Sep 21, 2015

What’s on the menu – Restaurant news roundup September

Roux Scholarship graduate to pioneer country house private dining

Grade II listed manor house Moor Hall in Aughton, West Lancashire, is being converted into an incredible dining experience by Mark Birchall, the former executive chef of L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria. Opening next year, the gentry house of mid-16th century origin, set within five-acres of land, will have a 50-seat restaurant and a private dining room for 12, as well as seven large bedrooms. His plans include the transformation of additional buildings within the grounds (lodge, barn and stables) for further dining and kitchen operations.

Quickie closure for Hedone

In rather a bold move, Mikael Jonsson’s Chiswick restaurant Hedone is shutting shop from 10 October until 20 October to install a new revamped set of dishes, no conventional menu and a new decreased number of covers from 40 to 18. The reason: Jonsson wishes to introduce more complex skills to his kitchen team and needs to give them this 10 day breathing space to get to grips with it. This is a move toward culinary freedom given that the team will be allowed to change the menus on offer as regularly as hours before service. When open again. patrons will be offered a choice of 2 tasting menus, one featuring rarer ingredients than the other.

Broadgate Circle still wowing

Covered by us last month, the newly reopened Broadgate Circle has positively altered the culinary experience in the Liverpool Street part of the City. With its eclectic bringing together of Mediterranean, French, gastro-pubbing and seafood, it’s now in its fifth month since re-launching and it’s going from strength to strength. Popular with private diners are the Soda Room at The Botanist and dim sum go-to Yauatcha.

Happy 40th Steins

Rick Stein and family are this month celebrating their 40th anniversary since opening the first branch of the Seafood restaurant in 1975. With the reigns switched between him, his ex-wife and sons, the last 40 years has seen them build somewhat of an empire, including eight restaurants, four shops, 40 bedrooms, a pub and a cookery school (not to mention Rick’s culinary outlets in TV and publishing). Across these venues, the Steins offer plenty of private dining opportunities. Private events come in the form of cookery classes, privately catered dinner parties or “cook your own” dinner parties. Plus, they have four venues in Padstow and one in Falmouth. Padstow boasts a Seafood restaurant (privately seating 100 diners), a bistro (55), Rick Stein’s Café (40) and a fish & chips joint (47); meanwhile the Falmouth venue has a larger space for 70 diners or a cosier upstairs room for 22.

Dodgy dealing

Restaurants are under scrutiny for dealing underhandedly with tips. Major brands are being accused of using service charges to bolster low wages and increase overall company profit. The likes of Pizza Express, Strada, Ask and Giraffe have been criticised for doing this with their procedure of taking 8% of all tips paid via credit card; while Chiquito, Garfunkel’s and Wagamma all hand 100% over to the staff, in stark comparison. The fact that there is no blanket legislation on this matter is raising a deep cause for concern. 

Waffling on

Salmon with creme fraiche; a biodynamic egg with duck and plum; goats cheese and fig – do any of these sound good to you? How about on top of a waffle? Think about it – it actually sounds intriguing, fun and very flavourful. Street food trader Waffle On has teamed up with neighbourhood coffee shop the Watch House in London’s Bermondsey to take the best from the ‘All American Classics’, and mix them with the traditions of the continental markets. If the duck doesn’t reach out and grab you, there are all the usual favourites to choose from too: thick Belgian chocolate sauce served with home-made marshmallows & cream, Cox & Granny Smith apples, oven roasted with dates & raisins or Morello cherries in thick Kirschwasser-infused syrup.

Awards season

Its the time of year again when the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland announces its new winners and losers. The guide for 2016 has awarded 25 new Bib Gourmands to restaurants throughout Britain and Ireland. Among the 25 new Bibs are Tom Kerridge’s pub the Coach in Marlow and Nuno Mendes’ Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields in London as well as Dehesa, Soho, The Hundred of Ashendon, Buckinghamshire, Oli’s Thai, Oxford, No Man’s Grace, Bristol and Anchor, Essex. Also announced are the 15 new one stars and two new two stars (Japanese restaurants Araki and Umu, both in Mayfair) One star additions include Lyle’s in Shoreditch, Portland in Regent’s Park and Marylebone, and the Dining Room at the Goring hotel, Victoria.

Get me to the Greek

Greek chain Estiatorio Milos has opened its virgin UK restaurant on Regent Street. The location is prime (as are the prices) but the Capital is seeing a lot of Hellenic competition at the moment and so the ante has been upped and no expense spared (hence a delay in the opening). The restaurant covers 180 and flies its fish in from Greece as well as using locally sourced. In addition to their raw food bar, main room and wine cellar, Estiatorio Milos offers private dining rooms to boot.