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Autumn 2013 Issue 21 of your FREE guide to everything that is anything in Covent Garden




Autumn 2013

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Autumn 2013 Issue 21 of your FREE guide to everything that is anything in Covent Garden


02 04 30 42 52 56 EDITOR’S LETTER






04—Social fabric Albam co-founder James Shaw on how the brand’s clothes are “made by a person”. 10—Back to the future How Y-3, a wildly inventive, futuristic mash-up of sportswear and high fashion, has taken inspiration from the past. 14—Sharp practises A visit to Sharps Barber to experience being up close to a cut throat razor—and not in a bad way.

30—Peyton’s Place Renowned restaurateur Oliver Peyton asks, why should British cakes and pastries be any less beautiful and refined than their continental cousins? 36—Bun fighter Ross Shonhan of Flesh & Buns confronts the notion that affordable food has to be “rubbish”. 38—Joint venture A beef recipe. 39—Spirit world London Cocktail Week. 40—Messi business Federico Fugazza of Porteña. 41—In favour The hoariest of questions: what is your favourite coffee?

42—Striking a chord Jimmy Hardwick, the legendary pianist at Joe Allen, on the politeness superstars, being name-checked on Desert Island Discs, and taking Rock Hudson to Heaven. 46—Live and kicking The Hospital Club’s new performance space, the Oak Room, opens with a roll call of comedians, cabaret acts, DJs and live music artists to rival any major venue. 48—Growing pains Roots. 49—From the crew room Hunger games. 49—Ealing powers The Ladykillers. 50—Exhibit Forthcoming exhibitions.

52—Hacking scandal The momentous events of 150 years ago that helped turn football into a global sport, but might just as easily have resulted in an orgy of holding, charging, tripping and hacking.

56—Give us a clue A modern-day treasure hunt of cryptic clues, text messages and a half naked man in a park. 60—Special agents Knight Frank.

16—My fashion life Justin Rhodes, co-owner of Elliot Rhodes. 20—Fabled land Aesop. 22—Pure and simple Eileen Fisher. 24—Jean genies Lee Jeans. 26—Outsider trading Arc’teryx. 28—Brazilian wax DJ Limao of Guanabara.

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Useful websites

EDITOR’S LETTER /Mark Riddaway

The pace of change is such in Covent Garden—as fleet as one of those sped-up stop-motion wildlife film sequences, condensing a lifetime into minutes— that sometimes it’s hard for us to drag our attention away from the newest, shiniest, most bracing of arrivals and look instead at the quiet old-timers who continue to plough their familiar furrow, further away from the spotlight. Long before Balthazar, Polpo, Hawksmoor and co turned Covent Garden into one of the best and most varied restaurant districts in the country, the area’s starriest eatery was Joe Allen—and this at a time when stars were stellar and celebrities were worthy of celebration. One of its big draws was Jimmy Hardwick, the resident pianist, tinkling away on the ivories every night with old fashioned courtesy and quiet charisma, entertaining the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Mohammed Ali and Liza Minnelli. Joe Allen is still there, still thriving, and Jimmy is still tinkling prettily away—and boy has he got some stories to tell. One of the lovely things about Covent Garden is that Jimmy is by no means alone. The area is full of businesses, institutions and venerable individuals who have been part of its collective soul for decades and won’t be disappearning any time soon—and they, as much as the next big thing, are what makes this such a worthwhile place to spend some time. Fashions come and go, innovations flare and fade, and that stop-motion sequence keeps accelerating on, but the old tunes still keep playing on.

Editor Mark Riddaway 020 7401 7297 Deputy editor Viel Richardson 020 7401 7297 Assistant editor Clare Finney 020 7401 7297 Advertising sales Donna Earrey 020 7401 2772 Publisher LSC Publishing Unit 11 La Gare 51 Surrey Row London SE1 0BZ Contributers Jean-Paul Aubin-Parvu Joseph Fox Angela Holder Stevie Martin Ellie Rose Spencer Wilson Design and art direction Em-Project Limited 01892 614 346 Distribution Letterbox Printing Warwick

Editor of the Year, Winner 2011 Writer of the Year, Winner 2011 (Viel Richardson) Designer of the Year, Winner 2010

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AT THE BLOOMSBURY HOTEL Thursday 10th October Featuring Julez Hamilton A unique Jazz and Blues songstress whose emotive vocals form her distinct style Thursday 14th November Featuring Russell Shaun With swing music coursing through his veins, he is the ultimate Rat Pack style singer

Doors open at 7pm First session starts at 8pm Sharing Platter and bottle of wine (based on two persons sharing) ÂŁ25 per person For reservations contact Landseer Bar & Restaurant at The Bloomsbury Hotel on 0207 347 1241 The Bloomsbury Hotel 16-22 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3NN

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In a small boutique on Monmouth Street, two men talk: the first, a graphic designer, the second, a financier who loves model boats. They discuss jeans—the best, the worst, the first pair they ever got. They get along famously. They exchange business cards. Later, over 100 miles away, in an old, rusty red mill building in Nottingham, the man behind this curiously understated boutique, James Shaw, who observed the exchange, is explaining to me why such connections happen there. “It’s about making stuff,” he says simply. “They’re both into making, and appreciating stuff that’s well made. It’s something lots of guys are into—whether it’s boats or leaflets or bikes—and once you’re into it, you start to change the way you look at things.” The secret of James’s success was to apply that approach to something such guys spend an awful lot of time in: clothes. The result was Albam, the brand whose first shop opened in 2004 with eight items and no shop fittings—“Creative types would come in and say, ‘I love what you’ve done with this store. It’s so considered.’ We never let on we couldn’t afford furniture,” James grins. There was no back story, minimal designer vision—“We wanted jeans and a white t-shirt, really. Because that’s what guys wear.” It was just James, his initially reluctant business partner Alistair Rae and a nagging belief that things could be done differently, “that good clothes can have great materials, and be well made, and not too expensive to buy in Britain”. The rest is a history of rising sales, trend-setting values and at least some of the credit for the recent surge in homegrown menswear brands such as Farrell, Cro’Jack and Private White VC. Though known for their commitment to British manufacturing, James and Alistair are quite open about the fact that they make clothes in Portugal and Italy now, as well as Britain, and that when they started in the UK, it was more by accident than design. “This

was back in 2006, way before the whole ‘made in England’ bandwagon took off,” says James. “It was a question of, how can we make clothes if we don’t have the money to make them in China and import them?” Having concluded “we must be able to find someone closer to home”, they set out on a seemingly simple mission to find a good local clothes factory. Looking back, James laughs at their naivety. Paralysed by the devastating exodus of UK businesses to offshore production, the remaining factories were highly suspicious of two young entrepreneurs looking to make some t-shirts. “We found people would just shut doors in our faces, they were so sick of companies starting with them, then moving on,” he explains. When their breakthrough came, it was by pure chance. “Alistair’s mum was a dentist. One of her patients was a lace dyer, and we visited her place—it was like something out of the Victorian era—and she said, ‘Speak to Darrell, he makes t-shirts.’ We did, and then through him we met someone who did jumpers, and so on.” From there, James explains, it all started to connect. “The climate for manufacturing has been so difficult that the only people who have survived are either really good or really cheap. The good ones all know each other, so once you know them it’s just a matter of making friends.” This philosophy has informed the Albam approach to—well, everything. James and Alistair became friends during their last year at university, when Alistair punctuated James’s dissertation, and Alistair has been “filling in the details” of James’s big ideas ever since. They’ve been with the same factories since they started, and everything from the fixtures to the store furniture comes via local connections and long-standing friends. Ray, one of the in-house machinists at Albam’s Nottingham base, has known James since he was 16 years old. “I was the guy who used to hang

out in clothes shops and he was working in a trouser shop near me,” James recalls, “and when we came to establish Albam a few years after university I called Ray up.” Now Ray is the duo’s “wise man of making”. “Whenever we were fed up, we’d go and see Ray,” James smiles. “He’s sewed for everyone—Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, even the Police. We have a couple of designers working for us, sketching, but Ray is kind of a genius in terms of experimenting and working out stitch counts and details which, unless you’re working with machinery, you never know.” The problem with designers is, says James, that “they think it’s just a question of sketching something, and it disappearing off to the factory, but often, when you have an idea, someone like Ray will point out that it won’t work when it comes to being made.” One designer they had in had a great idea for an all-in-one knitwear piece, but hadn’t factored in how to get into it. In the end the duo decided to tackle the problem at its root, approaching their local university, Nottingham Trent, and offering to set the end-of-year project for second year students of the fashion course and tutor them before they got “lost in George at Asda just making copy after copy of clothes”. “They come in and make things, and learn, and it really influences them,” James continues. “When you know how to make, you can do anything—and for Albam, it’s a great way of finding new employees and getting involved in our local area.” Localism is key to Albam, but Nottinghamshire tribalism does not trump objectivity when it comes to decisions about sourcing, pricing and manufacturing abroad. “Our head office and design studio are here because we’re from here. Maybe there’s something about the city’s history in the textile industry, but that’s the main reason,” James says simply. “For the rest of our manufacturing we use the places where that particular garment is best made.”

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In the case of knitwear and jeans that’s Britain: Lancashire, Stevenage, Scotland— and the Shetland Isles, whose reputation is often ripped off by big brands looking to capitalise on its appeal. “We buy Shetland wool from the Shetland Isles, but Shetland wool these days doesn’t always come from Shetland—these days it just refers to a type of coarse, granddad-y yarn.” It even gets made in China. “They have their own Shetland Isle, it seems,” James grins. “I think they picked up, moved it to China and made it bigger.” He used to get hung up about the lack of regulation in materials and the ease with which the Made in Britain label can be applied (apparently you just have to attach a label and buttons to a garment for it to qualify. The rest can be made in India) but these days he’s come to accept that “there are varying degrees of honesty in this world, and all you can do is be open about your own activities and treat people well”. To this end James is more than happy to inform me that, for all our knack with knitwear, Britain is rubbish at shirts. “Today there is only one factory making shirts left in this country that is any good,” he explains. Instead of compromising, Albam eventually chose small factories in Portugal and Italy where the standards are high, the cotton is ethically sourced and the people are truly passionate about what they do. “What I’ve found is that in good factories, people love making things. They love the feeling of coming home at the end of the day having made something from start to finish, and that’s as true of our people in Portugal and Italy as it is of Ray.” Rather than ‘made in Britain’, James prefers ‘made by a person’. “We tend to have guys doing what we call ‘making through’,” he explains. “That means one guy on one whole garment from start to finish, so it’s the skill of one individual person and reflects where he’s from, where he trained, and what his experience is. You can have

the same jeans, made with the same fabrics, the same threads, and because they are made by different people they will all be slightly unique.” You can see this most vividly in the canvas shoppers behind him, hot off the sewing machines, their straps endearingly hand-sewn by eye to create their signature “perfect imperfection”. “It’s very easy to make a range in a factory that are all the same,” James continues, “but the fact that each one differs slightly—not intentionally, but just as a result of being made by a real person—appeals to guys.” Men, he says, are largely creatures of habit: “We wear t-shirts, pairs of chinos or jeans, and trainers, and I’m wearing a shirt because everything else is in the wash,” he admits—yet like bikes, computers, and burgers, once they’ve found a reason to appreciate Albam clothes, they continue doing so. “We can justify anything—£3,000 on a bike we’ll only ride once a month, the latest digital camera—once we know and love the story. In the past guys haven’t been encouraged to think about clothes, but that’s changing. There’s a definite shift.” Albam’s clothes cost because everyone from the farmers to the cotton pickers, right through to photographers and designers are valued, and paid fairly for their skill. Albam’s clothes sell because customers appreciate that—and the fact that, by selling directly from the makers rather than through someone else, Albam’s prices are far better value. “The industry’s standard mark-up is double the factory price, and multiply by four— but ours is just double what it cost us to make them,” says James. “We think £90 is a fair price for some jeans. If you want to pay £200 on our jeans, feel free— but you’re getting two pairs for that. Our jeans are made in England, using quality Japanese denim, but we’re not selling a pair for £200.”

Behind us the clattering of a sewing machine sounds Ray’s assent. A tailor who’s been in the trade for decades— “I was 15 when I got apprenticed, and then I was seven months just ironing trouser legs, getting the feel for it”—what he doesn’t know about sewing, cutting, and fabric is, quite frankly, unlikely to exist. “I worked in a trouser company for five or seven years, then started my own up,” he tells me, between snipping bits of acrylic. Today we’d call him a designer as well as a tailor, but when I suggest this he chuckles. “You didn’t think of it like that in those days. If a man asked for trousers you’d do them what they wanted, and if a company like Paul Smith or Sainsbury’s asked for a specific design, you’d just look and think, what’s the best way to do these on scale?” Sometimes Ray would work for months before alighting on the best way of making a design doable, and at the keenest price. “It’s not so cutthroat now,” he says, “but back then sixpence could make the difference between getting an order and missing out on money.” Things are no longer how they used to be, when Nottingham was the centre of the textile industry and these tall rooms were “filled with banter, the buzz of machines, and girls yapping away on benches”, but it’s good work and, most importantly, he likes the people and the time-honoured custom of having “a drink and a laugh down the pub”. Fortunately, it’s a tradition close to James and Alistair’s hearts too. “Everything that’s come to us we’ve got through talking to people, through getting people together and hanging out. If you don’t talk to people you don’t get anywhere,” James explains. It’s a key part of their future strategy—breakfast clubs, running clubs, lunches and drinks with customers and staff are all in the pipeline. But for the most part, it’s just who they are: people who like people. It’s hardly groundbreaking—but then, the best ideas never are.

