London’s Top Young Chefs
Published: April 2009
By Charlotte Druckman
A surge of new talent is putting the heat back in this city's kitchens. Here, six rising stars.
Brett Graham, The Ledbury
Less than a year ago, the Australian-born, 28-year-old Graham opened this airy Notting Hill spot, where he subtly incorporates Asian staples such as shiso and soy. He relishes getting his hands dirty—gutting squid, cleaning the exhaust hood—and puts his whisk into everything, including desserts, such as his chocolate pavé with chicory ice cream. "I'm not into molecular gastronomy. I get bored," Graham says. He would rather confit a suckling pig for 24 hours—then serve it with sweet mangosteens dunked in house-made pork sauce.
Perfect Meal Ballotine of foie gras with date purée; balsamic-roasted loin of lamb with miso-and-garlic-braised eggplant; and a date-and-vanilla tart.
127 Ledbury Rd.; 44-20/7792-9090; dinner for two $200.
Bryn Williams, Odette's
Formerly a stodgy institution for ladies who lunch, Odette's was revamped last November to keep pace with its hip home, Primrose Hill, in central London. The interior went from garishly overwrought to mod-baroque—and thanks to 30-year- old Williams, the food has been upgraded from old-school formal to light modern British. He combines Welsh influences from his childhood with French methods from his training: pan-fried turbot with braised oxtail and English cockles is his signature dish.
Perfect Meal Curried scallops with cauliflower purée; sautéed red mullet with parsley mashed potatoes, grilled baby squid, and wild garlic; and pineapple poached in simple syrup beside a scoop of coconut ice cream.
130 Regents Park Rd.; 44-20/7586-8569; dinner for two $160.
Adam Byatt, Trinity
Warm, walnut-paneled walls and wooden floors give the restaurant an air of urban rusticity that matches both Trinity's environs, the Clapham neighborhood in the southern part of the city, and thirtysomething Byatt's refined, hearty menu—such as pig's head made into crispy croquettes and served afloat pea soup with a drizzle of lobster oil. Ever ambitious, the chef is already hatching his next plot: a large-scale venue that will raise the bar on fast food.
Perfect Meal Pig's trotter on Poilâne toast with fried quail eggs and pork cracklings; herb-crusted fillet of hake with shellfish tortellini; and a cocoa-centric trio—a Valrhona pot de crème, a chocolate milk shake, and dark-chocolate cremosa.
4 The Polygon; 44-20/7622-1199; dinner for two $140.
Before he could peek over a kitchen counter, Jankel was cooking with his grandmother. Food is very personal to Jankel—he knows many guests by first name, and the Jerusalem artichokes on the menu come from a neighbor's garden. The 30-year- old's palate is clear but hardly predictable (black truffles infuse the milk in his rice-pudding gelato). Up next, Jankel will pursue his dream of opening London's first 100 percent sustainable restaurant.
Perfect Meal Cannelloni of lobster and freshwater prawns with shellfish velouté; pan-fried halibut with Jerusalem artichoke purée; and white-truffled honey cheesecake.
92 Kensington Park Rd.; 44-20/7229-4481; dinner for two $200.
Jean-Philippe Patruno Fino
Born in Marseilles, 35-year-old Patruno has come into his own here, at what Londoners deem the Spanish restaurant in the city. Diners are quick to call Fino a tapas bar, but both the food and the atmosphere defy such categorization. "It's more like a reasonably priced degustation menu with small portions to share," Patruno explains. The Soho digs include a laid-back dining room and a library-like bar area where both club chairs and walls are swathed in brown leather.
Perfect Meal Pulpo a la Gallega (a tender carpaccio of boiled octopus); arroz negro (rice with squid ink); clams with sherry and ham; creamy caramel flan.
33 Charlotte St.; 44-20/7813-8010; dinner for two $1200.
Theo Randall Theo Randall at the InterContinental
While Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers of London's River Café were making a name for themselves with a restaurant and cookbooks, their partner Theo Randall was happiest running the kitchen. At last, he's the star of the show, with this minimalist, 160-seat restaurant at the InterContinental, in Mayfair. The 38-year-old chef still has a decidedly Italian style: each day the pasta is made by hand, and vegetables arrive from Milan and Verona weekly. But what distinguishes him from Gray and Rodgers is his broad use of regional English produce, such as native porcini, partridge, and grouse.
Perfect Meal Taglialini with brown shrimp and zucchini; char-grilled veal chop; lemon tart with a sweet pastry crust.
1 Hamilton Place; 44-20/7318-8747; dinner for two $140.