Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill at The Savoy

As with all things Savoy, the restaurant’s moniker tells a delightful tale. Kaspar is a wooden cat sculpture that was acquired by The Savoy in the 1920s after the untimely demise of a dinner guest who happened to be the thirteenth diner.

He died on the Strand immediately after leaving, so Kaspar was invited to join any future tables of thirteen.  Sir Winston Churchill was a fan.

Kaspar's at The Savoy

Of course, the true Savoy experience begins as soon as you step out of the car. The extraordinarily intricate ceilings, the black and white art deco floor tiles and the frightfully English wallpaper in the reception do not fail to reassure.

On entering Kaspar’s, to the rear of the hotel, the turquoise banquettes and chandeliers are an art deco-lovers paradise. Our cheery waitress suggested two cool cocktails which were most welcome on such a balmy evening.

My guest enjoyed the Kasparette; vodka, elderflower and fresh lemon juice, topped up with Champagne. I was treated to a classic Cosmopolitan which was both refreshing and bitter.

Our waitress kindly suggested a pre-starter fresh seafood platter that comprised meaty, hot smoked sable fish, oak smoked eel, London Cure smoked salmon and wild smoked Scottish salmon. As fish and seafood fanatics, we were in heaven.

Kaspar's at The Savoy

My guest opted for the chicken liver and foie gras parfait. Served with Cumberland sauce, the foie gras was satisfyingly rich and velvety. My pan-roasted diver scallops, accompanied by a thick tomato verbena jam, were chunky and fleshy.

Half an Isle of Skye lobster, with its ice white meat and fleshy texture, was greeted by much approbation, while my two Monkfish kebabs were both generous in size and meaty.

The garlic chilli fried sprouting broccoli was a delight and The Savoy cabbage with double smoked bacon was also an original side order which impressed.

Although specialising in seafood and fish, Kaspar’s offers plenty of alternatives including a 7oz Hereford fillet of beef, sweet potato and goat’s cheese ravioli with roasted salsify and truffles, and organic spatchcock chicken.

The Private Dining Room at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill hosts up to 14 guests in an elegant room with views of The Thames.

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Stompin’ At The Savoy

Saturday 29th October 2011 sees the return of the world famous Stompin’ At  The Savoy. Since The Savoy first opened in 1889, the hotel has echoed to the sounds of legendary musicians such as Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, George Gershwin, Amy Winehouse and Noel Coward.  Stepping up to the microphone and helping to relaunch Stompin’at The Savoy is Paloma Faith, who will be performing with the 30-piece Guy Barker Orchestra.

Stompin’ at The Savoy will take place in the hotel’s Lancaster Ballroom with the atmosphere of an intimate, decadent late night supper club from the 1940s.  Guests will be welcomed with a glass of champagne and once seated cocktails and a late night supper menu will be served throughout the evening.

Tickets are priced from £125 and can be booked by telephoning 0845 177 0181.  Full details are available at www.stompinatthesavoy.co.uk

Travel Guide: New Hotel Openings

This year is set to be a bumper year for the London hotel scene with a plethora of luxury and boutique hotels due to open, which should also mean new, high quality restaurants. London’s hotel bar scene is already thriving, but with high expectations for the new arrivals, we could be in for a year of very stiff martinis.

Towards the end of last year, The Savoy hotel reopened after a long and expensive renovation, bringing with it Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, which is already receiving stellar reviews, and the beautiful Beaufort Bar.

Another refurbished hotel will shortly follow suit with the reopening of the Four Seasons London scheduled for 31 January, along with Amaranto, its modern Italian restaurant from Executive Chef Adriano Cavagnini (previously at Hotel Eden, Rome), which will also have a lounge, a bar and a garden terrace. The rooftop spa has glorious views of London, including from the sauna.

Photo: The Four Seasons London

A short distance away, the Dorchester Collection’s 45 Park Lane will open in the summer where Wolfgang Puck will launch ‘Cut’, a restaurant he opened at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills in 2006. I visited the original restaurant shortly after it opened and can highly rate the steaks and the tuna tartare starter.

Leicester Square will shortly be home to two new properties with the St John Hotel due to open in January, to be followed by the W Hotel, the first W Hotel in the UK, which should be open in time for Valentine’s Day.

The St Pancras Renaissance is finally scheduled to open in February, which will be ideal for Eurostar travellers, where Marcus Wareing will open The Gilbert Scott, a British brasserie.

