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Lifestyle, London

A Sneak Peek At London’s South Kensington Club

June 19, 2015

London is home to some of the oldest and most exclusive private members’ clubs in the world. I was fortunate enough recently to visit the newest club in town, South Kensington Club. Offering something a little bit different than your average private club – SKC will be catering to members with an interest in culture, health and fitness, exotic travel and culinary experiences once it officially opens this month on 25th June.IMG_4734 (1)

I met one of my oldest friends and fellow Cali native, Britt, for dinner at SKC during the ‘soft launch’ phase for a taster of what is still yet to come. If this is the club’s pre-opening period then I can only imagine how spectacular the official opening will be. Far from stuffy and pretentious, the staff were friendly with meticulously attentive service from the second I walked in through the imposing black front door. I was personally escorted to the Club’s restaurant, but had to stop and quickly admire the long elegant staircase leading upstairs to the juice bar, gym and terrace. Can’t you just imagine the uniformed von Trapp children marching down these steps in perfect unison?!
Original stairway at SKC

Located a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of South Kensington and Hyde Park on Harrington Road, SKC is steeped in British history. The Club’s bathhouse extends into Queensberry Mews, which was once Francis Bacon’s first London home and studio. IMG_4714The 25,000 sq ft building was also the former home to the original Pineapple Dance Studios and Ronnie Wood’s Harrington Club, where the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart graced the stage. Whilst the interiors of the Club are modern in style, there’s a homely atmosphere and you can’t help but feel the artistic spirit of the previous residents. 
Restaurant at SKC

The Club’s Restaurant has a nice laid-back and welcoming vibe, so you won’t feel out of place if you don’t dress to impress. The Restaurant serves healthy Mediterranean cuisine with an infusion of traditional artesian Sicilian flare from breakfast to dinner with an inspiring wine and cocktail menu to match.IMG_4688

We mulled over the menu sipping on a refreshing Aperol Spritz in true Italian spirit and were served the most delicious kamut bread with tomato spread, anchovies and capers to nibble on. I had never tried kamut before, which is apparently an ancient wheat that is incredibly healthy and easier to digest than modern day wheat. I could have easily feasted on this healthy bread basket all night, but Britt insisted that we slow down on the kamut and put our order in pronto before we started to fill up. IMG_4687

There is a wide selection to choose from off the Mediterranean menu, but we decided to share the following dishes:IMG_4696Fresh crabmeat with burrata, grilled pickle & cherry tomato
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Raw artichoke, roasted granola & quinoa saladIMG_4698

Kamut pizza, pomodoro e fior di latte mozzarellaIMG_4704

Grilled fillet of beef, white asparagus & rosemary
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Following our delicious and filling dinner, we walked up the staircase to have a wander around and plopped ourselves down in the Club Sitting Room Bar, which is the perfect spot for a night cap. The bar has a cosy and informal vibe with mid-century American interiors that reminded me of a New England yacht club. 
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We left the Club Sitting Room Bar to the sounds of the bartender shaking an iced martini, and had a look around The Voyager Club Lounge, which will be home to the Club’s Voyager Programme at South Kensington Club. Offering members an interesting program that pays tribute to the Club’s ethos of “inspiring its members to explore through reading, listening and travelling on journeys of discovery.”Voyager Room at SKC

The Voyager Club Lounge is where monthly lectures and international speakers will take place along with the opportunity to join tailor-made expeditions around the globe, such as trekking in the North Pole, foraging for food in Sweden or even piloting a helicopter! You can physically prep and train for all such adventures with the fitness instructors in the Club’s gorgeous gym.
Gym at SKC

I typically prefer to run outside rather than indoors on a treadmill, but this gym is beautifully designed with lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. I loved the historic touches of the building in the spacious fitness area- it’s not every day you train with a kettle ball next to stained-glass windows!IMG_4719

The Club has three studios where yoga (heated and regular), barrecore, pilates and dance cardio classes are available in addition to private training. There are also several treatment rooms and a Turkish Hammam where you can soothe tired muscles post workout. What’s not to love about your own private spa?
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Officially opening in less than a week, South Kensington Club is a refreshing and unique London private members’ club, which is now accepting new membership. Whether you’re interested in far-flung travels, al fresco fine dining, or challenging fitness classes and pampering spa treatments, SKC have members’ every need covered.

