Monthly Archives: September 2019

Oh, You Little Teas! – Melange Chocolate Shop & Café review – Peckham

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Melange Chocolate Shop & Café

2 Maxted Road
Peckham
SE15 4LL
Tel: 07722 650711
Milky hot chocolate with whipped cream: £3.50*

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I have made a pilgrimage to Peckham to pay a visit to Melange, a tiny chocolate shop/Café where the air is thick with the scent of cocoa and babies screech and squawk in that way they have that resembles knitting needles being stabbed repeatedly through your eardrums. There are babies everywhere. Babies in papooses; babies in buggies; babies in moses baskets; all poised to set off a ear-splitting shriek that will prompt the others to join in like a batch of defective Furbies from the 90’s. Clearly this is a family-oriented place, but as I have braved traffic jams, torrential rain and sodden shoes to get here I won’t let a little thing like deafness and a Miss Trunchbull-like aversion to other people’s progeny stop me from enjoying myself. And enjoy myself I do. It is a lovely place; a cosy nook hidden away from the madness of the high street that is warm and welcoming and utterly charming. From the gorgeous aroma of chocolate that hits you the moment you approach the entrance to the homely sitting area at the back, Melange feels like the kind of place Vianne Rocher would have opened if Joanne Harris had chosen to set Chocolat in South London rather than Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. I opt for a cup of milky hot chocolate with whipped cream, a smooth and malty creation that avoids the usual chocolate pitfalls of being either sickly sweet beyond belief or far too bitter to be palatable. I am in my element, and seeing the dedication that has gone into the store and into each cup of creamy chocolate is a delight. The free samples of chocolate over by the counter don’t let the side down either. A lovely way to spend a lazy Sunday. Happy weekend, teaholics ☕

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*Prices/information correct as of 29.09.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Oh, You Little Teas! – Basement Sate Dessert Restaurant review – Soho

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Basement Sate

8 Broadwick St
Soho
W1F 8HN
Tel: 02072873412
http://www.basementsate.com Peaches & Cream £7*

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Right, let’s start by getting the negatives out of the way. There are quite a few so bare with me, and as I’m leaving out the lack of Wi-Fi and the cacophony created by the barman brandishing a cocktail shaker that sounds as though it is filled with rocks and ball bearings that’s saying quite a lot. Firstly – and perhaps most distressingly – there is NO tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate. Or any drink that requires the use of a kettle (do they have a kettle in the staff area? They must do. Can I go in there, please? I promise I won’t ransack your Hobnobs). That for me is a very big negative, as my blood runs green with the amount of Twinnings, TeaPigs and Tetleys I sup on a hourly basis. What if I’m cold? Or a member of a latter-day temperance movement? Or a recovering alcoholic shoved off the wagon by a lack of hot water and tea bags? Hipster trendy twonks don’t think that Yorkshire tea is like sooooo yesterday, man, do they? (I don’t know how hipsters talk but I imagine it’s a cross between someone strung out on pot at Woodstock and someone stressing to a friend that their Nespresso pods haven’t been delivered on time) So, no hot beverages: big negative. Second negative, the options for soft drinks are… well, does anyone ever crave ginger beer or a tall glass of strawberry juice to such an extent that they represent the highlights of the soft drinks section of a menu? So, non-alcoholic drinks are a bit thin on the ground. Thirdly, it’s dark. Too-dark-to-read-the-menu dark. So dark that you have to use the light on your phone in order to read the thing, immediately ruining the candlelit atmosphere. We are talking dark. Right, so so far, so disgruntled. Then my dessert – Peaches and Cream – arrives, and I know that my skills as a amature photographer are going to be challenged. Try as I might, whether with flash on, flash off, candles in the background, candles in the foreground, candles to the left of them, candles to the right of them (rode the six hundred. Sorry, couldn’t help myself) every picture from every angle looks like it was taken down an abandoned mineshaft or… well, in a basement. To make matters worse, Diana Ross is singing about coming out as part of the disco soundtrack. Well, my bloody pictures won’t be coming out, Di, but thanks for not harping on about it!

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Normally in times of stress (yep, this is what I consider stressful. Sad, isn’t it?) I would kick back with a nice cup of tea, read for a few minutes and listen to something soothing on my Ipod, Sid Vicious murdering ‘My Way’, for instance, or ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les, but all of these options are currently unavailable, so I find myself in the strange position of trying to enjoy a beautiful looking dessert almost out of spite. ‘You better be good!’ I threaten telepathically, stabbing into what appears to be a peach but which is actually a ball of cream dusted orange to impersonate a peach. I am actually angry with a pudding! The adoption of the food blogger/Instragram mindset has clearly addled my brain. I can’t enjoy it because others won’t be able to see me enjoying it, and the post won’t work because the pictures will be naff and no one really wants to read this toss as a substitute for the fabulous pics I’m struggling to take. Then I realise something. It isn’t that I’m not enjoying it because I can’t capture it for posterity. I’m not enjoying it because the dessert consists of balls and dollops and splats of buttercream, and buttercream has always been the first thing I scrape of fairy cakes because the taste does nothing for me and I believe it to be the work of the devil (along with HP sauce and sweet potato mash). Thankfully there is a nice scattering of nuts and biscuits and a delicious scoop of peach sorbet to raise the spirits, but overall my feeling towards this particular experience can be expressed with one emoji: 🤨

