Friday, 30 November 2007

HOT: Billy Elliot at Victoria Palace

This hit musical just reinforced my penchant for skinny white boys and ballet dancers. I particularly enjoyed 'Merry Christmas Margaret Thatcher' with MT puppets and the pas de deux between Billy the boy and Billy as a young man, both while turning a chair under their hands (very tricky). It is a great adaptation of the film, and the boy who plays Billy really holds everything together - great acting, spirited dancing, fancy acrobatics. Standing ovations all around.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

HOT: Interpol at Alexandra Palace

The Ally Pally is a gigantic venue with Victorian vaulted ceilings and rose windows set on a hilltop (which reminded me of the lookout in the Dandenongs). In fact, the trek out to Wood Green + shuttle bus felt about as far as a trip to the Dandenongs as well - never again on a school night. Interpol sounded same-y to me the whole time but the night was saved from being a NOT by the very good support band, Blonde Redhead, and discovering that people really do pee into beer cups at gigs.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

HOT: Villandry, 170 Great Portland St

This delightful combination of foodstore, deli, bakery and restaurant selling all manner of delicious artisan food is a Jetsetting Joyce wet dream. I darted around the counters picking up beautifully wrapped chocolates, sniffing cheeses and peeking at the pies behind the glass counter. Also the start of the Great Mince Pie Quest 2007.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

HOT: Corney & Barrow Wine Bar, 10 Paternoster Square

An excuse really to catch up with my usual friends while enjoying Mallesons' free hospitality. This wine bar was dimly muted a la Melbourne, the mulled wine flowed freely, the canapes were delicious and in the goodie bag - this year's edition of Mallesons Report. Aw, I felt right back at home again.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

HOT: Ukai 2 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater

The UK doesn't really do good sushi at a reasonable price, so discovering Ukai so near my house and at 50% off has been the highlight of my week. The free edaname beans and refillable green tea, fresh sushi and sashimi platter, warming vegetable udon noodle soup and green tea and vanilla pannacotta (all for10 pounds!) in stylish cosy surroundings definitely make this a HOT. It has a sibling in Portobello Road as well.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

HOT: Romeo and Juliet at Royal Opera House Covent Garden

A sumptuous and passionate ballet interpreted by Profokiev's music and Kenneth MacMillan's flowing choreography, although I think I liked Mayerling better. I was apprehensive about my cheap 'partial view' ampitheatre seats but if I hadn't been wedged into my seat by the extremely fat woman next to me (initially I couldn't flip my seat down as her massive thighs overhung my side) I probably could have craned my neck to spot the obscured bottom right corner of the stage.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

NOT: All Star Lanes, Whiteleys, Bayswater

The site of Kel's birthday drinks was only a rainy, freezing 15 minute walk away from the comfort of my house, but frankly if it hadn't been for a special occasion I wouldn't have gone. It was fine as far as the genre goes: American style bar (selling Coors beer), bowling alley and diner (serving thin grey steak sandwiches) - but if you don't drink, can't bowl and can't bear bad food, then there's not much appealing about it. We retreated to the ever-reliable Kiasu Restaurant instead.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

HOT: Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, Southwark

A thwarted attempt to be in the TV audience for Parkinson's chat show (another story) led us to a consolation dinner at one of the best gastropubs in London. Its reputation was well deserved - smiling efficient service, fantastic comfort food (braised lamb's neck and potato gratin, bramley apple and prune steamed pudding) and decent prices in lovely warm surroundings.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

HOT: The Masque of the Red Death at Battersea Arts Centre

This is the most incredible theatre-going experience I've ever attended. You put on a Clockwork Orange mask and silently enter the macabre world of Battersea Arts Centre, transformed into the set of a gothic Edgar Allen Poe story. Inside, a maze of dark and eerie rooms to explore, every door holds a surprise, and you discover parts of the storyline as you chase the characters along tiled corridors, dark crypts and ballrooms. I’m asked by the owner of the opium den to pass a message to the ‘Tailor’ who then gives me a black cloak, the apothecarist presses some perfumed mud in my hand and whispers ‘this is for your protection only’, the fat Frenchman serves me wine called the Red Death and the servant draws me into the laundry and tries to kill me after sitting me on a chamberpot. The show is sold out but there are returns available - steal or kill to get a ticket.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

HOT: Janina Fialkowska at Queen Elizabeth Hall

You can generally guess how a pianist's tone will sound by examining their forearms - and Janina had strong sinewy arms which produced an amazingly confident and ringing tone from the Steinway. I loved her intrepretation of Romantic pieces from Mendelssohn, Schubert and Chopin, including the Duetto from Songs Without Words, one of my old exam pieces in my previous life as a would-be concert pianist.

