Pairings | Restaurants

Venice restaurants - the big hitters

Eating out in Venice is not cheap, as we’ve discovered, but there are ways of mitigating the cost (essential if you’re spending a fortnight in the city!) Here are five of the more classic Venetian restaurants we’ve been to. Some less expensive and off the beaten track options over the next few days.

How to plan a food trip to Paris in 2014

How to plan a food trip to Paris in 2014

We’re off to Paris next week (hooray!) and as usual my husband has been doing his meticulous research on where we should eat and drink. These days you’re more likely to find out the best places online than through guide books so who are our trusted sources?

5 new restaurants to try in Bordeaux

5 new restaurants to try in Bordeaux

If you're planning to visit Bordeaux this summer these are the hot restaurants according to local wine industry insider 'La Bordelaise'. But which are worth going to? Read on . . .

10 of the best Bristol restaurants

10 of the best Bristol restaurants

The last time I did a round up of the best places to eat in Bristol was back in 2014. Since then the food scene has exploded to such an extent that I hardly recognise my original list.

A week’s eating in Paris

A week’s eating in Paris

Spending a whole week in Paris is any foodie’s idea of heaven but how do you choose from the vast amount of restaurants on offer without breaking the bank? If you’ve read about how we planned our recent Paris trip I thought you might like to know where we ended up eating . . .

4 good restaurants in Oxford

4 good restaurants in Oxford

Oxford is a place that doesn’t have a great reputation for food but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the restaurants we ate in last weekend.

Where to eat in Bristol in 2014

Where to eat in Bristol in 2014

Many of these recommendations are now out of date. There is a more recent post of where I recommend to eat in Bristol here.

5 of my favourite French restaurants in London

5 of my favourite French restaurants in London

For the past few years French food has been eclipsed by more fashionable Italian and Asian but there are still some great places to go if you want a taste of Paris without having to cross the Channel.

An insider's guide to the fish restaurants of Marseille and Cassis

An insider's guide to the fish restaurants of Marseille and Cassis

Travel writer Philip Sweeney hobnobs with the locals, checks out the best places to eat and discovers why fishing for bouillabaisse isn't as easy as it once was . . .

Three hot restaurants to visit in Paris in spring 2015

Three hot restaurants to visit in Paris in spring 2015

Deciding where to eat in Paris is just as stressful as where to eat in London. There’s just too much choice

My two favourite restaurants in Paris

My two favourite restaurants in Paris

Whenever we come to Paris, whatever new places we book, we still always make time to see two old favourites, Le Baratin and Bistrot Paul Bert.

5 ways to eat cheaply - and well - in Paris

5 ways to eat cheaply - and well - in Paris

Having recently had a whole week in Paris during which we ate out every day we obviously had to watch what we spent. Had we gone to one of the three star temples of gastronomy we could have easily blown our budget in a night.

Bright ideas for recession-hit restaurants

Bright ideas for recession-hit restaurants

In a recession you need to think outside the box to attract and keep customers. One way is to add a bit of theatre by serving a dish at the table or at a central point of the restaurant where everyone can see it. Here are three recent examples from France and Argentina:

4 of the hottest new London restaurants (updated)

4 of the hottest new London restaurants (updated)

It's hard to keep up with London restaurant openings these days. The latest hotspot seems to change from week to week but these four should definitely be on your radar in spring 2015.

5 fun places to have breakfast in London (updated)

5 fun places to have breakfast in London (updated)

Have you noticed the number of restaurants which have started offering breakfast - and I don’t just mean a full English?

The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais

The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais

When I first went to Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek around 10 years ago I was blown away. Since then its chef Margot Janse has become one of the world’s most high profile chefs and the food more experimental. Would the experience be as memorable?

How Parisiens learned to love vegetables, foreign chefs, natural wine and even their customers

How Parisiens learned to love vegetables, foreign chefs, natural wine and even their customers

3 days in Paris so far and I can report that the city is changing. Fast. Of course it’s been happening for a while but there’s a critical mass in terms of the number of restaurants which are offering a very different experience to those that established Paris's reputation as a gastronomic destination.

