Thanksgiving at Dirty Bones

Being British most of my knowledge of Thanksgiving has been derived from US sitcoms and it mostly involves everything going wrong but everyone coming together anyway and realising that it might not be perfect but that the important thing is being with family and friends (old and new) and being grateful for what they have. It also involves a lot of turkey and all sorts of weird pies that involve marshmallows and other foods like yams that I don’t actually really understand.

Along with Black Friday, another American import that makes little sense over this side of the pond, Thanksgiving seems to have become a ‘thing’, in London at least, catering for all the expats.

Whilst it might take some convincing yet to get me to go the whole hog (or should that be turkey?) with Thanksgiving foods, an invitation to sample Dirty Bones’ Dirty Feast, a menu of specials providing a casual diner-esque twist on the full sit down meal with all the trimmings.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and coming together (and cursed with a pescetarian boyfriend who makes meaty sharing style platters difficult), I thought this might be a good opportunity to meet Flick whose blog I’ve read for a while now and who I’ve been wanting to meet in real life since we spent time corresponding via email about a little feature that she did on me over on her blog about a year ago (which you can read here), seriously though, if you aren’t a reader already, do head over to her blog They Called It The Diamond Blog, her recipes always sound mouthwateringly amazing and her photography is on point. Luckily she was free and up for heading into London for the evening.


We met at the Dirty Bones Soho branch, located on the top floor of a currently rather festive Kingly Court. It was busy when I arrived and the atmosphere buzzy so if you’re ever thinking about going down on a Friday night then definitely do book, or be prepared to wait with drinks at the bar.


Our waiter explained that the Thanksgiving cocktail on offer, the Pardoned Turkey, was a cream-based cocktail and so suggested that it would be better after the main meal rather than with it. Happy to take the recommendation, we instead ordered from their regular drinks menu, a Top Dog (vodka, strawberry, chambord and lemon and prosecco) for me and The Littlest Hobo (gin, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and cider) for Flick.

We chatted and sipped and generally got to know each other better as we waited for our food to arrive. It was a monster of a sharing platter – fried chicken, jalapeño corn bread muffins, mac & cheese, collard greens, rosemary fries and a little pan of  sage gravy for dipping or pouring.


The chicken was a mixture of drumsticks and chicken breasts, all coated in a crisp coating which gave way to surprisingly moist chicken. Hidden underneath the chicken was a bed of rather heavily salted fries. Flick polished off most of the collared greens whereas I dug into the mac and cheese. The cornbread muffins contained jalapenos baked into them and provided a spicy kick with which to mop up the gravy.

Defeated by the quantity of fries and food generally we were served our Pardoned Turkey, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, double cream, vanilla and cardamom syrup, finished with a ‘turkey’s crown’ of green apple and a cinnamon stripe. It was a good recommendation by our waiter to have it after our meal as it was indeed creamy and was a kind of pre-dessert. The apple and cinnamon combination reminded me of Christmas and little German festive biscuits.

Our dessert quickly followed – a chocolate ganache tart with pumpkin pie gelato and pumpkin brittle. It wasn’t overwhelmingly chocolately and the main flavour hit came from the gelato. I’m not sure I’ve ever had pumpkin, either on its own or in a pie, so I can’t speak to how pumpkin pie-y it actually was but it was nice.


We finished our dessert but hadn’t finished chatting and so retired to the bar for one more drink each – a Deputy Dog (tequila, blood orange, fresh mint and ting) and a Djinn Djinn (gin, martini rosso, grapefruit, raspberries, cucumber and ting).

I had such a lovely night with Flick at Dirty Bones, it’s totally encouraged me to face my constant fear that I’m just not cool enough for all of the people who amuse and inspire me online and to try and get out a bit more and to meet new people and more bloggers. I left very Thank-FULL.


If you want to sample the Thanksgiving Dirty Feast at Dirty Bones for yourself, the special is still available tonight (if you’re super speedy) or in the evening of Sunday 29 November in both the Kensington and Soho branches. The two course meal is £22 per person (for a minimum of two people) with the Pardoned Turkey cocktail at £9.50 a pop.

