London restaurant cookbooks

Time Out reviews recipe books from the capital's best restaurants and cafés

Today's Special: A New Take on Bistro Food

Anthony Demetre

, Quadrille, £20

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Prescient publishers are engaging with the economic downturn, with titles that encourage home cooks to get creative with cheaper cuts of meat and lesser-known fish. The author, chef Anthony Demetre, is a champion of the less revered bits of beast, which frequently play starring roles in the dishes he serves at his two restaurants, Arbutus and Wild Honey – both recipients of Time Out’s Best New Restaurant Award, in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Affordable ingredients such as rabbit, beef short ribs, oxtail, gurnard and chicken wings figure large in many of the book’s recipes, and look suitably glamorous in Simon Wheeler’s photography. Many of the recipes have the French touches for which Demetre is known (such as navarin of lamb with spring vegetables), but most are in traditional English territory, such as shepherd’s pie.

Refreshingly for a cookery book by a professional chef, the majority of the recipes are well within the grasp of the keen home cook. Some, such as rabbit à la moutarde with roast sweet onions, or pot-roast pheasant with bacon, are simple and straightforward; others, such as classic English brawn with home-made piccalilli, require good kitchen skills and three days’ forward planning.

All recipes are written clearly, and we especially like the tips Demetre gives at the beginning of each recipe. Two that we’ll try are marinating game in pineapple juice to tenderise it, and adding a bit of cornflour to sweet shortcrust pastry dough to give it a crumblier texture.

Design-wise, we’re not sure the black-text-on-dark-background combo works, because this makes the text hard to read on the chapter introductions. Nonetheless, this book will probably be well-thumbed by both amateur cooks and professional chefs.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 1988: September 25-October 1 2009

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