Temple Bar to see how empty it is and to buy a sausage sandwich. We also ended up doing the dance routines to Steps and S Club 7, but that’s fairly normal for us.
Saturday arrived far too quickly, but we were determined not to waste a second of our final day so we headed out to Dublinia. Set in an old church, Dublinia looks at Dublin’s (and Ireland’s) Viking and Medieval history. Basically, you get to dress up as Vikings. Some would call it educational, some (us) would call it a hoot. You can also get locked in the stocks. Loved it. As part of the ticket price, you can also go up the tower at the end of the tour. Now, we all know I’m a big fan of climbing large structures in European cities, at 97 steps it’s not the tallest but it was nice and empty unlike the Guinness Storehouse. We jumped forward in history after the Vikings to visit the Oscar Wilde memorial in Merrion Square. He lounges high on a rock for you to admire, much as I imagine he did in Paris as a young writer. Lunch came in the form of a very expensive G&T and a veggie lasagne from a different branch of the Porterhouse. Don’t ask for a double, mine cost about £10. I mean it was good but I wasn’t expecting that. Stick to beer and wine for the less expensive options. Our final stop on our whirlwind tour was the Book of Kells in Trinity College’s Old Library. Book of Kells, not so interesting (probably because we are not religious), the Old Library however was beautiful. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted everyone else to leave so that I could explore properly and touch the books but that is definitely not allowed. Filled t’brim with bookishness, we headed to the airport for a final beer ahead of a slightly rocky flight home – luckily landing before Storm Katie really kicked in.
So there we go. Dublin in four days. Big love to Catriona and Lisa for putting up with me for that long, even with all the scenic routes I made them walk. I’m sad I didn’t get to try Dublin City Gin – didn’t see it anywhere so no review for you guys, but I did try Dingle Gin which was lovely. We would highly recommend Abigail’s Hostel to anyone looking to stay somewhere central without breaking the bank – we each paid under £100 for the three nights which includes bedding, towels and breakfast. Fun Dublin fact to end this with: it was considered a a mortal sin for a Catholic to attend Trinity College until 1970. That’s right. Mortal Sin.
You can check out my photos from Dublin on my Instagram and keep up to date with my mundane life on Twitter.
The train was alright. Although every time the train jolted around (this happened a lot), I jerked awake. Then we got woken up at 6am ready for our scheduled arrival time of 6.50am. We actually pulled into the station a little after 8am. Grumbling and groaning about the extra hour’s sleep we have had, we all picked up our packs and headed out t Bangkok. Fuck me Bangkok is HOT and HUMID. 34 degrees on our first day. That’s unnecessary really. After a hurried breakfast we were allowed into our rooms. I was feeling pretty crap at this point, dehydration + heat + lack of sleep leaves Jenny feeling really rather rubbish. So I decided to break into my bag of medicine. Dioralyte tastes like salty grim water it turns out. I drank half of the advised 200ml and gave up and just drank the majority of a 1.5l bottle of water. That, plus paracetamol and a good shower, sorted me out. A few hours later and us cool kids went to see the giant Buddha statue (otherwise known as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon at Wat Traimit). Well, they walked me there and waited in the shade whilst Josh and I went to see it – the others had seen it when they started in Bangkok a month earlier. It really was a giant Buddha statue. According to my Triposo app, people didn’t know it was gold for a while as they had painted over it with stucco to protect it when the Burmese army invaded.
After walking up what felt like a million steps (actually only about 40 but it was damn hot) we had sweated up a storm, so as we physically mopped up our faces we piled into taxis and went to MBK. Basically a huge shopping centre, but it had air con so I was happy. After a massive Mexican feast in their food hall (with a great card paying system), we had a mooch around the market up on the top floor. I was persuaded into buying a ridiculous pair of trousers – you know, the ‘traveller’ style, big and baggy and decorated with elephants. They’re damn comfy and cost £3 so I regret nothing.
This day marked our final day together so Channy took us to Khao San Road for as private dinner. Food was good as always, and after dinner we went around the table talking about the trip. It all got a bit emosh. As Channy spoke about the trip and how we’ll always been family, I (completely honestly) felt a bit left out. I was there for 12 of the 30 days that everyone else did. I never felt fully part of the family. There are five beautiful people who welcomed me completely and utterly. Most of the others were friendly but didn’t exactly go out of their way to talk to me, and a few were just rude. Turns out that travelling doesn’t make everyone interesting – some people just want to stay in their cliques. But fuck them. I had a great time and couldn’t have cared less to say goodbye to most of them.
