Barrafina was one of the first successful tapas bars in London, and it has trained its chefs well. Now Tomasz Baranski has left the parent to set up his own tapas bar. Donostia takes some of the same ideas, such as a long bar, open kitchen and white walls. The menu is divided into pintxo specialties from leek and egg salad to creamy croquettes with ham; cold plates center on top hams; and tapas range from crispy baby squid to pigeon with fresh peas and pancetta. Good wine list with many by the glass. Open Tues.-Sat. 11am-3pm & 6pm-11pm, Sun. 10am-3pm. Donostia, 10 Seymour Place, London W1, 020-3620 1845.
Mark Hix has done it again---he's opened a successful restaurant called Tramshed in an iconic industrial building that serves an uncompromisingly simple menu. After choosing one of five starters you can move on to a steak or chicken dish. It's very good and the concept suits the vast former Tramshed building in Shoreditch. Staff are casual and welcoming and there's a separate bar and gallery space. Open Mon.-Sat. noon-10.30pm, Sun. noon-10pm. Tramshed, 32 Rivington St., London EC2, 020-7749 0478.
Briciole, an all-Italian café bar, deli and trattoria in the heart of Marylebone, has taken over a former pub space. It has brick walls, wooden tables and chairs, and a bright and breezy staff. The food comes from chef Maurizio Morelli, who once cooked Italian dishes at Latium. This menu is more informal. Expect a series of small, highly flavored tapas-type dishes from black pepper Sardinian cured ham to Roman-style roast pork. A regional wine list and a very useful bakery complete the welcome package. Open Mon.-Sat. 11am-11pm, Sun. 11am-10.30pm. Briciole, 20 Homer St., London W1, 020-7723 0040.
King's Cross is one of London's up and coming areas, with new hotels and restaurants plus an enormous expansion of housing. So the arrival of Shrimpy's, located in the Filling Station, a one-time BP filling station, is most welcome. It's a venture from the team at Bistrotheque in Bethnal Green, and is similarly casual with an American-style décor, a great terrace and vaguely south American dishes like plantains, chips and dips, sweet-corn chowder with salsa and sour cream, and fried chicken with red peppers. Open Sun.-Thurs. 11am-10.30pm, Fri.-Sat. 11am-11pm. Shrimpy's, King's Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, London N1, 020-8880 6111.
Going for Gold at The Bar at The DorchesterChef Shuffle
Available throughout the summer, The Bar at The Dorchester will be honoring the competitive spirit of the Olympics in London with a special "Going For Gold" cocktail. Created by Giuliano Morandin and his team of mixologists, the cocktail uses London-made Gilpin's Gin, Laurel liquor, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and Morandin's own sugar syrup. The tall-glass cocktail is topped with ginger ale and served over crushed ice. Priced at £16, "Going for Gold" will be sold at The Bar at The Dorchester from July 2012 until September 2012. The Bar at The Dorchester, The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, London W1, 020-7629 8888.
The Baglioni Hotel London is slated to replace its restaurant Brunello and embark on a totally new approach. Heading up the kitchen will be Moreno Cedroni, who runs four restaurants in Italy including La Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia on the Adriatic coast and Clandestino in Milan. Baglioni Hotel London, 60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW75 5BB, 020 7368 5700.
Skye Gyngell left Petersham Nurseries Café last year after seven years at the garden centre. There were expectations placed on her after the establishment won all sorts of plaudits, which led to a change in the kind of customers frequenting the restaurant. They expected the top cooking and high prices but not the wobbly chairs and rustic setting, and a kitchen that was virtually in a garage. "Rus in urbe" was not for the destination diners. Now the Australian chef plans to open a 120-seat restaurant in central London in late October in conjunction with Heckfield Place, a boutique country house hotel outside London. Gyngell will divide her time between the country and London. The restaurant will be in Soho, but that's all the news there is so far. Petersham Nurseries Cafe, Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, London TW10 7AG, 020-8940 5230.
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