Cool jazz and hot wok dishes are both on offer in London this May. Add to that a West End revival of an evergreen musical favourite and you can begin to look forward to a few months of vibrant tastes and sounds. As ever in the Capital, you are never too far from a gourmet eatery or a boutique cinema house in which to sample these pleasures. Here are some great options to explore.

The Foyer & Reading Room – Claridge’s, Mayfair
Claridge
The asparagus season is a short primer for summer menus in the capital and a good way of how seriously chefs take the “seasonal produce only” claim on their menus. It’s a short season which is often affected by the changeable weather conditions that characterise the first quarter of the year, but it’s worth hanging on for. Only British asparagus has the essential nuttiness and delicacy that enables it to be enjoyed without much fuss and The Foyer & Reading Room staff are past masters at getting the best out of this unique vegetable.

This year, they’ll be serving warm asparagus with Serrano ham, Hollandaise sauce and toasted rye bread. The best crop comes from the Wye valley where the silt allows the stalks of the plant to be supported in such a way that they don’t develop into the thick woody (and therefore tasteless) variety. These conditions don’t last and that’s why the season is so deliciously short. Enjoy.

www.claridges.co.uk

Miles Ahead – Cinemas Londonwide
Miles-ahead-cinema
A conventional biopic of the great jazz trumpeter Miles Davis would probably have concentrated on the iconic “Cool” era of the late fifties: all sharp suits and modal arrangements. Don Cheadle throws us a welcome curve ball, in that while he has the necessary angular features and hipster growl to do that job, there’s definitely more to explore. Before the rock press revived his memory, Miles went through a decade long slump that saw him lose friends, musicians and influence and Cheadle charts the ensuing artistic crisis with skill and sensitivity.

By the late seventies, Miles Davis had formed and disbanded no less than three iconic jazz groups and had inspired the invention of a whole new genre that utilised electric instruments and rock influences. But while his former cohorts got rich and famous, Miles was left behind in a state of drug-fuelled paranoia, bereft of ideas or musicians. Turning to art and boxing he was able to work himself into a frenzy of indignation that basically frightened his record company into action. Cheadle plays Miles with all the cool, deadpan narcissism that you’d expect.

www.viewlondon.com

Showboat – New London Theatre
Showboat
Can a musical that first broke ground nine decades ago still be fresh and relevant? The actors, singers and musicians of Showboat answer this question with a resounding “Yes” at Drury Lane’s New London Theatre. Past productions have reflected changing attitudes towards race in America and this modern version doesn’t flinch from the ugly truth of slavery and segregation in the Deep South.The notion that people of different colour can unite through a shared love of music is an enduring one that no amount of cynicism seems able to dislodge and Showboat is living proof of this sentiment.

The boat in question is a Mississippi paddle steamer that provides a floating stage to a troupe of talented performers and also serves as an escape from the injustice of society. The waterway as a symbol of both freedom and bondage is encapsulated in the timeless “Ol’ Man River” which has been sung by a succession of famous baritones.

www.showboatthemusical.co.uk/

Tonkotsu – Notting Hill
Tonkutsu
Part of a well regarded mini chain, this west London noodle stop is modelled on the type of cosy establishments that are dotted around Tokyo. Ramen noodles were once regarded in the West as subsistence student food on par with beans on toast, but that has all changed. In Tonkotsu, your noodles are full meals in their own right.

Pork, eggs and strips of beef are lobbed into the broth with generous abandon and the same ethos is applied to the tiny bar which serves deadly but delicious cocktails. If you’d rather have your noodles on the side, then dishes like chicken kaarage will fit the bill, but what makes or breaks any noodle bar is the quality of the broth in which the noodles are cooked. Tonkotsu is spot on with this regard and also with the service which is friendly and fast.

www.tonkotsu.co.uk

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