Catford Constitutional Club – craft beers + gastropub food

It’s already 18 months since Antic London’s pub presence in Catford moved from the Catford Bridge Tavern and into the derelict premises of the former Catford Conservative Club.

 

Catford Conservative Club - derelict in 2013
Catford Conservative Club – re-opened as a pub in 2013 having been vacant for 20 years

 

That was then…
While the Antic team continued to serve a good range of craft beers and excellent gastropub food at the Catford Constitutional Club (CCC) from the start, the space was – despite their best cleaning efforts – run-down and grubby to say the least (unsurprisingly, having been empty for 20 years). Not shabby-chic, just shabby. And still with pictures of Conservative ministers and snooker champions on the walls, just as it was when it was left vacant by the old conservative club.

All masked in a mouldy, mildewy smell that had built up over a long time and doesn’t just disappear overnight (off-putting when dining despite the excellent gastropub food).

 

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From the restaurant side of the room – small bar hatch to the left; old Conservative pictures on rear wall; nice bunting hides some of the grubbiness, May 2014

 

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Cosy at Christmas – the restaurant one year on, Dec 2014

 

But this is now…
Eighteen months on, the CCC feels lived in again – a homely pub that you *want* to visit. And the large beer garden with its pot plants and paintings is a punter-pleaser for the warm, summer days. It’s a real reflection on the pub’s team that they’ve worked so hard to make the CCC an attractive and appealing space in which you can relax comfortably over a craft beer or two and enjoy a good meal.

On our most recent visit to the CCC (both the bar and restaurant) we were unable to stray from our old favourites: a charcuterie sharing platter for starters, a burger for K and fish for me.

 

Here’s letting the pictures do the talking:
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Scotch egg @ £3.00 – you can’t eat at the CCC without having a Scotch egg. You just can’t. And they’re big enough to share.

 

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Starter: Charcuterie board @ £8.00 – air dried pork collar, smoked beef brisket, fennel salami, tomato chutney, bread + butter

 

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Starter: Roast pumpkin + chilli soup @ £4.75 – a winter warmer

 

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Mains: Sea Trout @ £11.95 – with baby gem + samphire salad, Jersey royals, warm radishes, dill creme fraiche

 

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Mains: Hake @ £11.95 – with pink fir apple potatoes, kale, brown shrimp + caper butter

 

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Mains: Sea trout @ £11.95 – served with stem broccoli + lentils

 

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Mains: Beef burger + posh chips @ £10.75 – burger with smoked bacon, smoked cheddar + relish in a brioche bun with ‘posh chips’ (fries with parmesan, smoked salt + truffle oil)

 

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Mains: Beef burger + posh chips – so good K’s eaten this [more than] twice

 

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Mains: Slow-roast brisket @ £12.75 – with smoked bacon, baby onions, Brussel sprouts + creamed celeriac

 

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Dessert: Elderflower jelly + ice-cream @ £4.60

 

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Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding @ £4.75 – with toffee sauce + clotted cream

 

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Dessert: ice-cream union @ £4.00 – Christmas pudding, peanut butter and salted caramel

 

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Sample menu – as of 19 June 2015

 

The verdict: Excellent food and great range of craft beers + ciders that changes all the time. The team’s done a great job of cleaning up an old vacant building and turning it into a homely pub. Shame it’s likely to close in 2016 as part of Lewisham Borough Council’s plans to redevelop Catford Broadway (shopping area) which is needed. But here’s hoping the Antic team will move into another new space and make that a homely watering hole too..

 

Catford. Let’s not forget the cat
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Mieeww…

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, gastropub food, real ales + ciders
~ Address: Catford Broadway, Catford, London
~ Postcode: SE6 4SP
~ Tel: 020 8613 7188
~ Nearest rail stations: Catford Bridge, Catford
~ Website + menus: Catford Constitutional Club website + Antic London website
~ Photos on flickr: My Catford Constitutional Club photos
~ Location: Catford Constitutional Club map

 

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Topolski Café-Bar – South Bank

In the railway arches by Waterloo station, Topolski gallery-café-bar-venue (a part of the Southbank Centre estate) serves ‘East meets West’ Lebanese flatbread pizza, sharing platters, and a good range of cocktails and drinks (with a 2-for-1 offer on selected drinks between 6-7pm, Mon-Sat).

