Balthazar’s Plan; Ramsay Loses Chef; Oliver Tops List

Patrons dine at Balthazar
Patrons dine at Balthazar in the SoHo neighborhood of New York, Tuesday, July 24, 2007. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News.

Richard Caring, owner of Caprice Holdings Ltd., is revising his plans for a restaurant on the site of the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden after his application was rejected by Westminster City Council in May.

“We are currently reviewing how we take an appeal forward,” Caprice and Covent Garden Ltd., the developer, said yesterday in a joint statement.

The plans for a restaurant were originally submitted by the owners of the Wolseley, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. They lost the site to Caring, who hopes to open an offshoot of the New York brasserie Balthazar.

“We are reticent to lose this important cultural space in the heart of the West End as we are keen to encourage the arts here unless we are convinced that what replaces the museum will have a wide benefit for the local area and people,” Alastair Moss, chairman of the Planning and City Development Committee, said this week in an e-mailed statement.

Meanwhile, Corbin and King’s plans for a 75-room hotel with a restaurant in Mayfair have received approval.

Gordon Ramsay has lost yet another chef. James Durrant, who took over at Maze after Jason Atherton quit two months ago, is following Atherton out of the door. Gordon Ramsay Holdings issued a statement today, wishing Durrant well. Durrant didn’t say where he is going but it’s unlikely to be with Atherton. His planned exit was earlier reported on the Caterer Web site.

Meanwhile, Ramsay has closed his Chiswick pub, the Devonshire, after less than three years, the Caterer said. It’s worth noting that the business formed part of the unprofitable Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Ltd., whose other venues include Foxtrot Oscar. This is separate from Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd. Companies House lists 23 Gordon Ramsay businesses.

Jamie Oliver is the most powerful person in the U.K. hospitality industry, according to the Caterer. Other titans in the 100 include Heston Blumenthal (3), Ramsay (5), Caring (7), Corbin & King (10). Oliver was No. 2 last time round, in 2006. The No. 1? Ramsay. Click here for the full list:

Spuntino, the planned offshoot of Polpo, the packed Venetian bar-eatery in Soho, has been delayed. It’s now possible that the as-yet unnamed Polpo 3, in Covent Garden, might leapfrog its big brother and open first.

Bompas & Parr, jelly maker and creator of curious culinary events, is hosting “The Complete History of Food,” an ambient multicourse meal where you walk through rooms sampling dishes. The evenings run from July 14-18 and tickets cost 25 pounds ($37.43). Readers who sign up for the mailing list today will be entered in a ballot for two free tickets, joint owner Sam Bompas said.

A new eatery is serving kebabs wrapped in parathas (Indian bread) near Liverpool Street station, the blogger Gastrogeek reports. Cafe Kaati, at 123 Houndsditch, is high on my list of places to go.

The Blues Kitchen, in Camden, will celebrate Independence Day from 6 p.m. to midnight on July 4 with American food and drinks. For the gourmets among you, there’s a hot-dog-eating contest. Separately, Euphorium Bakery is offering Whoopie Pies at $1.80 in its stores at Queensway and Covent Garden through July 11. After that, they will cost 1.80 pounds. The White Horse, in Parsons Green, is hosting an American Beer Festival from July 2-4. Featured brews include Goose Island, from Chicago; Yard’s Brewing, from Philadelphia; and Flying Dog, from Maryland. Weather permitting, a hog roast is also planned.

FRAE, the fat-free frozen-yogurt store that has won fans in Islington, opens a branch at 47 Notting Hill Gate on July 5.

Bob Bob Ricard in Soho is offering Pol Roger 1999 at 15.50 pounds a glass, or you might prefer a free glass of Pol Roger Reserve Brut NV served with every lunch ordered in July. Alternatively, 75 pounds will buy you half a bottle of Krug and two portions of fish and chips at the Punch Bowl, which is running a series of all-day “Thank Krug It’s Friday” events. I never do things by half and every day is Friday for me, so I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Waitrose plans to open a cookery school in London in October, becoming the first U.K. retailer with such an educational arm. It will offer a choice of classes, with a focus on particular cuisines such as Italian and Indian, plus skill-based sessions such as butchery and knife skills. The school will be housed over the Waitrose branch on Finchley Road.

Quadrille has begun publishing a series of New Voices in Food, featuring recipes from young cooks, such as Stevie Parle, 24, who has worked at River Cafe and Petersham Nurseries. Parle’s “Real Food From Near and Far” and “Alice’s Cook Book,” by Alice Hart, are priced at 14.99 pounds.

Eastside Inn, near Smithfield Market, has removed the fine-dining restaurant and created a new standalone bar alongside the bistro. Chef Bjorn van der Horst is one of London’s leading culinary talents, and his wife Justine runs the front of house.

(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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