Fay Maschler Recommends: Locanda Locatelli
After leaving northern Italy, Giorgio Locatelli worked at two-Michelin-star Laurent in Paris, then made his name at Knightsbridge's Zafferano. In February he opened Locanda Locatelli, where innate talent honed and lifted by the French experience is expressed in an unusually subtle repertoire. This is a place to indulge in the full four courses, starting perhaps with mackerel fillet wrapped in pork belly with saffron, testing the pasta with red-onion-stuffed tordelli with Chianti sauce, moving on to duck breast with sautéed broccoli and spelt, and finishing with an intricate dessert like fondant of almonds with milk ice and apricots. Although the restaurant is sleek and sexy as well as fashionable (among the first to visit were Madonna and Tony Blair—at separate tables), Locatelli is a family man and wants his locanda to be your home away from home. Dinner, $90. At 8 Seymour St.; 7935-9088; fax 7935-1149.
A Grand Clubhouse
Home House is a private club in one of the most beautiful houses in London, built in 1776 by Robert Adam with superb carved-plaster wall and ceiling ornaments. The sweeping central staircase and many of the 18 rooms are very grand (the Patricia Portman Suite has 18th-century Chinese wallpaper; the Lady Islington Suite has a fourposter, lilac-strewn wallpaper, and a lavish marble bathroom straight out of Pompeii). But staying here is advised only if you don't need a lot of service (such as swift checkout, since it often coincides with the onrush of lunch guests, overwhelming desk attendants). Madonna apparently lives nearby and uses the spa. The house was also the site of Paul McCartney's bachelor party, an occasion that gave this private place a more public spotlight than it seeks. Membership, $1,120 to join plus $1,120 per year. Rooms, $500-$1,850. At 20 Portman Sq.; 7670-2000; fax 7670-2020.
Margaret Howell does classics—well-tailored trousers, the perfect white poplin shirt—better than most. Her new loftlike shop and photo campaigns shot by Bruce Weber have stirred interest in her unpretentious and flattering clothes for men and women. A certain curator I know has a closet filled with Howell's flat-front trousers in fabrics like moleskin and gray wool twill. The sweaters, hand-knit by Marion Foale exclusively for Howell, are generous and inviting ($460). These are beautifully made clothes that satisfy the senses. At 34 Wigmore St.; 7009-9009.
Design mavens who've seen it all head to Mint for original ideas. This curiously hip home-furnishings shop has an eclectic mix of decorative accessories, modern classics, and limited-edition art as object certain to impress even the cognoscenti. You might, for example, see a '50s kitchen chair decoupaged with roses by Sabine Bürk ($690); mouth-blown glassware based on a German medieval design by Bollen ($25-$55); an icon of the '60s, Pierre Paulin's cowhide butterfly chair ($2,380); leather slippers by Maiko Dawson, fit for a Buddhist priest ($130); and knitted felt blankets in jewel tones for the organic modernist ($445-$1,000). At 70 Wigmore St.; 7224-4406.
Fay Maschler Recommends: Orrery
At Sir Terence Conran's Orrery—a stylish upstairs room in London's second Conran shop, overlooking the garden of St. Marylebone parish church—chef Chris Galvin understands the virtue of simplicity and lets impeccably sourced ingredients speak eloquently for themselves. His schooling in French technique is apparent in dishes like red-pepper-and-cod brandade with olive croutons; fricassee of mussels, clams, and fine herbs; and duck confit with Sarladaise potatoes. Among pastry chef David Gingell's offerings: mango-and-pineapple brochette, with the fruits also rendered as jelly and sorbets; and "palace of chocolate," the king of confectionery fashioned into fondant, mousse, and parfait. Dinner, $155. At 55-57 Marylebone High St.; 7616-8000; fax 7616-8080.
Making the Right Connections
LUCY ABEL SMITH This art historian and Sotheby's consultant arranges visits to usually inaccessible private art collections throughout Britain and can organize an art-centered itinerary ranging from a day in London (where her contacts among contemporary-art collectors are particularly strong) to two weeks in Scotland. Dinners with collectors, writers, or artists can be arranged. Call 1285-750-888; www.realityandbeyond.co.uk.
WILLIAM BARTHOLOMEW PARTY ORGANISING Thinking of hosting a fête while in London? Go the way of Madonna, who used Bartholomew for her Scottish wedding. Though he'll do wacky if asked, he's more the man for a good old-fashioned posh English do. And he keeps his lips sealed on client names, even for some of the biggest occasions on the social calendar. $ Call 7731-8328; www.wbpo.com.
