Tag Archives: nightlife

Sea Containers

Mondrian has arrived in London!  A familiar name we all know and love. For me, the brand conjures memories of an epic stay in Miami celebrating Art Basel many, many moons ago. This one is decidedly more Southbank than South Beach, but sits proudly on the water, the mighty River Thames. Housed in part of the old Sea Containers building, the new hotel has an understated nautical theme, and vibrant river views from its new ground floor restaurant.

We went to check it out on a blazingly bright afternoon for lunch.

Sea Containers From Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge Treacy Black Felt Hat

Sea Containers Dining Room

Sea Containers Dining Room Crest We Serve

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

There’s quite a bit of seafood on the menu, which is no problem for me! We ordered a selection of starters, then shared a chicken and a sea bass.

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep's milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep’s milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with  charred lemon vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with
charred lemon vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass  with citrus, salsa verde

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass with
citrus, salsa verde

Sea Containers Lunch Apple Pie

The desserts were great, and they even let us order a crème brulee off menu.

Sea Containers Lunch Creme Brulee

Sea Containers Faces

Sea Containers Faces Smiles

The sun was setting as we finished lunch (damn you, winter days!), so we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar, Rumpus Room, for the view – and ended up staying a little bit longer than planned.

Rumpus Room Signage

Rumpus Room Area

Rumpus Room Bar

With unobstructed views across the pulsing heart of London’s business and financial district, the rooftop terrace is no doubt going to be a popular al fresco destination this spring and summer. Have fun, people!

Rumpus Room Outside Rooftop Bar

Rumpus Room View

Rumpus Room View Rooftop Thames

Rumpus Room Drinks Table

The drinks were impressive (aka exceptionally strong) and before we knew it, we were all a bit sozzled.

Rumpus Room Drinks

Rumpus Room Rooftop Silly face

The only thing I would say if you visit Rumpus Room (and you aren’t expensing it to the bank you work for) – check your itemized bill before paying. The service is attentive and pleasant, but they definitely added extra items to our check that we didn’t order. Other than that, go forth and enjoy!

Dinner & Dancing to a London Beat

“What have I missed?” is my first thought whenever I return to London. I immediately want to make up for lost time. So I didn’t miss a beat hitting the town on Saturday night.

First item on the docket: some honest British nosh. And for that, it doesn’t get more genuine than English celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge. The concept here is to redefine the identity of British gastronomy, reinventing historic dishes with Heston’s molecular tweaks. Ensconced in the ruby-red decadence of the private dining room, we got stuck in with some classics.

tab table table7

Two signature plates are the Meat Fruit and the Tipsy Cake. The Meat Fruit is an iconic dish that dates back to Tudor times. Blumenthal’s interpretation of it translates to the richest, silkiest paté – disguised as a tangerine in a dimpled orange gelatin complete with a stem and leaf.

Meat Fruit (c. 1500)

Meat Fruit (c. 1500)

Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

table3

Spicy Pigeon (c. 1780) | Ale & artichokes

Spicy Pigeon (c. 1780) | Ale & artichokes

table5

The Tipsy Cake is a cushy brioche bun soaked in alcohol and served with spit-roasted pineapple. It is probably one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted.

Tipsy Cake (c.1810) | Spit roast pineapple

Tipsy Cake (c.1810) | Spit roast pineapple

After a scrumptious dinner, we all spilled into a pair of black cabs and rumbled down the street to Ruski’s Caviar and Vodka Tavern. Like a plethora of London’s themed nightclubs, it’s contrived. Blatantly so. It’s a pastiche of a Soviet Russia theme. Supposedly, there’s a thoughtful Art Deco-ish design in there somewhere, but you’d never find it through all the fog machine haze hanging in the air. The place is absolutely steaming – from the unventilated smoke of sparkler fountains, from the dank basement humidity, from uncorked teen spirit.

But the music is great – and it’s thumping through the whole place, and everyone is energetic, so you get swept up in all the furor.

And you drink a few potent shots delivered in a Russian space helmet.

And you dance!

rusk rusk2 Rusk3 rusk4

rusk5 rusk5.5 Rusk6 rusk8 rusk7 rusk11

It was an excellent evening partying with my comrades.

London, it’s good to back.

From Russia with Love

I have been forever curious about life behind the red curtain, being such a long-time admirer of Russian art, food, and culture. I have always associated Russia with its pre-Soviet history so full of splendor. A few years ago I worked on an exhibition of Kremlin treasures and was bowled over by the lavish diplomatic gifts exchanged between the Russian tzars and Iranian and Turkish ambassadors in the 16th and 17th centuries. These days, London is full of Russians and it’s no secret how over-the-top and ostentatious they can be – I was expecting lots and lots of glitz and bling. So I packed the most dazzling designer frocks I could rummage from my wardrobe and grabbed my passport for Moscow!

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I arrived at Moscow Domodedovo in the afternoon and went for a quick post-flight snack at a breezy terraced Georgian restaurant, Jonjoli in the Tverskaya district. Got hooked early on the signature dish, khachapuri – doughy bread filled with suluguni cheese.

jonjoli4 jonjoli3 Jonjoli1jonjoli5

After a quick change, my friends and I headed out for an evening at Manon, a cafe/restaurant that morphs into a club when it gets late. River views of Moscow glittered in the pale pink evening glow, as we sipped bubbly at our cushy sofa table on the terrace.

Mahon1

Mahon2

Mahon5 mahon3 Mahon4 Mahon6 Mahon7

We finished dinner and arrived at Soho Rooms just before midnight. This was an opulent night spot dotted with glittering bars, lithe lingerie-clad models swaying solicitously in the window wells, and a house singer grooving on stage in the main room as gold ticker tape showered from above.

Soho1 Soho2

The vodka was flowing, the music was passable – it was just the crowd that put me off a bit. Lots of leering men making little to no effort to disguise their creepiness, and gobs of young, beautiful, single women in the prime of their lives looking utterly miserable. The resounding attitude here was overtly misogynistic, and frankly, I was disappointed. When I go out, I want to look around and see everyone around me throwing their heads back with laughter, tossing inhibitions aside – not judiciously surveying one another for a mutually beneficial arrangement. Ewww!

Counting on Day 2 of this city to be a little bit more enlightening, or I’ll be back in another heartless bar like this surrounded by the same numb Moscow mules…