Richard Ehrlich prays that he will never have to give up oysters, cured-pork products of any kind, or Martinis. You can follow him on Twitter @richardehrlich, but why bother?
Gin distillery tours in London
London has a dozen gin distilleries, a growing number of bars specialise in the spirit, and gin festivals in the capital sell out weeks in advance. But there are even more ways to participate with the juniper-based drink and distil your knowledge in London, especially while the craft gin craze is still in full swing. Get to grips by making your very own variant on the spirit, learn the complicated and clouded history of London’s favourite tipple and test out more of the stuff than you can shake a swizzle stick at. It’s a dreamy gift to give to any gin lover in your life, should you be stuck for inspiration this Christmas. So here's our pick of the best gin distillery tours and experiences in London, giving drinkers access all areas to mother’s ruin.
The best champagne bars in London
The first thing you need to know about choosing a champagne bar is that the words ‘champagne bar’ may be the worst thing to look for. Some places with that name are just trying to put overpriced lipstick on a particularly plain pig. Do you really want to drink the world’s most expensive sparkling wine while watching people shop for shoes in a department store? We’d be more inclined to go for places that are really good bars and just do champagne well, even if it’s not their sole or principal offering. And hey! Some of them even include the C-word in their names. These things happen.
Quiet bars in London where you can actually hear yourself think
Do you like having to yell at your friends when you go out drinking together? Fine, it’s your shout. We like to cater for everybody, so we’ve put together a list of ten places where talking is easier – ideal for those quiet catch-ups or maybe even date night. Of course, any bar can get a bit noisy if there’s a large and rowdy crowd in. But these places are all top bets if you don’t want to run in a hoarse-race.
20 of the most mouthwatering grilled meats in London
Put down the tongs. Bin those cremated bangers. Leave your garden to the foxes. London’s best barbecue isn’t at home. Whether it's ribs, kebabs or quality steak, have it chargrilled and carefully cooked to perfection at London restaurants where the heat is cranked up high or left low and slow for results beyond your wildest meat dreams. We peer through a cloud of smoke to tenderly debone 20 of London's most moutwatering grilled meats.
The best martinis in London
It’s the greatest cocktail. For some people, it’s the only cocktail. So perfect in its simplicity – gin or vodka, vermouth, garnish – that it should be easy to make. But bars that achieve perfection still aren’t as easy to find in London as they are in New York City, Chicago or San Francisco. So here are our top ‘tini hotspots, with a bias towards those that do martinis with little variation from classic principles. But don’t worry, you’ll still find a few audacious innovations in our list as well. RECOMMENDED: Read our guide to the best cocktails in London
Listings and reviews (20)
Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel
The greatest thing about the scene here is that there is no scene. This basement bar, part of the Brasserie Zédel complex, is equally wonderful whether you’re treating it as a way-station en route to dinner, a nightcap-dispensary before heading home, or an evening’s entertainment all in itself (with terrific bar snacks). It’s also one of the loveliest bars in London, with an art deco look that’s changed little in decades of its existence (under various names). And just as lovely (and unchanging) is its approach to building a cocktail list: short, classic, no need to blind with science. The Martinez (vermouth, gin, maraschino, curaçao and orange bitters) is as good as we’ve had in London; and everything except champagne cocktails comes in at under £12. When people ask for a bar recommendation around Piccadilly Circus, we always raise the Américain flag.
If you are looking for a single, mind-blowingly strong, heartbreakingly delicious cocktail, in surroundings designed for talking rather than shouting, you’ve come to the right place. Dukes is one of London’s true classic bars, and justly famous for the theatrical presentation of martinis created on a tray brought out specially for you. But don’t neglect the rest of the list: the level of cocktail skill here is phenomenal. The drinks are among the most expensive in the city, but the bar snacks are fabulous. Take your drinks date through the cobbled streets of St James’s to Dukes and you won’t fail to impress.
