The grand old man of restaurants, the celebrated Sir Terence Conran, may have sold his famous restaurant chain to the management buyout company D&D, but he certainly has not retired. Now open in Shoreditch is the Boundary Project. In conjunction with his wife Vicky and former manager Peter Prescott, Conran has just opened the first section of a building that will comprise (come March of this year) a rooftop restaurant and bar, 12 generous-sized guest bedrooms inspired by different iconic masters of modern design or modern design movements (Charles & Ray Eames, Scandinavian, etc.), two other restaurants and a deli and bakery. It's the latter part that has just opened. Albion is the "caff," the cheaper dining option that champions good British food like Irish stew, pies and puddings, while Boundary is the posher, basement dining room going for the French option. Both are terrific and a good value. 8 a.m.-midnight. Boundary Project, 2-4 Boundary St., London E2, 020-7729 1051.
The brand Brindisa has been bringing top Spanish produce to London since 1998. Going the logical next step in 1998 with Tapas Brindisa in Borough Market, the small group expanded to Soho with Tierra Brindisa. Now it's moved to Kensington, just off Exhibition Road with its latest branch, Casa Brindisa. Expect top quality tapas, a relaxed environment and friendly service. And remember: it's a good stop if you're visiting South Kensington's museums. Daily 10 a.m.-10.45 p.m. Casa Brindisa, 7-9 Exhibition Rd., London SW7, 020-7590 0008.
A second branch of Le Relais de Venise "L'Entrecôte" has opened in Old Broad Street in the City of London. The original London restaurant is in Marylebone Lane. Modelled on the original French brasserie which opened in Paris in the 1960s, it offers a small green salad with walnuts followed by entrecôte steak with a "secret" sauce. No fuss, no bother, no choice. The meat comes courtesy of the Queen's supplier, Donald Russell; the wine list is French and short; the atmosphere jolly. Oh, and there's no booking in advance. What more could a poor benighted banker want? And there's another branch due to open in New York this May to offer a similar comfort zone to Americans. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Fri.
The opening of Bocca di Lupo (literally meaning the mouth of the wolf) has brought a genuine classic Italian flavor to London. It's a pretty venue with a long bar looking onto the kitchens and a dining room at the back. But it's the top cooking that is pulling the punters in. This place really does deliver regional cooking, concentrating on different areas according to the season. Dishes come either standard size, or more interestingly for the adventurous, as starter sizes so you can share dishes like potato gnocchi with sausage ragù from Tuscany and a Sicilian rack of lamb with caponata. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer St., London W1, 020-7734 2223.
Just when you thought you'd eaten it all, up pops another idea. The inspiration for the new restaurant Sushinho originates in the 165 Japanese families who landed in Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1908, starting a community which has grown into the current significant population of 1.5 million. So, here you have a restaurant that offers the expected sushi and sashimi as well as a fusion concept that makes Japanese dishes executed with South American ingredients. Sounds odd? Try uramaki and temaki rolls using mangoes and coconuts, or the modern Japanese take on sea bass on a corn and chilli salsa and you'll be won over. The venue is dark with bare brick walls and sexy lighting. There's a downstairs bar cum club playing samba tracks, a good staff and a cocktail list that includes the Sakeirinha (the Brazilian cocktail caipirinha using Japanese saké instead of cachaça). Lunch & Dinner daily. Sushinho, 312-314 King's Rd., London SW3, 020-7349 7496.
London dining emphasizes comfort food, which given the current uncertain economic climate makes sense. So the steak-and-frites brigade is delighted at the opening of Goodman in Mayfair, which comes from Russia. Yes, really. So start with a vodka before going on to some pretty nifty steaks. Most of the cuts are around £25 which for the quality is a good value. There are a few other dishes, but steak is the raison d'être here. The décor does a pretty good imitation of a smart New York joint; it's all wood panels with a huge open kitchen. And all-day opening hours make Goodman a welcome addition in an area that is a shopper's paradise. Mon.-Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-9.30 p.m. Goodman, 26 Maddox St., London W1, 020-7499 3776.
J. Sheekey Expands with New Oyster Bar
Richard Caring, the rag-trade entrepreneur, has done it again. Having bought the highly successful London restaurant group, Caprice Holdings (Le Caprice, The Ivy, J. Sheekey and Scott's), he's bucked the trend for downward profits and emerged as one of the success stories of 2008. Some of the credit for this must go to the new J. Sheekey Oyster Bar, which took over a bookshop next door to the main fish restaurant and re-opened in December. It's a proper step back to the original oyster bar of Mr. Sheekey the fishmonger, with wood panelling throughout and decorated with a whole host of new luvvie photographs of today's actors. So sit at the bar, sip Champagne and slurp oysters under the benign gaze of the likes of Orlando Bloom and Michael Gambon. J. Sheekey Oyster Bar, 28-32 St. Martin's Ct., London WC2, 020-7240 2565.
New Business Lunch at L'Oranger
If we all have to work harder this year, then a quick business lunch is a great idea to add a high point to the day. Try the new addition at L'Oranger, the pretty French venue at the bottom of St. James's Street. Two courses at £27 and three at £32 bring a selection of dishes from mussel and clam risotto to beef tartare, prepared at the table. Service is swift but not too speedy and the venue is lovely. L'Oranger, 5 St. James’s St., London SW1, 020-7839 3774.
Alloro Breaks BreakfastChef Shuffle
There was a time when the only decent breakfasts in Mayfair were to be found either in posh hotels or greasy spoons. It's all changed now and the latest to join the breakfast crowd is Alloro. The Italian restaurant does pretty well in its bar, Il Bareto: try the English breakfast (with Italian sausages so as not to betray Alloro's Italian roots), the croissant filled with provolone cheese or a good old-fashioned waffle. Alloro, 19-20 Dover St., London W1, 020-7495 4768.
Check back soon for more news.
Check back soon for more news.
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