Find and book great restaurantsFind a Restaurant
Restaurateur Arjun Waney has transformed his short-lived Mediterranean venture Aurelia into an all-singing, all-dancing Mexican stunner in line with the upmarket but funky style of his nearby Peruvian Coya.
Not content with launching a third branch of its Spanish mini-chain in Victoria’s Zig Zag complex (currently in development), the team behind Iberica is also looking at sites in Manchester.
The Don has spawned a larger, more informal sibling next door to its original premises featuring a wine bar, cocktail bar and bistro.
Tom and Ed Martin's latest venture opens in Canary Wharf today, offering everything from breakfast through to late-night cocktails.
Last night saw the launch of the Rosewood London hotel's flagship restaurant, The Mirror Room, as well as its luxe, comfortable bar (pictured).
Anthony Demetre’s Tower 42 pop-up draws on ideas from his West End hit Arbutus, such as the squid and mackerel burger (pictured).
Former Mon Plaisir chef Franck Raymond has brought his first solo venture – a modern but homely bistro – to Battersea.
Located in a one-time Shoreditch warehouse and apothecary, Merchant's Tavern is a high-profile tie-in between Angela Hartnett (pictured), the owners of the Canteen chain and ex-Square chef Neil Borthwick.
This 10-month 'pop-up' from the Pied à Terre team opens today. Expect a regularly changing 12-dish menu of sharing plates combining a few core ingredients – many of them raw.
Vinoteca's winning formula of unfussy modern-European dishes and top-notch wines has seen it open a fourth site, in Chiswick.
Located beneath Davy’s original Victorian Wine Vaults, The Cooperage serves original cocktails made from home-infused spirits drawn from old oak barrels, plus well-chosen wines and beers.
Gordon Ramsay's casual Mediterranean venture (which launched yesterday minus mooted business partner David Beckham) is his first venture south of the river.
This Draycott Avenue newcomer offers traditional and contemporary dim sum, plus rare and iced teas, and eastern-themed cocktails.
Jason Atherton's third London launch this year has now opened at the swanky new Edition Hotel, which is also set to become a destination in its own right.
Searcy's new launch offers 40 brands of gin, served straight up or in signature cocktails, plus Broker's gin ‘on tap’ – a first for London.
Richard Caring's quick, all-day counter-order grill is now open, serving burgers, steaks, roast chicken, salads and ice-cream sandwiches.
The original Boulestin was an iconic Covent Garden fixture for nearly 70 years before it closed in 1994; now it has been brought back to life in St James’s.
Following the success of the wine-driven pop-up, this oenophile’s delight has decamped to a permanent site on Hackney Road. Expect a daily selection of by-the-glass offerings, plus ‘tipples on tap’ and high-end bins.
This four-strong mini chain has launched its latest branch in Soho, streets away from its Dean Street sibling. The Ganton Street branch is the group's flagship, with a menu offering 15 new dishes.
This subterranean small-plates and cocktail den, originally used for storing coal in the 19th century, has now opened its doors.
Islington's take on the chicken trend is Le Coq, serving free-range chicken dishes, triple-cooked chips, and seasonal sides and desserts.
The second branch of this gourmet fast-food shack has opened under Vauxhall's railway arches – and the menu includes all-too-tempting breakfast options...
The latest project from the team behind gastropub successes including The Princess of Shoreditch, Smokehouse offers craft beers aplenty and a traditional pub atmosphere, plus meat-loving Neil Rankin (Pitt Cue Co) manning the titular smokehouse and robata grill in the kitchen.
Fancy French-style chicken and chips? Balham's Poulet Rouge has the makings of a mini-chain.
Following Aussie chef Ross Shonhan's Soho hit Bone Daddies, today sees the opening of this izakaya-style venture serving hirata buns with 'flesh' fillings.
This small Icelandic chain was founded by entrepreneur Tomas Tómasson, who has been heavily involved in the launch of this first foray abroad.
Pizza Pilgrims is now open, offering more of the wood-fired delights that have made the van such a success.
Birthdays has jumped on the blue-collar burgers and beers bandwagon by launching this humming joint serving down-and-dirty pre-gig grub.
Chef Mark Sargeant officially takes the reins of this new Brit restaurant in the expensively refurbed Great Northern Hotel today. Expect elegant comfort food such as fluffy soufflés and char-grilled steaks.
Pop-up maestro Carl Clarke has found a permanent home at this Mayfair celebrity haunt, where he will serve lobster and seafood in the same punk spirit as earlier projects such as Disco Bistro.
A teeny-weeny offshoot of Soho’s Ducksoup, this wine shop-cum-bar offers an all-day café-style menu of trendy favourites, from a Reuben sandwich to chill-roast chicken with jalapeño mayonnaise.
In-the-know burger fans are already queuing out of the door for the treats this US chain serves up: get in line for superior burgers, bacon-and-cheese hot dogs and Cajun fries – all cooked in health-conscious peanut oil.
The traditions of Italian ‘cucina povera’ are at the heart of this eatery on the corner of jam-packed Exmouth Market. The head chef has stints at Polpo and Assaggi to his name, so expect rustic, shareable nibbles in a cool setting.
Hong-Kong based Aqua group welcomes its new arrival Aqua Shard, which sits prettily on Level 31. Expect contemporary cuisine plus a three-storey atrium bar.
Inspired by its Michelin-starred namesake in Hong Kong, Hutong deals in contemporary northern Chinese cooking with an emphasis on the province of Shandong.
Chelsea's quiet new arrival, The Five Fields, promises playful and ambitious modern British cooking from top-notch, NY-trained chef Taylor Bonnyman.
Named after Bermondsey's old tanneries, leather-clad Tanner & Co serves nostalgic British grub, from crispy Spam fritters to roast joints from the carving trolley.
Jamie Oliver is at it again. This time he's popped up in Piccadilly with a new diner dishing out American treats from burgers, dogs and fro-yo milkshakes.
Royal Quarter Cafe boasts seasonal comfort food in the shape of home-baked cakes, pastries to colourful salads and sandwiches.
After a 20-year spell at The Ivy (and more besides), Alan Bird has flown the coop to set up this self-named megalith opposite Smithfield Market.
Cava is often dismissed as a poor relation of Champagne, but Camino aims to put that right with its stand-alone bar dedicated to the pride of Catalonia.
Starting out as a popular pop-up at London Fields Brewery, Homeslice has found a permanent home among the craft stores, rainbow cafés and natural apothecaries of Neal’s Yard.
The latest branch of this modest chain of all-day breakfast cafés has launched on Battersea Rise. Expect a pun-tastic menu and kitsch interiors inspired by the 1980s, plus a friendly and buzzy vibe.
What was the short-lived St John Hotel has been relaunched as One Leicester Street, with head chef Tom Harris staying on in the kitchen.
Currently in its soft-launch phase, this Venetian cicchetti bar sees two former Shoreditch House chefs serve Italian small plates and cocktails in a sociable, open-plan space.
This buzzy, contemporary eatery (formerly the Forge) has an informal vibe and serves well-sourced, seasonal dishes courtesy of ex-Fifth Floor chef Jonas Karlsson.
Rainer Becker's much-hyped New York-style restaurant and lounge bar on the 32nd floor of the Shard (pictured) is now open.
A new fish restaurant located on the former site of the Savoy’s River Restaurant, Kaspar’s offers fabulous views over the Thames, a 20s-style interior and a daily changing, brasserie-style menu.
Disco Bistro chef Carl Clarke is heading up a 10-month residency at Rotary, serving a menu inspired by his twin passions for British produce and street food.
This lavishly refurbished, classic hotel bar raises a glass to two of Winston Churchill's favourite pastimes – drinking and smoking cigars.
Pimlico’s much-loved Ebury has re-emerged with a brand-new look, a new name, and a menu of user-friendly, brasserie-style food with a European accent.
Housed within three carefully renovated railway arches near Hoxton station, Beagle incorporates a daytime coffee shop, a cocktail bar and a restaurant focusing on British-led seasonal food.
Read Square Meal's review of Jason Atherton's newest restaurant launch – a moderately priced, buzzing French bistro.
The overwrought Almodóvar-esque styling of the Covent Garden original has been toned down at Salvador & Amanda’s new offshoot in Bloomsbury.
Celebrated chef Eric Chavot has opted for a relaxed vibe at his new brasserie, which serves rustic, regional, reasonably priced dishes from its Conduit Street location.
This fab tapas joint combines a gin bar, regional cooking and a cracking list of port and sherry with warm hospitality and a cosy, candlelit setting.
A spin-off from the Clerkenwell original, this second branch of Amico Bio offers the same mix of eco-friendly vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
This bar, nightclub and rooftop garden is billed as an ‘über-stylish, New York-inspired lounge’ but the reality is more Made in Chelsea than Sex in the City.
Peter Weeden, former head chef at The Paternoster Chop House and The Boundary, is behind this gentrified gastropub in the heart of Fitzrovia.
Closer to the real deal than most London ‘speakeasies’, this unlicensed bar creates bespoke drinks from the alcohol guests bring along.
This prominent neighbourhood dining room has been given a fresh, modern look, while the clubby, candlelit downstairs cocktail bar is now a destination in its own right.
With its sunny reggae beats, beach-shack-style bar and sizzling open kitchen, this colourful eatery evokes the sights, sounds and flavours of the Caribbean.
For its second site, Sushinho has branched out to the City; expect the same exuberant mix of Japanese and Brazilian cuisine as at the Chelsea original.
Already popular with the Clapham crowds, this little sibling of nearby Lola Rojo serves traditional tapas primed to complement a 20-strong list of well-priced sherries (all served by the glass).
A sibling to New York star Ristorante Asellina, this glitzy Italian offers a menu of wood-fired flatbreads, pasta and grilled meats, plus lively cocktails.
Following the success of its artisan bakery and café chain, Gail’s has launched its first proper restaurant.
Following the success of the Fox & Grapes, Hibiscus super-chef Claude Bosi and his brother Cedric have launched a second gastropub, this time in Fulham.
Back on its feet following a fire, the renamed and re-branded Electric Diner has returned in an all-the-more American guise.
Feeding the capital’s current appetite for chicken, Clockjack Oven offers a clutch of simple, honestly priced dishes that are an easy fit with Soho’s young crowd.
The City launch of Burger and Lobster, in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral, makes a fourth link in this nascent chain.
Following the success of their Covent Garden outlet, the Mexican owners of Lupita have opened a second branch in trendy Spitalfields.
The London branch of this New York-based steakhouse chain is loud, brash and more meat market than Meatpacking District.
Make like you’re already off on your skiing hols at this kitsch Alpine-themed bar complete with super-camp oompah band.
Brasserie Zédel’s basement bar is a glamorous art-deco lounge offering period 1930s' cocktails – perfect for New Year celebrations.
This Inca-styled restaurant – the most recent Peruvian newcomer to London – is the latest venture by restaurateur Arjun Waney (Roka, Zuma).
The lounge bar at D&D London’s Old Bengal Warehouse development is a pleasing proposition. Fronted by a canopied, all-weather courtyard terrace, it comes seductively lit and attractively tricked-out with pops of bright colour punctuating an elegant tobacco-toned interior, plus a well-balanced list of consistently good cocktails.
The team behind Gail’s chain of artisan bakeries has launched its first fully formed restaurant, offering a grown-up menu of small plates and sharing dishes with an eclectic European flavour.
Fronted by a former Nobu head chef, Wabi London offers dishes inspired by the Japanese aesthetic known as ‘wabi-sabi’, with signature creations including shrimp-and-shiitake dumplings with truffle ponzu (pictured).
The guys from Hawksmoor have teamed up with seafood guru Mitch Tonks for this fourth venture – a swanky, art-deco dining room overlooking Regent Street.
Chicken is the coolest thing to order at the moment, and it’s the only thing on the menu at Wishbone, Yianni Papoutsis’ follow-up to Meatliquor and Meatmarket.
Anyone for wiff-waff? Table-tennis bars have rolled in from the Big Apple and taken hold of the capital. Bounce boasts 17 ping-pong tables, well-made cocktails and a moreish bar menu.
Born as a pop-up in Hackney, Bonnie Gull offers a natty blend of nautical and kitsch trappings mixed with a dab of urban polish. The daily menu boasts plenty of treats plus lively cocktails.
This upmarket fish restaurant from D&D London is located in South Place Hotel and has its eyes firmly set on an affluent business crowd.
The team behind The Princess of Shoreditch and The Lady Ottoline has launched a third gastropub, located amid Islington’s grand stucco terraces. Eat in the bar or the cosy dining room from a sensibly concise menu that takes its cue from the pub’s meaty moniker, enjoying satisfying craft beer and cider on the side.
Soho hot spot Polpo has successfully extended its tentacles to cool Clerkenwell for Russell Norman’s latest take on the Venetian bácaro, with added alfresco seating and a basement Negroni bar.
Devised and run by three brothers – a chef, a restaurateur and a farmer – The Shed's decor and menu mix the urbane and the rustic to great effect.
Pitched up in the ‘attic’ of this self-proclaimed pleasure-seeking gastrodome, House of Wolf does away with the notion of a permanent ‘named’ chef in favour of monthly guest residencies. It’s fun, clever and a handy conversational ice-breaker.
Multi-gonged Cornwall chef Nathan Outlaw has launched his first London restaurant in The Capital’s revamped dining room – expect simple seafood dishes and a cracking wine list in grand surroundings.
Peckham’s first-mortgage/first-child contingent instantly recognised this cheerful Thai canteen as a cracker, and there’s no question its enticing food – cooked by a former colleague of Nahm’s David Thompson – and bustling, unpretentious vibe deserve top marks.
This queue-up-and-sit-down outfit in what looks like a corrugated-steel lean-to is the latest addition to London’s burgeoning burger offering.
This three-trick pony, whose first branch launched in Mayfair in January, has since dug its claws further into the capital, taking over both of the London sites formerly run by Bistro du Vin. The Clerkenwell branch is the third link in the B&L chain. As ever, a chalkboard menu offers just three options: burger, lobster and lobster roll, all served with chips and salad, all for £20. So go in a gang of three, order one of each and share the spoils.
The French chef, best known for his success as head chef at Knightsbridge’s The Capital, will return to London in January with Brasserie Chavot.
Since starting up in bohemian foodie hub Brixton Market last year, Honest Burgers has got a bit of reputation for itself, due to its high-quality burgers, generous portions, rock-bottom prices and pleasant come-one, come-all attitude. Now the owners have brought their brand to Soho.
What with the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, there has been a lot for Britain to celebrate in 2012 – and the pride in our history seems to have rubbed off on other areas, including the capital’s restaurants. Step forward The Factory House, a subterranean restaurant in Leadenhall Market whose decor and menu are themed on the Victorian industrial revolution.
The fourth venue from the team behind Terroirs, Brawn and Soif dishes up hearty French regional fare – this time inspired by the Loire Valley – matched with terrific wines from small organic and biodynamic growers.
Following on from their thinking diners’ chippy in Hammersmith, Kerbisher & Malt has extended its west London offering with a branch in Ealing. Occupying a modern, blue-and-white dining room with a beach-shack feel, it deals in fresh, sustainably sourced seafood served with soft, thick-cut chips, plus gold-standard tartare sauce. Service is sweet, the short wine list does a good job, and there’s a takeaway option, too.
The second restaurant offering in the Old Bengal Warehouse’s bold revamp is Fish Market – a light, bright space whose main focus is a smart marble seafood bar. Expect unpretentious dishes, from a ‘seaside breakfast’ of egg, hot-smoked salmon and spiced Bengal prawns to a la carte favourites such as salt-and-pepper squid and generously filled fish pie, plus a host of daily specials.
Already well-established in Chelsea and Kensington, The Jam Tree has gone south with its latest offering – to Clapham. The menu is partly inspired by nearby Brixton’s multicultural mix, with the likes of Caribbean curried goat, Malaysian battered sticky squid and ‘voodoo’ doughnuts offered. Drinks also cover a lot of ground, from world beers and 20 wines by the glass to fruity cocktails.
Restaurant group D&D London has been busy of late, simultaneously opening three venues in the City’s redeveloped Old Bengal Warehouse complex. New Street Grill is the flagship destination: its Josper grill churns out 28-day aged steaks, quality burgers and seafood, the wine list majors in suitably beefy reds from around the globe, while the ‘rough-luxe’ space is brightened up with cool artworks from nearby Hoxton Gallery.
Having proved his worth in Chiswick, chef Michael Nadra has branched out with a more ambitious enterprise aimed at the north-London set. Fans of Nadra’s eclectic culinary style will find plenty to sink their teeth into, while new offerings will include plenty of affordable fixed-price deals, a dedicated martini bar serving around 20 liquid creations with grazing plates, as well as brunch and Sunday roasts to please weekenders.
Rekindling memories of Londoners’ summer holidays, this Notting Hill newcomer brings some Greek generosity and gregarious hospitality to the streets of W8. Specially imported native provisions are at the heart of things, from giant Prespes elephant beans and Thassos thyme-infused pine honey to organic saffron and white truffle oil – so leave your preconceptions of traditional Greek food at the door.
London has seen itself placed firmly on the map this summer – and this new restaurant and bar, located in Tower Wharf, celebrates the history, food and drink that the capital has to offer. Named after Perkin the Reveller – a merry character from The Cook’s Tale in Chaucer’s venerable tome – the contemporary ‘dining hall’ features banqueting-style tables and a menu of British seasonal produce, plus gin-based cocktails and locally brewed craft beers.
The first of two new City openings by the Hakkasan Group this autumn, Chrysan showcases the art of kaiseki – high-end Japanese cuisine at its most formal and ceremonial – as mastered by high-flying, Michelin-starred chef Yoshihiro Murata. The launch of Chrysan marks the start of an expansion of the Japanese side of the Hakkasan empire. ‘We want to develop a series of Japanese restaurants at different levels – from fine-dining to casual – and we hope to evolve Chrysan along the lines of Hakkasan,’ Niall Howard, the group’s CEO, told Square Meal in August.
Although bankers aren’t the most popular bunch these days, dab-hand restaurateurs Peter and Arjun Waney and Giuliano Lotto are hoping that this Banca will be a hit with the public. The swanky Italian restaurant takes its name from its location in a former NatWest bank, and some original fixtures such as safety-deposit boxes have been dovetailed into the opulent decor. The kitchen focuses on regional Italian dishes (think baked scallops with spicy Calabrian n’duja sausage), while a Milanese-style aperitivi bar gets dinner off to a swinging start.
Another of London’s pop-ups gone permanent, Champagne + Fromage serves up an inspiring range of fizz from small producers alongside Gallic cheeses, charcuterie, and seasonal specials such as frogs’ legs tempura with Roquefort sauce. Weekly by-the-glass selections and friendly, knowledgeable staff should keep wine lovers coming back – they can choose a table in the vintage-style dining room or take advantage of the restaurant’s take-out service.
Such has been the popularity of tapas and small plates over the past two years that the trend has, inevitably, spilled over into other cuisines. Step forward Tapasia, a budget-friendly spin-off from the team behind Tsunami that offers tapas-sized portions of pan-Asian food ranging from run-of-the-mill nigiri and sashimi to east/west crossovers such as roast duck and foie gras rolls or more fanciful ideas including grilled aubergine with sweet miso and yoghurt hoummos.
The Dorset Square Hotel and its restaurant have now returned to the Firmdale fold. Pictures of cricketers reference Dorset Square’s heritage as the original site of Lord’s Cricket Ground, while the menu compensates for any lack of surprises with bills that are modest for Marylebone – from starters of tiger-prawn cocktail (£7.50) to nursery puds such as bread-and-butter pudding (£4.50).
Located in the vaults of one of London’s original Victorian ‘boutique hotels’, Apero is an all-day venue offering everything from homemade waffles with honeycomb butter and caramelised bananas for brunch, to Med-inspired sharing plates such as free-range chicken with potatoes, fennel, green apple and Castelluccio lentils come dinner time. It’s also an ideal spot for early-evening aperitivi, with cocktails including Brown’s rapture (Sipsmith gin, Galliano L’Autentico, fino sherry and celery bitters).
All eyes are on Bubbledogs today as perhaps the kookiest new opening of 2012 so far opens its doors. The single-item menu of pimped-up hot dogs served with Champagne might seem far-fetched, but with James Knappett (ex-Marcus Wareing, ex-The Ledbury) heading up the kitchen and partner Sandia Chang (ex-Roganic) running front of house, this no-bookings addition to the Fitzrovia dining scene looks set to be an off-the-wall hit.
It may not boast the best location, but this typical French brasserie (a joint venture between the co-founder of Racine and the owner of Le Colombier – two brothers) is a diamond in the rough of Earl’s Court Road which has already wowed some of London’s most hard-to-please critics. Expect liberal helpings of entente cordiale as you tuck into no-nonsense bourgeois flavours, from soupe de poissons, to man-sized côte de boeuf and delectable crêpes Suzette.
Granary Square in King’s Cross is gearing up to be quite the foodie hub, with big-hitters such as Bruno Loubet moving in next year and other restaurants already established. The latest arrival is Caravan, which has set up shop in the grade-II listed Granary Building, offering the same bold, fusion flavours as the Exmouth Market original in an all-day format, plus proper coffee and a nomadic list of wines from eclectic producers. Pop in for an alfresco lunch in the sheltered square (pictured).
Restaurants set up by bar owners seem to be having a moment. First, Beard to Tail (from the brains behind Callooh Callay) popped up briefly ahead of its September launch; now, Dach & Sons is the first restaurant from the people behind hip bars Worship Street Whistling Shop and Purl. Dach & Sons’ design is American diner-lite, while the menu offers well-executed burgers, sliders and hot dogs – and, of course, excellent cocktails.
Following a £40m refurbishment, the West End’s legendary Hippodrome is back as a high-rolling casino complete with restaurant, lounge bar and cabaret – the latter welcoming legends such as Dionne Warwick to its stage (Warwick plays a sellout gig this Wednesday). Head to the restaurant for a pre-show meal: the comprehensive menu runs from calorific comfort food (‘millionaire’s mac and cheese’ with black-truffle shavings) to well-timed rib-eye steaks and specials including luxurious lobster ‘fishfingers’ with spicy wasabi mayo.
London’s love affair with steak and single-item menus continues, and the latest project to embrace the trend is this pop-up dedicated to butchery, beef and cocktails, which will run until 28 August. ‘Flat iron’ is actually an underrated shoulder cut of beef (sometimes known as ‘top blade’ or ‘butler’s steak’); sourced from well-marbled rare breeds and served with a salad, triple-cooked chips and various sauces, it’s the only thing you can order.
This chic ramen bar comes courtesy of the brains behind City Japanese Tsuru Sushi and is as authentic as they get. Expect communal tables and the plainest of menus, which deals in the very Japanese idea of doing one thing really well – in this case, three variations of slurp-worthy noodles. With more ramen bars planned for later this year – including Bone Daddies, from ex-Zuma chef Ross Shonhan – check out Tonkotsu to get ahead of the curve
Following on from the South American trend that Ceviche started in early 2012, London’s Fitzrovia welcomes Lima – a top-end Peruvian restaurant and the brainchild of celebrated native chef Virgilio Martinez. The theme here is ‘cocina peruana’ – a melting pot of flavours and influences which sees beautifully presented dishes such as lamb shoulder with coriander, white grapes and pisco cinnamon, and octopus with white quinoa, red shiso and Botija olives (pictured), as well as ceviche, causas, tiraditos and more.
Ignore the dreadful cartoon-character logo on the sign swinging outside this pub conversion: Briciole is the brainchild of chef Maurizio Morelli, who has made a name among discerning fans of Italian food at fancy-pants Latium. Informality is the name of the game here however: Briciole is a neighbourhood trattoria with charming service, easy prices and a ‘gastronomia’ (deli/café) attached; the overall effect is like a pleasantly uncool Polpo.
Motormouth jockey-turned-restaurateur Frankie Dettori has retired his Ferrari-themed eatery Cavallino to launch Sette – a subtly tweaked dining room in the same Chelsea townhouse location. The kitchen deals in accomplished renditions of reassuringly familiar dishes – think grilled octopus in paprika, tuna carpaccio with Sicilian lemon, or lobster linguine – backed by an all-Italian wine list with plenty of sub-£40 bottles.
The guys behind Bistrotheque in Bethnal Green have transformed an old King’s Cross BP garage by the Regent’s Canal into a bijou, banquette-lined eatery celebrating the American dream, albeit in a very camp way (murals pay tribute to the likes of Diana Vreeland and Louise Brooks). A short and snappy menu yields good things like fresh-as-a-daisy tuna tostada and skirt steak with punchy chimichurri; staff are cool but welcoming.
Another addition to the clutch of American barbecue joints currently proliferating on this side of the pond, Duke’s brings the full-on Yankee grill experience to north London. Indulge in down-home southern dishes, from pulled-pork sliders and blackened ribs to pit-smoked baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese. The ‘brew’ side of things is dominated by an on-site microbrewery, although the bar also stocks fine British and US ales, from draught Kernel to bottles of Chicago’s Goose Island.
Replacing DeVille’s padded pink-and-purple walls with more masculine dark wood floors and red banquettes, Reform Social & Grill brings an all-day menu of hearty British dishes to The Mandeville Hotel. The kitchen is still fine-tuning its offering, but early hits include pheasant Scotch egg with mayo and dainty desserts such as chocolate pot with salted caramel. The wine list is well worth a look, too.
Combining two spot-on trends, this funky Japanese-Brazilian offers fusion cuisine with a Latin bent. Bright and modern, the restaurant channels the streetwise temaki eateries of Rio’s hip Leblon neighbourhood. Choose from Spanish-influenced tuna tartare or Japanese pear mixed with cured salmon, all made with sustainable fish. Healthy options include salads and fresh-fruit smoothies.
This casual newcomer to Portobello Road looks set to become a successful neighbourhood fixture. The kitchen’s innovative Anglo-Gallic food and roster of daily specials – from lightly spiced crab and French onion soup to bavette steak served with bone marrow and crispy chips – really steal the show. Desserts look to England, offering a delightful Eton mess with lemon posset, while France rules on the wine list.
This contemporary bistro is a vision of Gallic nostalgia that’s well worth the trip out east. Bourgeois staples – from foie gras and pork rillettes to oysters and farmhouse cheeses – inform the seasonally attuned menu, which delivers flavoursome starters such as garlic velouté with Roquefort and chicory salad, hearty mains including navarin of lamb, and rich desserts such as chocolate moelleux. To drink, indulge in Breton cider or French wine.
