The end of the year is in sight and Haute Time has hardly done any home cooking. Rather we’ve spent 2014 eating out and who can blame us? Spending time in a kitchen trading 101 things to do with a ripe aubergine is for those unlucky souls who live beyond the M25 and aren’t able to gorge at Gymkhana or pop into The Palomar. Londoners don’t want to be shackled to the stove - not when we could enjoy a bite to eat at Balthazar, dinner and drinks at Dabbous or piqueos and Pisco Sours at Lima Floral, the second London restaurant from Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez and his partners, Gabriel and Jose Luis Gonzalez. The memory of a good meal in the greatest city in the world will always put a smile on your face. With this in mind, we present five our most memorable meals of 2014...
Do yourself a favour and make a beeline for Boulestin – a sublime French restaurant situated on salubrious St James’s Street. Once seated – take your pick from the restaurant with its elegant caramel hued walls and beige leather banquettes or, if the weather allows, the atmospherical courtyard – prepare to peruse the resolutely French menu. From the main courses the Côte de veau, sauge and citron (veal cutlet, sage and lemon) makes for a carnivore’s delight, while the Tagliatelle cepes (fresh tagliatelli and ceps) also gets top marks. Meanwhile the Parfait glacé au miel, sauce au chocolat (Frozen honeycomb parfait with chocolate sauce) makes a fitting finale to your French feast. Another special feature is the wine list – it’s one of the finest in the capital with many available by the glass, half bottle and bottle. There’s also a killer cocktail menu: don’t miss Le Boulestin(Ketel 1 or Tanqueray, fresh cranberry and ginger beer), a wonderfully refreshing concoction. Staff ooze gallic charm (Sofiane in particular is unfailing friendly) helping make a meal at Joel Kissin’s Mayfair venture an excellent experience. Bottom line? We say oui.
5 Saint James's Street, London SW1
Most of us are creatures of habit and, as such the restaurants we return to, tend to be tried and tested haunts. But if, like Haute Time, you’re in the mood to expand your culinary horizons, leave Le Caprice to Simon Cowell and co and head to high end Peruvian restaurant, Coya. Situated a stone’s throw from The Ritz in the heart of Mayfair, Coya has risen to critical acclaim since it launched in late 2012. Step inside the impressive Georgian building and descend downstairs to the 100 seater basement restaurant to be greeted by a David D’Almada designed interior: expect a luxurious dilapidated décor that juxtaposes a rich Incan palette against modern metallic finishes, with a nod to a colonial past. The space brings together an array of painted murals, textures and finishes that create a contemporary and edgy, yet elegant take on Latin America. The food is equally spectacular: don’t miss dishes include anticuchos (grilled skewered meat) such as Ox heart with parsley and ají rocoto, plus parrillada dishes like Pechuga de pato – duck breast with lúcuma, soya sauce and coriander shoots.
118 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1
Novikov is the swanky Mayfair restaurant from Arkady Novikov – arguably the hottest man in the restaurant industry right now. The Russian restaurateur owns a staggering 50 restaurants in and around Moscow and four in the capital: Brompton Brasserie, Rififi, Rextail and the flagship Novikov – aka one one of the hottest places to gather for dinner and drinks in Mayfair. The Italian eatery has a lot going for it from the louche yet sociable mood (aided by the low lighting), elegant interior (all suede wall panelling, handmade Moroccan tiles, mirrors in solid oak frames and chandeliers with candles) from Geometry Design Moscow and model-sque staff. There’s also an encyclopedia sized menu that exceeds expectations – Novikov isn’t, contrary to public perception, a case of all style and no substance: there’s a superb assortment of antipasti and a superior selection of homemade pasta that had us purring with pleasure. Drinks include a masterfully assembled list of wines and liqueurs (the limoncello is guaranteed to transport you Italy) but in such stunning surroundings it’s a shame not to order something sparkly. Novikov won’t suit everyone – you either get it or you don’t. But if you do, you’ll want to return tomorrow.
50A Berkeley Street, W1J
4. Plum & Spilt Milk
Mark Sargeant who once worked alongside Gordon Ramsay as head chef of Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s – where he earnt a coveted Michelin star – now has a restaurant of his own. And it’s nothing short of spectacular. Situated on the first floor of the newly restored Great Northern Hotel, Plum & Spilt Milk (the name originates from the livery colours of the dining cars pulled by the Flying Scotsman) is a stunning space. Seventeen three-metre tall sash windows allow light to flood into the restaurant that’s artfully adorned with hand blown glass pendants, clusters of mirrors and curvy cream banquettes handmade by Boffi of Milan to a bespoke design. But ‘Sarge’s’ food is just as much of a draw as the opulent setting and the slick yet friendly service. Mark Sargeant’s a la carte menu is simple (it rarely startles) and resolutely British using seasonal ingredients carefully sourced and cooked brilliantly. All told, Plum & Spilt Milk is a breath of fresh air in the Kings Cross area. Don’t wait until your next Eurostar journey to visit: book now for the New Year. This is a wonderful restaurant.
Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, Great Northern Hotel, N1
5. The Ritz Restaurant
In a city where restaurants are in and out of favour faster than Lib Dem politicians, The Ritz Restaurant remains one of the best in London. And rightly so. The moment you set foot in The Ritz Restaurant you know you’re in the hands of professionals. The restaurant’s polished front of house team steer you with a smile into what must surely be one of the loveliest dining rooms in London owing to its Louis XVI inspired decor - think chandeliers and looped golden garlands. There’s an equally confident brigade at work in the kitchen - where John Williams, MBE, is currently celebrating 10 years as executive chef - too. To mark the occasion, the restaurant is offering a selection of John’s favourite dishes from the past decade including Egg fabergé, Butter poached lobster with spiced carrot pureé, Poulet de Bresse en Vessie and Saddle of lamb belle époque. But trying to decide which of John’s creations to order poses something of a dilemma - albeit it a delicious one - so our advice, dear reader, is to keep things simple and and try the tasting menu.
The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, W1