Category Archives: Culture

Hovarda – London

Hovarda Interior
Soho seems to be the new hot spot for fine dining with the foodies flocking to Rupert Street for the latest hot spot, Hovarda. Nestled between Soho and Chinatown the new opening from the restaurant group behind eateries Yosma and Frescobaldi have opened their latest with dishes inspired by countries of the Aegean Sea. To be more specific the culinary delights of Turkey and Greece, but no shawarma or pitta bread in sight, instead a fresh and delicious menu with a focus on sea food, all fresh off the grill.

Upon entering you will be met by a luxurious for unpretentious setting, with a spacious restaurant on the ground floor with an open plan kitchen and grills and first floor cocktail bar, designed by architect Lázaro Rosa‐Violan.

The menu was created by Turkish chef Hus Vedat and features plenty of fare from the Aegean region so there’s plenty of fresh seafood and a daily changing menu filled with fresh catches from the British seas.

Used in both Turkish and Greek the word ‘Horvada’ refers to “a generous host with a free spirit” and that’s certainly the case with the menu on offer, with a contemporary take on traditional dishes from the region.

Designed to share meze options include raw, hot and cold options, with our favourite being the Octopus, which comes with a grape and tomato relish.  The sea bass ceviche was another highlight, which comes simply prepared with tomato, avocado and red onion but is plentiful in flavour.

Next up the menu is divided simply into land (meat and vegetables) and sea (fish and shellfish) options as a larger main.  We opted for the latter trying out the Langoustines which were generous in size and flavour and went for the equally delicious oven roasted potatoes as a side.  The helpful waiter is on hand to help you navigate through the menu if you’re not too familiar with the cuisine and there are plenty of drink options to keep you going.

Next time you hit up Soho, Hovarda is a must. If you fancy some music to accompany your evening check out their rotating schedule of live music performers, with many musicians from Turkey and Greece, a perfect soundtrack for your drink.

36 – 40 Rupert Street

For more information on Hovarda and other restaurants on Rupert Street and Soho please visit


Roast Restaurant – London

Scotch egg
Roast Interior

Nestled within the world famous Borough Market is one of London’s foodie treasures, Roast. Offering a delicious menu of British fare to Londoners since opening its doors back n 2005.  In its 12 years of business the restaurant has garnered acclaim across the UK, including a rosette in the AA guide, for its take on traditional  British dishes, headed up by chef Stuart Cauldwell.

We got a chance to visit ourselves on a recent weekend trip, though a London highlight Borough market can be super busy at weekends with tourists flooding in, however we were pleasantly surprised that while right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of it all Roast is away from the noise and crowds.  Split over two floors (it even has a lift for easier access) the restaurant is spacious with crisp white decor and huge windows filling the room up with light. Roast gives diners picturesque views of  St Pauls and The Shard, two of the capital’s most recognisable landmarks.  As it was a Sunday live music also played, providing a beautiful soundtrack to accompany your meal.

The menu is full of traditional British dishes and many of the ingredients come from Borough market itself.

We popped in for lunch and started with the Chorizo Scotch egg with piccalilli (£8.50), a hearty choice full of flavour and the chorizo adding that kick to the English staple.

With it being a Sunday we opted for the traditional roast beef as our main, which comprised of 48-Day dry aged roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding, rosemary roasties and horseradish cream (£35) and an extra side of mashed potatoes (£4). We requested the beef medium rare and it was cooked to perfection and generously sized, with the large home made Yorkshire pudding crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, a highlight.

If you still have room and have a sweet tooth then we’d recommend the Bramley apple and blackberry crumble, another Brit classic, this ones comes with almonds and English vanilla custard (£7).

As well as the food Roast offers a comprehensive menu of drinks and cocktails, a favourite was the Hard Vanilla (£10) , the cocktails mixes Buffalo Trace, Amaretto, vanilla ice cream and Hakushu 12, lemon juice, cherry juice,  egg white and ground cinnamon  for a refreshing sweet concoction.

So for Londoners and visitors alike we highly recommend Roast, the perfect location for a new take on classic dishes.

The Floral Hall,
Stoney St,

The Cavendish – London

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Since its launch in 2014 The Cavendish has become one of Marylebone’s much loved foodie havens, an all-day brasserie sat alongside the area’s hip and fashionable boutiques.

