As much as I love London’s Christmas lights, they can often be little more than some twinkling colours, the same ones from last year (sorry Regent Street, I’m looking at you!), or, even worse, covered in branding which strips out any festive sentiment.
However, this season, the Baker Street Quarter in Marylebone is doing something rather different for their first ever Christmas lights. The district will tell the story of its people and places of years gone by through a series of light installations. The spectacular lights will be featured in four different sites in the area, linked together by stunning illuminated lights along Baker Street. Designed by the Michael Grubb studio, there will designs lighting up Portman Square Garden, Manchester Square Garden, 55 Baker Street and at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction. The lights will be switched on on Thursday 21 November 2019, followed by a Christmas lights discovery walk on Wednesday 4 December (6pm).
The first installation in Portman Square Garden is ‘Lady Montagu’s Blue Stocking Parties’ – a nod to the wealthy philanthropist and literary critic’s fabulous bashes she hosted in Montagu House for her 18th century intellectual circle. Next up in Manchester Square Gardens, it will be a classic installation inspired by how the garden would have been lit in the mid 18th century as a ‘Marylebone Pleasure Garden’. Meanwhile, at 55 Baker Street will be memories of the ‘Baker Street Bazaar’, a popular attraction on the very spot which showcased the weird and wonderful from 1822 to World War II, when it was bombed. Finally, at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction lights will be inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Four lamp columns on each corner of the junction have been inspired by Sherlock’s sole Christmas tale ‘The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle’.
- Baker Street Quarter’s Christmas lights will be on from 21 November 2019 – 6 January 2020. From Baker Street Station to Wigmore Street and Portman Square), Marylebone, W1. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website.
- The Christmas Lights Discovery Walk takes place on 4 December 2019 at 6pm, starting at 55 Baker Street. Free. Participants can also enjoy 20% off drinks at the Churchill Bar & Terrace.
For a guide to what else is on in London this December, click here.
Portman Square is one of the capital’s most exclusive squares. Located a short walk from Oxford Street, the green space was established in Marylebone in the 18th century. Usually closed to the public, the gates will be open for one day only for the Portman Square Garden Party on 19 June 2019.
The special event will be a modern-day village fete with money raised going to the Greenhouse Sports Charity. Your entry ticket includes unlimited five-star food and drink, live music and entertainment and the chance to play classic games. Throughout the evening, there will a fundraising raffle with fabulous prizes donated by local businesses. All visitors will leave the Garden Party with a goodie bag full of treats.
Among the food and drink on offer includes the Home House Bar (welcome Prosecco, red and white wine and soft drinks); Marylebone Gin Bar (gin and tonics); and the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill (eight food stations including afternoon tea, British cheese and biscuits, and fish and chips).
This year’s bash aims to raise funds for Greenhouse Sports, a charity providing sports coaching and mentoring to young people from disadvantaged communities. Last year’s event raised nearly £20,000.
- Portman Square Garden Party takes place on Wednesday 19 June 2019. 6pm-9pm. Tickets: £45.00 pp. At Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 6LW. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For more information and tickets, visit the Portman Square Garden Party website.
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.
It’s that time of year again as the UK’s biggest cocktail celebration returns to the capital this month. The spring edition of Cocktails In The City brings some of the best drinking hotspots to you. Setting up camp at the stunning surrounds of One Marylebone, Londoners can go on a bar crawl under one roof.
Twenty-five of the world’s top bars will be hosting pop-ups from 30 March – 1 April in the Georgian venue’s Grand Hall. Among those representing will be The Artesian (four-time winner of World’s Best Bar), concealed hotspots London Cocktail Club and Reverend JW Simpson, speakeasies Barts and The Lucky Pig and hotel classics Trader Vic’s and The Blue Bar, serving their signature drinks and experimental new creations.
Meanwhile, jetting in from Europe will be Berlin’s Schwein Bar, Stockholm’s Linje Tio, Oslo’s Himkok and Copenhagen’s Ruby. The Nordic bars will be teaming up with Woodford Reserve to create the ‘Hygge’ drinking experience with their pop-up bars nestled together on the cosy 2nd floor.
Cocktail fans will also have the chance to blend their own bespoke gin with London micro-distillery Sacred in the enchanted garden, mix their own concotions with some of the capital’s finest mixologists and learn how to create the ultimate Rum Punch with The Duppy Share.