If you’ve eaten at this steak-frites mini-chain in Paris or elsewhere in London, you’ll already know what to expect: a winning formula of jolly murals, chic waitresses and a no-choice menu of mustardy salad, two helpings of steak with ‘special’ sauce, and French patisserie and ice cream to finish. The compact wine list does its job, but don’t expect to linger here over a bottle – no bookings are taken, so others in the queue will be ushered in to take your place when you finish your meal.
A passionately conceived homage to San Sebastián and Basque gastronomy, Donostia is headed up by ex-Barrafina chef Tomasz Baranski, who worked in some of the town’s kitchens prior to the opening. Expect generic tortillas and croquetas, plus the region’s famous pintxos (perhaps pil-pil cod or stuffed squid in ink), all washed down with bottles of txakoli – a slightly sparkling, low-alcohol wine from the region.
A third branch of this reliable Spanish eatery has pitched up at Monument, offering the same pick and mix of classic tapas and raciones and rustic regional offerings as its siblings. Dishes range from creamy croquetas generously filled with serrano ham, well-made tortillas and the house selection of cured meats, to unpretentious plates of sautéed potatoes and green peppers crowned with a fried egg. Expect Camino’s usual standard of friendly, clued-up staff, plus a lively bar area with Spanish beers, zingy cocktails, and a full complement of Spanish wines.
The third branch of this brasserie-cum-wine shop is a wholly unpretentious and accessible chip off the old block, offering a daily menu of top-notch food and a thoughtful wine list of 300 seasonally changing bins, with plenty by the glass. The venue is très Soho (dim, funky lights, retro posters, exposed brickwork and pistachio-green furniture), while staff are fast and friendly. The best thing? Although tables on the buzzing ground floor are for walk-ins, the upstairs dining room takes bookings – a rarity for a trendy Soho newcomer these days.
It’s been a long time coming, but prolific chef and restaurateur Mark Hix's long-awaited Tramshed venture has now hit London. Located in the main hall of the historic Shoreditch Tramshed building and decorated with artwork by Damien Hirst, this refectory-style restaurant puts most of its culinary energy into just two items – chicken and steak. Take your pick from a whole Woolley Park bird to share or various 200g riffs on ‘mighty marbled’ sirloin, plus a few flexible starters and something sweet to finish.
Following his acquisition of the former Chez Gerard sites, Raymond Blanc is in the process of expanding informal chain Brasserie Blanc. The flagship, atop the Jubilee Market Hall in Covent Garden, is a prime spot – a light-filled dining room whose large terrace offers great views of the action below. Tuck into elegant French classics such as smoked-cheese soufflé, or steak-frites, with flamed baked Alaska for dessert – plus French wines, bien sûr.
Alpha female Nicola Horlick’s new business venture is a neighbourhood restaurant in her native Barnes. Named after Horlick’s eldest daughter Georgina, who planned the restaurant with her mother before she died of leukaemia in 1998, the all-day venue serves tempting breakfasts, salads and light bites at lunch time, and treats such as cakes and frozen yoghurt in the afternoons; come the evening, it turns into a bistro-style restaurant complete with candles on the tables.
Another example of the resurgence of steakhouses in London, Gillray’s offers nine cuts of 35-day aged beef, all sourced from Hereford beasts on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate in Yorkshire. Aiming to be British to the core, the dining room boasts Chesterfields, Waterford chandeliers and prints by the famed 18th-century political caricaturist from which it takes its name, while the bar has a wealth of English gins and beers.
E&O’s Will Ricker and New York restaurateur Serge Becker have scored a double-whammy of cool with their two Bodega Negra ventures. The underground restaurant is already a star magnet, while the café and taquería side of the equation is a relaxed, all-day offering just round the corner. Expect a tweaked version of the restaurant menu, with shareable spoils such as ceviches, tacos and tostadas high on the agenda – plus a tempting tequila-themed drinks list.
With branches in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York, Mari Vanna has brought its Russian charms to Knightsbridge, creating a folksy, homespun fantasy filled with domestic trinkets and knick-knacks. The kitchen serves up time-honoured ‘babushka cooking’, including pillow-like pelmeni dumplings, beef and beetroot soup, and creamy desserts. As for drinks, expect innovative, vodka-heavy cocktails.
This modern Vietnamese joint offers traditional street food at very fair prices. The brief menu touts various versions of the famous pho noodle soup, plus banh mi and assorted one-plate dishes such as lemongrass chicken on rice. Velo also has a few techno tricks up its sleeve, including touch-screen monitors and a special VeloCard for regular customers.
The ever-prolific Martin brothers have moved back to Chiswell Street for their 10th gastropub in the Grade II-listed Whitbread Brewery building. A sympathetic restoration showcases exposed ceramic tiles, high tables fashioned from whisky barrels and carefully positioned taxidermy. Jugged hare naturally features on the menu when in season; also expect gutsy bar bites such as black-pudding Scotch eggs, plus Sunday roasts.
This subterranean Mexican might impersonate a sex shop at street level, but make it past a bouncer employed to turn away undesirables and you’ll find a dining room convincingly tricked out as an atmospheric wine cellar, with flickering lamps, peeling plaster, and barrel-filled alcoves. The tequila bar offers winningly flavoured margaritas three ways, while the kitchen dispatches authentically flavoured sharing plates to a foot-tapping soundtrack.
Copenhagen-based chain Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has brought its style-conscious, user-friendly brand of Japanese cooking to the UK in the shape of a barn-like space that’s designed to appeal. Sushi novices will be grateful for the informative staff and glossy picture menus, while aficionados can tackle ceviche rolls or novel combos such as beef tataki with roasted almonds, smoked cheese and chives.
Named after that elusive ‘fifth taste’ much revered by the foodie avant-garde, Umami offers user-friendly, pan-Asian cuisine for Cromwell Road’s tourists and museum trippers. Expect voguish, feng shui surrounds and a backpacking cook’s tour of Far Eastern climes, taking in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, with tapas-style plates in two sizes (for solo grazing or sharing).
The Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh has launched a casual, all-day dining venture just off Carnaby Street. Cinnamon Soho offers an affordable mix of contemporary Indian cuisine, with dishes such as sticky desi pork ribs, exotic pies and vindaloo of ox cheek, plus an ‘all balls’ menu that includes a Bangla-Scotch egg (pictured) and potato fritters. A breakfast menu, fixed-price lunch, theatre deals, late-night tasting plates and a 1am alcohol licence promise the sort of perpetual motion that’s perfect for Soho's easy-come easy-go diners.
This gem of a newcomer ticks all the boxes of a new-breed Soho eatery – bare tables, paper wine lists and an open kitchen. Ex-Wapping Food chef Cameron Emirali’s menu features bright combinations of interesting seasonal ingredients – from al dente wild garlic and goats’ cheese tortellini in a light leek butter to fall-apart braised goat with white beans and chorizo. Wines are another source of contentment, with big-hitting Antipodean names topping the bill.
This contemporary tapas joint takes its name and inspiration from Barcelona's famous market. With its cool decor, discreet staff and chill-out interpretations of new flamenco, it niftily avoids any pedestrian clichés of Spain. The menu offers regional and national dishes executed with a dose of reverence, including chorizo cooked in sharp cider, and daily specials such as presa ibérica (sliced pork shoulder) on sweet potato purée, while the wine list does a good line in creamy sherries.
For his first solo venture since leaving Benugo, café monger extraordinaire Hugo Warner has updated the 1950s’ East-end caff. Market Café’s bright-red booths, Formica-topped tables and menu of retro British and Italian classics lend the venue a nostalgic, unpretentious vibe, while an admirable European wine list plus little touches such as homemade limoncello should appeal to neighbourhood hipsters and shoppers browsing Broadway Market.
This fizzy venue serving zingy marinated fish, pisco sours (courtesy of the UK’s first pisco bar) and other Peruvian classics places atmosphere high on the agenda: the interior conjures up the colours and ‘chincha’ edge of Lima, while authentic Peñas beats provide the soundtrack. Most attention focuses on the bespoke ceviche bar, although the menu also offers sharing plates and bigger dishes, from sizzling anticuchos brochettes to beef saltado and tantalising desserts.
Italian über-chef and star of Italian MasterChef Bruno Barbieri, whose Verona restaurant holds two Michelin stars, has launched an elegant eatery offering a daily changing menu of innovative contemporary dishes, from saddle of crispy suckling pig with caramelised Sicilian blood-orange jus, to roasted woodcock and corned veal tongue tortelli with salted ricotta. A 100-bin, all-Italian wine list and a bar serving cocktails and cicchetti complete the picture.
This casual neighbourhood venue from Trinity chef Adam Byatt has a decidedly British feel. Karl Goward (ex-St John Bread & Wine) heads up a kitchen that offers patriotic plates such as beer-and-onion soup, cottage pie, or steak and chips with mushroom ketchup. The all-day bar lists some very English drinks on a paper scroll hanging from the wall, including Freedom beers, Orchard Pig cider and Sipsmith spirits.
Located in the plush surrounds of the boutique Bermondsey Square Hotel, Gregg’s Table promises a nod to the 70s with a menu of nostalgic classics along the lines of mulligatawny soup, lobster thermidor, T-bone steak, banana split and knickerbocker glory, plus favourites of co-owner and MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace, who was brought up in the area.
The crew behind veggie big hitter Vanilla Black have opened a second eatery among the Italianate architecture of nearby Sicilian Avenue. The new venue is a modest all-day affair doubling as a deli/grocer’s and takeaway, but focusing on homespun, traditionally inspired dishes from the British Isles. The owners also encourage customers to experiment at home by selling all manner of seasonal ingredients and foraged pickings.
This lounge bar, a sibling to Jerome Tauvron’s ultra-chic Kensington restaurant L’Etranger (just next door), offers Franco-Japanese small plates plus a jaw-dropping array of thrilling desserts. Special wines from the Meursault region are available by the glass each week as an addendum to the huge wine list, as well as prestige Champagnes, saké and so-called ‘molecular cocktails’.
Karpo, with its swathes of concrete and metalwork plus specially commissioned graffiti art, takes its design inspiration from the urban neighbourhood in which it’s located. The restaurant shares its name the Greek goddess of ‘fruits of the earth’: cue a menu of bountiful dishes with an emphasis on seasonal and sustainable produce (including pickings from a rooftop veggie garden). Brit-accented puds, nibbles such as spiced lardo with toast, and a 100-bin wine list complete the picture.
Mele e Pere combines the comfy, cosseting virtues of a down-home trattoria with the swing and pizzazz of a vermouth bar. Chef and co-owner Andrea Mantovani has cooked at London institutions such as Harry’s Bar and Arbutus, but he has gone back to his north Italian roots for this venture, offering dishes packed with seasonal ingredients, such as crab ravioli with baby squid and bottarga, and pappardelle with slow-cooked hare ragù.
British food champion & go-getting restaurateur Mark Hix has teamed up with the international Thomson Hotel group for this latest venture in Belgravia. While he may be known as a crusading supporter of native regional produce, the menu here takes a very different tack: ‘we’re going off-piste’, says Hix, ‘so if you’re expecting my signature British style think again’. Instead, the eclectic repertoire takes its cue from the chef’s travels around the globe, while the adjoining Mark’s Bar pays homage to Hix’s Soho original – as well as boasting a stylish cigar garden & specially commissioned Brit-art from Mat Collishaw.
It’s being talked-up as Geronimo Inns’ flagship venue in the capital, and the Oyster Shed certainly looks the part – a City slicker housed on the ground floor of the Nomura Bank HQ, with terrific views of the Thames to boot. Inside, all is swishly maritime, with cool white and sea-blue colour schemes, plus lots of decking. The menu, meanwhile, offers seafood platters and haddock and chips alongside more land-based British delicacies.
The London branch of this European franchise has arrived in London’s theatreland, offering 11 versions of moules-frites plus plenty of other Belgian delicacies, including carbonnade of beef and luscious waffles doused in chocolate sauce and cream. To drink, indulge in the house cocktails, or sip the cloudy Belgian beer brewed specially for the chain.
Having been tipped for big things while working as head chef at Michelin-starred Texture, Ollie Dabbous has now launched his own, self-named gaff. Spread over two floors, with an ‘industrial but organic design’, Dabbous offers off-the-wall small plates along the lines of beef tartare with cigar oil, whiskey and rye, or chocolate clay with basil moss and sheep's-milk ice cream, plus classic drinks and signature cocktails.
Pitt Cue Co has come a long way from the semi-mobile cart parked beneath Hungerford Bridge dispensing ribs and pulled pork to devoted carnivores. Like many pop-ups-gone-permanent, it’s now found a more conventional home in Soho. The tiny, unrefined 30-seater offers brisket-packed buns, St Louis ribs, hot chicken wings and sides of smoky baked beans, plus sticky desserts and funky cocktails.
Having taken time out in 2011 to revitalise the Elystan Street restaurant, Tom Aikens has re-launched his flagship offering as a more informal destination. The design has certainly undergone a drastic change: foodie phrases from diverse sources now cover the walls, and wood and warm lighting add to the casual vibe. Foodwise, Aikens is sticking to what he does best – namely high-end contemporary French cuisine showcasing contrasting flavours.
Having stormed onto the London scene with three branches of their luxury steakhouse chain, the boys at Goodman have rung the changes with this venture. There are just two main items on the menu (the name really does say it all in this case) and prices have been pitched deliberately low – even for Champagne. A prime central-London spot for cash-strapped diners in January.
Antico brings some uncomplicated, seasonal Italian flavours to the foodie neighbourhood of Bermondsey, from typical plates of bruschetta, to refined homemade pasta dishes or more gutsy options such as chicken-liver pâté on toast (pictured). The venue also offers a comfy standalone lounge bar in the basement for cocktails and aperitivi.
Conceived and delivered by Georgians, this Notting Hill newcomer celebrates the food and wine of the East European state in a traditionally hospitable way. A wine wall (pictured) dominates the traditional dining room, showcasing Georgia’s rich wine heritage, while a menu of native staples mixed with specials offers rich pickings.
Dim sum meets US diner at this all-day Asian canteen, where the red walls are hung with Mickey Mouse cartoons and ‘birdcage’ lanterns dangle from the ceiling. The menu offers 25 handcrafted ‘parcels of joy’, ranging from aromatic duck rolls and BBQ pork puffs to more wacky Guinness and crabmeat dumplings – all washed down with bottles of Asian beer. Handy for a quick working lunch or a weekend fill-up with friends.
What was a dreary dive has been transformed into a witty, art nouveau-inspired space in the style of a good-time hoochie-coochie joint. In the evening, dolled-up girls serve a range of spiffing quaffs, and the list of cocktails runs from silk stockings to a properly tart aviation. A better bet than most of the voguish speakeasy-style bars currently flooding the capital, The Lucky Pig is well worth hogging.
José Pizarro’s second Bermondsey Street venture is a laid-back destination for fans of Spanish fizz and food. The wood-and-stone interior evokes a cosy ski lodge: pitch up at the bar or sit at the rustic communal table for tapas and a glass of house cava, or enjoy more substantial dishes from Spain’s heartland in the bustling dining area. Wines, sherries, and the house speciality, cava, are nearly all sold by the glass, and friendly staff add to the unstarchy vibe.
In contrast to the industrial chic of the street-level canteen, Roti Chai’s downstairs dining room is a more intimate space tricked out with mirrors, latticework and warm exotic lighting. The effect is understated and fixes the spotlight firmly on the menu – a model of exuberant but focused spicing and unfussy presentation. Vegetarians are well served, while small plates, friendly service and a laid-back vibe add to the fun.
Having stamped his mark on his native Russia, restaurant guru Arkady Novikov has staked a claim in London with the launch of a self-titled restaurant and bar on swish Berkeley Street. Pride of place goes to the Italian Room, where typical dishes include risotto with clams, fennel, lemon zest and parsley as well as wood-roasted, 21-day aged T-bone steaks. The venue also houses an Asian-themed restaurant and a standalone lounge bar.
Jeremy King and Chris Corbin's sibling to Piccadilly’s foodie magnet The Wolseley follows the blueprint that made the original such a huge success – with the addition of a chic deli-cum-takeaway serving up The Wolseley’s now-legendary patisserie and viennoiserie, as well as a vast plate-glass frontage for people-watching.
Having spent six years as Marcus Wareing’s loyal deputy, Alyn Williams has finally gone it alone, taking over and transforming the flagship restaurant in Mayfair’s swanky Westbury Hotel into a comfortably luxe space with a separate wine room. Williams’ menu of modern, French-inspired dishes with elegant flourishes is based largely on British produce, while desserts gussy up the tuck shop.
Goodman’s high-gloss steakhouse concept has branched out eastwards with a new outlet by the waterfront at Canary Wharf. True to form, the emphasis is firmly on sourcing and quality, with grilled-to-order steaks and burgers supplemented by ‘cuts of the day’, and plenty of gutsy reds by the glass. A takeaway service is also in the pipeline.
Russell Norman’s virile Polpo just keeps on procreating, and Mishkin's is yet another sibling to have emerged on the Covent Garden scene this year. The art deco-inspired all-dayer takes its cue from New York’s Lower East Side, as well as the East End of London, so expect Jewish deli food with cocktails – mainly legendary gin-based mixes from the 30s & 40s.
Caprice Holdings’ big, bold steakhouse concept adds more fine-dining glitz to the business of munching slabs of protein. Steaks include rare-breed meats cooked over a variety of grills and served in a glamorous, Martin Brudnizki-designed setting. Wine-wise, the 130-bin list offers an admirable 27 by-the-glass options; plus, wine buffs can peruse the 'inner cellar’ list for gems from Annabel’s vaulted cellars in Mayfair.
With Covent Garden big hitter Terroirs and Bethnal Green’s Brawn already under their belts, Ed Wilson (pictured, right) and Oli Barker (pictured, left) have scored a hat-trick with this third venue in Battersea. Ex-Café Anglais head chef Colin Westal takes control of the kitchen; his menu follows the now-familiar theme of biodynamic and ‘natural’ wines backed by a menu of British, French and Mediterranean small plates. Wash it all down with something from the 150-bin wine list - the restaurant's name, after all, means 'thirsty'.
Superstar chef Joël Antunès’ new venture brings some retro Riviera glam to the swish surrounds of the Embassy Mayfair. The Provence-inspired menu runs from salade niçoise and pissaladière to coq au vin and sweetbreads with porcini; desserts take a more creative turn with the likes of a ‘Kit-Kat peanut bar’. The 140-bin wine list focuses on the main European growing regions, and an extended 40-seat terrace provides alfresco opportunities.
Marylebone tapas star Ibérica has branched out with this vast Cabot Square venue. The warehouse-style interiors mix high ceilings, exposed brickwork and textured wood to dramatic effect, while the menu echoes the Great Portland Street original, with top-quality charcuterie and a mixture of traditional and creative dishes. City-friendly offerings include a delivery service, takeaway bocadillos filled with hand-carved ham, and a cellar whose space can be leased to regulars.
Having conquered the UK with his populist Italian chain, irrepressible Jamie Oliver has rolled out the first in a second group of casual eateries – this time focusing on the food of his home turf. Union Jacks applies the Oliver formula to native produce, with pukka provenance high on agenda. The menu's main offering is wood-fired flatbreads topped with flavours from Britain’s own ‘back garden’ – try the slow-braised oxtail and brisket with Red Leicester, watercress and fresh horseradish.
This relaxed take on the in-vogue Brazilian barbecue theme serves gutsy morsels in a hand-made, streetwise setting of plank floors, poster-lined walls and banquettes upholstered with recycled jeans from São Paulo favelas. Flag down the ‘cabanistas’ as they circulate with colour-coded skewers, which are loaded with anything from chimichurri rump steak to giant portobello mushrooms with haloumi.
With consultant Nick Strangeway and the Mexican Tequila Board involved, the offer at Wahaca’s downstairs bar in Soho has gone noticeably upmarket. The focus is now on some 80 different sorts of premium agave spirit, which are housed in a funky lemon cage – part of a general makeover that also introduces Babyfoot tables and late-night DJs to the mix.
This Mediterranean newcomer sees ex-Roka chef Rosie Yeats at the helm of a very different enterprise. Her menu meanders along the ancient ‘Via Aurelia’, working its way from Rome to Valencia in Spain, and taking in Tuscany, Liguria, Provence, Languedoc and Catalonia en route. Expect a colourful mélange of sun-drenched Mediterranean flavours, such as wild sea bass carpaccio with mandarin, bitter almonds and samphire, or lobster salad with shaved fennel and preserved lemon, as well as crowd-pleasing charcuterie and cheese boards.
Following a soft-launch hiccup when the oven caught fire, the third Hawksmoor has now opened in the shadow of the City’s Guildhall – and it's the biggest of the bunch. As ever, meat dominates proceedings, with juicy Longhorn steaks and a new six-course beef-themed tasting menu topping the bill. Breakfast is also a star turn, comprising a bacon chop, grilled bone-marrow, short-rib bubble and squeak, and much more. There’s a spiffing list of cocktails and wines, too.
With a string of seminal supperclubs and pop-ups behind them, the self-appointed Young Turks – chefs Isaac McHale (ex- The Ledbury) and James Lowe (ex- St John Bread & Wine), plus front-of-house Johnny Smith and Daniel Willis (aka Dalston's the Clove Club) – were raring to go when they were approached to take over the dining room above the famed Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields, due to open on 1 November.
According to the OED, ‘assemblage’ signifies ‘a collection or gathering of things or people’, and in the case of this trendy Shoreditch joint, the moniker refers to the combination of art and food. Bare brick walls and wooden flooring lend the dining room a modern feel, while black tables and chairs are accented with flashes of red. The menu, too, consists of prettified British classics plus intriguingly named creative options such as a starter of ‘almonds and egg’ or a ‘mulled wine’ dessert.
The gorgeous Grade II-listed interior of the defunct Quality Chop House is now home to an on-trend outlet inspired by New York’s Lower East Side. Despite the new order, the place still has a romantic Victorian ambience – though the food is a world away from Brit nostalgia. As the name suggests, the menu promises five variations on the ‘ball’ theme, plus a drinks list that offers blueberry G&Ts and more.
Eleanor’s keeps a low profile within the plush Charing Cross hotel, specialising in classic cocktails such as negroni and white lady as well as more ingenious pours such as the Cajun Martini – pepper vodka garnished with pickled jalapeño and stuffed olives. But the bar’s signature tipple is the house sangria, inspired by the Castilian roots of Edward I’s wife Eleanor, after whom the bar is named.
This second venture from the owners of Italian prima donna Babbo serves all-day food with a southern accent in a deliberately rustic setting that’s spread over two floors. Slow-cooked sharing dishes and regional grills feature strongly on the menu, while a separate cocktail bar provides a perch for diners who fancy an aperitivo or a quick solo snack.
A dressed-down, egalitarian sibling of Nuno Mendes’ Michelin-starred Viajante, the Corner Room is located above its fêted sibling in Bethnal Green’s über-trendy Town Hall Hotel. Inside, industrial lamps and vintage cabinets set the mood, and fastidiously plated dishes consisting of dead-cert ingredients and offbeat eyebrow-raisers make up the concise but impressive menu. Energetic, on-the-ball staff keep things rolling along, despite the wine list’s painful mark-ups.
Knightsbridge’s Rib Room has enjoyed a five-decade reign as one of the capital’s most decadent surf-and-turf destinations and, following an extensive refurbishment, has re-opened with a dazzling new look including a swanky cocktail bar, private dining rooms and a cigar terrace. Try the reinvigorated menu at lunchtime before 30 November and enjoy a free glass of Champagne (quote Square Meal when booking).
The cocktail list of the newly reconfigured bar aligned to Roux at Parliament Square goes overboard with twee gastronomic headings, but a quick survey reveals some royal and parliamentary rinses: ‘William’s tipple’ combines Tanqueray 10, Kammerling’s ginseng liqueur and peach bitters to harmonious effect, while ‘white paper’ and ‘penultimate word’ are also vote winners.
Regional Chinese cuisine is hot at the moment, and the latest contender to stake its claim is this Soho newcomer peddling food from the north-eastern province of Dongbei (formerly Manchuria). Set up by the team behind Leong’s Legends, it deals in rustic, stomach-warming flavours, from gutsy dumplings to appetisingly spiced salads and specialities familiar to fans of Szechuan cuisine, as well as trending fads such as bubble tea.
This prestigious address has been taken over by chef Ed Shaerf, formerly of Covent Garden diva The Ivy, who – with a little help and support from David Moore (of Pied à Terre and L’Autre Pied fame) – hopes to be in it for the long haul. Expect a modern-British menu with retro influences, such as lamb Wellington with smoked mash potato and pickled-red-cabbage sauerkraut, or Welsh rarebit with leek ‘pop-tart’ , all served in a decadent but unstifling atmosphere.
After much delay, Gordon Ramsay’s latest venture has opened in One New Change. Overseen by GR’s right-hand man Stuart Gillies, the restaurant will be big, fast and populist, with a few hints of NY deli tossed in for good measure. Novel features include home-cured charcuterie, a ‘raw bar’, and a wood-burning grill offering dishes from piadina (Italian flatbread) to whole lobster. Plus, there’s a cocktail bar serving house blends such as the Bread Street martini (cinnamon-infused vodka shaken with fresh grapes, hazelnut liqueur, apple juice and lime juice).
Covent Garden Market has welcomed a six-month pop-up version of the Canteen chain to its glass-roofed food hall. Expect the restaurant’s usual decor of back-to-basics modernity with a touch of whimsy, plus trademark comfort food made from judiciously sourced ingredients. Classic dishes include quality pies, roasts, snacks and cakes, as well as seasonally changing set menus. The no-reservations policy makes for a flexible and accommodating vibe.
This streetwise eatery from former Cinnamon Club MD Rohit Chugh literally means ‘bread and tea’ and trades on independence, value and back-to-basics populist appeal. The ‘street kitchen’ on the ground floor leads to a more organised dining room below stairs with chunky wooden tables, steel girders and advertising logos on the walls. The all-day menu offers bhel-pooris, Keralan chicken lollipops and steamed Gujarati dhokla cakes, as well as curries and masala chai.
A new kid on Chelsea Green, the Markham Inn makes its intentions clear with a smart black facade: this is a polished operation aiming for the long haul. A curved black bar sets the tone, before snappily dressed staff lead customers through to the warmly lit, boldly decorated dining room. Most starters double as sharing plates & a concise cocktail list mixes old favourites with young contenders. What’s more, prices are pleasingly low.
The guys behind the highly successful Princess of Shoreditch have turned what was the King’s Head into an aristocratically titled gastropub with good ales, decent wines & lively food, including dishes such as roasted Blackface lamb with root-vegetable purée, crispy pancetta and juniper jus.
