1 | For Tasteful Any-Time Dining: Percy & Founders (above)
Fitzrovia’s rejuvenation seems to have been going on forever, but there is finally a chance to see into some of its colossal constructions with the opening of Percy & Founders, today. It’s on the site where the Duke of Northumberland, aka Hugh Percy, founded the Middlesex Hospital back in 1755; hence the name. It is now an all-day brasserie with Diego Cardoso in the kitchen (formerly head chef of Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano), doing British food with a contemporary European twist. Start off with lobster and prawn scotch eggs (they do work – I promise) or the wonderfully tangy crispy short ribs. There’s a chicken Wellington to follow, and the treacle tart will take every single one of your cares away – it’s like a hug on a plate.
Inside, the venue is vast so you’ve got a good chance of getting a table. Aside from the main dining area, there is a large lounge near the entrance where you are encouraged to recline with a coffee, bring your laptop to get on with some work, or just settle in for a nice, long catch-up. It’s all very relaxed, with the bare wooden walls and stylish furnishings making it feel homely yet elegant. Refined, reasonably priced and easy to get to, this will do the job superbly for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three).
1 Pearson Square, London, W1T 3BF; percyandfounders.co.uk
2 | For Dinner In The Dark: Earth Hour At Sea Containers
From 8.30pm on Saturday evening, London will be plunged into darkness as everyone from you and me to the city's biggest landmarks are encouraged to turn off the lights in a bid to raise awareness for the environment (and save a little bit of energy). It's called Earth Hour, and never has saving the planet been quite so romantic – the perfect excuse for a candlelit dinner nestled in a shadowy restaurant. Of the many establishments switching off, our pick is Sea Containers - with a killer riverside view from which to watch the action too.
Chef Seamus Mullen is an avid supporter of sustainable foods, and his delicious menu is ideal for this atmospheric evening. Nab yourself a table, and you can look out over the Thames as everything from the National Theatre and OXO Tower, to Tower Bridge, The Gherkin, Southwark Cathedral and even Big Ben fade into the night. Mullen serves beautifully seasonal dishes that you can see in the making with his open kitchen, including loads of fresh - and raw - seafood and a brilliant home-made ricotta that packs a punch with chilli and mint. Go on to find oodles of succulent lamb in the mains, and one rather epic pork chop with apple vinaigrette (above). Downstairs, the hotel's cocktail bar Dandelyan will be serving a Gin Gimlet made especially for the occasion with some nourishing botannicals. Earth Hour is happening in hundreds of countries across the world so it’d be rude not to doff your hat to the cause, now wouldn’t it?
3 | For A Blitz-time Speakeasy: Cahoots
Lurking beneath Carnaby Street is a long-disused underground station turned air raid shelter that – whether you knew so or not – has been hosting all sorts of illicit goings on since fulfilling its wartime purpose. Now, the guys behind Mr Fogg’s and Bunga Bunga have revived its Blitz-time spirit with a Forties-themed bar named Cahoots, a fun, interesting and all-round lovely place to go.
Open from 6.30pm, you must locate the London Underground sign in Kingly Court and head down the stairs, giving the password to the ticket collector for entry. Down again via vintage escalator stairs and past old elevator doors is a lively bunker serving a massive selection of drinks, including cocktails served in hip flasks, cans and glass milk bottles (or you can have a Spitfire if you’re sticking to ale). Food is served in tin cans and includes spam fritters (surprisingly tasty), due to the ration restrictions. Staff members do sporadically break into Lindy Hops and there is occasional singing round the piano, but you don’t have to be dragged into anything you don’t want to. No need to be a grump – just give it a go.
Via Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW; cahoots-london.com
4 | For A Nordic Pop-Up: Christoffer Hruskova At Verden
Clapton isn’t necessarily the sort of place you’ll just be passing through, but if you can venture eastwards then you should try Verden. Since opening last year, the restaurant-cum-wine bar has got tongues seriously wagging with a pedigree that includes an owner and a head chef hailing form swanky Marfair haunt, Scott’s. It has an awesome cheese larder, devilishly good charcuterie boards, and every single Tuesday is steak night.
And you have another reason to visit at the moment, as the Michelin-starred Chris Hruskova has hijacked the kitchen to bring you a menu “full of surprises,” in his signature Nordic style. It’s running for one more week, and Chris’s menu is really something to experience. It includes veal sweetbreads, cured Scottish scallops with unripe strawberries, and lamb belly with white radish, wild garlic, samphire and unripe elderberries. Puddings include marshmallow with licorice, pine and juniper, and rye bread porridge with beetroot sorbet and milk (above). A must-try.
Until 5 April
181 Clarence Road, London, E5 8EE; verdene5.com