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, Lifestyle, Travel

Outerlands, San Francisco

May 20, 2015

My mom and I each had a list of things we had to do together during my week-long visit to California. Towards the top of her list was eating at the must-try hipster restaurant in SF, Outerlands. Mom first heard about Outerlands on one of her favourite TV shows Check, Please! Bay Area, and has been wanting to go ever since. Before I knew it, we were headed to Sunset, a quiet area on the far West side of SF, which I’m not familiar with at all, in hopes of bagging a table at Outerlands for lunch.

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We didn’t have time for a wild walk on the long beach about 5 blocks from Outerlands, making this spot a post-surf destination. My Bay Area buddies all knew about Outerlands and had tried to get a table for the famous weekend brunch, but gave up when they saw a line circling around the block. On a grey Monday afternoon, we managed to walk right in and sat at an outside table – as we had Bogart the pug in tow!

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We almost walked right by Outerlands, as it blends in well on the corner of this unassuming neighbourhood. But go inside, and you’ll instantly feel a welcoming vibe from the friendly staff. The waitress who showed us to our table had a GI Jane meets Gwen Stefani platinum bleached shaved hairstyle, and I immediately knew everyone who works here is achingly cool. I would describe the restaurant decor as deceptively simple, trendy and comfortable. There is no dress code here and the more tattoos you have, the better.

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As we had Bogart the pug with us, we joined the other dining dogs under the hot heat lamps outside and mulled over the somewhat limited but delicious lunch menu – soup, salads and stylish sandwiches.

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In an attempt to try as much as we could off the menu, we split everything starting with the cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich with a side of vegetable broth soup ($12). The soup was a simple but healthy mixture of cannellini bean, kale, mirepoix and shallots. This dish wasn’t especially memorable for me, but the home-made perfectly toasted bread was out of this world. Outerlands makes all their bread in house, so you can tempt your tastebuds with the nice lingering smell of fresh out of the oven bread. Don’t come here if you’re not a carb lover or are attempting the Atkins diet because Outerland’s bread is a MUST.

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Then a little piece of heaven on a plate was served. Behold the cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich brushed with garlic oil ($6.50), which was the perfected melt-in-mouth crusty classic. You have the option to add avocado, bacon and fried eggs to this toasted sandwich, but we thought the original version was absolute bliss on an overcast Monday afternoon.

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A grilled cheese sounds simple, but this was the grown up and sophisticated version. Bogart drooled and jumped up and down optimistically begging for a taste.IMG_4614

At this stage we were starting to feel a bit full and suddenly somewhat guilty about not walking along the local beach to work up a bigger appetite and justify what was about to arrive at our table. Luckily we were sharing! As you can see the open faced bacon and egg sandwich with bok choy, caramelized onion, almonds and mushrooms ($14) is not for the faint hearted.

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Mom and I agreed that this would be the perfect post-hangover dish. I can only imagine how amazing the brunch must be here. We managed to easily find room to polish off this runny melt-in-mouth egg sandwich, which was packed with flavour and crisp bacon. Outerlands prides themselves with sourcing produce from local organic farmers and you can really taste the difference –  the small side of fresh greens tasted as if they were picked that morning.

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As we hoovered up the plate, Bogart became increasingly concerned that he wasn’t going to get a taste of the bacon – his favourite – woof!

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If you’re used to heading downtown in San Francisco, going to the Sunset district seems quite a trek. Definitely worth it, especially if you time it right and can grab a table at Outerlands along with a trip to the local beach. Considering the standard of food is so good here – and we didn’t even sample the extensive California wine list or the creative cocktails (!) – Outerlands truly delivers without putting much strain on your credit card. A very different experience and a restaurant I’m pleased to have checked off our must-try list while in town.

www.outerlandssf.com | @Outerlandssf