|London is known for its history and culture, but it’s reinventing itself as a foodie and shopper paradise.|
London, the gastronomic capital of the world? The recent comment by Joël Robuchon, one of the world’s most decorated chefs, caused an outcry across the Channel. “Scandaleux!” responded Parisian chefs and their devoted foodie disciples. But there’s truth behind the French chef’s button-pushing antics. With diverse populations from every corner of the globe, London offers every type of cuisine, from innovative street food to multi-course feasts.
It’s not just the dynamic restaurant scene that has transformed this historical city into a cool, contemporary capital. With swank hotels, choice shopping and a wealth of museums and art galleries, London is tough to top. And with the countdown to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games in 2012, London has become Europe’s destination du jour. Be part of the buzz with some insider tips from our little black book.
Beyond Bangers ‘n’ Mash
One of the most exciting restaurant openings of the year was Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The Fat Duck chef swept into the city from his dominion in the Berkshire countryside, where his Michelin three-starred eatery champions molecular gastronomy. In a departure from the Fat Duck, Dinner serves simple, contemporary dishes inspired by Britain’s culinary past (think slow-cooked short rib of beef). London’s best critics agree that the new resto at the Mandarin Oriental lives up to the hype. Note: As the hottest ticket in town, Dinner is fully booked three months in advance. Tip: Forgo dinner at “Dinner” in favor of lunch when tables are easier to come by.
Also at the Mandarin: An outpost of Bar Boulud attracts a chic crowd to nosh on homemade pâtés and gourmet burgers. Since it opened in summer last year, Bar Boulud has remained a tried-and-true hot spot for flirty cocktails. Speaking of burgers, the new Opera Tavern in Covent Garden is making waves for its mini pork-and-foie gras burgers. The husband-and-wife duo behind Salt Yard and Dehesa, two successful tapas restaurants, fixed up a pub in Theatre Land, where aged jamón ibérico is the star of the show.
A short walk away, Dishoom recreates the old Bombay café in London. The restaurant dishes out delicious Bombay eats (think biryani, desi fish fingers and masala prawns). Generally, Dishoom only takes reservations for six or more, but contact Manager Brian Trollip (011-44-20-7420-9320) with special requests.