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LIFE Albam 39 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials 020 7240 9391

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Y-3, a wildly inventive, futuristic mash-up of sportwear and high fashion, has done something a little unexpected—taken inspiration from the past. Ellie Rose pays a visit to the brand’s new Covent Garden store to find out why Nestled on Floral Street, amid the livingroom chic of Paul Smith and the vintage vibes of agnès b, a very different kind of shop has landed. Translucent three quarter-length men’s macs with neon green edging; sportswear zip-up capes with ruffles that tumble as if adorning ball gowns; a conceptual space with dark mirrors, and luminescent shelves. It could only be the weird world of Y-3, the sartorial lovechild of designer Yohji Yamamoto, known globally as a purveyor of avant-garde Japanese tailoring, and Adidas, known mostly as purveyors of trainers. If the brand sounds new, different or even strange to the uninitiated, it’s intended to. Blending innovative high fashion with themes of sportswear and futuristic functionality, Yamamoto makes it his business to create collections set apart from the usual churn of seasonal trends. But the dichotomy on this occasion is that, by the fast-moving standards of the fashion world, Y-3 itself is of course not so new. The Covent Garden store opening is in fact part of a calendar of auspicious events that marks Y-3’s 10th anniversary this year. Doesn’t time fly? In Yamamoto’s own words (this March, to the Independent), this is the label and a concept through which he “became free”, escaping the taboos and constraints placed upon him by high fashion. In his book My Dear Bomb, he wrote that he “detested retrospection”—yet on this occasion, the true coming of age of this decadeold collaboration, the future-looker and tradition-subverter has taken the step of looking back—at least, in a way. Bobby Liu, senior publicity manager at

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Y-3, explains: “When Yohji and Adidas started the label in 2003, nobody was doing sport-fashion collabs. It was a totally new thing. In the campaign we’ve opened this store with—this year’s autumn/winter collection—Yohji said he was ‘looking backwards towards the future’. He was interested in technology and how people use it these days, but he melded it with tradition. It was those contrasts that he was trying to translate into a collection.” The result is a collection that pops with neon, combining outsized silhouettes and surprising finishes. One dress is a straight-cut, flapper-esque outline on the upper body that drops into a pleated skirt reminiscent of netball attire. Men’s tracksuit bottoms look, from one angle, like suit trousers—or are they suit trousers that look like tracksuit bottoms? Another piece, a tailored skirt that hugs the hips, flares out into an asymmetric hem flourish with Adidas’s classic three-stripe motif. With these counterintuitive meetings of genre, you’d be forgiven for wondering if this collection— while perhaps pioneering—was, in all practicality, hard to pull off. “You wouldn’t wear Y-3 to the gym or to play sport,” Liu confirms. But, sitting in the mirrored lounge area of the bright, cool new concept space, he says he’s been surprised by the range of customers coming in—from curious Londoners to high-spending tourists with a taste for distinctive pieces. “We were expecting people to go for the lower price, more basic items. But some of the higherend pieces that you would think were more difficult to wear are actually selling out the fastest.” The locals and visitors of Covent Garden, it seems, have a big 11 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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appetite for cutting-edge style: one key piece, a dress priced at £770, went out of stock within a matter of days. When Y-3 opened its Mayfair store in 2011, it caused a stir in the blogosphere as fashionistas marvelled at the store’s use of clean lines and industrial materials to create a luminescent, ultra-clean aesthetic. The Covent Garden store is “a refinement” of this, says Liu, and the interaction of the chosen building with its retail fixtures again follows the theme of the meeting of genres. 12 Floral Street was originally constructed in 1838 with the elegance typical of the locale and, like a custom art installation, the futuristic new interior was designed to compliment the character of the architecture outside. Steel pillars inside contrast with the traditional arched windows of the Grade II listed frontage. Darktinted mirrors give a 360-degree view of the products—special care is taken with the footwear (trainers were the subject of Yamamoto’s first experimental collaboration with Adidas in 2001, before Y-3 was born). The lighting system can be adjusted according to different times of day. The new campaign video is projected on the wall. Executing this fine balance took seven months, from January until the outlet’s launch in August. But with 52 standalone stores already globally, why here, why now? “We wanted to reach a new audience in Covent Garden,” says Liu. “The area has really changed in the last three or four years. Since the Apple store arrived, it seems less high street. It’s become a shopping destination with a range of cool, 12 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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LIFE Y-3 12 Floral Street

independent brands.” For retail store consultant Sandra Bergemann, an impeccably neat and chic woman who manages both the original Mayfair outlet and this new boutique, the location and the timing were something of a revelation. “I believe things happen for a reason,” she says, her blue eyes glinting. “I know this is where we had to be—we wanted to be in Covent Garden, but not in the usual high street area. It was perfect for us that this building came up.” After all, some brands wait years for the right retail space to become available. And has it been exciting? “For me? Ha!” says Bergemann, laughing at the obviousness of the answer. “I love it. I’ve learned so much. I’m 45, and I did wholesale for 20 years. I just moved over to the retail side two months ago. You see how people appreciate the label. They come— guys, students—and see a pair of shoes, and they say, ‘How much is it? £260. I need it, I love it, I’ll save for it.’ They’re so passionate. “It’s beautiful,” she reflects, “it really is.”

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Nick Kitipos places his cut-throat razor against my neck and tells me to relax. Do I have a choice? I decide to play along by closing my eyes and sinking ever deeper into the reclining chair at Sharps Barber & Shop. Nick is treating me to the Sharps Special Shave, a traditional hot towel straight razor affair that is possibly the nearest to a manly pampering session as a chap can get. Sharps is about to open a place on Tavistock Street, so I’ve come to Windmill Street to sample just a little of the fun and games we can all look forward to in Covent Garden from now on. I had expected to enter a run of the mill airless, poky barbershop with a table littered with ancient, well thumbed magazines about gardening and a slippery floor covered in other people’s unwanted hair. But instead I find myself inside a spacious, pristine coffee shop that uses only the finest beans and does some of the best pastries in town. And it would be rude not to indulge in a little of both. I am soon shaking hands with the charming Nick Kitipos, who escorts me through a set of glass doors into the

SHARP PRACTISES Jean-Paul Aubin-Parvu has had more than his fair share of metaphorical close shaves, but never a literal one. He visits Sharps Barber to experience being up close to a cut throat razor—and not in a bad way

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LIFE Sharps Barber and Shop 34 Tavistock Street, Opera Quarter

actual barbershop. There is a pleasant hint of Americana about the place, with some beautifully framed black and white photographs of proper manly guys like Mohammed Ali. I then spot the baseball bat casually leaning up against the wall—I must remember to tip. The Sharps Special Shave is no whambam-thank-you-mam, instead lasting upwards of 30 minutes. Nick guides me into an old fashioned barbershop chair, covers my modesty with an apron and kicks off proceedings with a consultation. “Have you ever had a traditional shave before?” he enquires. The answer is no—I’ve only ever used cheap electric shavers. I can’t explain the reason for this—my life has just turned out that way. “So it’s going to be different today,” smiles Nick. “It’s going to be pretty close.” After checking for any moles or scars that he might need to be careful with—I arrived with neither—Nick reclines my chair until I’m gazing at the ceiling, and is soon massaging some much needed ‘facial energiser’ into my face to open my pores and give my skin a damn good clean.

Nick reaches for a warm towel and leaves it resting on my face. For many men a traditional shave from a barber is an occasional experience, a treat, though Nick has a couple of clients who come in weekly. “Their skin gets quite irritated when they do it themselves,” he says. “And I guess they just love getting shaved by somebody else.” Nick wipes away the remnants of the facial scrub before applying an American Crew pre-shave oil. I love the smell of eucalyptus in the morning and soon my nostrils are as open as my pores. The oil should allow the blade to glide easily across my face, resulting in a better and more comfortable shave. It’s time for a proper hot towel to raise my hair follicles. Nick touches the towel against my left cheek to test the temperature. “I don’t want to give you third degree burns,” he says. “Is that okay?” “That’s absolutely fine,” I reply, before settling right back into the funky music playing in the background. I only hope my follicles can stand to attention on their own, because I’m in no position to help. I might even switch to snooze mode. Several minutes, though it could be hours, later Nick removes the towel. “How was that?” he asks. “Great,” is the best I can manage. “Right, shall we get on with the shave?” suggests Nick. I’m surprisingly relaxed at the prospect of someone putting a blade across my throat. Perhaps it’s partly the calming effect of the hot towel, though more likely the fact that Nick exudes confidence. He has made barbering his business for the last seven years and has been with Sharps now for almost two of them. Nick trained for roughly two weeks before he felt confident enough to shave his first living, breathing punter. “I was so comfortable with the blade,” he says. “Some people take a few months to learn. It’s just about having the confidence to use the blade—that’s it. It all depends on the person.” Nick brushes an even coat of shaving foam across my face and reaches for his trusty razor. Working with the grain, he uses his free hand to gently pull the patch of skin taut to ease the job in hand. Nick works meticulously, shaving in small sections, and no hair is safe. At no point do I experience any discomfort, not even when he removes the stubble that resides above my upper lip and below my nose. Nick takes his time. There is no rush. It takes just as long as it takes. And my morning has happily stopped in its tracks.

The first shave done and dusted, Nick applies another hot towel to raise any stray follicles. A minute or so later he starts dabbing touches of foam to certain parts of my face before reaching once again for the razor. But this time he works against the grain, to go in even closer. The second shave proves equally pain free and my hardest task is to occasionally raise my chin just a little. I could sign up for more of this behaviour. Such attention dedicated to little old me. When Nick finishes the shave he covers my face with a cold towel, which will help to close the pores, and then treats it to a generous measure of a wonderfully sloppy cooling aftershave gel. The gel moisturises my skin and will prevent any irritation. His final task is to wipe away any loose hairs with a towel. “Right, I’m going to sit you up now,” says Nick. I stare into the mirror to admire Nick’s handiwork. It sure looks like a perfectly close shave. I rub my face to discover that it feels like one too. My skin is as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bum, smoother than it’s been since I was about 11. My face appears eminently kissable— not that there’s anyone on hand to test the theory. I climb rather awkwardly from the chair, because I actually feel a bit lightheaded. I might need to sit awhile back out in the coffee shop. A second cup of excellent coffee and just one more pastry will doubtless ease my descent back into the real world. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing experience, definitely one to be repeated. I won’t have long to wait. Shortly Sharps Barber and Shop will have thrown open its doors onto Tavistock Street. According to Rory MacParland, general manager at Sharps, there will be plenty to look forward to. Huge efforts have been made to work the layout around the existing interior, parts of which are listed. “It will be a mix of old school and new,” says Rory. “It will take little parts from all our other barbershops, especially the one in New York and here at Windmill Street, so it will have some very cool 1908 Koken chairs. And it will be a very manly environment.” Sharps also has big plans for the lower ground floor, though everything is being kept under wraps for the moment. “I can give you some hints,” says Rory. “It’s a traditional business, a very manly environment, hails from old Americana, 1920s, 1930s, and it’s just going to be a very interesting space— somewhere you can come and hang out and relax.”

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MY FASHION LIFE /Justin Rhodes, founder of Elliot Rhodes

CGJ: How on earth did you get the idea of opening a belt shop? Justin Rhodes: I’ve always loved belts. I remember, 23-24 years ago first discovering this shop in Paris—they’re still there—that just sells belts and buckles, really artisanal. I went in there and thought, I really like this. Years later, I lived in Paris for four years, and I used to go back to the shop from time to time. At the time, I was trying to figure out what to do with myself. I’d been in fashion all my professional career, and I had become increasingly disenchanted. I was cogitating about what I wanted to do, and I’d always had this thing about wanting to be in retail. I’d always wanted to create a world that drew other people in, to make them experience something different. The belt thing felt like it might be the germ of something. People buy shoes from shoe shops and bags from bag shops, but belt shops barely seem to exist... There are a few of us around the world, but not many. The belt, as a product, had become more and more side-lined—you go to a clothes shop, and it’s there in a dark corner, usually dragging in the dust. There’s never a selection, never the size you need, and it’s entirely logo dominated—it’s about having a Gucci buckle or a Boss buckle. It’s just not glamorous. You can buy a £500 pair of shoes, a £1,000 belt, and you have to buy one of the three belts they’ve got to choose from. That can’t be right.

and see us. The product has to be great, the environment has to be great, and the people have to be great, but if you get those things right specialist niche retailers really can thrive. Probably everybody in the country owns a belt, so it’s not exactly a niche product... It’s an essential. If I was trying to sell pocket handkerchiefs that would be different. But there is a genuine functional purpose to a belt. I’m not trying to convince people that they need a belt, I’m trying to convince them that they need more than one, and that it should fit properly. Everyone said to me: “You’re stupid, how can you fill a shop with belts?” so I knew that we were going to have to educate people, person to person, and try to change the perception of a product that was considered absolutely boring. My belief was that if we could help to change that perception, the market could actually be huge.

Have you proved those doubters wrong? Retail is a bit like a theatre. You do your rehearsals, you get the scenery together, you have all the right actors, then you hope to god that when you open that curtain on the first night there’s actually someone sitting in the seats. From the day I decided to do this, we opened a year later. I found suppliers, I travelled around Italy and Spain, sourcing products, designing systems, designing stores, packaging design. Then we opened. In a way that’s the most exciting time—the anticipation is all there. Then you Is there a place for your kind of highly have bills to pay, and it’s terrifying. But we’re specialised retailer? still here almost nine years later, and we’re Fifteen or 20 years ago, specialist retail growing and evolving and improving. It’s that began to go the way of the ark. It all became thing with entrepreneurs, I suppose, where about bigger supply chains, more volume, if everyone thinks it’s a brilliant idea at the economies of scale. It became progressively time then it’s probably too obvious. hard to be a niche specialist business. We went from having very personal All of your belts and buckles are experiences with our shopkeepers interchangeable. Was that always the to suddenly having a very impersonal plan? relationship with no one, probably Yes, that has always been core to what we epitomised by Ikea where the experience is do. I love the idea that a product can be a positive displeasure, but things do seem endlessly reinvented. If you buy a shirt, you to be turning around again. Everything’s buy a shirt. But I can sell you a belt that can cyclical. We live in a world where people be many different belts. Most importantly, can buy products with the click of a mouse, it allows you to choose something that is so as retailers we have to have a really you. I’m a very anti-brand person—everyone good reason for shoppers to actually come should have their own style, their own way 16 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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The belt, as a product, had become side-lined—you go to a clothes shop, and it’s there in a dark corner, dragging in the dust of presenting themselves. I see a big branded buckle I just want to say: “Why? Why are you advertising their brand for them? What is individual and special about that?” By giving you a role in creating the belt that you want, I think we allow you to really express yourself. Are you part of the fashion world? We are not, very consciously, a fashion brand. Our product has longevity, while pure fashion tends to be more ephemeral. In fashion, you’ve got four months to sell something and then it’s finished. Our stock is seasonal to a point, but not so much that I can’t sell it in a year’s time. Yellow was a big colour this summer, and maybe it won’t be next summer, but there’ll still be somebody who comes in wanting a yellow belt. We basically make belts that fit through trousers—of course they can also be worn over a dress or a jumper, but we make a fundamentally classic shape. The variation comes in the width, the buckles, the texture, the pattern, and most importantly, the colour. Colour is important to us. People expect belts to be black or brown, but why? Who tells me I can’t sell an orange belt, or a belt with a stingray print on it? What’s the rule? We believe in diversity. We carry about 600 different belt styles and around 800 different buckles. How do you fit so many belts into one shop? We custom size everything. This is really important—you don’t buy shoes the wrong size, you don’t buy shirts the wrong size, but you’ll buy a belt that’s too big, and ram a skewer through it to make an extra hole. Why can’t it fit you properly? It’s done 17 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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S in Elliot Rhodes 79 Long Acre 020 7379 8544

immediately, so you get to walk out of the door with the product, but it brings that gratification of a bespoke service. And because we custom size on site, even if I have just one belt in a particular style, it’s always available for whoever comes in. We don’t need loads all in different sizes, and that gives me the latitude to have a real breadth of stock. Who makes the belts? From the very beginning, I set out with the intention of producing purely in Europe, essentially Spain and Italy. Mainly because the quality is so important, but also because the authenticity of what we do relies upon that personal connection with the craftsman. We don’t produce mass quantities in giant factories, we’re talking about manufacturers with maybe 10 or 12 staff, in towns where they’ve been making leather goods for centuries. There’s a heritage and a culture. They care about the product—it’s not just a commodity. We buy our leather predominantly in Italy and manufacture mainly in Spain. We have very strong relationships with our suppliers, we like them, we trust them and I value the way they supported us from the start. So do you own more belts than any other man on earth? Do you know who has the most belts? My father has the most belts. He gets paid in belts. He’s my shop elf at Christmas time, or when we need holiday cover. He refuses to be paid, but he does get a lot of samples. He’s probably got 150 belts. I’ve only got about 50. If I had it my own way, I could easily take one of each—I like every belt we make—but that’s simply not possible. We need some left over to sell. 18 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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Shopping and dining destination in the heart of Covent Garden

