Saturday, 26 February 2011

Phantom of the Opera & Her Majesty's Theatre - Part 1

The next couple of posts from Access London are on Her Majesty's Theatre and the phenomenon that is The Phantom of the Opera. This first part talks about the theatre, the show and the access to and within the theatre itself. Part 2 will talk about the current cast and even has a Q&A with the Phantom himself, the fabulous John Owen-Jones.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's acclaimed musical is a gothic, thrilling romance, set in the Paris Opera House in the early 1900s and is based on the book by Gaston Leroux. This year sees the 25th anniversary of the Phantom's run in the West End (in October) where it has its home at Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket, a great central location, just down the road from Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a talented musical genius who lives in the bowels of the Paris Opera in a Lair at the edge of an underground lake. The Phantom (the Opera Ghost) is a tragic soul who has been badly disfigured from birth. Yet, he falls in love, and becomes obsessed with, a young ballet dancer and chorus girl, Christine Daae. The Phantom makes it his ambition and work to train Christine and make her the star of the Paris Opera and he will stop at nothing to get her there - not even when she falls in love with the young, new Patron of the opera, Raoul.

As well as the romance and obsession played out amongst the trio, there are also spectacular ensemble pieces, amazing sets, special effects and many comedy moments, especially from the owners of the opera house, Monsieurs Firmin and Andre, and the Prima Donna, Carlotta.

Overall, Phantom has stood the test of time as a musical because of the beauty, mystery and romance that it holds - a superbly, 'Phantastic' night out. To book tickets, call: 0844 412 4653

If you are in a wheelchair or use a mobility scooter then Her Majesty's Theatre is still easily accessible for you. Although the main entrance is on the Haymarket, a level and disabled access entrance can be found around the corner on Charles II Street. Simply inform a member of the front of house team on your arrival and they will escort you around to it. The disabled access entrance leads straight into the stalls area of the theatre. I found that every member of staff that I met at Her Majesty's was warm, welcoming and friendly and happy to help in any way they could.

To book access seats for Phantom and to discuss your requirements, please call 0844 412 4648. There are several seats in the stalls that can be removed to allow for a wheelchair. Please note that mobility scooters cannot be taken into the stalls, but can be left just inside the access enrance and next to the accessible toliet. If you can walk to your seat then any aisle seat in the stalls will be accessible as there are no steps, just a gentle slope - please ask for details when booking your accessible tickets.

Phantom of the Opera is one of the best nights out to the theatre in the West End. The current cast can be found on the next post. The sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies, will also be posted on shortly as it too is very accessible.

Thank you for your continued support, please feel free to leave a comment and follow.

COMING NEXT: Phantom of the Opera part 2 - The Cast and The Man Behind the Mask!
COMING SOON: The 39 Steps and The National Gallery

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Petrichor Restaurant @ The Cavendish Hotel

For those regular readers of Access London, you will already know about my series of posts on our recommended hotel for 2011 - The Cavendish. If this is your first visit to the blog, you can find out more about The Cavendish in our previous posts.

Today's post focuses on the AA Rosette restaurant at The Cavendish - The Petrichor Restaruant. It also includes an interview with Petrichor's Head Chef, Nitin Padwal.

I have been lucky enough to have dined twice at Petrichor - once for their evening A La Carte menu and the other to take advantage of their Pre-Theatre dinner menu.

Petrichor is located on the first floor of The Cavendish Hotel. If you are in a wheelchair or use a mobility scooter, Petrichor can be accessed by taking one of the lifts to the first floor and then using the restaurant's moveable ramp to get inside. Once on the main restauarnt floor, all of the tables are on the same level.

The restaurant itself is decorated with paintings in the style of Rousseau's jungle paintings. They make a bold yet chic statement on the walls and are a joy to look at. The menu changes bi-monthly but always includes a mouth-watering selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes that are presented elegantly and with style. The staff at Petrichor are extremely friendly and helpful and really help to make your evening special.

How would you describe the food and menu served at Petrichor?
Splendid food created with the most seasonal and sustainable ingredients.

Who or what inspires you to create the dishes on your menu?
My Suppliers. I talk to them on a regular basis to understand what's best in season and based on that, we create our bi-monthly menus.

What does the Petrichor do when trying to source and use sustainable ingredients and products? How important is this?
Petrichor has been involved in many sustainable activities over the last year: I took the Food and Beverage Team to visit Wicks Manor Pork Farm in Essex and Garson's Fruit and Vegetable Farm in Surrey (we even picked berries). These trips help us to ensure that our suppliers are providing the most sustainable and environmentally friendly produce. I also organise menu-tasting panels for the Front of House Team to increase their product knowledge.

I think it is particularly important for the business to take these sustainable measures now as I believe in supporting British farmers who are generally more interested in animal welfare and sustainable measures, which in turn results in a better quality product, minimised waste, cost savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

What would your dream 3 course meal be to cook and serve at Petrichor?
There are many dream dishes that we create for our menu. From this bi-monthly menu, I would choose:
STARTER - Wicks Manor creamy smoked ham hock soup with seasonal vegetables.
MAIN - Mildly spiced Scottish cod fillet served with curried potato fritter, baby spinach and creamy coconut sauce
DESSERT - Kent Discovery apple and cranberry crumble with Brandy custard.

Can you sum up in 5 words the Petrichor experience for your diners?
Friendly staff and superb food (I hear that regularly from our customer satisfaction surverys)

Access London would like to say a big thank you to Nitin Padwal for taking the time to answer our questions and to all the restaurant and hotel staff at The Cavendish.

Whether you are looking for a meal with a stylish touch, a pre-theatre dinner to kick off your evening or, celebrate a special occasion, Petrichor is the place to be.

For more information about the current menu, individual requirements and to make a reservation, contact the Petrichor on: 020 7389 3500.

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COMING SOON: The National Gallery and Phantom of the Opera