Monday, 12 November 2007

HOT: Elizabeth - The Golden Age at Electric Cinema,191 Portobello Road

Nothing can really top a cinema-going experience at the Electric Cinema, where you can laze around on your own two-seater leather couch, eat chocolate icecream and brownies and swoon over dashing Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh. I enjoyed the first Elizabeth film and equally enjoyed this sumptious sequel, despite the sometimes woeful lines and revisionist version of historical events. And Cate Blanchett corsets down to 20 inches!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

HOT: The Wolseley, 160 Picadilly

Although it may seem like I lead a Michelin-starred eating-out life, I can still be awed by glamour dining. Which brings me to The Wolseley, my most glamorous outing to date. An ex-car showroom (of Rolls Royces I suspect, not Honda Civics) has been transformed into a marble-decorated split level restaurant full of people wearing real designer clothing (I saw the Chloe tag on the woman's coat next to me). The food didn't blow me away, but the gorgeous surroundings did.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

HOT: Spamalot, Palace Theatre

This beautiful Victorian theatre’s fa├žade is currently built like a Roman battlement because it’s hosting Spamalot, a musical based on the Monty Python movie. The production includes all the silliness and ridiculous comedy you’d expect from a 2 hour Monty Python sketch, and features your usual singing and dancing interspersed with coconut shell horse-riding, French soldiers who ‘fart in your direction’, baguette sword fighting, hairy Cousin It-styled Knights who say ‘Nee’ and a ferocious teeth-baring rabbit puppet. And to top it off – an audience singalong to ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’.

Monday, 5 November 2007

HOT: Tom's Kitchen, 27 Cale Street, Chelsea SW3 3QP

Sw3 is not just another postcode, it's a whole other world. A world where the hairstyles are unanimous blonde, where everyone's perfect bodies hang from razor sharp cheekbones, where designer handbags are from Bond Street, not Bangalore and where the pregnant women don't get fat, they just wrap their designer bumps in Chloe. In the midst of such Vogue Living perfection is this buzzy restaurant serving honest, no-nonsense food with a friendly smile. To whit: perfect fish and chips with properly made tartare sauce (left) and the world's biggest foie gras (right). I highly recommended this restaurant - and next time I go I'll be looking out for Sienna Miller

Saturday, 3 November 2007

NOT: Hereford Road, 3 Hereford Road, Notting Hill

I am feeling the Wrath of Joyce. I really wanted to like this new restaurant: rave review in Time Out, protege chef of Fergus Henderson (of St John fame), British seasonable fare at good prices and near my house. Unfortunately, after gushing over the skylit dining room, it was all downhill. 1:15pm: everyone is seated. 1:45pm: we finally catch someone's eye to take our order and then find out the 'seasonal' 'daily-changing' menu item of pheasant is already unavailable. 2:30pm: we request some bread and water in a Soviet gulag attempt to stave our clenching hunger. 2:45 our meals arrive, including a cold, overcooked 'rare' beef onglet (photographic evidence). The only saving grace was the company of good friends and the restaurant acknowledged the bad experience, so took one dish and two bottles of wine off the bill. But you can bet that I won't be going back and I'll be telling everyone I know to avoid it. Sorry.

Friday, 2 November 2007

HOT: Windmill on the Common, Guy Fawkes Fireworks at Clapham Common

Clapham is a pain in the ass to get too, but everytime I go I find things I like about it. The Windmill is a lovely indoors/outdoors pub right on the Common, and it was hugely busy because of the nearby fireworks in celebration of Guy Fawkes, some Catholic bloke who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. It was a nice change to see a massive fireworks display without having to jostle for position with a million other people hours beforehand - just a casual wander from the pub and then retiring back there afterwards.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

HOT: First Floor, 186 Portobello Road, Notting Hill

Beautifully decorated upstairs pub dining room serving reasonably priced comfort food. My pork belly was lovely, as was the apple crumble (with interesting shortcrust-like pastry instead of the usual crumble) but given there were only two tables, why it took so long to get our meals?