1 | For A Delicious Date Night: Jar Kitchen (above)
Ok, yes, so there are a fair few jars in this place, but they aren’t accompanied by the ‘we’re being whacky and super trendy’ kind of smirk that many new restaurants have when they try to be cool or ‘approachable’ in inverted commas. Simply decorated with tasteful bare wood, fresh flowers and nightlights resting in said glass vessels, Jar Kitchen has been open on Drury Lane since the spring, and is a delightfully unpretentious little restaurant with food that you quite simply want to devour. It’s romantic in the extreme and the kindly welcome turns this into a veritable haven if you want somewhere ‘nice’ (in inverted commas) for a weeknight date.
Both food and drinks menus are digestibly short but not lacking in choice (again, great if you’re tired out yet still attempting to socialize after work). The perky Viognier will set you on the right track to start off with. Head chef Dominik Moldenhauer comes from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal so you get all the imagination you might expect, along with homely and comforting flavours. Among the starters, the courgette flowers with goats cheese and honey are sumptuous, fresh and just melt in the mouth. The squid comes with minted peas and curry mayo, and their ox cheek and cheddar croquettes are developing rather a reputation. To follow, meaty monkfish is tossed with grilled artichoke, spelt and samphire, or there’s lamb rump that comes with that tangy caramelized flavour of a roast on the outside, but in satisfyingly chunky, buttery medallions.
This is food to set the world to rights with at startlingly fair prices. And if you don’t try the mini doughnuts, then you’re a fool.
176 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5QF; jarkitchen.com
2 | For Serious Weekend Drama: Gladiator Games
You know what Game of Thrones has done, don’t you? It’s actually managed to normalize blood and guts so that most of us think of duals and trials by combat as par the course when, previously, they would have just been weird and disgusting fixations for weird and disgusting boys. So, live gladiator battles are fair game for suggesting as weekend viewing, especially when they’re taking place on the site of London’s one and only Roman amphitheater. Reenactments they may be, but the Gladiator Games have all the drama and tactics of a fight for the Iron Throne, and could quite simply provide a novel day out this weekend.
If you want to be educational, head into the Guildhall itself to see more of the remains of the original amphitheatre and if you’re plain hungry then we advise starting your day with breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall. You can either prepare for battle like a champion with steak and hash browns, or they do a mean bubble and squeak, or a posh Lobster Benedict. One of those famous Bloody Marys wouldn’t go amiss either. Tickets can be booked online and cost a tenner.
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th, 12-1pm and 3-4pm
Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street, London, EC2V 5AE; museumoflondon.org.uk
Hawksmoor Guildhall, 10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5BQ; thehawksmoor.com
3 | For An All-Day Tasting Session: The 3 Crowns Wine Fair
A wine-based street party is taking place this Saturday courtesy of The 3 Crowns pub, which is bringing back last year’s Wine Fair after such a runaway success. Purchase a special wine glass for £5 and mozy round the six wine merchants exhibiting to get generous samplers of their finest offerings. Once you've chosen what you like, you've then got all day long to purchase the wines and carefully chosen craft beers.
The whole street will be closed off to traffic to allow you to chill out, play games, and listen to live music. And when the fair officially stops at 10pm, the party will continue inside until 1am. Food on the go will range from picky bar snacks to spiced sausages, cured meats and Neal’s Yard cheese.
8 East Road/Brunswick Place, London, N1 6AD; the3crowns.co.uk
4 | For Quick Bites With Holiday Vibes: Suvlaki
It’s summer, and if you’re wary of heading to Greece right about now then there’s a new Athenian grill house serving traditional holiday cuisine in Soho. It’s called Suvlaki and it makes those juicy skewers of chicken, lamb or pork. Despite the food not sounding the most refined, it is delectably succulent and neatly done, and the mellow blue hues of the décor make this an excellent lunchtime pit stop. Although the gigantic velvet cushions are so comfy that you might not want to get up again.
On the menu are sets of skewers (pick and mix available if you can’t choose which), mini suvlaki wraps, and larger main portions, all done with refreshing Greek herbs and seasoning, and healthily cooked on the grill. Add a punchy Greek salad and a cold beer and you could be on holiday. Almost.
21 Bateman Street, London, W1D 3AL; suvlaki.co.uk