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Craft beers are all the rage in London, with microbreweries and pubs devoted to the new golden nectar springing up like mushrooms after the rain. Now The Craft Beer Co. has found a site in High Holborn on the edges of Covent Garden to add to its pubs in Clapham, Clerkenwell, Brixton, Islington and Brighton. It will open in May. Beer from Britain, Scandinavia and America is the name of the game. The Craft Beer Co. Covent Garden, 168 High Holborn, London WC1V 7AA, no phone.
Jason Atherton is spreading his wings. Not content with being appointed food ambassador for the UK by prime minister David Cameron, he’s announced May 1 as the opening date of City Social, in what was Gary Rhodes 24th floor restaurant in Tower 42. British ingredients are slated to be the main attractions, given a thoroughly modern twist by the current master. The décor is Art Deco style, albeit in a modern steel and glass block. There are rosewood paneled walls, chrome and mirrors and smoked glass with a black-steel kitchen in the center of the room. You won’t know whether to look at the chefs or at the City view. Mon.-Sat. noon-2.45pm & 6-10.30pm. City Social, 25 Old Broad St., 24th Floor, Tower 42, London EC2N 1HQ, 020-7877 7703.
Debuting on April 22 in the fashionable restaurant street of Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell, Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe promises a real fish ‘n’ chips experience. From its original Fitzrovia site, the “seafood shack” has expanded, so it’s clearly hitting the right note for those with nostalgic memories of seaside holidays. There will be 82 seats inside and 20 outside; a shellfish table with oysters, cockles, smoked mussels and langoustines all served, quite rightly, in newspaper; and a main restaurant getting more serious with the likes of grilled crab and beer-battered haddock with beef-dripping chips and mushy peas. Lunch & Dinner daily, Brunch Sat.-Sun. Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe, 55-57 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QL, no phone.
Opening on May 6 is the latest offering from the Goodman group, which has steakhouses in London and the Burger & Lobster chain. Beast will be in One Chapel Place, a major redevelopment site just north of Oxford Street. All that is known so far is that it will serve steaks and those whopping Russian king crabs accompanied by top wines. It may well have a large cigar terrace as well, but the details are not yet confirmed. Beast, 3 Chapel Place, London W1G 0BG, 020-7495 1816.
On May 19 The Palomar will open in Soho, serving food inspired by the old Levant mixed with modern touches, interpretations and techniques. It’s the brainchild of Layo and Zoe Paskin, while the chefs come from Jerusalem’s Machneyuda restaurant. The setting --- designed on the classic 1930’s idea of travel as a romantic adventure --- has a marble raw bar, a 19-cover bar with an open kitchen, and a small 35-seat dining room at the back. The cooking is eclectic, combining dishes using Japanese techniques with Moroccan flavours as well as signature selections from the Israeli original. The Palomar, 34 Rupert St., London W1D 6DN, no phone.
Chef Simon Rogan’s Fera at Claridge’s will open May 6. Fera means “wild” in Latin, and in this case reflects Rogan’s obsession with foraging and wild ingredients. It’s being designed by Guy Oliver who has worked extensively with Claridge’s and will keep the Art Deco interior. With 90 covers and a private dining room for 12 guests, the restaurant will offer à la carte menus as well as a set lunch and two multi-course menus. Bookings are now open so get going to make a reservation; this is going to be the hottest ticket in town. Fera at Claridge's, Claridge's, Brook St., London W1K 4HR, 020-7107 8888.
Sixtyone Restaurant is tucked away in Marylebone, just off Marble Arch. It’s an elegant place with a cream and chocolate color scheme, well-spaced tables and comfortable furniture. Chef/patron Arnaud Stevens offers a contemporary European menu with some imaginative ingredients that work well together. Start with mussels, bread soup and pork belly; follow with pigeon with snails, cauliflower and parsley risotto or sea bream with carrots, walnuts and grapefruit. The restaurant is very good value with set lunch at 2 courses for £18 or 3 for £22 and à la carte prices follow with starters from £6 to £9 and mains £14 to £22. You can enter either from its official address (61 Upper Berkeley Street) or from the lobby of The Montcalm hotel. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat., Sun. noon-5pm. Sixtyone Restaurant, 61 Upper Berkeley St., London W1H 7PP, 020-7958 3222.
Following the opening of Mirror Room, the newly debuted Rosewood London has launched the Holborn Dining Room. Set in what was Jun Tanaka’s Pearl, it’s a much sexier space than the name “Dining Room” implies. Open all day, it’s the brainchild of Des McDonald and is a casual alternative, serving good old British dishes like a London particular (that’s a pea soup). It’s also a much-needed addition to a rather drab section of London, east of Kingsway. The Delicatessen offers takeaways and there’s an internal terrace for al fresco dining. Mon.-Fri. 7am-11.30pm, Sat. 8am-11.30pm, Sun. 8am-10.30pm. Holborn Dining Room & Delicatessen, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN, 020-7829 9888.
Located in Shoreditch, east London, Bones comes courtesy of brothers Joss and Simeon Goodman who run The Grocery shop next door. The rotisserie takes center stage; otherwise it’s a mix of sharing dishes that include chickpeas and smoked morcilla with honey and paprika cured pork loin (£10); pan-fried salmon with fennel, capers, tomatoes and olives (£9); and Scottish and chorizo sourdough bruschetta with watercress (£8). You can wash it down with cocktails, beers and wine. Daily 7am to 1pm. Bones, 52 Kingsland Rd., London E2 8DP, 020-7033 9008.
Nuno Mendes, former chef at Viajante, did not desert London. Instead, he’s running the restaurant, Chiltern Firehouse, at André Balazs' upcoming London hotel Chiltern Street. As the name implies, it’s in a former fire station, a handsome red brick building that is something of a London landmark. Chiltern Firehouse, Chiltern Street, 1 Chiltern St., London W1U 7PA, 020-7073 7676.
Russell Norman is known for Polpo and for the first Polpetto, which was above the French House in Soho until its closure over a year ago. Now he’s reopened the new Polpetto, still the London equivalent of a Venetian bacaro (Italian tapas) bar with Florence Knight cooking dishes for sharing. The place looks good and as if it had been there forever, and the dishes are of the kind that can land you a large bill if you really push the boat out. But there's enough flexibility in the menu and enough fans to keep the place jumping. Mon.-Sat. noon-11pm, Sun. and Bank Holidays noon-4pm. Polpetto, 11 Berwick St., London W1F 0PL, 020-7439 8627.
Battersea on the south side of the river just below Chelsea is scheduled to be the next great area, so Gordon Ramsay has bought what used to be Bennett’s Brasserie & Oyster Bar and reopened it as London House. The new restaurant is suitably glamorous with several dining rooms where contemporary European dishes like pumpkin and pecan nut soup with toasted brioche to start and chicken with butter-roasted sweet potato and braised Puy lentils are served by a friendly, professional staff. Ramsay has a knack for spotting talent; chef Anna Haugh-Kelly is a name to watch. Lunch Fri.-Sun., Dinner Tues.-Sun. London House, 7-9 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA, 020-7592 8545.

