Chelsea is one of my favourite London neighbourhoods – it’s got a bohemian past and is still in touch with its creative side today. I recently spent a stylish evening at Manicomio and Taschen, Duke of York Square. This pedestrianized quarter with its cool, shops, eateries and Saturday market is a real hub for the area.
One of the most fascinating stores here is Taschen, the iconic book publishers. Not only is the book shop itself a delight, there are also some striking limited edition prints downstairs including several of the Rolling Stones taken by David Bailey.
We were shown around by Nolan, Taschen’s manager, whose enthusiasm for his books is highly contagious! Many visitors to the store go in looking for a gift and he quizzes them about the recipients’ tastes in order to come up with the most appropriate present.
Taschen is well known in art circles for creating some of the most visually appealing books out there. The quality of the images and paper is evident, and most are limited editions. The collector’s edition of GOAT, dedicated to the life of Muhammad Ali is particularly impressive and features his famous”float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” motto.
I also admired this gorgeous Klimt book.
Taschen don’t just do high-brow though – they have some rather cheeky books including this one featuring Naomi Campbell’s ample assets ;-). I was surprised to learn that they also produce a wide range of very affordable books, often mini versions of their most famous publications. They’d certainly make great gifts, as would their well-known 36 Hours travel series.
After our tour of Taschen, we didn’t have far to go for dinner…Manicomio is literally right opposite! With a lovely terrace in Duke of York Square, it’s the perfect place for relaxed dining. Specialising in Italian cuisine, it’s a sister restaurant of Manicomio in the City and new hotspot, Canto Corvino near Spitalfields. Each restaurant has its own distinct identity fitting in with the local area. The Chelsea restaurant opened in 2003 and is housed in the former Duke of York Military Asylum, hence its name…Manicomio is Italian for mad house. We kicked off proceedings in style with a very fitting Jagger Wood cherry cocktail…The Saatchi Gallery is next door and is currently showing Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones, which I can’t wait to visit.
I chose a healthy yellow fin tuna crudo for my starter, with a tasty kohlrabi and fennel dressing.
I continued the healthy theme with a chicken tagliata with artichoke, asparagus, and onions. There’s nothing better than fresh British asparagus and it worked really well with the succulent chicken.
To finish, I savoured this lemon tart with vanilla ice cream. Topped with fresh berries and kiwi fruit, it was the perfect end to a lovely evening. Yet no doubt I’ll be returning to Duke of York Square very soon – the shopping is excellent with some very cool stores like Hoss Intropia, Liz Earle, Brilliant INC and Monica Vinader and Gallery Mess restaurant within the Saatchi Gallery. There are lots of fun events coming up including Chelsea in Bloom from 23rd to 29th May. There’ll be a giant parrot made from fresh flowers in the Square and local retailers will be creating spectacular floral displays. Once Wimbledon swings by, you can catch the action from the large screen, and there’ll be a full programme of events for the rest of the year too.
Have you been to Duke of York Square?
I was invited by Taschen and Manicomio for the purposes of this review