Magpie: smart bar food for wine lovers

Magpie: smart bar food for wine lovers

With dozens of restaurants opening every week in London what do you do to stand out from the crowd? The answer, it seems from James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy's recently opened Magpie in Heddon Street, is to pretend you’re a Chinese restaurant and wheel around the menu on a trolley.

How to handle a wine list - 10 questions you’ve always wanted answered

How to handle a wine list - 10 questions you’ve always wanted answered

Former sommelier Zeren Wilson of Bitten & Written reveals the tricks of the trade when it comes to choosing a good value wine and how to handle the somm.

The best food neighbourhoods in London: Part II

The best food neighbourhoods in London: Part II

When I blogged about my Christmas in East Dulwich the other day and speculated where else in London would make a good place for a food lover to live I never expected it to trigger such a response.

Does complimentary mean complimentary these days?

Does complimentary mean complimentary these days?

This week has seen the latest spat in the long-running restaurant critic v blogger debate with the Observer's Jay Rayner getting stuck into bloggers and bloggers revealed as asking for freebies in return for a positive review, according to this report in the Indy.

What somms think of customers

What somms think of customers

Following our article from former sommelier Zeren Wilson on how to order from a wine list, another, wine educator and consultant David Furer, turns the tables and asks some of the US’s top sommeliers what the biggest challenges and frustrations are in their job.

Where Bristol foodies eat

Where Bristol foodies eat

Bristol has more than its fair share of cookery writers (including yours truly) so who better to ask where to eat in the city - and what to order? (Well, local chefs, maybe, but I’ll come on to that …)

Where - and what - Bristol chefs eat

Where - and what - Bristol chefs eat

As there was so much interest in the post on where my fellow food writers eat out in Bristol I thought I'd do a follow-up with chefs.

Timberyard - Edinburgh’s most atmospheric restaurant?

Timberyard - Edinburgh’s most atmospheric restaurant?

One of the main problems restaurants have is consistency. Keeping up the standards not only of the food but decor and service. So could Edinburgh’s Timberyard make an equally good impression as it did when I first went 16 months ago?

Gordon Ramsay opens a steak restaurant. Nobu unveils his new hotel. A typical day in Las Vegas . . .

Gordon Ramsay opens a steak restaurant. Nobu unveils his new hotel. A typical day in Las Vegas . . .

For a town that’s still more noted for gaming than food, Las Vegas can certainly pull in the big names. Yesterday Gordon Ramsay opened his first restaurant in the city at Paris, Las Vegas while Nobu unveiled plans for his first hotel at Caesar’s Palace.

Ristorante Cibreo, Florence

Ristorante Cibreo, Florence

If you’re going to go to a restaurant in a tourist city like Florence it certainly helps to go with a couple of Italians. Especially if one of them is a well-known chef* and - better still - has been recommended by one of his mates at one of the poshest local hotels.

Taberna do Mercado, Spitalfields, London

Taberna do Mercado, Spitalfields, London

The hype that accompanies almost every new restaurant launch these days is crazy. We all swarm in, pronounce it the best opening this year then swarm off to the next hotspot.

Lurra - the latest London restaurant you need to know about

Lurra - the latest London restaurant you need to know about

With so much of what’s going on on the London dining scene happening east of the City it’s good to find a hip new restaurant opening slap in the middle of the West End

Ellory, Hackney: well worth the detour

Ellory, Hackney: well worth the detour

With city centre rents unaffordable for most first-time restaurateurs there’s a growing trend for the most exciting openings to be happening in local neighbourhoods. That’s certainly been the case in London for a while.

Food and wine matching in Hawke's Bay

Food and wine matching in Hawke's Bay

Hawke’s Bay is a sunny, coastal province, situated in the east of New Zealand’s North Island. The region is gaining repute as a wine and food locale that marries delicious regional cuisine with a diversity of exceptional wines. Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second largest producer of wine, after the South Island’s Marlborough region, known around the world for its herbaceous, tropical Sauvignon Blancs.

