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RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Credit crunch, what credit crunch? To mark the arrival of chef Riccardo de Pra – whose family own Italy's Michelin-starred Ristorante Albergo Dolada – what was once known as Ristorante Mosaico has been renamed Dolada and given a menu of Michelin-leaning prices to boot. Still, the well-heeled diners don't seem to mind, feasting on the likes of scampi carpaccio with violet caviar or de-constructed spaghetti carbonara mixed at the table.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Surf and turf, fish and grill. Whatever you call it, it seems to be a timeless formula for a good time. No better seen than in Malcom John's latest venture, already brimming with diners from every corner of Croydon. Fans of all things piscine can sample the likes of perfectly executed moules marinière or salt-roasted sea bream, while carnivores can sink their teeth into a juicy 28-day aged Angus steak or the marinated leg of lamb.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... The enfant terrible of the restaurant world has returned. Taking time off from writing cookery books, starring in TV programs and opening pubs, French fine diners and Italian eateries, this time Marco Pierre White has turned his attention to steak. Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill opened recently just off Bishopsgate, specialising in fine cuts of Aberdeen Angus with a variety of sauces – including a l’escargot (with snails and herb butter), pictured.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (March 2009)... Monday 9 March is Commonwealth Day, so what better way to celebrate being part of what was arguably the first real example of an international community, than by eating your way around some of its tastiest cuisines? As Nehru put it, ‘if you approach another country in a friendly way, with goodwill and generosity, you will be paid back in the same coin, and probably in even larger measure’. We couldn't have put it better ourselves.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (March 2009)... It’s going to be a helluva month for Launceston Place. From 23-29 March the Kensington favourite will officially be turning one, so to celebrate, one randomly selected table at each service will receive Champagne and Launceston Place birthday cake. Then on 30 March, as the restaurant settles into its second year, fans of head chef Tristan Welch’s cooking can watch him represent London and the South-East in BBC2’s Great British Menu.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... While its name may double as a West African term for the supernatural, there's nothing strange or sinister about the interiors of Juju, which are fairly typical of any slick bar, all dark banquettes and mood lighting. What's unusual about this latest venture from ex-footballer Lee Chapman is the prices - around £7.95 for house cocktails such as the lemon tree, or a few pounds more for martinis and slings – not bad for a Chelsea nightspot.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We certainly feel that way about the relaunch of Fitzrovia's Fino, opening again after a refurbishment. As of Thursday 11 March, it'll be back serving favourites such as the chorizo and tomato salad (pictured, left) as well as several new dishes, including fish stew from the chef’s home town of Bilbao, Spanish blood sausage with fried quail’s eggs, or roast suckling pig for the whole table.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2009)... Calling all cheese-lovers: popular Spitalfields brasserie Le Bouchon Breton, will be running a series of informal masterclasses in cheese on the last Tuesday of every month, overseen by its resident cheese expert, or 'frommelier'. Ten cheeses will be selected according to the best of the season, served with freshly baked bread and paired with a top-notch wine from the 600-bin list. For bookings, call the restaurant on 0800 019 1704.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (2009)... For those who wouldn’t dream of compromising when it comes to wine dinners, Claridge’s has put together an impressive line-up for 2009. The dinners, which kick off on 19 March with Champagnes Pierrel and Marquis de la Fayette, will be held in the Reading Room, with menus created specifically to accompany the wines for each evening. No need to sully the experience with an arduous journey home either – the hotel is offering wine-dinner rates for guest rooms or suites.
Mummy, Mama, Mum, Ma. Whatever you call her, this Sunday is her big day. And as she's kept you fed through the years, why not return the favour? You don't even need to dust off your apron: instead, check out Square Meal's round-up of dining destinations in and around town. And if you're a mum yourself, send your kids this link - there's nothing like a bit of cough cough, hint hint, to spur them into action.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... This genteel gastropub snuck back onto the scene at the end of last year with very little fanfare. The trumpet-blowing is saved for the cooking, courtesy of new chef/proprietor Gareth Thomas, who trained at Auberge du Lac and later with Gary Rhodes. By night, there's wood pigeon with confit mushrooms and a white onion purée followed by aged sirloin with parmesan and truffle macaroni; by day, it's a simpler, true-Brit affair.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2009)... Ah, we do love a birthday party. But this is no fresh-faced teenager we're toasting, but a veritable grande dame of the capital's dining scene: yes, Le Pont De La Tour is coming of age. To celebrate 18 years since its 1991 launch by Sir Terence Conran, there's a host of special offers and events, including an £18 set lunch menu in the bar and grill and monthly wine tastings of vintages from 1991 to 2009 in the Wine Store.