In Clerkenwell, The Zetter is due to open a sister property in May 2011 across the road from the original boutique hotel in a Georgian townhouse which will have the feel of a private residence with just 11 rooms, two suites and a lounge and cocktail bar, all designed by interior designer Russell Sage. Further East in Dalston, the Avo Hotel will open with only 6 rooms and a penthouse.

The Eccleston Square Hotel is also scheduled to open in May 2011 in Pimlico with 40 bedrooms all with £12,000 Hasten beds from Sweden and a large focus on the in-room technology.

The Corinthia near Whitehall will have a bar designed by David Collins when it opens in April and Thompson Hotels will open Belgraves in Belgravia later in the year.

On the fringes of London, London Syon Park, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is set to open in early 2011, in the grounds of a 200-acre English country estate, Syon Park, home of the Duke of Northumberland. The hotel will look out across the Thames to Kew Gardens, and it is ideally situated between London and Heathrow.

Further properties are planned for 2012, including the ME hotel group’s first foray into the UK hotel market, and there are also plans to open London’s first 6 star hotel. Located just off Hyde Park in Knightsbridge the 36-bedroom townhouse hotel, The Wellesley, is currently undergoing a £36 million pound renovation, with plans to open in 2012. There are also rumours that Andre Balazs will open a hotel in a converted fire station in Marylebone.

Whilst not as active as London, Paris has also experienced notable additions, including the Shangri-La, which opened in December last year. With rooms around the EUR 800 mark, they’ll be directly competing with grande dames such as The Crillon and Plaza Athenee.

Other hotel groups will also be moving in to Paris, including the W Paris-Opera on Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, near the Garnier Opera House, towards the end of the year and the Mandarin Oriental Paris will be located on rue Saint Honoré with a restaurant from Michelin starred chef, Thierry Marx.

Hotel O is due to open in the summer in the Les Halles district, near the Louvre, along with its sister hotel, Hotel Le Crayon, which describes itself as ‘a poetic, bucolic and artistic hotel that dares to play a game of audacious combinations’.

It has been rumoured that Paris will also be the destination for the next Armani Hotel, along with the current properties in Dubai and Milan.

In New York, 2010 saw the opening of the James Hotel in Soho, The Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side, with its excellent Jean-Georges restaurant, and The Chatwal in Midtown, with the trend set to continue during 2011, with openings including the Setai Fifth Avenue and the Morgans Hotel Group’s Mondrian Soho.

For further information on these hotels or to make a booking, please contact us.

Best New Restaurants of 2010

2010 has been a great year for London food enthusiasts with a wealth of new restaurants, a large proportion of which have been of an excellent quality. Here’s our guide to best new openings of the past 12 months.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Covent Garden

While the original was already widely regarded as London’s best steakhouse, the arrival of Hawksmoor Seven Dials has secured domination on the London scene. Like the original in Shoreditch, the menu reads like a meat eater’s dream, but it’s the look that makes all the difference with the new venture, along with the great bar area with ample space for pre-dinner cocktails.

Les Deux Salons, Covent Garden

Situated in Covent Garden on William IV Street, Les Deux Salons is a spacious, traditional French brasserie with a mix of brasserie fare and other European classic dishes. Les Deux Salons is the sister restaurant to Arbutus and Wild Honey, both of which have a Michelin star for their modern European cuisine.

Koffmann’s at The Berkeley

Pierre Koffmann made a triumphant return to the kitchen with his eponymous restaurant Koffmann’s at the former Boxwood Café site at The Berkeley Hotel in mid July, offering hearty, robust French cooking, bringing back old favourites such as the pig’s trotter and the pistachio soufflé.

Polpetto, Soho

Polpetto is the new venture from the team behind Polpo, the successful Venetian ‘bacaro’ in Soho. Polpetto is located above the French House pub on Dean Street and offers ‘cicheti’ – small plates of classic ventian dishes.  Like its sister restaurant, Polpetto has a no reservation policy for dinner, so expect to queue as this place is always busy, or try to secure a much coveted lunch booking.

Bar Boulud, Knightsbridge

Daniel Boulud, one of the most coveted chefs in the US, has opened his first restaurant in the UK at the Mandarin Oriental with Bar Boulud, which was already a big success across the pond. The room may lack real character, but the mix of rustic French brasserie fare and a New York style buzz has been an instant hit. With almost universal praise for the charcuterie boards and the burgers, Bar Boulud has certainly made its mark.

