the UK Restaurant and Hotel Zine

Gastronomic excitement in the City!

Just in case you're reading this from abroad - and sixty per cent of our readers live in great wide world beyond Britannia's shores - the City is the heart of London's banking and financial sector. It's where the youngsters with the disposables work, yet it's not noted as a playground. In the old days, there was a mini rush hour at midday as the taxis bore the pin-striped gentry to the West End where all the best restaurants were, and still tend to be, located. For a quick lunch there were City wine bars and famous ale houses, but proper restaurants have always been thin on the ground. Restaurateurs have always found it hard to crack the City, mainly because it goes very quiet at night and postively dead at the weekend. Even a nocturnal visit to the Barbican Centre with its concert hall and theatres has always seemed like a bit of a penance.

Just lately there has been what can only be described as an explosion of serious new eating places. The fact is, the guys and girls are working so hard and so late that they want to be able to stroll out of their merchant banks and dealing floors straight into a trendy new eaterie. Here are just a few of them...

"10" opened last spring just off Devonshire Square

As you walk down the curving stairwell into "10" you'll soon realise why this £1.5m restaurant is an investment in style. Julyan Wickham who designed Bank and Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor is the architect, and head chef is Richard Ross of The Ivy. "10" used to be Le Champenois, and Julyan has recast it as the City's first really bright modern restaurant. The fluid curves of the bar, the lengths of mirrored walls and the ceiling with its internally-lit pastel ball reflect the attention to detail that has gone into the concept. Even the chair backs have been specially designed to prevent jackets from falling off. (What? you mean the chaps are allowed to divest themselves?)

Dishes are eclectic and wide ranging in origin and often presented in authentic tableware, such as the bento boxes for the lobster tempura, or the earthenware tagines for the lamb with chickpeas and cous cous. British dishes include traditional delicacies such as Oxfordshire sausages with parsnip mash, and Roast ham knuckle with chilli jam honey and ginger. Puddings are very nursery, with old favourites like spotted dick and baked rice pudding given deft new twists.

10 Cutlers Gardens Arcade, Devonshire Square, London EC2 tel: 0171 283 7888
Open Monday - Friday from 11.30am to 9.30pm for last orders.

A new Lazeez in Clerkenwell EC1

Café Lazeez just past Christie's Auction rooms in the Old Brompton Road is one of London's most exciting modern Indian restaurants. It won Carlton Best Indian Restaurant awards both in 1996 and 1998. Now its sights are set on trendy Clerkenwell where new restaurants have been spreading like wildfire, with top names like Novelli, Moro, Gaudi and St John.

The menu at the new Cafe Lazeez falls into two categories: firstly there's traditional North Indian home cooking with treats like Chukunder Ghost - lamb with beetroot and coriander (£7.95) or whole tandoori pomfret £7.95, tamarind chicken £4.95 and Aloo Ki Tikki £3.75. Secondly there is a section of newly evolved fusion dishes such as BBQ fresh garden vegetables, 4.50 marinated in classic tandoori masala; pistachio and saffron lamb £11.95 or baked salmon £12.95 marinated in chili garlic dill and lemon juice and served with acumin potato hash. You can wash this down with wines specially selected from new World makers.

Café Lazeez, 88 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4EH.

1 Lombard Street opened on 12th August

There seem to be a lot of ones lately, what with One Lawn Terrace, Number One Aldwych, No 1 Poultry and now 1 Lombard Street, "a truly European restaurant", so say its publicists. main mover and shaker is banker Soren Jessen backer of Oliver Peyton's Mash and a director of Atlantic Bar & Grill. Both menu and decor have been inspired by Titian's Rape of Europa, though I can't remember much that was truly edible on that particular canvas!

Yet another grand banking hall has been turned into a dining room, this time by London based Swedish architects Orefelt Associates. Yet more exciting is the reappearance of Austrian born Herbert Berger who has two separate Michelin stars behind him. He has been head chef at the Mirabelle and the Café Royal. Apart from the restaurant there is also to be a brasserie under the direction of Marc Sanford Jensen of River Café fame.

Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard visited the Brasserie and was clearly delighted, saying that she hadn't enjoyed herself so much for a long time. Look out for the pig's trotter galette and the blackened wood pigeon. Brochettes of lamb's kidneys, sweetbreads and bacon are probably a bit outré for most North Americans. Now there's a challenge fellas, hoof along to Lombard Street and prove me wrong!

1 Lombard Street, 020 7929 6611

Le Coq d'Argent takes on the City

Yes, another restaurant opened in the City in the August. le Coq d'Argent is the Conran Group's first venture into this territory. The site at No 1 Poultry is brand new and the restaurant occupies the whole of the roof space, giving 130 covers with twice that number sunning itself on the terrace. The name is a very clever conceit: the site on the corner of Poultry was formerly that of the famous jeweller and silversmith Mappin and Webb - are you with me? Anyway, Chef Stephen Goodlad cooked at The Dorchester and Grosvenor House and early reports suggest that the style is a bit Park Lane grand hotel.

Coq d'Argent, 1 Poultry EC2 tel: 020 7395 5000

City Rhodes showed us the way

Gary Rhodes kicked off in partnership with Gardner Merchant in January 1997 and exactly a year later City Rhodes was awarded its first Michelin Star. Executive Chef Gary Rhodes has many successful media interests as well as his recently opened Pimlico restaurant Rhodes in the Square to look after. The restaurant is open Monday to Friday from noon to 2.30pm, and from 6pm until last orders at 9pm. Gary was one of the pioneers of Modern British cooking, so expect dishes like layered foie gras and artichokes in sweet pepper sauce, or pressed tomato cake with peppered goat's cheese for starters. For main course you could have rolled saddle of rabbit and ceps with a sweet garlic tart, or roast tournedos of lamb with lettuce onion peas and bacon. Puddings are legendary here, don't miss the great British pudding plate, or Gary's famous bread and butter pudding.

City Rhodes, 1 New Street Square, EC4 Tel: 020 7583 1313

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