The restaurant offers an all day modern European menu set in a stylish old world English pub interior, with plush booth seating spread across two floors, and outside dining for when the British weather permits. The beautiful interiors are the work of Concorde Interior Design – known for designing for the likes of Tom’s Kitchen, The Botanist, and Copita.

Heading up the kitchen is chef, Douglas Santi, with over 25 years of experience in the industry, Santi began his career at the young age of 13 working for Laurent Saudeau – the right hand man of acclaimed chef Paul Bocuse.

The seasonal menu pairs the best quality ingredients with inspiration from classic French and Italian cuisine, and all at a pocket friendly price – with most menu options at below £20.

On a recent visit we got to try out the dinner menu for ourselves.

Once sat in a quiet corner of the second floor we eyed over the impressive menu to see what caught our eye. To start things off I opted for the Octopus Carpaccio (£12.80), the dish came beautifully presented – round slices of juicy octopus garnished with crisp chorizo and potatoes. The dish was light but delicious, a highly recommended starter.

For my main I had to go with the restaurant’s signature (and much instagrammed) ‘100 Layers Lasagne’ (£12). An update of the classic lasagne the recipe for this version comes straight from Chef Santi’s grandmother.  The dish again is beautifully presented, with layer upon layer of lasagne  resulting in a striking main, filling without being stodgy and full of colour and flavour.

With just about enough room to fit in dessert I opted for the Butter toffee and Pecan Praline Cheesecake (£6) which came highly recommended by the friendly waitress. Again it didn’t disappoint, sweet but not sickly with a light cheese layer and crisp biscuit base, heaven.

The Cavendish is a must visit, a delicious menu in a beautiful London location at an affordable price point, what more could you ask for?

The Cavendish
35 New Cavendish Street

T: 020 7487 3030

Reyka Vodka takes over Hackney

Icelandic first vodka brand Reyka has arrived to the UK and to celebrate it has set up based in Hackney,  for a series of pop ups to introduce Londoners to a slice of the Icelandic way of life.

Reyka Vodka produces a truly unique product that uses the country’s own stunning environments to produce a one of a kind products, made from water comes from an arctic spring that runs through a 4,000-year-old lava field, filtered through lava rocks with a distillation process that results in a smooth and slightly fruity spirit.

Reyka uses one of the few Carter-Head stills in existence – the first and only one of its kind used to distil vodka, using the botanical basket for lava rock filtration. It is the high copper level which this produces that gives Reyka its clean, crisp taste and unparalled smoothness.

Brand Ambassador, Fabiano Latham explained: “Iceland is one of the most charming and unique lands in the world, one with distinctive provenance, people and culture, which is why we have created a spirit that captures the offbeat spirit of Iceland. We proudly embody all of the awe-inspiring offerings in our Reyka vodka production.
To celebrate their arrival to British shores Reyka Vodka will be hosting a series of events in Hackney from the 14th – 26th November, each showcasing different Icelandic traditions.

Upcoming events are…

Honeymoon – Icelandic Feast
18 to 19 November (2pm and 6pm)
Reyka invites the bravest to dine with them over the weekend and enjoy an Icelandic feast, washed down with a Reyka cocktail. Tickets cost £20, which includes a Reyka cocktail on arrival and a six-dish feast.
460 Hackney Rd, London E2 9EG

Four Quarters East – Painting Peaks
18 to 19 November (12:00 noon)
Grab a drink, sit back and watch street artist SELUR live paint an offbeat and surreal Icelandic landscape. Reyka Vodka invites guests to peer through the Gluggi (window) into this otherworldly landscape.
Unit 8 Canalside, East Bay Lane, Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park, London E20 3BS

Kansas Smitty’s – Icelandic Beats
24 November (10:30pm)
Hidden in a basement deep beneath Broadway Market, Reyka Vodka will host an intimate gig supported by an awe-inspiring Northern Lights projection that will take you on a musical journey to Iceland.
63-65 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH

The Barge House – Aurora Borealis Light Projection
25 to 26 November (multiple times)
Normally limited to Iceland, the land of fire, ice and elves, Reyka will present the marvel of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), via a stunning water installation down at The Barge House in Hackney, whilst enjoying a Reyka cocktail or two.
46a De Beauvoir Cres, London, N1 5RY