As you might expect, the interior has an industrial feel (great look, poor acoustics) and – being Feliks Topolski‘s former studio – the walls are covered in his paintings.

 

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Topolski interior, Hungerford Arches
 

During the day (10am-5pm) you can relax in this airy café-bar (maybe after experiencing a cultural event on the South Bank) and choose from pastries, light bites, sandwiches and soups and pizza. Then, from 5pm, only pizza and sharing platters are served. It’s £6.50 for a margherita pizza and £1.25 for each topping (so £9.00 total if you choose two toppings).

 
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Parma ham and mushroom pizza @ £9.00
 

On our visit last night, after seeing Circus Geeks: Beta Testing at the Udderbelly festival, I ordered a mushroom and parma ham pizza, while L had artichoke and ham.

We ordered at the bar (no table service). Our order included a bottle of prosecco @ £29.00. And food arrived quickly. It was quick and easy, and there seemed to be a fairly rapid turnaround on tables, making this is an ideal place to come to for impromptu dining after a South Bank event (as restaurants around here are often booked up, making it a challenge for walk-ins).

The freshly baked flatbread base was udderly (doh) thin and gorgeous – a really good pizza. A slight downside was the noise: with loud music playing and a lack of soft furnishings in these exposed wall arches, it was quite hard to hear each other talk (so not the most ideal place if you want to have a good catchup).

 

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Parma ham + artichoke pizza
 

The verdict: Spacious venue. Fast (but decent) food. Handy for South Bank events.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Pizza, international
~ Address: 150-152 Hungerford Arches, Waterloo, London
~ Postcode: SE1 8XU
~ Nearest station: Waterloo
~ Website + menus: Topolski website + South Bank Centre website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Topolski food
~ Location: Topolski map

 

Click to add a blog post for Topolski on Zomato

 

Lyndhurst New Forest – where to go

K and I spent four days in and around the New Forest, Hampshire over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

We stayed in Lyndhurst (unsurprisingly busy being a bank holiday, and touristy with heavy traffic) hired mountain bikes, saw lots of New Forest ponies (prompting a chucklesome, horse-themed Spotify playlist – see the end of this post), sampled some local pubs and restaurants, drove to the Hampshire coast and saw the Magna Carta on display at Salisbury Cathedral.

Here’s sharing our highlights and recommending some things to see and do.

 

 


 

01. AA Bike Hire

Hire quality mountain bikes from AA Bike Hire (behind the tourist information centre, off Gosport Lane) @ £10 a day per adult. Bikes are hired on a first come first served basis and they do run out as we discovered on our first attempt (a Sunday morning).

Top tip: get there for 9am – opening time – on Sundays.

The closest alternative bicycle hire is from CycleExperience at Brockenhurst. They also run out.

 

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1. Bikes from AA Bike Hire; 2. New Forest ponies; 3. Exploring the forest; 4. Knightwood oak; 5. Enjoy

 

On our second and successful attempt on the Monday, we benefited from the owner of AA Bike Hire’s invaluable knowledge about the forest – recommended routes, and what to look out for.

 

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Recommended cycle route: A.E “15 country miles”

 

We followed route A.E., a “good fifteen country miles” (some steep hills) taking in the impressive grounds of Rhinefield House Hotel, freely roaming ponies, redwood treesBolderwood Ornamental Drive hosting the biggest tree in the forest (a knightwood oak probably between 400-600 years old) and a deer sanctuary. Returning to Lyndhurst through Emery Down, passing (or pausing via…) the New Forest Inn and Swan Inn.

 

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Rhinefield House Hotel + grounds

 


 

02. Siam Thai Lounge, Lyndhurst

Excellent Thai food in a comfortable and spacious restaurant, with truly hospitable and efficient service.

