The Rib Room

The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel opened in the 1960s and soon became well known in Knightsbridge as ‘the’ place to go for its roast rib of Aberdeen Angus beef. Today The Rib Room remains a grand dame of an English restaurant. The voluminous dining room is filled with plush furnishings and is sumptuously decorated in a sea of green and amber. It’s the kind of place where, back in the day, you might have imagined customers dining in their dinner jackets.

Head chef Ian Rudge worked with Nigel Haworth at the one Michelin starred Northcote Manor and the two Michelin starred Whatley Manor and he brings a touch of the modernity to The Rib Room with his Seasonal Menu. But it was for its Classic Menu that The Rib Room became well known, and this menu is still available to diners to this day. The Classic Menu is fairly pricey so the seasonal menu at two courses for £49 and three courses for £58 offers reasonable value.

From the Classic Menu, half a dozen Loch Fyne Angel oysters (£15) were glorious with the oysters being fresh, creamy and extremely meaty. There was a shot of Bloody Mary to go with the oysters which was nicely done. With the gentlest hint of Worcestershire sauce, it livened up the flavour of the oysters wonderfully. We also asked for some vinaigrette which was excellent. The sweetness and acidity was really well judged to produce a vinaigrette that was one of the best that I’d ever tried.

The Rib Room - Oysters

Oysters

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One-O-One Restaurant

One-O-One Restaurant situated at 101 (yes) Knightsbridge is merely a stone’s throw away from the glamorous retail shops of Knightsbridge. Specialising in seafood, it probably has the unfortunate distinction of having one of the ugliest restaurant frontages in London. It’s attached to the Sheraton Park Towers, a monstrosity of a grey building that dates back to the 1970s. The interior of the restaurant fares better than its exterior but is quite formal and somewhat soulless. But what is attractive about the restaurant is that it has received a variety of accolades including recognition as the Fifth Best Restaurant in Great Britain in The 2012 Sunday Times’ Food List.

Also attractive about One-O-One is that it seems to regularly offer discounts through TopTable that makes a dining experience at the restaurant much more affordable as their prices are high. Starters range between £11 and £28 and mains between £28 and £39. My booking provided for a fabulous 40% off, but I pity the poor tourist souls who stay at the hotel and have no knowledge of this insider’s tip and simply walk into the restaurant to pay full price.

The meal kicked off with an amuse bouche of salmon rillette with croutons that was very good. The rillette was pleasant with a nice salmon flavour and nicely creamy.

Salmon rillette with garlic croutons

Salmon rillette with garlic croutons

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Zuma

Zuma is part of the Azumi restaurant group that also owns Roka. Serving a range of sushi, robata grills and cooked food in a contemporary Japanese izakaya style, the setting befits its Knightsbridge location. It’s chichi and glamorous, and a magnet for some posh clientele as well which makes for some interesting people watching. There’s no hiding from the air of pretentiousness that surrounds Zuma.

It is virtually impossible to get a reservation at Zuma, at least on a Friday night anyway. I have lost count of the number of times I have tried, only to be told that the restaurant is booked out. The alternative is to wait at the bar for a seat at the no-reservations sushi counter and robata grill.

So that is what we did – wait – for two hours. Zuma has an impressive list of cocktails, but even then we still had to wait to be served as the bar service was rather slow. Food can also be had at the bar, and to appease the hunger we tried a couple of items such as the pork skewers (£5.30) which were tasty but extremely fatty and a touch salty. It came with a yuzu mustard miso that was a good match with the pork.

Pork skewers

Pork skewers

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Bentley’s Sea Grill – Harrods

Bentley's Sea Grill

Bentley’s Sea Grill

Bentley’s on Swallow Street near Piccadilly Circus has been serving the masses since 2005 and is particularly well known for its oyster bar. A Richard Corrigan restaurant, there is also a formal dining area upstairs known as The Grill.

Such has been the success of Bentley’s, an offshoot recently opened in the food hall at Harrods. Known as Bentley’s Sea Grill, it operates a bar service with tall stools perched around the marble countertop. This is the latest addition to Harrods which already has a wealth of eating options including Galvin Demoiselle Petit Bistro.