NUMBER 90 – Icelandic Hot Dogs
25 (5pm) to 26 November (2pm)
Icelanders love hot dogs – boiled in beer and complemented by a Reyka cocktail. Pop down to Number 90 to enjoy this winter-warming Icelandic staple.
90 Wallis Road, London, E9 5LN

Visit for more details and to make a booking

If you are unable to pop then then you can grab a bottle of Reyka Vodka from retailers including Waitrose,  M&S and Harvey Nichols RRP £26 for a 70cl bottle.

iSmash Expansion

ISmash offers the perfect solution to all that common problem, a smashed of phone screen.

Founded by Julian Shovlin the business not only offers an array of smart phone (and computer) repairs (from broken screens, home buttons and water damage) but does so with a quick turnaround time and with a customer guarantee, something that independent repair places can’t offer, peace of mind.

The young entrepreneur started the business in 2013 with a flagship in Chelsea, it has then grown to 20 branches in London and the UK wth ones in Manchester and Bristol opening in recent months.

We recently got to try out their services and visited the Westfield White City branch. Handing over our screen smashed iPhone 6 we came back a mere 30 minutes later to be greeted by a new looking phone , with a brand new screen fitted by the on site technician (the glass workspace allows you to see them work). Unlike most repair shops in the high street iSmash offers a work guarantee (the duration varies depending on the repair carried out) which means you have no worries about the quality of the work carried out. Our repair cost £84.99 and that included a 12 month guarantee.

In addition to iPhones iSmash offers repairs to most phone brands, including Huawei, LG, Samsung and Google pixel.

In addition to repair services iSmash also sell an extensive range of cases to make sure your screen doesn’t smash again. While many of us (myself included)  carry on using our phones with cracked screens this is not advised, as well as potentially cutting ourselves with the glass leaving it cracked could mean dirt and liquid could enter the phone which will result in further (and more costly) repairs down the line, so it’s best to get it fixed sooner rather than later.

With so many of us using our smart phones for not only calls but to organise our entire lives this fast turnaround time is perfect, reuniting you with your phone in often less than an hour, so no need to be disconnected from work, friends and loved ones.

We caught up with Julian to talk more about his business

Tell us a bit more about how iSmash started? what gave you the idea to create it?

iSmash started whilst I was at university in Ireland, where I became so frustrated with the level of service I received when getting my phone fixed that I started learning how to fix screens myself – it was at this point that I realised there was a gap in the market to take advantage of. So the concept of iSmash manifested in Dublin but I decided to launch the brand in London due to the market size and scope to attract international attention to support fundraising and growth. 

What makes the iSmash concept and service so unique, what makes it different to other high street retailers offering gadget repair services?

I founded iSmash because I felt the industry as it stood did not serve the needs of consumers, which should be at the centre of all businesses. Despite the proliferation of smartphones and other tech, those with broken technology were left with limited choices between the pricey manufacturers and the cheaper, but less trusted, street-corner independents.

 The tech-repair market was dominated by unbranded local independent businesses and was very fragmented. For consumers this only offered a low-quality repair and generally you wouldn’t get a warranty when you got your phone or tablet screen repaired. So we decided to bridge the gap with iSmash, between these types of independents and the manufacturing giants, by offering a lifetime warranty and a 30-minute repair promise at a competitive price.

Your newest store is in Bristol, what made you choose this for the latest location?
After a successful initial launch in London, we knew the logical place to take iSmash was to influential cities across the UK. Opening on Broadmead, right in the centre of the city, means we’re now placed in a high-footfall, iconic location at the heart of the community.

 Are you looking to expand further? specially beyond London?
Our aspiration is to establish iSmash as the market leader for tech repairs in the UK. We first launched the brand in London but have since expanded to Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol in recent months. We will be opening in key locations in Leeds and Brighton next, as well as to further commuter and tourist hotspots in the capital.

 What’s next for iSmash?
Our vision is to be the trailblazer of the international tech repair market by providing our customers with the fastest, most convenient and professional tech repair service. We will have 28 stores across the UK by the end of 2017 and have plans to open 50+ stores nationwide by 2019.

