It was another Friday night dash to Edinburgh Airport for my weekly summer weekend escape. I was back down to London this weekend having managed to secure the year before tickets to the much coveted Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. When flying to London there are a number of airport choices – Luton and Stansted for those on a budget, Gatwick or Heathrow for those looking for quality with easier city centre connections and City – an airport right on the edge of the city. We had booked in advance given the show dates and so managed to secure reasonably priced city tickets meaning after a quick 50 minute hop we arrived into London and were able to order an uber all before 8p.m. We had chosen to eat at Ellory – a wine bar in Hackney and close to the airport so after a 20 minute ride we had arrived at a quaint, small and very hipster wine bar.
Due to the promptness of our flight we had actually arrived early for our reservation and so sat at the bar enjoying some interesting sparkling muscadet before making our way to our small table. The style of the meal was sharing plates and so we ordered a feast of genuinely some of the best and most reasonably priced food I have ever eaten in London. This consisted of; freshly cut chorizo and bread, burrata (mozzarella cheese filled with stracciatella and cream) in a gorgeous basil oil with tomatoes, mussels with fresh greens and a lovely rich butter sauce, tomme de chevre French cheese with shaved courgettes and bobby beans with bottarga (cured fish roe). Every single element of the food was stand out. We had a lovely bottle of Loire muscadet to accompany it and the service was impeccable. A gem of a find. After eating our fill we caught the bus to the nearest tube and headed to our hotel – Courthouse Hotel located just off Oxford Street in the heart of Westminster.
We awoke rested, the hotel was nice, but definitely not worth the 5 star rating. You are paying for location and not service or quality here. We had arranged to meet a friend of mine in town before our show and so after sleeping in we made our way to Eneko @ One Aldwych for a Spanish bottomless brunch. Bottomless brunches are a must do when in London and make really good value for money if you are planning on drinking a lot. We sat with a cava catching up before our food arrived. I had the oxtail on milk bread (tasting but uninspiring), the Hot Hog (iberico ham and mushroom duxelle or a basque muffin) which was very similar to the oxtail but came in a cute pig box and the black pudding with piquillo peppers. The restaurant itself was completely empty other than us but was aesthetically very beautiful and quite grand. It felt a bit strange being the only people in such a large building and none of the food was spectacular but it was nice to see Alicia and the food and unlimited cava came to £35 so quite good value.
Sensible Samantha would not have consumed 6 glasses of cava prior to going to a double theatre performance but alas, I am yet to meet sensible Samantha. We were running late for the show and so ran over and at least missed the queues before finding our seat. The show was spectacular, the magic was brought to life in ways I didn’t imagine possible and despite the characters being portrayed very different than those in the original books I was gripped by the storyline. It is without a doubt the best live play I have seen and I would highly recommend it anyone else with an interest in Harry Potter – you could see it with no background but a lot would be lost on you. It is sort of a reimagining of a lot of the original books. We had a bellini at the interval and purchased some merchandise before sitting down for the second half. It was only at the end of the first play that I realised I had managed to lose my sunglasses which despite some frantic searching of areas of the theatre and reporting them missing were never to be seen again.
It was on a slightly despondent note that we headed to nearby Chinatown for dinner. I was annoyed at having lost my sunglasses and not having managed to stay awake for the whole play (this is a serious problem I have in falling asleep in warm dark rooms at inappropriate times). We had decided to eat at Opium – a cocktail and dim sum bar in the heart of Chinatown given our quite heavy Spanish themed lunch. However, as earlier, we were the only people in the place when we arrived. We ordered some cocktails – I got a Goat given this is my birth year which was particularly fantastic and a variety of dim sum including; Cantonese barbeque pork buns, spicy duck dumplings, mushroom and truffle dumplings, and king prawn dumplings. The dumplings were fine, nothing special and not particularly interesting in flavour which is so important for a tiny dumpling ball. The cocktails were fantastic however and so we had a few before heading out to find another bar for a quick drink.
We stumbled across Archer Street Cocktail Bar which we decided to check out because of the crowds. There were no seats so we sat at the bar and after ordering some cocktails had a pleasant surprise when one of the staff jumped onto a table and started belting out “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. All of the bar staff took turns singing musical classics and it was fab. We were not really in the mood to leave when we had to head back to the Palace Theatre for the second instalment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. By this point I was really quite drunk and exhausted and so sadly I didn’t manage to stay awake for the whole thing but as with the first play the second was just as fabulous – a particular highlight was when death eaters came and circled the entire theatre in a terrifying display. We checked again with the theatre before leaving but unfortunately, no luck in finding my glasses. We spent the rest of the night on the town in London. I definitely couldn’t tell you where we went but we managed to make it back to our hotel before collapsing into a sleep induced coma.
As you can probably infer the next day was a write-off with us sleeping in and then finally managing to make it as far as the pool where ultimate concentration was used to prevent my head from moving and causing horrendous pain. We escaped just before lunch and I managed some mango and a chai latte from Pret which perked me up a little. We had another brunch planned for the Darwin Brasserie at the top of the walkie talkie building planned that afternoon and so we made our way grudgingly along still not feeling great. The place was absolutely packed with people and despite arriving on time we were asked to come back 10 minutes later. We were eventually seated with some lovely views over the gardens – although not the city since the restaurant is in the middle of the building rather than the edge. The starter was a buffet affair which was small but nice enough with salads, meats, bread and cheeses. I felt more human after this and the bloody mary and so ordered some red wine with my steak main. The dish – traditional roast beef (inedible and covered in non-rendered fat) was served with cold and unappetising accompaniments. It was so bad I sent it back and got some mediocre gnocchi instead. I was disillusioned by the place by dessert but ate a tiny bit before paying the astronomical bill for at best just ok food. We took some nice pictures of the fabulous views of London before heading back to our hotel and then on the airport.
It had been a quick weekend filled with a lot of alcohol, some fabulous and some terrible food and an unforgettable play. I am sure I will be back again soon.