San Sabino restaurant

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San Sabino restaurant
Credit: Alice Gao

Dégustation destinations: the best restaurants in London, Paris and beyond to set course for this summer

26 June 2024 • Written by Belle Rice , Nicola Leigh Stewart and Issy von Simson

Wondering where to dine this summer? BOAT spotlights some of the top picks in London, Paris and beyond...

Arlington, London

Probably no London restaurant opening has cooked up as many column inches as Arlington’s. Everyone had preconceived ideas of the new-look Le Caprice, with stories of Princess Diana frequenting her favourite corner table, of Elton John and Joan Collins holding court, of Nicholas Coleridge using it like a Condé Nast canteen, wining and dining a coterie of curious and glamorous guests. 

The legendary Le Caprice has been reborn as Arlington

Those were the glory days, under the power-duo ownership of Corbin & King. After being sold to Richard Caring, the restaurant’s light faded a little until Covid-19’s first act when it went out altogether. But now, thanks to the wondrous ever-revolving door of the capital’s hospitality scene, Jeremy King has once again found himself back at the legendary spot on Arlington Street.

Now called Arlington (Caring kept the rights to Le Caprice), it feels like nothing has changed, other than the new sign above the door – same neon blue script, just a different tangle of letters. Inside, a time-travel Tardis whips you right back to the riotous heyday of the mid 1990s.

Jeremy King
Credit: Alice Gao

King stalks the black clickety-clack floors like a panther, greeting new guests as if they were regulars, and old hands like long lost family. The piano tinkles out background jazz, the bartenders pour ice-cold Martinis and the hubbub is electric. The noise levels verge on deafening at times but subdue as everyone settles into the business of ordering.

The original tight one-page menu has been replicated, as familiar as the monochrome deco interiors. The back-then off-menu treats, such as Bang-Bang Chicken, are now on-menu, which only marginally takes away the illicit insider thrill of asking for them.

"Hokey Pokey Coupe"
Credit: Alice Gao

Old favourites – steak tartare, that whopper of a salmon fishcake swimming in sorrel sauce, grilled calf’s liver and shepherd’s pie – all feature again. This is high-end British comfort food with no apologies, plus some stolen ingredients from Asia, all deftly handled, simple, straightforward and reliably delicious. Finishing with iced berries and white chocolate sauce brings out the solid silverware and a pouring flourish.

But lunch or dinner here is not about the food (good as it is), it’s about the atmosphere, glittering with the promise of someone interesting spinning through the doors at any minute. So how does Arlington compare to Le Caprice? Like only the best facelifts, it looks the same, but somehow even better.

Espadon, Paris

If you believe in fate, you might think that Eugénie Béziat was meant to be at Espadon, the newly crowned one-Michelin-star restaurant at the Ritz Paris. After growing up in Gabon, the Congo and the Ivory Coast, the chef moved to France to train in the Michelin-starred kitchens of chefs Michel Guérard and Michel Sarran. 

She then arrived at La Flibuste in Villeneuve-Loubet, where she gained her first star in the same town where Auguste Escoffier himself was born. Béziat is now continuing the famed chef’s legacy at Espadon, the restaurant launched by Escoffier after he and partner César Ritz opened the Ritz Paris back in 1898, while firmly making her own mark with her highly personal cuisine.

Ritz Paris - restaurant Espadon
Credit: Ritz Paris

Béziat has boldly combined the scents and flavours of her childhood in Africa and summers spent with family in Provence to design an emotive and creative menu that transports guests between two continents. The African-inspired Lobster-Cassava-Bissap brings together barbecued lobster with hibiscus flower, cassava semolina, samphire and sea urchin, and has quickly become a signature dish, while the subtle showstopper, the Houdan chicken worked in the spirit of yassa, is served with a fragrant clay-baked onion that is split and prepared tableside.

French flavours can be found in the oyster with Brède mafane and brousse cheese and dishes such as the red mullet with carrot and immortelle, which celebrates one of the chef’s favourite plants and her South of France roots.

Credit: Ritz Paris

However, Béziat isn’t afraid to combine serious fine dining with fun. In between courses the chef plays around to reimagine the classic Bloody Mary brunch drink as a gin-based amuse-bouche, while the palate cleanser nods to Paris’s heady absinthe-fuelled days with a drizzle of syrup poured over a puff of sugar on  a silver spoon and into a zingy green mix of fennel ice cream, burnt fennel water, and cryoconcentrated herb granita. Sommelier Florian Guilloteau’s creative wine list also breaks with French tradition and alternates between classic vins, lesser-known terroirs, and a collection of eaux- de-vie, liqueurs and sakés.

Credit: Ritz Paris

To finish, renowned pastry chef François Perret complements Béziat’s vision for the restaurant with desserts that mirror her use of African and Mediterranean ingredients; currently on the menu is a sun-infused honey, almond and orange creation (pictured above) and a twist on the traditional chocolate soufflé with the addition of kororima seed.

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Lucia, Cannes

Just opened this spring, Lucia is the brainchild of the Nikki Beach team, this time offering “Cuisine de Soleil” on La Croisette with a menu of sunny, seasonal Mediterranean fare.

San Sabino, New York city

Seafood in the city gets a new champion on Greenwich Avenue with this Italian-American eatery. The second restaurant from husband-and-wife team Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito (the first being Don Angie in the West Village), San Sabino offers a new take on seafood and homemade pastas.

Lola 41, Naples, Florida

LoLa stands for Longitude and Latitude, while 41 is the mariners’ co-ordinating points that LoLa 41’s original Nantucket restaurant stands on, so the cuisines offered are cleverly based around the countries that the 41st crosses around the world. And if you’re flitting between north and south to follow the weather, LoLa 41 has you covered with another location in Palm Beach.

Papaioannou, Mykonos

The long-awaited sister restaurant to Athens’ famous seafood eatery, Papaioannou aims to blend city style and sophistication with a heady dose of Mykonos’s laid-back, party-ready attitude. This sunny lunch and dinner spot will offer on-the-sand dining on the pretty beach of Agios Stefanos with all your Aegean favourites on the menu.

Il Gattopardo, London

La dolce vita comes to London with Il Gattopardo, a late 2023 opening that fuses Italian heritage with Mayfair’s way of life. Elegant yet quietly comfortable, it’s perfect for whiling away hours in the city when you’re dreaming of the Riviera.

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