At the Tabl: Gizzi Erskine & The Inksiders

Late to the trend party as ever, I’ve been pining after going to a supper club. I’m the sort of person who loves the social side of food- bonding over carving a roast or tasting a forkful of your friend’s dish is the most important part of any meal- and supper clubs are that bit more personal than your typical eat-out experience. Unfortunately, I’m also the sort of person who will have something on my ‘I must do that’ list for months, so despite it being on my radar for a good long while, I’d never got round to going to one.

Until, that is, I was invited by the very lovely Tazz along to a Tabl event. Tabl is all about making dining experiences more fun, more personal, and more social. Their website, tabl.com, is a litany of cool one-night-only pop ups, home kitchen supper clubs, and innovative food + something special mash ups. To say I jumped at the chance is to massively overstate the grace I had in accepting her invite.

So that’s how I found myself flying solo in the private dining room of Tramshed, Shoreditch, for a tattoo-inspired menu and discussion with The Inksiders and food-hero Gizzi Erskine.

Long tables lay in the centre of the dining room, with people milling around holding glasses of Brighton Gin. I knew nobody. Recognising Erin, IslandBell, from Twitter, I walked over and shyly interrupted her and her friend’s chat to introduce myself. Erin and Charlie were so sweet, and immediately accepted me as part of their evening as we got chatting about the towns we had in common and our shared love of Gizzi Erskine’s books.

Brighton Gin

Welcome drinks swigged, it was time to take our seats. Seeing a gap in the crowd surrounding Gizzi, Erin took us to meet her, we were greeted with hugs like old friends and asked to join her at the table so we could all keep chatting. As I was shaking off my fangirl, a hand tapped my shoulder. Lydia, a girl I haven’t seen for years, was right there in front of me. We freaked out, sat down together, and the meal began.

Simultaneously in reunion and making-friends mode, I chatted an laughed and swapped Twitters and took photos all night. Each dish was designed to be carved out for groups, a glowing convivial spirit of carving roast chicken and sharing out plates of salad, pouring drinks for people I hadn’t met yet. If this sounds gushing, then that’s as accurate as I could be. I loved it.

Chicken supper club

chicken supperclub

Between mains and dessert (pure salted caramel fondue with cakes for dipping- the most heart-eyes-emoji dish I’ve ever seen), there was a Q&A with Gizzi and Mo, a renowned tattoo artist. They chatted about the ink and food industries, fielding questions from the crowd as we swigged wine. Though I’m no tattoo afficianado, you could really get a feel for their passion and expertise.

Salted caramel fondue

Dessert rounded up and with plans to meet all four of the girls I got chatting to again, I tottered off back home feeling incredibly connected to London. Without really trying, I’d found myself alone in an awesome restaurant with food by a chef I love, met new friends and found old ones, discovered a new way of entertaining that I’m dying to do again and left full and happy. This was more social, more dinner-round-mine than any restaurant I’ve ever been to. I’m already scouring Tabl for the next opportunity to arrive alone at a dinner party and leave with new friends and a stomach full of great food.

PS- if anyone wants to hit up a supper club, shout and I will 100% come with you!


Favourite Fine Dining

I’m definitely a fast-casual kinda girl, but equally, I am also occasionally a fancy bitch. And fancy bitches don’t spill Shake Shack cheese sauce on their new jeans, they drop a raw oyster down their blouse.

My favourite places to get that little bit of luxury- preferably around the payday period- have a lot of class, but also don’t mind if you don’t know an ile flottante from your elbow. I thought I’d round up a few of the nicest for you in case you’re scheming any hot dates or have an ASOS delivery with a cocktail dress you have no plans for yet.

Le Pont de la Tour

Out on the river, past fancy Shad Thames and within Snapchatting distance of Tower Bridge, sits Pont de la Tour. Recently refurbished, the restaurant oozes old school glam, with a more than fleeting feel of an Oriental Express First Class carriage.