Tramontana: ‘Brindisa lite’

Tramontana: ‘Brindisa lite’

I’ve been a huge fan of Brindisa, the Spanish food importer who was probably more responsible than anyone for putting chorizo on our culinary map. They have a great shop in Borough Market and a number of convivial tapas bars so it seemed good news when they announced they were opening Tramontana, a restaurant based on 'speciality dishes from the Spanish Mediterranean'.

The Dairy, Clapham: Smart, casual

The Dairy, Clapham: Smart, casual

I’d heard good things about The Dairy, not least from my son Will (of Hawksmoor*), one of whose favourite restaurants it is, but being south of the river it took me a while to haul myself down there.

Root, Wapping Wharf, Bristol

Root, Wapping Wharf, Bristol

Veg is the new chicken - or so it seems from the overnight reincarnation of Bristol chef Josh Eggleton’s fried chicken shack Chicken Shed into a largely vegetarian restaurant called Root.

Peckham Bazaar - well worth the detour

Peckham Bazaar - well worth the detour

The thing about neighbourhood restaurants is that they’re a pain to get to if you’re not a local. In general that’s not a problem. They’re nice for those who live nearby, you tell yourself, but you don’t envy them unduly. But Peckham Bazaar is another matter ...

Les 110 de Taillevent, Paris - food and wine matching nirvana

Les 110 de Taillevent, Paris - food and wine matching nirvana

An establishment bearing the name Taillevent sounds scarily expensive - the main restaurant is - but don’t let that it you off eating in its very innovative and well-priced brasserie which opened in Paris just under a year ago.

First Impressions: Ember Yard, Berwick Street

First Impressions: Ember Yard, Berwick Street

As the fourth restaurant in the Salt Yard Group which specialises in Spanish and italian food Ember Yard has a fine pedigree but does it live up to its stablemates?

Does La Tupina live up to the hype?

Does La Tupina live up to the hype?

Talk to anyone about the food scene in Bordeaux - and they’ll say in reverential tones - ‘Aaah, but have you been to La Tupina’. I have, twice now, and while I can understand why it stands out in a city that curiously doesn’t have the quality of restaurants to match its wine I’ve never been quite as blown away as my fellow customers seem to be.

Boulestin, St James’s Street: London’s latest French restaurant isn't quite there yet

Boulestin, St James’s Street: London’s latest French restaurant isn't quite there yet

You’d think London had enough in the way of new French restaurants lately but along comes Boulestin in another bid to seduce the city’s Francophiles. Does it succeed?

Graze: food and wine matching at the London Restaurant Festival

Graze: food and wine matching at the London Restaurant Festival

If you’re the sort who likes to nick food off your partner’s plate - and even off friends' on the other side of the table (mea culpa) - you’ll love the idea of Graze, this year’s new feature at the London Restaurant Festival this autumn which features six of London’s most foodie streets including Exmouth Market, Bermondsey Street, Brixton Village and Marylebone High Street.

Auberge de Combes: a real taste of the Languedoc

Auberge de Combes: a real taste of the Languedoc

Over the past few years we’ve become so disillusioned with restaurants in the Languedoc that we almost invariably end up eating at home.

My first meal at Marc Veyrat - but will it be my last?

Last week I finally realised a long-held ambition to eat at La Maison de Marc Veyrat in Veyrier-du-Lac. Not a lot has been heard recently from Veyrat recently despite the fact that he is the only chef to have been awarded six Michelin stars for his two restaurants and score a perfect 20/20 from Gault Millau. Just under two years ago he had a horrific skiing accident that left him with multiple leg fractures and he now faces major surgery to break and reset the bones to try and regain his mobility.

