Review: Brother Marcus, Balham

Out Of Office Magazine reviews Brother Marcus, a cool cafe bar in Balham offering up tasty brunches, small plates, coffees and cocktails 
 
In the south of metropolis London, we find quaint brunch, lunch and cocktail café Brother Marcus. Located in Balham it’s just a short walk from the station and easily identifiable with the chalkboard black exterior and white stamped name.

Upon entering you are immediately submerged into a rustic warehouse feel.  You may switch off at this moment as, like us, you may agree that this style is often overused at present in many coffee shops.  But, bear with me…

Unlike many chains, Brother Marcus has created an authentic rustic feel. Each piece of furniture appears to have been hand selected by the brothers to outfit their small enterprise and it’s not one bit pretentious.

Greeted by the smiling waitress we were shown to our table. To start, a soy latte and the highly recommended cappuccino. Proper Italian coffee served at a just hot enough temperature, so all notes of bitterness are avoided.

For the main courses we chose the Sister Special and a Marcus Breakfast. The former, a delightful combination of crispy bacon and perfectly poached eggs with spinach, watercress and avocado ‒ all served on a slice of toast. The latter, pork belly crispy and tender in all the right places with a small side of greens, served on a pitta.

After eating, we were relayed the story of how they started ‒ two brothers (aptly enough) came together to provide a space for the young and old to drink good coffee, eat tasty food and chat.  A quick tour of the place shows that they have plans with a good sized outdoor area as well.

What? A casual coffee shop selling great coffee and well crafted food in South London.

Why choose Brother Marcus? Perfect for a catch-up or low intensity meeting with a client or supplier, or for a small team meal. Keep an eye out for special events in their garden during the summer!

Cost: £

 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA

info@brothermarcus.co.uk

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Review: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

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Out Of Office Magazine visits the newly opened Balans Soho Society café at Seven Dials

This recently opened venue on Monmouth Street is the sixth location in the Balans family and modelled on the Soho café style. It’s simple, sleek, bistro style is clean and cosy – much like our seat specially reserved for us in the corner of the restaurant.

Also like our visit to the Kensington restaurant, the staff were friendly, attentive and well-informed about the variety of food and drink on offer. We also learnt that, like the Kensington restaurant, a staff member had left for an adventure and landed back at Balans a few years later – it seems they are a good employer with employees only enthusiastic to return.

We started with the seared scallops – perfectly cooked but a small portion that left you wanting a little more – plus the lamb pastilla, which was filling and tender. For our mains, we opted for the 10 oz sirloin steak cooked medium rare and the Cornish crab linguine that certainly didn’t skimp on the chilli!

Too full for dessert we stayed for another glass of malbec and merlot, happy in our surroundings. While we relaxed, a waiter dropped a full tray of glasses but the staff took it in their stride with a smile. (Very unlucky considering they had just opened!)

What? A great addition to the Balans Soho Society collection. Close to Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.

Why choose Balans? Nice for for a planned brunch, lunch or dinner out, or a spur of the moment occasion. The menu is varied with international influences and changes regularly.

Cost: ££

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9HA

020 7836 2982

www.balans.co.uk

Review: Cubana, Smithfield

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Out Of Office Magazine reviews Cubana near Farringdon Station

Cubana is lively bar, kitchen and coffee spot that has recently opened in Smithfield.

On arrival the open plan bar and kitchen was buzzing with live salsa music adding to the feel good Friday night vibe.

We kicked off our experience with cocktails – classic mojito and a strawberry daiquiri, followed by a selection of tapas and desserts. Other than the delicious cocktails, the highlights were the prawns in light tempura batter and the quirky range of ice creams (we tried banana and chilli chocolate).

Unfortunately the freshly baked artisan bread had run out so we didn’t get to sample that – clearly it’s very popular!

What? A casual bar and kitchen serving street food, cocktails and fragrant coffees. Easy to forget that you’re not on a beach in Cuba while you’re here!

Why choose Cubana? A good choice for those working in or around Farringdon if you’re looking for a casual, yet quirky, destination for lunch, dinner and/or drinks. It also makes a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill chain coffee shops in the day time.

Cost: ££

59 Charterhouse St, London EC1M 6HA
07496 327 076
www.cubana.co.uk

Review: Center Parcs Woburn Forest

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Out Of Office Magazine visits Center Parcs Woburn Forest to review the tailor-made delegate packages on offer 

A holiday village may be somewhere usually resigned to family holidays, and yet the corporate facilities on offer at Center Parcs’ fifth and newest UK destination are truly outstanding.

It’s only an hour away from London and nestled in 365 acres of woodland, which makes it both easy to get to, and a metropolis away from the busy city and surrounding towns.

The village opened in June 2014 to leisure guests, while the conference and event facility entitled The Venue followed closely in October. Since opening its doors, it has welcomed over 6,000 delegates to events, and hosted well-known brands including Virgin Atlantic, The Body Shop and TPRG (Theo Paphitis Retail Group).

