The History of the Ned

Eva Menger

Though it has only been around for about a year, the Ned is already the heart of the City. Okay, the prestigious building itself may have been around for a wee bit longer – say, a Century – but ever since it’s housing one of the City’s most talked about hotels it has become even more of a centrepiece. The prestigious grade 1 building (meaning that it’s listed with exceptional interest) is now as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, and we just can’t stop thinking about spending the night in one of those dreamy rooms.

We’ve already written a full guide to the hotel’s range of restaurants and bars here, but the building’s history deserves attention too. Let’s take a look.

the Ned front

Sir Edwin Lutyens

The iconic estate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in the early 1920’s and originally built to house the Midland Bank headquarters. Lutyens is particularly known for playing a key role in the development of New Delhi – so much so even, that the Indian city is often referred to as Lutyens’ Delhi. His architectural style is known for its adaptability, clearly visible in the way in which he combined classical architecture with Indian influences in his iconic New Delhi work.

For the Midland Bank, Lutyens designed exterior elevations, the ground floor banking hall, basement safe deposit area, directors’ and boardroom floors and all staircases. Interestingly, he designed the building to look its best from the side, instead of frontally. While colleagues Gotch and Saunders worked on the building’s remaining areas (predominantly its interior), Lutyens himself returned for the extension in 1935.

the vault ned

The heart of the financial centre

For the best part of the 20th Century, the Midland Bank was one of the UK’s largest banks, rightly deserving to be housed in one of the City’s most prominent buildings. Including a theatre as well as an extraordinary walk-in vault that was even featured in James Bond film Goldfinger, the building perfectly reflected the bank’s prestigious position. It was taken over by HSBC in 1992, however, leaving the building to be tenantless for almost a decade. That is, until Nick Jones, founder of Soho House & Co, viewed the building in 2012 and fell in love.

In collaboration with New York hotel developer Sydell Group, Jones took on the challenge of converting the gigantic bank into a luxury (six star!) hotel. Although most of its original interior was torn out during this process, several of its typical bank features have been retained. The former banking hall, for example, now functions as the reception area in which 30’s art deco features are still evident. Paying homage to the building’s creator, Lutyens granddaughter was asked to replicate the architect’s clock and supply suitable light fittings.

the Ned details

Alongside the many preserved historical elements you’ll find in the Ned, the hotel’s overall look exudes modernity and cosiness. Its luxurious Parisian feeling invites to spending long nights at the bar sipping an old-fashioned or martini, and the bedrooms, well … just have a little look here. So next time you pass Poultry Street in the City, make sure to have at least a little peek inside this gorgeous hotel: can you spot the history?

London Coffee Festival 2018 – Head to The Old Truman Brewery for Some Cool Caffeination

Nicole R.Nolan

It is a fact universally acknowledged that any person working or residing within the City of London must be in want of a coffee. The capital knows this, the people know this, and thus it is that we have the eighth return of the marvellous London Coffee Festival this month. Running from 12th to 15th April, centred at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the London Coffee Festival 2018 promises caffeination for both the most diehard coffee aficionado and the budding barista looking to hone their skills, as well as the tentative novice taster widening their horizons from that old beloved British cup of tea.

Over 250 exhibitors will be set out over the Brewery’s four floors for the Festival, offering live demonstrations, myriad workshops, and tastings liquid and more properly edible, too. Thursday and Friday daytime hours are for those in the industry only, but from Friday evening (4pm to 10pm) onwards, this year’s London Coffee Festival is open to all, scheduled into “Brunch” (10am to 1pm) and “Tea” (4pm to 7pm) slots, as well as a “Lunch” (1pm to 4pm) spot on Sunday 15th April. General entry tickets cost £14.50 online or £22.50 on the door; concessions apply also, with under-10s admitted free.

Of course, given all this choice it will come as no surprise that when the Festival says “coffee”, there is also the room for manoeuvre in the term… Yes, we’re talking alcohol. From wine tasting (at £6 per person) to deliciously adult mixology run by La Cimbali (for £25 per person, cocktail included), London takes this bean to new heights for yet another year.

Alongside the drinking (in all guises) of coffee, there is being run also a Coffee Art Project competition in order to further fundraise for the chosen charity, Project Waterfall, as part of the UK Coffee Week 2018 (nationwide from 16th April through 22nd April). Project Waterfall endeavours to “bring clean water to coffee-growing communities”. Any media type is accepted from those artists (new or established) who want to take part in this deeply community-centred project, as long as it is “an original piece of artwork that represents a creative, unique and personal connection to the concept of ‘coffee’ or a ‘coffee shop experience’”. Visitors to the London Coffee Festival will be able to vote for their favourite and the winner will receive £1,000 (three runners up will receive £250 each). Artworks will be available for purchase online, as well.