Date for the Diary (May 2009)...
Champagne Laurent-Perrier will once again be creating a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (19-23 May, www.rhs.org.uk) and, to celebrate, some of London’s finest hotels will be hosting special Laurent-Perrier Rosé afternoon teas.
For the duration of the show Claridge’s, The Connaught, The Dorchester and Sanderson will be serving Chelsea Afternoon Tea accompanied by Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne. It’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass of this iconic fizz, renowned for its unique salmon-pink colour, natural finesse and distinctive fresh red-berry aromas.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Small is beautiful, or so we're always being told. So it should come as no surprise that the trend for small plates has found its way to the foodie pubs of this world. Fulham's newly gastro-fied Salisbury does have the odd main course (rump of beef with gnocchi, say), but the real draw is the selection of grazing plates: feast on the likes of foie gras on toast, rabbit fritters with mustard mayo, or sweetbreads with capers and parsley.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2009)... A free night on the town – what's not to like? On 24 and 25 March, Square Meal readers are invited to a Mexican fiesta at Roxy Bar & Screen, kicking off with a screening of cult classic Once Upon a Time in Mexico, followed by a DJ set. There'll also be Tequila-based cocktails courtesy of Cazadores, and botanas (Mexican snacks). You must pre-register: visit www.cazadores.com/cine and quote Square Meal to get your free ticket.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... If there was such a thing as a temple to ham, this would be it. The new tapas bar in the Harrods food hall is a homage to premium porcine delights, as showcased by the 5J charcuterie brand. This includes the pricey but marvellous jamón ibérico de bellota, made from acorn-fed pigs and revered not only for its depth of flavour, but for being rich in monounsaturated oleic acid (the good stuff). That's the kind of healthy eating we can get excited about.
How apt: just as we enter deeper into the mire of the crunch, along comes a bar named for the last time there was a pre-depression party. Yes, this new Shoreditch joint squarely doffs its cap at the Roaring Twenties, so do as they did and drown your sorrows with the likes of the hot tot, a 'cocktea' of Earl Grey, Courvoisier, honey vodka and sugar syrup, served up in a china pot.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Out in Chinatown and fancy something other than egg-fried rice and barbecued duck? Head to Rasa Sayang, a low-key new kid on the block specialising in Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine. Expect one-plate favourites such as char kway teow (fried rice noodles with prawns and Chinese sausage) and Hainanese chicken rice, as well as fiery sautéed sambal prawns and mild beef rending curry – all at prices well suited to the current financial climate.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Best known for strutting its stuff, the peacock is a curious sort of bird. So it's only fitting that this eclectically decorated café-cum-bar-cum-club should have named itself after our attention-seeking feathered friend. Though The Peacock serves up sedate cream teas during the day, by night it transforms itself into a pleasure palace of cocktails, burlesque and DJs on the decks. Battersea locals had best brace themselves for the show.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2009)... Eat like a King, they say. And now you can. Throughout April, politician's favourite The Cinnamon Club is re-creating dishes from the Royal Courts (the ancient cuisine of India’s pre-Independence ‘princely states’). Executive chef Vivek Singh will be showcasing the best of India's grand culinary heritage: think Rajasthani pit-baked loin of rabbit, Awadhi slow-roasted milk-fed lamb, and Kashmiri cheese-stuffed morels with figs and gold leaf.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2009)... Calling all wine lovers: Thameside newcomer, High Timber, houses over 40,000 bottles in its cellars with a particularly impressive selection from South Africa. Diners are invited to browse the cellars (with the help of a guide) and pick out a bottle to drink with their meal. Choosing from the menu requires less effort, perhaps roasted scallops with apple salsa and sweetcure bacon followed by grilled Cumbrian sirloin with garlic and parsley butter, and steamed lemon pudding to finish.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2009)... Fans of fizz, take note: on Tuesday 7 April, premium marque Taittinger is hosting a Champagne tasting dinner at Mews of Mayfair. Taking place in the chic upstairs dining room, each dish on the four-course menu will be matched with a different glass of bubbly – in addition to the welcome aperitif – while brand ambassador Justin Llewelyn will be on hand to provide guidance. Tickets cost £95pp, call 020 7518 9388 to book.