20% discount at over 120 shops, bars and restaurants

THURSDAY 5 DECEMBER 5-9PM Make space in your diary for the St Martin’s Courtyard and Seven Dials Christmas Shopping Extravaganza

· 25 fashion, beauty and lifestyle flagship stores and boutiques · 6 unique restaurants · Day spa · Flower academy · Yoga and pilates studio StMartinsCourtyard smccoventgarden Find us just off Long Acre/Upper St Martin’s Lane

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Secret life of plants When it comes to roots, Aveda is not short of them. A 5,000-year-old Indian healing tradition, 30 years of creating botanical hair and skincare products and a staunch commitment to the environment are what makes

Aesop 7 King Street


Established in 1987 by a hairdresser frustrated by the harsh-at-best, damaging-atworst products available to customers, Aesop’s main selling point is probably the fact that there isn’t one. It isn’t 100 per cent natural, all organic, or completely miraculous. It doesn’t pretend to be. It’s just, well, good. “It’s a fusion of botanical and scientific technology,” explains Aesop’s Jason Waterworth, “so while it is very natural, and very simple, there is always a strong lab element. It’s not about making big claims. It’s about improving the quality of the skin.” Aesop’s founder, Dennis Paphitis, is a meticulous and understated man whose work goes on largely behind the scenes of the Australian-born company—developing new

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LIFE the company what it is today. In 1979 successful hairdresser Horst Rechelbacher visited India and was introduced to its ancient Ayurvedic tradition and knowledge of plant oils. A bit of messing around

in his kitchen, and a sumptuous clove shampoo was born—the inaugural Aveda Corporation product. Fast forward, and Aveda not only produces lovely, natural products, but is also first beauty company in the world to manufacture with

100 per cent wind power and use post-consumer recycled PET for its bottles and jars. The new Russell Street store has a full range of sumptuous-smelling products, from smooth infusion shampoo for your flyaway frizz, or outer peace cleanser

for blemish prone skin. Aveda experts will be on hand, offering professional haircare, skincare and makeup advice.

Il Papiro 14 The Market Building

ON PAPER /Il Papiro

products, growing the business, designing new stores. The stores are a noticeable feature of the brand, informed by Aesop’s principles of simplicity and utilitarianism and by their surroundings. Hence the King Street store’s whitewashed walls, the floor of engraved green tiles which pay homage to the Italianate piazza, and the lush vegetation which references Covent Garden’s history as a fruit and veg market. Product development involves similar attention to detail. Parsley seed facial cleansing oil, sage and cedar scalp treatment—these have been two or three years in the making, while an SPF 15 moisturiser took almost a decade to perfect. If they smell enticing, it is because the natural ingredients smell that way, Jason explains.

“These are serious products,” he says, “though there is a fun element to them too.” This is certainly true of the travel kits compiled for use in various cities and planes. The idea is that “different environments demand different moisturisers”, says Jason, though it’s hard to imagine quite how much difference there is between New York and London. It is true that planes are notoriously dry. Products in the travel sets are under 100ml and big on moisturisation, with hand balm, facial spray, lip cream and body balm, along with essentials like shampoo and body wash. Artfully presented in a black case, they are self-consciously fun—but they also epitomise the Aesop way: meticulous, effective and led by design, both inside, and out.

One of the oldest printing houses in Florence, Il Papiro is a dream come true for any whose idea of happiness is an ink pen and the fresh first page of a beautiful leatherbound notebook. Established in 1976 by Francesco Giannini and Gianni Parenti, two Florentines whose lives were steeped in the artisanal tradition of the city, its uniqueness stems from the pair’s resurrection of old techniques rendered extinct in the papermaking business, but now deployed by Il Papiro to create a dazzling array of quality cards, pens and desk accessories. One such technique is the 17th-century method of ‘a la cuve’, whereby different coloured inks are dropped on top of a bath of warm water and a stylus or comb is swirled in the solution to create the pattern desired. Paper is placed on top, then gently lifted out of the liquid, giving each piece a unique pattern of ink. This marbleisation method was once considered an important art form, but today it has almost entirely vanished. The hallmark here of course, is quality. Il Papiro is not Ryman, and it doesn’t try to be. But if you are a stationery addict, or know one and have already exhausted the classically British offerings of Smythson and Aspinal in your endless quest for gifts, this is your answer. It’s original, the store—a classic Florentine combination of oak, old fashioned book lights and sideboards—is seductively browseable, and even if you don’t opt for a customised process like leather embossing or water marking, you’ll know you’ve found something unique. Just don’t make a mistake on that first page.

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Eileen Fisher 4 Slingsby Place St Martin’s Courtyard 020 7836 3320

PURE AND SIMPLE /Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher designs clothes for stylish women who don’t particularly enjoy shopping—and if you’re wondering whether such women exist, look for us in St Martin’s Courtyard. We’ll be there, circumventing the crush of shoppers and buying things that will last years rather than weeks. Eileen Fisher appeals to us because she is us. The only reason she got into fashion is that “it was easier to design clothes myself than figure out what I wanted”— and her autumn collection is a covetable tribute to that thought. Flowing lines, elegant shapes and beautiful fabrics unite to create a look that is both stylish and easy to wear. Like its predecessors, the collection is very Japanese influenced—witness the boiled wool jacket (£250) in burnt orange which harks back to the century-old kimono— but in London Eileen learnt the precept “less and quality is more”. She’s visiting the store this autumn. She’s intrigued to see how Londoners have taken to her clothes (well) and see how Covent Garden has changed since she was last over. Yet despite the global influences, her clothes never fail to transcend the boundaries of space, time and trends. Grey. Ochre. Acacia. Navy. With Eileen Fisher colour is crucial, whether it’s a fine merino jumper in charcoal (£175) or a silk box top in fresh-from-the-Med blue (£175). “When it’s patterned, the pattern becomes the thing,” she says. Stick to plain colour and you can survive the vagaries of the fashion world for years provided the fabric is strong. Eileen’s, naturally, is. Organically grown and ethically sourced, you need only touch her airy alpaca top (£250) or yellow cotton corduroy jeans (£160) to know it’s the real deal. “When you feel it, you feel quality, not 99 per cent polyester,” she says. “I like good things and I want them to last.” Amen to that, Eileen. 22 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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LIFE The French are coming For a long time, the idea of France as a place of unequalled elegance had been seriously undermined by its British high street presence extending little further than Benetton. But in the past few years, a new wave of Gallic chic has been slowly

colonising London’s more tasteful shopping streets, epitomised by the rather wonderful Sandro. This Parisian label is owned by husband and wife team Didier and Evelyne Chétrite, who launched the brand in France back in 1984, while their son Ilan is responsible for its

menswear line. Specialising in sleek, sophisticated separates—understated, highly wearable and immune to the vagaries of fast fashion—Sandro has now arrived at 31-32 King Street, with the opening of its new London flagship.

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Lee Jeans 35 Neal Street, Seven Dials


In the past, the road to finding new jeans was fraught with such dangers as sagging seats, asphyxiated ankles and gaping waistbands. Not anymore. With 7 For All Mankind on King Street, Diesel on Earlham Street and now Lee Jeans on Neal Street, Covent Garden is completely stone-washed with denim stores. Lee Jeans’ vast range of jeans and accessories comes in all shapes and sizes (yes, even yours) and there’s even a Denim Library concept, exclusive to this store, where you’ll find all these styles laid out for you against an industrial backdrop of wood materials and vintage pictures. The setting harks back to the brand’s rich denim manufacturing heritage. Founded in 1889 by HD Lee, this is a brand born out of workwear, built to endure. Indeed, Lee actually popularised many of the garments we now deem everyday: dungarees, overalls, modern denim jackets. This is a brand with a huge past and great future, as its move to the historic and happening area of Seven Dials shows.

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What’s On September


New & Soon

London Cocktail Week

Farrell: A new British menswear brand devised by Robbie Williams and inspired by his grandfather. Flesh & Buns: The hotly anticipated new Japanese diner from the creators of Bone Daddies. Industrie: The Australian menswear brand, providing modern and practical clothing for men. Triumph: Launching over London Fashion Week, the lingerie brand will be popping up on Monmouth Street until January 2014.


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October sees the unique celebration of our capital’s unrivalled cocktail culture. Basing its main hub in Seven Dials from 7th to 13th October, expect pop-up bars, tastings and masterclasses at your favourite stores plus much more. To register for your wristband visit


December Save the Date One for the diary: The Seven Dials Christmas 20% off Shopping Night will take place on Thursday 5th December 2013. Shop and be merry for less at the annual festive Shopping Night, which sees over 120 stores across Seven Dials & St Martin’s Courtyard offer 20% off between 5 and 9pm.


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Arc’teryx 9 Mercer Street, St Martin’s Courtyard


With Patagonia, Specialized, Snow & Rock and Runners Need all clustered round St Martin’s Courtyard, there could be no better place to open Europe’s first stand-alone Arc’teryx store. If you’re wondering—we were —the name and logo of Arc’teryx refer to the archaeopteryx, the world’s earliest known bird. The brand is renowned for

its cutting-edge fabrics and innovative technology in the manufacture of windproof and waterproof apparel. It has won awards for its jackets and rucksacks, and even has a product line that supplies the military and law enforcement teams in Canada. For the most part it is frequented by adventurous spirits who love

outdoor sports, and want the best possible gear. Climbing, skiing, hiking, snowboarding—Arc’teryx has each activity tied up in its gear. Having initially been introduced to the UK by Snow & Rock in 2000, it made sense to open next door to that well-loved store in August. All we need now is a mountain on Long Acre...

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Lulu Guinness 17 Floral Street 020 7240 4589


It’s not often you’ll hear us asking for Guinness in this office—but when we do, the Guinness in question is as likely to be renowned handbag designer Lulu Guinness as it is Ireland’s favourite poison. Founded in 1989 in London, the brand started humbly enough: Lulu, a video producer by trade, conceived her designs in her basement before traipsing around the city’s shiniest department stores trying to sell them—within a few years they were on the arms of Madonna, and the rest of the fashion world followed suit. Lulu’s handbags—and now her extensive range of luggage and accessories—are defined by their resistance to fashion, trends, even to the very idea of handbag. After all, the bag that made her name, the Rose Basket, looked like an actual rose basket. Helena BonhamCarter and Florence Welch are disciples, and her stylistic inspiration has always been

the Surrealist designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose motto was ‘Dare to be Different’ and whose most famous contribution to fashion was the invention of Lulu’s favourite colour, Shocking Pink. You’ll find it on many of her bags and accessories in the form of her signature lip motif. A black patent Polyanna with a silky, stripy lining. A canvas tote with cat’s eyes on it. The famous red Dali-esque lips clutch: these are just a few of the gems now available here in Covent Garden thanks to Lulu’s latest opening. Based, appropriately, on Floral Street, the store looks like an art gallery—her idea, and one which works perfectly to show off these extraordinary accessories in the best possible light. After all, when you’re displaying purses like cat’s eyes, totes covered in doll’s faces, shoulder bags in the shape of souvenir shops, you don’t need much decoration: like their liquid namesake, it’s impossible to stop at just one.

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BRAZILIAN WAX /DJ Limao of Guanabara

CGJ: Is Limao your real name? DJ Limao: No, it’s my nickname. Every blonde guy in Brazil gets called Alemao, which stands for German. For some reason they think that all blondes are German and all Germans are blonde, and before moving to this lovely but cloudy island I was a lot more blonde. Limao means lime, but sounds like Alemoa, and from Alemao to Limao took only one joke— someone thought it was funny and spread the word. My real name is Fabio Terranova. Where are you from? Sao Paulo, a monster city with a population of 19 million, completely open 24 hours a day with loads to do in terms of culture and nightlife. It doesn’t enjoy the hot weather that the country is famous for and is 50 miles from a beach. The hardest working city in Brazil, Sao Paulo also parties the hardest. The people produce £150 billion every year, 15 percent of Brazil’s GDP, so they don’t waste a minute when they’re off. Sao Paolo is a haven for entertainers of all areas. Why do Brazilians love to party so much? The weather in Brazil screams out for a party. Most of the country enjoys an average temperature of 25C, and with more than 9,000km of beautiful coastline it’s really hard for people to think about anything else once they finish work but partying. We have Carnival once a year, where the entire nation stops for one week during the heat of summer to celebrate. Many people wait the entire year for that week and then party like superheroes when it arrives, sometimes for days in a row without a break. Have you always been into music? My parents had always been involved with music, so I inherited it from them. My dad was into jazz and blues, while mum was more into Brazilian music, so at home there were hundreds of records for me to play around with. I learnt the piano at school and would mostly play the latest pop tunes during the 1980s, and also shared my dad’s interest in sound systems, so I was deeply into music and equipment from a very young age. When did you cut your teeth as a DJ? I started playing at neighbourhood parties when I was 13, together with a friend of mine, Juan Piero, who is still a DJ. We shared records

The weather in Brazil screams out for a party. We have Carnival once a year, where the entire nation stops for a week in the heat of summer. Many people wait the entire year for that week and then party like superheroes, sometimes for days without a break

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LIFE Guanabara Parker Street 020 7242 8600

and joined our parents’ sound systems together to throw parties. We saved up our small weekly allowances to buy a lighting set, spot by spot, and from that point on neither of us have ever stopped. I studied for a marketing degree, but never let music become secondary. I set up an equipment hire company when I was 20, which paid my bills for the next seven years until I moved to London in 2005. Why did you leave Brazil? As a DJ specialising in Brazilian music, I had played the main Brazilian music events in Sao Paulo and around Brazil for some time, so was looking for new challenges and experiences. I had some good friends from university living in London who were deeply involved in the Brazilian community. They invited me over to give it a try and I liked it a lot. I got to play at Guanabara weekly and never went back. The fact that my parents’ families are from Italy meant I had dual citizenship, which allowed me to do it all legally. How have things changed since you started at Guanabara? When I started playing at the club, Wednesday was a dedicated samba night. Much has changed in the last eight years. The financial crisis in Britain and the success experienced by Brazil at the same time meant that many of our Brazilian followers moved back home. So the club needed to adapt, with less of those extremely Brazilian features and more of that Brazilian ‘spice’. But what I love about DJing here is that the club’s identity has obviously remained and the club’s followers still have that open mind about Latin and Brazilian music, which is extremely hard to find in central London, where everyone only wants to party to that week’s top 10.