Caravan, Clerkenwell

From the former chef at The Providores, Caravan has been the surprise hit of the year. Offering a weekend brunch menu to rival any in London, along with an excellent evening menu that is ideal for sharing, Caravan is a relaxed and effortlessly cool newcomer on Exmouth Market. The New Zealand influenced restaurant has its own coffee roaster, so flat whites are very popular too.

Viajante, East London

Following the success of The Loft, his supperclub in Dalston, Nuno Mendes opened Viajante in Bethnal Green’s new town hall hotel earlier this year. Nuno’s cooking is described as experimental with echoes of the grand master, El Bulli, and while not every dish gets it just right, Viajante is seen as a breath of fresh air from a chef with real passion.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell

The Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell has welcomed Bruno Loubet back on to the London scene with his restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, having spent the last eight years in Australia.

The space may be a bit crammed, with tables packed in next to each other, but the crowds keep flocking here for the rustic French cooking with intense flavours.

Gauthier Soho, Soho

Alexis Gauthier, who achieved a Michelin star at Roussillon, has opened his eponymous restaurant at Lindsay House, once occupied by Richard Corrigan, in Soho. Gauthier’s cooking is classic French with a large focus on vegetables and, despite the rather sedate mood, the restaurant brings a touch of refined class to Soho.

Zucca, Bermondsey

Zucca is a bright and bustling modern Italian restaurant in Bermondsey, described by many as a River Café at half the price. The reasonable prices and generous portions mean that the restaurant is usually booked up, so book far in advance or try your luck on one of the stools at the bar. Zucca was closely followed by many other high quality mid-priced Italian restaurants, including Tinello in Pimlico, Trullo in Islington and Tempo in Mayfair.

Late Arrivals

The last few weeks of 2010 saw the arrival of a few new restaurants that could be the ones to watch for 2011, but we thought it was too early to include them in the ‘best of 2010′ list as they have not had enough time to establish themselves properly. These include Brawn, the new venture from the team behind Terroirs, which is already receiving great reviews; The Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsay’s latest venture at The Savoy; and Roux at The Landau at The Lagham hotel.

Coming Soon

Heston Blumenthal’s first foray into the London restaurant scene will be at the Mandarin Oriental from January 2011 with ‘Dinner’ by Heston, Marcus Wareing will open The Gilbert Scott, a British brasserie at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel in February, and Jason Atherton (formerly of Maze) will open Pollen Street Social in March, which will have its own dessert bar.

London Restaurant News

Welcome to Bon Vivant’s latest article on the current news, openings and recommendations for London’s restaurant and bar scene. If you would like further information or to make a reservation, please contact us.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

Hawksmoor Seven Dials will be opening on 1st November 2010 at 11 Langley Street in Covent Garden. The second outpost of the much celebrated Hawksmoor in Shoreditch will also be introducing The Bridging Hour cocktails – a selection of drinks created specifically for the time between lunch and the early evening cocktail hour.

Burgers and Beers at Corrigan’s Mayfair

A new burgers and beer menu is now available every evening from 6pm during September in the cocktail bar at Corrigan’s Mayfair. Burgers include hand-ground veal with smoked bone marrow, venison with duck egg and squid & mackerel with chorizo and rosemary. Each burger will be matched with artisan beers from around the world.

New Tapas Bar on Exmouth Market

The owners of Moro, the acclaimed Spanish restaurant on Clerkenwell’s Exmouth Market, have opened a small tapas bar, Morito, right next door to their main restaurant.

New West End Thai Restaurant

ORA Restaurant will launch in early November, ‘bringing authentic Thai food to London’s West End’.  ORA will be located on Little Portland Street and will feature a menu of traditional dishes presented with a contemporary style.

Callooh Callay Launches New Members’ Bar

Callooh Callay‘s Jub Jub bar has been re-launched as a members’ bar. To unlock the door, guests will need to have earned a key by demonstrating an appreciation for cocktails.

Another West End Mexican Restaurant

Following the recent trend for new Mexican restaurants in the West End, Lupita has opened, claiming to be the ‘first truly authentic restaurant in London’. You can read an early review from Marina in the Metro here.

Eight Over Eight To Re-Open

Eight Over Eight will re-open on Monday 20th September after being closed for many months because of fire damage.

