Meet Your Personal Concierge
Professional soccer player–turned-chef Gordon Ramsay is recognized as much for straight talking (as he does on the TV reality show Hell's Kitchen) as he is for excellent cuisine. The three-Michelin-starred chef has two restaurants in London, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's in Mayfair. After launching his first overseas restaurant in Dubai in 2001, he opened another in Tokyo in 2005. His first American venture opened in November 2006 at the London NYC Hotel. Here he takes us on a culinary tour of London.
IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT...
Kitchen tyrant Gordon Ramsay dictates the ultimate London weekend
Borough Market is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I arrive at 9 a.m., before the weekend crowds flood in (8 Southwark St.; 44-207-407-1002; http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/). Konditor and Cook, a bakery/deli on the eastern side of the market that sells coffee, bread, cakes, and pastries, is a good place to get a takeaway and have a scenic breakfast along the riverbank, a five-minute walk away (10 Stoney St.; 44-207-407-5100; http://www.konditorandcook.com/). After enjoying the views of St. Paul's Cathedral, walk east along the river toward Bankside, stopping at Shakespeare's Globe for a tour (21 New Globe Walk; 44-20-7401-9919; http://www.shakespeares-globe.org/) or the Tate Modern to see its ever-changing contemporary art exhibits.
Since you're in the neighborhood, try your luck for an early “posh” pub lunch and a pint at the Anchor & Hope, one of the best gastropubs in the UK. (The evening wait is notorious due to the restaurant's no-reservations policy.) After lunch, head across the Millennium footbridge toward St. Paul's Cathedral, where many of the capital's important weddings, funerals, and royal celebrations take place. If you're up for a 250-stair climb, you can get a top-down view from the Whispering Gallery. After all that walking and stair-climbing, I'd advise taking a taxi to the Savoy for classic afternoon tea. It's located in the heart of the theater district—perfect for catching an evening show (Strand; 44-207-836-4343; www.fairmont.com/savoy).
When in London, it would be a shame not to try one of the capital's best curry houses. My favorite is the Michelin-starred Tamarind in Mayfair. Try the Peshawari Champen, lamb cutlets marinated in spices, papaya, garlic, and star anise, an invention of head chef Alfred Passad (20 Queen St.; 44-207-629-3561; http://www.tamarindrestaurant.com/). Another good Indian spot around the corner is Benares (12a Berkeley Square House; 44-207-629-8886, http://www.benaresrestaurant.co.uk/). For a nightcap, settle into a banquette and order a martini in the lounge at Cocoon in Piccadilly. There's a DJ until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday (65 Regent St.; 44-207-494-7600). Or try Yauatcha for some Asian-style cocktails and fantastic desserts (15-17 Broadwick St.; 44-207-494-8888).
Provided that I haven't had a late night out, I usually go running in Richmond Park with my father-in-law on Sunday mornings. I'm running my eighth London Marathon in 2007, and my goal is to run ten consecutive races before I hang up my shoes. Even if running isn't your thing, I'd still recommend visiting one of London's many parks, such as Kensington. Kensington Palace, located in the park itself (where Princess Diana lived after her divorce, and where some of her famous dresses are still on display), is open for public tours (Kensington Gardens; 44-870-751-5170; http://www.hrp.org.uk/). If you walk to the south side of Kensington Park, you can carry on into Hyde Park, but watch out for the Rollerbladers.
I can think of no better place to head to for Sunday lunch than Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, not only for the food (which is excellent!) but for the location. Claridge's is set in the center of London's shopping area—with Bond Street on the corner and Oxford Street just a few blocks away, where you'll find Selfridges department store. I particularly enjoy visiting the fantastic food section. Make sure you get a scoop of the authentic Italian gelato at the Oddono's stall, located in a corner of the food hall.
Just in case you still have room for more food after all that, for Sunday evening dinner, I'd suggest Chez Bruce, where head chef Bruce Poole serves perfectly cooked modern British fare. I'm lucky to have the restaurant in my neighborhood, but you'll need to get directions from your hotel or arrange for a taxi to get you to Wandsworth (2 Bellevue Rd.; 44-208-672-0114; http://www.chezbruce.co.uk/). Another option is Richard Corrigan's Lindsay House, which is conveniently located in a Soho town house in the West End. Richard has a unique ability to fuse Irish influences with modern British cooking, and you'll feel like you're eating in a Dickensian dining room (21 Romilly St.; 44-207-439-0450; http://www.lindsayhouse.co.uk/). The food is fantastic at both, but that means that getting a table can be tricky unless you've planned ahead.
Want more insider tips from local luminaries? See all of our "Your Personal Concierge" itineraries