London Restaurant Festival 2018: One City’s (Delicious) Top Picks

Nicole T Raleigh

The London Restaurant Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, partnering up with American Express for a culinary revelry that sees some of the most taste bud-tantalising and appetite-satisfying (not to mention most exclusive) establishments in the capital take part. If, however, the list of choices becomes overwhelming – what with 60 programmes to choose from this October (such as “Restaurant-Hopping Tours, Gourmet Odysseys, Chef-Hosted events, Eat Art and Ultimate Gastronomic Weekends) and over 250 specific festival menus to select from (yes, 250!) – then, fear not: One City is here to help. With the majority of events having sold out quickly, these are our top City-based picks from those with tickets still available.

1. Eat Film – Departures (16th October @ 7.15pm)

Celebrating a few of the best Japanese films of all time (including “Spirited Away, Ring, Departures and Jiro Dreams of Sushi”), the event has turned out to be so popular that it has mainly sold out (with a limit of 35 people per showing). That is, except for remaining tickets for Departures. The screening is preluded by “a delicious Bento Box from Miyako (voted top Japanese restaurant in 2017 in London by Forbes Magazine) and Asahi beer”. Furthermore, your cinematic theatre for the evening is the Masonic Temple within the 5-star Andaz London Hyatt Hotel. Ideal for couples, singletons, and anyone with a keen eye for film and a keener palate for good food. Cost £37.

2. Gourmet Odyssey – Discover East End (27th October)

London’s own version of an urban gastronomic road trip, with none of the Kerouac/Beats style struggle. Three different courses at three different restaurants, and a champagne reception and wine to accompany each course, travel is to be facilitated between venues by grace of “an iconic heritage Routemaster bus”.

One of the last remaining experiences, Discover East End will include a champagne reception at Rakes, a French morsel of a starter at Club Gascon, a main course at Moorgate’s Angler, and dessert at Tower 42’s very own City Social. Cost £93.

3. Ultimate Gastronomic Weekend – A “Michelin-starred'”Weekend (27th-28th October)

Staying in the luxury five-star Andaz London Hyatt hotel on Liverpool Street, this “Michelin-starred weekend” includes its own version of the “Gourmet Odyssey” (see above) on the Saturday. Think, a trio of highly acclaimed restaurants over a luxuriously languid luncheon (the Angler, Club Gascon and City Social); think also, wondrous London skyline views.

The evening permits a private book-signing with two Michelin-starred chef, Simon Rogan (in promotion of his new volume, “Rogan”) as well, before a return to the Andaz. Originally “opened as the Great Eastern Hotel in 1884 and one of London’s original railway hotels”, its stunning Victorian redbrick structure is sure to induce a sound sleep.

Sunday, on the other hand, begins (as every good Sunday should) with a slow and hearty breakfast, after which you’ll venture out of the City to Harrods’ food halls for some gastronomic exploration. Said exercise should see your appetite return just in time for lunch at the marvellously decadent two Michelin-starred Bibendum, with a chance to meet the famous chef Claude Bosi to boot. Cost £375 (pricey, but oh so worth it!).

New Term, New Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Nicole T Raleigh

October might veritably be the month of Keats’ season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but in academia it’s also the start of a new school year for both those beginning and those returning to tertiary study. The case is no different for talented attendees of London’s own Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but what does mark a change from many other institutions is its schedule of performances for public enjoyment, offering recitals of musical brilliance from students and professionals alike. Here are One City’s top picks for the month ahead:

1. Hansel and Gretel (A nightmare in eight scenes) – 12th October @7.30pm, Milton Court

Hans Christian Andersen might have recorded the famous fairytale, but this Goldfield Productions reimagining is a mighty touch creepier. With poetry by Simon Armitage and chamber music by Guildhall professor Matthew Kaner, the puppetry and animation is overseen by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and puppeteered Jan Zalud. A “sinister fable for our times”, please note the show is suitable only for those aged 12 and over. Tickets cost £15 (£10 concessions).

2. Guildhall Consort & Baroque Orchestra – 15th October @ 7pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Directed by Eamonn Dougan (of The Sixteen) and Pavlo Beznosiuk, the evening presents the considerable talents of the Guildhall’s “elite vocal consort” together with the school’s period instrument orchestra. The focus of their programme is Polish Baroque music, aiming to delight the audience with samples from 17th Century composers such as Bartłomiej Pękiel and Marcin Mielczewski. Highly interesting and not to be missed. This is a free admission event.

3. Guildhall Jazz Showcase – 23rd to 25th October, Milton Court Studio Theatre

The big draw in this three-day exploration of Jazz is the Jason Rebello Trio on the 23rd at 7.30pm (always an amazing aural experience), but each day between approximately 11am and 5pm the Guildhall’s own Student Combos can be heard, offering a sampling of the up-and-coming next generation of Jazz artists; tomorrow’s future stars. Furthermore, Wednesday presents Curated: An Evening with Iain Bellamy (supported by Malcolm Edmonstone on piano, Jules Jackson on bass, and Andrew Bain on drums) from 7.30pm, and Thursday evening closes the showcase with a full Faculty recital. Tickets cost £15 (£10 concessions; £5 Young Barbican tickets available for the Bellamy concert).