What kind of sounds can we expect from DJ Limao? I would describe it as a blend of what people expect from a Covent Garden nightclub and that Latin Beat that people look for when they come to Guanabara. The killer tunes won’t differ much from what you’d hear elsewhere in the area, but we always find a Brazilian or Latin version, or mix in something that brings this vibe alongside the expected tune. Some of my mates and I produce lots of stuff for this purpose. By day you are Guanabara’s music and marketing manager. Plug a typical week at the venue... Let’s say that the Brazilian spice gets stronger as the week progresses. Tuesday is our only night with no live music, but with great DJs, when people come for dinner and want a more relaxed environment. From Wednesday to Friday we blend the best of both worlds—bands playing soul, funk and current tunes, DJs playing that blend I just described and dancers performing shows and master-classes of samba and forro, a rhythm popular in northeast Brazil. Saturday gets even more Brazilian with up to a 30-piece samba school performing on stage. And Sunday is the 100 per cent Brazilian night when the proportion of Brazilians jumps to 90 percent. How would you rate the atmosphere at Guanabara? As something you won’t find anywhere else in London. The majority of the staff are Brazilian and are instructed to look after guests just as we do in Brazil, which they do very naturally. I see people feeling at home here, almost like a house party but at a club with a professional sound and high-tech visuals.

Can Brits dance like Brazilians? Well—we try to help. We host samba classes every Wednesday, very basic steps, more for entertainment than actual training. This helps people to enjoy our samba beats, but won’t produce any new teachers because there’s no advanced level. The forro classes on Sundays are also very popular. The mellow rhythm has its own cheek-to-cheek dance and lots of faithful followers—there was an online riot some years ago when we tried to change the night for something else. Any exciting events on the horizon? To be honest every Friday at Guanabara is very exciting. The line-up is always packed with shows, from samba to a snake charmer—both snake and charmer are Brazilian. Our New Year’s Eve party is always an unforgettable experience. After Carnival, NYE is Brazil’s favourite celebration and we try to recreate that atmosphere. And we’re the only club where you have two countdowns—the first at midnight and the second at 2am, with live broadcasting from Rio’s Copacabana Beach. Do you ever DJ back in Sao Paulo? Yes, luckily I still do some of the same major events. I have an 11-year-old son in Brazil and never miss an opportunity to go back. My favourite event is an annual festival promoted by people who studied with me at university—a four-day party with a dance floor next to a massive swimming pool and a bar staying open for an unbelievable 96 hours. I play a lot more electronic music over there, which I absolutely love, and a lot less commercial music, but always with that Brazilian spice which I’m famous for. Brazil is hosting next summer’s World Cup. What are your nation’s chances? Ha! Don’t ask the top World Cup winners about their chances. In the recent Confederations Cup, a World Cup appetiser, we ignored everything that people said about the Spanish squad. They didn’t touch the ball for 90 minutes when we beat them in the final—just like they do to everyone else but us. On a more serious and humble note, the Argentinean squad is a threat. Messi wants to finally win a World Cup and being our neighbours they’ll almost be playing at home. But I’m very confident and am looking forward to having the sixth star on our kit—it’s time.

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PEYTON’S PLACE Renowned restaurateur Oliver Peyton has turned his attention to the task of reviving the art of the British high street bakery. As he asks Viel Richardson, why should British cakes and pastries be any less beautiful and refined than their continental cousins?

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“I remember being on Salisbury High Street, looking for a place to go and eat, and I couldn’t find anything English,” says the flamboyant Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton, a sense of genuine disbelief audible in his voice. “There I was on the high street of this quintessentially English town and it was all boulangerie this, and pizzeria that. You just got the feeling that people thought that for anything to be good, it had to be foreign.” Nowhere was this sense of national culinary decline more apparent than in the complete absence of a good British bakery. “So we started Peyton & Byrne as a reaction to that because baking is one of the cornerstones of the nation’s cooking. It’s something that the British do extremely well.” Oliver Peyton first arrived here from Ireland while a design student. In the intervening years, he has run two very successful nightclubs and helped to kickstart the recent rise to prominence of the British cocktail scene. These successes

allowed Oliver to move into his real love— food—with the opening of the Atlantic Bar & Grill which was as famed for its high quality cuisine as it was for its beautiful art deco design. His central belief has long been that if you give people great food in interesting surroundings, they will have fun—a feeling that had often been conspicuous by its absence on the capital’s then rather staid restaurant scene. It is sometimes difficult to recall just how dramatically things have changed in a relatively short time. “When I opened my first restaurant in St James’s Park 10 years ago I honestly didn’t think that there was enough high calibre produce produced in Britain to supply a restaurant all year round, because there wasn’t the network of high quality suppliers, and you had to get your ingredients where you could,” Oliver says. “I remember a policeman walking down the day we opened with a black bin liner, and he said, ‘I think this is for you.’ I opened

the bag and there was a lamb inside it. Our supplier—who bred wonderful lamb in rural Wales—had never been to London before. When she couldn’t find us she left the bag on The Mall assuming it would get to us. Now you have a choice of 10 suppliers for everything, all year round.” Having established a successful and highly influential series of restaurants, this energetic gastronome turned his attentions from the kitchen to the bakery, of which Peyton & Byrne on Wellington Street is the latest incarnation. Anyone who has watched Oliver judge on the Great British Menu will recognise the almost missionary zeal he brings to the task, and it is no less in evidence now. “What I am trying to do is to re-introduce the notion of what British baking can be,” he insists. “The shop in Covent Garden is the culmination of about 15 years of hard work and trial and error, of learning how to translate the kind of associations you have floating around in your mind when you

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TASTE Peyton & Byrne 44 Wellington Street, Opera Quarter 020 3422 1452

I don’t see why we can’t have a high class, sophisticated, modern British bakery brand. I don’t understand why in this point of the evolution of food in Britain there isn’t one already

embark on something like this into the reality of a working business, but without losing the essential spirit of the thing along the way. I don’t see why we can’t have a very high class, sophisticated, modern British bakery brand. I don’t understand why in this point of the evolution of food in Britain there isn’t one already.” In trying to create one for himself, Oliver discovered some of the reasons why it may have eluded others in the past. “There have been a few stumbling starts along the way,” he says. “One of the main issues was that none of the bakers we could find were British. They were mainly French or Polish. They each have their own idea of a victoria sponge or a madeira cake. But these didn’t match the colour, the smell or the texture that resonated with me. I needed to do something that chimed with my associations and memories of British baking and Britishness.” Oliver thinks that baking is a craft, and

as with any other craft it needs to be learned and practiced. This meant that he and his team needed to learn—or re-learn— methods and recipes. But the bakers were not the only ones on a voyage of discovery. “When people first tried our victoria sponge they told us that it wasn’t really quite what they expected. But it turned out that their perception of what a victoria sponge was had been ruined by the supermarkets who pumped their cakes full of intense synthetic flavourings. But when you only use organic flour, real eggs, real fruit, real cream rather than long-life cream, you get a more delicate taste, and we are having to adjust people’s palates. As someone who is aware of the genuine article that actually came as a bit of a shock to me in the beginning.” Oliver also points to another issue behind the dearth of high quality high street British baking one which is born of the very nature of the food he is trying to champion. “Most British baked goods have to be consumed

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quite quickly,” he explains. “If you buy a piece of patisserie in one of the patisserie shops in the Champs-Élysées, it will last for a long time. British cakes and breads in contrast are at their best for a few hours at most. So I think it is probably too hard for people to do.” But do it he does, and it is both a timeconsuming and expensive process. For the Covent Garden, Oliver has installed an oven in the basement to ensure the best quality bread, cakes and chelsea buns —a Peyton & Byrne favourite. Everything is made from scratch. The idea is to cut down on transporting the finished products as much as possible, using British produce wherever possible. “To get all that to happen takes an awful lot of research, development and just an awful lot of trial and error,” says Oliver. “We probably spent three years developing our treacle tart. A lot of it is about developing the size of the crumb in the tart. The crumb

has to be the right size so it soaks up the treacle but doesn’t become too claggy. You have to let cakes sit, you have to try them out, and all these things take time, particularly when you are trying to do things on a commercial basis. So you can taste a new product for three or four months and then when you think it is right you try it on the shelf and it doesn’t work. It might be the temperature, the humidity, or that people take them home and they don’t survive the trip.” The beef in the beef pie is Bickleigh White Park beef. “It is our own beef that we rear in Devon. We take the whole animal, we butcher it ourselves. In order to get the quality of beef we wanted, we had to deal directly with the farmer, but he is not a butcher so we had to bring in our own butchers and do it ourselves.” All of this speaks of a real determination to show that it is possible to produce British baked goods on a commercial basis

that are every bit as good as the best of the continental offerings. It’s also about reminding people about just how proud of this heritage they should be. “What we want to have is those stalwarts of traditional British produce, like sponges, cheese cakes, pies, tarts, all at a very sophisticated level. Then alongside these are some more inventive ideas about modern British baking—ideas like our parsnip and cherry cake. For me it’s just about being honest. It’s very easy to make something look pretty in a commercial environment, but I want our products to have honesty. If it looks like it’s going to have a certain taste, I want that to come from the ingredients and the preparation, not some synthetic overlay. That is hugely important.” Oliver’s obsession with design is as evident at Peyton & Byrne as it has always been. For him the environment you are dining in is just as important as the food you are having, so the look of the Wellington

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Street bakery is as important as everything else. The chairs, for example, are hand built using English oak and covered in Scottish wool. There are light fittings made to their own design and they have even fired the some of the tiles. “This might seem over the top, but for me it is an expression of confidence in what we’re trying to do. Because they are baking on site, I wanted to look of the interior to reflect that, with a more industrial feel. It also feels British, but without falling into pastiche, which is so easy to do. There is a severe lack of creativity on the high street. I hate so much of what I see out there. It’s like it’s all been designed for the Stepford Wives in terms of what it looks like, what it says and what it does. I rail against it, I hate it.” Oliver’s voice seems to rise by a decibel or two as he says this, and while the increase in volume is accompanied by a glint in the eye and laugh in the voice, they in no way mask the depth of his feeling.

One of the problems we have is that people always copy us. Five minutes after we open the door you can see people from other companies coming through with those buttonhole cameras that are supposed to be discreet

“One of the problems we have is that people always copy us. Five minutes after we open the door you can see people from other companies coming through straight away. I have seen them with those buttonhole cameras that are supposed to be discreet, but they give themselves away. They lean over your cabinets to take pictures. It’s like watching someone do yoga over your fridge,” he tells me with a wry smile. What they can’t copy, though, is the feeling. “What I do with Peyton & Byrne, the restaurants and everything else is just an expression of how I feel inside. There was no real British bakery scene on the high street, so I just set out to create something which I thought would work. I am really proud of what we have come up with, I’m very pleased with the shop. I think the quality of the produce is great, and I hope that people understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. And that they have a bit of fun along the way as well.”

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BUN FIGHTER Ross Shonhan, the former Nobu head chef whose Bone Daddies restaurant in Soho changed many people’s perceptions of Japanese food, talks to Stevie Martin about a new Covent Garden venture, Flesh & Buns, that confronts the very notion that affordable food has to be “rubbish”

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TASTE Flesh & Buns 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials 020 7632 9500

“Nobu Matsuhisa himself was teaching me his dishes, kicking the total crap out of me because I knew nothing. I remember shaking like a little school kid while he was tearing me to shreds,” remembers Ross Shonhan, ex head chef of Nobu (the Dallas branch) and current proprietor of the new, almost painfully cool, Japaneseinspired basement eaterie Flesh & Buns on Earlham Street. Opening a second restaurant in London (Bone Daddies in Soho is now famous for its ramen) as both chef and proprietor could be too much for some, but you get the idea Ross thrives on stress. For a start, it’s taken three weeks to get him on the phone since the restaurant’s opening last month and, upon finally arranging a time, the woman who answers can barely speak for the shouting, clashing and general mayhem. She tells me Ross can’t get to the phone because he is “slammed” in the kitchen, and this continues to be the case for a further seven hours. Unsurprising, considering the popularity of a place solely intent on making Japanese-inspired fine dining both inexpensive and accessible (also, Grace Dent bloody loves it). What’s more surprising is Ross’s cheery Aussie tone, completely at odds with what you’re expecting from a man who was just throwing himself all over a boiling hot Japanese kitchen for god knows how long. “I’ve been to Japan and had amazing experiences that have been neither formal nor super expensive,” he says brightly after finally tearing himself away. “I didn’t understand why, in London the affordable, accessible stuff is rubbish. Y’know—the crappy chain restaurants.” It’s a fair point, and Ross is the man to change all that. After all, he’s learned the rules from Nobu Matsuhisa, the most famous Japanese chef on the planet, which is why he’s happily able to break all of those self-same rules now for Flesh & Buns. “When I got the head chef job at Nobu, I thought I knew about Japanese dining because I’d picked it up here and there from different places. Turns out I knew nothing. Two weeks in, my team of five had become just me and my sous-chef—it was either work bloody hard or lose our jobs. We chose to work hard, and I owe everything I now have to that experience.”

