Royal Family: ‘I ate Chinese food where the Queen was born and it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten’ – Rebecca Russell
When you think of the Queen, you may assume that she was born in a castle or a palace like many of her famous ancestors – but that really couldn’t be further from the truth.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair on April 21, 1926 at the home of her maternal grandparents, The Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
And, in the almost 96-years that have surpassed since the birth of the longest reigning monarch in British history, lots about the building has changed.
To say it is not the same as it was back in the 1920s would be an understatement as today 17 Bruton Street is the location of the top-end, world-class Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan.
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Very few people will ever get to dine at one of the Queen’s homes, but walking through the heavy black door of Hakkasan in Mayfair, you feel as if you’re halfway there.
Leaving the bustling London street behind, you walk into a long dark corridor delicately tainted with the warming and smokey smell of incense. It is silent, almost as if you have entered a different world entirely.
As I was led through another door and down the stairs by one of the many elegant hostesses, the hypnotic silence was interrupted by an eruption of loud chatter. It felt as if I was being invited into a rapturous underground party or transported back in time to a clandestine speakeasy.
Led through the dark room lit only by hanging tealights, I spied groups of businessmen enjoying an expensive lunch and parties celebrating milestone birthdays- this was not the place people came for a quick meal for one.
Sitting on the soft green booth, the hosts quickly welcomed and chatted with me as I browsed the impressive costly menu. Some of the most eye-catching options included, Supreme dim sum for £45, Maldon oysters with Prunier caviar (£48) and the Hakkasan signature Peking duck (priced between £110 and £320).
Having chosen my lunch – a crispy duck salad served with with pomelo, pine nuts and shallots – I sat back and took in the atmosphere.
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The darkness of your surroundings fills you with a tranquil sense of relaxation.
So much so that you forget where you are entirely and that you are below one of the busiest streets in the city. Aided by the now gentle synth music, warm room and friendly staff, you are immediately put at ease.
My food arrived promptly and was mixed and served to me at the table. The dish was a combination of sweet and crispy duck, tasty arugula and punchy grapefruit – as well as many other delicious additions.
Now, it is truly no exaggeration to say that it was quite literally the tastiest thing I have ever eaten and, if the setting hadn’t been so posh, I would have happily licked the bowl clean!
Once I had finished and paid, I got up to leave. Walking back out of the unassuming restaurant door onto busy Bruton Street made you realise just how peaceful it had been.
And, aside from the new addition of a tiger design on the wall outside, you would very easily walk straight past here and not realise just where you are standing and why it is so significant to royal history.
While the Queen’s former home is now a Chinese restaurant, it is safe to say without any doubt that Hakkasan in Mayfair would certainly be fit for Her Majesty..
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