Soupe du Jour
Eating here – or more commonly, taking the soup away – is a simple, basic, and usually very satisfying experience. Five regular soups form the core of the offering, and while none is spectacular the ones we order are all of extremely high quality. The idea here is to let primary ingredients lead the way rather than trying to dress them up in fancy clothes. The carrot soup is sweet and creamy, tomato pleasantly sharp. If you’re really hungry and in need of warming from within, the chilli soup is meaty and well (but not aggressively) spiced. Guest soups are inconsistent, but the friendly, enthusiastic staff will give you a taste if you’re not sure what to order. Our only gripe here is that the seating is almost spectacularly uncomfortable. But the comfort you’ll be getting from the soup is ample compensation. And of course, seating is irrelevant if your soupy rendezvous is taking place al desko.
Repeated visits in recent months have shown that this longstanding branch (there's one in Knightsbridge and another in Soho) is one of London's best low-priced outlets for Japanese small dishes. And it's not just the raw fish, either – though the quality there is very high. Cooked dishes, epecially anything deep-fried, are superlative when freshly made; a good reason to sit near the beginning of the conveyor belt on the right-hand side of the restaurant. Better still is to get dishes made to order – the staff are normally very obliging about this. Don't go if you want to linger at length, or if ambiance matters: no kaiten sushi (conveyor belt) is right for those occasions. But if you want high quality, and the chance for a quick in-and-out, you can't do much better than this wonderful place. A light meal can cost just £10 a head. If you spend £15 a head you'll be eating generously. Only quibble about the food: sometimes the sushi rice is a little too starchy at the centre. But this is a minor quibble. Kulu Kulu is one of the best budget-priced places to eat in Covent Garden.
A two-week-premature baby who’s three weeks old is actually one week old. When we dined at The Ninth on its second day out of soft launch, there were major problems with service that should have been ironed out before they started charging full price. Premature restaurant. The Ninth, which we previewed before it opened, is a new restaurant in Charlotte Street from Jun Tanaka. The ground-floor space is attractive but a little cramped in places, including an awkward space between front door and bar. Waiting staff were charming and eager to please, vital traits when systems (and probably staff numbers) kept letting them down. We had to wait to be seated, then to get drinks. Starters arrived in a rush, mains while we were still eating our starters. This was not entirely an early-days glitch. The Ninth calls itself a small-plates restaurant, but the cooking doesn’t lend itself to sharing-is-caring. (Of which we are officially sick-to-bloody-death, if anyone’s listening.) So: miserable meal? Ha ha! The food was, at times, so good that we couldn’t believe we were eating it. Were those oxtail croquettes really so airy in texture yet deeply redolent of the main ingredient? Did salt ox cheek manage to taste at once delicate and powerful? Did Jerusalem artichoke purée distil the essence of this humble tuber into an explosively flavourful cream? Tanaka has a genius for making every ingredient taste as good as it possibly can and creates complex harmonies on the plate. Note, however, tha
Anyone who’s seen ‘Restoration Home’ knows that turning a listed building into something useful is tricky. At German Gymnasium, a mid-Victorian pile between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, the challenge was massive. The gym is huge in floor-space and very tall. Keeping the memorable features (and keeping English Heritage happy) was never going to be easy. D&D, the new owners, have nailed it. There are three separate spaces, all lovely and all massive: ground-floor café, restaurant upstairs, and the bar. (Total covers: over 400.) But they have managed to keep noise levels down even when the space is pretty packed. We could hardly believe our ears when we discovered we could converse without shouting. The restaurant has more formal food, and prices to go with it: you’ll probably drop at least £75 for two before drinks and service. Friends have said it cost too much, despite the attractions of a schnitzel 'the size of a single duvet', and was marred by a demographically inappropriate DJ. So much for easy-going noise levels. Their report confirmed our suspicion that this is best as a daytime place. We ate lunch in the café, and were thrilled by nearly every dish. Two traditional soups, tangy goulash and beef broth with liver dumplings, were generous in portion. Three sandwiches were fabulous, especially open-face herring and apple and brown shrimp with marie rose sauce – sophisticated comfort food. The downside: portion size. Though the soups were generous, the sandwiches
This venue is now closed.