Unlike Nobu’s expensive haute cuisine, Flesh & Buns focuses on fun, inexpensive food. You won’t find any alienating terms or confusing -sounding dishes here: “Look, I love going to traditional Japanese places and eating stuff not readily available in London, but the majority of people don’t want that,” says Ross. “We’ve stripped down our menu to the best Japanese comfort food—but every single thing we do is inspired directly by authentic Japanese culture. I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise!” He’s more than aware of the critics—those who have snobbishly snubbed Flesh & Buns for not providing what they believe to be truly traditional dishes, but he shrugs it off. “We’re not here to educate. We’re not here to alienate. We’re here to be fun, affordable, accessible Japanese food. We’re not telling people we’re an authentic Japanese restaurant,” he says earnestly, “so people need to chill out and not think too hard about it. It’s food! Come and enjoy the great food!” If anyone knows great food, it’s him. Mainly because he’s lived it his whole life, despite originally wanting to be a professional rugby player. Growing up in the Australian outback, far away from any restaurants, Ross was learning how to cut meat and prepare corned beef in a butcher’s shop by the age of 15. “I worked in the shop every day after school then, when I got injured and realised I couldn’t do rugby anymore, I studied food science.” He dropped it, mainly because he wasn’t enjoying himself, and had to find another profession that would keep his parents happy. “I started ringing up restaurants in cities and asking them how you become a chef. They told me to get an apprenticeship.” After landing one in a restaurant he describes as “serving OK food, but teaching me a lot about how to work as a team”, Ross’s CV boasts The Dorchester (“those guys taught me how not to run a kitchen—it’s probably different now, but 11 years ago they just screamed at each other constantly!”), Knightsbridge’s world famous Zuma (“I got headhunted from Nobu, which blew my mind!”) and, right at the start, Asia de Cuba at the St Martin’s Lane Hotel (“When it used to be, y’know, good...”)—his first ever big scale restaurant job, 17 years ago. “I turned up jetlagged, three days after

landing, and was thrown right into the deep end. I remember falling in love with Covent Garden immediately.” In his first few weeks as a young chef in London, his friend took him to Neal’s Yard Dairy and it totally blew his mind (his favourite, most used phrase). “I’d never seen a cheese shop before, and I think I fell in love with it right there. Seven Dials is one of the first places I came to in London, and it gave me goose bumps to think I was on the opposite side of the world in a place so old and full of history and culture.” Now he’s back where he started all those years ago, serving ‘hirata’ buns and varieties of meat in a refreshingly different way. “In northern China, they produce a lot more wheat than rice, so they eat steamed bread and it’s a practice that’s now spread throughout Japan and Taiwan. The buns I’ve tasted in London are all a bit sweet, but we’ve balanced the sugar and salt content,” he explains, enthusiastically. The buns themselves are folded and slightly oiled to make them easy to cram with whatever you like—all served with a range of drinks to fit with the Japanese bar-style restaurants, or ‘izakaya’, that Ross loves so much. “Japanese people never drink without eating—I’ve been out with guys in Japan who go from bar to bar, but there’s always a plate of sushi that appears. Even at 3am,” Ross says. “Every aspect of Flesh & Buns is inspired by izakayas I’ve been to. It’s loud it’s stressful, but it’s a great atmosphere.” Food aside, Ross was heavily involved in the design of the place—vital when trying to promote a laidback vibe. In fact, he’s still heavily involved, stressful as it is, but you get the feeling he really doesn’t mind the chaos: “I’m on my back fixing fryers, changing light bulbs early in the morning, trying to fix the bloody air conditioner because it turns out that new equipment can still be total crap,” he laughs. “Opening a restaurant is a totally awesome experience, but it’s also a pain in the arse. You don’t even know the half of it. The lights we used are because the people who ordered the actual fittings messed it up and ordered really crap ones, so I ended up solving it myself by putting bulbs in a plank of wood.” A pleasingly casual but surprisingly bright solution for a pleasingly casual but surprisingly bright restaurant.

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Strand Palace Hotel 372 Strand 020 7379 4737

/Roast rib of beef from Krishna Shankar of the Strand Palace Hotel

Eating a roast dinner is one of the most sociable culinary experiences native to a country that until recently didn’t really grasp the concept of sharing food at the table. Bringing a heaving great joint into the centre of a large mass of very hungry people, then slowly carving the steaming flesh into great big juicy piles, is one of our more spectacular food-based traditions—and never is it more spectacular, or more ripe for sharing, than when it involves a massive rib of beef; enough to feed a small army of friends. According to Krishna Shankar, head chef at the Strand Palace Hotel, the primary requirement for good roast beef is a high quality joint of beef. He suggests a 21-day aged Surrey farm rib of beef. Serves 12+ Ingredients 5 bone fore-rib of beef (6kg approx.) Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Sprigs of rosemary and thyme 50ml olive oil 500g mix of carrots, leeks and onions

Method Allow the joint to come up to room temperature. Rub it all over with the sea salt, ground black pepper and olive oil. Use a sharp knife to make small holes in the joint, then stud with thyme and rosemary. Score the fat on the joint, using a sharp knife against the grain. Create a ‘mire poix’ by roughly chopping the carrots, leeks and onions, then spread around the bottom of the roasting tray. Place the marinated beef in the roasting tray, on top of the mire poix. Preheat an oven up to 160C and place the roasting tray in the oven. Cook for up to 2hrs and 30 minutes. Check how the meat is cooked by testing it with a meat thermometer—rare is 50C, medium-rare is 55C, medium is 58C, medium-well is 62C and well-done is 70C. Remove from the oven and rest for at least 40 minutes before carving. Use the juices from the roasting tray as the base for your gravy. Serve with Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes.

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TASTE Tea time A large, battered red tea pot, homemade jam and glass of sparkling wine with elderflower cordial and a fresh blackberry bobbing around inside hedgerow fizz make this afternoon tea at once distinctively Bill’s and reassuringly

British. Snuggle into warm leather armchairs at either St Martin’s Courtyard or Wellington Street and soak in the atmosphere and the rustic decor. Finger sandwiches, cakes and warm fruit scones served with Bill’s strawberry jam and clotted Devonshire cream

complete the picture which, with three tiers and 13 varieties of tea, leaves nothing wanting—the only restriction being (appropriately for afternoon tea) that it’s confined to the afternoon: 2:30-5:30pm, to be precise.

London Cocktail Week 7th—13th October


/London Cocktail Week

There are so many awareness-raising days and weeks in the calendar that most pass by with barely a ripple of interest—National Bed Month, National Salt Awareness Week, World Town Planning Day. Here, though, is a special week of celebrations that we can all get behind—London Cocktail Week. What’s not to love? This city’s cocktail scene is currently the most vibrant and interesting in the world, and spending seven days celebrating that fact will be an absolute pleasure. Although by the end of the week of intense activity, the idea of a National Bed Month might well start to appeal. Based around the Seven Dials area, the week consists of pop-up bars, tastings, parties, workshops and masterclasses, showcasing the excitement, innovation and sheer quality of the capital’s cocktail culture. Among many other planned activities, menswear store Foxhall London will host the Carounn Sensorium —an aromatic adventure for cocktail lovers —

while fine jewellery designer Laura Lee will join in with beautiful artisinal drinks from St Germain Elderflower—just two of the boutiques to host spirit brands during the week. The London Cocktail Week Ketel One Hub at 7 Earlham Street will act as the nerve centre for the festivities. As well as the scheduled events, there will loads of bars all around Covent Garden participating in the celebrations. Pop into the Whisky Exchange Off License to buy fantastic spirits, liqueurs and cocktail ingredients or visit the specially created, 300 capacity pop-up bar hosted in the renowned Seven Dials Club—open all week with an extended license. In honour of this special event, London Cocktail Week has created a special cocktail celebrating Seven Dials—an area which has gone from being a notoriously ginsoaked den of iniquity in the 18th century to being a haven of quiet sophistication where the consumption of spirits is highly unlikely to leave you either blind or robbed. The Seven Dials cocktail is created uses seven key ingredients. The gin and apple juice base is inspired by the area’s rich heritage, while the striking red colour is a nod to its current status as a fashion destination with a wealth of independent boutiques. Seven Dials cocktail Ingredients —25ml gin —35ml freshly pressed apple juice —10ml Campari —10ml grenadine —10ml Monin pure cane sugar syrup —20ml lime —Champagne, to top Shake the gin, apple juice, Campari, grenadine, sugar syrup and lime with lots of ice. Next, fill a tall glass with more ice and pour over the liquid until it comes to about 3cm from the top. Finish off by topping with champagne.

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/Federico Fugazza of Porteña

Why did you leave Argentina? Although I had worked hard at university, the social life was taking over. I needed a change and decided to travel. I had studied two years of architecture and three years of art direction, but I’m more of a dreamer—I like art in general—so I applied to study fine art in Barcelona. I went to Barcelona, travelled around Spain, and then onto Rome for a cousin’s wedding. And suddenly I felt at home. Argentineans are pretty much Italians who speak Spanish. Culture wise we’re very similar to Italians—our sense of humour, even the way we drive. I had my auntie, my cousins, my nephews and I made some good friends. I was planning to stay in Rome.

CGJ: Tell me about yourself. Federico Fugazza: I am from Buenos Aires. When my dad was two years old his family left Italy because of the war and moved to Argentina. So dad has lived there all his life, but still feels like an Italian trapped in Argentina. My mum is half-Irish, halfArgentinean, and although she was born in Argentina she was raised as a very British or Irish person. She spoke English at home, went to an English school and became an English teacher. I have an older brother, Franco, an economist who travels the world doing consultancy work. Right now he’s in Africa and called me yesterday from a country that I must admit I’ve never heard of. Franco is the intellectual of the family. My two sisters are my dad’s jewels—my dad is very Italian. Describe Buenos Aires and its people. The province is huge, more than half the size of Spain, and then there’s the actual city itself, which never sleeps. An English friend of mine once told me: “Buenos Aires, wow, the only city where I had to queue up at three o’clock in the morning to dine.” Every restaurant was full. The people of Buenos Aires just love to socialise. We don’t tend to work nine to five. We get to work at 9am, sometimes earlier, but we would then

discuss the football match, chat about other things and have coffee together. It’s a culture that just leaves things for the day after—“manana, manana”—but still somehow manages to get it all done. The working day might not end until 10pm, but even then we are still chatting, and then everyone goes out together and continues to talk about work, girls, football. We socialise all the time, whether that’s at work or in a nightclub. How important is food to the Argentinean way of life? Food is an even better excuse for us to socialise. Our meat is fantastic and we eat a lot of it. Perhaps the best way to describe Argentine food and our approach to eating would be an asado, which is kind of like a barbecue over here. Friends gather together and quite by chance decide to have an asado. We would all go off to the supermarket or the butchers together and usually drink a beer while choosing the ingredients. We then light the fire, carry on talking and drinking, and that ridiculous lunch would last four or five hours. And that has to do with the socialising aspect of what Argentina is all about. I think family and social life are the most important things for us.

But instead you ended up in London... My brother Franco was studying over here, so I came for a visit in 2002. I arrived with no money and so I needed to get a job. Straight away Franco brought me to Borough Market, a place he loves, and I found a job working for Enrico and Stefano on their Sardinia Organics stall. I later set up a business there called Argentine Folklore, selling regional products both sweet and savoury for you to take home in a jar. You eventually renamed the business. What does Porteña actually mean? The men of Buenos Aires are known as ‘porteño’, while women are known as ‘porteña’—that was the inspiration for our name. What does the Porteña stall sell at the Real Food Market in Covent Garden? We make empanadas, which are a very popular street food throughout Argentina. They are small pasties made from a very thin, light dough, with a variety of rich fillings. In Argentina, empanandas are all about sharing. Friends might meet and then decide to go to someone’s house to watch a football match. Nobody wants to cook and so you call for a takeaway. Most pizzerias in Argentina make empanadas, so instead of ordering pizza you would order 24 or 36 empanadas—it’s always by the dozen—of various fillings. The box would be delivered and you’d share out the empanadas. We make ours entirely from scratch and at Covent Garden we sell beef, chicken, and spinach and ricotta emapanadas.

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TASTE Emperor Augustus Augustus Harris the man was manager of the Drury Lane Theatre from 1879 to 1896. Augustus Harris the deli is opening near the theatre this autumn, at 33 Catherine Street, selling Italian produce by day, and by night cicchetti—

small snacks, in Italian—crostini and wines. The deli is modelled on a Venetian bacaro, a word meaning ‘house of Bacchus’, the Roman god of wine, music and a good old knees up—fitting, considering the theatre impresario was as famous for being a bon vivant as

he was for being the father of modern pantomime. You‘ll find his likeness on the corner of Catherine Street and Russell Street, and you’ll find his legacy in the theatre, and in the luscious selection of wine and food being served nearby.

Porteña The Real Food Market Every Thursday (11am-7pm) East Piazza

I hear you also do a mean chorizo sandwich. Yes, our customers seem to love them. Everyone knows that steak is very popular in Argentina, but so too is chorizo. Our chorizo is a mix of beef, pork and spices, and we have it made here by a supplier who uses an Argentinean recipe. In Argentina a chorizo sandwich is known as ‘choripan’. What else do you sell? We do chimichurri sauce in 250g jars. In Argentina we would use it as a meat dressing, so at every asado we have it as a sauce on the side for you to put on the steak once it’s done, and it’s also very popular on chorizo. The English really like their dips and sauces, and chimichurri can be used in all sorts of ways. It is suitable for vegetarians, so it goes on salads, pizzas, bruschetta and pasta, but it’s also an amazing dressing or marinade for any kind of meat—beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish. Anything for the sweeter tooth? I always describe dulce de leche as the Argentinean Nutella, but instead of chocolate it’s a caramel that we spread on everything. Porteña makes four kinds— original; salted, which is superb; one with maple syrup; and another delicious one with hazelnuts. Those four are a must. And we also do alfajores, one of the most popular bites in Argentina—two homemade cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche and then covered in either chocolate or meringue. Latin America is famous for street food. How does the Real Food Market compare? I would say that the interaction between traders, food and people is pretty similar, and it has the vibe that markets should have and a great offering of different foods. And Covent Garden itself is alive, because of where it is, what it is, what it offers and the mix of people who come here. Have you picked up any peculiarly British food habits since moving to London? I love British food. I used to have lots of Sunday roasts, but the one thing I really like is brunch, which has to be with a delicious beer. I picked that up from the British.

/Coffee column


/Angela Holder attempts to answer the hoariest of questions: What is your favourite coffee? Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but coffee and snobbery are hard on their heels like daylight and robbery. In fact if you subscribe to the former you are likely to experience the latter. The question that I am asked the most, after the one wondering if I don’t get sick of tasting so much coffee (....!) is “what is your favourite coffee?” Those who are a bit more knowing ask what I am drinking at the moment, since my favourite coffee depends on what is roasting well at the time that I am asked. But what I believe they are asking is that hoary old chestnut: what is the best coffee? And therein lies a minefield of class, price, marketing, quality, experience and ultimately, palate. Here I shall pause to tell you of a young innocent, taking her first steps along the road of coffee knowledge, initiated into the cult through an establishment that shall remain nameless. I shall say no more than it was once a respected purveyor of quality coffee beans, but is now known best for its novelty chinaware and chocolates. Our young heroine, seeking guidance, asks for the best coffee and is directed to Kenya AA and she appreciates it. She then returns to the shrine and chooses for herself Sumatra Blue Lingtong (because the name is so pretty and blue is good, isn’t it?) and verily hates the resulting brew because it tastes like an old earthy sack. And she thinks, is there something wrong with me that I do not appreciate this coffee? It takes her many years to recover from this delusion. Because the truth is that Sumatra Blue Lingtong does taste like an old earthy sack. The moral of

this story is: talk to the bean seller and trust your tastebuds. The world of specialty coffee can appear complicated and obscure. Is the best coffee indicated by a grade (AA, Grade 1, Strictly High Grown), a brand, a farm or fancy name, a particular country, the level of roast or the way that it is made (espresso, filter, syphon)? While these all have their part to play in producing great coffee, they can also play their part in obscuring the truth. The two things that matter in this quest are the quality of the raw coffee beans and what tastes good to you. For coffee to be of good quality it needs to be free from defects that make it taste bad, such as moulds, bacterial contamination, insect damage and age. Specialty coffee is defined by its lack of defects, therefore these are the best beans; but what will make it the best for you is whether you like the flavour. My favourite coffee? I can tell you that it is sweet, complex and balanced with welldefined acidity and depth—and that will not help you with your own choice. But if I said that these qualities are for me most often delivered in a cup of Kenyan or Colombian coffee, well, that might be a start.

