Who likes to Bunga Bunga? We like to Bunga Bunga.

The phase ‘Bunga Bunga’ might raise a few eyebrows among some but forget about powerful Italian leaders and supposedly naked lady friend’s and instead imagine a little slice of Little Italy; powerfully flavoursome pizzas cooked to perfection, limoncello liquors, well crafted beer and a setting to make you forget Covent Gardens hustle and bustle.

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From humble beginnings in Battersea, Bunga Bunga has branched out, up and down, into the thriving and more central location of London’s Drury Lane, beside theatre land, shops and gran tourist-mo lanes. Walking off the streets into BungaTini, we were escorted to a table, at 8 o’clock the restaurant was quite busy, with the majority of customers eating upstairs overlooking the ground floor bar and with many diners awaiting entry into the basement of Bunga Bunga, where entertainment beckoned. The street level area was a perfect place to enjoy drinks before entering downstairs to watch the much publicized variety show. The launch night alone welcomed performances from music makers The Jersey Boys and Sheridan Smith ‘Funny Girl.’

I’d already researched the menu and actually appreciated the petite sized menu that featured starters like bruschetta, arancini, burrata, olives and octopus. I’d never heard of arancini but it’s something I could have eaten twice over, as I opted for the melt in the mouth white truffle & wild mushroom risotto balls, whilst my sister chose the fennel sausage & mozzarella balls also covered in crispy breadcrumbs and complete with side salad.

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We eyed up meat and cheese platters next but with sizeable pizza’s on the menu and a love of dessert, we edged towards the second course. If you love spice then you need to get the Piccante- a pizza covered evenly with tomato, mozzarella, n’duja, ricotta, calabrese salami and cherry tomatoes. The ricotta, mixed with spreadable pork salami made me hum with every mouthful and their not too thin sourdough base meant I wasn’t leaving the crusts to go to waste. My sister went with a classic Vesuvio pizza-  impeccably covered with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham and rocket. These wood fired pizza’s definitely left rival brands in the shade (please please can you stock these in supermarkets or open some more restaurants.)

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Staff were good to look at and had a look of authentic Italian about them, smartly dressed and always willing to go above and beyond, we were impressed when we were swiftly moved table when a party were too close to us, knocking over a once jolly looking Peroni. The restrooms gave you a brief moment to brush up on your italiano and the restaurants walls were covered in plates, pottery, oil canvases and photographs of the historically rich and famous. As we admired our surroundings, we were lovingly brought shots of limoncello and dessert menus. Not stuffed but contently full, we decided to test our waitresses knowledge, she gave me the kiss seal of approval to go with the popular tirimasu, which was bellissimo.

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Now we don’t want to give too much away but as soon as you enter the gateway hedonism you’ll be breathing heavily and fast, gaining that same feeling most people get as they board a fun fair ride (or maybe that’s simply my childish nature.) Expect a few surprises and characters who will enthral and captivate. Downstairs is transformed into more Italian settings, with marble, statues, art and casino decor and entertainment.. don’t lose your betting chips for your chance to play blackjack. The variety show starts from around 7 but we didn’t join the booked parties until 10ish, so we missed a lot of goodies we’re sure but we’re still privileged enough to observe acrobatics and jazz singing before The Bunga Boys got tables on their feet for the hilariously loved bungaoke (hopefully you see what they did there?) Dressed in red waistcoats, varying hats and armed with musical instruments and mics, they brough classic 80’s, 90’s and commercial songs to life, whilst merry diners belted out much loved classics, including ‘9-5,’ ‘summer of 69’ and ‘I wanna dance with somebody,’ to name a few of our favourites.

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Tables were moved away and those without a seat we’re able to join in with the frivolity where the night was heading. Everybody was at Bunga Bunga for their own reasons and celebrations but the actions of staff and performers ensued that people came together, sharing cheeky smiles and glances, clutching at mics, jeering and drinking from the anatomy of ornate continental statues.

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We loved how cocktails were presented and just how effortlessly Bunga Bunga transformed the most quintessential of Londoner into an Italian national.

You can be sure to leave this conception of food, drink and showmanship in a bustle of chatter, and dreaming of gondola rides home.

Connect

https://bungabunga-london.com

http://www.facebook.com/BungaBungaCoventGarden

Written by Vanessa Carby

 

Bluebird Chelsea: A rediscovery

Where? Bluebird Chelsea- 350 King’s Rd, London SW3 5UU

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With it’s cafe, courtyard, bar and restaurant, the newly decorated Bluebird could warrant a visit for every occasion; from birthday’s to brunches, from dusk till dawn… we’ll certainly be making our way through their food and drinks menu over the cosy winter months.

With a recent refurbishment fuelled by designs featuring Sagrada & Celia Birtwell at the end of September, the refined SW3 eatery has not only updated their look but has given their menu a sprucing using simple, fresh and honest dishes inspired by the best of Modern European cooking, made using the finest ingredients, at the hands of chef Liam Smith-Laing.

As a perfect spot to wind up (in our case) or to mellow down, we were susceptible and willing to try some of the small plates the bar had to offer. With tantalising flavours one of our favourite dishes had to have been the green olive and artichoke tapenade with croutons, which I likened to an olive pesto dip with a thinly sliced bruschetta aquaintance. The wholesomely sized crispy tiger prawns with aioli sauce were fought over with dignity, whilst a dusting of what appeared to be a paprika and chive, and a lemon helping on the side, gave the perfect amount of zing and zang. We ended nibbles with a dish we believe will be the most ordered on the bar menu- the fried baby squid, which came with layering’s of chilli, a smidgen of garlic and a side of lime to squeeze over. As somebody who used to grimace at the thought of squid and octopus, the thin rings were bite sized enough to halt any fears and cooked to perfection.