To Sarah, Debs, Sammy, Emily and Josh – thank you.
You guys made my trip. You put up with me for two weeks. We’ll always have Beerlao (the beer of Laos). We all decided to deal with our emotions in a grown up way and went drinking and dancing in a bar until midnight when my body gave up on me. Turns out when beers are 630ml you get a bit drunk. Especially when they’re £2.
I wrote this blog when I was in Berlin in mid-September, let’s look back at my adventure…
On the Thursday I woke up early (6am for the second time in one week) and jumped on a train to Gatwick to meet my mum at the airport. Is it lame to go on holiday with your mum when you’re 3 weeks away from turning 26? No. We went to Prague last year and had a hoot. We like going to party cities and not really partying. Although last year it took us a while to find each other at Gatwick, this time I got through the train barriers and there she was. Off we fly thanks to Norweigan Airways (showing Mum how to use self service bag drop in the process) and wine and Prosecco (our flight was at 10am so perfectly acceptable, especially once you put your clock ahead an hour for German time…). By 3pm we had navigated the train system and checked into Melia Hotel Berlin. Right next to Friedrichstraß, our hotel lies on the Spree and perfectly located for our three day trip. After a quick wander, we collapse fairly exhausted into our hotel room with mini bar wine (booking through lastminute.com we got a €15 Voucher per night at the hotel aka all the minibar wine!)
Being lazy and exhausted we headed to Block House, a total of 20 feet from out hotel. I order a beer and a steak – medium rare – and Mum orders a burger. My steak arrives beautifully pink and Mum’s burger was, and I quote, “no onion, plain meat, but tasty it didn’t need the onion” – I should note here the ‘burger’ came with no bun and was purely a round piece of mince meat instead of a steak. This is a not a suitable place for vegetarians (so me circa 7 years ago). Served with a baked potato loaded with sour cream and a mountain of coleslaw, that combined with my Pilsner was the pick me up I needed after a long day of travelling. A steak, a burger, a wine, a beer and some water came to €40 including tip (£29.64 at the time of publishing). Bargain. In bed by 8.30pm, my mother and I shared a wonderful evening of silence, kindles and headphones before collapsing asleep.
The next morning we awoke at 8.30am with no concept of the time thanks to our great blackout curtains. Heading downstairs to our included breakfast we spied some champagne. “Surely not for us” we said as we loaded our plates high with all of the necessary components for a fry up/heart attack. I tentatively asked our waitress about the champagne who instantly offered to bring me some. Best. Hotel. Ever. “Don’t worry” I replied as I ran to get some. When my mum saw this she laughed, I mentioned it was free and she grabbed a glass. Definitely related.
We headed off for a walking tour that was mentioned in our guidebook my boss Kate had given me for the trip (published in 2007). Down the road from our hotel to Checkpoint Charlie (fake, a reconstruction thanks to tourism) along with the “You are now leaving the American sector” sign (also a reconstruction). Note: the two men in fancy dress offering to stamp your passport for €2 are also fake. We turned right along Zimmerstrasse to the remnants to the wall. I’ve been to Auswitcz and Birkenau and they are harrowing experiences, but seeing the wall (all 200 metres of it) is different. This is the wall that separated families and a nation. People on the south side woke up to it right in their doorways. The wall came down when I was one month old so growing up I didn’t really get the significance of it, but the Topographie of Terror memorial along the wall really drove home that this was something humans did. Then once ‘we won’, a wall was built between ‘us’ and the Russians. When they finally couldn’t hold back the crowds, the wall came down, and Hasselhoff sang a song (a month later but still).