Our dinner, of course, was superb. I started with oysters- fresh and sharp- and shared the duck main with my boyfriend. It’s served in two sittings- the first a succulent and perfectly pink duck breast carved out in front of us by a sweet Maitre’D- and the second and cripsy, salty confit duck leg. Both dishes were magnificent, and the theatre of food being carved in front of us had Jonathan and I practically crying with anticipation.

Staff are a little eager to please, with one chap bursting through the middle of a quick kiss to top up our water glasses, but they are endlessly polite, and knew every single thing about the wine that left us wandering out with a warm fuzzy feeling. Top marks.

Best for: Old school glamour.

PS: They also have a beautiful deli right next door, where I recently bought the best sandwich I have ever had. Go there.

Les 110 de Taillevent

French wine aficionados Taillevent recently moved to the UK to ply willing Londoners with one hundred and ten high quality wines, paired perfectly with traditional French dishes. Each item on the menu is joined by a choice of four wines, which I worked my way through with vigour.


Beautiful squid to start, followed by an autumnal, hearty beef cheek dish, and a dish called ‘Childhood Remembered’ for the grand dessert finale (not realising nor caring that the dessert was intended to be shared between two, I might add). Each dish is joined  by a glass of wine, elegantly adorned with a little collar detailing the qualities of it’s content. If it sounds like a gimmick, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how genuine, well thought through, and delightful it actually is.

Best for: A little slice of Paris in London, subtle luxury and an unbeatable choice of vin.


There is something undoubtedly luxurious about The Shard. Probably the sleekest building in London, swanning in with a reservation and being flown up in a lift to be greeted with a stunning view and a beautiful restaurant is hands down one of the best feelin’ fancy moments you can have.


Hutong serves incredible dim sum- their speciality of course being whole roasted duck- and orient-inspired cocktails. This is Chinese food done incredibly well, and with all the finesse you’d expect from one of the city’s most glamorous locations. When I have visited, I’ve picked a handful of dishes from the set lunch menu- making Hutong one of the most affordable luxury destinations in London. Of course, as with any fine dining destination, you can order wildly expensive meals, but if you’re savvy you can leave feeling full, happy, and none the poorer.

Best for: Northern Chinese food, cocktails, and affordable luxury.

Duck and Waffle

Possibly the most talked about restaurant in London- and certainly one of the coolest chefs- Dan Doherty’s Duck and Waffle is an undisputed champion of destination dining. Perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, by Liverpool Street Station, the restaurant is open 24-hours a day. Though I’m sure it’s fabulous at 3am, I’ve never managed to get myself out of bed for that time, but can thoroughly recommend their breakfast.


I’ve been three times now, one as a surprise from a SUPER sweet colleague when I was new and nervous to London, once for a BFFs’ birthday, and once to show off London to my visiting mother (turns out slightly afraid of heights, oops) each time it was spectacular, with early morning London mists rising to reveal the city, stretching for miles. When you have a showstopper view, you’d probably be forgiven for relaxing the quality of food, but D&W rises to challenge and plates up incredible food- the namesake being crisp, confit duck leg with freshly griddled waffle. An absolute stunner.

Best for: Breakfasts. And for taking London newbies.



Touring Oxford Colleges

You know who make good local guides? Male friends. I mean, sure, female friends do a pretty good job too, but you ask a guy you’ve not seen in a while to “show me the touristy bits” and you have essentially handed over your weekend plans to the most efficient tour operator you can imagine.

I know this because I might have been a little breathless from all the high-speed pacing, but oh boy did I see Oxford.

My trusty guides were Sam and Sam (not a typo, they’re both called Sam!). I’ve known Sam (number one) for years, and have visited him plenty of times while he’s been studying at Oxford. Unfortunately for all involved, it was usually on a party night, and I could barely remember my name, nevermind where the lovely chapels and tearooms were. This time was going to be different, so off we popped.

