This week I’ve discovered London’s equivalent to Diagon Alley! Ok, so there are no spell shops or wandmakers, but Lancashire Court in Mayfair is a hidden gem, packed full of exciting nooks. The narrow alley is home to several restaurants and bars, including Mews of Mayfair, and The Mayfair Pizza Company – both of which I was lucky enough to visit this week.
Mews of Mayfair
I went to Mews of Mayfair the night I returned from the Edinburgh Festival. I was on a complete come down from all the excitement of Fringe, and was feeling anything but well. As soon as I sat down at the table, I asked the waiter for a pile of tissues, and sat sniffing at the table, looking rather sorry for myself. But of all the places I could have gone to cheer myself, Mews of Mayfair was a great find.
The atmosphere was lovely. I wasn’t on a date – I was meeting a friend, but we both immediately commented on how relaxed the restaurant was. It has a distinguished air of class but is approachable at the same time. The setting would make for a great first date location, because it’s tucked away, and there’s an element of excitement as you head down the narrow alleyway, and then slip into a shop doorway, and up a beautiful staircase. If you don’t know (I didn’t!) a Mews is a row of stables or carriage houses, which traditionally had living quarters above them. Therefore all the restaurants in Lancashire Court are tucked away up on the first floors, while on the ground floor are a variety of beautiful and unique bar areas. Even if you don’t have a date to explore the Mews with, I would recommend it for girly drinks – we sat tucked on a quiet table near the bar, with a great view of the room, but there were larger circular tables, perfect for groups at the centre of the restaurant.
We started the evening with a glass of champagne, and it was to die for. We continued on with rather fussy, random selections from the menu. My friend combined two meals, I picked Lobster Mac & Cheese (a side order!) for my main – spot the one feeling ill! – but the waiter didn’t flinch, and brought us our random selections of starters and mains without question. The sommelier was great – neither me nor my friend know a great deal about friend, so we put our trust in him, simply describing what we wanted to drink, and all his choices were great.
I rounded off the evening with one of the best Eton Messes I’ve eaten in a long time. And as I sniffed over my dessert, the waiter came over with a complimentary lemon and honey drink! Some of the best customer service I’ve ever received in London. It’s my birthday next month, and I’d definitely consider the Mews private room on the top floor as a venue – it’s beautiful! The walls are lined with old maps of the world, and is again another hidden gem of Lancashire Court.
The Mayfair Pizza Company
Rather taken by entire Mews area, I returned to Lancashire Court a few days later. This time I visited The Mayfair Pizza Company. Again the restaurant is tucked up on the first floor, with a beautiful spiral staircase leading up from the alleyway. If you’re looking for a low key, but beautiful, date venue, then The Mayfair Pizza Company is a classy, yet affordable, alternative to a high street Italian chain. You could grab a drink beforehand in one of the bars on Lancashire Court, and then head up for a simple, but well executed meal.
All the food was presented really well – we ate calamari out of beautiful wooden cones, and shared loaded potato skins stuffed with mushrooms and chorizo, before taking our pick from the lengthy pizza menus. They had a Bloody Mary speciality pizza, which neither me, nor my date, were brave enough to try! But I settled for a really yummy goats cheese and pancetta pizza, and was a huge fan of the fact the Prosecco is served in carafes! My kind of restaurant!
I finished the evening with a popping candy-topped rich salted caramel and chocolate cup – crazy rich, but really divine, and the popping candy made me feel like a big kid.
Again, the decor was beautiful. Despite being in Mayfair, the atmosphere is relaxed and accessible, yet stylish. One wall of the restaurant is covered in shelves of champagnes and Italian food ingredients.
Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
If you work in the City and are looking for an accessible rendezvous point for a mid-week date after work, look no further than Chiswell Street Dining Rooms. A few minutes walk from Moorgate Tube, the Dining Rooms almost come at you out of the middle of nowhere.
The Dining Rooms boast both a cocktail bar, and a large, modern restaurant, making them a great choice for those dates which you want to start with a drink, before deciding whether to have dinner or not … (Yes boys, I know a lot of you date like that!).
We sat tucked in a corner towards the back of the stylish Dining Rooms, with a great view of the restaurant. It was a Thursday night and the restaurant was buzzing, but one of the great things I noticed early on was how easy it was to talk. Often the acoustics in a busy restaurant can be tough, but it was really easy to have a conversation, whilst still appreciating how popular our surroundings were.
I started with oysters, which came out looking incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such well presented oysters! And, they came out with three different sauce options, perfect if you’re a bit of a wuss with spice like I am!
After my oysters, I opted for half a lobster and chips. The lobster came with a gravy boat of garlic sauce, which was the perfect accompaniment.
You can tell I’m an old hat when it comes to dating, because I never really worry what I eat, or how messy it is. But actually I’ve come to realise that eating something a bit different or complicated can actually be quite a good ice-breaker or talking point on a date.
Yes, oysters can be a bit tricky, but you can use an oyster fork, if you don’t want to tip it straight into your mouth. As for the lobster, as I’ve mentioned before, I think the nutcrackers are a brilliant date ice-breaker. I’ve always useless with the nut crackers, so it normally gives my dates the opportunity to showcase their cracking skills!
(Maybe one of these days I need to get an etiquette expert in to write something for the blog … though maybe I won’t ask them to dine with me in the process!)
The food at Chiswell Street Dining Rooms was brilliant. Really well presented, and top class, but not too snobby or inaccessible. I think if you’re looking for a date venue to impress someone, it’s important to find a venue which is not just classy and upmarket, but where you can also relax, and that certainly describes the Dining Rooms.
I finished up my evening with Prosecco (no surprises there!) and a divine Vanilla and Honeycomb Mess with Calvados Apples – hands down the best dessert I’ve eaten in London, and that really is saying a lot!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx