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Ramsay Chef Opens Restaurant in Shanghai: Food Buzz

Heston Blumenthal and Pierre Koffmann
Heston Blumenthal and Pierre Koffmann attend a party for chefs at Bar Boulud on May 6, 2010. The new restaurant is attracting restaurateurs from around London. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg.

Jason Atherton, the British chef who created the Maze restaurant chain for Gordon Ramsay before quitting last month, has opened a restaurant in Shanghai serving modern European dishes in tapas-sized portions.

Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton, housed in the futuristic Waterhouse at South Bund hotel, seats 65 diners, who may enjoy dishes such as suckling pig with textures of beetroot: pureed pickled and roast. All the ingredients are local, Atherton said.

“The Chinese are very sophisticated cooks with strong regional cuisines and I don’t want to teach people to suck eggs,” Atherton said today in a telephone interview. “I’m doing what I do best, which is modern European cooking.”

Atherton said he aims to open a restaurant in London in mid-to-late September. He declined to confirm that it will be on Pollen Street in Mayfair and said he hasn’t yet decided on a name. In Shanghai, head chef Scott Melvin is a veteran of Maze. Atherton says he will travel to China four times a year to work with Melvin on preparing seasonal menus.

Hare Royale was one of the most-talked-about dishes at Bistrot Bruno Loubet when the eatery opened near London’s City financial district in March.

There’s just one small problem: It’s illegal.

The Hares Preservation Act of 1892 stipulates: “It shall not be lawful during the months of March, April, May, June or July to sell or expose for sale in any part of Great Britain any hare or leveret.” Bruno Loubet found out following a complaint from the Hare Preservation Trust, General Manager Jason Catifeoglou said.

The trust is now focusing on farmers’ market sales and said the maximum fine is 200 pounds ($286). There’s no mention of the spat on its website, where the news section is headed by an exclusive: “The Election --What Does It Mean for Hares?” Loubet isn’t bothered. He’d introduced a hare-less spring menu before the complaint arrived.

Keira Knightley was spotted lunching at Polpo in Soho yesterday. Owner Russell Norman wasn’t there. He’s been seen checking out a site in Covent Garden that might become a second offshoot of Polpo even before the first -- Spuntino -- opens. Norman, lunching at Bar Boulud, wouldn’t be drawn on such industry speculation. Among other celebrity sightings, Gary Lineker showed up for the opening of JW Steakhouse: The soccer star was nibbling on canapes rather than Walkers crisps.

The Buddha Bar on London’s Victoria Embankment closed down on Monday after trading for less than two years. The cavernous space, below the northern end of Waterloo Bridge, opened in August 2008 with Asian food and a giant statue of Buddha.

National Vegetarian Week starts on May 24, with tastings, demonstrations and special menus to promote the benefits of a meat-free life. The new Restaurant Michael Nadra, in Chiswick, is offering a seven-course veggie tasting menu that costs 35 pounds, and another 25 pounds for matching wines. It looks remarkably tempting. More centrally, the Garden Menu (until May 31) at the Cinnamon Club is 60 pounds. (I had an excellent dinner with Cinnamon Club founder Iqbal Wahhab at his restaurant Roast earlier this month. It was excellent but the main contribution of plant life came in the form of wine.)

Love Cooking, a new touring event, offers food lovers in Bristol, Edinburgh, Harrogate and London to see some of their favorite TV chefs in action on stage. The daylong series of performances at the Royal Festival Hall in London will include chefs Ainsley Harriott, Richard Corrigan, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein and Mark Hix. Look out for host Olly Smith, who energetically fronted “Iron Chef UK,” which lost its afternoon TV slot this week.

There are a couple of good new eateries to try close to the City. Giant Robot is a funky bar-cafe-deli-diner over the road from Bruno Loubet. It features New York-type Italian snacks and homemade ice cream in an industrial-style venue. It’s owned by Jonathan Downey, the man behind the lamented East Room, which was destroyed by a fire in March. The other new venue is Tsuru, serving sushi, sashimi and katsu curry, not to mention drinks and bento boxes. You can sit outside on these hot days.

Clocks from the old London Stock Exchange on Threadneedle Street are on show at 1 Lombard Street until Sept. 29, when they will be auctioned. The clocks, made by the Italian manufacturers Solari, overlooked the trading floor until the mid-1990s and were salvaged from a railway arch in the East End by the designer Mark Lawson Bell, according to 1 Lombard.

Jean-Claude Breton of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Alain Desenclos of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Didier Garnier of Le Colombier were among those invited to join the Academy of Food & Wine’s Restaurant Manager Hall of Fame. David Hennigan, 40, of the Crown at Whitebrook and Celtic Manor, in Monmouthshire, was named 2010 U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year on May 17 following a final at Babylon restaurant at the Roof Gardens, London. Michele Caggianese of Galvin at Windows was runner up.

Anise at the Cinnamon Kitchen is holding a “Sex and the City”-style makeover event on May 24, with a free cocktail and the opportunity to get treatments and a new look from the likes of Benefit Cosmetics, Wah Nails, Cucumba, Brat & Suzie and Allumer. For information, call +44-20-7626-5000 but there is already a waiting list. Guess I’ll have to do my own nails.

Taittinger has conducted a bubbles-with-altitude experiment into what happens to Champagne on board a hot-air balloon at 10,000 feet. The answer is that there’s less aroma and bigger bubbles. Funny, I’ve never noticed that when flying. The main problem on some airlines is getting a drink in the first place.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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