Hidden London: 55 Broadway

“I don’t know what London’s coming to – the higher the buildings the lower the morals”

Noel Coward, 1931

 

55 broadway

I have long wanted to do a behind the scenes tour in London but am rarely around for the open house weekends. Last year, I noticed TFL’s Hidden London events and so signed up to London Transport Museum newsletter so that I’d be the first to hear when new events were advertised and get priority booking 24 hours before they go on general sale.

We finally went on a tour at the end of February, having chosen 55 Broadway as the dates and price suited us best. This was once the headquarters of London Transport and as London’s first skyscraper, was controversial from the outset. It was completed in 1929 so I thought Noel Coward’s quote above was pretty apt! For much of the 19th century, the area was essentially a slum but the opening of St James’s Park station began to change this.

55 Broadway was designed by the architect Charles Holden, who’s modernist style set him apart. Frank Pick, Managing Director of the Underground, chose Holden as they shared a liking of matching form with function. The unconventional crucifix shape allowed a maximum amount of natural light into the offices. The other visionary instrumental in making 55 Broadway possible was Lord Ashfield, Chairman of the Board.

55 statue willy

Holden commissioned seven of Britain’s leading artists to create ten sculptures for the buildings exterior. Eight of these represent the four directional winds, two each on the corresponding façade. Jacob Epstein was asked to sculpt Night and Day, which were widely criticised, resulting in Day (pictured above) having his appendage shortened…

Our tour started in the foyer, where I was intrigued by the clocks which showed how often tubes ran through various stations and in which direction. There were numerous old tfl posters, photos of various important people from tfls history and nice touches like the post shoots for internal mail. We were told about the hierarchy extending both to which floor your office was on to which canteen and toilets you were allowed to use!

55 clocks

 

We had booked onto the last tour of the day, starting at 16.45 at the end of February, and lasting for 90 minutes. As luck would have it, this meant that we reached the outside viewing deck for sunset and thus got beautiful views over London in the evening light.

55 dusk

As I’m very behind with my blog posts, we’ve already booked for more Hidden London events this year, with both Euston tunnels and Down Street to come. Hopefully our guides will be just as fantastic next time too!

55 poster edit

 

 

Roast rating : OXBO Bankside

“Nothing prosecco can’t fix”

Anon

 

oxbo roast

Last week, to celebrate a couple of family birthdays, we went to OXBO Bankside (http://www.oxbobankside.co.uk). Of course we went for the bottomless prosecco option – it would be rude not to when it’s only an additional £12 each… I’d definitely recommend booking as it was fairly busy when we went, with lots of big groups and is definitely a good location for a celebration.

With a bottomless booking, you have two hours to help yourself to unlimited starters and desserts and then a choice of mains. Your main is served to you. Last Sunday, we had a choice of roasted sirloin of beef, grilled corn fed chicken, roasted stone bass or thanet cauliflower, broccoli lentil dahl. Unsurprisingly, I opted for the beef and was rather pleased that this came with a Yorkshire pudding (the chicken didn’t). We had a choice of well done or rare but our larger group size meant that I could swap to one which was more to my tastes (medium rare). The vegetables were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beams. Even though we only got one roast potato, it was large and delicious. High points also go to the meat with both the beef and chicken rating highly. The only downside was that we could have done with a little more gravy between us.

oxbo start

The bottomless roast is £42 per head with unlimited prosecco (£30 for just the food). This is an absolute bargain for the amount of food on offer. The highlight is of course the tables full of starters and desserts. To start, there was a variety of salads, seafood, meat etc. My favourites were the smoked duck breast, coated salmon and beef. I have to confess that we all went up for seconds and could easily have had thirds if we hadn’t been saving ourselves some rooms for the mains!

Dessert wise, there was everything ranging from sweets, cakes, trifles and meringues, with a cheese board as well. I had spotted the prosecco jelly early on so made sure to grab one of those and a couple of the mini fruit meringues. Sadly, there wasn’t much cheese left by the time we got there as we had gone for one of the last sittings. I’m not sure I could have fitted much more in anyway!

We had a great meal and definitely got our moneys worth on the prosecco front! The staff were friendly and attentive. There was live music, which was excellent but a little loud if you were sitting close by. But of course, the best thing was spending time with my lovely family.

oxbo flowers

Roast Rating: Punch Tavern

“Gin & Tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire”

Winston Churchill

 

This week, we went to the Punch Tavern on Fleet Street (www.punchtavern.com) for our roast and I have to say we were impressed! It’s a historic site, having been a former gin palace and was named due to its proximity to Punch magazine. It is charming inside – we were lucky enough to get a banquet seat with a view of the whole pub area.

