Fifteen years on from the launch of his New York Parisian-style brasserie Keith McNally returns home with a London branch of Balthazar, housed in the sharing the old Theatre Museum, The Flower Cellars building, with the London Film Museum. McNally is an English ex-pat who has built an empire of stylish brasseries in New York - Minetta Tavern, Pastis, and Balthazar among them - which appeal to locals, A-list celebrities and tourists alike. Given his huge success in the States, the promised opening of his first London restaurant has the critics salavating in anticipation. Balthazar NY will be brought to London with the restaurant serving French classics such as bouillabaisse and cote de boeuf and there will be a bakery serving cakes, quiches and pastries. Interiors will be faded glamour, shabby but chic - right down to the toilets (a notable feature of the Manhattan restaurant), and service will be slick with a high turnover of tables. We suspect it will be a success. Not bad for the boy who started out as a bellhop at the London Hilton.
LondonTown's Favourite Restaurants
London's version of the successful New York restaurant.
4-7 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HZ
English comfort food and late night cocktails.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, Soho, London, W1F 9DF
There's no danger of your toast turning up cold at this sophisticated all-day designer diner - here you get a toaster on your table at breakfast so you can serve yourself from 7am. This Soho eaterie is headed up by James Walker, former head chef at Le Pont de la Tour and boasts a David Collins design (responsible for makeovers at the Wolseley, Claridge's Bar and, lately, the Artesian bar at the Langham). Bob Bob Ricard (BBR) brasserie and bar puts the emphasis on English comfort food with the front of house overseen by the former maitre d' of the The Ivy - adept at dealing with diva-like celebs. A champagne trolley and fab late night cocktails like Bramley Apple Martini add glamour to this hotly tipped spot. The extended opening hours until 3am - sadly the exception rather than the norm even in a city as thriving as this - ensure the party atmosphere gets going especially on weekends.
Hot dogs and champagne from The Ledbury chef, James Knappett and his wife.
70 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4QG
First we had Burger & Lobster and now comes hot dogs and grower Champagne. Opened in August 2012, Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street offers a choice of ten hot dogs. Short and to the point. Each is served on traditional steamed buns with choices including the BLT dog, wrapped in bacon and served with truffle mayo and caramelized lettuce; the Jose dog with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapenos, and a regularly changing guest chef's special. But a closer look at the team behind Bubbledogs quickly reveals that this is not your average fast food joint: husband and wife team James Knappett (previously of The Ledbury, Noma and Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, among others) and Sandia Chang (who has worked at The Berkeley, Noma and Per Se) are the pair who have come up with this unusual concept, offering a classic Americana experience with a difference. Sit at the restaurant's 'Kitchen Table' for an up-close experience (for a maximum of 19 guests) where Knappett prepares, serves and talks through his dishes.
A simple menu but high quality food.
29 Clarges Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 7EF
Tube: Green Park Station
No Reservations are taken at this American-style burger and lobster joint in Mayfair serving top class fast food for those who can afford it. Launched by the team behind the Goodman steak restaurants, Burger & Lobster doesn't have menus either; the easy to remember choice of burger, lobster or lobster roll - served in a brioche with wasabi mayo - all of which come with chips and salad, is written on a blackboard instead. The burger is a 10-oz mix of grass-fed Irish and corn-fed Nebraskan beef and, for the same price, you can have a whole lobster imported from Canada which are held live in tanks on the premises. You can have your lobster steamed, grilled and served with lemon flavoured butter or with lemon and garlic. Dessert is also a limited to a choice of two - chocolate mousse or lime mousse. Drinks are strong on cocktails and spirits, and seating is at high tables or on banquettes. The staff ("trained to exhibit well-judged chirpiness", The Evening Standard) as well as the concept have clearly come straight from the States and it's an import that works well in this part of London. The restaurant has also turned into a rather successful small chain with branches now open in Soho, Farringdon, and the City.
A main dining room, a bar and a coffee roastery are all housed in this laid back venue.
11-13 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4QD
Tube: Farringdon Station
There's a fusion of styles as well as flavours at the laid back Caravan in Exmouth Market which combines a main dining room with a bar and coffee roastery in the basement. From the freshly made flat whites to the clued-up but casual staff, it's easy to see the influence of the owners - all four of whom hail from New Zealand. These include head chef Miles Kirby, who moved from the Providores & Tapa Room in Marylebone - where he's been receiving glowing reviews for the last six years - to join general manager, Chris Ammermann, who can often be found welcoming customers front of house. With Caravan they take you on a culinary journey from China to Japan, the Middle East and Austria, with the fry-up the only nod to Antipodean tastes. The focus is on all-day dishes divided into snacks, small plates and big plates, sides and puddings presented as breakfast, all-day and brunch menus on weekends. It's delivered with a relaxed vibe that's entirely in keeping with the Exmouth Market ethos and can only add to the appeal of a night out in the pedestrianised area lit by twinkling fairy lights overhead.
