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First there was Polpo, closely followed by Polpetto & its Americanised cousin Spuntino. Now Russell Norman has opened his fourth ‘bacaro-style’ eatery. Da Polpo runs with the programme, although the all-day menu also features a new meatball section and an extended choice of pizzas/pizzette. The mood is even more relaxed, fun-loving & flexible – in fact da Polpo aims to lure in local residents & the business crowd as well as the predictable throngs of shoppers, day-trippers & theatregoers.
This neighbourhood Italian is a collaboration between chef Nicola Batavia, whose Turin restaurant holds a Michelin star, & veteran London restaurateur Paolo Boschi (of da Paolo). Nicola's food centres around quality produce, so expect ingredient-led dishes with a seasonal bent, such as linguine with baby squid, wild fennel & smoked ricotta, plus truly decadent Italian desserts.
TV chef Silvena Rowe's first foray into the restaurant side of the food scene has opened at The May Fair Hotel. The dining room is kitted out in luxurious fabric and rich colour, while the menu offers exotic Middle-eastern fusions such as king prawns with pomegranate butter and anise flowers (pictured).
The Breakfast Club’s cheerful conquest of the capital’s brunch-lovers continues with this Spitalfields outpost, the latest link in their four-strong chain. The interior follows the colourful, Eighties-esque vibe of its siblings, but with a cooler edge: think stripped wood, exposed brickwork, neon signs and bare bulbs. The menu offers the same winning formula of all-day brunches, as well as burgers, burritos, sandwiches, smoothies and evening cocktails, while service comes with a big American-style smile.
Perched atop of One New Change, seven storeys up, this informal, stylish restaurant and bar designed by Jean Nouvel enjoys a lofty setting with unbeatable views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the capital from its private terrace – part of one of the largest terraces in Europe.
London’s appetite for all-American barbecue feasts continues unabated, the latest offering being this saloon-style diner. The dining room’s cracked-leather banquettes, overhead fans and rodeo paraphernalia on the walls aim for an authentic feel, while the barbecue-spiced steaks, cooked on a hickory-and-mesquite-burning smoker imported from the States, and juicy burgers, provide a taste of the Wild West in the East End.
This former boozer bears the tell-tale signs of a Tom and Ed Martin upgrade – its clean lines, neutral colours, smart upholstery and shiny, packed bar put it in the same bracket as Chelsea sibling The Botanist. The cocktail list is a rollicking good read, while the proudly British menu is more than up to scratch – try the potted ham hock or the snail-and-bacon pie (pictured).
The original Midland Grand hotel has been restored to its enchanting former glory, and its recently opened main bar, which occupies the cathedral-like former booking hall, is a truly dramatic space. Expect lots of re-invented high-Victorian mixes tailored to 21st-century palates, such as refreshing ‘morning glory’ fizz and cosmopolitan daisy. Fine wines, ales in pewter tankards and a snack menu including moreish haggis balls complete the picture.
This new proposition in Soho takes the family-friendly restaurant chain in a slightly different, more grown-up direction. Gone is the orange signage, replaced by an edgier black-&-red logo; inside, there’s an urban warehouse feel to the decor. The kitchen offers an after-hours menu & a robata grill delivering specialities such as lime-&-coriander prawn skewers & Adobo-marinated steak.
The owners of the prestigious Château de Galoupet vineyard in Provence are the brains behind this bespoke restaurant-cum-wine emporium. The all-day menu eschews ‘charcuterie & cheese’ wine-bar clichés in favour of nutritionally balanced, seasonal dishes, each allied to several recommended tipples, while the wine store offers a constantly changing, handpicked selection of 36 by-the-glass wines.
L’Enclume owner Simon Rogan’s ‘extended pop-up’, run by his head chef Ben Spalding, is a minimalist 25-cover affair that plans to run until 2013. The no-choice tasting menu is fresh, earthy and honest, with immaculate presentation, and Rogan’s flair for creating innovative dishes using lesser-known ingredients will keep even the most anoraky of foodie geeks on their toes. Knowledgeable, friendly staff deliver faultless service.
Another standalone restaurant from the Hotel du Vin chain offering the tried-&-trusted ‘Bistro’ formula and a convivial atmosphere. The dining room is decked out in cream wood panelling and chocolate-brown leather seating, while a lounge-bar area has bright orange wing-backed chairs and rainbow-coloured shelving along one wall. Expect good food to match the fine wines, rather than the other way around: wine is naturally at the heart of things here.