When the sun is shining, there’s nothing nicer than a lazy lunch alfresco, says Sam Rogg. Better still, you don’t even have to prepare your own picnic, as all the hard work has been done for you
This month’s dining options include posh picnics, a restaurant in Damien Hirst’s new art gallery and a taste of Morocco.
‘O my! O my!’ says Mole about the contents of a ‘fat, wicker luncheon basket’ in the British classic The Wind in the Willows, first published in 1908. In the book, the author Kenneth Grahame is, of course, referring to a picnic, one full of cold meats, cress sandwiches and ginger beer. Flash forward to 2016, and much has changed for Britain’s traditional summer pastime, though many of Mole’s favourite fillings still remain. Nowhere is this tasty evolution more visible than in London, where picnics are aplenty this month and, best of all, they come ready-made.
When The Arch London hotel’s Hunter 486 restaurant launched its ‘Best of British’ menu last year, it was met with acclaim. Developed with Henrietta Green, author of Food-Lovers’ Guide to-Britain, the menu also features Posh Picnic Hampers. Enjoy smoked-salmon sandwiches, homemade crisps, poached chicken, macarons and Champagne – best enjoyed in nearby Hyde Park (from £45.50; Great Cumberland Place, W1H 7FD).
Think picnics can’t be luxurious? Think again. At Dukes London, a boutique hotel near Buckingham Palace, your picnic comes with butler service and a linen table-cloth-cum-picnic rug, so you can feel like royalty. After escorting you to your chosen spot in nearby Green Park, the butler will lay everything out then leave you to enjoy your feast. Choose from three menus, including vegetarian and children’s options. Freshly made dishes include poached salmon, piri-piri chicken and a sublime broccoli, pine nut and avocado quiche. Thick wedges of artisan cheese and elegant desserts are kept chilled in a cool bag, alongside an optional bottle of Champagne. When you’ve finished, just give the hotel a call and the butler will reappear to pack everything up (from £35; St James’s Place, SW1A 1NY).
If you fancy a picnic by the river, then look no further than The Butlers Wharf Chop
House. Inside its rustic hampers you’ll find meat or vegetarian sandwiches, a cheese platter, crudités and dips, plus strawberries and cream, served on the terrace overlooking the Thames (from £35; 36e Shad Thames, SE1 2YE).
Can’t wait until lunchtime to start your picnic? You don’t have to at the Charlotte
Street Hotel. With its selection of croissants, muffins, sandwiches, granola bars and fruit salad, the hotel’s Breakfast Hamper is sure to get your day off to the right start (from £40; 15-17 Charlotte St, W1T 1RJ).
Most picnics require ordering at least 24 hours in advance.