The taste of the country is brought to the city.
44B Pimlico Road, Belgravia, London, SW1W 8LP
Tube: Sloane Square Station
Daylesford Organic brings the taste of the Gloucestershire countryside to Notting Hill with the Bamfords bringing produce from their country estates to the city. The minimalist, cream and white decor could only exist in the city (no muddy wellies here, thank you) but the produce is the best all-organic stuff you'd find at an authentic farmers' market. There are several parts to the shop situated on the well-to-do Westbourne Grove: the family-friendly organic cafe, Bread Bar for homemade patisseries, The Larder for fresh fish and meat, and the food shopping side of things. Shelves and baskets are neatly stacked with the best breads and biscuits, seasonal fruit and veg as well as longer life staples like dressings and mustard. There's an excellent wine offering too, many of which are biodynamic or organic, shipped over from Daylesford's sister estate in the South of France. Delicious, contemporary and chic, we think Daylesford is a destination in itself, worth seeking out if you're looking for something a bit special.
High quality tapas food is accompanied by good wine and a welcoming atmosphere.
25 Ganton Street, Soho, London, W1F 9BP
Tube: Oxford Circus Station
Owners of terrific tapas bar Salt Yard, Sanja Morris and Simon Mullins, have turned their hand to delivering more of a fine dining experience with Dehesa (Spanish for grazing meadow). Specialising in small dishes designed for sharing, the flavours of Spain and Italy can be sampled in the charcuterie including acorn fed Jamon Iberico and cheese - try the farmhouse goats' cheeses hand rolled in ash from Tuscany. The tapas menu comes in four parts: meat, fish, vegetable for savoury and puddings for afters. The beauty of this kind of eating is that you can eat as much or as little as you like: sit at the bar with a handful of Marcona almonds to munch on; or weigh down your table with five or six tapas plates accompanied by a bottle of Gattinara Riserva from the award-winning Travaglini vineyard in Nebbiolo, Piedmont.
This high rise restaurant boasts a unique menu and spectacular views.
40th Floor, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY
Tube: Amersham Station
On the 40th floor of Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle offers diners spectacular views over The City and a European menu which changes throughout the day. Choose a Foie Gras 'All Day Breakfast' to start your day - quite literally 'on a high' - whilst looking out over The City's high rise towers. Alternatively, opt for the Duck &Waffle and you'll get a fried duck egg served with mustard maple syrup. An all-day menu is on offer at the stainless steel and frosted glass 98-seat restaurant with comforting choices like Old Spot pork pie with smoked quail egg, homemade Black Pudding with gooseberry chutney, bacon-wrapped dates with linguica sausage and endive salad, lamb sweetbreads, and a cheesey fourme d'Ambert tart based on an Eccles Cake. The restaurant offers a late night menu, featuring, among other dishes, roasted Galloway veal marrow bones with ox cheek marmalade, pickled girolles and parsley. The Duck & Waffle is one of two restaurants at Heron Tower which, along with SushiSamba on the 38th and 39th floors, is operated by US restaurant group Samba Brands Management.
Huge gastropub that has a strong English theme.
6 New Quebec Street, Marylebone, London, W1H 7RQ
Tube: Marble Arch Station
This huge gastropub is another ambitious project courtesy of the people behind Cubitt House (Stefan Turnbull and Barry Hirst, the guys behind The Thomas Cubitt, The Orange, and The Pantechnicon) who have been brought in by the Portman Estate who also own the nearby Portman Bistro and the Vinoteca wine bar, to re-hash what used to be the Bricklayers Arms in New Quebec Street. An expensive refurbishment has transformed The Grazing Goat into what appears to be a large country house, set in the Marble Arch end of Marylebone. Inside, you'll find a strong English theme, regarding both the interiors and the menu. Simple British food is the fare of choice here with fish and chips, steaks and Sunday roasts all found alongside more modern dishes, such as the chilli salt squid on the starter menu. And for those that can't bear to tear themselves away after a hefty meal, there are eight boutique hotel rooms upstairs, with six standard rooms and two suites.
Bric a brac, shabby chic in design but executed perfectly with many restored elements.
43-51 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7PQ
They've conquered Bermondsey Street, and now the team behind the excellent Garrison and Village East are working their brasserie magic in the West end. Bric a brac, shabby chic in design but executed perfectly with many restored elements The Riding House Cafe is housed in a terrific light filled ex-rag trade showroom. Split into three sections including the 'Campbell's Tomato soup' coloured dining room, a large bar lined with comfy stools and a huge central table seating 19 on surprisingly comfortable vintage theatre chairs, and a small lounge area on the far side. Great locally sourced British cooking and a fabulous breakfast spread, also a highly recommended destination for a relaxed Sunday lunch. A wonderful addition to the somewhat sparsely populated restaurant scene north of Oxford Street.
This popular restaurant serves tapas style comfort food.
