I used to got to Quaglinos a lot in the early noughties when I first moved to London, I’d not been for years though. So when my friend JP invited me for Sunday brunch with some of his friends I was delighted to return to an old favourite. We were going to their ‘Soul Sunday’ brunch which for £49 each includes a starter, main course, a pudding and unlimited wine. To start I had a lovely chicken liver parfait with compressed apple. Then for main I had roast beef and all the trimmings. Unfortunately they had completely ran out of roast beef and so gave me a ribeye steak instead, which although very nice and considerably more expensive was not exactly what I ordered or was expecting. however they did very kindly knocked it off the bill without me even asking which was very good of them. For pudding I had a lovely, if a little small, treacle tart. It was lovely and rounded the meal off very nicely though.
The original Rochelle Canteen opened in 2004 in Shoreditch in the converted bike shed of the old Rochelle school, looking out to the beautiful bandstand and trees of Arnold Circus. It was co-founded by Margot Henderson wife of St John restaurant founder Fergus. I’ve always heard good things about it and meant to go, but never got round to it. So when I heard that they were opening a sister restaurant at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on the Mall overlooking St James Park I was excited. The wonderful Grace Dent gave it a fabulous write up in her ES magazine restaurant column. My friend JP and I were wanting to see ‘The Favourite’ film and it just so happened that it was playing at the cinema at the ICA, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and go for a pre-cinema dinner there. It was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night, maybe because it was January. The very lovely waitress told us that apparently a big reserved table of guests hadn’t turned up. So sad that some selfish people chose to not bothering to turn up. We started with a couple of cocktails and skipped starters to go straight to the mains. I had a pheasant, prune and chestnut pie. It was lovely, really warm and comforting, just what I needed on a cold, wet January evening. We also had a delicious bottle of red wine. In fact so good that we ordered another bottle to take into the cinema screening. We didn’t realise we weren’t allowed glass in the auditorium though, so we ended up drinking pints of red wine out of plastic glasses, very classy! Great meal though, would definitely go back, really friendly service and brilliant food. Film was excellent as well.
Every so often a play comes along that gets almost universal glowing five star reviews. The Inheritance was one of these plays. Written by Matthew Lopez and directed by Stephen Daldry, it’s a contemporary take on the classic EM Forster novel Howard’s End. It examines love between gay men in New York a generation after the AIDS epidemic and asks what the current generation owes to its past. I had multiple friends describe it as one of the best play or possibly even the best play they’d ever seen, quite the reviews. It also won many awards and honours, including Best Play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. It initially started at the Young Vic before transferred to the West End at the Noel Coward Theatre. Tickets were pretty pricey at well over a £100 each, but we managed to get a deal and ended up paying just £50 each through TodayTix. This is a super long play, staged in two parts over different days, each part some three hours long. I was worried it might be a bit long and pretty heavy going, but it really wasn’t. I was utterly gripped the whole way through. It was a complete rollercoaster of emotions, i laughed, i cried, i actually felt drained afterwards almost barely able to speak. Truly an exceptional piece of theatre. I really can’t recommend this play enough, if you go to just one play this year, go to this. Amazing.
Hamilton is notoriously difficult to book tickets for so when my friend David casually mentioned that he’d booked tickets I made sure he saved one for me. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know a great deal of US history and had no idea who Hamilton actually was, or really in fact what most of the show was about before I went. I literally knew that it was meant to be an excellent show and that was it. Thankfully despite my lack of knowledge I was able to follow what was going on and the songs were brilliant, really catchy and beautifully done. Despite being a historic subject it’s done with super contemporary music. I really enjoyed it. For days afterwards I found myself humming the tunes and I’ve downloaded the soundtrack onto my phone. Definitely worth seeing.
This year for my Terrence Higgins Trust Supper Club I selected Wiltons on Jermyn Street as our restaurant. A very old school restaurant that serves classic British food. We were in their beautiful private dining room, such a stunning room. On arrival we had champagne ready chilled and waiting for us, the service was spot on.
I started with the foie gras served with chutney and toasted brioche. I love foie gras, I know some people have issues about the ethics of its production, but the flavour is wonderful and I only have it very infrequently. For my main course I had lovely venison with blackberries. it was cooked perfectly pink and was so tender almost melt in the mouth.Then for dessert I had a wonderful soufflé. I love a soufflé and it’s not the sort of dish you rustle up at home to often because of its temperamental nature. This was delicious and perfectly risen.
The venue for this years after party was the Cuckoo Club, just between Piccadilly and Regent Street. I’d not been to this venue before but I really liked it. It’s split over two floors and this worked really well for the after party as there was one room which was focused on dancing and then a quieter room which you could socialise in. At the after party we met the lovely Jody Whittaker who has recently taken over as the new Doctor Who. She was utterly charming and I got a photo of her with some of my friends.