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The UK’s supermarkets have filled their aisles with mountains of chocolate assortment boxes, while department stores are vying for our attention with outlandish window displays and celebrity-strewn television commercials. Meanwhile, London’s drinking and dining scene is also getting seasonal.
There are a multitude of Christmas bar and restaurant offers to explore in London, but here are three interesting twists on the festive theme that I’d specifically like to share:
York & Albany’s Winter Cabin
The cosy, toe-warming festive hideaway pictured above is the pop-up Winter Cabin at Gordon Ramsay’s Camden Town restaurant, York & Albany, near Regent’s Park. It can hold between four and 12 guests and can be booked for two-hour sessions (£30 per hour), from 1pm-10pm every day until January 1 2014. The traditional décor crafted from tweed, holly and oak wood panels gives it a quintessential British Christmas feel. You can also enjoy seasonal snacks and winter cocktails.
Hot Tub Cinema Winter Warmers
Taking their unique style of film appreciation indoors for the winter months, Hot Tub Cinema are screening a range of classic festive movies – including The Goonies, Home Alone, Elf, and Die Hard – from the end of November into December. They’re also introducing two new kooky concepts this season: Hot Tub Karaoke and Hot Tub Speed Dating. £32 single ticket, £192 private hot tub (maximum 7 people).
Sing-a-long Afternoon Tea
For those with a penchant for West End musicals, this is one afternoon tea you will not want to miss. All of the requisite afternoon tea features are there – freshly baked scones, finger sandwiches, cakes, pastries, tea and a superb location in the London Marriott Hotel County Hall adjacent to the London Eye – but at a moderately priced £38, this afternoon tea also includes unlimited bubbly and sing-a-long musical theatre with renditions from Cats, Mary Poppins, South Pacific, West Side Story and Chicago. This event takes place on Saturday 7 December. Song sheets provided; booking essential.
Upcoming Bar and Restaurant Openings
Outside the realm of fake snow and communal cheer, London’s bar and restaurant industry has welcomed a number of new faces that I’d like to introduce to you.
Sixtyone restaurant (pictured above) near Marble Arch is a partnership between Searcy’s (St Pancras Grand, Gin Joint at the Barbican) and Chef Arnaud Stevens, formerly of 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin) and Maze Grill. Stevens’ modern menu features many British ingredients and is available for lunch and dinner. Also worth noting is the 200-strong wine list, 20 of which are by the glass. And on Monday evenings, you can even bring your own wine and expect to pay no corkage. Note the location: this is Christmas shopping territory.
The speculation is finally over. Now that Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant has vacated the premises at Claridge’s in Mayfair, his heir apparent has been chosen: Simon Rogan (pictured above). Rogan currently has a brace of Michelin stars to his name for his L’Enclume restaurant in Cumbria. Rogan’s new restaurant, as yet unnamed, will open in Spring 2014.
Having already made a name for itself in King’s Cross, Simmons bar (pictured above) has now opened a bar in Camden. The venue is already a hit with locals thanks to its era-skipping interior design, late night shenanigans, cocktail creations, weekend DJs – and skull-shaped disco ball.
As new bars and clubs in London go, this must win a prize for the best view. Zinc (pictured above) sits on the 31st floor of Centre Point (that tall grey building at the end of Oxford Street) and you are now free to enjoy its vista, as well as its classy cocktails, opulent furnishings and house music DJs every Friday and Saturday night. Make sure you look the part.
More London bar and restaurant news:
- New Soho night club, Mason House, takes up where Movida left off, in the vaults below the London Palladium, offering multiple levels, VIP areas, and table service.
- Angela Hartnett, the Michelin Star chef behind Murano restaurant in Mayfair – has launched her second venture, Café Murano in St James, which focuses on Northern Italian cuisine.
- The superbly inventive Boxpark in Shoreditch has just launched another food outlet. Bunnychow will serve up the eponymous South African dish, a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry.
- New Zealander Peter Gordon – the supposed godfather of fusion cuisine – is hosting a special dinner at The Providores on 2 and 3 December which will highlight some of the best dishes from his previous menus at The Sugar Club, the 1990s restaurant that made a name for the chef. The six course menu will be matched with New Zealand wines.
- 34 restaurant in Mayfair has opened its new private room, The Emin Room, so-called because the artwork therein was created exclusively by artist Tracey Emin.