Fika Bar and Kitchen – Restaurant Review

Fika

Yes, you read that right, we review restaurants now. Why? Because I found it impossible to turn down a free meal? You are only partly right. The reason I couldn’t resist trialling Fika on Brick Lane in East London was the fact that they have recently redecorated and revamped their menu in tribute to the films of Wes Anderson. An East End restaurant themed after Mr Anderson may have you reaching for the hipster branding iron but bear with me. This is not a case of style over substance; the food is incredible.

As I take you through the culinary delights we were treated to, see if you can tell which Anderson films we were digesting.

Starters – Foxy Doughnut and Darjeeling Gravad Lax
Starter - Foxy DoughnutStarter - Darjeeling Gravad Lax

Nice though the cured salmon with Darjeeling jelly was I most definitely won the first course (because we all know that the art of ordering food is a competitive one) with my Foxy Doughnut starter. What is a Foxy Doughnut you ask? Try a home-made doughnut topped with chicken liver pâté and then crowned with shredded apple. It was a mixture of sweet, savoury, and then sweet again that had me making slightly inappropriate noises at the table. If only Wes Anderson had directed When Harry Met Sally.

Mains – Tenenbaum’s Dinner and Pitch Perfect Meatballs
Main - Tenenbaum's DinnerMain - Pitch Perfect Meatballs

The Tenenbaum’s Dinner consists of three sliders (tiny burgers to you and me) each with a different indulgent cheese and a side of skin-on chips. The sliders were delicious and, if you’re happy to sacrifice some of your dignity and your companion’s respect for you, can just about be eaten without the aid of knife and fork. Once again I think I made the right decision with the meatballs as they were accompanied by mashed potato (heavenly with the potato skins included), apple cider sauce, and lingonberry jam. The Wes Anderson theme may have seemed a little gimmicky at first but they certainly take their food seriously at Fika.

Desserts – Kladdkaka and Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Dessert - KladdkakaDessert - Peanut & Jelly Sandwich

I may not be able to pronounce Kladdkaka, much to my embarrassment when ordering, but I certainly enjoyed its chocolatey cake-ness. The more unusual dessert came in the form of small toasted peanut butter & jelly toasted sandwiches, something I had never experience outside of a film before. They were tantalisingly tasty but the majesty of the meal took its toll and we sadly had to leave half a sandwich and a spoonful of Kladdkaka uneaten. It was painful to leave some food on the plates but I was truly defeated.

Cocktails – The Inventory and Life Aquatic
Cocktail - The InventoryCocktail - Life Aquatic

What is dinner out without a cocktail or two? Both concoctions were exquisite and pleasingly sweet with The Inventory having quite a sting in its tail. What made these drinks really special was their presentation. The Life Aquatic came with half the cocktail in the glass and the other half in a small plastic bag resembling a goldfish bowl and a fish-based prize at a fairground. The Inventory came in the form of two tiny cups, a jar, and a jug, all of which had to be poured over some candy floss before stirring and drinking.

As this article will no doubt show I am not a professional food critic. That said I know what I like when it comes to food and I loved my trip to Fika. The restaurant was littered with Wes Anderson related artefacts and the food tasted and looked sublime. The DIY nature of the cocktails added to the charm and made the meal more of an experience than your average evening out on Brick Lane.

Our bill came to £66.15 which included two three-course meals with cocktails and service charge. Not too shabby I think you will have to agree.

Fika has recently extended its Wes Anderson theme until the end of September. For more information, to book a table, or peruse the menu visit www.fikalondon.com.

Top 10 Road Trip Films (I Own)

For the next week and a half I will be roaming around the South West of England in a yellow VW Campervan called Barney embarking on A Very English Road Trip. To celebrate I’ve compiled a list of the top ten road trip movies I own on DVD. An odd criteria for a film list but these film lists are superficial at the best of times.

Away We Go
A surprisingly light-hearted film from Sam Mendes as a young couple visit friends and relatives while trying to find the right place to bring up their imminent baby. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are a convincing couple and provide the sanity amongst the crazy characters they visit. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Allison Janney are the two main highlights along their journey.

Catfish
The only documentary on this list, Catfish follows the burgeoning online romance between Yaniv Schulman and the sister of a young artist he has been emailing. After some suspicious events Yaniv and his friends travel to the mystery girl’s house and uncover something they had never expected. There is debate about this documentary’s authenticity, either way it makes for a gripping watch.