Bloomsbury | Fitzrovia
The Long Bar at Ian Schrager's Sanderson Hotel (50 Berners St.; 7300-1400), which is also home to Alain Ducasse's ever-so-chicly-casual restaurant franchise Spoon+, is where all of London's hip-pest private parties are held. Gwyneth Paltrow is a regular. Of course, collecting your lavender martini means jostling with the fashionably self-conscious as well as dealing with the intimidatingly hip staff—and the noise meter can be out of control.
Founded in 1921 by a posh Scottish spinster, this prim and proper British institution—staffed by well- spoken, reliable women—provides domestic staff by the day or hour, from cooks and housekeepers to someone to pick up a passport or take your child to the Millennium Dome. Rates start at $12 per hour. Call 7738-8937.
Your Own Private Cinema
Best place to watch a movie: In one of the orange leather seats of the sharp, media-centric Charlotte Street Hotel's private screening room. They'll slip a DVD in for you to watch on your own if the room isn't already booked by one of the nearby movie studios. You might even preview an upcoming theatrical release: The studios sometimes send films over to get guests' reactions. Rooms to ask for: one of the two idiosyncratically decorated penthouses. Rooms, $300-$810. At 15 Charlotte St.; 800-553-6674, 7806-2000; fax 7806-2002; www.charlottestreethotel.com.
Albrecht Durer and His Legacy, at the British Museum beginning December 5, will be a rare opportunity to see more than 200 of Dürer's drawings, prints, woodcuts, books, and engravings. These fragile masterpieces, five centuries old, can be shown only for short periods for conservation reasons. Special treats include rare watercolor landscapes of Bavaria and the Alps, two astonishing early self-portraits, and the iconic Praying Hands (from the Albertina in Vienna). The show's single painting—a jewellike picture of Saint Jerôme—is on loan from the National Gallery; don't miss the spectacular apocalyptic night sky on the panel's reverse. Great Russell St.; 7323-8299.
Meatless in London
Q. MY FRIEND'S A VEGETARIAN. WHERE CAN WE GET REALLY INTERESTING FOOD?
A. As some castes of Hindu have been vegetarian for thousands of years, it's little wonder they have the most sophisticated vegetarian cuisine on the planet. Rasa Samudra (5 Charlotte St.; 7637-0222; $70) re-creates light and aromatic South Indian home-style vegetarian cooking (mild curries like the yogurt-mango moru kachiatu, elegantly spiced vegetable stir-fries) in the heart of London, and also has Keralan seafood dishes. The Admiralty in Somerset House (The Strand; 7845-4646; $100) and Roussillon (16 St. Barnabas St.; 7730-5550; $110) in Pimlico have excellent vegetarian menus as well.
Regent's Park | Hampstead
"The apple cake at the pink, Polish Primrose Patisserie [136 Regent's Park Rd., Primrose Hill; 7722-7848] was the ruin of me when I used to write books there."
—NOVELIST HELEN FIELDING
The Doctor's Couch is In
If ever there was an iconic object of its time, it must be the couch of the father of psychoanalysis. Look for it in Vienna, and you will find a replica. The original is in a 1930s villa in Hampstead where Sigmund Freud spent the last year of his life, having narrowly escaped arrest by the Nazis. Stop by the Freud Museum (20 Maresfield Gardens; 7435-2002) to glimpse the couch on which many a case study unfolded. It's in his consulting room, preserved as Freud left it, with his books, photographs, and more than 2,000 archeological objects bursting from shelves and Biedermeier cabinets. Don't miss the doctor's own home movie. To complete the Mitteleuropa experience, walk up Fitzjohn's Avenue to Louis Patisserie, a 1950s Hungarian tearoom ($ 32 Heath St.; 7435-9908).
"Being at Lord's Cricket Ground [in St. John's Wood] with a glass of Champagne and tea sandwiches on a sunny day in summer is pretty much the height of bliss. I especially like when England plays Pakistan or India, and you have the English Victorian element and then the raucous Asian crowds."
—PATRICK NEATE, WINNER OF THE 2001 WHITBREAD NOVEL AWARD
For the equivalent of New York's Om Center, make a beeline north to Primrose Hill's Triyogav. While the teachers, headed by the revered Simon Low, are first class, it is the space most of all that inspires. The two airy studios, with white walls and floors and colored-glass windows, were conceived by fashion designer Matthew Williamson—all very chic, understated, and nothing like the overincensed yoga centers that otherwise afflict London. Classes are mostly walk-in (from $14). At 6 Erskine Rd.; 7483-3344; www.triyoga.co.uk.
A gem of modern architecture for animals, the Penguin Pool at London Zoo in Regent's Park was designed in 1934-35 by architect Berthold Lubetkin and engineer Sir Ove Arup. This double helix of cantilevered white concrete ramps provides a theatrical runway on which the dapper birds can strut their stuff like Antarctic Fred Astaires. Regent's Park; 7722-3333.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.