A food writer and wine consultant, Zeren Wilson will leave no stone unturned in his quest to find the hidden gems of London’s food scene and bring it to you on a plate. Check out Zeren’s restaurant review site for a taste of what he has to offer: www.bittenandwritten.com
enough to go 100 per cent Italian on the wine list, there are a couple of gems to hook out. Niedermayr Pinot Noir offered by the glass for £7.50 is a good shout.
SEVEN PARK PLACE
10 GREEK STREET
William Drabble has a quite brilliant name. If you came across the name in a Dickens novel you wouldn’t blink. He’s also a quite brilliant chef. Taking over the reins at Aubergine from a certain Gordon Ramsay in 1998, he retained its Michelin star for over a decade – you don’t pull off a feat like this by being a slouch behind the stove. The St James’s Hotel and Club is where he’s been for the last two years, swiftly picking up a Michelin star, and we were reminded just how good he is on a recent visit. Tortellini of langoustine is the kind of dish that you remember months later, impeccable pasta revealing the sweetest, freshest nugget of shellfish you could wish for. Veal cheek slow-cooked in Madeira with bone marrow mash reads like a dream, and is even better than expected. Show-stopping cooking in a beautiful jewel-box of a room that feels like you’re in another era. What the Dickens? Drabble, that’s what, and he’s good.
Luke Wilson and Cameron Emirali have brought a modest-looking operation to Soho, which is over-delivering at every step. This little place is already gaining a loyal crowd with a simple yet killer formula of great food with a wine list of unbeatable value. Luke is ex-wine trade, having sold wine to restaurants for Liberty Wines, one of the best merchants in London, while Cameron brings solid experience from The Wapping Project. Wild mushroom risotto with the funk of truffle oil running through it, was a favourite on our last visit. Chargrilled Brecon leg of lamb, cooked to mediumrare pink perfection being another highlight. Sit at the bar where the action happens and drink Pieropan Soave “La Rocca” – a great addition to Soho.
MELE E PERE Another Soho opening? You betcha! Ex-Wild Honey chef Andrea Mantovani has teamed-up with Peter Hughes to open a Northern Italian-inspired basement restaurant on Brewer Street. Ravioli of ricotta with walnut pesto and tagliatelle with beef cheek ragù pressed the right buttons, although a perfect Piemontese-style hand-chopped veal felt a tad too punchy at £11.50. The bar is our preferred spot, and a couple of early visits has seen the cavernous room lacking a bit of “sizzle”. While not brave
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Ollie Dabbous has finally opened his hotly anticipated restaurant in Fitzrovia, and he hasn’t let us down. With a glittering CV taking in Noma, The Fat Duck, Mugaritz, Hibiscus and Texture, some of the most exciting cooking in London is coming out of his kitchen. A salad of fennel, lemon balm and pickled rose petals showcases his delicate sleight of hand, and beef tartare with cigar oil, whisky and rye is a quite brilliant interpretation of a classic – one of the best things we’ve eaten all year. There is more than a touch of the Lower East Side aura about the place, and a stripped-back industrial feel continues in the zeitgeisty bar downstairs. Edgy furniture and a space looking like a scene from Blade Runner already feels like it’s been around forever. Crispy boneless chicken wings as a bar snack? Oh yes please! www.dabbous.co.uk
GERGOVIE WINES Raef Hodgson has created a wine bar at 40 Maltby Street that has already become a favoured haunt for wine trade and restaurateurs alike, and as well as pumping out some great food from the tiny kitchen, he also imports every single one of the wines he serves at the bar – this kind of focus and clarity of purpose shows itself in the quality of the wines. His buying instincts are firmly behind the ‘natural’ wine movement which, after a few years bubbling under the surface, is finally taking a monumental grip on London restaurants. This little number epitomises his range: zero sulphur, spontaneous fermentation without the addition of cultivated yeasts, and a wine of real character. Mainly Syrah with a splash of Grenache, it has more than a touch of the ‘animal’ about it, but the savoury character is balanced with enough spicy dark fruit to stop you running away. “A vin de soif for fun times,” says Raef. £10.80 www.gergoviewines.com