Pairings | Restaurants
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.
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?
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 . . .
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.
Every week my local restaurants in Bristol tweet that a table has become available that evening. You might say they’re the lucky ones - at least the customer has let them know though that’s scant consolation if the table is for more than two. Others simply fail to show up.
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 . . .
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.
It’s rare to find a restaurant that excites almost universal approval but then, like buses, two come along at once. Just before Christmas everyone was raving about the new outpost of Margot Henderson’s Rochelle Canteen at the ICA. This month there’s a general love-in for Parsons in Covent Garden
Many of these recommendations are now out of date. There is a more recent post of where I recommend to eat in Bristol here.
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.
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 . . .
Deciding where to eat in Paris is just as stressful as where to eat in London. There’s just too much choice
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.
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.
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:
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.
I’m writing about Rovi in almost ideal circumstances. After two visits - one very shortly after opening, the other last week, two and a half months later. I could, of course, have reviewed it after the first visit. It was fully open not a discounted ‘soft’ opening yet there isn’t a restaurant that gets into its stride in the first month. American publications insist that their critics go three times before their review is published I believe. In an ideal world you would.
Have you noticed the number of restaurants which have started offering breakfast - and I don’t just mean a full English?
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?
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.
“Eagerly awaited” is a well worn cliché but but aptly describes the opening of Nieves Barragan Mohacho and Jose Etura’s Sabor. Originally scheduled to launch last autumn it took a further 6 months to finally open its doors a year after they left their previous jobs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …)
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.
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?
One of the problems about being a food writer - though I’m not expecting much sympathy from you - is that you’re always chasing the latest new opening. Which means that restaurants you make the effect to go back you feel pretty special about.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Over the past few years we’ve become so disillusioned with restaurants in the Languedoc that we almost invariably end up eating at home.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 . . .
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 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.
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.
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 . . .
Stuart Walton checks out the restaurant scene in Colmar.
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.
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
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."
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.
Sometimes it pays not to look at the menu of a restaurant you’re thinking of going to. I was nearly discouraged from visiting Scully by the vast list of unfamiliar dishes and ingredients. Did I really want to eat puffed beef tendons or Welsh mutton with black barley and bisbas? I wasn’t sure I did.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I sometimes wonder if we value novelty too much. As an avid restaurant-goer the temptation is always to head for the the latest opening - but keeping pace with what’s new inevitably means you don’t spend as much time as you’d like in the places you actually enjoy.
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.*
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
If you want to open a new restaurant serve pasta. That seems to be the formula for success these days.
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.
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.
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.
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*.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.*
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.
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.
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,
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.