Tuck into London

Tuck into London

We start our London food round-up with a dream team of superstar chefs – Alain Ducasse and Wolfgang Puck – who will be combining their very special culinary skills for a unique Franco-American dining experience at The Dorchester later this month. The pair worked their magic together at the legendary Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles last year, and now are following it up at the triple-Michelin-starred Alan Ducasse at The Dorchester. As well as moving between cuisines from France and America, iconic French vineyards and new world wines are paired with the food to make the most of what both continents can offer. Puck is also based in London, at the modern American steak restaurant Cut at 45 Park Lane. The menu of five courses of signature dishes is priced at ?350. This one-off takes place on 25 June, starting with a drinks reception at 7-15pm. Call Restaurant Director Nicolas Defremont on 020 7629 8866 and see if you are lucky enough to get a seat.

There’s barely a day goes by before someone in the Conde Nast Traveller office mentions that they fancy a steak and someone else in the office fancies a cocktail. It’s that kind of place. This usually would mean the two heading off in different directions after work, and rightly so. People would only start to talk. But what’s this? A new steak and cocktail restaurant? That’s what’s on offer at the new VOC Grill (an extension of the VOC Punch and Cocktail Bar) which opens in Kings Cross on 14 June. The rumours will be in full flow from now on… Call 020 7713 8229 or email info@voc-london.co.uk to book a table. Just be careful who you go with.

Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? It’s called the Newman Street Tavern, and while you can order a pint of beer we’re still not sure that the well-heeled-but-relaxed Fitzrovian destination is the kind of place you get sozzled in, though we certainly gave it a try on our secret visit. Its green UK food credentials and perfectly-pitched ambience makes it the kind of place you can’t remember if you actually went to or had a dream about. Whatever it is, head chef Peter Weeden has extended serving times and the menu to include a weekend brunch. Sticking to the trad formula of British produce, highlights include Home Cured Brown Trout Benedict and Middle White Pork with Beer Braised Onions. Weeden tells us “People can come in for a full three or four course meal and spend the afternoon here, or just have some eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary, or half a dozen oysters if that’s how they feel.” We’ve yet to summon up the courage to order a Bloody Caesar (a Bloody Mary made with clam bullion and topped with a fresh oyster) but if you do, please tell us what it’s like. Visit www.newmanstreettavern.co.uk for details and bookings.

Here are two firsts you could do in one weekend: If you haven’t tried Zongzi yet, or seen a dragon boat race, you can do both at this summer’s London Hong Kong Boat Festival on 30 June. While 40 teams battle it out at the London Regatta Centre in London’s Docklands, the Royal China restaurant (located in nearby Canary Wharf or alternatively at five other London destinations nowhere near the dragon boats) will be serving up Zongzi – a dish of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings (including salted duck eggs, red bean paste, mushrooms) and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. Wrapping a Zongzi is a treasured skill, so be sure to appreciate this before popping them in your gob. www.royalchinagroup.co.uk

Staying on an Asian theme, the Nipa restaurant is ensuring London’s Afternoon Tea train (one we love to catch, by the way) continues to pick up steam and is offering the capital’s first Thai Afternoon Tea. Situated on the first floor of the Lancaster Hotel, you can now take in the views of Hyde Park while enjoying such exotic afternoon pleasures as Bang-Bang Chicken Sandwiches, Mango Scones, and a Water Chestnut, Cherry and Coconut Tart. And tea, of course. Prices start at just ?22 per person. If you lose track of time, you could stay late for dinner and try one of the restaurant’s premium Thai wines, from the award-winning Hua Hin Hills vineyard in the Monsoon Hills. Visit www.niparestaurant.co.uk

The Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room’s special nights are becoming the stuff of legend, and it would be us telling those very stories if we could only get a table there. Sell-out nights from the wonderful Angela Hartnett in June have made the East London venue one of the hottest food tickets in town. Best get in early then for head chef Emma Duggan’s East London Feast Night on Friday 9 August if you want to try some proper Becks and Posh (that’s rhyming slang for nosh, if you’re born outside of the sound of Bow Bells or have recently moved into your multi-million Hackney mansion from Berkshire). Unashamedly cockney dishes such as Steak and Oyster Pie with Mash and Liquor, join Jewish and Indian specialities like Salt Beef Beigels and Curried Crab Paratha. Tickets are priced at ?35 per person. Email dining@whitechapelgallery.org or call the Dining Room on 020 7522 7896.

Those after a supersonic, sorry, Gin and Tonic, will be spoit for choice in the capital this summer as the revival of Mother’s Ruin continues at pace. Two that have caught our eye are Chelsea’s Poco Cafe Terrace next door to its sister restaurant Manicomio overlooking Duke of York Square. Tanqueray cocktails accompany a new BBQ menu (including Cornish Black Bream, Banham Free Range Chicken and Wye Valley Asparagus) to offer the perfect sundowners from Tuesday to Friday, 5-30pm to 8pm. Visit www.manicomio.co.uk for more details. Meanwhile those who want to escape the chaos of a summer’s evening in Soho can head for the Tanqueray Botanical Gin Garden at Carom Soho. A pretty summer garden with a living wall full of herbs and ferns is the setting, while the gin cocktails come in jam-jars with edible pansies. Carom’s Indian food is available to accompany your floral flavours. It sounds like heaven, and undoubtedly will be a hit. Bookings can be made at www.caromsoho.com or by calling on 020 7314 4002.

Finally, Tofu. No, that’s not rhyming slang, it’s the vegetarian food that even most vegetarians tend to dodge. But for those Tofu lovers out there (cups hand to ear) London finally has its first Tofu restaurant. We can see hats being set aloft across the capital as a city celebrates. Using the tastier Silken Tofu, the Naga Tofu Bar presents dishes such as Crispy Tofu with Seven Spice Pepper and Citrus Wasabi, or Tofu Pouches, which take a leaf out of the Zingzo book and are stuffed with beansprouts and shredded carrots and served with a sweet chilli dip. There’s even a bean curd cocktail called the Tofu Twist. Naga, in Abingdon Road, W8, takes its tofu very seriously – and you should too. The restaurant has just won Best Chinese Restaurant in London as the prestigious Asian Curry Awards, and we can’t wait to try it out. Visit www.nagarestaurants.co.uk for the full, amazing menu and for booking details.

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