Taking the temperature of London’s restaurant scene
Author: Damian Carrington
The London Restaurant scene shows no signs of over-heating as we move into the autumn of 2014. I have bored more than a few friends and colleagues about my views that great food and wine is playing an even greater part of mainstream consumer consciousness.
This was perfectly exemplified by this year’s remarkably technical and considered Restaurant Man on BBC2, featuring empire-builder Russell Norman (the absolute antithesis to shouty/sweary Mr Ramsay). Now Russell doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk, as they say, with a growing collection of establishments that includes four Polpos (in Soho, Covent Garden, Smithfield and most recently Nottinghill), Ape & Bird on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue opposite the Palace Theatre and Polpetto in Berwick Street featuring the fantastically simple and considered cooking of Florence Knight. All of these have garnered rave reviews from press and customers alike and all are well worth a visit but I would particularly recommend Polpetto in Soho (increasingly becoming the restaurant area of this increasingly foodie Capital City).
Another restaurateur that has cut his teeth in the hustle and bustle of Soho, Luke Wilson, with the still fabulous 10 Greek Street, has drifted east for his second opening, 8 Hoxton Square. Small, sharing plates are complimented by a well conceived and ever changing wines list (which offers fantastic value too).
Still in the east is the latest Oyster and Fish bar from the Wright Bros. The third in the outstanding mini group (restaurant one in Borough and two just off Regent’s Street) it is already being received as the best of the three. The new site in Spitalfields is centred on two huge salt water tanks – the first of their kind in the UK – which hold 9,000 shellfish and guarantee the freshest seafood you will find in town. The wine list isn’t half bad either.
London is continually reinventing itself as any of you that have glanced skyward and seen the ever-increasing number of skyscrapers and new developments popping up will testify. This reinvention applies to names too and the newly christened ‘Midtown’ (the area bordered by Covent Garden to the West and The City to the East) is home to a growing number of great restaurants and bars.
The Holborn Dining Room in the beautiful new Rosewood Hotel boasts an impressive pedigree with Des McDonald (former CEO of Caprice Holdings the owners of The Ivy, Scott’s, Le Caprice et al) at the helm it is the latest in a string of new grand brasserie style concepts, which is set to help inject new life into a formerly fairly dingy part of town.