Gold Mine: Gift that keeps on giving

Gold Mine: Gift that keeps on giving

If it’s authentic Chinese food your after, then Queensway is the place to come. Packed venues and queues snaking down the street speak to the popularity of the location. How to choose though from the plethora of options, many of which look – to the untrained eye – almost identical? In this case, a local’s recommendation paid off. Whether Goldmine is definitively better than some of its neighbours is hard to know, but is was certainly packed with atmosphere and delivered well on the culinary front

Heritage: Switzerland made modern

Heritage: Switzerland made modern

Switzerland may be famous for many things and among them cheese and chocolate, but the concept of a Swiss restaurant has never become entrenched, and certainly not in London. Maybe it’s because the long-established (and still much-loved by many) St Moritz restaurant on Wardour Street has become a beacon of Swiss kitsch, with its chalet-like interior, gingham furnishings included. Heritage, open since July, takes Switzerland into the 21st Century, a perfectly-pitched offering that has the potential to endure.

Bentley’s: Still shucking good

Bentley’s: Still shucking good

For any restaurant to have endured in London for more than 100 years, it must be doing something right. Bentley’s track record dates to 1916. A recent visit served as a reminder that the venue is still going strong, having arguably been reinvigorated since Richard Corrigan has been at the helm. Consider a visit here an experience, as much for the people-watching as for the food.

Core: More than essential

Core: More than essential

For someone carrying the burden of expectation as being ranked one of the very best restaurants in the country, Clare Smyth cuts a remarkably relaxed figure. Indeed, as we descended the stairs to Core (her first restaurant since parting ways with Gordon Ramsey), Clare was positively beaming, as she greeted us with a friendly wave from the glass-fronted kitchen. The moment captures all that Core is about: this is a relaxed venue that is confident in the knowledge that it will deliver an exceptional experience.

Postcard from Sheffield: Craft & Dough, Ashoka

Postcard from Sheffield: Craft & Dough, Ashoka

As one of the ten biggest cities in the UK with a population of around 800,000, Sheffield ought to have an exciting dining scene. However, prior to a recent weekend in the city with old friends, it was somewhere I had only visited twice previously in my life. I went to Sheffield with an open mind and came back impressed. How typical the two venues were of the city’s dining scene it is hard to gauge, but our experiences on both nights represent a wonderful microcosm of much that is exciting across the UK’s overall dining scene. In summary, it is a story of both constants and reinvention.

Est. India: Livin’ for the City

Est. India: Livin’ for the City

Est. India apparently offers “traditional, fine, urban” dining, per its website. Even if I would not necessarily choose to be so profligate with my descriptors, in summary Est. was a great venue with some impressively decent food.While there are some obvious classics such as the Korma and the Jalfrezi, it’s the novel that pushes the boundaries…

Holborn Dining Room: Formula for success

Holborn Dining Room: Formula for success

The owners of the Rosewood Hotel seem – after several iterations – to have hit upon a winning formula for their restaurant. They have created an all-day brasserie of modern British classics with a few twists. It’s worked for years at the likes of the Wolseley or the more recently renovated the Ned. Similar to the latter, the Rosewood benefits from a glorious history and diners get to enjoy the spacious marble-pillared room which used to house Pearl Assurance…

Dishoom Carnaby: Love at first sight

Dishoom Carnaby: Love at first sight

That there always seem to be queues outside every branch of Dishoom I have attempted to visit must surely be a sign that the operators of this now 7-strong chain must have hit upon a winning formula. Luckily enough my wait ended earlier this week when I lost my Dishoom virginity by visiting their Carnaby Street branch. There was no let-down, no anti-climax, just a desire to return.

Cabotte: Magical Musar moment

Cabotte: Magical Musar moment

Where better to host an evening of tasting wines from the iconic yet cult vineyard Chateau Musar than at Cabotte? Named after the small huts that Burgundian winegrowers have within their vineyards, Cabotte is a sophisticated venue based almost opposite the City’s Guildhall. Its culinary emphasis is on modern French food with some knowingly British influences, while the wine bias is, unsurprisingly, distinctly Burgundian.

Roka Canary Wharf: Hai!

Roka Canary Wharf: Hai!

Credit to the backers of Roka that they astutely chose Canary Wharf for their second outlet, opening it some five years before either its Mayfair or Aldwych branches. Follow the money was perhaps the principle. Admittedly, it took me a full decade to visit this venue, but a recent lunchtime meal impressed both me and my comrade. If only all Roka experiences could be as satisfying as this one.

Honest Burgers: An ode to the plant-based burger

Honest Burgers: An ode to the plant-based burger

Credit to the founders of Honest Burgers – a now 20+ outlet mini-chain in London and beyond – for being ahead of its time. Your reviewer may not be the biggest fan of burger and chips but in the interests of research, I visited the Marylebone branch of Honest with a willing colleague last week and a very specific purpose in mind – to sample the vegan burger they have recently launched. The burger was damn good and would convince many a sceptic

Little Italy: Thinking big

Little Italy: Thinking big

London institutions do not come much better than Bar Italia. A stalwart on Soho’s Frith Street for 70 years, it was the first place in the area to make proper coffee – the Italian way – and it stayed open all night. Many a memorable evening in my past ended there. The aspiring family behind the venture did not, however, rest on its laurels and opened a restaurant next door in the 1990s. That both have remained constants amidst the ongoing reinvention of Soho is testament to their success as well as a reflection of the Polledri family’s ongoing involvement. The passion they bring to Little Italy is abundantly obvious. This is a highly professional venture with top-notch cooking but contains a strongly personal touch too.

Pearl Liang: Take-away next time, please

Pearl Liang: Take-away next time, please

The regeneration of Paddington Basin in the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable, both in terms of newly developed office and residential space as well as multifarious eating options. By day, it is buzzing; on a Friday night, however, it was almost eerily quiet, particularly once the post-work drinking crowd had dissipated. We discovered this to our cost when we ended up being the last customers to leave Pearl Liang …

Berenjak: Pretty perfect Persian

Berenjak: Pretty perfect Persian

There is a shrewdness behind the whole Berenjak concept, from the siting of the venue through to the vibe and the food. Diners are told to expect a combination of ‘home-style’ cooking combined with a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ kebab experience; something for everyone, especially in Soho. While the mains at Berenjak are indeed centred around the grilling of meat, what you get here is about as far removed from a drunken post-pub snack as possible.

Donostia: Welcome home

Donostia: Welcome home

Visitors to the Basque region of Spain will see large adverts at the airports welcoming them to “the home of Spanish food.” This is not a bold claim, given that the city of San Sebastián has more Michelin stars per square metre than any other in the world. London may be some 1300km away from Spain’s culinary capital, but diners need not travel that far to experience some of the best food from the region. Donostia (what the locals call San Sebastián) is a 40-cover venue located in Marylebone’s restaurant quarter and provides an exceptionally good introduction to Basque cooking