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Not to allow the food to steal the limelight, it would be a travesty if we didn’t come back to the sheer beauty of this venue. Paying respects to it’s original heritage as the first garage of Bluebird Motor Company in 1923, it’s steel beams which stretch the ceiling to grand heights has been awoken with coatings of a terracotta and red hue. Frequented by some of the fashion houses finest and those every holidaying MIC’ers, you could be perturbed to visit, possibly believing your budget may not stretch but we must indulge that it’s affordable menu which includes early bird cocktail prices, suits small flutters and big time soarers alike! Liquorice Allsorts and Twiggy graphics adored the floors, together with a variety of chic and rather grand but suitably comfortable 60’s and 70’s chairs. The Bluebird was a mashup of colour, low lighting, background music and mid range chitter chatter and ultimately perfect for those first time meets or festive celebrations.

With seating around the bar, long tables for larger parties, booths, desks and smaller occupied tables, our weekend evening visit was brimming with sophistication, sleekness and cocktail seduction. Even if you’re not one for cocktails, the elegantly presented cocktails in floral bone china and quirky bird motif printed camp mugs, might make you lose your cool, as it made us for a brief moment. Embracing the garden and Chelsea theme Bar Manager Egzon Kastrati brought us our first round of decadently indulgent cocktails which came in the shape of the Tiffany Rose (which contained Lanique Rose petal vodka, creme de cassis, lime juice, fresh strawberries, sugar cane, topped with Moet & Chandon Rose Champagne) and the English Garden (which contained Square One Organic Vodka, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, elderflower syrup, fresh cucumber, fresh grapes and lemongrass topped with ginger beer.) Both were extremely refreshingly!

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We chose to try Bluebird Passion (which contained infused hibiscus Stolyichnaya vodka, raspberry and peach puree, lemon juice, goji berry liqueur and was topped with sparkling wine,) whilst a curved ice cube presented dried fruit to delve into, as well as the Chelsea Flower (which contained Hendricks’s Gin, pomegranate liqueur, apple juice and fresh raspberries) and had berries and pretty petals afloat it.  Definitely an extensive list of cocktails we’ll be praying to taste the sweet serendipity of at our next afternoon tea get together.

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CONNECT:

 

Twitter: @bluebirdchelsea

Facebook: BluebirdChelsea

Instagram: bluebirdchelsea

Website: http://www.bluebird-restaurant.co.uk

By Vanessa Carby

Freaky Deaky Freakshakes

You’ve no doubt seen the towering milkshake/ dessert hybrid that makes most people’s faces look tiny and child like in comparison to the mason jar full of sweets, treats and milky goodness!? Ok so we’re totally trying to make out that there is some kind of benefit to eating this Gluttonous dessert but the main reason is because it tastes so so goooood!

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The freak shake, having travelled the globe from Australia where it was invented, finally met it’s match in the Gluttony And Glutes girls when we headed to Maxwell’s Bar and Grill in Covent Garden to sample these shakes that keep bringing boys and girls alike to the yard.

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What did we order? With two shakes to choose from on the menu when we visited on Saturday 15th October (Salted Caramel, topped with caramel coated doughnut and marshmallows or the Oreo topped with Oreo biscuits & Oreo cheesecake,) we really didn’t know where to look when our prized possessions arrived. With a price tag of £7.95, you are willingly ordering a milkshake and a supersize chunk of confectionary goodness, thrown in with a dessert; almost like 2-4-1 right?! I can only liken the restaurant creators of these shakes to Grand Prix mechanics and engineers, as they threw bits and pieces together in a whirl and meant that waiters and waitresses were endlessly delivering Freak shakes two by two throughout the American diner joint.

With a whole lotta whipped cream, chocolate sauce, a few Oreo’s (because who’s counting when we stopped counting calories 5 minutes back,) a massive slab of cheesecake that makes Pizza Express dessert’s look like a diet and what felt like a litre’s worth of whizzed up vanilla and Oreo cookies… it meant that we were fit to burst as we left and you’re probably thinking we didn’t need to eat dinner, well you are indeed wrong because we had some more food to review later that day.

Tracey sampled her favourite of flavours, as she tucked into a sticky sweet ringed donut, 3 chubby marshmallows and her dinner’s worth of calories in milkshake and what sometimes felt and tasted like clotted cream. It was a tough decision between choosing Maxwell’s or Molly Bakes Freak Shakes that day but we rated Maxwell’s very highly for their less in your face exposure and marketing, which isn’t to say we won’t be trying Molly’s but we felt rest assured that our goodies would greet us swiftly and having visited the restaurant for cocktails and dinner in the past, we knew their reputation proceeded them.

Where? MAXWELL’S BAR & GRILL- 8 James Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8BH

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What next? Can’t get to Covent Garden quick time, then no worries, there seems to be a tonne of DIY Freak Shakes readily available on Youtube to inspire your very own creation and who are we to leave it to these dairy groover’s and shaker’s?

We will definitely be bringing you our very own ‘make your own at home,’ freak shakes with a twist…

 

Stay tuned!