The Wolseley - Piccadilly London

The Wolseley has been on my list of London 'most do's'  for years! So it was an absolute treat to walk through its doors on my recent visit to the U.K. Even at a glance, it's impressive exterior, with its arched windows and brilliantly decorative iron work, drew me in.

The Wolseley is a café-restaurant in the grand European tradition on London's famous Piccadilly. With a spectacular Listed interior, the restaurant buzzes from early till late, seven days a week.

The great Brasseries of France are the most obvious inspiration for this hugely popular restaurant, but there are few places in Paris that can match The Wolseley for sheer plushness. Originally a 1920s car showroom, it was built on such an extravagant scale that it bankrupted Wolseley Motors. Swift black-clad waiters glide across the patterned marble floor, carrying groaning platters of fruits de mer, steak frites and lobster bisque between the pillars and archways of this Italian-influenced dining room.

It is a celebrity hide out also with London 'A listers' Kate Moss and Jason Statham frequenting often. Madonna, when in London, is often spotted there.

As well as eclectic lunch and dinner menus encompassing European classics, the restaurant serves breakfast, morning coffee, afternoon tea and an all-day menu.

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Bali favourites: The Bistrot

Another new favourite on Seminyak's Eat Street (Jalan Laksmana) is "The Bistrot". This glamorous cafe has a sublime, retro feel to it. In the words of the owners" the restaurant is reminiscent of a chic Orient Express railway dining carriage" and this is so true...

"Discreetly situated behind a beautiful temple but roadside on the very popular ‘Eat Street’ of the Seminyak area of southern Bali, this restaurant and bar has been conceptualised and lovingly put together by the formidable Moroccan and Belgian team of Zohra and Blaise. An impressive wooden and natural hewn stone air-conditioned yet high ceilinged open space, guests immediately feel welcomed upon entering and reminded of a New York loft/factory space with a distinct industrial feel.

The interior furnishings are warm and accommodating, and pay homage to many antiques and artifacts sourced from around the Indonesian archipelago, most being from the couple’s personal collection. The upstairs bar, provides a space that Hemingway would be proud of, and the spacious restaurant area reminiscent of the chic Orient Express railway dining carriage."

The Bistrot

Jalan Kayu Aya 117

Seminyak

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Sydney favourites QT Designer Hotel and Gowings Bar & Grill

This week, while on a three day styling project in Sydney, I revisited one of my favourite city locations. A place I had dropped into frequently when I lived there many years ago... Gowings department store in George Street.

I had known it as a Sydney landmark, a menswear institution for hundreds of thousands of men and their families who had been flocking through its doors since the stores opening in 1912. It was the place to buy menswear clothing essentials, iconic Australian brands such as Bonds and RM Williams (I bought my first pair of RM boots there when I was 21) Australian soldiers were clothed there during the war years. There was even a barber shop where a 'short back and sides' cut was the order of the day. 

Sadly, in January 2006, after three years of successive losses, Gowings closed it's doors for the last time, taking with it generations of memories for Sydney shoppers. 

In recent years, however, the Gowings building has been transformed. The Design Hotel group has opened QT DesIgn Hotel Sydney - and I was fortunate to stay there on my stay this week. 

An article in The Australian newspaper by Christine Mcabb explains it all...

"The scene is set by a streamlined art deco sign above bustling Market Street where dapper porters, sporting berets and jeans, wait on the pavement.

This is hotel as theatre. Staff have been cast not recruited, and all front of house personnel, from the bowtie-clad concierge to the red wigged “Directors of Chaos” visit hair and make up each morning before clocking on.

And “uniforms” are courtesy costume designer Janet Hine (the woman behind Dame Edna’s final frock).

The hotel’s 200 guestrooms occupy the building above the State Theatre and the old Gowings department store linked through the first floor lobby. Entrance is via the glittering former State Theatre shopping arcade where even the lifts get in on the act, kitted out with LED digital art (a feature throughout the hotel) and adjusting muzak according to the number of passengers on board (solo travellers might be serenaded with ‘Are you Lonesome tonight?’).

