|The Fat Duck|
By Ian Richards
Planning a trip to London used to have a slight tinge of concern when it came to food but this is now a thing of the past as there has been an explosion of great restaurants in the capital.
There is a now a concern for the provenance of the food supplied and chefs are looking at locally sourced foods that are either organic, free range or at the peak of freshness. When these are combined with a true interest in the way it is prepared the British food scene is in a renaissance. The surge in interest in traditional British recipes means that it has never been better to sample the real cooking of Gt Britain. That is not all, there is also a huge increase in restaurants from around the world that gives a real dimension to eating out.
The list includes some very modest eateries where you will not spend a fortune but will still eat well.
There are now so many restaurants in London, that this is just a cross section of those available but everybody should find something that will appeal to their tastebuds and pockets.
Michelin Star Restaurants
43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR (020 7408 0881)
Albert and Michael Roux set the benchmark for Haute Cuisine for London restaurants many years ago and son Michael Roux Jnr is now doing the same. Elegant dining such as this does not come cheap, a minimum price of £60 each, but with 2 Michelin stars over the door you just know it is money well pent.
Gordon Ramsay On Royal Hospital Road
68 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HP (020 7352 4441)
Lunch Menu £40 7 Course Dinner Menu £110
With a 2 month waiting list you will have to plan ahead if you want to eat here and with three Michelin stars, you just know the food will be out of this world. Any serious foodie would kill his own Mother to get a seat here to sample the French and Mediterranean dishes. It is a credit to Gordon Ramsay that despite being listed in the top five restaurants in the world, the house wine is only £15 although the extensive wine list contains some fine wines at a lot more than that.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightbridge, London, SW1X 7RL (020 7235 1200)
Named after that great French wine, this restaurant has great French dishes to match, chef Marcus Wareing earned his 2 Michelin stars creating the finest Haute Cuisine available anywhere in the world. Chateau Petrus is of course, available, staring at a mere £300 per bottle and going up to a credit card melting £12,300. You may be tempted with the house wine at £15 but surely this would be an impertinence to such sublime dishes.
8 Seymour Street, London, W1H 7HT, (020 7935 9088)
Although I have not eaten there yet, I must admit this is my favourite celebrity chef. He always comes across a passionate believer in the quality of his ingredients and the joy of cooking them. I am sure his two Michelin stars are an understatement. If Italian food is your passion this is the temple where you can worship it in.
The amazing thing is that you can dine here for about £30 each and you will find many good wines at under £20 per bottle.
Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane, London, W1 Y4LB (020 7447 4747)
This 2 Michelin star restaurant was the haunt of both pop and movie stars where the tempura is sublime. Japanese cuisine is always expensive so the £60 per person will not phases the Japanese affictionados.
Other Great Restaurants
34 Portman Square, W1H 7BY (020 7224 0028)
The nearest tube is Marble Arch but if you can afford to eat here you will not be travelling by public transport. Dinner for two with wine and service costs around £150. Has a Champagne bar that is worth a visit.
This restaurant is the brainchild of Agnar Sverisson, the Icelandic former head chef at Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons, (Raymond Blanc's flagship restaurant) and Xavier Rousset who was the Head sommelier there. One can only wonder at the day they both decided to leave!
The decor could be described as Icelandic cool, the cuisine in the nouvelle style and the ingredients are the best. A great introduction is the started menu which will give you a pointer to your next visit. Don't leave it too long as a Michelin star or two cannot be far away and you know what that can do to the prices and the waiting list.
112 Draycott Avenue, SW3 3AE (020 7589 4257)
Another Italian restaurant that has been favoured by stars, particularly for the lunch time crowd and why not, the food is excellent and the service attentive without being over-bearing. At least it was when I ate there a couple of years ago. It has a novel open space that makes summer dining a real pleasure. Even though they take great pride in sourcing as much of their produce from caring British producers, their risottos and pasta dishes are second to none and are complimented by a fine selection of Italian wines.
Cantina del Ponte
36C Shad Thames, Butler's Wharf, SE1 2YE
This is the cheaper version of Sir Terrance Conrans restaurant La Ponte de la Tour, right on the river, overlooking Tower Bridge with spectacular views of the river Thames which make it an excellent summer dining establishment. The menu is traditional Italian fare cooked to perfection. I had a pizza which, having come from their wood fired oven was just sublime and the Tiramisu to follow did not disappoint. The food is well complimented by an extensive wine list.
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD (020 7581 5817)
If seafood is your passion, this is the place for you. Opened by Sir Terrance Conran twenty years ago in the old Michelin Tyre Depot, you will think you are in Paris as you feast on superb fish dishes amid the splendour of the art deco features like the huge stained glass windows. Before you ask, there are also some fine meat dishes that are also cooked to perfection.