Sanctum Soho launches The Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea

Boutique hotel Sanctum Soho launches their new men’s afternoon tea from 1st October. Designed for men wanting to take some time out to relax and indulge, the tea includes a three course selection of hot and cold dishes, a silver tankard of Jack Daniels and, to finish, a cigar on the side to be smoked on the roof garden.

Jason Artheton to Open New Restaurant

Jason Artherton, ex-chef at Ramsay’s Maze, will open Pollen Street Social, located on Pollen Street, near Hanover Square, in January 2011.

The main restaurant will seat 60 customers and there will be space for another 45 guests in an adjacent bar area that will be open all day, serving a tapas style menu. The restaurant will also feature a dessert bar, where the pastry chef will prepare puddings in front of you after dinner.

The Savoy To Re-Open

Following a multi-million refurbishment, The Savoy hotel will finally re-open on 10 October. The Savoy Grill will be run by Gordon Ramsay Holdings.

Best Restaurant Openings of the First Half of 2010

Emyr Thomas, founder of Bon Vivant, a concierge and lifestyle management company in London, shares his thoughts on some of the best restaurants that have already opened in London during the first half of 2010.

Bar Boulud, Knightsbridge

Daniel Boulud, one of the most coveted chefs in the US, has opened his first restaurant in the UK at the Mandarin Oriental with Bar Boulud, which was already a big success across the pond. The room may lack real character, but the mix of rustic French brasserie fare and a New York style buzz has been an instant hit. With almost universal praise for the charcuterie boards and the burgers, Bar Boulud has certainly made its mark.

Caravan, Clerkenwell

From the former chef at The Providores, Caravan has been the surprise hit of the year. Offering a weekend brunch menu to rival any in London, along with an excellent evening menu that is ideal for sharing, Caravan is a relaxed and effortlessly cool newcomer on Exmouth Market. The New Zealand influenced restaurant has its own coffee roaster, so flat whites are very popular too.

Viajante, East London

Following the success of The Loft, his supperclub in Dalston, Nuno Mendes opened Viajante in Bethnal Green’s new town hall hotel earlier this year. Nuno’s cooking is described as experimental with echoes of the grand master, El Bulli, and while not every dish gets it just right, Viajante is seen as a breath of fresh air from a chef with real passion.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell

The Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell has welcomed Bruno Loubet back on to the London scene with his eponymous restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, having spent the last eight years in Australia.

The space may be a bit crammed, with tables packed in next to each other, but the crowds keep flocking here for the rustic French cooking with intense flavours.

Gauthier Soho, Soho

Alexis Gauthier, who achieved a Michelin star at Roussillon, has opened his eponymous restaurant at Lindsay House, once occupied by Richard Corrigan, in Soho. Gauthier’s cooking is classic French with a large focus on vegetables and, despite the rather sedate mood, the restaurant brings a touch of refined class to Soho.

Zucca, Bermondsey

Zucca is a bright and bustling modern Italian restaurant in Bermondsey, described by many as a River Café at half the price. The reasonable prices and generous portions mean that the restaurant is usually booked up, so book far in advance or try your luck on one of the stools at the bar.

Other Highlights

Other notable highlights include Koya, an affordable udon noodle restaurant in Soho, Roux at Parliament Square, Brasserie Joel at The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, Gordon Ramsay’s new Petrus and Paramount, the members’ club that has now opened its doors to us all.

Coming Soon

Heston Blumenthal’s first foray into the London restaurant scene will be at the Mandarin Oriental later this year with ‘Dinner’ by Heston, St John and Hawksmoor both have plans to roll out their brands at other sites in the West End in the autumn, The Savoy Grill will re-launch at The Savoy later in the year, and Pierre Koffman will open Koffman’s at the former Boxwood Café site at The Berkeley Hotel in mid July.

To make a reservation, please contact Bon Vivant on 0207 278 0642 or please visit http://www.bonvivant.co.uk

The Developing Trends of 2010

I originally wrote this article on the trends for 2010 around the New Year, but decided to delay its release as it seemed that everyone was writing a similar piece at that time and I thought that it would have more relevance a few months into the year.

2010 Trends

One of the few positive aspects of the recent economic climate is that we, as consumers, have become far more discerning and demanding. We have become more cautious about spending money, but when we do indulge, we want to maximise our spending power. Consequently, those who provide us with these goods and services will have to adapt to satisfy our changing needs and demands, and 2010 will hopefully be the year of wanting, and achieving, exactly what we want and doing so with value for money.

