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heraldexpress.co.uk

Thursday, June 20, 2013

HERALD EXPRESS

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Walkies Odie of Sensible Dogs on his travels

HERALD EXPRESS

HEX-E01-S3

Thursday, June 20, 2013

heraldexpress.co.uk

Don’t miss a note... listings updated daily heraldexpress.co.uk/travel

Travel

Travel A visit to London opens a world of possibilities. PAUL GREAVES checks in at 45 Park Lane and gets a taste of America at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant

CUT above the rest and worth a visit for special occasions LOVELY WALK: Quirky, right, and his pal at Bovey Heath

Battle site has ponds to play ‘throw a stick in’ Bovey Heath

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HAT lovely weather we have been having. I hope you have all been putting your doggy sun screen on! I have to make sure the humans are wearing it as it is so important for them, and they keep forgetting. I took them on a lovely walk the other day. I thought they needed a bit of culture and history, so I decided to bundle my brothers and sister in the day van and barked directions to Bovey Heath at the humans. This is rather an unusual place to get to and lies at the back of Heathfield industrial estate. You take the second turning on the left as you drive up Battlefield Road, then continue down this road until you see an area of ground slightly off to the left that you can park in. This was the site of the Battle of Bovey Heath during the Civil War, which took place on January 9, 1646. In World War Two, it was also used as a site for training American troops. I love it here as the walk is as long as you want it to be but there are little ponds spotted around that you can get the human to play ‘throw a stick in’ and, of course, I have to swim out and get it. The area is also a place of Special Scientific Interest, although I’m not sure what this means in doggy language. Perhaps it is good sniffing ground? Bovey Heath is another great walk to take your human on. Woof, Woof

NAME: Odie AGE: 3 WORKS FOR: Sensible Dogs JOB TITLE: Second in command/pack moderator HOBBIES: Leaf chasing/ catching splashes of water www.facebook.com/ SensibleDogs

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ND lo it came about that we were sitting in the CUT restaurant at 45 Park Lane in London’s Mayfair eating wagyu beef. And behold, it was very good. Well, what else are you going to do on a Friday night? CUT, you might know, is the first European venture for Austro-American super-chef Wolfgang Puck. It is a modern American steakhouse for the well-heeled and highrolling. Wagyu beef is the product of those clever/ funny Japanese who rub beer into the hide of their cattle to produce a marbled effect in the meat and an empty effect in your wallet. They also play classical music to relax the beasts. Although the uncomprehending animals have yet to produce much beyond some atonal mooing of their own their flesh is highlyprized due to the care of its production. 45 Park Lane is, well, I’ll tell you about 45 Park Lane. One word of warning, those of an ascetic disposition should probably stop reading now, likewise those with an aversion to gratuitous displays of enjoyment and gluttony. The hotel opened in autumn, 2011, as a smaller, contemporary counter-weight to its big sister hotel, The Dorchester, a short distance away on the edge of Hyde Park. If they choose to, the opposing doormen can blow kisses to each other across the concourse. On leaving, the desk manager asks me which of the two I prefer. Off the top of my head I don’t have an answer. You may as well ask a wagyu cow if it prefers Monteverdi or Kylie Minogue. It depends on your mood. Actually it’s more like comparing two beautiful sisters. One — The Dorchester — sophisticated and spendthrift but prone to outrageous acts of skirt lifting. The other, relaxed and modish but with a touch of youthful insecurity. First we’ve got to get there, which means a journey of three-and-a-half hours with South West Trains from Exeter St David’s to the capital. For an extra £10, Elizabeth and I have chosen to travel first class. Being a man of the people I’m slightly uncomfortable with the choice but if it keeps me away from the riffraff then so much the better. It isn’t really worth it. The trolley-man tells me he is sans sandwich — as we like to say in first class — until Salisbury because that’s where the fridge gets on. I know they have fridges west of Salisbury because I’ve seen them before. It’s a long journey with not much to see. For the record, Tisbury wins the graffiti competition with a sub-Banksy stencil of a man in a hood holding a rifle and shooting a man in a suit. A poster shouts ‘Fight Prejudice’. I know how he feels. I just want a sandwich. London — you can move between worlds here just by crossing a square or entering a door. I am about to do that now. The suite we occupy overlooks Hyde Park through 11 windows. It is stupendous. I count 29 paces from one end of the room to the other. I could laugh out loud at the scale and style. A dining table for six, three-piece furniture, two large Bang and Olufsen TV screens,

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LUXURIOUS BUT TASTEFUL AND RELAXED: An executive queen room at 45 Park Lane

