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Hang with the art flock at the Paper Aviary in St James

Paper Aviary

The Paper Aviary is a new exhibition in St James’s Market Pavilion

A new public art exhibition has just opened in London’s St James. Taking inspiration from the Royal aviary which used to stand in St James’s Park, is ‘The Paper Aviary’ in a new permanent art space.

Paper Aviary

The exhibition is accompanied by a soundtrack of birdsong

Back in the 17th century, the park was home to King Charles II’s (1630-1685) collection of exotic birds. The King had redesigned the park after being inspired by the French royals’manicured grounds while he was exiled in France during the English Civil War. The aviary is mentioned in the diaries of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. In addition to the aviary, the Pelicans were introduced to the park at the same time, where they continue to live today. Although the aviary is long gone, a reference to it lives on in nearby Birdcage Walk.

‘The Paper Aviary’ is a new installation by design and brand specialists dn&co with Argentine studio Guardabosques. The likes of bright green Sulawesi hanging parrots, red and yellow lories and lorikeets, and cassowaries have been brought to life in the paper aviary. Each bird has been handcrafted with plumage and patterns inspired by fashion houses and craftspeople of St James. Represented are the houndstooth, checks and polka dots from the fabric patterns of John Smedley, Turnbull & Asser and Aquascutum. As visitors step into the St James Market Pavilion, they will be greeted by a curated soundtrack of birdsong to accompany the exhibition.

  • The Paper Aviary is open from 15 February – May 2017 at St James’s Market Pavilion, Regent Street, St James, SW1Y 4AH. Free entry. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park. For more information, visit the St James London website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in March, click here.

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Creative cuisine, desserts and cocktails at London’s latest dining concept POP-Down

© Cuisson

Cuisson Presents POP-Down-Dining and Desserts opens on 12 June
© Cuisson

We all know about pop-ups, but luxury gastronomy expert Cuisson are bringing a new dining concept to London this summer – the POP-Down. The new venture, which will launch on 12 June 2015, will see diners offered a creative and high-quality menu at an affordable price compared to other supper clubs. The menu (which will change every month), will consist of four courses, fusing French cuisine with modernist technique and an element of playfulness. Accompanying the food will be a signature Cuisson cocktail.

POP-Down © Cuisson

Sweet tooth: For those who prefer something sugary, why not head to the dessert bar instead?

The POP-Down will be located in a spacious basement at Borough Barista in St James, with room for 38 guests. An open kitchen will allow diners to watch the chefs in action, who will be able to mingle with their guests and even ask them to help plate up.

Meanwhile, for those with a sweet tooth, there will also be the POP-Down Dessert Bar, where diners can indulge in three courses of desserts, matched with some specially selected wines.

Examples from the menu include:

Crispy tortilla and prawn chorizo.
Chicken liver parfait with charred pineapple and candied walnuts.
Salmon with fennel, cucumber and vanilla.
White truffle and saffron crème brûlée with yogurt sugar and summer fruit.

Examples from the dessert menu include:

Carrot cake pot with dehydrated carrot tuile and carrot salad.
Almond custard, mint jelly, chocolate caviar and black sesame tuile.
Marinated strawberries, black olive caramel and almond shortbread.

  • Cuisson Presents POP-Down-Dining and Desserts is located in the basement at Borough Barista, 15 Charles II Street, St James, SW1Y 4RW. Nearest station: Green Park. Starting on 12 June, it will take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7.30pm onwards until 3 October 2015. Tickets: £39 for 4 courses at the restaurant, £25 for three dessert courses (available to purchase in advance through Grubclub). For more information, visit the GrubClub website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

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Step to it: The Duke of Wellington’s mounting stone

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Duke of Wellington’s horse mount on Waterloo Place

© Internet Archive Book Images 2014

Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke Of Wellington, was a regular at the Athenaeum
© Internet Archive Book Images 2014

The 1st Duke Of Wellington is one of the country’s most famous soldiers and statesmen, having defeated Napoleon at the Battle Of Waterloo and serving as Prime Minister twice. Although there has been seven subsequent Duke Of Wellingtons since his death, it is Arthur Wellesley most of us think of when we hear the title.

Around London there are many monuments to the late, great Duke Of Wellington (1769 – 1852), such as the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park Corner, his sarcophagus in St Paul’s Cathedral and an equestrian statue of him outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London to name but a few. There are also many buildings connected to the Duke, such as Apsley House on Hyde Park Corner and Walmer Castle in Kent, where he died at the age of 83.

