1 | For Classic Dinner And Drinks: The Cavendish
Thanks largely to the mystical hotelier powers of André Balazs (he of the all-conquering Chiltern Firehouse), Marylebone has never been hotter, and The Cavendish, located on an unassuming corner of New Cavendish Street, should only serve to fuel London’s love affair with the area further. Though, you don’t have to be a former rock star to get into this one – it’s there purely for your culinary delight, and is a warm yet sleek establishment just waiting to welcome you through the doors.
Downstairs is a buzzy bar with punchy, well-made cocktails (opt for a barrel-aged Negroni) and some honest-to-goodness draught beer. But upstairs is where The Cavendish comes into its own, in the form of a small but perfectly formed restaurant replete with leather banquettes, a beautiful wine selection (which also makes a pleasing visual centerpiece) and supremely friendly and accomplished service. Food comes courtesy of chef Alfonso Lillo Fas, a Spanish Masterchef finalist who trained at El Bulli, and his menu is loaded with desirable, meaty dishes – delicious slivers of beef carpaccio, a superb veal chop, slow-cooked Iberian pork shoulder and a wonderfully-seasoned steak tartare prepared at your table, old-school style. There are also oysters, ceviche, caviar and fruits de mer served from The Raw Bar at the head of the restaurant. It’s destined to be popular, so grab a table quick.
35 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 9TR; 35newcavendish.co.uk
2 | For A Pick-Me-Up Pop-Up: When Mac Met Cheese
The coffers may be looking rather dry at this point in the month, but it’s OK because there's a wallet-friendly pop-up now running in Kensal Rise for the next three months, serving some serious comfort food. If you need a treat – and on a budget – this will more than do the job.
The menu is succinct and, well, cheesy, with moreish Mancini to start – snack-sized, deep-fried balls of mac and cheese flavoured with either jalapeño and cheddar, or truffle and mushroom. Be careful not to ruin your appetite on these for the main event, which comes in three flavours: Mum’s Classic (laced with nutmeg), Carlos the Cactus (spiked with more jalapeños) and Cheesy Green Afro (pepped up with Stilton and broccoli). I’ll just casually drop in the fact that to finish are deep-fried Oreos. Yes. Really. I kid you not. Cholesterol who? You need cheering up anyway. Wash it down with cocktails in jam jars, served by the venture’s charming hosts at The Shop NW10.
3 | For A Glitzy Spot Of Culture: BAFTA, Backstage
It can’t have escaped your notice that awards season is revving up, and everybody around you has suddenly become a cinematic expert. One of the biggest dates in the diary is the BAFTA Film Awards, which will see Hollywood’s finest flocking to the city in a couple of weeks time. To celebrate, BAFTA is putting on a free exhibition at its headquarters on Piccadilly for this weekend only, showing behind-the-scenes snaps from awards of years past – backstage antics, actresses getting ready, moments not captured by the television cameras, portraits of winners, and so on. All the famous faces are there in a collection of beautiful shots from BAFTA’s archives, so you can take inspiration from Messrs McKellen, Scorsese, Pitt, Di Caprio et al, alongside pictures of the lovely Kate Winslet, Felicity Jones, and, obviously, Meryl.
This will be an easy-going but stunning exhibition, oozing film star cool. Walking back out onto Piccadilly, you will find yourself in champagne and oyster central, so why not carry on the theme? Take your lady for a swanky glass of fizz and maybe a spot of lunch at one of the timeless favourites nearby, such as Wilton’s down on Jermyn Street, Bentley’s up on Swallow Street, or the wonderful Green’s along a bit on Duke Street – you’ll be sure to make an impression.
BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LN; bafta.org
4 | For Easy Weekend Drinks: The Holly Bush
With temperatures at an icy low and constant threats of snow-induced mayhem, this weekend is screaming out for a calm and cozy armchair to curl up in, pint in-hand and preferably by a roaring fire. Look no further than The Holly Bush in Hampstead.
For those that don’t already know it, the pub is tucked away between the area’s main streets and up a little cobbled path. It is a London gem that everyone should visit, with low ceilings, wooden beams and that all-important fireplace. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make it your reward after a brisk walk on the Heath. Or else, just rock up for a pint of London Pride or a large glass of vino, and put your feet up for a relaxed afternoon of drinks, chat, and maybe some food. Heaven.
22 Hollymount, London, NW3 6SG; hollybushhamsptead.co.uk