London Cheap Eats: Pepe, Covent Garden

After a surprisingly industrious morning reading for school and photographing some perfectly pink mews in South Kensington (you can see my snaps on Insta), I decided to reward myself today with one of my favorite London cheap eats – Pepe. Right around the corner from Coven Garden and Mr. Fogg’s, this little pizza haven is just off of St. Martin’s Lane.

There’s usually a queue around lunch time, but they really rush people through quickly and efficiently. Also, I’m always down to patiently wait in line when these salivating sights keep me in their thrall.

While I’m always down for a fancy brunch or wining and dining at a posh Mayfair hotspot, I’m still a student and London is DAMN expensive. Pepe is only 4 pounds for two large slices of pizza, so I can feast to my heart’s content without feeling guilty.

Pepe has other dishes like pasta, but I’d stick to the pizza. They reheat the pasta in a microwave, and the sauce (aka the best part) gets all vaporized and gross. It’s also a few pounds more expensive than the pizza, and the slices win quality-wise every day of the week. TEAM ZA!

Trying not to burn my hands on my scalding hot pieces of heaven, I walked a few blocks to enjoy my sausage and spinach selection in solitude at a nearby park. Let’s be honest, I also wanted to find a food photography spot where less passerbys could gawk at me while I burned my hand and held my pizza like Simba over Pride Rock. No shame in my #foodporn game!

Check out Pepe the next time you need a cheap, yet fully satisfying meal in Covent Garden. There are so many overpriced, tourist traps in that area, so I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Plus, you’ll have more money to spend at the bevy of nearby shops. Win-win.

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DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.

London Brunch: Holborn Grind

This blog may seem brunch-obsessed recently (check out my breathtaking brunch at Sky Garden here – end shameless plug), but I just can’t get enough of the meal. London also can’t stop tempting me with new options, each with their own seductive play on eggs, dotted across the cityscape. While I do have other not-food-related content planned for this week, I wanted to first share this affordable brunch haven in the heart of central London. It’s perfect for those of us who can’t always make it rain at the likes of Sky Garden.

If you’re anywhere in London proper, chances are you’ll wander into a Grind location. Just around the corner from Holborn station and attached to the Hoxton Hotel, you’ll find an insta-worthy outpost of the chain – Holborn Grind.

Pink neon sign? I’m drawn like a moth to the flame.

This Grind location is pretty petite, so either come early to grab a table, or don’t plan on having a ton of space to sprawl out. A sprawling fan, I prefer this Grind for eating (and photographing), not studying or working.

While I usually visit Grind for their iced lattes and banana bread, this visit entailed a sampling of their brunch offerings, namely my nemesis: avocado toast.

But, Erin, how can you resist mother Earth’s two greatest creations, avocado and bread, united in one holy union? With eggs, no less!?

Well, my friends, turn me into a foodie pariah if you must, but I just don’t like avocado. Even guacamole or its photogenic beauty can’t win me over when it comes to this green temptress.

It had been quite some time since I’d given the green little devil another chance, so I figured no better time than the present. Worst case scenario, I’d be consoled with aesthetically pleasing photos of the taste test. I dared avocado toast to give me its best, and it came at me with guns blazing.

I mean…..come on!?!? How amazing does that look? Holborn Grind certainly knows its way around perfectly poached eggs and the dreamiest and creamiest looking avocado toast you’d have the pleasure of meeting. All washed down with their refreshing iced latte, of course.

Spoiler alert: I still don’t like avocados. Epic fail, I know. The toast wasn’t unpleasant and I loved the eggs, but I don’t think I’ll be so generously giving the little green guys another taste test soon.

At least the people watching and neighborhood facades were charming consolation prizes. And I can’t sip too much of the avocado haterade when I know it will help amass so many future Instagram likes. Social media over everything, right?

Speaking of Instagram – you MUST get a snap of this beauty in between sips of Grind’s delectable coffee:

A stylish neon quote adorns each Grind location, and this one is perfectly hot pink. While the Covent Garden location may have my favorite quote (it’s a David Bowie lyric!), Holborn’s sign still emanates a chic glow and is well worth the awkward hovering over cramped tables of British men. I somehow didn’t mind the loitering too much.

Definitely stop into this Grind the next time you’re in the Holborn area and want an affordable breakfast in a fashionable setting. If you’re into avocado toast, give that a go as well, or at least take a photo of it.

Love traveling? Grab $35 in Air BnB credit when you create an account through THIS LINK! It’s free to you, and I’ll receive a credit when you sign up. Thanks and happy traveling!

DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.

