Stephen Friedman’s perfect weekend in London

The Mayfair gallerist, a leading voice in contemporary art, represents established names such as Mamma Andersson, Yinka Shonibare and David Shrigley alongside exciting emerging talents

Stephen Friedman at The Serpentine Gallery, London
Stephen Friedman at The Serpentine Gallery, London | Image: Jooney Woodward

“On Saturday morning, I have a light breakfast of yoghurt and fruit, then head to the Central Synagogue on Great Portland Street, which always puts me in a good mood. I find the songs so uplifting; they take me back to my childhood in Montreal, where I went to a Hebrew school. I know lots of people in the congregation and a number of them are clients, so we have a gossip and sometimes I’m still there at noon.

Then I might pop into my favourite boutiques. Trunk on Chiltern Street is where I buy Incotex trousers, which are really the only ones I wear; I pair them with Zanone jumpers from Slowear around the corner. I have about 20 pairs of New Balance trainers, but I buy all my other shoes at George Cleverley.

Or I skip the shops and take in an exhibition at one of the bigger galleries such as the Serpentine. I also love the South London Gallery in Peckham: its director, Margot Heller, is one of the most talented in the city.

My business is hyper-social; I’m out at events all week, as is my husband Edward, so we like to spend time alone together at the weekend. We might start Saturday evening with an early supper at the bar at our Fitzrovia local, Clipstone, where I’ll order the arancini with brie and wild garlic aioli if it’s in season, or Cornish hake, and always its delicious homemade sourdough. Then we’ll round off the night with a foreign film at the Everyman on Baker Street or the Curzon Mayfair.


If we are feeling more sociable, we’ll go for dinner at The River Cafe with our friends Erdem Moralioglu and his architect partner Philip Joseph. Ruth Rogers is a great friend too; she always takes great care of me and will make me spaghetti alla bottarga – with shaved, cured fish roe – even if it’s not on the menu. And it has to be the roast almond ice cream and almond tart for dessert. Or, if we haven’t already been on Friday evening, we’ll head to Dukes in St James’s for a martini. We always sit at the same table and Alessandro Palazzi, the head bartender, looks after us: Edward likes his martini with gin; I prefer vodka – but both are strong.

On those nights, our next stop is Rochelle Canteen at the Institute of Contemporary Arts for supper. Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold have been catering gallery dinners for me for almost 15 years. It’s such a casual, convivial place with a real mix of people, and often Melanie’s charming son, Fin Spiteri, will wait on us. We’ll usually opt for simple fish and mixed greens, then perhaps elderflower jelly for pudding. I rarely eat meat unless I know its source, which rules out many restaurants in London, but Margot’s place and, of course, St John, her husband Fergus’s, are exceptions.

On Sunday morning, if I’m lucky, Edward makes me breakfast in bed: two perfectly poached Burford Brown eggs with mashed avocado on toasted rye bread. Then we pack up a light lunch of carrots, cheese and a couple of apples and head out of town for a long walk. If it’s fine, it’s easy to jump on a train to Margate and hike via Broadstairs to Ramsgate – that part of the coast is so beautiful; I love the changing shapes of the clouds above the sea and trying to imagine how they influenced William Turner – but if the weather is inclement, we’ll head for Epping Forest.

After the fresh air, I take a hot bath and then we cook supper together, read the papers and switch on a period drama such as The Crown or Victoria. I have been living here for almost 30 years, so I too have now adopted this very British Sunday-night ritual.”


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