1 | For A Little Taste of Paris: Les Gourmet des Ternes (above)
New to Knightsbridge is the second London (and flagship) outpost of Parisian favourite, Les Gourmet des Ternes. It’s run by the mothership owner's son, Max and, though you may find it tucked in the flashiest part of London, this comfortingly compact bistro encapsulates that inimitable style of the French capital so perfectly that you almost want to hug the waiters. Or you would if they weren’t so French (though utterly delightful, there is always the vague risk of a stern ticking off). You know what I mean, and that’s absolutely as it should be, along with the dark wooden furnishings, white and scribbled-on tablecloths, and the doilies your food gets placed on; reassuringly old-school.
Similarly, the menu is utterly unafflicted by faddishness. Starters include garlicky and buttery snails, rosette salami and good old eggs mayonnaise. The mains are quite simply separated into meat and fish, offering you hearty staples like creamy veal Normande, a truly massive pièce de boeuf or (if you can’t quite face that) fillet steak done mouthwateringly rare, with a rich pepper sauce on the side. The fish has real flavour. The wines are more than affordable, the list highly edited, which makes decisions nice and snappy, and the puddings will dose you happily up on sugar to perk you up on the journey home.
The cocktail bar upstairs is a tad more flash, and has a rooftop terrace that is accessed through an old sash window, so that’s where you find your novelty. And it works rather nicely as a bright glacé cherry on top of the whole experience which is, otherwise, pleasingly tasty and lacking in frills (except on those doilies).
9 Knightsbridge Green, London, SW1X 7QL; lesgourmetsrestaurants.com/les-gourmets-des-ternes-london/
2 | For Space-Age Fun: Hennessy Time Capsule
For one week, starting from tomorrow, the Hennessy Time Barrel will be ready and waiting at St Pancras Station for you to drop by and leave a message for the future. Think of this as a nice little bonding exercise for the two of you. Your timepiece can either take the form of a 15-second video or a text message, and will get locked up for the next 50 years. Hennessy, in case it’s ringing a bell in your head, makes some of the worlds finest cognac and the company celebrated its 250th birthday this year, hence it’s slight preoccupation with the idea of aging. That and the cognac itself, of course, which has to be carefully matured in barrels.
Your contribution to this little slice of history need not take you very long (depending on whether or not you suffer from writer's block, particularly when trying to cater to the futuristic audience of 2065), but participants will get a discount on a Hennessy ‘Crusta’ cocktail at the swanky St Pancras Hotel, right next door, so you can’t lose, really. The time barrel is travelling the globe until October, shooting off to Toronto next.
Main Concourse, St Pancras Station, Euston Road, London, N1C 4QP; sendingamessagetothefuture.com
3 | For A Trendy New Drinking Den: Social Wine and Tapas
Jason Atherton may soon be taking over the world: the chef-turned-restaurateur has just expanded his empire further with Tuesday’s opening of Social Wine and Tapas. Under the watchful eye of the group’s executive sommelier, Laure Patry, this place does exactly what it says on the tin, so expect a carefully curated selection of wines from around the world, and a vibrant menu to pick at. We’re especially excited about the jamon, Manchego cheese and truffle toastie.
Many of the wines themselves are from small growers, with a prestige collection of rarer finds also available. Every one of the waiters is a trained sommelier so it’s no problem at all if you need some advice, and there is a shop on the ground floor in case you like anything so much you fancy taking it home. Atherton’s locations all ooze ambience, and this one takes art deco inspiration with leather-covered high chairs and banquettes, copper and dark wooden furnishings, and lighting fixtures created from a 1920s theatre chandelier. On trend, high quality and open from midday, this is a must-visit.
39 James Street, London, W1U 1DL; socialwineandtapas.com
4 | For Thameside Piña Coladas: Cîroc at London Riviera
As of this week, Cîroc vodka has set up a beachside cabana on the Southbank, to brighten up that drab bit of grey space outside City Hall. With sunny views out onto Tower Bridge and the water lapping up beside you, you’d forget you were in… oh, wait. Yeah, you’re definitely in London. But you’ve got a piña colada in a giant frozen pineapple in your hands. How bad can life really be?
Cîroc is celebrating its new pineapple-flavoured vodka, and this brightly coloured pop-up bar is an enlivening sight next to the river. In the sunken amphitheatre next door, there is a whole schedule of free events lasting right through until October, ranging from film screenings to live theatre, sports showings (such as Wimbledon) and so on. There is eastern Mediterranean Street food to pick at, and vodka masterclasses every Wednesday too, so head down here for some summery vibes.
More London Riverside, London, SE1 2DB; morelondon.com/more-london-free-festival-2015/