 

London Brunch: Daisy Green, Marylebone

After visiting our home kingdoms for the holidays, the London brunch queens were finally reunited this past rainy Sunday. To celebrate the end of our winter hiatus, we made our way to Marylebone to do what we do best – brunch and avoid studying. The London sky soaked us with a steady stream of cold drizzle, and I was feeling a major post-spinning and post-drinking-too-much-in-Shoreditch hangover, even several mornings after the fact. Frankly, I needed a cute brunch spot to brighten my day and fill my stomach ASAP.

Enter a new fave, Daisy Green. Just a few blocks north of Oxford Street, this Aussie cafe beguiles you from the rainy pavement. Who can resist a neon sign heralding a “Secret Garden Brunch?” Not me!

At first Daisy Green appears to be your run of the mill cafe, but sneak downstairs to enter the whimsical dining room to get your brunch fill. I never thought a basement could be so bright and bohemian garden-esque.

The space is small and adorned with charming touches like cotton-candy paper flowers and shiny streamers. They do take bookings, but luckily we were able to grab a table without a reservation.

Like most Australian cafes, the menu is mostly nutritious with dishes like corn and broccoli fritters, the full Aussie breakfast, eggs on charcoal toast, and shakshuka. Being me, I managed to find the one gluttonous dish on the menu, however, and tucked into the “fancy” bacon sandwich. I mean, there’s spinach, so it’s basically a salad, right?

It was delicious, and I regret nothing. My friend Riley had the decidedly more lean scrambled eggs on charcoal toast. I’m still not sure what charcoal toast is, but it looked cool?

I would definitely return this fanciful hideaway for another round. It’s centrally located, affordable, and has a delicious but not too over-indulgent menu. Plus, you’ll have ample opportunity to photograph its decor and delightfully photogenic facade. It certainly warded off my Sunday scaries. Do you have any London brunch spots I should try? I’m headed to a special one this weekend, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Shop my London rainy day essentials:

How to Have London’s Best Afternoon Tea at Sketch

So you’ve seen the notorious pink velvet awash on every fashion blogger’s London posts, or maybe you read this article of London’s most Instagrammed restaurants. No matter how you found it, your heart is set on visiting  the glorious pink halls of Sketch during your next trip to London.

I made my first pilgrimage to this basic betch holy site back in December, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to the social media hype. Yes, it’s really that beautiful and pink, and it really was worth the 50 pound price tag.

In case you decide to make the chic visit to Mayfair during an upcoming London trip, I wanted to share my top tips for having the best afternoon tea at Sketch, so you get your money’s worth and take full advantage of the insta opportunity.

Book Well In Advance
Trust me, you aren’t the only tourist or Londoner to see Sketch on Instagram and want to high tail it to its candy-colored halls. This place is packed, especially on weekends and especially in the pink room (more on that soon), so be sure to book ahead, particularly if you’re in London for a limited amount of time. Reservations open one month in advance for tea on their site, so set a reminder to reserve your table on that date.

Book the Correct Room & Time
While the cotton candy velvet dreamland is Sketch’s most famous room, there are actually several different dining options in the restaurant, and all have very specific themes including The Glade, The Lecture Room and the Parlour. If you’re looking for the quintessential experience, book afternoon tea in The Gallery. Dinner is served there as well, if there are no tea reservations available. Afternoon tea service ends around 5:30PM, so book a late reservation from 3:30PM onward. You’re less likely to be asked to give up your table after two hours (there won’t be any more tea reservations to take your spot), and you’ll have a better chance of taking photos without random strangers crowding your pics.

Get Super Bougie
Oh you fancy huh? London is a fashion-conscious, dressy city to begin with, but you can embrace your inner diva even more during your trip to Sketch. Every patron seemed to don their bougie best (even on a Wednesday afternoon), so have some fun, channel your inner Caroline Stanbury or Princess Kate, and get a bit extra. I guarantee someone will be dressed more outrageously than you. Faux fur coat and Celine sunglasses indoors ? Don’t mind if I do! Don’t worry, they were removed post photo op.

Sunglasses // Faux Fur Coat (mine’s old, so I linked a similar style)

Don’t Miss Your Grand Entrance
Located right near busy Regent Street, the entrance to Sketch can be easy to miss to the untrained eye. Mysterious sculptures don the nondescript entry, and if you’re too caught up in the London people-watching you could easily walk right by. I love the whimsical “Alice in Wonderland” esque arrival, just be sure you don’t miss it!

The intriguing, non-labelled entrance, a bit more festive for Christmas.

