Now that the Clan Z is safely tucked in their homes, s'time to report on fave and raves of the London restaurant scene. For all the A to Z crowd who know which way to turn for a Starbucks no matter which tube they exit, I've little news to report. But if you're a stranger to the surprisingly crowded streets of London, I might have a tip or two for you.
Fish and chips:
Yes, I believe the cab drivers do know best. It's the Sea Shell on Lisson Grove. More expensive than the rest, but for quality and variety, it's heads and tails (well, fillets and chops) above both Rock and Sole Plaice and the Golden Hinde. Suggest you don't ignore the Scottish Salmon Chop.
Do like Bombay Brasserie. The duck with apricot emulsion was simply divine. Confidant and pleasing service too.
J Sheeky is just too good to not visit. Remarkable. The kind of place that makes living in a bustling cosmopolitan city seem entirely reasonable. Love the frozen berry and warm white chocolate sauce dessert.
Favorite would be Brown's Hotel. Tried Ritz Hotel too. Frankly, this communal interest in a slow motion intentional over dose of sweets eludes me. Sorry.
1837 at Browns. A steal.
Unjust subject of criticism:
Gordon Ramsey. Lunch was delightful.
The Capital. Still beautiful food, but where did all the taste go this time?
Rules is delightful, and the sticky pudding is too, but I'd save it for the winter when they farm their own game and avoid it on Friday and Saturday evenings, when the short handed wait staff is especially that.
Best cooking class:
The Cordon Bleu, where for 15 pounds you can join a demonstration class made up of terribly young / tense / bored students watching an instructor with a Gascony accent pretending to be from Paris and growling at them all for being young / tense / bored and better funded.
Sweet place to shop for specialty foods:
Villandry, which continues to expand. Like the organic young French chickens particularly.
Quickest place to drop a bundle of cash and not realize you are doing it:
Providores, startlingly good tapas. Clever way to lose money and gain weight.
Do love Poilane on Elizabeth Street and Paxton & Whitfield for cheese.
Do love Patisserie Valerie but humph about the prices.
Crisps and chardonnay during the interval at the Royal Opera House bar, the loveliest bar that ever there was.
Quick advice to visitors: buy an A to Z and a Time Out restaurant guide for locations and times. Book ahead (almost everywhere has an email account for booking) for the better spots. Rent a serviced flat and save what you don't spend on morning coffee at a good lunch, when bargains abound.
With these few caution, I wish good luck to Londoners and visitors too: it's a crowded, bustling, and wonderful zoo.