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RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Covent Garden’s opera-themed restaurants have never scored highly on our radar, so Londoners in search of musical accompaniment to their meal should head to City newcomer Bel Canto where the offering is a little more fine-tuned. Diners are serenaded with the arias of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Rossini while dining on food that takes its cue from south-western France.
COMING SOON... You can’t call Richard Corrigan’s success at Bentley's – or his eponymous eatery at Lindsay House – the luck of the Irish. The acclaimed chef clearly knows how to work a restaurant. So we have no doubt that he’ll come up trumps with his next venue Corrigan’s which opens in Mayfair in early November. Once again he’ll be working prime British and Irish produce into refined dishes (with plenty of choice for veggies), while also offering the option of a 20-seat private dining room, a 10-person chef’s table and a snazzy bar area. 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1.
COMING SOON... If it ain’t broke don’t fix it: that’s the thinking behind the second branch of Sophie's Steakhouse, due to open in Covent Garden this November. Both the look and the menu will be similar to its Fulham sibling, the highlight being the top-class steaks (28-day aged, naturally) pepped up with a tomato-based ‘special sauce’. Again there will be no bookings, but this time the bar will be much bigger, meaning more space to sample the sassy cocktail list. 29-31 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DB, 020 7836 8836.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... Londoners can’t complain of being deprived of new fine-dining Italians. In recent months we’ve been graced with Apsleys, L'Anima and Murano, and now it’s the turn of Avista. The Grosvenor Square newcomer is presided over by a Zafferano alumnus, who's serving up a menu that brings together traditional and more modern Italian dishes: think steamed prawn and green apple salad (pictured) followed by pumpkin tortelloni with butter and sage.
RECENTLY REOPENED (October 2008)... It was back in 1987 that Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers (picture left to right) opened the River Cafe, and it didn’t taken long for their simple Italian cooking to build up a cult following. Twenty one years later the restaurant closed following a fire but now it has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, looking better than ever and with the same much-loved gusty food as before.
COMING SOON... The third in the line of boutique all-American bowling alleys, All Star Lanes, opens this November in Brick Lane. It’s the biggest of the bunch with nine lanes, plus a 20ft copper bar dispensing classic US cocktails, beers and a wide range of bourbons. There’s also a 200-seat diner named Luncheonette dishing out Louisiana crab cakes, jambalaya risotto and smoked bourbon baby-back ribs. The design will feature trademark cherry-red banquettes, timber floors and white walls, while the 100-person private room with its own three bowling lanes should come in handy for parties. The Old Truman Brewery, 87 Brick Lane, E1 6QR, 020 7426 9200.
DATE FOR THE DIARY... Square Meal’s fifth annual Around the World Wine Tasting will take place on Wednesday 19 November at Vinopolis at London Bridge. It’s a chance to sample more than 200 wines from over 40 producers, including Domaine Cazes from south-west France, Italy’s Villa Antinori and Chile’s Anakena. There will also be Champagne from Taittinger and Louis Roederer, as well as Taylor’s port, amontillado sherry and a small selection of top spirits, including Talisker single malt whisky and Tanqueray gin. Gourmet bowl food will be served throughout the evening, with speciality food producers including Barcelona Tapas and Grana Padano on hand to offer tasty samples of specially imported regional produce including cheese and olives. Tickets cost £40. Call 020 7840 6260 or email [email protected] to order.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2008)... One the world’s best chefs Heston Blumenthal has his home in Marlow, so it’s hardly surprising that the picturesque Thames-side town scores highly on the foodie radar. It boasts an impressive number of high-end restaurants, and now there’s another to add to the list: Aubergine at the Compleat Angler (sister of Chelsea’s Aubergine) has just opened overlooking Marlow Weir serving the same style of fine-tuned French food as its Michelin-starred sibling.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2008)... Evenings don’t get much more indulgent than a tasting of Champagnes from Louis Roederer, including Cristal, in the impressive surrounds of Harvey Nichols’s Prism restaurant in the City. This unique experience, which takes place this Tuesday evening, will be hosted by head sommelier Alain Lee, accompanied by representatives of the prestigious Champagne house. Tickets are £95 per person, which includes a selection of canapes to accompany the tasting.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT... The best things in life are free – especially when there's a 'crunch' on. So we're delighted that, to celebrate the launch of its new menu and revamped wine list, smart Westminster restaurant City Cafe is offering Square Meal readers a free 125ml glass of its own blended wine – produced in conjunction with wine merchant Justerini & Brooks – when ordering either fish and chips or steak frites. Simply quote ‘Square Meal offer’ when booking.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2008)...From 15-19 October the Frieze Art Fair is back at Regent's Park, with prestige cuvee Grand Siecle by Laurent-Perrier once again the event's official Champagne. To celebrate the association, a special menu priced at £200 per person will also be available at Hakkasan until 13 November, featuring a bottle of Grand Siecle by Laurent-Perrier to share between two and accompanied by dishes such as Peking duck with royal beluga caviar.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2008)... Notting Hillbillies went crazy over Bumpkin when it opened in 2006, and we expect it’ll be a similar story for the denizens of South Ken, who now have a branch in their midst. The laid-back, countryside-chic restaurant serves up a menu of modern and more old-school British dishes: devilled chicken livers on toast & pork belly with apple sauce.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2008)... When is a pub not a pub? When it's really a restaurant. Fulham's newly relaunched Harwood Arms is the joint venture between a publican and the chefs from Berkshire's Pot Kiln) and Notting Hill’s Michelin-starred Ledbury). Shaking the pans is ex-Ledbury rising star Stephen Williams, and a fine job he is doing too, serving up brilliantly executed Brit dishes such as devilled crab with toasted English muffin and roast lamb with champ.
READER OFFER (November 2008)... Kick off the festive season early this year with a credit-crunch friendly offer at chic French brasserie Aubaine. The Soho and South Kensington branches will be taking 25% off the bill for all Square Meal readers on any dinner reservation throughout November. What’s more, the 35-seater downstairs space at the Heddon Street branch will also be eligible for the discount – good news for any hosting an early Christmas party.
Whether you look out through windows overlooking the Gherkin or in to a room filled with antiques from Kyoto and graceful screens, Japanese newcomer Soseki is an attractive prospect. There’s no menu as such, instead diners are left in the hands of a capable kitchen that serves up a series of dishes based on what produce has come in from the South Coast that day – gurnard sashimi, perhaps.
Last year Pablo Flack and David Waddington, the duo behind Bistrotheque, set up heavily-themed pop-up restaurant The Reindeer in Brick Lane over the Christmas period. This year they’ve opened Flash, a temporary restaurant at the Royal Academy of Arts running from 1 November to 19 January as part of the gallery’s GSK Contemporary exhibition.