Traveling Table: London
Eating in this storied town has never been better
American Bar at the Savoy | Pollen Street Social | Brawn
London is steeped in history--so much so that, until the last decade, its cuisine resembled something out of the Middle Ages.
But no more: Dinner in this capital has never been more delicious. The food revival pioneers of the '90s are continually reinventing themselves, while up-and-comers have cemented their reputations with notable second acts. Here, our delicious itinerary for a new-old London.
St. John Hotel: Fergus Henderson fashioned a new face for British cuisine with his nose-to-tail philosophy at the original St. John. Nearly two decades after that restaurant launched, he's expanded his empire with St. John Hotel, where diners can enjoy their anchovy toast and Welsh rarebit at a table or in one of the boutique-hotel rooms.
Savoy: Last year, this iconic hotel received a multimillion dollar face-lift, and the results are stunning. Our favorite refurbishment: the new Beaufort Bar, which provides a fascinating complement to the hotel's classic American Bar. Stop in at the latter to try cocktails that originated there, such as the White Lady, then head over to the more dramatically decorated Beaufort for live music and a Champagne-heavy drinks list.
Pollen Street Social: After working as the chef under Gordon Ramsay at Maze for years, chef Jason Atherton finally pushed out on his own with the opening of this posh Mayfair restaurant. Dishes such as English Breakfast--a slowly poached egg brightened with tomato sauce and layered with bacon--bring out nuances of brash British traditions. Our favorite dish, though, is Atherton's alone: a black-and-white stunner in which cauliflower and squid are cut into fine pieces and served like pasta in a rich sepia-stained broth.
Brawn: The charming environs and largely natural-wine list of Brawn had us feeling as though we were in Brooklyn or even Paris. But then we tasted the food, which happily roots the place to its English turf. Order the mussels: Coming from the coldest waters of the Shetland Islands, the mollusks boast flavor that's sweet, precise and clean, seemingly purified by the frigid temperatures of their provenance. Then try the boudin noir, which arrives as a patty of dense and tender meat touched with telltale notes of metal and earth.
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