Coal Rooms, Peckham

The smell of sweet bacon in Peckham Rye station is a daily reminder of the arrival of Coal Rooms Restaurant, which has found a home in the old ticket office of the vintage station. Peckham residents have been eagerly awaiting this opening after the Old Spike Coffee Roastery team promised a comfort food eatery from the convenience of the area’s main station.

Coal Rooms

The venue is split into sections… first a small but bright cafe area where short-stay visitors can pop in for a croissant and coffee. Walk through the kitchen area and you’ll reach the clean and simple dining room, with chevron plank flooring and teal crushed velvet sofas.

Coal Rooms

The restaurant is open all day. At lunchtime a smaller selection of plates is available, each dish is priced between £5 and £10, and you will probably need four between two. Glancing over the menu I quickly realised this is not a restaurant for the faint-hearted or vegan, the majority of the dishes feature heavy and rich meat elements or at least plenty of cheese!

We ordered a selection and there were varying levels of success. Buttermilk fried mackerel, Bull’s Head tomato, Scotch bonnet hot sauce, kewpie was the obvious winner with my guest who silently and methodically made her way through the whole plate. The oily fish was cleverly paired with chilli to cut through the texture and had a lovely creamy kewpie mayonnaise on top.

Buttermilk chicken, jerk caramel was a tad disappointing – lack lustre chicken topped with a caramel sauce. We liked the earthy Smoked goat belly & beans but didn’t rush to finish it.

Of the vegetarian options, Coal roasted cauliflower with miso bagna cauda and furikake (available as a half or full cauliflower) was an unusual but delicious dish, clearly influenced by the flavours of Japan. ‘Peckham Fatboy’ fried potatoes topped with Ogleshield cheese, onions and beef fat mayonnaise was an indulgent and delicious side and Umami salad with crispy onions was a fresh and palate cleansing dish when eaten with the assortment of meat dishes.

Coal Rooms

Coal Rooms has become known for its Bacon Sandwich (which costs £5)… Coffee-cured streaky bacon, homemade brown sauce or ketchup sandwiched between a fluffy custard bun. The bacon sandwich is available all day (including at lunchtime) until sold out. It is an epic sarnie, overflowing with thick-cut pork with a smoky sweetness from the homemade sauce.

Coal RoomsCoal Rooms

At lunchtime there is only one dessert on offer and a cheese option. Apple & cheddar pie, cinnamon toast ice-cream was a simple but tasty dessert… I particularly liked the spiced ice-cream. Coal Rooms serve great coffee from Old Spike, which is lucky as you’ll need a pick-me-up after a hearty meal here.

PS. Don’t leave without visiting the beautiful bathrooms…

More information and book a table at Coal Rooms here.

Ushvani Spa, Sloane Square

I don’t visit London spas very often, usually they are tucked away at the back of hotels and feel like a bit of an afterthought. But a few weeks ago I visited a special spa that I am still dreaming about.

Ushvani Spa is a serene and luxurious day spa located minutes away from Sloane Square station, concealed within a beautiful Georgian building on Cadogan Gardens. Ushvani’s philosophy is based on ancient Asian culture and the team take a holistic approach to treat the mind, body and spirit.

Ushvani Spa

Owner and Founder Usha Arumugam has created a blissfully relaxing retreat, and from the moment you step through the door busy city life is a forgotten memory. The warm and luxe decor is Malaysian inspired throughout; an intimate spa with dark wood panelling, carved sculptures, and a fish tank displaying clown fish, a symbol of good luck.

The softly spoken therapist who greeted me at the door immediately made me feel at ease, replacing my worn-out trainers for slippers and placing a refreshing hibiscus-infused towel in my hands. She then took me on a brief tour of the spa, which features a plunge pool, steam room, relaxation room, Sentosa studio (for yoga and meditation classes) and male and female changing rooms.

Ushvani Spa

There is also the Asmara Suite… a specially designed room for couples treatments. The cosy and inviting suite is ideal for any of the two hour treatments and guests can enjoy the private facilities after the joint treatment. I noticed a lovely deep sunken stone bath where I was told that the water is infused with Ushvani’s signature Nutmeg Flower Bath oil. It sounded divine.

Ushvani Spa

After a quick trip to the changing rooms to change into my bathrobe, I was taken by my therapist to a treatment room for the Malay Massage. This signature treatment is one of the most popular at Ushvani, and is renowned for its contouring and toning benefits.

My legs were elevated and I was told to take in a few deep breaths, the fresh smell of eucalyptus filled the air. My therapist was brilliant at responding to my body’s aches and pains. She used long kneading strokes and plenty of nourishing oil to relieve and soothe the spots of tension and stretched out my tight muscles. Without my guidance she knew exactly where to apply pressure and where to be more gentle, and after a few minutes I felt my breathing slow and my body let go.

Ushvani Spa

I didn’t want the massage to end. Afterwards, while hydrating with a nutmeg and ginger tea I realised that this Ushvani treatment had been without a doubt one of the best spa experiences of my life. I felt a deep sense of calm and relaxation… the earlier stresses of the day were now a distant memory.

More information and book a treatment at Ushvani Spa here.

Breddos Tacos, Kingly Street

It’s rare that a sequel is as good as the first film, book or even restaurant. I’m pleased to report that the new Breddos Tacos on Kingly Street is every bit as delicious as the original eatery in Clerkenwell. Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney started London’s Mexican food revolution less than a year ago and thanks to the overwhelming success have brought their undeniably tasty tacos to a more central spot.

Breddos

This central outpost joins a host of new restaurants around Kingly Court and Carnaby Street. It is a bright and vibrant dining room and including the downstairs area seats up to 84 diners (double the number of the East London original). You can get it all here from breakfast to late night cocktails in the Mezcal and Margarita bar… I decided to go somewhere in the middle and try out the lunch offering.

Breddos

Inside, the walls are painted in colourful patterns, small and cosy tables occupy every bit of floor space. It is a dark venue, so those wanting to ‘gram their dinner will have to brave the cold and eat on one of the outdoor tables. Decor is sparse but characterful with particularly lovely handmade pineapple water jugs, that I immediately fell in love with!

Breddos

Many of the favourites from Clerkenwell are found on this menu but their are some more hearty additions thanks to the bigger kitchen and new pizza oven. We loved the melt in the mouth Baja fish tacos and indulgent crispy pork belly chicharonne with red cabbage and tomatillo. Homemade corn chips with gooey and addictively tasty queso fundido (melted cheese) is a great addition to any selection of dishes at Breddos.

From the larger plates, don’t miss the impressive ‘pulpo asado’ with black vinegar, sichuan and soy, and the BBQ onglet steak with tamarind & piloncillo salsa, burnt spring onion crema. Every dish was a careful combination of the highest quality fish and meat with a bright and brilliant punchy dressing, full of herbs and spices.

Sadly when I popped in during preview week the deep fryer wasn’t working so I missed out on the legendary churros dessert sandwich, but I fully intend on visiting again soon and I’ll report back!

In the meantime get yourself down to Kingly Street to feast on London’s best tacos, they taste even better without the trek to East London.

Find more information and see the full Breddos Tacos menu here.