I was fortunate to attend the premiere of the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, on Tuesday evening. More about the film in a moment, but for me the preparation for the event began at lunchtime, when, after arriving in London, I met some fellow Bond enthusiasts for a suitably Bondian lunch at the Brasserie Zédel, located on Sherwood Street just off Piccadilly Circus. We couldn’t have come to a better place to begin our day of celebration.
Through the discrete entrance, one steps into a bygone world of glamourous Continental travel, elegance, romantic assignations, and more than a hint of international intrigue. A staircase takes one down to the opulent, cavernous restaurant, where staff smartly show you to your table. The menu is French, and were the literary James Bond to visit the restaurant, he might have thought that he had somehow been transported to one of his beloved buffets gastronomiques associated with French railway stations.
Much of the food on the menu appears in some form in the James Bond books: sole with a meunière sauce, choucroute, oysters, dressed crab, artichoke hearts, steak tartare… Bond would have had a job choosing. And I have to confess, I took a while to decide as well. I was tempted by the choucroute, but in the end, I opted for cassoulet, the classic southern French bean, sausage and duck stew. (The dish is mentioned in the novelisation of the film of The Spy Who Loved Me, so it counts as Bond food!) The food was excellent, although I was a little disappointed it wasn’t served in the traditional earthenware pot, the cassole.
Having feasted, I headed to my hotel to change into my dinner suit before making my way to the Royal Albert Hall for the red carpet experience and the film. So, what do I think of the film? I won’t say anything much about it here – even the most innocuous details could hide spoilers – but I will say that I thought the film was amazing, well worth the wait, and a fitting end to Daniel Craig’s tenure. I can also reveal that food is present in the film – in one scene, Q is cooking! – so watch this space for No Time To Die-related recipes. I do urge you to see the film, but prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster and, above all, a view to a thrill.