On the topic of art, and returning to a coffee-centric vein, latte art (of course) is to be a big focus of the London Coffee Festival. Dhan Tamang, reigning champion since 2013, Lem Butler, and Aussie Luke Shilling will be delighting fans of the craft with their particularly adept and intricate frothy swirls. Most excitingly pertaining to this artistry, Saturday 14th April sees the first and UK heat of the Breezy Masters competition, promising to take “latte art smackdowns to new heights” (the final, with winners from participating countries around the globe, will take place in Melbourne later this year). We’re excited, though that could just be our coffee buzz: you should be too.

 

 

We talk eggs, Easter and chocolate with chocolatier Paul A. Young

Allie Abgarian

While you were busy pilfering away at the leftovers from the Christmas family dinner, pastry chef-turned-master-chocolatier and business owner, Paul A Young, was making Easter eggs.

It’s no wonder, as he has three shops across London — Soho, Islington and the City. Every single piece of delicious, luxury chocolate is made by hand, with homemade recipes. There are no magnificent machines, just Paul’s skilled team of chocolatiers and true artistry.

Limited-edition Guittard egg

Speaking of art, his limited-edition Easter creation for this year is part treat, part chocolate masterpiece. Due to the complexity and luxury of making this egg, there are only 10 available in each store.  Made from 65% Peruvian Origin chocolate from Machu Picchu by family-owned chocolate company, Guittard, each egg is hand-painted and contains a box of 9 caramel ganache truffles.

Due to the high level of detail, price and complexity of making this egg, there are only 10 available in each store, so you better hurry if you want to get your hands on one. At £75 an egg, this is not one for the little ones.

Paul A Young

“It’s something higher-end,” Paul explains. “And everything, including the paint, is edible. We do things for kids and easter egg hunts, of course: mini eggs, little chicks’ and praline eggs. We also have bunny eggs, decorated in gold.”

What else have you created for Easter?

“Another choice is the half egg, with brightly coloured hundreds of thousands. Since it’s a half egg, it’s a bit more glamorous and the stand is made from chocolate too. You get both an egg and chocolates, filled with sea salt and caramel.

“Next week, there’ll be a queue out the door. People want that element of Easter, it’s a festive season. For us, it’s quality-led, thick chocolate eggs, not thin eggs.”

Chicks in half egg

Meanwhile, the bigger eggs – medium and large – weigh 400g and 600g respectively. These eggs also contain a bag of chocolate buttons and come in white, milk and dark chocolate.

But, if eggs don’t tickle your fancy, Paul’s shops also feature truffles, classic chocolate bars, hot chocolate, brownies and more.

Does taste change over the holiday?

“Taste doesn’t change. The one thing with Easter is that you can’t change the offering, other than that it’s got to have eggs, bunnies and spring. Everything people think of as easter, but the chocolatier decides how it’s going to look.

“It’s a very traditional time of year, but we just try to present it differently and make it colourful.”

Bunny
Photo: Paul Winch-Furness

Business is blooming, especially in the City shop, a beautiful grade I listed building and former apothecary, where 99.9% of the customers are City workers.

What’s your biggest seller?

“One of the biggest sellers for Easter, if not THE biggest, is the sea salt and caramel filled egg. With truffles, we have a signature collection and a seasonal collection. For instance, we have a hot cross bun truffle from a partnership with Bread Ahead bakery in Borough Market.”

Have you got a personal favourite?

“I don’t have favourites. If any chocolatier has a favourite, they’re lying.”

The Best Indian Restaurants in the City

Eva Menger

London may have its fingers in many different cuisines; if there’s one thing we’re particularly good at it’s got to be curry. That’s right, our capital is hands down one of the best places to get your curry fix, and even though the East side might be especially famous for its quality Indian food, the City has got some tasty spots too. Fancy an utterly comforting chicken korma or beautiful and authentic daal palak? These Indian restaurants in the City will sort you out.

Gunpowder vermicelli donut

Gunpowder – Setting foot in this home-style Indian kitchen takes you straight from Spitalfields to Southern Asia. They’re not very picky in terms of region, as traditional goodies from all over India are served – albeit with a modern twist. Think spicy venison and vermicelli donuts, porzhi okra fries and karwari soft shell crab. The short but vibrant menu changes every month and is always full of surprises, subtly turning the act of ‘going for a curry’ into a full-on fine dining experience.

