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Hidden Gems


There are plenty of foodie havens that turn out great food with consistency and without fanfare. These are London's hidden gems. Tania Daniels selects a few and highlights the special deals on offer, at some of them, in October and November 2008

Kai Restaurant

Sometimes it feels as though London’s restaurant scene is only about hyped-up celebrity hangouts – frequented by a cast of relentlessly photographed famous faces – glitzy new launches and venues fronted by high-profile chefs. They command more than their fair share of column inches and chatter. But there are plenty of unsung heroes that are quietly turning out consistently good food to a loyal band of regulars. Square Meal selects a handful, some of whom have offered Square Meal readers special prices on a signature food and wine match of their choosing (see below)

Le Colombier Noura Central
145 Dovehouse Street, SW3 6LB 122 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 4UJ
The Establishment Patterson’s
45-47 Parsons Green Lane, SW6 4HH  4 Mill Street, W1S 2AX
Giusto La Poule au Pot
43 Blandford Street, W1U 7HF 231 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UT
Kai Sardo
65 South Audley Street, W1K 2QU 45 Grafton Way, W1T 5DQ
Lemonia Vasco and Piero’s Pavilion
89 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 8UY 15 Poland Street, W1F 8QE
The Mall Tavern The North Star
71-73 Palace Gardens Terrace, W8 4RU
189-190 New North Road, N1 7BJ


Square Meal hunts out some perfect food and wine matches from six of our hidden gem restaurants – which you can try (some at special prices) if you visit them during October or November 2008.


Palena Merlot 2007 palena_merlot_07.jpgTHE DISH: Kleftiko

THE WINE: Palena Merlot 2007, Central Valley, Chile

THE MATCH: ‘Kleftiko is a traditional Greek dish,’ says Tony Evangelou, general manager of Lemonia. ‘We slow-cook a joint of lamb with herbs, spices and wine for three hours, until it falls off the bone. It matches well with the Palena, which is a very fruity, medium-bodied Merlot.’

In October and November you can buy the kleftiko and a glass of Palena Merlot or Palena Rosé wine for £16.

The North Star

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV THE DISH: Confit of wild rabbit, purée of curly kale and Ibérico ham with acorn oil, quince and white wine vinaigrette 

THE WINE: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV, Champagne, France

THE MATCH: ‘The mineral-tinged kale, soft fruit flavours of the quince and nutty acorn oil complement the subtle fruit and hazelnut tones of the Champagne,’ explains Mark Loughborough, owner of The North Star.

In October and November you can buy the confit of wild rabbit and a glass of Champagne for £19.50.

Noura central

Valdivieso Eclat 2005 THE DISH: Lamb chawarma

THE WINE: Valdivieso Eclat 2005, Maule Valley, Chile

THE MATCH: ‘This wine is a blend of Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from old vines and is a Rhône-style, but more expressive,’ explains Nicolas Angelina, wine buyer at Noura Central. ‘It is quite a complex wine so it complements the
complex flavours of the lamb chawarma, which has been marinated in lots of spices.’

In October and November you can buy the lamb chawarma and a glass of the Valdivieso Eclat for £15.

The Mall Tavern

Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé Brut NVTHE DISH: Prawn and pork won tons with spicy daikon salad and Thai dipping sauce

THE WINE: Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé Brut NV, Champagne, France

THE MATCH: ‘This starter is an old favourite with our customers,’ explains Georgie Southern, general manager of The Mall Tavern. ‘With its slightly floral and strawberry elements, the Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé complements the spicy tones of the won tons and helps to balance the heat and oriental flavours of the dish.’

In October and November you can buy the prawn and pork won tons and a glass of Champagne for £13.50.

The Establishment

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 THE DISH: Garden pea and broad bean risotto with Devon crab and pea shoots

THE WINE: Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough, New Zealand

THE MATCH: ‘This dish is well balanced,’ says Owen Gibbons, assistant manager at The Establishment. ‘The risotto is light, but at the same time flavourful, so this aromatic wine with its summery, floral flavours is a great match.
It’s a typical Marlborough Sauvignon with tropical fruit and gooseberry flavours that go particularly well with seafood, such as the Devon crab used here.’


Spy Valley Riesling 2007 THE DISH: Chilean sea bass, garlic and shrimp crumble and onion-infused soya sauce

THE WINE: Spy Valley Riesling 2007, Marlborough, New Zealand

THE MATCH: ‘Our Chilean sea bass is rich, succulent and luscious with a creamy texture,’ says Bernard Yeoh, proprietor of Kai. ‘Finding a wine that works with a range of Chinese flavours is a hard road; the strength of Spy Valley is the subtle tones that are able to ebb and flow through a variety of contrasting tastes. The elegant overtones of intense floral and citrus curb the richness of the sea bass. The racy acidity of the wine cuts through any residual oils or creaminess, cleansing the palate in anticipation of the next morsel.’


Have a favourite 'hidden gem' restaurant, yourself? Email us at [email protected]

Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Autumn 2008