London November 2018

A couple of dorks doing a timer shot at Buckingham Palace

As James Dean once said,”There is only a certain amount of time that you can spend as a tourist in a non-tropical city without experiencing a bit of boredom”; look it up. Heeding Dean’s advice, we jumped a London bound Eurostar after spending a few days in Paris, and a couple of hours later found ourselves in the (barely) pre-brexit UK. To be exact, we were in Shoreditch, camping at The ACE. Forgive me for oversimplifying, but Shoreditch felt like Brooklyn, east. I mean, I have stayed at The ACE in NYC, and the London version felt more like NY than the one on 29th Street. I was not upset by this fact. Below is a list of establishments that I can recommend patronizing. Here we go-

  • Bull in a China Shop – Feels a lot like the Dead Rabbit in FiDi, without the sawdust on the floor, and without all of the finance bros dipping in after their steakhouse dinners. Whatever type of whiskey you are craving, they have it To keep it chilled, they will make you a customized ice cube, diamond, or etc.. They made us some really nice drinks and fed us some delicious food.
  • Flat Iron – This place has a wood fired oven, popcorn, cocktails, and a decent vibe. As a steak snob, I didn’t find the meat to be amazing, but it was above average. In a town with a rep for having bland food, this joint breaks the stereotype. We were there on Thanksgiving, and had our first course of dinner here; a ribeye steak together with some sides, and we were not disappointed.
  • Pizza East, Shorditch – I’ll be honest, B did not love this spot. I did. It was a large space with community tables. We were there late (and there is a club downstairs, so the door security was slightly annoying). But… they are open late, have a wood fired oven, and a massive wine list. Vibe was decent, and the pizza was decent (in my opinion, not B’s).
  • The Bike Shed – It is funny how long Americans have been biting UK culture. If you want clear evidence that the UK is biting back in a major way, look no further than this place. It is like a giant version of Union Garage tucked under awesome vaulted brick ceilings. They also managed to pack in a full sized pub/restaurant, and barber shop, complete with a giant Brooklyn Brewery neon light mounted on the wall. Oh yeah, and Bikes. Lots of rad bikes. But seriously, you don’t need to be into motorcycles to appreciate this place.
  • Crown and Shuttle – This place was chill and had 10-20 beers on tap. We didn’t try the food, but the service was awesome, and the vibe was nice. Despite looking like they used this website to come up with their name, we have only good things to say about this spot.
  • The Culpeper – Also a hotel, this joint was bumping on a Friday night! Great selection of beer/wine/spirits with an upscale (but not too upscale) flow. Lots of attractive looking peeps and a steezy ye olde Londonney decor.
  • The Ten Bells – This pub was right across the street from the Spitalfields market. So you can whet your whistle after a long afternoon of scooping weird vintage wares and vinyl. Nothing really remarkable about this place, but B and I both put it on our respective lists, so we must have both liked it!
  • Found – Buried in the bowels of Ravey Street, this spot had the best cocktails that we experienced in London, hands down. Look for the door with the big number 5 on it. We walked past it twice before figuring out that was the entrance. Get the “Tommy Goes to Thailand” for some spicy deliciousness.
  • Old Blue Last – This place has some sort of connection to Vice media. I didn’t care enough to gather the details. But there you are. I didn’t love it. B did. It is a pretty typical pub, with very high ceilings, and a lot of taxidermied big game mounted on the wall. Plenty of brew on tap.
  • The Griffin – Possibly the most unpretentious “cool” bar that I have ever been to. I mean, just look at their super basic website. The bar is the same way. No frills, but super genuine awesomeness. We were there Friday night late, and there was a gaggle of people standing around on the sidewalk outside the door enjoying pints. Inside, The Kinks were blasting over the sound system in the most un-ironic way possible. We became pretty friendly with the bartender, and she got a very out of focus photo of us that B and I both love.

