The legendary Monty Python live at the O2 arena

Last week London’s power to entertain proved itself yet again by hosting a supreme show to mark the end of an era on one of the world’s finest and most successful comedy shows, Monty Python. I got lucky and was offered a last minute ticket which would have been criminal to refuse!

The live Monty Python show was the nations very last chance to see comedy legends John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin perform on stage (tributes to Graham Chapman).

Much to the surprise of the middle aged men I joined for the show (I’m an ’88 baby), I love a bit of Monty Python and was in fits of laughter and tears for most of the show. The Python’s politically-incorrect, surreal, outrageous scripts are simply not seen in our over-approved 2014 comedy, which just exaggerates the hilarity of it all for me. They walk a very fine line between genius and insanity to intelligently create this lovely pile of filth!

Monty python live success on stage tour review

The O2 Arena in all it’s glory

Classic scenes were extravagantly rolled out using armies of background dancers, pre-recorded sketches (ft. Stephen Hawking) and phenomenal orchestration, creating an absolute spectacle.  It was non-stop hit-after hit rendition of their finest comedy material and I bloody loved it! I saw ‘Spam’ and a ‘Christmas hymn in heaven’, ‘The Spanish Inquisition’, ‘Dead Parrot’, ‘Meaning of life’, ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ and so they kept on coming…  until an outstanding final performance of ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ – it got pretty emotional in our box at this stage.

Monty python live success on stage tour review

Hip hip hip hip hip hip hooray Every single day Is Christmas day

Monty python live success on stage tour review

“Bruces’ Philosophers Song

Monty python live success on stage tour review

The Flying Circus sketch “Now let me fill you in. I’m leading this expedition and we’re going to climb both peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro”

Monty python live success on stage tour review

The Penis Song – one of the most energetic scenes!

Monty python live success on stage tour review

The Lumberjack song “I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory, On Wednesdays I go shopping”

Eric Idle stole the show for me, without a single stumble or a word out of place and looking fit as a fiddle, which couldn’t quite be said for the rest of the cast but with a combined age of 378, expectations were capped.

Monty python live success on stage tour review

Me favourite man Eric Idle

There was heaving laugher throughout from the passionate O2 arena crowd in the knowledge they would never see such scenes ever again in their lives. The show truly was one of a kind which I will certainly remember forever. I feel extremely privileged to have watched the most influential comedy troupe of all time.

Monty python live success on stage tour review

I was a very lucky girl

x The London Whistler x

http://www.montypythonlive.com

Curled Leaf, a ladies lunch at a local gem

Ladies this gorgeous West Hampstead eatery is our health kick dream. Home comfort recipes made with organic, seasonal ingredients, paired not this time with wine, but with TEA – how great?! (at least pretend you’re not sad about the wine just for one moment). Imagine a summer picnic spread of assorted spelt & rye breads, tarts, superfood salads & healthy pies put on by owners Luli & Alketa who greet you with beaming smiles.
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There is nothing on this plate which you should feel guilty about eating – that’s rare.

My plate was exploding with colour, this feta topped aubergine, crisp vegetables, pomegranate & avocado couscous with hummus sourdough and red bean & lentil salad was a whole heap of deliciousness.  I absolutely stuffed myself and didn’t feel regret a single bite.

Curled Leaf’s signature dish is cornbread topped with spinach and a huge portobello mushroom which is stuffed with fresh pesto, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese

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Their signature moist cornbread with veg

Choose literally any fruit & veg smoothie which you can suck up with a giant straw.

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Refresh and revitalise

The ever changing offer throws up things like borek, (feta stuffed filo pastries), freshly baked tarts with olive, beetroot and goat’s cheese or for sweet, gluten free or fruity cakes.  Luli or Alketa will recommend a tea to compliment any such dish. Get really into it and smell the leaves and create your own combinations to match your mood (mood dependent). You get your own teapot and a timer to let the tea brew depending on whether it is herbal, green or black. There are over 50 different tea varieties. NB – DO NOT ASK FOR COFFEE! It’s all about unwinding, not getting buzzed up.

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A WALL of tea

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Gluten free coconut balls

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This could be your own home

Of course, there are endless places serving up good food in cute settings, but Curled Leaf has a very special feel to it. The soft armchairs, floral seats, sharing tables, armchairs, fresh herbs & help yourself style counter makes my heart melt. What a local gem.

The slightly apologetic looking but adorable Curled Leaf, West Hampstead

The slightly apologetic looking but adorable Curled Leaf, West Hampstead

 x The Whistler x

Curled Leaf, Mill Lane, West Hampstead, London NW2. 