Thanks, Time Out Love London Awards! You alerted us to a new restaurant in Tufnell Park that we probably wouldn’t have heard of. Fans of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ will recognise the name: the Korova Milk Bar served milk mixed with mind-bending drugs. Don’t worry, there’s nothing sinister going on in TP. The name (Russian for ‘cow’) is more a reference to the venue’s origins: Tufnell Park formerly supplied a lot of London’s milk, and this place was once a dairy. More recently, it has been a graveyard for a café-deli and a bakery. Now Steve Wilmot (owner of the Zensai bar in Camden Town) and his wife Sital have bet they can do better with a café that turns into a cocktail bar and restaurant by night. It was brunch that got good comments online. We went for dinner, however, and it was really memorable. There’s a tiny menu, just four choices at each stage. Shallot soup had silky texture and deep flavour. A special of seared foie gras, with lozenges of baked apple, was perfectly executed. Beautifully cooked ribeye came with a lush gratin dauphinoise; tender braised lamb shank with creamy-textured butter beans. Chocolate mousse was nicely bittersweet. No main course costs over £15, but the bill will swell if you fall for cocktails and the wine list. Do yourself a favour: fall. Especially for their negroni and the Vesper martini; as 007 would have said, ‘Same again, bartender.’ There’s something very retro about Korova. The decor combines original tiling with new features such as an art
Please note, Shotgun is now closed. Time Out Food & Drink Editors, May 2017. In its early days of trading, the physical aspects of a restaurant have usually been sorted but there are teething problems with food and service. At Shotgun, food and service were fabulous on day one. The problem was (literally) structural. Shotgun is the second restaurant from the team at Lockhart, a meat-loving American place in Marylebone. Here too the theme is American and meaty, and the menu simple: eight pit-barbecued meats, most priced by weight, plus snacks, sides and three desserts. There are also daily specials and a combination plate: three meats and two sides for £19. Of the meats we tried, low-flavour Ibérico baby back ribs were the only flop. Everything else was wonderful, especially the beef. Sides are outstanding (don’t miss the coleslaw), as are retro snacks of sour cream and onion dip, and pimento cheese. A cocktail from the doggedly inventive list was good, a classic martini flawless. There are wines on tap at low prices, but oenophiles will want to spend more. The problem lies in the seating, at least the booths-for-two towards the front of the room. There is too little legroom, and too little space between seatback and table-edge; prepare for entangled legs. Just across from those booths, seating is a banquette facing stools with no backs. More comfortable seating may be found in tables at the back, and downstairs. Shotgun is long and narrow (Google ‘shotgun house’ to learn ab
Please note, Company Below has now closed. Time Out London Editors, February 2018. We fell in love with Balls & Company when it opened last summer, becoming the capital’s first meatball specialist. At the time, the place had two floors: the ground floor, home to the postage stamp-sized kitchen, and the basement, which was an extension of the main dining area. Plans changed, as they so often do in the restaurant biz. (Every restaurant less than two years old should be regarded as a work-in-progress.) The downstairs has turned into a cocktail bar called Company Below, dispensing drinks to a tiny crowd: just 25 covers in all, in a miniscule room of which nearly half is occupied by the bar. Seating is on highish stools. They’re not the most comfortable on earth, but will do, especially because the room itself is so attractive and cosy. It’s so small it feels more like someone’s home bar than a professional one. But you won’t often find drinks at home like those on offer here. We sampled just one of their original creations, but it was a five-star fireworks-on-palate humdinger called Gin Dilla: gin, dill, lemon, elderflower liqueur and cucumber, garnished with a tree-size sprig of dill. Superbly balanced and very fresh and lively, it showed that high-tech messing around with ingredients (too much of a thing in London at the moment) is not needed to make cracking cocktails. This one made me want to go back and taste everything on the list, which is shortly going to be expanded gre
Please note, The Bowler is now closed. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, September 2016. Jez Felwick may end up as a case study in the street-food module of the Business Studies A-level. Work in day job fails to satisfy completely; brief formal training in cookery is followed by various gigs in the street-food biz; finally hits on a proposition he can make his own: meatballs with globe-trotting flavourings. Cue busy schedule catering at events, festivals, etc. Cue cookbook. Cue: ‘Adios, day job!’ And now cue a permanent site, in a location packed with hordes of hungry office workers. It’s a tiny space, just ten or so stools at the window counter and a couple of tables outside. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in ballsy impact. The Bowler offers five regular options at lunchtime, plus a daily special and a few breakfast dishes. They come in pitta bread, on rice, or on salad, at prices starting from £4.49 for the vegetarian ‘Balafel’: chickpeas, spinach and ricotta partnered with bulgur wheat, tomato sauce, mint yoghurt, red onion and pickles. Weighing no more than a smallish rhinoceros, it was total sensory overkill. And I died with a smile on my face, even if the excellent pitta fell apart completely by the end. Green chilli chicken balls lacked wowiness (underpowered accompaniments), but beef and chorizo balls and lamb and feta kofte were both tip-top. Extensive sampling has convinced me that it’s better to wrap the balls in bread rather than rest them on rice. Th
