Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Joshua Radin at The Hard Rock Café

When I found out about Joshua Radin playing an intimate Absolute Radio gig at the Hard Rock Café, I knew I had to go. An intimate venue, I’d previously read a review of a John Mayer gig there which I genuinely would have given my life to go and see. But how to get a ticket when they weren’t for sale and I was a month to young to enter the competitions to win them? Fortunately, I asked a very similar question to this on Twitter and a helpful guy pointed me in the right direction and before I knew it I was on the Guestlist.

I travelled alone to the gig. Having never been guestlisted and with no mention of a +1, I wrongly assumed that I wouldn’t have been entitled to one. So when I got there and was faced with the question of “Have you not brought a friend?” I looked a little confused and politely said “No”, making myself look like a little bit of a loner. And so I continued to fulfil this persona in silence for twenty minutes or so before I found some lovely people at the front to talk to.

Although, I wasn’t exactly alone to begin with. I had free food. Now, I’d heard rumours of free food being on offer at the Hard Rock Café shows, but remained sceptical and decided to eat before going there. This was a mistake. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed by waitresses holding trays of beers, wines and finger food. ALL COMPLIMENTARY. Not being one to miss out on free food, I tried a chicken piece and my first ever mini burger. I could have eaten so much but unfortunately my stomach was screaming against it.

Rumours had been floating around that Lissie was to support Radin, however shortly before the show, a smiling waitress informed us that she’d cancelled at the last minute because she’d got a call to do Jules Holland. I’d say that’s understandable enough. And it meant that we got to see Joshua Radin earlier as he casually strolled up onto the small stage at half past eight.

He immediately created a relaxed atmosphere, talking with the audience about football teams in order to gage the type of audience that we were. He plugged in his guitar and looked set to start before deciding there was no need for an amp and played a completely acoustic version of No Envy No Fear less than a metre away from me. No mic was needed as his vocals filled the room, turning a song that I’d previously overlooked on Simple Times, into some incredible. Changing the lengths of key notes, I became aware that Radin likes to play around with his songs to make a great live set.

Telling us the story behind One of Those Days, Radin described it as a song about a serious break up where (after a year of being depressed) he decided the best thing to do was to write a song. And I’m glad he did, because it’s a lovely song that I can find optimism from even if that was not his intention.

After having written depressing songs for a while, Radin decided that he couldn’t release an album full of them as nobody would buy it. So one morning he woke up and wrote Brand New Day, describing it as a “happy song”. It’s one of my favourites and I was not disappointed with this live performance. Stunning vocals were combined with beautiful guitar playing from him and his lone band mate Brendan.

The only song to be played from We Were Here, Radin’s debut album, was Only You. A song which, in fact, appears twice on said album, has a version mixed by the British Imogen Heap and hence Radin found a way to connect it to his British Audience. Another way that he tried to bond with us was his humorous description of the offside rule. Struggling to find the right words, an audience member had to shout out “attackers” after Radin had worked his way through describing the players as offence, forwards and left and right wings. Not only was the venue extremely intimate (I’d say that there were about a hundred of us lucky people there), but Radin made it even more personal. He willingly bantered with the crowd, agreeing to going to a football match with one couple, before jokingly disclosing “this is just for radio, I don’t really know you, we’re not really going”.

Unplugging his guitar once more, Radin took to the front of the stage to play a song that will appear on his third album which Radin told me he was currently mixing. Titled The Ones With The Light, Radin decided that audience participation would add to the song so split us in two, giving each side of the room a line from the chorus to sing/shout/destroy. It was a catchy song which I look forward to owning upon the third album’s release.

To end his short set, Radin plugged his guitar in to sing a version of I’d Rather Be With You that is likely to be played repetitively on Absolute Radio for a while. A beautiful song anyway, the close proximity that we had to Radin made the song even more stunning.

After he left the stage, my new found friends in the audience immediately grabbed him for a photo before he fled to the green room. Not wanting to miss out, I stayed around (with others) for a good half an hour or so, making the most of the complimentary chocolate brownies, before the man himself casually strolled into the venue in the same relaxed manner that he’d approached the stage. He was extremely lovely, posing for photos and genuinely seemed interested in making conversation with his fans.

