Polpo's bacaro, or Venetian wine bar, has bare brick walls and a tin roof, a great atmosphere and some of the best value tapas in town. Try crostini to start, followed by pork belly with radicchio and hazelnuts, calf's liver with onions or cuttlefish, fritto misto and octopus salad. All are starter size; all are very good indeed. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Polpo, 41 Beak St., London W1, 020-7734 4479.
There's a new Sicilian restaurant in London, testimony to the city's love of regional Italian cooking. Mennula (almond in Sicilian) is the latest to hit London, on the site of the former Passione on Charlotte Street. It has all the makings of a destination restaurant, albeit a small one. The chef, Santino Busciglio, knows his Sicily and is a deft hand at sourcing fresh ingredients which he cooks with skill. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat.. Mennula, 10 Charlotte St., London W1, 020-7636 2833.
You don't expect to find a Chinese restaurant in the less well known areas of deepest Westminster. But Made in China has found a following among all those civil servants who work in the Home Office and presumably want something exotic at lunchtime to divert them from whatever civil servants at the Home Office do all day. It's in the former Japanese restaurant Atami and serves dim sum both at lunch and dinner. This is the best bet as the other dishes are fairly standard. But it's a great spot if you've been visiting Tate Britain or just blowing the cobwebs away on a walk along the river. Lunch & Dinner daily. Made in China Restaurant, 37 Monck St., London SW1, 020-7222 2281.
For some years now, Turkish restaurants in London have been quietly upping the ante and developing from kebab house to stylish local favourites. The recent opening of Tike Grill & Bar has added another dimension - a smart restaurant in the City of London in a Richard Rogers-designed building. Expect top mezze plates and the ‘meterlik' - a 1-metre-long adana kofte kebab. Don't worry - you are meant to share it. Mon.-Fri. noon-10.30pm. Tike Grill & Bar, 5 Fenchurch Place, London EC3, 020-7702 9965.
Mark Hix is unstoppable. After the recent opening of Hix in Soho, he's going into posh shop Selfridges next February, with Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar. All those weary shoppers can refuel on his famous British stalwarts. Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar, Selfridges, 400 Oxford St., London W1, no phone available yet.
Dickins & Jones was an institution, a shop that clothed and provided household goods for generations of mothers and daughters but never quite made it into the twentieth century. So it closed, reopened as a number of shops, offices and now on the top floor, two restaurants and a separate bar, part of the Aqua Restaurant Group that is based in Hong Kong. The décor differs in each part, but both restaurants have an open terrace overlooking Regent Street. Aqua Nueva serves Spanish food, cooked by head chef Alberto Hernandez, who worked for a while at elBulli in Spain before opening his own restaurant. Also in the complex is Aqua Kyoto, the Japanese part, and Aqua Spirit, the bar. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Aqua Nueva, 30 Argyll St., London W1, 020-7478 0540.
Roka has expanded. Rainer Becker's Japanese robatayaki restaurant has now opened in Canary Wharf. Expect the same good cooking and service, and contemporary design. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Roka Canary Wharf, 4 Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Sq., London E14, 020-7636 5228.
London is a true culinary capital; that's the verdict of top French chef, Daniel Boulud. He's planning to open a branch of his Manhattan bistro and wine bar, Bar Boulud, at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park next spring. Designed by Adam Tihany, the restaurant will consist of a zinc-topped bar, open kitchen, charcuterie bar and restaurant behind. As he says "This new restaurant will have New York's energy and spirit, a little French soul and tradition - and a touch of London style." With Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck in Berkshire opening his fine and first London restaurant next autumn, this corner of Knightsbridge will become a prime target for anybody with an interest in fine dining. Bar Boulud, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1Y 7LA, 020-7235 2000.
Mark Hix's empire is expanding, which just goes to show that when you've got it right, something like a mere economic downturn is not going to keep a good chef down. The site that was formerly Aaya has Hix, a ground floor restaurant and more casual basement bar. Works from top Brit artists like Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst adorn the walls and the ingredients and cooking stick to good British origins. Lunch & Dinner daily. Hix, 66-70 Brewer St., London W1, 020-7292 3518.
Popping Up in the Royal Academy
Chic Sketch is adding an outpost to its small empire, but only temporarily. From December 2-January 31, 2010, visitors to the Royal Academy of Arts can enjoy the pop-up restaurant of Mourad Mazouz and chef Pierre Gagnaire. Get past the two dogs made from old toys guarding the entrance (it mirrors the current exhibition: GSK Contemporary Earth: Art of a changing world which concentrates on climate change and care of the environment) and you're rewarded with crêpes and salads, pâtés and sandwiches. Pommery have produced a special limited edition of Champagne POP Earth from grapes from sustainable viticulture served in 100 percent recyclable, lighter bottles. Fri. 10am-10pm, Sat.-Thurs. 10am-6pm. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London SW1, 020-7300 8000.
Downstairs at TerroirsChef Shuffle
When Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant opened in Covent Garden, it was a quick success. That's now been reinforced with the opening of Downstairs at Terroirs, two levels below. The style is similar to the first Terroirs, with the menu divided into charcuterie, crustacean, food and mains, dessert and cheese - the idea is to pick and mix and share. Lunch Tues.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat.. Downstairs at Terroirs, 5 William IV St., London WC2, 020-7036 0660.
Check back soon for more news.
Check back soon for more news.
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