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July 2009 Archive

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Planet Hollywood is back, now moved to the Haymarket. It's very big, with five spaces, packed as before with memorabilia and with a new, huge menu to appeal to all. Mon.-Fri. 11.30am-midnight, Sat. 11am-1am, Sun. 11.30am-11pm; Bar Mon.-Fri. 11.30am-1am, Sat. 11am-1. Planet Hollywood, 57-60 Haymarket, London SW1, 020-7437 7639.
There may be plenty of breakfast places in London, but a Scottish breakfast is not so easy to find. Truth to tell, it's not so different as even black pudding appears on British breakfasts. But the location of the new breakfast venue at Albannach in Trafalgar Square will ensure steady business. It's the heart of London so will accommodate both clubbers finishing off the night (it opens at 7.30am) and more serious souls about to start a hard day's work. Mon.-Thurs. 7.30am-10pm, Fri.-Sat. 8.30am-10.30pm. Albannach, 66 Trafalgar Square, London WC2, 020-7930 0066.
The Criterion in Piccadilly Circus is striking---all red and gold and Byzantine. The previous owner, Marco Pierre White, sold the lease to Georgian Vasily Sopromadze who has reopened it in the modern British-European mode. The new chef is Matthew Foxon who was previously at the gastropub The Rosendale. The menu is a good all-around pleaser using seasonal British ingredients. Lunch & Dinner daily. Criterion, 224 Piccadilly, London W1, 020-7930 0488.
The Serpentine is one of London's loveliest lakes and the Dell Restaurant, just beside it and designed in 1965, is a much loved destination. Like many such, it went downhill but has now been refurbished and reopened. It's still the same distinctive shape but there are huge windows to let in the light and the interior has been softened. An all-day menu (served until dusk) is mainly British: fishcakes, leg of lamb, rhubarb trifle. After a walk through Hyde Park, it's perfect. Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea & Dinner daily. Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, Serpentine Rd., Hyde Park, London W2, 020-7706 8114.
If you've not yet tasted a chocolate martini, or a Bellini using cacao pulp juice along with the fizz, hotfoot it along to the newly opened Artisan du Chocolat in Notting Hill. It's a shop selling wonderful, and not wildly expensive chocolates, and a chocolateria with unusual nibbles like salted caramel chocolate tarts. And they do tasting events for the would-be connoisseur. Mon.-Thurs. 10am-7pm, Fri.-Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 11am-5pm. Artisan du Chocolat, 81 Westbourne Grove, London W2, 0845 270 6996.
Il Baretto has opened on a site that used to be Giusto (Italian pizzeria) and before that La Spighetta (Italian, of course). Upstairs there's a small bar; downstairs a restaurant with plush leather seating, a wood-burning oven, shiny Mediterranean tiles and a robata oven. The latter is the surprise until you learn that this is the fourth venture from restaurateur Arjun Waney who opened Zuma, Roka and La Petite Maison. Italian classics are the order of the day here; service is up and down and prices vary as well. But these are early days. Restaurant: Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat.; Bar: noon-midnight Mon.-Sat. Il Baretto, 43 Blandford St., London W1, 020-7486 7340.
The Leopard Bar is a welcome new addition in Victoria. The luxurious bar is all wood-panelled walls, mirrors and African prints. Part of The Rubens at the Palace, its raison d’etre is Champagne. There are 15 Champagnes to choose from, 11 by the flute, and a good range of snacks like open roast beef sandwiches and Mediterranean shrimp cocktail. The Leopard Bar, 39 Buckingham Palace Rd., London SW1W 0PS, 020-7834-6600.
Keelung is the latest Taiwanese restaurant to hit London. Now, there aren't many Taiwanese restaurants in London and most are owned by Geoffrey Leong and his family, as is this one. The décor is sophisticated---leather chairs, booths, apricot walls and old photographs on the walls, creating a showbiz atmosphere which seems a little incongruous in London's Chinatown. The menu is long and the cooking is terrific with dishes like boneless pig trotters, won ton in spicy sauce and seafood congee providing plenty of taste. Best of all, the prices are an astonishingly good value. Mon.-Tues. noon-10.45pm, Wed.-Sun. noon-11.15pm. Keelung, 6 Lisle St., London WC2, 020-7734 8128.
Much is changing in our venerable institutions, not least the addition of restaurants. St. Paul's Cathedral is the latest to realise that feeding the body can be a good thing (and profitable) after feeding the soul. The Restaurant at St. Paul's is in the crypt---though it has its own outside entrance, of course---with well-spaced tables seating 48, oak furniture and clever lighting. There's also an all-day café to one side. The food is unashamedly, gloriously British. Expect Scottish salmon and squid, Gressingham duck, rabbit, Barnsley chop, and pudding you never thought to see again like lemon posset. And bless them, the wine list showcases British wines. Try them, along with the rest of the wine world; you'll be pleasantly amazed. Lunch daily, CafĂ© Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. noon-4pm. The Restaurant at St. Paul's, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Paul's Churchyard, London EC4, 020-7248 2469.
Sir Terence Conran thrives on grand projects. Lutyens, his latest opening on Fleet Street, is just that. It's a 130-seat restaurant in the former Reuters building overlooking St. Bride's Church. It also contains the all-day Lutyens bar with a typical Conran charcuterie counter and the Cellar Rooms with a private members club and four private dining and meeting rooms. It's all you would expect from the great restaurateur: self-assured, supremely comfortable and with all those elegant design touches. Cooking is classic French; the wine list is admirable. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Fri. Lutyens Restaurant, Bar & Cellar Rooms, 85 Fleet St., London EC4, 020-7583 8385.
Since Sir Terence Conran "retired" after selling his restaurants to D&D London, he's hardly taken a back seat in the restaurant world. His venture in Shoreditch, Boundary, is opening bit by bit. Now, joining the casual café Albion and the upmarket Boundary comes Boundary Rooftop. Take the lift up to a delightful 48-seater bar and grill and stunning views over the rooftops. The all-day menu concentrates on first-rate grills. Or just go for the cocktails and the skyline. Boundary Rooftop, 2-4 Boundary St., London E2, 020-7729 1051.

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