Notting Hill Kitchen, an Iberian feast

The passion behind Notting Hill Kitchen is driven by two experts in the field of food; Luis Baena and Filipa Texeira. Excitingly, this is award-winning Baena’s London debut, who’s 28 year career has seen him training with top chefs all over the world from Belgium to the States and Hong Kong. In Portugal he is an absolute food hero, he’s the guy that has travelled and worked with a lot of high profile chefs. He has written books, been on TV and also consults for large hotel groups. You could almost describe him as the Jamie Oliver of Portugal. Who better to appoint for head chef of Notting Hill Kitchen?

Our group of 12 visited earlier this month. Sat quietly on Kensington Park Road, the gorgeous Edwardian building is serenely lit up by beautiful street lanterns and Mediterranean blue tiles; quite detached from the typical hippy style Portobello Road restaurants. Notting Hill Kitchen has more style & finesse than them; be sure to bring your table manners and shine your shoes.

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Very sweet lights & plants dress the front of the Notting Hill Kitchen

You’ll enter into a dimly lit room with a slick bar serving devilish cocktails where you can potter about and ‘mingle’ (horrid word?). There’s a defining romantic ambiance lingering here, it’s date material. If you’re dining, you’ll be led to one of the scattered dining rooms where the mood is rather more formal. It’s a fantastic layout, with gorgeous décor, festooned in bottles of Douro reds and glistening lights.

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One of the smartly dressed dining rooms

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A wall of outstanding wines

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Our handsome somellier

Portuguese food has never shone as it should in London, because it’s not so simple to ‘get’, compared with the burger trend, the pizza joints, the French bistros, and it’s also not as cheap. Excitingly, when you see it laid down on Notting Hill Kitchen’s menu there’s no denying the beauty of it. If you’ve had the pleasure of eating out in Lisbon, it’ll take you straight back.

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Myself in Lisbon last week, a beautiful (and delicious) city!

The small menu changes daily, there are only a handful of choices for each course. To start, we were graced with shared Petiscos of:

  1. Tiborna alentejana which was something new to me, this was the cute Bridge of Pata Negra on the thinnest sliver of Sourdough with truffle oil – divine.
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Tiborna alentejana

2. Sea bass ceviche with corn, fennel, tomato, coriander & lime was very light – perfectly refreshing for me but others wanted more punch in the flavours.

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Sea bass ceviche

3. Madeira flat bread with beef steak – a classy burger?

notting hill kitchen portuguese dinner kensington

Madeira flat bread with beef steak

The foolproof wine list is what makes Notting Hill Kitchen outstanding. Eclectic bottles from all over Portugal & Spain with top quality Spanish names featuring like Aalto & Ossian.

Main courses were very much enjoyed, split into ‘land’ and ‘sea’ menus:

For me, the black tea smoked Swordfish was something special. Truly, it was one of the most enjoyable fishplates i’ve had in London. Chunky, smoky, pink in the middle served over a traditional Lisboan base; creamed Carolino rice with green beans. It was wholly more satisfying than a potato salad accompaniment, which is what you’d generally get served with fish in the UK.

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Notting Hill Kitchen’s signature dish – black tea smoked Swordfish

Chorizo layered chicken breast with avocado mousse, artichoke and Vizcaino sauce I was told was very good. This delicious combination again very popular in Portugal.

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Succulent chicken breast with avocado mousse, artichoke and Vizcaino sauce

One happy diner was very smug about her pork neck with potato, roasted garlic pudding and lupine couscous. A heartier, richer dish than the rest of which we were secretly envious of.

notting hill kitchen portuguese dinner kensington

pork neck with potato, roasted garlic pudding and lupine couscous

The most commonly seen fish in Portugal by far is Bacalao (slow cooked salt cod). Notting Hill Kitchen serves it in squid ink with chorizo, black beans and yoghurt dressing. A striking dish visually, but the Bacalao with the squid ink was just too salty for me. Lucky it wasn’t my dish.

notting hill kitchen portuguese dinner kensington

Bacalao with squid ink with chorizo, black beans and yoghurt dressing

Unfortunately dessert was just a pretty face; no real flavour from the frangipan tart came through. Judging by the rest of the menu, I’m sure we were just unlucky with this course. Portugal’s infamous Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) would have gone down a storm – just a suggestion from a simple palate…!

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frangipan tart with ice cream and strawberry coulis

I will be certainly visit the Notting Hill Kitchen team again, whether with my elderly semi-immobile grandmother or one of my mad friends, it’s a restaurant which comfortably caters for both types which is a feat in itself.

