January 2004
January News

Restaurant news round up

What's happening in Restaurant land this January? We had a quick skim through all the press releases, rumours and, frankly, near libellous scuttlebutt and boiled it down to a few facts we're fairly confident about.

It's been a long time since Brixton was a byword for rioting and general bad behaviour. Today's Brixton has a smart Sainsbury's next door to the (still being) revamped tube station, a cosmopolitan mix of locals and an ever-expanding list of places to eat, drink and be merry. Coldharbour Lane (used to be a canal running down it according to my granny) links Brixton with nearby undiscovered Camberwell and is about to see the opening of a new bar and diner Harlem. This will be a partner to the Harlem in Notting Hill (a bit of a theme here?) and is rumoured to be even bigger.

Back in the West End where property prices are almost as high as in Brixton, but there's more chance of getting your Rolex ripped off, the owners of the Michelin starred Chapter One near Bromley in Kent are rumoured to be looking to open Chapter 3 . What about Chapter Two? That's in Blackheath. Book early, ho ho!

When I was a lad, a visit to an Aberdeen Steak House was a real treat.

I loved the tinned mushrooms, the grilled tomato, the excellent chips and the steak wasn't that bad either. I felt so sophisticated I didn't even mind that I was in shorts while other kids my age had natty flared jeans. Well the Aberdeen experience is coming back for a new generation of hipsters. The old owner has bought back the London sites he sold during the bad times and they're being rebranded as Scotch Steak Houses. If he can bring back Watney's Red Barrel as the house beer, I'll be in nostalgia paradise.

Robatayaki is neither a new artificial intelligence nor a device for clearing weeds in your garden. It's a style of Japanese barbecue cooking already going down a storm with our European cousins. We're about to get a taste of it as the owners of the achingly trendy restaurant Zuma make plans to open a Robatayaki restaurant in Charlotte St. This will be more mid-priced than its bigger brother but equally zero-tolerant to smoking. Do you approve of totally non-smoking restaurants? Let us know either way and we'll pass on our findings.

So as the last turkey burp escapes from your bloated frame and your mind turns once again to eating in London, keep an eye out for the new places and don't forget to review them for us and other Londoners at www.london-eating.co.uk


A brand new restaurant revives the past

Did your dad drive to you to the coast in a Humber, a Zodiac or God forbid an Anglia ? Then you're ready for the Wolseley

Located on the site of a former car showroom in Piccadilly the Wolseley is a breath of fusty air. Created by the people that brought you The Ivy, with its reassuringly unchanging menu and ancient actor clientele, and Le Caprice and J.Sheekey, the Wolseley is attempting to make old the new new.

Here it's all about crisp white linen, brass reading lamps, tall-ceilings and brasserie seating. Not so much 2004 as 1904 the Wolseley aims for the grand coffee houses of Prague feel (before they filled up with puking Brits on stag nights, that is).

Here you can enjoy breakfast patisserie and fine coffee in the morning and at lunch and in the evening dishes range from fresh oysters and caviar to omelettes and pasta, from grilled fish and spit roasts to hot dogs and hamburgers. Talented Chris Galvin, one-time executive chef of the Michelin-starred Orrery is in charge in the kitchen.

There is a doorman, Mr. McDermott from The Ivy, but he isn't there to bounce you. With very reasonable prices the Wolseley aims to attract celebs and pleb punters like you and me alike. Fine for us but in my experience celebs don't want to mix it with the hoi polloi. So it may be a matter of time before a discreet door policy is enforced. We shall see. In the meantime this could be the place to be seen in 2004.

The Wolseley 160 Piccadilly, London W1, tel: 020 7499 6996. Open daily for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner.