Never mind a spring clean, there’s nothing like the smell of impending summer to inspire the winds of culinary change. Whether it’s a spanking new seasonal menu or the arrival of a celebrity chef for some kitchen CPR, we’ve gathered up the best of London’s restaurant re-jigs to keep you gourmands busy in the coming months.
Strand Dining Rooms
It’s been almost a year since The Strand Dining Rooms opened a stone’s throw from Charing Cross station to some decidedly mixed reviews. Perhaps as a response to this, the team have enlisted the Midas touch of Mark Sargeant as Chef Director, who introduced his Great British menu at the end of April. You won’t find anything particularly daring from the brasserie-style dishes, but from what we sampled you will get solid cooking. We’d highly recommend the mackerel pate, which delivers a ferociously fishy wallop and, if you catch it in season, plump spears of asparagus with pitch-perfect hollandaise. The alfresco area out front is covered too, making it the perfect cocktail spot for our often unpredictable forecast.
The Savoy Grill
Though the concept is hardly a revolutionary one, we still did an air punch to learn of The Savoy Grill’s appointment of Kim Woodward, their first female Head Chef in their 126-year history. Apart from a Woodward taking over the grills, there’s not much new to report (but then, that’s the main draw of a timeless restaurant). Plus it’s a great excuse to re-visit the stunning 1920’s-inspired dining room home to hundreds of years of Hollywood and history. Dig out your summer best, book in for dinner and order the Cote de Boeuf to share… raising a glass to Kim of course.
Fenchurch at Sky Garden
It hardly seems Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill at Sky Garden has been open long enough to be mixing things up already, but Head Chef Zac Whittle has launched a brand new menu for spring/summer. We went on a Friday night and found the city’s most glamorous sky-high greenhouse packed to the glass ceiling. Once seated in the rather more serene space that is Fenchurch, we marvelled at the skill behind dishes such as rabbit ‘bolognaise’ with wild garlic, shavings of Berkswell and Guinea Fowl served on a bed of squeaky fresh asparagus. When you’ve got a restaurant 38 floors up with one of the best views in London, you’d think dessert would be an after thought… but a whimsical strawberry doughnuts, buttermilk, lime ice cream and honeycomb proved otherwise.
The House of Peroni
Those trendy purveyors from House of Peroni are at it again this summer, popping up with The Residency in Brick Lane from mid May. Billed as “a meeting place for collaboration and inspiration” the space will once again combine design, fashion, film, food and drink. As ever, it’s the latter we’ve got our eye on, most notably the addition of Michelin-starred chef Accursio Craparo, who will be bringing the vegan and vegetarian flavours of his Sicilian restaurant to London with a five course private dinners throughout May and June. Priced at £65 per head, diners will eat together like an ‘Italian family’ and enjoy a multi-sensory experience incorporating sounds and aromas from Accursio’s hometown. That’s one less holiday to plan then.
Pretty much always busy, this tiny Soho restaurant serving sublime French small plates is hardly in the need of extra custom. But get extra custom it will, for Blanchette has recently launched a menu designed with weekday lunchers and weekend brunchers in mind. Showcasing such classic Gallic dishes as steak frites, salade paysanne and Middle White pork and Toulouse sausage cassoulet (to change daily), the idea is to feed everyone from hungry local office workers to Saturday shoppers for under a tenner. Brasserie Zedel eat your heart out.
Having worked in the kitchens of Hix Soho and Chiltern Firehouse, Dale Osbourne is a name worth keeping in mind in the coming months. Now at Terroirs on the cusp of Covent Garden, he recently introduced a menu designed-to-be-shared over a bottle or two of the bar’s much-acclaimed natural wines. Showcasing the finest seasonal produce and cured meats from France, Italy and Spain, dishes include Middlewhite pork with sautéed wild hops and baked rice with rabbit, garlic and snails.
It’s not unusual for a restaurant of L’Anima’s calibre to change menus – after all this award-winning Italian has built its reputation on offering stunning dishes that showcase the best of the season’s ingredients. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited by it. Head Chef Antonio ‘Lello’ Favuzzi recently introduced a selection of new dishes focusing on the fusion of Moorish and southern Italian cuisine delivered with his trademark feather-light touch. We’d recommend the Linguine with Mazara Prawns and Courgette Flowers and Marinated Black Cod in Prosecco and Paprika served with Palourde Clams. Heavenly.
We can’t think of anything better than starting a summer weekend with brunch on the river, which is why we’d high encourage a jaunt down to the Design Museum to sample the new Saturday brunch menu Blueprint Café. If there’s any concept more delightful than tucking into Head Chef Martyn Moody’s classic British breakfast dishes such as Eggs Royale with H.Forman smoked salmon and Kedgeree with hay-smoked North Sea haddock whilst overlooking Tower Bridge, we don’t know what it is. Perhaps throwing in unlimited Bloody Mary’s for an extra £15.