1 | For A Classy Date: Spring
For the past 150 years, the New Wing of Somerset House has been home to the Inland Revenue. Not the greatest claim to fame, is it? But things are looking up with the opening of Spring, a new restaurant by Skye Gyngell. The Australian chef earned a Michelin star at Petersham Nurseries but has swapped leafy Richmond for the bustle of the Strand. The stunning nineteenth century drawing room is now a light and airy eatery, housing a central atrium garden that is enveloped by black olive trees, making for a gratifyingly elegant date spot.
As the name would suggest, the menu is very much led by the seasons, with produce dictating the daily-changing items, plus some excellent cheese on offer. There is also The Salon, serving lighter dishes and sweet treats like burnt ices and Bicerin – a rich chocolate and espresso drink originally from Turin.
Somerset House, Lancaster Place, London, WC2R 1LA. springrestaurant.co.uk
2 | For Indulging Your Inner Sleuth: Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die at The Museum of London
If you or your other half are die-hard Sherlock Holmes fans, get yourself to The Museum of London this weekend. A new exhibition running from this Friday until April celebrates every element of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation: Holmes, the man; the city of London; the historical context of the novels; the plethora of adaptations on screen and stage; and so on. There are pictures, videos, audio clips and artifacts on display, including original manuscripts of the books, old Victorian typewriters and forensic kits, rare portraits of Conan Doyle, and even the thick grey overcoat that Benedict Cumberbatch wore to depict the sleuth in the BBC One series, Sherlock. So something for both of you.
And what better to accompany a day of culture than a hearty Sunday roast? Located on London Wall, the museum is conveniently placed for Smithfield Market and its array of restaurants. For truly unbeatable meat, go to St John as your high-brow option. If you just want a nice, comfy pub, try The Old Red Cow nearer towards Barbican, which does roasts and traditional pub classics excellently, alongside a large selection of beers for those that know their stuff.
17 October 2014 – 12 April 2015, 150 London Wall, London, EC2Y 5HN. museumoflondon.org.uk
3 | For The Wow-Factor: Quaglino’s
Nestled in St. James’s, Quaglino’s opened in 1929 and soon became synonymous with Thirties glamour – many a Hollywood star has swept down its grand staircase into the huge dining area, flamboyantly decorated by its eponymous owner. It’s been a bit quiet of late, but reopens this Friday after millions of pounds worth of revamps. This is, once again, a restaurant to impress.
Art deco remains the inspiration behind Quaglino’s, and champagne cocktails are its speciality so it is the perfect place for an occasion. The food is contemporary European in style, fusing classic dishes with more exotic flavours, and the spiced Romney Marsh lamb shoulder, to share, is certainly worth a try. Music and entertainment will accompany your meal, courtesy of top artists and DJs, and it even stays open late on Fridays and Saturdays should you want to make a night of it.
From 17 October,16 Bury Street, London, SW1Y 6AJ. quaglinos-restaurant.co.uk
4 | For Cocktails With A Kick: The Pickle Jar
It’s cold, it’s grey and, at the moment, all it does it rain. So the prospect of a snug, subterranean cocktail den with whisky on the go might be just the thing to warm the cockles. The Pickle Jar is a pop-up in collaboration with Buffalo Chase bourbon at The Well in Clerkenwell, which resembles a ramshackle Victorian hostelry with beer bottles and wooden crates perched between sofas for lounging about on. The drinks, by contrast, will perk you up quite substantially, as they’re all vinegar based. And that’s not quite as unappetising as it sounds – despite the punchy effect, the flavours balance out ingeniously.
The signature drink is The Pickle Back – a novelty from The States – where you chase a shot of bourbon with a pickle juice made from the brine of beetroot, cucumber or gherkin. That is meant to cut through the bracing spirit, leaving a “surprisingly sweet” taste in your mouth. If one or other of you is not quite brave enough for that, there are more diluted versions called ‘Shrubs,’ which blend the vinegariness with home-made syrups, some with Prosecco to water them down even further. And if it’s really not your thing then there are some normal cocktails, but where’s the fun in that? This will provide a talking point, at the very least.
The Well, 180 St John Street, London, EC1V 4JY. downthewell.co.uk