Thursday, August 27, 2009

South Bank Serenade

You could argue that the charms of the South Bank are fairly obvious. River, restaurants and culture: who could ask for more? But if you're looking for something away from the tourists and buskers, you can find it there, too -- without much effort.

As I've mentioned several (or a thousand) times, the South Bank has a very special place in my London. It's where I met The Man, where he proposed, and where we got married a few weeks ago. We have some great memories of Tate Modern, concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, and many, many riverside dinners. So where better to go to celebrate The Man's birthday?

Hot on the heels of receiving an invite to screen his film at Leeds International Film Festival in November, it made sense to nip into the British Film Institute for a drink at their relatively new Benugo Bar and Grill. This is a great place to grab a funky-coloured armchair and relax away from the legions by the river -- we didn't even know it was there until passing by the side entrance of the BFI! Surrounded by the buzz of industry people, heady with success, we downed our Passion Pushers (don't ask) and went off to the nearby National Theatre for a brilliant short play by Caryl Churchill (Three More Sleepless Nights).

With two hours to kill before our dinner at Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall, we headed to the Oxo Tower for some drinks and jazz. Although very visible from miles around (literally -- you can see it from Hampstead Heath on a clear day), you have to hunt a bit for the entrance. Once located, we were whisked up to the eighth floor for views that rival the Tate Modern's, not to mention great jazz. Our waiter bestowed nuts, olives and a great Medoc upon us, and time flew as we listened to two guitars while night fell.

Back out into the fray and down to the Royal Festival Hall to Skylon for dinner. Formerly known as The People's Palace, I've wanted to go to the revamped restaurant since the Royal Festival Hall reopened a few years ago. With a great offer from the Evening Standard in hand, we trotted over to the grill section and proceeded to devour some chicken liver parfait, duck legs and risotto.

Then back home for a decadent raspberry and lemon cream cake... with candles, of course!

O South Bank, how I love thee!

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