Monopoly players across the world will recognise Mayfair as the uber expensive dark blue site which the most prudent property developer should aim to develop with little plastic green houses and fat red hotels should they wish to sweep the board of this favourite winter’s weekend family game. And in reality, the real Mayfair has existed in parallel to its board game namesake, boasting amongst the most valuable reality in London, from lavish luxury hotels including the Ritz, and refined shopping such as Fortnum and Masons, and swanky car showrooms, packed to the rafters with private drinks receptions of the well healed and fur-wrapped gentry, to private members clubs aplenty and restaurants whose prices are conspicuous by their absence from well-bound menus.
Yet in a city where ambition is the fuel which keeps the big urban pump grinding, and the lavish lifestyle of the London yuppy class predominates as the ultimate aspiration for career ladder climbers and socialites alike, Mayfair is as ever the ultimate in London hangouts, but one which is becoming more and more accessible as a place for everyone with a little taste to embrace the highlife. Take Fortnums, the refined department store, which last Christmas reported its best ever sales in the shops 300 or so year history, swamped by the thousands who decided to prioritise the traditions of a heritage Christmas, despite the economic downturn all around us.
Then there is Burger and Lobster, the location of my dinner tonight. The name just about says it all. You can have burger, or lobster, or both (or lobster in a brioche roll). That’s the extent of it (hence why perhaps their website is so decidedly bare). The dishes are £20 each. Simples, as the meerkats would have it. Yet for your highly reasonable £20, you get a lobster which is so meaty, and so decidedly unfiddly, that you barely need that funny little fork thing that comes with lobster, and can munch on the freshly grilled flesh to your heart’s desire, along with the moorish salad and chips which accompany it.
So need Mayfair be monopolised by the dark blue hue of extravagant wealth? Apparently not. Our dinner tonight was excellent value, and came accompanied by a healthy portion of salted caramel cheesecake and some bubbles, all billing at around £40 per person. The only slight snag is you can’t book ahead. We went along shortly after 6pm and at that time had an hour to wait, but this was conveniently filled by some quail eggs and wine at Fortnum’s local winebar – a suitable restoration for two lawyers after a full days work of legal wrangling.
So for your fill of mid-week extravagance, head along to one of Burger and Lobster’s 4 London branches (Soho, Mayfair, Farringdon, City), and if you do have to wait for a table, fill the waiting time (in Mayfair at least) with a drink in Fortnums, a guilty peek at nearby Laudurée’s delectable macaron selection or, if you’re really lucky, why not pop into the Royal Academy, Mayfair’s pre-eminant art establishment, where a Manet blockbuster is due to open its doors within days.
I leave this post with some shameless self-promotion – my paintings of lobsters (sans burgers) – just to get you in the mood 🙂