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Jimmy Hardwick, the legendary pianist at Joe Allen, tells Clare Finney about the politeness superstars, being name-checked on Desert Island Discs, and taking Rock Hudson to Heaven

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The Subways and (previous spread) Charlie Simpson: Two of the acts whose careers have been rejuvinated by PledgeMusic

Liz Taylor was tired, so she asked me to take Rock Hudson out clubbing. I took him to Heaven, the gay bar, and he had a great night

He himself could “write 20 books on it”. I have somewhat less space in which to describe the life, times and tunes of Jimmy Hardwick: pianist at Joe Allen and best friend to the stars. A few months after Joe Allen’s tasteful refurbishment was first revealed, a few hours after being served with the first of several expertly-made mojitos, and a few minutes after the pianist has completed his usual two hours of faultless performance without a score anywhere in sight, I’m finally prompted to ask him how he learnt. “Oh, I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I just took to it when I was 10. I didn’t have any lessons—my sister had loads, but she could never play a note. I just picked it up. I found I could learn a tune within a week, and I never stopped playing.” In the 60 or so years since trumping his sister, Jimmy’s playing has only ever improved. In the 1970s he moved down to London from Stafford and got a job that

same night at a bar on Albemarle Street. It was there that he met Elaine Stritch, the darling of Broadway, who recommended him to restaurateur Joe Allen, her fiancée. Yet even by that point in his life, Jimmy had already been brushed by fame. Her name was Sue Nicholls, a fellow Staffordshire lass and family friend of the Hardwicks, who’d known Jimmy since he was little. To the rest of us, she was, and still is, Coronation Street’s Audrey Roberts. “‘What are you doing in this dump?’ she asked me one day,” recalls Jimmy. “‘You’re too talented. You should come to London.’ She’d just got a place in Crossroads, and was moving there. So I walked out on it all—my lovely flat in Stafford, the small town life, the family business—and travelled down in her car with her.” He moved into her back room. He saw the Albemarle Street job in the Evening Standard, and applied immediately.

“I wouldn’t do it today, of course but when you’re young...” He tails off. For a moment, I expect him to launch into a wistful piece of blues—but alas, tonight the blues are not on the cards. It’s a Wednesday evening, and he’s playing the early crowd—pre-theatre punters, birthday parties, star-gazers looking to spot some of Joe Allen’s celebrity regulars—and the tunes are chosen accordingly: light jazz and classic pop punctuated by a Happy Birthday each time a candle-covered ice cream appears. Yet for all that Jimmy is clearly an essential part of these guests’ nights, it is not the sort of evening which made him the institution he, and his dazzling digits, have become. Joe Allen today is lovely—good food, lovely staff, buzzing atmosphere—but it’s about those legendary evenings of old that everyone wants to hear. Those sorts of evenings were in the late 70s, when the Ivy was closed and Joe Allen’s, the latest import from New

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ARTS Joe Allen 13 Exeter Street 020 7836 0651

York’s thriving dining scene, first opened its doors in London. Jimmy was there from the beginning—initiated into the lives of the other half by his stint at Les Ambassadors, on Hyde Park Corner, but not yet so hardened that the sight of Princess Margaret casually smoking her way through a pack of Chesterfields while listening to him “tinkle the keys”, as he modestly calls it, did not widen his eyes. “It was amazing,” he says, shaking his head. “She came here every night in those days, those Hollywoody days. Joe Allen had opened in New York, and the American stars on in the West End knew it, and liked the food. They made it the place to be.” Every night at 9pm, as the theatres emptied and Jimmy took his place at the piano, Joe’s would start to hum: first with some post-theatre diners, then, gradually, with the sorts of names that would soon make the bar one of the most famous watering holes in the capital. Dustin Hoffman,

Elizabeth Taylor. Mohammed Ali, Liza Minnelli, The Beach Boys. “Oh, this is real name dropping, darling,” Jimmy, says, looking abashed. Fascinated, I urge him onwards. “Tennessee Williams used to sit just there,” he says, gesturing. “I had dinner with him often. Amazing, when you think of those great plays he wrote.” When Rock Hudson came in with Taylor—“an old man with grey hair, by then”—Jimmy took him out on the town. “Liz was tired, you see, and she asked me to take him out clubbing,” he recalls, disbelievingly. “I took him to Heaven, the gay bar, and he had a great night. He was lovely.” Though the cast list of Jimmy’s life here spans three decades of film, music and theatre, there is hardly a name on it for which he does not have some words of praise. “The bigger they are, the nicer they are,” he shrugs. “It’s strange. You get some little pop stars who’ve done some telly ads and they say to us, ‘I want to sit there’ when

they haven’t booked and we’re full—then you get people like Diana Rigg, who came in the other week without booking, and we said we were sorry, but she’d have to go to Siberia”—the corner in Joe’s where they put people who haven’t booked—“and she just said: ‘It’s fine, it’s all the same food!’” Though necessarily the very soul of discretion, I get the sense Jimmy could tell some tales if he wanted. He’s swum with Princess Margaret, and he’s sung with the late, great Ava Gardner. He’s talked politics with Richard Griffiths, and had his playing personally commended by Leonard Bernstein. He’s seen “everyone, darling” —at least, everyone who was famous in the 80s and 90s: his celebrity count has gone down dramatically since his working hours were brought forward to the pre-theatre slot starting at half past six. Yet while he clearly misses this “golden era”, he is endearingly conscious of how wonderful his life has been. “I never wanted fame and fortune,” he says emphatically. “I feel very lucky—I have been very lucky. I’ve always been in work, I’ve always had a meal at night, I have made a lot of great, great friends.” On his music stand, there is no music. There are simply the cards and letters he’s received from friends and well-wishers, and on Desert Island Discs the other week he received his first shout out from one of journalism’s most prestigious figures—the first female editor of the Mirror, Felicity Green. “I was sitting in my old armchair a few months ago, and Desert Island Discs came on. Felicity was the guest, and the very first record she chose to take to this island was George Gershwin’s They’re Writing Songs of Love,” he says. “When Kirsty Young asked her why, she said: ‘Can I dedicate it to Jimmy at Joe Allen?’ I was so surprised I spilled my tea.” It’s a charming story—and one which sums up Jimmy’s time here nicely. For all the unexpected, sometimes unwelcome, developments he’s experienced here, you know that for Jimmy, as for the staff and the stars he’s befriended, Joe Allen is home. It’s where his memories are. It’s where he found himself. He’d be as lost without it, as Joe Allen would be lost without Jimmy—and after sitting in silent contemplation of this, it surprises neither of us when the manager interrupts to say: “Sorry, but can Jimmy start to play again?”

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nce a rm rfo in ns, e w p ens edia e n p b’s om o f com usic Anna ut u l o C o lo m . tal ak R ll cal d live enueGJ abthe ns i p v s O o Ho , the th a r Js an ajor s to Cg and usicia e Th ace er wi ts, D ny m talk akin zz m sp tob t ac ival a rews s sh of ja Oc bare to r And , as lity ca tists an- king l qua ar apm crac enta Ch ene end sc nsc tra

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ARTS The Hospital Club 24 Endell Street 020 7170 9100

CGJ: Let’s start at the beginning—what is The Hospital Club? Anna Chapman-Andrews: We were set up nine years ago this November to be a hub to support creative industries. We want to support people who work in creative industries with our building and our service and the various facilities that we have. Our motto is “create, connect and collaborate”, so it’s helping people make stuff and helping people meet people so they can work together. In an increasingly digital age it’s very difficult to know where to look, how to curate all creative content and businesses out there. You need a filter, and we’re like a physical manifestation of online sites like Londonist or It’s Nice That. People meet at our bar, ideas are formed and we help make them happen through our facilities: TV studio and dressing room, screening rooms with production facilities, music rooms with production facilities, event function spaces, gallery space—and a pool table. Of course. How did the idea for the Oak Room come about? Essentially, we needed more space for members. The membership is growing at an amazing rate, and we’ve been thinking for a while now about how to create more room. We had this space on the far side of the fourth floor which has always been a music studio, permanently occupied by a producer. It’s got great infrastructure—completely sound proofed, cables everywhere, teched up to the hilt—and while it’s been amazing to have some great bands in, it wasn’t really optimising the space. We felt it could work better if we opened it up. We were sitting on a gold mine really, in terms of performance space. In the daytime it can be another lounge or bar area, and because it’s soundproofed we can have live music events well into the night. Who’s it for? It’s for members really. Obviously members can bring guests along—three in the day, six in the evening. The whole objective here is to make life better for people in the creative industries, whether that’s through members’ event programmes, facilities and equipment like the production room

and studio, or simply offering a network for people. It was originally a passion project set up by David Stewart and Paul Allen to support the creative industries without any other agenda or objective. It’s important we don’t lose sight of that. What sort of acts will appear? It’s a very diverse range. The average age of members is about 35, but we’ve got about 20 per cent under 30 and a good number up to 50 or 60 years old. Four events a week is quite a lot, and while we’ll have DJs for two of those nights, we’ll also have comedy, cabaret and live music from the likes of Peter Kerry and we’re even talking to Paul McCartney. We’ve loads of comedy acts coming down from the Edinburgh Fringe, and we’ve got Paul Chowdhry doing a surgery with all sorts of comedy names. As for cabaret— well, they’re launching the London Festival of Cabaret here, and we’ve loads of acts lined up. How have you managed to secure such great people? Our creative director and head of music has really good contacts at the record labels, and they are always looking for good venues to showcase material. This is the perfect place because it’s a small space, a fairly select audience, and we’ve a quality rig as well as recording facilities—not to mention great kit thanks to our sponsors’ donations. It’s kind of a win-win situation, especially if we get broadcast quality recorded content out of it too. We’re partnering with Gill Mills from New Music Matters, so she’ll find new stuff—but our general MO is to find and support new acts, people just about to crest the wave. What’s it like inside? There is a stage of a decent size, which will be there permanently but will be curtained off in the day so we can store all the furniture and kit and use it as a lounge. At night it will have about 100 capacity, and there’ll be about 60 covers in the day. It has been designed by Russell Sage Studios, who did the Zetter Townhouse, Tuttons, and all the rest of our building that you can see now. He is a really lovely guy, and hugely talented.

What do you expect from it? Well, to be honest we’ve never done something like this before, so to a certain extent we just have to see how it goes. The plan is for it to be quite a diverse programme with a few returning acts and DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. That will be strange. We’ve always stayed open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, but it’s generally been people sitting around drinking cocktails, not dancing their asses off. I’m intrigued to see how the opening night with Psychemagik goes. I’ve been listening to them all week and they’re brilliant. We’re already booked out. What’s in it for the acts themselves? A lot of people will use it for trying out new stuff and creating new audiences. For music, it is about creating new content too. For comedy—well, it’s a marketing opportunity. You’ve all these acts coming down from Edinburgh, wondering where to go next. This is a good location and, unlike a lot of venues, we’re not charging you to play. If you’re looking to crack the London scene, it’s a good place to start. What are you looking forward to most? Well, I’m interested to see Psychemagik, because they haven’t had an opportunity to DJ in a club space so it’s like we’re giving them wings for the first time. They do a lot of remixes, they produce stuff—they’re dancey, but in an inoffensive, fun way that is not exclusive. As for cabaret artists—well, people have raved about Soirée Pompette. They do a load of variety acts in French, but badly. None of them can speak it. The one I’m probably most excited about, though, is Jumoké Fashola (pictured), the jazz singer and spoken word artist. She’s been at Ronnie Scott’s, the Albert Hall, has her own BBC show, and now she’s going to be a regular for the next three months or so here. She’s so, so cool—she has this vast voice, and wears an amazing turban and red lipstick, and she describes herself as a ‘griot’, which is an African word for story teller—but she has also been absolutely lovely to deal with, and I can’t wait to meet her properly. There’s something about jazz artists. I don’t know much about them, but it’s like they transcend time. Yes, she’s the one I’m most excited about.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory If there’s one thing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not short of, it’s music—thanks to the Oompa-Loompas, whose fiendishly honest ditties were a highlight of this rich and sticky story. Their cautionary tunes warn of the

perils of chewing gum, television and consumerism. The book was therefore the perfect fodder for director Sam Mendes and playwright David Greig to create a new musical. And the litany of praise the production has garnered suggest both have brought their talent to

bear on Dahl with skill and enthusiasm. The Guardian’s Michael Billington described it as a “lavish feast of a musical”—and that, from a man who’s known for being as searingly honest as an Oompa-Loompa—is praise indeed.

Roots 3rd October—30th November Donmar Warehouse


/Donmar Warehouse

‘Tis the season to champion British theatre, according to the Donmar Warehouse, whose still-fairly-new creative director Josie Rourke announced its autumn season would “examine life on these islands and consider how we find our place in the world”. Come October, the Donmar will go back in time—to 1958—for Roots, the brilliant centrepiece of The Wesker Trilogy by Arnold Wesker: a play set in a time when social upheaval and the tense divisions between city and country act as a catalyst for young people in search of self-knowledge and change. The young person, in this case, is Beatie Bryant, whose short trip to the bright lights to London leaves her full of new ideas—and new love. His name is Ronnie Kahn. He’s the son of working class Jewish family in east London, and he’s due to visit Beatie’s family home in rural Norfolk within days of her return home. During that time, she happily regales them with tales of him, his family and his beliefs. Her family, meanwhile—farm labourers who have only ever known the countryside and how to work it—are sceptical, but eagerly curious to receive this man into their home. The day arrives. No sign of Ronnie. Instead, a letter is delivered by the postman, announcing his conclusion that the relationship could never work. Embarrassed then incensed, the family turn on Beatie with a vengeance—yet after initially fumbling, Beatie discovers something strange, even radical, for her age and place: she has a voice. “I can stand on my own two feet,” she cries in the final scene. Directed by James Macdonald, and starring Jessica Raine, this play a tale for all time even while being very much of its time, and as such, is considered one of the best scripts Wesker ever wrote.

