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May 2008 Archive

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If you're visiting Camden Lock Market, make it to Market in Parkway, a new British-inspired restaurant. It's a casual place with bare brick walls and zinc tables, a real buzz and some fine cooking as in the likes of home-smoked mackerel pâté, pork chops and pies. Market, 43 Parkway, London NW1, 020-7267-9700.
Now that Upper Glas in Islington has closed because of redevelopment of The Mall Antiques Centre, homesick Scandinavians and Nordic types can take heart that they are not neglected. Apart from the splendid Nordic Bakery at 14 Golden Square (020-3230 1077) which offers fresh sandwiches, pâtisserie and top coffee in a café-deli setting, there is also the Scandinavian Kitchen, serving up pickled herrings, open sandwiches and salads. It opens at 8 a.m. during the week---ideal for breakfast. Scandinavian Kitchen, 61 Great Titchfield St., London W1, 020-7580-7161.
Hix Oyster & Chop House has opened in fashionable Farringdon. Owned by Mark Hix, who made his considerable name when running The Ivy/Caprice group of restaurants, is nailing his British colours to the mast with an unrepentant native menu of dishes like bacon chop with laverbread and solid British beef cuts. It's all as well sourced and cooked as you can imagine from such a good chef, and is another indication of the return to British roots that is sweeping London. Hix Oyster & Chop House, 36-37 Greenhill Rents, London EC1M 6BN, 020-7017-1930.
The old O'Connor Don, that Irish stalwart in Marylebone, has been replaced by The Conduit of Tybourne, which has nothing to do with Ireland. Instead, the décor has been tidied up a bit, a British menu is served upstairs while bar snacks downstairs will soak up the good range of beers. The Conduit of Tybourne, 88 Marylebone Ln., Marylebone W1, 020-7935-9311.
The swish Lanesborough, A St. Regis Hotel is the latest to refurbish and rename its restaurant. Apsleys has taken over the space that was formerly The Conservatory, after the gentle art of revamping by Tihany Design (known for Le Cirque, Jean Georges and other top restaurants). In comes Nick Bell as chef, formerly at Cecconi's, whose modern Italian style of cooking will delight the punters, though the excellent Paul Gayler remains in overall charge. Apsleys, The Lanesborough, A St. Regis Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1, 020-7259-5599.

News Bytes

Launceston Place Redux
The restaurant company D&D, formerly Conran, is continuing to update many of its locations. One of the latest reinventions is Launceston Place, which over the past few years had become rather dated. The warren of rooms has been done up beautifully with dark walls livened by bright modern art; the food has also stepped up a notch or two under the enthusiastic leadership of young Tristan Welch, who came from Pétrus. Go there while the menus are still a great value and before they get really popular. £45 for 6 courses; £75 with wines. Launceston Place, 1a Launceston Pl., London W8, 020-7937-6912.
Brown's Re-Brands
Under Sir Rocco Forte, Brown's Hotel is going from strength to strength. The latest news is the re-branding of The Grill as The Albermarle. With a new executive chef, Lee Streeton, and a new director of food, the energetic Mark Hix, who has just opened his own new gaff in Farringdon, the cooking has upped the ante in the British-native-local style. Try potted Morecambe Bay shrimps followed by the dish of the day from the carving trolley and expect ingredients like seasonal rhubarb to feature in thoroughly British puds. The Albermarle, Albemarle St., London W1, 020-7493-6020.
Go-to-Market Saturdays
And if you're considering Brown's Hotel, why not take advantage of one of its Culinary Days? Start with morning coffee then a visit to Borough Market with Lee Streeton, the chef, a demonstration back at Brown's followed by lunch in the restaurant with the prepared dishes all washed down with a half bottle of house wine. Price is £150 per person, numbers are restricted to six and they run on Saturdays: 14 Jun, 18 Oct, 13 Dec, and 31 Jan 2009. Brown's Hotel, Albemarle St., London W1, 020-7493-6020.
Yau Does Noodles
Alan Yau of Hakkasan fame recently launched the top flight Japanese restaurant, Sake No Hana. Now he's opened Cha Cha Moon in Soho. This Chinese noodle bar is as successful as his first venture, Wagamama, which he subsequently sold. Expect the second outlet in Whiteley's soon, then who knows where they will be springing up, Wagamama-style? Cha Cha Moon, 15-21 Ganton St., London W1, 020-7297-9800.
BBQ is Knightsbridge
Is the present financial crisis causing us to hark back to better times? It would seem so, with the return of yet another former institution. Many of us remember our first dining experiences in London at the legendary Chicago Rib Shack. Now at last it's re-opening, not in its old venue, but just along the road in Knightsbridge. The new site is somewhat ill-fated; it saw the opening and closing of the excellent Isola, then the ill-conceived Brazilian restaurant Mocoto which lasted only six months. But we're putting our bets on the new Chicago Rib Shack. It worked before; it has a great reputation and the former chef has returned, bringing back all the original applewood-smoked favourites at reasonable prices. Chicago Rib Shack, 145 Knightsbridge, London SW1, 020-7591-4664.
Forecasting French
News from that respected restaurateur, Claudio Pulze, whose Ristorante Fiore on the first Pétrus site sadly did not last. Brasserie Saint Jacques will be the latest French invasion opening this spring, with Philippe Legendre from Le Cinq in Paris heading up the kitchen. Brasserie Saint Jacques, 33 St. James’s St., London W1, 020-7930-100.
Alloro It's All About the Oil
We know all about wine tastings, but how many restaurants do you know that offer olive oil tastings? It was bound to happen; the glorious, healthy ingredient is an all-important feature in many restaurants and what better way to show off your foodie credentials than by explaining the subtle differences between the fruity and robust I Campacci in Tuscany and the pungent flavour of Olio Mediterraneo from Puglia? Alloro in Mayfair has taken the unusual step of hosting tastings, for individuals and groups before lunch or dinner. The two-hour tasting session of seven artisan olive oils costs £20 per person; a further £29.50 per person brings a two-course meal. Alloro, 19-20 Dover St., London W1, 020-7495-4768.
Becoming Brunch
The ever enterprising Pascal Aussignac, co-proprietor of Comptoir Gascon, has just introduced a terrific new brunch menu at his delightful offshoot of the more famous Club Gascon across the road. Try his full French---a breakfast of sausages, fried eggs, bacon, beans and tomatoes. He's a brave man taking on the British at one of their traditional strengths, but he's succeeding---helped by some excellent French coffee. Comptoir Gascon, 57 West Smithfield, London EC1, 020-7796-0600.
New à La Carte Menu
A new lamb curry; a fresh fish dish of grilled shrimps, scallops and squid with rocket leaves; and modern kebabs---these are some of the dishes on the new à la carte spring menu at Indian restaurant Tamarind. Tamarind, 20 Queen St., London W1, 020-7629-3561.
Chef Shuffle

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