South London meets the USA at the Plough – a self-styled ‘bar and kitchen’ within strolling distance of Clapham Junction. Inside, it has an airy, modernist look with a long bar, bare floors, plate-glass windows and big sofas, plus diner-style banquettes and refectory tables for those who fancy snacking on the small plates on offer. Booze also fosters the ‘special relationship’, with everything from Young’s Bitter to bottles of Sierra Nevada beer and some eclectic wines.
The re-born Rosendale is a study in handsome elegance with high ceilings, big Victorian windows and galvanised steel chandeliers pointed up by vintage theatre posters, maps and a wall of butterflies. An all-day bar menu caters to nibblers, but it pays to dip into the full line-up of seasonal Brit-inspired dishes, including meat from the owners’ farm in Hampshire and Josper-grilled offerings such as sea bass with samphire and crayfish.
Another glossy neighbourhood wine bar that elevates Covent Garden’s food-&-drink offering above the tourist tat, 10 Cases – as its name would suggest – focuses on its predominantly Old World wine list. Its premise – that the bar will stock 10 cases each of a red, white & rosé, which will be changed each time they run out – ensures that committed wine lovers always have a reason to return.
From the ashes of pan-Asian behemoth Cocoon rises this equally glamorous Japanese restaurant and cocktail lounge. The space has been done out in bronze, sycamore and walnut, with a separate counter-top ‘dining bar’ for sushi. Expect a run through fashionable small plates and contemporary dishes ranging from sustainable cobia (black salmon) with rice vinegar and rock samphire to robata-grilled lamb rump with Szechuan pepper and shiitake mushrooms. Currently in its soft-launch phase, the restaurant opens officially on Monday 12 September.
Pan-Asian food meets post-industrial design at this hip new venue. Spread over two levels, the restaurant emanates big-city cool with swathes of steel cladding, plank floors and multicoloured lampshades dangling from the ceiling. Expect ‘little bites’ of Chinese salt-and-chilli squid, refreshing Vietnamese papaya salad, Korean-style lamb racks or Thai-spiced baby chicken. Presentation is sharp, prices are fair, and easy-going flexibility is the name of the game.
Soho welcomes another speedy and satisfying lunch pit-stop to its streets in the form of Banana Tree, the most central of this now six-strong pan-Asian chain. A few things are guaranteed at all Banana Trees: the canteen dining room is always crowded, tables are shared, and you’ll leave with not only a full stomach, but also a relatively full wallet. Open all day, every day, it’s ideal if you want to be in and out within the hour.
This casual all-day restaurant in the heart of foodie Borough Market is open for business and already proving a popular draw. The kitchen favours pared-back, seasonal ingredients, with daily-changing dishes intended for sharing – try slow-cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary-stuffed onions or cured sea trout with cucumber and soda bread. Bread is baked on-site and is available to buy, drinks include beers from small-scale London brewers and well-chosen wines (with an emphasis on biodynamic and organic varieties) and the restaurant offers coffee flights for true addicts.
From the creators of the Patara chain, which has four outlets in the capital, Suda is part of the St Martin’s Courtyard retail development in Covent Garden. The restaurant offers a contemporary take on traditional Thai cuisine with a bar serving nothing but som tam (a hot-and-spicy green papaya, tomato, green bean and peanut salad that's one of the country's culinary highlights), and the prospect of alfresco dining in the open-air courtyard itself.
This pub on the site of grimy Goldsmiths Tavern is most famous for hosting the much-lauded pop-up burger joint #Meateasy, which flamed brightly but briefly within it. The space retains some of the pub’s original Victorian gin-palace features, but has been tricked out in not-so-shabby chic, with bentwood chairs and berry tones. Enjoy a pint of the owners' Bonobo or Weasel alongside modish bar bites.
This restaurant’s crimson-and-green basement bar has given itself a naughty raison d’être in the form of a dedicated absinthe menu. You might expect the result to be a louche and libertine affair, but no such luck: the bar stays on its best behaviour in buttoned-up Knightsbridge. Liven up proceedings with absinthe la clandestine, served in the traditional style with slotted spoon, sugar lump and iced water drizzled from a delicate art nouveau glass fountain.
VOC, short for Vereenigde Oo-Indische Compagnie (aka the Dutch East India Company), is a cute candlelit cocktail bar that takes its inspiration from the Far East. Sakés, stirs, homemade infusions and robust punches use painstakingly sourced ingredients such as chywanaprash (a sweet-and-sour Ayurvedic tonic oft referred to as ‘the elixir of life’), and come beautifully presented in covetable stemware. The Italian head bartender’s passion is tangible and his attention to detail pays dividends.
Looking for a new bar for Friday night? The Drift, in the newly developed Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, offers wine flights, skinny cocktails and punch bowls for thirsty nine-to-fivers looking to unwind, plus an antipasti area for casual dining and a seasonal all-day menu in the first-floor restaurant.
With a kitchen headed by ex-Claridges chef Brian Fantoni and a luxurious dining room with mirrored walls, gold chandeliers and velvet chairs, The Gallery aims to take diners on a five-star flight of fancy. Expect modern, informal dishes such as pork-and-pistachio terrine with Italian lardo and mustard fruits, or slow-cooked brisket of veal with baby artichokes, fresh peas, celery and lemon confit.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
We were suitably impressed when the first Bistro du Vin landed a few weeks back in Clerkenwell, boasting a 200-strong wine list and classic brasserie food. So it’s good news that a second site is launching in Soho on 29 June, with the group rumoured to be eyeing up Chiswick and Marylebone for future openings.
Fans of Shoreditch Vietnamese Cây Tre will be cockahoop to hear that a second site is now open in Soho. Interiors are simple, benches communal and the menu short, but it’s the premium ingredients and authentic street-food recipes (say, monkfish marinated in galangal and saffron, stir-fried at your table) that separates Cây Tre from the competition.
Back for its summer run on the bank of the Thames, Tom’s Terrace impressed diners last year with its alfresco setting – backed up by a futuristic all-weather canopy – and menu of sophisticated British summertime dishes. Enjoy, say, a sharing board of mackerel pâté, salmon gravadlax, potted shrimp and Coronation crab salad, and wash it down with an elderflower Collins.
Dockland-based whisky fans and tartan-army carnivores can rejoice: since launching in mid-April, it seems that Boisdale of Canary Wharf is every bit the equal of its two sister sites.
This is Italian chef Massimo Riccioli’s first London venture; his Rome restaurant, La Rosetta, is an institution and famous as the first in the city to serve fish on a daily basis. For Riccioli’s London venture, the kitchen is tasked with using every edible part of the fish to produce delicacies such as tuna black pudding with fish-skin crisps, or monkfish tripe in fresh tomato sauce.
Marcus Wareing's high-end British brasserie has opened to the public. The beautiful dining room, in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, is Grade-I listed, so the original features (including a tiled floor) have been retained – which is all to the good, considering the restaurant’s namesake comes from the building’s architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott.
This underground bar from the team behind Soho hotspot Purl harks back to the era of Victorian gin palaces – with a dash of molecular magic thrown in for good measure. There’s a lab for cocktail development, a cocktail emporium for private parties, and a dram shop stocking the full range of gins. As cool as the dry ice it uses in abundance, this new bar is bound to become another hidden gem.
Riding House Café saddled up on 15 April as an all-day brasserie with a sociable vibe. Whether you prefer to eat in the formal dining room or the casual eating area, you’ll be treated to an eclectic selection of large and small plates from all over the world. Sweet-potato-and-chickpea cake with halloumi and tomato jam rubs shoulders with steak tartare and toast, and Moorish lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine, and small plates start at £3.
Jason Atherton’s first solo venture since his departure from Maze has opened its doors. The menu offers fine dining in an informal environment, with dishes such as Orkney langoustine with lemon-peel purée, and ginger-pig pork chop and braised pork neck with beetroot, hops, seeds, grains and a beer sauce (pictured). Make a ‘beeline’ for it, and remember to save room for the dessert bar – London’s first.
With its art deco accents and plush furnishings, the Waldorf’s new lounge is a luxurious spot to sip a glass of vintage Champagne or a sophisticated cocktail. Try the very very pretty (Grand Marnier, honey syrup, grapefruit juice and Champagne) or the refined madam (pictured), a scented drink that combines gin, rose liqueur, fresh lime juice, cardamom syrup and lavender bitters, served with edible rose petals and a siphon of gin and rosewater.
This tiny tapas and sherry bar, just across the road from sister restaurant Cambio de Tercio, is unmistakably Spanish, with its photo wall of matadors and cinco jotas hams hanging from the ceiling. Ingredients are well-sourced, especially slivers of top-quality ham whose flavour lingers on the palate. Meanwhile, classic tapas such as crispy ham croquetas with a quivering, creamy filling, are expertly executed. Sherries, served with a flourish by knowledgeable staff, are also knock-out.
If this hip destination were in showbiz, it would be a method actor: fresh from the imagination of mixologist extraordinaire Tony Conigliaro, it’s rammed with curios that bring to life the supposed home of fictional Aunt Wilhelmina. Every nook & cranny is crammed with vintage oil paintings, stuffed animals, antique silverware, & shelves of old books. Attention to detail carries over to the line-up of 13 exquisite cocktails, too.
This sleek, sophisticated bar is located right on the banks of the river (and, conveniently for some high rollers, close to the London helipad). With its alfresco terrace, it’s a pleasant spot for soaking up any lingering late-evening sunshine with a long drink or house twist on a classic cocktail, and a tapas-style platter of charcuterie or seafood in front of you. When the sun goes down, head to the cool, neon-lit bar to carry on the night.
Fergus Henderson has taken Smithfield legend St John up west with the launch of this long-awaited hotel. The kitchen is fronted by the former sous-chef from the original City restaurant, so expect the full nose-to-tail works – anatomical off-cuts & all – including curious seasonal salads, kidneys on toast, the emblematic bone marrow, and full-frontal carnivorous platefuls picked from the market. Breakfast, elevenses and afternoon tea are also a big part of the package.
Situated just across the Thames from Kew Gardens, on the fringes of the 200-acre pleasure grounds laid out by famed landscape gardener Capability Brown during the 1700s, the Waldorf Astoria’s Syon Park recreates old-English pastoral for its guests. The Capability restaurant doffs its hat to Brown, offering ‘landscape cooking’ based on locally sourced seasonal produce. Add to that attentive service and a solid wine list, and the restaurant proves itself more than capable.
This gastropub – a sister to the original in Kensington – offers a menu that mixes dishes inspired by Britain’s colonial past, such as Cornish crab samosas and Singapore laksa, with traditional Brit favourites such as potted smoked haddock and Sunday roasts. What’s more, it boasts a suntrap garden with its own dedicated bar & barbecue, perfect for sunny days ahead. In summer, the river beckons – a stone’s throw away and perfect for a post-prandial stroll.
Leon has opened its 10th and largest venue on Old Compton Street. Spanning two floors, the new location promises an open-fronted terrace, café and lounge areas and a basement library filled with the chef’s favourite cookbooks, which customers can peruse at their leisure for inspiration. Expect more of the ‘natural fast food’ and commitment to sustainability, sourcing and animal welfare that have already won the chain so many fans.
What began as an attractive independent wine shop has now added a bar, complete with slouchy chairs and sofas, to the mix. The beauty of this set-up is the ample opportunity to try before you buy: more than 100 wines are on offer, each with handy, pocket-sized tasting cards, and each costing 50p to sample. Once you’ve decided on a bottle, corkage is waived, meaning you can enjoy it at the bar.
Now that the evenings are getting lighter, it’s time to take advantage of the fabulous views that are there for the taking at SkyLounge, which opened at the end of last year. Try the sky at night cocktail (fresh blackberries and kiwi with gin, sloe berry liqueur elderflower cordial and pomegranate juice) as you gaze at the twinkling lights of the city below. When the warmer weather starts, step out onto the terraces, which will see smokin’ barbecues come summer.
Restaurateur Russell Norman is conquering Soho bite by bite. After the successes of Italian favourites Polpo and Polpetto, he’s now launched Spuntino, a New York-style eatery serving small plates based on the big flavours of Little Italy, such as mac and cheese, truffled-egg toast and meatball sliders (little hamburgers). As usual, it’s first-come, first-served, but this time the restaurant doesn’t even have a telephone number, meaning you’ll have to chance the queues in order to check it out for yourself.
The decadent decor, killer cocktails and all-out extravagance of The Bathhouse are transported to this second, ‘baby’ venue, which offers risqué cabaret and music in the same vein as the original. By day, Baby Bathhouse is a chic café that provides lunch to North London locals, perhaps taken on the garden terrace; after dark, it steps up the pace and serves discerning night owls with performance art and live music acts alongside their meals.
Is there anything that Bennett Oyster Bar & Brasserie doesn’t do? Describing itself as a seafood brasserie, oyster bar, and organic grocery, it sells fine wines, cheese, fruit and vegetables, homemade bread, and even flowers, and opens from 8am-midnight. Look out for thoughtfully sourced British ingredients, an Enomatic wine dispenser serving eight high-end or unusual wines by the glass, and cocktails shaken by mixologist Andres Masso. When summer comes, dine in the botanical garden or on the patio, which overlooks Battersea Square.
Wyld Bar, at the W Hotel in Leicester Square, is the latest hip hangout for the bling brigade. A huge disco ball dominates the Studio 54-inspired lounge, which welcomes the likes of models and rock stars to its dancefloor and serves knockout cocktails such as sunburnt señorita & Mexican sunset (Tapatio blanco, Campari, agave syrup, lemon & bitters). Be prepared to pay big bucks for your drinks, with bottled spirits starting at £200.
With Pollen Street Social (headed by Jason Atherton, pictured) taking bookings from 31 March for its opening in April, and Stefano Cavallini’s 5 Pollen St having opened in February, there’s a lot happening on this tiny Mayfair road. So far, Square Meal’s readers have labelled 5 Pollen St both ‘buzzy’ with ‘fabulous’ food and ‘charming’ staff, and ‘uninspiring’, ‘fussy’ and ‘not up to scratch’. It remains to be seen what they will make of the next big arrival – and which will be queen bee.
Foundation Bar, which has taken up residence on the site vacated by The Langley, talks the talk, promising a ‘new way of living’ for London’s night owls. The sophisticated drinks list offers cocktails such as the Holly Golightly (a red hibiscus daiquiri served with a ‘diamond ice ball’ and an edible flower), as well as several Champagnes by the glass. Bar snacks, from toffee popcorn to meatball skewers with bloody Mary relish, will keep the munchies at bay.
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.
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.
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.
The Red Fort's underground bar has had a revamp and the result – Zenna – is likely to be a hit with cocktail lovers. The list boasts ‘the world’s spiciest cocktail’ in Illiana – a blend of spiced rum, curaçao, almond syrup, lime and orange juice and just one drop of an incendiary chilli essence. It’s served with a whole red chilli on top and a siphon of gin, lemon and soda on the side, in case of fire.
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).
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.
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 pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, head to the zinc-topped bar underneath Polpo’s main dining room, where Venetian-style tapas, including artichokes with prosciutto, and chilli-marinated baby octopus, are displayed in glass cabinets, in the style of traditional Venetian bacari. Cocktails range from classic mixes to the house signature blend, Venetian Spritz; wines have been hand-picked from small producers in northern Italy. Turning up unannounced for a quick, informal bite is the idea at this place, which doesn’t take reservations.
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.
Food and art go hand in hand, and if you’re looking to brush up on both of these aspects of British culture, visit the Royal Academy of Arts, where Oliver Peyton has opened his latest restaurant. The menu offers British-style tapas and also caters for those who prefer to take their art with a slice of cake, a nice cup of tea, or a glass of something stronger.
Paddington station rang to the sound of corks popping when Searcys launched its second Champagne bar. The wine list offers an admirable selection of by-the-glass crémant, demi-sec, blanc de noirs, blanc de blancs, and prestige sparkling wines and Champagnes, as well as vintages from British producers and Champagne cocktails. Those who enjoy the finer things in life can stop in for a glass, bottle, magnum, or even a Balthazar of something fizzy.
The daily menu of this tiny Marylebone venture mixes elements of chef/proprietor Andrei Lesment’s Eastern European heritage with more familiar French fare. Seasonal ingredients from celeriac to Stilton are put to good use in hearty dishes that will help you beat the winter chills. Pop in for venison meatballs or warming spätzle, followed by a comforting tarte Tatin or cheese from nearby La Fromagerie.
If you think 2010 was a good year for restaurant openings, wait till you see what 2011 promises. Read on for our list of the big launches planned this year.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... Arriving above Itsu in Notting Hill, make sure you flutter along to this new bar during happy hour (6-8pm daily), and all night on Thursdays, when 2-for-1 cocktails come to £7.85 all in. Relax in the modern, rhubarb-coloured interior and choose ‘painted lady’ (a vodka & lime mule), ‘swallow tail’ (basically a mojito) or ‘geisha’s passion’ (vodka, green grape, passion fruit & ginger). For the peckish, tuck into a menu of sushi and sashimi.
The so-called experiment at this new bar, set amid the hit-and-miss eateries of Chinatown, is a heavy dose of Parisian savoir-vivre mixed with London’s cutting-edge contemporary cocktail culture. And it certainly pays off: drinks, priced at £11 a go, vary from ‘opium express’ (purple shiso-infused Ketel One, goji liqueur & syrup, dragon fruit, lemon juice & poppy seeds) to the brandy & cider-based ‘autumn in Normandy’.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... Since quietly opening its doors near High Street Kensington in November, Yashin Sushi has been garnering rave reviews for its elegant and sophisticated Japanese food. It’s no surprise, really; both kitchen masterminds are graduates of Yumi and the Nobu chain. So, perch at the sushi bar or take a full table, and enjoy dishes such as a rich, sweet shrimp topped with a slice of foie gras or seared salmon with tosu vinegar jelly.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... Marking a first step outside SW1 for the company, this Marylebone newcomer arrives courtesy of Cubitt House, the people behind The Pantechnicon, The Orange and The Thomas Cubitt. Styled as a ‘neighbourhood pub and hotel’, it exudes the same smart, stripped-wood interiors as its sister sites, with a menu of pub classics and a great Sunday roast. And if it all gets too boozy, bed down in one of the eight boutique rooms upstairs.
This new Chelsea bistro has a superb wine list dealing in organic, natural and biodynamic wines, but there is much to be said for the simple British-cum-European bistro cooking and the quirky, relaxed interiors.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... After the sad demise of Aubergine, the former Fulham Road stalwart that provided the setting to memorable cooking from, first, a young Gordon Ramsay and then William Drabble, the Chelsea site has reinvented itself as 11 Park Walk, a classy Italian restaurant. Touting flexibility as a cornerstone to its offering, drop in for a bowl of pasta or settle down to a more lengthy evening meal of Mediterranean dishes.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... The popularity of fusion food might not be what it was a decade ago, but the demand for fusion trendsetter Peter Gordon’s cooking hasn’t faded. Fans should be cock-a-hoop, then, that Gordon (pictured) and the team behind Marylebone restaurant The Providores has opened a new casual restaurant, Kopapa, in Covent Garden. Expect the same superb breakfasts and a casual menu of Pacific Rim ingredients.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... Those of you who have whiled-away a weekend in Lewes or Brighton might be familiar with the foodie mecca that is Bill’s Produce Store. A combination of greengrocers, deli and restaurant, its simple, seasonal food and knockout breakfasts have ensured an army of fans in the south. A London branch has now opened in Covent Garden, and until 15 December customers will get a free glass of Bill's Hedgerow Fizz with all meals order after 5pm.
If you fancy a gourmet feast before the endless turkey dishes start, The First Dinner by Young Turks is a five-course meal, cooked by three up-and-coming London chefs, taking place at gallert Art Work Space on 19 December. Tickets are priced at £85 per person.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2010)... A classy makeover at this Docklands restaurant and wine bar has added some smart flock wallpaper and subtly opulent contrasts to the trademark winemaking paraphernalia at the bar. The menu has also been ravamped, and now sets cosmopolitan dishes alongside steaks and British staples.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... What was 86 Fulham Road (an impressive Georgian townhouse) has been transformed into an eccentric space spread over three levels. Come evening, the elevated first-floor restaurant takes centre stage as chef Mark Broadbent (ex-Bluebird in Chelsea) conjures up clever, intricate plates of British food. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... With its 90-strong list of biodynamic and natural wines, and classic French bistro food, Terroirs has proved a huge hit since launching in Covent Garden in early 2009. Now, the brains behind the site are opening a second bar-cum-restaurant, Brawn, on Columbia Road – home to Hackney’s bustling flower market. Expect a regularly updated wine list sourced from independent growers, and a menu of charcuterie plates and daily plats.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Popping back up at the Royal Academy of Arts, to coincide with the exhibition GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity, Pierre Gagnaire and Mourad Mazouz’s temporary Sketch café offers all the cool chic of the duo’s Mayfair site, but with more informal intentions. Bed down under a blanket with a hot water bottle and a glass of mulled wine at the portico’s bar or head inside for upmarket soups, quiches and terrines.
LONDON RESTAURANT NEWS (November 2010)... Handsets at the ready – reservation lines open at 9am Wednesday morning for Heston Blumenthal’s much-anticipated restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (due to launch 31 January). Prepare for a queue, though; the promise of The Fat Duck chef’s dazzling molecular cooking – focused on historic British dishes – has seen Londoners’ tongues wagging for quite some time. For those desperate to try dishes such as scallops served with cucumber ketchup & peas (pictured), the number is 020 7201 3833.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2010)... Don't miss The Tasting Sessions’ extravagant multisensory festival A Fluid State, taking place from 3-5 December at a secret 8,000 sq ft central-London space, featuring art installations, music and a drinks experience like you've never had before.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... It’s been a tough year for Gordon Ramsay Holdings, but today’s relaunch of The Savoy Grill should see 2010 end on a high for the restaurant company. Promising interiors styled on the opulent 1920s and 30s, as well as a menu of classic French and British dishes, complete with trolleys and table service, the restaurant looks set to bring classic, old-school dining into the 21st century. To find out more about the menu and interiors, we caught up with executive chef Stuart Gillies. Read on for the full interview
Complete with jaw-dropping views, this stunningly decorated new bar atop the Oxo Tower sports a 40-strong list of classic and original cocktails and food from the Brasserie – so expect the likes of steak sandwiches and healthy salads.
LONDON RESTAURANT NEWS (November 2010)... Among the roster of internationally renowned chefs, there’s only a handful who haven’t yet opened in London. US-based Austrian-American chef Wolfgang Puck, holder of two Michelin stars at Los Angeles Spago and the mastermind behind more than 30 restaurants, was one of them. That was until last week, when The Dorchester announced that he is to open a branch of his steak restaurant Cut in their new hotel 45 Park Lane in the spring. Keen to know more, we met up with the chef for a chat. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Today marks the opening of Ora, a sleek and sexy Thai newcomer nestled a short walk from Oxford Street. The team boasts stints at Awana, The Mango Tree and Busaba Eatthai between them, so expect the menu that ranges from Thai favourites to grilled foie gras with home-made dip and sliced duck with shiitake mushrooms, chillies and bamboo shoots. The bar offers ‘healthy’ cocktails and there’s a Busaba-style communal table for those who like their Thai meals informal.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... With über-successful Japanese Umu and modern-European Greenhouse already in his portfolio, American restaurateur Marlon Arbela has turned to French provincial cuisine for his latest venture, Cassis Bistro, which opens today on the Brompton Road. Expect the likes of homemade patés, and veal kidney with violet mustard sauce and raisins, served up in a smart and light restaurant opposite Brompton Oratory, and backed up by a wine list that draws heavily on the Old World.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Watatsumi, a swanky new Japanese beside Trafalgar Square, opened its doors yesterday. Classic sashimi, maki and nigiri will be served up by the sushi bar, but above and beyond this, the restaurant seems intent on showcasing a more innovative style of cuisine. With a Nobu-trained executive chef, hopes of achieving this should be high. Expect the likes of Wagyu beef tartare and black caviar, and a signature tuna ‘martini’.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Branching out west has been something of a theme this year. Both Wright Brothers and Hawksmoor have launched second sites in the West End over the past few months, with St John set to open its new hotel in Piccadilly Circus in the coming weeks. To add to that, City bar and restaurant Vinoteca is now open on Seymour Place. Expect 25 wines by the glass and a full list running to more than 250 bins, as well as a British/European menu.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Not just content with wooing Borough Market’s foodie brigade with its vast line-up of oysters, shellfish specialists Wright Brothers opened the doors to a second site in Soho earlier this week. Either take a table in one of the two dining rooms upstairs and tuck into the likes of lobster, moules marinière or fish soup, or pull up a stool in the basement and knock back as many Maldon rocks as you can manage.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2010)... On Saturday 27 November, Mayfair restaurant Franco’s is offering 45 places to its International Charity Truffle Auction. Priced at £150 per person, enjoy a three-course meal before watching bidders from London, Roma and Macau thrash it out for lots consisting of truffles, fine wines and luxury gifts. Despite the deflated economy, you could be in for a treat – three years ago the auction broke records when it sold a 1.5kg truffle for £206,000.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Danish chef Christoffer Hruskova has brought his Nordic cooking to the City. Expect clever and seasonal specialities such as reindeer rolled in burnt hay with raw and salt-baked beetroot, smoked bone marrow, apple sauce and sorrel. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... The fourth and biggest branch of Thomasina Miers’ lively Mexican has now landed in Soho. Expect the same buzzy atmosphere, authentic and tasty food – including gutsy burritos and churros y chocolate – and a great line-up of tequilas. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Almost a decade after taking the capital by storm when it opened near Tottenham Court Road, Hakkasan has launched its second London site. Located on Bruton Street, similar levels of glamour and upmarket charm will doubtless be in place, but to find out more details of the new restaurant, including what to expect from the menu, we caught up with CEO Niall Howard and wine buyer Christine Parkinson. Read on to find out more.
Chile is one of the most diverse winemaking countries in the world, so the Chilean Christmas tasting is the perfect opportunity to try a wide range of styles. The event takes place between 6-9pm on Friday 26 November at Glaziers Hall by London Bridge, and will feature more than 150 wines from the pick of the UK wine retail scene, as well as Chilean canapés and sultry Latin music. Tickets cost just £15, or £25 for two. Read on to find out more.
Meat-heavy Argentinian newcomer has opened on Connaught Street. Cosy, softly lit interiors from the Polpo school of design, a menu of flame-licked meat and plummy reds by the carage all make for a pleasant experience. MORE
GENERAL NEWS (November 2010)... Fancy winning a bottle of Louis Roederer and a £250 meal for two at a restaurant of your choice? Well, that’s exactly what Square Meal reader ‘Kevin P’ picked up when his online write-up of Murano won our best reader review award. To be in the running for the next set of prizes, submit your reviews online by 30 November. Our tips: keep it brief and make it witty. Even if you don’t win, posting online is a great way to collate and share opinions.
