Things to do in London this weekend (June 2 — 4)
London some of the worlds best things in its wheelhouse: museums, art galleries, theatres, hotels, restaurants. It often pays dividends to look at these older establishments and re-evaluate them when they attempt something new.
A case of reinvention? Perhaps not. Reinvigoration? More accurate. In any case it leads us inevitably into the grand arms of some seriously storied locations, parts of town that are often avoided, swarmed by tourists or prohibitively expensive. But examining these institutions (Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Britain and the Savoy to name a few) is a must when, collectively, they are putting on such a show. They’re oldies but goodies, in other words — although that isn’t to say there aren’t some incredibly recent hits making some noise, either.
And so, from newly opened neighbourhood hotspots to 130-year-old bars, here’s everything you should be doing this weekend in London.
The new opening: Ploussard
Casual neighbourhood restaurants feel distinct in London. The distinct boroughs each having its own village-like feel lends itself particularly well to the small and fiercely independent atmosphere of a neighbourhood joint. Ploussard is one new such offering in Clapham Junction, an area hardly famed for its culinary giants. The lamb and anchovy crumpet is deservedly picking up plaudits among London’s food-lovers, but it’s the barbecued calçots with wild garlic and peas which truly is a showstopper — sweet caramelised onions, fragrant and soft wild garlic, fresh-as-paint peas: the dish is a triumph. They do a decidely respectable Martini, too, and don’t rush; what makes Ploussard so appealing is, in its panelled and tiled way, it feels somewhere to go slow in, where a second bottle of wine might be ordered, and where the naughtier stories could come out.
97 St Johns Road, SW11 1QY, ploussardlondon.co.uk
The old(ish) favourite: Ekstedt at The Yard
Nordic plates are often bleak things of minimalism, all concept and austerity. Not so at Ekstedt. Things here are cooked over coals, huge roaring fires bellow from the small kitchen and fill the dining room with the scent of glorious things to come. These involve chef Ekstedt’s classics like the flambdou oyster, a technique involving a kind of cast-iron ladle, heated to about 500 degrees, before beef fat is poured into it, combusting in a literal flavour bomb, then poured over the tender oysters. The knowledge and craft to do these ambitious things, and do them well, is infinitely remarkable.
3-5 Great Scotland Yard, SW1A 2HN, ekstedtattheyard.com
The old(er) favourite: Otto’s
Otto’s French Restaurant may not be old old — the truth is, it got going just 12 years ago — but it is a room and a restaurant from a different time. Not necessarily a time gone by, either: once I get the hang of time travel, I fully expect to skip centuries forward and find it still there, the room still as green and haze-making as absinthe. Arrive, step inside and as the door shuts, London departs; it is always a surprise, at the end of a meal, to discover the city still out there. Otto’s delights in a certain sort of decadence, a deliberate and heartfelt commitment to opulence, extravagance and the constant pursuit of a good time. The eponymous Otto Tepasse is both a showman and a swordsman — witness his way sending lobsters to the other side — while the restaurant’s other director, Elin Hansen, somehow brings both expert order and a devilish sense of mischief to proceedings. But why go now? Well: the restaurant’s famous duck press is back in action, there’s a new starter (Lyonnaise fish quenelle, native lobster and sauce) and a new main (vol au vent, asparagus, morel mushrooms) to try — but mostly because it’s really bloody good.
182 Grays Inn Road, WC1X 8EW, ottos-restaurant.com
The drinking den: The American Bar at the Savoy
The American Bar at the Savoy has as good a claim as any to being the most famous bar in the world. Strange then, that for a while not long ago, things seemed to go quiet for a time. But lately, the noise is at a fever pitch as the American Bar is back in a big way. Since last summer there has been a new head bartender in that famous white jacket — Chelsie Bailey, previously of Happiness Forgets — and last week, the hotel launched both a fresh, updated look for the bar, and a brand-new menu which nods to a past that includes some of the most famous names in bartending (Harry Craddock, Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman, Peter Dorelli, Erik Lorincz). The American Bar Journal, as Bailey has dubbed this menu, seems to be take the past and play with it; take for instance, the Dandy Beau, a Negroni riff the team think Ian Fleming would be likely be drinking in the bar today, were he still around. The Fine and Fancy is particularly good, too.
The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EZ, thesavoylondon.com
The must-see show: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A bold new staging of an erstwhile play can be an intimidating prospect, but such has long been the mission of the Shakespeare’s Globe. Elle While’s production seems to sparkle with playfulness, gently dialled down to a sub three-hour show which the Evening Standard’s Nick Curtis described as “gleeful”, continuing “the Dream is the Shakespeare play I have probably seen most often and am therefore most bored by: so I’m always surprised and delighted when a director shows it to me in a fresh light, as While does.” On until just August, it’s time to scoop up a ticket.
Until August 12, Tickets from £5, Shakespeare’s Globe, SE1 9DT, shakespearesglobe.com
The culture fix: Tate Britain
Like the American Bar, the Tate Britain is too in a league of cultural focal points able to be dubbed a London “institution”. When its galleries undergo a full rehang, it’s time to pay attention and last week, that complete rehang was finally revealed. Tate describe it as “the world’s greatest collection of British art” and it’s hard to argue with that. More female artists are represented than ever before and with around ten percent of the 800 rehung works acquired in the last five years, there is a greater contemporary feel to this once occasionally antiquated space. Turner and Constable fans needn’t fret though, they remain in full splendour, with hundreds of pieces re-homed in their rightful place. As Ben Luke for the Evening Standard put it, “That they’ve reflected a greater richness across the rest of the collection, and tell its story so rigorously, is some achievement.”
Millbank, SW1P 4RG tate.org.uk
The boozy one: Planet Ardbeg Day
You’re the boss of a top-end Scotch brand, and one of your underlings suggests creating your own immersive, mythical, graphic novel as a pop-up. Do you go for it? Well, the powers that be at Ardbeg did — and it went so well they’re bringing it back for a second year. Head to the Light Bar in Shoreditch to play drinking detective: think solving riddles, cracking codes and, of course, doing plenty of Scotch tasting on the journey to help resolve some whisky business with the help of Agent 46. There’s plenty of merch going, bottles to win and three cocktails are included in the ticket.
June 3, tickets £40, The Light Bar, 233 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6PJ, eventbrite.co.uk
The last chance ticket to book: Selim Kiazim at The Sea, The Sea
Chef Selin Kiazim is perhaps best-known for her numerous Great British Menu appearances, as well as two (sadly now closed) London restaurants Kyseri and Oklava. Whilst we await news on her next move, Kiazim is taking over the hobs at Hackney’s The Sea The Sea for a journey around the coastal regions of her native Turkey. Items from the seven-course menu include crab börek, john dory with Turkish morel pilav and köfte with sheep’s cheese sauce and pickled shellfish. Tickets are rightfully scant; a handful remain only for Tuesday June 6, so booking before they go is a must.
June 6, tickets at £125, 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA, exploretock.com
The fitness hit: F45 “Playoffs” and Summer Social
If bench hops, burpees, Russian twists squat presses is your idea of a good time then this one’s for you. F45 have been hosting their ‘Playoffs’ for some years now: ten exercises over ten minutes with a ten grand prize up for grabs. The ten minute time-frame doesn’t sound too gruelling, until you learn F45 have set the punishing Playoffs to be an intense full body challenge. Sign up is all done online and the event itself takes place June 3 in the Richmond athletic ground. Time to get a sweat on.
June 3, Richmond Athletic Ground, Kew Foot Rd, TW9 2SS, f45playoffs.com