Considering that I don't feel like I left my desk very often during the month of June, I managed to find quite a few enjoyable things.
1. Shoryu Ramen. I had serious food envy from my boss's trip to Japan and when I found myself in Carnaby Street one rainy Saturday night, the thought of a big comforting bowl of ramen easily won out over the prospect of shopping for food and cooking. I had some great ramen while I was in Japan, of course, and these days it's not too hard to find authentic options in London either. In an effort to be the most popular customer on my bus home, I ordered the Dracula Tonkotsu (£11.90), which is served with caramelised black garlic oil and extra garlic chips, and which was delicious and filling.
The cocktails looked great, the service was friendly but efficient and the long canteen-style tables are great for people-watching — I enjoyed eavesdropping on two cute American guys, who sounded like they had walked right out of a mumblecore film with their discussions of the romantic compatibility of Myers-Briggs personality types, Citizen Kane and Humphrey Bogart, and airline seats. Shoryu has a few other branches around town too. G3-5 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PJ.
2. H&M Home. I've been spending most of my spare pennies on travel lately, but if you are looking for affordable and often stylish homewares, check out H&M's current home collection. I particularly like the black, copper (sorry: rose gold) and wood range. I treated myself to one of the black wire baskets pictured below, which was about £6, I think, and which makes a great receptacle for my apples. They have some nice candle-holders and wooden crates too.
3. Whenever I go the Stratford Westfield, I always look forward to having a pizza at Franco Manca. The awesome pizza mini-empire has been teasing us Bermondsey residents with a potential new branch on Bermondsey Street for over a year now, but alas, it has not yet materialised. I always go for the margherita (£5.90) because it's delicious and doesn't need any extra toppings. The sourdough base is so delicious that I always end up eating all the crust too. Please come to Bermondsey soon, Franco Manca! Various branches throughout London.
4. The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. I read a few fun books this month, including Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, an addictive and twisty friendship-gone-wrong — or has it? — thriller. Just as twisty and with just as much of a case of the unreliable narrators, but a little more literary is Greene's novel about a middle-aged headmaster of a top New England prep school, who is arrested for acting 'oddly' in Central Park, and then begins to recount the events that led up to his arrest. It's hard to say more without spoiling the surprises, but other than a slightly weak closing act, The Headmaster's Wife was sharp, suspenseful and compelling.
5. The Oliver Conquest. My brother picked this Aldgate East pub based mainly on its proximity to the Lahore Kebab House, where we celebrated his birthday. But it's also a gin palace and has a bewilderingly impressive menu with over 200 gins, arranged by botanical, and various geographically organised gin flights. I tried several different gins before and after dinner, including Dorothy Parker gin, an old favourite of mine, and, in honour of the bro, Sibling gin from Cheltenham. My favourite, though, was the Bitter Truth Pink Gin, pictured below. Each gin is served with an appropriate garnish or two: pink grapefruit with the pink gin, natch, and they even served it with pink lemonade. Delicious! The Oliver Conquest is smallish but relaxed and friendly and a great place for juniper-based libations. 70 Leman Street, London, E1 8EU.