 

20180204_192636

 

As per usual, we started off with beers. I had a guest ale which was served in a traditional dimpled glass tankard. I always think beer tastes better out of them!

Roast wise, we had a choice of roast beef or chicken. Obviously I had the beef. It was served with parsnip, cabbage, carrots and bonus cauliflower cheese. The cauliflower cheese was delicious – nicely cheesy but not overdone. The beef was thinly sliced and cooked to our personal taste, which is unusual with a pub roast and meant that the meat scored very highly! The roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding were also good. It was a decent portion size but didn’t look like much when it arrived with all the veg hidden from sight!

Roast punch tavern

I had the Malbec to drink and really enjoyed it. The rioja was not quite so good however. Sadly there was no cheese board option but the chocolate and caramel torte was lovely with a good mix of textures and flavours.

The rest of the menu looks interesting, with some decent veggie options so with the relaxed atmosphere and staff who were friendly and helpful, i’m sure we’ll be back again soon.

pud punch tavern

 

(Quote was displayed in the pub entrance and I quite liked it)

Roast Rating: Roast

“Roast beef, medium, is not only a food. It is a philosophy”

Edna Ferber

roast crop

 

A traditional Sunday roast has long been one of my favourite meals, probably because I was blessed with a Mum who was a fabulous cook and made us one very week! For over a year, I have been on a mission to find the best pub roast in London… Unfortunately with working weekends etc, we probably only manage to venture out around once a month so we still have many more to try!

Much to the boys amusement, I have 18 categories, focusing on every aspect of the roast dinner, as well as the location in general. The rules are simple: a beer whilst we peruse the menu, before we order roast beef (i’m a traditionalist and can’t risk not getting a Yorkshire pudding!), red wine with the meal (followed by another glass or two…) and dessert- opting for the cheese board wherever possible.

No reviews of the best roast in London would be complete without a visit to Roast in Borough Market (www.roast-restaurant.com). So I’ve finally made it there!

 

roast meal 1

 

We opted for the 3 courses for £37.50 deal, which offered a choice of chicken, lamb shoulder, pork belly or roast sirloin of beef as their roast options, alongside a wide range of other dishes. We were definitely tempted by the roast chateaubriand for two but weren’t sure if it justified the additional cost.

For starters, we ordered the scotch egg and fish cake, both had roast beef and then apple crumble and cheese for dessert. The starters were fantastic! The roast beef was great too- thinly sliced and cooked medium to our request, with the horseradish being refreshingly different. The Yorkshire was presented as it should be- large and rustic. More gravy came at our request and the staff were attentive without being intrusive. The only slight disappointment for me was the apple crumble – it just wasn’t as good as Mums! The three cheeses were all tasty with two hard cheeses and one blue however a better cracker range would be nice. We opted for the Ruca Malen Malbec, which has been produced exclusively for Roast and it complimented the meal beautifully.

Overall, a good start to our roast ratings this year but not a front runner. However the rest of the menu looks good so we’ll undoubtedly be back soon!

roast wineroast cheese crop

 

Looking forward to 2018

“It’s pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.

The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day”

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

IMG_6900 (2)

 

The start of a new year is often taken to be a new beginning. In fact, the first month gets its name from Janus, a two-faced God who the Romans believed looked backwards into the old year whilst simultaneously looking ahead to the future.

 

Traditionally, new years resolutions were about improving ones self. In fact, common objectives set now have been proven to be more successful than resolutions made at other times of the year.

 

Personally, I am hoping that 2018 will be my year of travel. I’m hoping to get away every single month this year and am aiming to up my country count too – I am on a rather respectable 50 plus (which is about 22% of the world) but have nearly 50% of Europe yet to visit! So first off is a city break to Riga in Latvia next week. My first holiday and first new country of the year.

 

I’m also aiming to be a better tourist in my own country. The boy and I aim to get away together once a month, often booking last minute. But I also want to explore more of London – I can’t remember the last time I went to a museum here!

 

Along with the rest of the country, I am going to join a gym and aspire to a healthier me.

 

Oh and of course, I want to blog…