4. Songs at Six & Verlaine Songs / Debussy Centenary – 29th October @ 6pm & 7.30pm, Milton Court

If 20th Century French music tickles your fancy, then head along to Songs at Six at the end of the month. Curated by Bretton Brown, the Debussy-celebratory repertoire for this first recital of the evening includes the composer’s most romantic output, “from youthful infatuation to autumnal yearning”. The first in a two-part series marking the centenary of Debussy’s death, it will be followed by something rather special (if poetry is your thing). Setting the work of Paul Verlaine to the music of Debussy, and curated by Iain Burnside, the second recital of the evening also combines the talents of Guildhall postgraduate singers and pianists. Admission is free to both.

RSC’s “Macbeth”: Eccleston and Cusack Plot Masterfully Sinister at The Barbican

Nicole T Raleigh

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: / Hover through the fog and filthy air. So chant Shakespeare’s three witches at the beginning of his infamous psychological thriller, Macbeth; an apt phrase these ever more gloomy autumnal nights in October, often that familiar City fog accompanied by a typical British rain (though hopefully the polluted air isn’t too ‘filthy’ these more environmentally conscious days we’re living in; round of applause to the cyclists and fervent pedestrians among you). Nevertheless, what better a choice of indoor entertainment than the RSC’s production of that great tragedy of the Bard’s dramatic repertoire this month at The Barbican?

But it’s not just the ramblings of The Weïrd Sisters that lures audiences in, of course, but rather the choice of cast for one of ol’ Will’s darkest plays. In this run, commencing its London sojourn on 15 October and staying until 18 January 2019, the titular role is taken by Christopher Eccleston, and his scheming wife Lady Macbeth is played by Niamh Cusack. Quite the starry duo (supported by Raphael Sowole as Banquo and wonderfully subtly emotional Edward Bennet as MacDuff), and it is a coupling that marks Eccleston’s debut with the RSC, though is a return for Cusack.

Nonetheless, Eccleston has worked with the producer-director – and former child actor – Polly Findlay (of 2016’s The Alchemist fame) before, in her 2012 production of Sophocles’ Antigone at the Olivier Theatre, so the relationship between director and leading man obviously works well – as does the militarised setting in this very contemporary interpretation.

 

Also known as “The Scottish Play”, Macbeth has seen its paired leading roles performed by some of the biggest names in theatre history when put on by the RSC: Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in 1955; Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren in 1974; Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in 1976; and Jonathan Pryce and Sinéad Cusack (Niamh’s sister) in 1986. Furthermore, compellingly dark as it is, and as given as Shakespeare’s work is to myriad interpretations, Macbeth’s themes of lust for power and bloody revenge never become outdated. Findlay’s talented touch (most recently employed with David Eldridge’s then new play Beginnings, first at the National Theatre last autumn and the Ambassadors this spring) has ensured that.

With music by Rupert Cross and sound and lighting overseen by Christopher Shutt and Lizzie Powell respectively, what really adds to the terrifying nature of this production is the decision to have children play the witches (complete with old fashioned pyjamas and creepy dolls in hand). Double, double toil and trouble: / Fire, burn; and, cauldron, bubble indeed. Audiences in the RSC’s home base in Stratford-upon-Avon relished it. As The Stage put it: “One for the horror film fans…haunting, creepy, eerie.”

Deemed “urgent and wonderfully sinister” by The Evening Standard, tickets cost between £10 and £59.50 (concessions available). Be sure to book early as this is certain to sell quickly.

 

Please also note that the performance contains strobe lighting effects, loud noises, and sudden blackouts.

London Cocktail Week: Top City Venues

Nicole T Raleigh

Is there anything more wonderfully decadent these increasingly chill autumn nights than the prospect of getting ready for an evening out with the knowledge that you will soon be enjoying not only the company of friends or a loved one in a bustling or intimate venue (as suits each taste), but combining that with the addition of an elegant cocktail in hand (whether female or no – not every cocktail is of pinkish hue, after all)? If that tantalises, then rejoice: London Cocktail Week is in the capital until 7th October, culminating a week of celebrating the best in mixology.

Here are some top City venues to pay a visit to before it closes this weekend. Be sure to buy your £10 digital pass (available through the DrinkUp.London app) before you head out, in order to take advantage of £6 speciality cocktails, as listed below. We know where we’ll be this weekend… Cheers!

