It was one of those grey, wintery days. The rain was drizzling in that particularly damp London-ish manner, but it didn’t matter. Inside Evoluzione at Hotel Xenia in Kensington, Shikha and I had a tabletop full of Italian sunshine.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Hotel Xenia (An Autograph Collection Hotel), but my thoughts and terrible puns are all very much my own.
Behind the traditional Kensington facade lined with meticulously trimmed, fairy light-filled box hedging, there is an oasis of Italian cuisine. The kitchen at Evoluzione is headed up by Michelin Star awarded Italian Chef Andrea Angeletti, bringing his distinctive flair to Hotel Xenia in the Autograph Collection.
I have a rather naughty habit of extending my birthday well past 24 hours. Initially it was stretched out to 36 hours – using the excuse of expat time differences.
Then, it became a weekend, which was still fairly reasonable. A few years later when I turned 30 it extended out into six weeks (I blamed the Mandarin Oriental hotel for their refurbishment works schedule) but I’ve since reeled it back into a very reasonable week(ish) of celebrating.
We tumbled out of our cab like thirsty gazelles, doe-eyed and excited to be leaving London for the day. We were having lunch at Coworth Park with one of our favourite people in the world – that fabulous Sophia, accompanied by her Mum, Polly, the English rose who has transplanted herself to the desert sands of Doha.
We get to see them whenever we sneak over to their corner of the Middle East, or more often when they comes home to see their family. They kindly makestime to see us, her internet family, and each time we seem to visit somewhere even more beautiful (our cosy day at Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire, sipping wine overlooking the river bend in Windsor, brunch at the Ivy, or our first lunch at Kettners).
A good restaurant is the alchemical combination of so many factors. A.Wong Restaurant in Pimlico (and soon to open in Bloomberg Arcade) seems to nail them all – the delicate delights that Andrew Wong and his team serve up even had Jay Rayner writing a sonnet.
Why? The dim sum lunch menu is stellar. A.Wong Restaurant is in the pretty humble, but slowly emerging Wilson Street, Pimlico, just behind Victoria Station, tucked amidst old man pubs and a few mini-chain restaurants that punch above their gastronomical weight too. Each time I’ve been, I’ve fallen in love with dim sum all over again.
I adore Marylebone. I spent nearly 5 years working in an office there before launching my freelance business and to say I love the area is an understatement. So, when I was invited to try the First Table services, I had to choose the new Boxcar Butcher & Grill – any excuse to visit my favourite area in London.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of First Table, but my thoughts and terrible puns are all very much my own.
Boxcar is tucked away just behind Marble Arch Underground station, within a clutch of boutique businesses on New Quebec Street. It’s an area where quality is king, full of discerning local foodies – and we were excited to try out their hearty menu.