Souped-up: five of the best takeaway soups in Soho
A photo posted by Mingyang Annabelle MA (@iammyannabelle) on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:24pm PST Warm, healthy, yummy: soup is the perfect thing for a January lunchtime. Richard Ehrlich picks five of the best takeaway options in Soho Smack Lobster: Lobster chowder (£5) Smack Lobster sells the precious red-shelled crustacean in roll form, some boasting pretty wild flavourings, and in salad form (including one based on quinoa). Yeah, they’re good. They’re very good. But what keeps us going Back to Smack is the lobster chowder (pictured above). It’s not London’s cheapest cup of takeaway soup, but goddamn, it is ever good. And I say this as someone who grew up eating shellfish chowder in New York and New England. Soothing, thick, and really tasting of lobster. 58 Dean St, W1D 6AL. Pho: Pho Chín (£6.75 takeaway) A photo posted by Pho (@phorestaurant) on Nov 26, 2015 at 6:44am PST The eponymous dish (and bún soups too) is very good here: plenty of choice, good prices, solid quality. What we like best, however, is that they package it in separate containers so all the components are at their best when you get them back to the office. What we like second best: you can choose between chicken and veggie broth for some soups. Third best: you can have a plain cup of broth for £2.50. Fourth best: you can order on the phone and have it ready and waiting for you. The Soho location is one of the group’s dozen in the capital. Pho chin is the classic one with brisket. 163-165 Wardour St, W1
Fancy food at not-so-fancy prices during Sushisamba's 12 days of Kobe
Possibly, when you’ve been hammered enough, you have come close to ordering a dish made with Wagyu beef. Wagyu is the Rolls Royce of the beef world, a small group of breeds, originally from Japan, with a high fat content and (allegedly) superlative flavour. But I’ll bet you’ve never been tempted to order a dish made with Kobe beef. This is partly because you’re highly unlikely to have seen the stuff: it’s as rare in London as rain macs in the Sahara. And it’s partly because of the expense. If Wagyu is a Rolls Royce, Kobe is a Gulfstream G550. It can be produced only from cattle born and slaughtered in the Hyōgo prefecture in Japan, and must meet the highest standards in the Japanese beef grading system. You are unlikely to find this stuff in the Japanese equivalent of Lidl. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, Sushisamba is offering you the chance to find out – and with amazeballs views of London while you munch. From December 14 to December 26 they’re putting on a ‘12 Days of Kobe’ extravaganza, giving London the chance to taste a range of dishes made with the precious stuff. A mini-burger costs £6. ‘Kobe Breakfast’ (Kobe sausage and bacon, egg, asparagus, mustard) is a snip at £20. Grilled ribeye is £144. And if you give them 48 hours’ notice, and £1000, you can have a full kilo cooked on an ishiyaki hot stone at the table. It’s cheaper than a Gulfstream G550 (prices from $55 million), and the only turbulence you might encounter will be internal, when you’re
Yule never eat alone: Ceviche Old Street is hosting a communal Christmas Day dinner
Being alone on Christmas Day – it’s agonising. You don’t get to eat Pompeii-roasted turkey or watery sprouts. Or gorge on Quality Street and hate yourself for three hours afterwards. Or scrub carbonised gravy off a blackened roasting pan while everyone else is watching 'Call the Midwife'. Or be polite to the old folks while they ask you to explain again what Pinterest is. (‘It’s nothing to do with that awful playwright, is it?’) Okay, I’m overdoing it. Christmas can be fun even if you do spend it with your family. But some people, for whatever reason, don’t want to do the whole Crimbo thing. And it doesn’t mean that they’re saddos, scrooges, or sociopaths. If you’re a non-Yuletider, there’s something going on at Ceviche Old Street that might appeal. They call it Casa Abierta, Spanish for open house, and the idea is that everyone brings their own dish – to serve a minimum of four – and then everyone shares communally. You’ll pay £5 to get in, and you can buy drinks and snacks from the restaurant. (Note: no BYO booze.) All profits go to St. Mungo's, the homelessness charity that provides accommodation and support to over 25,000 people a year. Sounds like fun, and in a good cause. You can book your place at the festive table at cevicheuk.com. Details of the playlist are yet to be announced, but we have a feeling that Mariah Carey will be disappointed.