So if your phone needs a quick fix then pay iSmash a visit


Lights of Soho presents “Be Illuminated” by Papi

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Roger Taylor AKA ‘Papi’ has opened his latest exhibition “Be Illuminated!” in the Capital at Lights of Soho. 

The self taught artist works with the medium of light so what better venue than the capital’s leading light-art gallery.

Papi started his journey training as an actor in New York at the acclaimed Lee Strasbourg theatre institute where he studied his craft for several years. He then moved onto working as a creative director for some of New York’s hottest night clubs creating sets for their weekly shows.

Thereafter moving to Manchester to set up his own design studio where he uses traditional tools and methods to hand sculpt metal and form a fusion light and art with his work exhibited from London to Tokyo.  Most pieces are one of a kind of extremely limited so this is your chance to see his work up close and snap one up yourself.

Remarking on his debut neon collection Papi says:
“I am so excited to working with Lights of Soho on this show. Prepare to BE illuminated!” 

Hamish Jenkinson, Curator at Lights of Soho, said;
“In 2016 we showcased Papi’s angel wings and they took social media by storm. This year Papi is back with a full show and I cannot wait for him to transform the gallery in to a fairy-tale land with mermaids, exotic animals, angels and more light splendour.”

“Be Illuminated!” will be available to view until May 13
at Lights of Soho. All pieces on display at the exhibition will be available to purchase.

QP LDN Restaurant

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Mayfair’s Quattro Passi will re-launch as QP LDN with a revamped menu and the highly anticipated opening of its new late-night bar and lounge located beneath the restaurant, QP Lounge.

Situated in the heart of Dover Street next to the Victoria Beckham and Christian Louboutin boutiques, Quattro Passi originally opened its doors back in September 2014, as the sister restaurant to the two Michelin-starred Quattro Passi in Nerano, Italy – widely considered to be the Amalfi coast’s top restaurant.

With fresh, high-quality ingredients flown in daily from Italy, and perfectly executed simple dishes inspired by the signature flavours of Southern Italy, the restaurant quickly gained a reputation as one of London’s top Italian restaurants – much loved by royals and celebrities alike including Prince Andrew, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Kofi Annan, Valentino, Kylie Minogue, Hugh Grant and Anne Hathaway.

QP LDN will continue to remain under the culinary direction of two Michelin-starred Italian chef Antonio Mellino and his two sons Raffaele and Fabrizio, staying true to its roots in Amalfi coast inspired cooking. Mellino is the chef owner of Quattro Passi in Nerano, who received recognition and praise for his artisanal freshly-made pasta and simple seafood dishes. Mellino is considered to be a master in pasta making, and his freshly-made then dried pastas will continue to be made on premises by the QP LDN kitchen staff.

Menu highlights include Risotto Con Scampi E Pesche (langoustines risotto with peach), Gnocchi Con Gamberi, Pomodorini E Rucola (gnocchi with prawns, cherry tomato and rocket), Capesante Su Salsa Di Aglio Selvatico E Rapa Rossa (scallops with cream of wild garlic and beetroot), and a selection of fresh fish flown in daily from the Mediterranean including Di Zucchine E Salsa Mediterranea (fillet of line caught Sea Bass with Zucchini cream and Mediterranean sauce), and Misto Crudo Di Pesce for two persons (a visually stunning mixed seafood platter beautifully presented on dry ice).

For dessert the restaurant is renowned for its signature Gelato Al Pistacchio, freshly made Pistachio ice cream made in-house using Sicilian Bronte pistachios – an essential ingredient in many Italian delicacies.

A must, for full information visit

34 Dover Street,






Gyoza Bar – London

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Located in the heart of the ever popular Covent Garden,  Gyoza Bar offers some of the best Japanese cuisine in the capital.

Gyoza Bar offers a limited menu, but it consisting of just Gyoza, Ramen, Bao Bun and a few selection of small plates.  Only local organic ingredients are used and the Ramen and Gyoza are all made on site using original Japanese equipment and all made to a traditional recipe.

On a recent visit we got to try out some of their lunch menu for ourselves.

Upon entering the restaurant you are met with stripped back interiors –  wooden floors, simple tables and open brick walls, with dimly lit low hanging lighting, modern but with a Japanese twist.