Other bars taking part include 100 Hoxton, 214 Bermondsey, Burlock, Cahoots, Disrepute, Gaucho, Hush, The Four Sisters Townhouse and Three Six Six.
- Cocktails In The City takes place from 30 March – 1 April 2017 at One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, Marylebone, NW1 4AQ. Nearest station: Great Portland Street or Regents Park. Ticket: £15 includes 1 cocktail. For more information and booking, visit the Cocktails In The City website.
For a guide to what else is on in April, click here.
The Langham Hotel is one of the capital’s most established luxury accommodations, having been housing visitors to London since the 1860s. The hotel’s Palm Court has been serving Afternoon Tea since 1865 and remains a popular destination for foodies seeking their scone fix today. However, cakes aside, the Palm Court also offers regular dining featuring British and international cuisine, which I recently experienced.
With a relative visiting from the United States, we booked a table at the Palm Court for an evening of fine dining. When we first arrived, I was struck by how intimate the venue felt – it was a lot smaller than I anticipated, but in a good way. The selection of armchairs and sofas looked comfortable and inviting, while the Art Deco interiors was certainly to my taste. Adding to the atmosphere and a total surprise to my group was the live jazz performances, which happens every weekend.
We were shown to a cosy table for three with our own individual armchair, which was lovely to sit on. For those looking for good value fine dining, I can highly recommend going for the set menu, as we did. Three courses and a glass of bubbles for £35 per person. We kicked off proceedings with a flute each of Barbameto Prosecco Millesimato, which was light and not too sweet.
The set menu had a choice of three starters, so I opted for the Isle of Wight tomato salad with burrata and garlic croutons. The portion of burrata was particularly generous and incredibly creamy. Meanwhile, my companions opted for the classic chilled vichyssoise with crème fraîche and chives – another smooth creation which they said was delectable.
Being a pescatarian, I only had one option for mains on the set menu, another cheese-based offering – Buffalo ricotta and spinach ravioli with sauce ‘antiboise’. The ricotta wasn’t too over-powering and the dish had elements of sweet and savoury flavours which actually worked really well. Meanwhile, one of my family chose the Guinea-fowl supreme, served with summer savory and ‘petits pois francaise’, which they heralded as a delicious dish.
Finally, my favourite course – dessert – that I always hope to have room for, but sometimes have to forgo. Fortunately, my visit to the Palm Court was not one of those times so I ordered the Langham chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and caramelia pearl, which was served with strawberries. Unlike so many other chocolate mousses, this wasn’t too rich and was surprisingly light, partially helped by the fruity accompaniment.
Overall, we had a superb evening. The food was enjoyable and well presented, with the set menu offering a great option for good value fine dining. The service was fabulous and the live music really added to the atmosphere. I was in awe of the stunning interiors which gave me plenty to hold my gaze during the meal. I’m planning a return visit for their famous afternoon tea.
- Palm Court at The Langham, 1c Portland Place, Regent street, Marylebone, W1B 1JA. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Regent’s Park. For booking, visit The Palm Court’s website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Twenty years ago, Australian film-maker Baz Luhrmann turned Shakespeare on his head with his movie adaptation of Romeo + Juliet. Set in the vivid and violent setting of ‘Verona Beach’, a very youthful Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes played the star-crossed lovers. Thanks to the photography, acting and soundtrack, the 1996 film soon became a cult classic.
To mark the film’s 20th anniversary, pop-up film club Backyard Cinema are hosting a very special screening of the movie, complete with a live choir, in the stunning Georgian church St Mary’s in Marylebone. Last week, I went along with a friend (who I was surprised to find out had never seen the film) to check out Backyard’s take on one of my favourite flicks.
Upon entering the darkly lit building, we were immediately drawn into the atmosphere with the church decorated Luhrmann-style, with neon crosses and a floral adorned altar – immediately making you think of the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage and deaths [spoiler alert ;-)] in the movie. There are various ticket options available depending on seating and packages, but we had a VIP package of cosy seats, along with bubbly and snacks. Open for a couple of hours prior to the screening, the crypt downstairs is somewhat of a pop-up nightspot with a licensed bar and food vendors selling popcorn, ice cream and sweets with plenty of seating dotted around so you can have a chat and mingle before spending two hours in silence watching the film.