Sad news: much-loved Soho café The Stockpot has closed down
Nothing ever changed at The Stockpot in Old Compton Street. That’s why we loved it. The décor could have been put in place in 1965 and just left there, maybe with the odd slap of paint or varnish. The menu was basic to put it mildly, and with few nods in the direction of modernity. Trend-setting? Ha! Cool? Gimme a break. Except, of course, that The Stockpot’s complete lack of cool made it cool in its own way. That’s why, alongside the people who genuinely needed ultra-inexpensive food (you could eat three courses here for little more than a tenner), there was always a contingent of the slick and the hip slurping soup or coffee. It has not escaped anyone’s notice that Soho is being transformed by the annihilation of old businesses and their replacement by businesses that attract Big Money. (Have you walked down Berwick Street recently?) This is not exactly what’s happened to The Stockpot. When we phoned last week, they told us that the owner is retiring, and the landlord had simply decided to take the lease back. This is the way of the world. People retire, and their businesses retire with them. But even if there was no predator behind the scenes, and the block is not being redeveloped as a £300-a-night hotel or eighteenth homes for Azerbaijani oil gazillionaires, the immutable fact remains: The Stockpot has closed down. And with it has died yet another bit of the old Soho. The Soho we love. The Soho that has something to offer everyone, and not just tourists or hipsters or ad
We got a first look at Nightjar's swanky new bar Oriole
We’ve been major, major fans of Old Street bar Nightjar ★★★★☆ ever since it opened in 2010. The look: mysterious and seductive. The music: great, whether live or on the sound system. And the cocktails: please! Don’t get us started on the cocktails. So we were delighted to hear that the hatchery behind Nightjar was incubating a second bar. Its name is appropriate: there are New World and Old World orioles (unrelated families, BTW), and the drinks offering at the about-to-hatch bar is similarly divided; although it does have an additional category, the Orient (there are orioles in Asia, too). Oriole’s got the glam thing sussed, as you can see in this picture – an exclusive preview for Time Out readers. As at Nightjar, there are stools at the bar or sink-into-me leather booths. And here too there will be live music. It’s hard to get through the door at Nightjar without a reservation. A little bird tells us it’ll be the same story at Oriole, once the place has fledged. Oriole opens November 20, 2015. East Poultry Avenue, London Central Markets, EC1A 9LH. Farringdon. Get a sneak peek of the new bar as it's prepped for opening:
We got a first look at Jun Tanaka's new Fitzrovia restaurant The Ninth
NYC-born Jun Tanaka first cooked in London in 1990, as an apprentice at Le Gavroche. He rose through the ranks at a succession of blue-chip venues, and became executive chef at Pearl, in Holborn, in 2004. But the numbers that Tanaka prefers to crunch now are nine and one: this is the ninth place he’s worked in, hence the name, and the first that’s all his own. Chef Tanaka gave Time Out an exclusive first peek at his new place, which opens on November 19 for soft launch and on the 23rd officially. During soft launch there’s a 50 percent discount on food (dinner only on the 19th and 20th, lunch and dinner on the 21st); you have to book to get the discount. A new jewel for Jun? We’ll soon find out. The menu hops all over the place, combining ingredients from east and west and making use of all the in-vogue processes: curing, flaming, smoking. The dish in the upper left here is flamed mackerel with dill, cucumber and capers. Britta Jaschinksi Tanaka describes his approach as ‘French-Mediterranean’, and ‘the kind of food I would cook at home for my friends and family.’ Stracciatella di bufala with pickled beetroot and walnuts is the sort of composed salad you’d find at many a modern Spanish or Italian restaurant nowadays. Britta Jaschinksi You’d faint if The Ninth didn’t expose an ample expanse of bare brick – for God’s sake, people, this is London in 2015. What’s a lot more surprising is the forest of copper and blown-glass pendants on the light fi
Nuno Mendes has launched a crowdfunding campaign for his new restaurant
