Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Angela Hartnett’s London

Head chef of The Connaught for five years, Gordon Ramsay-trained Angela Hartnett is now chef patron at Murano, which won a Michelin star last year, and also at York & Albany.

November 07 2010
Hilary Whitney

“If I’m not working I get up around 9.30am, jump in the car and take my Jack Russell, Alfie, to run around Victoria Park near my home in east London. If I’ve managed to get up a bit earlier (which isn’t very likely), I might go for breakfast with my sister and my lodger at St John Bread & Wine, where you can get lovely things such as pikelets with apricot jam.

On the way home, I’ll do a bit of shopping. I like to shop locally and I’m lucky to have some wonderful shops nearby in Lauriston Road, such as The Ginger Pig, which is a great butcher and deli, and Bottle Apostle, a wine shop. The less I have to go into town, the better.

I’ll chill out around the house for the rest of the day and, in good weather, I’ll sit in the garden and read the papers. But if Arsenal are playing at home, I’ll go and cheer them on with my friend Hardeep.

Around 3pm, I might go to Pizza East, Nick Jones’s pizza place. It’s usually packed but if you go after lunch on a Saturday, it’s much more relaxed. I like to sit at the bar with the paper and a glass of wine. Or I might see a film at the Rich Mix cinema – a fairly recent addition to the neighbourhood – or at the Barbican, which has big comfy seats. Again, cinemas tend to be much quieter on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not into rom-coms or action films, but I do want to see something entertaining and fun, such as In the Loop or An Education. My favourite film of all time is Cinema Paradiso.

Because I’m often working in the evenings, I really appreciate it when I can stay in and not do very much. We’ve got some very good neighbours and we often eat at each other’s houses. I like to keep it simple; a few weeks ago I invited some friends over at the last minute for an impromptu dinner of salami followed by steak and salad, washed down with some decent wine. I bought a Bakewell tart from St John Bread & Wine, and served it with cream and honey.

If I do go into the West End to meet friends, we’ll probably go somewhere like Scott’s or J Sheekey. I also like Hix on Brewer Street and Polpo on Beak Street. A lot of my friends work in restaurants and we don’t meet up until about 10.30pm, so we need to go somewhere nice and easy, where you can wear jeans and no one minds if you only have one course, if that’s all you feel like.

I don’t go to pubs very often, although when I go to watch my friend’s band, I make up for it by going to some really dodgy ones. I love going to gigs – one of my best nights out last summer was seeing Blur in Hyde Park with my friends Tom and Simon. Poor Tom had a broken foot but after the concert, Simon and I dragged him all the way across London to Shoreditch House, where we stayed until about four in the morning.

East London gets very crowded on Sunday mornings with people coming to Columbia Road and Spitalfields markets, so I might escape to Wandsworth, to see my aunt, or visit friends in Southend; but if I stay at home, I like to read the papers and watch Andrew Marr on television. In the afternoon I’ll meet up with friends at this great coffee place, Nude Espresso on Hanbury Street.

A group of us have got into the habit of meeting up once a month for supper on Sunday. We might go to Galvin La Chapelle or Su Sazzagoni, a lovely local Sardinian restaurant, and we sit around and plan skiing holidays and trips to Italy that very rarely to come to fruition because we’re all so busy. If I don’t fancy going out, I’ll settle down in front of Seinfeld with a takeaway curry from Lahore – probably the best in London. Then I go to bed and read for a bit – I’m currently reading a Nancy Mitford – and I’m all set up for the week.”

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People, Chefs