Recession? What Recession?

Though the pundits are dooming-and-glooming every time the financial news comes on, the British restaurant scene is clearly thriving because so many really exciting new places are opening their doors soon, especially ones attached to hotels.  Today is the inaugural day for Dinner by Heston, Heston Blumenthal’s new London restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, and we thought you’d like to hear about more openings soon and on the horizon.

Chef Lee Streeton, formerly of The Ivy and the kitchen at Brown’s Hotel, will be heading the kitchen at The Capability starting 22nd February.  It’s the main restaurant at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Syon Park, a new luxury hotel in the 200-acre grounds of Syon Park in west London on the banks of the Thames.  Streeton has been on site since August, testing dishes and creating the menu for The Capability — named for Lancelot Capability Brown, arguably Britain’s greatest landscape gardener — which will offer a modern take on classic British cuisine employing some ingredients picked literally metres from the restaurant’s door.  Now that’s fresh and seasonal.  This could be super.

Double Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, of Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, will take on the role of restaurant operator at the glamorous and luxurious not to mention historic The Gilbert Scott restaurant at the new St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London officially launching 5 May 2011, though taking reservations from 1 April.  Wareing will carry on in the kitchen in Knightsbridge and chef Chantelle Nicholson, who has been a key member of the Wareing team for five years, will take on the role of General Manager of this exciting new venture.  The hotel has been lovingly restored in the original Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station and the new dining room has an interior by David Collins that will surely take advantage of the grand Victoriana of the surrounding building.

Remember Vong?  It was also at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, the dining room of international chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and had both avid fans and vocal detractors.  Vongerichten has been busy succeeding mightily in New York City and now a branch of his Meatpacking District restaurant, Spice Market, is set to open on Valentine’s Day at the new W Hotel in Leicester Square, so you know it will be sharply stylish and a hot ticket for pre-theatre or clubbing.

Chinese New Year

Say hello to the Year of the Rabbit with an explosion of colour, dance, music, public celebrations and special events.  The day itself is this Thursday, 3 February, but most of London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are happening on the following Sunday, 6 February.  Trafalgar Square will host dragon and lion dances with modern music and dance and appearances by real Chinese performers from various provinces in that enormous country.  That weekend there are exhibitions and hands-on events at the Geffrye Museum (restaurants nearby), the Wallace Collection (many great restaurants nearby), and the V&A (near dozens of super restaurants).

Or do the really authentic thing and book a restaurant in Chinatown to immerse yourself in all the fun of the celebrations.  And to our Chinese friends and diners, we wish you the happiest of New Years.

South Bank Gets Real Again

The Real Food Market returns to the South Bank Centre in London 4 – 6 February and just in time to stock up on aphrodisiac foods for Valentine’s Day, like chocolate, oysters and anything at all that you make with care and devotion.  Need to eat?  We know the places.

New restaurants on toptable:

Yalla Yalla Fitzrovia

We already blogged about Yalla Yalla‘s new outpost in Fitzrovia, not a million miles from its original teensy Soho restaurant, but now it’s on toptable and loaded with special offers, you can come and try its Beiruti street food for yourself.  The surroundings are hip and casual and perfect for quick lunches and suppers, or more lingering mezze-fuelled evenings.

Grand Imperial London

The imposing space at the corner of Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace Road in London has been home to several fine restaurants in the past, but now has a great Chinese establishment, the Grand Imperial London, to really take advantage of the soaring ceilings, grand proportions and terrific location.  The menu focuses on the Cantonese area of Hong Kong.  If you think you know this cuisine, you may find yourself newly delighted at the cordon bleu style of the Grand Imperial that uses the freshest possible ingredients.

Osteria Antica Bologna

The residents of Clapham have been enjoying the authentic Italian cuisine of Osteria Antica Bologna for more than twenty years and that is a recommendation not to be taken lightly.  The rustic interior will remind you of real osterias in Tuscany or Emilia Romagna.  The food uses fresh seasonal ingredients in dishes

Oscars Lounge and Restaurant

that are both sophisticated and earthy, just exactly the sort of Italian food we love in London.

Oscars Lounge and Restaurant in Calverton eight miles north of Nottingham started life as a village pub, but has now been transformed into a chic yet informal restaurant named for the greatest wit of all, Oscar Wilde.  The modern English menu has the classics you love and there are sharing platters available all day for light and easy dining.

You already loved La Garrigue in Edinburgh, putting it at Top Diner Rated level.  Now acclaimed chef Jean Michel Gauffre has opened a second retaurant, La Garrigue in the New Town, situated on Edinburgh’s Eyre Place, just a short walk from the Botanic Gardens. Like the original La Garrigue, the name refers to a part of the Languedoc, Gauffre’s home, and the cooking is a refined interpretation of the cuisine of southwestern France.  There’s also an excellent regional wine list and a menu of aperitifs that includes absinthe.