London part II – Mayfair

The best money can buy in Mayfair

The thing I like most about London is how inclusive it is for everyone who wants to be a part of this city. As soon as you get rid of your guide book, buy yourself an Oyster card, start walking fast and at the same complain how slow tourists are you are practically a Londoner.

To help you decide if you want to become one we are taking you for a little trip through Mayfair and Soho– despite being located next to each other there are no other places more different than these two.

Mayfair used to be a place were I took all my visitors for a London tour (before I discovered Marylebone of course). it’s usually quiet, empty and clean so perfect for a nice Sunday walk. My favourite spot is Shepard market where apparently Mayfair actually started. It looks a bit like a little village hidden among the district’s more splendid buildings. I don’t really like many restaurant or bars there (though both pubs Ye Grapes Public House and the King’s Arms are perfect for a glass of something stronger and Britain’s favourite sport – watching rugby on TV on Saturday afternoon) but it’s a perfect place for a walk.

There is a small French style bistro at the corner of Sheperd Street called ‘L’Artiste Muscle’– not bad for a small lunch or coffee outside in summer time.

If anyone gets lucky to be there while the Polish-Mexican Bistro is open (never had the chance yet to see it working!) let me know if it’s any good and what made the owners to combine the cuisines.

Mayfair is actually a perfect place if you are looking for the finest dining from Britain’s best chefs. I have managed to try few for you (as much as my credit card allowed me to).

Gordon Ramsey may not have a reputation to be the nicest man on earth but he is still one of the best chefs London has ever seen. I have been attracted most to his restaurant at Claridge’s Hotel on Brook Street. It is luxury, glamor, a bit art deco and the food is, of course, amazing. If you want to see Gordon or his chefs at work book yourself a chef table situated in the kitchen and enjoy a menu designed especially for you.

Claridge’s itself is a wonderful place, one of London’s institutions and its best hotel. I once stayed in their 211 Suite, just next to 212 one which was declared a part of Yugoslavia by Winston Churchill so that Crown Prince Alexander, the heir to the throne, could be born on Yugoslav soil. According to legend, Claridge’s staff placed a clod of Yugoslav earth under the Queen’s bed during her labour.

Maze, another of Ramsey’s places (10 – 13 Grosvenor Square, which is actually nice itself with a little park), is famous for its tapas style dishes and the most incredible service you could imagine. It was the first restaurant of this kind in London I have visited and the occasion was quite special as well – celebrating Marta’s time in the city. We were both pretty amazed with absolutely everything there. Starting with decoration, waiters appearing in perfect order in perfect time out of nowhere, and finishing with the little jars they use to serve coffee sweets (somehow they became a part of Marta’s collection of beautiful objects; don’t ask how it happened though! And don’t tell Gordon!). The chef at Maze has recently changed so I think it’s time to visit it again! I have recently had a pleasure to meet

Michel Roux Jn, another symbol of Mayfair culinary scene. Dinner at his two Michelin star Le Gavroche (43 Upper Brook Street) was one of the best food performances I have ever experienced. With even 8 members of staff serving us at a time, dishes miraculously appearing as soon as you thought about them and the atmosphere of the restaurant heaven. This is a place which claims to have changed and developed British cuisine. Well, I guessed it helped that the owners brought their ideas from their native France ;)

Michel Roux has recently opened a new restaurant at Parliamentary Square. 6 starters, 6 main courses and 6 desserts served by the poshest waiter I have ever seen (I think he must have attended Westminster School which is just around the corner), carrots are apparently ‘heritage’ and the cheese chosen by the owner of La Fromagerie personally. If I add that lunch menu is under £30 there is no excuse not to visit.

At the edge of Mayfair, at Heddon Street (a little oasis off busy Regent Street), there is my favourite Moroccan restaurant owned, as everything in this part of London, by a celebrity chef – Mourad Mazouz. Born in Algieria he came to London from Paris to introduce eastern way of cooking for the British public. Momo makes you feel like you are indeed somewhere in Morocco. And the food is excellent. The most delicate couscous you have ever had, the best tangines, the most tender lamb… Everything finished with sweet mint tea and Arab style sweets.

For coffee with finest Belgian chocolate check Leonidas café at New Bond Street (made our London top 5 espresso places list) and then you have nothing else to enjoy but shopping at this ‘dangerous’ street ;)

London Part I

London Part III