The biggest news of the year is the reopening of Pétrus, on March 29. This gives rise to the battle of the Titans, between, in this case, Gordon Ramsay (though he is not cooking here) and Marcus Wareing, his one-time partner at the original Pétrus (which is now Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley). The two fell out fairly spectacularly and Ramsay has been dying to get back in there with a flagship restaurant. A bread roll away at 1 Kinnerton Street, the new Pétrus is centered around a huge wine cellar stocking, amongst other wines, some 30-plus Pétrus vintages. The cooking is modern European, courtesy of head chef Sean Burbidge and Mark Askew, executive chef of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Pétrus, 1 Kinnerton St., London SW1, 020-7592 1609.
Battery took over the former Ubon space; the place was done up differently (though keeping the original chairs by Philippe Starck who designed the building) and a chef was installed who has trained with Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. On the 4th floor it looks over the river just where it curves round with a great view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The cooking is skillful and modern with dishes like monkfish with Moroccan flavours, veal, apricots and harissa. The cheeses are particularly good and everything is very well sourced. This comes at a price, but this is banking territory and the view is terrific. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Fri. Battery, 34 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London E14, 020-8305 3089.
First it was banks that closed to reopen as restaurants, then institutions like Reuters (which became Conran's latest, Lutyens). Now it's---guess what---law and order establishments. In April, The Anthologist will open in the former City of London Police Commissioner's premises in Gresham Street in the City. The interior is clean, cool and modern. Also pushing all the right buttons is the food, which is sourced from Borough Market. The menu ranges from sandwiches and burgers to gastropub favourites. Mon.-Fri. 8am-midnight (Thurs.-Fri. to 2.30am). The Anthologist, 58 Gresham St., London EC2, 0845 468 0101.
Pollen Street, a new Italian restaurant, is now due to open mid-April. The owner is a mover and shaker in the nightlife scene (owner of Mayfair's Maddox Club); the chef is from Brunello, the upscale Italian restaurant in the Baglioni Hotel London opposite Kensington Gardens; and the manager ran Harry's Bar for 15 years. And it will open for a very chic continental breakfast as well. Pollen Street, 5 Pollen St., London W1, 0203 1708 291.
Modern Lebanese cooking isn't the only draw at Laya'Lina, a late-night spot in Beauchamp Place. There's a good bar that buzzes to the small hours, a pretty and chic dining room, live music, the odd belly dancer and DJs at the weekends in the lower ground floor. Daily 11am-12.30am (Thurs.-Sat. to 1.30am). Laya'Lina, 2-3 Beauchamp Pl., London SW3, 020-7581 4296.
Right on the main road in Notting Hill Gate, Szechuan restaurant Seventeen is hitting the spot with the locals. It's stylish and modern with fretwork and backlit glass panels, a bit like Hakkasan, with a friendly young waitstaff and good cocktails. And the food is also a cut above---it's from chef Wang who worked at Ba Shan with food consultant and Szechuan guru, Fuchsia Dunlop. He brings the spicing and the ingredients (though it's not all strange animal parts here) to dishes like pork belly richly cooked with ginger, soy and garlic. Daily noon-midnight. Seventeen, 17 Notting Hill Gate, London W11, 020-7985 0006.
What was previously Fish Hook in Chiswick has reopened as Restaurant Michael Nadra where the eponymous chef (who's been working in the kitchens of Chez Bruce and Pétrus among others) serves up the likes of ham hock ravioli with chicken broth, ginger, chilli, spring onions, pak choi and cress and pork done three ways with mashed potatoes. In fact, it's a thoroughly fashionable mix of European and Asian flavours. The restaurant is decorated in dark colours with chocolate coloured leather banquettes. There's a generous 6-course tasting menu for £42, and a prix-fixe of 2 courses £13.50, 3 courses £16. Lunch & Dinner daily. Restaurant Michael Nadra, 6-8 Elliot Rd., London W4, 020-8742 0766.
Does Mayfair need more posh restaurants? The owners of Cielo think so, and let's be fair, they have produced something a bit different. The cooking at this swish restaurant open into the late hours (Tues.-Sat. 6pm-4am) is regional Italian with many Sardinian dishes. The décor is suitably cool---leather banquettes, Philippe Starck chairs and glam chandeliers. There's a separate bar and a mezzanine with a summertime open roof. Cielo, 3 New Burlington St., London W1, 020-7297 2893.
Chef Alain Ducasse's miX on the beach has opened at the new W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island. This is Ducasse's first restaurant in the Caribbean. The contemporary menu draws on the local and regional ingredients of Vieques Island with dishes such as the spicy crab salad appetizer and farm-raised pork en cocotte with creamy grits that utilizes locally sourced pork. Executive chef Dagan Lynn, formerly with Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York, collaborated on the menu with Ducasse (Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester). Breakfast and dinner are offered at miX on the beach. ALAIN DUCASSE Entreprise also oversees the entire food and beverage program at the property, including W Café, Living Room and WET. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1, 020-7629 8866.
Any chef who has worked with Peter Gordon of The Sugar Club then at The Providores & Tapa Room must by definition be adventurous and, yes, plain good. Chef Miles Kirby, also from New Zealand, has brought that fresh fusion cooking - imaginative combinations and top food - to a new venture, Caravan. It's a simple, fun, honest, all-day restaurant cum café cum bar in the former Al's Café in trendy Exmouth Market. Well worth a visit. Mon.-Fri. 8.30am-11pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-11pm (Sun 10pm). Caravan, 11-13 Exmouth Market, London, UK EC1, 020-7833 8115.
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