London life

It’s coming: Balthazar Boulangerie



I won’t quite believe this ’til I see it with my own eyes, but here goes anyway. The opening of Balthazar, the London chapter is imminent (so we’re told), but first we’re getting Balthazar Boulangerie on February 6th. That’s next week!*

According to Zagat.com, the famous New York brasserie will open its bakery next Wednesday selling oven-warm goodies to take away. Situated next to the main restaurant in Russell Street, this will keep us fed until Balthazar proper opens it doors. I’ve been holding my breath for years for Balthazar London so this will bring it a little closer. And just in time for LFW too…

*UPDATE: Opening delayed until Monday 11th. what a tease!

Balthazar Boulangerie, 8 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HZ. Weekdays: 7am – 8pm. Saturdays: 11am – 6pm

[Image of New York Balthazar Boulangerie via Zagat]



Cassie Mercantile



Cassie Mercantile vintage showroom

While some vintage stores are bailing out, others are doing perfectly fine, thank you very much.

The sublime but secretive Cassie Mercantile is a vintage clothing dealership with a showroom in genteel Holland Park. Owner Graham Cassie is a shy Scot who spends his days sourcing post-war Americana, love-worn army surplus and the odd spool of vintage haberdashery trim on his travels around the globe. He sells to upper-end designers on the lookout for inspiration as well as scooping up the perfect beat-up suitcases and just-threadbare-enough old flags to fashion into Japanese shop window displays.

On my recent visit he wouldn’t let me get too snap-happy (frankly, he doesn’t need the publicity) but allowed these gems. Clearly, there’s some mileage in vintage threads yet.






Coffee and cones



fortnum & Mason coffee and mini ice cream cone

When I first happened upon the revamped Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, I practically recoiled in shock. What had they done? In their effort to modernise, all the character had been sapped out of the poor shop. A few months on and I decided to give it a second chance. To my surprise I discovered a gem. Parlour Restaurant on the first floor is a darling little ice-cream parlour, designed by David Collins (Madonna’s decorator no less) and decked out American diner style with a 50s Italian twist.

The pistachio-green chairs work beautifully with the fondant-coloured china and floor-tiles, while neopolitan-hued lampshades coordinate very nicely indeed. But it’s not just about the decor. There’s a choice of fabulous ice-cream sundaes including a few alcoholic ones and great attention is paid to presentation. My favourite touch? The mini-sized ice-cream cones served with the capuccinos in their own little holder! Absolutely adorable.