Eat London: part two

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

All eyes are on London, as the host of the Olympic Games on London as the host of the Olympic Games. But there’s plenty of action in the capital to keep you entertained and not just the games. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, pack your appetite as world leading restaurateurs Peter Prescott and Terence Conran take you on a culinary tour of Chelsea, Fulham and South Kensington

Le Cercle
1WilbrahamPlace, SW1X9AE
020 7901 9999

Le Cercle

The food comes from the Club Gascon team with Pascal Aussignac, the chef-proprietor.The difference is that they have created a ‘grazing’ menu that allows diners to order several smaller portions of traditional French favourites. For us, the overall effect is better than Club Gascon. The bar is also a good place to meet friends, share a bottle of wine and order a few small plates of smartly presented but rustic-flavoured foods.

44b PimlicoRoad, SW1W8LP
020 7881 8060

Daylesford Organic

This farmshop and café close to Sloane Square is an offshoot of the very impressive farmshop in the village of Daylesford in Gloucestershire. Both are definitely worthy of a visit.

The Daylesford brand was set up by Lady Bamford many years ago – well before organic produce was popular in the UK. Now the Daylesford operation comprises its own organic cattle farms, a creamery 149 making its own cheeses, a bakery producing bread, cakes and pastries, a market garden and kitchens that create an extensive range of own-brand soups and prepared meals. All of these products, plus much more, are available at this shop.

The produce comes directly from the farm, although the elegant shop – very easy on the eye with masses of beautiful marble – scarcely
brings to mind the concept of farm-to-fork. All of the produce is not only of an exceptionally high standard but also very stylishly presented and packaged.

Eight Over Eight
392 King’s Road, SW3 5UZ
020 7349 9934

Eight Over Eight

Will Ricker seems to own a pan-Asian eatery on every corner of every cool neighbourhood in London. Eight Over Eight, a sister of the celebrity-lined E&O in Notting Hill, serves good dim sum, sushi, sashimi and tempura as well as pad Thai and steamed sea bass specials. Its success is down to the quality of the food, stylish interior design and killer cocktails.1

The HarwoodArms
27WalhamGrove, SW61QP
020 7386 1847

The Harwood Arms was the first pub to secure a Michelin star for its seasonal and resolutely British food. As we’re not great fans of either gastropubs or the Michelin star system, it follows that we shouldn’t be too keen on the Harwood Arms. But in fact the opposite is true.

One of the reasons why we enjoy this particular offering is the amount of game peppered across the menus. On a recent visit outside the main150 game seasons, bar snacks included a venison Scotch egg, rabbit rissole with Oxford sauce, and roe deer and walnut terrine. The triumvirate who manage the pub include chef Mike Robinson, who is equally well known for his shooting and hunting activities in rural Berkshire, and who apparently personally shoots much of the game in season. Mike is also the proprietor of the Pot Kiln in Frilsham near Newbury. The other partners are Brett Graham from the Ledbury in Notting Hill and Edwin Vaux of Vaux Brewery, who looks after the pub side. While it cannot be said that the Harwood Arms is a true boozer, it hasn’t lost all of its pub charm, with Edwin contributing his fair share of character in the form of some great beers.

Some of the table details are little over the top, arguably, and the plates are a bit fancy, but the service is very professional without being too starchy which the makes the overall experience very enjoyable.

Harwood Arms

If you are planning a visit to the Harwood Arms, we suggest you also call in at the nearby Vagabond Wines, one of the new wave of wine retailers that are popping up all over London. They have over 100 wines available to taste in small measures and at very reasonable prices.

The Pig’s Ear
35 Old Church Street, SW3 5BS
020 7352 2908

This is fine example of a London pub: the food is good, the atmosphere welcoming and the interior has been furbished with sensitivity and respect. Though it may have been said before, they have made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Rasoi Vineet Bhatia
10 LincolnStreet, SW32TS
020 7225 1881

Progressive, visionary, innovative with contemporary twists – all are epithets one associates with Rasoi (meaning kitchen) Vineet Bhatia. Having grown up in Bombay, as it was then known, Vineet gained a classical training. But he has now formed his own style of new-wave Indian food. After making a name for himself in at South Kensington’s Star of India in the 1990s, he launched Zaika, where he became the first Indian chef-restaurateur to gain a Michelin star. His new restaurant has also been granted the same accolade, which – given Vineet’s use of luxury ingredients and his nine- course tasting menu, as well as his amazing creativity – is hardly surprising.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HP
020 7352 4441

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

The Gordon Ramsay brand has suffered recently, but the flagship restaurant has retained its three coveted Michelin stars since 2000. Key peoplewhohavemovedonfromGordon’sempire,someacrimoniously, have attracted much attention, but Mark Askew, the executive head chef, and Jean-Claude Breton, the maitre d’, have both been with Gordon since the early days. The head chef here is now Clare Smyth. The restaurant is next door to the Chelsea Physic Garden, which is also well worth a visit.

174 OldBromptonRoad, SW50BA
020 7370 3685

If we had to choose one from Abel Lusa’s three restaurants in this corner 151 of South Kensington, it would be Tendido Cero. Everything, from the passionate, gesticulating staff to the atmosphere and lighting, is pitched at just the right level. The menu is simply presented in two categories, coldand hot tapas, with all the usual suspects: jamón, quesos, toasted tomato breads, boquerones, calamares, piquillo peppers, croquetas, tortilla, chorizo, gambas and much more. And of course every meal must end with either chocolate churros or crema Catalana.

87 Pimlico Road, SW1W 8PH
020 7730 3663

After plying their trade at Locanda Locatelli, brothers Massimiliano and Federico Sali have been rewarded with a restaurant of their own. They certainly deserve it. This is an impressive partnership and a very assured restaurant. Federico is the chef and Massimiliano runs the front of house, while also overseeing the wine list.

The intriguing lighting has evidently been given considerable  thought, with each table having its own bronze pendant light that can be adjusted via a Heath Robinson-style contraption of cord and ball. This produces a bronze glow on the white table linen and a very flattering light on diners. Some might argue that the dining room is little too dark, but to us it seems just about right for lunch and very chic in the evening. The many local gallerists may find it conducive to confidential discussions and off-the-record advice.

The menu is presented in four main categories – antipasti, small eats, pasta and second piatti – with the usual contorni (side dishes) and
desserts. The ‘small eats’ category seems to be sweeping London as an essential component of all new restaurant menus. While some think it merely a wheeze by restaurateurs to induce their patrons to inadvertently order too much food, others think it a great way to enjoy many different flavours and ingredients for relatively little money. At Tinello, the c zucchine fritte from the small eats section are a must – Tthough don’t expect something piccolo, as servings are generous.

(PP) The service at high-end Italian restaurants can sometimes fall behind the standard of food. This is not the case at Tinello. I recently dined with an acquaintance who insisted on ordering off-menu and Co-owner, Tinello requested dishes that he had enjoyed at the restaurant several monthsearlier. The service staff were accommodating and handled these requests perfectly front of house, and I do wonder how they manage to pull it
off with the kitchen team. Anyway, full marks for dealing consummately well with such a difficult customer.

Extract taken from Eat London 2: All about food (Conran Octopus Publishing, £20)

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