While Wellington’s belongings can be seen in museums and stately homes, one piece of memorabilia remains on a busy London street, with thousands passing it each day unaware of the significance. Sitting on the pavement outside the Athenaeum Club, on Waterloo Place near the junction with Pall Mall is a pair of unassuming granite stones. To those walking by, they may not even be noticed at all or simply dismissed as a plain old piece of London street furniture.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The pair of unassuming granite stones remain outside the Athenaeum Club

However, to those who take a closer look, these stones are in fact a mounting step to get on and off a horse. During the Duke’s tenure as Prime Minister (January 1828 – November 1830), he was a regular at the Athenaeum Club, of which the original building still stands today. Designed by architect Decimus Burton (1800 – 1881), it is one of the country’s most famous gentlemen’s clubs, with Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Joseph Conrad, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy among its prestigious alumni of past members. As the transport of choice for many in the 1800s, the Duke used to arrive at the club on horseback. In 1830 – six years after the club was founded – Prime Minister Wellesley suggested the club should erect some mounting stones to assist in getting on and off horses. Then in his 60s, the Duke would not have been as amble as he once was so the stones would have encouraged a more graceful dismount.

Over 180 years later, the stones remain on the kerb, although these days unused. On the inward facing side, a rusty plaque reads: ‘This horseblock was erected by desire of the Duke Of Wellington 1830.’

  • The mounting stones are on Waterloo Place, just south of Pall Mall and outside the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, St James, SW1Y 5ER. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Green Park.

For a post on the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park Corner, read A monument to victory, grand park entrance and an upset Duke: History behind the Wellington Arch.

For more Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via photopin cc

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Avenue restaurant review: Classic British dishes in arty, contemporary surroundings

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Dine in arty, contemporary surroundings at Avenue in St James

Avenue is a refreshing destination on the London dining scene – a venue for fine dining situated in airy, contemporary surroundings without the stuffiness you often get at other establishments in the same price range. I recently booked a table for five on a Saturday night to celebrate my mother’s birthday. Located in St James, just off Piccadilly, it’s just a few minutes walk from Green Park tube station. The restaurant is situated right on St James’s Street, with large windows giving you a view of inside from outside. Although we were a little late due to transport issues, it was no problem for the friendly staff who showed us to our table. We were given a large round table near the back so had a good spot away from the busy bar and were able to see the contemporary artworks hanging out the walls surrounding us. Avenue was built in a former bank so has high lofty ceilings, letting in lots of light during the day, but providing plenty of space for the low lighting, which gives the restaurant a relaxed, cosy vibe. The service was incredibly friendly and our waiter was quite the joker, making us laugh on many occasions.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Yummy: Loch Var smoked salmon starter (left) and Valrhona chocolate fondant (right)

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Traditional British grub: Pollock and chips

The menu is seasonal British fare, with mains ranging from £14.00 to 29.50 for those fancying a Fillet Steak. However, my party had booked the Evening Standard offer (normally available Jan-Feb and Aug-Sep) so had a choice from a set menu for either two or three courses including a glass of wine for £15 or £20 respectively. The deal was incredibly good value and the set menu was actually a lot more extensive than you would get on typical deals like this. For starters, I opted for Loch Var smoked salmon, marinated onions, potato & horseradish cream which was a light and refreshing appetizer. For mains I had the battered day boat pollock, triple cooked chips and tartare sauce – essentially a posh fish ‘n’ chips. Unusually for an English person, I’m not mad about fish ‘n’ chips, but enjoyed the dish. It was filling, but not too heavy. One of my party opted for the generous portioned Avenue burger, St Gall, English mustard and chips and thought it was delicious. For dessert, we were torn between the choice of four different puddings so decided to order three and share them between our party. We each sampled the banana sticky toffee pudding with rum & raisin ice cream, Yorkshire rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream and Valrhona chocolate fondant with yoghurt ice cream. They are all absolutely heavenly and if I had to choose between the three, I wouldn’t know which one to plump for as my favourite. My party opted for the white wine on the set menu – the Piemonte Cortese from Italy which was a light, crisp and went down easily, so we ended up ordering a bottle during our meal.

  • Avenue restaurant and bar, 7-9 St James’s Street, St James, London SW1A 1EE. Nearest tube: Green Park. For more information and booking, visit Avenue’s website.

Avenue Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Torn for choice: A trio of puddings – banana sticky toffee pudding with rum and raisin ice
cream, Yorkshire rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream and Valrhona chocolate fondant with yoghurt ice cream


For contents of all Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, visit our reviews page.

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