You’d think the combination of a great site in Hoxton, an installation by Damien Hirst and a steak- and chicken-based menu devised by one of London’s best known and most successful chefs, Mark Hix, would be something you’d hurtle across London for but somehow his new restaurant The Tramshed just doesn't come off.
Even casual restaurants tend to have such good winelists these days that you might wonder whether there’s much of a market for wine bars. But from the heaving crowd at the newly opened branch of Vinoteca in Beak Street this week it looks like they’re on to a winner.
Anyone who doubts that London is one of the world’s most exciting cities to eat in should take a trip round Soho, once noted for its sleazy bars and strip joints. Now it’s become the epicentre of Britain’s food revolution - not with the smartest restaurants in town, admittedly, but some of the hippest.
I have to say my heart sinks these days when I read about a new restaurant with small plates and Nordic influences but the feedback about Dabbous was so glowing (5 stars in Time Out and from the notoriously hard to please Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard) it was clearly Not To Be Missed.
If you want to understand what British cooking is about - not the magpie character of of modern British but the genteel English country house tradition - head for Soho where Jeremy Lee has taken up residence behind the stoves at Quo Vadis.
Hedone has attracted the sort of rave reviews that any new restaurateur would die for. So why do I feel underwhelmed?
To tell the truth I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of Roganic. I’m not mad about molecular gastronomy or multi-course tasting menus these days and it sounded as if owner Simon Rogan and his chef Ben Spalding were ardent exponents of both. It had polarised critics and bloggers who loved it or were irritated by it in equal measure. Certainly the name is a bit naff.
There’s something wildly romantic about railway stations, still more so railway hotel restaurants but none I’ve come across that beats the newly opened Gilbert Scott. It’s the kind of place you feel you should dine in a hat with a man with a Clark Gable moustache then impulsively leap on the 4 o'clock train to Paris - or even a sleeper to Edinburgh come to that ....
Gordon Ramsay deserves more credit than he’s given for fostering a generation of talented chefs who have gone on to do great things. Some partings have been more acrimonious than others but Marcus Wareing, Mark Sargeant, Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton would all, I think, acknowledge that they wouldn’t be where they are without Ramsay.
The new St John Hotel restaurant will confirm all your prejudices. If you’re a fan you’ll be in heaven. If you’ve wondered what all the fuss was about you won’t be inclined to change your mind.
Let’s be honest. If you were planning a night out in London you probably wouldn’t choose a large chain hotel in the middle of a traffic island opposite a hospital. Let alone one with a restaurant that looks like a nightclub. But you’d be missing one of the best meals in London
How often do you go to restaurants and groan at the length of the winelist? Or end up simply skimming the recommended ‘sommelier’s choice’ or wines by the glass? Well, the wine list at Yotam Ottolenghi's new restaurant Nopi is a model of what the time-poor, harassed diner wants - simple and intriguing sections, each of which tells a story.
So many eminent restaurant critics have already pronounced on Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant Dinner that I’m sure you don’t need another review from me. Suffice it to say it lives up to the hype. It’s the most wondrous food - clever, playful, provocative, delicious - I would move heaven and earth to get a table. For that credit should be given equally to Heston’s right hand man Ashley Palmer-Watts who is actually in charge of the kitchen.
Being a Marlon Abela fan I was keen to check out his new new ‘Provencal bistro’ Cassis as soon as possible so went anyway yesterday even though my dining companion had fallen by the wayside.
If you want a quintessentially English experience when you come to London you couldn’t do better than Late at the Tate, a dinner that takes place once a month during the Tate Britain’s late night opening. It’s held in the stunning Rex Whistler room whose walls are painted with exotic murals. You can read all about them here.
There are a lot of big places opening in London this autumn: Hawksmoor Seven Dials in Covent Garden (about which I can hardly claim to be impartial since it’s run by my son, Will), Jamie’s new barbecue restaurant Barbacoa at St Paul’s which opens in about a week's time and Anthony Demetre and Will Smith’s new gaff Les Deux Salons which occupies a large site in William IV street just off Trafalgar Square.
The hardest thing in the restaurant world must be to take over a famous restaurant, particularly if you’re not a scion of the family who owns it and even then it’s tough. Comparisons are bound to be made with the previous, much-loved owner/chef/menu. The heyday when it was great.
I have to confess my heart sank slightly when I first looked at the menu for Pierre Koffmann’s eponymous new restaurant in Knightsbridge. It seemed so ... very 1980’s ... which I had to remind myself it’s only reasonable to expect from a chef who made his reputation 25 years ago. Reports of a dull, slightly corporate dining room didn’t help. In fact it was only the prospect of a £22 three course set lunch deal that got the adrenalin pumping and made me feel I needed to get down there as quickly as possible
If you go to the world’s best restaurant* you may think in terms of downing an expensive bottle of Champagne. Think again! The best match for Nordic food is a Nordic drink . . .
There are a number of reasons why you might not like Viajante, currently London's hippest - and most controversial - restaurant. If you dislike not knowing what you're going to eat (there's no menu). If you rail against small plates and the lack of 'proper' helpings. If you worry if the chef is holding a pair of tweezers rather than a knife or a cleaver. Or if you baulk at the thought of trekking out to a less salubrious part of the East End of London. Even then it's worth putting aside your prejudices, for Viajante - which means traveller in the chef Nuno Mendes' native Portuguese - is terrific.