Restaurant Review :: Vesivärava Grill (Tallinn)

Vesivärava Grill

Verdict: No beer, no indoor seating, but by far Tallinn’s best burger.

Vesivärava Grill is quite a way out from the centre of Tallinn. It’s just by Kadriorg Park, across the road from Kadrioru Stadium. What’s more it’s like a classic American burger stand, in that there is no indoor seating area. You queue up at the order window and wait outside while the burger is barbecued outside. Given the annual climate in Tallinn you can imagine that for most of the year this is a little cold and uncomfortable.

Is it worth leaving Tallinn Old Town just to get a burger from here? No, not unless you have a vehicle and feel like a little drive in action. However, if you are in the area, visiting the KUMU art gallery, Kadriorg Palace, The Swan Pool, Pirita Beach or any of the other museums and attractions in Kadriorg then definitely get over to Vesivärava Grill and grab yourself Tallinn’s most awesome gourmet burger.

It is very popular, lots of people drive up and queue up for their burgers and once you try them you will understand why. Up until this point I had not had a really good, or even a passable burger in Tallinn but Vesivärava Grill are certainly equal in flavour and quality to London’s top gourmet burger joints. The fries were also delicious and top notch.

One last thing to note, Vesivärava Grill was taken over by new staff and management since I visited, the previous management and staff have renamed themselves The Estonian Burger Factory and I think we are all looking forward to their new restaurant opening in 2014. I have not revisited Vesivärava Grill since this change but I have heard nothing but good things in the meantime.

Tere Tere, Vana Kere (final solution to the magpie problem)

3MAGPIES

The magpie problem has been increasing of late. Other than in Barcelona Airport car park (where I counted five) I’ve been so many lone magpies it’s almost led me to restart my online magpie dating agency. Unfortunately this would exacerbate the situation exponentially with all those photos of desperate single magpies.

Worse still it was not until a few weeks ago I first encountered a real live magpie in Tallinn, before this the only evidence of Estonian magpies I had observed were the five graffiti magpies at the top of the stairs on Linnahall. Then I spotted one, flying alone down Ristiku, and the same one again the next day in the same place. As if that were not bad enough, later that night, on my way to the Tallinn Music Academy Christmas Ball, I saw this watercolour (above, duplicated & augmented) of a single magpie in the window of an art shop, just across the road from NuKu. What kind of sick, twisted mind not only paints a lone magpie but then allows it to be displayed publicly? Spreading misery and sorrow to unsuspecting passers by.

I am completely against the thought of ever having a tattoo, but these recent events have led me to consider having two magpies inked onto my left palm. This way I can always turn sorrow into a girl, if you ken what I mean. For the moment I think I might carry a picture of two magpies, see how it works out. Perhaps I should simply avoid gaming the signal and tweaking the probabilities, after all I see five magpies quite often and I don’t think I can keep so many secrets.

Restaurant Review :: The Beer Emporium (Bristol)

Beer Emporium Bristol

Verdict: A great selection of beer & some freakishly moreish chips. 

In between ordering food, plugging in phone to charge, estimating if I had enough time to eat and walk to the station before the train leaves and tasting an awesome local stout… it occurred to my subconscious mind that the song being sung in a folksy, guitarsy, Joni Mitchellsy way by Sarah R-K was in fact ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice. This part of their Unsigned Underground night pleased me very much.

It probably goes without saying that a restaurant modelled after a Belgian beer cellar and specialising in craft beers, has an exceptional selection of beers on tap and in bottle. Over 122 Belgian bottled varieties they claim. The food is good. I mean great, I mean gourmet great. I have to say it was one of the best burgers I have ever had, succulent & tasty. The handcut chips were excellent and whatever combination of cooking oil and herbs they use to season is undoubtedly addictive.

The staff were friendly, knowledgeable about their beers and very helpful in making sure the meal was served with enough time to make the train home. If you are in Bristol I would highly recommend The Beer Emporium.

Shoe Event Horizon

Shoe Event HorizonTogether we crossed the canals, walked the way, immersed ourselves in sea among floating dead bees & Alexander’s armada. We played frisbee down endless shores and performed from the amphitheatre stage to an audience long dead. You were with me that crazy humid night when you crushed peanut shells on the colonial hotel floor and again weeks later when we stood in the pitlane by the big wheel as dawn broke over the west. I remember when we walked for days, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town, baking in the dry ancient bush and tripping over termite mounds in the dark to the endless thump of the bass. We mingled at the peak of a goldmine’s spoil heap during the total eclipse of the sun, spent days on trains, hours on planes and minutes on boats. Disappeared to Reval and back, over and over through sudden & persistent snow. We had one hell of a journey, I’ll never forget you.

Restaurant Review :: The Diner (Neal Street)

The Diner, Neal Street

 

Verdict: Very high quality at gourmet burger prices.

The Diner is one of a chain of seven around London, each set up to feel like a 1950s American style Diner, albeit a 1950s American style Diner perhaps imagined by some vague historian in a distant dystopian, minimalist, future, sci-fi world. All the elements are there, the booths, the soundtrack, the americana, the garish lighting, the neon. All just sitting in the uncanny valley somewhere between The Fifth Element and IKEA.

That said, the food is really good. Quality ingredients, well prepared an plenty of them. The sides are huge and well cooked. I have honestly never left The Diner in any way hungry. The selection of drinks is wide, from quality micro brewery beer & cider to ‘hard shakes’. Definitely one of the best burger joints around London but at a price just a bit too premium to be regularly visited, save it for special occasions.

Hackney Wicked 2013

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Hackney_Wicked_2013_013

Hackney Wicked 2013, a set on Flickr.

It really is a worldwide fashion now, nearly every city has it going on. Hipsters, artist communities, reused industrial spaces, massive facial hair, old fashioned bicycles, street art, archaic time consuming hobbies, lovingly brewed craft beers, reclaimed building materials… Hackney Wick has one of the best examples and they throw a very eclectic yearly festival, of course.

Robbie Williams Live From Tallinn

This year I was lucky enough to work on some of the onstage motion graphics for Robbie Williams’ Take the Crown Stadium Tour. Always fun to make visuals for a big tour but this time it became a lot more personal and magical when I discovered the Estonian stop on the tour would be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide from the song festival grounds in Tallinn. It was my first event at the song festival grounds and I thought it was awesome, the atmosphere was just incredible due to it being Estonian re-independence day.