LONDON RESTAURANT AND BAR NEWS (November 2010)... Triumphing in a shortlist that included big-hitters such as Bar Boulud, Gauthier Soho, Petrus and Viajante, Knightsbridge restaurant Koffmann’s has won this season's BMW Square Meal award for Best Newcomer – presented to the most impressive new opening of the past six months. Combining big-flavoured bourgeois French cuisine with comforting surroundings and urbane service, the restaurant is a worthy addition to a list of past winners that include the likes of Scott’s, Wild Honey and Zuma.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Meat lovers rejoice: Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang's much-anticipated barbecue restaurant opens today at One New Change. Tuck into a menu of flame-tinged meat as you enjoy spectacular views of St Paul's Cathedral. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... The latest site from the team behind The Parlour and The Refinery opens at lunch on Friday. Drop in any time of the day for a menu that evolves from breakfast to brunch to sandwiches and a hearty lunch and evening menu. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)...
New Notting Hill gastropub from the brains behind Taman Gang and The Waterway. An upmarket-boozer interior hosts fusion pub-grub food that, surprisingly enough, works well. Prices are reasonable and there's a commendable black-cod dish. MORE
Diwali – an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism whereby families light lamps and share gifts – is currently under way. The third day, the most important of the five, falls on 5 November and, to celebrate, Indian restaurants across London are putting on special menus. Most of the menus will be continuing for another week, with a special charity banquet at Cinnamon Kitchen arguably the pick of the bunch.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2010)... Hurry, hurry, hurry: tickets are running out for the Square Meal Around the World Wine Tasting 2010. Come and sample more than 200 fine wines and specialty foods, while enjoying a string quartet and delicious gourmet bowl food by caterers the-recipe. You'll find Christmas staples from Bordeaux and Burgundy, classy reds from Tuscany and Rioja and some lip-smacking Champagne from top houses such as Gosset, Louis Roederer, Bollinger and Pol Roger. All the action is taking place at Vinopolis on 24 November. Click here to book tickets.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2010)... When it comes to booking a restaurant in London, nowhere competes with The Ivy in terms of Fort Knox-style impregnability. For the mortals among us, there is a three-month waiting list. Which is why, when we tell you that the restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary from 8-12 November with the performance of a play entitled Heavenly Ivy, we don’t expect you to get a table. Instead, marvel at 20 years of success and celebrity with a feature on the iconic restaurant, taken from our autumn magazine.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2010)... Arriving in Temple on a warm Mediterranean breeze, Cigalon is a swankily done-up newcomer dealing in the cuisine of southwest France. A glass-ceilinged restaurant sporting C-shaped purple booths deals in regional specialities such as salade niçoise and pieds de paquets. If it’s a more informal vibe you’re after, head downstairs to sister bar Baranis for a glass of wine, some cheese and a game of indoor pétanque.
LONDON RESTAURANT AND BAR NEWS (November 2010)... With all the media attention being afforded to the feud with his father-in-law and former business partner Chris Hutchenson, you could be forgiven for forgetting that Gordon Ramsay is first and foremost a chef – and a rather good one at that. Which is why when his revamped restaurant at the Savoy opens on 29 November it will be worth getting a table. Booking lines open today: 020 7592 1600. For a preview of the restaurant, read on.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... If you’re heading to the Electric Proms this weekend, or just looking for a lazy Sunday venue, you’ll be chuffed to hear that Made in Camden, the new restaurant at Roundhouse, is now open. Lunches don’t start until Monday, but in the meantime, book in for a dinner of international tasting plates – think confit duck leg with green papaya, peanuts and hoisin dressing or seared onglet with chimichurri – or pop in for tea and cake during the day.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... With its British-meat peddling ethos and juicy, thick steaks, Hawksmoor became a destination for London carnivores when it opened in Spitalfields in 2006. Four years on, the duo behind the restaurant have opened a second site in Covent Garden. Scheduled to launch on 1 November, the site quietly opened its doors earlier this week. Technically in a ‘soft launch’ period, go easy on any mishaps, and in return enjoy 50% off food until 1 November.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Geronimo Inns’ first excursion into the Square Mile occupies what was the Broadgate Exchange on Bishopsgate. The menu touts ‘British pub grub for City gents’, which means dishes such as hot-smoked pigeon and quince salad. MORE
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Barely a few weeks old and already boasting a solid fanbase, this Kentish Town newcomer is built around low prices, egalitarian values and bags of choice. Expect an easy-going European menu, with sardines on sourdough toast, followed by grilled coconut squid, then lemon-curd ice cream, in a buzzy setting. Weekend brunches are also a must.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... While you might book a table at, say, Scott’s or Nobu to see A-listers dine in London, Patrisey at Hotel Verta is the place to head if you want to catch them arriving in the capital. Located on the ground floor of the new Von Essen hotel at London’s Vertical Gateway heliport, the restaurant boasts a modern European menu and fine views of the comings and goings of the rich and famous, through soundproofed glass.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... A month after reopening Eight Over Eight – which was closed from late 2009 following a fire – restaurateur Will Ricker (pictured) has added to his mini empire with new Japanese robata grill and cocktail bar Glo Glo’s, which launched on Thursday. Housed under the Great Eastern Dining Room, sip on some classic cocktails and enjoy offerings ranging from tiger prawns to black salmon with sweet miso & Szechuan courgette. To read a full review of the site click here, or here for a Q&A with Ricker.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Bánh mì baguettes? Never heard of them, you say? Well, that’s about to end. Popular in the likes of California, the Vietnamese snacks have made their way to the capital, most notably at Ironmonger Lane newcomer City Càphê. The baguettes mix the bread-loving characteristics of the country’s one-time colonial masters France with typical Vietnam herbs and spices. Chuck some bowls of pho noodle soup and salads onto the menu, and you’ve got a lunchtime winner, we reckon.
The festive period is slowly creeping up on us, and part and parcel of it is the annual Taste of Christmas show. Taking place from 3-5 December at Excel, the event is hosting restaurants such as Benares, Roast and Acorn House and chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Atul Kochhar. If that’s not enough to tempt you, Square Meal readers can buy two-for-one tickets. For more information, read on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Now in its seventh year, the Square Meal Around the World Wine Tasting is firmly established as a key date in the City’s social calendar in the run-up to Christmas. Priced at £45 per person, this unmissable evening event on Wednesday 24 November gives you an opportunity to sample more than 200 fine wines and speciality foods in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere – the perfect setting for entertaining clients or enjoying a night out with friends.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... If you fancy rubbing shoulders with an oligarch or two, head for this glitzy new Marylebone restaurant. Dealing in the cuisine of central Asia, the menu references Uzbekhistani and Kazakhstani cooking, as well as Russian, Chinese and Mongolian; with the likes of kebabs, pastries and rice featuring heavily. If the moneyed crowd gets too much for you, head for the hefty list of vodkas and forget about the bill until the morning.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... Four years on from launching the excellent Arbutus, Will Smith and Anthony Demetre have opened their third site, Les Deux Salons – a Parisian-style brasserie on William IV Street offering elegant, timeless interiors and a French-inspired menu. To get the lowdown on what customers can expect from the site, we caught up with Smith for a quick chat.
National Chocolate Week 2011 runs from 10-16 October and a handful of big foodie names around town are getting involved. From fusion godfather Peter Gordon and chocolatier William Curley as well as bespoke menus at some of the capital's favourite restaurants, read on to find the best places to head for a sweet, calorific fix.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2010) On 19 October, the Bleeding Heart is holding a very serious wine dinner in its historic function room The Crypt. A four-course dinner will come paired with Bordeaux wines from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Priced at £129 per person.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2010)... This weekend represents the end of the longest-running hospitality saga in recent London history – the refurbishment of The Savoy hotel. After closing in 2007, the art deco building has finally been restored and reopens on Sunday. While the launch of The Savoy Grill has been delayed until the end of November, the hotel will still boast three other swanky new spots; the River Restaurant, The American Bar and the Beaufort bar.
Those familiar with Mayfair’s The Only Running Footman and Islington’s The House will know what to expect from The Portman, the third site from gastropub maestros The Meredith Group. Like the Footman, a smart street-level bar dishes up all-day food, from breakfast to lunchtime burgers through to evening oysters, while a more formal restaurant upstairs impresses with a more refined line-up of British dishes.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2010)... Fancy watching AA Gill go head to head with Janet Street-Porter in a live debate on French cuisine? Or taking part in an Anne Robinson-hosted food quiz at Le Café Anglais? Or even just tucking in to one of hundreds of special restaurant menus? If so, then stay tuned, as today marks the start of the second London Restaurant Festival – a fortnight designed to showcase the diversity and quality of the capital’s dining scene. To find out all the details of what’s going on throughout the two weeks, visit the festival’s website.
If you fancy enjoying some free beer, free cocktails and free Yo! Sushi canapés, while watching four talented young mixologists strut their stuff, then listen up. The final of the Asahi Rising Stars Cocktail Competition is being held from 7.30pm until midnight on Tuesday 12 October at Riverbank Park Plaza hotel. The organisers have been kind enough to offer 20 pairs of free tickets to Square Meal readers – read on to find out more.
Work in Covent Garden or Soho and regularly get deli belly? Then you’re in luck, as three upmarket delis are due to land in central London over the next few months. A flagship central London branch of Ottolenghi is due to open early next year on Warwick Street, but not before popular Sussex café Bill's Produce Store opens a first London branch in St Martin's Courtyard and the delightful Italian grocer and deli Lina Stores relaunches on Brewer Street.
Arguably the biggest hotel opening of the year, The Dorchester’s new Coworth Park, a 70-room five-star hotel set in 240 acres of Ascot countryside, opened on Monday. And at the heart of the site is a new restaurant from chef John Campbell, formerly the holder of two Michelin stars at the Vineyard at Stockcross. Just an hour in the car from central London, expect some very serious food from one of the country’s most forward-thinking chefs.
If you’ve gone shopping at Chapel Market this summer, you may have noticed a tasty newcomer in the shape of the Delhi Grill barbecue stall. Now, having established a reputation for home-cooked lunchtime wraps, a self-styled Indian dhaba – a canteen-style restaurant – has opened to the rear of the stall. With a pithy but well-executed menu of slow-cooked food, alongside stylised interiors, locals should be very happy.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Now in its seventh year, the Square Meal Around the World Wine Tasting is firmly established as a key date in the City’s social calendar in the run-up to Christmas. Priced at £45 per person, this unmissable evening event on Wednesday 24 November gives you an opportunity to sample more than 200 fine wines and speciality foods in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere – the perfect setting for entertaining clients or enjoying a night out with friends.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2010)... Quirky and accomplished in equal measures, King's Cross newcomer Drink, Shop & Do has arrived to add a little bit of charm to a once-seedy neighbourhood. While it sports a well-constructed drinks list, the bar’s real USP is built around its daily evening events, such as paper plane-making classes, and the fact that everything in the venue – from the 1960s Avon Lady sets, to the gaily painted furniture and retro gifts – is for sale.
It's been a long-time coming, but Eight Over Eight’s pan-Asian-grub-loving clientele can rejoice in the news that the swanky King’s Road restaurant has finally reopened, 11 months after it was forced to close following a fire. To find out what we can expect from the relaunched site, and for news of his imminent new robata-grill bar Glo Glo’s, we caught up with owner Will Ricker for a quick Q&A. Read on to see his answers in full.
LONDON RESTAURANT AND BAR NEWS (September 2010)... Need something to look forward to now the summer’s behind us and the nights are drawing in? Christmas, you say? Pah! The London restaurant scene promises more goodies than the contents of Santa’s sack. This autumn and winter will see a whole host of exciting new launches, from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s to Pollen Street Social from Jason Atherton. To get the lowdown on who’s opening where and when, read on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Love rum? Who doesn’t? But if you want to learn more about the popular Caribbean spirit beyond its compatibility with a night out, get yourself along to UK RumFest – a two-day celebration of rum. From tastings through to seminars and cocktail masterclasses, you’re guaranteed to leave with a lot more knowledge on the complexity and diversity of rum, and have a great day out to boot. Read on to find out how Square Meal readers can buy tickets for the exclusive price of £15.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... You’ll struggle to spend a better £12 next Thursday: starting at 7pm, Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante in Aldgate is holding a special sherry tasting evening, where guests get to sample six bottles, each paired with a tapas dish, for just £12. Sip a 12-year-old Pedro Ximénez, tuck into a plate of chipirones fritos (deep-fried baby squid) and boost your knowledge of sunny Iberian food and drink; all for just over a tenner.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2010)... Three years after relaunching Notting Hill institution Geales, the brains behind the swanky fish-and-chip restaurant have added a second site in Chelsea, which opens its doors today. Pitching residence in the former site of the short-lived Tom Aikens venture Tom’s Place, the new site promises all the same ritzy interiors and dressed-up, sustainably minded seafood – think beer-battered pollock and chips – as its sibling site.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2010)... Taking over from what were formerly the Waterside Café and the Balcony Bistro, the Barbican is today launching two new restaurants to tempt diners to the famous modernist complex. The new ground-floor Foodhall will pick up where the former Café left off, dealing in deli items on the waterside terrace. Upstairs at the Lounge, expect more sophisticated international food such as small plates of, say, braised pork belly with roasted pear.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2020)... For some reason, many of us overlook the idea of Champagne as a food accompaniment. Maybe we assume – erroneously – that it won’t stand up against a robust dish; maybe we’re worried about the price. Either way, JW Steakhouse is giving customers the perfect chance to sip Champagne throughout the meal by offering some stunning vintages at retail prices every Thursday from October to December. Veuve Clicquot at £32? Krug 1996 at £158? Read on to find out more.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2010)... Revered among those in the know as one of the world’s best pastry chefs, former French Laundry and Claridges star Claire Clark has opened her first London venture – a two-month pop-up at the Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols. Expect weird and wonderful treats with a big dollop of childhood nostalgia, such as her legendary bubblegum marshmallow Pavlova, as well as a a knockout afternoon tea priced at £35.
LONDON RESTAURANT AND BAR NEWS (September 2010)... Back in the dusty sands of time, some of you might recall The Savoy hotel closing for a refurbishment, taking with it the Gordon Ramsay-run Savoy Grill (then headed up by best buddy Marcus Wareing). When the hotel reopens on 10 October, a refurbed Grill – still under Ramsay control but minus Wareing – will be the star of the show, accompanied by the new River Restaurant. Booking lines open today; be the first to secure a table.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... After briefly popping into the media spotlight last year, underground restaurants have slipped back into… well, the underground. However, popular Blackheath pop-up the Savoy Truffle Supperclub is sticking its head above the parapet for a five-night stint in mid October as part of the London Restaurant Festival. Taking place in a secret north London location, expect a seasonal five-course menu and some assured cooking.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2010)... If it wasn’t enough just knowing we’ve got seven months of native oyster season in front of us, seafood fans can also take heart in news of a swanky new place to find their favourite molluscs. A recent refurb at Rowley Leigh’s Le Café Anglais has seen the addition of a new crustacea bar. Sit back in the art-deco surrounds and tuck into the likes of a dozen oysters or dressed crab and langoustines with mayo.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Want a meal genuinely cooked by Gordon Ramsay? Now's your chance. As part of the 2010 London Restaurant Festival, the three Michelin-starred chef is cooking a meal for 10 people in a capsule on the London Eye. And to raise money for homeless charity Streetsmart, the meal is being auctioned off. Read on to find out how to bid, but you better have deep pockets, as last year the event went for a hefty £23,000.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Want to sample some juicy Pinot Noirs and top-notch Sauvignon Blancs this month? To celebrate Chile’s bicentenary – it was on 18 September 1810 that the country was declared an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy – Wines of Chile is holding a special tasting at Vintners Hall, near Cannon Street station. Taking place from 6-9pm on 17 September, £25 will let you sample from over 180 of the country’s best bottles.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2010)... Summer’s rock oysters are nice enough, but any afficiando worth his Tabasco knows that the Colchester native is the true king of the mollusc world. The native season kicks off on 1 September and lasts through to the end of April – hence the old rule that oysters should only be eaten in months with ‘r’ in. The first batches of UK-grown natives hit the capital’s restaurants yesterday: find out where to get your fix.
LONDON RESTAURANT NEWS (September 2010)... After manning a successful restaurant on the terrace at Somerset House this summer, Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens has set down more permanent roots at the impressive Thameside landmark by launching a second branch of his informal Chelsea concept Tom’s Kitchen. To get the low-down on the new site, Square Meal caught up with Aikens for a quick chat. Read on to find out more.
LONDON RESTAURANT NEWS (September 2010)... Fifteen years after opening its doors in Wandsworth, Chez Bruce has reopened – albeit only after a six-week refurbishment. The Michelin-starred neighbourhood gem has had a refit of the kitchen and front of house. To find out what customers can expect from the new interior, and to ask about the restaurant’s future, Square Meal caught up with chef-patron Bruce Poole for a quick Q&A. Read on to see his answers.
LONDON RESTAURANT NEWS (August 2010)... If a hectic Bank Holiday weekend has left you in need of a bit of some ‘me time’, why not treat yourself to a bite to eat at the City’s best modern Italian, L’Anima, which has now reopened after a one-month refurbishment. Chef Francesco Mazzei’s contemporary southern Italian cuisine remains as reliable as ever, but a new extension has bumped up the site’s capacity by a third, to a sizeable 120 seats.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2010)... As per every August, the forecast for the bank holiday weekend is anything but auspicious. However, the rain clouds look set to part for Saturday and Monday, and if you fancy making the most of the late summer rays, why not make a beeline for the coast? Of course, no trip to the seaside is complete without some fresh fish, so read on to discover our top ten seaside restaurants in the South East, including Brighton's Due South (pictured).
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... Beer lovers get ready: The Draft House is expanding eastwards. Already boasting two sites in Battersea, the gastropub-cum-beer-emporium is this week launching by Tower Bridge. And for the first fortnight, the site is offering 50% off the food bill. Tuck into the likes of roast Tuscan sausages with lentils & fennel followed by cheesecake with rhubarb purée for half price, and wash it down with a pick from the vast arsenal of beers.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2010)... Taking residence in the souped-up basement of Le Méridien Piccadilly, this new lounge bar promises a feast for both your taste buds and retinas. Decked out in bizarre 60s Scandinavian-influenced décor, settle down with a complimentary fruity vodka cup while you pick from a polished and lengthy list of cocktails, including the house special rhume with a view (rhubarb gin, passion fruit, pink grapefruit & cardamom). For those not on the booze, the bar also boasts some astounding coffees.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... Hot off the press – King’s Cross neighbourhood restaurant Camino has this week launched a second site in Canary Wharf. As part of a soft opening, the restaurant is offering 50% off the total bill from 25-31 August and then 25% off from 1-14 September. Dealing in authentic and well-made tapas, plus a superb Spanish drinks list, enjoy a bargain – but remember to be forgiving of any opening-week glitches.
Calling all central London-based subscribers: want to continue receiving our annual guide and quarterly magazines free of charge? Don't forget to renew your subscription today. Click here, add your month of birth and click update. Simple! Not a current Square Meal subscriber? Providing you have a central London business address, we will send you the guide and magazines for free, all you have to do is register.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2010)... While early mutterings suggested that the new City branch of steak restaurant Goodman wouldn’t be open until early September, Square Mile carnivores among you can rejoice, as the site quietly opened its doors last week. Expect the same dedication to top-class meat as at the original Mayfair site, as well as a line-up of well-made transatlantic comfort food – think seafood risotto or Caesar salad. Perfect for a relaxed Friday lunch.
Mark the date – this year’s most anticipated new restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, is set to open its reservation lines on 15 October. Details are slowly leaking out about the Knightsbridge site, including the news that a three-course set lunch will cost £25 and à la carte dinner from £55. What's more, a sneak preview of dishes promises the likes of scallops with cucumber ketchup and peas (pictured).
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... Wine lovers among you pay heed – it’s not often that an offer like this crops up from a top-end restaurant. From 16-27 August, Michelin-starred Park Lane restaurant Galvin at Windows will be opening a different bottle of vintage fine wine throughout the week and offering it by the glass, at cost price, on a first-come, first-served basis from 8pm. Expect to pay from £20 per glass for some very serious wine, matched by Windows’ top-notch views of London.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... In terms of annual culinary landmarks, the start of the grouse season – or the Glorious Twelfth as it's known – is one of the most important, ushering in the year’s game season, with partridge, pheasant, woodcock and company soon joining it on menus. This year promises a bumper crop of the moorland bird, and the first arrivals should be pitching up in restaurant kitchens as we speak. Read on to find the best places to enjoy it.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... Now the grouse season has kicked off, there are few better places to tuck into the tasty moorland bird than Corrigan’s Mayfair. However, if you’re put off by the rather high prices then listen up, as the restaurant is running a special bring-your-own-wine promotion throughout August. For customers dining in the bar area before 7.15pm or after 9pm, and ordering a minimum of two courses, corkage will be free on all BYO wine.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... Summer is the time to tuck into lobsters – when they’re in prime condition – and few beat the quality of Scotland's crustacea crop. Which is why we thought this offer from Leadenhall Market seafood restaurant Chamberlain’s worth shouting about. Throughout August, customers can tuck into a Scottish lobster, chosen daily from the tanks of parent company Chamberlain and Thelwell Ltd, with a mixed salad and glass of wine for £19.95.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2010)... While most Friday-night curries the country over are washed down with a pint or six of lager, Westminster Indian The Cinnamon Club is offering diners the chance for a more refined start to the weekend. On Friday 8 October the restaurant is hosting a wine dinner, alongside Australia’s oldest family-owned vineyard, Yalumba, and wine buyer Laurent Chaniac, priced at £90 for four courses with matching wines.
What with all the sunny weather we've been having, isn't it time we all got out of the smoggy old capital and started eating further afield? If you're a keen foodie looking to dine out of town, but don't know where to start, never fear: Square Meal has trawled the length and breadth of the land in search of Britain’s 50 top regional restaurants – and here is our pick, kicking off with L'Enclume, the winner of our award for the best out-of-London eatery.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... With its 200-hundred year history and prime Hyde Park position, No. 5 Hamilton Place – the stately residence adjoining the Intercontinental Hotel – might seem something of a mystery to some. For the last 60 years the building has been an exclusive private casino and members’ club, and now for the first it is opening its restaurant’s doors to the public. Expect classy, French food such as Dover sole, steak tartare or roast black-leg chicken in extremely opulent settings.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Popping back up in its rooftop Peckham location, Frank’s Café & Campari bar returns for another temporary run, this time until the end of September. Brave the gritty urban surrounds to be transported to a 10th-floor haven with sparkling City views, then relax with a glass of wine or a refreshing Campari-based drink to partner some apertivi or, from Thursday to Saturday, a more substantial dinner menu.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Cocktail wizardry at its finest, Blandford Street newcomer Purl comes courtesy of three swish, young mixologists who look destined to make a mark on the drinks scene. Located in the stripped-out cellars of a former Davy’s wine bar, the site deals in imaginative cocktails such as Mr Hyde’s fixer upper, which is presented in a stoppered Victorian medicine bottle that emits a cascade of nitrogenous ‘smoke’ – all priced from £7 to £10.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... The brainchild of Belgian Luc van Oostende – the man behind Le Pain Quotidien chain – and his daughter Julie, Café Luc arrives on Marylebone High Street with a stylish swagger. Done up in dark wood, brown leather and mirrors, the interior is certainly slick, even if the menu falls short of being great. Dealing in European bistro food, dishes include the likes of shrimp croquettes, onglet steak with shallots, and crème caramel.
If summer’s slipping by and you’ve still no holiday plans in place, don’t panic, accessible five-star luxury is just a phone-call away. The good people at Visit Malta have got in touch to tout some top-class deals to the sunny Mediterranean island and they are well worth passing on to you sun-hungry readers. Four offers start at £341 per person for a week’s bed and breakfast at a five-star Maltese hotel, including flights.
To celebrate its 250th anniversary, acclaimed Champagne house Lanson has launched a Little Black Book of Champagne, full of interesting fizz facts. Register now to get your free copy. What's more, one lucky Square Meal reader who registers for a book will even win an entire year’s supply (that's 52 bottles to you, dear readers) of Lanson Black Label.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Following on from the phenomenal success of their Soho Italian, the brains behind Bocca di Lupo have extended their culinary charms across Archer Street and into the newly launched Gelupo – a gelateria, deli and espresso bar that bristles with all the creativity of its sister restaurant. Order a classic pistachio gelato, sip an espresso at the marble counter and leave with a bag of restaurant ingredients from the deli.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Having stomped its vast, mechanical boots across east London, parked in Clerkenwell and cleverly transformed into the guise of an easy-going, all-day diner, Giant Robot’s bid for world, or at least City-wide, domination is all going to plan. Owned by drinks impresario Jonathan Downey, expect sublime cocktails, a menu of sophisticated Italian-American diner food and the appearance of a Tiny Robot in west London sometime soon.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... The brains at Benugo – the company behind popular haunts such as the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen – are at it again, this time installing one of their stylish, reasonably priced concepts in the Museum of London. Settle into a brown leather banquette in the 1970s-themed interior, and tuck into British comfort food such as pork and rabbit terrine with piccalilli, followed by braised short ribs then maybe a sherry trifle.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Nothing hits the spot on a summer’s day like a gin and tonic. Which is why the clever people at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen have pulled off a master-stroke by setting up a specialist gin pop-up bar in one of London’s favourite warm-weather attractions: Hyde Park. Dished out of a restored 1950s Citroën van, order a Plymouth and tonic, a Hendricks with cucumber or a pick of gin cocktails, and tuck into the restaurant’s summery menu.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... A newcomer to Kensington’s Royal Garden hotel, the ground-floor Park Terrace is a worthy companion to the property’s popular Chinese Min Jiang. Boasting pretty views over Kensington Gardens and dealing in reasonably priced modern British grub, expect the likes of Cromer crab ravioli with samphire and shellfish bisque, followed by Anglesey sea bass with razor clams then raspberry flapkack with pear sorbet.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... One for veggie-lovers as well as vegetarians, Amico Bio is a new Mediterranean-inspired meat-free restaurant near Farringdon. Get stuck into dishes such as rice croquettes with mozzarella and savoy cabbage or mushroom ravioli on a lentil ragout, then follow it up with the likes of apricot tart with strawberry sauce. Located on Cloth Fair, and with dishes all under £8, it’s tailor-made for a light lunch.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Following its recent rebranding, Café a Vin – the brasserie adjoining Spitalfields’ Galvin La Chapelle – is quickly building a strong fanbase of its own. Boasting a stronger emphasis on wine, and with an exciting list featuring biodynamic and ‘natural’ wines, plus Italian- and French-inspired brasserie food – think steak tartare or escargots bourguignon – now is the perfect time to visit, with an appealing alfresco space in full swing.
