1 | For A Blissfully Charming Dinner: Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green (above)
What girl could refuse a night in Paradise? Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, that is. And if you haven’t yet experienced this quirky, friendly, gleefully alternative gastropub then now is the time to, not least because of the virtuosic new chef in the kitchen. Formerly at Petersham Nurseries, Cat Ashton took over in January and her springtime menu is now fully on the go. As you would expect, she sources the freshest produce, changing her menus daily depending on her haul at the markets.
And the result of this seasonal approach to modern European cuisine is absolutely winning. Starters include seared tuna with ginger, properly sturdy asparagus served with hollandaise, rich and creamy burrata enlivened by chilli and mint, and stinging nettle and ricotta ravioli. Mains might be baby monkfish wrapped in prosciutto, warmly spiced poussin with tahini yogurt, or one heck of a sirloin draped in chorizo butter. The elegant and relaxing ground floor dining room is a superlative date venue, and there are many nooks and crannies elsewhere for you to find if you’re hanging around (Fridays and Saturdays get a bit wild when the upstairs turns into a club – a convenient way to work off your supper). New spring cocktails were invented just this week, so get yourself down there to try them out too.
19 Kilburn Lane, London, W10 4AE; theparadise.co.uk
2 | For Bloody Mary Lovers: British Tomato Week
For those of you with no space in your diaries for British Tomato Week, there are two words you clearly haven’t thought of: Bloody. Mary. No longer do you need the excuse of being hungover to justify supping on them all week long. Delightful City hostelry, The Folly, has had Ketel One camped out in a special Vodka Kitchen for the past month, where it will remain until September. Pop in just for a drink if you like, or get into the swing of things by booking in for a Bloody Mary Masterclass. At weekends, your lesson can be accompanied by a massive brunch, eaten around the kitchen table. Ketel One have even created an updated version of the classic – the Tomatini – combining vodka, freshly pressed tomato juice, lemon and balsamic vinegar.
Elsewhere in London, you can enter into the spirit of Tomato Week at plenty of other establishments. The Newman Street Tavern in Fitzrovia has five types of Bloody Mary on its menu, including a Smokey Chaser of oak smoked vodka, a smokey rim and a Laphroaig whisky float. Duck and Waffle is famed for its clear tomato consommé mixed with infused Bombay Sapphire in the Snapper variation. If oysters are your thing, you can do a Bloody Mary oyster shot at Wright Brothers, and Hawksmoor’s No.7 blends horseradish-infused gin with tomato juice, a spice mix and a dash of Kernel Porter beer. Or go the whole hog and get bottomless Bloody Marys (made with your choice of vodka, gin or tequila) alongside brunch at B&H Buildings in Farringdon. You can't lose.
Ketel One Vodka Kitchen, The Folly, 41 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BT; thefollybar.co.uk
3 | For Those Who Dare: King’s Cross Pond
It’s another May bank holiday, which means that the weather is going to be awesome. Obviously. Not a shred of doubt… But, come what may, there’s at least the hope of warmth in the air. And with that in mind, the King’s Cross Pond opens this Friday – the UK’s first ever man-made fresh water public bathing pool. The pond will be open whatever the weather, and has no sorts of lanes or such like to induce competitive swimming, so is perfect for an aquatic sojourn come the weekend. However it is worth noting that there is no heating in the water, so you might want to move about just a tad while you’re in it. Bracing, maybe, but think of it as a bonding exercise.
This is part of an art project, and will be around for about two years. Booking will open tomorrow, and you can bag two-hour slots via the website. There are loos, lockers and changing rooms on-site, and an obliging area of grass named Lewis Cubitt Park next door in case you come prepared with a romantic picnic. If not, our recommendation would be to seek refuge (and heat) in Dishoom, just off Granary Square. It is humungous (so might have tables even if you haven’t booked) and serves filling, warming, utterly delicious Bombay street food that will see you right no matter what.
20 Canal Reach (entrance on Tapper Walk), London, N1C 4BE; kingscrosspond.club
4 | For Free Negronis: Campari Red Night District
Until 10th June, Campari is hosting a pop-up seamlessly combining booze and art, so head eastwards for a semblance of the high brow balanced out by Negronis. Many of them. Which will be served after you have sampled a classic Campari and tonic, and wandered around an installation celebrating the striking visual chronicles of this established drinks brand, at The Hoxton Gallery.
Since the beginning of the last century, Campari has commissioned bold artists to provide its graphics, and you can walk through its journey up until the present day (with samples galore). If that’s not enough for you, nearby bar Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes (as eccentric as it sounds) will be serving a list of Campari cocktails including Americanos and Negroni Sbagliato until 1am.
Wednesdays – Sundays
The Hoxton Gallery, 9, Kingsland Place, London, E2 8AA; 32-34 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DA