 

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Siam Thai Lounge interior

 

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Siam Thai mixed starters @ £12.80: chicken satay, prawn toast, tod mun fishcakes, spring rolls + we substituted mushroom satay instead of chicken wings

 

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Tom yum soup @£4.95 – gorgeously spicy

 

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Tofu and veggie curry @ £6.85 – Thai red curry with kaffir lime leaves, red and green pepper, mushroom, tofu, fine beans, carrot and coconut milk

 

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Gang Massamun @ £9.50 – rich curry with tender beef, coconut milk, peanut, onion + potato

The total bill for two came to £76.35 which included two bottles of Viognier (great dry white wine) @ £17.95 each.

 

Quick ref info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Thai
~ Address: 24 High Street, Lyndhurst, SO43 7BG
~ Tel: 02380 283061
~ Website + menus: Siam Thai Lounge website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Siam Thai Lounge food

 


 

03. Lyndhurst Art Gallery

 

 

 

The Summer Show at Lyndhurst Art Gallery runs from 29 May 2015 and features contemporary British Art from the likes of Sandra BinneyNagib KarsanKate Richardson and Yvonne Coomber.

 

I love the mixed media paintings by Penelope Timmis, particularly this Hen Party @ £750.00 including frame – it just makes me smile.

 


 

04. Tea Total

First impressions of Lyndhurst High Street might make you think it’s a bit twee, with its numerous antique shops and tea parlours.

But Tea Total is a tea shop with a difference – check out the playfully named teas on their tea board for a start.

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Menu – click to enlarge

Staff are friendly, welcoming and really know their teas, serving up expert knowledge with every cuppa.

Our visit *was* after our “good fifteen country mile” bike ride. We’d worked up a thirst and were in need of a sugar fix.

The ‘Tea lover for one’ @ £6.95 each seemed like a good reward: a choice of 50+ teas served with a homemade plain scone with jam and clotted cream and a slice of cake (gorgeous, oh-so-moist carrot cake on this occasion).

 

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Tea lover for one – IngenuiTEA pot for one, scone with jam + clotted cream and a slice of carrot cake @ £6.95 all served up with experTEAS…

 

K chose a monkey magic (golden monkey tea from Fujian, China) and I chose a passage to India (a spicy masala chai from Sri Lanka), each served in an IngenuiTEA pot with our own timer (a minute for K’s monkey tea to brew to perfection, three minutes for my chai).

Novel, perfectly brewed, two very satisfied customers.

 

Quick ref info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Tea + cakes
~ Address: 23 High Street, Lyndhurst, SO43 7BE
~ Tel: 023 8028 4585
~ Website: Tips N Leaves
~ Photos on flickr: images of Tea Total

 


 

05. Starskys

The ‘Starskys’ name and the restaurant exterior may not be overly appealing but it’s a different story inside. On our visit, staff welcomed us the moment we stepped into the restaurant; there was an interesting (if limited) choice of craft beers on offer (that we didn’t find anywhere else around Lyndhurst) and it wasn’t a problem to go ‘off menu’. And the food was great too.

 

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Starskys interior + Stevens Point pale ale

 

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The Texas burger – 6oz 100% prime lean beef patty served in a brioche bun with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, lettuce, red onion + tomato, with either rustic, skinny sweet potato fries or jacket potato (sweet potato fries were recommended by our server) and with a side salad @ £13.25

 

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Mac cheese side dish – not on the menu but that wasn’t a problem

 

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Georgia pulled pork from the smoker – Slow cooked pork marinated in Starskys own rub and served with a homemade BBQ sauce. And sweet potato fries.

 

Quick ref info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: American/smokehouse/burgers
~ Address: 16 High Street, Lyndhurst, SO43 7BD
~ Tel: 023 8028 2991
~ Website + menus:  Starskys
~ Photos on flickr: images of Starskys food

 

New Forest Ponies horse-themed Spotify playlist:

Ottolenghi Spitalfields

Walking along Artillery Lane, Spitalfields the other lunchtime, C and I spotted a newly opened branch of Ottolenghi (serving Mediterranean food and with an appealing cake display). We decided spontaneously to eat there.

Here’s the lunch menu from that particular day.

 

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3 salads: roasted aubergine + almonds (at back); chargrilled broccoli (left); roasted sweet potato (front)

 
We both ordered a lunchtime small salad (selection of three salads) @ £11.50.

