Nathan Outlaw shares his thoughts on why dining in the capital is so exciting, and now more affordable than ever…
A city fit to burst with great places to eat out it’s unsurprising, then, that the London Guide is the largest of the Food & Drink publications. This year’s guide is introduced by Nathan Outlaw, who has spent the last three years bringing a slice of the Cornish coast to central London. With a two Michelin stars gleaming from his restaurant in Rock and more at his establishments in Port Isaac as well as a veritable bouquet of AA rosettes, this is a chef who knows his onions.
After successfully bagging yet another Michelin star for his London venture, Outlaw’s at The Capital Hotel, who better to give us the low-down on the changes to London’s dining scene (especially when it comes to how much you fork out for a meal) and offer some top spots to try.
“As a young chef, fresh out of college, I arrived at The Intercontinental, Hyde Park Corner, thinking I knew what I was doing. I was very soon put in my place by those more experienced than me; to say it was a steep learning curve is an understatement.
“My return to London, to open Outlaw’s at The Capital, was also a learning curve – not of the same magnitude, but I’ve definitely learnt that the London diner expects more and has more knowledge than I had first thought. Head chef Pete Biggs and I have tailored and adapted our menus accordingly, whilst retaining the core of our belief in what we do and bringing a slice of Cornwall to the city.
“I’ve often asked myself what makes the London restaurant scene unique. My conclusion is that it’s the vast diversity of cultures and cuisines found here. Add to that a discerning clientele whose knowledge of food and drink is of a level never seen before and it all makes for a challenging and constantly evolving restaurant scene. In a climate that remains financially difficult, I would say that London is the epicentre for ‘eating well for less’. We have seen more new openings over the past couple of years than ever before, bucking the trend of business generally. Of course, restaurants have had to examine how they can remain viable and this has led to a plethora of high-end restaurants offering affordable lunch deals, thus opening up the experience to a whole new market.
“Some of those who, I think, stand out are Isaac McHale at The Clove Club, blazing a trail and not frightened to do his own thing; Tom Adams at Pitt Cue Co, offering the best meat cookery in the UK, and Gymkhana, bringing us the best of contemporary Indian cuisine whilst respecting traditional ways.
“Customers also now have higher expectations of front of house staff, not just to give impeccable service but to know enough about what they are serving to give customers comprehensive information about the ingredients in any given dish; where they come from and how they are produced. To my mind, this is raising their professional profile, which can only be good for the industry.”
Read the latest review of Outlaw’s at The Capital Hotel or discover the brand new London Food & Drink Guide online below. If you’re like me and prefer a hard copy you’ll see this free-to-pick-up guide in London Waitrose stores, restaurants and in the hands of foodies. Order a free guide here.