The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson takes his signature style on the road, or rather on the track, as three brothers travel through India by train, looking for their mother and getting to grips with the loss of their father. Jason Schwartzmann, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson fit perfectly with Anderson’s tone as the three brothers and their journey is as much emotional as it is physical. Natalie Portman makes a brief, but revealing, appearance in the preceding short film.

The Go-Getter
The most indie film on the list unites Sundance darlings Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel and Jena Malone and brought together for the first time the she and him in She & Him. A young man has a quarter life crisis, steals a car and discovers love, and himself, on the road. A little bit twee to ever be successful, this is worth a watch if you are a fan of the cast, or just enjoy a gentle film about someone abandoning life and hitting the road.

Into the Wild
Speaking of a young man having a quarter life crisis and hitting the road… This time round the traveller is played by Emile Hirsch with a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart providing the tempting romance he finds along the way. Stewart’s role is quite small though and this is the biggest single-hander of the lot, with Hirsch the only character present throughout. This was Sean Penn’s last work behind the camera and is proof he should do more.

Little Miss Sunshine
An amazing cast go travelling in a yellow VW Campervan (not called Barney) in order to get Abigail Breslin to her beauty pageant. Darkly funny and more than a little moving this road trip ends the way all movies should, with a big dance number. Kevin Bacon would be proud. The film is notable for featuring Steve Carell’s most subdued performance, and for inspiring the colour scheme of this very website.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Even the Coen Brothers have made a road trip film, theirs being an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure. Encountering all manner of characters and obstacles along the way this is the quintessential road trip film, and the only one to involve the KKK.

Transamerica
Any good road trip forces the film to shift focus from traditional plot or location and instead focus on the characters who are the only constant through the film, and their relationships. Few films utilise this better than Transamerica as Felicity Huffman’s pre-op transsexual meets her son for the first time as she ferries him across country under the guise of being a charity worker.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
While most of these films involve travelling across the United States, Wristcutters moves beyond the world of the living and instead is set in an afterlife reserved for people who commit suicide. Shortly after his death Patrick Fugit hears that his old girlfriend, Leslie Bibb, has also killed herself and so takes his room-mate and tries to find her. Along the way he encounters some charmingly rustic supernatural elements and Tom Waits, who also provides the soundtrack.

Zombieland
While everyone in Wristcutters is dead, most of the people our travellers come across in this film are the undead. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson travel through the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of Twinkies and instead find Emma Stone (swoon), Abigail Breslin (road trip queen) and more zombies than you can shake a double barreled shotgun at. One of cinema’s greatest cameos is the icing on this zombie cake.

If there’s anything all these films have in common, it’s that the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey and characters that are key when the film has no other consistent element.

Watch This – Le Apartomatic Int Post Mastergrade 60

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola teamed up to direct an advert for Stella Artois and it looks exactly like you’d expect.

At first I thought the guy was Sam Rockwell, it isn’t.

The Brothers Bloom – Review

Rian Johnson, writer and director of The Brothers Bloom, has only directed one other film and that film, Brick, just so happens to be one of my all time favourites. He also recently directed an episode of Breaking Bad one of my all time favourite TV shows. My expectations were suitably raised upon going to see Bloom and as such I was slightly disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good film; funny, stylised and surprising. Bloom just isn’t quite right.

Where the film suffers is with timing. While the film is under two hours long it seems to drag a lot in the middle; a con movie such as this needs to be a bit faster paced but Johnson’s plan to have a con movie with sympathetic characters requirs time for emotional scenes that held the film up. Ultimately this was a worthy sacrifice; what it lacked in pace it made up for in heart as while we never knew the characters true motives as the film went along we did start to care about what would happen to them.

The entire cast, Rachel Wiesz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi and Robbie Coltrane were perfect for their parts and performed well. The direction and general production design were both very stylised, something that is often seen as a criticism. Personally I think it is often a plus point if you notice a particularly nice camera move, there’s nothing wrong with direction standing out as good as opposed to being overly generic. The music is also a treat, and as with Brick is provided by Johnson’s cousin, combining piano and various jazz instruments to create a unique sound, so different to most hollywood films.

With good direction, writing, music and acting it’s hard to know where the film comes up short but it does, if only slightly. Thankfully it remains clear that Rian Johnson has a real flair for writing and directing and any comparisons to Wes Anderson should be taken as a compliment.