The London outpost of superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's glamorous US chain may lack the X factor of its New York counterpart, but there is still lots to like, and Spice Market's location in the swanky W Hotel makes it one of the smartest gaffs around Leicester Square. Hits on the glossy pan-Asian menu are concentrated in the starter and dessert sections: chilli-rubbed beef skewers with a potent Thai-basil dipping sauce are full of verve, while a ‘raw' dish of shaved tuna and chilled tapioca pearls with coconut and lime dressing mixes bracing flavours with smooth textures; likewise, commendably moreish desserts make inventive use of typical Asian ingredients. However, things can go awry with the main courses – witness tough sole tempura and an underpowered duck red curry. Elsewhere, expertly balanced, eastern-influenced cocktails and small plates are a must in the sexy ground-floor bar. The weekend brunch, featuring Asian takes on classic favourites – from spicy pork-belly eggs Benedict with green-chilli hollandaise to daikon-cake omelette with Thai basil, cucumber and peanut relish – is also a fun break from the norm.
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