Listen up all those without weekend plans: in a competition exclusive to Square Meal, Mahiki Rum are giving one lucky reader and three friends the chance to win a boozy day at the Asprey World Class Cup Royal Polo at Hurtwood Park, near Cranleigh in Surrey, this Saturday. With £500-worth of cocktails, lunch at its pop-up bar, celebrity polo and entrance to the après party on offer, it’ll be a day to remember – if the cocktails let you.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Once a big name on the capital’s dining scene, Joël Antunes – chef at the Michelin-starred Les Saveurs in the 1990s – is back, pitching up at the shiny new Park Plaza on Westminster Bridge. The inside of Brasserie Joel is a dark and rather forbidding affair, but a refurb is apparently on its way. Meanwhile, the cooking can be patchy, but with Antunes’ pedigree not open to debate, don’t be surprised if this steps up a gear or two in the coming months.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... The curious name of this Clerkenwell newcomer makes a bit more sense when you learn of its theme, which is an homage to everything pedal-powered. Much like the atmosphere, food and drink is kept informal – grab a coffee, a smoothie or a lager and chow down on a sandwich as you watch lycra-clad cyclists on Eurosport. The real perks are for dedicated cyclists – staff will service your brakes or gears as you grab lunch.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... A bright, breezy and good-value new Bermondsey trattoria, Zucca offers no-frills Italian grub to packed tables of eager locals. The interior deals in no-nonsense white walls and high-gloss furnishings, providing the backing for a concise but generous daily menu. Kick off with hearty portions of dense Italian bread and olive oil, move on to a main of roast pork on creamy cannellini beans, and finish with a moist orange polenta cake.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Now under the control of London micro-brewery heroes the Meantime Brewing Company, The Old Brewery has been turned into a tasteful new café/bar that promises to be a dedicated beer-drinker's dream. Stick to Meantime’s own superb selection or pick from over 60 international beers. For the oenophiles, a short list starts at £4 a glass, and a hearty selection of lunchtime pub classics moves up a gear for the dinner crowd.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Those familiar with Canary Wharf’s Parlour and The Refinery in Southwark will know what to expect from this new sister site in the City – stylised interiors, a heavy emphasis on quality but accessible booze and a hearty line-up of international grub. Champagne starts at £40 and is supported by a good list of Old and New World wines, while cocktails are listed by calories, and food includes the likes of Thai beef salad and linguine alle vongole.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Just check out the peak-time queues to see what a splash this noodle-peddling newcomer has made in Soho. Inside, a no-frills interior is the backdrop to the undoubted star of the show – the fat, Japanese udon noodles that the restaurant specialises in. Get stuck in to standout dishes such as atsu-atsu – firm, freshly made noodles in a mouthwatering hot broth – wash it down with some sake and leave with change from a £20 note.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2010)... Although far from ground breaking, the Dorset Square Hotel has nonetheless fashioned a decent neighbourhood trattoria in the form of Osteria dell'Orologio. The site’s aimed for a charming Italian rusticity in its interiors, and more-or-less achieved it. Heavy wooden tables and displays of bread and fruit provide the backdrop for good-value food. Four courses are priced at £24, with a £10 lunch deal also popular.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (July 2010)... Fancy a taste of the Mediterranean this summer without travelling from the capital? On Sunday 25 July, Salt Yard is putting on a tasting menu of southern Italian dishes, inspired by the regional cooking of Campania, Puglia, Calabria and the country’s islands. £75 will buy you seven courses, including dishes such as red mullet with smoked confit peppers, aubergines and olives, plus matching southern Italian wines.
We’re slap bang in the middle of picnic weather, and here at Square Meal we've just found out that Shoreditch's Pizza East has become the latest restaurant to offer a hamper service. Just a stone’s throw from the City, £25 can buy you a selection of wicker basket-packed deli items, with drinks to boot. However, if east London is the wrong side of town for you to pick up a picnic, read on to check out offerings from the likes of Corrigan’s Mayfair and Nobu.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (July 2010)... On a summer’s day, few places in west London can replicate the atmosphere of Parsons Green, the small triangular stretch of greenery off the New King’s Road. Which is surely why Cloudy Bay have chosen it for their pop-up shack, run by Tom Aikens, which takes place from 24-25 July. For just £8.50 visitors can buy a glass of wine, a specially designed Tom Aikens dish and join the stripey-shirted hordes lazing around on the leafy green.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (July 2010)... Fancy something a little different from the norm this July? Then check out the host of events being held as part of the Courvoisier Revolutionary Spirit campaign. From Victorian dinosaurs, spectacular sugar sculptures and pedal-powered punch to Jacobean tragedy; over the next month, the drinks company is teaming up with members of Courvoisier The Future 500 to throw weird, whacky and intriguing events across the capital.
Fancy being pampered in the sunny beautiful Austrian hills for the weekend? Then read on — a pair of lucky readers can win a three-night stay in the four-star Alpenresort Schwarz in Austria (pictured). Boasting a natural lake, imaginatively designed pools and enough pampering treatments at the Asian-style spa to make you forget about the world for a while, the resort will provide one couple with three days of alpine heaven.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... London’s top hotels all sport very tempting afternoon tea menus, so how does the discerning tea drinker differentiate one from another? Only quaff the very best, we say, which is what you’ll get at a selection of Firmdale Hotels, which are running the Ruinart and Miller Harris Sensory Tea through the summer. Get a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne, a choice of Miller Harris teas and a mouth-watering line-up of cakes and sandwiches – all for £35.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... In a rather novel idea, Cinnamon Kitchen is launching a menu made up exclusively of canapés. And frankly, we couldn’t think of a better restaurant to try such a concept, especially after the Liverpool Street Indian scooped Square Meal’s Canapé Cup last year. Four courses, consisting of 14 canapés inspired by its tasting menu, are priced at £30, or £60 with matching fizz. Who says you need a knife and fork to enjoy a good meal?
Where do you go if you’re a homesick Yank in the UK or just in awe of all things American? No sweat, you’ve come to the right place – find diners to die for, cool cocktail bars and patriotic pick-me-ups with Square Meal’s list of the best North American restaurants in London.
Summer is at last upon us, which also means it's time to reveal the BMW Square Meal award for the Best UK Restaurant of 2010. This year, the competition has been as tough as ever, but for the first time our panel of judges had direct help from you, the Square Meal readers, via an online poll. And the winner? Seeing off competition from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Waterside Inn, Whatley Manor, Fat Duck and Nathan Outlaw, Cumbria's L'Enclume rose to the top of the pack.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Fancy winning a meal for two at Borough Market-based British restaurant Roast? As the winner of an exclusive competition for Square Meal readers, you could find yourself tucking into dishes such as Loch Etive trout with pea shoots, shallots and lemon, or lamb’s sweetbreads paired with fresh broad beans and lovage, while enjoying top-notch views over the hustle-bustle of London’s famous foodie mecca. To find out how to enter, read on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Fancy becoming something of a pâtissier? Or maybe you want to wow some friends with your barbecue skills? Well, throughout the summer, five-star Hertfordshire hotel The Grove is running cupcake and barbecue masterclasses over the weekend. For £325 per person, escape London on Saturday, enjoy a cupcake workshop at the hotel, then dinner, an overnight stay, breakfast, a barbecue workshop and lunch.
Sue Barker on our screens, Andy Murray on all the back pages, the middle classes heaped on Henman Hill and the inevitable Federer-Nadal final on the horizon – it must be the Wimbledon tennis championships. If you fancy popping out to watch the matches, and even grab a bite to eat at the same time, read on to discover the best venues that will be screening the action, plus a few places to get you in the mood with special dishes.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... If you fancy a quirky and unique foodie evening, you’ll struggle to better Bompass & Par’s Complete History of Food. Taking place from 14-18 July in 35 Belgravia Square, the Courvoisier-sponsored evening will focus on key revolutionary periods in food, including medieval, renaissance, Victorian/Edwardian and modern, with matching Courvoisier cocktails and a few outrageous installations to boot – think flooded dining rooms, enormous sugar sculptures and dinner in the belly of a dinosaur.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Think formal train dining is something from a bygone era? Think again. The Orient-Express is running regular black-tie dinner events on board its British Pullman restaurant car throughout 2010 and early 2011. The train departs London Victoria at 7.30pm and travels a circuit through Sussex as guests enjoy a tasting menu with matching wines. Normally priced at £330 per person, readers can book the 24 June dinner for the special price of £264.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Fancy a free tapas meal for four and some top-notch bottles of cava? Well, you could be in luck: the good people at Freixenet have teamed up with Barcelona Tapas to offer readers an opportunity to win just that. One lucky reader will get the chance to treat three friends to a three-course meal at Barcelona Tapas, coupled with three bottles of Freixenet cava, including the new, premium Elyssia; while two runners up will win a case of 12 mini bottles of Freixenet Cordon Negro to enjoy over the summer.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2010)... Bringing the family’s famously classical approach to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Roux at Parliament Square comes courtesy of a partnership between Le Gavroche chef-patron Michel Jnr and catering giants Compass Group. Expect precise French cooking and top-notch British ingredients, with highlights including asparagus in a morel butter sauce and confit salmon with samphire and baby nasturtium flowers.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2010)... Over the last decade or so we’ve come to learn the standards to expect from Caprice Holdings and the company’s latest venture, Mount Street Deli, doesn’t disappoint. A drop-in sandwich joint in a prime Mayfair setting, it may not be as grand as other Caprice ventures, but everything from breakfast items such as smoked salmon and organic cream cheese bagels to homemade soups, pies and sandwiches, delivers with aplomb.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Poles apart from its former incarnation as a seedy strip club, this refurbed bar and restaurant deals in honest British grub, most of it from a single organic farm in Devon. Pop in for post-work drinks and bar snacks in the ground-floor bar area, or head upstairs for the attractively executed food, with dishes such as al dente asparagus spears with hollandaise preceding the likes of roast pork with crackling, jus and apple compote.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2010)... What promises to be one of summer's hottest attractions, Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens has teamed up with Compass Group to create an offshoot of his Chelsea restaurant Tom’s Kitchen in the stately riverside setting of Somerset House. The canopied spot, formerly occupied by the River Terrace Café, boasts superb river views and a pithy menu featuring dishes such as chilled gazpacho and coronation crab salad.
Have you ever felt that there are thousands of great wines out there, but that you’re not getting to see them? Well you’re right. Many of the most interesting wines don’t make it onto the high street, being snapped up instead by the country’s top restaurants. The trouble is that this isn’t much use to you if you’re looking for a wine to drink at home, or take to a friend’s dinner party. So at Square Meal, we’ve used our contacts with some of the country’s top sommeliers to put together a great case (six bottles) of wine for you.
Summer’s here, the sun is (occasionally) out and it’s that time of year to enjoy an alfresco drink. Want a change from the usual tipples though? Summer drinks should be fruity, refreshing and designed for sharing, which is why Courvoisier has joined forces with 15 bars across London to create a variety of special punch recipes for you to enjoy. Read on to discover the bars involved and how Square Meal readers can get money off.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2010)... Fancy an exclusive cookery class with a Michelin-starred chef? In the run up to November’s Wine and Dine Month in Hong Kong, Square Meal has got five pairs of tickets to give away to just that – a masterclass with Alvin Leung, the chef-proprietor at Hong Kong’s Bo Innovation, and cookery writer Sophie Grigson. The event takes place on 30 June at L’Atelier des Chefs in Marylebone and is only open to competition winners.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... The ball’s well and truly rolling now: after the success of its inaugural year, the London Restaurant Festival is set for an even bigger and better return this October. Taking place from 4-18 October, expect capital-wide attractions from scores of top-notch restaurants. The general public can book the events from 8 June but if you’re an American Express card holder, read on to find out how to jump the queue and book before everyone else.
World Cup madness is fast approaching: where will you be when the nation gathers its collective breath in June and early July? Aside from the countless mid-range pubs that will undoubtedly be showing the action, the capital’s restaurants and gastropubs are getting in on the act, meaning there will be a top-class venue to suit fans of every nationality. Here are some of the choice cuts from around London.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... Who wouldn’t enjoy a free five-course meal and a glass of bubbly beside the Regent’s Canal? Well, if you have time to ping off an email, then you could be doing just that this summer. To celebrate the launch of its outdoor summer menu, King’s Cross modern British restaurant Rotunda is giving away a five-course meal for two on its terrace. The closing date for entries is 30 June. To find out how to enter, read on.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Landing in an area already heavy with French bistros, Villandry Kitchen has needed all the nous of its Holborn sibling site to conquer the Chiswick market. Luckily, the easy-going, unfussy food and relaxed setting have been successfully transported to west London. Everything you'd expect from a Gallic bistro is present – starter plates of cold meats and cheeses, moules frites or steak haché for main, and maybe a tarte tatin to finish.
RECENTLY OPENED The team behind Charlotte’s Place in Ealing has done a good job in combining gutsy and contemporary bistro food with an upmarket cocktail-crowd setting at this Turnham Green newcomer. Settle down at the slick two-tone dining room, complete with a new glass roof, and tuck into fairly priced dishes such as a Le Creuset pot of piping-hot reblochon tartiflette to start, followed by a bouillabaisse and then a lime and lemongrass tart.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Tapping into Londoners' ever-growing appetite for tapas, Bar Pepito claims to be the capital's first sherry bar – a Spanish-style bodega from the brains behind nearby restaurant Camino. Enjoy an González Byass Apóstoles’ palo cortado with duck liver pâté in jelly, or a Moscatel served with the Basque dish of cheese curd and honey. Then, sit back and unwind in the faithfully recreated, relaxed atmosphere.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A good barometer of public optimism over the next few months might be the success of über-trendy Greek Street newcomer Diu. With Champagne starting at £170, and bottles of Ace of Spades at £1,100 a magnum, you’re guaranteed to spend a pretty penny once you step inside its moodily lit interiors. But with glamour also on its side, Soho-ites might just feel plush enough to embrace it.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A sibling site to Chelsea hotspot The Valmont Club, swish new cocktail bar Coquine looks set to liven things up on this upscale strip of the Old Brompton Road. Take a pew in the funky French bistro-meets-rococo interior and choose from a range of slimline cocktails. Then tuck into luxurious comfort food such as lobster BLTs, foie gras burgers or flash-fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream, and dance into the night in the exclusive DJ den.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... From the brains behind Clapham’s Lost Society and Battersea’s The Lost Angel, Putney newcomer Citizen Smith looks set to bring youthful pizzazz to another area of south-west London. Less baroque than the interiors of its sibling sites but just as funky, the vibe is boosted by DJs, imaginative cocktails (think blueberry and ginger Caipiroska for £6.50), beers from Greenwich Meantime and a menu of 20 affordable pizzas starting at £4.95.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... The conversion of Shoreditch club T Bar into slick restaurant Pizza East may be symbolic of the area’s steady gentrification, but East End clubbers – and there are plenty of those – will be pleased to hear of new club Concrete, housed in the same building. Turn up for civilised post-work drinks and nibbles (think calamari, meatballs and mozzarella), or arrive later on to dance into the wee small hours.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Bringing a heavy dose of cool to the Beach area of Chelsea, this new bar comes courtesy of DJ Sam Young, who can often be found on the decks at nearby super-Sloane club Boujis. The good-looking interior is a mix of exposed brickwork, pop-art murals and Formica, and an accessible drinks list starts off with house wines from £16.50 and cocktails from £6.50.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... If you fancy a trip around the quirky and popular Californian vineyard Bonny Doon without the inconvience of leavingLondon, then listen up. Taking place on 1 June at The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, the vineyard’s owner, Randal Grahm, well-known among aficionados in the US for his eccentric and knowledgeable approach to winemaking, will host a five-course dinner matched with a selection of his biodynamic wines.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... What a transformation! The formerly scruffy Canton Arms has had a heavy dose of stylish Victoriana imposed on it in a refurb that comes courtesy of owner/chef Trish Hilferty and the crew at Southwark hero the Anchor & Hope. The menu is, as you might expect, classic British fare, with old-school starters such as oxtail and split pea soup, followed by wild rabbit with mustard and mash, then a rich chocolate pot to finish.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... A relaunch rather than an opening, Restaurant Michael Nadra is the new incarnation of Fish Hook, Nadra’s former seafood-themed Chiswick site. Now with his name above the door and meat on the menu, the talented chef is cooking up a storm. Start with a lasagnette of calf’s sweetbreads, foie gras and wild mushrooms, move on to yellowfin tuna with soft-shell crab tempura, and finish with a dessert of rhubarb three ways.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... If you’re Aldgate East way, have a butcher’s hook (look) at this quirky new bar named as an homage to cockney rhyming slang. Grab a glass of Calvin Klein (wine) or a national rail (cocktail) in the green and black street-level bar funkily refurbed from a mobile phone shop. Then chow down on an Isle of Skye (pie) with mash and mushy peas, and head down the apples and pears (stairs) for a Jack Palance (dance).
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... Remember when The Avenue was the ‘90s place to lunch? With its white, minimalist interiors and modern European food it helped shake up the big old boys club that was St James’s. Now under the banner of D&D London, the site has been reinvigorated. The airy, light interiors remain, but a new British menu now deals in simple, dependable classics cooked with skill, making it a worthy destination for lunch or dinner.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... The sun’s out, the grass is green and it’s no time to be stuck indoors. But if you don’t fancy manning a barbecue, and you can’t find a table on inevitably packed restaurant terraces, you’re not plum out of options. Clever-clogs restaurants including Nobu London in Mayfair are offering diners the chance to buy luxury picnic hampers full of menu dishes, so you can loll around in the park with some top-notch grub.
If you’re after a special night out, look no further. To save you time, we’ve scouted out top-notch events at our favourite restaurants and bars in town.
We don’t get a particularly long window to eat alfresco in London’s temperate climes, so its best to grab the chance with both hands. If the sun is out this summer, scout out a venue from our best alfresco dining or, with a bit more planning and a pinch of luck, book ahead to enjoy one of these handpicked goings-on, including a daily barbecue in the secluded and picturesque private gardens of The Montague on the Gardens hotel (pictured).
A hearty Sunday roast isn’t always the most appealing option in the summer months, but who says you have to stick to tradition every weekend? Forget the classic pub lunch and head out for a more unconventional day of rest. Dim sum at The Phoenix Palace? Pancakes at The Diner? Or all-you-can-drink Champagne at the Landmark Hotel? Get your teeth around this list of ideas for an alternative Sunday lunch.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2010)... The Mandarin Oriental is really raising the stakes this year. With Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant set to open in the autumn, the other half of the Knightsbridge hotel’s double coup launches this week. Courtesy of Lyon-born über-chef Daniel Boulud, who holds three Michelin stars at his New York restaurant Daniel NYC, Bar Boulud is a refined bistro concept that echoes its transatlantic sister site.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (May 2010)... An influx of middle-aged couples on the Fulham Road? Monty Don all over our screens? It must be the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday this week. If you're taking in the show and feeling hungry, we reckon the best bet is to head to Daphne’s. The Chelsea Italian is offering a seasonal set lunch, which includes a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne. Read on for offers from other restaurants.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... If you want some politicians and a bit of waffle, you don’t have to tune into the leaders’ debates. Throughout the run-up to 6 May’s big vote, Bompas & Parr has launched an election-themed pop-up bar in Soho. Among all the other planned fun, grab some waffles served one of three ways to reflect the main parties. With all orders fed into a Jon Snow-style ‘swingometer’, you can keep a finger on London’s political pulse as you tuck in. Although, to see which way Square Meal readers are swaying, click here.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Always wanted to eat at the world’s best restaurant? Gastronomes will vouch how hard it is to get a table at El Bulli, which has held the title for the last four years. But things change: when the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants was announced this week, Noma and its chef Rene Redzepi (pictured left) had knocked El Bulli off top spot. Now, alongside other meals, charity partner Action Against Hunger is auctioning off a 12-course dinner at the newly crowned world's best restaurant. Expect a bidding war.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... If, as is being suggested, we are genuinely in for a barbecue summer, then what better way of spending a sunny May bank holiday weekend than at the historic surrounds of Hampton Court Palace? From 29-31 May, the Tudor palace is hosting Foodies Festival, a three-day event featuring top chefs, masterclasses and speciality food stalls. Normally priced at £15, readers can take advantage of a special two-for-one offer by reading on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... In the finest tradition of the cinema, One Aldywch hotel is making you an offer you can’t refuse – a meal in its Axis restaurant and a film in its private screening room the tidy sum of £38.50. Taking place on Fridays and Saturdays through May and June, enjoy some bubbly, a three-course meal and a pick of Oscar-winning films such as The Hurtlocker, Precious and Up in the Air. The hotel is even chucking in some free popcorn as well.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Perched on the banks of Little Venice, this new beachside retreat-themed pop-up comes courtesy of the team behind The Waterway, the nearby summer hotspot that regularly packs out its al fresco terrace on a sunny day. The Summerhouse could be London's dreamiest setting yet for a lazy summer afternoon – pick from a seafood menu, follow it up with a Pimm's jelly and a bottle or two of wine, and soak in the sunshine.
Following the sell-out success of his pop-up restaurant on the Selfridges rooftop, Pierre Koffmann is permanently back at the stoves. This time, he is putting down roots in familiar territory, returning to The Berkeley - where he operated La Tante Claire until 2003 – to take over the site being vacated by the Boxwood Café. In a move away from haute cuisine, the new venture will offer classic provincial French dishes served in an informal environment, athough a handful of Koffman’s signature dishes (scallops with squid ink; braised pig’s trotter with morels) will also be available.
GENERAL NEWS (April 2010)... We've deliberated, cogitated and digested and are thrilled to announce that the winner of the BMW Square Meal Award for best new restaurant – presented every six months to the most impressive newcomer in the capital – is Dean Street Townhouse. Fending off competition from the likes of Galvin La Chapelle, Bistro Bruno Loubet, Colony and Polpo, its handsome styling, clubby vibes and unfussy cooking have proved a hit, both with the panel of Square Meal judges and with you, our trusted readers.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Having showcased his talents at The Loft Project – a series of supper clubs held in a Dalston loft apartment – Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes is poised to take Bethnal Green by storm, this time with a bold new restaurant within the restored Town Hall (a hotel in the making). True to form, the El Bulli protégé is dishing up experimental molecular gastronomy: think squid tartare and pickled radishes with samphire and a frozen squid ink jus.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Feeling patriotic and hungry? St George’s Day is fast approaching, and while some of you might want to celebrate it with some traditional English grub, you needn’t just pencil in the day itself, 23 April, to find exclusively native food on restaurant menus. A handful of sites are celebrating the occasion throughout the week, with dishes packed full of seasonal spring treats such as asparagus, new season lamb, samphire and rhubarb.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... The arrival of a second site for Shoreditch favourite Mien Tay is a boon for Clapham Junction residents drowned in non-descript chain restaurants. Those who have trekked north of the river to its Kingland's Road original will know what to expect – look beyond the no-frills decor, plastic flowers and bright lighting and you'll find great-value, well-cooked Vietnamese dishes such as chargrilled quail with honey and garlic.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Loud, brash and thoroughly enjoyable, the chain-restaurant-in-waiting that is Guerrilla Burgers has landed with a splash near Bond Street. A bold interior of bright red walls and funky graphics ties in with the appealing, global menu, which sports nine takes on the signature theme. Chow down on a green chilli burger, knock back with a stateside beer or two and take a deep breath before you start seeing these sites everywhere.
Sup a cocktail and watch the rich and famous jet in and out of the adjacent heliport at this new restaurant in Battersea’s eco-friendly Hotel Rafayel. With views up the Thames from its floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a summer-friendly riverside terrace, the salubrious environs compensate for some hit-and-miss cooking, with dishes teetering between safe, traveller fare and more adventurous Indian cooking.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Once run as sickeningly expensive tourist traps, the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen paved the way in showing what could be done by turning Hyde Park’s cafés into democratic eateries, and now it’s the turn of the Lido Café to follow suit. Run by catering outfit the Company of Cooks, it’s a plum spot right by the water’s edge, and deals in the likes of burgers, steak baguettes and flatbread pizzas as well as a buffet display of light snacks, cakes & pastries.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, cheese gets some refreshing star treatment at Chelsea newcomer L’Art du Fromage, whose mission statement is to celebrate the ingredient in all its stinky, veiny glory. Packed with cheeseboards, fondues and raclettes, the menu does, however, give some respite for the less avid fromage-ophiles in the shape of French classics such as escargots, bouef bourgignon and sole meunière.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... Forget images of cooking beans on a gas stove in the Lake District, Clerkenwell newcomer Caravan is a world away from camping. Arriving courtesy of a group of friends including former Providores chef Miles Kirby, this self-styled restaurant, bar and roastery deals in imaginative all-day international grub. Tuck into either small or large plates of tempting dishes such as pork belly, white bean, maple and smoked paprika stew.
Who serves the best Bloody Mary? Square Meal is on a mission to find out. We’ve teamed up with Dutch super-premium vodka brand Ketel One to challenge 10 bars around Shoreditch to create an original twist on the classic recipe using Ketel One Citroen (a naturally flavoured lemon vodka). The bars will be serving them – complete with a complimentary amuse bouche – for the entire month of May, and if you sign upas one of our judges, you can taste them all for free.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... If you feel you missed out on celebrating Chinese New Year, or fancy getting another Eastern celebration under your belt, the Thai festival of Songkran is set to take place from 13-15 April. Also known as Thai New Year, Songkran marks the end of Thailand’s dry season when revellers soak each other in water in celebration. To mark the occasion, Belgravia restaurant Mango Tree is holding a special evening on Wednesday 14 April, including traditional dancers, a special tasting menu and a DJ.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Primary school teachers and 1960s Batman taught us well: crime doesn’t pay. Not usually. Not unless the crime in question was stealing a pair of binoculars from the Blueprint Café. Because, throughout April, the restaurant is running an amnesty on the thousands of pairs of binoculars it sees pilfered each year, having handed them out in goodwill so customers can enjoy the Thames views. So rid yourself of the guilt and make crime pay, as those who return a pair will get a free carafe of wine or dessert as reward.
