On Thursday we were meant to be meeting our friends Keith and Noreen at the Museum of London, Docklands. Just as we were about to set out they called me to tell me they were having a nightmare getting there, due to complications with the Jubilee Line, so would we be happy just to meet for lunch?
We are always happy to meet for lunch. It is no hardship for us at all!
We agreed to meet them at an Italian restaurant called Da Corradi in Shepherd’s Market, which is a tiny village like enclave in Mayfair. I’d never been to either the restaurant, or explored the area, so I was quite excited.
Before that we headed out to Said, a place we had discovered on one of our late night rambles and had wanted to go back to. It’s a chocolate shop/cafe on Broadwick Street in Soho. It has a branch in Rome, and now this one. The hot chocolate they serve is to die for. It’s so thick you can stand a spoon up in it, and you can get it in all sorts of ways and flavours. The cakes are magnificent, the service is friendly, and the sandwiches they were bringing out as we were preparing to leave looked scrumptious. It is a gem, and well worth tracking down.
From there we found a fabulous comic shop called Gosh, where we spent a good half an hour browsing, before falling round the corner into the newly revamped Foyles on Charing Cross Road. I have to say that it’s a massive improvement on the old Foyles. I love Foyles but that shop was so gloomy, and now it’s light and bright and airy and inviting. The children’s book department is delightful.
We cabbed across town to meet Keith and Noreen and spent a very agreeable couple of hours eating delicious Italian food and talking. They gave us a quick guide to Shepherd’s Market before they left us, and then we went solo, exploring all the little snickers and alleyways, and all the crazy shops like the bespoke gentlemen’s outfitters that will fit you out for all your safari needs.
We walked to Berkeley Square, where we found a fabulous Dale Chihuly sculpture just hanging in mid air on the grass, as you do. Then we wandered down New Bond Street where Oscar sulked because I wouldn’t buy him a Sponge Bob themed bag from Moschino and a belt from Armani. He is a poor, deprived boy.
We cut across Oxford Street through St. Christopher’s Place, stopping off to look at Scandinavian stationery and Marimekko fabrics, before heading down Marylebone High Street for our yearly pilgrimage to Rococo Chocolates where the children blew the last of their holiday money. There is nothing not to love about Rococo. The chocolate is exquisite. The shop is a jewel box and the staff are courtesy itself. It is a pleasure to give them your hard earned money.
After that we just had to go to Daunt Books. Where we managed to find a little more flex in the cards and came out with a carrier bag full of goodies.
From there we walked down through Fitzrovia to Warren Street where we got on a bus to Muswell Hill where we had the most disappointing meal of our stay, at a branch of Giraffe.
Years ago, when I lived in London, there was only one Giraffe, on Hampstead High Street. The restaurant was small and intimate, the food was amazing. The menu changed every few days, and was kind of world/fusion food but good. The breakfasts were the stuff of legend, the staff were lovely, and it became a regular haunt of ours.
In those days I spent a lot of time going up and down Hampstead High Street from the Royal Free to the tube, usually in tears after another miscarriage or disastrous visit to A&E. Giraffe became a place of solace where I could get my head together. My most vivid memory however, is of going for my 12 week scan, pregnant with Tilly and realising that this tiny being inside me was viable. I phoned my parents from the call box outside Giraffe and burst into tears of happiness, and then had a celebratory stack of blueberry pancakes in Giraffe, shaking the whole time, with relief.
Now it is a soulless chain, serving bland food which is so far from what it was originally it makes me viscerally sad. The meal was average, the food was luke warm, the service was poor, despite the restaurant only being half full. Nothing to be done.
A bit of a flat ending to an otherwise perfect day.