Our meal was provided on a complimentary basis but the views expressed here are my own unbiased opinions. Thanks Dirty Bones! 

Dirty Bones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

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Pizza Union, Spitalfields

I love it when you reach that stage living somewhere where you have reliable and local go-to restaurants for every cuisine. We have our favourite chippy sorted, our favourite Chinese, our favourite Mexican (all coincidentally on the same street) but we’ve been missing a great pizzeria. Until recently that is when I discovered Pizza Union.


Housed in an industrial style unit flooded with light and with minimalist neon decor, the Spitalfields branch of Pizza Union offers speedily cooked (3 minutes!) pizzas from a wood fire oven.


This is self-serve, you order from boards hanging above the till point, take a buzzer, find a stool to perch on at one of the long communal tables and wait expectedly for the buzzer to go off, when it is then you head up to collect your pizzas. A great system, unless you visit on your own for a quick bite, as I did during Open House London weekend, when you face the debate as to whether to leave your bag etc at your table (committing the cardinal sin that you get warned about the minute you move to London – taking your eye off your stuff) or taking it all up with you. Not a problem when I went the other weekend with my boyfriend, not only did he do all the fetching and carrying duties but we also went quite early in the day and so the place was quiet, albeit still not empty.

We ordered a slightly modified Giardino (mozzarella, mixed peppers, black olives, mushrooms and onions but minus the artichoke) and a Calabria (mozzarella, mascarpone, n’duja spicy sausage, rocket). The bases are perfectly crispy and thin with a generous helping of toppings and gooey cheese. Plus, they’re totally bargainous, ranging from £3.95 for a Margherita up to £6.50 for some of the options. Quick, tasty, cheap – what more can you ask for?

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From the start I’d had my eye on a warm dough ring for dessert and my boyfriend took very little persuading to also try one. The Classico for him (Nutella and mascarpone) and the Caramello for me (salted caramel, peanuts, chocolate and mascarpone). His Classico was the winner in my view, I didn’t get a salted caramel hit from mine, it being more peanut than salted caramel or chocolate, although I felt like both could have been elevated to that next level by a good dollop of gelato.


Within a week of visiting, my boyfriend has already suggested that we have to return at some point soon. A definite sign that Pizza Union may well become a new favourite of ours.

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Palacio de Pena

When we booked our trip to Sintra and Portugal I ummed and ahhed about whether it was worth staying in Sintra. Most people seemed to visit as a day trip from Lisbon and so I wondered whether staying there for three nights before moving on to Lisbon for four nights was the right decision. It definitely was.

The biggest advantage of staying in Sintra was that we only had to step out of our hotel and head round the corner to catch the bus to some of Sintra’s biggest attractions, including the Palacio de Pena. We could be on the first bus up the hill, arriving at the Palacio de Pena the moment it opened to the public without having to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning to get the train from Lisbon to Sintra. I’m not a great fan of people in my photos, in fact I’m a bit weird about it and so often find myself having to wait for people to move before I can get what is, in my view, the perfect shot. The perfect solution is to arrive before the majority of tourists arrive and then run around like a crazy person to get the shots I want – which is exactly what we did at the Palacio de Pena.


We hopped on the first bus from Sintra that would get us to the Palacio de Pena when it opened. The Palacio de Pena is at the top of a ridiculously high peak and the bus ride twists and turns along steep and twisty roads that, even as a confident driver, I’d never want to drive on. We were dropped off at the ticket office and after buying tickets faced the need to decide whether to wait for a little electric shuttle bus to take us a further few minutes up the hill to the entrance, or we could walk. Rather than wait, we decided to walk the 500m up the hill, which was a nice little bit of exercise for our thighs.


Originally the site of a monastery, the building that now stands on the site was built as a summer palace on the orders of King-Consort Don Fernando II in the 19th century. The eclectic design features turrets, cloisters, watch-towers and terraces all clad in tiles or painted in bright colours which gives the whole place a slightly unreal almost Disney feel. I felt like when I touched walls that they should have a dull, hollow feeling, as if they should be a fibreglass facade rather than solid stone. It’s a very unreal place and almost too fairytale to be real.

