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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Alyn Williams at The Westbury

It’s been about a year and a half since Alyn Williams opened his self-named restaurant at The Westbury Hotel on Conduit Street, during which time the restaurant has increasingly grown in fame. And no wonder. For five years Williams was the head chef at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel where he was instrumental in helping Wareing win two Michelin stars. Foodie establishments have also acknowledged Williams’ prowess, with Michelin awarding him a one star and The AA Three Rosettes.

The restaurant is is decorated in a style that becomes a restaurant in a 5-star hotel. It has an elegant feel to it with lots of soft furnishings, warm brown colours and soft lighting. It might be stuffy for some, elegant for others. I liked it, although I despaired at the size of the table leg that was almost as broad and wide as the table itself. It was like a tree trunk and left virtually no room for your feet to land. It didn’t create the most comfortable space in which to sit.

But the reasonably priced menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury heals all wounds. To be sure, £60 is not an insignificant amount of money. But £60 for a seven-course tasting menu cooked by a Michelin starred chef in the heart of Mayfair is good value indeed. In fact, it’s probably the best value Michelin tasting menu in London. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus are available throughout the week, but the à la carte menu (three courses for £50) is only available for dinner on Monday through Thursday.

To kick off, we were presented with some gougères while we reflected on the menu and decided on drinks. These had been gently warmed and were light and fluffy with hints of blue cheese running through them for a savoury flourish.

Gougères with blue cheese & parmesan

Gougères with blue cheese & parmesan

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Karpo

Karpo is the Greek goddess of the fruits of the earth, and its namesake restaurant in the Megaro Hotel pays tribute to this fact by compiling a menu that relies on seasonable and sustainable ingredients. An all day bistro, the composition of the dishes draws on an eclectic mix of influences. There’s the touch of the Italian with offerings such as burrata, blood orange and puntarella, but there’s also a sprinkling of the Americana with the likes of Southern fried quail. Situated across the road from King’s Cross Station, it’s not located in the most auspicious location. Nor did the eco/urban design of the restaurant feel particularly trendy, with the mix of concrete, wood flooring and an eco wall hung with a stretch of plants being rather unconventional.

Karpo didn’t generate a great sense of warmth for me when I first walked in, but one bite of the food and I was sold. A starter of Cornish scallops (£10) was delicious, although less cooking time would have given it a more opaque centre. Accompaniments of chargrilled leeks were tasty and a potato purée was wonderfully creamy, both of which worked well with the scallops. But the most winning aspect of this dish was the fantastic stock reduction finished with balsamic vinegar that gave the sauce both depth, intensity and sweetness.

Cornish scallops

Cornish scallops

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Burger and Lobster

Lobster

Lobster

The concept at Burger and Lobster is really simple. Serve a limited range of dishes which ensures freshness and speedy delivery. Overheads can be kept lower due to less wastage and purchasing economies of scale. These savings can then be passed onto the customer in the way of very affordable meals. This in turn draws in the crowds who know that they are getting a good deal. Add on a no reservations policy so the crowds will have to order drinks at the bar while they wait for a table. Genius! I just wish I had thought of it.

Brilliant business model aside, Burger and Lobster really does offer up a good thing. The owners are the people from the popular steakhouse Goodman, and as you can tell by the name it only serves burgers and lobsters, all of which are priced at £20. There is no menu and the lobster comes as either a lobster roll or a whole lobster, steamed or grilled, and with a choice of two sauces. And if you are particularly hungry, an extra £10 affords you a 2 kilo lobster rather than the standard 1.5 kilo option. All meals come with salads and fries.

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Corrigan’s Mayfair – Lost and Forgotten Menu

Corrigan’s Mayfair is currently showcasing a Lost and Forgotten dishes bar menu which celebrates some lost and forgotten British ingredients. Similar to the Spice Menu that I tried at Corrigan’s Mayfair the last time I was there, these dishes lie midway between a starter and main course size, is great for sharing and very affordably priced. You eat at the bar, and three, five, seven and nine dishes cost £25, £35, £45 and £55 respectively.

We tried the entire menu, starting with Lord Lurgan’s Broth which featured on the Spice Menu also. The recipe for this broth is one that Richard Corrigan found in an old cookery book and has long been forgotten. The broth was beautifully clear and intense with flavour, and there was a smokiness coming through from the use of smoked chicken wings in its cooking. The addition of Grade A basmati rice added texture to the dish.

Lord Lurgan’s Broth

Lord Lurgan’s Broth

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Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen is back! A collaborative effort between chefs Jun Tanaka from Pearl and Mark Jankel, the Street Kitchen airstream first popped up during London Restaurant Festival last year in Covent Garden to bring healthy bistro style dishes in take away boxes to Londoners. I love its ethos. Mark has a B.Sc. (hons) in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia and is devoted to reliable quality sustainable food sourcing. Therefore, all the produce used by Street Kitchen comes directly from the suppliers to ensure quality and freshness. Throw in the gourmet skills of the two chefs and what you have is a fantastic meal cooked using excellent produce, and at very reasonable prices.

Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen

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Zucca

Italian restaurant Zucca made waves when it first opened last year and no wonder. Not discounting the fact that the restaurant looks great, the prices are also staggeringly reasonable. The modern and stylish dining room is sleek and shiny, and backs onto the open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs beavering away at their work.

The menu was neat and succinct, and sounded incredibly appetising with the touches of Italian authenticity running through it. Taglierini with peas and peashoots (£7 for a starter, £9 for a main) was cooked al dente. The peas had a nice crunchiness to them, and there was a lovely earthy freshness coming through from the peashoots. Finished with a touch of aromatic mint, the flavour of the dish was good, but it was also very rich as it had been finished with a heavy dose of butter.

Taglierini with peas & peashoots

Taglierini with peas & peashoots

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Atari-ya Sushi Bar Take Away, James St

I have always been a huge fan of Atari-ya Sushi Bar, especially the one on James Street for their ‘cheap and cheerful’ disposition. As far as hole-in-the-wall places go, this tops my list. Their sushi and sashimi is some of the best in London, and the fact that they supply Nobu and Zuma bears credence to this.

Time for a revisit, and I again lapped up the luscious salmon sashimi which is a very reasonable £1.80 for three pieces. (But I still remember back to about four years ago when Atari-ya use to charge ONLY £1 for three pieces!) The salmon nigiri (£1.40) was also fantastically fresh, as was the scallop nigiri (£1.40) which I adore eating with my favourite Japanese herb, shiso (which I always request) for its burst of aromatic flavour. The sea bass nigiri (£1.40) was also particularly satisfying with its lovely sweetness.

Salmon sashimi, various sushi and soft shell crab roll

Salmon sashimi, various sushi and soft shell crab roll

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