Guy Savoy - still at the top of the tree

There have recently been suggestions that Paris’ status as gourmet capital has been usurped by Tokyo and even London in recent years. While Tokyo has been lauded by Michelin for its impressive array of 3 star restaurants and London offers a diversity of cuisine unparalleled by many cities, one would have to be a total barbarian to dismiss Paris’ pre-eminence in the sphere of fine dining.

Vinoteca: Soho’s newest wine bar

Vinoteca: Soho’s newest wine bar

Even casual restaurants tend to have such good winelists these days that you might wonder whether there’s much of a market for wine bars. But from the heaving crowd at the newly opened branch of Vinoteca in Beak Street this week it looks like they’re on to a winner.

The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny

The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny

The Walnut Tree at Llandewi Skirrid has been on my radar for as long as I've been interested in eating out. First under Franco Taruschio and now Shaun Hill, it’s been a place I’ve returned to every couple of years, always wondering why I don’t go more often.

The very civilised Newman Street Tavern

The very civilised Newman Street Tavern

Sometimes it’s good to go to a place without much in the way of expectations. The Newman Street Tavern sounded on the face of it like just another restaurant climbing on the fashionable Fitzrovia bandwagon . . .

Islington lucks out with Oldroyd

Islington lucks out with Oldroyd

We got two important things right on our first visit to Oldroyd. We went before most of the reviews came out and there were four of us which gave us an excuse to try practically everything on the menu.

Hélène Darroze: a case of the empress's new clothes?

Hélène Darroze: a case of the empress's new clothes?

Hélène Darroze is a controversial figure. You either love her modern take on south-western French food or you find her inexplicably over-rated. Having eaten in her eponymous restaurant in Paris a few years ago I found myself firmly in the latter camp but tried to put these prejudice firmly to the back of my mind when I visited her new(ish) London restaurant at the Connaught.

Birch restaurant, Bristol - just simple, lovely food

Birch restaurant, Bristol - just simple, lovely food

From the minimalist decor to the simple seasonal food Bristol’s latest restaurant opening, Birch, will seem instantly familiar to anyone who’s eaten at St John.

24 hours in Brighton

24 hours in Brighton

I had a great day in Brighton yesterday on an occasional gig I do for the Discover the Origin campaign talking about (and tasting) Burgundy, Douro wines, port, parma ham and parmesan. So not exactly a hard day at the office . . .

Fine dining in Colmar

Stuart Walton checks out the restaurant scene in Colmar.

Wallfish Bistro, Clifton - Bristol’s new culinary hotspot

Wallfish Bistro, Clifton - Bristol’s new culinary hotspot

It’s hard to write a dispassionate account of a restaurant that’s five minutes walk away unless it’s a total car crash and you never want to go there again.

The Colony Grill Room at the Beaumont: pure old-fashioned glamour

The Colony Grill Room at the Beaumont: pure old-fashioned glamour

It has to be said that no-one knows how to do glamour like Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the founders of the Ivy and the Caprice and, more recently, the Wolseley, the Delaunay and my current favourite, Fischer’s

The Brackenbury: a rather nice restaurant

The Brackenbury: a rather nice restaurant

My father, a sweet man who was never unpleasant about anyone had a phrase for people or places about which he couldn’t summon up much enthusiasm. "Rather nice."

Sea Containers at Mondrian: much more fun than it sounds

Sea Containers at Mondrian: much more fun than it sounds

I may have been handicapped by knowing the building previously as an office block but even the name Sea Containers at Mondrian has a corporate ring that makes the heart sink.

One Leicester Street: an oasis of calm off Leicester Square

One Leicester Street: an oasis of calm off Leicester Square

It would be unfortunate if One Leicester Street became known as the restaurant that used to be St John’s Hotel. Not least because the chef Tom Harris, who used to front the kitchen there but has stayed on to run his own show, has put his own individual stamp on the food.

Les Grès, Lindry - a breath of fresh air in Burgundy

Les Grès, Lindry - a breath of fresh air in Burgundy

Burgundian restaurants are some of the most traditional in France but Jérôme Bigot’s charming, original Les Grès wouldn’t disgrace Paris’s fashionable 10th arrondissement.

