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Two big launches have carried us over the threshold into February – the second is this restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the Four Seasons on Park Lane which, despite being part of the hotel, is open to all. The menu offers contemporary versions of regional Italian dishes, with the option of an eight-course tasting menu for those wanting to indulge. Meanwhile, the bar specialises in prestigious - mostly Italian – vintages, with a wine-tasting table for 10 available for serious wine lovers. Those who simply want to soak up the atmosphere can take afternoon tea or sip an evening cocktail in the lounge.
The Year of the Rabbit beckons, bringing serenity, prosperity and success to those born under its sign, according to Chinese astrologers. Join in the celebrations, from 3-6 February.
If the Six Nations tournament has got you firing on all patriotic cylinders, take a gastronomic trip to your motherland: London’s restaurant scene ably represents each of the countries playing this weekend. Alternatively, if you’re looking at the prospect of two days of rugby widowhood, we’ve got suggestions for places to go where the TV can’t touch you.
FEBRUARY 2011: Boutique hotel group Hotel du Vin is to open a number of London bistros, called Bistro du Vin. The first Bistro du Vin will be opened in Clerkenwell in April, to be followed by a further site in Kensington later in the year. The menus will be identical to those found in each Hotel du Vin, with wines selected by wine and spirits director Ronan Sayburn MS.
The newest addition to the Wimbledon Common scene is anything but a run-of-the-mill gastropub. Masterminded by Claude Bosi, the fêted head chef of Hibiscus, and run by his brother Cedric and former Hibiscus colleague Patrick Leano, it offers rustic fare with flair (and a nod to the seasons), such as roast cod with poached egg and mustard sauce, and apple and cinnamon junket with shortbread. Enjoy a draught real ale at the bar while you wait for your table.
For classic cuts of grass-reared, 28-day matured British beef, a serious wine list and a well-curated selection of beers from the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, head to The Steak Exchange in the City. Located a stone's throw from Liverpool St station – on the site of former incumbent Davy’s at the Exchange – the restaurant’s main offering is perfectly-cooked steak, but it also caters for non-meat-eaters and those lacking the caveman instinct.
Fresh from New York, three Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is returning to the capital with Spice Market London – a sister to his New York restaurant of the same name, serving South-East Asian-inspired cuisine. Spice Market London is Vongerichten’s first restaurant in the UK since Vong at The Berkeley hotel closed in 2003. Many ex-members of the Vong team will be at the helm of Spice Market, including Tim Tolley (head chef at Vong for four years).
Yotam Ottolenghi & his team have launched a standalone restaurant in the West End, the latest in his fast-growing Mediterranean/Middle Eastern, deli/diner chain. Located just off Piccadilly Circus, Nopi (which stands for North Of Piccadilly), runs as an all-day brasserie serving dishes broadly based on Mediterranean, Middle-eastern and Asian cuisines – although it doesn’t offer Ottolenghi-style takeaways. The kitchen is headed by the former head chef from Ottolenghi in Islington, & the venue is informal, familiar & familial.
Tsuru Sushi’s third city site repeats the successful formula of its Bankside and Bishopsgate restaurants, offering sustainable, authentic Japanese food and a strong selection of whiskies and sakés. Choose from a range of hot bento boxes, the ever-popular chicken katsu sandwich, and classic sushi and tempura selections, including California rolls and soft-shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise and spring onions. Complement the meal with Japanese salads such as edamame beans with chilli flakes or cucumber with wakame. Food can be eaten on-site or delivered; the chain also hosts regular sushi-making and tasting events.
Batten down the hatches against the cold: it’s comfort food all the way as The Penny Black opens on Fulham Road. Go for the ‘home away from home’ feel and for the nostalgic menu, which showcases regional British dishes such as Lancashire hotpot alongside throwbacks such as bananas and custard (with hundreds and thousands) and Arctic roll. Ingredients are sourced within the UK, and the cellar also houses a selection of English wines.
Silvena Rowe certainly had a lot to talk about when Square Meal met up with her. The cookery author, food columnist, TV cook, consultant and soon-to-be chef-patron of Quince at The May Fair Hotel has managed to pack a lot into life, and shows no signs of slowing down. Read straight-talking Silvena’s take on celebrity, what she thinks of ‘greasy doner kebabs’, and the real reason she can never go without dessert.
The Welsh have plenty to sing about when it comes to food – the region is a larder of prime ingredients such as beef and lamb, heather honey, and artisan cheeses. St David’s Day is the time to get patriotic – or find out what all the fuss is about. From bara brith (Welsh-style fruit cake) in leafy Hampstead to Welsh rarebit in the depths of south Wales, Square Meal picks five of the best places to celebrate.