As someone who has watched the movie many times before, I loved watching it in this environment – it certainly beats my old sofa and DVD player. With the soundtrack being such an integral part of the film’s success, the Some Voices Choir really bring a whole new dimension to it. With seamless transition, the choir sang tracks such as Kissing You and Young Hearts Run Free during the pivotal moments, which really brought the tragedy and romance of the movie to life. For fans of the film, I highly recommend you get a ticket while you can as they’re selling out fast. And if you haven’t seen it at all, you’re in for a treat.
- Backyard Cinema are hosting screenings of Romeo + Juliet from now until July 2016 at St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. Tickets start from £20. For more information and tickets, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a guide to London’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
I’m often in charge of booking restaurants when I go out to dinner… or at least have an idea of where I’m going before arrival. However, for my birthday, I handed over responsibility of planning a celebratory meal to my sister. I was thoroughly surprised when it was revealed the Landmark London hotel was our destination, and within it the Winter Garden restaurant. I had seen photos of the Winter Garden setting – a stunning eight-storey atrium with tall palm trees stretching towards the glass roof. A grand piano was being played with groups of diners well spaced out throughout the dining area giving an intimate feel and fabulous ambiance.
Our table of five were shown to a table near the back of the dining room so we had a good view of the surrounding area. We were ordering off the set menu (three courses for £35) which came with a glass of champagne cocktail. The menu is predominantly British with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influence. To begin, I decided on the Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Croutons. The flavours were stronger than I anticipated, but tasted lovely and mixed well with the smoothness of the cheese croutons. One of my party also allowed me to try the Tartar of Citrus Cured Salmon, served with Crème Fraiche, Avocado, Caviar and Anchovy Oil.
For my main, I ordered the Pan Seared Sea Bass with Fondant Potato, Tomato Chutney and Grilled Baby Courgettes. The dish was well presented and tasty. I particularly enjoyed the fondant potato, which was creamy, sweet and gorgeous.
To finish, there was only one dessert option for me – the Warm Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was nice and sweet, but not too rich and I enjoyed it. Although we hadn’t told the staff it was my birthday, they had worked it out and decided to surprise me with a birthday muffin with a candle with the pianist stopping his playlist to play me ‘Happy Birthday’. I was somewhat embarrassed, but it was very thoughtful of them and a lovely unexpected gesture.
Overall, the food, service and ambiance was brilliant. The setting is quite unique for London so would be a great choice for a special occasion. I’ve heard the Afternoon Teas are good (well, award-winning actually!) so will have to make a repeat visit.
- Winter Garden @ The Landmark London, 222 Marylebone Road, Marylebone, NW1 6JQ. Nearest station: Marylebone. For more information and booking, visit the Winter Garden website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo + Juliet is an iconic 1990s film. The vivid imagery, amazing soundtrack and stunning performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes have made the film a modern classic. Personally I’m a huge fan of the film and soundtrack.
This month, fans of the film will be able to have the chance to watch the movie in a totally different way – accompanied by a live choir in a candlelight church setting. Roaming pop-up cinema company Backyard Cinema are setting up camp for three days at St Mary’s Church in Marylebone for a special screening of Romeo + Juliet. Singers from the Some Voices Choir will be performing some of the film’s most popular tracks, such as Kissing You and Everybody’s Free.
Depending on your budget, you can sit in traditional balcony seats (£20), on comfy sofas and deckchairs in the main seating area (£28) or on front row double beanbag with blankets and cushions (£65 for two people). To accompany your screening, there will be a choice of drinks and snacks, including Cream & Country luxury ice cream, Backyard’s posh and unusual flavoured popcorn while a licensed bar will be serving alcohol.
- Romeo + Juliet screenings by Backyard Cinema are taking place on 28, 29 and 30 May 2015. Doors open 7pm, Film screening starts 8pm. St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. For more information and tickets, visit the Backyard Cinemas website.
- 2016 news! The screenings are returning to St Mary’s Church from 29 March – July 2016. For a review of the 2016 experience, click here.
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.
SixtyOne restaurant review: French meets British in this relaxed, fine dining Marylebone establishment
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts this year, Marylebone has become the hot new postcode in town with many budding restaurateurs choosing the area to set up shop. One such new establishment is Sixtyone in south Marylebone, one of the latest additions to the Searcys brand, which opened at the end of 2013. Headed by Chef Patron Arnaud Stevens, the cuisine is described as ‘old world French cooking and flavours with the very best English ingredients’. Within its first year, Sixtyone achieved three AA Rosettes so I had high hopes for my meal.