Now the remnants of the wall are filled with holes from tourists and keepsakers wishing to own part of history for themselves. After this, our tour cheered up a bit as we walked up to Potsdamer Platz for some lunch and up to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (I admit this doesn’t sound very cheerful). The guidebook says that “it is spooky in places especially on overcast days and near the middle, where many feel a sense of confinement”. We joked as we walked through the undulating alleys of pillars of different heights, but you can’t help but feel a sense of unease. This is created because hundreds of thousands of people died. And much like the ‘stone for every person that died in Auswitcz and Birkenau’ memorial, this will never leave me. Whilst it is smaller at just 2,711 stones, it makes you feel fairly alone. The echoes of other tourists shoot around you, even when you can’t seen anyone. In my mind, this is a beautiful memorial. It is something that will stick with you for a long time.
By this point it was only 3pm so we strolled up to the Brandenburg Gate and along Strasse Des 17 Juli to the Siegessäule, basically big F you to the French from the Russians. This is where normally I would have climbed the 285 steps to the top, but by this point we had already walked around 5 miles in the sunshine and I gave up because I wanted a beer (’tis the British way). So that’s what we did. We visited a cafe opposite the Bundestag (Parliament buildings) where a young waiter lectured me on “we don’t do pints in Europe we do litres” then apologised for having no lime for my my Corona and explained how in South America (where he was from) that no one drank Corona and how I should go to Mexico and drink real Mexican beer. Screw you kid. I like lager.
Dinner On Friday was courtesy of a Italian restaurant just over the bridge where we dined on a pepperoni pizza, a vegetable risotto and a litre of Pinot Gringo for €40 again (this seems to be our magic number). Thanks to the Spar Express in Fridrichstrß station, we had beer, wine and Pringles for €11 for pudding. I love Europe outside of England.
Saturday. Our last day. Having spent 30 minutes queuing on Friday afternoon to get a (free) ticket to go up into the glass dome on the Bundestag – heads up, you need some form of photo ID to do this – we headed over there in the morning sunshine. After some airport style security we were escorted to a lift which whisked us up to the fourth floor which opened on to an incredible roof terrace. No bar though. With 360degree views across Berlin, the roof terrace alone is a great sight. In the dome, a curled ramp leads you to the top as the audio guide (sounding freakishly like Bill Nighy) guides you towards points of interest and explains some of the history behind the structure and buildings around you. I think this was my favourite thing in Berlin. And it was free. I admit there was lots of queuing, but hey, I’m British and I enjoy a good queue.
The afternoon was spent in a gin haze as we took a river tour along the Spree, which ended the other side of the city and the boat home the man had assured us would be there was, but wasn’t leaving for 30 minutes. So we got a taxi home like good adventurers do. Dinner came from La Parrilla, an Argentinian steak house around the corner from our hotel. Mum had a turkey steak with cheese and pineapple – something that just sounded wrong to me – and I had a grilled salmon steak with potatoes and spinach. The salmon was beautifully cooked, the rest of the meal was so so.
It was with full bellies that we headed back to the hotel to sleep off our day of adventures, and after one final lazy champagne breakfast we headed home. I really enjoyed Berlin, although much like Prague I didn’t see any of the nightlife, but the city was certainly buzzing and had a really nice atmosphere. Whilst it was quite busy, I never felt unsafe or crowded and I like that. If I wanted to be pushed around all day I’d just move to London (or indeed visit the Lanes on a sunny Saturday afternoon!)
For a load of photos from Berlin you can check out my Instagram and for random thoughts, I also have Twitter.
I’ve been to Seven Stars in the south lanes once before. Four years ago on a busy Saturday night, the place was filled with football on the TV and loud drunk men everywhere. Not super pleasant. More recently, the pub has been taken over and had a swanky revamp, now prominently featuring craft beer and all the meat by Little Blue Smokehouse (a favourite at Street Diner).
We head there after work on a Wednesday. I’m first to arrive (standard) and have a wander along the bar looking at the beers. One of the lovely girls behind the bar asks if I need help (big mistake) and I launch into a monologue about how I’m just starting to drink beer and I like lager and I want to try something new and what can she recommend. She gives me some tasters (Curious IPA and another IPA that I really wish I had written the name down because it was lovely – for those interested, it is the first tap you get to when entering the pub). I pick the latter and find a corner to hide in (meeting me for dinner is a challenge). When my companions arrive we start drooling over the food menu.
All the meat. So much meat.
After much umming and ahhing we chose our food: One pulled pork roll, one chopped brisket on sourdough (with fries) and one Trash Can fries.