Last chance to eat at Ransome’s Dock

Last chance to eat at Ransome’s Dock

Yesterday I had my final meal at Ransome’s Dock in Battersea which has been part of my life - and I suspect that of most wine writers’ - for the past 20 years.

First impressions: Merchants Tavern, Shoreditch

First impressions: Merchants Tavern, Shoreditch

It’s hard to talk about Merchants Tavern without telling the story behind it. Which is that it’s a joint collaboration between Britain’s most famous female chef Angela Hartnett and her boyfriend Neil Borthwick.

Fera at Claridge's: a restaurant for a big occasion

Fera at Claridge's: a restaurant for a big occasion

Housed in Gordon Ramsay’s former restaurant in Claridge's, Fera is one of the most high profile restaurant openings in London this year which means that it’s burdened with a high level of expectation.

Delahunt, Dublin - gorgeous room, classy food

Delahunt, Dublin - gorgeous room, classy food

When I asked Twitter - as you do - where to eat in Dublin I was inundated with replies. There is obviously no shortage of good places to eat in the world’s favourite Irish city.

Balthazar, London: beautiful but curiously dated

Balthazar, London: beautiful but curiously dated

There’s no doubt about it Balthazar is drop-dead gorgeous. You only have to see the golden lights winking through the windows to be drawn through the door like a moth to a candle. But how does the food stack up?

10 Greek Street: another hot spot in Soho’s food revolution

10 Greek Street: another hot spot in Soho’s food revolution

Anyone who doubts that London is one of the world’s most exciting cities to eat in should take a trip round Soho, once noted for its sleazy bars and strip joints. Now it’s become the epicentre of Britain’s food revolution - not with the smartest restaurants in town, admittedly, but some of the hippest.

Hidden Bath: The White Hart, Widcombe

Hidden Bath: The White Hart, Widcombe

You might well assume from the name of this pub that it’s just outside Bath - as I did, jumping into a taxi then being told it was less than 5 minutes walk away.*

Sartoria: a smart West End Italian

Sartoria: a smart West End Italian

I’ve always been a fan of Francesco Mazzei’s cooking so when he suddenly left his previous restaurant L’Anima I couldn’t wait for him to pop up somewhere else.

De Librije, Zwolle - a ‘mini-menu’ that’s an 8 course feast

De Librije, Zwolle - a ‘mini-menu’ that’s an 8 course feast

With Sergio Herman of Oud Sluis announcing he intends to close his restaurant at the end of 2013, Jonnie Boer’s De Librije could be left as the only 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Holland. So what makes it so special?

Dans Le Noir?

I’m sitting in the pitch dark, my hand groping around the table. On my plate I think I’ve got some tuna - or is it chicken? - orange, fennel and yes, those are pomegranate seeds. In my heavy glass (so it doesn’t shatter if I knock it over) is what tastes like a commercial Vin de Pays d’Oc chardonnay.

Wine lovers' New York: Where to drink well in the Big Apple

Wine lovers' New York: Where to drink well in the Big Apple

So where are the best places in New York for a wine lover to hang out? And what should you drink there? Blogger and winelover Zeren Wilson of Bitten & Written sets out a game plan.

Trattoria della Posta, Monforte d’Alba - Piemontese food at its simple best

Trattoria della Posta, Monforte d’Alba - Piemontese food at its simple best

Of all the meals we had on my 3 day visit to Piemonte this week Trattoria della Posta was the best. It’s not that the food was different (Piemontese cuisine has a limited repertoire), simply that it was perfectly executed.

Toupeirinho, Matosinhos - a perfect seafood restaurant

Toupeirinho, Matosinhos - a perfect seafood restaurant

Despite the fact that I ate amazing food during my recent weekend in Porto it was the tiny fish restaurant of Toupeirinho in the nearby resort of Matosinhos that stole my heart.

