Saturday, January 31st , 2015

 rex-and-mariano 5472 entrance-crop-v2.JPG

Rex and Mariano (pictured) is a casual seafood restaurant in Soho. It is backed by the investors behind Burger & Lobster, and uses Rex Goldsmith of the Chelsea Fishmonger to supply the seafood, some of which comes direct from Sicily. The produce was generally good, as seen in a tasty tuna tartare, though I have eaten better red prawns than the ones here. The use of iPads for ordering will not be to everyone’s taste and there were things that could be improved, but the fairly low prices for decent quality seafood are welcome.

Kiraku is a simple Japanese café near the Japanese language school in Ealing, and is usually frequented by an almost entirely Japanese clientele. It offers very good value lunches and I particularly like the grilled mackerel here, which is carefully cooked and has plenty of flavour. The décor is basic in the extreme and the food is good value rather than dazzling, but if you are in the area it is well worth a look.

Hakkasan Mayfair is the sister of the original Hanway Place branch, though the menu is to all intents and purposes the same. We went for dim sum, which is of a high standard here e.g. delicate har gau (prawn dumplings) that are streets ahead of Chinatown versions, and superb baked venison puffs. Service is always very slick and although Hakkasan could never be accused of being cheap, you do get a consistently high level of quality despite the large scale of the operation.  This 230-seat restaurant regularly does 600 covers on a busy night, to give an idea of just how successful it has become.

In other news, Henry Harris has sold Racine, bringing to an end a twelve-year stint in Knightsbridge. Simpsons in The Strand is closing, with its owners Savoy Group looking for a new restaurant operator for the site (the same group recently put prestige hotel Claridges up for sale). 

An interesting list of global top chefs was published, this one voted for by 512 Michelin-starred chefs. I found this to be a pretty good list, better than some others that are around. In case you are wondering, I have been to 49 of the top 50 places, missing Ultraviolet in Shanghai (which was not open when I visited the city).