Quick — while you still can: have a weekend. A normal one, in these last precious moments before Christmas comes armed with tinsel and glad tidings and enforced jolliness, all calculated to wipe out any semblance of real life.
While there’s much to enjoy rather than endure over the festive season – ice skating, the Christmas markets, that sort of thing – take the chance to enjoy London before the shoppers pounce and the pubs heave unpleasantly and all the rest. From a cracking new restaurant to one of the capital’s best festivals, here’s what to get up to in London this weekend.
The restaurant: The Barley Mow
Not that the better known Barley Mow in Marylebone isn’t good – it is – but it’s a proper pie ‘n’ pints gaff. This, from the Cubitt House group, decidely is not. Downstairs is a smart pub bar of tobacco leather and white butchers’ tiles, upstairs is a handsome room of blue and brass. It feels like being on the dining deck of an old yacht. The food, overseen by Ben Tish, is Mayfair pub to a tee: oysters, Dover sole, roast chicken wet through with sage and truffle butter. If you’re popping in during the day for a snack, try the “hot meat bun”; ignore the unappealing name, it’s effectively a delicious burger dripping in gravy, and it’s gorgeous. Good Martinis too.
Open now, 82 Duke Street, W1K 6JG, cubitthouse.co.uk
The bar: Bruno’s
Do Fin and Lorcan Spiteri have webbed feet? Damned if I know, but they certainly love the water. The brothers have followed up Caravel, their floating Regent’s Canal barge restaurant, with Bruno’s, which also floats and is moored up next door. There’s something classic in the water, clearly: it’s inspired by bars of New York and London, with velvet armchairs and low-lights. Fin is in charge of the drinks; his experience includes time at 69 Colebrooke Row, Quo Vadis, and Ladies & Gents.
Open now, 172 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7JL, @Brunos.Cocktails
The exhibition: The New Black Vanguard
The Saatchi Gallery is running its first “late” this Friday for its new exhibition, the New Black Vanguard. Featuring the work of 15 international photographers, the exhibition is “a celebration of Black creativity both in-front of and behind the camera.” Besides the chance to go around the gallery after usual opening hours, there will a talk from two of the photographers featured, a figurative movement drawing session, and a pop-up bar.
£10. Friday November 18, Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, SW3 4RY, saatchigallery.com
The club night: One More Time 2003
Over at VFD this Saturday, it is the club that time forgot. 2022 and its horrors are but a faraway nightmare: this is 2003, when Popstars: The Rivals had just been won by Girls Aloud and Gareth Gates still had his stutter. S Club 7 became S Club 8 and Busted were time travelling to the year 3000. You get the idea. Head to the queer arts space on Saturday for a night of carefree pop trash, with DJs spinning till 3am.
£6 in advance, £8 on the door. Saturday November 19, VFD, 66 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB, vfdalston.com
The gig: London Jazz Festival
The London Jazz Festival has returned for its 29th year with more than 300 events in some 60 venues. It has a mercurial feel; this is music constantly moving and mutating. Over the weekend, look out for Los Angeles-based soul-jazz diva Lady Blackbird playing the Barbican on Friday night with Doom Cannon, as well as the globally-acclaimed Melody Gardot at Royal Festival Hall on Saturday, and, back at the Barbican, a tribute to the late, great trumpeter Don Cherry, which features Kahil El Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Neneh Cherry and others.
Various prices and salts, across London, efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk