21 Jun THE MAPPETITE MILE: KNIGHTSBRIDGE ENVIRONS
Welcome to affluence central where Eurocrats, Expats, and Arabcrats make their mark along retail dense thoroughfares and posh restaurants nestled into gilded London environs. Be ready for a mash-up of Brits on weekend shopping sprees and the tour
ist hordes cramming the streets with Harrods bags in tow. Top off your debit cards – while you might get a bargain at the middle-brow big box retailers, Knightsbridge is not for the faint at wallet.
Away from the hustle-bustle of Brompton Road you’re in white glove neighborhoods of Georgian, Victorian & Edwardian townhouses, terraced crescent blocks and small mews. Pretty as they may be they repeat themselves and, unless you’re one of the residential advantaged denizens who live here, you’re not likely to get much
out of a detour into these upper-crust enclaves.
Have a “wow” moment when you see the behemoth that is the BROMPTON ORATORY but otherwise there’s not much else to hold your interest at this colossal church. Head in the direction of HYDE PARK CORNER and drop in at APSLEY HOUSE, aka the WELLINGTON MUSEUM, for a glimpse of well preserved aristocratic life in all of its 19th century grandeur. While it is a public museum, a portion of the house is still used by the Duke of Wellington’s descendants, period furnishings and all. If this gives you a hunger for living the rich life, look beyond Constitution Arch to the gilded world of Buckingham Palace and Mrs. Windsor, her Royal Majesty the Queen.
Up for a splash of tasteful home design? Our favorite shop is the mid-century-centric gem that is SKANDIUM. Pass over the handful of service shops and tourist marts and it’s fashion, from the low to high ends of the retail spectrum, that figure prominently on Brompton Road, the high street in Knightsbridge. It’s here that fashionistas and the burka-cloaked collide with shoppers and glazed over tourists. A stroll down Sloane Street is for those with an expensive taste of couture on their palate. In the department stores it’s a bit of a frenzy at the ginormous HARROD’S while HARVEY NICHOLS makes for a more subdued shopping experience.
Lots of fine dines if you’ve got money and a bit of time. Nestled within the grandly Edwardian MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL are BAR BOULUD and DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL. Chef Boulud gives you his usual French par excellence while chef Blumenthal presents a British menu with a unique English historical culinary twist. The trendy American plays itself out at FRANKIES NEW YORK ITALIAN , a restaurant tethered to chef Pierre Marco White, but, sorry, this thematic supper spot is in the basement, literally, and we’re not fans of below ground gimmicky dines.
There’s lots of mediocrity to the hookah touting restos along the Brompton Road strip and of course, there’s the HARRODS FOOD HALLS, a cavernous space of staged restaurants and food counters that is more theme park attraction than the culinary destination it was back in the last century.
For an open and airy alternative to an in-store dine by all means make a stop atop HARVEY NICHOLS at its FIFTH FLOOR restaurant. While you’re there bring your grocery list for a walk down the the aisles of its FOODMARKET . French is very smart at the enduring RACINE and for a bit of classic Chinese find your way to THE GOOD EARTH though, under all circumstances take a seat at the cool circa 1970s bar or a table upstairs before the hostess makes a play to seat you in windowless downstairs confines.
It’s worth the trip to the oh-so-close Belgravia and the cobble stoned Motcomb Street with exceptional pub eats at THE PANTECHNICON PUBLIC HOUSE & DINING ROOM, Indian fusion at AMAYA and a fine Italian at ZAFFERANO. Not hankering for a sit down dine? Well, lucky you there’s the luxe to-go offerings from OTTOLENGHI and you can always play it safe at upscale grocer WAITROSE’S topnotch packaged plates.
With all this savory, what about the sweet? No question to the top-notch bakes prepared at Ottolenghi in Belgravia. In Knightsbride COCOMAYA is a charmed spot for superior morning cake bakes and chocolates (at publication date this location, 235 Brompton Road, was not listed on their website). There may be a handful of other options but it’s LA DUREE, nestled into a corner of HARRODS that, even with all its rococo-ness, is patisserie and viennoiserie extraordinaire. Problem here is
enduring the conspicuously rich tea-goers and the preciousness of it all. With that in mind, you might opt for your mille feuille and macarons to-go.