It’s always tea-time

OXO2015_4The final day of my Birthday Bonanza 2015 was my actual birthday, which tradition dictates is spent with my beautiful Husband.  The day started off emotionally, as I unwrapped a brand new Macbook Pro and immediately burst into tears.  Husband says he just wanted his Bluetooth keyboard back after my disaster earlier this year but I was really not expecting it and felt very overwhelmed.  Now, the long task of transferring my entire Photo album over to the new laptop begins.  I do have quite a lot of photos…

I messed around on the laptop for a bit before we set off for Not Afternoon Tea at the Oxo Tower.  The Oxo Tower has fast become my favourite restaurant in London – I’ve been there a few times now, and this was out second time having Not Afternoon Tea.  It was just as perfect as the first time.  I had wanted to sit outside but it was so very wet – we got a table by the window though so that’s the next best thing.

Once again, we decided to take advantage of their special “Experience” menu, which this summer was Alice in Wonderland themed.

This was our first course:

OXO2015_1We had Drink Me virgin pina coladas which had chocolate labels that we peeled off to eat.  The rocks in the middle were like M&Ms only way more delicious.  Finally, the Eat Me cakes were red velvet and GORGEOUS.

OXO2015_2The cocktails arrived next – above is Husband’s Nutslide: “Koko Kanu, Absolut Vanilla vodka, PX sherry and almond milk. Shaken with a pinch of smoked salt” which was insanely chocolatey.  I had a Victory: “Chartreuse, cointreau, blackcurrant and apple juice, charged with soda water”.  It.  Was.  Strong.  I kinda want another one right now.

OXO2015_3And then the main event – the cakes.  I was surprised when Husband ordered exactly the same as me as he’s not really a chocolate fan and the Chocolate Classic plate was very chocolatey.  Chocolate orange pavé, Black Forest sundae, salted caramelia almond stack and chocolate coconut mousse.  Every single one was amazing.  It’s funny – it really doesn’t look like a lot of cake, but I was already full by the second piece.

After the empty plates were whisked away, we were served a Golden Afternoon cocktail out of a teapot (which I didn’t get to photograph) with a gingerbread pocket watch.  I actually don’t remember much about the ingredients of the cocktail- I think it was Hendricks gin with jasmine tea?  What was really cool was the dry ice, which gave the effect of steam coming out of the teapot.  I really want the tea set though, despite the fact I don’t actually drink tea and would never use it.

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And if that wasn’t enough to put you in a sugar coma, we got two boxes of sweets to take home.

Our next trip to the Oxo Tower will be less sugary, but we’ll definitely be doing their Not Afternoon Tea again after that.

It’s not the city, it’s the weather we love

Oxo Lunch 1Quick, I need something to blog about. February was a bust.  Nothing happened.  Shall I review the car wash at the beginning of the month, or the cough mixture I bought?  OOO, I know!  My trusty Southbank can always be relied upon – let’s go there!

Actually, I wanted to treat Husband to lunch to celebrate the first month in his new job, and saw that the OXO Tower offered an express lunch in their bar so booked us a table.  We are big fans of the OXO Tower Brasserie, visiting for my birthday and our wedding anniversary for an amazing afternoon tea – the bar is right next to the brasserie and has the same amazing views plus an insanely long cocktail menu which made it a win for us.

We got there for 12pm just as it opened and we were shown to our seats by the window.  It was incredibly windy so we decided not to sit on the balcony – our window seats were the next best thing.  Despite the wind, we had beautiful blue skies and I think we were quite lucky as it was supposed to be raining.

I was a little worried that the bar would be cramped, but even when all the tables got full, it still felt so comfortable.  Those green chairs are lovely and snug and mean that people can’t easily knock into you!

Oxo Lunch 2Their bar menu is very concise – just over a dozen small plates to share and three main meals – and we both chose the burger.  Our waiter was great, and left the cocktail menu with us so I could have an in depth read before the food arrived.

