Waking up on Tuesday was hard work. After Monday’s incredible tour
with Patsy, John, Bryant, Jonathon and Rebecca, there were a few cobwebs to be disposed off.
However London is a big place with lots to see, and there is no better way to perk up a day than with a four hour lunch with some friends.
Patsy and Bryant joined me for the afternoon. Bryant lives in London and Patsy is currently coming to the end of a two week tour here, and I was surprised at how fast they acted. I am always one to slow down a conversation, one to drink in my surroundings and definitely one to accept the very occasional lazy day. Londoners don’t appear to be able to do this.
I love London for it’s architecture, it’s decadence and style a big Victorian middle finger to the rest of the world. Britannia did rules the world and they knew it. I get the feeling that Londoners take this for granted. They spend so much time underground that they don’t see the details. And even down here the stations are gorgeously unique, yet nobody seems to notice them. I love them though, and I wanted to take this spirit of Adventure and apply it to my day.
Bryant, being a sommelier in a Michelin Star restaurant, knows the hotspots in town, so he instructed us to meet him in Sloan Square at 1pm before walking a mile or so along King’s Road in Chelsea to a little restaurant called Medlar
We grabbed a table for three and sat down ready for an incredible attack on the palate. Medlar was opened by two of Bryants ex-colleagues with the sole purpose of delivering delicious food to the Chelsea Public.
Medlar is unassuming. It’s plain interior and lack of ambient music let you know straight away that here, the food is king. How it looks, how it smells, how it tastes and ultimately how it makes you feel. This place doesn’t have a Michelin star, but I believe it’s only a matter of time!
Feast your eyes on our feast of the senses…
Duck egg with duck hearts
Ham hock Foie Grais on toast
Creme Brulee with some communal White Chocolate and Pistachio Ice Cream
Chocolate and Honecomb Torte and a slice of Pear Tart
There was also a middle course of 36 month aged Gruyere with Water biscuits. Lovely!
To drink, we relied on our sommelier, and Bryant delivered…
Champagne as an aperitif, lovely and dry. A glass of dry dessert wine with the above sweet treats and some incredible aged Prune Eau de vie. Weirdly satisfying that one…
And with the Grouse, we had an incredible 1998 Burgundy. With my knowledge of wine all I can tell you is that I loved it. The way it opened up with time was magical. A stellar choice!
My favourite product though, had to be the bottled water. I’d seen it in every restaurant we visited, but had never seen it in Edinburgh. I wanted to know why it was being picked by all the best places. It was nothing to do with smelling or tasting better or minerals or purity. It is bottled by a company that donates all profit to WaterAid. This was a bottled water (one industry I have never understood) with what appears to be a massive heart. I’m impressed. Belu
, take a bow!
At 5pm we left Medlar stuffed, ready to burst. Honestly could not fit another mouthful. On the way back to the tube station, we stopped in an antiques fair (most people were walking past) to have a slow meander round at all the stuff.
Antiques fairs are incredible places. Cluttered and useless, you find two types of stall owner. More often than not they will be reading a book, ignoring the punters. These people have brought their collections of commodities. Everything has a price tag, but that is to show what their commodities are worth. They don’t want to sell, they love their things and only really want to show it off. If they do get an enquiry, haggling will be painful and sales will be finalised with a very heavy heart.
The other stall owners are business people. They greet you with a smile. They love questions and they buy only to sell on at a greater price.
This makes people watching at antique fairs enormous fun. Try it next time you’re in one. Ask questions, handle commodities and watch sellers eye light up or hearts drop as you enquire about prices.
After a rummage around we passed a shoe shop with the best name in the world. It seems that even the childish comedy in this is lost on the hundred mph crowd of passers by!
Back to the hotel for a nap, I decided that I’d have a sociable beer and dram in the City at the bar with the most comprehensive collections of single cask whiskies in the world. I am of course talking about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London.
With a bigger selection than both Edinburgh venues, and food from the famous Bleeding Heart tavern below, SMWS London is a hidden gem in the hustle and bustle that is the City.
I decided to have Mortlach from a first fill sherry butt. (Not available in either SMWS in Edinburgh, that’s the beauty of these places, every backbar has its own hidden gems surrounded by the latest list of beauties)
This was a perfect rich and spicy dram to ensure lunch had settled. So good it was that I bought two bottles to use at the St Andrews Quaich Society tasting on Thursday.
After a dram, I bumped into Jonathon who had suitably recovered from our adventure the day before. He had heard of a new bar up the road, and wanted to check it out.
Behold The Craft Beer Company…
With countless beers and bottles on tap, this new kid on the block delivered up a feast for the eyes as well as a palate straining selection of craft beers from all over the world.
We sampled the following…
Then Bryant showed up, eager to take me to China Town. Bidding Jonathon fairwell, we tubed it to Mayfair (missed one tube which flustered a few people around us, but guess what… There was a second train two minutes later).
Meandering through the streets we were approached by people offering us all kinds of club discounts. Luckily for me, our destination was pre-ordained, otherwise I may have ended up with my dancing shoes on.
We stopped outside this door in China Town…
I felt that I was entering some kind of illegal gambling pit. Up the long narrow staircase I was suddenly confronted by a scene straight out of Mad Men. This was the Experimental Cocktail Club
. Our masterful bartender Alex was mixing up some Rob Roys while a beautiful red dress at the end of the bar was singing to the crowd, seducing everyone with her voice and convincing everyone that they needed to spend more money.
Alex’s Rob Roy was spiced up with a few drops of Laphroaig Cask Strength, he must have read my heart as I approached. A wonderful concoction!
I ended the night with a Scandinavian Daiquiri to toast a Norwegian friend’s birthday and also exploit the fact that this must be the only bar in the UK with Aquavite in the speed rail. My mission complete I exited ECC and made my way happily back to the hotel.
Little did I know, that breakfast on Wednesday would be yet another culinary adventure.
A short walk from Goodge St is a place called the Riding House Cafe. Words can’t do it justice.
Find it, Go there, Eat.
In my glass: Water