Top 10 of 2010
There is no doubt that 2010 was a year to remember for London restaurant openings.
Here are my Top 10 dishes from restaurants that opened in 2010.
1.Polpetto – Fennel Salami, stracchiio and fig bruschetta
Since opening in August Polpetto has quickly followed in the footsteps of its big sister, Polpo. A similair concept to Polpo, sharing dishes is the order of the day and I have now realised how this is the future of dining. Spearheading this concept is the fennel salami, strachhinnio and fig bruschetta. The crunch of the bread, the kick of the fennel salami, the salty cheese and the sweetness of the fig combine to produce pleasure better than anything you could find in the red lit Soho rooms.
2. Bistro Bruno Loubet – Mauricette snails with lamb meatballs and royale de champignons.
I am not old enough to have tasted Bruno Loubets cooking first time around when he was London in the 1990’s but he returned from Australia in 2010 to open Bistro Bruno Loubet at the Zetter Hotel in trendy Clerkenwell. I will always remember this meal for two reasons. Firstly because, thanks to a novice maitre’d, we ended up playing musical chairs throughout dinner, moving tables three times. The second more justifiable reason is a starter which was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat. The mauricette snails with lamb meatballs and royale de champignons. A classic snail dish with a twist that respected the snails by not drowning them in garlic, but instead complimented them beautifully with lamb meatballs. Provencal cooking at its best.
3. Koffmanns – Pigs Trotter with sweetbreads and morels
Like Monsieur Loubet, I missed out eating Mr Koffmann’s food when he owned the 3 Michelin starred Tante Claire back in the 90’s. So, I was eager to head to what used to be the Boxwood Café and sample Koffmann’s cooking. There was ever only going to be one dish that I was going to order for my main and that was the pig trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morels. I always imagined pig’s trotters to be a little tough but this was so delicate and juicy and the sweetbreads only added texture and flavour to this.
4. Bar Boulud – Frenchie Burger
For those of you familiar with the dining scene in New York, you will know that Danile Boulud is big in Manhattan with his 3 Michelin starred Daniel, DBGB and Bar Boulud, the later of which arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, Knightsbridge in 2010. Bar Boulud is a classic French brasserie but one of Boulud’s signature dishes is his NY burgers. For me, the Frenchie burger is what a burger is all about. A medium rare grilled beef patty proudly sits toppd with confit pork belly, rocket tomato onion compote and morbier cheese within a super soft and slightly sweet toasted brioche bun.
5. Hawksmoor – Porterhouse Steak with Stilton Hollandaise
Vegetarians look away now. This place is all about meat. The Seven Dials outpost of this Spitalfields favourite opened in late 2010 in the Old Combe Brewery. The 1kg Portethouse steak is the Angelina Jolie of all steaks. Soft, succulent and expensive (Im guessing she isn’t a cheap date). And even better, it doesn’t come with a brood of foreign babies but instead, a calorific heart stopping stilton hollandaise.
6. Koya – Buta Miso
This Frifth Street establishment could easlily be missed when walking around Soho but it has only enhanced Soho as one of London’s top villages for food. Udon noodles is the order of the day here. Hot udon noodles with hot broth or cold udon noodles with hot broth. I’m a creature of habit and I always opt for Buta Miso. Hot udon noodles in hot broth with some salty shredded pork meat.
7. Zucca – Veal chop with spinach and lemon
A River Café for the masses is how Fay Maschler described this Bermondsey based restaurant. Fresh, simple, tasty Italian food. It is the veal chop with lemon juice accompanied by some spinach that won me over here. The veal chop was perfectly cooked (slightly pink) and seasoned but it the size of it and value for money still amazes me. £10 for something a few tube stops up the Jubilee Line into the West End you would easily be charged £25 and without the spinach.
8. Brasserie Joel – Tuna Tartare
Brasserie Joel in the Park Plaza Westerminster definitely wins worst décor and location for 2010. Think Dubai hotel lobby populated with locals from a bingo hall in Basildon. Rumour has it Joel Antunes is looking to move north of the river and so he deserves to. The food here is excellent and does not receive the attention it should. I found it hard to choose one dish from Mr Antunes repetoire but eventually the Tuna Tartare with Hass Avocado and crispy shallots came out top. Light, fresh and immaculately presented, this is your perfect summer starter.
9. Brawn – Spatchcocked Quail with Romesco Sauce
You have to head east to Columbia Road, by the famous flower market, to find Brawn. Situated in an old workshop, this restaurant oozes the east London vibe. Like its sister restaurant Terroirs, just off Traflagar Square, bio dynamic wine plays a large role here. However, the food stands up for itself. The menu is split in to headings such as cheese, pig, roasted and slow cooked. The spatchcocked quail with romesco sauce was the perfect winter dish to eat for lunch the week before christmas over a few glasses of wine while the snow covered the streets of east London. Raosted beautfilly and oozing with an earthy, warming flavour that was complemented by the Romesco sauce.
10. Les Deux Salons – Warm salt code brandade, sauté of young squid and parsley cromesqui.
From the team behind Arbutus and Wild Honey, Les Deux Salons is your stereotypical Parisian brasserie and some of the well known critics are calling predicting it could be the new Ivy. This starter consisted of 3 distinct textures and the flavours. The warm mushy salt cod, that smooth squid and the parsley cromesqui which was a little deep fried ball of parsley sauce that exploded with a sea of green.
Some openings to look forward to in 2011
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Late Jan 2011
St John Hotel – Late Jan 2011
Pollen Street Social – Feb 2011
NOPI – Feb 2011
Spuntino – Spring 2011
34 Grosvenor Square – Summer 2011
The Wolseley, Aldwych – Nov 2011