1 | For Cornish Coastal Vibes: Up On The Roof With Vintage Salt (above)
On top of Selfridge’s department store, Des McDonald does a mean pop-up. His winter version was a massive hit, and the summer incarnation has been going down equally well over the past few weeks. So much so that he has renamed his Old Broad Street restaurant after it. It would therefore be rude not to celebrate with him, so a little trip to Oxford Street might be in order. And who doesn’t need a good strong drink when shopping in that part of London? Or as Dutch courage before you embark. Either way, Selfridge’s rooftop has now been decked out (literally) as a Cornish fishing village, with oysters aplenty and some novel G&Ts.
The fervently British menu includes comfort food like crusty bread and butter, or asparagus drenched in (yep, again) melted butter, not to mention the Earl Grey tea-smoked salmon with Jersey Royals. Main courses offer a lovely range of both surf and turf, with some truffled chips that have been getting people rather excited. The puddings are fitting of a seaside idyll, with sundaes, ice-cream, a brownie burger and a special Vintage Salt Cigar – go see for yourself.
400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB; vintagesalt.co.uk
2 | For An Alternative Start To The Weekend: Sunset Safari
You’d have to be some kind of scrooge not to like the zoo, but I understand that the teeming crowds (plus gaggles of school children) can be a bit of a challenge on the old patience. So how about trying it at night? I’m not talking about the Zoo Lates rave events, I mean the new Friday night after-hours opening of the zoo proper that is now running until mid July: nothing crazy, just a sneaky peak into the grounds as a way of seeing in your weekend with some furry friends.
From 6 – 10pm, as the sun sets on Regent’s Park, you can make your own way around the safari trail, meeting and greeting the animals at your leisure. There are guided tours available, should you wish, plus performances in the Theatre of Life. Street vendors will be providing world cuisine in case you get peckish, or you can always wander out into Primrose Hill, to its plethora of boutique eateries to top off a chilled evening in style.
London Zoo, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4RY; zsl.org/sunset-safari
3 | For Buckets Of Fancy Ice Cream: Gelato Festival
Things are heating up and Wimbledon’s on its way. That means that it’s time to embrace summer once and for all. And for that you need ice cream. Or better yet, gelato (sounds all European and much fancier than a bog-standard Mr. Whippy). From Friday until Sunday, Italy’s favourite gelato makers will be here in London, serving up scoops from Old Spitalfields Market whilst on a tour of the continent. They make every flavour you can think of, from the usual chocolate or orange, to mojito or limoncello, and even parmesan, olive oil, and tomato. I kid you not.
If you purchase a Gelato Card online before going (€14 or roughly a tenner), you’ll get five free scoops when you turn up over the weekend, and access to masterclasses and the like. There’ll be plenty of ice cream to peruse, and the forecast looks perfect for getting some to go as sustenance for a soothing wander through the city.
26 – 29 June
16 Horner Square, London, E1 6EW; gelatofestival.it/en/tour/london
4 | For That Something Special: Les Deux Salons
Restaurant heavyweights Prescott & Conran have struck again, this time with a grand bistro just off Trafalgar Square that opened last week. The two-floored venue has a relaxed dining room on ground level, ideal for speedy lunches and pre/post theatre bites, leading to something a little more refined upstairs. Set around an impressive central atrium that steals your attention with a twinkling light fixture running the double height of the two floors, the main restaurant is calm and distinguished – a haven from the buzz of outside – with diligent service that, whilst wholly unobtrusive, makes you feel really rather special. Make sure you ask your sommelier for suggestions – he’ll surprise you.
The food, though detailed, manages to remain unfussy. It is rooted in traditional French cuisine and done with real sophistication whilst also providing more than generous portions and truly marvelous flavours. Among the starters, the crab comes in big, sweet, juicy chunks, accompanied by delicate pea mousse and fresh grapefruit. The truffled artichoke salad is a wonderfully light option if you want to save room for desert (very much recommended) and yet the aroma engulfs you as soon as the fork gets near your mouth. If you want a spectacle, go for the pigeon to follow (you’ll see) and the veal chop is a hefty hulk of meat on your plate done achingly well with truffle honey. Rich, yes, but joyously succulent. The white chocolate and strawberry soufflé is the house speciality pudding (each one made to order), arriving at your table with pomp and splendour, a dollop of ice cream plopped into the middle to ooze in.
Pretty as a picture and of tremendous quality, go here for your next special occasion.
40-42 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DD; lesdeuxsalons.co.uk