You know that feeling when your feet are aching, arms are heavy with bags and you cannot remember what you still need to buy? That longing for orderly calm and a reviving drink amongst the Christmas madness? Well, treat yourself to an indulgent respite at one of the below before sallying forth again, refreshed. Here we highlight the London restaurants to visit while Christmas shopping.
5 London Restaurants To Visit While Christmas Shopping
Canton Blue, The Peninsula
Ah, the quiet professionalism. The lightning quick service. The soft murmurs as aromatic teas or reviving bubbles are placed on crisp linen tablecloths. The deep carpets. All so far away from the noisy crowds outside. Appropriately, the beautiful décor is inspired by transport; the Keying junk, a three masted Chinese trading ship which sailed between its shores and Britain in the 19th century. Walls are covered in Chinese porcelain and ceilings depict celestial navigation maps. But I think eyes will mainly be on the delicacies which arrive on your plate. Start by sharing some Dim Sum, the steamed scallop dumplings and the Xiao Long Bao are both sensational but save room for the Peking Duck. A gleaming, glossy bird carved to perfection and served with pancakes et al. Here they even do a second serving of it, deep fried with barbecue sauce and black sesame.
1 Grosvenor Pl, London SW1X 7HJ, peninsula.com
Mount Street Restaurant
Mount Street Restaurant captures the essence of London’s culinary history, provides a taste of its traditional classics from dishes of smoked eel to lobster pie, and weaves impressive art and design through its rooms, making it one of the most exciting lunch spots in town. There are oysters, of course, and a melt-in-the-mouth omelette Arnold Bennet. There is a game, ham and goose liver terrine and a white onion soup with rarebit on toast. There is venison brought down from the highlands and Dover sole from the seas and to finish you can even have a devilled kidney omelette. As much a gallery as a restaurant, surroundings are unique from the Broken Floor by American artist Rashid Johnson of Palladian mosaic to Andy Warhol’s Lobster. There are pieces by Lucian Freud including a Self-Portrait: Reflection and A Plate of Prawns and a wonderful Henri Matisse of Éperlans (Smelts). Dazzling.
First Floor, 41-43 Mount St, London W1K 2RX, mountstrestaurant.com
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square
You could just sample Nobu’s signature dishes of Rock Shrimp Tempura, Miso Black Cod and Yellow tail Sashimi with thinly sliced Jalapeño peppers and be more than happy, but you could also explore what is a seriously good menu, alongside their range of Sake, of course. Try the Toro Tatare with caviar (in fact take two), the Wagyu dumplings with spicy ponzu or the Umami Chilean Sea Bass. Finish with a selection of Nigiri and Sashimi. This is food that leaves you feeling utterly satisfied and yet not uncomfortably full. Perfect for a pit stop between shops. You could even order a Bento Box but part of the pleasure is to take time out and savour the flavours before returning to the throngs on nearby Oxford St.
22 Portman Square, London W1H 7BG, london-portman.nobuhotels.com
Claridge’s ArtSpace Café
Hidden away in Mayfair’s Brook’s Mews, Claridge’s Art Space Café delivers a feast for the eyes as well as the body. Start by exploring the current exhibition in the vast gallery downstairs (Like Paradise, curated by Ekow Eshun, where artists of colour explore natural landscapes) before settling down in the elegant space designed by renowned British architectural designer John Pawson. A communal marble table and a patisserie counter are surrounded by small tables from which you should order the Croque Monsieur or the ham, Gruyère and fried egg galette or the Caesar salad or prawn and avocado sandwiches. The sweet-toothed will be in seventh heaven with the Nutella and hazelnut crêpes, and the many pastries and cakes such as the Peanut and chocolate Paris-Brest. Save room though for the Claridge’s Crest Cake with lemon and strawberry and if you have run out of Christmas gift ideas pop round the corner into Claridge’s itself where their boutique could have the answer.
Brook’s Mews, London W1K 4HR, claridges.co.uk
The Aubrey, Mandarin Oriental
Unless you are shopping at the weekend, when brunch is the order of the day, The Aubrey, recently voted London’s best Japanese restaurant, needs to be your port of call at the end of your day, but where better to shop than Knightsbridge. Start with a reviving cocktail from the Omakase menu, which draws on Japanese ingredients, accompanied by some moreish edamame. Then try the Wagyu gyoza or Japanese prawn tempura. Choose from the vast sushi and sashimi menu; the kombu-cured turbot with truffle and yuzu is not to be missed and the asparagus, avocado and black garlic maki is also delicious. Carnivores should choose meat from the robata (pair it with a side of miso-glazed aubergine) but seafood lovers should order the lobster and Hokkaido Uni Fried Rice. Take time, between mouthfuls, to admire the many pieces of Japanese art which, illuminated by soft lighting, imbues a pleasingly exotic atmosphere.
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, theaubreycollection.com