London Special Occasion Restaurant

Thanks Jud. Most helpful.
yes the traffic in London is special.

Everybody stopped shaving during Covid.

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Barry, we’ve eaten at Gymkhana at least a half dozen times and I’ve never encountered mayo (which I mostly loathe) in any of the dishes or menus. Yogurt, yes. Mayo, no.

As for The Ledbury, recently reopened post-Covid, the chef is now Tom Spenceley, who was James Knappett’s No 2 at Kitchen Table. I reached out to see if I can sneak in solo. Fingers crossed.

I’m booked at Sheekey my first night. Staying nearby at a new (to me) hotel, Middle Eight, as I couldn’t justify paying to stay at our London favorite, the Soho Hotel, on my own.

I’m also going to Gunpowder for the first time. Has anyone been?

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I need a high end Indian so I’ll give Gymkhana another try. Lunch looks very appealing.

One if my favorite inexpensive Indian spots, Talli Joe’s is a Covid casualty.

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Middle Eight and Soho Hotel look really good. I have booked Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer St , but hotel prices in London seem to be going up weekly.
Previous visit to Ledbury Brett welcomed us into the kitchen which was very informative.
Gunpowder looks smart. Another possible lunch venue. Two days in London will not be enough.

We will be in London in August and have booked Brat for my wife’s birthday. Though I see they have a newer location a bit further that is mostly outdoors that we might switch to given the way things are going.

Maybe doesn’t qualify as special occasion, but any reports on Bocca di Lupo in Soho?

For London restaurants (and well, restaurants all over the world), I am a huge fan of Andy Hayler, he is the first (and I think still only) person who has eaten at every 3* restaurant in the world, he has almost 800 very detailed reviews of almost every meaningful restaurant in London.
www.andyhayler.com

Oh, and when talking about fine London restaurants, I’m surprised no-one mentioned The Shed at Dulwich… [snort.gif]

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Just returned from a week in London. Ate well, but not as well as I would have if the heat hadn’t shut The Ledbury for dinner the night I was booked to go. Otherwise, Barrafina was good, but hard to enjoy to the fullest in 100-degree heat w/o air conditioning. Sheekey’s Dover Sole was excellent, but razor clams haven’t been on the menu for several months. An LA somm got me into Iokyi last minute and it was fabulous. Kitchen Table in its new iteration was better than ever (they now have their own farm and are aging animals, cheese, and other goodies in new aging lockers). BRAT was very good, which may seem like faint praise, but isn’t. Gunpowder was disappointing except for the softshell crab, which was tasty spicy fried batter. Light dim sum dinner my last night at Yauautcha was excellent, as always.

Lunches were on the go, but I fell in love with the whole tandoori sea bream at Tandoor Chop House and ate it twice there.

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Thanks for the great report Mark. The UK not well equipped for heat waves.
Big shame the Ledbury closed - I assume staffing issues?

The kitchen was 104°/40° and they closed for safety. They generously offered me the next night, but I had committed to Ikoyi.

Yes that downstairs kitchen would certainly trap the heat and have little ventilation. Buildings certainly not designed for that sort of heat!

Ikoyi does look fabulous food wise, but wine list looks a little bit restrictive!

I do love this though from their menu:-
“Please be aware we cannot accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets, since our menu is mainly focused on fish and shellfish, with several meat courses and desserts.”

I was solo and quite happy with a bottle of Ulysse Collin Les Pierrieres.

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I have been in that kitchen and its warm on a normal night so couldn’t imagine on a hot day like that.

Thanks for the reminder, I haven’t looked at him for a while. Quite interesting:

Ledbury 2022 review - not as strong as pre-pandemic per AH (15/20)
Clove Club 2022 review - Not as good as he hoped (15/20)
He is more positive on Ikoyi (16/20, but the review reads like a bigger difference)
He just loves the Ritz, goes often (18/20).

Can anyone here comment on the Ritz? They are more convenient to me than either Ledbury and Clove Club and his reviews have me contemplating a change.

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Agreed very interesting. I love the way that he forensically reviews wine pricing in each restaurant. He also marks each dish which takes reviewing to another level.
However from what I read a lot fall into the 13 to 15 point range, but as with wine reviews it’s the prose that’s more important for me.
His review of the Ledbury is a bit Luke warm I must say. May be Brett stepping away from the kitchen might be the critical variable here.

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The thing with Hayler is that in his ratings, even 12/20 can be an enjoyable meal. One of his personal favorites is in this level.
For example, 16/20 is “Exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement. Strong one Michelin star level cooking.”
15/20 is not a bad score at all, it’s just not what you expect from a 400 dollar prix fixe. Reading the review, I too would be pretty baffled with some items on the menu.

Agree on the prose, his review on Ikoyi reads like more of a difference than Clove club.

He gives the use of luxe ingredients (or lack thereof) at high cost places weight.

The Ritz does read well, but I have no interest in wearing a jacket and tie for dinner when I am on holidays.
The emphasis that Hayler places on luxe ingredients is interesting. To cook really good produce well should be easier. The real skill is to elevate an underutilised cut into something extraordinary. One of the best dishes I have ever eaten was pig jowl.