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Exploring Duke of York Square with Taschen and Manicomio

Being an English Literature graduate and having worked in publishing for years, I’ll always have a passion for real books. Those palpable pages that you touch, turn, going back to your favourite bits or skipping forward to the end. No, I don’t think I’ll ever choose a kindle or an e-reader over a real book. DSC_2350
Since 1980, Taschen having been publishing the most gorgeous ‘real books,’ mostly books on art, architecture and photography but now covering a wide range of topics.
Some of which are rather sexy…DSC_2341
I had been invited to Duke of York Square to learn more about what was coming up in the area and a tour of the Taschen book shop with manager Nolan Browne. DSC_2339
Upstairs the book shop carries titles for the general public and coffee table books that retail at affordable prices. Here you’ll find beautifully photographic books on food, travel, history, style and music.DSC_2355
Whereas downstairs are the limited editions; beautiful books about icons such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Jeff Koons and the new book on Naomi Campbell. DSC_2361
We were all very taken by a book called GOAT, as highly photographic and almost cinematic homage to Mohammed Ali, priced at $6000 and with only 9,000 printed it was very much a collectors’ item. As well as books, on the walls were limited editions prints, including David Bailey’s photos of the Rolling Stones. Ok, so that seems pretty unobtainable but Taschen also produce lots of wallet-friendly smaller books as well as calendars, address books and post cards of their best-selling subjects.
There’s plenty of other gorgeous shops in Duke of York Square; for fashion there’s L.K Bennett, Whistles and Trilogy; for beauty you can find Space NK and Liz Earle; and for accessories there’s Brilliant INC, Elliot Rhodes, Monica Vinader and Intropia just to name a few. Directly across Duke of York Square from Taschen is Manicomio, an Italian restaurant which I visited last year and where I ended up sitting next to Calum Best… DSC_2386
With the Rolling Stones exhibition currently on at the Saatchi Gallery, we started with a Jagger Wood cherry cocktail. With a flight to Provence the next day I was on the water, but everyone else seemed to love the cocktail and around me glasses were drained.DSC_2390
We nibbled on bruschetta and truffle soup shots catching up on everyone’s latest news, it’s always so nice to attend a dinner when you already lots of people there and it was great to catch up with Aftab, Emma, Lauren, Mina, Fiona and Suze plus get to know Tania and MatildaDSC_2417
My starter was a perfectly prepared yellow fin tuna crudo. Beautifully fresh fish enhanced with fennel and kohlrabi and with a delicious citrus burst from the blood orange.
Next to me, Lauren really enjoyed her artichoke bruschetta and parmesan. At Manicomio and you can always safely assume everything on the menu of Italian food will be tasty plus I love the buzzy atmosphere and the outdoor space in summer. Manicomio isn’t the only Italian restaurant in Duke of York Square, there is also Polpo and if you fancy a taste of Lebanese food there’s also Comptoir Libanais and Gallery Mess for European fare. I love Partridges, a beautiful artisan grocers, and every Saturday there’s a fine food market in the square where you can sample sushi from Aki Maki, cakes from Crumbs and Doilies, bread from Wapping Sourdough and many more.
Though I don’t normally choose chicken in a restaurant, the draw of asparagus and artichokes was too strong to resist. The breast was a little tough but the drumstick and thigh were succulent and there were plenty of artichokes to keep me happy. DSC_2441
On the other side of the table Fiona and Emma enjoyed the steamed Skrei cod fillet with fregola puntasesca and Exmouth Mussels. DSC_2445
There were a few choices for dessert but the most over-whelmingly popular was the lemon tart with spring fruits and vanilla ice-cream – a very sweet treat that almost definitely provides more than your five a day ;).

Duke of York Square is only a walk away from where I live and it’s such a fun place to hang out in the summer; drinking coffee on the restaurant terraces, enjoying champagne from the market and browsing in the beautiful and upmarket shops. There’s lots of fun events coming up too. Chelsea in Bloom, where Chelsea retailers compete to create beautiful flower displays, is back this year. I can’t make it as it’s on 23rd – 29th of May when I’m away but I loved it last year and I highly recommend popping down to have a look. One I will be able to make is the Strawberries and Screen installation between the 8th and 9th of July. A large screen will be set up near the square showing the Wimbledon semi-finals with Pimms and strawberries available for purchase.

I can’t wait to spend a few sunny weekends in the area.

I was a guest of Duke of York Square and my dinner at Manicomio was complimentary.