Shubh Diwali!


Diwali is nearly here, five days of glorious and loving celebration of the good that drives out evil, a festival of gratitude and a time for friends and family.  If dining out is part of your Diwali celebration, you’ll be delighted to know that restaurants are creating very special menus for the Festival of Lights.  And if Diwali isn’t in your diary, you can still grab this moment to enjoy some superb Indian cuisine at one of toptable’s terrific Indian restaurants.


Glamorous Amaya Bar & Grill in Knightsbridge, a winner of the Tio Pepe Restaurant of the Year, has a very special eight-dish menu to share, £35 for the vegetarian version and £38.50 for the non-vegetarian, from 1 – 7 November.

In Chelsea, Awana Malaysian restaurant, now with two AA rosettes, is serving a Diwali menu now through 14 November for an incredibly reasonable £16.50.

The Cinnamon Kitchen, that beloved flagship of new Indian dining, is offering a fabulous six-course vegetarian Diwali menu for £50 per person, available through this Saturday, 6 November.

At Trishna restaurant in Marylebone, chef Karam is pulling out all the stops and preparing a special 24-hour slow-cooked whole leg of lamb that serves up to 6 people for £60 a leg.  48 hours’ notice is required and it’s available only over Diwali weekend.

Eat Smart for StreetSmart


November and December are cold months if you’re living on the streets, but the StreetSmart campaign that runs from now until the end of the year gives you an opportunity to do your bit for your homeless neighbours.  Restaurants who participate in the StreetSmart campaign – which raised £455,000 last year for the homeless – add a £1 voluntary donation onto your restaurant bill.  If you agree to donate £1, it goes entirely to StreetSmart.  If you choose not to donate, it can easily be removed, end of story.  That’s all there is to it.  Its beauty is its simplicity.

Loads of generous toptable restaurants have signed up to be StreetSmart restaurants in 2010, including some of London’s best-known restaurants: Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, Hibiscus, maze – Gordon Ramsay, Maze Grill, Murano by Angela Hartnett, Theo Randall, The Criterion, Asia de Cuba, and many more in cities and towns right across the UK.   Watch for the £1 StreetSmart contribution and please say yes.

Love Cooking in London


The fabulous Love Cooking Festival comes to London, but be quick because tomorrow, 2 November, is the day.  It’s an extraordinary one-day event that brings all the vibrant flavours of the British food scene to you at the Royal Festival Hall.   You’ll see Richard Corrigan, Mark Hix, Oz Clark, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Rick Stein and many others.  You don’t have to spend the whole day because the sessions are spaced out throughout the event.  Hungry before or afterwards?  We know restaurants nearby.

The Trip


At last!  The Trip, the improvised foodie tour of the north of England starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, starts tonight on BBC2 at 10 pm.  Can’t wait!  Can’t wait!

New toptable signings to try:

Loch Ness Country House Restaurant

The Loch Ness Country House Restaurant is a uniquely elegant restaurant set inside a rambling Georgian mansion just outside Inverness with garden views and gorgeous Scottish-inflected modern European cuisine.  And we managed to talk about Loch Ness with out even mentioning the monster!   Oh.

MP’s Bistro is so named because it’s the restaurant of the Parliament House Hotel in Edinburgh, and it’s a spot of charm, history and super seasonal Scottish cuisine that’s sensibly priced.  Very good for breakfast, too.

The Tower Bar & Brasserie is a gloriously British dining room with a classic British menu and a superb afternoon tea.  It’s a place with a long history as a favourite meeting place in Windsor and it has views of Windsor Castle.

Les Deux Salons in London is such a hotly anticipated opening that we very nearly put it in the restaurant news section.  It’s right in London’s theatreland and is the sister to Arbutus and Wild Honey restaurants with the Michelin-starred team Will Smith and Anthony Demetre behind it.  Gordon Ramsay was seen dining there the other day.  The menu is French and the prices are reasonable.  A new must-try hotspot.

The Georgian Restaurant is as much an institution as Harrods, which is where you’ll find it, right there on the fourth floor.  It’s a gorgeous space, classically elegant, and it serves British cuisine as it should be served, in British carvery style.  The afternoon tea is one of the very best anywhere.