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The Irish Times - Saturday, April 23, 2011
London on a plate
IT’S EASY TO eat bad food and pay a lot
of money for it in London so it’s important
to plan ahead. Here are a few top spots,
some of which are so popular you may
have to plan your trip around your table
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See and be seen at the Wolseley in Piccadilly
Heston Blumenthal may be taking
inspiration from the past for his new
restaurant, Dinner, at the Mandarin
Oriental Hyde Park, but bagging a table
involves some planning into the future.
It’s lunch at Dinner only until August, as
evening sittings are booked until then,
with “limited availability” for lunch.
If you can’t wait that long to taste the famous meat fruit (£12.50), a chicken liver parfait coated in orange jelly
made to look like a mandarin, then you could add your name to a waiting list and hope for a cancellation.
There’s also a porridge of cod cheeks, pickled beetroot, garlic and fennel (£14.50), hay-smoked mackerel
(£14.50) and an 18th-century-inspired dish called Beef Royal, slow cooked short ribs with smoked anchovy and
onion puree and ox tongue (£28).
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA.
Reservations: 0044 20 72013833.
Bar Boulud
Alternatively try Bar Boulud, also in the Mandarin Oriental, but without the waiting list. French chef Daniel Boulud,
whose Manhattan restaurant Daniel has three Michelin stars, opened this sister restaurant to his Bar Boulud in
New York. Boulud is doing a fixed price three-course lunch and pre-theatre dinner for £20.
The à-la-carte menu sounds so French you can almost hear strains of La Marseillaise as you read it. I
particularly like the sound of the his-and-hers starter of charcuterie – from the charcuterie bar – and a choice of
pâté grandmère, a fine pâté of chicken liver, pork and cognac (£6.75) or pâté grandpère, a coarse pâté of fois
gras, truffle juice and port (£9.50).
Bar Boulud Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X7LA. Reservations: 0044 20
Pollen Street Social
The latest celebrity arrival is Pollen Street Social, which opened last Monday under Gordon Ramsay protégé
Jason Atherton. In a breathless blog Atherton has been describing his awake-at-night-excitement at finally
opening his own “gaff”.
The tone is fine dining “with a British accent”. Possible dishes include Orkney langoustine with lemon peel
purée; Speyside beef fillet with organic carrots and a Heston-esque snails, garlic and parsley porridge. They’ve
got a Josper grill (you can go to Gotham South in Stillorgan to try it out there first), and are promising London’s
“first dessert bar”, which sounds a bit like a coffee shop to me. Athree-course lunch menu is on at £26.
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Pollen Street Social, Pollen Street, Mayfair (close to Hanover Square).
epaper »
Reservations: 0044 20 72907600 or email [email protected]
Read the print edition
on screen
The Wolseley
Amore traditional “British accent” experience is to be found at the Wolseley in Piccadilly where a weekend
brunch menu includes The Wolseley muesli (£4.25), caramelised pink grapefruit (£4.75), buttered crumpets
with preserves (£2.75), yoghurt with a rhubarb compote (£4.75) or haggis with fried duck eggs (£9.25). Acream
tea menu includes fruit scones with home-made jam and clotted cream with tea for £9.75. They do afternoon tea
for £21 with “assorted finger sandwiches, fruit scones, pastries and a choice of teas”. You will have to rely on
your recall of this quintessential London experience as no photography is allowed.
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB. Reservations: 0044 20 74996996, or email
[email protected]
Near Farringdon Road on the pedestrianised Exmouth Market, Moro restaurant offers food on the hoof as well
as a sit-down meal. Tapas are served through the day in the Moorish restaurant. Dishes include scallops with
crispy capers, smoked paprika and shaved fennel (£8.50), white and green asparagus with pine nut, egg and
dill sauce (£8.50) and cuttlefish with broad beans, ink and mint (£8.50). Mains last week included wood-roasted
sardines with beetroot and green herb borani (a yoghurt dip) (£18), and wood-roasted pork with artichokes,
sherry and mash (£18.50).
Moro, 34-36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE. Reservations: 0044 20 78338336
St John
One of Anthony Bourdain’s food heroes, Fergus Henderson, is the brains behind the St John Restaurant in a
former ham and bacon smokehouse around the corner from Smithfield Market.
Meat and fish are the heart of this restaurant. Henderson was the Daddy of snout-to-tail cooking long before
recession cuts of meat started popping up on menus everywhere.
You can also buy bread and baked goods at the restaurant and they host occasional farmers’ markets and food
festivals. You can try native oysters for £2.80 each, grilled razor clams for £6.50 each, a starter of smoked
mackerel, potato and sorrel for £8, or a potted beef and pickled red cabbage for £13.90. Mains include ox heart,
beetroot and horseradish (£17) and pigeon and radishes (£22.50).
St John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY. Reservations: 0044 20 33018069
Another relaxed option is the third restaurant in a chain of Italian “small bites” bars that began with Polpo and
Polpetto. Spuntino recently opened on Soho’s Rupert Street. The name means snack in Italian, the place has 25
covers and it does not take bookings. Dishes, many for under £10, include truffled egg toast (a thick slice of
bread hollowed out and filled with two egg yolks and cheese, all drizzled with truffle oil), soft-shell crab with
Tabasco aioli, and meatball sandwiches. Be prepared to queue for a table at busy times or turn up for a really
early lunch when they open at 11am.
Spuntino, 61 Rupert Street, Soho, London W1D 7PW
Fans of Yotam Ottolenghi will beat a path to Nopi on Warwick Street, his first fully-fledged restaurant which is
described as “a brasserie with a twist”. Open from 8am for breakfast through to lunch and dinner, dishes are
middle-eastern and Asian influenced. There is a formal ground floor and more relaxed basement area. Sharing
is encouraged and three savoury dishes are recommended for dinner, from a selection that includes slowcooked pig cheek with celeriac and barberry salad (£10), miso quail, red shallots, grapes and verjuice (£12),
grilled mackerel with fresh coconut, mint and peanut salad (£9).
Nopi, 21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE. Reservations: 0044 20 74949584 or email [email protected]
Petersham Nurseries Cafe
If you tire of London, escape by train or tube for a lunch at Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond where head
chef Skye Gyngell won a Michelin star this year. It’s a short seasonal menu with much of the ingredients coming
from the walled garden of Petersham House.
Lunch bookings are available from 12 to 3pm. Typical dishes include pan-fried squid with new season peas
and sage (£13), guinea fowl with leeks and salsa verde (£25.50) and a dessert of lemon posset with poached
rhubarb (£7).
Richmond is 15 minutes by train from Waterloo and is also a stop on the District line. Petersham House is a 30-
converted by
minute walk from the station along the Thames or a bus or taxi ride away if you don’t want to work up an
Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AG. Reservations: 0044 20
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