Saturday turned out to be quite an adventure starting with a 9am sprint on my bike across town to help a close friend move flats, lunch at Honest Burger Portobello, more moving in the afternoon (albeit with a break for some bubbles), a 3 hour interactive play hosted by Temple Studios, and finally a Persian dinner with some Yelpers, @alexshebar, and @thelondonsinner at Sadaf with wines from Spirited Wines. Hell I’m a bit tired just summarising it, but damn if it wasn’t good fun.
Moving with Big Yellow Van (@bigyellowvanbiz)
I won’t bore you with details about moving beyond a quick shout out to Big Yellow Van (website here). Basically, it’s a man with a van but significantly cheaper than most such services at £12-16/hour with a 2 hour minimum. I’ve used them for several moves, and each time the driver has been very friendly and even pitched in with helping cart stuff to the door at no extra cost. You can get them to help carry up stairs but they’ll charge you a few more quid per hour for that. The vans are huge (I’ve fit a 1 bed flat worth of stuff including a couch) and the drivers’ have been surprisingly adept at manoeuvring into the smallest of spaces.
Honest Burger Portobello
As a thank you (although not necessary), my friend treated me to Honest Burger for lunch. This is usually a tradition for us after a major assault run, but we figured moving up several flights of stairs counted too. The Portobello branch is along the lines of the other HB locations, and the menu seems to have a bit more on offer than I recall at the Soho location. I’d also point out that the booths are a great idea and more cosy than the tables which get blasted by the wind every time the door opens.
It’s a good burger but I can’t help but feel the grillmaster is letting the brand down here as our buns came out burned black on the bottom and drier than the usual. A more detailed review is up here.
Bubble break – Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut
When the guy you are helping move also happens to be an outstanding bartender, you get perks such as a champagne break. He had saved a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut which it turns out is a very easy bottle of bubbles to drink. Made from mostly Chardonnay grapes with a bit of Pinot Noir mixed in, it’s on the sweeter end of the range despite being a no-dosage wine (which means no sugar is added at the end of the fermentation process). This is accomplished by only using the ripest of grapes and the end result is a clear balanced taste – definitely something I’ll keep in mind for the next celebration.
You can grab a bottle at most good wine merchants such as Majestic or Oddbins for £40-45.
Temple Studios: The Drowned Man – A Hollywood Fable
As part of Yelp London’s Festival of Firsts, I had organised a group to check out an interactive play by Punchdrunk. Set in LA in the 1960s, the story line loosely follows a young couple that gets swept up into the Hollywood lifestyle and the destruction that ensues. I say loosely as you are given a mask and let loose in the massive 3 level set to explore as you wish. See a character (they are the ones without masks) you find interesting? Follow him/her as long as you want before peeling off after someone else. There isn’t a definitive path to take and the story does restart half way through so you can see the action from two different viewpoints over the course of the night.
Punchdrunk encourages you to split away from friends to have a variety of experiences you can discuss afterwards and it’s a pretty good idea. Since you can’t talk during the show, you don’t feel abandoned without someone to chat to and decisions are made on the spur of the moment. The effect of the “audience” being masked is a little spooky, particularly when people materialise through the mist or a mirror turns out to actually be a windown.
Overall, it was a very interesting experience and the novelty of quite literally peering over a character’s shoulder was delightful. For £48, it’s a bit steep but not much more than you’d pay for a decent seat to any West End show. Keep in mind you’ll be on the move for almost 3 hours so wear comfortable clothes and shoes and keep a jacket or cardigan handy since some scenes are outdoors and can be quite chilly.
Sadaf and Spirited Wines
We finished the night with a meal at Sadaf, a great Persian place on Westbourne Grove. Despite some initial confusion over my reservation, they found us a table for 8 and we shortly covered it with food. Sadaf has a traditional oven at the entrance where you can see one of the waiters constantly pulling out fresh flat breads which are excellent. Order the mixed starter for a full variety of Persian dips and then select your kebab of choice. The starters are more interesting but in general the food is good and very reasonably priced. It’s also BYO with no corkage so pop across the street to Spirited Wines for a bottle to go with the food.
A more detailed review on Sadaf will be up shortly.
This UK wine merchant has a solid range of quality stock but what sets it apart is the knowledge the staff have about the wine. I walked in and rattled off a quick summary of what I wanted “spicy full bodied red that’ll work well with Persian food with a reasonable price” and the guy immediately plucked a bottle of Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet for £12 off the shelf.
Despite my slight misgivings on the label, I took a punt and within 2 minutes of walking in, I was walking out with said bottle. The Penfolds was exactly what I wanted with a sharp bite that matched the spices in the food, a full mouth feel of dark fruits which made it great for sipping while chewing on the fresh bread, and hefty dose of tannins at the end. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Spirited Wines man, for an excellent suggestion and I hope the lovely @thelondonsinner enjoyed it as much as I did.