Oxo Lunch 3Everything was so good.  The pancetta, the slaw, the perfectly done burger and triple-cooked chips.  I could have quite happily eaten that again – just looking at the photo is making me hungry.  When our plates were whisked away at the end of the meal, we got on to the serious business of cocktail ordering.

There was almost too much choice, which only means we have to go back again (and again, and again).  I went back and forth over my decision a few times – I tend to go for sugary summer fruits drinks and there were a few raspberry or blackberry ones at the top of my list.  In the end, I decided to choose something completely different with a glass of At the Drive-Inn – Butterkissed Four Roses Bourbon stirred down with maple syrup, bitters & popcorn essence, in an Old Fashioned style.  It was beautiful, and genuinely had a maple syrup-y taste to it.

Husband’s drink was the Aviation – Beefeater London dry gin shaken with Maraschino, dash of violet liqueur, sugar & fresh lemon juice.  This was tasty as well but I preferred mine, although I did steal the maraschino cherry from his glass.

Oxo Lunch 4I felt very sophisticated with my bourbon cocktail, as Husband and I discussed pensions and Scottish property (no, really) and it was nice to pretend to be an adult for an hour and a half.

After lunch, we braved the wind and walked across Blackfriars bridge, down Fleet Street, and up to Covent Garden where I briefly considered visiting my favourite jewellery store (before reasoning that I had just been there a few days earlier).  Covent Garden was predictably deranged, but Husband wanted to show me a restaurant he goes to during the week and the coffee shop he frequents.  We ended up getting the train back at about 3pm and making it into the house about 10 minutes before the rain started.

It was such a great day, leaving me enough time to snuggle on the sofa this afternoon to try to clear some space on my laptop, which would have been the ever-so-fascinating blog post had we not gone out.  Thank goodness for the OXO tower!

I’m full, and yet I know if I stop eating this, I’ll regret it.

Oxo Tea 4I’m going to tell you a little secret – I am a little drunk right now.  All because of the OXO Tower and their beautiful Not Afternoon Tea.

Last weekend for my birthday, we were at the OXO Tower for lunch, and whilst it was lovely, I had wanted Not Afternoon Tea but it was all booked up.  We did manage to get a table to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this weekend – everyone knows that the fifth anniversary is wood cake.  Even better than last weekend, we got a table on the terrace and although it was a bit grey, the temperature was perfect.  The above photo was my view.

Oxo Tea1We decided on their special menu ‘experience’ – for the whole month of September, they will be celebrating the Thames as part of the Totally Thames series of events.  Called Push the Boat Out, our afternoon tea started with the rather odd looking Jellied Eels – champagne, coconut, and lychee jellies.  OMG THIS WAS GORGEOUS.  I could have eaten the champagne jelly all day.  It came with a gin and gooseberry vodka cocktail, stirred with strawberry, Aperol, and OXO Brut Champagne.  This delicious drink sent me giddy immediately, but in my defence, I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch (it was 2pm).  Also in my defence, I am a lightweight.

Oxo Tea 2Next up, the main event – THE CAKE!  Good lord, this was amazing, and look at our adorable chocolate message!  Our waiter (who I think was called Marco) was absolutely perfect and had asked us if we were celebrating anything this weekend so our cakes came out with a lovely touch.  I wish more places would do stuff like this – it really is a very nice and simple thing to do for someone.  I feel guilty for dropping a nut on it.  And then eating it.

Anyway, I chose their Chocolate Bars plate which was:

  • White chocolate coconut cherry mousse
  • Blond chocolate and butterscotch parfait
  • Milk chocolate peanut nougat
  • Chocolate raisin hazelnut crisps bar

All of which was amazing but the peanut nougat in particular was heaven.  The cocktail I chose to go along with my cakies was Ice Pop – Absolut raspberry vodka and Cointreau blended with vanilla sugar and lemon juice.  Unsurprisingly, it blew my socks off.