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ARTS El gato con botas See the opera singers of the future in El Gato con Botas—Puss in Boots—for the non-Spanish speaking amongst you—to be performed at the Royal Opera House on 18th October as part of the institution’s annual Meet the Young Artists Week. Written for children by

Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge, this musical fairytale drama promises excitement for all ages, not least because it is the director Pedro Ribeiro’s first production since leaving the Jette Parker Young Artist programme, and Spanish opera is only rarely performed here. As we write, designer Simon

Bejer is in the process of creating some fascinating costumes and mechanical creatures. These, its “light and charming music” and its bite-size running time make it the perfect introduction to the Royal Opera House’s next generation.

The Ladykillers Until 26th October Vaudeville Theatre



/Vaudeville Theatre

/Inside Story Our anonymous West End insider gives a backstage view of life in Theatreland

A dear old lady sits alone in her decrepit house while outside a gang of hardened London criminals scheme against her. As far as comedy plot lines go, this one promises very few laughs. Nevertheless, when The Ladykillers debuted in July it was deemed “faultlessly witty” and won a Best New Comedy award. What happened? “How do you do it?” It is a question I One extreme example of food liberation The answer lies with a 1955 British film remember being asked while in the process of occurred during the run of Dead Funny, a classic and two men of the moment: reaching for my knife and fork. If you have read drama based around the fact that Frankie director Sean Foley, and Graham Linehan these columns before, you may have noticed Howerd and Benny Hill died on the same day. —the writer who fathered Father Ted, that a liking for Italian reds has occasionally The premise of the play is a group of friends The IT Crowd and Black Books. made it onto the page, but there’s been getting together to celebrate the lives of these Black comedy is their forte. Inspired by little mention of the other side of the food and two great comics. Contention ensues and the the Ealing comedy written by William Rose, drink duopoly. whole play ends with a giant food fight with the pair adapted the story for stage by What was surprising my questioner everything from sausage rolls to a full trifle adding new jokes, farcical moments of was that it was about midnight, I had an being hurled around the stage. As you can physical theatre, and Wildean epigrams enormous—and by the way delicious—plate imagine, the ensuing clean-up was one of the that sparkle beneath the violent events. of steak and chips in front of me, and I had messiest I have ever been involved in, as food The story is a thing of beauty: that casually happened to mention that it was my was swept, scraped, wiped and scrubbed off Mrs Wilberforce should store a will of iron first meal of the day. the set at the end of each performance. behind her sweet exterior is of course Now I’m not someone with a reputation During one such clean-up, one member predictable—but that the gang should for “passing up a pie”, as a carpenter friend of the stage crew scooped up a piece of trifle, disguise themselves as amateur once charmingly put it. But if I am busy it would popped it in his mouth and carried on his musicians is quite spectacular, and lends not be unusual for me to go through a 14 hour merry way. Over the run of the production, itself to Linehan and Foley’s comic flair. shift existing on nothing more than packets of sausage rolls, crisps, the odd drink and of Cue their being forced to play for one of crisps and mugs of tea. This is not a conscious course more trifle went the same way. Mrs Wilberforce’s gatherings, and passing choice. It’s not that I’m choosing not to eat— While this might not seem all that bad at first off their clamour as ‘avant garde music’. unlike those denisons of the catwalk. glance, I ask you to remember that the food The cast includes some of the finest I, and most of my brethren, just kind of forget. had been prepared several hours before stage and screen comedy actors going: Then suddenly, in a short break, the idea of being brought on stage and then spent some Simon Day (The Fast Show), Ralf Little food bubbles up from some dark recess, considerable time sitting under hot theatre (The Royle Family), and the Olivier leading to a hurried dash out to the high street lights. Hardly Marco Pierre White. After a while award-winning Con O’Neill and John Gordon to find the nearest snack. It all leads to a I developed a genuine admiration that we Sinclair. Angela Thorne is Mrs Wilberforce, rhythm of eating throughout the industry that never received a call from casualty. In fact, and brings to the role a lovely physicality would have the average nutritionist reaching our ever-grazing friend never seemed to suffer and intelligence. There’s a parrot called for the valium. any ill effects at all. General Gordon, and the set is a vividly Occasionally there will be a reliable source Over the course of these missives of realised rendition of a King’s Cross of food—the show itself. Any show that has mine I have occasionally sought to excuse townhouse, riddled with winding staircases, ever included edible—as opposed to stage the somewhat irascible demeanour of the crooks, nannies and rot. —food as a prop will attest to a mysterious backstage brotherhood. These excuses have The Ladykillers is crying out to be seen, yet consistent gap between the amount of ranged from a lack of sunlight to over-sensitive and it would take a hard heart to ignore the food actually required by the production and actors. Now I’ll add another item to a rather pleas of a little old lady—even if you do end the amount of food said production appears long list. Just what are the symptoms of up crying with laughter by the end. to consume. random but regular food deprivation? 49 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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Tenderpixel 10 Cecil Court 020 7379 9464

National Portrait Gallery St Martin’s Place 020 7306 0055

Somerset House Strand 020 7845 4600

Are we conditioned to demand progress and resolution? That is the question posed this autumn by artists Giles Bailey, Tom Crawford, Camilla Wills and Rehana Zaman. Once again Tenderpixel has reaped a fine crop of Goldsmith graduates, fresh from the university’s famous fine arts course. Zaman composes anecdotes and short stories drawn from a variety of media, abstracted and carefully staged. Tom Crawford draws on British cultural references to explore the efficacy of art, and how it interacts with Western economic liberalism, while Wills uses various media to interpret literary language. Last but not least, there’s Giles Bailey, a protégé of the Royal College of Art. “Working with texts, video fragments and choreographies I propose a historiographical model that acknowledges doubt, subjectivity and reduction as inevitable factors when making sense of past events,” he says.

Admittedly, the phrase “a startling likeness” holds little weight within the walls of the National Portrait Gallery—the finest collection of startling likenesses in the country. Yet when you first catch sight of Jonathan Yeo’s rendition of, say, Michael Parkinson, it’s as if Parkinson himself had just walked in, and the same is true for the other sitters on display—Kevin Spacey in his role as Richard III, Grayson Perry as Claire, Rupert Murdoch, and Tony Blair at the end of his premiership, war-weary, grimly determined and grey. Sitters have been selected from the world of politics, media and the arts, and are rendered in Yeo’s characteristically precise yet self-consciously artistic style. In the foreground, the faces have a photographic quality, yet the background is blurred, engendering a sense of hidden thoughts and actions. The immediate effect is one of recognition, but the lasting impression is that of a person who is simultaneously both unknown and known.

Billed as the first ever exhibition dedicated to a chef and his restaurant, El Bulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food takes a behindthe-scenes look at the legendary laboratory and kitchen of the internationally renowned restaurant whose owner reinvented what we mean by food. When Ferran Adrià joined El Bulli, it was already set on its path from golf course to gastronomic mecca. Adrià just happened to give it a mighty engine, a rocket launch pad, and a turbo charge. Academics have been relatively slow to study the subject of cooking. El Bulli’s handwritten notes and sketches, plasticine models, bespoke utensils and videos change all that, with tantalising effect. As Adrià himself points out: “Even though the restaurant of El Bulli is now closed, the spirit of El Bulli is still very much alive and this exhibition is one of the ways of keeping it so. For some, I hope it will revive good memories, and for others it will give a flavour of a fine dining experience like no other.”

Until 5th October /Somerset House

11th September—5th January /National Portrait Gallery

EL BULLI: FERRAN ADRIÀ AND THE ART OF FOOD Until 29th September /Somerset House

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19th September—12th January /Courtauld Gallery Courtauld Gallery Strand 020 7848 2526

The most remarkable thing about sculptor Richard Serra’s fame is not so much its scale (which is probably on a par with his characteristically massive sheet steel sculptures) but its longevity: over the course of his career he has been the subject of two major retrospectives, 20 years apart. And the trick to that is that he’s not afraid to try something new. Although best known for his steel work, Serra has put his hand to rubber, fibreglass, handmade Hitomi paper, and Belgian linen. His exhibition of drawings for the Courtauld Gallery, due in September, will see him work with transparent plastic sheets. Serra grew up near a shipyard in San Francisco, and its abundance of spare raw materials was a formative influence. “All the raw material that I needed is contained in the reserve of this memory which has become a recurring dream,” he has said of the place. This series, produced exclusively for the Courtauld, pushes the boundaries of drawing into yet another Serra-shaped space. 51 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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Mark Riddaway looks back at the momentous events of 150 years ago that helped turn football into a global sport, but might just as easily have resulted in an orgy of holding, charging, tripping and hacking

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One hundred and fifty years ago, on the evening of Monday 26th October 1863, 14 highly respectable men, most of them sporting the kind of sturdy facial hair that underpinned the Empire, gathered together in a Covent Garden pub, drank some ale, set out an agenda—and then, unbeknown to them, completely changed the world. The venue was the Freemasons’ Tavern, a Great Queen Street pub located where the Connaught Rooms now sits, and the attendees were representatives of 11 London football clubs. The result of their meeting was the foundation of the Football Association, the organisation which would, in rapid succession, codify what is now the world’s most popular sport, arrange its first international fixture and establish its most famous competition. It seems hugely fitting that modern football was invented in a pub—boozers and ball sports have retained a symbiotic relationship ever since. Remarkably enough, that very same pub had hosted the inaugural meeting of The Geological Society a few decades earlier. Other than a predilection for digging themselves into holes of their own making, geologists and the FA have little in common, but they do share a common wellspring. This auspicious meeting was arranged by one Ebenezer Cobb Morley, a London solicitor, originally from Hull, who had formed Barnes FC in 1862 but was increasingly frustrated by the lack of established rules. The football played by the 11 clubs represented at the tavern was a product of the English public schools which, in the early 19th century, had become hotbeds of sporting endeavour. Every school had its unique take on football, with participation actively encouraged by schoolmasters who believed that team sports developed character, instilled toughness and prevented adolescent boys in all-male environments from constantly diddling with themselves. Rules differed wildly from school to school—the size of the pitch, the shape of the goals, the number of players on each team, the degree of handling allowed, the level of violence accepted. When former pupils set up football clubs as adults, the rules they adhered to tended to be those of their alma mater. This was

all very well, but made things difficult when clubs abiding by different laws attempted to arrange fixtures with each other. Morley, a born organiser who also founded a major rowing regatta, decided to take action. He wrote to the Bell’s Life sports newspaper proposing a governing body for the sport in a similar mould to the MCC and, encouraged by the response, set about arranging that seminal night in the pub. At that first meeting, Morley was elected secretary of the FA, while Arthur Pember— the representative of the NN Kilburn club and a colourful character who for part of his career worked as an investigative journalist uncovering corruption and misdeeds in New York—was named the association’s first president. Looking at a picture of the man, this decision was clearly taken partly on basis of his moustache—a thing of extraordinary heft and wing-span, like a large, hairy bat lodged head-first up his nostril. Throughout November and December, the association returned to Covent Garden on successive Tuesday evenings with the objective of “establishing a definite code of rules for the regulation of the game”. Morley’s initial hope was to engage the major public schools in the process, so he wrote letters to Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Westminster, Winchester and Charterhouse inviting them to join the FA and have their say in collating the new rules. With that extraordinary sense of self-importance and high-handedness that was—and still is—pumped into their alumni like growth hormones into battery chickens, the schools either turned down the invitation (Harrow: “We cling to our present rules, and should be very sorry to alter them in any respect”) or, in the case of Rugby and Eton, simply refused to reply. As one Bell’s Life correspondent put it, for one of those schools to alter their own game would be “a tacit confession of superiority of the school whose rules they adopted and a destruction of the glorious traditions connected with his own peculiar game which are handed down from generation to generation”. Despite the indifference of their public school peers, the London clubs proceeded on the difficult path towards consensus, encouraged by teams from around the

country whose ideas flooded in by post. Things were complicated slightly when, on 20th November, with the FA’s discussions at a sensitive stage, Cambridge University suddenly published its own updated set of football rules— elegant in their simplicity and likely to have greater influence with the grand public schools than a bunch of ageing Londoners in a pub. This put the cat among the pigeons somewhat, with some FA members keen to adopt the Cambridge rules in their entirety and others steadfastly opposed to the university’s ideas. In the end, the FA, while clearly influenced by the Cambridge rules, carried on with its own drafting process. The average Freemasons’ Tavern meeting seems to have broken down into two distinct phases. The evening would start with the reading of letters from club captains around the country excited about the new association and wishing to throw in their tuppenceworth as to whether or not, for example, crossbars are a necessity. It would then continue with an almighty row over two absolutely fundamental questions: Can a player catch the ball in his hands and then run with it? And once he is running with the ball, can his opponents then scythe him to the ground using whichever form of violence they might choose? Bellowing “yes” to both questions were the excessively manly representatives of the three Blackheath clubs—Blackheath, Blackheath School and Perceval House. With strong connections to Rugby, these three clubs all played the variation of the game that had taken shape at that school—a game to which the concepts of “running” and “hacking” were absolutely central. The first draft of the FA’s new rules, drawn up by Morley, attempted to accommodate the preferences of the Blackheath set. Rules 9 and 10 ran as follows: 9—A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries’ goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the firstbound, but in the case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark, he shall not then run. 10—If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries’ goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip, or hack him, or to wrest

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I think that if you do away with it you will do away with all the courage and pluck of the game, and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen, who would beat you with a week’s practice

the ball from him; but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time. That last point was an important part of Rugby lore: repeatedly kicking a player’s lower leg with hefty swings of a heavy leather boot is clearly manly and right, but doing so while he’s being restrained by one of your teammates simply isn’t on. For clubs used to playing a more sedate “dribbling” game, these rules were completely untenable. William Chesterman, the honourable secretary of Sheffield FC— now the world’s oldest surviving football club, which codified its own rules in 1858— wrote to the FA stating that rules 9 and 10 were “directly opposed to football, the latter especially being more like wrestling. I cannot see any science in taking a run kick at a player, at the risk of laming him for life.” Proving that he wasn’t entirely soft, Chesterman was, however, deeply sceptical about the FA’s nascent plan to outlaw boots with nails hammered through them, the use of which he considered to be entirely safe. JC Thring of Uppingham was even more acidic in his objections. He called rule 10 “a concession to Rugbean ideas, giving them their little amusement of breaking each other’s shins occasionally”. Matters came to a head during a fiery meeting at the tavern on 1st December. Charles Alcock of Forest FC, later captain of England and founder of the FA Cup, insisted that the controversy over rules 9 and 10 be settled for good. Morley agreed, declaring himself neutral on the subject and stating his belief that “hacking is more dreadful in name and on paper than in reality”. His concern though, as it was throughout this arduous process, was to create a set of laws that would be widely embraced by the nation’s clubs. Hacking, he decided, would seriously inhibit the association’s reach. “If we have hacking,” he told the gathered members, “no one who has arrived at years of discretion will play at football, and it will be entirely relinquished to schoolboys.” The fearsome FW Campbell of Blackheath was outraged, insisting that outlawing hacking would appeal to “those who liked their pipes and grog or schnapps more than the manly game of football”. Even worse, it might even appeal to the French. “I think that if you do away with it you will do away with all the courage and pluck of

the game,” he blustered, “and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen, who would beat you with a week’s practice.” Given the current domination of our game by obscenely skilful foreigners who can dance like ballerinas but fall over at the slightest touch—never mind a good kicking in a pair of hobnail boots—Campbell’s stance seems remarkably prescient. Ultimately, Morley’s pragmatic position—based on the idea that anyone who isn’t an indolent aristocrat can’t afford to have his professional life interrupted by a pair of broken shins—garnered more sympathy than Campbell’s belief in “that spirit of the game” embodied by Rugby school. As Morley pointed out, “Mr Campbell himself knows well that the Blackheath clubs cannot get any three clubs in London to play with them whose members are for the most part men in business, and to whom it is of importance to take care of themselves.” The dribblers held sway, and the Blackheath hackers flounced off to form the Rugby Union. The remaining delegates returned to the pub on 8th December to ratify a list of the 13 laws of football, which were sent for publication by John Lillywhite of Seymour Street in a booklet that cost a shilling and sixpence. Keen to see its new rules in action, the FA arranged a match between Morley’s Barnes FC and their neighbours Richmond at Limes Field on 19th December—a less than scintillating 0-0 draw. Richmond, rather ungratefully, became a rugby club shortly afterwards. The rest of the planet proved somewhat more receptive.

