Heading to LFW? As the big event fast approaches TIM MAGEE shares his favourite LONDON HANGOUTS that will work for both BUSINESS AND PLEASURE …
London’s dining scene is on fire. In the last five years, our nearest megalopolis has captured the attention of the world. For the first time you can cherry-pick a dozen restaurants in New York and London, and London could theoretically come out on top. New Yorkers still have a deeper connection with their restaurants, not that they talk about them as such, nor their chefs, and they think in terms of single dishes, but it’s a healthy obsession that keeps some daylight between it and the world’s other English-speaking food capital. London isn’t quite there yet but it’s good fun watching it catch up. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat on an upcoming trip to London and want to escape the typical fashion pack haunts, use this rule of thumb – well, three fingers actually – 1. Corbin and King. 2. Jason Atherton. 3. Soho.
1. Corbin and King
London’s dynamic duo have in spades what Ireland is still missing most – beautiful dining rooms. Their suite of panelled and marble all-day eateries is the stuff of dreams. Any one will fit like a Saville Row suit for work meetings and they all feel like they have been here forever, or at least since 1920. The Wolseley never gets old. The white hot Colony Room in the perfect Beaumont is a windowless time capsule that is as cheap as an Angus Steakhouse. The Viennese twins of Fischer’s and the Delaunay are prettier than each other on any given day. Brasserie Zedel is what our Bewley’s could have been. Pick any one of the Corbin and King embassies or the one restaurant that looks like theirs, Conran’s Les Deux Salons, and you will have London dining cracked. www.corbinandking.com
2. Jason Atherton
Corbin and King’s food is good, sometimes really good, but anything from Jason Atherton is great. This superstar is doing what his old boss Gordon Ramsay couldn’t – being universally loved and admired by customers and the industry alike (and opening a successful restaurant in Manhattan too). The world’s busiest chef is also well on his way to building a global edible empire that seems to have found the key to that most elusive quality: consistency. He still cooks the odd time in his base camp, the ground-breaking Pollen Street Social, and it just keeps getting better. Atherton is the box-ticking chef every chef wants to be. Pollen Street is busy and not cheap but you can taste his success in any one of Little Social, Social Eating House, City Social (there is a theme here), Berners Tavern, the really excellent Typing Room or the new Social Tapas in Marylebone. www.jasonatherton.co.uk
3. Solo in Soho
Travelling for work in London doesn’t necessarily mean sharing a meal with someone. Plus I’m greedy and why dine in one restaurant when you can graze in three, just yards away from each other. Soho is a like dreamy food court. You won’t have much leg room but who cares when this square half mile has single dish dining at its best. The bar at Bocca di Lupo for lamb stuffed olives. Soba or ramen in Koya Bar. Nopi’s fritters. Duck Soup’s blood orange jelly and cream. Any bun in Bao. And on and on. And then if it it all feels too cramped, go stretch your legs over the delight of a Jeremy Lee game pie at Soho’s unofficial headquarters, Quo Vadis.
Boutique Hotels That Mean Business
4. Ham Yard
The Ham Yard isn’t a hotel, it’s a tiny pristine urban village secreted away and almost invisible to the rest of Soho. Kit and Tim Kemp’s flagship is a deliberately stranded cruise ship with a five-star bowling alley, a swish theatre, a gym, pretty spa, a very cool rooftop terrace (with beehives and Kemp patterned bees) looking out over the more Parisian peaks of London’s theatreland. Restrained it ain’t, Ham Yard is designed to within an inch of its life but its sheer scale and colourful boldness in this pokey grey part of London is a breath of fresh air and it feels like a holiday within a holiday when you are there, even if it’s for meetings or a jam-packed schedule of shows. www.firmdalehotels.com
Although cleverly designed, the Zetter has little in common with the Ham Yard. And it is nowhere near as expensive. Set in a gorgeous little square right opposite a cool tiny museum with a big history, the Museum of the Order of St John, if ancient religious military orders aren’t your thing then just zen out in their bijou mad garden with the locals amongst the medieval planting and flat whites. The Zetter hasn’t an inch to spare but is so clever and considered you don’t notice, plus it’s close to London City Airport. And Clerkenwell is home to Europe’s most influential restaurant St John and the most eloquent, brilliant and gentlest of food giants, and the father of English food, Fergus Henderson. www.thezetter.com
This article appeared in a previous issue of THE GLOSS Magazine, for more features like this don’t miss our next issue out Saturday, March 4.
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