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Our well fed table

For some more spanish delights, see my review of Donostia

x The London Whistler x

92 Kensington Park Road, London W11

Notting Hill Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Nobu, Old Park Lane – Dinner

This was my second time at Nobu, so I knew I must have the Black Cod dish. This is by far, one of my favourite things of all time on menus worldwide, and Nobu does it exceptionally well, though what do you expect from a world-renowned Michelin Star restaurant. It is so tender the fish falls apart in your mouth. If you haven’t tried it yet, seriously – you are missing out on one of life’s greatest culinary gifts.

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The faultless black cod. Worthy of a repeat order

It was so good I literally ordered another dish of it, occasionally sharing it with my date at the time….

Another thing to note, is the beautiful presentation of each dish at Nobu. As any oriental restaurant with western influences, the format of the menu is in lots and lots of small dishes. So its important that each small dish comes presented as beautifully as possible, creating an artistic journey of visual and taste senses.

An obscene amount of Sashimi is a must at any Asian contemporary venue. I always go for a selection of Sake Salmon, Akami Tuna and Chutoro Tuna. Hold the wasabi, bring on the Soy sauce.

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Sashimi with jalapeño sauce

The Rock Shrimp tempura in its creamy spicy sauce is also a Nobu classic must have.

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Meaty Rock Shrimp tempura with fresh chives

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Clean cut Japanese interiors. Fitting for Nobu but lacked character for me.

I don’t usually start off posts by writing immediately about the food. I like to set the scene of the restaurant, walking you through the décor and overall vibe. Sadly, this is where Nobu largely lets itself down for me, so I didn’t think it was worth the privilege of opening paragraph. Too bright, too rigid, too canteen like. Those would be the three descriptors. Perhaps it was an intentional move to mimic the stereotype of Japanese life? If I was a forgiving customer, I would say that this was done intentionally so customers focus purely on the food they are eating, rather than what is going on around them. But I am not forgiving, and I didn’t like it.

Either way, I continued to eat my amazing food, (with my eyes closed) and as always, washed down  it all down with a lot of wine.  Sake optional….

Nobu, 19 Old Park Lane

Nobu, 19 Old Park Lane

From,

The London Whistler 

BIG EASY, King’s Road – BBQ shack party!

I cannot express my love for the Big Easy enough. Decent lobster at bargain prices and jugs of frozen cocktails in a chilled out diner ON the King's Road, WHO wouldn’t love this place?
big easy kings road lobster bbq dinner lunch

True story

big easy kings road lobster bbq dinner lunch

Looks like a pub, dishes up like a diner

I personally frequent the Big Easy King’s Road more often much than I should. Especially as the London food scene is more experiential and innovative than ever – The Palomar, Story and Caravan are all on my hit-list. But I simply cannot resist the Big Easy I am addicted; I don’t even care if they do make me wait 40 minutes at the bar for a table. Me and those frozen margarita’s are old friends.

I am still to try the Big Easy Covent garden, but I KNOW it will be good. So i’m taking my time.

big easy kings road lobster bbq dinner lunch

Daily offers – absolute bargains!

A couple of weekends ago I chose Big Easy as the venue to host a reunion dinner. I chose it after struggling to think of any other restaurant that will serve 20 rowdy 25-30 year-olds and serve them well. When I had the pleasure (got lumbered) with the exhausting task of organising this dinner, my spirits were lifted with the confidence that Big Easy would handle it like champions. Minimal planning effort on my behalf is exactly what I was looking for and what I got. Brilliant. A soon as I got in touch with the American restaurant, they emailed me over a selection of menus specifically for groups over 10. I chose the sharing platters, the group chose their food. It’s officially called a ‘Party Booking’ and gives you a number of options.

Here is the one I selected, at a humble £32.95 per person:

“THE SURF & TURF EXTRAVAGANZA”

Deep Fried Calamari, Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers, Voodoo Chicken Wings, Steamed West Country Mussels & Peel & Eat Shrimp

AND A HUGE PLATTER OF

Chateaubriand, Atlantic Crab Claws, Creamy Cheese Spinach “Vegas Style” & Macaroni and Cheese

See what I mean? Easy, no stress, no annoying splits of the bill at the end (apart from drinks.)

The food was great. And there are seafood only options available too. There was literally so much food we left the Big Easy rolling out the front door, serenaded by the live band….Any rolling stones song would have been appropriate, because I felt like a tumbling boulder.

Post dinner recommendation: Maggie’s club who are bringing back the 80’s, or JuJu’s Bar for a Porn star martini

big eacy kings road bbq dinner lunch

check out out our bibs!

x The London Whistler x

332-334 King’s Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UR

kings road big easy cocktails

Kings Road rocks