I chose these three salads and they were gorgeous (original and exciting; not your bog standard salads by any means):
~ roasted aubergine with sorrel yoghurt, turmeric pickled radish, spring onion + almonds (at back)
~ chargrilled (crunchy) broccoli with chilli + garlic
~ roasted sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil, caramel seeds + nuts

 

Mixed salad #2
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3 salads: chargrilled broccoli; roasted sweet potato; mixed beans

 
And C had
~ chargrilled broccoli with chilli + garlic
~ roasted sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil, caramel seeds + nuts
~ mixed green beans with broad beans, peas, toasted coconut, mint + lemon

 

To drink, I had a small Spanish Sameiras Blanco (an excellent dry white wine that went well with the salad flavours) and C had a Cheverny rosé wine (@ £6.50 each). The wine selection was unusual and we were both pleased with our choices.

 

Appealing cake display
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Lemon + mascarpone tarts – really disgusting (inedible, vile pastry tasted of lard)

 

I bought two lemon and mascarpone tarts @ £3.50 each to take home (intended to be a treat for K). Unfortunately, when we bit into them that evening, K’s face immediately creased up and he spat his mouthful out. The pastry was just vile (it had an unpleasant lard flavour to it, as if it had soaked up the flavour of something it shouldn’t have). One seriously disappointed K! While this may have been unlucky and a one-off accident, I won’t be buying any cakes from Ottolenghi for a long while, if ever again.

The verdict: Great salads and wines, shame about the cake.

 
Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
~ Address: 50 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London
~ Postcode: E1 7LJ
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Ottolenghi website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Ottolenghi
~ Location: Ottolenghi map

 

Ottolenghi on Urbanspoon

Alice Underground – immersive theatre

Alice’s Adventures Underground, an immersive theatre experience performed by Les Enfants Terribles in the vaults under Waterloo, is simply bonkers, gloriously entertaining and not to be missed. Tickets from about £35.00, runs until 30 August 2015.

Eat me or drink me? That’s the decision we’re faced with as we step on to a dark, asymmetric stage that really does shrink narrower and lower the further back we go – we’re getting bigger! There’s a door to the left for those choosing drink me and another to the right for eat me.

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Being introduced to edible cocktails in the vaults bar 

Few in our group are choosing eat me (novelty edible cocktails made by Smith & Sinclair) and, as L and I already tried some edible gin + tonic cocktails (very perfumed) in the vaults bar earlier, we choose drink me – a vial of gin cocktail.

This low ceiling stage area is the fourth room – or  space – we’ve been in so far on this Alice Underground experience in the cavernous vaults underneath Waterloo.

Photography isn’t permitted. See some images here.

Our group – of about 60 people – was first led into a study or library filled with gravity-defying, leaning bookshelves and dusty old curiosities – letters, ornaments, pictures – where Alice appeared and spoke to us as a projection from behind a tall looking glass. Here, we met the March Hare narrator with his creepy over-sized rabbit head and massive pointy ears. On a table in the centre of the library, Alice’s image appeared on photographic paper ‘developing’ in dark room trays. Nothing was as it seemed. A curious adventure was unfolding.

When the dim lights went out, our only option was to leave through a door that took us along a narrow, bendy corridor completely wallpapered in open books with their central pages spanning and fanning in all sorts of shapes; spines stuck to the ceiling and walls (I want corridors like this – fire hazard or not – in my house when I grow up). Walls coated in literature, inches deep in stories. Spellbinding. And spine-binding.

From this corridor we’d entered a circular, rotating musical box room where spinning lights gave the feel of a merry go round (spinning or falling lower underground) before playing our part on the stage. Here, our large group (or mobile audience) divided.

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Following the drink me story-line, L and I go along a dark trench (we hold on to one another as – for a short way – we can’t really see where we’re going) into a small, enclosed woodland space where we meet the barking mad Cheshire Cat, whose enormous head leaves its body and floats up high (excellent puppetry). Three puppeteers form the cat’s voice, saying the same lines together but slightly out of sync to create a singular but distorted, spooky voice.

