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If you fancy enjoying some free beer, free cocktails and free Yo! Sushi canapés, while watching four talented young mixologists strut their stuff, then listen up. The final of the Asahi Rising Stars Cocktail Competition is being held from 7.30pm until midnight on Tuesday 12 October at Riverbank Park Plaza hotel. The organisers have been kind enough to offer 20 pairs of free tickets to Square Meal readers – read on to find out more.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2010)... Fancy watching AA Gill go head to head with Janet Street-Porter in a live debate on French cuisine? Or taking part in an Anne Robinson-hosted food quiz at Le Café Anglais? Or even just tucking in to one of hundreds of special restaurant menus? If so, then stay tuned, as today marks the start of the second London Restaurant Festival – a fortnight designed to showcase the diversity and quality of the capital’s dining scene. To find out all the details of what’s going on throughout the two weeks, visit the festival’s website.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Arriving with minimal fanfare on Warren Street, Mushu – a new casual Oriental restaurant – is certainly not attempting to reinvent the wheel, but locals should nonetheless be chuffed. Clean, contemporary surroundings and an open-plan kitchen play host a line-up of easily recognisable and well-executed dishes – think ramen noodle soups and katsu curries – all of which come in at under £6.50. Maybe not worth traveling across London for, but a commendable neighbourhood haunt.
Those familiar with Mayfair’s The Only Running Footman and Islington’s The House will know what to expect from The Portman, the third site from gastropub maestros The Meredith Group. Like the Footman, a smart street-level bar dishes up all-day food, from breakfast to lunchtime burgers through to evening oysters, while a more formal restaurant upstairs impresses with a more refined line-up of British dishes.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... This weekend represents the end of the longest-running hospitality saga in recent London history – the refurbishment of The Savoy hotel. After closing in 2007, the art deco building has finally been restored and reopens on Sunday. While the launch of The Savoy Grill has been delayed until the end of November, the hotel will still boast three other swanky new spots; the River Restaurant, The American Bar and the Beaufort bar.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2010) On 19 October, the Bleeding Heart is holding a very serious wine dinner in its historic function room The Crypt. A four-course dinner will come paired with Bordeaux wines from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Priced at £129 per person.
National Chocolate Week 2011 runs from 10-16 October and a handful of big foodie names around town are getting involved. From fusion godfather Peter Gordon and chocolatier William Curley as well as bespoke menus at some of the capital's favourite restaurants, read on to find the best places to head for a sweet, calorific fix.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... If you fancy rubbing shoulders with an oligarch or two, head for this glitzy new Marylebone restaurant. Dealing in the cuisine of central Asia, the menu references Uzbekhistani and Kazakhstani cooking, as well as Russian, Chinese and Mongolian; with the likes of kebabs, pastries and rice featuring heavily. If the moneyed crowd gets too much for you, head for the hefty list of vodkas and forget about the bill until the morning.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Now in its seventh year, the Square Meal Around the World Wine Tasting is firmly established as a key date in the City’s social calendar in the run-up to Christmas. Priced at £45 per person, this unmissable evening event on Wednesday 24 November gives you an opportunity to sample more than 200 fine wines and speciality foods in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere – the perfect setting for entertaining clients or enjoying a night out with friends.
Cold-weather blues already getting you down? Pining for one last hit of sun before the long stretch of mid-winter? Luckily for you, the good people at the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority are offering Square Meal readers a host of tempting special offers on holidays booked between 1 November and 31 January. For information on the resort, the island and the special offers, read on.
READER OFFER... Anyone who’s been atop the Gherkin on a clear day will vouch that there are few better views in the whole of London, with its 360° panorama of the capital. It needn’t, however, be a special treat. Searcys Club, the private members’ club that operates the bar, restaurant and lounge atop the iconic building, is calling for new members. Annual membership fees are priced at £750 and Square Meal readers will receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne on joining.
The festive period is slowly creeping up on us, and part and parcel of it is the annual Taste of Christmas show. Taking place from 3-5 December at Excel, the event is hosting restaurants such as Benares, Roast and Acorn House and chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Atul Kochhar. If that’s not enough to tempt you, Square Meal readers can buy two-for-one tickets. For more information, read on.
Adiós for now: after two weeks of special menus, events and celebrity chef-cooked dinners, the London Restaurant Festival came to an end last night with its second annual awards ceremony. The event not only rewarded the restaurants that offered the best festival menus – as voted by the public – but cast its net wide to recognise London eateries in a wide array of categories, including bravery and discovery. Read on to see a full list of winners.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Bánh mì baguettes? Never heard of them, you say? Well, that’s about to end. Popular in the likes of California, the Vietnamese snacks have made their way to the capital, most notably at Ironmonger Lane newcomer City Càphê. The baguettes mix the bread-loving characteristics of the country’s one-time colonial masters France with typical Vietnam herbs and spices. Chuck some bowls of pho noodle soup and salads onto the menu, and you’ve got a lunchtime winner, we reckon.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... A month after reopening Eight Over Eight – which was closed from late 2009 following a fire – restaurateur Will Ricker (pictured) has added to his mini empire with new Japanese robata grill and cocktail bar Glo Glo’s, which launched on Thursday. Housed under the Great Eastern Dining Room, sip on some classic cocktails and enjoy offerings ranging from tiger prawns to black salmon with sweet miso & Szechuan courgette. To read a full review of the site click here, or here for a Q&A with Ricker.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... While you might book a table at, say, Scott’s or Nobu to see A-listers dine in London, Patrisey at Hotel Verta is the place to head if you want to catch them arriving in the capital. Located on the ground floor of the new Von Essen hotel at London’s Vertical Gateway heliport, the restaurant boasts a modern European menu and fine views of the comings and goings of the rich and famous, through soundproofed glass.
DIARY DATE (October 2010)... Bonfire Night is on the horizon. If you want to enjoy a meal out as well as the fireworks, we recommend booking ahead. Read on for our list of the fireworks displays around town, as well as the best restaurants to watch a panorama of the capital.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Barely a few weeks old and already boasting a solid fanbase, this Kentish Town newcomer is built around low prices, egalitarian values and bags of choice. Expect an easy-going European menu, with sardines on sourdough toast, followed by grilled coconut squid, then lemon-curd ice cream, in a buzzy setting. Weekend brunches are also a must.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Geronimo Inns’ first excursion into the Square Mile occupies what was the Broadgate Exchange on Bishopsgate. The menu touts ‘British pub grub for City gents’, which means dishes such as hot-smoked pigeon and quince salad. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... With its British-meat peddling ethos and juicy, thick steaks, Hawksmoor became a destination for London carnivores when it opened in Spitalfields in 2006. Four years on, the duo behind the restaurant have opened a second site in Covent Garden. Scheduled to launch on 1 November, the site quietly opened its doors earlier this week. Technically in a ‘soft launch’ period, go easy on any mishaps, and in return enjoy 50% off food until 1 November.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... If you’re heading to the Electric Proms this weekend, or just looking for a lazy Sunday venue, you’ll be chuffed to hear that Made in Camden, the new restaurant at Roundhouse, is now open. Lunches don’t start until Monday, but in the meantime, book in for a dinner of international tasting plates – think confit duck leg with green papaya, peanuts and hoisin dressing or seared onglet with chimichurri – or pop in for tea and cake during the day.