Giaconda Dining Room is like a great local, yet it’s situated smack in the centre of town. A husband-and-wife team (Australians Paul and Tracey Merrony) cook and serve great food in a respectful but unfussy way, and prices are very keen indeed. While the place is a bit cramped – the kitchen itself is amazingly small – the food that comes out is delightful. Heart-warming spaghetti with veal and pork meatballs sits on the menu alongside duck confit with Lyonnaise potatoes and green salad. More challenging dishes are there too: braised tripe with smoked paprika, chorizo and rigatoni, for example, yet we’ve also enjoyed a simple corned beef hash here. Finally we like the fact that they’ve commemorated a previous occupant of the site, La Giaconda café, in their name. More like this, please.
2-4 Boundary St (entrance at 9 Redchurch St), Shoreditch, E2 7DD
Set in the hip Boundary Project hotel owned by Peter Prescott and Terence and Vicki Conran, this French restaurant is overseen by chef Ian Wood (ex-Almeida) and features Conran trademarks such as a crustacea bar and charcuterie trolley groaning with porky treats. Meats, game and rôtisserie dominate the menu, so the vegetarian choice is somewhat stunted. There’s no denying the design is elegant, but be warned that the bill reflects the ambition of
this particular project.
A sleek, dark and very gorgeous Chinese resturant styled like a tea house from the people behind nearby Barshu and Baozi Inn. The cooking, based on xiao chi (small eats), a concept common in China (especially in the ‘snack city’ of Xi’an in the Shaanxi province), is similar in style to Cantonese dim sum. Many of the dishes may be unfamiliar but don’t worry: the menu is clearly divided into easily understandable sections. Highlights include the silky pork dumplings slicked with garlic chilli oil, and the tiny flatbread buns (jia mo) filled with cumin-scented beef. If there’s anything you don’t quite get, the staff are well-versed in explaining the menu with genuine enthusiasm.
The lease may have expired on Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House in Soho, but the Irish chef has moved his base to the Grosvenor House hotel. Already a hit with readers, according to our recent survey of favourite London restaurants, the atmosphere here is formal, sumptuous yet relaxed. Expect an intriguing mix of haute cuisine and traditional Irish dishes, plus the occasional bit of chorizo or pasta. An excellent wine list, with a good range by the glass and carafe, features 300-plus bottles.