Each room we enter represents a different element of Alice’s story (this year is the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground by Charles Dodgson, pseudonym Lewis Carrol – the original manuscript can be seen at The British Library). The set designs and interactions with characters are brilliantly done, making for a fabulous and utterly bonkers experience.

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Temporary permit to Wonderland
At this point, we each select a card and further divide according to suit. L and I are separated and I follow the the story-line for clubs. I hear someone moan about this, saying that they had chosen to come and do this with their friends and didn’t appreciate having to go on their own for a while. Whereas I think it heightens the suspense and excitement somehow. It is only for a short while (about five rooms) and is critical in advancing the story (which becomes apparent later).

Our small group (with club cards) is subjected to the loud, mad queen and the untalented cook at loggerheads in the kitchen; then watch two over-sized babies (Tweedledum and Tweedledee?) doing circus-like gymnastics – harnessed from the roof – in a nursery, before meeting the Knave of Hearts in the pantry. He  talks us through the provisions on the well stacked shelves, from mock turtle soup to a variety of jams (there’s something of David Walliams in his comedy) and confides in us about his jam addiction. All of a sudden, he’s stuffed a jam tart in his mouth and is freaking out that the queen will find out and there’ll be trouble. The only option is for us *all* to eat up the rest of the tarts between us, and hide the evidence that they ever existed! And so we do.

Continuing our journey through a space elaborately decorated with frilly, brightly coloured umbrellas suspended from above, we head up some stairs into a big circular bedouin tent where we sit on cushions and meet the Hookah-Smoking-Caterpillar (more beautiful puppetry) before being subjected to revolutionary rantings in a bunker where each member of our clandestine group is given a badge of a raven and collectively we make a nonsensical pact.

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Raven badges for our clandestine, revolutionary group …of Clubs
From here, we meet up with the rest of our audience/group again in a vast banqueting hall, where a long wooden table is set out for the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Water jets spray sporadically along the table top, an old character is contorted into a tiny tin bath tub amid the crockery and every few minutes, we – the tea party goers – move one space along the table on improvised seats (beer barrels and props). Just when you think it can’t get any more insane, this is Bedlam.

For our final experience – equally mad – we are led into the courtroom, where those of us with club cards are questioned about eating the queen’s tarts. Of course, we deny it and are found NOT GUILTY.

The whole experience of Alice’s Adventures Underground lasts about 90 minutes (with performances starting at 15 or 30 minute intervals every day from April to August 2015). It’s a daring, innovative and thoroughly entertaining experience but was slightly too long for me – I was totally saturated with bonkersness after an hour. That said, it’s well worth seeing.

There’s also a family version (Adventures in Wonderland) that’s suitable for kids, which – I suspect – is shorter, and may be all the better for it.

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Entertainment in Wonderland
Want to know more?
~ BBC News clip: Report about Alice Underground
~ Website: Alice Underground
~ My photos on flickr: limited photos
~ Related blogposts: British culture + arts

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty – spectacular

It’s Easter Saturday, April 4th (strangely quiet in London) and we’ve got tickets for the exhibition Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty at the Victoria + Albert Museum.

“The first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented
in Europe, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty showcases McQueen’s visionary body of work. Spanning his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen’s designs are presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows” – source: V+A.

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Savage Beauty exhibition sponsored by Swarovski – photo of promotional booklet
 


 

It’s extremely well organised, with a restricted number of people being able to enter the exhibition at 30 minute intervals to prevent over-crowding. It’s very well produced, spectacular, an emotional experience, mind-blowing. Immense.

From the moment we step into the darkness of a small entrance room (an interim space that serves to eradicate, or neutralise me from the more traditional V+A museum space I’ve just left behind) I’m intrigued by the loud music and film I can hear emanating from the first display room I’m about to enter. Suspense – heightened.

Turning the corner into the exhibition, my attention is actively sought by video footage playing on a giant screen on the back wall, music pounding, and Alexander McQueen’s 1992 MA graduate collection before me. Where to look first? It’s a feast for the senses.

 
Photography and sketching are not permitted in the exhibition.
See the V+A’s photos Inside The Exhibition
.
 