41 Beak Street, Soho, London, W1F 9SB
Following the huge success of his original Polpo on Beak Street, restaurateur Russell Norman has set up a mini chain with thre more Polpos popping up around town. Two years after the first Polpo brought a little piece of Venice to London in September 2009, Polpo Covent Garden opened on Maiden Lane. Originally Da Polpo, this second site is "small and cavernous with just a touch of speakeasy", says Tatler magazine. Situated next to the Vaudeville Theatre's stage door, "it's something of a luvvie favourite". With room for 70 diners, there's a meatball section on the menu which includes arancini, mini pizzas and fried fish accompanied by good, young local wines and Italian cocktails served in Duralex glasses. For more visit Polpo Smithfield (opened on Cowcross Street in August 2012) and Polpo Notting Hill which opened on Notting Hill Gate in June 2014.
Another winning eaterie from the Hart brothers.
26-29 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3LL
Fino and Barrafina owners brothers Eddie and Sam Hart, best known for their Spanish cuisine, have taken over Quo Vadis, an Italian stalwart in Soho - and a landmark since 1926, sold off by Marco Pierre White in 2007. They've smartened up the place with a new paint job, leaving the stained glass windows in place and adding a private members' club upstairs. The classic Italian menu has been largely overhauled. British and Modern European dishes take centre stage and include such delicacies as veal cutlet from the grill, pan-fried with sage butter, and crab tagliatelle. Inevitably, given this is a Hart brothers' venture, there is a Spanish bent found in dishes like the starter of crayfish tails with crème fraîche and tomato and razor clams a la plancha with a drizzle of garlic, chilli and olive oil dressing. On the popularity of Fino and Barrafina alone, this is sure to be another winning eaterie from the Hart brothers.
Small plates of food that are inspired by down-town New York.
61 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D7PJ
The creators of the highly popular Polpo and Polpetto have brought a third establishment to the London restaurant scene. Russell Norman and Richard Beatty introduce Spuntino, which means 'snack' in Italian, to the streets of Soho, following the small plates theme of the first two restaurants but this time taking influence from down-town New York. Think classic macaroni and cheese, shoestring fries, soft-shell crab and meatball sliders. The drinks list inventively features cocktails from the prohibition era such as the Sazerac, a potent combination of cognac, whiskey and absinthe. Unfortunately, the restaurant has no telephone and doesn't take reservations.
British country house cuisine wih the occasional French nod.
44 Elizabeth Street, Victoria, London, SW1W 9PA
Tube: Sloane Square Station
The Thomas Cubitt - named after the great Belgravia architect - is a perfect paneled pub, enclosed by French windows on two sides which open out on to the pretty Elizabeth Street and the huddles of tables outside, adding to the light, airy feel. The menu is focused on unfussy British country house cuisine, with occasional nods to traditional French food. Crisp crackling, slow-cooked Sunday roasts, fresh seafood, chocolate sponge, and lots of seasonal game and cheeses are the mainstays. The dining room prices are eye-watering (not surprisingly given the location, and the stunning building), but the short bar menu is excellent value, and it packs out at weekends. If you like this sort of thing you're in luck, the owners also run The Pantechnicon, The Orange (their first pub with rooms), and The Grazing Goat which are unique but all have the same Cubitt House feel with light, airy dining rooms and decent gastropub menus.
10 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 4DH
"A bit of a diamond" is how Jay Rayner described 10 Greek Street in The Observer when a team from The Wapping Project first opened the Soho restaurant in February 2012. Anyone can do bare walls and pared down decor, he argued, but not all succeed in serving the quality of food that you get here. Considering the excellent standard offered by the short menu which changes daily the food is very good value, helped by the fact that they don't take bookings in the evenings so tables are constantly filled - good news for your pocket, perhaps not such good news for the impatient. Still, it is worth the wait. You'll be rewarded with enticing dishes like razor clams served with peas and pancetta, or pickled herring, broad beans, fennel and chilli to start, followed by mains of Cornish hake, Tamworth pork or crumbed goat served with crushed Jersey Royals. The high quality endures to dessert, so leave room for the salted chocolate and caramel tart, creme fraiche or try the rhubarb, grappa and amaretti trifle. Food critic Marina O'Loughlin described 10 Greek Street as part of "a culinary revolution in Soho". We'd go even further and say it's our favourite restaurant in this part of town.
18th December 2014
IN THIS ARTICLE
Bob Bob Ricard
Burger & Lobster
Daylesford Organic Notting Hill
Duck & Waffle
The Grazing Goat
The Riding House Cafe
The Thomas Cubitt
10 Greek Street
A Traditional London Picnic
Best London Cafés
Restaurants for Kids in London
Celebrity Chefs in London
Best Gastropubs in London
Best Sunday Lunch in London
Top London Restaurants
London's Al Fresco Food Spots
LondonTown's Favourite Restaurants
London's Most Romantic Restaurants
London's Best British Restaurants
- A Traditional London Picnic
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