Sunday 14 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 14/4/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Moveable feast

This week we raise a glass to old friends and bucking trends. Take a seat at restaurateur Jeremy King’s revived Mayfair stalwart, sample French classics at a neighbourhood institution in New York and meet the Paris-based pastry chef bringing back the mille-feuille. Plus: a Czech brewer looking past his country’s penchant for batch-produced beer and a roadtrip across South Africa’s rugged coastline. But first, Tyler Brûlé has a few burning questions...

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Writing wrongs

It has been one of those weeks that has raised a great many questions. From our Patrons dinner on Monday evening and a board meeting on Tuesday to a jaunt back and forth across the Atlantic to Toronto, I’m concluding the week with many thoughts swirling around my head. As it has been a while since we’ve had a little quiz in the Weekend Edition, I’m going to throw 10 questions your way. We’re going to award a prize to the best answer to each question, two weeks from today. The rules go like this:

  • Submit the question with your answer to
  • You need not answer all 10 questions but we might spring for a bonus prize if you do
  • Tell us where you’re from (city and country)
  • Let us know whether we can print your name and city if we choose you as a winner
  • Answers no later than 10.00 CEST (Zürich time) on Wednesday, 17 April 2024

And what are the prizes you ask? There will be a mix of goodies: our new France guidebook, totes, pouches and more. Good luck and remember, wit and ingenuity score extra points.

Our local newspaper recently announced that the hardware shop near Monocle’s HQ in Zürich will soon close down because the rents have been jacked up. This is not a unique case. Local hardware shops are disappearing all over the world and we’re increasingly forced to buy basics such as brooms and crap lightbulbs in out-of-town box shops, which often demand a car. How do we stop this neighbourhood and household-destroying trend? Can Unesco help?

Graduation season is upon us in the northern hemisphere and celebrations are getting under way. I have very little trouble finding a lawyer to review contracts but it’s near impossible to find someone who can hang photos and paintings that are level, well-spaced and secure. Why are we not putting greater emphasis on training people to fulfil simple, daily needs with accuracy and dignity?

I’m on my flight from Toronto to Zürich. Uniforms on this particular carrier seem to be an option for the crew. It’s a creative free-for-all. When did the employer lose their nerve to stand-up for their brand? Can this be corrected?

I’m still on the same flight and half the crew is wearing masks and surgical gloves. Do the staff know something that I don’t? Are they performing surgery and doing root canals at door 3? Is Covid still lurking large on some 777s?

A man is stabbed and killed in broad daylight on a train in London. Someone else is assaulted and killed in Toronto. The police have issued a description and are looking for witnesses. The suspect was male, wearing sneakers and had a medium-built frame. Really? Is that the best that you can do? Surely they might have had red hair and freckles? Obese? Were they perhaps young? Did they speak with an accent? Were they white, Asian or a Pacific Islander? Here’s the question: How can we curb violent crime when we’re too scared to describe suspects?

Why do some people look hot in eyewear?

I keep meeting Americans who say that they’re going to leave the US no matter who wins the election in November. I sort of understand that but their country is huge and you can get on with your life quite happily if you move to other states, hang out with like-minded people – or jolly Brazilians – and expose yourself to international media. Last time around, many in the US said that they were going to move to Vancouver but I don’t think that quite worked out. So where will Americans go come January 2025?

Last week I read a story about the owner of a tobacco business who is in his nineties, employs thousands of people, doesn’t own a smartphone, still uses a typewriter and has chosen to ensure that his companies are not digitally dependent. His portrait suggested that he’s having a grand old time. Dinosaur or genius? Why?

In many Toronto shops, you’re now welcomed by clouds of weed smoke when you pop in to buy a book or magazine but you still have to be penned into a patio if you want to have a glass of wine outdoors. Many corners of Australia also demand that you stay in a well-defined box to consume your rosé. What do these countries think will happen if you remove the barriers around enjoying a beverage in the sun?

The evening menu is presented on my long-haul flight. There are a few classic dishes that are described in a rather dull manner when compared with the “topinambur purée drizzled with garlic-infused Greek extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with onion crisps”. Why would you serve such a dish in an enclosed space? And why would the crew allow for a meal option that would make for a deadly cabin three hours later?

