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January 2010 Archive

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In London these days, dining is theatre - or cabaret, or any form of entertainment it seems. Following on from venues which combine entertainment and food, like the operatic Bel Canto now in the Corus Hotel Hyde Park at Lancaster Gate, comes Circus. It's designed by Brit Tom Dixon with an open kitchen and a long wide catwalk, which is also a dining table. Order from the American-style menu, drink one of the legendary cocktails (they really are good) and watch the show down the catwalk. Fun? Well, it's different, but whether it will stay is another matter. Tues.-Wed. 6pm-midnight, Thurs.-Sat. to 2am. Circus, 27-29 Endell St., London WC2, 020-7420 9300.
Look out in March for Pollen St, a new Italian setting up in Pollen Street. The owner is a mover and shaker in the nightlife scene; 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 St, 5 Pollen St., London W1, 0203 1708 291.
We've been long-term fans of the Galvin brothers at Galvin at Windows and Galvin - Bistrot de Luxe, so another restaurant is good news. Galvin La Chapelle inhabits a striking setting, a huge vaulted room formerly St Botolph's Hall. Service is slick, the clients are city blokes during the day and more mixed in the evenings. The food is rich bistro fare at a price, but this is the City of London. There's a less formal Café de Luxe and outdoor seating when the weather finally warms up. Lunch & Dinner daily. Galvin La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, London E1, 020-7299 0400.
Isn't it heartening when somebody gets it absolutely dead centre right? That's exactly what's happened at the recently opened Dean Street Townhouse in Soho. It's the latest from Richard Caring, who also has the successful Le Caprice, The Ivy, Scott's and J. Sheekey. The hotel above has 39 rooms, beautifully kitted out and not greedily priced. The restaurant offers honest-to-goodness British food in a setting that looks as if it came with the original Georgian house: dark wood, panelled walls with a long bar, comfy armchairs and no attitude. Mon.-Fri. 7am-11.30pm, Thurs.-Fri. to midnight; Sat. 8am-midnight, Sun. to 10.30pm. Dean Street Townhouse, 69-71 Dean St., London W1, 020-7434 1775.
All has been revealed to those wondering about the large hotel just opened directly opposite the Houses of Parliament. It's the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, in a terrific location with rooms looking toward the heart of British government and an atrium with a big "wow" factor. All the restaurants and bars are on the first floor and in charge of them all is the newly returned top chef Joël Antunes. He's worked in the kitchens of Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros in France and became known in the UK when at Les Saveurs in Mayfair. He oversees a 170-seat brasserie, fine sushi restaurant and some pretty nifty bars at the hotel which is the biggest opening in a generation. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, 200 Westminster Bridge Rd., London SE1, 0844 415 6780.
The very pleasant Chiswick on the banks of the river Thames is a good place for new restaurants with a local well-heeled audience providing a loyal clientele. Soon-to-open Charlotte's Bistro, a bistro and bar and the sister of well-established Charlotte's Place in Ealing, should hit the spot nicely. It's on the site of the former Fishworks. Charlotte's Bistro, 6 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4, no phone available yet.
Opening in February will be Indian restaurant Colony, the brainchild of top chef Atul Kochhar of Benares fame. It will follow the current hot trend for tapas-style eating. Indian street food is the inspiration for the kitchen, but also expect tapas from Africa and the Caribbean. Colony, 7-9 Paddington St., London W1, 020-7935-3353.
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. The Anthologist, 58 Gresham St., London EC2, no phone available yet.

News Bytes

A Makeover in Kensington
L'Ambassade de l'Ile didn't last very long; it was too fussily French for British tastes. It had an extraordinary décor with a shag-pile carpet and it was quite expensive. So the chef has departed back to Lyon and the owners have redone the restaurant. But though they call it Bistro K and have simplified the décor, it's still expensive and the food is more complex than the usual bistro fare. Bistro K, 117-119 Old Brompton Rd., London SW7, 020-7373 7774.
Benares Rises Again
Reopening after a disastrous fire last year, Benares, with Atul Kochhar at the helm, has added a huge wine cellar and a pastry kitchen. So along with this top chef's classics like a salad of seared tandoori salmon and squid and coriander and mint prawns with garlic and tomato sauce will come the likes of soufflés to sweeten the meal. Benares, 12A Berkeley Sq. House, London W1, 020-7629 8886.
Chef Shuffle

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