The Butchers Arms - a Gloucestershire gem

The Butchers Arms - a Gloucestershire gem

“You’ll like The Butchers Arms” said our friends Stephen and Judy. “They cook your sort of food. We’ll take you there one weekend.

The Barbary, Covent Garden

The Barbary, Covent Garden

There are two good reasons for eating at The Barbary. One is the Jerusalem bagel, a wondrous piece of baking. Served warm from the oven, encrusted in spicy sesame seeds it must be the best bread roll in town.

Thai tapas in Paris at Le Mary Celeste - updated March 2015

Thai tapas in Paris at Le Mary Celeste - updated March 2015

Eating Thai tapas in a city like Paris represents everything I dislike about eating out - a mish-mash of cooking styles, food you can eat anywhere - and yet I loved it. (Apparently the chef has moved on. See my update below from a subsequent visit in March 2015)

So what is Sticky Walnut really like?

So what is Sticky Walnut really like?

This is not so much a review as a report from the front line on the UK’s most unlikely gourmet hotspot, Sticky Walnut in Chester.

Spring, Somerset House - the return of Skye Gyngell

Spring, Somerset House - the return of Skye Gyngell

No restaurant in London can have been more visited or commented on its first couple of weeks than Spring. Everyone seemingly has been there and has a view - not always complimentary - of the merits of chef Skye Gyngell’s return to London.

Simon Rogan at The Cube

Simon Rogan at The Cube

It’s a complete indictment of my lazy southerner mentality that I’ve never made it up to Simon Rogan’s restaurant L’Enclume despite glowing reviews that would have had me charging half way across France for a similar experience.

Shop Eight Food and Wine, Christchurch, New Zealand

Shop Eight Food and Wine, Christchurch, New Zealand

It must take guts to open a restaurant in Christchurch. Four years after the devastating earthquake that demolished much of the historic city centre it still looks like a war zone in places with yawning gaps where local landmarks once were.

River Cottage Canteen, Bristol: a good place for families

River Cottage Canteen, Bristol: a good place for families

I've never managed to get to one of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Canteens so was intrigued to find one was opening on our doorstep on Bristol's Whiteladies Road

The Quality Chop House: a very well-connected wine bar

The Quality Chop House: a very well-connected wine bar

From the outside, the re-opened Quality Chop House in Farringdon may look like yet another retro restaurant revival but the big draw is the wine list put together by its well-connected young proprietors.

Pigging out - literally - at Blackfoot, Exmouth Market

Pigging out - literally - at Blackfoot, Exmouth Market

As soon as I heard that one of my favourite chefs (Allegra McEvedy) was involved in a restaurant dedicated to one of my favourite ingredients (pork) I knew I had to get down there pronto. And you can’t try out a restaurant much sooner than its first full day’s trading.

Pastaiao and the new pasta craze

Pastaiao and the new pasta craze

If you want to open a new restaurant serve pasta. That seems to be the formula for success these days.

Otto’s, London - the perfect place for a four hour lunch

Otto’s, London - the perfect place for a four hour lunch

If you’re a reader of - er, hem - a certain age who longs for the days when French food was fancy and lunches lasted until dinner you’re in luck.

Mission, Bethnal Green

Mission, Bethnal Green

What is a large palm tree doing growing in the heart of Hackney? Let alone INSIDE a building (a converted warehouse set in a railway arch). Well, it’s the latest outpost of hipster winebar Sager & Wilde, now with a fully-fledged restaurant, Mission.

Worth the detour: Mayfields, Wilton Way

Worth the detour: Mayfields, Wilton Way

If you’re not familiar with London Hackney sounds a heck of a long way to go for dinner. But believe me Mayfields is worth it.

Les Déserteurs, Paris: two talented renegades

Les Déserteurs, Paris: two talented renegades

I didn’t manage to get to the highly-regarded Le Sargent Recruteur before I heard the original team had moved on so it was good to find them installed at 46 rue Trousseau, the former home of another hit restaurant, Rino*.

