& COOKING ARTICLE
have been given permission by Harden's Restaurant Guides
to reproduce the following article which was taken from
the pages of UK Restaurants 2002, published in October.
Restaurants 2002 is edited by Richard and Peter Harden
today is incomparably a more interesting city to eat
in than it was a decade ago. Not only are restaurants
opening at a faster rate than ever, but this activity
is being complemented by a diversity of cuisine, style,
scale of operations and location without equal in the
city's history. For quality and range, London now has
only one serious competitor in the world, New York City.
So great is the diversity that the choice can be rather
daunting for the newcomer or occasional visitor, and
this section is designed to be give you a few orientation
points from which to navigate what follows.
good starting point is the results from our London survey.
On page 13 you will see which are the restaurants which
Londoners themselves think are most worth talking about.
Nowadays (it wasn't always so in recent years) it tends
to be quality that gets a restaurant noticed, and if
you're making a special dining visit to London you will
probably want to include one or more of the places on
your ambitions are more local the area overviews (starting
on page 56) will help you pick out the best places in
any particular quartier. One of the joys of London nowadays
is that there are few areas which do not have several
restaurants well worth seeking out. We hope that the
following answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
will also assist.
is London's best restaurant?
in this sense still usually means 'grand French',
and there are still relatively few truly world-class
restaurants. Arguably, there are only two - Gordon
Ramsay (modern) and Le Gavroche (traditional). Pétrus,
however, might reasonably now be said to be beginning
to establish itself in that class, and the Capital
Hotel has an impressively consistent record over a
long period, if perhaps one just short of the very
first rank. As we go to press, Mr Ramsay is opening
a second restaurant, at Claridges, which may well
turn out to be a contender. Two restaurants which
seldom make the gossip columns, but which score highly
in our survey include Pied à Terre - a low
key, foodie temple in Marylebone - and the City's
Tatsuso, London's best Japanese.
would I go for old-fashioned grandeur?
of the top hotel dining rooms are worth seeking out
for their stylish and comfortable settings and very
good service. The Connaught is often held up as the
benchmark of culinary consistency, and its less culinarily
ambitious Mayfair competitor, the Dorchester Grill,
offers a lot of spirited grandeur. At a slightly more
modest cost, London's oldest restaurant, Rules, manages
- remarkably - not to be
a tourist trap.
is the culinary 'cutting-edge'?
between European and Eastern cuisines is the trendy
culinary frontier of the moment. As a fashionable
as well as culinary phenomenon, there's nowhere to
beat Nobu. Among more established restaurants, the
Sugar Club goes from strength to strength. Mju, Nahm
and The Providores are newcomers with considerable
Hang the food - where are the 'in' places?
most perennially 'in' restaurants in London are the
(always difficult to book) duo, The Ivy and Le Caprice.
Nobu has become a major star venue. Oblivious, apparently,
to such considerations as quality of cooking and service,
the media and fashion worlds still seem besotted with
the wacky creations of American design-hotelier Ian
Schrager - Asia de Cuba and Spoon+. For what used
to be called the jet-set, Knightsbridge's upmarket
Italian restaurants retain a magnetic attraction.
there any key cuisines to seek out?
national cuisines currently account for a disproportionate
number of the more interesting places.
pre-eminence as a city of Indian restaurants continues
to grow, and it offers a range of outstanding places
at all price-levels. At the grander end of the market
London attempts 'haute' Indian cuisine in a way not
really seen elsewhere, and the best names include
the newly-opened Cinnamon Club, as well as La Porte
des Indes, Tamarind, Vama and Zaika and, in a more
traditional style, Salloos. In contrast, some of the
best subcontinental food in London is incredibly cheap,
and three of the names that have stood the test of
time in recent years are Kastoori, Rasa and the Lahore
Italian cooking has in recent years emerged with a
vengeance from the Anglicised torpor which has dominated
since the '50s. Modern Italian establishments now
offer some of the most exciting continental cuisine
available. Notable followers of the new school include
Assaggi, Passione, Zafferano, and the rising Teca.
The famed River Café generates rather mixed
feedback, largely on account of its punishing prices.
for a good night out on a budget?
top-quality food on a budget, ethnic restaurants are
almost invariably the top choice - see the lists on
page 14. Suggestions for a fun night out at relatively
modest cost include Pizza Metro, Sarastro, Souk and
about good pubs?
the past decade, London has pioneered the concept
of pub as a quality eating place where the cooking
has nothing to do with traditional notions of pub
grub. The original 'super-pub', Farringdon's Eagle,
is still one of the best. Others worth seeking out
include (to the west) the Anglesea Arms and the Havelock
Tavern, and (to the north) the Duke of Cambridge and
London offer much choice for vegetarians?
London restaurants - the most notable exceptions being
some of the classic French establishments - provide
some vegetarian options, presumably explaining the
existence of relatively few specialist veggies of
any interest. Blah!Blah!Blah! and The Gate (which
has a new north London offshoot) are notable exceptions.
Some of the best vegetarian food is ethnic: Southern
Indian, Greek, Turkish and Lebanese establishments
almost invariably offer a good range of non-meat choices.
there any good rooms with views?
seems to be an (almost) inexorable rule that London
restaurants with views feel no particular obligation
to provide food of particular interest - the egregious
Oxo Tower, which has the best of the views, is a case
in point. Two other places merit recommendation -
Twentyfour, half-way up the former NatWest Tower,
and The Tenth, a little-known hotel dining room which
has an impressive view over Kensington Gardens.
West End - and in particular Covent Garden and many
of the major thoroughfares - has many lacklustre restaurants
so taking 'pot luck' is not really advisable. There
are quality places, of course, and at all price levels
- use the guide! Also, beware of concièrge
recommendations to the huge brasseries which have
opened over the past few years: it may be convenient
for him to make you one of a block-booking of a dozen
tables, but size is no guarantee of quality and our
survey shows that discerning locals are fleeing these
establishments in droves. If you insist on checking
out these 'mega-brasseries', by far the best of them
are Bank and Le Palais du Jardin.
London Restaurants 2002 and Harden's Top UK Restaurants
2002 published by Harden's Limited and are available
from all good bookshops, or directly
article was supplied by
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