31 July 2014

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UK restaurant round-up


mark greenaway - About_Mark.jpgDecember ushered in some tantalising new openings - and it’s not just the big hitters that are getting their moment.

Less than a year after relocating his fine-dining Restaurant Mark Greenaway (pictured), the Edinburgh-based chef has opened the 80-seater Bistro Moderne by Mark Greenaway. It’s an update on the classic French bistro – Greenaway offers simpler versions of his restaurant dishes, a dessert bar, and a 5-course grazing menu matched with whisky, beer and spirits to showcase drinks produced in Scotland. The Stockbridge location, which is also home to Tom Kitchen’s acclaimed Scran and Scallie and Paul Gunning’s Purslane, is rapidly becoming known as the city’s up-and-coming dining area.

Heading south, Bristol’s vibrant food scene has been given a boost by the opening of The Ox. Devised by the team behind the city’s successful Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co cocktail bars, and with Marco Pierre White-trained Todd Francis in charge of the kitchen, The Ox draws inspiration from the Hawksmoor group of restaurants –from the robust menu majoring in prime, Josper-grilled steaks to the classic steak house look that’s all parquet floors and wood panelling.

It’s good to see a serious independent restaurant open in the centre of Leicester. Food-wise, the city has been a graveyard of dreams, but there’s always the hope that someone will make a new place work, so there’s been quite a buzz about Phil Sharpe’s first solo venture and its ‘affordable luxury of modern European cuisine’. The chef is no stranger to Leicester, he was previously executive head chef at Maiyango, and his restaurant, the White Peacock, is to be found at the foot of New Walk, in a listed building that was most recently Barrington’s but before that was Flores, a smart, global tapas restaurant.

In Wales, fans of the Michelin-starred James Sommerin (whose Crown at Whitebrook closed in March this year) have been disappointed by the delay to the opening of his yet unnamed restaurant on The Esplanade at Penarth in Cardiff. The fine-dining restaurant, which will accommodate up to 70 diners, with a 55-seat main restaurant and a 12-seat private dining room, is now set to open in January 2014.

And it continues to be a testing time for restaurants. Alan Murchison Restaurants, the company that operated the one-Michelin-starred L’Ortolan restaurant near Reading, Berkshire, has been put into liquidation. The company has just one director, the chef Alan Murchison, a regular on the BBC’s Great British Menu, and was owned by the 10 in 8 Group, which includes La Becasse in Ludlow, Shropshire and Paris House in Woburn, Bedfordshire. L’Ortolan remains open, now operated by owner Newfee Ltd, with Murchison remaining at the restaurant as executive chef.

This feature was published on 13 December 2013.

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