A lovely ending to a lovely gig. It might have been short, but the hospitality of the venue and of Radin himself made it a memorable night. With plenty more live performances coming up at the Hard Rock Café (Katie Melua is there tonight) I just hope that this won’t be my last there.

Joshua Radin at The Hard Rock Café for Absolute Radio
4th May 2010


The Giraffe Poem

It appears that people keep finding my blog through search engines having searched for ‘The Giraffe Poem’. I feel that my review of Giraffe does not satisfy this search and, as such, feel that it is my duty to type up the poem. I did have it on a postcard which you can get free in all restaurants however I seem to have misplaced that. Therefore I have no option but to attempt to recite it from memory. Here it goes…

Every Giraffe knows that smiling is infectious.
You catch it like the flu,
Someone at Giraffe once smiled at me
And I started smiling too

I looked around the tables
And someone saw me grin,
And when he smiled, I realised
I’d passed it on to him!

I thought about my smile a lot
And realised all it’s worth.
A single smile like mine or yours
Can travel around the earth

So if you feel a smile begin,
Don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic, quick,
Let’s get the world infected!

I hope that this is correct and that you can all manage a smile when reading it. Any visit to Giraffe makes me smile.


First off, I must make the, perhaps obvious, observation that Giraffe is not a music artist. Nor is it the name of an album or a review of a live show. Unless you count sitting in Spittalfields, staring into the kitchen, as a live show. No, Giraffe is a restaurant. A very impressive restaurant. Therefore, they are truly deservent of a write up in my slightly less impressive blog…

Vibrant colours and world music; my first impression of Giraffe was, and still is, that it’s not your average restaurant. There is always an air of enthusiasm flying manically around the room as you are welcomed into the Giraffe community. Self-titled a “world” restaurant, the Giraffe menu offers a wide choice for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Options such as Wok Fired Vegetables & Udon Noodle Stir Fry are perfect for any vegetarian, whilst the BBQ Ribs will delight everyone else. For me though, there are always two features which really stand out: the chopped Aberdeen Angus beef burger along with the entire dessert menu!
I’ll admit that perhaps I’m not the most adventurous foodie, I’m far more excited by homemade comfort food than by the latest gastronomic experiments, but the burgers at Giraffe will genuinely please everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re the world fussiest eater or if you’re a self-proclaimed “food snob”, the Giraffe team will do their best to make your burger perfect for you. Medium rare with aged cheddar is my view of perfection, yet there is a great array of options for anyone to choose.

The meal culminates with perhaps the highlight of my day, no the highlight of my week, the dessert menu. If you thought choosing main courses was challenging then think of the dessert menu as the Everest to your local park mound as the main menu. A huge Rocky Road Sundae, Choc Chunk Brownie, Milky Bubble Double Chocolate Cheesecake and Banana waffle split to name but a few of the delectable desserts. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to order one of everything and share amongst a group.

There’s a poem on the wall in one of the restaurants that I can now recite fluently; it sums up the ethos of the restaurant through smiles. Describing how a smile can travel from one member of staff around the world may seem a bit over the top, but the underlying message is that you can see the happiness of the staff. Most locations have an open kitchen where you can see the chef’s effortlessly prepping and cooking dish after dish. Yet they still produce high quality, well presented plates any time of the day.

In fact, the brunch menu is another thing that Giraffe provides. It offers everything from simplistic porridge to stacks of pancakes with fruit. The menu genuinely is designed for everyone. Young children are entertained with their own menu and are normally asked directly what food they would like to order – making them feel as important as everyone else.

The Giraffe poem ends with the line “Let’s get the world infected” and they are certainly making a start at that. A new restaurant has recently opened in Bury St Edmunds with others around the country in Cambridge, Exeter and Oxford to name but a few, showing how the restaurant has evolved from the family owned chain in Central London, whilst still keeping the family atmosphere. The chain now has monthly specials – another sign of the development of the chain – and I am really anticipating just what other new delights will be in store for me. Hopefully the burger will always be there and so I’ll sit and smile whilst I apprehensively state “I’ll have mine medium rare please”.