Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Billy, Gordon, Nick & The Hens

In addition to popping in and out of taxi cabs to see all of the beauty that London has to offer, like the stunning Carrara Marble Arch on Edgeware Road, Big Ben or the London Eye/Millennium Wheel (casting a gorgeous blue glow at night) I have also had the tremendous pleasure of being situated in Covent Garden, which is London’s theatre district, so the theme of this “gift” trip could informally be known as the Theatre/Feed Her Tour.  I like the theatre and I like to eat.  Equally.  And not always in that order.  Best to feed me before you seat me, as a rule.

On my second day of the Theatre/Feed Her Tour, I had to great pleasure to dine at the Savoy Grill, a restaurant housed in the city’s famous Savoy Hotel.  The hotel is famous partly because of the luminous icons that have graced its lobby over the years – Sir Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor – but also because it was the first hotel to be lit by electricity, have electric lifts, bathrooms in the suites and cascading showerheads.  Say what you will about lesser accommodations of the world, but I think they just might owe a debt of gratitude to the fancy shmancy Savoy for setting a standard we’ve all grown accustomed to (talkin’ to you Motel 6).  Potties in your room and not down the hall?  Well, la-di-da.  Fancy, that.

The Savoy Grill is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, since it has been fully restored to its original 1889 glory, but also the tastebuds because it is now part of the Gordon Ramsey restaurant empire.  The guy may not be known for his delicate savoir faire in some matters, but his Savoy fare delicacies were to die for.  The warm beetroot tart shall linger in my dreams for years to come.  There was also a delightful dish of purple sprouting broccoli with toasted garlic and braised halibut with curly kale and charlotte potatoes and by the time the meal was over I was slightly dizzy from the hypnotic paneling on the walls (which they tell me are covered in “gold leaf backed tortoise shell acrylic marble”) and the multiple sparkling Swarovski crystal chandeliers.  It was like dining in the jewelry box of an angel.  An angel with really good taste and a rocking kitchen.

“We have theatre tickets” is one of my favorite phrases to utter in a restaurant, so that the service will be swift.  The superb staff at the Savoy Grill was right on cue, never letting an empty plate linger or water glass drop too low.  Apparently, not their first barbecue.  We were out the door and in a black London taxi lickety-split, on our way to the Victoria Palace Theatre for the 7:30pm curtain of “Billy Elliot” in the domed building that opened in 1911.  The 12 year old boy in the title role was breathtaking, but I knew he would be since his profile said he’d trained for 23 months for the part.  Wow.  Talk about developing a great work ethic at a young age.  I don’t know what YOU were doing when you were 10, but I wasn’t anywhere close to having that kind of discipline.

Jet lag has left me numb, but this is what I seem to remember about London so far: 

  • Tooling around the city on a double-decker bus tour
  • Purchasing tea towels and over-priced trinkets commemorating the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate
  • Superb seafood dining at J. Sheeky (where the staff was NOT so keen on speed and service)
  • Seeing the play “War Horse” at New London Theatre (it was at this theatre that Andrew Lloyd Weber opened “Cats” — the longest running musical to run in the West End, some 20+ years)
  • Viewing Prokoviev’s ballet “Cinderella” at the Royal Opera House
  • Watching “Love Never Dies” (the Andrew Lloyd Webers sequel to “Phantom of the Opera” at the zen-like, modern Adelphi Theatre
  • Seeing my friend Nick Reeve perform at Piano Soho (where I got to be an interloper in a real, live Hen Party) then joining him after hours in some delightful duets at the microphone with his friend Mark from the UK’s hottest new vocal harmony group The Overtones [http://www.theovertones.tv/]
  • Taking the Underground to Picadilly Circus to the Jermyn Street Theatre to watch the Off West End production of “The Kissing Dance” the musical adaptation of Oscar Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer”

 

I’m exhausted typing this, much less doing it.  But, the smile on my face and the happiness in my heart leads me on to cross each new intersection toward the next adventure (but looking left instead of right to avoid being hit by the crazy, yet polite, lunatics driving the taxis around here).  Good thing these people make a strong cup of tea, everywhere I go.

Tomorrow?  The adventure continues, in Paris.  To forge on, I believe I will switch to café au lait, to keep fatigue at bay.

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