While the display items are from 1992, the story starts in 1985 (the written texts are – in part – hard to read, poorly lit, and sometimes don’t accurately depict the garment they refer to; it’s the weakness of the exhibition but even so – it doesn’t detract from the overall, powerful and mesmerising experience) when McQueen began a Savile Row apprenticeship, developing the tailoring and cutting craftsmanship that would serve him well in later years.

Already I’m transported back to 1985 – a time when I was studying dress and design at school and would bunk off classes I didn’t like, to put in extra time in the sewing room (my *lovely* sewing teacher, Mrs T, covered for me when I got found out and would otherwise have got in trouble. By the by). A time of outlandish New Romantic/futurist fashions when, as a teenager, I loved making my own, unique clothes (think zips, big clasps, double breasted shirts, pencil skirts, balloon pants, adapted men’s clothes) from what seemed like an endless supply of beautiful cloths that came my way from my granddad who worked in a Huddersfield wool mill (truly bringing out the Taylor in me).

But back to 1992, to McQueen’s St Martin’s College graduation collection Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims inspired by McQueen’s East End London upbringing, and with hair locks sewn into each garment.

 
“London’s where I was brought up.
It’s where my heart is and where I get my inspiration”

– Alexander McQueen, January 2000
 

Savage Beauty is all about (L.) Alexander McQueen the designer, not Lee McQueen the person (personal relationships remain unexplained; it’s objective, you don’t get a subjective narrative of his complicated relationship with Isabella Blow who bought his graduation collection in 1992 and effectively launched his career). And if you ask me, that’s a good thing.

Each room conveys a different – perfectly staged – sense of theatre for each very different collection (which surprises and pleases). Yet, simultaneously, some common themes run throughout his designs (such as nature and Romanticism).

Collections from the 90s include the controversial Highland Rape of 1995-96 (despite saying he wanted to empower women, the disturbing torn clothes and bloodied flesh in this collection were seen as misogynist at the time though McQueen claimed the story here is embedded in the history of the Scottish Clearances by the English, rather than the rape of women, and pays tribute to his Scottish ancestry) also featuring bumster designs that draw attention to the lower back (acknowledging the lower spinal area as “the most exciting part of any person’s body, whether male or female”. I like that) and outlandish but meticulously tailored Dante of 1996-97 (his fame grew in the Britpop and Cool Britannia era).  

 
“I want to empower women.
I want people to be afraid of the women I dress”

– Alexander McQueen
 


Dress no.13, spring/summer 1999

 
So what do I like best? What really grabs me?
This is where I wish I’d been able to snap some photos:
 
1. an ostentatiously big, black, fitted/shaped dress – all rips and buckles, erotica-stylie (from the graduation collection I think, certainly the 90s) – as with many of the dresses, I *really want* to try it on

2. black cashmere wool trousers (beautifully cut, with red piping on shin-high roll-ups and a vertical trio of buttons under each hip, from late 90s – either Dante or Joan)
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3. that he always cut his clothes to suit the wearer sideways-on (sideways-on being where all the lumps and bumps are)

4. that there *is* a coherent and thoughtful story to his designs when individually, they often seemed crazy and way OTT

5. the sheer scale of talent and success (massive!) by someone who achieved so much and died so young; it’s mind-blowing to see it all in one space

6. the huge central room packed with exhibits (dresses, accessories, screens playing video) floor to ceiling on all four walls and – in particular – the robot-spray-painted white cotton muslin dress centre-stage (ie. dress no.13, spring/summer 1999)

7. animal shapes incorporated into designs (eg. Thomson Gazelles in It’s a Jungle Out There, autumn/winter 1997–98)

8. the blend of east and west (in both the VOSS, spring/summer 2001 collection and It’s Only A Game, spring/summer 2005 (eg. Japanese kimonos morphing with the padding of American football strips)

 
“There’s blood beneath every layer of skin”
– Alexander McQueen
 

9. those armadillo shoes

10. the abundance of corsets (sigh)

11. the swash-buckling ‘kings of the wild frontier’ tailored jackets in the Dante collection autumn/winter 1996–97

 
“I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them”
– Alexander McQueen
 

K too is hooked: he sees the influence of an early Final Fantasy costume in a particular McQueen design from the noughties. But then again, I can’t see how anyone couldn’t be hooked by this exhibition – there’s something for everyone. The experience is an hour of pure sensation.