RECENTLY OPENED (April 2010)... As April showers play a daily game of will-it-won’t-it, we’re all holding our breath for the Easter weekend. Few, though, are more eager for a glimpse of sun than Rooftop, the bar and grill atop Sir Terence Conran’s City-fringes restaurant Boundary. Due to re-open on Good Friday – weather permitting – the open-air space is superb when the sun is shining, with 360-degree views of Canary Wharf, the Barbican and east London’s regenerated acres. If you fancy a visit, phone ahead and make sure it’s open.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... With its no-bookings policy, diners can often be in for a hefty wait at popular Soho newcomer Polpo. However, if you want to be guaranteed a seat, snaffle up one of the places at the new series of wine evenings – called EnoClub – being hosted at the restaurant. Taking place through the summer, and starting on 18 May, the events will focus on the different northern Italian wine regions, and pair the bottles with its signature Venetian food.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... Ladies grab the phone: every woman’s favourite hunter-gatherer – gruff, knitware-clad TV chef Valentine Warner – is hosting a one-off class at Marylebone cookery school La Cucina Caldesi on Friday 21 May. Taking place during the evening, the star of What to Eat Now will show pupils how to cook a three-course dinner of Italian dishes, before sitting down to enjoy them over a glass of wine. It’s just a shame you’ll have to share that Friday night date with the rest of the class. Read on for information on how to book.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (April 2010)... It may offer an excuse go on the sort of chocolate binge that would make Augustus Gloop proud, but spare some space this Easter for the less sugary cooking going on in the capital. Maybe even combine it with some quality family time by getting out into London’s restaurants with the kids or the in-laws to sample some springtime food. Read on for a round-up of the best special menus available in London this weekend.
(FOOD AND DRINK EVENT) April 2010... Whatever level your knowledge of wine – whether you’re an Oz Beerdrinker or an Oz Clarke – the good people at Cinnamon Club and Jim Barry Vineyards have just the ticket for you. Over April and May, the two companies are teaming up to offer two wine evenings – one a more informal tasting with canapés at the Cinnamon Kitchen’s bar Anise on 26 April, the other a six-course dinner matched with wines from the Australian winemaker on 21 May.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... It's been nearly two years since Gordon Ramsay and his one-time protégé Marcus Wareing parted. Wareing stayed on at The Berkeley, getting his name above the door, while the Pétrus brand went with Ramsay, along with a promise that it would one day live again. That day has come. Expect high-end French cuisine and a fantastic wine collection – complete with 34 vintages of Château Pétrus (natch) – and a sizable queue for a table.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... If you like farmers’ markets – and who doesn’t – then check out the biggest one in Britain. Now in its third year, the Real Food Festival is taking place at Earls Court from 7-10 May 2010. Packed with events for the whole family, the show provides a platform for hundreds of smaller producers for whom attendance at such shows is normally too costly, so expect everything from artisan bakers to farmers and their livestock.
The first sunny rays of spring, combined with the clocks going forward, might hint at the warm summer months ahead, but in reality it’s a while yet before we can start dining al fresco. So in the meantime, content yourself with a pleasant vista from a warm indoors and pop along to one of our picks of the best restaurants and bars with views – from Galvin at Windows above Hyde Park (left) to the riverside Dove pub in Hammersmith.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... With Szechuan cooking suddenly in vogue after an eternity of under-representation in London, let yourself be pleasantly surprised by the cuisine’s deft use of lesser-known cuts – with pig’s ear, pork lung and intestines all mainstays of the cooking style (alongside more run-of-the-mill meats). So if you find yourself in Chinatown and fancy something more adventurous than sweet and sour pork, pop into the Empress of Sichuan. However, if you prefer visiting Queensway for a Chinese, try nearby Seventeen.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... Getting into Petersham Nurseries Café after dark is something of a treat, so we advise you jump at these rare opportunities to dine alfresco in the bucolic outside space. On six separate occasions throughout the summer – starting on April 3 – head chef Skye Gyngell will open the gates to her café-restaurant from 7-9pm for a seasonal four-course set menu, priced at £85 per person.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... If you look back at the past two years, one name stands out above and beyond the rest in terms of successful restaurant launches – that of Mark Hix. Now, to add to his sites in Soho, Clerkenwell and Brown's Hotel, he's launched in Selfridges department store. Sporting a roll-call of his greatest hits on the menu, it's just a shame Hix at Selfridges closes when the store shuts up shop – although, fingers crossed, that could change.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... Luxury is the buzz word at Inc Group’s latest City-based venture Battery, perched high above Canary Wharf in what was formerly the site of Ubon by Nobu. Surrounded by superb views of the financial district, and a sumptuous interior of duck-egg leather, granite & hand-blown lights, tuck into a starter of caviar or king scallops, then follow it up with a sirloin of beef with foie gras and caramelised onions and pretend the good times are back.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... If you fancy a spot of pan-Asian grub – with a strong bias towards Szechuan & Cantonese dishes – you could do a lot worse than pop along to Notting Hill newcomer Seventeen. With its moody Hakkasan-style interior, the restaurant is certainly going for the trendy vote, but, rest assured, there’s competent cooking to back it all up, with dishes such as braised dongpo pork, poached sliced beef in hot chilli oil, and griddled beef stomach.
Last week’s Spanish tasting, in partnership with Square Meal, was a resounding success enjoyed by a record 375 visitors. Wine flowed as guests enjoyed cava and sherry alongside wines from regions like Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorato, Cigales, Rueda and Navarra, while six well-known Spanish restaurants excelled themselves with some dazzling offerings. Highlights included prawns with piquillo peppers and capers served by Casa Brindisa, cod brandade with tomato hearts from El Faro and smoked cod with Cordoban gazpacho dished up by Camino. ‘It was marvellous to see so many people learning about why certain wines marry so well with our foods,’ said organiser Maria Jose Sevilla. If you missed the fun this year, watch this space for tickets in early 2011.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... If you can’t decide between dinner, drinks or a spot of art appreciation, then make a beeline for Cielo. Combining a restaurant, late-licence lounge bar and art gallery, this new Mayfair Italian boasts pale, elegant interiors and a mezzanine space complete with retractable glass roof. There's a Sardinian-influenced menu (think seafood pasta and pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet stuffed with rosemary and black truffles), an Italian-only wine list and creative works from artists who are both up-and-coming and established.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... Foodie evenings don’t come much more prestigious than this. On 12 and 13 April, Japanese culinary icon Nobu Matsuhisa is visiting his London restaurant on Old Park Lane to host two dinners celebrating umami – the primary taste that influences many of his dishes. Matsuhisa will speak in person about the tradition, design and creation of his cuisine, before guests enjoy an intimate dinner, served with complementary sake, for just 50 people.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... Finally, the pizza breakfast need no longer be eaten only with a sense of bleary-eyed shame while watching kids TV on a Saturday morning. Now early hours cheese lovers can walk into trendy Shoreditch restaurant Pizza East with their heads held high and tuck into such hitherto shameful dishes as a full English breakfast pizza, or a sausage, pancetta, mozzarella and egg, or smoked salmon, spinach and egg rolly (a pizza-style wrap).
Want to know why Portugal is currently considered one of the world's most exciting wine-producing countries? Make a beeline for Lord's on 12 April and you can experience the wealth of flavours and marvel at the value. Wine legend Oz Clarke will be there to take you through a tutored tasting so you can extol the virtues of grapes such as intense and floral Touriga Nacional or ripe and honeyed Antao Vaz. Read on for more information.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... This new City arrival marks the first UK restaurant from a chain that looks hopeful of forcing Turkish food into the mid-market sector, with a handful of branches already scattered across Europe. An authentic flavour of Turkey is the remit, with small dishes such as creamed chicken breast and walnut dip, and filo parcels stuffed with cheese, veg and pastourma sausage, followed by expertly grilled meats – all washed down by some of the country’s underrated indigenous wines.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... After a rather tentative start, this Pimlico newcomer is slowly growing into its classy location. New artwork, alfresco tables and brushed-up service now provide a much-improved setting for the restaurant’s luxurious comfort food. Expect dishes such as rose veal burger with fried egg, sautéed foie gras and rosemary-dusted shoestring fries, and battered cod with truffle-oil-brushed thick-cut chips and lemon beurre blanc.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... Up for the craic? Those gathering at Bentley’s on Wednesday 17 March certainly will be. From midday onwards, the restaurant – owned by Irish chef Richard Corrigan – will be in full swing to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Taking place in the Jameson Room, expect a buffet lunch, complete with oysters, Irish stew and suckling pig, and an all-day Irish band, all for £40. But, with plenty of Guinness on tap, you’d be wise to budget more.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... Arriving in Knightsbridge with bucketloads of Middle Eastern razzmatazz in tow, Beauchamp Place newcomer Laya’Lina ticks all the right boxes for those hankering after an exotic evening out. Expect traditional and modern interpretations of Middle Eastern fare, a snazzy interior of bamboo and chrome and some weekend fun in the form of belly-dancers and a late-night clubby feel.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... If you’re a regular user of social networking sites, chances are you’ve stumbled across Mooli’s already. Since opening last year in Soho, the two Indian guys who founded the café have attracted a legion of fans through their canny online marketing. Luckily for them, the product lives up to the hype, dishing up zingy, Indian-style wraps such as spiced chicken with mint chutney and Goan pork with pomegranate salsa.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... Whatever the weather, life seems a little bit sunnier in this new, splendidly pink deli and patisserie in the ‘Chelsea beach’ area of the Fulham Road. Decked out in fabric-draped walls, with Victorian lanterns and lively blues background music, drop in any time of day to pick from a menu that caters for every need, from eggs Benedict, via freshly baked cakes and buns, to heartier dishes like casseroles, fishcakes and steaks.
You’d think it would be a recipe for disaster: take 20 of the capital’s top chefs, ask them to share kitchens and each deliver a meal for a table of 10, then auction off their services. But Monday's annual ‘Who’s Cooking Dinner?’ event went off without a hitch, with London’s culinary talent, such as Richard Corrigan, Angela Hartnett, Jason Atherton and Giorgio Locatelli pulling together to raise £380,000 for Hammersmith Hospital’s leukaemia centre. For the full low-down, read on.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... So far, only a lucky few have been able to enjoy the stunning 360° views from Altitude 360, the 29th floor events space in Millbank Tower in Westminster. That, however, is all about to change. On selected Sundays starting from this weekend, the space is to open up as a restaurant from 11am-4pm, catering for both the morning brunch bunch and the roast-hungry early afternoon crowd. Order a stack of pancakes or beef and Yorkshire pudding, drink in the view, and get your Sunday off to a flying start.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (March 2010)... We surely don’t have to tell you that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day? And if we do, well, shame on you – after all your mum has done for you over the years. So if you haven’t got a bunch of flowers and lovely lunch lined up, here’s a list of some of the best special menus and offers from around the capital, including a top-drawer offering from Tamarind, where mums dine free of charge. The flowers, though, we can't help you with.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... Once a London institution, 153-year-old fish restaurant Wheeler’s is back – but not as we knew it. Having decamped from its narrow, three-floor site in Duke of York Street, it has now taken up residence in what was formerly Marco Pierre White’s Luciano on St James’s Street. And it’s the former Harvey’s chef who’s overseeing the project, so expect smart interiors and some expertly handled ingredients.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... There are some films in which the opening scene puts you off, and some books where the first chapter just doesn’t grab you. Likewise, some restaurants don’t instil a lot of faith on first impressions. But some things are worth persevering with, and bear this is mind if you visit relaunched Fulham boozer The Pear Tree. Beyond the tired carpet and upholstery there’s some solid cooking at rock-bottom prices. Enjoy three good courses and a pint and you can expect to see change from £20.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... You wait for a bus for ages, and then… well, you know the rest. And it seems the same is true of cocktail bars in Marble Arch. After years of hiking to the southerly end of Park Lane for a decent cocktail, punters in the area finally landed a decent nearby bar in Hunter 486 late last year. Now, with the opening of Barre Noire, they have another. And a pretty good one at that – with near-perfect cocktails, great wines and a swish, moody interior.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... It might struggle to pull you all the way from central London, but those local to the Sutton area can finally rejoice that a restaurant worth talking about has landed on their doorstep. Courtesy of Malcolm John – whose Croydon restaurants Le Cassoulet and Fish & Grill have been runaway successes – Brasserie Vacherin is a competent French bistro dealing in the likes of moules marnière, French onion soup and steak-frites.
RECENTLY OPENED (March 2010)... Things are looking rosy for pub-goers in the Sands End corner of Fulham. The area has already seen The Hurlingham and the Sands End pubs reinvent themselves from tired locals’ boozer to popular gastropub, and now it’s the turn of The Rose, the site that was formerly the Fulham Tup. Hidden behind the furniture shops of the New Kings Road, expect a menu of good-value global grub and an antiquated and homely vibe.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Get your diaries out, because you won’t want to miss one of these five-star evenings. Taking place on three dates throughout 2010 – 27 April, 13 July and 2 November – Knightsbridge’s five-star hotel Jumeirah Carlton Tower is hosting a five-course wine hosted by representatives from Maison Louis Latour, Champagne Taittinger and Louis Roederer. Expect some expert knowledge and a line-up of top wines.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Fancy a Friday night learning about wine instead of just drinking it? Well, you’re in luck. Ever-savvy gastropub brothers Tom and Ed Martin have launched a wine dinner to take place on the last Friday of every month at their Chancery Lane pub and dining room The White Swan. A mere £42 will buy you a five-course dinner with matching wines and the expert knowledge of sommelier Paulo Brammer to talk you through the vintages.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Chucking paint around isn’t just for vandals and Jackson Pollock wannabees, in Hindu countries the festival Holi – which marks the end of winter and the start of spring – is traditionally celebrated by throwing paint over one another. Hence its other name, the Festival of the Colours. However, if you want to celebrate it and not ruin your clothes, get along to The Cinnamon Club, which is putting on a special tasting menu for the occasion.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Who ate all the pies? You did, remember – at British Pie Week last year. And, after the success of 2009’s week, the seven day celebration of pastry-cased gluttony is back, running from 1-7 March. And if that news has sparked a sudden desire to seek out a tasty steak and kidney or chicken and leek specimen, read on for a round-up of the best pie destinations across the capital, including the venues for getting a pie and pint for a tenner.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Feeling the pinch this new year but still want a foodie treat? Well, there’s no need to shell out too much for Marylebone Indian restaurant Trishna’s latest event – a weekly crab masterclass and three-course meal. Costing £60 and taking place every Sunday, guests will learn how to prepare and cook live Dorset brown crabs in a coastal southern Indian style while tucking into dishes of the tasty crustaceans with matching wines.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... Risen from the ashes? Not quite: this Soho stalwart managed to escape a direct hit from the vicious fire that ripped through Dean Street last July, but nonetheless suffered serious damage from flying debris, smoke and flooding. It closed its doors, embarked on a swanky makeover, and has just reopened to the public. An early pioneer of high-end Indian cooking, the menu still takes its inspiration from the cuisine of the Mughal emperors: think ostrich fillet with royal cumin, bay leaf and black pepper.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... Some neighbourhoods have all the luck. This Marylebone site, once home to a tired-looking branch of La Tasca, has re-emerged as Colony, a swish new eatery courtesy of talented chef Atul Kochhar (pictured). The Spanish tapas may be gone, but the small-plates concept remains in place, with spicing cranked up a notch to take in the flavours of India, Africa and beyond: feast on the likes of Punjabi chicken livers with chilli, cumin and ginger on toast, or grilled paneer with lotus stems, mango and mint chutney.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Kudos to Le Café Anglais. Not just content with securing director Pat O’Connor to discuss his 1988 screen adaptation of Simon Gray’s play A Month in the Country at its inaugural Le Ciné Anglais evening, the Bayswater restaurant has also managed to secure every mother’s favourite actor, Colin Firth. For £50, guests can enjoy a two-course dinner with wine, a screening of the film, and a discussion on stage with Firth and O’Connor.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... As pop-up restaurants pop up with ever increasing frequency, there’s no denying that some are a lot more accomplished than others. And we suspect that the forthcoming pop up at the Sipsmith distillery will be of the better ilk. Running from 18-21 March, the pop up will marry food from Peter Gordon – the brains behind Marylebone restaurant The Providores – with spirits concocted for the occasion by the distillery.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... With Tim Burton’s new 3D film Alice in Wonderland due for release in early March, the great marketing minds at the Sanderson hotel in Fitzrovia have got in on the action with – surprise, surprise – a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Boasting an array of exotic cakes and sweets, the afternoon tea is fairly reasonably priced at £20 – or £26 with a glass of Veuve Cliquot Champagne – and, needless to say, a good place to take the kids.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... With Valentine’s Day ticked off for another year, we can all get back to lording it up en masse rather than scraping around for a table à deux. And the good people at Profile Soho have gone and made threesomes, foursomes and fivesomes even more appealing by offering a free bottle of Prosecco to tables of three or more. Hurry though - the offer, which is available from 12-7pm everyday, expires on 28 February.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... ‘The sex on the beach. The schnapps made from peach. The velvet hammer. The Alabama slammer.’ If quotes like this, from Tom Cruise’s character Brian Flanagan in the movie Cocktail, get you reaching for the spirits and shaker, then Clapham bar Aquum has just the ticket. From 30 March, the venue is hosting a monthly flair masterclass to transform you into a modern day Flanagan. Although sadly, it can’t promise you his good looks.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2009)... Celebrity Chef Aldo Zilli, sensing a gap in the market, has relaunched Signor Zilli, his flagship Soho restaurant, as Zilli Green, a smart vegetarian. Sporting an eclectic menu of refined dishes from around the world – think beetroot lasagne with a dandelion and rocket salad – and expecting the likes of Sir Paul McCartney (who apparently gave Zilli the idea) among its clientele, this newcomer promises to be more hip than hippie.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Being battered on the tube drive you flipping mad? Well, this pancake day, if you’re going to take crêpes from anyone during your daily commute, make sure it's from the good people at the Crowne Plaza Kensington. On Shrove Tuesday (16 February), the hotel will be handing out free lemon and sugar pancakes outside Gloucester Road tube station from 8am to 9am to promote the special pancake menu at its StreetSide Restaurant.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... Stoke Newington’s upwardly mobile crowd will be pleased to see the latest harbinger of gentrification – another lively, accomplished gastropub. Inside there’s the requisite Victoriana-meets-noughties decor, and a menu of good-value British grub. Chomp on a homemade pie with mash, or a pork chop with chorizo dauphinois, sup a pint of Timothy Taylor and, if you live nearby, feel generally contented that you bought when you did.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... With the winter's end on the horizon, like us you're probably already planning your summer hols. And here at Square Meal, we hanker over a bit of sunny, pampered luxury as much as anyone else. Which is why news of Burger Davis Sotheby’s revamped concierge service at its French Riviera properties has us all excited. Now offering masseurs, chefs and even a kids’ swimming coach, you'll hardly lift a finger during your week in the sun.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... ‘Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.’ It’s quotes like this, from playwright George Bernard Shaw, that you might happily breeze past en route to the fifth floor of the Piccadilly Waterstone’s. Because atop the grand bookstore, a sparkly new seafood & Champagne bar joins the original 5th View restaurant, boasting a stunning parorama of St James's. And we'll raise a tasty glass of anesthesia to that.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... If you enjoy learning about Spanish ingredients as much as you savour eating them, then London restaurant group Brindisa is putting on just the thing. Throughout 2010, the group is hosting regular dinner and masterclass events for knowledge-hungry tapas fans. Each one will focus on a specific ingredient – such as Catalan cheeses, dried beans or Spanish anchovies – and will include a dinner courtesy of Brindisa's kitchen team, with wines to complement the cooking.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... When contemporary Indian restaurant Trishna launched in Marylebone last year, punters were as impressed with the informed, varied wine list as the exemplary coastal cuisine. Now diners can learn more about the producers who supply the backbone of that list with a series of wine evenings hosted at the restaurant. Starting in March with a discussion and tastings of biodynamic wines, the site will host a monthly event throughout 2010.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Approaching fast on Thursday 11 March, Wines from Spain is hosting an exclusive food and wine tasting event for Square Meal readers. For a bargain £20, guests will get the chance to sample over 100 different bottles of Spanish wine, plus tapas from top Spanish restaurants, a glass of premium Cava on arrival, freshly carved jamón Ibérico, and much more. Read on to book your ticket today.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... When the brains behind the Sands End launched the pub in a quiet residential spot in Fulham two years ago, it swiftly built a loyal base of fans. Now the team are hoping to do it again, this time with a brasserie and grill on the Fulham Road. France inspires much of the menu, with one-time Gordon Ramsay protégée Gemma Tuley ensuring the cooking is up to par, while friendly service and a light, smart corner site does the rest.
It seems London has gone cabaret crazy at the moment, with even established restaurants getting in on the act. The latest to put on a show is revamped Piccadilly hotspot The Criterion. And it gives some peace of mind for the prospective cabaret-goer to know the food will be at the centre of the evening and not an afterthought. £40 will buy you a three-course meal and a line-up of singers, magicians and cabaret stars.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... The hangover from December’s New Year celebrations may be a lingering memory, but that won't stop the more Eastern-minded among us doing it all again. Sunday 14 February marks the start of Chinese New Year, a 15-day festival to herald in the Year of the Tiger. To celebrate the occasion, central London will come alive on 21 February, while Chinese restaurants will be putting on special menus throughout the festival.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... Bringing a slice of the exotic Middle East to suburban London, Chiswick new boy Chella mixes popular Persian food such as meatballs and baklava with lesser-known dishes like noodle soup ash-e-reshteh and herb omelette kookoo sabzi. Inside it’s very much a modern neighbourhood restaurant, with no mock-Arabic decor cluttering up the site, while a trendy cocktail bar injects a touch of Friday night glamour.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... If singing for your supper seems silly, try being sung at during supper instead. After a hushed few months since closing its City site, the operatic-themed restaurant – complete with its warbling waiters – has reopened in the Corus Hotel in Lancaster Gate. Be prepared for an assualt on the senses - £35 will buy you a menu of Gallic-inspired European food and more opera than an Il Divo fan club get-together.
RECENTLY OPENED (February 2010)... Just when you thought London had reached its quota of mid-market Italians, along comes another to spruce up the competition. Sporting a Wagamama-style dining concept and a special focus on pasta, the fledgling chain seems hopeful of doing for lasagne and carbonara what Pizza Express did for Fiorentinas and the American hot. The menu might sound all too familiar, but accomplished cooking and extra touches set it apart.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... Ale-swigging Clapham-ites should dust off their drinking pants and be prepared for a hefty ride. A selection of 17 drafts awaits the eager beer fan at Northcote Road newcomer The Draft House – from New Zealand beer Speights through to local brews like Junction Ale. Mercifully, they can all be ordered in third-of-a-pint sample sizes and there’s plenty of good brasserie food to soak them up, plus a nice wine list for the oenophiles.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... All aboard please: the second site for mid-market Indian Bangalore Express – masterminded by the same man behind Chelsea favourite The Painted Heron – has arrived near the Monument, sporting the same cheery selection of express meals, salads, tapas and healthy options. The quirky, bunk-seating of its sibling site is sadly missing, but a lively downstairs dining room and ground-floor cocktail bar make up for the loss.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... A stone’s throw away from cult Whitechapel eatery Tayyabs, and sporting an ex-Tayyabs man at the helm, it was only a matter of time before people started benchmarking newcomer Needoo Grill against its more established neighbour. Happily, it’s up to the comparison. Superb value Indian and Pakistani food – from kebabs through to curries – BYO wine and a comfortable, if unspectacular, interior all make for a winning formula.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... Few of you will be unaware of the devastation 12 January’s earthquake has brought upon Haiti. With a death-toll reaching 200,000, and a quarter of million more now homeless, the country is in desperate need of aid and charity. To help raise money, Le Bouchon Breton is hosting a fundraiser dinner on 8 February, with chefs such as John Burton Race, Chris Galvin, Atul Kochar and Herbert Berger behind the stove.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... Wary of Greeks bearing gifts? Well, there’s no need to be suspicious of Taste of Greece, a celebration of the country’s cuisine taking place in selected London restaurants from February to December. Organised by the Greek National Tourism Organisation to showcase the country’s rich, sunny food, diners at participating restaurants can choose from authentic Greek menus and even win a trip to Greece itself.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (February 2010)... Doubtless as many cold-hearted critics out there will turn their noses up at Valentines Day as loved-up darlings will eagerly await it. But so long as your other half expects a treat, come 14 February you’ll need to deliver. Instead of getting sucked into the quick-fix vortex of the local gastropub, why not make Valentine’s Day a bit special? Dotted around the countless set menus and gimmicks on offer are a few more unique offerings.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... Few restaurants will polarise opinion like Notting Hill newcomer Supperclub. Imported from Amsterdam, where it was set-up in 1992 before going global, guests eat on reclined white beds while cabaret performers put on themed acts. Then, as the early hours approach, the place transforms into a nightclub. It feels eerily like you’ve been transported back to the mid-‘90s for an evening, but in these sober times that might be just the tonic.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... Those of you who visited Kensington’s Ambassade de l'Ile during its short lifespan might well miss the expert French cooking, although not the insanely high prices or bizarre decor (remember the purple shag-pile carpets?). In its new incarnation as Bistro K, the interior has been suitably toned down and the menu re-envisioned to a supposed brasserie offering. Prices are still on the expensive side, but is it worth it?
Looking for some hot foodie debate? Look no further – The 2010 Michelin stars for Great Britain and Ireland have been announced, with eight new stars being awarded in London. The two big winners are Alain Ducasse, who received three stars at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, and Brett Graham, who received two stars at The Ledbury, plus one star at the Harwood Arms.
From crunch lunches to pop-up eateries, it’s been a fascinating year on the capital’s restaurant scene. Tania Ballantine spots the trends and takes London’s foodie pulse
On the occasion of Square Meal’s 20th birthday, we chart some of the highs and lows, headlines and scandals that have defined the London restaurant scene over the past two decades
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... Think the circus is just for kids? Think again. Hot on the heels of performance-led Supperclub and Proud Cabaret comes stylish Covent Garden newcomer Circus. The line-up changes regularly, but might include hoop trapeze artists or fire-eating ballet dancers swirling by your table as you tuck into stateside classics, and everyone is encouraged to get up and boogie after dinner. Just not too much clowning around, please.
Beefs, bellyaching and bugbears seem to be part and parcel of dining out – especially in these cash-strapped times. Our survey spells out what’s niggling readers the most
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... But we hae meat, and we can eat, sae let the Lord be thankit. If you recognise those two verses of grace, chances are you’re fully aware that Burns Night is fast approaching. Held annually on 25 January in honour of poet Robert Burns, the night has become a celebration of Scottish national identity. But kilt-wearing expats needn't go without their haggis and wee dram of whisky – there’s plenty of London restaurants putting on festivities.
