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INDUSTRY NEWS (September 2008)... The London Restaurant Awards, sponsored by aAim Group, returned last night (1 September 2008) after a three year absence. A night of accolades highlighted the fabulous diversity of London's restaurant scene but it was The Greenhouse (pictured left) and Rowley Leigh's Le Cafe Anglais who stole the show with two awards each: Outstanding Restaurant Service and an Award of Excellence (for special occasion dining) for the former, Restaurant of the Year and New Restaurant of the Year for the latter.
Other winners included: Great Queen Street (Best British restaurant), Galvin Bistrot De Luxe (Best French), Theo Randall at the Intercontinental (Best Italian), Barrafina (Best Iberian), Aaya (Best Oriental), Tayyabs (Best Indian) and Market in Camden (Best Local).
Further awards went to: The Wolseley (Best Business Lunch), Sam's Brasserie & Bar (Under £60 for two), Jason Atherton of Maze (Outstanding London Chef), Carluccio's (Restaurant Chain) and Eagle owner Mike Belben (Restaurateur of the Year). Mark Hix was also recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to London Restaurants.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2008)... Try your hand at making South America’s take on sashimi this month at any of the 11 Gaucho restaurants across the capital. One of Gaucho’s specialities (after the steaks of course), the dish is known as ceviche and is made by curing the seafood or fish in citrus juices and herbs. To celebrate the UK’s Seafood Fortnight (5-21 September), the branches will be holding masterclasses to show guests how to recreate them at home.
COMING SOON... The team behind politicians’ favourite, Cinnamon Club, are putting plans in place to spice up the City restaurant scene later this year with their new opening, Cinnamon Kitchen. Due to launch in November in the leafy surrounds of Devonshire Square, it’s likely to be far from a carbon copy of the original. Expect new menus, a proper dining room, a tandoor bar & grill, plus a separate bar called Anise serving spice-infused cocktails & nibbles – not to mention an alfresco terrace, private room & chef’s table. Interiors will be wrought from mother-of-pearl, pewter & marble, while typical dishes will range from char-grilled duck with sesame & tamarind glaze to Nile perch with crabmeat & kokum (an Indian fruit) crust.
GENERAL NEWS (September 2008)... Just when you thought squaremeal.co.uk couldn’t get any better, we’ve gone and launched some snazzy new features. Simply register/login to ‘My Square Meal’ (it's free) to start building your own mini-guide. Create your own lists (say, 'client faves', 'date spots' or 'like to try') as well as writing public reviews – with prizes for the best amateur critics. For more information click here, or if you’re raring to go, simply login with the box on the left (you may need to register if you don’t already have a Square Meal account).
RECENTLY REOPENED (September 2008)... With double-height ceilings, a spiral staircase and marble columns, Just St James was always a rather grand spot. But the restaurant, housed in a former Edwardian banking hall has just bounced back from a major refurb and looks every bit the better following a fresh lick of paint. A new chef has upped the ante on the food front too.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Want to go out drinking in style? You can’t get more chic than the new Connaught Bar, recently reopened as part of the Mayfair hotels extensive refurbishment. Furnishing are wrought from leather and marble, while drinks are similarly luxurious: think premium spirits, fine wines and Champagnes kicking off from £60 a bottle. There are great bar bites too, courtesy of in-house chef Helene Darroze.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (September 2008)... If you organise events as part of your job, make sure you visit our exhibition in the City next week, on 17th & 18th September. With over 240 exhibitors including restaurants, bars, London & UK venues, events suppliers, corporate gifts and hospitality, you can pick up event ideas to last you the next 12 months. Tickets are FREE so click here to register or for more information visit the Square Meal's Venues & Events website.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... 'If it aint broke, why fix it?'. So says Marcus Wareing on reopening the restaurant formerly known as Petrus, this time with his own name above the door. The Petrus brand has stayed with Gordon Ramsay Holdings (and is expected to be relaunched elsewhere) but over at The Berkeley, it's business at usual: the vast majority of the team have stayed put and the decor remains unchanged, as does Wareing's exceptional cooking.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2008)... On 1 October 2008, Penfolds will be running a re-corking clinic at Somerset House. Anyone owning a bottle of Penfolds red over 15 years old can have its condition assessed both for opportune drinking time and continued cellaring potential by chief winemaker Peter Gago. Christie’s will also be on hand for market appraisals. Register by Friday 19 September at www.penfolds.com
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... We’re absolutely over the moon to hear that a second branch of Borough’s acclaimed Tapas Brindisa (pictured left), called Tierra Brindisa, has just opened in Soho… and it takes reservations. So that means no more hour-long waits for the absolutely knock-out food. Top of the list are the Iberico ham croquetas, prawns cooked with garlic and chilli and Leon chorizo with piquillo pepper on country toast. 46 Broadwick Street. W1F 7AF, 020 7534 1690.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (September 2008)... On Wednesday 24 September, Jerry Bridge and David Wickers (of luxury holiday specialists Bridge & Wickers) are inviting Square Meal readers for an evening of wine, canapes and travel tips at fashionable members club Home House. Many of their travel partners (such as Quantas, Tourism Far North Queensland and Voyages Resorts) will also be on hand to give advice and details of exclusive offers to anyone planning a trip to ANZ. Please email their events department to request a place.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Calling all oenophiles, a second branch of South-African accented food and wine emporium, Vivat Bacchus, has just opened in London Bridge. Once you’ve toured the separate white and red cellars and selected your bottle you can snack on tapas-sized plates in the ground-floor bar or go more adventurous with crocodile spring rolls or ostrich tartare in the downstairs dining room.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2008)... Forget Phileas Fogg – this weekend, why not go around the world with 80 brewers? Beer Exposed will be bringing together the likes of Anchor Steam from San Francisco, Poland’s Perla and Kombolcha from Ethiopia along with Shepherd Neame, Harviestoun and the Freedom Brewery. There'll be expert advice on everything from micro-breweries to matching beer with food, plus guided beer walks and even female-only tasting tutorials. For more info or to buy tickets visit www.beerexposed.com
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Paul Merrett proved himself as a gastro-whizz when he headed up the kitchen at Michelin-starred The Greenhouse, but for his latest venture he’s traded the hurly-burly of central London for a leafy gastropub near Richmond. The food at The Victoria demonstrates he’s lost none of his flair: flavours are bold and well balanced. There’s also an excellent range of wines by the glass, and smiling service to boot.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2008)... For a taste of South Africa this Tuesday, head to the new London Bridge branch of Vivat Bacchus, where a special food and drink event will be taking place. Gems from acclaimed winemaker Martin Meinert – who will be on hand to guide diners through the pairings – will be matched to a five-course menu from chef Stuart Ferguson, with dishes such as grilled springbok alongside an array of cheeses.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... They say good things come in small packages and it certainly rings true at the Giaconda Dining Room, which opened recently on Denmark Street (aka Tin Pan Alley) – in its heyday a home-from-home for many a British rock star, now a fairly grim thoroughfare around the corner from Tottenham Court Road tube. It’s a tiny, unpretentious spot defined by no-frills furnishings, solid cooking & welcoming service – no wonder it has already garnered plenty of praise.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Is there no end to Gordon Ramsay's talents? No sooner has the dust settled on posh Mayfair Italian Murano than he and leading lady Angela Hartnett have opened up another gaff, this time a refurbished coaching inn on the edge of Regent's Park. There are 10 bedrooms, a deli and a relaxed dining room serving seasonal dishes such as grilled mackerel or partridge with curly kale.