Bargain Caviar, Foie Gras Entice on Lunch Menus: U.K. Food Buzz
August is looking increasingly good for diners at London restaurants. Corrigan’s Mayfair is waiving corkage charges for customers who want to bring their own wines when ordering from the a la carte menu. Just mention the letters BYO when booking. Over in Soho, Bob Bob Ricard is serving a caviar lunch for 19.75 pounds ($31.44). You get 10 grams, with sour cream and blinis, meat pelmeni or truffle-and-potato vareniki and a shot of vodka.
Koffmann’s three-course set lunch is the best-value meal of which I’m aware in London. It was 22 pounds when I went along this week, though the website says 22.50 pounds and chef Pierre Koffmann thought it was 27 pounds when I interviewed him last month. (I had to show him the menu.) My lunch of foie gras and French bean salad, shepherd’s pie, ice cream and hazelnuts with cherry sauce was as strong on flavor as it was simple in conception. I went with Will Smith, the co-owner of Arbutus, whose 16.95 pounds lunch -- without luxury ingredients -- is a competitor for best value.
Michel Roux Jr. is in talks with the Langham to take over the hotel’s restaurant, the Landau, whose chef Elisha Carter has resigned. “The talks are almost at the point where we are signing but, obviously. we have to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” the proprietor of Le Gavroche said yesterday in a telephone interview. The hotel confirmed that discussions were continuing and had no further comment.
If you’re looking for somewhere new, Tinello, which opened yesterday in Pimlico, may be for you. This Italian restaurant is owned by brothers Max and Federico Sali, who worked at several establishments in Tuscany before moving to London. The new venue is backed by chef Giorgio Locatelli, and his wife Plaxy. The brothers previously worked for Locatelli at Zafferano and Locanda Locatelli, where they rose to wine buyer and head chef.
Wine bars with great rustic food are becoming something of a trend in London following the success of Terroirs and Vinoteca. The latest is scheduled to open in the City of London late next month. Bar Battu is the project of Simon Binder, the owner of Luc’s Brasserie. The two-story site, at 48 Gresham Street, used to be home to Molloy’s.
Roka, the Asian restaurant on Charlotte Street, has been closed by a fire that broke out last Friday evening. Diners got out without injury -- and probably without a bill if they moved fast enough -- and the owners hope to reopen in four to five weeks. Dangerous place, Charlotte Street: Pied a Terre, just over the road, was closed for almost a year after a blaze.
Konstam at the Prince Albert has closed after more than four years in business. The unique selling point when the restaurant opened in April 2006 was that the ingredients were obtained within the area covered by the London Tube network. That’s OK for most vegetables and meat, but salt was among the many things that were more difficult to obtain. Oliver Rowe starred in a 10-part BBC TV series, “The Urban Chef,” about his quest. More recently, 80 percent of the produce was sourced locally. Rowe is a talented chef and is sure to pop up again.
Charlie McVeigh, owner of Le Cafe Anglais, is opening a Draft House pub at Tower Bridge on Sept. 14. His aim is to do for beer what’s happened to food in recent years: raising awareness of quality and focusing on provenance. For hungry drinkers, the menu will include traditional British dishes, plus burgers, and there will be a tasting room where you will be able to try an array of brews with a five-course tasting menu. For more information: http://www.drafthouse.co.uk/.
Chefs are lining up for the “London Loves Cooking” event at the Royal Festival Hall on Nov. 2. Richard Corrigan, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Ainsley Harriott, Mark Hix, Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein are among those planning to take part. For more information: http://www.lovecookingfestival.com/shows/London.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)