Find Out What You Like And Order More
Yes, afternoon tea is expensive (starts at 45 pounds, depending on time of year), but luckily refills are included! The waitress kept offering my friend Riley and I more tea, sandwiches and cake, and we feared a massive bill at the end of our meal. When we found out that ordering more food and tea was included, you better believe I (a little too enthusiastically) asked for more coronation chicken, chai tea and glorified grilled cheese. You also can sub out food you don’t like (I’m not a huge smoked salmon fan) for preferred options, so don’t be afraid to make the request. The staff were very helpful and accommodating, and you should feel that you are getting your money’s worth.

I could drink gallons of their chai tea, especially out of the playful cups and pot.

Lose Any Photo Shame
Don’t pretend you booked this tea without Instagram in mind. You came to get some stylish grams, so you better embrace your inner Mario Testino and take advantage of the opportunity. I sometimes can get a bit camera-shy when I’m in public spaces, but at Sketch everyone is hoping to get those absolutely necessary pink photos to bombard social media, so you have nothing to fear. Plus, every detail is so damn photogenic! Snap away, lose any shame, and you’ll be the envy of Instagram.

Take A Bathroom Break
No, I’m not being a weirdo and reminding you to use the toilet. The bathrooms at Sketch are just a work of art that should be appreciated as much as the dining rooms. Men’s on the left and women’s on the right (it’s not labelled, and you don’t want to wander around the men’s side like I did). There are spaceship like pods, trippy lighting and even a selfie-mirror. Definitely take a tour. And said selfie.

Snoop Around
While you can easily spend hours poring over every piece of pink velvet or rose gold in The Gallery, make sure you enjoy a wander around the entire property. Each room is expertly themed and has its own cavalcade of fantastic details to enjoy. I felt like I could have spent hours more there taking in all of the delights.

 

Let me know if you make the journey to the pink palace – I can’t wait to see your photos! 

DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle links are affiliate links.

London Brunch: The Henry Root, Chelsea

After a successful first outing of the London Brunch Queens, we decided to extend our reign another weekend and sample further brunch delights throughout our kingdom. Our brunch-loving clique gained another esteemed member, my friend Eleanor, and we decided to make our way south of last week’s Notting Hill adventure to the equally chic and too-expensive-for-me-to-live-in, Chelsea. Of course, I filed away street names for when I can afford my beautiful west London flat.

Beautiful Home in Chelsea, London

We chose our destination, The Henry Root, as you choose most great restaurants, after seeing someone post a very cute photo on instagram.  As we all had a group project meeting for school later in the day,  we definitely wanted to begin the day with a decadent meal in an insta-approved setting.

Brunch in Chelsea at The Henry Root in London

The Tiffany-blue painted entrance remained steadfastly cute in the grey London rain, and the interior was equally lovely and crowned in the same bright blue. I love how more and more restaurants seem to be considering “instagram readiness” in their design, and it honestly does affect my likelihood in trying somewhere new to eat.

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Basic betches, including myself, will love the vintage Breakfast at Tiffany’s artwork.

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We arrived to an entirely empty restaurant, and while it did fill up more as our meal went on, I wouldn’t recommend this spot if you’re looking for a bustling, buzzy brunch vibe. It is perfect for a long, leisurely meal filled with conversation, as you won’t feel rushed or like you have to scream over your neighbors.

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We started with Americanos to power us through the lazy Sunday haze and quickly studied the menu. I LOVE that they serve both brunch and roast, as it’s rare to find a London restaurant that serves both at the same time. Brunch hours can also be a little strange here, as breakfast is usually stopped around noon. The Henry Root, however, appeared to have both brunch and roast all day, so they earned extra Brunch Queen points. While choosing between brunch and roast is my Sophie’s Choice, Riley quickly shamed me out of ordering meat, potatoes and gravy before 11AM, so I settled on trying my first ever shakshuka.

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The shakshuka was yummy and served piping hot (the English sometimes seem to like things lukewarm), but I did long for a bit of roast beef and a Yorkshire pudding. Maybe next time. Eleanor also had shakshuka, and Riley had fluffy scrambled eggs with toast, as he is a toast addict. We all treated ourselves and ordered extra toast with preserves because apparently we’re hobbits who eat multiple breakfasts.

After polishing our plates and ordering roughly seven Americanos a piece, we decided we’d avoided the group project work as long as possible and made our way out of The Henry Root. If you’re in Chelsea and want something more quiet, I highly recommend it for a relaxing brunch or Sunday roast. It was quite far, so I don’t know if I’ll be back super soon, unless I can be tempted with roast and massive amounts of gravy. We wandered around Chelsea for a bit, taking in the posh Christmas decorations and stopping for yet another snack, pastries and more coffee. If you want to see the rest of our Sunday adventures around London, be sure to check out my weekend vlog.

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If you want to check out The Henry Root, you can book here.