You may not know the name Nuno Mendes – though if you pay more than passing attention to the London restaurant scene, you probably do. But it’s likely that you know the names of some of the places he’s been associated with. Or at least the name Chiltern Firehouse, so popular with AAA-list celebs that you have more chance of being run over by a fire truck than getting a dinner reservation there. If you’re truly in the resto-know, you also know the original Mendes gaff was called Viajante, at the cooler-than-cool Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green. The Portuguese-born chef has lived in Shoreditch so long he can claim to have moved there before Shoreditch became Shoreditch. East London is his natural habitat. So it’s not surprising that his newest plan is for a second incarnation of Viajante at Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping. What is a bit surprising is the way he’s going about it. Mendes is a hot property in the glam-addled London restaurant scene: you’d expect to see hedge-fund hotshots throwing £50 notes at him the way frenzied female fans used to hurl their undergarments at Tom Jones whenever he took to the stage. And the sum Mendes is hoping to raise, £1.75 million, is barely enough to buy a modest pied à terre in Mayfair (before stamp duty). But is he tapping the 1 percent for his dosh? Well, they’re not excluded by name, but neither are they the only ones invited to the party. Mendes is using crowdfunding, like plenty of other restaurant ventures before him (including Som Sa
A smokehouse and fermented tea bar is coming to Hackney
The phrase one-stop shop might spring to mind when you’re contemplating Mick’s Garage, opening on November 20 right next door to Crate’s Brew Shed in Hackney Wick. There’ll be a coffee roastery, obvs. And the Jarr Bar, serving own-brewed kombucha. And ‘Shukshuk market BBQ’ from the team behind Berber & Q in Haggerston. And what was once a warehouse is turning into a music venue. And the odd supper club. It’s pretty much new-look Hackney in a single space. If you’re scratching your head about kombucha, scratch no more. Kombucha is a somewhat vinegar-like drink made by fermenting tea, green or black. Because the stuff tastes so, um, challenging, it’s mixed with fruit juice. People who get their medical wisdom from folklore and anecdote think it has therapeutic properties. Doctors, those boring old farts, point out that there is no clinical evidence of health benefits but there are reports of adverse effects from drinking kombucha brewed in non-sterile conditions. Good news: the kombucha bar is made from recycled chipboard, which is to Hackney what Carrara marble is to Dubai. The kombucha part of the offering here is strictly optional, of course. That presents no problem for us. We’ll have a couple of beers, and smoked chicken shawarma with middle eastern slaw on the side. And coffee to finish. For amusement we’ll watch all the health-conscious peeps in the Jarr Bar ‘enjoying’ their kombucha. If fermented tea isn't your, er, cup of tea, take a look at Islington's new hot chocola
Street Feast is opening a new Hawker House in Canada Water
The Street Feast peeps are at it again. They’re back with another rendition of Hawker House, this year rolling up in a new location which is a lot larger than last year’s. Following their Oktober Feast this weekend, they’ll be hawking away for many of the winter’s cold, wet, eat-street-food-or-suffer weekends. One of the new centrepieces will be Meat Hook, a South American-style grill described by chef Neil Rankin, of Smokehouse, as ‘a cage’ three meters long and some two metres high. The fire burns below while massive hunks of meat (whole lamb or goat, half a steer) hang from hooks above it for low, slow cooking. Rankin describes it as ‘rough and ready’ cuisine, and likes the ‘theatrical’ element of cooking in the cage. You’ll eat what was cooked that morning while watching tomorrow’s dinner in progress. Also appearing will be Street Feast stalwarts such as B.O.B.’s Lobster, Breddos, Mother Clucker, Rola Wala, Smokestak and Meringue Girls. The six bars include the Milk & Honey Mercury Lounge and Hangar Bar, as well as a brand-new import from New York: The 86. Its offering is four high-quality small-scale brands (tequila, Canadian vodka, UK gin and Panamian rum) and four cocktails. And Hawker House has also brought back Whisky Roulette: buy a ticket for £8, spin the wheel, and win a glass of the whisky whose number the ball lands on. Hawker House is open every Friday and Saturday, 5pm-midnight for seven weekends from Friday October 30 until December 12, and then again from J
We got a sneak peek at Mayfair's swanky new seafood restaurant Sexy Fish
