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The Merchant's Tavern

In November 2000 I breathed a sigh of relief as we published the third edition of the Rough Guide to London Restaurants. Over 350 restaurants and a page for each, a mission that involved endless hours hammering at the keyboard and several hundred meals some good and some bad. Old guide books make great reading, in 2000 the entry for the Cantaloupe starts “Property people keep saying that Shoreditch is the in place to live, but until you visit somewhere like Cantaloupe you may be forgiven for not believing them. It’s been trading happily since 1996 and is packed to the gunnels”.

Time for another surge by Italian food? Union Street Café

Long, long ago the Spaghetti House chain of Italian Restaurants dished up spaghetti Bolognaise and “exotic” starters like avocado pears. We admired the straw-covered Chianti bottles and took them home to turn into chic table lights. Then, a quarter of a Century ago, a new restaurant called the River Café convinced London diners that Italian cooking could be both stylish and expensive. Then restaurants like Zafferano and Locanda Locatelli showcased Italian fine dining.

The French in Manchester, Dabbous in London, a great double header

Simon Rogan must be enjoying his new ranking as Britain’s top chef – L’Enclume narrowly pipped the Fat Duck to the Good Food Guide title. He recently added a second restaurant to his Manchester portfolio – “Mr Cooper’s House and Garden” and the French (his first mission to Manchester) continues to soak up good reviews although they mainly concentrate on the carpet. Because a hard wooden floor would resound with the clatter of heels the designers decided to weave a patterned carpet that looks like wood grain – well kind of.

Picture this...

New restaurants continue to stream off the production line. Goodness knows where they get the backers from and indeed the energy and fortitude to go through the whole start up ordeal. The Arbutus group has an excellent reputation and very decent food, so it was only a matter of time before some of their alumni started to make waves in the marketplace. Which brings us to a new restaurant on the site of what was formerly a trad Italian on Great Portland Street.

Snug fit in Bantry

The surprising thing about Ireland is that pretty much all of the rose-tinted stuff you hear about the place is true. It’s very green. The Guinness tastes better. The roads are appalling and journeys take for ever, but punctuality seems less important. Everybody smiles and will happily exchange friendly banter. The houses, and in particular the bungalows, are saved from utilitarian ugliness by striking bright pastel paint jobs. One out of every two days it is raining – not chilly, driving rain but gentle, warm showers born on a light wind.

The Grain Store - for something new

Even for the most dedicated diner, finding something genuinely new is a pretty rare event. The restaurant business persists in following fashion and all to often the next big thing is the same old thing leavened with a few “new twists”. Which is probably why the Grain Store - Bruno Loubet’s latest venture - seems so exciting and so shocking. It’s a simple enough proposition: for each dish start by selecting the vegetable components and then, if needs be, add meat or fish.

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The Merchant's Tavern

In November 2000 I breathed a sigh of relief as we published the third edition of the Rough Guide to London Restaurants. Over 350 restaurants and a page for each, a mission that involved endless hours hammering at the keyboard and several hundred meals some good and some bad. Old guide books make great reading, in 2000 the entry for the Cantaloupe starts “Property people keep saying that Shoreditch is the in place to live, but until you visit somewhere like Cantaloupe you may be forgiven for not believing them. It’s been trading happily since 1996 and is packed to the gunnels”.

Time for another surge by Italian food? Union Street Café

Long, long ago the Spaghetti House chain of Italian Restaurants dished up spaghetti Bolognaise and “exotic” starters like avocado pears. We admired the straw-covered Chianti bottles and took them home to turn into chic table lights. Then, a quarter of a Century ago, a new restaurant called the River Café convinced London diners that Italian cooking could be both stylish and expensive. Then restaurants like Zafferano and Locanda Locatelli showcased Italian fine dining.

The French in Manchester, Dabbous in London, a great double header

Simon Rogan must be enjoying his new ranking as Britain’s top chef – L’Enclume narrowly pipped the Fat Duck to the Good Food Guide title. He recently added a second restaurant to his Manchester portfolio – “Mr Cooper’s House and Garden” and the French (his first mission to Manchester) continues to soak up good reviews although they mainly concentrate on the carpet. Because a hard wooden floor would resound with the clatter of heels the designers decided to weave a patterned carpet that looks like wood grain – well kind of.

Picture this...

New restaurants continue to stream off the production line. Goodness knows where they get the backers from and indeed the energy and fortitude to go through the whole start up ordeal. The Arbutus group has an excellent reputation and very decent food, so it was only a matter of time before some of their alumni started to make waves in the marketplace. Which brings us to a new restaurant on the site of what was formerly a trad Italian on Great Portland Street.

Snug fit in Bantry

The surprising thing about Ireland is that pretty much all of the rose-tinted stuff you hear about the place is true. It’s very green. The Guinness tastes better. The roads are appalling and journeys take for ever, but punctuality seems less important. Everybody smiles and will happily exchange friendly banter. The houses, and in particular the bungalows, are saved from utilitarian ugliness by striking bright pastel paint jobs. One out of every two days it is raining – not chilly, driving rain but gentle, warm showers born on a light wind.

The Grain Store - for something new

Even for the most dedicated diner, finding something genuinely new is a pretty rare event. The restaurant business persists in following fashion and all to often the next big thing is the same old thing leavened with a few “new twists”. Which is probably why the Grain Store - Bruno Loubet’s latest venture - seems so exciting and so shocking. It’s a simple enough proposition: for each dish start by selecting the vegetable components and then, if needs be, add meat or fish.

Pages

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