Seven big Australians
Where to find our high-flying chefs in London, and their insider secrets for the Olympic tourist
BRETT GRAHAM, THE LEDBURY Graham’s two-Michelin-starred Notting Hill restaurant was the highest climber in this year’s San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings (jumping from 34 to 14). Quite an achievement for a boy from Newcastle, NSW, who started work in a fish shop at 15. The Ledbury specialises in French classics with a modern twist and the chic and sophisticated fine diner has been at the top of foodlovers’ must-do lists since its 2005 opening. Perfect for a big night out. On the menu: Flame- grilled mackerel with smoked eel, celtic mustard and shiso; parfait of dried flowers with gariguette of wild strawberries, white chocolate and warm tapioca with vanilla. More: theledbury.com. BG’s favourite London breakfast: Granger & Co in Notting Hill for a full Aussie breakfast. Casual lunch: Franco Manca in Chiswick for great pizza [made from slow-rising sourdough]. Slap-up dinner: Zuma in Knightsbridge [for Japanese cuisine]. Tip for Olympic tourists: Visit Hampton Court Palace. It’s a step back in time and amazing to see a place so steeped in history. BILL GRANGER, GRANGER & CO Former Sydneysider Granger opened his seventh restaurant, in trendy Notting Hill, last November. It has a strong Aussie flavour, with airy interiors (designed by Australian firm Meacham Nockles McQualter) and all-day casual dining featuring many of his signature dishes alongside more English fare, such as a Sunday roast beef rib with root vegies. The biggest departure from Granger’s usual winning formula is the name — Bill’s, rather inconveniently, was already being used by an English restaurant chain. On the menu: Ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter; chilli pork ribs with onion salad. More: grangerandco.com BG’s favourite London breakfast: Princi in Soho, for the green olive bread sticks, pastries and espresso. I love taking the children in on a Saturday before a day of shopping in the West End. Casual lunch: It’s a toss up between two of my favourite chefs and their West London restaurants. Dock Kitchen for Stevie Parle’s global home cooking and outdoor barbecue, or Tom Pemberton’s strictly British Hereford Road with its excellentvalue set lunch menu. Slap- up dinner: River Cafe in Hammersmith. The food is rigorously seasonal, the ingredients impeccable and the room and service flawless. Olympic tip: London’s parks are its great j oy, particularly in summer. Make the most of the morning and evening light by visiting for a pre-breakfast or postdinner stroll. DAVID THOMPSON, NAHM It was the first Thai restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star and, with its location in The Halkin hotel in central London’s posh Belgravia district, a tiara’s toss from Buckingham Palace and the up-market Knightsbridge shopping area, som tam never looked so chic. More than 10 years after its opening, the restaurant is still going strong, though Thompson has hinted he will step away from his British flagship to concentrate on the newer Nahm Bangkok, in the Thai capital’s Metropolitan Hotel. On the menu: Crispy noodles with prawns, pickled garlic, bean sprouts and coriander; salted chicken in wafers with longans and Thai basil. More: halkin.como.bz. DT’s favourite London breakfast: The Wolseley — the pastries are good, the tea impeccable and the atmosphere, well it’s on Piccadilly. Casual lunch: Petersham Nurseries Cafe, now with Greg Malouf, gives you a chance to relax in the summer sun, if it’s out. Slap- up dinner: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental is the ticket. The meat fruit, with mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread, is wonderful. GREGMALOUF, PETERSHAM NURSERIES CAFE Skye Gyngell put this garden centre restaurant at the foot of south London’s Richmond Hill on the map, earning it a Michelin star last year. Now another Aussie has stepped into her soil- flecked shoes, and it’s no surprise Greg Malouf has had rave reviews. The Melbourne chef has continued Gyngell’s use of fresh, locally sourced produce, but has added Middle Eastern flair. There are no airs and graces here; a dirt-floor greenhouse doubles as the main dining room, with guests perched on mismatched chairs around antique tables decorated with potted plants. A stone’s throw from Kew Gardens and Hampton Court, Petersham is the perfect lunch spot from which to embark on a scenic afternoon stroll. On the menu: Spiced rabbit with chorizo, parsnip skordalia and trevisano; pavlova with lemon posset and ginger caramel pears. More: petershamnurseries.com. GM’s favourite London breakfast: I always enjoy The Wolseley for an impeccable full English breakfast. My wife, Chalice, loves the eggs benedict ( which are usually served with a smattering of visiting celebrities). Casual lunch: Barrafina, a bustling tapas bar in Soho that serves simple dishes like sardines a la plancha and cooked-to-order jamon and spinach tortilla. Also Dock Kitchen, where talented young chef Stevie Parle uses impeccable