Small plates, snacks and Shake Shack on a Friday night

For a few weeks now, Sara and I had scheming on local pub The Gunmakers. We were finally going to check out this nice little pub I’d catch a glimpse of sometimes on my way home from school. It was tiny, but it seemed hoppin’ and the website was beautiful.

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An establishment that invests in a good website is an establishment takes care in its vibe. It was going to be a fantastic evening.

Tonight did end up being fantastic, but it did not turn out the way we expected.

Stuck at the station
First of all, coming back from studying, there was a severe delay between Kings Cross and my home station. The delay tasted bitter in my mouth, too.

I saw the train, doors ajar, docked at the platform. So, I sprinted over before those fickle doors could slide shut. Agile in my velvety heeled boots, I felt like I was in a Bond movie. Except, once I was in, I realized there was absolutely no one on the train. I looked up and realized, then, the train was not in service.

Dejected, I filed out and took my place among the other passengers on the platform. It took about 10 minutes before there was the prospect of another train.

Hangry like a wolf
Sara and I did meet up eventually. We dropped off my stuff at the flat (again, I was studying, and didn’t want to take my laptop and planner with me). Then we cut a path to The Gunmakers.

The pub was cute! It was cozy and had a veritable community feeling, like something out of an Arctic Monkeys song. I was living for the little design touches, such as embossed mirrors and a cache of hanging plants.

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We chit-chatted for a bit, mulled over the menu on our table and went up to the bar to order. It was then that the bartender told us The Gunmakers wasn’t serving food and all they could offer us were some crisps.

Sara and I were a bit annoyed, to say the least. Sara had skipped dinner. I hadn’t eaten for awhile, since I was so caught up studying. I was definitely hangry.

Righting wrongs
So we headed back in the direction of the train station and stopped at this corner restaurant called Albion. The place was huge and comprised many different dining vibes: cafΓ©, sit-down and bar.

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Favourite thing in the whole wide world: the two guys sitting here giving us openly dirty, confused looks as I snapped this photo. Hopefully, I made their date a little more memorable.

We ended up ordering three dishes to share: sweet potato and spinach chili with poached eggs, smoked salmon and soda bread and deep-fried whitebait with tartare sauce.

Coming from an American background, I thought that the fried fish starter (once we confirmed whitebait was fish with the waiter) was going to be akin to popcorn shrimp or chicken nuggets. You know, some mini fish + chips-style, beer-battered goodness. Instead, we got those little guys all tucked into a tiny bowl.

Everything was delicious, especially the chili. No matter if it starts out warm or if the greyness is held at bay, you can always count on London to be cold at night. This hipster-kissed, gentrified version of American TexMex cuisine was the closest I’ve gotten to soul food since I’ve been in London. I’d gladly order it again.

ClosingΒ with a nightcap
With so many pubs in the area, we thought we’d end the night with a drink. But ending the night with dessert sounded even better. But being so late in London, as always, most places were closed.

We hedged our bets on making it out to Scoop, an ice cream shop in Covent Garden. All the transfers of the Tube would take too long, so we opted for a bus. But the right bus took too long, and alternatives blew right past us and apparent looks of disinterest.

We did get to Scoop, but it had freshly closed. So we went looking for the other dessert bars and cafΓ©s listed on Yelp. On our way to our Plan B, we spied a lighthouse in the storm: Shake Shack.

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You may think that going to an American chain restaurant is the worst possible idea for expanding your horizons. In some regard, I might agree with you (every time I saw Scots going hard for Subway, I cringed). Be that as it may, Shake Shack in London has so much to offer.

Take, for example, the Cambridge Circus location’s exclusive caramel and whisky (hold the “e”) milkshake. Oh, and its gin lemonade. While I decided against indulging such decadence, I went for the modestΒ Union Shack. This pious Shake Shack order consisted of chocolate frozen yogurt, fudge sauce, hazelnut brownie bits, toffee and sprinkles. As our cashier put it delicately, “Basically, chocolate overload.”

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Since it was closing time, we got Shake Shack takeaway and spent some time wandering around ChinaTown with our goods in hand. If I thought my little neighbourhood pub was popping, it was nothing compared to the insatiable buzz of the crowd stumbling out of O’Neill’s club. Leaning against a Chinese rotisserie joint with ice cream, we took delight in some late-night people watching. When it comes to night life, tonight was exactly my speed.

 

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