La Chassagnette: so pretty but more misses than hits

La Chassagnette: so pretty but more misses than hits

Given that I plastered photographs of La Chassagnette all over my instagram feed the other day you might think a review was superfluous but the truth is that pretty plates do not necessarily a great restaurant make.

How to get into Dabbous

How to get into Dabbous

Dabbous is the hardest restaurant to get into in London, in fact probably one of the hardest in the world. They are fully booked for dinner A YEAR AHEAD. Well, until the end of July 2013 which is equally insane. But I managed to get in at no notice yesterday. How?

Hix at The Tramshed: chicken, steak and Damien Hirst

Hix at The Tramshed: chicken, steak and Damien Hirst

You’d think the combination of a great site in Hoxton, an installation by Damien Hirst and a steak- and chicken-based menu devised by one of London’s best known and most successful chefs, Mark Hix, would be something you’d hurtle across London for but somehow his new restaurant The Tramshed just doesn't come off.

Grainstore, Granary Square: where veggies take centre stage

Grainstore, Granary Square: where veggies take centre stage

If you want to understand where the London restaurant scene is heading you need to go to Grainstore. Sure, the capital is still in thrall to pork, barbecue and street food but Bruno Loubet’s exciting and ambitious new project is a clear pointer to the way things are going.

Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road: is it really worth 10/10?

Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road: is it really worth 10/10?

I don’t envy Gordon Ramsay - or rather his head chef Clare Smyth - the 10/10 rating they received in this year’s Good Food Guide. It makes people like me think ‘Ha! I wonder if they’re really worth it?’ and book to find out.

First impressions: The Lockhart: a taste of the Deep South in London's West End

First impressions: The Lockhart: a taste of the Deep South in London's West End

Every so often a restaurant comes along that gets the critics overly excited. At the end of last year it was Gymkhana. In the early weeks of 2014 it’s The Lockhart.

Duck + Rice: posh Chinese in a Soho pub

Duck + Rice: posh Chinese in a Soho pub

It wasn’t easy getting to Duck + Rice. The first time I tried their kitchens were out of action because the extraction system was down ….

Does The Kitchin deserve a second Michelin star?

Does The Kitchin deserve a second Michelin star?

You can’t help feeling that it’s Tom Kitchin’s misfortune to be in Edinburgh. Not because his isn’t proud of his Scottish roots - he obviously is - but because if he were in France I’m sure he’d have two stars rather than one.

Da Cesare al Casaletto, Rome - the perfect neighbourhood trat

Da Cesare al Casaletto, Rome - the perfect neighbourhood trat

With trattorias on every street corner you might wonder why you need to jump on a number 8 tram and go to the end of the line to eat but Da Cesare is well worth the detour, as Michelin famously puts it.

Caravan Kings Cross: just a very nice restaurant

Caravan Kings Cross: just a very nice restaurant

There was a time when Kings Cross was the last place you’d have gone to for a meal. Still now, despite the gleaming new station makeover, it’s hardly a destination to seek out if you only have a few days in the capital. But if you’ve done Shoreditch and find Soho just too tiresomely hip and crowded head up to Caravan.

Brasserie Zédel: Paris comes to Piccadilly

Brasserie Zédel: Paris comes to Piccadilly

If you’re the kind of sad, unreconstructed Francophile (like me) who thinks French food has gone to the dogs head not for Eurostar but the newly opened Brasserie Zédel in London’s West End. Housed in the late and not-much-lamented Atlantic Bar and Grill near Piccadilly Circus, it occupies a huge subterranean space which has been decked out at eye-watering expense in full fin de siècle style.

Brasserie Chavot: all about the butter

Brasserie Chavot: all about the butter

What is it about the B-word at the moment? Every restaurateur and his dog seems to want to call themselves a brasserie, usually indicating the room is big and has red banquettes. But Brasserie Chavot would be better just called Chavot.

