On the whole, the Michelin guide is a safe place to consult when looking for somewhere to eat out. For a consistently good meal, forget twos and threes, and stick with the cheaper, humbler one star. Undoubtedly, the ‘little red book’ gives preference to European food, so when South West Indian seafood specialist Trishna gained a star (and subsequent blog appeal) in October 2012 for its foodie fireworks, I felt I ought to give it a try. Continue reading
On the eighth day, God created brunch. And He saw that it was good. And He loosened his belt, and He rested. Brunch is on the rise, it seems. Neither breakfast, nor lunch, it caters for those like me – the interminably picky. What better way to start the weekend than with an assortment of breakfast/lunch items that really should never be seen together on a plate. But whilst everyone’s at it, brunch always leaves me wanting more. Metaphorically. Could Alan Yau‘s Naamyaa Cafe (of Wagamama/Hakkasan/Yautacha/etc fame) sate the insatiable? Continue reading
It might strike you as a little surprising that someone would open their new restaurant right opposite their old one. . . but when that someone is Jason Atherton, you don’t need to worry. Pollen Street Social was the Big Daddy of 2012 eating for me, so I certainly wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to Atherton’s latest venture, Little Social. Forget the sleek, chic PSS. Little Social is all about comfort: tucking your serviette into your collar, drinking a bottle of the excellent house wine, and getting stuck in to some hearty food. Continue reading
I don’t like Mondays just as much as the Boomtown Rats. Nor does the restaurant industry. Everyone’s back to work, the markets are closed, and no one goes out to eat. Indeed, the best places are often shut at the beginning of the week. Not, however, The Square. I’d read praise for it as having “flawless” service, serving up “sophisticated” food, with Phillip Howard‘s restaurant being “the best of its type”. An excellent reputation demands high expectations. On the Monday I went, I experienced nothing to such acclaim. I have to ask: Where was our fantastic meal that everybody else is having? Continue reading
Whether you’re a lover or a hater, you cannot deny that Gordon Ramsay has influenced some of the finest British chefs around. Without Ramsay there’d be no Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, neither Angela Hartnett’s Murano, nor Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social. Now, however, each chef has left the Ramsay nest, and seems much the better for it. They’ve realised that the old dog has given up on the new tricks, and it’s time for them to shine. And indeed they do. This week there are no quips, no jibes, and no cynicism. Pollen Street Social is my favourite restaurant in London. Well, probably. Continue reading
November is a miserable month, isn’t it? The sun has kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off this mortal coil. It is no more. You get the picture. You’d have thought it bold to open a tapas bar in London when two great Spanish restaurants reign. The Hart brothers’ Fino and Barrafina have, for years, fed the capital’s foodies with excellent Iberico ham, croquettas, and tortillas. However, Nemanja Borjanovic and Melody Adams have decided to brave the inclement weather and open a stylish Basque tapas place in Marylebone. Whilst the forecast at Donostia is generally sunny, there will be some wet spells here and there. No matter. A little drizzle won’t ruin your evening. Continue reading
It was going to be a hard act to follow last week’s Corner Room, but if anywhere could stand up to its brilliance, it would be Gauthier. If Michelin-pomp isn’t for you, it’s somewhere to avoid, but previously I’d found the converted West End townhouse to be a welcome indulgence, serving consistently high-quality French cuisine with finesse. Once a year, the restaurant serves a two-for-one tasting menu, “to experience the full creativity of Alexis and his team the way he would want you to, but for a very special price”, said their email. And £35 each is a very special price for eight courses. You’ve heard the old adage that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is? This was no exception.
A simple space on the first floor of the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green gives little away, but look a little closer and it becomes apparent that someone has a sense of humour: a spiral staircase leading nowhere; lamps hung at spectacularly varying heights; no external telephone. The place is unassuming. The menu is the same. Three ingredients are listed for each dish, with no indication as to how they’re to be prepared or served. Portuguese chef, Nuno Mendes – who trained at El Bulli – is best known for working his magic at Michelin-starred Viajante, downstairs, so as you settle into your seats at Corner Room you feel like you might just be in for a treat. And you’re not wrong there. Continue reading
In late 2009, mid economic crisis, Russell Norman bravely opened his first bacaro (a Venetian wine bar to you or me) just off Carnaby Street. Three years later and Norman has four more successful restaurants to his name. He’s done well. Very well. And why wouldn’t he have? The concept is instantly likeable: fairly-priced food to share, served in a hip venue. Throw in enough booze and everyone will love it. And indeed they do; it’s very difficult to find a bad word against Polpo anywhere. Until now. Not much feeling up to the scrum that is undoubtedly their evening ‘no reservations’ policy, I set on a Monday afternoon to take out a friend for a belated birthday lunch to see what all the fuss was about. Everything that goes through the door seems to have been ‘distressed’: the walls, the menus, the waiters’ jeans. Me too.
If it’s fine dining that you’re looking for without the pretence or hefty price tag head to Arbutus in Soho. Having been before I knew what to expect. Superb produce served by knowledgeable staff in a relaxed, contemporary setting. Modern European all over. This place has been on the scene for around six years now so I went back with my other half to see if its sparkle was still there. Little had changed in the few years since my last visit. Think creams and dark chocolates, mirrors and right angles. A diabetic engineer’s heaven. It might sound a little safe, but the decoration does in fact suit the U-shaped restaurant. However, with all that hard wood and bare wall, voices are always a little strained. A few soft touches here and there still wouldn’t go amiss. Bring back the tablecloth I say. Continue reading