2016 has truly been the year of discovering new restaurants for me. Somewhere during the beginning of the year I started making a little (well, I say a little, but it's actually growing quite long now...) list on the notes app on my phone of places I wanted to visit. I started doing this because I used to always say that I wanted to try out new places, but when the opportunity of going somewhere actually arose, I could never actually remember any of the places that I wanted to try. Which of course meant even more trips to Wagamama and Wahaca... But now, with my new shiny list, I've actually started ticking off places - yay!
Some of my favourite restaurants I visited this year definitely included the new Rum Kitchen in Brixton (although the picture below is of the Carnaby Street branch - also lovely!) which probably gets the prize for my absolute favourite new restaurant dish of the year: the Rainbow Salad with halloumi. It's GORGEOUS! I've had it about 5-6 times since I first went (which was in August.. whoops!). Their veggie burger is also one of the best I've ever tried.
Other places I loved in 2016 was the lovely Vegan Italian restaurant Fed by Water in Dalston, my new favourite Mexican place DF Mexico and the new amazing street food market KERB in Camden Lock. Another really special experience was my boyfriend's birthday dinner in the Dean Street Townhouse in Soho. We sat in a beautiful room next to the fireplace and ate the most yummiest food (which, by the way, is pretty reasonably priced for such a luxurious setting!) and the most amazing cocktails too. Its definitely one of my favourite memories of the past year.
2016 has also been the year of the cocktail for me. I've always liked a good cocktail, but when I was younger I was always more interested in getting as much alcohol as cheaply as possible, and so cocktails didn't really fit the bill (literally). But now, as a slightly older and more mature (as if) person, I've started being okay with spending a bit more for a really good cocktail rather than getting lots of (bad) wine for the same price. I'm still not really that keen on paying a lot more that £10 for a cocktail, but luckily London is full of lovely places that won't break the bank either.
I'm a big fan of the chain Be At One - they are very affordable, they have a great happy hour and their drinks are damn good. But, for those special occasions, there's nothing like a bit of a fancy setting and a well crafted cocktail, and so, after our anniversary dinner last January, me and my boyfriend headed to Savoy's American Bar for a posh drink. Their cheapest ones are priced £16 (yikes!) but as long as you don't start ordering multiple drinks, it's doable - and the setting is so beautiful and makes the trip totally worth it!
Other pubs/bars I've been loving is the Market House in Brixton (they did £3 mojitos all summer!), The Dublin Castle, my absolute all time favourite pub in Camden Town for an amazing jukebox and live music, and for a great touristy day out, Aqua Shard on the 31st floor of the Shard is amazing for views.
One of the most London-y things I did this year was visit the London Eye's champagne experience at sunset last April. I bought it as a birthday gift for my boyfriend, but I have to say I very, very much enjoyed it too! We were lucky enough to have an amazingly clear, sunny evening which meant that the sunset was so beautiful too, painting the whole London skyline with amazing colours.
I also visited my new favourite city festival, Visions, in Hackney for the second year in a row, and it was probably one of my favourite days of the year. We saw Anna Calvi and Cate Le Bon live (amongst other greats!), had a picnic eating lovely food from street food stalls and walked around Hackney seeing a lot of cool new venues we hadn't been to before. I believe they're organizing the festival next summer too and I would definitely recommend it! I've been two years in a row and it's been a lot of fun both times.