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RECENTLY OPENED (June 2008)... We’re always bemoaning the lack of quality eateries in Soho, so it bodes well that this landmark restaurant has been relaunched by Sam and Eddie Hart, the brains behind Fino and Barrafina. Taking inspiration from grand old grill rooms, classic aperitifs are served before simply cooked dishes, from a humble omelette to more luxe oysters, veal, or lobster.
Kensington longtimer Launceston Place has just been relaunched by D&D London (formerly Conran Restaurants). The new-look restaurant features a warm brown, gold and beige colour scheme, while the British menu offers up old-fashioned faves such as nettle soup and beef cobbler with Lincolnshire Cheddar. A semi-private room, nicknamed ‘the chef’s office’, offers an interesting take on a chef’s table – instead of actually looking in to the kitchen, tables of up to 10 diners can watch the chefs at work via plasma-screen TVs.
New to the World’s End part of the King’s Road is Jimmy’s. The restaurant comes from a young husband-and-wife team, and a 25-year-old chef heading up a kitchen that champions seasonal British produce. The menu is set at £22.50/27.50 for two/three courses (though there’s also a good-value lunch menu at £15 for two courses) and includes the simple likes of pea and mint tartlet with pickled beetroot and parmesan-crusted veal cutlet with lamb’s lettuce. 386 King's Road, SW3, 020 7351 9997.
Sick of lousy airport food? Finally there’s a decent option for air passengers at the recently unveiled Heathrow Terminal 5. Part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, Plane Food provides passengers with a decent fill before jetting off abroad – it dishes up breakfast and brunches, gourmet sandwiches (rare roast beef, foie gras and truffle mayonnaise on toasted Poilane) plus the heartier likes of risotto of butternut squash, parmesan and amaretti. Passengers can also buy ‘picnics’ to take on board with them. Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, 020 8897 4545.
Camden Town’s gastro-scene is hotting up. Not content with superb newcomer Market and the imminent arrival Ramsay gastropub, the York & Albany, it’s also home to a new tapas joint Bodega De Tapas (30 Hawley Crescent, NW1, 020 7482 5937) and Zorya (48 Chalk Farm Road, NW1, 020 7485 8484), a lively Eastern European restaurant and vodka bar.
The Brinkley’s restaurant chain has taken over the former site of Amici in Wandsworth to open Brinkley’s Kitchen. Offering the same well-priced comfort food as its siblings, the new eaterie’s real USP is an excellent wine list with the sort of low mark-ups that are a pleasure to find in London restaurants. 35 Bellevue Road, SW17, 020 8672 5888.
Balhamites will be pleased to hear that a branch of popular Wandsworth brasserie Gazette has opened in the area. Simple French stuff – moules marinières, côte de boeuf – is served both indoors and on the large open-air terrace in warm weather. 1 Ramsden Road, SW12, 020 8772 1232.
Chef/proprietor Malcolm John, the man behind Chiswick’s Le Vacherin, is helping to put Croydon on the gastronomic map by opening French restaurant Le Cassoulet. Expect rustic bistro fare such as baked vacherin, steak tartare, confit pork belly and coq au vin, accompanied by good-value wines. 18 Selsdon Road, South Croydon, 020 8633 1818.
If you’re bored by the growing number of posh hamburger joints – though we do like Kensington’s new Byron Hamburgers (222 Kensington High Street, W8, 020 7361 1717) with its three mini-burger offering so you can try a range of toppings – why not try a posh hotdog instead? Soho’s Gourmet Hotdog Company (37 Berwick Street, W1, 020 7287 5191) has some inspired offerings including The Berliner (bratwurst, coleslaw and crispy bacon) and The Northerner (pork sausage, mushy peas, pork scratchings and mild horseradish). For traditionalists there are plain old dogs with fried onions, mustard and ketchup, too.
Chi-chi King’s Road sandwich parlour Napket, with its Philippe Starck design and snazzy sarnies and salads, is turning into a mini-chain with the opening of two new branches. The first launched at the end of last year in Mayfair (6 Brook Street, W1, 020 7495 8562) and the second is soon to open just off Regent Street at 5 Vigo Street, W1. Pret A Manger eat your heart out.
Tired of British, French and Chinese? Then try these global eats out for size: Algarve – as the name suggests, this Wandsworth newcomer serves up a sunny taste of Portugal. A nice alternative to Spanish tapas, with plenty of seafood. 314 Trinity Road, SW18, 020 8875 0313. Biazo – a rare chance to sample Nigerian delicacies (think yam stew or peppered snails) in north London. 307 Hale Lane, Edgware, 020 8958 8826. Kiwi Kitchen – recently opened second branch of the vibrant Kiwi restaurant, popular with homesick New Zealanders. 404 North End Road, SW6, 020 7610 1972.
Stefano Stecca, former head chef of Brunello at Kensington’s star-studded Baglioni hotel, has taken over the old Rosmarino site in St John’s Wood, to open Osteria Stecca. Expect Italian classics such as lasagne and bolognese (made with hand-chopped fillet beef) alongside more contemporary dishes of roast turbot with confit tomato and caper vinaigrette.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2008)... Is there no end to Alan ‘Hakkasan’ Yau’s restaurant prowess? Not content with the launch of swanky Japanese Sake No Hana he’s just opened his latest eatery, Cha Cha Moon, a Chinese noodle bar where diners can order the likes Peking-style vermicelli noodle soup from iPod-style touch-pad menus on the walls. Apparently a second branch will open later this year in Whiteley’s, along with a fourth branch of Yau’s cheap and cheerful Thai offering, Busaba Eathai. And, if that’s not enough, Yau is also set to open Hakka Berkeley on a huge site in Berkeley Street at some point in the next year.
Gloucester Road’s Green Door Steakhouse now has a City sibling, housed in a former banking hall on Cornhill. Naturally, beef takes centre stage with an appealing selection of steaks, though there’s also a large bar with lighter options including steak sandwiches and oysters. 33 Cornhill, EC3, 020 7929 1378.