A food critic and gastronome extraordinaire, what Tom Parker Bowles doesn’t know about London’s dining scene isn’t worth knowing. As Brown’s Hotel’s Expert-in-Residence, he’s on-hand to personally curate our guests’ gastronomic experiences. Here, he reveals his insider knowledge of the latest culinary trends and, of course, London’s finest eateries.
Q. How have you seen the London dining scene change in the last decade?
There's been decent high-end food for a while. And good cheap tucker too. But at long last, we have a strong middle ground. Informal places cooking up excellent food. Plus, street food has moved from dodgy hotdogs to a whole array of affordable, delectable handheld delights.
Q. What seems to be on-trend at the moment?
I hate trends. They are, by their very nature, transient. Which is no good for long term quality. But I do like the way that Indian food, or Chinese, or Italian, are no longer one homogeneous whole, and have become more regional. So Goan, Sichuan, or Neapolitan. This is a good thing.
Q. Which chefs and restaurants are doing some really different and innovative?
I love what Som Saa in Spitalfields is doing; authentic Thai food. Barbecue is coming of age at last, with the likes of Shoreditch’s Smokestak and Temper in Soho doing it properly. The Hart Brothers never cease to impress, their Spanish tapas restaurant group, Barrafina is better than ever, and El Pastor at London Bridge is the nearest I've tasted to a real Mexico City Taqueria.
Black Axe Mangal in Highbury have a different and mind-blowing take on kebabs. Its founder, Lee Tiernan (formerly of St John) is a master. When it comes to innovation though, I don’t want it for innovation's sake, rather restaurants that are built to last.
Q. Where do you love going out to eat?
It depends on the second of the minute of the hour of the day. In Mayfair, I'll always love The Wolseley, Le Caprice, Scott’s, China Tang and 45 Jermyn Street. Further east, I love Clerkenwell’s St John and global street-food market Dinerama in Shoreditch.
Q. What is it about the culinary offering at Brown’s Hotel that caught your attention?
Mark Hix's food captures the spirit and soul of British seasonal eating. He's a great culinary hero and I love anything he does.
Q. What do you think will be the next big thing in the London food scene?
I’m not sure, but more decently priced places where food and service come before hype and ephemeral hysteria.
You can book our Critic-in-Residence package with Tom Parker Bowles. It includes an overnight stay for two guests in a Brown’s Hotel suite and consultation with Tom to curate your own exceptional bespoke dining experience. Click here for more information.