Restaurants reviewed this month
Dine City. Remarkable value French restaurant.
Isis Mayfair.Lebanese underground station
Le Relais de Venise Marylebone. Steak and chips and chef's special sauce
Le Gothique Wandsworth. The most unique location in London
Cafe Spice Namaste Tower Hill. An Indian institution with stand-out cooking
Notting Hill Brasserie Notting Hill. Warm and very welcoming
Roast Borough Market. Already feeling the heat from some critics
The Food Room Battersea. Fine dining at a very fair price
Lanes Liverpool St. Back on the road again
First Floor . Ladbroke Grove. Romantic and a bit bohemian,
Chenestons Notting Hill. Quietly doing well
May we as usual take this opportunity to remind you that if a restaurant really gives you a bad time, please talk to them and allow them a chance to explain/make amends before you trash them on the website!
Aura Restaurant & Bar
If glittering topless women are what you like in a foyer wall mural, then Aura is just the ticket. After waiting out in the rain like all good club-goers do, we joined a gaggle of young hipsters celebrating the launch of Aura’s new bar menu. Giving its cocktails names like “Porn Star” and the “Big Daddy Daiquiri”, the all-in-one cocktail bar, restaurant and nightclub pours a mean drink, that is to say they are too mean to put any alcohol in! But, the people were attractive, the lounge music was exactly as chilled as it should’ve been, and the night ended, at least for this button-down dress shirt wearing guest, just as the club lights flickered on, and the rest of the scantily-clad guests got ready to party.
Lanes - The art of eating
Couldn't help noticing last night that the Kray brothers have returned to the East End. They were looking shifty in the shadows of the entrance to Lanes restaurant and bar (109-117 Middlesex Street, E1).
On closer inspection it turned out that they were in fact part of an exhibition - 'Talking 'bout my generation' by James A Holdsworth, who is exhibiting his work at the restaurant until 25th December 2005. They were in good company - Michael Caine was facing them whilst Oliver Reed, Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury were keeping warm inside.
Harpers & Moet Restaurant Awards
To Floridita in Wardour Street for the aforesaid awards. Security on the door is tight and so is space in the room downstairs. Noise levels are high and Moet’s main product is circulating freely, but even so I grab two glasses as the tray goes past. One never knows when the opportunity will reappear at these shindigs. Seems all the great and the good are here, but why are troll-like men, clutching enormous Nikons, wandering about but photographing nobody? Soon a blaze of flashguns ripples down the stairs, it seems they have found their prey. It’s none other than Gordon F***ing Ramsay, wearing a jacket so tight you could barely slip a large cheque between cloth and shirt. Soon after another lighting storm indicates another celebrity, this time Saint James of Oliver, slayer of the evil Turkey Twizzler. He looks like a farm boy close up, all big hands and ‘stout yeoman’ features. It reminds us that Essex was once home to the salt of the earth rather than … well, let’s not go there. Seriously, let's not.
Awards come thick and fast, and Ramsay might as well stay on the stage. He gets his restauarant Maze as Restaurant of the Year and Newcomer of the year and plays generous tribute to his chef Jason Atherton. Jamie gets Chef of the Year for Fifteen, although one has to wonder whether its for culinary skills or his high-profile battering of school meals. Either way the lad deserves it. Ramsay also won an award for Vintage Year, for twelve months of openings, books, DVDs and running a marathon. As the canapés began to run out, so did I.
Anakana: Come Eat!
Authentic, honest Indian food is the focus at Anakana, a new Indian restaurant in the City. Neither fancy nor fussy, Head Chef Simon Koo has deconstructed Indian food to its simple, delicious core. Dishes like Biriani Sona Chawaal (Dried Lamb with Basmati Saffron Rice, Shallots, Cardamon & Coriander with a Gold Leaf Crust) and Masala Dosa (Rice Pancakes filled with Spicy Crushed Potatoes, green Chillies, Mustard, Cumin Seeds and Coriander served with Coconut Chutney & Samber) are sparkling additions to the menu, along with other tandoor and chargrill recipes, served in the Canteen section of the restaurant. Adjoined to the simply decorated Canteen is Piya Piya. Meaning Drink Drink in Indian, Piya Piya welcomes both diners and cocktail sippers to enjoy its Indian inspired cocktail list.
The Bar Awards 2005
Never fear another bad night out again: The Bar Awards 2005 has found all the winners. Although a country-wide competition, London bars took home many of the top honours. Best Bar was London’s cool and campy hotspot, Trailer Happiness. The Best Cocktail List is found at Mayfair’s cool members-only bar, Salvatore at Fifty. Great news if you’re a member, but if you’re not, Lonsdale, Loungelover, and Shochu Lounge, all in London, were all finalists whose lists are worthy for a bit of your cocktail budget. For the best bartending, head to Green & Red to see Myles Davies in action. You’ll have to adventure outside London to find the best pub, however. The Albion House & Public Dining Rooms in Bristol took top honour there. And according to the winners, the best night out is to be had at Trio Bar & Grill in Leeds. The Bar Awards are associated with CLASS, an industry bible. The awards aim to celebrate and reward excellence across all areas of the UK bar and quality pub industry.
Sushi in the Paddington Basin
I’m not an expert navigator, in fact I’m probably one of the most directionally challenged people wandering around London. When I was invited to visit Yakitoria’s opening party in Sheldon Square just near Paddington Station, I figured I could find the place without too much trouble. I mean, it’s a square (usually not hard to miss), near Paddington (big place)… one would assume it’s full of signage and directions for train travellers and, well…directionally confused people like me.
Au contraire. My journey to Yakitoria involved wandering down a dark and dismal alley in use by Royal Mail trucks, until I came across a canal (As an American I thought the only water that flowed through London was the Thames?). However, once I finally set eyes on Yakitoria, I was eager to take a look around.
Once inside, I found a chatty mix of Japanese, Russian and British people, reflecting Yakitoria’s roots as part of a Russian chain of restaurants serving Japanese food. The interior glittered with an eclectic but clean cut mix of dark wooden panelling, crystal beaded curtains, stainless steel, leather and concrete. The place is traditional, but a little flashy, just like the traditionally inspired but miniskirt short kimonos worn by some of the staff.
The canapés were tasty little morsels of sushi ranging from the standard salmon nigiri to tasty bites of tuna on top of a circle of daikon radish. Skewers of cooked salmon and shrimp went nicely with a cup of sake.
With a prime location (once you find it) and the right stuff coming out of the kitchen, it seems like Yakitoria is on the fast track to success.