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DINING OUT: London Calling, Again

2 minute read
Marion Hume

ST ALBAN When Chris Corbin and Jeremy King opened their latest London restaurant, St Alban, at the end of last year without even a whisper of publicity, devotees flocked. After all, this is the pair behind the Wolseley, the former car showroom on Piccadilly, which opened in 2003 yet manages to appear as if it has been around for at least a century.

So far the reaction has been mixed. Corbin and King are known for their clubby interiors and Nanny-knows-best comfort dishes. Yet St Alban, housed in a former BBC radio studio, features jet-set banquettes with turquoise and amethyst upholstery in a vast, brightly lit space reminiscent of an airline lounge. The food is a Mediterranean mélange of influences stretching from Venice to Lisbon, under the command of Southern Italian chef Francesco Mazzei.

While restaurant reviewers have been cautious in their assessment of St Alban, others give it the thumbs-up. 4-12 Regent Street (44 20 7499 8558; info@stalban.net

SCOTT’S Tom Ford was among the first through the doors when Scott’s of Mayfair, founded in 1851, reopened in December.

The London fish restaurant has seen some famous faces over the years, including Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and Marilyn Monroe. James Bond creator Ian Fleming discovered the delights of a martini, shaken not stirred, at the bar, while the joint was mentioned in the Hollywood classic The Great Escape as a dream destination after the war. It had lost its luster by the time it was acquired in 2005 by Caprice Holdings—owners of Le Caprice, the Ivy and J. Sheekey—and then closed for a multimillion-dollar renovation.

The challenge was to rejuvenate a London institution so that today’s crowd would be lured in for traditional British dishes like stargazy pie, featuring pilchard heads poking out through pastry. Tony Blair and Prince Charles’ wife Camilla have already dined there (although not together). Visual attractions include a glittering crustacean bar and art by names including Gary Hume. But overall, the look is of elegant comfort. As for where to sit, lunchtime power brokers prefer center tables. 20 Mount Street (44 20 7495 7309)

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