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Hot Picks

Vive la France! Le Café du Marché (est.1986)

As we read about De Gaulle and his pivotal speeches to galvanise resistance (we'll gloss over his saying "Non!" when Britain sought to join the EEC) even the most patriotic Brit can succumb to pro-Gallic feelings and decide to search out French cooking. This isn't the kind of whim that can be satisfied by a visit to smart French restos like Atelier Joel Robuchon; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester; or the newcomer Brasserie Joel at the Park Plaza. What is needed is somewhere old-established, probably old-fashioned, possibly a little eccentric.

"Duck rice and a side order of crispy belly pork!"

For years the best duck rice place in Chinatown was the Lee Ho Fook on Macclesfield Street. Generations of diners stumbled in to a Spartan dining room where they endured a classic rude reception to get a plateful of fuel food that was both good and cheap. Then, in the constant churn that dogs restaurants in Chinatown (the record stands at one site bearing three different names in a single twelvemonth – unless you know different) 4 Macclesfield Street stopped being Lee Ho Fook and became Leong's Legends. A nice enough restaurant but nowhere in the duck rice ratings.

Dean Street Townhouse – the lived-in look please, and hurry

Part of the art of opening a comfortable, clubby, relaxed kind of restaurant is that from day one it should have a comfortable "lived-in" feel to it. You don't want to be jolted by the pristine hard edges of modern design. If the dining room looks a little seedy that is all to the good, it will be all the more welcoming. When it comes to setting up new venues that blend effortlessly into their environment the Soho House gang have a pretty good track record.

Travelling in a Caravan

You can tell the really inspiring chefs as much by the influence that they have on others as by the food in their own restaurants. Peter Gordon is one such Godfather. Study the "family tree" of his protégés and you'll see that one of his accomplices – Anna Hansen - is quietly dishing up sensational food at the Modern Pantry. So when Caravan opened recently with Kiwi Miles Kirby in the kitchen, resto-anoraks noted that he had served six years in the kitchen at Providores and licked their lips in anticipation.

Mexicalifragilistic

It's almost as if the Mexicans are finding the wetback journey across the Rio Grande into the United States of Opportunity too taxing and have turned their attention to invading London. Mexican restaurants are springing up everywhere, old stagers like the Cafe Pacifico suddenly have to accept that there is some competition. Wahaca is making waves. Green and Red serves sophisticated Jalisco cuisine. Burrito specialists proliferate. We are promised "Gourmet Mexican Food" when Cantina Laredo opens in St Martin's Court sometime mid-2010.

Istanbul Calling

There was a time when “Modern Ottoman” was the label of choice for every aspiring kebab house. Somehow the word Ottoman seemed far and away more sophisticated than merely being “Turkish” and in the 1990’s a number of restaurants crashed and burned after claiming to be Ottoman so that they could charge higher prices for pretty standard fare. Tike is a newcomer to the City and aims to deliver “fresh, authentic Turkish cuisine” – thankfully no mention of the Otto word – it has a stylish modern feel and is tucked into the Lloyd’s Register building close to Fenchurch Street Station.

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Vive la France! Le Café du Marché (est.1986)

As we read about De Gaulle and his pivotal speeches to galvanise resistance (we'll gloss over his saying "Non!" when Britain sought to join the EEC) even the most patriotic Brit can succumb to pro-Gallic feelings and decide to search out French cooking. This isn't the kind of whim that can be satisfied by a visit to smart French restos like Atelier Joel Robuchon; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester; or the newcomer Brasserie Joel at the Park Plaza. What is needed is somewhere old-established, probably old-fashioned, possibly a little eccentric.

"Duck rice and a side order of crispy belly pork!"

For years the best duck rice place in Chinatown was the Lee Ho Fook on Macclesfield Street. Generations of diners stumbled in to a Spartan dining room where they endured a classic rude reception to get a plateful of fuel food that was both good and cheap. Then, in the constant churn that dogs restaurants in Chinatown (the record stands at one site bearing three different names in a single twelvemonth – unless you know different) 4 Macclesfield Street stopped being Lee Ho Fook and became Leong's Legends. A nice enough restaurant but nowhere in the duck rice ratings.

Dean Street Townhouse – the lived-in look please, and hurry

Part of the art of opening a comfortable, clubby, relaxed kind of restaurant is that from day one it should have a comfortable "lived-in" feel to it. You don't want to be jolted by the pristine hard edges of modern design. If the dining room looks a little seedy that is all to the good, it will be all the more welcoming. When it comes to setting up new venues that blend effortlessly into their environment the Soho House gang have a pretty good track record.

Travelling in a Caravan

You can tell the really inspiring chefs as much by the influence that they have on others as by the food in their own restaurants. Peter Gordon is one such Godfather. Study the "family tree" of his protégés and you'll see that one of his accomplices – Anna Hansen - is quietly dishing up sensational food at the Modern Pantry. So when Caravan opened recently with Kiwi Miles Kirby in the kitchen, resto-anoraks noted that he had served six years in the kitchen at Providores and licked their lips in anticipation.

Mexicalifragilistic

It's almost as if the Mexicans are finding the wetback journey across the Rio Grande into the United States of Opportunity too taxing and have turned their attention to invading London. Mexican restaurants are springing up everywhere, old stagers like the Cafe Pacifico suddenly have to accept that there is some competition. Wahaca is making waves. Green and Red serves sophisticated Jalisco cuisine. Burrito specialists proliferate. We are promised "Gourmet Mexican Food" when Cantina Laredo opens in St Martin's Court sometime mid-2010.

Istanbul Calling

There was a time when “Modern Ottoman” was the label of choice for every aspiring kebab house. Somehow the word Ottoman seemed far and away more sophisticated than merely being “Turkish” and in the 1990’s a number of restaurants crashed and burned after claiming to be Ottoman so that they could charge higher prices for pretty standard fare. Tike is a newcomer to the City and aims to deliver “fresh, authentic Turkish cuisine” – thankfully no mention of the Otto word – it has a stylish modern feel and is tucked into the Lloyd’s Register building close to Fenchurch Street Station.

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