Top table / Arlington, London

Back to the future

There’s now an easy answer to the question, “Where shall we eat in London?” and it is Arlington (writes Robert Bound). Named after the street on which it sits, it’s the latest venture of restaurateur Jeremy King, formerly of the Wolseley and the Delaunay. It used to be home to vibey canteen Le Caprice, a favoured haunt of anyone who was anyone in the early 1980s. Yes, it’s that place and this is a sequel that you’ll love. Former favourites such as bang bang chicken, Caesar salad, salmon fishcakes and iced berries with white-chocolate sauce return alongside other classics. Looking for the perfect accompaniment to a white-tableclothed lunchtime tryst? Then try the dressed crab, steak tartare, rib-eye or lobster-thermidor soufflé.

Image: Arlington
Image: Arlington

The room is a striking, monochrome shimmy between a mirrored bar and black-and-white David Bailey portraits – a luminous update on Czech architect Eva Jiricna’s original vision. After lunch, the beloved black piano is positioned for dinner service, when eyes twinkle as the ivories tinkle. Arlington is the first of three restaurants that King will open before spring 2025 (the next will be a redone Simpson’s in the Strand). When you get stuck on a place to eat, why not step inside and go back to the future?

Image: Guillaume Czerw

Sunday Roast / Benoît Castel

Season to taste

Brittany-born pastry chef Benoît Castel mixed his first cake batter when he was seven years old and his commitment to French patisserie culture hasn’t waned since (writes Liv Kessler). After stints at Restaurant Hélène Darroze, Hôtel Costes and La Grande Épicerie de Paris, Castel launched his namesake boulangerie, which now has three outposts and a deli in the French capital. Here, he tells us about his excitement over the season’s first asparagus, a brisk stroll in the Père Lachaise cemetery and his dedicated napkin ring at a favourite Parisian haunt.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In one of my bakeries, in the 11th or 20th arrondissement. If the weather is nice, I’ll also do some gardening on my terrace.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
On Sundays I often rush to my shop on rue de Ménilmontant to be with my team for the two-course brunch. We welcome about 100 people during the day. It’s intense but there’s always a great atmosphere.

What’s for breakfast?
English-style scrambled eggs with bacon and a stick of my baguette tradition with plenty of salted butter.

Lunch in or out?
You’ll find me at Le Bistrot Paul Bert. I go there so regularly that I have my own napkin ring.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Walk the dog. I like to stroll through Père Lachaise cemetery under the blue skies of spring.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Always Kid Francescoli.

Sunday culture must?
I love going to the market at this point of the year, when the weather begins to warm up in Paris. The best time is when fresh produce comes out and you can find excellent strawberries and asparagus.

News or no news?
News, particularly from La Revue de presse du week-end, a show that airs on France Inter.

What’s on the menu?
Roast chicken is my Sunday staple. I also really enjoy cooking big stews for my friends and family. When I’m short on time I go with my friends to places such as Café des Ministères in the Invalides area. There’s a good chance that you’ll bump into me there on a Sunday evening.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I rarely do. The most important thing is that I’m comfortable enough to cycle. I get around Paris on my bike.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling


These savoy cabbage roulades are best enjoyed with mashed potatoes and a glass of crisp white wine. The mince-filled parcels, courtesy of Monocle’s Swiss chef, Ralph Schelling, make for a delicate main course.

Serves 4

1 knob butter, for frying
300g minced lamb
1½ tsps salt and pepper
1 clove
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, diced
½ onion, diced
½ carrot, grated
100g courgettes, chopped into 1cm cubes
100g celery, chopped into 1cm cubes
100g parsnips, chopped into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp tomato purée
50ml red wine
50ml bouillon (meat broth)
1 can chopped tomatoes (200g)
1 bay leaf
½ bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 savoy cabbage, leaves separated
50ml vegetable stock
80g gruyère, grated


Set a pan over a high heat. Add the butter and the meat to the pan. Season with salt, pepper and spices, and fry for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the garlic, onion and carrot over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, celery and parsnips, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and sauté for about 2 minutes. Mix in the meat.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine and bouillon. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Mix well and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley.

In a separate saucepan, boil the savoy cabbage leaves in water for about a minute. Remove them from the pan with a sieve and let them cool. Cut out the hard stalk in the middle of the leaves.

Place each leaf in a small bowl and fill with the mince sauce. Close securely by wrapping the leaf around the meat mixture.

