When The Savoy reopened, its River Room never really found its place in the new grand scheme. So as it didn’t work, the property has revamped it --- as Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill. This is not a swish new Russian restaurant --- the name Kaspar refers to the famous carved wooden cat that is brought out at private dinners when there are only 13 guests. The initial redesign of the room, with its wonderful views, was dull. So now instead of carpet there will be marble floors. A central fish bar has places for dining and watching the action and there’s a private Captain’s table for ten to 12 people. The chef is the same, Canadian James Pare, who did well in the restaurant’s previous incarnation. Seafood, as the name implies and the cat must love, is the name of the game, from oysters to lobster. Lunch & Dinner daily. Kaspar's Seafood Bar & Grill, Strand, London WC2R 0EU, 020-7836 4343.
You can't get more British than the new Churchill Bar & Terrace at Hyatt Regency London. The bar, which is discreet in its light and dark greys, now extends onto a terrace looking out at Portman Square where a statue of Winston Churchill complete with glass and cigar sets the tone. This is the place for Hunters & Frankau imported cigars kept in perfect condition in the humidor, and vintage malt whiskies and Cognacs. Or go for the cocktails --- they might not have been Churchill's favorite drink, but the Jean Gabin named after the French movie star packs a punch with its rum and Calvados base. Snack on the likes of smoked salmon, Welsh rarebit or oysters. Mon.-Sat. noon-2am, Sun. noon-1am. Churchill Bar & Terrace, 30 Portman Sq., London W1H 7BH, 020-7486 5800.
Jason Atherton opened Pollen Street Social last year and has just expanded into Little Social. It’s sophisticated with dark oxblood-colored banquettes and booths for diners, creating the kind of chic bistro atmosphere that is currently thriving in London. Seasonal ingredients make dishes like pork head and foie gras terrine with tea and prune purée and toasted sourdough sing with flavor. Grab a seat at the bar when you come in for cocktails. Prix-fixe menus at 2 courses for £12 and 3 for £25 are great value. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Little Social, 5 Pollen St., London W1, 020-7870 3730.
The latest opening from the ever-dynamic Hakkasan group, after Chrysan, which launched late last year, is HKK. The chef Tong Chee Hwee is from the original Hakkasan so you can expect great flavors, some surprises and wonderful presentation. The décor is as smooth as the service, with lots of dark surfaces and subtle lighting onto the tables themselves. There's a central long table where Peking duck is prepared if you want a bit of theater. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat. HKK, 88 Worship St., London EC2, 020-3535 1888.
It’s a pretty daft name, but Ametsa with Arzak Instruction (the new restaurant in The Halkin that was formerly the well-respected Nahm) is pretty serious. Juan Mari and Elena Arzak are the father-and-daughter team behind Arzak in San Sebastian in Spain. The dining room is no longer the tasteful Thai-inspired space of old; now it’s full of golden-yellow tubes full of spices hanging from the ceiling and wood panels punctuated with round shapes a bit like a child’s building board. And the food? Well, it’s billed as New Basque cuisine and is fresh, exciting and based on seasonal ingredients. It’s expensive but worth every penny, and there are set menus from £52 at lunch to an eight-course dinner at £105. Lunch Mon.-Sat., Dinner nightly. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, 5 Halkin St., London SW1X 7DJ, 020-7333 1000.
The reopening of the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross after a huge £40 mill refurbishment has added yet more interesting dining destinations to this ever-growing part of North London. There will be three options: Plum + Spilt Milk, a serious 90-cover restaurant; the GNH Bar, which will have 100 covers; and KIOSK, a takeaway opposite King’s Cross station. They are all in the capable hands of Mark Sargeant, who has a pretty good pedigree that includes Chez Nico then a long stint with Gordon Ramsay. He’s currently food director to the restaurant group Canteen. Daily 7am-midnight. Plum + Spilt Milk, Great Northern Hotel, Pancras Rd., London N1, 020-3388 0818.
A Marriage Made in Heaven?
With the news that Gordon Ramsay is quitting Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's at the end of June, it would seem that he might have time on his hands. But not for long. The super energetic chef will now open Union Street Café in Southwark between Tate Modern and Southwark tube station. The restaurant, situated on two floors, will have another high profile name attached --- David Beckham. So expect fireworks and queues when it opens in September 2013. It’s projected to serve Mediterranean-style food and will be around £30 per person. Union Street Café, 47-51 Great Suffolk St., London SE1, no phone.
Who Will Replace Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's?Chef Shuffle
It was announced a short time ago and is now official: Gordon Ramsay is leaving Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's. It's big news in London; however, of even more interest is who will replace him. Ramsay will serve his last meal there on June 30, 2013, but so far there's been no confirmation of the replacement chef. Whoever it is will no doubt be pretty high profile. Lunch & Dinner daily. Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, Claridge's, 55 Brook St., London W1A 2JQ, 020-7499 0099.
The St. John Hotel, which was later renamed St. John Chinatown, was a hit when it opened, but sadly went into receivership. It's now in the hands of the Unlisted Collection who have other boutique hotels, most importantly the Town House Hotel where Nuno Mendes' Viajante has caught London's attention. When the property reopens in early May it will be as One Leicester Street. The restaurant is also currently being renovated, with leather banquette seating and a ‘Victorian Awning' outside on the terrace for quick snacks. Chef Tom Harris will stay and that's good news, and he'll offer all-day dining options. One Leicester Street Restaurant, 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7BL, 020-3301 8069.
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