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.

Kurumaya: Turning truly Japanese

When is Japanese food not Japanese food? This isn’t a question from a specialist philosophy paper, but more an observation about how much of the Japanese dining scene in London has seemingly morphed into what has been dictated as ‘cool’ and instantly Instagram-able by many trend-setters. If, however, you’re looking for authenticity (and the antithesis of a venue such as Sushi Samba), then consider Kurumaya. Located on one of the oldest streets in the City of London, Kurumaya has a long pedigree and a head chef who has been making sushi for over 25 years. Pass the take-away pit-stop on the top floor and descend to the basement for an experience which may not seem out of place in Tokyo. Beyond the stark and austere decoration, the wood and lacquer finishes and the prominent sushi counter, there is even a room replete with tatami mats, for those who want to go the whole hog here. Onto the food, and it is broadly what one might expect: a raw fish range (sushi and sashimi) followed by an offering of more substantial mains. The emphasis is on locally sourced produce, prepared to the highest standards. Both our sushi platter and our chirashi (meaning ‘scattered around’) bowl of fish on a bed of rice had that amazing sense of freshness, so much so that one could almost taste the sea. The presentation showed the fish off to its best effect, a vividly hewed rainbow spectrum. Meanwhile, a beef teriyaki main was comparable to similar offerings sampled in Japan, with pungent beef paired against bean sprouts. Pricing was not cheap, but then it is rarely is for Japanese food. Perhaps the best indicator of the success of the venue was simply how busy it was. This is a well-kept secret worth seeking out.

Yauatcha City: High life

Times have changed. Twenty years ago, when I was first in London, in this venue men in pinstripes drank champagne while overlooking an ice rink. Now, the clientele is more diverse, the food multiple notches better, although the views more depressing. Hopefully the scaffolding surrounding much of the Broadgate complex will be gone once Crossrail is complete and then diners can get to appreciate better this outpost of Alan Yau’s ever-expanding empire. The impressive thing about Yauatcha is that its quality remains undiminished and remarkably consistent across branches

José Pizarro Broadgate: Different chef, similar problems (March 2016)

Broadgate Circle, just to the west of Liverpool Street station, has reinvented itself as a culinary hub. Gone is the late 80’s/ early 90’s feel of swanky City elitism (and the horrible concrete ice rink that used to be here) and in its stead, is a much more egalitarian crescent of on-trend restaurants, where diners can indulge in most cuisines from around the world.

Fenchurch: View + food = winning formula (March 2016)

Tall buildings seem all the rage in London these days and, if you have an iconic landmark, then why not put a restaurant in there too? Too often, however, the complaint can be levelled at such venues that customers just end up paying for the view or the ‘experience’ and the food becomes an after-thought.

Zorita’s Kitchen: The trouble with tapas (December 2014)

I love tapas; it is a wonderfully communal way of eating, where the food does not impinge of the conversation and diners can sample a range of dishes. Indeed the idea of sharing platters, long-favoured by the Spanish, has now become close to ubiquitous on the trendy London dining scene.

Sushisamba: Dancing to the beat (February 2014)

It’s a fairly well-trodden path that you need to take if you want to try and succeed at present on the London restaurant scene – a menu comprising sharing dishes that draw their culinary influences from around the world, especially Asia and South America. 

Hawksmoor Guildhall (October 2013)

It is relatively rare for restaurant groups to be able to expand successfully, particularly without risking dilution either to their brand or concept. In the case of Hawksmoor, full credit to the team. I had enjoyed visiting their Seven Dials restaurant earlier in the year, and a recent lunch at the Guildhall location showed every evidence of consistent delivery.