www.southkensingtonclub.com

+44 203 006 6868

Food, London

Dip & Flip, Clapham Junction

February 21, 2015

I had been hearing rave reviews for ages about the gravy-dipped roast beef burgers at Clapham Junction’s Dip & Flip from fellow burger lovers. It’s been on my ‘must try London burger list’ for some time, and after a recent visit I can now finally understand what all the fuss is about. The rumours are true: they serve one beast of a burger here!

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I had been warned by friends Scott and Mathilde to arrive hungry and prepared to return home covered in burger and gravy. How right they were! We pulled up a chair (mine had the caption FLEABAG on the back) in the brightly coloured room and mulled over the menu. You have to admire the retro gravy art here:

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It was a Friday night, so we toasted to the weekend and good times ahead with Dip & Flip’s Pickle back, a shot of bourbon followed by a shot of pickle juice with a slice of pickle. I was a bit sceptical to say the least but it tasted great.

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Can’t say I will be slugging back one of these sour slammers every night, but if you haven’t tried one before then I would recommend giving it a whirl. After all, YOLO!

The Dip & Flip menu more or less gives a proverbial ‘up yours’ to vegetarians. I already knew when I first came through the door that I had to try the Dip & Flip burger with the famous 3-day gravy, but was interested to see a lot of customers ordering the meaty sandwiches as well. It seemed peculiar that you would come here and order the flip and not the dip, so we added a fried chicken sandwich into the line-up for good measure. Just like mom says, it’s important to try everything at least once!

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A few minutes later (it was surprisingly speedy considering the room was packed!) a juicy pink beef burger topped with oozing cheese and gravy-dipped roast beef slices was presented to me on a shiny metal tray. I just about died and went to burger heaven right there and then.

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The flavour of Dip & Flip’s gravy, which apparently takes 3 full days to make, is worth the trek to Clapham Junction alone. Why nobody has ever thought of serving a burger with a side of finger lickin’ gravy before beats me. There is a lot going on with Dip & Flip burgers as this place takes their beef very seriously. A well-proportioned caramelised pink patty is topped with flavourful gravy dipped roast-beef, a good rasher of crisp bacon and lots of melted American cheese in between two shiny and slightly toasted plump brioche buns. A pickle with a dill mayo sauce also lies underneath. The Dip & Flip burger (£9.95) is to die for and after a few juicy bites – which promptly leaves a mixture of gravy and burger aftermath all over your face, hands and shirt- I had to agree with the message on the wall. Life does taste better dipped in gravy.

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Now for the flip without the dip. Hannah, my burger fiend of a friend describes really good food as being ‘fit.’ The Dip & Flip’s chicken fried sandwich (£6.95) is exactly that. FIT. We added the homemade American cheese but you can go even farther and have chillies and bacon as extras too. The warm fried chicken is crisped to perfection and the tangy coleslaw really brings this dish all together. Witness the fitness:

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There are several options to choose from when it comes to Dip & Flip’s selection of chips, which start from £2.75 for plain rosemary or chicken salted fries. We jumped aboard the muffin top express and added bacon, cheese, gravy and chilli to our fries. WOWZA!

IMG_2250_2Next time I might just have to try Dip & Flip’s take on poutine, a Canadian import consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curds (£4.95).

The friendly and super laidback staff at Dip & Flip told us they used to have pudding on the menu, but because most of their customers were too filled with gravy-soaked burger to order more, they now only serve their boozy shakes. We managed to slurp down the shake of the month, chocolate salted caramel, with two shots of bourbon with ease (£3.00). Bottoms up!

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I left Dip & Flip feeling gloriously full and in need of washing all my clothes and having a hot shower. Dip & Flip burgers are unforgettable, but a very messy affair. I will definitely be back for more gravy dipped goodness soon, and next time I’ll come wearing a bib.

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87 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HW 

www.dipandflip.co.uk   @DipFlippo