Our last day or so in London had us walking around a lot – visiting various shops and picking up play tickets to see The Ferryman.
The area round the Apple Store, which I visited a couple of times, was called Leicester Square.
In the center of the Square was a Christmas market that opened while we were there – nice things but we were not in the buying mood.
Also, part of the square, is an M&M Store. This store reminded me of the store in NYC we visited some years ago. The place is 3 or 4 levels with LOTS of M&M stuff. We got some free samples and left.
The Ferryman is a LONG play (3 hours!) so we got tickets for the Saturday afternoon performance. The play is about Northern Ireland, 1981. The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land a a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. Unfortunately a visitor comes and delivers bad news – the brother of the principal star who has been missing for 10 years has been found dead. WE find out a lot about him, his brother, the wife (now widow) and the rest of the doings during a turbulent period in Irish history. Very well done and is being considered the “play of the year” in the West End Theatre world.
Sunday we were off to Heathrow Airport and a flight to Dublin. After we checked in to our Hotel we immediately headed to the local pub – also called The Ferryman for a pint or two.
Sometime ago, I don’t honestly recall, I ran across a listing of the top 50 restaurants in the World. We have had the opportunity to sample several of these (Arzak – San Sebastian Spain #30 and Le Caladre – Rubano, Italy #29) so it seemed fitting to see if we could get a table at The Ledbury in London #27 (Knightsbridge-Chelsea).
Fortunately we were able to get a table for lunch Thursday and settled in for an afternoon lunch of tasting great foods and drinking fine wines. We were greeted warmly at the entrance, given space for our coats and scarves, and shown to our linen covered table.
There are several menus available – a menu providing 3 choices with four courses, a fixed lunch menu and a tasting menu. We opted for the tasting menu with paired wines. This was an 8-course extravaganza with various presentations paired with wines from around the world.
After presenting the menu (both food and wine) we ordered an aperitif (Lilli Blanc) and looked over our options. It didn’t take much convincing for me to get Janeen to agree to the tasting menu (the entire table must take it) so no other decisions were needed at the time. We did have three beautifully presented small bites to help us decide (see Amuse Bouche photos).
The first course of Chantilly of Oyster paired so perfectly with the Austrian Gruner Veltliner, that Janeen knew our chefs and sommelier were about to entice us at every level.
Courses two and three left Janeen in awe of the mandolin skills of the kitchen (such thin beetroot, truffle, ham…) and the pure savory of egg and truffle captured David.
Giving our palate some respite before meat and red wine, we tasted eggplant infused with olive and black tea and John Dory simply grilled with pumpkin shellfish cream on the side.
The suckling pig course, accompanied by a Spanish Tenerife Margalagua, was surrounded by Hen of the Woods, (seemed like mushroom to Janeen) was savory to be sure.
Pre-dessert led David to opt for 5 of 10 choices of cheese with Piedmont sweet wine pairing.
Dessert was followed by a visit to the kitchens, a request we had made on entering.
Although Executive Chef Brent was not in the kitchens, his head Chef, Greg was welcoming and gladly chatted and allowed photo opts, as well as offering us more ice cream.
When we told our wait staff we were headed for Dublin and would like recommendations, they sent over General Manager Darren, native of the city, who printed out food options, pub bests, and sites not to be missed, and explained each choice either as a personal choice, or recommendation of his parents. Lovely bonus.
While this restaurant has only 2 Michelin stars it’s place as number 27 on the top 50 restaurants in the world is well deserved. We had a wonderful afternoon and spent the rest of the day savoring the lingering tastes.
London has the British Museum (Victoria & Albert), National Gallery, Changing of the Guard, Kensington Palace, Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Thames River Dinner Cruise all great activities and some of which we have tasted. However, doesn’t seem like we will be doing any of these on this trip – at least so far!
We arrived via Euro Star Train on Sunday – that evening we saw a play called The Comedy About a Bank Robbery. This is a production of Mischief Theatre Company and they have another award winning production called The Play That Goes Wrong that we saw on Tuesday. Both were very entertaining, especially if you are a fan or “Panto”. The Play That Goes Wrong is in pre-production on Broadway and will be opening soon. During the day we really haven’t done much but walk around and enjoy our stay in Covent Gardens. (David “shopped” and actually purchased things!)
This area of London, Soho, has a bunch of restaurants, bars, shops, coffee places and generally a very active crowd – although mostly younger than us (big surprise).
The Covent Garden (near Dean St.) apartment we are staying at, while in the basement, is quite nice. While there are some things I would change, if it were mine, generally it’s OK. The steps down to the front door do have the potential of being very slick in the rain but there is a strong handrail, so not a problem there really.
On Monday we were able to meet up with a friend of Jason and Terri’s’, Emily who is in town for work. Emily had stayed at our home in Alhambra sometime last spring for a few days and it was neat to catch up with her here for a pint and a meal. When we were here 4 years go, the Sherlock Holmes Pub was discovered right close to our hotel – which happens to be the same one Emily is staying at – so it was fun to swing by again and have a beverage and a dessert of their
Sticky Toffee pudding – still amazing!
The City is getting more decorations all the time for Christmas (remember there is NO Thanksgiving here in the UK in November) and lights are turning on in the evening making it quite lovely. Of course, Tiffany’s, Harrods, Selfridges are bedecked with greens, lights and other sparkle. Lots of construction, renovation, and roadwork making driving in the City a task for professionals.
Sunday and time to leave Paris where all we really did was drop of our car for shipment to the US and organize our “stuff” again to make it easier to carry.
There are several ways to get to London from Paris – you can fly, take a ferry or take the train through the Channel. It didn’t take much thinking about it to decided to take the train and experience high-speed travel underwater!
The Train takes about 2 ½ hours from Paris Gare du Nord Station to London St. Pancras Station. The entire distance is something like 450 Km or around 275 miles.
During the trip we were underwater for 50.5-Km or 31.4 miles and reached speeds of 300 Km per hour (186 miles per hour) or so. It was a smooth uneventful trip and included a lunch with wine! The train was practically empty with only maybe 10 people in our coach.
When we arrived in London, we gathered up all our stuff and headed for a Taxi and a ride to our VRBO apartment in the Soho or Covent Garden area of London. We had booked a nice basement apartment with a living/dining/cooking area a large bedroom and a bathroom with a classic old tub. All the comforts of home and in a great location to explore the City.
After catching an OK dinner at an Italian restaurant we decided it would be OK to try and take in a play, so after a while we walked down to Piccadilly Circus and the Criterion Theatre to pick up a couple of tickets for The Comedy About a Bank Robbery.
The area around Piccadilly Circus was filled with people all having a great time. We walked down the road a bit and popped into a couple of places to warm up. One of them, a very large bookstore, had the first Christmas tree we have discovered on our trip.
The play was a very funny play more in the style of a vaudeville production with lots of funny lines and actions. It was a nice entertaining evening and with all the other plays in the West End I expect we will see another one or two while we are here.