Where to eat near the Frieze Art Fair
Peter Gordon is on a roll. His funky, relaxed fusion café and restaurant Kopapa has been going great guns, and summer 2013 saw him taking the famous Sugar Club kitchen back to his native New Zealand for a starry hotel launch. None of this has taken the shine off The Providores & Tapa Room, his flagship Marylebone project. On the ground floor is the Tapa Room, a casual, buzzy space heaving with well-dressed locals knocking back top-quality coffees, New Zealand wines and an all-day menu of small plates. Upstairs in the more formal but still intimate Providores restaurant, everything is ratcheted up a notch. You pick between two and five courses from the sonnet-like menu of small plates, sit back and wait to be blown away. But you’re not – not quite. Few, if any, menus like this can hit the high notes with every dish. We liked almost everything – though the scallops with a bright salad and beurre noisette hollandaise were all but ruined by a spicy ketchup-like bloody mary sauce; and dal-stuffed tempura was ill-conceived. Still, coconut laksa mined with a fish dumpling and quail’s eggs was deliciously memorable, and the meat dishes (pork, beef, duck) all inventive and well executed. For a good dinner out, however, we’re more tempted by the lower prices and expectations met at Kopapa.Read more
A bijou delight, Honey & Co has a floor tiled in ivory and indigo mosaic. Its walls hold shelves of own-made pastries and jewel-like jars of preserves. The small tables and chairs are packed closely together; there are only 20 covers, so finding a spare seat at short notice is rare. The kitchen is run by an accomplished Israeli husband-and-wife team: he trained in Tel Aviv, she worked at Ottolenghi and NOPI. This pedigree shows up in a daily changing menu that draw influences from across the Middle East. On our visit, the meze selection included fabulously spongy, oily bread, sumac-spiked tahini, smoky taramasalata, crisp courgette croquettes with labneh, superior falafel, pan-fried feta and a bright salad with lemon and radishes. A main dish of lamb shawarma consisted of a bowl of meltingly tender slow-cooked meat to be scooped up with freshly baked pitta bread; a whole baby chicken with lemon and a chilli and walnut muhamara paste was over-salted but perfectly cooked. Dessert might be pistachio cake, warm from the oven, or deconstructed cheesecake laced with rosewater. This is imaginative home-style cooking, and service is speedy and charming, but prices are high for what is essentially a café.Read more
The first of the Galvin brothers’ restaurant empire, this polished, much-loved Marylebone bistro is classically French (veloutés, soufflés, purées) with the occasional nod to Italy (risottos, lasagnes, panna cottas). The dining room is an inviting place, with its dark chocolate wood panelling, globe lighting and big bunches of scarlet gladioli. Lunch, ordered from the à la carte and £19.50 prix-fixe menus, was high on comfort and mostly tip-top. A smooth, nicely fatty pork and duck rillette was presented on a rustic slab of wood with super-fresh leaves and toasted sourdough. A main course of calves’ liver came draped in bacon on a pool of gravy, accompanied by meltingly good potato purée. Salt-cod brandade was laced with olive oil and wonderfully creamy, though we were caught off-guard by the inclusion of a runny egg. Dessert didn’t quite deliver. A Valrhona chocolate ‘délice’, served on a rectangular white plate, arrived fridge-cold with a lump of rock-hard honeycomb. It looked snazzy with its painterly streaks of chocolate, but was nothing like as good as a simple chocolate fondant. Service can be a little relaxed at times, and our table at the back felt cramped, but the excellent coffee ended things on a high.Read more
Venue says: New summer menu now available and now open on Sundays 10am-5pm.
Opened in January 2013, Attendant occupies London’s most original location for a coffee bar: a late-nineteenth-century gents’ toilet. The urinals provide seating with small tables, and there’s additional seating at a banquette at the back. Be warned: this place is tiny, and rammed at a weekday lunchtime. But that was the only problem apparent. Everyone in the young office-worker crowd looked very happy, and the food – cold sandwiches, hot sandwich of the day, various salads – looked great. Coffee-lovers will love Attendant. The barista, obsessively committed to his craft, apologised because the Caravan blend might have a little too much citrus flavour from sitting for just three days after roasting (he likes six). It was citrusy; but it was wonderful. He offered to brew a free cup of something else, so we could compare and contrast. All in all, this is a great place. The only difficulty is resisting making jokes about Attendant’s previous life. We could crack a million of them, but you’d only get pissed off.Read more