The venue is casual, small and often packed, so be prepared for a chat with your dining neighbours. On the downside, this means that there isn’t much time for sticking around after you’ve eaten, as the staff will likely be keen to make space for the next set of hungry guests. It’s more than worth it though – and in case you’re still thirsty, cocktail bar The Culpeper is just around the corner.

dishoom black dahl

Dishoom – If you’re a true fan of Indian food, chances are you’ve already explored this extremely popular and exotic joint. After their Covent Garden branch – which opened in 2010 – was an immediate success, similar ‘Bombay Café’s’ opened in Carnaby, King’s Cross, Kensington and Shoreditch. So yes, technically this one isn’t in the City but as our absolute London favourite, we simply couldn’t resist including it on our list. An evening at Dishoom starts with a fabulous cocktail, followed by an array of small Bombayan dishes. Absolute favourites are the House Black Daal, Pau Bhaji and The Big Bombay.

curry leaf east

Curry Leaf East – Those craving a no-fuss, hangover cure kind of curry are most likely to find what they need here. With a menu including everything from onion bhajia’s to chicken biryani and laal maans, this is where everyone will get their standard curry fix. Going with friends? Try the group deal: for £29,95 per person, you and three (or more) friends will be served a mixed platter of Curry Leaf specials and Mango Lassi, following a curry of choice and plenty of sides.

Indian Fusion @ Bitecross

Indian Fusion at Bitecross – And then there is Indian street food, which perfectly lends itself for a yummy lunch any day of the week. Bitecross is a daily food market (open from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm) at Whitecross St and, when coming from the Barbican, you’ll find this Indian Fusion stall in the middle of the market on the right. What to expect? Fresh authentic Indian dishes including Gujurati curries and Kati rolls. Yum!

Brigadiers is also coming soon to the City. Read more about it here.

Steak-making of a higher level at Mac & Wild

Allie Abgarian

Let’s talk about steaks for a minute. While a good steak is fairly simple to master, a great steak can be a challenge. The temperature has to be correct, the seasoning on point. But, the chefs at Mac & Wild, the Scottish restaurant in Devonshire Square, haven’t settled for great; this is steak-making of a higher level, with melt-in-your-mouth meaty goodness.

Farm & Wild

Meat and hunting is big on the Mac & Wild menu, with authenticity an important factor. Each week, the venue updates its menu to showcase the journey of its offering, including the butchers, shooters, farmers and estates involved in creating your mouth-watering dish.

Vegetarians, awa’ an bile yer heid! 

In other words, forget it or if you want to get technical ‘away and boil your head’…but that just sounds a bit rude.

Although there are a few vegetarian options on the menu, it’s quite clear that Mac & Wild is for meat and fish lovers. From the Venison Chateubriand, charged by the weight, Scottish lamb rump, Venison topside and the award-winning Veni-moo burger to whole-roasted guilt-head bream and steamed Shetland mussels, served in an Arbroath smokie skink.

Perfectly cooked, succulent and juicy; our favourite is Macduff’s Ribeye steak served with beef dripping tomatoes. Add a pot of the best béarnaise sauce we’ve ever tasted or Red Jon, the house special sauce of red jelly and mustard. For sides, you can’t lose with the dirty buttery mash, market veg (curkly kale with pecans during our visit) or the Haggis mac & cheese.

If you’re feeling ravenous, have a wee plate to start. There’s more haggis or veggie haggis pops, crispy fish bites served with homemade tartare sauce and dill, and Inverawe smoked salmon served with sourdough, capers & lemon. And, whipped butter.

*pause to wipe the drool off your face before reading on*

Pass us a glass of Scotch, laddie

Mac & Wild interior

The food and attentive service (professional with a laid-back style) is enough to put Mac & Wild on our top list of restaurants in the City.

But it’s the attention to detail that really wins us over; from the giant metal deer guarding the gates – although the poor thing was missing an antler – to the shotgun-shaped handles of the front door, and the 200 flavours of whisky behind the bar. Guests can enjoy a sample of Scotlands finest, with a tasting menu available.

The Scottish element is everywhere, including the cocktail menu, which presents signature drinks such as the Irn Bru Daiquiri, Ginger Laddie, Bonnie Brae and Highland Solstice, the latter a spin on a Scottish fruit cup cocktail.

Order a glass of Scotch, and settle in for dessert. We could go through the range, but you’ll just end up choosing the same one we did, so let’s skip that and go straight for the classic: a deep-fried Mars bar, served with caramel ice cream and whisky sauce. It’s worth all the calories.

But don’t order it to lovingly share with your date, you’ll end up fighting over it.

Shooting range

One final trick

Downstairs and for their final trick, Mac & Wild present the virtual shooting range, a quirky and fun alternative to all those basement speakeasy’s, as well as a private dining room for bigger parties.