City Life Festival celebrates all things London this October

It would be more than fair to say that London has a unique identity. It’s not something that is tangible and it’s never been an easy thing to define.

Read my full post at TikiChris.

 

Mews of Mayfair Champagne infused afternoon tea ticks every box

Afternoon tea in London is having an absolute moment to say the least. I could have easily fitted a dozen in to a single month. Their resurgence and popularity is unsurprising. Summer kicked off with the wedding of the century and it was all British traditions and tiaras for us from then on.

Read my full review at Seen in the City.

 

 

 

 

StreetXO London Restaurant Review

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What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of fine dining at a Mayfair restaurant? Plush surroundings, formal dining and stiff upper-lipped staff? Well, not so at StreetXO London. Think street food in shady parts of Bangkok, night markets in Hong Kong or China Town Food Street in Singapore and you’d be closer to the StreetXO experience. Rules of fine dining do not apply and anything goes; chopsticks, cutlery or fingers. It’s street life for sure. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all this style comes at the price of substance. You’d be wrong. This is the London home of chef David Muñoz; he who cut his teeth at Hakkasan, Nahm and Nobu. The chef with the only restaurant in Madrid to be awarded three Michelin stars for DiverXO. Welcome to the world of David Muñoz!

The Space

I walked down a golden staircase to the dark heart of StreetXO. It was lunch time but already evening in the world of XO. Neon lights flash above the open kitchen and the fluidity of the kitchen counter appeared to carry me away on a wave and I walked past my reserved table only to walk back.

Just as if you were on a busy side street in Bangkok, of an evening, there’s much to see. Stimulation is everywhere; mirrors on the wall, blood red formica tables, leather, noise. Giant glass baubles act as lampshades and I can see what looks suspiciously like a colourful ice cream vending machine at the end of the kitchen. It reminds me of something from an animé movie. I can’t quite figure out what. All in all it works for me. I hadn’t realised what I’d signed up for but I was now knee-deep in it and I liked it. Five minutes in and I’d already forgotten the world outside.

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The Menu

I begin with a colossal cocktail. Liquid Madrizzzzz DiverXO is made of
violet shrub, lime, ginger and jasmine perfume served in a cocktail glass three times the size of a regular one. I stirred it and the aroma of jasmine was intoxicating in an ethereal sense. Pink and purple petals floated on the lavender hued drink as if it was magic. Lime and ginger was in perfect balance with the herbal violet shrub and I understood why it arrived in a large glass; you’d be willing to drink a great deal of it.

SteamedXO club sandwich was the first to arrive. Suckling pig, ricotta, runny fried quail egg and chilli mayonnaise on a soft bao; it was wondrous. Galician octopus who spoke Indian was octopus served on roasted tomatoes, butter masala and squid ink crackers. It was an intensely colourful, aromatic dish. Three perfectly steamed soft buns arrived just in time for me to soak up the last of the butter masala with. A green asparagus salad of green olive emulsion, oranges and spicy chlorophyll acidulated oil was nothing short of spectacular; a raw, tangy tower of green delight. The standout dish however, was the Spanish socarrat paella with roasted chicken wings and Japanese white sesame dressing. Socarrat (derived from the word socarrar meaning to singe) is an essential part of paella making. Served with StreetXO’s chicken wings and sesame dressing it was a gastronomic bulls eye.

As luck was on my side I was able to try not one but two desserts on the menu. Guava cheesecake, caramelised popcorn, lemon gel and sablé butter cookies arrived in a box as any true gift should. Spicy strawberry with cream, white chocolate and strawberry sponge was also presented in a box complete with a lid. Both dishes were staggeringly beautiful and caused anarchy on the palate. Rebellious deserts that left their mark on my heart; they were exceptional in taste and texture whilst also rather generous in quantity.

