Taste: London

30 Oct 2012 by Michelle Harbi
Michelle Mannion tucks in at a quartet of restaurants in the capital.


Kettner’s Opened in the heart of Soho in 1867 by Napoleon III’s chef, Kettner’s has welcomed everyone from Oscar Wilde to Edward VII through its doors. It has gone through various incarnations – for some years a spruced up Pizza Express – before being refurbished and relaunched as a brasserie in 2008. It’s a wonderful evening out – enjoy a glass of champagne in the buzzing bar before moving through to the elegant main dining room. The menu includes a zesty gin and juniper cured salmon with lime crème fraiche, and a succulent Gloucestershire Old Spot pork belly with apple mash, braised red cabbage and cider jus – perfect comfort food for a cold evening. The prices are reasonable, staff are charming, and a friendly pianist plays Tuesdays to Saturdays. There are also eight attractive private dining rooms upstairs.
  • Open Mon-Wed 12pm-12am,?Thurs-Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 12pm-10.30pm
  • 29 Romilly Street; tel +44 (0)20 7734 6112; kettners.com


Brasserie Zedel Legendary London restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have taken a new tack with their latest offering. Open since June, Brasserie Zédel follows the grand European café model of the Wolseley and the Delaunay – in this case bringing a traditional Parisian brasserie to Piccadilly – but at prices more akin to a Café Rouge. Housed in the original Grill Room of the former Regent Palace hotel – most recently the Atlantic Bar and Grill – the voluminous, fantastically restored 1930s art deco interior provides a dramatic setting for dining. The menu includes French classics such as a hearty choucroute Alsacienne and a decent onglet steak. It’s not gourmet cooking, but it’s satisfying and great value. There is also a cocktail bar and cabaret venue.


Dishoom If there’s a cuisine that this country has made its own, it’s Indian. But what Dishoom does is bring the old Irani cafés of Bombay – first opened by Persian immigrants in the 19th century – to Covent Garden. It’s a lively, smart venue with ceiling fans and vintage pictures offering a nod to the home country. Dishes are served as sharing plates – the sheekh kabab is nicely seasoned, the paneer tikka fluffy and flavoursome and the black dahl rich and creamy. Dishoom’s very own “Ruby Murray” is tasty too. Only groups of six and above can book in advance for dinner, but there is a bar downstairs to enjoy a Bollybellini (prosecco, raspberries, lychees, rose and cardamom) while you wait. Expect to pay a bit more than in your average London high-street curry house. A second branch opened in Shoreditch last month.
  • Open Mon-Thurs 8am-11pm, Fri 8am-12am, Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10am-10pm.
  • 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane; tel +44 (0)20 7420 9320; dishoom.com


Oxo Brasserie For a knock-out riverside vista, head for the Oxo Brasserie – located on the eighth floor of the Southbank’s Oxo Tower, the sweeping view takes in landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and Waterloo Bridge. It’s captivating at sunset, but equally pretty after dark, when the Thames glitters with the lights of London – in warmer weather you can enjoy it from the long outdoor terrace. The open kitchen serves up creative dishes with global influences – try the richly spiced lamb merguez sausages with red pepper muhummara, marinated feta and dukka, or the perfectly cooked 28-day aged black angus rib-eye with tarragon mash, beetroot horseradish relish and truffle black olive jus. Service is spot-on, the atmosphere is buzzing and there is live jazz every night. Prices are fairly steep, though not as much as in the adjoining fine-dining Oxo Tower Restaurant.
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