ingredients with some lovely Middle Eastern touches. Slap- up dinner: The Ledbury. Brett is an Australian chef at his very best. Olympic tip: Plan your journeys very carefully as public transport will understandably be stretched [for the duration of the Games]. SHELAGH RYAN, SALVATION JANE Lantana cafe in London’s trendy Fitzrovia was opened in 2008 by Queenslander Ryan in response to the dearth of decent coffee outlets in the British capital. Since then it’s notched up a string of best cafe awards and the success has led to the recent launch of sister outlet Salvation Jane (also named after a rampant Australian weed) in Shoreditch, east London. Salvation Jane is far more spacious than Lantana, seating about 65, and offers an Australian cafe-style breakfast and lunch menu, plus share plates, beer, wine and cocktails of an evening. As with Lantana, the coffees are a standout. On the menu: Maple french toast with bacon, grilled bananas and candied pecans; beef burger with beetroot relish, stilton mayo and leaves. More: salvationjanecafe.co.uk. SR’s favourite London breakfast: Tina We Salute You is a quirky, humming little place in Dalston, run by two of the nicest men in east London. They do fantastic coffee and a simple but excellent menu, with all the cakes made by one of the owners. Casual lunch: Morito at Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell — a small tapas bar from the people who run Moro, the more formal Spanish restaurant next door. Best dishes are the pork belly, beetroot humous and homemade sourdough bread. Slap- up dinner: Pollen Street Social in Mayfair provides Michelin- starred food without the formality and stuffiness of a finedining restaurant. Olympic tip: Avoid the overcrowded tubes and travel the city on a Barclays bike. TRISH HILFERTY, THE CANTON ARMS This atmospheric pub in a lessthan-trendy part of south London was once a tired Irish boozer. With a spruce up and the arrival of Aussie chef Trish Hilferty two years ago, it gained a new lease of life. Hilferty orchestrated the food at Clerkenwell’s acclaimed The Eagle, among other gastropubs, and has had similar rave reviews for her quirky menus at The Canton Arms (her foie gras toastie is one of the most talked-about bar snacks in the city). This Stockwell pub won a Michelin Bib Gourmand in its first year, but perhaps Hilferty’s greatest achievement has been in retaining the venue’s soul; the pub’s original clientele still flock to the unpretentious front bar, while a whole new audience pops into the dining room to pore over the eclectic carte. On the menu: Roast Swaledale lamb, lemony roast potatoes and romesco; steamed syrup sponge and custard. More: cantonarms.com. TH’s favourite London breakfast: A good coffee and toast is plenty for me so I go to E5 Bakehouse, an artisan bakery and cafe in east London, which has the best sourdough bread. Casual lunch: Koya Japanese Udon in Frith Street, Soho. Fantastic house-made noodles, and the specials board is genius. Slap- up dinner: Quo Vadis, in Soho. Jeremy Lee’s food is right on the money — modern British, truly seasonal and very tasty. The room is beautiful and is steered by one of London’s best maitres’d, Jon Spiteri. Olympic tip: Walk. The best way to the stadium is via Regent’s Canal. You can hop off the tube at Bethnal Green and join the canal in Victoria Park. Walk down to Hackney Wick and have a coffee or a glass of wine at The Hackney Pearl or The Counter Cafe, and discover the many new galleries in the area. You’ll arrive without feeling crushed by the London Underground. PAUL MERRONY, GIACONDA DINING ROOM The original Giaconda in the West End’s theatre and music district was a mecca for musos in the 1960s. Today, Sydney chef Merrony’s no-frills neighbourhood bistro on Denmark Street is attracting a whole new crowd for its modestly priced but impressive food. Giaconda, with its bare wooden tables, bentwood chairs and French-influenced menus reflecting Merrony’s classic training ( under the famous Roux brothers, among others), has attracted a loyal following. With what the chef claims is probably the smallest kitchen in London, that’s no mean feat. On the menu: Sauteed veal kidneys with potatoes, grain mustard and chicory salad; iced nougat with raspberry sauce. More: giacondadining.com. PM’s favourite London breakfast: Bar Bruno in Soho for eggs and bacon, and a mug of builder’s tea. Or the Towpath cafe beside Regent’s Canal. Very cool. Casual lunch: The original Franco Manca pizza place, just off Electric Avenue, Brixton. Slap-up dinner: La Petite Maison in Mayfair. Olympic tip: Sir John Soane’s Museum and Geffrye Museum are great galleries to check out. Skip the London Eye and instead walk up Primrose Hill for a London vista. And an Oyster Card is a must for public transport.
Shelagh Ryan’s Salvation Jane in Shoreditch, east London, offers cafe-style breakfast and lunch menus, plus evening share plates and outstanding coffee
Petersham Nurseries Cafe, where Greg Malouf is head chef
Plating up at The Ledbury
Trish Hilferty at The Canton Arms
Nahm’s salted chicken wafers