A group of five of us booked a Saturday evening meal through OpenTable to celebrate my sister’s birthday in October. As we booked quite last-minute, we found there wasn’t much availability – always a good sign if a place is in hot demand – so we opted for an early seating at 6pm. Upon arrival, the waiter politely informed us the restaurant was fully booked so we couldn’t have the table too long which is fair enough on a Saturday.
The dining room is fairly small, with just over 60 covers, providing an intimate and cosy space. Crisp white table cloths cover round tables with beige leather seats providing a comfortable place to rest. We had opted for the set menu deal of 3 courses for £29, but there is an option to go à la carte. Opened in partnership with Searcys, there is – as you would expect – a comprehensive and high-quality wine list, including champagnes and cocktails. In a somewhat controversial move, we ordered a bottle of the Prosecco Porte Leone (£38) as the birthday girl prefers the Italian bubbly over its French rival.
I rarely mention bread baskets when I write reviews, but I must make an exception for Sixtyone. We were presented with an unusual mix of breads in different flavours and patterns, served with a light and airy slab of butter on stone. The bread was exquisite and we had to restrain ourselves for the fear of ruining the rest of our meal by filling ourselves with it. For starters I opted for the Mussel Chowder, a thick, creamy comfort food with a subtle flavour. However, the popular dish amongst my party appeared to be the ‘Pig on Toast’ – a pork pâté served with walnuts on toast and a bed of pickled pear, which was an unusual mix of flavours, but tasted succulent and more-ish.
For our mains, I ordered the Roast Cod, Coco Bean, Bisque and Terrine. The cod was cooked perfectly with the white meat nice and light and the flavours really meshing well together. Meanwhile, many of my companions opted for the Lake District Beef Shoulder with Onion Emulsion and Sea Vegetables, which was rich and juicy and deemed delicious all round.
Despite our filling initial courses, we all had room for dessert. I chose the Raspberry and Cinnamon Tart served with sorbet. The pastry had a hint of moistness and a good crunch, while the fruit and sorbet were delicious. The cinnamon was incredibly subtle, which suited given its accompanying fruit. One of my party opted for Caramelised Braeburn and Specaloos (spiced shortcrust biscuit), which they said was a light and homely dessert.
Overall, the food was good and the unusual mix of flavours worked well. The service was attentive and speedy, although never in a way to disrupt the relaxing vibe of the restaurant. I would definitely recommend for a nice evening out for a couple or group.
- Sixtyone, 61 Upper Berkeley Street, Marylebone, W1H 7PP. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For more information and booking, visit the Sixtyone website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
The Cavendish review: European cuisine in a members club-style restaurant comes to trendy Marylebone
Thanks to the recent addition of celeb-magnet Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone is the hottest part of central London right now, with diners and drinkers being lured across the Oxford and Regent Street borders from their usual enclaves of Mayfair and Fitzrovia. I confess, I don’t know Marylebone as well as the aforementioned areas, but that’s all set to change with the growing amount of top eating and drinking venues.
Earlier this month, I was invited to the soft launch of The Cavendish, the latest new culinary destination in W1. Located upstairs with its accompanying bar on the ground floor, The Cavendish feels like a vintage members’ club with a mixture of plush leather booths and sleek wooden armchairs. My friend and I were shown to a cosy table in the corner so were privy to all the action and got a chance to look at some of the dishes enjoyed by our fellow diners.
Overseen by Spanish chef Alfonso Lillo Fas, the menu takes its inspiration from predominantly Italian, Spanish and French cuisine. It features a ‘Raw Bar’ for fans of Ceviche, Caviar, Oysters and the like. The menu is predominantly red meat and fish, so vegetarians may struggle. For those who wish, the knowledgeable waiters can match your wine to your dish. However, as we ordered our wine before deciding on our food, I opted for a glass of SV Dillons Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which was fruity and refreshing.
To start, I ordered the Scallops with Smoked Cauliflower Purée, served with Pickled Baby Courgette and Fig Balsamic. The scallops were cooked perfectly – not too chewy, and the mix of ingredients really worked well together. My companion opted for the Yellowfin Tuna Tartar, which was given a kick by the accompanying Wasabi, which she loved.