GENERAL NEWS (January 2010)... The BMW Square Meal Restaurant of the Year not only recognises all-round excellence, but is also a barometer of diners' priorities. Thus the 2009 shortlist not only included high-performance venues such as L'Anima, but also impressive and good-value young contenders including Terroirs. The crown, however, goes to Arbutus. Still true to its values since becoming the BMW Square Meal Best New Restaurant in 2006, this restaurant is to be applauded for its consistent delivery of affordable luxury.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... British film fans among you might get a little depressed this time of year by the self-congratulatory American back-slapping that goes on with the Oscars and the Golden Globes. So good on The Dorchester hotel for supporting the Orange British Academy Film Awards. And you too can join in – the hotel is hosting a one-off BAFTA Afternoon Tea event, complete with glammed-up models and BAFTA-themed goody bags.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... Want to put both the Roof Gardens at Kensington and your own generosity to the test? On 25 January the Gardens’ Babylon restaurant is dispensing with prices and letting diners choose what to pay for their food. During both lunch and dinner cough up as much or as little as you think the food and service (but not the booze) is worth, and help – or don't help, as the case may be – raise money for Virgin Group’s partner charities.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... Think BYO restaurants are limited to ethnic buffets and hidden-gem cafés? Think again. Throughout January top-end Marble Arch restaurant Texture is allowing guests to bring their own wine to complement chef Aggi Sverrisson’s modern European cooking. A good opportunity to shave a bob or two off the bill but best suited to small groups – the offer is limited to one bottle per table free, after which a £25 corkage fee will apply.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... If you’re fed up with the freezing weather and need a new year pick-me-up, the good people at Luxury Holidays Direct have just the remedy. Until 26 March, Square Meal readers can escape to Mauritius for the discounted price of £899 per person – a whopping £340 cheaper than usual. Enjoy the four-star Indian Resort & Spa on an all-inclusive basis, with return flights, airport taxes and private transfers thrown-in as well.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (January 2010)... Carrying a few holiday pounds? Well, Boot Camp at Paradise by Way of Kensal Green is just the excuse to knuckle down to some exercise and shed that excess weight. The pub is putting on a complimentary training session every Saturday morning throughout January. Kicking off with a power smoothie followed by a workout, each attendee will also receive a £20 voucher to spend in the pub’s dining room afterwards.
RECENTLY OPENED (January 2010)... With the weather outside so freezing, and the fireside rather appealing, look no further than the Plateau Club Room, a fourth-floor pop up that comes complete with faux fireplace, sofas and picturesque views of the Canary Wharf ice rink. Hunker down under a tartan rug, order a Smirnoff Black cocktail – perhaps the Wharf Man (vodka, Galliano & fresh orange juice) – and drown the January blues. But hurry, as the pop-up closes at the end of the month.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Just when you think London has enough Italian restaurants, one comes along to prove the theory wrong. Rising above the generic menus of some of the capital’s more uninspiring osterias, Mennula wins brownie points for its dedication to Sicilian cuisine. The restaurant – which means almond in the island’s dialect – features traditional Sicilian dishes such as cannoli filled with sweetened ricotta.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Thinking of popping to Barrafina but can’t face the queue? Well, with the launch of new restaurant Barrica a five-minute walk away, punters who find themselves in the West End and hankering after some authentic tapas now have another handy alternative. Sip fino and munch on salted almonds at the bar or take a table and opt for something more substantial – perhaps bone marrow with parsley and Pedro Ximénez or sweetbreads with artichoke.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Those familiar with the nearby Thomas Cubitt and Pantechnicon gastropubs will know what to expect from this latest addition to the group, housed on the site of Pimlico’s old Orange Brewery. Stripped wood, refectory tables and a charming boho-Georgian vibe carries on the group's dedication to stylish interiors, and a menu of Brit dishes relies on a wood-fired oven for its reasonable and generally well-executed grub.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... The restaurant entrance may not be particularly ostentatious, tucked away on the side of its parent hotel, but walk through the curtained porch and into Dean Street Townhouse & Dining Room and a buzzy, large room decked out in reclaimed oak flooring and period Georgian touches unfolds before you. Feast on the hearty British menu, take a pick from an excellent wine list and lose yourself in the chatter of the trendy media types around you.
Dear readers, it's time to bid you farewell until 4 January 2010. As you're a savvy lot, you know that no end of year message would be complete without a roundup of the best bits of the past 12 months. So without further ado, here's a selection of our favourite new restaurants from 2009. Why not try them out for yourself and post your views on the website, using the 'My Square Meal' facility (register here)?
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Restaurateur and Masterchef presenter John Torode plays to the strengths of his flagship London restaurant Smiths of Smithfield with his second site The Luxe. Housed in Spitalfields’ former flower market, the broad all-day offering finds something for everyone, from bacon sarnie-hungry workers on their way to the office, through to lunching ladies, cocktail-thirsty evening crowds and fine-dining fans. But does it all work?
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Chris and Jeff Galvin certainly have an eye for the spectacular. You might have thought that trumping the setting of their last opening – the 29th floor restaurant at the Hilton Park Lane – was impossible, but at Galvin La Chapelle the brothers have come close. Housed in a former girls' school done up to the highest spec, the pair’s eye for quality is on show throughout, from top-notch table settings through to the high-end brasserie dishes.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Life is a cabaret, old chum – and nowhere more so than at this showy new burlesque bar and restaurant in Tower Hill. Plush velvets and hidden booths are the backdrop to glammed up waiting staff dishing out solid British grub, but it’s the on-stage performances that are the real selling point here. Afternoon and early evening jazz gives way to something a tad more risqué as night falls, before an altogether clubbier vibe sees the site through the early hours.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2009)... If the first few months of the year are just too bleak a period to bear without an event to look forward to, why not escape abroad for a few days? Top end travel company Cox & Kings has given Square Meal readers the perfect excuse to do just that, by offering a free night’s stay at restored baroque gem the Boscolo Hotel Astoria when you book a long weekend in Florence in the New Year. For more information read on.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... A neighbourhood Italian tweaked to the high gloss of Mayfair, Babbo – which translates as ‘daddy’ – does a good job of juggling a homely rustic vibe with the sense of occasion W1 residents expect. Bare brick and cream walls, crystal chandeliers and white tablecloths make for an elegant setting to tuck into veal milanese or a lasagne made to grandma’s secret recipe, then apple with pine nuts pie and caramel sauce.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... As things get chilly this time of year, when better to revel in a bit of Nordic hospitality? At The Pipeline in Aldgate, the Swedish owner has mixed a bright and airy Scandinavian-themed bar with an apparent love of rock ‘n’ roll to good effect. Knock back £6 cocktails or go native with a Lonkero or a Lapin Kulta beer, munch on meatballs, pickled herrings and cheese platters and jive to some slightly incongruous surf classics.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2009)... With just a fortnight until Christmas, it’s time to start cramming in those festive events while we’ve all got some mid-Advent cheer. So get along to Rotunda on 15 December where £37.50 will buy you a private viewing at Kings Place Art Gallery, a three-course dinner, mince pies, carols and mulled wine. What's more, the restaurant has two tickets to give away to one lucky Square Meal reader. For more info click here.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2009)... It’s Christmas, so join the five chefs pictured and spare a thought for the hungry. The philanthropic quintet stepped in to help feed the homeless at one of the central London soup kitchens supported by Street Smart, the annual charity drive that takes place in November and December. But you don’t have to up ladle and pour soup yourself, the charity just asks that diners donate £1 on top of their bill at any one of the 600 participating restaurants across the UK to go towards helping the homeless.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (December 2009)... Who’s cooking dinner? It should read more like who isn’t cooking dinner? The annual fundraiser in aid of the Hammersmith Hospital's specialist leukaemia centre is like a Who's Who of chefs. In a stellar evening on 8 March, 20 top chefs, from Phil Howard to Richard Corrigan, will each prepare a four-course meal for a table of 10, before being auctioned off to cook at the winner’s house. For more information click here.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... When adventurous modern Japanese cuisine is replaced with crowd-pleasing classic Cantonese, you sense that a restaurant is courting the masses. Which is exactly what’s happened at Atami, the Westminster restaurant that’s owners have relaunched as Made in China. Nothing is done terribly, but the culinary ambition on display before is gone, while the decor is spruced up but remains largely unchanged.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Earls Court residents can rejoice – finally the area has a late-night bar that offers something different from the Bohemian goings-on of The Troubadour. Surrounded by retro kitsch American décor – think pinball machines, vintage wallpaper and a light-up dancefloor – chomp down a steak sandwich, knock back a few cocktails, jive to some live rock’n’roll, and get washed away in bygone Americana.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... If it’s a heavy dose of soul you’re after, you could do a lot worse than head to the Blues Kitchen, the new Camden restaurant and bar from the brains behind Paradise by Way of Kensal Green and The Westbury. Offering up a trendy, accessible take on southern American blues bars, knock back some bourbon or cocktails, order a bowl of buffalo wings with blue cheese dip and tap your feet to the live bands.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Sibling to the popular Mayfair Lebanese of the same name, this second Massis has sprung up in Paddington’s Sheldon Square sporting all the Middle Eastern swagger of the original, although at about twice the size. Start off with a well-made cocktail, move on to authentic mezze such as hoummos, moutabal and spicy lamb sausages, alongside freshly baked flatbreads, and wash it down with a bottle of Lebanese red.
RECENTLY OPENED (December 2009)... Italian tapas bar opens in Soho, punters rave, critics drool - sound rather familiar? Well, after the run-away success of Bocca di Lupo earlier this year, it's now the turn of the Venetian wine bar-themed Polpo to mop up the plaudits. If you can face the queues (there’s a no bookings policy so our tip is get there early) you’ll be rewarded with a stunning and cosy interior, small plates of northern Italian cuisine and fast, friendly service.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... The high standards at this new Trafalgar Square restaurant won’t come as a surprise to those in the know – the site’s mastermind Charles Boyd has been the doyen of City caterers over the past 25 years. Kitted out with white tablecloths and a sprinkling of old-school elegance, the grand room within The Northumberland events space features an all-day menu that ranges from tapas plates to modern European dishes.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Notting Hill residents might not be too familiar with Geronimo Inns' gradual gentrification of London boozers, but at The Elgin, the group’s first venture in the trendy neighbourhood, you’ll find most of the ingredients that have made Geronimo pubs so popular around the capital. Unbranded, front room style interiors, a convivial atmosphere, chirpy service and good beers all compensate for a kitchen that hasn’t quite found its feet yet.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Taking over the downstairs space at Mark’s Hix’s new Soho restaurant, this swish new bar gives punters the chance to see the Dorset-born chef’s trademark use of British ingredients on a cocktail menu. Expect drinks such as Spitfires over Kent (a Battle of Britain homage using wild morello cherry-infused Beefeater gin) coupled with patriotic bar snacks like pollock fish fingers with mushy peas.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2009)... Eating out at a Chinese or Thai restaurant, or even whipping up a stir-fry at home and not sure what to wash it down with? Well, the growing popularity of Alsace wines is partly down to their excellent pairing with Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisines. If you fancy putting it to the test, Square Meal has got 10 cases of Alsace wine to give away. To enter, send us an email with 'Alsace wine' in the subject line before 7 December.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Since leaving Caprice Holdings two years ago, Mark Hix has gone on to become the toast of London town. His latest venture, Hix in Soho, has taken over the Brewer Street site briefly occupied by Japanese Aaya, and looks destined to be a big hit, with the Dorset-born chef’s trademark British cuisine the star. Dine on jellied ham hock with piccalilli, then beef flank with porter and oyster pie, and end with an autumn fruit crumble.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2009)... Lots of Chinese restaurants may give out free tea, but Royal China Club on Baker Street is offering free tea lessons until 4 December. Led by Hong Kong tea master Shek Kwai Sim, the lessons cover the variations between different Chinese teas as well as the blends that pair well with food. Free tea and Chinese pastries are also on offer. The lessons are for 12 people and spaces need to be booked in advance. For more information click here.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 20009)... Like Des Lynam's style? Have a soft spot for Tom Selleck? Well, if you help champion the moustache this year you could end up as one very lucky lover of the hirsute. The Oxo Tower – where staff are growing sponsored ‘taches to raise money for The Prostate Cancer Charity's fundraiser 'Movember' – is holding a raffle for those who donate. A main prize worth £1,500 is up for grabs, including a £200 voucher for Cecconi's.
GENERAL NEWS (November 2009)... Tourists have flocked to Spain’s Rioja wine region for hundreds of years, but it’s fair to assume that few of those will travelled through it in the suave comfort of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé. And what a way it is to take in the beauty of the Spanish countryside. Cruise the sun-soaked vineyards, the tiny Medieval hill towns, the old, new and universally stunning wineries, and pick up some first class bottles along the way.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Eastern sports fans should remain calm, this new restaurant at the Crowne Plaza hotel is to the world of cricket what the Bombay Bicycle Club is to the world of cycling - no more than a catchy name. But what it lacks in sporting terms, the site amply makes up for with its creditable Chinese food. Classics such as chicken and sweetcorn soup sit alongside decent dim sum and Szechuan-style specialities in the relaxing, chic surroundings.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... If you’re an East Londoner with a hankering for quality local restaurants but a disinclination to travel, you’re in luck. In Old Street newcomer the Princess of Shoreditch you now have two accomplished sites rolled into one. Downstairs is a no-bookings gastropub with hearty pub grub – perfect for a drink with your mates – while upstairs is a date-friendly fine-dining restaurant sporting top-notch service.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Canary Wharf's offices may be feeling the crunch, but its restaurant scene is in rude health. A flurry of recent openings – from The Parlour to branches of Jamie's Italian, Canteen and Wahaca – have now been joined by E14's glittering prize: Roka. Sample favourites from the robata grill alongside innovative newcomers (think stuffed teriyaki chicken with roast ginger and aubergine). Just be sure to book ahead: it's already packed to the gills.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2009)... Why be chilly when you can be Chile? On Friday 20 November, Square Meal readers are invited to join Wines of Chile and 18 top wine retailers for a special tasting evening at the stunning banqueting hall of Glaziers Hall in London Bridge. For just £15, you can sample any of the 120 superb wines while tucking into empanadas and swaying to the Latino sounds. To book call 01344 872229 or email [email protected].
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009) The water may be long gone, but things still get steamy at this ex-Turkish baths turned café-bar and nightclub. Returned to its former glory, complete with Byzantine tiling and onion dome, the site’s an enjoyable spot for breakfast and lunch, but it’s the evening when it really comes to life. Pop along after work for an £8 cocktail and a wood-fired pizza, then stick around as things hot up with 1970s disco revival and exotic burlesque nights.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Next time you find yourself slap bang in the middle of tourist London, bear in mind this little subterranean haven as you look to escape the hustle-bustle of street level. Located on Garrick Street, the Forge Wine Bar’s intimate, air-conditioned cellar plays it simple, with olive walls, kingfisher banquettes and user-friendly high stools at the zinc bar the back drop for a lengthy, value-conscious Europhile wine list and some top notch tapas.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... If you think the classiest food that can arrive on a cocktail stick is a cheese and pineapple canapé, think again. At Westbourne Grove newcomer Pix, the concept is for punters to work the buffet of tapas delights armed with little wooden sticks (referred to as 'pix' in Basque) and skewer whatever takes their fancy, from asparagus and foie gras with leek and white chocolate, to quail’s egg and black pudding with confit pepper.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (November 2009)...Let’s face it, we all enjoy a tipple over the Christmas period. And if you’d like that festive love affair with vino to be a bit lighter on the wallet this year, then the nice people at new wine merchants winedeal.co.uk have just the competition for you, as they are giving Square Meal readers the opportunity to win a specially selected six-bottle mixed case of wine. For info on how to win and other exclusive offers at winedeal.co.uk, read on.
RECENTLY OPENED (November 2009)... Settle onto a stool at Sir Terence Conran’s new Lutyens bar and you could be mistaken for thinking the good times are back again. The corporate chic, mosaic floor and white-suited baristas all pay homage to a time when we had a bit more cash to spend. And it’s a breath of fresh air in these frugal times. Throw caution to the wind, enjoy a glass or two of Pol Roger Réserve or a Lutyens Martini, and pretend it's 2006 for an evening.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... Like its animal namesake, The Rubens at the Palace Hotel’s new Leopard Bar is sleek, classy and well hidden. Also, like the big cat, it’s much smaller than you might think. Housed inside the hotel's former in-house newsagent’s, the décor’s all neo-colonial ‘safari-chic’, with the obligatory leopard skin print carpet and cushions. Champagne goes from £12.50 a glass to £4,000 a bottle, and cocktails, fine wines and savoury snacks all make it an inconspicuous gem.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2009)... If the cold weather and dark evenings are getting you down already, let some Tuscan sunshine – or at least some Tuscan wine – into your life this autumn. To celebrate the opening of its new bar and restaurant, run by Florentine winemaker Frescobaldi, Harrods is hosting a Tuscan food and wine-tasting evening on Wednesday 25 November, priced at a mere £25. For the modest outlay, guests can enjoy tastings of top wines like Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2007, matched with small Tuscan dishes.
GENERAL NEWS (October 2009)... Got an iPhone? Or perhaps an iPod Touch? Then don't miss out: Square Meal has launched a super-duper new app and it's absolutely free. Just download it from the App Store on your iPhone, then take it for a spin. The Square Meal app uses GPS mapping so you can search for restaurants, bars and special offers by location – not to mention being able to download virtual vouchers for deals. Yes, readers: virtual. No need to print them off or plan ahead – now you can be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants kind of person.
GENERAL NEWS (October 2009)... Seeing off stiff competition from the likes of Bjorn van der Horst's Eastside Inn and Arjun Waney’s Il Baretto, this season's BMW Square Meal award for Best Newcomer – presented to the most impressive new opening of the last six months – goes to Peter Prescott and Sir Terence Conran's Lutyens. Combining sensitive design, competitively priced brasserie food and exemplary service, it has impressed from the very start.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... Hallelujah! You know it's time to give thanks and praise when a forgettable branch of Jamie's is reborn as a dedicated blues bar. Jitterbug on the dance floor and then refresh yourself with ice-cold brews by the bucket, margaritas and that Belle of the South – mint julep, served in traditional metal cups. Casual bites run to popcorn chicken, shrimp skewers, pulled pork stack, jambalaya and Mississippi mud pie.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... There's been one helluva spate of kitchen-hopping by chefs of late. Fans of William Drabble's refined French cooking will no longer find him at Aubergine, but should instead head over to newcomer Seven Park Place at the St James's Club and Hotel (on a site once home to Dieter Müller's Andaman). Across town, Andrew Turner is bidding farewell to The Landau and moving to Wiltons, to step into Jérôme Ponchelle's shoes, who in turn will be filling the vacancy at The Capital created by Eric Chavot's departure.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... For those of you mourning the demise of the traditional London department store, take heart: some are being given a new lease of life. The site where Dickens & Jones once stood, for instance, is now home to a destination cocktail bar, a modern Japanese restaurant, and this stylish newcomer, Aqua Nueva. Here, contemporary Spanish cuisine, courtesy of ex-el Bulli chef Alberto Hernández, is served up in a sophisticated setting, with far-reaching rooftop views another draw for a modish media crowd.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009...) The folks over at Soho House know a thing or two about creating sexy spaces, with this loft living-style Shoreditch newcomer a case in point. Happily, the room's good looks are matched by cracking Italian cooking. Dishes come packed with flavour: think sheep's milk ricotta bruschetta with honeycomb and sea salt, or a simple pizza margherita loaded with buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2009)...Get your diary out: just a few tickets remain for Jamie Oliver’s charity fundraiser A Big Night Out with Fifteen on 12 November. Taking place at Shoreditch Town Hall to raise money for the Fifteen Foundation, which runs a pioneering apprenticeship scheme for under-privileged young people, the £650 ticket will see you rubbing shoulders with Jamie Oliver and a host of mystery celebrities. Expect a fantastic supper and performances from some of today’s hottest stars.
READER COMPETITION (October 2009)... Attention wine lovers: to highlight the virtues of their Classic Wine Trail, the nice people at Tourism New Zealand are giving six bottles from wineries along the route to one lucky Square Meal reader. If you fancy the likes of Kim Crawford Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2006, or Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2007, simply email Tourism New Zealand with your name and number before 30 October. For further info on the trail and other bottles, read on.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (October 2009)... On Wednesday 21 October rugby stars Lee Meers, Jason Leonard OBE and Martin Offiah MBE will take possession of Vivek Singh’s restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen for a celebrity cook-off in aid of children's charity Wooden Spoon. Sky Sports News presenter Millie Clode will be hosting, with live action broadcast from the kitchen as the rugby stars prepare their courses. After dinner, there will be an auction of money-can't-buy prizes, plus the opportunity to meet the players. Read on for details of how to book.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... This Szechuan cooking specialist was forced to close earlier this year following a fire in its kitchen. (The irony of this happening at a restaurant where some of the dishes can make your mouth feel as if it's engulfed in flames is, to say the least, piquant.) Happily, Bar Shu is back – and the food is as adventurous as ever. But while there's no doubting the quality of cooking, the overall experience does not merit the hefty size of the bill.
RECENTLY OPENED (October 2009)... If you like to surprise your dining companions, then where better to suggest than this latest addition to the Gaucho family? They'll arrive to be faced with a dreary office block, but this belies the delights of the inside. There's an airy ground-floor wine tasting room, while the cavernous basement has been converted to a slinky cocktail bar and restaurant. The perfect hide-away for power lunches over prime beef and Argentine reds.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2009)... Here at Square Meal, we like to keep our ear to the ground. So we were excited to hear that although it's not yet 'officially' open, the nice people at the new Covent Garden Pinchito will be offering those in the know (that's you, dear readers) 50% off all food from Tuesday 29 September to Friday 2 October. Yes, that means you can order double the portions of grilled chorizo, traditional tortilla, Padrón peppers, or deep-fried squid without the faintest whiff of guilt. Do call ahead to check exact service times.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2009)... Le Bouchon Breton in old Spitalfields Market will be running a series of oyster masterclasses through winter and autumn. Each masterclass will feature 10 different varieties of oysters, with a session running for approximately an hour and a half. During the class, you will first learn how to correctly open an oyster, before each oyster and accompanying wine will be sampled and discussed. Classes run until March 2010.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2009)... Thank goodness, it's Fish Friday! Swing by for dinner on Fridays at canal-side favourite Rotunda and get a plate of fish 'n' chips, plus a bottle of boutique beer, for the bargain price of £12.20. What's more, to celebrate this offer, the restaurant is giving away a case of the featured Friday beer, along with matching glassware. To enter, simply email the restaurant with the subject Fish Friday. The winner will be drawn on Monday 28 September.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2009)... As part of London’s London Open House Weekend, Beefeater Gin is opening the doors to its historical distillery from 19-20 September for complimentary tours. Housed in a former Edwardian pickle factory in Kennington, the distillery is over 100 years old and tours will include a look at the vintage copper stills used in the distilling process as well as the array of botanicals that go into making the drink, before ending with a refreshing gin and tonic.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2009)... Square Meal's Venues & Events exhibition hits the City on 23 and 24 September, with a host of new features and delicious surprises. If you organise events as part of your job, make sure you pre-register for this must-visit show. Find out how to squeeze the most out of your budgets, as well as a showcase of the hottest venues, including free seminars from the Square Meal team, The Canapé Cup and the brand new Fizz for Events wine tastings.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (September 2009)... Ten months after Hong Kong’s first Michelin stars were awarded, the high-point of the city’s celebratory Food and Wine Year 2009 is fast approaching. Taking place from 30 October to 1 November 2009, Hong Kong’s Wine and Dine Festival is a celebration of the city as one of Asia's premier culinary destinations, and will showcase wines from Chinese and international wineries paired with food from local restaurants.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2009)...Intent on bringing a touch of New York cool to the suited professionals of Canary Wharf, Lower East Bistro & Liquor Bar’s stab at transatlantic urbanity doesn’t end with its name. Inside, sure-fire NY bistro winners like eggs Benedict, shrimp salad and 10oz strip steak sit alongside more decadent options such as Lobster BLT on the all-day menu. Wash it all down with mainstream cocktails and American bottled beers at the adjoining Liquor Bar.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2009)... Picking up a growing legion of fans by word of mouth, Andy Campbell’s new restaurant at Soho’s atmospheric private club 23 Romilly Street is a little-known gem. A reassuringly old-school décor of Burgundy carpets, white tablecloths and dark wood, coupled with a daily changing menu of reworked classics – think Loch Duart salmon fishcakes in panko crumbs with tartare sauce – goes part-way to explaining the charm.
To mark the launch of two new flavours of Smirnoff vodka – Green Apple flavour and Lime flavour – the good people at Smirnoff are giving away an ultimate house party kit to one lucky reader, containing all the necessities for you to host a shindig with your friends. What’s more, the company will also be unveiling five huge ice sculptures of iconic landmarks simultaneously in five cities across the UK on 11 September.
RECENTLY OPENED (September 2009)... Arabic for “get a move on”, vivacious newcomer Yalla Yalla is worthy enough reason to hurry down to Soho. Specialising in good value Lebanese street food – think grilled haloumi cheese with tomato, black olives, fresh mint and olive oil, homemade spicy sausages and platters of wraps and pastries – the menu stays largely under a tenner and is all available to eat in or takeaway.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Not your run-of-the-mill sandwich bar, St Clements’ location, tucked away in an ancient enclave beneath the Middle Temple Library, isn’t the only stand-out feature of this newly opened café. Lawned gardens and an all-day menu, ranging from a good-quality cooked breakfast through to a homemade lamb burger with tzatsiki for lunch and plates of charcuterie and Neal’s Yard cheeses for supper, help complete the dinstinctive offering.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... If you fancy uncovering a winsome local restaurant this autumn, you could do a lot worse than head to the newly done-up Bellevue Rendezvous. Despite the enviable location a few doors up from Chez Bruce, there's nothing pretentious about this cavernous bistro dealing in high-quality, good-value French grub – think foie gras terrine and slow-braised lamb – with service as charming as the menu is reasonably priced.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... The steady roll-out of this pan-Mediterranean restaurant and deli continues with a branch in Bermondsey Square. The decor might feel like a slightly corporate stab at a Moroccan bazaar but there’s a pleasant spill of tables into the square and the menu hits the right notes in its wide remit, leaning heavily on popular Middle Eastern dishes such as mezze, tagines and kebabs, but stretching as far as spaghetti and a cooked breakfast.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Bringing another slice of Italian sunshine to South-West London, the Putney branch of Valentina is an altogether more slick affair than its charming East Sheen sister site. Stroll past shelves of enticing deli produce to nibble tapas-style dishes on the ground floor, or head upstairs for heartier Italian meals – think buffalo mozzarella & basil salad drizzled in olive oil followed by more ambitious sea bass with a potato, caper & olive broth.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Bringing the seaside vibe to Camden is no mean feat, but Coast tries its best. A seafood-heavy menu features Lyme Bay rock oysters, pan-fried cod with mash & a broad bean and chorizo sauce and fruits de mer platters, while the bright, breezy interiors are dotted with (for sale) paintings of the Cornish coast. Light desserts (orange and passion fruit jelly with Champagne sorbet) and crisp white wines complete the attractive package.