55 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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Give us a clue Stevie Martin embarks upon a modern-day treasure hunt of cryptic clues, text messages and a half naked man in a park. Welcome to the world of Cryptic Covent Garden.

“We’d be crap in the Da Vinci Code,” my friend says as we walk up and down an exhibition for 40 minutes without looking at any paintings. This is shortly after we’ve walked into a bar, pointed at an inanimate object, yelled “YEAH!” and left immediately. Ten minutes after leaving the gallery, my friend is solving a code on the back of a Pret napkin while I eat soup. Not your average Sunday morning fare—but that’s what Hidden City treasure hunts are all about. Remember when Easter egg hunts and tracking clues were only for children’s parties? Or rather, the really, really good children’s parties? Co-creator of Hidden City, Rob Reason wanted to recapture that giddy excitement for adults after organising a family event and realising he and his brother, Nick, could turn treasure hunting into a viable business. “We thought we could leave notes around the town, but then realised that people could move them, and the idea suddenly came to us: use text

messaging so they can answer a question to prove they got the set of clues,” he says enthusiastically a few days before I try out their most successful hunt, the “moderately cryptic” Cryptic Covent Caper. And it does exactly what it says on the tin. From when you text “start” (after a specific time specified by the site, and after registering for your preferred hunt), the messages lead you to various places around the city via cryptic, location-specific questions. Once you respond with the correct answer (often after pointing at inanimate objects and yelling “YEAH!”), the next question is sent through automatically. If, as I did twice, you send the incorrect answer, you have one more life before a 10 minute penalty is added to your overall time. Or, if you’re really stuck, you can skip. Each team has one lifeline and one free hint (you just text “hint” and get a, y’know, hint) before the penalties start racking up—but it’s less about pressure, more about having

fun and seeing some truly beautiful, hidden parts of the city. Communication is key though, otherwise you may end up in a weird park by Victoria containing three men openly weeing in a bush and a half naked guy yelling obscenities, after your partner in crime impatiently Googled the (apparently wrong) answer. If only she’d stopped me with the words, “This is totally the opposite direction to Covent Garden and doesn’t relate to the clue at all! Let’s reconsider!” then we could have requested a hint. Instead her careless Googling cost us a lifeline. I then cockily answered another clue with a jokey (if correct) response—because it’s an automatic text service, it only recognises the correct answer. Top tips for treasure hunting: don’t try to have a laugh with automated text messaging, and never Google the answer. Dodgy parks aside, this hunt begins on the South Bank and snakes through Covent

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Hidden City: Find a transport café. Head to the top deck for a What line inspired the seating? Help!

Hidden City: A street with a scent of petals has a spa for ladies only. What does it close on a Tuesday? Hidden City: GHJKKJE JHJ YIKO OWNNHLD. EADBBD MMKL SADHAAS? the cryptographers. Hidden City: Stone workers meet with secret on impressive monarch’s road. opposite is what number? Some more clues...

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Hidden City: Seek the courtyard owned by William. What are the menus? ...? Some more clues...

Garden, showing off some of London’s finest hidden hotspots that I can’t mention specifically in case I ruin the experience. And no, this isn’t one for the tourists— unless they’re the sort of travellers interested in seeing what real Londoners do for fun (apart from looking angry on the tube). “When we set up the Covent Garden hunt, we were expecting non-Londoners to be the target market, but it overwhelmingly appeals to people who already live in the city,” says Rob. “Our hunts are a way for Londoners to rediscover their home. We even changed the tagline for the company after realising this, from ‘discover’ to ‘rediscover’.” In fact, they’re constantly changing everything—maintaining hunts and making sure the clues haven’t been moved requires a constant watchful eye: “It’s important to regularly check the hunts—we make a record of all the skipped clues and, if one keeps popping up, we’ll go and check it out


Hidden City

to make sure it’s still there,” says Rob. “The trickiest part of the job, though, is probably also the most fun: the logistics of actually coming up with the treasure hunts.” There are, at the moment, four trained “hunt builders” focusing specifically on the creation and maintenance of new hunts in London. From their base in Angel, they also employ people for the site upkeep and use the automated text message system— which has proven a lot easier than the previous method of Rob and Nick running around London sending texts manually— but, obviously, the clues are a pretty crucial part. “It’s tricky creating a clue that’s cryptic but unambiguous, so you don’t send people to the wrong side of London by mistake,” he says. “The first hunt we ever did, we made the fatal error of including a reference to Damien Hirst to direct teams to Tate Modern but one of the guys knew he started off at a Notting Hill restaurant so they all got in a cab. At the time, they were less

than 100 yards from the Tate.” Thankfully, they’ve figured out how to balance the clues to ensure this doesn’t happen again. There is, as with everything, a knack to it: “It’s about planning the start and the end first, and then filling in the middle afterwards. The hardest bit is the logistics, because you can spend forever working out where you want the clues to be. Everything can be a clue. The possibilities are endless!” And why does he think Covent Garden is the most popular? Quite simply, the history and the variety on offer. “We pick an area carefully, because it has to be the perfect setting for a playground, or rather, for playing,” Rob explains. “One of the big benefits of Covent Garden is the fact you can explore a few different areas without being hindered by cars, but there’s also so much history there. Like the rules inscribed in stone in the Piazza, there are lots of tiny bits of history all around you, as well as really obscure things you can explore.” After three hours, we arrive at our final destination—a place I’d never have found, or probably gone to, if it weren’t for HiddenCity—with a real sense of accomplishment. I feel a bit like a fiveyear-old spotting that last, glittering Easter egg hiding up a tree. Except, in this case, we reward ourselves with a massive pint and a nice sit down because it’s 2pm and that’s totally acceptable after you’ve been cracking clues like Sherlock Holmes with a penchant for strange parks and Pret soup. Turns out that Rob and his brother have created an experience that enables everyone to not only see their city differently, but also feel like they could, at a push, be really good in the Da Vinci Code.

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KF Cove

Marshall Street, Soho W1F Perfect for entertaining

A slick and stylish apartment to rent in Soho conveniently located for London’s West End. Situated on the fourth floor of this newly finished managed apartment block with concierge. This spacious apartment features 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms (2 en suite) and an open plan kitchen and reception room, which is ideal for entertaining. EPC rating B. Available furnished £2,250 per week 020 7499 1012 (MAQ184247)

Park Street, Mayfair W1K Newly renovated

A newly renovated elegant and spacious first floor apartment to rent in a quiet and desirable Mayfair location a short walk from Hyde Park, Marble Arch and Oxford Street. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (1 en suite), large reception room, kitchen and lots of storage space. This property benefits further from high ceilings and lift access. EPC rating D. Available furnished £1,200 per week 020 7499 1012 (MAQ126362)

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PLACE Knight Frank 020 7499 1012


The view from Aldwych Apartments, 2 Kean Street

Knight Frank is increasingly focusing its attention upon the property market in Covent Garden. We spoke to Rahim Najak, who deals with lettings, to find out more. CGJ: Is it true you’re upping the ante in Covent Garden? Rahim Najak: We’ve been there for a while, but mainly focusing on the W Residences— the apartments above the W Hotel—which involve 11 penthouses, both let and managed by us. Now, though, we have quite a strong presence in the area—particularly with new builds and warehouse conversions—and we’re incredibly enthusiastic about the Covent Garden patch. We’re actively expanding our team so we can really push it further. What’s the reason behind the push into Covent Garden? Our applicants in Mayfair come from all over the world—they either move to London for the lifestyle or for corporate reasons—and a lot of them have started directly asking about Covent Garden. The demand is so high we have decided that it’s time for us to make the most of it! Why do you think this is? It’s the lifestyle. Mayfair is very corporate, picture perfect and lovely... but you’re

surrounded by office space. If you’re a young professional moving to London for the first time, Covent Garden is a lot more vibrant—there are great shops, restaurants and transport links into London with the Piccadilly line. The location works very well because it’s central but offers everything right on the doorstep. You never really need to go anywhere else! What sort of properties are you letting at the moment? The W Residences really do have everything, and they’re pretty amazing. But we’ve also been dealing with some penthouses on Marshall Street, and they’re typical of the requests we get for Covent Garden: sharp, clean, modern-looking. They have smart wood flooring which makes them very low maintenance, and they always look fresh. What sort of people rent from you? It varies from area to area, but in Covent Garden we get Europeans, Americans and Canadians as well as a fair few Londoners. Also a surprising number of students who pick the places for their close proximity to the universities and the nightlife—the budget of some students is incredible, with some of them looking at £5,000 a week!

Where would you like to live in Covent Garden? My favourite part is around the Piazza, and I also love Maiden Lane for the restaurants. I often eat at Fire & Stone and The Maple Leaf. In terms of apartments, though, we launched some developments at the back of Covent Garden called the Aldwych Apartments. All of them are rooftop-style living, but the view from the penthouses there is the best we’ve ever had. You can look all the way down Aldwych. Sounds like a typically grand Knight Frank apartment! Yes! That development shows how easy it is for us to find gorgeous properties in Covent Garden for the type of applicant who might initially be looking in Mayfair. They soon realise that the properties are both amazingly good and available at prices you would never see in Mayfair. Knight Frank has a knack for finding those extra special apartments. It also helps us that more people are willing to have a look in other areas of London, whereas in the past they just were unshakeable. They wanted to live in Knightsbridge or Mayfair, and that was it. Covent Garden is up and coming, there’s no doubt about it, and it’s attracting far greater interest than ever before.

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61 Covent Garden Journal Issue 21 Autumn 2013

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Stirling Ackroyd All around the West End WEST WEST END SALES SALES ›› 1 bedroom ›› Leasehold ›› Wood flooring ›› 2 minutes from the Piazza ›› Close to Covent Garden station ›› 620 sq ft



New Row. WC1

WEST WEST END SALES SALES ›› 2 bedrooms ›› Communal roof terrace ›› Newly renovated ›› High ceilings ›› Walk in wardrobe ›› Use of hotel facilities >> 1,549 sq ft



Kingsway, WC2B

Please contact our West End office on: 020 7256 3244 SHOREDITCH 020 7749 3838

CLERKENWELL 020 7549 0606

WEST END 020 7256 3244

HACKNEY 020 7749 3807

BANKSIDE 020 7940 3888

IBIZA +34 971 326 788

ISTANBUL +90 444 4493

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Covent G



£950 pw

WEST END LETTINGS › 2 bedrooms › Within landmark development › Period features › Wood floors › Excellent transport links › 24 hour concierge

St Pancras Chambers, NW1


£650 pw

WEST END LETTINGS › 2 double bedrooms › 2 bathrooms › Newbly refurbished › Moments from the British Museum › Concierge › Close proximity to Holborn station

Pied Bull Court, WC1A

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Letting Agency of the Year 2013

Phoenix Street, Covent Garden WC2H

ÂŁ995,000 share of freehold

Excellently sized, 2 bedroom apartment, found on the 2nd floor of this highly sought after development, in a choice central London location. With a contemporary interior offering 2 double bedroom en-suite, guest bathroom & private balcony. EPC rating C

Sales 020 3040 8300 cgj_issue21_pp56_64_place_proof02.indd 64 Che 4285 Covent Garden J 250x200 DPS 2 prop.indd 1 23/09/2013 10:44 15/08/2013 21:51


AN INDIAN CULINARY FEAST Experience our Thali Menu LUNCH £7.95 1 course 12pm - 4pm

DINNER £14.00 3 courses 4pm - 7pm

Try traditional Indian foods prepared and cooked by our head chef and his team who are all highly experienced in Indian cuisine. All of our dishes are freshly prepared with natural ingredients, ranging from street food, to the more extravagant and unusual, we guarantee this will be a food experience not to be missed.

Northumberland Avenue, Covent Garden WC2N Daawat at Johnstons 2 Burleigh Street, London WC2R 0JJ t: 020 7379 4737 | e:

A stunning 3 bedroom apartment found on the 3rd floor (with lift) of this exclusive period development, moments from Trafalgar Square. Offering excellent living space with high ceilings & much natural light, the lateral apartment offers just over 1,800 sq ft of accommodation. Comprising 3 bedrooms, principal suite with en-suite bathroom room, separate guest shower room, superb reception room & separate contemporary kitchen. EPC rating D

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£1,500 per week

Che 4285 Covent Garden J 250x200 DPS 2 prop.indd 2 23/09/2013 12:07 15/08/2013 21:51


AN INDIAN CULINARY FEAST Experience our Thali Menu LUNCH £7.95 1 course 12pm - 4pm

DINNER £14.00 3 courses 4pm - 7pm

Try traditional Indian foods prepared and cooked by our head chef and his team who are all highly experienced in Indian cuisine. All of our dishes are freshly prepared with natural ingredients, ranging from street food, to the more extravagant and unusual, we guarantee this will be a food experience not to be missed.

Northumberland Avenue, Covent Garden WC2N Daawat at Johnstons 2 Burleigh Street, London WC2R 0JJ t: 020 7379 4737 | e:

A stunning 3 bedroom apartment found on the 3rd floor (with lift) of this exclusive period development, moments from Trafalgar Square. Offering excellent living space with high ceilings & much natural light, the lateral apartment offers just over 1,800 sq ft of accommodation. Comprising 3 bedrooms, principal suite with en-suite bathroom room, separate guest shower room, superb reception room & separate contemporary kitchen. EPC rating D

Lettings 020 3040 8400 cgj_issue21_cover_revise.indd 2

£1,500 per week

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Autumn 2013 Issue 21 of your FREE guide to everything that is anything in Covent Garden




Autumn 2013

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