The St James Advent Calendar

Craig gets a first look at the amazing St James advent calendar

With a chance to win a fantastic prize every day from the 1st to the 24th December, the St James advent calendar opens today with a huge range of amazing gifts from the stores in Jermyn Street, one of London’s finest shopping destinations for the discerning. If you’d like an opportunity to win prizes from D.R. Harris, Harvie & Hudson, John Smedley, Trickers or Barbour International, among others? Then read on!

Created by illustrator Daniel Clarke, the advent calendar has been installed in The Pavilion at St James Market and is a unique and exciting festive addition to one of the worlds best known areas for high end menswear. Each window depicts a cityscape showcasing London and local landmarks, and will be opened each day from the 1st to the 24th December to reveal a new Christmas scene.

To compliment this exciting addition to St James Market, the St James Instagram page will host a digital advent and will reveal a one of a kind gift to be won from the many retailers, restaurants, art galleries and hotels in the area. So give them a follow to make sure you’re ready to take part!

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Old Spitalfields Market

Craig of That Dapper Chap visits London’s Old Spitalfields Market and takes lunch at Blixen

Just a few of the great stores that you’ll find at Old Spitalfields Market

There’s been a market on the site of the Old Spitalfields market for nearly 400 years, needless to say much has changed since then and while you’re able to buy chicken in various different foods from a wealth of street food vendors, you’ll no longer see live trading as there once was when the market first set up in 1638! Once on London’s outskirts, the market is now very central and is just a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street station.

Shopping in Hackett where they hold rum tasting and backgammon evenings

Just one of the many stalls that you’ll find at this historic market

This market is very different to others in London, yes, there is that traditional element with the traders and their stalls selling everything from dresses, flat caps, paper craft, cheeses and jewellery and everything else in between, but also in this covered Victorian hall there’s a funky modern vibe which sits very comfortably alongside high end stores such as Belstaff, Chanel and Cheaney.

Stall offering everything from Clothing and watches to jewellery and paper craft and cheese

 

Does sir fancy a new bowler hat or a top hat perhaps?
Maybe a dandy new waistcoat to go with your new hat?

Open seven days a week, the market is not only a destination for tourists but is also a go to place for the locals. With community events such as the free yoga classes offered by Lululemon at the Commercial Street store on Tuesday mornings, fashion shows, night markets and the art on display in the basement of Hackett, the stores here and the market offer something different to the mainstream.

Beautiful artisan cheeses available n the cheese shop. Pop in and try a few samples.
Olive and sweet treats in abundance

While wandering around the market either looking for something new to wear on a Friday night on the town, or some artisan bread, you are assaulted with the sights and sounds of the place. The smells that radiate from the food area are very difficult to resist and every taste is catered for. With healthy options for the fit and cautious there’s something for the spice lover too, with many street vendors such as Bleeker Street Burger and Poppies fish and chips for the traditional foodies. Pilpel will cover all your falafal needs while Indigo offers traditional street food of India, alternatively grab a wood fired pizza from Sud Italia. Just grab a paper plate and take a few minutes to sit and eat while listening to the pianist playing some traditional tunes.

Bleecker Burger: The best burger in London, according to Time Out
Grab a wood fired pizza from the guys at Sud Italia

 

Falafel for days at Pilpel
The Turkish Wrap House stand at Old Spitalfields Market

If you fancy something a little more refined you can find a good variety of chain restaurants on site one of which comes with Michelin stars! On my visit we chose to eat at Blixen on Brushfield Street. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails they offer a wide menu of very tempting dishes

Blixen in Brushfield Street was a welcome pit stop

 

The beautiful conservatory interior at Blixen
Getting stuck in to my smoked haddock and perfectly cooked poached egg

I chose the smoked haddock with poached egg, spinach, crushed potatoes and hollandaise. It arrived quickly (considering how busy it was) and was perfectly cooked. You can often judge a restaurant by how well they can do a poached egg. This one was perfect.

A closer look at the smoked haddock and poached egg with crushed potatoes and hollandaise sauce
Rustic charm at Blixen in Brushfield Street

My guest chose the burnt fennel, freekeh, pea and wild oregano salad with seared tuna. I have to say that when it arrived I did suffer from a bout of food envy as the tuna looked incredible. Both dishes were immaculately presented and my plate was left clean.

The seared tuna that gave me immediate food envy

Blixen has a great atmosphere and is reasonably priced with both dishes under £15. We had more shopping to do (which I’ll cover in future posts) so we had to decline desert, however I was incredibly tempted by the brownie with vanilla ice cream, chocolate crisps and spiked espresso! Maybe next time!

