New London openings
Saturday, July 06th , 2013
Grain Store is in the new Granary Square development in Kings Cross (pictured). The restaurant, owned by Bruno Loubet, is unusual in focusing on vegetables in the menu, though it is not strictly vegetarian. Most London vegetarian restaurants, other than the Indian ones, tend to be worthy yet often serve grim food, so this is a welcome initiative. I had a good salad and excellent falafel, and the place was already busy on a weekday lunch busy just weeks after opening.
Tartufo is a new opening in Chelsea serving European food (Italian with French influences). A basement dining room has access to a pretty terrace, and the overall meal was quite good if a little up and down. The tortelli with marscapone and summer truffles dish was genuinely good, a pork dish nicely made though a seafood ravioli less so. It was quite modestly priced and if they can become more consistent in the execution of the dishes then I am sure they will do well.
Taiwan Village in Fulham serves Taiwanese, Sichuan and Hunanese dishes rather than the Cantonese food that is more familiar in London. This means plenty of use of chillies, though in the dishes that we tried I didn’t notice any use of the distinctive Sichuan peppercorns, even in a Sichuan prawn dish. Whilst I enjoyed the General Tso’s chicken, the meal overall was erratic, with a particularly bland and gloopy sauce with prawns, and a Taiwanese radish omelette where the radish appeared to be missing in action. It wasn’t a bad meal, but was worryingly inconsistent.
Far better on the Chinese food front was Hutong, the newest opening at The Shard. The sister of a well-established restaurant in Hong Kong, Hutong also serves northern Chinese food, but in this case generally gets it right. The standard of cuisine here was very similar to that of the Hong Kong original, and many of the same dishes have been brought across. The service operation is very slick, and of course there is the fine view. Prices are in line with the towering vista, but this seemed to me a much more successful restaurant than Oblix, the other restaurant in The Shard to open so far.
Cambio de Tercio is my favourite Spanish restaurant in London. From the pictures of bull-fighting through to the friendly staff and the excellent winelist it is a little corner of Spain on the Old Brompton Road. Dishes that I tried at this visit include the consistently excellent gazpacho, here with lobster and cherry ice cream, as well as smoked sardines with foie gras and apple. A very interesting dish was what essentially a deconstructed burger, but made from veal cheeks, served with chips and pickles, and beautifully tender. The Rioja Alta 904 that we had with the meal was lovely, and Cambio also has a fine selection of sherries (it owns the sherry bar Capoto y Toros next door).
Franco Manca, originally started in 2008 in Brixton Market but now with locations in Chiswick, Westfield Stratford and (shortly) Balham, pretty much redefined the standard of pizza in London, where previously there was little better than Pizza Express. It, along with the excellent Santa Maria and its sister Sacro Cuore, serves pizza made in the Naples style in an ultra-hot oven, with a high degree of attention to detail shown in the ingredients used. The Chiswick branch is local to me, and although the service can be forgetful it continues to turn out very fine pizza.