This week in London, it’s all about celebrating culinary delights and sipping yummy cocktails. What more could you ask for?
Words Rebecca Kent
The term ‘melting pot’ is often used to describe London’s cultural diversity. But when you throw your eyes to its culinary landscape – a rich fabric of some 6000 restaurants – it’s then you realise this is also true of its food scene.
With restaurants boasting delights from every corner of the globe, the capital is a world-renowned foodie destination. Until three years ago, there was no celebration of this.
Enter, the London Restaurant Festival, which, for the next week will be shouting about what the capital has to offer. And, in true city style, it coincides with London Cocktail Week. So set the next seven days aside to gorge. Just don’t count the calories.
First-class eateries are being opened up as part of the restaurant festival, so you can experience fine dining at a fraction of the usual price.
Among a smörgåsbord of events being dished up for food-lovers is the Gourmet Odyssey, where participants enjoy a starter in a top venue, a main course in another and dessert in a third.
There are three routes covering Belgravia, Park Lane, Piccadilly and Pall Mall, and a Routemaster bus to shuttle diners between venues. On board will be a food expert who can demystify the esoterica of haute cuisine.
Simon Davies, the festival director, says part of the event’s aim is to make posh venues more accessible.
“We want people to enjoy eating out and help them realise going to a top restaurant is not necessarily about going to a quiet restaurant with a starchy tablecloth and a scary waiter,” he adds.
If the Routemaster bus sounds indulgent, there are also four walking tours following the same format, through Soho, Clerkenwell and Covent Garden.
But you don’t have to be shepherded around to enjoy the festival. As well as a food debate and a suppliers’ market, hundreds of restaurants, including the Michelin-starred, will put on special menus costing between £10 to £25.
Mix it up: learn how to make cocktails
John Torode, of Masterchef fame, who owns Smiths of Smithfield, says London’s restaurant scene is worthy of celebration.
“You can eat almost every single cuisine in the world here in London – from Szechuan and Japanese to Moroccan and Australian as well traditional Great British. You can get it anywhere you like at any time and that’s extraordinary,” he says.
“The great thing about the tours is you have all these restaurants opening their doors to people and saying ‘look, come and try us’. This is not just going out for lunch or dinner, this is an opportunity to go on an odyssey, walk around town, see different restaurants and speak to different people.”
If you’re more of a discerning drinker, London Cocktail Week will be right up your alley – with loads of events lined up. In a glamorous twist on the humble pub crawl are the cocktail tours. More than 200 venues are taking part, with each serving a bespoke concoction. Again, the Routemaster buses come in to play, ferrying drinkers from bar to bar.
Or, if you always thought there was more to cocktails than drinking them, book on to a masterclass and learn how to mix absinthe, gin, whisky and tequila. Cheers.
The London Restaurant Festival
Until October 17
London Cocktail Week
Until October 15