London has always been my favorite city, so I was pleased to be able to be there for four days last week. Happily, I was able to spend some time with my friend Tony Page who, in my opinion, is the finest Caterer on Earth. He happens to be Kosher which makes it all the more remarkable. His standards for food, beverage, and service are so far above any other Caterer I know that it’s almost worth having your event in London so he can cater it. Over the years many people have urged Tony to open in New York but London simply demands too much of his attention; however, if the event is large enough you might be able to coax him to do it. Believe me, it would exceed anything you can get here.
London seemed very grimy to me this trip. Even though it was the depth of February the City was extremely crowded. Construction is rampant, so if you have fond memories of what London was like you better hurry before it’s all changed. We stayed at The Lanesborough which was completely redone a year or so ago. It is superb, really surpassing all expectations. You could do well to check-in and never go outside. Should you venture out you will find some disappointments.
London black cabs, unquestionably, the finest in the World are no longer all black. They, in many cases, have been painted the most hideous colors imaginable; usually advertising something. Really a shame. The drivers are still great but the cars have become another blight on the landscape.
The restaurants are a mixed bag. The River Café was terrific and actually warrants the hike to Hammersmith. Really super cooking with excellent service. Lunch at Wiltons, London’s most traditional restaurant, was excellent with one major exception. The young hostess who was as unaccommodating as a plague, she marched us to the furthest table in the absolute worst room in the restaurant and insisted it was the only table available in the Restaurant. That was patently absurd since almost that whole room was empty! When I asked about one of the many tables in the main part of the dining room she insisted they were reserved. Finally, a senior manager intervened and we were promptly seated where we requested. Upon leaving, the same young lady gave us our coats. My Wife, as usual, couldn’t find her gloves. The hostess informed her it was not her problem and she could speak to her manager. Perhaps instead of being paid this hostess compensation is allowing her to be insolent to customers. Nevertheless, the food is what it should be but seldom is, in a classic London Restaurant. Ignore the Hostess and go before Wiltons too is History.
The Ritz now has Michelin Star to go with what is unquestionably the World’s most beautiful dining room. The whole hotel is a Masterpiece Theater fun park. The Staff is outfitted in a livery of a bygone age; unfortunately, the guests are not, and the uniforms are in some cases ill-fitting. The hotel does strive to enforce a dress code by banning sneakers in the dining room and requiring jackets and ties for men. Possibly this is the last place on Earth to do it. It fits into the atmosphere and as you glance out onto the green park you can pretend World War I hasn’t happened yet. The food is a bit more modern but excellent. There is a comic opera feeling to the whole experience which is delightful.
On the other side of the culinary coin, we went to lunch at a highly regarded Italian Trattoria in Soho called Bocca di Lupo. I hated it, our waiter acted as if he was mentally disturbed. The food was good but not worthy of the reverence they seemed to think it deserved. A carafe of House white wine gave me a splitting headache which forced me to miss my Birthday dinner at Annabel’s; still is the world’s finest night club.
We flew Virgin Atlantic premium economy the greatest travel bargain there is. Comfortable seats, attentive service, almost edible food, separate check-in, and boarding all for a little more money than steerage. Amazing!