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan 180C). Place the cabbage roulades in the dish. Add the vegetable stock and sprinkle with the gruyère. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.

Weekend plans? / South Africa

Vine lines

South Africa’s west coast stretches more than 1,000km from Cape Town to the mouth of the Orange river and neighbouring Namibia. Further inland, Swartland is known for its olive groves and vineyards. Here, independent winemakers are winning over critics with their citrussy chenins and spicy syrahs. In recent years, a wave of new residents have arrived in search of an idyllic life, drawn in part by the many fresh retailers, makers and entrepreneurs ready to cater to them. Here, we visit some of the country’s lesser-known locales that warrant a stop on your next roadtrip.

Image: Rudi Geyser
Image: Rudi Geyser
Image: Rudi Geyser

If you find yourself in Yzerfontein, head to Rosemead Artisan. Its founders, chefs Brett and Anli Nortier, escaped the hustle and bustle (and higher rents) of Stellenbosch to open what the former calls “a small community bakery”. Just an hour’s drive away is Paternoster, one of the oldest settlements on South Africa’s west coast. Here, try Dispens, a farm shop and all-day restaurant from food writer and chef Kobus van der Merwe. He moved here 13 years ago to open this venture in a small, tin-roofed former shark-liver-oil factory. Pull up a seat in the courtyard for rooibos tea and a scone freckled with deliciously salty seaweed or try Wolfgat, Van der Merwe’s other restaurant a few streets away.

Head southeast to Babylonstoren, a farm outside Stellenbosch. Set up by former magazine editor Karen Roos, the property features several revamped farm cottages and a restaurant called Babel, which serves seasonal plates and salads that are so pretty that it almost seems a shame to eat them. But it’s in the evenings that Babylonstoren really shines. Grab a glass and take a stroll around the gardens, through rows of citrus trees and past the shimmering fronds of the cycads in the shadow of Swartland’s rolling hills. You won’t want to head home.

For more roadtrips, retail spots and recipes, pick up a copy of Monocle’s April issue, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Métaphore, Czech Republic

Recipe for success

Rather appropriately, the surname of Métaphore brewery’s founder, Jiri Sladek, is Czech for “brewer” (writes Hanna Pham). The craft is in his blood. “The Czech Republic is famed for its thirst-quenching, golden-hued lagers that are intended to have a consistent taste wherever you consume them,” he says.

“But Métaphore beers are, by their very nature, unrepeatable.” Prague is increasingly fond of slow, low-intervention brews and Sladek’s speciality lagers reflect that. Aged in wooden barrels and naturally fermented with farmhouse yeast, Métaphore beers showcase the flavours of Sladek’s native terroir: there are notes of Czech riesling grapes, sour cherries and local linden honey. Its sleek branding and elegant wine-bottle packaging also prove that there’s far more to beer than foam and fizz.

Hospitality holdouts / The Odeon, New York

French connection

Our April issue’s Expo celebrates five hospitality holdouts that celebrate service without needing to constantly change the recipe. This week we take a seat at The Odeon in New York, which has been serving up French brasserie classics since 1980.

“We were young and it was kind of a fluke,” says Lynn Wagenknecht about the success of the cafeteria that she and Keith McNally took over in 1980 (writes Mary Holland). An arts graduate with no prior hospitality experience, she eventually bought out McNally and brought in two partners, Judi Wong and Steve Abramowitz – the pair behind the West Village’s Café Cluny – who helped to make The Odeon the lively Tribeca institution that it is today. The restaurant is a constant in the ever-changing neighbourhood and takes all comers, from thirsty locals and lawyers from a nearby courthouse to celebrities who cosy up in the red banquettes for a martini and steak frites.

For Wagenknecht, being here for the community matters. The doors remained open to shelter people and serve firemen during the September 11 attacks. Changes to the interiors have been minor: the cafeteria still has the original panelling and globe lights from 1932. “But our goal has always been to keep things relevant and appealing,” says Wagenknecht. In the wild party years of the 1980s, The Odeon would stay open until 04.00; it now closes at a more conservative 23.00. It still serves burgers and omelettes but it has also added to its menu some more modish fare, from purple sticky rice to vegan options. Wagenknecht’s secret to running a classic? “Simple,” she says. “This has always been the kind of place where we would want to eat.”

For more hospitality holdouts, pick up the latest issue of Monocle magazine. Or subscribe today. Have a super Sunday.


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