Trishna, London – Indian with Panache

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Trishna
15-17 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DG
Tel. 0207 935 5624

Food type: Indian

Nearest tube: Bond Street

Website: Trishna

Trishna is the big sister restaurant of Gymkhana, under the same ownership. While Gymkhana gets more of the plaudits these days, probably because of its location and trendier decor, Trishna draws in the Indian families. You know that an Indian restaurant is authentic when there are plenty of Indian families dining there. After all, you wouldn’t dine out at a restaurant which makes mediocre curries that your mom can make better at home. The slight difference with the two restaurants is that Gymkhana focuses more on meat and game, while Trishna specialises in seafood dishes.

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Restaurant

We visited for Sunday dinner, where the restaurant was packed and turning tables. There are a few menus on offer – a 5- and 7-course including meat and seafood, a 6-course seafood only menu and a 5- and 7-course vegetarian menu. Oh and there is also an a la carte menu which is what we opted for on our visit.

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the Araki, London – Classy Sushi

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the Araki
12 New Burlington Street,
London W1S 3BH
Tel. 0207 287 2481

Food type: Sushi

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

Website: the Araki

There are very few restaurant openings in London which excite me. The restaurant trends seem to be gravitating towards casual/ small plates concept rather than serious high-end, haute cuisine. If a big name chef is involved in a restaurant’s opening, then this is usually with a more junior chef doing the cooking (e.g. Celeste) or simply on a consultancy base (e.g. Tokimeite). As such when I heard that Mitsuhiro Araki had decided to close his sushi-ya in Tokyo and open up in London I initially received it with plenty of scepticism. Would he be cooking here for a short period of time, train up a more junior chef before heading back to Japan? Nearly a year and half after opening, Araki-san is still in London, serving up his interpretation of Edo-mae sushi during every dinner service.

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Table Setting

The dining room is minimalistic with a 10-seat counter made from Hinoki wood. Each seat gives the diner an excellent view of Araki-san crafting his sushi with the aid of two helpers. As you would expect in Japan, there is a no choice ‘Omakase’ menu priced at £300 per head which includes a couple of starters and 12 pieces of sushi. Although some have claimed that this is the most expensive sushi in the world, 3* Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong (a branch of Sushi Yoshitake) charges HKD$3,500 (£320). Irregardless, a meal at the Araki is very pricey by English standards, with only the Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (Inspiration table) coming close. Whether this is value for money or not is dependent on how much you actually enjoy and appreciate sushi.

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Pétrus, London – Under The Radar

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Pétrus
1 Kinnerton Street,
Knightsbridge, London
SW1X 8EA
Tel. 0207 592 1609

Food type: Modern French

Nearest tube: Knightsbridge

Website: Pétrus

Pétrus is a restaurant under the Gordon Ramsay group but one which does not receive much in terms of publicity since its opening back in 2010. For those who have been around the London dining scene for a long time, you may remember that Pétrus was also the name of a restaurant located in the Berkeley Hotel, under one Marcus Wareing. After a much publicised spat and ‘divorce’, Wareing kept the original restaurant site, renamed it Restaurant Marcus Wareing (now simply Marcus) and Gordon kept the restaurant name Pétrus. Thus Pétrus in its current iteration was born. With its opening, Gordon had brought in his big guns, with Mark Askew (his then Group Executive Head Chef) and Sean Burbidge, tasked to ensure Michelin success. The restaurant went on to win a Michelin star in the next iteration of the guide, which it has kept ever since, but reviews on the internet, particularly from the blogging community have been ambivalent at best. The cooking these days is led by National Chef of the Year winner, Larry Jayasekara.

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Restaurant Exterior

The dining room here is modern and contemporary with a central circular glass-panelled wine cellar the show piece of the room. Although the wine cellar may look aesthetically pleasing, I am not so sure about its practicality in terms of the storage of the wine itself. The list contains plenty of high-end wines including, of course, a vertical of the eponymous wine and I suspect some of the more expensive wines are kept away so as not to risk it from any light oxidation. We visited for Saturday lunch, where along with the usual a la carte (£75 for 3 courses) and tasting menu (£95) was also a cheaper lunch menu (£37.50). We were hungry and thus opted for the tasting menu with an additional course from the a la carte.

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Le Gavroche, London – Class Is Permanent

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Le Gavroche
43 Upper Brook Street,
London W1K 7QR
Tel: 020 7408 0881

Food type: French

Nearest tube: Marble Arch

Website: Le Gavroche

There is a saying in football ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’. I think this saying can also be applied to Le Gavroche. While there are plenty of other trendier, hipper, more fashionable restaurants that pop up every day in London, Le Gavroche has stood the test of time. In fact, the restaurant will be celebrating its 50th birthday next year. While other restaurants embrace modern techniques and try to reinvent the wheel, the philosophy at Le Gavroche is to stick true to their classic roots. I think in this day and age of sous vide cooking (which is a lot easier and leads to less wastage), many chefs have forgotten how good food can be when it is cooked the old-fashioned way – you know, like on the frying pan or in the oven.

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Table Setting

It has been a while since I have last visited Le Gavroche. Not because I have fallen out of love with the cooking here. On the contrary, getting a table here has gotten so much more difficult since Michel Roux Jr. started appearing on Masterchef Professionals. Prior to that, he had sporadically appeared on television, but had kept a relatively low profile. These days, the restaurant tends to be booked up 3 months in advance, lunch and dinner – a testimony to how effective TV appearance is, coupled with a nice, likeable personality.

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Restaurant Story, London – Not A Love Story

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Restaurant Story
199 Tooley Street,
London SE1 2JX
Tel. 0207 183 2117

Food type: Modern Eclectic

Nearest tube: London Bridge

Website: Restaurant Story

When I asked my fiancée after her meal at Story what her favourite part of the meal was, her response was ‘the wine’. The bottle of Ponsot ‘Clos de Vougeot’ 2002 was probably the only part of the meal where the chef had no involvement with. After our meal here, we did wonder whether this was hands down the worst meal we have ever eaten, fine dining or otherwise. Maybe not. There were at least some sparks of greatness within the meal. But like a plot which you think is leading somewhere, all too often the flow is interrupted by some non-sensical twist that leaves you wondering is this Dan Brown on crack?

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Table Setting

I used to live in London some many moons ago when I went to university. My campus was around London Bridge and I loved walking down the Thames, often along Shed Thames where there are plenty of restaurants around. Restaurant Story was but a (not in use) public toilet. Yep, the design team have done well to convert the Victorian public convenience into a restaurant. The dining room is kitted out to look like a library or someone’s study with plenty of books on the shelves. On each table, there is a book of some sorts. We visited for Saturday lunch, where there was only one tasting menu, priced at £80 on offer.

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