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RECENTLY OPENED (November 2008)... Though the culture vultures may already have heard of Kings Place – the new King's Cross arts centre, with its concerts, galleries and readings – they may be less familiar with Rotunda, the on-site restaurant. Just as good for aperitifs or snacking as well as full-on dining, the focus is on well-sourced produce: think smoked eel with horseradish or lamb steak with mint sauce and roast onions.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2008)... For a healthy alternative to the seasonal stodge, why not take advantage of the fantastic Two-for-One deal at City newcomer Soseki? Exclusive to Square Meal readers, this offer is valid on the £25 nine-course 'sushi express’ menu (served up at the sushi counter at lunchtimes), while in the evening it applies to any of Soseki’s multi-course banquet menus (from £25). Booking essential – please quote Square Meal.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... How's this for the catch of the day – just as celebrity fish restaurant J Sheekey celebrates a decade in business, it's launched a glistening oyster bar next door. The menu is almost exclusively piscine: think oysters, potted shrimps and jellied eels alongside razor clams with chorizo and broad beans, or the famous fish pie. Though originally designed for walk-ins, it's now taking bookings after all.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... With a name more commonly used to describe vineyards from a specific region, Terroirs is that rare London find: a genuinely traditional French bistro, right in the beating heart of the West End. The reasonably priced menu features full-flavoured dishes such as garlic snails, hare ragout and sweet caramel crepes, while the wine list has plenty that's organic and biodynamic.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... Homesick Muscovites tired of vodka and caviar now have something a little more meaty to get their teeth into, courtesy of Russian steakhouse Goodman. The first branch to open overseas, it's also the first UK restaurant to have its own on-site dry ageing room. Interiors and cooking are very New York, with half the site given over to an impressive kitchen and signature cuts cooked on a charcoal-fired grill.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2008)... Whether you’re looking for a fun gift for a friend, a way to occupy the kids during the school holidays or simply to warm things up during cold weather, La Cucina Caldesi could have the answer. The Marylebone-based Italian cookery school has just released its winter 2008/09 course dates: as well as old favourites including ‘Fresh Pasta’ and ‘Pizza Making’, there are new classes such as ‘Sunday Market Kitchen’.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... All aboard! The interiors of this media-land newcomer are inspired by the golden era of train travel, complete with jauntily-uniformed staff and a call button for the Champagne trolley. Both the ground-floor restaurant and sexy basement bar are open until 3am, so while retro classics of lobster thermidor or beef Wellington are reserved for peak times, more homely dishes of shepherd's pie or jelly and ice cream are available into the small hours.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... Did you know that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan itself? And that 2008 marks a century since migration first began? Enter Sushinho, a hip new King's Road restaurant and bar celebrating both cultures: think modern Japanese dishes with a hint of South America (sea bass with salsa or buttered lobster with a shiso sauce), washed down with sakerinhas (caipirinhas with a sake base).
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... The superstitious among you might believe that bad things happen in threes, but we think that good things can happen, too. Casa Brindisa is a case in point. Following in the footsteps of Borough favourite Tapas Brindisa and Soho's Tierra Brindisa, this South Ken newcomer offers the same winning formula of full-on tapas in a lively, easy-going space, but this time complete with a basement deli and ground-floor jamoneria.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2008)... When your Italian friends tell you to head into the mouth of the wolf (bocca di lupo), don't be alarmed – they're wishing you good luck. And fortune certainly smiles on those heading into this memorably named Soho newcomer. Featuring a long, sleek bar and small dining room, full-flavoured regional Italian cooking is dished up as both large and small plates: think zingy lobster spaghettini or earthy farro with a pork and foie gras sausage.
GENERAL NEWS (December 2008)... Dear readers, it's time to bid you farewell until 5 January 2009. As you're a savvy lot, you know that no end of year message would be complete without a roundup of the best bits of the past 12 months. So without further ado, here's a selection of our favourite new restaurants from 2008. Why not try them out for yourself and post your views on the website, using the 'My Square Meal' facility (register here)?