All of these tasting dishes are on StreetXO’s express lunch menu which is just £25 per person and available Tuesday to Friday. That’s not a typo. It really does say £25 per person. Drinks and desserts are extra of course. We have to pinch ourselves to remember that this is Mayfair fine dining. Given the creativity of the dishes, the dining experience and the heritage of the chef this is an incredible menu and one that London truly deserves.

 

 

 

StreetXO is located at: 5 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatre in the Clouds – exclusive plays at Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard

Revels in Hand, Actors Mark Donald, Henry Gilbert, Greer Dale-Foulkes, Melanie Fullbrook, Lucy Eaton, at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London (Photo credit Tomas Turpie)

After an indulgent, record-breaking summer, if we ever needed a reason to look forward to warm, cosy autumn evenings in London, Shangri-La Hotel has just awarded it to us. From 9th October 2018 – 31st January 2019 the hotel will offer performances of short plays in the privacy of its exclusive suites. As such, the aptly named Theatre in the Clouds, raises the bar in luxurious escapism. Theatre, arts and entertainment in London, as we know them, have thus been restored to the pinnacle of its beginnings.

I was thrilled to be invited to an evening preview at Shangri-La Hotel’s most exclusive signature suite the Shangri-La Suite. Spellbound by the view, through floor to ceiling windows, of River Thames curving its way around London’s treasured icons St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and Tower Bridge, I took my seat. Champagne and canapés flowed freely setting the scene for a double bill of unforgettable performances.

Hands Across the Sea

The comedy Hands Across the Sea, one of ten short plays of the Tonight at 8.30 series, written by English playwright Noël Coward, was first. This slightly adapted version was a pitch perfect choice for the lavish setting. The plot, spun around the characters’ valiant attempt to mask absent mindedness with British politeness, floated effortlessly to the end. I was so gripped that I hardly blinked. Melanie Fullbrook thrilled as giddy Lady Gilpin. In the absence of a traditional setting I was mesmerised by a riveting performance of an exceptional cast.

Revels in Hand, Actors Freddie Hutchins, Lucy Eaton, at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London (Photo credit Tomas Turpie)

Ways and Means

Ways and Means, set in 1930s French Riviera, was second on the bill. The audience was ushered to the bedroom and we took our seats around the bed. Lucy Eaton and Freddie Hutchins were an heiress and her gambling husband, on the verge of overstaying their welcome, at a friend’s villa. This delightful comedy was a fitting finale presenting a cycle of unfortunate events with a gleeful ending. Lucy Eaton and Freddie Hutchins simply owned dysfunctional marital bliss.

Revels in Hand

Private theatre company Revels in Hand provided the entertainment for the evening. Lucy Eaton, Melanie Fullbrook and Freddie Hutchins set up the bespoke theatre company after meeting at Cambridge University. Proving that immense risks are the only ones that ever pay off, the three actors set about reviving a practice which had died out since Shakespearean times; performing to intimate gatherings in private homes. A pastime favoured by 16th – early 17th century aristocracy there was little guarantee that it would work in modern times. Bringing the theatre to one’s home may seem extravagant an idea. However, unadulterated entertainment has proved to have universal appeal as Revels in Hand have so far performed in drawing rooms, polo fields and even private yachts around the world. How fortunate for us that Shangri-La Hotel has collaborated with the company to bring this unparalelled experience to London. It’s an autumn event not to be missed.

 

 

 

 

 

Performance schedule for Shangri-La at The Shard: 9th October 2018 – Hands Across the Sea and Ways and Means (Nöel Coward), 8thNovember 2018 – Bell, Book and Candle (John Van Druten), 6th December 2018 – Voice of the Turtle (John Van Druten), 31st January 2019 – Voice of the Turtle (John Van Druten)

Tickets, including two glasses of Champagne and canapés, priced £85 can be purchased here: https://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/theatre/theatre-in-the-clouds

An overnight stay including breakfast and show package based on two people sharing at £685 per person can be purchased here: shangri-la.com

Shangri-La Suite is located at: Shangri-La Hotel, The Shard, London SE1 9QU