Sunday, 20 July 2014

Forza Dispensa - Spiedini & Spritz Bar


Everyone is secretly wishing they lived in Peckham these days. No, really they are. And not just because it's got excellent and unusual places to hang out like Frank's, Peckham Springs and Bar Story (which I'll be featuring in a special Peckham Post), but because the most recent newcomer is none other than Forza Win's latest (and permanent) venture, Forza Dispensa. Forza are renown for their grand scale, communal eating bashes in unexpected venues. They specialise in proper quality sourced food (with meat from the fabulous Ginger Pig) which usually has an Italian flair and involves being cooked on the open fire. Be it exquisite wood-fired pizza served on a rooftop or a winter fonduta (Italian variation of a fondue), they never disappoint and have come leaps and bounds from their humble beginnings as a South East London supper club.


Luckily for me, I do live in Peckham so last week I popped my glad rags on and took a friend along to try out the delights of Forza Dispensa. After winding down a few dodgy streets and wondering if we'd taken a wrong turn, we arrived in an industrial area and there it was - Forza Dispensa in all its glory, proudly located in a converted old cash 'n carry. Ron's old cash 'n carry in fact, as quoted by Rodders in Only Fools & Horses:

                                                       Del
                                          Well, you know where I was 
                                          last night while you was up 
                                          at the Albert Hall, head-
                                          banging? I was having a 
                                          drink with the managing 
                                          director of the Advanced 
                                          Electronics Research and 
                                          Development Centre!

                                                       Rodney
                                          Didn't that used to be 
                                          Ron's Cash and Carry?


It was a perfect, balmy evening as we made our way into the warehouse, greeted by a bubbly bird who showed all 70 diners to their tables and armed us with a very welcoming 'spritz' which involved homemade Limoncella, Prosecco, grapefruit fizz and basil. One of those scarily refreshing drinks you could easily knock back half a dozen and end up on the floor! Now, if you're still reading the title and thinking eh, what's she on about with that 'Spiedini & Spritz' mumbo jumbo? Well, spiedini is the Italian word for grilled meat, so in this case we're talking posh kebabs. And spritz, as you've probably gathered, is a cool word for a tasty cocktail concoction to accompany your spiedini. Oh, and Dispensa is Italian for pantry. Got it!


The set up is wonderfully basic with large wooden tables, random convention-style chairs, cutlery served in old tomato tins and simple, yet atmospheric lighting. Not forgetting some good tunes playing in the background. Whilst the punters all settled in and got chatting, the Forza team were beavering away in the open-plan kitchen/bar, chopping bread, tossing salads and dicing with flames as they grilled the spiedini to perfection. The food was all excellent: crusty bread slathered in homemade pesto; fresh tomato, basil, onion & crouton salad; peas with rocket & pancetta; rustic Italian soup with pasta and ham hock, and the menu's highlights - chicken and beef spiedini. And a fruit compote, panacotta pud. Drinks-wise, there was a great selection of wine and cocktails available, plus a cool vending machine where instead of pressing the buttons and retrieving a warm Twix, you could get your hands on a cold Italian beer (and a few freebie jellybeans and action figures for those who were quick enough).


My friend and I shared a table with a fun (and pretty hairy) bunch who were all very friendly, chatty and up for sharing more vino, which is always a sign of instant friendship in my eyes! I totally loved my evening at Forza Dispensa and will undoubtedly be returning. Whether you live near Peckham or not, I really think you should give it a whirl. It'll be open 3 days a week including brunches at the weekend, and costs a very reasonable £25ph for an Italian feast including pudding and that welcome spritz. Well, that's it from me. Thanks Forza folk for a fun night. Arrivederci!


Forza Dispensa
Copeland Road
Peckham SE15
@forzawin

Currently taking place every Thur, Fri & Sat til 13th Sept

Tickets £25 available via the website
Contact amber@forzawin.com for more info


Monday, 7 July 2014

Alfie's Antique Market & Rooftop Kitchen Cafe



There's something rather lovely about losing yourself in an antique market and having a good old rummage! Which is exactly what happens when you go to Alfie's Antique Market near Marylebone. It's an indoor maze of little shops and split-level grottos with over 75 dealers selling everything from art deco china to retro mannequins, and Georgian glassware to vintage tin toys and clothing.


It's a brilliant place to while away a few hours, and for those with a good eye, there's definitely a bargain to be found. Everyone is really friendly and helpful, unlike some antique dealers who can be quite intimidating, especially when just browsing.


One of the best things about Alfie's is the Rooftop Kitchen cafe. A perfect place to relax and admire your purchases over lunch or tea and cake. There's a fantastic roof terrace which is literally an oasis of calm amongst the hustle and bustle. The cafe bakes homemade cakes and offers an excellent menu which changes daily offering seasonal food. They even throw in free wi-fi.


And when you've exhausted Alfie's, you can always carry on rummaging amongst the fellow antique stalls on Church Street, including the market (open every Saturday).


Alfie's Antique Market
13-25 Church Street
Marylebone
London NW8
020 7723 6066

Rooftop Kitchen Cafe
Open Tue - Sat 10am - 6pm
(Church Street market open every Saturday)


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium


Cats! Kitwits! Furry feline friends! Ahhhh, you either love them or you hate them. I personally, just love them. Call me a mad Cat Lady if you like, I don't care. I get cats, and cats get me. Hey, did you see that Superhero Cat that saved the little boy who got attacked by a dog last week? If not, you can watch it here. I rest my case. Cats rock.


So, if you're a cat-lover and are still with me, then you may be thrilled to know that London's first cat cafe has recently opened. Yes, a cat cafe where you can literally go and hang out, drink tea, eat cake and be surrounded by lots of gorgeous, playful, cute cats. After a lot of hard work, love, labour and dedication, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium has now opened in Shoreditch and is home to a bunch of friendly rescue cats including Wookie, Donnie, Adamska, Indiana & Mue, to name a few. There are around 15 cats currently residing at Lady Dinah's and they're the happiest, cutest bunch of kitwits you could ever hope to meet. Apart from mine, of course.


Cats have the full run of the place so you just have to find a pew wherever you can - don't worry, there are plenty of sofas. But no, you can't have a go on their giant cat wheel (Wookie is a particular expert at this - hours of fun). Whether they're hiding behind the curtains, posing on the grassy plinths in the cafe window (watch passers-by do a double take), peeking through mock picture frames in the library shelves or residing on the hessian hammock, you'll keep spotting furry paws, big eyes and little whiskers everywhere you look.


It may sound like a strange or even absurd concept, but cat cafes have been around a while and are very big in Japan (quelle surprise) and are a great idea for Londoners who maybe don't have the space for a cat at home, or out of town visitors who fancy some feline company whilst reading a book and enjoying a coffee. It's a fact that cats are very relaxing, reduce-stress and are good for the soul. Er, unless you're allergic.


Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium provides a safe, comfortable and harmonious habitat for these happy rescue cats where they can totally hang out, play, sleep, be themselves and probably do a lot of showing off too. The safety and well-being of the cats is a massive priority, so there are a few 'house rules' to adhere to such as let sleeping cats lie and don't pick them up - let them come to you. A box of stringy bits is provided so you can tempt them out of their hidey holes. But the main thing is to enjoy the company of cats whilst indulging in some rather delicious stuff on the menu. It's even got a live kitty-cam so you can spy on the cats from your own home. Time for a cat nap.  Purrr-fect!


Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium
54-56 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 2DG
020 7729 0953
@LadyDinahsCats

Open 11am - 11pm
Nearest station: Shoreditch High St

£5 cover charge (per guest)
(No children allowed under 8 years old)

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