Like its interiors the menu too is on the minimal side with each dish having 6 or less varieties to choose from.

For those not familiar with Gyoza they are small dumplings filled with a choice of meats, salmon or vegetables and all featuring a delicious array of chilli oil, garlic vinegar and usami soy to name a few. They come deep fried, pan fried or steamed and can be combined.

To start off we opted for the deep fried  Salmon Gyoza (£7.50), they were delicious, with a crisp casing and fluffy salmon centre, dipped in chilli oil they are a dream.

Next up was the ramen selection, in the end we went for the Char Siu variety (£11) which come Served with Japanese char siu pork, shoyu tamago, spring onion, broccoli stem, beansprout, Japanese fish cake. The dish portion is very generous and perfect if you are after something comforting and hearty to eat. The broth was delicious and pork full of favour (I ordered an extra portion of Pork Char Sui), one of the tastiest ramen dishes we’ve had in London.

If you still have room I recommend the Crispy friend ice cream for dessert (£4.50) the vanilla ice cream ball is covered in batter and deep friend and comes served with maple syrup, sounds a bit odd but believe me it was delicious, tasty but light.

Gyoza has a wide array of drinks from sumptuous wines, bespoke cocktails mixed to perfection and for those wanting an exclusively Japanese experience you can of course have either Japanese beer or Sake.

If you want to see the Gyoza chefs in action then just book yourself a ringside seat at the restaurant as all the food is prepared and made right in front of you in a open plan kitchen.

A delicious menu, hip interior and all at pocket friendly prices… a must.

Gyoza Bar
63-66 St Martin’s Lane,
Covent Garden,

Buddha Bar – London

Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness Restaurant - Buddha 4 Stairs - Down 1 Ground Floor - Bar Area 3 PaparazziVIP-24 Stairs - Up

Located a stone’s throw from the famous Harrods department store in London’s Knightsbridge district is one of the capital’s most lively sushi restaurants, Buddha Bar.

The restaurant serving and extensive  dinner, brunch and afternoon tea menu along with vast bar options, with top notch mixologists prepare delicious cocktails. 

The split level restaurant offers pan-Asian cuisine, though its sushi options are its highlight. Dinner is a must with a huge selection of handmade sushi and sashimi. The fresh fish selection includes Blackened Cod and Roasted Chilean Seabass or alternatively the Wagyu beef fillet with truffle butter is the ultimate treat. All dishes are delivered to the highest standard and expertly cooked with an Asian twist by the team of chefs lead by Ravi Vydya.

On a recent visit we were able to try some of the dishes ourselves.  Designed to be a sharing experience we opted for a few dishes to get a feel for the menu with the guidance of the very helpful and friendly waitress.

To kick things off we opted for the , Chilli salt crispy baby squid , Rock shrimp  and the restaurant’s signature Buddha-Bar chicken salad.  The rock shrimp is served with a tasty creamy sauce and were perfectly cooked, crispy batter exterior with a soft flesh inside.

For mains we opted a selection of different sushi and sashimi, including the spicy tuna and salmon, the sushi rolls came beautifully presented, a feast for the eyes as well a the palette. The fish was fresh and rice delicious.

The more adventurous rolls include the spider, soft shell crab which was a highlight, a full roll with light and crispy crab.  We also opted for another signature dish, the Buddha-Bar roll, mixed sashimi wrapped in cucumber with a creamy sesame sauce

Alongside food Buddha Bar  is knows for its comprehensive cocktail selection which we also got to try, each priced from £15.

Favourites include the Blue Knightsbridge – Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Diplomatico reserve, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, peach bitters and angostura bitters. The mix was fresh and strong with the ht of ginger making it very memorable.   Another favourite was the Bubble Wap – a strawberry & raspberry puree, rose liquor, elderflower liquor, touch of Belvedere vodka and topped up with Champagne, a refreshing and strong option.

Dinner was a truly wonderful experience with every  dish a delicious experience, the restaurant is winner of the Best Restaurant Bar at London Club & Bar Awards in both 2014, 2015 and 2016, this shows in the high quality food and great friendly service.  Atmosphere is offered in heaps and bounds with live music entertainment available during the weekend, a perfect venue to take friends and loved ones, a must visit.

Buddha Bar & Restaurant
145 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PA