The 2013 Adventure : London Edition

20130606-150159.jpg After a weather related delay at JFK we made it to London Heathrow smoothly. Virgin Atlantic made the grade. The taxi ride was incredibly slow and long. We never got an explanation for the heavy traffic. Perhaps rush hour lasts longer in London., but my guess was a accident. 20130606-150130.jpg20130606-150307.jpg We chose Firmdale Hotel’s Covent Garden Hotel again, as we enjoyed our stay with them on our last visit. Our early arrival was not a problem, they immediately found us a room which we sorely needed as the T-man was nodding off in the taxi. A tea tray was sent up with lovely little blueberry muffins. One impressive thing about the Covent Garden hotel is the room service turn around. The order had always been right and in our room within 20 minutes, sometimes as fast as 15. We all took naps and I made the T-man and I an afternoon tea reservation at Brasserie Max – the hotel’s restaurant, while Jack ordered the bacon, chicken, avocado sandwich from room service. Afternoon Tea at Brasserie Max was a great success. We had a Traditional and Champagne Tea to try them both. A lovely presentation and well crafted sandwiches, scones and lovely pastries. Jet lagged we were hoping to make a late dinner at 9pm, but we were all hungry early so we went to Moti Mahal early. It was a short walk, and would have been even shorter if we had successfully mapped it out first. 20130606-150052.jpg Moti Mahal The food at Moti Mahal was great, What impressed me was the attention to the small details of the spicing. It was obvious there was care taken with the creation of each dish. We had their equivalent of butter chicken, lamb biryiani with raita, tandoori prawns and a morel/pea curry with a chef’s selection of bread. The condiment/enhancement plate had cucumber, tomato, onion, curry, salt, fresh cilantro, lettuce,lemon, tiny radishes and a pod of some sort. It was not only beautiful on the table but a lovely idea. The t-man enjoyed a non-alcoholic cocktail of sparkling water, lime, fresh mint, cucumber and elderflower syrup. Bottom Line: Good! We might try the tasting menu next time. 20130606-145833.jpg

The Goring – Afternoon Tea After the disappointing tea at Claridges, on our last visit, it was down to the The Goring or Brown’s Hotel for this one. The tea had no complaints. Sandwiches, pastries and scones were all great. T-man’s favorite was the elderflower macaron. We had a blend of the Bollinger and Traditional Tea. The lovely yellow china is showing some wear. I think the biggest disappointment was the staff who didn’t seem to be on top of the mark. The location is also questionable. They have a few tables inside but six of them are on the terrace and while the garden outlook is lovely on a windy – less than 70s day, it was cold. The bottom line: Good but you don’t need to make a pilgrimage.

Restaurant Story Fabulous dinner at Restaurant Story in London. Make a reservation while you still can… Full review here. 20130606-150325.jpg20130606-150334.jpg

Dinings 24 Harcourt St. A tiny place. with a tiny sushi bar upstairs and maybe 8-10 tables downstairs. The menu is Japanese tapas with a sushi/sashimi menu, We had the mushroom and a salmon miso soup, Courgette flower/asparagus tempura, Toro 2-ways special. Crab, lobster and salmon tar-tar tacos, Wagyu beef steamed buns, and tempura crab futomaki roll. No complaints. Definitely try something off the specials board. They were very accommodating making up a favorite roll for our young diner. I appreciated the organic unfiltered apple juice on the drinks menu.
Bottom Line: We’d go back, but perhaps not rush back – although I think I liked the dinner more than Jack, and would be happy to return anytime.

Green Man & French Horn A Loire Valley themed restaurant from the creators of Brawn and Terrroirs. We chose the breakfast radishes, oysters to start and Turbot and the Shared grilled lobster for two as mains. The wine list holds some older vintages but the prices are daunting.
Bottom Line: The food was lack lustre. Our memory of a fantastic dinner at Brawn overshadowing what could have been a great meal; but simply wasn’t. The wait staff were friendly, but slow to the mark. Dinner dragged.

Hedone Mini-review here

Entertainment: One Man Two Guvnrs
We purchased tickets in advance that included Oscar Wilde Room tickets. With no idea what that means we notice a door with the name on it and enter – it takes us down a hallway to the theater. We still have no clue. Turns out that we missed the door in that hallway which leads downstairs to a private lounge. The bar is open (we had champagne) and the lounge has a private toilet. Despite the full theater we are the only guests that night so we have the place to ourselves and the attendant comes for us at half-time. Such an unexpected treat!

Shakespeare’s Globe – A Midsummer’s Night Dream
We sat in the upper floor and next time would like to be in the middle gallery. Our section was bay D which a good this time of year. Some the middle sections of all gallery floors were in full sun for part of the performance.

St. Martins in the Field – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Lead Violinist Ofar Falk was fabulous.

Victoria & Albert Museum
definitely get your tickets in advance, online. We went to see the special Tudor exhibit which was disappointing. We later ended up in the regular jewelry and theater/costume areas which were far more interesting.
The British Museum
Rosetta Stone, Lewis Chessmen and a great Babylonian Assyrian collection. Good egyptian. Worth planning a part day. We had lunch in the cafe/cafeteria and it was a fine choice.
The London Eye
Fast Track will cost you but will save you time depending in the lines. It cuts you way ahead in the line. Saved us 20-30 minutes on a not too busy day. I was skeptical but the Eye is fun and stress free (unless heights are an issue)We enjoyed it much more than the Tower. It would be fun to try in the evening sometime.

Covent Garden Hotel wrap up:
One morning cigarette smoke woke us up. Smoking is not allowed in the hotel. The solution was to put a deodorizer/air cleaner in the hallway. It was rotten luck, but a miserable few days of walking though that hall. The room is small for the price. The shower tiny and no shaving mirror. One elevator was out of order fir two days (there are only 2 and the staff use them as well). The battery in the cordless phone kept dying on us. Despite the flaws of this stay, the location is good for covent garden, room service is great and I like the feel and decor of the hotel.
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Shopping:

Covent Garden &
Seven Dials Area Shops
Harvey Nichols
Liberty of London
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