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RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... Spoilt for choice? For stressed-out City workers constantly being bombarded with decisions – tailored this, bespoke that – less can sometimes be more. Step forward Le Relais de Venise, which only serves green salad and steak-frites, with the option of dessert from the daily trolley. Following on from successful branches in Paris and Marylebone, the colourful brasserie decor of this City newcomer should help bring some January cheer.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... South African wine producer Paul Cluver will be hosting an evening at Vivat Bacchus as part of the restaurant’s ongoing series of winemaker dinners. Head chef Stuart Ferguson has created a five-course menu to accompany wines from Cluver’s estate in Elgin Valley. The food will, appropriately, include a kudu dish. The winery’s flagship, 7 Flags Pinot Noir, will be among the wines tasted on the night, and Cluver will be on hand to answer questions about these. The dinner will be held at Vivat Bacchus London Bridge on 15 January. Tickets are still available, priced at £59 per person. Call 020 7234 0891 to book.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... Boundary marks Sir Terence Conran’s return to the restaurant scene, over two years after he stepped down as chairman of Conran Restaurants. The former Shoreditch warehouse boasts 17 bedrooms, an all-day cafe & a rooftop bar & grill opening in March. The main event on the food front, however, is the ground-floor restaurant serving up crustacean, daily roasts from the trolley & a Franglais menu featuring pot au feu & venison chops with juniper sauce.
FOOD & DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... Feeling thrifty following the Christmas period? Head down to Westminster restaurant City Cafe throughout January and receive 25% off the a la carte menu. What’s more, if you book a table on Monday 12 January between 12N-3pm there’s the chance to be a judge on BBC2’s top cookery competition show. One of the celebrity finalists will be in the kitchen, cooking up his or her signature dish to be offered alongside the a la carte.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... How time flies. This year marks the 10th anniversary of ever-fashionable fusion restaurant Asia de Cuba and to celebrate it will be offering a special £10 bento box. Served within the hour from 12N-7pm every day from Monday 12 January until Friday 13 February, it makes for a great-value weekday lunch or pre-theatre pit-stop. Dishes include miso soup, grilled salmon with wasabi sour cream, beef dumplings and Havana noodles.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... Baby, it's cold outside. So why not take shelter at the Electric Cinema, where £28.50 will get you a ticket to the 6.30pm screening, followed by three courses from a set menu at the Electric Brasserie next door. Available from Mondays to Wednesdays, you might follow a helping of Slumdog Millionaire with the likes of pumpkin soup, Cumberland sausages with celeriac mash and mustard sauce, and treacle sponge with custard to finish.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... Who's cooking dinner? That'll be the question on everyone's lips on 2 March, when a host of London’s top chefs will be cooking for a charity dinner with a difference. Each will create a four-course menu for 10, but it’s only after the evening's draw that tables find out ‘who’s cooking dinner’. The line-up includes Jason Atherton (Maze), Rainer Becker (Zuma), Richard Corrigan (pictured left, Corrigan's Mayfair), Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers (The River Cafe) and all proceeds will be going to leukaemia research.
RECENTLY REOPENED (January 2009)... Twenty-six is an impressive age in restaurant years and there’s no reason why the grand dame of Indian restaurants, the Bombay Brasserie, shouldn’t be around for another quarter century following its recent refurb. Old-school colonial glamour has been replaced with a more modern edge, including a revamped conservatory and a newly installed open kitchen in the main dining room. The menu has been spiced up too, look forward to Goan halibut curry and lamb shanks in coconut and black pepper masala.
Lost on your way to a restaurant? Want to know where to get your nearest sushi fix? Need to book dinner in between meetings? You can now browse squaremeal.co.uk when you’re out & about, via your Blackberry, iPhone or mobile. Our mobile site not only allows you to search Square Meal’s comprehensive restaurant, bar & venue database wherever you are but also gives you the latest news and openings. To access, simply type www.squaremeal.co.uk into the browser on your Blackberry, iPhone or mobile.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... True tartan-wearing Scot, or just a fan of haggis and a wee dram? Either way, there's a host of festivities around London in honour of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns. From low-key whisky dinners to full-on Burns Night suppers complete with bagpipes, singing and the Ode to the haggis, there's something to suit all tastes. Click through to find out which restaurants will be having a birthday celebration for Burns.
