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Monday, June 18, 2012

London Calling

I love London.  It's a great city.  It's not as chic as Paris, as romantic as Rome or as fashionable as Milan, but it is a fun town.  And the people are warm and friendly, and there is a pint waiting for you around the corner.
I haven't lived in London for almost four years now, but my friends are still in sight, and my favorite spots are still open, and there is always something new to discover.  It's been said that London has awful culinary fare, but it's just not true.  Some of my choice restaurants in the world are here, not to mention the yummy comfort of pub food.  I will warn that dining in London can expand the waistline, but it's worth it.  And waistlines or not, there is some great shopping to occupy your time...

First on the list is visiting the Dukes Hotel Bar for one of the great martinis of the world.  This cozy and charming bar hosts the coldest martinis I've ever encountered, tended by a delightful staff of Italians led by Alessandro.  With Italian lemons used as garnish, and Italian olives served as snacks, the finest English gins pour up a grand time.  Another warning: limit yourself to one!

After crawling to dinner, and if you feel up for a cool bar scene, head on over to Mark's bar.  Hemingway himself could not have concocted a better rum cocktail menu - and the environment is hazy and happening.  The favorite drink, The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, is refreshing (and a little sour) and light.  It could lead you to a little late night dancing if you have a private club to crash...
London's gastro pubs are the ultimate next-day-essential for surviving London evenings.  My go-to is The Thomas Cubitt, in Belgravia, that I take all friends to and never miss on a trip over.  Sit downstairs! With a  relaxed and inviting vibe, the restaurant easily soothes pounding heads and fills churning stomachs with its classic fish and chips, lovely fish pie, or filling bangers and mash.  A little more upscale than a regular pub, Thomas Cubitt changes ordinary pub grub into a nice dining experience while celebrating the work of London's famed builder, Thomas Cubitt.
Between seeing Buckingham Palace, checking out the art at the Tate Modern, maybe catching a ballet performance of the Royal Ballet, or staring at the portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, there is always room for a little shopping.
There is one little street in Knightsbridge, tucked away from the crowds of Harrod's, that houses 2 phenomenal dress agencies, or, consignment shops, to us Americans.  Pandora's Dress Agency is a haven of finds.  Get over the idea that these clothes and/or shoes have been worn before, think of it as vintage before its time.  It can be hit or miss, but it's always worth a visit.  

Around the corner on Cheval Place is a row of similar spots, and my true favorite is Salou.
Owned by 2 charming and gracious ladies, this tiny store is packed with outrageous finds.  And their Birkin and Kelly collections are superb - all in pristine condition and all guaranteed authentic.

Collectors of Chanel jewelry will pant at their pieces, not to mention their Chanel clothes.  I took my sweet "fourth child" - daughter of my best friend - and she came out with Balenciaga, and an adorable Proenza Schouler shift.  I left with a little Chanel number, a cute Balenciaga day dress and one of the black and white Erdem print dresses.  I'm still hoping for the immaculate blue jean Birkin...
After a day of sight-seeing and shopping, treat yourself to some champagne and caviar at The Caviar & Prunier in Piccadilly.  The blinis could be the best I've ever had, and the people watching is entertaining.  Definitely a pick me up!
Our great friends took me and my husband to Mari Vanna Restaurant in Knightsbridge.
Con Paulo
Con Pauline

Crammed with someone's family portraits, china, books and more, you are taken back into an age when velvet and lace ruled, and all ladies wore corsets (they would have to after eating this food...).

Never a dull moment, always on the go, forever recognizing beauty; London is a city to tackle and dive into.  And I can't even begin to describe The Cigar Club at the Ritz hotel. Cough cough...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's nothing like a romp in London with Sutton. Always chic and well done!