Blixen offer private dining. Book online.

FIND OLD SPITALFIELDS MARKET

  

FIND BLIXEN

 

    

Lunch at Peytito

Craig of That Dapper Chap takes time out on a trip down Portobello Road to enjoy a meal at the Peyotito Mexican restaurant

The rear seating area at the Peyotito Mexican restaurant in London’s Notting Hill

If you visit London, you must visit Portobello Road, with it’s pretty houses and wealth of shops and antiques it’s a hive of activity and one of those must see places.

After you’ve shopped your way down this iconic winding street you’ll no doubt want to stop for a bit to eat. With Peyotito nestled on a quiet side street, it offers a warm welcome and a well deserved pit stop away from the crowds.

Making my way in to Peyotito, I couldn’t wait to see the menu

Sitting on Kensington Park Road, just 2 minutes off Portobello Road, the rustic orange shop front lures you in with promises of spicy Mexican dishes and a friendly atmosphere.

Peyotito not only offer a wide and varied menu but they also pride themselves on their margaritas! And what better way to celebrate national Margarita day than to sample a couple. Well, it would be rude not to, particularly when they’ve just introduced a new selection including blood orange!

A busy lunchtime at Peyotito, clearly a popular eatery for locals and visitors alike

Arriving at lunchtime we were welcomed by the staff before being seated and offered a much needed drink. The restaurant was pretty busy and there was a real buzz about the place with the barman making cocktails for a group of young hockey players.

After a brief look at the menu, we decided to let the waiter recommend what he thought would be a good representation of the variety of food on offer, so with five dishes ordered it was a short wait before the first arrived.

Along with our food, we of course ordered margaritas! We ordered the blood orange from the new selection and the classic Peyotito, both of which, while very different to each other, were very welcome.

Enjoying my classic Peyotito margarita

Our starter was a selection of dips and crunchy tortilla, one of which was particularly spicy! Thank god for the margarita!

After this we had the Tostada de Pilpo A La Mexicana which was a delicious and perfectly cooked pile of octopus on a crisp tortilla.

top left:A starter of dips followed. Top right: Huevos Rancheros. Bottom left: adding another shot to my margarita. Bottom left: Huevos Rancheros, Blanco and Laminado De Hamachi

Next on offer came the Huevos Rancheros which is a soft tortilla with fried egg, pickled onion, oregano and avocado. This was another beautifully flavoursome dish. The eggs were perfectly cooked and the portion size was adequate for two.

A closr look at the Huevos Rancheros and the Laminado De Hamachi

Along with the Huevos Rancheros the waitress delivered a plate of Laminado De Hamachi, being yellowtail, ginger vinigarette, huitiacoche corn mushroom and serrano chile. I couldn’t get enough of these delicate, melt-in-the-mouth slices of raw fish which were beautifully seasoned and delightfully refreshing.

Accompanying these dishes was the Blanco, a scallop with fresh coconut, cucumber, plum tomato and serrano chile. Another faultless offering, it was quickly consumed accompanied by gratified and appreciative noises.

The new blood orange margarita alongside the classic Peyotito margarita

Saving the very best till last were were given the Mole De Olla, an incredibly delicious short rib, slow cooked for 24 hours in a traditional dried chile broth. This literally melted on the tongue and was an absolute delight.

Top: Mole De Olla, Middle left: Blanco. Middle right: Laminado De Hamachi.
Bottom  left: Mole De Olla. Bottom right: Tostada De Pulpo

No meal would be complete without a desert and while my stomach was telling me that it didn’t need any more, my head told me that there would be enough room!

We opted for the Pan De Elote, a plate of homemade corn cake with Mexican cacao sorbet and nibs. With a coffee to compliment the sweetness of the desert, another dish was promptly dispatched with without complaint.

The sweet and delicious Pan De Elote

There was not one dish that I wasn’t happy with. Each one was wonderfully prepared and presented and while at times the table didn’t quite feel large enough for the dishes that we were offered, we were pleased that our bellies were, as there was not one mouthful that I wasn’t eager to consume.

After a parting shot of tequila from the barman we were on our way back to Portobello road, fully re-fuelled and ready for a few more hours of shopping.

So, if you’re ever in Portobello Road or the Notting Hill area of London and find your stomach grumbling with the need for sustenance, please pop in to Peyotito for some very welcome and very tasty Mexican cuisine.

A farewell shot of tequila before parting. Till next time!

 

FIND PEYOTITO