Pop-Ups

In London’s bar and restaurant scene, 2009 was, unquestionably, the year of the pop-up. The popular Double Club in Clerkenwell, the Bombay Sapphire Dusk Bar at Somerset House and Pierre Koffman’s rooftop restaurant at Selfridge’s to name a few. This trend is set to continue well into 2010, with Sketch running a pop-up cafe as part of the GSK Contemporary exhibition at the Royal Academy until the end of January.

Restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas has also recently announced a series of pop up nights in March at her Putney restaurant with celebrated chefs from The Square, Chez Bruce and Le Café Anglais, among others, to raise money for Action Against Hunger’s campaign for Haiti. The pop-up craze has also made its way to hotels, with Visit London and the Radisson Edwardian launching the world’s smallest pop-up hotel at various sites across London in March, consisting of a caravan doubling up as a mini boutique hotel.

Underground Restaurants

Another big trend for 2009 was the ‘underground restaurant’, with aspirational chefs opening up their homes to cook for strangers. The success of The Loft by Nuno Mendes in Dalston and the current praise for guerrilla restaurants such as Sheen Suppers means that the novelty factor might not simmer out for a while yet.

On a food note, small sharing plates and ‘international tapas’ was a big theme in 2009 and this looks set to continue with the latest triumph, Polpo, a Venetian bacaro in Soho, having already found a site for its second venue.

Hearty Fare

Nostalgic, hearty and British food is lined up for a welcome return during 2010. Dean Street Townhouse and Hix Soho have already established this food scene, and it looks set to continue with the re-opening of the Savoy Grill and Heston Blumenthal’s first foray into the London restaurant scene at the Mandarin Oriental later this year. St John and Hawksmoor both have plans to roll out their brands to other sites in the West End during the year as well.

Culinary Heavyweights

The big-hitters are certainly getting ready to invade London during 2010 – Along with Heston, Daniel Boulud, one of the most coveted chefs in the US, is set to open a restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental with his Bar Boulud, which is already a big success across the pond.

The Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell will welcome Bruno Loubet back to London and into the kitchen, Michel Roux Junior will open ‘Roux at Parliament Square’, Gordon Ramsay Holdings will re-launch Petrus, and Pierre Koffman is rumoured to be looking for a venue for another venture following the success of his pop-up restaurant. Looks like we’ll all be moving up a weight category in 2010.

Themed Dining

Something completely different that might take its place on the London dining scene this year is the emergence of the entertainment-focused restaurant. Proud Cabaret opened in the City in late 2009 and in January 2010, Circus opened in Covent Garden, with striking interiors designed by Tom Dixon.

Bring Your Own

A current, widely discussed, hot restaurant topic is the ability, or otherwise, to bring your own alcohol to a restaurant and the subsequent corkage fee. Restaurants are, as a rule, hesitant to implement this trend, but with consumers having so much influence on a restaurant’s success, people power might succeed in 2010.

Hotel Bars

Along with the continuation of the pop-up scenario, another big focus this year will be on the hotel bar scene. The Connaught hotel elevated the hotel bar to new heights throughout 2009, but with the emergence of many new luxury hotels due in 2010, including The Savoy, the Four Seasons on Park Lane, the W Hotel and the Dorchester Collection’s 45 park Lane, we could be in for a year of very stiff martinis.

Social Workout

Towards the end of the Summer of 2009, the re-launched Dorchester Spa in the Dorchester Hotel introduced the ethos of ‘a little of what you love is good for you’ with the Spatisserie concept – a place to have afternoon tea and champagne after a visit to the hotel’s spa or gym. 2010 may see this trend continuing with fitness centres embracing the concept of combining pleasures and offering a more social focus to fitness.

Travel Tips

For European travel, the regular hotspots are likely to remain popular this year, including Ibiza, the Cote d’Azur and Mykonos, with the emergence of Croatia and Montenegro in the South East. On an international basis, Brazil remains a hot destination, with South Africa becoming a feature to coincide with the World Cup.

The focus is likely to be on bespoke holidays, specifically tailored to the individual, and ensuring value for money, which could see luxury destinations offering their version of all-inclusive, and eco-luxury is certain to regain prominence. New hotels are expected to focus on a ‘country house chic’ vibe, in contrast to the dominance of minimalism in recent years.

For more information about Bon Vivant, please visit our website at www.bonvivant.co.uk