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Jul 26, 2014 07:19 AM

London’s 10 Most Important Restaurants for Visitors- Richard Vines (Bloomberg)

Listed below for anyone interested:

Chiltern Firehouse
Clove Club
Grain Store
River Cafe

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  1. "Important" in what sense?

    Just curious.

    3 Replies
    1. re: willyum

      OK, I looked it up:

      "What makes a restaurant important?

      Some serve outstanding food. Some are game-changers that start trends and spawn imitators. Others are just fashionable." </quote>

      I'll buy in for "outstanding food" and skip the trendy and fashionable ones I guess.

      1. re: willyum

        Vines is a pretty good food writer. I think you see that by the comments he makes about each restaurant and the fact he offers ten alternatives (cheaper) to the list. And whilst food is the most important part to me I do enjoy a fun or happening place every now and then - after all variety is good.

        1. re: willyum

          To be clear are you equating restaurants which "are game changers that start trends and spawn imitators" w/ "trendy" restaurants?

      2. Shame they won't be able to get a table..

        3 Replies
        1. re: Foxeyblue

          You bet me to it, Foxeyblue. It's fine when tourists plan months ahead, but most do not. Awhile back I tried to get a table at Ledbury for my husband's September birthday. Nothing at all when we wanted to go, although a Tuesday was fine.

          1. re: zuriga1

            I reckon when you look at higher end restaurants you ask yourself "Recession? What recession?"

            I'd recently been looking to visit Fraiche, on Wirral - one of our regular-ish places. Not a thing for the next 3 months (and they only take bookings for 3 months in advance).

            1. re: Harters

              I think the recession is over. I've always thought that people with money usually don't suffer all that much when there *is* a recession. The expensive restaurants just carry on and seem to do fine. The tourists keep coming but with the exchange rate what it is now, lots of people overlook the UK as a destination.

        2. Are global chains Hakkasan and Zuma really among the ten most important restaurants in London?

          Strange list, grain store was pretty average when I went. I'd only recommend about half of those to any visitor.

          Vines knows his food but seems to be utterly an industry person and loves hobnobbing with chefs with the result that he seems to laud every single restaurant he goes to. Even his review of the widely-panned Sushisamba was positive prompting Marina O'Loughlin to ask him whether he'd ever written a negative review.

          I think he's particularly good mates with Loubet and Koffman so I personally wouldn't read anything he says about those two as particularly dispassionate.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ManInTransit

            In some ways I do agree with your point regarding Hakkasan and Zuma and if, for example, he had included Nobu and Joel Robuchon I would agree strongly. However, I think that there is an argument to include one or both of them as they both have been very popular fixtures on the London restaurant scene for years, including long before they both opened overseas. Some visitors may not have had the chance to dine in them anywhere else either.

            I know it is not quite the same thing as there is only one other (not a true global chain) but that would be like excluding Balthazar from a similar list of NYC restaurants due to the London one. I know some people (who live there) who would suggest, for better or worse, that it should be on a list of places to go in New York.

            Yeah I have not been to the Grain Store but I have read nothing that would inspire me to go in a hurry…

          2. I tend to use lists like this in a rather perverse fashion -- I view them as lists of places to avoid like the plague.

            They'll be slammed for months in advance with people who don't give a rat's red rump about the food or the service -- they're making reservations because it's the cool place.

            Prices will soar to meet demand, and quality will suffer as they begin to cut corners to keep up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              Yeah, but.......

              There's places in that list that even a mere provincial like me knows are sustained quality over the years. River Cafe has been around for donkeys ages, as has the Wolseley. Ledbury provided me with a rare perfect meal.

              That said, I mentioned this "buzz list" to Mrs Harters and she said "I bet the Chiltern Firehouse is on it". I'd never even heard of the place.

              1. re: Harters

                I have been once to the C Firehouse just after it opened, it was already all booked out on a Monday night. The reason I was interested to go was that it is run by Nuno Mendes, who used to run Viajante in the East End, where I have had interesting food in the past.

                Apparently now it is full of celebs (I think the Mail is full of C lister snapped outside of CF stories). When I went I thought the atmos. was pretty fun and the food decent but far from mind blowing- so 'safe' compared to what Mendes was previously known for.

                I think it is basically the same as the Ivy in the glory days now; if you are someone who has an agent it is fairly easy to get in otherwise it is basically impossible. Then if you do manage to visit you wonder what all the fuss is about (unless you are sat next to Moss, Campbell etc. and that is the sort of thing that you wanted).

                1. re: restaurantsandrants

                  That all makes sense. Mrs H tells me she heard about via her best mate, whose daughter works for a PR/lobbying sort of company which had hosted an event there as it was "fashionable".