London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared London dining rooms reopen after five months of closure with a gourmet odyssey across the capital today, 17 May. It marks the launch of the the Mayor’s “Lets Eat” campaign, itself part of a yearlong reopening initiative clunkily named “Let’s do London.”
The Labour mayor, fresh from his reelection a fortnight ago, began the day with breakfast at Dishoom in Covent Garden — where he ordered the restaurant chain’s “Parsi omelette,” alongside a cup of chai. A fortifying breakfast to herald the reopening of dining rooms and proper preparation for a big day of campaigning and smiling for the cameras.
According to Dishoom’s menu, the Parsi omelette is comprised thus:
A crazy-paving three-egg omelette of chopped tomato, onion, coriander, green chilli and a little cheese. Served with grilled tomato and Fire Toast.
Later, Khan arrived in central London’s Chinatown, a neighbourhood which has been hit harder than almost anywhere in the capital since even before the COVID-19 crisis shut down restaurants across the city. There, flanked by his co-campaigners, Murano chef Angela Hartnett and Mere’s Monica Galetti, the mayor ate lunch at Dumplings Legend, hosted by the restaurant’s owner Geoff Leong. Not before a little light tuition from one of the restaurant’s chefs on how to construct a dumpling.
Later, he had a second lunch (or was it an earlier brunch?) at Mildred’s — Soho’s iconic vegetarian restaurant — with Bimini, star of TV show Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
All three meals (and counting) signalled the beginning of an initiative the mayor claims is the biggest domestic tourism campaign ever seen in the capital. “The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic with too many jobs lost and under threat,” Khan said. “As more businesses are able to open up, we are joining with famous chefs, foodies and hospitality venues to celebrate our city’s world-renowned industry.”
“There is no doubt that our capital has the greatest food and drink offer in the world,” he added.
While restaurateurs across London will no doubt hope, behind the scenes and away from the photo ops, Khan maintains pressure on the government to extend support systems if restrictions remain in place; and to find a national solution to the restaurant rent crisis, just one burning question remains today: Where will the mayor go for dinner?