21 Romilly Street, W1D 5AF (020 7439 0450)
If you wish to dine like a Georgian English gentleman with an British menu then you will do no better than Lindsay House where Richard Corrigan, a rising TV star, serves a wonderful menu sourced from the best providers. Pigs trotters or smoked eel salad served in a genteel 18th century drawing room may have you thinking that you will be able to get a sedan chair home. The 21st century will hit you at the end when the espresso is served at nearly £5 per cup which would make even the aristocracy reach for their smelling salts. That said, for those who can afford it, it will remain a unique experience.
35 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LB (020 7836 5314)
Rules has been serving traditional British food for over 200 years and the decor reflects this. To some it is elegant dining, to others it is a bit like an Olde England theme park either way it is a great way to sample some of the finest British cuisine and that includes those glorious English puddings. The only problem is you will need to have the wherewithal of at least a minor member of the aristocracy to pay for the meal.
If you go to the Tate Modern to feed your artistic soul, you will have the choice of two fine restaurants.
Tate Modern Restaurant: Level 7
7th Floor, Tate Modern, Sumner St, SE1 9TG (020 7401 5014 )
Whilst in the Tate Modern, you should take the lift to the 7th floor where, if you can get a window table, you will get some stunning views of the river to accompany your stunning food which luckily is not named after any types of art. The cuisine is modern European and sourced from both Britain and the continent. Views and foods this good do not come cheap so if you are on a modest budget, you might like to try the cafe on the 2nd floor where children are very well catered for.
If you are not too tired then try:-
One Paul's Walk, EC4V 2EH (020 7329 9299)
Just a quick stroll across the bridge and you will find this cathedral to the finest provender the South-west of England can supply, cooked to perfection. It doesn't come cheap but after such a meal you will be more than happy to pay. Summer visitors will enjoy the outdoors tables and if you get there sooner you will still be able to marvel at the 'Glass Gherkin' building. Don't forget to take a closer look at the wall paper, it is a modern toile that reflects the City of London surroundings.
77 Dean Street, W1D 3SH (020 7437 2115)
The authentic cuisine of North India has made the Red Fort a focal point for the Indian food aficionados. It is the exquisite cuisine and stylish surroundings that have attracted the good and the great. A definite must for any visitor but beware, you will never quite enjoy your own local take away again.
1 Kingly Street, W1B 5PA (020 7734 34)
This Korean restaurant is a haven for basic Korean food as the number of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese eating there will demonstrate. This bustling restaurant would be a great place for the novice to be introduced to the tastes of Korea.
66 Chandos Place, London, WC2N 4HG
Average Price: £50
This is a real Mexican restaurant that specialises in street food with ingredients that are ethical and traceable. Authentic is the keyword so be prepared to be surprised if you are used to the usual old tex-mex that has been touted around for years. The sample menu is a good place to start, just be careful of the freshly prepared hot sauces.
Dining On A Budget
18 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TN
273 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EN
38 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4EA
Opened in 1958 this small chain of inexpensive restaurants are still providing the capital with nourishing food at affordable prices. The menu is simple British and continental with generous portions. For those on a limited budget this cannot be topped. I have eaten at all these locations and can attest to the quality as does the number of people who you will find eating there.
MyHotel, 11-13 Bayley Street, Bedford Square, WC1B 3HD also at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and many other places.
A fun way to eat sushi that will not break the bank. As you sit, the different sushi goes around on a conveyor belt so you can help yourself from the cooked and raw dishes. A nice, if expensive twist is the water pump at each table.
Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1 6QL
If you are looking around the City of London and want something different then this is the place for you, especially if you are a vegetarian and if you are not, then this would be a great introduction to the cuisine. The bonus is that you get to eat on one of what used to be, London landmarks, a big red Routemaster Bus, hence the name pun. Fantastic noodles and falafel made in the shape of burgers make this a truly unique eating experience.
Sticky Fingers' Cafe
1a Phillimore Gardens, Kensington, W8 7EG
When Bill Wyman wasn't Rolling with the Stones he started this restaurant which serves burgers, ribs and tex-mex. The food must be good as it still going strong after many years. Situated in a side street off the High Street Kensington makes it a perfect mid shopping break.
Hard Rock Cafe
150 Old Park La, W1K 1QR, (020 76290382)
The daddy of them all, they set the standard for burgers in London long before any of the chains opened up London. I would tell you when I first went there but I am afraid I might show my age. They have gone global but the ethics are still the same, good food in great surroundings and reasonable prices and you can get the t-shirt.
Although the Pizza Express is a chain, you will not be disappointed by the quality of the pizzas unless you only like yours made in the deep pan style because they only make the traditional thin crust style. They do have a selection of other dishes available as well. Some of the restaurants have live jazz so you can make an evening of it.
You are now ready to venture out and sample the culinary delights of London, whether it is a fine British menu or something from further afield and you won't necessarily need a bank balance the size of Fort Knox to enjoy them.
The top restaurants, especially those with Michelin stars, may need to be pre-booked so it may be advisable to check before you travel, it would be so disappointing to miss them.
Ian Richards is the webmaster of the http://www.yourpower2be.com and http://www.facialwizard.yourpower2be.com
He is also a contributing photographer to http://www.imagewizard.biz
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