1 | For Exemplary Pub Grub: The Harcourt
The Harcourt is what you get when you mix a snug Marylebone pub with a whiff of Scandi-cool. Sounds incongruous, sounds like it should never work, but we are here to tell you that it most certainly does. Having just reopened as a bar and restaurant, it makes the most of the beautiful Grade II listed Georgian architecture with a wood-panelled front section and a bright and breezy Garden Room out back that screams for summer evenings. Cocktails are slight riffs on the classics, with the addition of Scandinavian ingredients such as aquavit, lingonberries and so on. The warm apple flavour of their take on an Old Fashioned (named Grandma Fashioned) is ideal for this grizzly weather.
Food is a delight: rich, comforting, vaguely novel and surprisingly delicate for a pub. Be sure to try the slow-cooked duck egg to start, the bold, slightly creamy flavour of the yolk oozing onto every bit of the dish, with crispy bites of potato crisps and a smoky mayonnaise adding texture. The reindeer's bloody tasty too, and the whole gunard, served with burnt lemon, is a decided crowd-pleaser. If you are in need of some TLC, go straight for the apple crumble, which has plenty of sweet hazelnut crumb on top and a satisfying dollop of homemade ice cream. You'll want to settle in for the night.
32 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HX; theharcourt.com
2 | For Plenty of Plonk: London Wine Week
Starting on Monday is London Wine Week. And that means that you're allowed to go in search of lovely grapes every single day of the week. The hub of it all will be in Devonshire Square, in the City, and that's where you can pick up your wristbands and enjoy a delightful taste of Nyetimber fizz while you're at it. Said wristbands will get you £5 wine flights and various deals at the many bars taking part. There are also different events each night. We're especially keen on the 'decoding wine labels' session at the Cordon Bleu headquarters in Bloomsbury, which will teach you precisely what everything means on a label and what to look for in your wines, on the 26th. The charitable folk at Honest Grapes are holding a wine amnesty on the evening of the 25th, where you can take along a bottle you don't want and swap it for one of theirs (promise: there is no catch). And, if you're after a treat, book in for one of The Disappearing Dining Club's candlelit banquets, which are sure to impress.
23 – 29 May; drinkup.london/wineweek
3 | For Italophiles: The House of Peroni
The House of Peroni is now open until 1st July at Proud East, in Haggerston, celebrating all things Italian. And that means lots of delicious food and, of course, plenty of beer. Aside from straight up, there are refreshing Peroni cocktails created by Simone Caporale (formerly at The Langham, when it was repeatedly voted the World's Best Bar): the Aperol Spritz variation comes with orange sorbet on top, and the Peroni Negroni is a revelation.
Food is taken care of by Francesco Mazzei (the guy in charge at Mayfair's Sartoria, and formerly at L'Anima), and includes absolutely everything you could hope for from an Italian feast: wood-fired pizza, fresh pasta, oodles of antipasti and homemade gelato. The weekend brunch will assuage any hangover with a mac and cheese carbonara, spicy baked eggs with n'duja, and an asparagus gratin. And if you're really into your food, book in for the private dining event (three nights a week) where you can enjoy course after course, including a devilishly good tortelli filled with burratta, and a massive hulk of roasted lamb.
19 May – 1 July; Proud East, 2 – 10 Hertford Road, London, N1 5SH; thehouseofperoni.comWednesday – Friday: 5 – 11pmSaturday: 11am – 11pmSunday: 11am – 10pmAdmission is free; tickets to the private dining experience cost £65 per person plus a booking fee.
4 | Celebrate National Vegetarian Week
In case you hadn't noticed, we are in National Vegetarian Week. Not everyone will find that prospect particularly exciting, but there are more and more veggie options around town that would prove a painless way of getting into the spirit of things. We're big fans of Bruno Loubet's work, so stop in at The Grain Store where his hearty mushroom and celeriac burger brings a heady haze of truffle to your table (pictured). And his beetroot and ricotta ravioli with fried breadcrumbs and sage is mouth-wateringly good. We're also taken by the new snacks on the menu at Greek bistro Suvlaki, including flatbreads with beetroot dip, and grilled cheese with fig marmalade (and a Greek salad never did anyone any harm). But let's not forget Stevie Parle's troupe at Craft London, who are putting on a whole vegetarian tasting menu of up to eight courses for just £28, made from mostly home-grown produce. Give it a whirl.
5 | Book Ahead: MEATliquor's Brain Burger
This one's most definitely for carnivores and, yes, when we say brain burger, that's precisely what we mean. We all know and love MEATliquor's burgers, but now they have teamed up with Fergus Henderson of the legendary St. JOHN restaurant to produce a limited edition dish that squashes a panko-crumbed calve's brain inside a St. JOHN potato and onion bun, with shredded cabbage and homemade mayonnaise. It will be available throughout June with all proceeds going to Parkinson's UK, and the price of your £30 ticket will get you fries on the side and a limited edition apron decorated with artwork by Mr. Henderson himself. Book now to avoid disappointment.