If a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square today, would the song be ‘You Sexy Thing’? The newest sexy thing here is Sexy Fish, which officially opens on October 19. The Caprice Group has poured mind-blowing amounts of everything into transforming a former branch of NatWest bank into one of London’s most opulent restaurants. The decor is the sort of stuff you’d want for your new flat, if you happened to run a hedge fund: 20 ‘fish lamps’ and a four-metre-long black-silicone alligator by Frank Gehry; three Damien Hirst sculptures; 100 tonnes of Iranian onyx on the floor; a hand-printed ceiling designed by Michael Roberts, Style Editor-at-Large of Vanity Fair; a seafood display so tall you have to stand on a ladder to fill it. No area of surface, however tiny, goes undecorated by something. Every single lamp is dimmable, so they can adjust the light levels throughout; this is made possible by five kilometres of electrical cabling, enough to stretch from Trafalgar Square to Notting Hill. Sadly, the coral reef aquaria in the private dining room downstairs had not been finished when we had our tour of the place. It will eventually house up to 100 species. The water capacity of the tanks is 15,000 litres, enough to fill the average bathtub 187 times. The bar at Sexy Fish boasts the largest collection of Japanese whiskies in Europe, and the most expensive costs £180. That’s £180 a glass. Not one for shooting, in other words. Or mixing with Red Bull. The menu at Sexy Fish hasn’t offici
The Life Negroni: new book explores London's favourite cocktail
When is a drink not a drink? When it’s also a cultural institution. And an object of adoration. No, scratch adoration, let’s just call it worship. Here at Time Out Towers, there are a lot of people who regard the negroni in precisely that way. Which is why we can’t put down our copy of 'The Life Negroni', published recently by Spinach Publishing, which is packed full of info and plenty of speculation. The allegedly simple recipe for making a negroni (equal parts of gin, red vermouth and bitters, usually Campari) is revealed as endlessly complicated, since different brands of the three ingredients change the result in sometimes earth-shaking ways. But 'The Life Negroni' is not a technical manual. It’s a celebration of all the drink’s many dimensions: historical, social, cultural, artistic. Eminent negronistas, from Orson Welles to George Clooney to London’s own Tony Conigliaro, find their way into the pages. And the pictures are gorgeous, whether they’re posters, label shots, or Eva Green’s photoshoot for the 2015 Campari calendar. The ideal place to read 'The Life Negroni' is at Bar Termini, whose ‘negroni classico’ we have judged to be the best signature cocktail in London. But be warned: this is a gripping read, and you won’t make decent headway unless you order another round. Find out more at thelifenegroni.com. Thirsty? Here are the best cocktails bars in London.
Find out which London restaurants have been awarded stars and a Bib Gourmand in the 2016 Michelin Guide
People who pay attention to the Michelin Guide’s restaurant recommendations and wait eagerly for the new edition can be divided, roughly, into two categories. One is the 'Star Fuckers', who pant after the new list because they want to know who’s one star up, one star down, newly three-starred, or newly de-starred (shame!). They start making their dining-out plans as soon as the list comes out. The other is the 'Bib Believers', people who look for places that have been awarded a Bib Gourmand (formerly known as a Red M). The Bib Gourmand is given to places officially considered to offer ‘good food at reasonable prices.’ I don’t know about you, but I like the sound of that. Food: good. Prices: reasonable. I’ve been to a few Michelin-starred places where it was more like Food: okay. Prices: disgraceful. I know which combination I prefer. In France, I never look for stars. I always look for Bibs. The 2016 Guide is launched soon, but Michelin has been dribbling out the Bibs over the last couple of days on Twitter. Of the new ones that they’ve announced, we have praise and sometimes high praise for Blixen and Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields, and Shikumen in Shepherd’s Bush. Sure, we pay attention to the stars. And we’ll be updating our listing when they’re announced. But when we’re deciding where to eat, Bibs do the business better. The new stars have also just been announced a day early! Find them out now by following @MichelinGuideUK. Feeling fancy? Find a Michelin star restau