Timothy Barber
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It’s all happening in Clerkenwell. Hot on the heels of last week’s Zetter Townhouse launch – a hotel which happens to include an apothecary-style cocktail bar from the 69 Colebroke Row crew – comes a slick new eatery on St John Street (surely London’s foodiest thoroughfare) in the space vacated by sadly short-lived Eastside Inn.

The discerning folk behind the Hotel du Vin boutique hotel chain have given the (large) space a welcoming facelift to launch their restaurant concept, Bistro du Vin. This thankfully retains Eastside Inn’s open kitchen with the long pewter dining counter surrounding it, and adds a huge walk-in wine cellar, a windowed butchery room and a chef’s table. Our favourite discovery on a sneak preview visit, however, was the basement private dining room, wherein the Scots Malt Whisky Society is supplying some rather fine drams – it’s called the Whisky Snuggle. Aww. We’re told a Soho Bistro du Vin is to open in June, with more to follow. Slainte, bon appetit and bottoms up. 38-42 St John Street, EC1

Meanwhile Bistro du Vin’s near-neighbour St John – the carnivores’ paradise that put Clerkenwell dining on the map – has opened a West End outpost which also happens to be a hotel. On the edge-of-Leicester-Square site of the once-famous seafood restaurant Manzi’s, St John Hotel has a restaurant serving up things like potted rabbit, duck and wild garlic pie and, er, tripe and onions (can’t you just hear the West End tourist brigade dashing for that one) and beautiful, white-washed rooms that include “post-supper rooms” aimed at those who prefer to take to their beds after a hearty supper rather than face the taxi home. There’s also a smart little bar. 1 Leicester St, WC2H 7BL

If you think of John Burton Race as that red-faced bloke with a knack for a camping stove on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few seasons back, it’s worth reminding yourself that he’s also one of the most gifted cooks of his generation. Now running the show at Berkshire’s Sanctum on the Green, he’ll also be lending his services to the Grand Designs Live exhibition, which takes place at the Excel centre at the end of this month. The Michelin starred chef will be heading up the Grand Restaurant, which will include a champagne and oyster bar, and he’ll also be demonstrating his dishes at the show’s Live Kitchen Experience. 30 April-8 May. To book, visit

Tom and Ed Martin are the entrepreneurial siblings behind some of London’s best gastropubs, including Chelsea’s Cadogan Arms, Holborn’s White Swan, and Docklands’ barbecue-tastic the Gun. Next up for their ever-expanding empire are two venues in the Whitbread Brewery building on Chiswell Street, currently being converted into a plush hotel. In the former St Paul’s Tavern and King’s Head respectively, they’ll be setting up a hotel bar/restaurant, to launch in early May, and a British pub and dining room to open later in the summer. The brothers bringing their pub instincts to bear on hotel catering is an interesting new move both for their business and for City drinkers and diners.