For mains, I was unprepared for the sheer size of my Pan-Fried Dover Sole. The waiter brought it on the bone so I could survey the presentation, before stripping it for me to eat. It was cooked to perfection with the lemon and saffron sauce really sinking into the white meat and bringing out a lovely flavour. It was served with creamy desiree potatoes and spinach, which are two of my favourite vegetables so I was pretty happy. My friend was in a more carnivorous mood and opted for the Fillet Steak served with Watercress and Béarnaise Sauce, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She ordered sides of Green Beans and Zucchini Fries – the latter being heralded as absolutely delicious and quite unique as a sides option in restaurants.
Although I must confess I struggled to eat sll of my large portion of Dover Sole (despite how gorgeous it was), I did find a tiny bit of room for dessert. As I was pretty full, I opted for the lighter of the options – the Caramel Panna Cotta. Without exaggerating, it was absolutely heavenly. It was served on a bed of chocolate sauce with edible flowers with a slice of white chocolate as a topping. It was light, creamy and very moreish.
Throughout the meal, we were served by attentive and knowledgeable waiters, who provided old-fashioned service. Our glasses of water were always topped up and we were given all the information we needed when querying the dishes. The setting was comfortable and relaxing and it would certainly fit either a business dinner or romantic meal. If you wish to carry on the evening, you can always head to the bar downstairs to sample the extensive drinks menu. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and the setting and service gave a feeling of subtle luxury.
- The Cavendish, 35 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, W1G 9TR. Nearest station: Bond Street. Tel: 020 7487 3030. For more information, visit the The Cavendish website.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of The Cavendish for this review. However, my opinions are, as ever, my own.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
A lot of London’s top restaurants happen to be located in the capital’s best hotels. Although Locanda Locatelli in The Hyatt Regency’s The Churchill hotel tends to get more attention because of its A-list clientele (Madonna, Victoria Beckham and George Clooney are among its previous diners), The Montagu offers another upmarket eating experience within the building. The Churchill is a five-star hotel in Portman Square, Marylebone – just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street and Selfridges department store. Although being named after one of our finest Prime Ministers may suggest old world, the hotel is a light, airy space featuring unusual and contemporary art works dotted around the lobby and The Montagu restaurant.
I booked a table for four at The Montagu earlier this month through TopTable to celebrate a relative’s birthday. The Montagu is an open-plan restaurant which features an open kitchen so you can see the chefs at work. This makes for a bustling atmosphere, which is complemented by the laidback bar/lounge area running alongside the dining area where guests can sip hot drinks, cocktail and peruse the cake selection. Wide windows look out on to Portman Square, while the interior walls feature an eclectic art collection. We were shown to a circular table surrounded with comfortable wide seating. There is also a small bar area as you come in so there’s a place for early arrivals to wait for your dining party. We were presented with the full menu which also incorporated applicable dishes on the TopTable set menu so you had the options of both. Our deal was three courses plus a Bellini for £25 which was incredibly good value.
To start, the birthday girl and I both opted for the Butternut Squash Soup with Seared Scallop. The lone scallop in the middle of the soup was an interesting and contrasting flavour with the soup, but tasted good. The rest of our party opted for Ham Hock and Duck Liver Terrine with Victoria Plum Chutney and Grilled Sourdough Bread, a multi-layered dish rich in flavour. For my main meal, I decided on the Beer Battered Cod and Chips with Tartar Sauce. I particularly liked the presentation of the chips in a Jenga-style tower. The batter was thin and light as I prefer it, but the cod didn’t have as much flavour as I hoped and I ended up adding seasoning to it. Finally, to finish I decided on my old favourite, Cox’s Orange and Apple Crumble with Vanilla Custard. The crumble was thin and biscuity and the fruit was incredibly fresh and tasty. Overall, the food didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The service and presentation were good and the atmosphere was upmarket, but relaxed. I particularly thought the open kitchen was an unusual, but good addition for this standard of restaurant. However, the food didn’t have as much flavour as I hoped. Despite my experience not being as I hoped, I would probably return for lunch or drinks and give it another try.
- The Montagu, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, 30 Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 7BH. Nearest tube: Marble Arch or Bond Street. For more information and bookings, visit The Churchill website.
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