I promised you an English capital restaurant round-up, so here’s FooDiva’s gastro guide to all things munchy in London – best distinguished by the times of day you get those tummy cravings. So go on, plan your summer holiday.
The Providores and Tapa Room – smack bang on my favourite London street for cafe society and shopping; Marylebone High Street. The brainchild of two New Zealand chefs Peter Gordon and Michael McGrath of Sugar Club fame, the ground floor houses the casual cafe and bar, Tapa Room – not a typo, just takes its name from the huge, traditional Rarotongan Tapa wall cloth hanging. But they do serve Spanish tapas-like dishes. Up the creeky stairs sits The Providores, for formal white linen tablecloth dining. If you’re in London on a weekend go for brunch; try the hot smoked salmon with two poached eggs and spinach on walnut toast with yuzu hollandaise. And a serving of grilled chorizo on the side. On a Sunday, potter along to the Farmers’ Market just behind Waitrose on the high street.
Momo – yes the same Moroccan eaterie gracing Dubai’s Harvey Nic’s. Difference is you get non-virgin cocktails at this one, plus the odd sighting of Kate Moss and clan. Oh and a separate tea room. Created by French-Algerian Mourad Mazouz it’s even more atmospheric than the Dubai outpost.
Canteen – don’t let the name fool you, it’s quite a classy joint, and one that serves up the very best of British food with a heavy emphasis on seasonal, home-grown produce. If that wasn’t enough, you have four locations to choose from; Baker Street, Spitalfields, Royal Festival Hall and Canary Wharf.
E&O – contemporary restaurant and bar in Notting Hill (Blenheim Crescent) serving primarily Far Eastern cuisine. Mind you, cocktails aside, the highlight for me was the banoffee pie.
Hakkasan – don’t be put off by the dodgy alley location off Oxford Street (Hanway Place), this is a Michelin-star ultra chic Chinese restaurant and celeb haunt favoured by the likes of our new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Dress to impress. And yes Abu Dhabi houses the same restaurant in Emirates Palace.
Sketch – another Mourad Mazouz outpost housing four restaurants on Conduit Street; two of which are helmed by Michelin-star chef Pierre Gagnaire, plus a bar – all with spectacularly stunning interior design. My fave is the Gallery with its futuristic sci-fi plastic pod loos (yes you heard right) and contemporary French cuisine. Click here for a recent FooDiva post on Pierre Gagnaire.
Cocoon – FooDiva clearly has a fetish for all things pod-like, cos Cocoon’s space gaping over Regent Street is all about interconnecting pods simply separated by diaphanous netting; a restaurant, two sushi bars, a lounge and private dining area. Oh yes and you guessed, food is modern Asian. Clearly a trend going on here.
The Greenhouse – creative European menu inspired by traditional French classics. Now this place set in the heart of Mayfair is a real dress-up treat. It’s all or nothing.
Gastro-bar & just plain bars
The Anthologist – now FooDiva calls this a gastro-bar, a tad more upmarket than a good old pub, and with a bit of girly girl feel. A stone’s throw from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium bridge – both worth a pre or post-dinner wander by the way. Classic Brit dishes; bangers & mash, fish & chips and shepherd’s pie.
Now a few cocktails won’t go amiss in London-land, so here’s FooDiva’s top three bars; WYLD bar at the newly opened W Leicester Square hotel, London’s latest A-list hangout. Note, call or email in advance to add yourself to the guest list. Long Bar at the Sanderson hotel – I’d say more a pre-dinner aperitif venue. And Red Soho for a casual and intimate, yet vibrant ambience on Soho’s Kingly Street.
Before I sign off, a girl’s gotta have a decent cupcake on every trip, well perhaps it’s just a FooDiva thing. So allow me to introduce you to Hummingbird Bakery to whom FooDiva owes her early cup cake fascination. Not just one establishment, but three on Old Brompton Road, Portobello Road and Wardour Street. And yes red velvet (vanilla sponge dipped in crimson food colour dye) with cream cheese frosting is simply THE best.
Have a wicked time.
P.S – Click here for a few more recommendations from a recent trip to London (October 2012).