Good news for the game fanatics among you – not only has the Glorious Twelfth beckoned in the 2009 grouse season, but this year promises a bumper crop of the moorland bird. There’s no need to rush out immediately – the season officially continues through until December – but while other game is off the menu and shoots primarily target grouse, the birds will be at their most abundant for the next two months. Check out our round-up of London restaurants with grouse on the menu .
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Fans of west London’s most prolific restaurateur John McClements will be pleased to see another new concept added to his six-strong collection. Located on the former site of his Barnes branch of Ma Cuisine, the newly opened Le Provence is a local restaurant inspired by southern French cooking, so expect dishes such as lobster bisque, tuna niçoise & crème brûlée made to McClements’s typically high standard.
RECENTLY RELAUNCHED (August 2009)... Recently relaunched under the management of Soho House, the Hoxton Grille's – as it was previously known – superfluous last vowel has been the most obvious change to this relaxed Shoreditch restaurant. Elsewhere, the new operator has tweaked everything from the crowd-pleasing menu of American classics – think cheeseburgers and lemon meringue pie – to the restaurant layout, all sporting its typical casual-dining nous.
UK RESTAURANTS... If you’re heading up to Edinburgh to laugh your way around the Fringe Festival this next fortnight, then resist any urge to give your jaw some downtime and find time to explore the city’s dynamic restaurant scene. And if you need some pointers on where to start, check out our list of the top restaurants in the Scottish capital, including Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, The Plumed Horse and Number One Restaurant.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... If you want your palate whisked away to hotter climes as the sun labours to shine this August, you’ll find a safe haven of Italian sunshine food at Islington’s new Tenore restaurant. Owned by two Sardinian brothers, the cooking is classic Italian stuff – think thin-crust pizzas from the wood-fired oven, prosciutto, tagliatelle – all set in a cheery room of good-time Italian images that should blow the clouds away for a mealtime at least.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Joining Essex Road’s burgeoning bar scene, Bar Sequence is a compact cocktail lounge that claims to offer ‘a digital experience’ – in layman’s terms that's photography and video clips projected on to the white walls to create an ever-changing backdrop. Themed nights (games on Monday, open decks on Wednesdays) mix things up further, but the cocktail list is a more conventional affair offering all the classics.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... It’s not just red-eyed travellers returning from far-flung destinations who can appreciate the merits of new bar Jetlag – though they may feel right at home reclining in its airline seats. The funky Fitzrovia newcomer comes with bright lighting, graphic poster art and bubbling fish tanks, and there's an imaginative cocktail list too - try the feisty red head with strawberries, basil and Tequila.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... With the weather unpredictable as ever, all the more reason to seek out spaces where the interiors and alfresco are equally lovely. The Clarendon is just such a place. Previously home to Antony 'Wozza' Thompson's Notting Grill, it's now a handsome gastropub complete with an attractive roof terrace. Cooking is classy: think scallops with pea purée and crispy bacon ahead of Chateaubriand with mushrooms, shallots and confit garlic.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... What's this? A pop-up in Peckham? Yes folks, SE15 has squared up to the Hoxton trendies with its very own blink-and-you'll-miss-it bar, open until Wednesday 30 September. The location – on the rooftop of an abandoned high-rise car park – may be as edgy as they come, but at least it makes for great views. Join the cool cats for affordable cocktails and cold beers from the cash bar, or snack on a light evening bite from the makeshift kitchen.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (August 2009)... If you've never admired the views from The National's lovely alfresco space, The Deck, now's your chance. It's hosting a handful of afternoon 'picnic and play' packages, and we have a pair of tickets (worth £40 each) for Saturday 15 August to give away. Combining quality Brit produce with one of the season's must-see plays, it's an offer not to be missed. For more information, click here. To enter, email your details to this address.
RECENTLY OPENED (August 2009)... Love him or loathe him, Jamie Oliver's empire continues to flourish. The fifth link in his nationwide Jamie's Italian chain has just opened, bringing affordable Italian home cooking to Canary Wharf. Expect to dine on rustically presented dishes of polenta chips with rosemary salt and parmesan, sausage pasta and flash-grilled steak with a spicy tomato, basil and chilli salsa in a bright and cheerful dining room.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... With gastropubs such as The Gun and The White Swan under their belt, you’d expect the latest opening from brothers Tom and Ed Martin to following the family footsteps and be an out-and-out success. But while there’s no doubt that The Cadogan Arms’s Victorian interiors have been appealingly spruced up and the bar stocks a good range of beer and wine, the food appears to be a bit of an afterthought. Could this be a rare miss for the duo?
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... From the team behind ace Wandsworth bar Lost Society, comes equally impressive sibling The Lost Angel. Part bar, part restaurant, part good ol’ neighbourhood boozer, it’s a gem of a place with quiz nights, film screenings, top-notch pub grub and an encyclopaedic cocktail list to keep spirits high. The left-field interiors score points, too – think trumpet light fittings, stuffed pheasants and a 10ft portrait of the Queen.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... If your dining companions are always asking for 'more', perhaps you should take them to this quirkily-named newcomer? Once home to a greasy spoon, the dinky site has been transformed into a bright, funky restaurant by the same team that first launched Livebait and The Real Greek. Swing by at all times of day for the sunshine flavours of the Med – grilled polenta with pancetta, gorgonzola and roasted cherries, say.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... Smack-bang between Bank and Moorgate, the Woolgate Exchange is a gleaming model of City slickness. So it's only fitting that financier's favourite Davy's has arrived to serve up top tipples and posh nosh to the banker boys and girls: think dressed crab and steak with a nice glass of Davy's Rioja. One of a growing breed of the wine-bar group's 'modern' branches, it's both good-looking and groomed – not unlike the clientele.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... Brill by name, brill by nature. This lovely little bistro has popped up at the bottom of gritty Caledonian Road, showing that in spite of the crunch, King's Cross' gentrification rolls on. The simply-priced menu (all starters £4, all mains £12) showcases seasonal classics such as cured Scottish salmon with a cucumber salad or chicken with wild mushroom and asparagus. There's an equally lovely deli next door, or a cosy downstairs cellar bar.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... There's nothing like a smart bistro to lift an area. Younger sibling of Marylebone's Villandry, this Holborn newcomer brings a dash of va-va-voom to the culinary no-man's land between the City and the West End. Familiar favourites such as charcuterie platters or moules-frites are supplemented by a new range of stone-baked pizzas, while sweet treats range from homely sticky toffee pudding to a large selection of cakes and pastries.
Cute by name, cute by nature. This West Hampstead drinkery offers people-watching from its pretty decked terrace or shelter among the warm brick and twinkly lights indoors. Tipples run to good-value wines and exotic cocktails: think pear and cardamom martini or a green tea daiquiri. For eats, meanwhile, there are lunches of crispy duck salad or pan-fried salmon with basil mash, as well as evening tapas and Sunday barbecues.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (July 2009)... Sometimes, the oldies really are the goodies. That's certainly the case with Yalumba, Australia's oldest family-owned winery. It's teamed up with Westminster favourite The Cinnamon Club to host a gourmet wine-matching evening this Friday, including the tasting of rare vintages. Winemaker Jane Ferrari will also be on hand to discuss the pairings. Tickets cost £90pp and include an aperitif, canapes, five-course menu, wine, coffee and petits fours. Call Priyanka Sharma on 020 7654 9393 to book.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... It may be in the middle of an industrial estate, but the opening of Formans in East London will still be music to the ears of smoked salmon connoisseurs – it’s owned by H. Forman & Sons, the UK’s oldest smokehouse. There's a salmon tasting menu for true aficionados, but non-fishy ingredients from independent Brit producers also dot the menu – think ballotine of wild rabbit and prune or bitter chocolate and salted caramel parfait.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... Pop-up restaurants and bars are springing up like mushrooms across the capital and the latest is the Opera Quarter Bar. Open for three months only, it’s the brainchild of Douglas Ankrah (of LAB and Townhouse fame) and resides in a three-storey Georgian townhouse in the heart of Covent Garden. As well as Ankrah’s cracking cocktails (he did create the porn star martini) there’ll be guest mixologists to shake things up over the summer.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... Expect to see flashy cars and hear cut-glass accents outside South Ken’s newest cocktail bar, Tini (as in mar-Tini) – it’s already a hit with the area’s beau monde. From the people behind Whisky Mist and Mahiki, the Italian-esque bar is lined with photos of Dolce Vita-era stars and also adheres to the Milanese tradition of ‘aperitivo’, so alongside cocktails such as the strawberry berrycello, there are complimentary nibbles.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... Islington’s Salmon & Compass used to be a homing ground for N1’s late-night revellers, but its new owners are steering it in a different direction. Renamed The Compass, it’s open all day, so guests can tuck in to hearty breakfasts or sup on real ale over homemade pies, Scotch eggs and other best-of-Brit fare later in the day. Outdoor tables cater for sun-seekers and smokers, and a function room on the first floor is available for private parties.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... How times change. Once dining in an art gallery was a last-resort choice, but nowadays it's absolutely de rigueur. Hot on the heels of the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room comes Gallery Mess, the well-heeled café at the Saatchi Gallery. Open throughout the day, it serves up prime grub – such as avocado and fennel salad or Cumberland sausage with Puy lentils – both indoors in its vaulted dining room and outdoors on the large terrace.
RECENTLY OPENED (July 2009)... No, you don't need to adjust your screens. The official photography for this diminutive Islington cocktail speakeasy all comes in black and white, a deliberate effort to highlight its film-noir inspired vibe. The bar is owned by influential industry figure Tony Conigliaro, who aims to advance the art of cocktail-making with inventive creations such as the no 5 Champagne cocktail: served in a bespoke flute based on Chanel’s famous label, the sugar cube at the bottom is perfumed with the notes present in the iconic fragrance.
GENERAL NEWS (July 2009)... Need advice on restaurants and bars? Got something to get off your chest? Whether you want to plan a romantic rendezvous or swap tips on the capital’s best alfresco spot, the new Square Meal Forum is just the place for sharing all. You can search for a specific topic or browse through existing conversations – already we’ve heard that caviar is over-rated and that table-turning is an acceptable practice. Got an opinion? Post your thoughts on the relevant board and get involved!
What with all the sunny weather we've been having, isn't it time we all got out of the smoggy old capital and started eating further afield? If you're a keen foodie looking to dine out of town, but don't know where to start, never fear: Square Meal has trawled the length and breadth of the land in search of Britain’s 50 top regional restaurants – and here is our pick, kicking off with Whatley Manor, the winner of our award for the best out-of-London eatery.
Who needs the Booker Prize? Here at Square Meal, we have our very own award, for the best reader review. Ever since My Square Meal was launched, amateur critics – many with witty pen names – have been posting comments on our restaurant pages. And today we can reveal that the winning review written in spring '09 was by 'R.R.Gill' (pictured, left). He has won a £300 meal for two and has opted to spend it at Hakkasan. For the chance to win the next prize, post your comments by 20 September 2009.
We may not have the beautiful beaches and consistent weather of California, but us Brits can still enjoy the Sunshine State’s best exports – food and wine. Summer’s a great time of year to tuck in to California’s typically vibrant dishes which are perfectly suited to its diverse, flavoursome wines. Why not try one of our delicious and easy-to-make summer recipes? And follow the useful wine suggestions for the full experience.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... Sir Terence Conran stepped down as chairman of Conran Restaurants almost three years ago, but he certainly hasn’t stopped making an impact on the capital’s restaurant scene. He teamed with Peter Prescott (his former operations director at Conran Restaurants) to open Boundary earlier this year, and now the duo have just launched new City restaurant, Lutyens. Unpretentious French dishes and a long and varied wine list are what to expect.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... This week is set to be an absolute scorcher, and while it may appeal to cool yourself in air-conditioned restaurants, now is the time to take advantage of London’s outdoor dining. Joining a raft of new alfresco spaces this summer is Boundary Rooftop, the high-rise space atop Sir Terence Conran’s restaurant-bar-cafe complex, where eye-popping views and a grill menu can be enjoyed surrounded by manicured gardens.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... There are several places to impress out-of-town guests in the capital, but a new The Restaurant & Café at St Paul’s Cathedral might just top them all. Sitting pretty in one of the capital’s most iconic edifices, it serves up afternoon teas and lunches with British ingredients to the fore – think wild nettle soup or spinach and Montgomery Cheddar pie. Sounds appetising, but does it taste like manna from heaven?
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2009)... Square Meal is searching for the ultimate margarita and needs your help! Three hundred Square Meal readers will be invited to visit 10 of London’s hottest cocktail bars, each of which will aim to create the ultimate margarita using Jose Cuervo Platino Tequila, the ultra-premium Tequila, plus one secret ingredient. So if you think you'd make a tip-top taster (and aren't averse to free cocktails either), then apply to be a judge.
COMING SOON 2009... Frog blancmange, anyone? The rumours have been flying around for a while, but it’s finally been confirmed that gastro-whizz Heston Blumenthal will open a restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in autumn 2010. The space formerly occupied by one-Michelin-starred Foliage will close next spring for a full refurb, to make way for the as yet unnamed project where Blumenthal will cook up dishes inspired by British historical gastronomy. Click through for more on this and to read what else is coming soon on the London restaurant scene.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... Couldn't quite stretch to the usual jaunt to a party island this summer? Don't sweat it, you can still dance till dawn at Aquum, Clapham's very own Ibiza-style day-to-night-bar-cum-club. Start off with civilised cocktails and nibbles on the sunny terrace (there's weekend brunch too) and, when night falls, move indoors to groove to the DJ beats. Cocktails are only £6.50 a pop, but it's still worth donning your glad-rags – this place is blingedy-bling-bling.
DATE FOR THE DIARY... With the nation’s hopes resting on Andy Murray, we recommend you drink something stiffer than Robinson’s Barley Water for Wimbledon fortnight (22 June - 5 July). A number of restaurants and bars around London will be showing all the action on big screens and offering tennis-themed food and drink to go along with it. Read on for Square Meal’s round up of the best.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... We do love a hidden basement bar, especially in an area most Londoners want to escape: Leicester Square. Flee the tourist scrum and venture beneath The Arts Theatre to discover this bijoux drinking den. In honour of the good old days of cocktails, classics are listed according to their year of creation, or for something more original, the signature vanilla batilda (cachaça, Velvet Falernum and orange bitters), is well worth a try.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... These days, high street Cantonese just seems old hat. If you're not seeking out Szechuan flavours, or looking further afield to Korea, then you're missing an oriental trick. So we're glad that new Taiwanese Keelung has just popped up in Chinatown. Pitched as a ‘seafood market’ restaurant, with everything from razor clams to conger eel, it also deals in street snacks and specialities such as chicken with Shaoxing wine in claypot.
RECENTLY REOPENED (June 2009)... Here’s a bit of London restaurant history for you: back in 1871 an architectural competition was held to design a restaurant on the site of a former coaching inn on Piccadilly. Two years later The Criterion restaurant was born and it still boasts one of the most beautiful restaurant interiors in the capital. Now under new ownership you can dine on a modern grill menu beneath the golden glow of its stunning neo-Byzantine ceiling.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... Movie-mad fans of Planet Hollywood were left disappointed when the Trocadero restaurant closed in spring, 16 years after it was launched by Arnie, Bruce Willis and Sly Stallone. But they can wipe away the tears as it has just bounced back on a new Soho site. The look is more contemporary and grown-up than before, but the quirky memorabilia remains as does the menu of all-American classics (burgers, buffalo wings, BBQ ribs).
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2009)... Wet weather getting you down? Why not add some sunshine to proceedings by checking out Hawksmoor’s bumped up crop of Californian wines. For June, the Shoreditch restaurant has boosted its wine list with a wide range of bottles from the sunshine state – the fruity reds, with their ripe tannins, proving the perfect match to Hawksmoor’s signature dish of char-grilled steak.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... If you can't get enough of your spirits (geddit?), then head to Ghost. This larger-scale version of the South Kensington original is a gothic rock 'n' roll dungeon, with a girly boudoir to boot. Thanks to the 24-hour licence, ghost-hunters can spend the small hours looking out for spectres – the site was once a Victorian printers – or give up and party to big-name DJs. The eclectic cocktail list adds further appeal: we hear the zombies are to die for.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... What a difference a year makes. Only 12 months ago, this sleek and sexy spot was home to the World's End pub, an old-school boozer with a shabby dining room up top. Since then, it's had an extreme makeover: upstairs is now a smart bistro, the ground floor is a swish lounge and DJ bar, and even the wine cellars have been converted into three funky karaoke rooms. Being off the beaten track, it's still a pretty well-kept secret – so get in there quick.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)...Pizza comes by the metre at Portobello Ristorante Pizzeria – three feet of crisp bottomed dough piled high with sweet tomato, melted cheese and strips of different topping. The large portions and dressed-down decor makes this Notting Hill newcomer perfect for laid-back meals with friends and, for pizza naysayers, there are grazing plates, pastas and grilled meat and fish dishes, too.
FOOD AND DRINK EVENT (June 2009)... Our favourite foodie festival, Taste of London, returns to Regent's Park on 18-21 June. Square Meal is proud to be hosting the Taste Wine area, with tutored tastings and other rich pickings. To celebrate, we've organised a reader offer: two standard tickets at the special price of £38 (normally £50). Just click here to purchase, and enter the promotional code SQM01 when booking. Offer applies to Thursday and Friday sessions only.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... With A-list haunts Zuma, Roka & La Petite Maison for siblings you might expect Marylebone newcomer Il Baretto to be an exclusive affair, dripping with celebs and charging top-whack prices. In fact, it’s just a first-rate neighbourhood Italian serving the sunny flavours of the Med alongside an all-Italian wine list. Cicchetti (sharing bites), pizzas, pastas and meat and fish from the grill all score highly on taste and clock in at very reasonable prices.
SPECIAL OFFER (June 2009)... According to a recent survey conducted by Travelodge, fewer Brits are planning on holiday overseas this year, opting instead for a credit-crunch friendly UK break. Why not make your money go even further with a restaurant voucher from a family-friendly UK favourite? We've rounded up the best of the deals, from free bottles of Prosecco at Strada or free tapas at La Tasca to £10 off at Ha Ha Bar & Grill. Click here for the full list of UK restaurant group deals.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... Third time's a charm. Or is it? Seems that Shao Wei’s third Szechuan eatery Ba Shan has inherited the two least attractive aspects of its siblings: Baozi Inn’s uncomfortable surrounds and Bar Shu’s steep prices. These mini plates of street food are ideal for a snack – try xi’an-style spicy potato slivers, prawn and water chestnut dumplings or lotus leaf buns with stewed pork – but a full-blown meal will hurt both your wallet and your behind.
RECENTLY OPENED (June 2009)... It could be down to the financially troubled times or the transient tastes of Londoners but pop-up restaurants and bars are springing up like mushrooms across the capital at the moment. The latest temporary tavern is the Tom Dixon-designed Bombay Sapphire Dusk Bar, an alfresco gem set on a riverside terrace in Somerset House. Here you can sip gin cocktails in its glowing blue poly-carbon surroundings until the middle of October.
RECENTLY RELAUNCHED (May 2009)... Finding decent alfresco spots in central London is no mean feat – so we’ll let you in to a little secret to make the most of this weekend’s sunshine. The terrace at the recently relaunched Mortimer's Grill can seat up to 100 guests for drinks or dinner, and since its new owners are the carnivorous Black & Blue group, you can expect a cranked up menu of burgers, steaks and rotisserie chicken, with easy-drinking wines and bottle beers to wash it down.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... Don't judge a book by its cover, we're told. Well, this Drummond Street newcomer does a decent job of drumming that lesson home: look past the less than salubrious area and basement site and you'll be rewarded with vibrant Indian cooking, dished up in colourful contemporary surrounds. Highlights include spiced potato and lamb cutlets, delicate tandoori stuffed squid, and Goan poussin cafrael with sautéed potatoes.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)...Mickey Rourke, Jeff Goldblum and our very own Cheryl Cole (pictured) have all been spotted at the LA branch of Palm Restaurant in recent months, but will the new Knightsbridge outpost turn out to be such a celeb-fest? Its intention is to bring US hospitality and good old Stateside fare to the capital – so that’s jumbo Nova Scotia lobster and New York strip steak served up with a smile.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... His name may be a mouthful, but luckily Bjorn van der Horst's modern French cooking is easier to get your chops around. The Michelin-starred chef, who left Gordon Ramsay Holdings after the closure of La Noisette, has just launched his first solo venture, with highlights including eel with spring peas and broad beans, salt marsh lamb with ricotta gnocchi and a mousse-filled chocolate sphere with popcorn sorbet. In the bistro, it's more casual: think bone marrow with oxtail or spit-roasted short rib of beef.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... According to the weather forecast it’s set to be a scorcher this Bank Holiday weekend. And, if eating alfresco is high on your agenda, then you won’t find a prettier setting than that of the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen. The new café from the Benugo team sits right on the banks of the Serpentine offering summery British dishes such as char-grilled sardines and salad niçoise, as well as takeaway options for makeshift picnics in Hyde Park.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... If you often find alfresco drinking to be on the breezy side, then Anise may be just the place. Though this slick City watering hole – the stand-alone bar of sexy Indian street-food restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen – has been open since winter, it has lately come into its own for its stunning courtyard area. Shared with the dining room, this space is nicely sheltered, meaning you can enjoy your exotically spiced cocktail without the wind chill.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... The pretty neighbourhood of Maida Vale may be littered with great cafés and pubs, but until now its residents have been missing out on sushi. Step in Maguro, a smartly dressed Japanese with elegant food to match its surroundings – seaweed salad comes topped with delicate slivers of octopus & sweet prawn and sushi rolls filled with crunchy soft-shell crab, avocado and spring onion.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... With all this talk of alfresco dining of late, it's nice to know there are still corners of the capital to retreat to when summer turns out to be more chilly than chilli. Enter Twotwentytwo, a stylish basement restaurant in Marylebone's Landmark hotel. It has a £1m makeover to thank for its good looks (all oak panelling and chandeliers) and offers a pan-European menu for all tastes: think sharing platters, steaks and grills, or tiger prawn linguini.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... It’s an unlikely location for a Champagne bar, but forget the cars zooming past on the A4 and The Crescent in West Kensington is a fine place to tuck into a bumper crop of bubbly. Cristal, Krug Rosé and trendy Armand de Brignac all mingle on the list, and if champers isn’t your thing there’s swanky Roberto Cavalli vodka, jazzed-up cocktails including the kiwi Collins and whiskey and ginger sour, plus nibbles served until late.
DATE FOR THE DIARY (May 2009)... Kim Basinger, Joaquin Phoenix & Natalie Portman have all been nominated in Peta’s poll of 2009’s sexiest vegetarians. And while it’s probably not the fact that they’re veggies that has made them so sexy there’s no doubt that getting your five a day can do wonders for the body and mind. So why not take advantage of the fact that’s its national vegetarian week, ditch the meat and fish and hotfoot it down to one of London’s best veggie restaurants – it might just leave you feeling full of beans.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... People were talking about the Drapers Arms even before it re-launched – largely because Ben Maschler (son of Evening Standard’s redoubtable foodie pundit, Fay) is one of the team behind its new incarnation. Following an eight-month refurb, the Islington favourite has turned on the lights and opened its doors to reveal a cheery bar, an upstairs dining room and a pleasant garden out back. The daily menu inhabits the earthy, nose-to-tail world of potted rabbit with pickled cherries or hake with carrots, leeks and aïoli.
RECENTLY RE-OPENED (May 2009)... The British summer is an elusive creature. No sooner do we don flip-flops than the dark clouds reappear. Still, if you're going to take your chances and dine outside, there are few better places to do it than the Mandarin Oriental's idyllic alfresco space, open May to September. Drink in views of Hyde Park alongside seasonal dishes, and depending which way the weather turns, there are designer sunnies and pashminas on loan.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... The cutlery may be plastic, but everything else about newly launched prison restaurant The Clink is the real deal. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, the kitchen is staffed by offenders-cum-trainee chefs and serves modern European classics such as steak with Béarnaise sauce, or oxtail and black pudding-stuffed chicken ballotine. Diners are pre-vetted, with preference for those who can offer support for ex-offenders (such as employment opportunities). For enquiries, please call 020 7147 6524.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)...
If, like us, you appreciate the finer things in life, then this modern Spanish newcomer should be just the ticket. Up a floor from hugely popular tapas bar Iberica London, the cooking here is more elevated too: from a ‘surf and turf' dish of tender octopus chunks and wild mushrooms to cod fillet and crab cooked simply in their own juices. Round it off with a moreish take on crème caramel, sprinkled with crumbs of salty dried olive.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... It's hard to imagine there was once a time when dining in an art gallery was a last resort. Now it seems you can't move for 'proper' restaurants being unveiled within public spaces. This latest venture is a grown-up dining room within the refurbished Whitechapel Gallery. Ex-Delfina chef Maria Elia is at the helm and dishing up big, bold flavours: think smoked eel pâté with beets, or rabbit with capers, rosemary and sage.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... Whether you're a bona fide rock star or a skinny-jeaned wannabe, new boutique hotel Sanctum Soho ought to fit the bill. This venture from Embassy founder Mark Fuller comes chock-full of grown-up bells and whistles, not least a naughty 'box of tricks' in the bedrooms. If that sounds a little too racy for your taste, head to the restaurant, where it's a tamer affair, with plenty of shellfish, grills and comfort food: think burgers and lemon sponge pud.
RECENTLY OPENED (May 2009)... Cancelled your flight to Cancun? Well don't let a bit of swine-flu-avoidance get in the way of that Mexican food craving – simply head into Notting Hill. Already home to a host of Mexican eateries, including Taqueria, Crazy Homies and Santo, there's now a new kid on the block, in the form of El Camino. Specialising in meat cooked over a mesquite grill, it also serves tacos and burritos for under a fiver. Who needs international travel, anyway?