1 | For Drinks With A Dash Of culture: The Understudy At The National Theatre
You can't miss The National Theatre on the Southbank, what with it’s distinctive concrete design and useful habit of projecting the temperature on the wall as you saunter across Waterloo Bridge. Now following an £80 million development project there are even more reasons to take notice, including a new restaurant, café and pub. The latter is called The Understudy and makes a relaxed, waterfront pit stop that stays open late.
It’s very informal and not at all intimidating, despite its building’s lofty purpose. All of the furniture bears some relation to the theatre, with discarded ladders holding up tables and so forth, but don’t worry, there are a good number of comfy leather sofas around too. Sup on craft beers and English wine, and we advise nibbling on their pork crackling or the beer sticks – pretty much posh Peperami but from Brixton, and incredibly moreish. They have a lovely bookshop next door, as well – perfect for weekend perusing.
Monday – Thursday: 12pm – 12am
Friday, Saturday: 12pm – 1am
National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX
2 | For Shopper’s Relief: Le Chalet at Selfridge's
As the chill sets in and (dare I say it?) people start to think about shopping for a certain mid-winter occurrence, why not take a break from the madness in a cosy sanctuary on top of Selfridge’s? The summertime version went down incredibly well, and now the rooftop has transformed into Le Chalet – a candle-lit venue trussed up like a log cabin, serving hot chocolate and all manner of wintry treats.
Overseen by Des McDonald (formerly head chef at The Ivy), the main food menu includes air-dried beef with baked racelette, buttermilk chicken schnitzel with blue cheese fondue, and smoked Highland venison. If that hasn’t sold you, what about the Hot Chocolate Bar? While your other half goes for the booze-infused toddies, you can focus on the specially crafted selection of cigars on the porch.
Monday, Tuesday: 11am – 9pm
Wednesday – Saturday: 11am – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm
Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB
3 | For Mid-Town Brunch: The Hoxton On Holborn
The trendiness of Hoxton is infiltrating the City with the opening of The Hoxton hotel on High Holborn, in association with the Soho House Group. It’s a smart – but not too smart – place to go for an after-work drink, but it’s the brunch menu at the ground floor restaurant Hubbard & Bell that’s really worth stopping off for. Billed as “top nosh with a French-American twist,” the Eggs Benny will see off any hangover, particularly if washed down with the green House Press juice to set you on the right path. Just the thing if you are going to be making the most most of your extra hour this Saturday night (take note: the clocks go back at midnight).
Until January, there is also a photography exhibition entitled The Great Londoners, which captures London folk in their natural habitat, with no posing or selfies whatsoever. Everything at The Hoxton, Holborn is just a little bit quirky, and whilst thought has gone into every nook and cranny, it is by no means stuffy. Nor too pricey, you’ll be glad to hear.
4 | For A Gastropub With Clout: Crocker’s Folly
Though it might sound like a village from Midsomer Murders, Crocker’s Folly is actually a gastropub situated in St John’s Wood. It seems a shame to call it that, as the Grade II listed site is really quite something to behold. Built in 1898, it is a former Victorian gin palace, embellished with marble and mahogany, plus massive fireplaces, columns and chandeliers. It has been closed for the past 10 years and undergoing some critical TLC for the last three, but reopens this Friday.
The kitchen will be led by Arek Bober, who arrives after working under Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social. The menu is decidedly unpretentious, with a great selection of Lebanses dishes. The pièce de résistance will be the steaks: cooked in the Josper to get them deliciously charred on the outside whilst remaining rare and succulent on the inside. Crocker’s Folly is where you curl up for an evening of food and wine, with no more work for the weekend and no time pressures.
From 25 October
23-24 Aberdeen Place, St John’s Wood, London, NW8