21 August 2014

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Ten English restaurants for St George's Day


stgeorge.jpgOur city is awash with cuisines, and lucky Londoners are able to flit between all manner of Asian, American, European or fusion-minded restaurants as they please. What better time than St. George’s Day to focus our attentions closer to home as we round up ten of the capital’s finest English restaurants

Dean Street Townhouse, Soho

This buzzing venue in the heart of Soho comes with a fascinating historical back-story, having been inhabited by aristocrats, artists and composers, and graced by celebrities from Fred Astaire to Francis Bacon. The all-day dining experience skips from breakfast to afternoon tea to supper with everything in-between. Expect hearty renditions of good old-fashioned English grub, from crumpets with preserves, to mince and potatoes and pear cobbler with clotted cream.

dinner by heston 2011 - final700.jpgDinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge (pictured right)

Dinner continues to wow with its thoughtful takes on historical dishes that reach back as early as the 14th century. Savoury must-tries include the signature 'meat fruit' chicken-liver pâté and the improbably juicy Black Foot pork chop with spelt and Robert sauce. Top treats on the dessert menu range from the much trumpeted tipsy cake to brown-bread ice cream – a staple of Victorian England – with salted-butter caramel, pear and malted-yeast syrup.

The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras

Chef Marcus Wareing took a leaf out of Heston’s book when he opened this stunning, historically inspired restaurant at St. Pancras in spring 2011. The grandiose setting, in a dining room that retains many of its original features, sweeps diners back in time, while the menu plunders England’s cookbooks, taking in 19th-century food writer Mrs Beeton. Plump for something old school, such as the homemade black pudding with mash and apples, or try an updated version of a timeless classic, such as London Pride beer-battered cod with mushy-pea mayonnaise and chips. Don't miss drinks in the beautifully restored bar.

Hawksmoor_Restaurant_2014_3.jpgHawksmoor, various locations (pictured right)

What better way to celebrate St. George’s Day than with superb English steaks? Hawksmoor sources its beef from native breed cattle, all raised and slowly reared in the country, most on the Ginger Pig farm in Yorkshire. The beef is then dry-aged for at least 35 days in order to bring out its flavour and create a succulent texture. Hearty sides such as triple-cooked chips and roast mushrooms are ideal accompaniments to the beef, while artfully created cocktails and carefully sourced wines are further pluses. Or opt for an English ale, of course.

Hix, Soho

Chef Mark Hix specialises in patriotic plates with attention-grabbing flavours. There are none of the usual English suspects on this menu, for Hix’s anorak-like interest in history and provenance stamps itself all over his dishes. This spot is made for carnivores, with pork crackling snacks, and mains that include hanger steak with baked bone marrow and tender rib of beef served straight off the bone. Head downstairs to Soho’s coolest cocktail bar after your meal, for impeccably researched historical pours.

Launceston Place dining - 8A4T0013.jpgLaunceston Place, Kensington (pictured right)

At this Kensington gem, head chef Timothy Allen, formerly of two-Michelin-starred Cotswolds restaurant Whatley Manor, demonstrates a light touch with a variety of English ingredients, from the humble cauliflower to celebrated asparagus. Lovers of a slap-up Sunday roast should look no further – renditions here include roast Angus beef rump with Yorkshire pudding and red-wine gravy.

Plum + Spilt Milk, Kings Cross

Former Ramsay deputy and Kent dweller Mark Sargeant’s London outpost in the lavishly refurbished Great Northern Hotel puts a gently modern spin on traditional English dishes. From steamed mussels to steak via fresh-as-it-comes veg, he really excels at letting the ingredients do the talking – and you can rest assured it’s all sourced from as locally as possible. The namesake dessert of plum & spilt milk is an example of the restaurant’s playful side: homely stewed plums and custard served with restaurant vigour.

Roast_oct_2013_9.jpgRoast, Borough (pictured right)

Pitched just above foodie mecca Borough Market, Roast boasts top-quality ingredients at its fingertips. The menu pays serious attention to provenance, with suppliers and regions name-checked throughout. Opt for comforting dishes such as brown egg with haggis and piccalilli, followed by meaty ham hock and snail pie; there is even an admirable vegetarian selection. Check out the great selection of English wines, too.

Rules, Covent Garden

The capital’s oldest restaurant (serving since 1798) has fed some of England’s most revered icons, from Charles Dickens to Charlie Chaplin – all featured in the hall of fame that makes up the decor of this most established of eateries. The menu majors on game when in season, and is packed full of traditional and heritage dishes, from roast squab pigeon with potato rösti and cabbage, to steak-and-kidney puddings and pies.

St. John - St_John_2012_-_Roast_Bone_Marrow_Parsley_Salad_(600dpi).jpgSt. John, Clerkenwell (pictured right)

When it comes to nose-to-tail eating, nothing beats Fergus Henderson’s original St. John, which goes gastronomic with the grisly bits. Signature plates such as Henderson’s bone marrow and parsley salad sit cheek by jowl with other offal-based creations such as lamb tongues with white beans and radishes – not for the faint-hearted, but "incredible" if you’ve got the guts. Meanwhile, the dessert menu goes big on nostalgia, with delights such as warm butterscotch bread pudding.

Published April 2014

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