Oxo Tea 3

Husband had a Blooming Lovely Plate:

  • Elderflower and gooseberry fool
  • Lavender macarons, blueberry cream
  • Rose, lemon and polenta cake
  • Hibiscus and pomegranate jelly

He didn’t let me have any of it.  Mean!  To go with it, he had a Pretty Please cocktail – Green tea and hibiscus liqueur, elderflower and lemon juice charged with HN Prosecco.  He did not get drunk because he is not a lightweight.

And as part of the special menu, we had an adorable treat to take away:

Oxo Tower 5The empty glass explains the terrible photo, but these are cinnamon life rafts and oars to take home.

We didn’t know that they would have this special menu when we booked, and I’m so pleased we ordered it.  We’re going to keep an eye out on their website for any future fun menus and definitely go back.  But perhaps I’ll eat beforehand next time.

It was a unicorn, and the horn broke off, so now it’s a zebra

Oxo Tower3

My birthday this year was very South Bank centric.  Husband took me shopping first of all to buy part one of my present (to follow in a separate post) from a shop at the Oxo Tower, which is my new favourite place.  We had coffee at the Cafe Nero there which was almost empty, despite the stream of people rushing by, and then we peered in to all the shop windows.  Our next location took us from the second floor up the eighth, and to the OXO Tower Brasserie for my birthday lunch.  We weren’t given the option for a seat on the terrace – not sure if they thought it was going to rain but no one was sat outside – but we did have a table right by the window so that was a close second.

I had roasted cod with caramelised onion chorizo chutney, padron pepper butter beans, and rosemary salted chips (yes, I am copying this directly from the menu) and husband had black peppered tuna, goat’s curd, English asparagus, black olive tapenade, sauce vierge, with a Feta fennel pomegranate salad (which he managed to get over the table).  We felt very fancy, table spillage aside.  It was such a relaxing meal, and we really love watching the world go by outside.  Desert came all too quickly – chocolate cake with raspberry compote and coconut sorbet for me and Green tea cake, yuzu curd, kaffir lime leaf ice cream for Husband – and our time at the table sadly came to an end.  Boo!

Back at river level again, we walked up to the Tate Modern and over the Millennium Bridge to walk back on the other side.  Husband refused to let me go down the Millennium Funicular which I am still aggrieved about, and then we crossed back over to the South Bank again.  They were having a wedding weekend and there were brides (and presumably grooms) everywhere.  There was an inflatable church, wedding olympics (hard to explain) and many other wedding themed things.  We wandered for a while with time to kill, as we waited for our next activity – Boyhood at the BFI.

We saw the film in The Studio, which is my new favourite screen in the whole world.  It seats 38 people comfortably, and has the loveliest carpet.  These things are important.

I completely fell in love with the film itself, and Richard Linklater has established himself in my heart as a favourite writer/director.  I’ve noticed with some of the films I’ve seen recently that I have some trepidation, almost hoping that nothing happens (Obvious Child for one) and it was the same for Boyhood.  I would have cringed if Linklater had introduced significant drama so I’m very glad Mason’s life was allowed to dictate the plot.  Husband and I were thinking the same thing all the way through the film – we were searching for a historical inaccuracy before remembering that there wouldn’t be.  It was just so beautiful, and watching Ellar Coltrane grow up was so emotionally satisfying.  I cried when he graduated high school (of course) and I can only hope that we visit him again in another few years.

This is the third time I’ve been to the BFI this month, and we’re going back to the South Bank next weekend for our wedding anniversary.  It’s starting to become an obsession – if I love the South Bank so much, I should just marry it.

My actual birthday was on Sunday, and we did blissfully very little.  We went into a nearby town for a coffee and wander about, and I got a birthday cupcake from Maison Blanc.  I then spent the afternoon taking photos of my presents and trying not to fall asleep.  Ooof, I’m old!