London seems to come to life gradually as the week progresses. Mondays and Tuesdays are relatively quiet days, but come 5pm on Wednesday people are piling into the numerous pubs that seem to be in every corner, spilling into the streets on nice days.
Outside drinking is, in fact, a special feature that differentiates London from New York. There don’t seem to be any regulations against open containers outside, and so people just take their drink into the street and enjoy the fresh air. We’ve also noticed in this past year that more people smoke in London than in NYC, so perhaps outside drinking is a response to smoking regulations.
Whatever the reason, we like it. Who doesn’t want to have a pint of beer or a cocktail while enjoying the fresh air? We love it. But sometimes, we just want to sit down inside.
That’s what happened yesterday. Sorting out a mobile phone issue saw us at Cheapside, behind St Paul’s, right in the middle of happy hour. As we moved away from the store-lined street and towards the older part of town, we noticed that Enoteca Da Luca, on the historic Watling Street, was open and not too crowded. A glass of wine sounded like a great idea to kick start the weekend.
The place is rustically quaint, and looks like it would fit perfectly in a small Italian village. The wine list is pretty good too, and we chose to share a bottle of Villa Belvedere’s 2012 Valpolicella Ripasso, which was fruity and delicious. Ripasso and its bigger brother, Amarone, are a recent discovery that we’re enjoying finding out more about. We didn’t order any food but the crusty bread that was served to our neighboring table looked pretty inviting. And the downstairs kitchen, where staff were taking very fast in an Italian dialect we couldn’t quite place, smelled divine.
We finished the bottle pretty quickly and walked towards Millennium Bridge to get back home. We passed by another discovery of us, and possibly the most beautiful butcher we’ve ever seen – Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa. We’ve purchased meat from them several times and have never been disappointed. Since they open on Sundays, it’s good to have them a short walk away. As we approached, we saw some people gathered outside, mobile phones ready to snap pictures and realized that one of the staff members was doing the ALS ice bucket challenge. He wasn’t a happy bunny!