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From the Palacio de Pena we had an excellent view across to the top of another peak, on which the Moorish Castle stands, somewhere we were due to visit the next morning. We could also see two other peaks in the distance, one which seemed to have a statue of a sort of soldier and another with a cross. My boyfriend, undaunted by their perceived distance and height, determined that we should go and find both once we had finished exploring the Palace.


The Palace itself is set in over eighty hectares of beautiful wooded grounds. We wandered the paths dappled with sunlight and eventually found our way to the Statue of the Warrior, a bronze statue which is claimed to be either a representation of the King or Baron von Eschwege, the architect of the Palace.

With one monument found, we were spurred on to reach the Cruz Alta, a carved stone cross located at the highest point of the Sintra hills. It was a bit of a climb but well worth it for the amazing view across to the Palacio de Pena.


After taking in the magnificent view we wend our way down through the trees, picking out random little paths to follow as we went, sometimes ducking under rock formations (and in my case, running through to avoid the risk of the completely and utterly stable rocks suddenly and inexplicably moving and me being crushed to death) and following little streams as they fed into ponds.

After our visit to Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra had already set the bar very high and the Palacio de Pena did not disappoint.

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Poppie’s Fish and Chips

It’s funny that I’ve now been blogging for over two years and I haven’t yet featured one of my favourite go-to places to eat in London – Poppie’s Fish and Chips. When I first moved down here in 2011 I was a bit overwhelmed by everything, to say the least. At the time my boyfriend was still up in Sheffield and would visit every few weekends and when he did I felt that pressure to treat it like it was special (because it was), rather than retreating into the comfortable ease and silences we have now he’s down here and we’ve lived together for a few years. So at the start I spent a lot of my time searching online for the best places local to me and one of the answers was Poppie’s Fish and Chips.


Now it might not seem like the most romantic place to go when in the throes of absence, but we’re not into stereotypical romance. We’ve been together seven and a half years and he’s never bought me flowers as I once told him that flowers make me sad when they die. Having said that he’s never bought me a plant either. He has, in the past laid claim to romance on the basis that he does, on a semi-regular basis, bring home pots of herbs from Sainsbury’s. However, he does also has a special knack of picking those that look like they’ve seen better days and then they promptly die. On the other hand, he does always wash up the plates and cups I’ve used and left strewn about the flat without too much complaining, and what girl can resist that? So we happily adopted Poppie’s as one of our London places that takes us back to our early days exploring the city.

But it’s not just us that love it, in 2014 Poppie’s won the Best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year Award at the National Fish and Chip awards!


The restaurant isn’t big but it makes up for it with the food and its personality. Although it sells proper British fish and chips (and battered sausages, pies etc) it’s decked out like an American 1950s style diner with a jukebox in the corner and photos and memorabilia lining the walls and the staff in themed uniforms. Although having said that, the walls do feature cockney rhyming slang as a nod to the area.


It’s simple fish and chips done amazingly well. Although we know we should branch out we rarely stray away from our favourites – battered cod and the fishcakes, served with a generous helping of proper chip shop chips.


Speaking of generous portions, don’t expect a small side order of anything. Mushy peas come with more than enough to share, but the highlight for me are the Brobdingnagian wedges of bread. Chewy crusts and deliciously soft middles, it’s my carb heaven.


Although they do offer a few desserts: a sticky toffee pudding, apple pie or ice cream, but try as we might, we’ve never had enough room left for a dessert. We do always just about manage to squeeze in a Fruit Salad or Blackjack or two (so fabulously retro) which are provided with the, always reasonable, bill in a very on-brand little fryer basket.


My local Poppie’s is the original restaurant on Hanbury Street (just off Brick Lane) but they also have a takeaway only station in Old Spitalfields Market and a second branch in Camden, so you can take your pick about where you want to get your fish and chips fix. The Hanbury Street branch will always be our favourite though, they have my loyalty and I even have their loyalty card to prove it!

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