Corpus Christi College


Dat lighting tho!  The weather was pretty hormonal- hence the sunny blue sky in one corner and demon stormclouds in the other. Oxford has a weird ability to look cool while it’s grey and miserable. All the buildings look foreboding and imposing and dramatic, or on sunny days it just looks mega-twee and like a scene from Harry Potter.

Magdalen College

Magdalen College Chapel Entrance

This is just outside the Magdalan College Chapel. I’m never quite sure whether it’s appropriate to take pictures inside religious buildings, so I saved myself the moral drama and this little cubbyhole will have to do instead.

Exam Hall


The street facing the exam hall is covered in confetti. My trusty guide informed me this is because after students finish their exam, there is usually a crowd right outside with streamers and party poppers (and champagne…) their to celebrate/commiserate their academic prowess. Very unlike York, where we were more likely to be attacked by a menopausal goose than be handed a bottle of champers, but there you have it.

Merton College

Merton College Quad

New College

New College Quad

New College Quad

(I was going to limit this post to one picture per college, but look at how pretty those shadows are!)

Most Colleges charge tourists to look round, and it’s not open to the public for a good portion of the year so as to let all the students get on with their essays without obnoxious camera-hoarders getting all up in their grill. For this trip it wasn’t a problem (and was totally free!) because I was with card-carrying students who smoothtalked our way in and around the grounds- so top advice for touring Oxford colleges would be to buddy up with a current student if you can!

I’m so glad I got to see Oxford without a hangover, and I can only thank my tour guides for their diligence and thoroughness in responding to my request for a bit of tourism. Ta, boys!


When London breaks

You know how when it snows, everyone gets ready to make those “Southern pansy” jokes? The ones about how oop North, we rally through full force gales, shimmy over snow drifts and pick our way through the perilous icy peaks to get to the mines, but when a single snowflake lands outside Buckingham Palace, every Londoner goes into a full-scale meltdown as though they’d never seen the sky deposit such an unearthly matter on their beloved city before, and as a result they spend all day blankly refusing to go to work?

Yeah. I used to make those.

I lived on the edge of the Pennines for a year, where, in winter, it was safer to sit on your bum and slide one mile down the ice-covered road into oncoming traffic than to risk breaking your back by walking down said hill- and I still never missed my bus. I used to slide to college, voluntarily or otherwise, every day with only a few complaints and a twisted ankle. I felt my perils were just a simple part of winter, and coping with it was a simple job of getting on with your life despite external forces.

I used to look at Londoners, whimpering over the weather forecast, and think that they were pathetic. That was then. That was before I experienced The TFL Tube Strike.

I’m not sure if you noticed (…) but London just had a public transport freak out. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the situation, so do your fact-finding elsewhere, but I do know that for two days, it messed with my head.

The night before the strike, I’d been pretty smug. Meh, I thought, ignoring all warnings, this will just be another thing that Londoners meltdown about. Oop Norf, we rally through full force gales to get t’werk…(cont.). That was before what should have been an hour and a half round trip took me SIX AND A HALF HOURS.

I saw five people crying. I saw three arguments. I saw queues of one hundred people trying to bustle onto a single decker bus. I was in Waterloo East when it had to be evacuated and I was in gridlocked traffic for so long that I gave up and decided to walk the remaining stretch in the windy drizzle.  I was on the only central-bound train from Clapham that thoughtful strangers decided to fart on. And you know the worst bit? I didn’t even have it that bad.

I’ve got a new found respect for Londoners. I used to think that the transport-drama headlines were hyperbolic, and simply proof that people were softer down south. But having experienced just a taste of what it’s like to be in a crowd of one thousand lost and late commuters, I sort of get it now. Because back home, when there’s a transport crisis, we’re not battling with crowds of hundreds of people who are getting in your way, or knocking you over to get on the bus. And there’s certainly no one farting into your handbag.