I've been poring over the food aisles at Panzer's since I was a mini fresser.
My father lived in NW8 for many years and we'd shop there for divorced dad essentials to feed me and my brother at weekends - Campbells' condensed soup and Angel Delight.
There was so much more though. Smoked salmon carved to order and unusual foodie finds from all over the world — American candy; Japanese sushi-making essentials and a raft of interesting bottles and jars. Not only that, but you could find proper Jewish bagels, platzels and the BEST fruit and veg for miles. I would visit for photo-ready fruits and vegetables when I'd qualified as a chef and had food to style.
The store has been supplying the glitterati of St John's Wood for so many years, most of us had become accustomed to her faded grandeur. Make that scruffiness. The grand old lady has been in need of a nip and a tuck for decades. A touch of the cosmetic help so many of her clients would see as run of the mill.
Enter, David Josephs. Not a cosmetic surgeon, but the business man who co-founded sexy fruit and vegetable stores Clifton Greens (Maida Vale); Newington Greens and Camden's Parkway Greens. He and his partners (see my article for that story) bought Panzer's and arranged for the grande dame to get the tlc she desperately needed.
The face lift is complete and Panzer's is not only an epicurean Aladdin's cave, but sexy, sparkling and even trendy. It has taken years off her.
A recent visit for coffee in the new coffee bar was a revelation.
Said coffee is sourced from trendy roasters, Assembly, made by an expert barista. Bread comes from Breadhead and Dusty Knuckle — both at the cutting edge of artisan baking; glamorous cannelles supplied by Canelé and other cakes baked by Hanna Geller Goldsmith — who consulted with Josephs on the entire project to source the best quality foods around to serve in the eat-in area. There are also treats from challah queen, award-winning baker, Tami Isaacs PIerce, also a supplier.
Under the cafe is a huge basement, in which Israeli chef Oded Oren (read about him here) and his team supply daily salads and bakes.
There are also two to three dedicated sushi chefs supplied by Jonathan Green, the founder of Maido Sushi.
The smoked salmon — always a draw — remains the same. I was dispatched with a sizeable pack that I greedily gobbled up over the course of the next few days. (The mini-Fressers remain too fussy to be bothered about my salmon-hogging. Their loss.)
There are still proper bagels and row upon row of interesting gourmet goodies. A few non-gourmet essentials caught my eye like Shabbat candles and, between the brillo pads and Mr Muscle, chandelier cleaner. What no St John's Wood housewife should be without.
Fruit and veg is from Josephs and his partner's Greens business and remains just as camera worthy. Plans are afoot to supply festive hampers and to do catering and home delivery to certain lucky postcodes.
I live too far away to be visiting as often as I would like to, however, I'm told that Nigella is a regular, as is Giles Coren.