Three London restaurants were awarded two stars in this year’s Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland. West End, French big hitters Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Hibiscus and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (pictured left) all reached double-starred heights, while eight restaurants received the accolade of one star.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2009)... There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but two courses in Mayfair for a tenner comes pretty close in our books. Being served every day (except Sunday) in the pretty first-floor restaurant at Mews of Mayfair, this 'Crunch Lunch' offers a starter and main course for £10. Though the choices are fixed daily, the menu changes regularly: expect the likes of smoked mackerel with fennel salad followed by braised lamb with garlic mash.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... 'O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' These lines, from Lewis Carroll’s much-loved 'Jabberwocky', are behind the quirky moniker of this hip Shoreditch newcomer. From the ex-GM of Loungelover, it sports a similarly appealing mix of eclectic surrounds and delightful cocktails – sample the likes of the Hibiscusaurus (aged Tequila, lime and Granny Smith apples muddled with hibiscus syrup) or the Hendricks gin-based Afternoon Twee.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... With lovingly restored Victorian interiors and stylish modern touches, this Balham newcomer (formerly The George) is sure to be a hit with locals. Drinkers are served from a walnut bar in a space replete with Victorian fireplaces, while diners will find the restaurant no less handsome. The cooking is a cut above gastropub: think roast wood pigeon with chanterelle mushrooms or slow-cooked pork belly with honey-glazed butternut squash.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (January 2009)... 'Xin Nian Kuai Le'! Happy New Year to London's Chinese population, who will be celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Ox from Monday 26 January until Tuesday 10 February. Lanterns and dragon dances aside, there's never a better time to visit the the capital's Chinese restaurants, many of which offer special banquet menus for the occasion. Here are some of Square Meal's favourites.
SPECIAL OFFER (January 2009)... Only last week we were saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well it seems that the nice people at Andaman – the upmarket restaurant within the swanky St James’s Hotel & Club – are rewarding loyal diners with just that. For every five set lunches (£20 for two courses and a glass of sommelier-selected wine or a 'soft' alternative), the next one you have will be completely gratis. That's the kind of maths we like.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... The Wine Theatre aims to convert Southwark locals to the sophisticated Milanese concept of aperitivo – early-evening snacks served with wine. It’s a great deal: £8 buys you a glass of wine and unlimited access to a buffet-style table between 5pm and 8pm. Expect pasta and rice dishes, plus regional cheeses and charcuterie alongside wines by the glass from an Enomatic system.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... Osteria Dell'Angolo is the latest launch from veteran restaurateur Claudio Pulze, who has opened over 50 restaurants in the capital including, most recently, Via Condotti & Brasserie St Jacques. With inviting interiors, welcoming staff and a fairly priced menu of inventive Tuscan dishes – ravioli parcels stuffed with burrata cheese or roast neck of lamb with golden apple puree and braised onions – the Westminster restaurant should prove a hit with local parliamentarians.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2009)... What’s better than having a restaurant named after you? Having two. Gilmour's is the latest opening from Christopher Gilmour, the man behind long-established Covent Garden restaurant Christopher's. The inviting new eatery flies the flag for British comfort food – highlights from menu include potted shrimps with granary toast, beer-battered lemon sole with chips and mushy peas and knickerbocker glory with peaches, raspberries and white chocolate ice cream.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (January 2009)... ‘Don’t forget your toothbrush’ – that’s what couples heading to The Landau for Valentine’s day are being told. Those presenting their toothbrushes at dinner will be entered into the 10pm draw to win that night’s accommodation in one of the hotel’s luxurious suites – a prize worth £1000. See Square Meal's round-up for details of this and plenty of other places to celebrate Valentine's Day across town.