 

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Reasonably priced tickets @ £16.00 each

 
Further reading + viewing
 


V&A on Savage Beauty
 


Vogue’s Inside Savage Beauty

 
 
BBC documentary

 
Intrigued? Want to know more? Check out these links
~ Met Museum NYC: Savage Beauty USA – select items
~ V+A: Museum of Savage Beauty
~ V+A: Inside The Exhibition
~ The Guardian: Savage Beauty review – superficially magnificent
~ Collections (images): on Culture Whisper website
~ Collections (images): The Widows of Culloden
~ Collections, including: Graduation collection images
~ Savage Beauty photos: exhibition collages
~ New York Times: Timeline of McQueen
~ Bio: See Alexander McQueen’s timeline
~ Vogue: Alexander the Great
~ Michelle Olley: Box naked and all those moths

 

Levante Pide – Lewisham

We decided to end the working week relaxing over a meal out on Friday evening. We wanted somewhere nice. And somewhere in Lewisham, South East London.

A web search (Google, Open Table, Trip Advisor, etc) showed that Levante Pide, a Turkish restaurant on Lewisham High Street, had better reviews and ranking over other central Lewisham restaurants. And so I booked a table via the Open Table site.

Roll on 8pm Friday night: on arrival the restaurant was packed and we were told they didn’t have our booking – perhaps we’d booked the restaurant with a similar name (Levante) at Hither Green? I showed the booking on my phone and we were shown to a table for two. Mix-up cleared.


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Inside Levante Pide – large and bright, stone clad walls

 

We weren’t in any hurry – we were intent on having a relaxing, leisurely meal. Even so, service was incredibly slow (to the extent I had to go find our waiter at one point).

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Menu

We ordered a bottle of chianti red wine, reasonably priced at £19.00 and these mixed meze starters: grilled haloumi cheese @ £4.50, sucuk izgara spicy Turkish sausage (excellent) @ £4.50, sigara boregi deep-fried filo dough stuffed with creamy Turkish white cheese and parsley @ £3.90 and calamari fried squid in a light crispy batter @ £4.50. They were all good and served with fresh salad but the sausage stood out as being the speciality dish here.

 

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Meze starters – grilled haloumi, sucuk spicy sausage, sigara boregi + calamari
 
For main course, K ordered Iskender kebab – lamb doner served with butter-coated bread with yoghurt and special Anatolian sauce, topped with sizzling butter @ £12.00 (simply amazing – really tender lamb pieces and gorgeous spicy sauce and flavours) and I had an Adana kebab – minced meat marinated with herb and grilled @£10.00. This was tainted with an unpleasant gassy flavour (from the way it had been grilled?) and I left it.

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Kebab main courses – Iskender and Adona

While I’m not the world’s biggest fan of puddings, I do love baklava (honey and nuts – my kind of ingredients) so in the interest of benchmarking (ahem) we ordered a portion to share (this was tasty enough but @ £3.50 for two pieces it seemed either over-priced or a small portion) along with an Irish coffee made with Baileys @ £3.90 each.

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Baklava + Irish coffee with Baileys

The verdict: a bit hit and miss (some food was great, some food – like the complimentary bread and the Adana kebab – had an unpleasant gassy taste) and service was poor. There are plenty of other good Turkish restaurants in the area, like Turquaz (with friendly staff and entertaining belly dancing) that have an edge over Levante Pide.

And – if your dining criteria is a good restaurant in the Lewisham area – head over to Catford, where there are several great restaurants and a variety of international cuisines.

 

Restaurant info:

~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish
~ Address: 187 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London
~ Postcode: SE13 6AA
~ Nearest station: Lewisham
~ Website + menus: Levante Pide website
~ Photos: Levante Pide food photos
~ Location: Levante Pide map

Levante Pide on Urbanspoon

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