All of the portions are generous. The pulled pork is heaped into a bap and the brisket comes layered inside two large pieces of crusty sourdough. Both come with a bowl of ‘slaw – a crispy fresh accompaniment with enough may to bind it, but not enough to make it a soggy mess. My trash can fries arrive – a bowl loaded with fries and topped with pulled pork, cheese, fried pickles and hot sauce (to which I add more hot sauce).
We dig in and don’t speak for a few minutes with the exception of “ohhhhhhhhhh myyyyy god this is good”. The pulled pork is soft and flakey and smoky – ever so slightly dry but that is what hot sauce is for. Personally, I would put more cheese on the trash can fries in the future as it didn’t melt particularly well, but the fried pickles are great. Basically a normal pickle but with a crispy crunch outside. Wonderful stuff.
Reviews of the two buns come from my companions:
The menu is short but sweet, offering a handful of options (not many options for vegetarians….) but the beer selection at the bar (along with spirits and cocktails) certainly means you won’t get bored here. From our short meal, I’m fairly confident when I say that the menu is going for quality over quantity. This is something that is repeated on their website
We smoke, we pickle, we spice, we brine and we smoke. We smoke a lot. We smoke meat, we smoke fish and we smoke vegetables.
We care about how we smoke and we care about what we smoke.
We use the best produce we can, the best wood we can and the best charcoal we can.
We love food and want to enjoy it, food should be fun, food should be interesting and food should be respected.
We love what we do and we hope you do too.
And we did. We loved it a lot. This pub has jumped up the list of places to go in my mind. The bad memories of the past are wiped out in a haze of beer and hot sauce.
All in all, a solid evening out. With food coming in under £10 and half a pint of tap beer for £2.50 it is both good quality and you definitely get your money’s worth. We were all stuffed by the end of our meals. The downsides of this place are that the music is rather loud (but nice and varied) and some of the seats and stools aren’t the most comfortable so get there early to grab a booth. It does however win major points for nice large clean toilets. A very important factor when you have a tiny bladder and are permanently thirsty.
Alternatively, if blurry photos of food and Brighton is your thing I am also on Instagram and for bite-sized reflections into my mind, check me out on Twitter.
(Also, my dining companion Lisa recently had heart surgery to counteract her congenital heart disease and she has been writing a blog whilst she recovers so you should check it out – http://lisathepirate.blogspot.co.uk/)
No. Not the band. (Although why not listen to Seaside as you read this).
Kooks opened in the North Laine’s recently and I’ve been intrigued by the name, menu and frontage. Due to Dan’s inability to make a decision, I told him this is where we were going for dinner.
Describing themselves as “Brighton’s boho bistro, home-from-home for the creative types”, this is normally the kind of sentence that makes me loudly sigh and hate Brighton a little bit. How can a bistro be boho? Drawn in by my lust for a steak, we stroll in just before 8pm on a Wednesday to a fairly empty restaurant. 90 minutes later when we leave, the place is packed with barely a seat spare.
We settle down and order the two lagers on the menu – although Dan gets served the wrong one but it isn’t explained what we got instead… I get a Camden Town Brewery lager and whatever Dan was served was flavoured with lemon and thyme which was nice and zesty against our evening of meat.
The menu. An interesting mix with starters ranging from wrapped vine leaves with pitta and hummus to sweet potato soup and mains featuring steak (mine), burger (Dan), spiced green lentil salad, haddock, and spinach, ricotta and parmesan gnocchi. But yeh. We went for meat. As always.
I order my steak medium rare and with sweet potato fries instead of twice cooked chips. That steak though. I finished eating it nearly two hours ago and I’m still thinking about it. I imagine it will be the only thing getting me through work tomorrow as well. Beautifully pink in the middle, I have finally found somewhere that understands how to correctly cook a steak. Nice and juicy and seasoned with black pepper to perfection. The sweet potato fries weren’t too soft or too crispy, a good size – certainly a chip but not quite a wedge. What makes this so incredible was that chimichurri sauce. Heavy on the garlic and vinegar, it’s potent but not overpowering. Basically. I was in heaven. To the extent that I repeatedly said how happy I was. I’d had a bad day and was a bit grumpy but this turned my mood around.
