It takes a pretty special team to be able to deliver on the most extravagant to the most exacting of requests but for Ten Lifestyle Concierge, such is their forte.
Here, one of team’s restaurant lifestyle managers Melvyna Mumunie shares the secrets that only those “in the know” know to help you get the most out of the London dining scene.
FIVE FOODIE SPOTS TO CHECK OUT
1. Supper clubs are nothing new but Robin Gill from The Dairy’s Bloodshot series of late night dinners caught my attention. Every month one of London’s top chefs takes over the stove. It kicks off at 1am and carries on until sunrise. It’s mainly for London’s hard-working kitchen staff but four members of the public can attend each month.
2. Demand at any of Jason Atherton’s new openings is always high and always justified – Social Eating House snapped up a Michelin star after five months. Few know about the counter table downstairs overlooking the main kitchen – you’ll struggle to find a more intimate chef’s table in the capital.
3. Speakeasy-style drinking dens abound in east London but the 606 Club was doing covert libations long before any of the trendy spots opened. This jazz joint is easily missed as you stroll around Chelsea Harbour but the small, dimly lit bar is as close as you’ll get to New Orleans in London.
4. Another hidden spot is Back In 5 Minutes, a candle-lit dining room behind thick curtains at the back of a clothes shop on Brick Lane. It’s a world away from the brash curry houses nearby and makes for a seriously good dating spot.
5. Few Londoners know that some of the top restaurants offer a BYOB service e.g. on Mondays at Corrigan’s Mayfair, there is no corkage at the bar. Pick up a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Non-Vintage Champagne to enjoy with the Carlingford rock oysters – you can even drop it off earlier in the day to ensure it is perfectly chilled by dinner.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK
1. Anyone dining at Gymkhana should order the wild muntjac biryani with mint and pomegranate raita. Cracking through the flaky pastry unlocks a plume of scented steam and you can dig into the fluffy spiced rice laced with slithers of tender meat.
2. London’s best Old Fashioned is the Smokey Birch Sap mix at Oskar’s Bar underneath Fitzrovia’s Dabbous. Made with Four Roses single barrel bourbon and sap from young birch trees, the signature smokiness comes from a dash of Ardbeg Corryvreckan single malt whisky.
3. We’ve seen an increase in demand for two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. All the dishes are pretty special but the Meat Fruit – a chicken liver parfait encased in an orange jelly disguised as a mandarin – is a highlight.
4. Our San Francisco office recently visited three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley and reported that the poussin baked in bread would be worth a trip from the UK alone.
5. Our specialists in São Paulo swear that the Amazonian ants served on chunks of pineapple at D.O.M restaurant is far tastier than it sounds. Alex Atala’s restaurant is renowned for using interesting indigenous ingredients.
THE FRENCH LOVE AFFAIR
It seems like this is the year that French restaurateurs catch onto London’s booming dining scene. There’s Le Chabanais, an outpost of Inaki Aizpitarte’s Parisian brasserie Le Chateaubriand, multi-Michelin-starred Eric Fréchon from Le Bristol in Paris is overseeing the main restaurant at the Lanesborough hotel, then there’s Les 110 de Taillevent which pairs each dish with four wines to cover all budgets, and Cannes favourite Le Bâoli is transferring its glamour from the French Riviera to the Big Smoke.
CUISINES TIPPED TO BE BIG THIS YEAR
The resurgence of the wine bar in 2014 brought with it a wave of Californian-influenced small plates. No where does this better than Mission in Bethnal Green. It’s the second venture from Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde, who made waves with their eponymous wine bar on Hackney Road last year. This time round, the food menu matches the prowess of the drinks list and the dishes from James de Jong have a distinct West Coast vibe.
Peruvian cuisine remains at the forefront, with Lima Floral and Pachamama boosting the colourful cuisines appeal and we’re seeing a rise in young British chefs championing the nation’s culinary roots – albeit with a seriously contemporary twist. You just need to book a table at Lyle’s, Clove Club or the Typing Room to understand what can be done with home-grown produce and some culinary wizardry.
Other than that, I think most ‘trends’ we’ve seen in recent years are here to stay. The poshed-up fast food craze certainly isn’t going to budge any time soon and it seems Londoners have got into the swing of small plate dining. There so much diversity in the capital now and it’s incredibly exciting to see London give big hitters like New York and Tokyo a run for their money.
FIXES THEY CAN PULL OFF
– Securing tables at Michelin-starred restaurants is one thing but when we were asked to arrange a Michelin-starred takeaway, that took some work. As far as I’m aware, this has never been done in London but we convinced a leading chef and his team to create and deliver a meal for two.
– El Bulli topped every foodie’s bucket list but when its closure was announced, hundreds of members looked to secure a booking before it was too late. We booked out the entire restaurant on the last night of service and invited members to join Ferran Adrià and his team for a farewell dinner.
– Most recently, we had to find a restaurant that was out of range of any Wi-Fi signal for a member who is allergic to the electromagnetic radiation. As you can imagine, this isn’t easy but we found a small Japanese eatery behind Oxford Street that is a Wi-Fi dead zone!