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RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... The Mandarin Oriental is really raising the stakes this year. With Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant set to open in the autumn, the other half of the Knightsbridge hotel’s double coup launches this week. Courtesy of Lyon-born über-chef Daniel Boulud, who holds three Michelin stars at his New York restaurant Daniel NYC, Bar Boulud is a refined bistro concept that echoes its transatlantic sister site.
A hearty Sunday roast isn’t always the most appealing option in the summer months, but who says you have to stick to tradition every weekend? Forget the classic pub lunch and head out for a more unconventional day of rest. Dim sum at The Phoenix Palace? Pancakes at The Diner? Or all-you-can-drink Champagne at the Landmark Hotel? Get your teeth around this list of ideas for an alternative Sunday lunch.
We don’t get a particularly long window to eat alfresco in London’s temperate climes, so its best to grab the chance with both hands. If the sun is out this summer, scout out a venue from our best alfresco dining or, with a bit more planning and a pinch of luck, book ahead to enjoy one of these handpicked goings-on, including a daily barbecue in the secluded and picturesque private gardens of The Montague on the Gardens hotel (pictured).
If you’re after a special night out, look no further. To save you time, we’ve scouted out top-notch events at our favourite restaurants and bars in town.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... The sun’s out, the grass is green and it’s no time to be stuck indoors. But if you don’t fancy manning a barbecue, and you can’t find a table on inevitably packed restaurant terraces, you’re not plum out of options. Clever-clogs restaurants including Nobu London in Mayfair are offering diners the chance to buy luxury picnic hampers full of menu dishes, so you can loll around in the park with some top-notch grub.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Remember when The Avenue was the ‘90s place to lunch? With its white, minimalist interiors and modern European food it helped shake up the big old boys club that was St James’s. Now under the banner of D&D London, the site has been reinvigorated. The airy, light interiors remain, but a new British menu now deals in simple, dependable classics cooked with skill, making it a worthy destination for lunch or dinner.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... If you’re Aldgate East way, have a butcher’s hook (look) at this quirky new bar named as an homage to cockney rhyming slang. Grab a glass of Calvin Klein (wine) or a national rail (cocktail) in the green and black street-level bar funkily refurbed from a mobile phone shop. Then chow down on an Isle of Skye (pie) with mash and mushy peas, and head down the apples and pears (stairs) for a Jack Palance (dance).
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A relaunch rather than an opening, Restaurant Michael Nadra is the new incarnation of Fish Hook, Nadra’s former seafood-themed Chiswick site. Now with his name above the door and meat on the menu, the talented chef is cooking up a storm. Start with a lasagnette of calf’s sweetbreads, foie gras and wild mushrooms, move on to yellowfin tuna with soft-shell crab tempura, and finish with a dessert of rhubarb three ways.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... What a transformation! The formerly scruffy Canton Arms has had a heavy dose of stylish Victoriana imposed on it in a refurb that comes courtesy of owner/chef Trish Hilferty and the crew at Southwark hero the Anchor & Hope. The menu is, as you might expect, classic British fare, with old-school starters such as oxtail and split pea soup, followed by wild rabbit with mustard and mash, then a rich chocolate pot to finish.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... If you fancy a trip around the quirky and popular Californian vineyard Bonny Doon without the inconvience of leavingLondon, then listen up. Taking place on 1 June at The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, the vineyard’s owner, Randal Grahm, well-known among aficionados in the US for his eccentric and knowledgeable approach to winemaking, will host a five-course dinner matched with a selection of his biodynamic wines.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Bringing a heavy dose of cool to the Beach area of Chelsea, this new bar comes courtesy of DJ Sam Young, who can often be found on the decks at nearby super-Sloane club Boujis. The good-looking interior is a mix of exposed brickwork, pop-art murals and Formica, and an accessible drinks list starts off with house wines from £16.50 and cocktails from £6.50.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... The conversion of Shoreditch club T Bar into slick restaurant Pizza East may be symbolic of the area’s steady gentrification, but East End clubbers – and there are plenty of those – will be pleased to hear of new club Concrete, housed in the same building. Turn up for civilised post-work drinks and nibbles (think calamari, meatballs and mozzarella), or arrive later on to dance into the wee small hours.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... From the brains behind Clapham’s Lost Society and Battersea’s The Lost Angel, Putney newcomer Citizen Smith looks set to bring youthful pizzazz to another area of south-west London. Less baroque than the interiors of its sibling sites but just as funky, the vibe is boosted by DJs, imaginative cocktails (think blueberry and ginger Caipiroska for £6.50), beers from Greenwich Meantime and a menu of 20 affordable pizzas starting at £4.95.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A sibling site to Chelsea hotspot The Valmont Club, swish new cocktail bar Coquine looks set to liven things up on this upscale strip of the Old Brompton Road. Take a pew in the funky French bistro-meets-rococo interior and choose from a range of slimline cocktails. Then tuck into luxurious comfort food such as lobster BLTs, foie gras burgers or flash-fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream, and dance into the night in the exclusive DJ den.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A good barometer of public optimism over the next few months might be the success of über-trendy Greek Street newcomer Diu. With Champagne starting at £170, and bottles of Ace of Spades at £1,100 a magnum, you’re guaranteed to spend a pretty penny once you step inside its moodily lit interiors. But with glamour also on its side, Soho-ites might just feel plush enough to embrace it.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Tapping into Londoners' ever-growing appetite for tapas, Bar Pepito claims to be the capital's first sherry bar – a Spanish-style bodega from the brains behind nearby restaurant Camino. Enjoy an González Byass Apóstoles’ palo cortado with duck liver pâté in jelly, or a Moscatel served with the Basque dish of cheese curd and honey. Then, sit back and unwind in the faithfully recreated, relaxed atmosphere.
RECENTLY OPENED The team behind Charlotte’s Place in Ealing has done a good job in combining gutsy and contemporary bistro food with an upmarket cocktail-crowd setting at this Turnham Green newcomer. Settle down at the slick two-tone dining room, complete with a new glass roof, and tuck into fairly priced dishes such as a Le Creuset pot of piping-hot reblochon tartiflette to start, followed by a bouillabaisse and then a lime and lemongrass tart.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Landing in an area already heavy with French bistros, Villandry Kitchen has needed all the nous of its Holborn sibling site to conquer the Chiswick market. Luckily, the easy-going, unfussy food and relaxed setting have been successfully transported to west London. Everything you'd expect from a Gallic bistro is present – starter plates of cold meats and cheeses, moules frites or steak haché for main, and maybe a tarte tatin to finish.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... Who wouldn’t enjoy a free five-course meal and a glass of bubbly beside the Regent’s Canal? Well, if you have time to ping off an email, then you could be doing just that this summer. To celebrate the launch of its outdoor summer menu, King’s Cross modern British restaurant Rotunda is giving away a five-course meal for two on its terrace. The closing date for entries is 30 June. To find out how to enter, read on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... How about this for a sunny summer evening: in the run up to the October opening of its new site Elliot’s Borough Market, the team behind the restaurant are running a weekly Friday evening pop-up at sister restaurant Pavilion Café in Victoria Park. For £50 you’ll get a glass of prosecco, a five-course menu on the communal alfresco table and matching wines. The events are all weather permitting, however, so check the forecast before you commit.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... The ball’s well and truly rolling now: after the success of its inaugural year, the London Restaurant Festival is set for an even bigger and better return this October. Taking place from 4-18 October, expect capital-wide attractions from scores of top-notch restaurants. The general public can book the events from 8 June but if you’re an American Express card holder, read on to find out how to jump the queue and book before everyone else.