DIN­ING AND DRINK­ING

Ekaruna - - A Gentleman’s Guide To -

It took 20-odd years for Lon­don to shed its rep­u­ta­tion as a dull, unin­spir­ing culi­nary waste­land to be­come a Mecca for gourmets world­wide. To­day, Miche­lin-starred chefs are cater­ing to the rich and fa­mous, (Ram­say, Ware­ing, Blu­men­thal, Du­casse, Roux et al?) while a sprawl­ing as­sort­ment of cheap and cheer­ful world cui­sine eater­ies de­light lo­cals and visi­tors alike with the taste of In­dia (Masala­Zone, for in­stance), Bangladesh (restau­rants along Brick Lane), Thai­land (Bus­aba, Patara), Ja­pan (Ja­pan Cen­tre, Waga­mama), Mexico (Wa­haca) and healthy fast food (Leon). As Prime Min­is­ter Macmil­lan once said, Lon­don has “never had it so good.”

But then again, while fash­ion comes and goes, in a city so old, so wide, one mustn’t over­look the in­sti­tu­tions to which gen­tle­men have flocked over the years, and which re­main, to this day, the guardians of a cer­tain spirit, a tra­di­tion, a know-how.

Fort­num & Ma­son, pur­vey­ors of gro­ceries to the royal court, is one such in­sti­tu­tion, fa­mous for its mar­malades and pre­serves; its honey, har­vested on the roof of the build­ing in Pic­cadilly; its teas, some of which were spe­cially for­mu­lated for mem­bers of the royal fam­ily; or its bis­cuits, choco­lates and cakes, in­clud­ing the fa­mous Dundee Cake which Churchill re­fused to sur­ren­der even at the height of the war.

For a more “coun­try­side” mood, jump over the Thames into Bor­ough Mar­ket, where hun­dreds of stalls sell fruits and veg­eta­bles, cakes, bread, olive oil, fish, meat, cheeses, pas­try, pasta and fast food. The on­slaught of scents, sounds, sights and flavours is a treat for the senses, as most prod­ucts on of­fer are grown or­gan­i­cally and served as fresh as they come. No­table eater­ies in­clude Brindisa (ta­pas), Le Marche du Quartier (French), Shellseek­ers (scal­lops), El­liot’s (burgers) or La Tua Pasta (fresh pasta). Please do try to leave room for dessert. And fi­nally, for a drink. Tucked dis­creetly off St James’ Street, the Dukes Ho­tel is an unas­sum­ing 5-star ho­tel which oozes un­der­stated charm and old-world el­e­gance. It is home to the Dukes Bar, a bar with re­strained, club-like dec­o­ra­tion and at­mos­phere (dark wood fur­ni­ture, dark blue leather chairs, light pat­terned car­pet, mar­ble fire­place) that most ho­tel bars around the world try, but of­ten fail, to im­i­tate. The res­i­dent bar­man, an Ital­ian called Palazzi, will ex­pect you to or­der a Mar­tini. You duly oblige. That man is re­puted to make one of the finest mar­ti­nis in the world. And so he should. This is, af­ter all, the bar where Ian Flem­ing sat for count­less hours, dream­ing up sto­ries of one Mr. James Bond, who fa­mously or­dered his mar­ti­nis shaken, not stirred.

Fort­num & Ma­son Depart­ment Store

Above: Bread Stall at Bor­ough Mar­ket Be­low: Waga­mama Res­tau­rant Left: New Spirit Room at Fort­num & Ma­son Right: Leon Res­tau­rant Above: Kot­teri Hakata Tonkotsu Ra­men at Shoryu Res­tau­rant Be­low: Ja­pan Cen­tre Food Store

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