Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hidden Gems


London is a big place. A very big place. A friend described it to me as the Victorian L.A in that scores of towns and villages got swallowed up by the cities of London and Westminster. This formed a conurbation that was only made accessible by coach and horses. Seeing that the average speed of travel on the roads of London has remained the same for at least a hundred years (between 7mph and 11mph depending on who you read) it's fair to say that not much has changed.

So, with London being such a big place it's inevitable that you'll miss things. Certain pubs, restaurants, parks, cafes and shops will remain hidden from you. It may be they are in a part of town you never go to, of which there are frankly hundreds. It may be there are ever so slightly off the beaten track, down a residential street or in an odd location. It's the same in any city no doubt, but with London being such a sprawling mess this seems more acute. Sometimes you'll find something right under your nose. Yesterday was a case in point, it came as a bit of surprise to find a rather good cocktail bar on top of the National Portrait Gallery.

We'd gone to see The Face of Fashion exhibition and after wandering about pictures of semi clad young things, including a disproportionate amount of Kate Moss, we spotted the sign for the bar. Being the intrepid seekers of booze that we are, we scaled the 3 floors are were confronted with a rather unique view of London. It's always confusing when you suddenly see the skyline of the city from an unfamiliar angle, so we spent a good few minutes trying to figure out which buildings were which. Then we hit the cocktails. They were pretty good, competently, if a touch slowly put together and the restaurant menu looked acceptable, though pricey.

It is always fun finding that sort of thing, an unexpected spot in the heart of something very familiar and as views go in this city, it was a good one. An excellent first date location if ever there was one or a "nods as good as a wink to a blind bat" recommendation for visitors to the city.


Sam said...

I went to that restaurant about 15 (?) years ago when it first opened, for lunch - also on the spur of the moment after having been to the gallery. For my appetizer I had a honey-dressed artichoke heart which is etched strongly in my memory. I can just about remember who had lunch with, I remember it was expensive but he paid, I don't remember much else, but I guess that artichoke heart was a particularly good 'un.

cookiecrumb said...

Honey on an artichoke?