Friday, September 9, 2011

What's hot at the London Restaurant Festival

The other night I went to a dinner at Nuno Mendes' Loft Project to publicise the London Restaurant Festival which opens in just over three weeks now. Annoyingly I'm not going to be here the first week (on a wine trip to Spain so don't expect you to feel much sympathy) but I am around for what sounds like the most intriguing event - unless you happen to fancy eating your dinner suspended half a mile above London.

It's a pop-up (what else?) 'dining experience' organised by a German company called Pret a Diner which will take place in the Old Vic Tunnels which will be featuring installations from a number of artists curated by gallery owner Steve Lazarides based on the Greek legend of the Minotaur.

The three chefs involved are Nuno himself, who also owns Viajante, Matthias Schmidt of Villa Merton in Frankfurt and Juan Amador of Amador in Mannheim. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow, priced £75 for three courses - not exactly cheap but cheaper than Thomas Keller's £250 French Laundry pop-up at Harrods. There will be two sittings a day at 7pm and 9pm from the 10th-25th of October. We don't see much in the way of German chefs over here which makes it good opportunity to find out what's going on over there.

Otherwise there are now some 700 restaurants offering Festival menus at four different price bands (£10, £15, £20 and £25) which you can find if you click on Book Table. (I only tell you this because I faffed around the site for 10 minutes trying to find out who was offering what. Even then you could do with a bit more info about what you get for your festival deal. Hawksmoor Seven Dials which I am shamelessly plugging because it's my son Will's restaurant is offering 2 'bridging drinks' (see their cocktail menu) and a mini chilli cheese dog or one bridging drink and a mini lobster roll, for instance.)

There are also going to be three Suppliers' Markets involving chefs' suppliers at Paddington (30th September), Waterloo (7th October) and Liverpool Street Station (14th October), an Eat Film series of screenings, signings and suppers and the annual LRF awards which are given for nicely quirky qualities such as 'bravery', 'passion' and 'fun'.

All in all a good 10 days to be in London.

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