Eat London: part three
All eyes are on London, as the host of the Olympic Games. But there’s plenty of action in the capital to keep you entertained and not just the games. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, pack your appetite as world leading restaurateurs Peter Prescott and Terence Conran take you on a culinary tour of Chelsea, Fulham and South Kensington
43 ElystanStreet, SW33NT
020 7584 2003 www.tomaikens.co.uk
Tom has achieved a certain notoriety as an unruly taskmaster, but more importantly has garnered numerous awards, not least among them two Michelin stars when he was at Pied à Terre in the 1990s. He has spent his career in some of the world’s finest kitchens, as well as in what might be called ‘private service’, as personal chef to the Lloyd Webber and Bamford families. His eponymous Chelsea restaurant currently has one star, and has been tipped to secure a second in the near future.
Anouska Hempel has designed the restaurant, with tableware that seems to be particularly desirable (judging by the amount of it that disappears from the tables!). Though a rather basic way to view the food, one of the enjoyable aspects of Tom’s dishes is that you always get plenty of sauce on your plate: it’s particularly annoying when other chefs provide a mere drizzle to accompany a large piece of protein, but that’s just a personal view.
The restaurant has recently secured investment from a Turkish restaurant group based in Istanbul to help expand his brand.
27 Cale Street, SW33QP
0207 349 0202 www.tomskitchen.co.uk
Open for breakfast, brunch at the weekends, lunch and dinner, Tom Aikens’ other restaurant is a multi-layered operation, with a ground-floor dining room (they call it a brasserie, though it isn’t really), a first-floor bar and private dining rooms on the upper floors. Tom uses fine British produce, adding a touch of French luxury with foie gras here and there. The ground-floor dining room is fitted-out with refectory tables and glazed wall tiles, and the pleasing menu ranges from the signature seven-hour confit of lamb for two to simple delights such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, pork belly and (very fine) sausages and mash with onion gravy.
There is also a Tom’s Kitchen at the magnificent Somerset House on the Strand, with a terrace overlooking the Thames and the South Bank.1
263–7 Old Brompton Road,SW59JA
020 7370 1434 www.troubadour.co.uk
The first coffee-and-café-culture revolution hit London in the late 17th century and continued into the 18th. Dr Johnson and his Dictionary of the English Language and Edward Lloyd’s insurance empire were just two of the great enterprises that grew out of coffee house discussions.
The second revolution came in the 1950s. It was in 1954 that the Troubadour opened as a destination for the intelligentsia, the cultured and the bohemian. It now stands as the antithesis of what must be viewed as the third coffee revolution, in the form of Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Prêt à Manger and their ilk.
The highly atmospheric Troubadour houses a café, delicatessen, art gallery and cellar-club, where it continues its strong links with emerging musical talents. Its impressive list of past performers includes Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.1
020 7368 4500 www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Whole Foods Market is huge in America, but its arrival in London has been less successful than might have been hoped. Newspaper stories about the project’s massive investment and ambitious aims soon gave way to reports of unimaginable financial losses.
But what is Whole Foods really like? There is much to be impressed 156 by, and some elements that are still disappointing – though much less so now than when it first opened. On balance, it’s worth a visit. The hot foods and salads on the ground floor still need attention, and it would be nice to see more genuine experts on the shop floor. On a recent visit to the cheese room, we encountered little enthusiasm from the person behind the counter; there was none of the information or opportunities to sample that are second nature at Neal’s Yard Dairy or La Fromagerie.
The positives are certainly the large selection of products and ingredients (the butchery counter is 23 metres long, or some 75 feet ), plus the huge displays of seasonal treats. The prices also seem to have come down. You could spend a good hour or two touring the store and marvelling at the range of foods and drinks on display. Or maybe just call in for a few veggies. Either is sure to be a good experience. Upstairs, there are a few restaurants including Shabu Shabu and a branch of Saf. It was reported that this branch of Whole Foods is now breaking even.
020 7795 6533 www.zaika-restaurant.co.uk
In its original site on Fulham Road, this was one of the first top-flight new-style Indian restaurants. Its present site was once a rather grand bank, and much of the internal architecture has been retained and fused with a rich colour palette.
Zaika translates as ‘sophisticated flavours’, which sums up the ethos behind the menu.
L’Art du Fromage
1a Langton Street, SW10 0JL
020 7352 2759 www.artdufromage.co.uk
A small restaurant that specialises in recipes with cheese either at their heart, such as tartiflette or raclette, or in a major supporting role.
260–2 Brompton Road, SW3 2AS 020 7052 0100 www.aubaine.co.uk
1 Le Colombier
145 Dovehouse Street, SW3 6LB 020 7351 1155 www.le-colombier-restaurant.co.uk
The embodiment of French charm, with brasserie dishes that have stood the test of time.
51 Pimlico Road, SW1W 8NE 020 7730 5712 www.hunanlondon.com
Known as the restaurant without a menu, this is a great place if you enjoy a broad range of ingredients and spicy Chinese dishes.
La Poule au Pot 157 231 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UT
020 7730 7763 www.pouleaupot.co.uk
Another step back in time courtesy of the French: a very old-school romantic interior and a small outside terrace for balmy summer evenings.
29 Ebury Street, SW1W 0NZ
020 7730 4094 www.santini-restaurant.com
If the nearby Tinello attracts a younger crowd, the long- established Santini restaurant with a Venetian accent is known for its more mature clientele and its discreet location.
472 Fulham Road, SW6 1BY
020 73862470 www.unionmarket.co.uk
A large specialist food store in the former Fulham Broadway tube station.
Extract taken from Eat London 2: All about food (Conran Octopus Publishing, £20)