News Bytes

The London Restaurant Festival features gastronomic walks and road trips, see films themed around fo London Restaurant Festival Returns
The London Restaurant Festival (October 9-27) is an umbrella event for all sorts of foodie and food-related happenings across London. You can go on gastronomic walks and road trips, see films themed around food, listen to debates, and a whole lot more. For more information visit
Strut your Stuff at Floridita
Hip restaurant Floridita is offering a Salsa Session on Tuesday nights, when participants can learn all the moves and twists that keep you fit. And to make sure you’re doing it right, you learn from “Cuban Fury” and British TV’s “Strictly Come Dancing” choreographer Richard Marcel. Whether you’re a complete beginner or just want to improve, this is the place. Dance first, then dine on modern Latin American and Cuban cuisine. 3-course menu at £45 including a mojito cocktail and 45-minute salsa session, or £20 for a salsa class and cocktail. From May 6 each Tuesday: 6.30- 7.15pm for beginners and 7.30- 8:15pm for intermediate dancers. Floridita, 100 Wardour St., London W1F 0TN, 020-7314 4000.
Another Top Chef to Open in London
Raymond Blanc, of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, has announced he will be opening a restaurant in London. He’s not revealing the address, but it seems that it will be an upmarket establishment.
Chef Shuffle

After a somewhat chequered career, John Burton-Race is returning to London with The New Angel (a reference to his former Devon restaurant, The Angel). Setting up in Notting Hill’s Chepstow Road, the 54-cover restaurant will offer a contemporary European menu plus a varied wine list. He’s a talented chef so this will be an interesting one. The New Angel, Chepstow Rd., London, UK W2 5BP, no phone.
Chef Nuno Mendes left now-closed Viajante, the restaurant in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. But do not despair, Jason Atherton is taking over and putting his chef Lee Westcott in charge. Westcott is executive chef of Atherton’s restaurants in Hong Kong and he’s worked with Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s as well as the recently closed restaurant Tom Aikens in Chelsea. Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, Patriot Sq., London E2 9NF, 020-7871 0460.


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