Bentley's Sea Grill

Bentley’s Sea Grill

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The French Laundry at Harrods

The French Laundry at Harrods

The French Laundry at Harrods

The French Laundry at Harrods, the 10-day pop-up restaurant by six-Michelin starred Chef Thomas Keller (3 stars at The French Laundry, 3 stars at Per Se) was a project that was 18 months in the making. The idea was conceived in April 2010, and every detail has been meticulously planned, including the timing of the harvest at The French Laundry Yountville garden to ensure that the vegetables that were brought over for the pop-up would be perfect. Yes, lots of ingredients were flown in from the US to recreate a true French Laundry experience, but let’s not judge the food miles but the meal alone.

The pop-up restaurant occupies part of the Georgian Restaurant on the fourth floor of Harrods. Much has been done to recreate the feel of the original, from the sign at the front door to the clothes peg pinned to our table napkins. Crockery came from The French Laundry Yountville, and a number of the chefs and the service team were made up from a cross section of chefs and waiting staff from within The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group including The French Laundry and Per Se.

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Apsleys – Visit # 3

Note: Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have now left the restaurant. Consequently this blog post may not reflect the current state of affairs at Apsleys.

Apsleys, the one Michelin starred Italian restaurant located in the Lanesborough Hotel, kindly invited me back to try their new spring menu. I went to Apsleys about six months ago for what was my second visit and had a glorious meal (for that blog post click here) and it was such an honour to be asked back again. At the helm is Executive chef Massimiliano Blasone, Sous chef Marco Calenzo, and restaurant manager Pasquale Cosmai. Apsleys is the sister restaurant to Heinz Beck’s three Michelin starred La Pergola in Rome.

We kicked the meal off with a wonderful selection of amuse bouches that thrilled. Kingfish sandwiched in sesame ‘waffles’ was a delight, with the wafer-thin texture of the buttery waffles contrasting well with the fish.

Sesame waffle with kingfish

Sesame waffle with kingfish

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Visit # 2

Yep – somehow I managed to score another reservation at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. I know I only a few weeks ago (check out that post here), so I debated whether I should go again so soon. But in the interests of research (and for another taste of that meat fruit), I thought why the hell not?

So this blog post will be a little different to the others. I won’t be talking about the things I covered the last time such as the décor. Instead, I’ll focus primarily on the new dishes I tried on this second visit.

But it’s a little hard to past up a mention of the meat fruit (£12.50 – c.1500). It again delivered the ‘wow’ factor to my dining companions who were new to Dinner. The meat fruit looked and tasted great, although it was served a little too cold. This truly has to be one of the most dazzling dishes to grace London tables of late.

JL went for the hay smoked mackerel (£14.50 – c.1730) with lemon salad, gentleman’s relish and olive oil. The mackerel was lovely, and there was a wonderful balance of acidity in this dish, especially from the gentlemen’s relish. (For a copy of this recipe which was published in The Guardian, click here).

Hay smoked mackerel

Hay smoked mackerel

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Dinner

Dinner

The most excited I’ve ever been about getting a restaurant reservation was when the people at El Bulli emailed me to say that I had secured a table. The excitement of getting a reservation at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental came close, except this time I managed to control my screams of euphoria. The restaurant receives about 6,000 phone calls a day and is now booked out until the end of June. The arrival of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was highly anticipated and it has to be the hottest opening of 2011. It is so hot that reservations are being traded on ebay.

An Adam Tihany design, the restaurant is beautiful with dark wood panelling and leather furnishings. The previous occupant of this space was Foliage, which Tihany also designed. It’s airy and light, and the high ceilings give it an incredibly spacious feel. It’s also elegant but relaxed, and there’s a touch of mischievousness and fun to the room with the use of some cheeky jelly-mould lights. The kitchen is an open one providing diners with a look-in, but that’s if you don’t find yourself getting distracted by the fabulous views of Hyde Park.

The kitchen at Dinner

The kitchen at Dinner

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