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Jamie Oliver, Boulud, Roux, Top Chefs Pick Best London Meals

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver in his new restaurant Barbecoa in London. The TV chef's best London meals were at Hix. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Chefs and restaurateurs eat out more than some of us and know more about food than most. I asked about 50 of the U.K.’s culinary masters where they enjoyed their best London restaurant meals of the year.

Here’s what they had to say:

Joel Antunes (Brasserie Joel): “Arbutus. A starter of mackerel and then beef cheek: It was fantastic. I also had very good food at Koffmann’s: grouse followed by pistachio souffle.”

Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social): “The Ledbury. It was sensational, inspirational. Brett (Graham) cooks from his heart and soul and he’s a big candidate for a third Michelin star in the next three or four years.”

Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon): “The Ledbury. I like a lot how Brett balances the flavors in the plates. I totally understand his philosophy of cooking and I share it.”

Sat Bains (Sat Bains, Nottingham): “Harwood Arms. I took David Chang (Momofuku Ko, New York) Wylie Dufresne (wd-50) and Daniel Patterson (Coi, San Francisco). We had a great night drinking real ale with some delicious British food in season.”

Vineet Bhatia (Rasoi): “Locanda Locatelli, especially the mushroom risotto with morels.”

Antonin Bonnet (Greenhouse): “Le Gavroche. The service was astonishing. I went for lunch and there was a full dining room. The smoothness and attention to detail was perfect.”

Claude Bosi (Hibiscus): “The Greenhouse and Les Deux Salons. Antonin (Bonnet/Greenhouse) is a fantastic cook, always in his kitchen working and producing amazing dishes. Les Deux Salons feels homely and the food is spot on.”

Daniel Boulud (Bar Boulud): “The Ledbury, with you. I particularly remember the delicious whole beet baked and presented in clay: earthy, sweet and sophisticated by virtue of its simplicity.”

Adam Byatt (Trinity): “I had fantastic meals at both Koffmann’s and Corrigan’s Mayfair. (Internationally, I had the best meal of my life at Noma.)”

Helene Darroze (Helene Darroze at the Connaught): “Dinings. It was a wonderful meal with high-quality sushi and the lobster tempura was outstanding.”

Anthony Demetre (Les Deux Salons): “I’ve had three exceptional meals. The best was at Brasserie Joel. Joel (Antunes) is brilliant. It’s the return of the maestro. The other two are Tinello and Koffmann’s.”

Raphael Duntoye (La Petite Maison): “Koffmann’s. I had an amazing black grouse and a beautiful mackerel terrine. Joel Antunes (Brasserie Joel) is brilliant too.”

Pierre Gagnaire (Sketch): “Scott’s. I’ve been three times and enjoyed each meal. It’s fresh and simple and the room reminds me of a comfortable brasserie in Normandy. I have shrimp butter and some oysters, followed by a fish simply grilled.”

Chris Galvin (Galvin Bistrot de Luxe): “The Square, for my birthday. I can always see the classic basis, with lots of deep flavors, but it is very light and it’s beautiful on the eye. Lahore Kebab House was a tasty one, too.”

Alexis Gauthier (Gauthier): “Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester was perfect. The scallop carpaccio with caviar was the best dish I have had for years. The lime souffle was exceptional: I’ve never had a souffle like that in my life.”

Brett Graham (Ledbury): “Zuma: The tasting menu matched with sake. It’s fresh and great cooking.”

Skye Gyngell (Petersham Nurseries): “Hereford Road. The food is consistently good, the menu has a lot of things you want to eat and I really like the atmosphere.”

Anna Hansen (Modern Pantry): Galvin la Chapelle was unreal: foie gras and pig’s trotter, then tarte tatin. It was executed perfectly. And the most interesting meal was at Viajante.”

Angela Hartnett (Murano): “Brawn, and the Waterside Inn. Brawn is the perfect local restaurant, with great food and service at everyday prices. The Waterside Inn was every bit the three-star experience, hugely memorable.”

Henry Harris (Racine): “St John. A late summer supper of langoustine mayonnaise followed by a big plate of chitterlings with lots of black pepper and an Eccles cake with Lancashire cheese. Lunch at Le Gavroche was also outstanding.”

Fergus Henderson (St John): “Terroirs.”

Jocelyn Herland (Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester): “The Greenhouse. Antonin Bonnet’s cuisine is beautiful, mature, balanced. He has a great respect for the produce. I remember a wonderful pigeon dish and a steak tartare.”

Mark Hix (Hix): Rules. “Harvey Ayliffe is head chef there now and the food is spot on. He used to work with me.”

Philip Howard (The Square): “The Ledbury. I had an outstanding meal there.”

Jacob Kenedy (Bocca di Lupo): “Bar Shu. Cold buckwheat noodles drowned in chili oil and dry-fried green beans with pork, with my family and Nancy Oakes & Bruce Aidells, my mentors from San Francisco: perfect company and my mouth on fire.”

