Tucked away between Piccadilly and Park Lane, an idiosyncratic, bohemian little enclave exists of fascinating alleyways and pedestrianised side streets which are full of an eclectic mix of upmarket boutiques, shops, bars and restaurants…. Ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to you Mayfair’s Shepherd Market
There is the leather goods shop whose wares were the favourite of the late Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis and Princess Margaret. If you want to purchase a new bespoke case the same as one of theirs, you can make a private appointment to view the very bags they owned. If, on the other hand, you have some £500,000 to spare, you could order a set of beautiful alligator luggage as was done by a member of a far eastern royal family…. and that doesn’t include the flawless diamonds that were added as decorations on the top.
Then there is the florist who supplied the flowers for Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla, and Zara’s wedding to Mike Tindall. His stunning, almost jaw droppingly beautiful decorative arrangements are renowned nationwide. For art lovers there is the gallery renowned for Banksy originals… Or perhaps jewellery is your thing? The Market has several jewellers…offering everything from delightful little silver charms to cutting edge diamond design combined with pioneering digital engineering.
There is everything to eat and drink in Shepherd Market, from upmarket fine dining to a Polish/Mexican bistro via Italian, Turkish and Lebanese gastronomy. There’s something to suit every palate and budget. But those in the know head to Le Boudin Blanc – one of the capital’s finest French restaurants.
This rustic yet elegant brasserie has a distinct and unique authentic French atmosphere, offering convivial dining for groups of friends, business diners and private dining, and a very romantic setting for couples in search of that ‘weekend in Paris’ feeling!
Set out over two floors, tables are close enough to feel cosy but spaced enough not to feel cramped. The French serving staff are brimming with knowledge about every dish, and happy to accommodate dietary requirements by swapping round ingredients (especially handy for this pregnant vegetarian!). But if you’re not totally awkward like me, there is sure to be something to suit from the menu. Serving up traditional French fair such as oysters, snails and sumptuous steaks, and specials such as duck with wild mushrooms and truffles, and sea bream on a bed of stir fried veg with a ginger butter sauce, the choice is varied and exciting.
Having started with a specially concocted French cheese salad and fresh crab, we moved on to mains of delicious duck and perfectly cooked and seasoned wild mushroom risotto. One piece of advice – whatever your dish, whether you already have potatoes or not – order the house dauphinoise. Simply the best pommes you’ve ever tasted this side of the channel. Stuffed you may be at the end of your meal, but I defy you not to scrape every last morsel from the dauphinoise dish as you struggle bravely on!
Dessert is an event in itself at Le Boudin Blanc, with a huge selection of traditional desserts, accompanied by a recommended wine should you wish. The apple tart tatin is delectable, with th softest, smoothest, sweetest fruit you could imagine, served with homemade ice cream. But the best choice was made by my partner, who plumped for the chocolate fondant. The fifteen minute wait – all are cooked to order – just added to the excitement, and when it was served he was not disappointed. Described as ‘to die for’ by our charming waiter, the fondant oozed the smoothest chocolate out of its centre, and was perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter so as not to overload the senses. You’d be a fool to miss out on this one!
Despite its premium location and impeccable service, Le Boudin Blanc is actually very reasonably priced too. Yes, you can get an £800 bottle of wine, or £40 glass of rum if you like, but most mains average at around £20, and wines start at around £30. There’s a huge selection of wines from France and beyond, but I would especially recommend the Morgon 2012, a hard-to-beat Beaujolais that tickled the tongue with its delicious fruits the second we took a sip. From this recommended wine to the freshly baked bread served as we sat, there was not a thing we could fault with our visit to Le Boudin Blanc. This welcoming restaurant really is a true taste of Paris in a quiet corner of Mayfair. A great discovery!
Shepherd Market is a hidden gem that was originally built by an eighteenth century property developer, Edward Shepherd, in the mid 1700’s, on the site of the original May Fair. Over the centuries since, this little enclave has been the home to a variety of people…. everyone from pop stars to the aristocracy with a mix of artists, writers, F1 drivers and politicians all mingling together. And that’s what gives Shepherds Market, and Le Boudin Blanc, their charm. The surrounding area is still home to a large number of discreet residences, conveniently situated near to the buzz of Piccadilly and Park Lane, but far enough away to enjoy a strange calmness amidst the excitement that is the vibrant excitement of London today.
The Shepherd Market Christmas Party will be held on Thursday December 4th. The free event will include a treasure hunt, carol singers, a Santa’s grotto for younger visitors, and Christmas lights being turned on by a VIP guest.