As well as tailored events and conferences, the Woburn team are particularly focused on team building, maximising the use of activities available on site.

The event space

The Venue offers theatre-style seating for up to 400 delegates, and comprises of eight individual and adaptable event suites with full vehicle access.

What is really striking about the space is the rooms are totally flexible. Whether you’re looking to hold one big award event or three medium dinners, the Woburn team can cater for your needs.

Even if your total number of attendees is higher than the maximum, they can utilise the other restaurants and spaces on site, such as the Indian Rajinda Pradesh.

No task is too big (or unusual/unique) for the team and they are very enthusiastic when it comes to working with a client to create what they want.

The accommodation

On site there are 675 forest lodges and a 75-bedroom luxury hotel.

We stayed in a lodge which was comfortable, with a good amount of space and decorated in a stylish way with modern fixtures an fittings. Those looking for indoor entertainment can upgrade to lodges with saunas, hot tubs and games rooms too.

Whether it’s a quiet, early night after a long management away day, or a more eventful evening in after a team building getaway, there is an accommodation option for all.

The activities

One of the most brilliant things about Woburn Forest is the long list of activities on offer – from rock climbing and archery, to segways and kayaking.

If you like swimming the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is a large swimming complex, with slides, a wave machine and outdoor rapids. It’s certainly not your average pool for lengths and perhaps typically more popular among the younger folk, or families.

For the less adventurous types the luxury spa Aqua Sana will give you the chance to relax and revitalise. The World of Spa features six spas with sensory rooms and will take you on a journey through fire and ice, botanic blossom, herbal infusions and more. It is regarded as one of the best spas in Europe and has a number of luxury treatments available. For us, the foot spas and the mini infinity pool were particular highlights.

The food

There is a range of food and drink available at Woburn, including well-known chains such as Strada, Café Rouge and Starbucks, plus Center Parcs’ own Huck’s American Bar and Grill, The Sports Café and The Pancake House.

For us, the highlights were the on-site Indian Rajinda Pradesh for dinner and The Shearing House for a casual lunchtime meal with homemade fish finger sandwiches.

The tried and tested comment

Hearing-aid specialist Amplifon held an all employee conference at Woburn in January. The Village was chosen for its ability to host over 350 delegates, and featured a day of presentations, workshops, a gala dinner and a team building programme.

Steve Fleming, CEO UK & Ireland, Amplifon said: “We liked the newness of Woburn Forest from an accommodation and conference facility point of view, especially as it offered more conference space than our previous venue.”

Why choose Woburn?

Whether it’s a gala dinner, an annual award ceremony, a whole company or particular department team building away day or a more formal management meeting, Woburn really can cater for your needs.

For the more formal meetings the facilities on offer mean delegates can let off some steam and go and take part in an activity, or perhaps the day after an award ceremony attendees can enjoy the spa.

For team building, the setting is perfect. It does have that holiday feel to it and will have everyone smiling and having fun.

Cost:

From £55 per person (inc. VAT) for a day delegate

Includes: Meeting room hire for the day, two-course fork buffet lunch, refreshments, access to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, car parking and wifi.

Contact: Hermione Gingell

Business Development Manager

The Venue

Center Parcs Woburn ForestFordfield Rd, MillbrookBedfordshireMK45 2HZ

01525 842928

07841 912 504

hermione.gingell@centerparcs.co.uk

www.events.centerparcs.co.uk/woburn-forest-overview

Review: Ca’puccino, King’s Road, London

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Out Of Office Magazine reviews Ca’puccino, a charming coffee house and kitchen located near Sloane Square 

The concept of Ca’puccino was born in Italy and it shows. The coffee house and kitchen offers locally sourced Italian food and drinks in great chic locations.

Owner and creator Giacomo Moncalvo has crafted a great brand and its success has spread, with 10 locations across Italy and five in London.

We tried out the King’s Road branch located a stones throw away from Sloane Square tube station. Most of what is on offer comes straight from Italy, so many of the food is not available anywhere else in London. But the small, yet growing chain, is eco-conscious and will source what they can locally – like meat.

We let the manager lead us through the menu and he started us off with the Italian afternoon tea which featured sweet and savoury canapé-style bites with Italian fizz and flower tea. Then a cold tuna salad accompanied with a glass of dry rosé, followed by green pesto pasta with pine nuts and parmesan with a full bodied red to wash it all done. To finish the meal we sampled some of their specially brewed coffee and were keen to buy a bag to bring home.

What? A charming and authentic coffee house and kitchen, with a wide variety of locations to choose from – and we certainly expect to see more opening up very soon.

Why Choose Ca’puccino? It has the relaxing atmosphere of a Café but the elegance and quality food of a five star restaurant. Perfect for a quick coffee or a longer appointment.

 

138a King’s Road SW3 4XB

0207 0360 555

www.ca-puccino.com