There’s nothing quite like working up a sweat on a Sunday morning to blast away any remaining hints of a hangover you might have inflicted on yourself the night before. Which is how I found myself at Xtend Barre in Marylebone in the promise of a class followed by brunch at the gorgeous Orrery, just a couple of doors down!
This wasn’t my first go at Barre (I’d tried a similar class at BLOK) but I was by no means a seasoned pro. We began by getting changed in their swanky locker rooms – oh hello Aesop products! – and popping on our grippy socks (they don’t let you take part without them). Our instructor, who happened to be pregnant with the most perfect tiny bump (how’s that for motivation) wore a microphone headpiece and shouted motivational instructions at us over the upbeat music in her cheerleader American accent. Infectiously good fun, we couldn’t help smile throughout the pain. And it was painful at times to be honest. Although described as low-impact, it doesn’t half make you sweat. Split into warm up, an arm section using tiny weights which kill by the end, barre work before finishing with a little Pilates-style core work – this is a full body workout which leaves you feeling pretty damn great. The facilities are immaculate, with all your gear (mat, weights, resistance bands) neatly laid out for you at the beginning of the class, and at the end, you’re each given a hygienic wet wipe to wipe down your mat. It’s all very Marylebone – very ‘ladies what lunch’.
Which brings me nicely to the next part of the day – brunch! At Orrery! A restaurant I’ve been dying to visit ever since I heard about their mega cheese trolley (surely one of the most infamous in London?). Sadly cheese and barre don’t mix so I’ll have to return to try that. However, as part of this package (which is £40 a head – not bad at all when you consider a drop in class at Xtend is £27!) you’ll get a juice and brunch dish. Seated at our table, overlooking the street below, white tablecloth neatly ironed, attentive staff give you the full Orrery experience.
We began with an amuse bouche – a thimble of mushroom broth which reminded us of our FX Mayr days, followed by smoked salmond dotted with orange segmants, creamy soft white cheese, and soft boiled quails eggs. For the veggies there’s a choice of pumpkin soup or the more substantial roasted butternut squash with wild mushrooms and poached egg. Portions are on the delicate side, but you wouldn’t want to undo all your hard work now would you? We washed it all down with a delicious green juice consisiting of kale, pear, cucumber and apple, buckets full of black coffee, and then popped in to The Conran Shop to blow all our hard earned cash on plants. Dream Sunday really.
Fancy it? The next Brunch & Barre will take place on February 24th and you can buy tickets here.