Local designers Nic Graham and Shelley Indyk have teamed up to deliver playful, stylish but eminently comfortable interiors that incorporate many of the buildings original features (a century old urinal in the men’s loo for example) and take into account the specific idiosyncrasies of each individually styled guest room.

The low ceilinged lobby is scattered with bespoke furniture and dominated by an installation of vintage luggage. The guest lounge is dotted with large velvet ottomans and the wall lined with artfully stuffed cabinets of curiosities (in fact the hotel shop selling all sorts of stylish objets d’art).

Each design-focused guestroom is different (in the Gowings building the original department store floor boards have been retained), decorated in rich reds, oranges, yellows and white, but all share certain features: an incredibly comfy ‘Gel’ bed, cleverly curated ‘artefacts’, quirky bedside lamps (in the guise of top or bowler hats, book binders or vases), an excellent mini bar (stocked with healthy snacks), Nespresso machine and a welcoming martini tray.

Where to eat
Under director Robert Marchetti and executive chef Paul Easson (ex Mebourne’s Rockpool Bar & Grill), food will be a feature at QT. On the ground floor the Parlour Lane Roasters café morphs into a wine bar after dark. Upstairs, the all-day dining Gowings Bar & Grill is the antithesis of your usual hotel eatery, a buffet free zone (in the mornings bar staff front to mix smoothies) featuring a huge open kitchen fitted with wood fired ovens and an impressive glass fronted seafood room where a giant yellow fin tuna (delivered weekly) hangs to be cut as needed. Room service is equally innovative, served in a bento style box for easy, in-bed dining."

 

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Dishoom East London

With its faded elegance and street food inspired cuisine, I absolutely ADORE East London’s latest eatery - Dishoom

The interior and exteriors of Dishoom are exciting, inviting, romantic and eclectic, featuring a clever mix of lighting, sepia family photographs, an array of oyster lamps and bentwood furniture… and a superbly monochromatic colour scheme! The Indian cafe style food is apparently very good but it’s the Art Deco styling that captures me the most. The restaurant is spacious, and the Bombay/Deco interiors are cleverly placed throughout a deliberately unfinished backdrop.

Antiquities, textured glass, and a dominant marble bar all make up the speak-easy charm of Dishoom. Designed by Russell Sage Studio, the designers behind Zetter Town House, The Hospital Club and St. Paul’s Cathedral, it is an imaginative and desirable space.

DISHOOM SHOREDITCH

7 Boundary Street, East London

 Photography, Sim Canetty-Clarke

Photography, Sim Canetty-Clarke


Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza and Garden

This weekend I went "Country".

My good friends Janelle and Callum have opened an amazing cafe, in the town of Avenel in the shire of Strathbogie, Victoria.

I've watched from afar, over the last two years, as they've slowly transformed the former town bank into a truly amazing oasis in the heart of this sleepy village. 

Their hard work has certainly paid off and it is now a charming wood fired pizza restaurant with an absolutely stunning garden complete with a kitchen garden, a huge open outdoor seating area and a lake!

I spent an afternoon with them and enjoyed every minute. (Not hard when the pizzas are to die for, the platters are superb and the service, unfaltering.)

I'm going back soon, for a longer stay! 

Below are a few shots that I took during the afternoon.

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Winter Entertaining

For me, winter is a time for entertaining indoors, with friends and family enjoying my home.

Hosting a winter dinner party is one of my favourite ways to do this. Traditional winter food is good for the soul and will ward of the cold. In my home a winter menu is casual and loosely structured; it might start with a hearty soup and an oven-roasted bruschetta.  Pasta, a roast or slow cooked lamb might follow with red wine and cheese (a favourite winter accompaniment) and of course, a sensational home made pudding or some biscotti for a lighter ending.

When it comes to styling a room for a winter occasion I try to evoke a sense of history and tradition. I set my table with old family crockery and original glassware. I use vintage cutlery and historic serving platters. I might add stacks of antique books and other traditional accessories for authenticity. I like to create an atmosphere filled with elegance and time-honoured style.

A collection of luxurious throw rugs and cushions, an open log fire, and sparkling candlelight (another favourite) will always complete the scene. 

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