Two “Sound Bites” in London

June 22, 2008

 (May 22-25, 2008 ) We had two interesting meals on this brief trip to London. 

The first at Luciano (72-73 St. James’s Street; 020 7408 1440), across the street from our Quintess apartment, was noteworthy for the place rather than the food.  The space inside is terrific with big windows looking out onto St. James’s Street.  The tin ceiling and small, hexagonal black and white tiles on the floor add an interesting old-fashioned note in juxtaposition to the modern room. 

But now we must mention the food. 

The menu came and was rather uninteresting but we chose two salad starters, a Caprese which Gary found to be very fresh and a spinach and mashed avocado with a creamy vinaigrette which Varian quite liked. 

The steak and chips which followed were on the “Florentine” side and tasty but rather basic. 

As we ate we kept expecting more people to show up.  None did.  When the bill came, we finally understood.  Lunch on Saturday is such a non-event that we were only offered food from the “bar menu.” 

We asked to see the dinner menu and that reflected more of the quasi-Italian fare one would expect at this latest in Marco Pierre White’s string of London restaurants.   Next time we must revisit Luciano.

Another lunch we visited l’etranger (36 Gloucester Road; 020 7584 1118 ) and enjoyed a 19.50£ lunch in an upscale dining room. 

Mirrored walls float above black banquettes, whose backs form a ledge dotted with flower arrangements, up-lit from behind with purple lights.  he food is not really fusion and not really French but sort of French spin on Asian dishes. 

Both starters, a medley of spring vegetables and a ceviche, which had been lightly poaches and then marinated overnight, set the stage for the main courses. 

Gary’s shredded lamb shoulder with apricots, eggplant sautéed with nuts was meltingly good and Varian’s red Thai chicken curry a credible version of the classic.  Dessert was a “refined” version of \our beloved Japanese moochie. 

The wine, Les Griottes, Val Joanis (, a 2004 Syrah at 34£ was good enough for us to note the web site so we can order some on our return to Nice.



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