Borago: cutting-edge cuisine in Santiago, Chile

Borago: cutting-edge cuisine in Santiago, Chile

Recently voted the eighth best restaurant in Latin America, Boragó is to Santiago as Noma is to Copenhagen. Food and travel writer Qin Xie experiences it for herself.

Bo London: bonkers but brilliant

Bo London: bonkers but brilliant

The best known fact about Alvin Leung the Hong Kong-based chef who has just opened Bo London is that he serves a dish featuring an edible used condom called Sex on the Beach.*

Blunos - posh fish in Bath

Blunos - posh fish in Bath

One of the biggest problems hotels have is how to keep their guests in the building for meals. The solution is generally to employ a celebrity chef and that’s what the County Hotel in Bath has done with Martin Blunos. (Sadly this restaurant has unexpectedly closed.)

Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

On a return visit this week to Bistro d'Alex in Florensac I found it just as good as it was when the review below was written five years ago - and the set menu, now 18€ (£15.50) for two courses, only 3€ more expensive.

Aron's Jewish Delicatessen - Brooklyn comes to Bristol

Aron's Jewish Delicatessen - Brooklyn comes to Bristol

So it’s not Aaron with two ‘a’s and it’s not a deli but this small, modestly furnished American/Jewish/Hungarian-inspired neighbourhood restaurant is a great addition to the Bristol eating-out scene.

Antica Macelleria Cecchini: meat heaven

Antica Macelleria Cecchini: meat heaven

Hunting horns toot, large slabs of raw meat surround you. Antica Macelleria Cecchini is not the place to go for a romantic night out or - heaven forbid - with a vegetarian.

64 degrees, Brighton

64 degrees, Brighton

The mark of a ‘good ‘critic, my dad always used to say, is that you agree with them. This certainly applies in the case of the Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin whose view of what makes a great meal (good simple food, lack of pretention) I totally sign up to.

45 Jermyn Street, Fortnum and Mason

45 Jermyn Street, Fortnum and Mason

It’s hard to stand out amidst the flood of new restaurant openings that greet each week in London at the moment but the magical words ‘caviar trolley’ give you as good a chance as any.

28-50 Marylebone: a smart West End wine bar for weary shoppers

28-50 Marylebone: a smart West End wine bar for weary shoppers

Marylebone has been regarded as a foodie mecca for a while but the action's been mainly at the northern end. Now posh wine bar 28-50 has conveniently established an outpost at the entry to Marylebone Lane, not far from Bond Street tube - a new haven for weary shoppers or workers in need of a restorative glass of wine.

Fine Wine and Fast Food

Fine Wine and Fast Food

One of the most enjoyable food and wine matches I’ve experienced was also the most serendipitous. The family were away, I was working on a book and staggered down half way through the evening to find the fridge virtually bare except for a half bottle of Krug, a half-empty packet of the kids’ fish fingers and some frozen spinach. Ten minutes later, the spinach well anointed with butter, the fish fingers grilled and the Krug poured I had the perfect supper.

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.

There are bloggers and bloggers . . .

There are bloggers and bloggers . . .

A follow-up to yesterday’s post following a particularly animated discussion on Twitter the main gist of which is that you can’t tar all bloggers with the same brush. Some will grab every freebie going. Some will discriminate and retain their detachment.

St John and the art of the long lunch

St John and the art of the long lunch

Everyone I know who’s into food has a soft spot for St John. True, it has/has had its ups and downs but It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was when it opened 19 years ago. And how absolutely right its values still are in terms of serving great ingredients simply,

Gathering rosebuds at Sally Clarke’s

Gathering rosebuds at Sally Clarke’s

When I was young I remember my grandmother endlessly telling me ‘Do all you can while you can’ or - even more irritatingly - ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. At the time I found it hugely annoying but as I get older I can see the point.

Food finds: Vivo bakery and café, Islington

Food finds: Vivo bakery and café, Islington

One of the advantages of a blog as I pointed out the other day is that you can have a quick rave about a place or dish you stumble across without it taking several hours to research and write up.

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