Simms' city: Keeping the winter blues at bay

Our diarist Freya Simms offers her fortnightly reflections on her favourite London haunts…

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street London W1D 7BB

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street London W1D 7BB

January is not the traditional month to be a glutton, but I managed to bag a seat at the table of one London’s current triumphs, the much heralded Bocca di Lupo - a haven of fresh regional Italian cuisine.

It was a new business prospect that provided the perfect opportunity for our guests, Claire (another Musette) and I to indulge in plates of home-made wild boar salami and pecorino rosso, grilled rabbit and a plate of lucky dip bon-bons - four tiny chocolate coated scoops of gelato in mystery flavours and all washed down with a bottle of Gavi di Gavi.

A great lunch and we’ve been invited to pitch for the business so it seems all parties enjoyed it!

Charlotte Street Hotel

Charlotte Street Hotel

The following morning I had a meeting with Jeffrey Boloten who runs Sotheby’s Institute’s semester course on art business (he was persuading me to get involved). The Institute is situated just off Goodge Street, so we chose to grab a coffee in the lovely surroundings of the boutique Charlotte Street Hotel, rather than putting the in-house Starbucks facilities to the test!  

Part of the Firmdale group, it is a great spot for a meeting by day, a romantic liaison by night, even better is the in-house private cinema on Sunday afternoons.  I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a frosty Sunday afternoon and evening than with a classic movie followed by drinks and dinner in hotel restaurant Oscar afterwards.

Goedhuis Burgundy en Primeur Tasting

Goedhuis Burgundy en Primeur Tasting

Mid-January is Goedhuis & Co’s annual, invitation-only Burgundy en primeur tasting.  This year the place was heaving with journalists, private clients and select buyers and there was a steady hum of approval as they made their way through several of the producers. 

Hot off the press is that 2010 is one of the great vintages for red Burgundy. So if you have some money doing nothing in a bank account then buy some fine wine and enjoy the prospect of this liquid asset for the years to come.

Two Guvnors

Two Guvnors

A few days later and I can confidently state that I had THE ‘hot-ticket’ for the season – thanks to the generosity and forward planning of my partner-in-crime Charlotte H-B.

At 4.30pm we played hooky from our respective day jobs and met at the National Gallery to view the landmark Leonardo exhibition. Once we had made the executive decision to head to the pictures, free from the crowds, rather than follow the nose-to-tail brigade - plugged into their audio headsets, we had a wonderful time.

It really was a fantastic exhibition, intelligently drawn together and gave a great insight into Signor de Vinci.

Our next stop was the delicious wine bar Terroirs. It was one of the first places in London to serve ‘natural wines’, but the food is just as good as the 200 strong wine list.

With a menu that runs from charcuterie and cheese, through to bigger plats du jour, such as Baked Vacherin Mont D’Or (oozing deliciousness), served with Noir de Bigorre Charcuterie, New Potatoes and Green Salad - needless to say this is what we tucked into.

Perfectly satiated we set off to the Adelphi Theatre to complete our evening  with Nicholas Hyntner’s play “One Man, Two Guvnors” with the excellent James Corden as well as many other familiar faces including Oliver Chris from The Office and Jemima Rooper. 

Enough has already been written about this play, but suffice to say I hadn’t laughed so much in ages. Buy a ticket if you can.

 Princess Victoria , 217 Uxbridge Road, W12 9DH

Princess Victoria , 217 Uxbridge Road, W12 9DH

The weekend was spent taking in the local delights of West London; from a stroll in Holland Park to buying a supply of pistachio nuts from the excellent specialist ‘Nut Case’ on the way to visit my sisters Louisa and Sophie’s new pad in Shepherd’s Bush.

To celebrate my arrival to their manor I joined them and some friends at one of the best places for a long winter’s Sunday lunch – The Princess Victoria.  

It is definitely more gastro than boozer – although originally it was a Victorian gin palace, but has a great wine and beer selection and even a home-made brew of ginger beer. Even better, they encourage you to park yourself together with the weekend papers at your table for most of the afternoon.

Soho House, 40 Greek Street London W1D 4EB

Soho House, 40 Greek Street London W1D 4EB

Masterpiece London is once again set to thrill collectors and new enthusiasts across the globe when it returns for its third year, to the South Grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea this summer and I am delighted to be working on the event. The inaugural meeting was held at the art fair’s office in the esteemed location of Mallett on New Bond Street.

Heaving with three floors of the finest selection of antiques and a sprinkling of contemporary design pieces from the Meta collection, it was the perfect setting to get the creative juices flowing. Post meeting we were all generously invited for drinks and dinner at Soho House.  Not bad for a client meeting!

Freya Simms is managing director of Gong Muse a Strategic Communications agency for the art and luxury markets and winner of PRCA Agency Campaign of the year 2011.

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