Some additional photos from the UK-

Typical London (babes and cathedrals down every alley).
LSE
A little piece of Egypt next to the Thames.
Some castley looking structures. Lots of these over there.
Tower Bridge (almost as old as the Brooklyn Bridge), from the London Bridge, and B in a pink hat.
Some royal Amish people commuting.
Vintage x Modern
Vintage x Modern

Paris November 2018

Paris is like NY, in the sense that there are a million different ways to experience it. B and I had both spent time in Paris on various occasions in the past, but this was the first time that we had ever been together. This was a good fact, because it eliminated any pressure to see any of the “sights” and allowed us instead to just wander. We lodged in the Belleville neighborhood. Neither of us loved the hotel, so I won’t mention it here by name. Everything else that we tried out in that neighborhood was awesome. Here are some highlights from a food and drink perspective (massive thanks to B, for keeping a list). In each case below, at the end I have included a CoSAAT (Chances of Spotting Another American Tourist) rating, with which one might be able to gauge on a scale of 1-10 the likelihood of running into another USA passport holder (Brooklynites not included). So if you are like us, the mo lowah the CoSAAT rating, the mo bettah. Here we go:

    • Les Niçois – If you are into fruits of the sea, and a cozy local vibe, you will love this joint. We did. One thing to note is that we did not encounter a single other tourist in or near this spot. So local that we would have felt like interlopers if it wasn’t for the super friendly staff. There is also a secret bocce court in the basement. CoSAAT rating = 2
    • Canailles – This place sits in a little row of local gin joints on Boulevard de Belleville. Each of them have happy hour, or “happy hours” as they say. Excellent small plates, cocktail list and local draft brew. We got the mixed plate and didn’t need dinner afterward. CoSAAT rating = 1
    • Aux Folies – We saw plenty of other Americans here (mostly ex-pats, but still). Notwithstanding that fact, we found that this spot was almost unbeatable for late night vino. So much so, that we ended up there three times. Not the friendliest staff, but good bang for buck and it was very centrally located for where we were staying. CoSAAT rating = 7
    • Cafe Charbon – This is a good looking bar on Rue Oberkampf. We really liked the way that it was styled up. Great drinks, and very friendly service. Reminded me a bit of The Campbell in Grand Central Terminal, but not nearly as uptight. CoSAAT rating = 4
    • La Commune – Another great gin joint on Blvd de Belleville. If you are looking for 90’s hip-hop and other 808-centric jams while sitting in an urban atrium where delicious cocktails and light vittles are served, search no more. CoSAAT rating = 2
    • Le Grand Bain – Located in a back alley of the Belleville hood, the food here was in the same vein of the first spot listed above. But the vibe was much more urban. We got some local wine and all of the food on the menu. The food was freaking fantastic and were pleasantly surprised by the bill. CoSAAT rating = 1
    • Combat – Femenist themed cocktail bar on Rue de Belleville. It is a hole in the wall, and the drinks are next level (including metal straws, keeping the turtles in mind). Music was most likely Tribe Called Quest Spotify radio. CoSAAT rating = 1
    • Le Compas – Okay, this joint is on Rue Montorgueil, which gets festive for the holidays (see top photo). I’ll be honest, it is a generic Parisian bistro. But it is a little bit off of the beaten path for the average tourist, and the food/drink was worth mentioning on here. CoSAAT rating = 8
    • Les Nautes – for when you are waltzing along the Seine and you already picked up your fresh greens from the farmer’s market, but feel like taking down some freshly shucked oysters and vino. Be prepared to wait in line. But also, depending on the weather, worth waiting in line. CoSAAT rating = 7

Some additional photos-

Quintessential Belleville (graf and jetlagged babes down basically every alley)

I want this Piaggio tuk tuk so bad for when the L goes down.

Scouting Invaders (not hard these days since they are basically on every corner)

More Invader

Pretty out of focus, but you get what you pay for with a timer shot.

Touristing 1000%

Another slightly out of focus and off center timer shot. Counting it as a win.

Moon over the Seine

Shepard Fairey off of Oberkampf

A cool building that we saw. A lot of people were taking photos of it.

Hole in the wall spot on Rue de Belleville. Coolest hardwood veneer table tops. We passed it at night and it was a club. Think Enid’s in Greenpoint.

From the top of the Parc de Belleville

Also from the top of the Parc de Belleville

Parc de Belleville

Another shot of that glowy building. This time it was sparkling and signaling the ships at sea, or something.