A plane crossing the cobalt blue sky – spring is truly here – is a rare occurrence. A daily event at most. There are more joggers on the roads than cars. I go for a walk (self isolated of course) through the silent cherry blossom festooned streets of Mayfair. In St James’s Park a grey squirrel jumps out from a scramble of fellow squirrels, ducks and pigeons, and tamely climbs up my leg. Harrods’ famous shop window displays now feature rainbows inspired by Sir Peter Blake’s new drawing. The pop artist’s rainbow has become the symbol of the city at this time. On the way home, walking along the Thames riverside, a moored party boat devoid of partygoers incongruously blasts Donna Summer’s “I feel love”. A swan glides by. Such is London living during the current health crisis. More ‘homecation’ than ‘staycation’.
Chelsea Physic Garden London © Luxury Travel Magazine Stuart Blakley
Earlier, I’d glimpsed through locked gates the botanically medicinal four acre wonder that is Chelsea Physic Garden, an attraction established in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. The melancholic mood had lingered in the air. My favorite afterwork haunt Shepherd Market, a huddle of intimate international restaurants from French to Turkish to even Polish-Mexican, had been eerily quiet. Spookily so. Passing Michelin starred restaurant Hide, I’d been reminded that its Chef Ollie Dabbous was always ahead of the curve. Even before the crisis, he launched ‘Hide at Home’ to deliver superlative cuisine chez vous. The all day service includes sommelier recommendations from Hedonism Wines.
Hide Restaurant Mayfair London © Luxury Travel Magazine Stuart Blakley
I catch up (virtually) with Ollie who explains, “The only difference between home delivery fine dining and a regular experience in my restaurant is the tableware. We use exactly the same high quality ingredients and preparation.” Online catering companies are one of the few services to be flourishing in London at the moment. Italy born Switzerland trained Russia experienced England based Chef Francesco Bardotti is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his canapés delivery service StandbyChef. Later, I give into temptation and order Francesco’s appetizing appetizers (beetroot hummus; brie and quince; and mushroom truffle) to enjoy on my terrace. “You don’t need to worry about anything!” he says reassuringly. If I can’t go fine dining, fine dining can come to me.
Top photo credit: Francesco Bardotti Canapes London © Luxury Travel Magazine Stuart Blakley