The Tangerine Cafe Bar is the ideal place to kick back and connect with loved ones in the heart of Knightsbridge. Located in the plush Millennium Hotel, this classy watering hole is where you’ll find serious shoppers catching their second wind over a cocktail or a coffee. Discerning tourists will find the light snacks and well thought out wine selection preferable to the mega-chains that populate the area and may want to use it as a cosy spot from which to plan their itineraries.
The modern European menu offers freshly made food, all made from locally sourced produce and is well priced and skilfully presented. Small plates, sandwiches and light desserts are all good options for those with neither the time or inclination for eating a three course lunch.
Trevor Horn may not be a name that comes to mind when talking about rock legends but as a producer, he was more or less at the technical and commercial cutting edge from the early eighties onwards. The Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Seal are some of the major hit makers that have benefitted from Horn’s studio wizardry. His method was to simply get hold of the latest technology before anyone else and use pop artists as willing lab rats. It was this lucrative setup that brought fame to his acts, together with a raft of industry awards.
With nothing left to prove, Horn can afford to indulge in vanity projects like this one-off gig and still be counted as a serious producer. Fellow producers Steve Lipson, Lol Creme and Ash Sloan will be augmented by Geoff Downes on keyboards and Seal on lead vocal. The set will include most of the mega-hits from Horn’s career such as Two Tribes, Video Killed the Radio Star and Owner of A Lonely Heart.
If you’re spending the day purchasing luxury goods, then it stands to reason that any refreshment break should be as exclusively elegant as the items in your shopping bag. At Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, Gucci, Dior and Prada all come under one roof so the existence of a Searcys Champagne Bar right amongst them isn’t a surprise. There was a time when glamorous additions like these were tucked away in a discreet corner of the mall, but in these robustly confident times, drinking champagne cocktails in full view of other shoppers seems quite natural.
The open plan leather seating and ornate chandeliers provide an excellent environment from which to watch the world go by while enjoying a wide range of vintage fizz. Billecart-Salmon, Laurent Perrier and Piper Heidseick are among the prestigious brands sold here and can be bought by the glass or by the bottle. So if you need a few moments to reflect the wisdom of investing in that Louis Vuitton bag, spend those moments over a glass of bubbly at Searcys before taking the plunge.
Philomena’s Bar – Covent Garden
In London, there’s a big difference between an Irish bar and an “Irish themed” establishment. The real deal tends to avoid tourist-trap shenanigans while sticking to the basics and that is indeed Philomenas main strength. As in all Irish watering holes, sport plays a big part in the all round atmosphere. Huge screens are strategically placed around the venue showing all the hurling, rugby and Gaelic football direct from the old country and this month the pub will be buzzing as the six nations rugby contest coincides with St Patricks Day.
The food and drink here is as honest and unpretentious as the decor. Ploughman’s lunches, beef pies and fish suppers are well made, promptly served and inexpensive. The Guinness never runs out and is poured with the utmost care and dedication (the staff will even bring the pint over to your table rather than have you waiting at the bar).
Excellent wines, an intelligent menu and a lovely view of one of London’s prettiest parks all add up to a perfect destination for a romantic Valentine’s dinner this month. Ricotta pancakes and mango slices followed by roast sea bass with a tart gratin dessert tastes as romantic as it sounds. The inspired architecture of the restaurant is alone worth the trip into town and a walk through the park is guaranteed to sharpen the taste buds. Once there, the friendly and courteous staff will greet you with a refreshing glass of blood orange Buck’s Fizz.
Vegetarians need not feel left out on Valentine’s Day and can enjoy truffle omelette with mixed leaf salad. A stroll back through St James’s Park takes you by a beautiful lake that is a natural magnet for water fowl of all shapes and sizes. It would seem that this leafy corner of London is a meeting point for more than one sort of love bird!
Puccini’s great tragedy comes to London to be performed in the round after receiving rave reviews around the world. Madam Butterfly tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers, separated by a massive cultural divide and family expectations. A young geisha falls for a dashing American soldier and vows to wait for his return when his superiors summon him back to the states. Having given birth to their son, she continues to wait when all others have given up hope.
Her steadfastness is rewarded when she sights her lover’s ship in the harbour, only for her world to be shattered when he appears with an American wife in tow. The scene is set for a harrowing finale as, realising that she is to lose both her one true love and her precious son, Madam Butterfly elects to take her own life. As a study of the joy and pain of sacrificial love, this opera has few equals.
A pub with a view is not an uncommon occurrence in London but a pub with one as a majestic as this is definitely worth a visit or two. Sited between Blackfriars Bridge and the Millennium foot crossing on the southern shore of the Thames, the Founders Arms is an ideal pit stop for those rambling along the South Bank. Visitors to the monolithic Tate Modern museum will also be able to obtain a welcome snack and a friendly pint before pressing on to the Globe theatre or the London Eye.
Those looking for more substantial fare will find a lot to choose from from the exhaustive lunch and brunch menus. Steak, fish & chips, and various pasta dishes are cooked and served with skill and efficiency leaving guests free to enjoy the unrivalled views of the City, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge. As the evenings close in, the atmosphere gets livelier as students, artists and City workers add to the social mingle.
This Iberian themed restaurant takes a trio of foundational values into account, when compiling its menu. Atlantic fish, Alentego pork and lesser known Iberian wines all feature heavily and make a keen exploration of the menu almost mandatory. Chef, Luis Baena served under Joel Robuchon and has picked up some formidable skills along the way which is bound to be appreciated here in West London.
Prawn sausages and Portuguese salt cod are perfectly healthy starters that fulfil that difficult task of providing a substantial course without ruining the appetite. Veal cheeks with oxtail is served on a bed of the most delicious fluffy mashed potato. Nata is a sublime dessert inspired by the custard tart which is almost omnipresent on the Iberian peninsula. Here, it’s made into something that resembles a millefeuille, such is the delicacy with which it is put together.