Tom Kitchin (Kitchin, Edinburgh): “Koffmann’s. It’s phenomenal welcoming the guy back and I’m delighted a generation of people who missed out are going to find out. He started by doing brasserie stuff but he’s reverting to his classics.”

Atul Kochhar (Benares): “This year’s best meal was at the Dockmaster’s.”

Pierre Koffmann (Koffmann’s): “We had a fantastic meal at Hibiscus and I’ve had many good meals at La Petite Maison and Joel Antunes (Brasserie Joel.) I always eat well at the Ledbury, and (Bistrot) Bruno Loubet. Le Colombier for simplicity and we had a very good meal at Bocca di Lupo.”

Jeremy Lee (Blueprint Cafe): “Le Cafe Anglais. Eating Rowley Leigh’s pike boudin with beurre blanc is a delight. I love everything at St John. I love Terroirs. Lunch on the terrace at the River Cafe on a summer’s day is a memory that lingers.”

Giorgio Locatelli (Locanda Locatelli): “Zucca. I had a really good meal there. I ate well and liked their style.”

Bruno Loubet (Bistrot Bruno Loubet): “Bocca di Lupo. I liked the simplicity: Just a few ingredients cooked in a controlled way, with honesty.”

Francesco Mazzei (L’Anima): “Almeida. I had a fantastic meal with my family, probably the best suckling pig in my life, the presentation, the texture, the way it was cooked. It was so simple and yet outstanding.”

Thomasina Miers (Wahaca): “The Ledbury. I had a stunning lunch. I love the way Brett (Graham) cooks vegetables with such lightness of touch. And I had an exceptional dinner at Locanda Locatelli. The gnocchi was possibly the lightest I’ve had.”

Russell Norman (Polpo): Koya. The home-made udon noodles are springy and fresh, the broth comforting and heartwarming and they have great daily specials.”

Jamie Oliver (Barbecoa): “The happiest and tastiest times I’ve had this year have been in Hix. I haven’t had a bad meal yet. Everything is well sourced and cooked with love.”

Shane Osborn (Pied a Terre): “The Ledbury. I was there for my 40th in June and it was a spectacular meal.”

Helena Puolakka (Skylon): “Bar Boulud. I’ve had several very good meals there. It’s always packed and the service is fantastic. I’ve had good meals at Koffmann’s, too.”

Gary Rhodes (Rhodes W1): “Zafferano. It was just when the white-truffle season had started and I had a white-truffle risotto. It was exquisite. I also had a wonderful meal at L’Anima when Francesco Mazzei cooked for us.”

Simon Rogan (L’Enclume): “I’ve had loads of good meals in London this year but L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon wins hands down. I love the whole ambience: It’s really good food in funky surroundings. I especially love sitting at the bar.”

Albert Roux (Le Gavroche): “Roux at the Landau, where we appointed a young chef whose cooking in my opinion will hit the star. The menu was gratin of smoked haddock with shrimps in a herby sauce; hare totally deboned, stuffed and cooked slowly for eight hours, served with salsify; and an Omelette Rothschild as dessert.”

Michel Roux Jr. (Le Gavroche): “I had dinner at the new Hakkasan and it was certainly up there with the best of the year. And I had an exceptionally good meal at Bar Boulud. The burger didn’t wow me but the charcuterie and the sausages did.”

Mark Sargeant (ex-Gordon Ramsay): “Hawksmoor. I had a fantastic meal. The best dessert of the year was lemon-meringue pie at Dean Street Townhouse. For atmosphere and fun, I love Pizza East. I’ve also had good meals at Terroirs.”

Jun Tanaka (Pearl): “Viajante. It was something different: a gastronomic experience in an unusual setting. It’s the weirdest place ever and some of the combinations of flavors he manages to pull off are great.”

Mitch Tonks (The Seahorse, Dartmouth): “St John. I’m a fan of that simplicity of cooking and great ingredients. It’s the same at Hix. I had a wonderful split-pea salad with ox cheek followed by a simple roast chicken done exceptionally well.”

Marcus Wareing (Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley): “Helene Darroze at the Connaught. Helene has found her feet and is delivering exceptional food with outstanding quality ingredients.”

Tristan Welch (Launceston Place): “Koffmann’s, because Pierre cooked the right food at the right time to celebrate my mother’s birthday.”

Bryn Williams (Odette’s): “Benares for my birthday dinner. We had the tasting menu. Everything was perfect: the food, the wine, the service, the company, the room.”

Ed Wilson (Brawn): “Koffmann’s. It was all delicious, tasty and just very good.”

Antony Worrall Thompson (Kew Grill): “Hereford Road. It’s exceptionally good value, like the St John of west London. It’s got relaxed but imaginative food that’s full of guts.”

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

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at or Richardvines on

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

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