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However, once I got over my aversion to any disco music that isn’t Bony M and got used to viewing the world through Stevie Wonder’s eyes, I recognised that Basement Sate is actually a pretty cool place to be. I like the low key exterior; the speakeasy vibe; the gentleman’s club furnishings. It’s a sit back and chill place; a bar that encourages lively chats and conversations, something that will come in handy when you’re coming back from the toilet as you’ll need to follow the braying voice of a companion in order to stumble blindly back to your table. I also like the presentation of the desserts as they are clearly made by creative people who want to impress with their innovative menu. The problem is that there isn’t much substance behind the creativity and taste is taking a backseat to the desire to make a blob of sickly cream look like a peach or a tree or a Orbital Sander. So, overall – and suffering the withdrawal symptoms from going a whole hour without a brew – the only comment that really does my feelings justice is a big, resounding meh. On the bright side, once I stumbled back up to street level and my eyes adjusted to natural light I found that my pictures weren’t such a car crash after all. Behold fake fruit in all its murky glory 🍑

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Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Oh, You Little Teas! – SAID Dal 1923 review– Soho

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SAID Dal 1923

41 Broadwick St
Soho
W1F 9QL
Tel: 02074371584
https://said.it/en/

Strawberries with choice of Chocolate: £9.00*

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Today we are paying a visit to SAID in Soho because… well, because I saw someone else had been and despite my protestations to the contrary it turns out that I am heavily influenced by hype. It wasn’t the reviews so much as the pictures; a vast collection of food porn ranging from chocolate-covered donuts to chocolate-covered waffles to cups of steaming hot chocolate sitting in pools of chocolate with more chocolate oozing downs the sides in a chocolatey flood of chocolatey goodness. To cut a long story short, there’s a lot of chocolate. And there’s a lot of people covered in chocolate. Namely me. I’ve got chocolate down my dress, under my fingernails, around my mouth and all over the table. Strawberries may be an aphrodisiac but not when juice and chocolate is dribbling down your chin and coating the tip of your nose (another reason I don’t share pictures of myself whilst eating, as all too often I look like I’ve fallen head first into a trough).

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I opted for milk chocolate-covered strawberries (dark and white chocolate options also available) as I hoped that the decadence of the chocolate would be offset by the healthiness of the strawberries and this is the best way of getting me to eat fruit voluntarily. At £9.00 for 11 strawberries I’m not going to pretend that this is even remotely reasonable, and the only comfort I could derive from the price was the hope that a bag of Godiva chocolate strawberries would probably cost more if I was ever inclined towards such things (I rarely am. My budget generally runs more to Jaffa Cakes and that’s perfectly fine with me). You are paying for an experience and the Instagram-friendly posts that such places inspire. I am sure the owners are aware of this, and that with such exposure comes an army of other snap-happy chocolate enthusiasts eager to capture a chocolate puddle congeal into a hardened chocolate splat before their zoom lenses, and as such the prices will go up and the need to keep tables turning over quickly will increase and others like myself will be left with a vaguely discontented feeling of having been sold a costly, not-as-unique-as-it-once-was photo op rather than a proper dining experience. This may be true (from my perspective at least. I’m sure others would argue differently but they aren’t here and even if they were it isn’t a debate worth having in the first place), but this doesn’t take away from the fact that the strawberries are lovely, the blackcurrant tea is refreshing, and the cafe itself is comfortable and really rather charming. It just isn’t the sort of place you can imagine ever needing to re-visit once you’ve taken your pictures and garnered the likes you’d hoped for on social media. London is full of places like this, and although I love exploring them and sampling what they have to offer, right now I do have the hallow feeling of being out £12 for something I didn’t know I wanted until someone I didn’t know in the blogosphere said it was amazing and not to be missed. It’s nice, it’s different, but can I honestly recommend that you should head here for anything other than novelty value and a blog post the way I did? Hmmm…🍓

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*Prices/information correct as of 15.09.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Oh, You Little Teas! – God’s Own Junkyard review– Walthamstow

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God’s Own Junkyard

Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St,
Walthamstow
E17 9HQ
Tel: 02085218066
http://www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk
Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday only

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Hello fan. A short post from God’s Own Junkyard, the Instagram friendly, hipster-heavy hangout in Walthamstow for those of us who love novelty kitsch and have wondered what the Blackpool illuminations would look like up close and reflected off a sausage roll. I am getting to grips with the camera on my new (painfully expensive) smartphone and logic dictates that the best testing ground would be somewhere buried under flashing lights and neon tubing, and if cake and a good cuppa can be incorporated into the journey then so much the better. God’s Own Junkyard is a fabulously lively place; fun and relaxed with people with piercings and tattoos and little rats tail-type ponytails that the guys rock as though it isn’t the most unattractive fad in the history of male grooming. There are books to peruse, brilliant punk/rock/new wave music blasting from the speakers (‘Teenage Kicks’ double CD compilation. I recognized that The Regents ‘7teen’ was followed by The Lambrettas ‘Posion Ivy’ in the running order. Ask your parents, kids. There’s more out there than Ed Sheeran) and plenty of reasonably priced cake and tea to make a trip here all the more enticing. I highly recommend a warm sausage roll (£2.50 each) and a slice of delicious ‘three milk’ cake (£3.80), though there is alcohol aplenty and a proper afternoon tea option if arranged in advance. A miniature Las Vegas without the misery of actually going to Las Vegas, and worth the money for the Clash/Sex Pistols/X Ray Spex soundtrack alone. A neon paradise 🍰

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Prices/information correct as of 08.09.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx