Archive for the ‘London’ Category

Egon Ronay (1915-2010), The Egon Ronay Guide – London

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Egon Ronay, who passed away at the age of 94 on June 12, 2010, had accomplished a great deal in his effort to change horrible post-war British cooking, admitting that, “British food got the reputation it deserved.” He started the Egon Ronay’s Guide, read by a new generation of diners who thought they deserved better from restaurants than overcooked meat and soggy vegetables. He played an important part in raising culinary standards in the UK, especially for helping to change British diner’s indifference to what they were eating in restaurants, into criticism or praise.

During the 1980’s my friend, David Langlands, who has also passed away in the year 2000, wrote for the Egon Ronay Guide.

For The Egon Ronay Guide Complete List of the 200 Best Restaurants, Follow This Link: The Top 200 Best Restaurants

Three stars:

Hibiscus, Ludlow, Shropshire
Tom Aikens, London
Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire

Two stars

Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland
Aubergine, London
Bath Priory, Bath
Bohemia, Jersey
Box Tree, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Capital, London
Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
Fischer’s at Baslow Hall, Baslow, Derbyshire
Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon
Gordon Ramsay, London
Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham
Le Gavroche, London
Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
Midsummer House, Cambridge
Morgan M, London
New Angel, Dartmouth, Devon
Novelli at Auberge Du Lac, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
Oriel Gilford, Northern Ireland
Orrery, London
Petrus, London
Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, London
Richard Corrigan at Lindsay House, London
Samling, Windermere
The Square, London
Tyddyn Llan Corwen, Wales
Winteringham Fields, Winteringham, North Lincolnshire
W’Sens, London
Ynyshir Hall, Eglwysfach, Wales
Yorke Arms, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.

La Trattoria Terrazza, Soho – London

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Chianti-FiascoMario & Franco’s La Trattoria Terrazza on Romilly St, in Soho was responsible for introducing Italian food and making it trendy in London in 1959. Mario Cassandro, a co-founder who just passed away this year at the age of 91, along with partner Franco Lagattolla, were both former waiters at the Curzon Street restaurant, Mirabelle in Mayfair. Many other places were spawned by former employees who borrowed (to put it nicely) the same menu and the minimalist style of decor. When Princess Margaret started to frequent Terrazza, it firmly placed it on the culinary map.

Italian cooking is extremely simple, most often the creation of “mama” rather than a famous chef, and depends wholly on good ingredients rather than complicated preparations, and is the reason most dishes are easily adapted for home cooking.

The Two Michelin Starred Ledbury Looted During Dinner; Patrons Robbed! – London

Thursday, August 18th, 2011


Ledbury Restaurant

The  Daily Mail reported that Two Michelin starred restaurant Ledbury came under attack as gangs of youths ran riot through London’s Portabello Road throughout Monday evening. Police advised residents of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Fulham to stay indoors as residents reported seeing men carrying machetes in the road. Chefs and waiters leapt to the defence of members of the public enjoying an evening at The Ledbury, an upmarket two Michelin starred restaurant in Notting Hill, London. Thugs and rioters armed with bats and wearing hooded tops forced their way into the two star restaurant before demanding diners hand over their wallets and wedding rings.
 But staff and others fought back with kitchen tools before leading customers into the wine cellar for protection.
Writing a blog about the incident, a tourist enjoying a celebratory meal, said: “Will and I were going to celebrate with a night out at 2 Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury.
“I had come to terms with the fact that it would be an expensive dinner, but boy, I had no idea how expensive. “Around the fourth dish of the tasting course, there were loud bangs outside. The restaurant staff was yelling at us to get away from the windows. Before I knew it, the front door, a solid piece of glass shattered and people came crashing in with hoods, masks, and random weapons.
“The looters were yelling at us to get down and throwing stuff all over the place. I got down and started taking off my wedding and engagement ring to hide somewhere, but unfortunately wasn’t fast enough.
“One looter came up and demanded my phone. I didn’t have it with me since it was in my purse and it was out of arm reach. I also didn’t want to lead him to my passport, so I said I didn’t have one.
“He told me to take off my rings and grabbed my hand, trying to yank them off. His friend tried to help too, but the rings wouldn’t come off and I just yelled at him that I’d take them off myself.”
After the initial attack, staff at the restaurant provided champagne and whisky to calm the nerves of diners.
But when rumours spread of the looters returning, guests were ushered into toilet cubicles and told to lock the door before being lead down to the wine cellar.
The unknown blogger added: “The kitchen staff at the Ledbury went beyond their call of duty by rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, fry baskets, and other dangerous kitchen tools and scared off the looters.
“Then they provided well-needed glasses of alcohol including champagne and whisky. When word came that the looters were coming back a second time, they ushered us into the bathrooms and told us to lock the doors. A few minutes later, they led us into the wine cellar and told us to lock ourselves in there.”

Suzanne Pirret, Heston Blumenthal – London

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

pleasure-is-all-mine-suzanne-pirretSuzanne Pirret is an American now living in London, and the bio in her cookbook states that she is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard, an “award-winning voice-over artist”, and “a graduate of the Cordon Bleu, beginning in Paris and and ending in London.” She has also claimed to have worked for Jamie Oliver as a pastry chef at his restaurant Fifteen in London. Last but certainly not least, she is currently dating Heston Blumenthal (Fat Duck & Dinner) who reportedly, even though troubles had been brewing for awhile, has left his wife for her. Pirret wrote the following words for the London Evening Standard’s ES Magazine: “Images of food and sex have become one long billboard of licking, sucking, dripping and drooling. Food porn is ubiquitous… Food and sex. Two of my favourite things,  and the most powerful of all human drives. Best one after the other in either order, I’m not picky.”

She is also a cookbook author — see her 2009 The Pleasure Is All Mine: Selfish Food for Modern Life that includes advice on dinner guests, how to get a reservation, and modern etiquette. The back cover has a quote from Bobby Flay: “I couldn’t put this book down!  Everyone will be begging to be a guest or even a dishwasher in Suzanne Pirret’s kitchen after reading and cooking from The Pleasure Is All Mine. She’s infectious!” (Is this the only recommendation she could find to put on her back cover? Oh well, I suppose it’s fitting.) This is comparable to an expensive pictorial magazine selling its back cover space to Timex instead of Piaget. However, it must be taken into consideration that it is a “bargain book” and can be found at Amazon selling for $10.

Following is what appears to be a promotional video for her book, released on YouTube. Although, it mentions “as seen on” The Huffington Post?

Video Link – The Pleasure Is All Mine – Suzanne Pirret:

The Pleasure Is All Mine

Selected Bars – London

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Bar LogoSelected London Bars

A chic cocktail lounge on the legendary Kings Road.
316–318 Kings Road,

A multi award winning bar, JuJu has just been named “Best Bar” at the London Club and Bar Awards 2011 and has previously been awarded “Outstanding Mixology and Best New Bar”. Located in the heart of Chelsea on the King’s Road, they serve the finest cocktails mixed by some of London’s best bartenders.

Bar Red

5 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PF.

Telephone: +44 0207 434 3417
This Soho favorite boasts some serious blending of cocktails. Spread over two levels, upstairs it’s all plush private booths and chandeliers, an ideal spot to relax and linger over a drink. For a livelier night go downstairs where live DJs play on most nights.

Icebar London

31-33 Heddon Street, Mayfair, London, W1B 4BN.

Telephone: 020 7478 8910
The only permanent ice bar in the UK, it’s kept at a constant minus 5 degrees. The ice is imported from Sweden and has been turned into bar.  Ice stools circle ice tables in front of ice art while ski suited barmen make vodka cocktails which are served in ice cube glasses. There’s a cover charge but that includes your first drink. The ice bar phenomenon may no longer seem as unique as it once did – the idea has been reproduced at a number of locations around the world – but still a memorable night out.


100 Wardour St, London, W1F 0TN.

Telephone: +44 020 7314 4000
Taking its name from the famous bar in Havana where Hemingway once drank. The clientele is the usual upmarket London lot, credit crunch or no (which is fortunate as prices veer towards the steep). The music is Latin and appealing and, daiquiris aside, the regular cocktails are also pretty special: excellent mojitos and some decent contemporary concoctions. Also, being a Cuban bar, they offer a large range of cigars.

The Connaught Bar

The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL.

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7499 7070
The Connaught Hotel – the grandest of London’s grande dames – has had a bit of makeover. Already it has unveiled the divine Coburg Bar and now we have this, a glorious room designed by David Collins and housed in the hotel’s former American Bar. The ever so elegant space is bedecked in metals, marble and leather with art deco detailing. The cocktails are true classics, impeccably executed with the very best ingredients, and there’s also a large selection of champagnes and fine wines. Bar food comes care of the hotel’s new resident chef Helene Darroze. None of this comes at a low price, of course, but that’s to be expected: the Connaught is a world class bar in a world class hotel that has embraced 21st century style without sacrificing any of its considerable character.

The Library/The Garden Room

Lanesborough Hotel Hyde Park Corner, London, SW1X 7TA.

Telephone: +44 0207 5599
Too often bars feel like bland copies of each other. These days retro-minimalism has been done to death and retro-futurism is not far behind; it’s at times like this you long for a return to a world of classic drinking. The Lanesborough has created The Garden Room, for those who believe the life went out of the London bar scene along with the smoke. An extensive collection of Cuban cigars is offered for those who want to complete their evening in style

Trailer Happiness

177 Portobello Road, London, W11 2DY.

Telephone: +44 0207 727 2700
Think Tiki drinks and you immediately imagine the South Pacific. Although, when poured properly, there is nothing so delicious as a tropical cocktail and who better to bring the first authentic Tiki bar – Trader Vic’s apart – to London, than King Cocktail himself, master mixologist Dale DeGroff who trained staff at the Player and the Match bars. Set in terminally trendy Notting Hill on the boho-chic Portobello, the décor is palm-tree retro kitsch, with dark walls, bright splashes of colour to match that in the Sours and Sunrises, and the odd Tretchikoff on the wall – South Africa’s master of the kitsch genre. The crowd is typical Notting Hill cool – celebrities, media tarts and fashionistas are a dime a dozen in these parts – but the bar is every bit as laid back and fun as was intended. And well priced too: a masterful cocktail for £4 in Notting Hill?


131 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 5BB.

Telephone: +44 0203 008 7763
You’ll need to ring a door buzzer to be allowed into this elegant members’ club in Fitzrovia, but hold your nerve because it’s rather wonderful inside: all glimmering, glittering white with subtly shifting lighting and rippling water features. Long white curtains hang around each small table allowing a measure of privacy to those seeking an intimate evening. The cocktail list is full of exciting combinations; we’re particularly taken with the combination of gin, honey water and champagne. Staff are efficient and know what their drinks. The dinner menu is not cheap at £90 for three courses, but it is inspired (the head chef has a background littered with Michelin star establishments), think lobster tagliatelle with chilli and garlic or a dessert of chocolate brownie with salted caramel mousse and tonka bean ice cream

Rules Bar

35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7LB.

Telephone: +44(0)207836 5314
Rules is, without argument, a London institution. The oldest restaurant in the city (dating back to 1798), this Covent Garden survivor exudes the tradition and elegance of a past era. Rules cares not a jot for fads and fashions; it continues to serve its hearty English food to those who appreciate it, but while cocktails have always been served at Rules it is only recently that a dedicated cocktail bar has been opened on the restaurant’s upper floor. Glamorous in the most understated way, the bar is dedicated to the crafting of classic drinks; there are just ten choices on the list but they are all impeccably and lovingly prepared.

“Breast-Milk” Ice Cream Served at Covent Garden Restaurant – London

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

small logo RDC Culinary Tidbits . . .  Breast-Milk Ice Cream is being served at Icecreamists in the Convent Garden section of London and is being called “Baby Gaga”. The human milk is Pasteurized before being churned into the dessert and donated by a local mother, Victoria Hiley, with each serving costing £14. UPDATE: BREAST-MILK SEIZED BY LONDON POLICE due to complaints by the public. UPDATE II: LADY GAGA’S LAWYERS intend to sue breast-milk ice cream makers.

Follow the link below to see a photo of the ice cream:

Pied à Terre Restaurant – London

Monday, September 27th, 2010


Contributed by Carole Chung

Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte Street
London W1T 2NH
020 7636 1178

Pied à Terre’s narrow, understated premises makes it difficult to find, as it blends in with many other restaurants and design studios on the street. When you plan an evening at Pied à Terre you might be looking forward to the modern, stylized French cuisine of Shane Osborn, Australia’s first Michelin decorated chef; what you might not have anticipated is the best value menu of this standard in the city.
There are two dining rooms downstairs, with tables set far enough apart and some comfortable banquettes in the back one, with the bar and another private room above.
A couple of extraordinary dishes: deep-fried snails bathed in a feather-light batter; best end of lamb was slow cooked by the sous vide method and literally melted in the mouth.
Service is good while not being overbearing.
The restaurant has an excellent wine list and a few unexpected wines by the glass to pair with all the dishes.

Ebury Wine Bar – London

Monday, July 27th, 2009

139 Ebury Street, London,
Tel.  0871 3328766
Venue Type: Wine Bar
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00-23:00; Sun 18:00-22:30
Underground: Victoria or Sloane Sq.
Cuisine: British
Kitchen Open: Daily 12:00-14:45 & 18:00-22:15
Booking Essential on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Facilities: TV Screens showing sports events
Children: Welcome
Credit Cards: Visa, MC
Prices: Moderate

In the late sixties and early seventies when I spent a good deal of time in London I frequented Ebury Wine Bar while staying with friends who lived around the corner on Chester Row. In those days, they had on offer some very reasonably priced, solid “little” French Burgundies, both red & white, along with a good selection of Loire Valley, Rhône, and Alsace wines available by the glass or bottle. At the time, it was excellent value especially for the wines; and the food was, on the whole, quite good. Today, they have no hope of offering the quality of the wines from France and Italy that they could in those days, and no one expects that, however, they are scouting out a great many “interesting wines” from the old and new world that are quite surprising in their own right. It is because of these elements combined with maintaining the integrity of the kitchen that it has remained to be one of the great wine bars in London for over 40 years.

Information below includes: Name of wine, region, vintage year, country of origin, price by bottle, price by glass, alcohol percentage by volume.

White Wines – House Selection

1. Chevanceau Blanc, Vin de Pays du Cotes de Gascogne, 2005


2. Chenin Blanc, Stormy Cape, 2006


3. Sauvignon Blanc, Reserva, Echeverria, Curico Valley, 2006


4. Pinot Grigio, Della Provincia di Pavia, Cielo, 2005


5. Unoaked Chardonnay, Foundstone, 2006


6. Riesling, Kabinett, Johannisberger Erntebringer, Rheingau, 2004


Red Wines – House Selection

38. Chevanceau Rouge, Vin de Pays de L’Herault, 2005


39. Merlot, Vin de Pays D’oc, La Place, 2005


40. Santa Ines, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004


41. Malbec, Bodegas Terrazas Mendoza, 2004


42. Nero D’Avola, Mandrarossa, 2005


43. Anares Tinto Crianza, Rioja, 2003


44. Shiraz, Tyrrell’s Moore’s Creek, Hunter VAlley, 2004


Langan’s Brasserie – London

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Above: a rare copy of the menu heading for Langan’s Brasserie in Century City, Los Angeles

Peter Langan was on the loose in Los Angeles when I was introduced to him, partly because his partners chef, Richard Sheperd and actor, Michael Caine found it more convenient to have Peter absent from London’s Langan’s Brasserie rather than under a table biting Princess Margaret’s leg and causing other disruptions. He was about to sign a really unfavorable lease agreement with the Beverly Center for the corner of the ground floor on LaCienega and Beverly Boulevards, which I managed to persuade him to abandon.

The caricature of Peter Langan on the menu of Langan’s Brasserie in Century City followed the style of the Langan’s London menu however, the operation in Los Angeles unfortunately for everyone, fell under the control of a partner and former New York garment district trader who knew absolutely nothing about running a restaurant and Peter was banned from entering the restaurant from the day of its opening. It was doomed to failure; as it was run in the style of a boutique restaurant rather than the inexpensive 600 seat brasserie that Peter had envisioned, where taxi drivers and film biz people would dine together, albeit in different sections the demarcations unknown to the general public.

I dined with friends a few times at Langan’s Brasserie on Stratton Street just off Piccadilly previous to meeting Peter in Los Angeles. When invited there on Peter’s request after we met, I moved along with him from one table to the next where he continued to open bottle after bottle of either Krug Prestige Cuvée or Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, nursing a glass for awhile while chatting, and then moving on to another table where finally he had a tally of almost as many bottles open, as there were tables in the section near the bar. The walls, filled with works by David Hockney, whom Peter referred to, in the most sincere way as both were good friends, as “the house painter”. Patrick Procktor, another artist who was a close friend, painted a mural of Venice on the walls of the first floor Venetian Room. At Odins, another restaurant in the Langan’s stable, and as Peter often told me, “the restaurant with the best food” was filled with art that Peter had bartered, canvases in exchange for food and drink over the years.

There are so many stories to tell working with this eccentric character and certainly way too many for this post. I may be writing about a few of the more amusing experiences, at some point in the future in these pages, although at the time they were hardly considered as such.

Below: the main dining room downstairs at Langan’s Brasserie on Stratton Street, London

Trailer Happiness Bar – London

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

177 Portobello Road
London, W11 2DY
Tel.+44 (0)207 727 2700
Opening Hours: Tues-Fri: 5pm-1am; Sat:7pm-1am; Sun: 6pm-10.30pm

Think Tiki drinks and you immediately imagine the South Pacific and Trader Vic’s, and when prepared properly, there is nothing more thirst-quenching than a tropical cocktail. Tiki mixologist, Dale DeGroff can mix a mean drink including the dangerous, incendiary kind. Set in trendy Notting Hill on the boho-chic Portobello, the décor is coconut retro kitsch, with dark walls and the odd Tretchikoff on the wall, the South Africa’s master of the kitsch genre.
The crowd is typical Notting Hill cool, which includes celebrities, media tarts and fashionistas.

Nibbles: Uncle Leroy’s Lamb & Lemon Racks, Alabama Black Snake Sesame Shrimp, Dr. Jay’s Green Chilli Fireballs, Trailer Happiness Smokin’ Sausage Salsa and Where You Been All My Life? Crispy Roast Duck.

A garlanded plastic hula-girl stands at the top of the stairway that leads down to this basement bar, which is more tacky and heavy on kitsch than you could shake a plastic palm tree at, and fortunately for you, the downhill climb is to enter and not to leave otherwise, the exit could be fraught with mishaps!