FIRST IN EUROPE: Wolfgang Puck and David McIntyre, executive chef, at Cut at 45 Park Lane marble and chrome bathroom, his and her wash basins, a bar, second WC, and a Matthew. You’ve never had a Matthew? Well, Matthew is the chap who shows us to our room and tends to our needs. He is on-call via the room’s four touch-screen digital intercom portals which control everything from room temperature and light brightness to the blinds. I investigate the room’s iPad. A collection of songs. Let’s choose ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd. Elizabeth shouts that she’s found a third TV screen concealed behind the transparent mirror in the bathroom. ‘Get away’ I sing. The rooms at 45 Park Lane are modern rather than ornamental in style with geometric motifs and vivid contrasts of copper and black. The tones are softened by ambers, chocolates and creams. It’s luxurious but tasteful and rather relaxed. Each of the rooms have a view over Hyde Park. There are original works of art and bespoke furniture and linens. I find a yoga mat in the wardrobe and quickly put it back. If you want a spa — well, some people do — you can use the exceptional facility at The Dorchester. By the bath sits a menu. If I ask, Matthew will run the water for me and fill it with frankincense while placing aromatic candles about the room. Golden elephants will transport me to the tub while he sings an aria. Only the last bit is made up. The best compliment I can pay is that the room feels as if nobody has stayed in it before.

‘CUT at 45 Park Lane is the first of his branded herd to make it to Europe. The letters are big, the flavours are bold and prices high’

STREET SCENE: The exterior of 45 Park Lane Of course, I am wrong. Actually, I know who stayed in my room before I did. Mr Al Khalifa Sheik did. I know this because his name appears on my bedside digital intercom as the occupant. This explains why the TV in the bedroom is set to Arabic. If this ghost in the machine turns up in the night we’ll both have to budge up the bed. Bar 45 has a black granite and amber elegance. One cocktail becomes two. The waiter is friendly and informative. He gives Elizabeth a Forbidden Kiss — Hendricks Gin, Fresh Raspberries, Rose Elixir, Lemon Juice. Our table at CUT is by the window. It’s better to be looking out of a place like this than looking in and I wouldn’t give a dime to be anyone else but me tonight. Wolfgang Puck is something of a superstar in the USA and is the regular caterer at the Oscars ceremony. CUT at 45 Park Lane is the first of his branded herd to make it to Europe. The letters are big, the flavours are bold and prices high. I choose an unremarkable buffalo

AMERICAN STEAKHOUSE FOR THE WELLHEELED: CUT at 45 Park Lane

CAPITAL ATTRACTIONS: The Shard and Tower Bridge London

mozzarella, pancetta, and figs to start followed I can’t fault its preparation but if you get the by a wagyu ribeye weighing in at £85 and 8oz chance order it rare rather than medium rare. (sans sides). I wish more than anything to get another go at it. Elizabeth starts with a Dorset crab and lobster ‘Louis’, spicy tomato horseradish, and After pronouncing herself too replete for follows it with a 6oz wagyu/angus fillet sweet, Elizabeth gets a second wind and mignon. produces a spoon at the arrival of my coconut ‘Bounty’ almond cake, with chocolate ganache A Louis the waitress tells us was any style and coconut chocolate chip sorbet. favoured by the old Sun King himself. It’s the sort of sneaky and frankly greedy Long live the king, I say. And keep the sanstrick I might have seen coming. I tell her she culotte of my complimentary cheese sticks. has brought shame on her children and silverBeing a wagyu virgin, I blunder before haired mother but she starts reaching first base. It really is to growl like a lion at the kill. a sensitive beast. I overpower I mention how beautiful she it with a rich bordelaise looks tonight and give some sauce, egged spinach and ground. WHY NOT SHARE THE bone marrow. It wants to hear The next morning we take EXPERIENCE WITH OUR Clair de lune but I’m playing WEBSITE READERS? breakfast and watch the it Never Mind the Bullocks. It Upload your videos and pictures London day unfold outside. is extremely tender with a to us at I’d recommended one of the delicate unctuous quality American-themed dishes — rather than the rich beefiness buttermilk pancakes or beef you might be used to.

HAD A GREAT HOLIDAY?

hash cake — if your digestive tract can take the assault. I feel cosseted and serviced, embraced and tickled under the chin. It costs £470 for a room and £2,400 for a suite, so clearly I should do. It is by any normal standards absurdly expensive but also a stunning place to visit. Besides, you don’t need me to tell you how to spend your money. For a special occasion — an important birthday or anniversary — you should think about it. One thing I can guarantee is that, unlike some more established hotels, you won’t feel like a second class citizen who’s stumbled into first class. The atmosphere is relaxed and amiable. The staff are courteous and engaging, and the service personal without being intrusive. I tell the desk I won’t be able to make it every Friday but I’ll look through the window and wave the next time I’m passing.

RELAXED AND MODERN: 45 Park Lane


A travel feature written by Paul Greaves  

Hotel review and feature article of 45 Park Lane including CUT restaurant by Wolfgang Puck

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