Dan’s burger was huge. The brioche bun just held it together as meat juice dripped out onto the serving boards. I didn’t try any (we don’t really share food) but his review was “yeh, it’s a burger and it’s pretty good”. I really need to start dining with more eloquent people. They certainly didn’t hold back on the bacon, although the streaky bacon didn’t look as crispy as it could be.
We didn’t think we could manage dessert as the meat sweats were kicking in so we paid our very reasonable bill (£37.50 – £17 for the steak and £11 for the burger) and strolled out [side note: tonight was the night I chose to wear my new leather jacket, I left with a chunk of cow in my belly and the incredible smell of soft new leather wrapped around me. I still can’t believe I used to be vegetarian].
Would I go back? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. I liked the look of everything on the menu – I nearly went for the lentils which says a lot! They have a wide variety of wines and cocktails, as we were leaving the bar seats were filling up and I can imagine hanging out here of an early eve (because I’m a creative Brighton type…). But order the steak.
Kooks is on the corner of Gardner Street and Church Street and is open everyday with special breakfast and sandwich menus to keep you going throughout the day. You can check out their website here, and find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you’re ever bored and fancy checking out my rants and loves then gimme a follow on Twitter or Instagram.
I will leave you with the wise words of Camden Town Brewery…
On Saturday I tried to go to Crafty Chooks for the third time. First time was just after it opened as my friend worked there, but we just had drinks outside on a sunny bank holiday. Secondly, we were hungry and wanted chicken, but it turns out 8pm on a Friday is a busy time and we couldn’t get a table. Finally though. Saturday. We made it. After a long afternoon of chilling in the sunshine and ridiculous amount of Brighton seafront wind, we wanted some nom and as part of my long on going argument with Dan to prove that Hove is just as fun and cool as Kemptown we headed here.
Crafty Chooks does – you guessed it – rotisserie chicken and craft beers. Placed down on Second Avenue in the shell of the Tin Drum (and directly across the road from my friends former flat), I have the advantage that it’s super close to my house. We booked a table this time and got seated in the bar next to a rather noisy table of drinkers (we were offered a table in the restaurant once a table had finished, but by that point we had our drinks and were too lazy to move) in the window so we could rudely stare at every person that walked past/in the door. The restaurant end is cosily decorated with soft lighting and wood panels, the bar end feels more open and conveniently has the word ‘bar’ in big red letters.
The drinks menu features five beers on tap, 10 craft bottles and another 12 ciders and beers. Plus sprits, cocktails and soft drinks (side note: there are only three gins). Not too shabby. One Sol and Old Mout later, we are tucking into one chicken burger (skinny fries substituted for chunky chips) and one steak burger (skinny fries substituted for sweet potato wedges).
The burgers were a good size (aka it just about fit in my mouth without having to cut it up) in a nice round brioche bun. The wedges and chips were big and plentiful, I think I ate an entire sweet potato. Slight crisp to the outside and a soft squishy middle, my wedges were perfect. With sweet potato fries being in abundance on menus across the city, it was nice to see a slight variance on this and the wedges were winning because they were basically mash in a nice shell. My steak burger was nicely cooked, I did ask for it pink in the middle which didn’t happen but there we go. Served with emmental cheese, onion marmalade and dill pickle, the burger was juicy and soft. The addition of chilli sauce and sour cream helped a lot – but honestly chilli sauce and sour cream make everything better.
Terrible burger review aside, Dan was also unconvinced by the giant chips because “they’re too soft in the middle and not crispy enough on the outside. I don’t like big chips”. This coming from the boy that deliberately ordered the thick cut chips instead of the French fries. I snaffled the last one and they are indeed very soft in the middle – but I think that’s a good thing. Just me?
By this time it was 9pm on a Saturday, and like the cool kids we are, we headed home because our afternoon of sunshine was too much for us and we were tired. With the bill coming to around £30 (would have been less except we both substituted our fries) for a burger, chips and drink, I think it’s pretty good value. Not the best burger I’ve ever eaten, but also certainly not the worst. If you’re looking for an afternoon to evening place, I think this is a winner. The outside patio is good in the sunshine, and features heaters for when it gets colder. They also have a fairly extensive sandwich and salad board, along with the option to have half/a whole chicken so I think there is something for everyone.