Good news for fans of Mark Hix's thoroughly down-to-earth, skilled cooking. The chef behind Hix Oyster & Chop House in Farringdon is about to open a new Hix in the space that was the short-lived, though highly commendable Aaya. Hix, 66-70 Brewer St., London W1, 020-7292 3518.
The relatively new branch of Marylebone's Villandry, Villandry Kitchen in Holborn, gives the business area a topnotch bistrot and café with all-day dining in a smart, rustic space. Try the likes of duck rillette with baguette and chutney, a charcuterie plate or a similar one of cheese, stone-baked pizza and salads as well as more substantial steaks or duck confit. Mon.-Fri. 8am-11pm, Sat. 8am-9.30pm, Sun. 9am-10.30pm. Villandry Kitchen, 95-97 High Holborn, London WC1, 020-7242 4580.
What was the Notting Grill of Antony Worrall Thompson is now, yes, another gastropub in Notting Hill. The Clarendon is smart with an airy downstairs dining room, an upstairs cocktail lounge and a good terrace. A sure hand in the kitchen delivers pan-fried jumbo prawns with aïoli, potted ham hock terrine, roast pork with black pudding, steaks and grilled tuna. Nothing startling, just very good fare. Mon.-Fri. noon-12.30am, Sat.-Sun. 10am-12.30am. The Clarendon, 123a Clarendon Rd., London W11, 020-7229 1500.
TV chef Jamie Oliver has just opened the first London branch of a small nationwide chain, Jamie's Italian. And it's in the corporate heartland of financial London---Canary Wharf. It's all a bit, well, casual like Jamie himself. And it's very good, serving home-style Italian cooking that's reasonably priced. Mon.-Fri. 11.30am-11pm, Sat. noon-11pm, Sun. noon-10.30pm. Jamie's Italian, Unit 17, 2 Churchill Place, London E14, 020-3002 5252.
It may be getting late in the year for alfresco dining, but if London gets an Indian summer, then The Crabtree, the latest gastropub in Hammersmith, might be packed. Just downstream from The River Café, this large, pleasant spot has great views from the extensive garden. With a good menu and friendly staff---what more could a diner want? Mon.-Fri. Lunch & Dinner, Sat. noon-10pm, Sun. noon-9.30pm. The Crabtree, 4 Rainville Rd., London W6, 020-7385 3929.
The Lower East Liquor Bar & Bistro brings a touch of Manhattan to Canary Wharf. Very near the river, the views are great in the buzzing, noisy space. There's a big circular bar and a surrounding bistro with a menu that runs from steak tartare to monkfish, steaks and American desserts like cheesecake. It's open 7 days a week, from breakfast to late. Mon.-Fri. 7am-10.30pm (Fri. to 2am); Sat., Sun. 10am-10.30pm (Sat. to 2am). Lower East Liquor Bar & Bistro, 28 Westferry Circus, London E14, 020-7536 2862.
Oyster Classes at Le Bouchon Breton
There's an ‘R' in the month, so it's the oyster season again. Celebrate and learn more about the succulent mollusk at Le Bouchon Breton in Old Spitalfields Market. The sessions take place on the last Friday of the month (except December) from now to March, at 6.30pm. Each master class features ten different varieties of oysters, paired with a glass of Champagne and wine. Learn how to open them (without cutting off a finger) and learn all the subtle differences, discover how to spot a bad oyster and watch a cookery demonstration. £60 per person. Le Bouchon Breton, Old Spitalfields Market, 8 Horner Sq., 1st floor, London E1, 0800 019 1704.
The Art of Dining
Fine art and good food have always gone together, so expect the Friday and Saturday nights at the Wallace Collection to be popular. The opening of Damien Hirst's new collection, No Love Lost: New Paintings by Damien Hirst, has prompted the glorious gallery to put together a private view and dining package every Friday and Saturday evening from October 14 to January 24, 2010. Try either the 3-course £45 meal or go for the £55 feasting menu in the restaurant, surrounded by sculptures. It's an evening of vichyssoise velouté courtesy of the chef, and formaldehyde, courtesy of the artist. The Wallace Restaurant, Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1, 020-7563 9505.
Heinz Beck Comes to The LanesboroughChef Shuffle
Refurbishments are all the rage in London, many in hotels with the 2012 London Olympics in mind. The Lanesborough, A St. Regis Hotel is right up there with the latest incarnation in its gloriously stained-glassed Conservatory. Just re-opened as Apsleys - A Heinz Beck Restaurant, this is the chef's first restaurant outside Italy. Expect the likes of sea bass cannolo with celery and melon and slow braised veal cheek. The Menu del Giorno at £26 at lunch is a steal. Apsleys - a Heinz Beck Restaurant, The Lanesborough, A St. Regis Hotel, 1 Lanesborough Pl., London SW1, 020-7333 7254.
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Check back soon for more news.
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