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FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Ladies grab the phone: every woman’s favourite hunter-gatherer – gruff, knitware-clad TV chef Valentine Warner – is hosting a one-off class at Marylebone cookery school La Cucina Caldesi on Friday 21 May. Taking place during the evening, the star of What to Eat Now will show pupils how to cook a three-course dinner of Italian dishes, before sitting down to enjoy them over a glass of wine. It’s just a shame you’ll have to share that Friday night date with the rest of the class. Read on for information on how to book.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... With its no-bookings policy, diners can often be in for a hefty wait at popular Soho newcomer Polpo. However, if you want to be guaranteed a seat, snaffle up one of the places at the new series of wine evenings – called EnoClub – being hosted at the restaurant. Taking place through the summer, and starting on 18 May, the events will focus on the different northern Italian wine regions, and pair the bottles with its signature Venetian food.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... As April showers play a daily game of will-it-won’t-it, we’re all holding our breath for the Easter weekend. Few, though, are more eager for a glimpse of sun than Rooftop, the bar and grill atop Sir Terence Conran’s City-fringes restaurant Boundary. Due to re-open on Good Friday – weather permitting – the open-air space is superb when the sun is shining, with 360-degree views of Canary Wharf, the Barbican and east London’s regenerated acres. If you fancy a visit, phone ahead and make sure it’s open.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Primary school teachers and 1960s Batman taught us well: crime doesn’t pay. Not usually. Not unless the crime in question was stealing a pair of binoculars from the Blueprint Café. Because, throughout April, the restaurant is running an amnesty on the thousands of pairs of binoculars it sees pilfered each year, having handed them out in goodwill so customers can enjoy the Thames views. So rid yourself of the guilt and make crime pay, as those who return a pair will get a free carafe of wine or dessert as reward.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... If you feel you missed out on celebrating Chinese New Year, or fancy getting another Eastern celebration under your belt, the Thai festival of Songkran is set to take place from 13-15 April. Also known as Thai New Year, Songkran marks the end of Thailand’s dry season when revellers soak each other in water in celebration. To mark the occasion, Belgravia restaurant Mango Tree is holding a special evening on Wednesday 14 April, including traditional dancers, a special tasting menu and a DJ.
Who serves the best Bloody Mary? Square Meal is on a mission to find out. We’ve teamed up with Dutch super-premium vodka brand Ketel One to challenge 10 bars around Shoreditch to create an original twist on the classic recipe using Ketel One Citroen (a naturally flavoured lemon vodka). The bars will be serving them – complete with a complimentary amuse bouche – for the entire month of May, and if you sign upas one of our judges, you can taste them all for free.
His star is certainly in the ascendent. Having built up a reputation for classic French fine dining at Michelin-starred Roussillon, talented chef Alexis Gauthier – pictured left and seen recently on BBC2’s Masterchef with his mentor Alain Ducasse – is set to relaunch Lindsay House in mid May 2010. Expect refined cooking and plenty of vegetarian options, the treatment of ‘legumes’ being one of Gauthier’s strengths.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Forget images of cooking beans on a gas stove in the Lake District, Clerkenwell newcomer Caravan is a world away from camping. Arriving courtesy of a group of friends including former Providores chef Miles Kirby, this self-styled restaurant, bar and roastery deals in imaginative all-day international grub. Tuck into either small or large plates of tempting dishes such as pork belly, white bean, maple and smoked paprika stew.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, cheese gets some refreshing star treatment at Chelsea newcomer L’Art du Fromage, whose mission statement is to celebrate the ingredient in all its stinky, veiny glory. Packed with cheeseboards, fondues and raclettes, the menu does, however, give some respite for the less avid fromage-ophiles in the shape of French classics such as escargots, bouef bourgignon and sole meunière.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Once run as sickeningly expensive tourist traps, the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen paved the way in showing what could be done by turning Hyde Park’s cafés into democratic eateries, and now it’s the turn of the Lido Café to follow suit. Run by catering outfit the Company of Cooks, it’s a plum spot right by the water’s edge, and deals in the likes of burgers, steak baguettes and flatbread pizzas as well as a buffet display of light snacks, cakes & pastries.
