Indulging in a swoonsome slice of London’s finest birthday afternoon tea…

Afternoon tea. Tricky thing isn’t it? Not so much the actual consumption because that, after years of full on, fine china training, I’m quite au fait with. Tiny sandwiches, petite cakes, warm scones and teacups pillaged from Downton? Yep. Totally on board with all of that.

No, the tricky thing is finding good afternoon tea, something that’s worthy of your hard earned pennies & treasured free time. A brisk Googling of ‘afternoon tea in London’ will see nearly 25 million hits pop up faster than you can ask ‘one lump or two?’ so when my gorgeous sister V and I were looking for somewhere suitably fabulous but not completely wallet draining to celebrate my birthday, the choice was vast and the word ‘overwhelming’ used on more than one occasion.

Luckily, I can report back that there is indeed a place out there that will treat you like a queen and cater to every one of your champagne tastes but on your lemonade budget…the Soho Hotel. Centrally located off Dean Street, this hotel is one of eight in the Firmdale’s London family and while it’s a mere tiptoe away from the relentless Soho hustle, stepping inside feels like entering the sanctuary you didn’t know you needed until that very minute.

If your idea of heaven is patisserie on a plate, get ready to enter the promised land…

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And the gold medal for London’s best buttermilk fried chicken is awarded to…

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One of the loveliest things about living in London – along with Southbank sunsets, summery picnics in Greenwich and red-velvet-seated screenings at the Prince Charles – is that there are always so many gorgeous, wintry, festive events to enjoy with friends & family in a warm, cosy, Christmassy blur of mulled wine and Slade.

For the past few years during the run up to Christmas, the skyline of Hyde Park has been dominated by Winter Wonderland’s fairground rides and swiss-style chalets and although there’s no doubt it’s a fun novelty to experience, its growing popularity has resulted in it being exceptionally busy so if you’re after something a little less commercial, your best bet now is to head east to Victoria Park, and the slightly hipper and less mainstream Winterville.

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Along with a legion of & crafts stalls, the absolutely-compulsory-come-December ice rink and an entertaining if slightly deafening wall of death, there were more places to feast your face in than you could shake a glass of eggnog at.

From a hot cider tent and craft beer arena – the mingled scents of incense and alcohol creating estive, hippy buzz in the air – to legendary-in-London street food traders and artisan producers, Winterville offered a refreshing change to the same tired old dishes that get trotted out at similar events and it was here, among rosy-cheeked and bobble-hatted families, couples and groups of friends, that J and I found something completely outstanding…ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Butchies fried buttermilk chicken.

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This, the Clancy Wiggum, was without a doubt one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a very long time and quite possibly the most amazing chicken I’ve eaten ever.

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Sandwiched in between two halves of a beautifully golden & softly sweet brioche bun and nestled as comfortably atop chopped lettuce and tomato as your granny on the sofa in front of the Coronation Street omnibus, was a little piece of poultry sent from heaven via E8.

Deep fried in buttermilk batter, this chicken was so light and crispy without a single slick of superfluous grease that you’d be forgiven for doubting whether or not it was actually fried but the bubbly, brown crunch surrounding each succulent bite of chicken reassured you that it was. The avocado was plentiful, creamy & chunky without being mushy, the bacon was salty & crisp and the chipotle mayo added a slight tang and heat to each mouthful. Seriously not sure I can remember LBC – Life Before Chipotle – and whenever I do, it seems a bit sad & tame.

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When I say I could have easily eaten this again immediately, I’m not exaggerating even a little bit. Sharing it with the love of my life was a delightful memory to now have together; it was also exceptionally hard once the first bite was taken. If burgers have besieged London in all their their juicy, meaty, drippy glory over the past year, I’m gonna place a bet that fried chicken will be doing the same in the very near future. I would say it’s a gamble but if it’s Butchies that you’re eating, fear not, it’s less of a gamble and more of a dead cert that you’ll end up every bit as addicted as I now am.

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