1. Be at One Monument, King William Street

The digital pass entitles you to the LCW speciality cocktail, Jamaican Me Crazy (Jamaican Overproof Rum, Banana Liqueur, Coffee and Caramel), at this popular chain of City bars (the other to be found in Square Mile locale include Be At One Farringdon, on Charterhouse Street, and another on Old Street in Shoreditch). Jamaican Me Crazy is branded a “more exciting ‘on-the-go’ breakfast”. Oh my…

2. Bread Street Kitchen, Bread Street

Located in One New Change, St. Paul’s, this is a vibrant Gordon Ramsay restaurant and bar. An ideal location for a (pricey otherwise) lunchtime sip or two, your digital pass here provides access to the LCW specially mixed cocktail, Rumbulion in the Jungle (Bacardi Carta Oro, Crème de Cassis, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice and Rosemary Syrup).

3. City of London Distillery, Bride Lane

A lovely after work bar, often referred to as “a hidden gem”, the digital pass permits a choice of two LCW cocktails at CoLD (the City of London Distillery): The Fig Cheese (CoLD Christopher Wren Gin, Fig Liqueur, Lemon juice and Red wine vinegar garnished with a cube of Applewood Cheddar) or the lower ABV Charlie Chaplin (City of London Sloe gin, Apricot liqueur and Lime juice). Sinner or saint? The choice is yours.

4. City Social, Old Broad Street

Think Michelin-starred dining in Tower 42; an atmospheric venue for a less than simple supper. Here, a digital pass enables a tempting taste of the LCW mix Lillet in the City (Lillet Rose Aromatised Wine, Apricot liquor, Homemade Lime Cordial and Peychaud’s Bitters topped with Light Tonic). Classy, a cocktail for those who ooze chic.

5. Demon, Wise & Partners, Throgmorton Street

Another fabulous after work bar, Demon, Wise & Partners is a classic example of a cocktail bar, located beneath The Arbitrager in the City of London’s very heart. This venue offers a trio of specialist LCW cocktails, from the full blown ‘alcofrolic’ The Great Dictator (Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Hayman’s Sloe gin, yuzu juice and apricot shrub), to the lower ABV The Kid (Hayman’s Sloe gin, yuzu juice and apricot shrub) and even a non-alcoholic Twayblade Spritz (Twayblade non-alcoholic aperitif and soda). There really is something for everyone to enjoy here.

 

King William Street Sees Farmer J Join Its Gastronomic Ranks

Nicole T Raleigh

Farmer J – that Square Mile eatery with the (Pitch)Fork emblem – opened a new branch on King William Street earlier this month, so if you’re longing for a “good feed” (as one of its mottos goes) in order to off-set that distinct damp chill of the approaching autumn, then best head over there quick.

Nonetheless, if the five minute walk from London Bridge seems too much, the Leadenhall Market branch is still open and thriving. However, it would be a crying shame to let this fantastic new premises pass unnoticed and unvisited hour after lunchtime hour when still within the bounds of the City. Indeed, the new branch boasts a dine-in dinner menu after 5pm to complement its established daytime Fieldtrays beloved by City workers, too (plus wine and beer and cocktails – oh my! Sensibly accompanied, if so wished, by spiced nuts, pickles, or olives).

 

Furthermore, if in the relative locale, Saturdays will see a brunch menu offered between 9am and 4pm (but the doors don’t close until 11pm). For Farmer J isn’t just for the working week. So, if you awaken Saturday morning with a veritable hunger that your own culinary skills just won’t appease (as many people’s won’t after a late Friday night), then head over to King William Street and decide what you want that will do the job.

Select from Farmer J Classics, an omnivorous list which includes Flank Steak & Eggs, The Shak (Runny Eggs, Radish Chilli Salad, Feta & Laffa Bread; Chorizo optional), The ‘J’ Burger (read: grilled cauliflower steak), and our personal favourite, the Loaded Banana Bread (Warm Banana Bread, Tahini Drizzle, Strawberries and Bananas).

This being that particular decade of the twenty-first century that for some health-conscious reason decided to go crazy for an “alligator pear” – as our neighbours across the pond call them (i.e. avocados) – no brunch menu would be complete without… Avocado on Toast. To this end, Farmer J offers a trio of options: The Classic Avo’ (comes with feta cheese; optional egg on top for a bit extra), Vegan Avo’ on Toast, and Salmon Avo’ on Toast (all in).

For those with a thirst, a nice touch to the drinks menu is Farmer J’s own “Ferments & Juices”, which include Homemade Cucumber Lemonade, Cucumber Kombucha (there’s a theme there…), Citrus Turmeric Juice (yum!), Ginger & Pineapple Juice, and the rather more humdrum orange or grapefruit options. All smoothies come with the option of added whey or hemp protein, and are expectedly healthy sounding (Hale Kale, Berry Blitz, Cacao Power; though Vanilla Ice and Nut Buster don’t bring quite as glowing an image to mind). All of the above are available during Saturday’s brunch hours as well.

 

Seating ranges from cosy booths, to bar stools (and stools in proximity to the door for those who want that “semi-takeout” feel they’re used to), and even communal tables are available for the more socially amenable eaters among you.

Open from 6.30am until 10pm Monday through Thursday and until 11pm on Fridays.

#dowhatcomesnatural