Sup a cocktail and watch the rich and famous jet in and out of the adjacent heliport at this new restaurant in Battersea’s eco-friendly Hotel Rafayel. With views up the Thames from its floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a summer-friendly riverside terrace, the salubrious environs compensate for some hit-and-miss cooking, with dishes teetering between safe, traveller fare and more adventurous Indian cooking.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Loud, brash and thoroughly enjoyable, the chain-restaurant-in-waiting that is Guerrilla Burgers has landed with a splash near Bond Street. A bold interior of bright red walls and funky graphics ties in with the appealing, global menu, which sports nine takes on the signature theme. Chow down on a green chilli burger, knock back with a stateside beer or two and take a deep breath before you start seeing these sites everywhere.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... The arrival of a second site for Shoreditch favourite Mien Tay is a boon for Clapham Junction residents drowned in non-descript chain restaurants. Those who have trekked north of the river to its Kingland's Road original will know what to expect – look beyond the no-frills decor, plastic flowers and bright lighting and you'll find great-value, well-cooked Vietnamese dishes such as chargrilled quail with honey and garlic.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Feeling patriotic and hungry? St George’s Day is fast approaching, and while some of you might want to celebrate it with some traditional English grub, you needn’t just pencil in the day itself, 23 April, to find exclusively native food on restaurant menus. A handful of sites are celebrating the occasion throughout the week, with dishes packed full of seasonal spring treats such as asparagus, new season lamb, samphire and rhubarb.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Having showcased his talents at The Loft Project – a series of supper clubs held in a Dalston loft apartment – Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes is poised to take Bethnal Green by storm, this time with a bold new restaurant within the restored Town Hall (a hotel in the making). True to form, the El Bulli protégé is dishing up experimental molecular gastronomy: think squid tartare and pickled radishes with samphire and a frozen squid ink jus.
GENERAL NEWS (April 2010)... We've deliberated, cogitated and digested and are thrilled to announce that the winner of the BMW Square Meal Award for best new restaurant – presented every six months to the most impressive newcomer in the capital – is Dean Street Townhouse. Fending off competition from the likes of Galvin La Chapelle, Bistro Bruno Loubet, Colony and Polpo, its handsome styling, clubby vibes and unfussy cooking have proved a hit, both with the panel of Square Meal judges and with you, our trusted readers.
Following the sell-out success of his pop-up restaurant on the Selfridges rooftop, Pierre Koffmann is permanently back at the stoves. This time, he is putting down roots in familiar territory, returning to The Berkeley - where he operated La Tante Claire until 2003 – to take over the site being vacated by the Boxwood Café. In a move away from haute cuisine, the new venture will offer classic provincial French dishes served in an informal environment, athough a handful of Koffman’s signature dishes (scallops with squid ink; braised pig’s trotter with morels) will also be available.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Perched on the banks of Little Venice, this new beachside retreat-themed pop-up comes courtesy of the team behind The Waterway, the nearby summer hotspot that regularly packs out its al fresco terrace on a sunny day. The Summerhouse could be London's dreamiest setting yet for a lazy summer afternoon – pick from a seafood menu, follow it up with a Pimm's jelly and a bottle or two of wine, and soak in the sunshine.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... In the finest tradition of the cinema, One Aldywch hotel is making you an offer you can’t refuse – a meal in its Axis restaurant and a film in its private screening room the tidy sum of £38.50. Taking place on Fridays and Saturdays through May and June, enjoy some bubbly, a three-course meal and a pick of Oscar-winning films such as The Hurtlocker, Precious and Up in the Air. The hotel is even chucking in some free popcorn as well.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... If, as is being suggested, we are genuinely in for a barbecue summer, then what better way of spending a sunny May bank holiday weekend than at the historic surrounds of Hampton Court Palace? From 29-31 May, the Tudor palace is hosting Foodies Festival, a three-day event featuring top chefs, masterclasses and speciality food stalls. Normally priced at £15, readers can take advantage of a special two-for-one offer by reading on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Always wanted to eat at the world’s best restaurant? Gastronomes will vouch how hard it is to get a table at El Bulli, which has held the title for the last four years. But things change: when the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants was announced this week, Noma and its chef Rene Redzepi (pictured left) had knocked El Bulli off top spot. Now, alongside other meals, charity partner Action Against Hunger is auctioning off a 12-course dinner at the newly crowned world's best restaurant. Expect a bidding war.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... If you want some politicians and a bit of waffle, you don’t have to tune into the leaders’ debates. Throughout the run-up to 6 May’s big vote, Bompas & Parr has launched an election-themed pop-up bar in Soho. Among all the other planned fun, grab some waffles served one of three ways to reflect the main parties. With all orders fed into a Jon Snow-style ‘swingometer’, you can keep a finger on London’s political pulse as you tuck in. Although, to see which way Square Meal readers are swaying, click here.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... An influx of middle-aged couples on the Fulham Road? Monty Don all over our screens? It must be the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday this week. If you're taking in the show and feeling hungry, we reckon the best bet is to head to Daphne’s. The Chelsea Italian is offering a seasonal set lunch, which includes a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne. Read on for offers from other restaurants.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... Summer wouldn't be summer without Taste of London, Regent's Park’s annual restaurant festival. Taking place from 17-20 June, expect familiar faces such as Le Gavroche and Quo Vadis, joined by first-time stalls from the likes of Mennula and Colony, all serving up miniature versions of their restaurant dishes. Square Meal readers can take advantage of an offer of two tickets for £38, a discount of £6. To find out more, read on.