It goes without saying that the height of summer is an ideal time during which to get out and explore. With long days, warm nights and the added bonus of a stretched-out Bank Holiday weekend too, August couldn’t be better for long strolls stumbling across tucked away gems old and new. Here’s our guide on how to spend a perfect summer’s day in St James's.
Explore Chinese Art at 3812 Gallery
Start your day out with a visit to this relatively new, exciting arrival on St James’s renowned art map. It’s the second branch of Hong Kong’s foremost gallery focused on Chinese contemporary art, 3812, on Ryder Street. Running until the 15th September, you’ll find an exhibition of work including the bold and often intricate use of Chinese inks from artist Chloe Ho. Her nudes, portraits and abstract forms blend the inks with coffee on rice paper for an exploration of tradition with a very contemporary expression. It makes a great introduction to the wider cross-cultural work the gallery showcases.
An Alfresco Essential: Lunch at ‘O Ver
Grab a terrace seat for a perfect lazy lunchtime at another recent opening in St James’s Market. ‘O Ver offers a unique menu of traditional and authentic Neapolitan street food that is both delicious and healthy. As the temperature rises, you’ve simply got to go for their cooling octopus carpaccio salad with wild rocket, or the delicately crispy combination of calamari and zuchinne, the perfect dish to enjoy with an Aperol Spritz. Then, move on to one of the beautifully presented pizzas, famed for using pure sea water in the dough, which makes them incredibly tasty and easier to digest too. Fully retractable windows bring the summer inside if the terrace is full: it’s almost as if you’ve found a corner of Naples here in St James’s.
Enjoy the Park Life
Alternatively, for a most British experience, make your way over to the ever-reliable urban tranquility of nearby St James’s Park. The oasis of cooling breezes and leisurely summertime pursuits at the height of August is simply ideal for spreading out a picnic blanket and tucking in to a low-key lunch. If the day is really hot, pull one of the deck chairs under the dappled shade of a tree. Did you know there’s a season ticket available for regular deck chair users and snoozers? If the sun is now losing some of its intensity, take a post-picnic stroll over the Blue Bridge for its picturesque views of central London, framed by the Royal Park’s natural beauty the city looks its absolute loveliest. Nothing will confirm the joy of summer in St James’s quite like it.
Cool off at Fortnum & Mason’s The Parlour
Why not get a little indulgent next, with an afternoon stop-off at Fortnum & Mason’s unashamedly decadent (and award winning) The Parlour? It’s home to build-your-own sundaes, scones and clotted cream and more classic puds, ice creams and shakes. They do detox juices and salads too, but we recommend one of those ice creams, which are a sight to behold, especially when enjoyed in such sumptuous surrounds. Fortnum’s signature take on the Knickerbocker Glory dates back to 1955, way ahead of interpretations of the dessert becoming a menu staple of the 70s and 80s: it’s well worth revisiting now here.
Summer’s Evening with Wild Honey
As dusk falls, punchy cocktails surely make a most fitting end to this glorious August excursion. Anthony Demetre has successfully moved his much-loved Mayfair restaurant Wild Honey to its new site on Pall Mall, St James’s, complete with grand dining room and his innovative ever-changing modern European menus. Try one of the creations containing their very own honey-flavoured vermouth. If tempted by dinner, there’s a deeply summery Cornish cod with warm vinaigrette of cockles that’s sure to top off a day that may well prove the highlight of the whole season.