Best Restaurants for Late-night Dining in London

Published on Europe Up Close on 24th July 2015:

Balans Cafe by Qin Xie

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but London follows pretty close behind. At least that’s true when it comes to its late night dining options. Now you can enjoy a meal at some of the best restaurants in London… 24 hours a day! This wasn’t always the case, of course. Historically, if you were hungry after a night out, you’d have to rely on private member’s casinos, kebab vans or hotel restaurants. Thanks to the 24 hour licensing laws which came into effect in 2003, allowing alcohol to be served around the clock, many bars have extended their opening hours.The result? The increase in hungry revelers has led to a growth in late night dining options. Here’s my picks for the best restaurants for late night dining in London.

Read more at Europe Up Close

Best Wine Bars in London

Published on Europe Up Close on 26th June 2015:

Barrafina Frith Street by Qin Xie

Where are the best wine bars in London? London, for wine lovers, is a true Aladdin’s cave. It’s a city that embraces all wine from all regions and leaves none behind. Indeed, there are few other places in the world where you can find both traditional wines made in Georgian Qveris and shiraz from New Latitude regions, such as Thailand.

Read more at Europe Up Close

The philosophy of restaurant design

Published on host. Milano. on 17th April 2015:

The Corner Room

In London, restaurant design is surprisingly powerful in its subtlety.

Think, for example, of a restaurant with stripped back lighting, bare walls, white tiles and chrome fixtures. Who do you imagine will dine in such a restaurant? And what kind of food will be served? Now, what about a restaurant with plush banquettes, aged-wood panelling and framed paintings? Has your diner aged by a couple of decades?

As in other parts of the western world, a well designed restaurant in London might get mentions in a magazine, gain kudos in awards or even attract the right type of clientèle. Followers of restaurant psychology might even argue that the right restaurant design can increase the average spend of the diner, making restaurant design an incredibly powerful tool for the restaurateur.

Meanwhile, restaurant design in China is a wholly different ball game. Here, it’s less about the fine-tuning and more about the turnover.

Now, we’re not talking about the European restaurants in Shanghai which aspire to their international counterparts. Nor are we talking about international hotel restaurants which are inspired by a brand identity. Rather, we’re talking about restaurants for the mass market.

According to one restaurateur I spoke to last year, a successful restaurant will need to redecorate once every two or three years to maintain a sense of “newness” for its diners. A restaurant that hasn’t been redecorated for seven years or more is basically on its last legs and will have seen dwindling visitor numbers for some years.

The reason? Competition.

The number of restaurants in China is so incomprehensibly large that the only thing which distinguishes between them is that sense of newness. Here, restaurant design isn’t built to last but rather, just until its shiny edge has worn out.