Troisgros – three-star rustication

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. Over a recent dinner in the private room of Roux at The Landau in the Langham Hilton hotel, London, the lady sitting on my left opened our conversation with perhaps the most difficult question of all for a professional restaurant reviewer. What, she wanted to know, constitutes a three-star restaurant according to Michelin? Putting to one side the obvious response, that perhaps this question would be better addressed to Michel Roux Jr, who was sitting directly opposite…






Restaurateurs desperately needed

I have long maintained that there is a specific reason why restaurants need restaurateurs, the profession spawned by Paris restaurants in the late 18th century. Two recent meals, one in France, the other in London, convinced me that this association is just as important today. The first was chez Michel Chabran, a chef who has one Michelin star for his restaurant in the hotel named after himself in Pont-d’Isère, a small town just south of the hill of Hermitage, who has been at the stoves there for the past 40…






Nick’s best meals of 2015

A version of this article is published by the Financial Times. Experience counts, scores of years of it, in fact. Cooking, looking after your customers and then collapsing, but only after cleaning up, most thoroughly in the case of those places that are open for breakfast the following morning. Hospitality takes its toll but it is one that is, fortunately, increasingly fashionable. That is the conclusion I have come to having cast my mind back over the most memorable meals I have enjoyed over the past 12 months. Chefs’ careers…






Cooking for Pierre Troisgros

Pierre Troisgros, 87 and the baldest diner in this picture but still pretty hale and hearty despite a couple of minuscule hearing aids, entered the ultra-modern house of our friends in the small village outside Roanne, south-east France that has been their family home for over 50 years just after midday last Sunday. He and the three other couples who live nearby and had also been invited left just as dusk was falling shortly after 5 pm. In the intervening period they had drunk extremely well, as you will see when our…






Veg, veg, veg – New York style

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. New York’s culinary reputation has been built on protein: steaks, chops, burgers, fried chicken (now on offer with champagne at the appropriately named Birds & Bubbles on the Lower East Side) and pastrami. Invariably, these have been served in what to Europeans at least have appeared to be immense portions with the provision of a doggie bag as the vital, final conscience-salving ingredient. No longer. Although all of these remain on offer, I discern a major shift…






Eating, and queuing, like New Yorkers

It is now very obvious to anyone travelling to the US that food, wine and the hospitality industry receive so much wider media coverage today than in the past (see, for example, Union Square Cafe – 30-year-old icon with its CBS film crew trailing its owner Danny Meyer) and that this has had a decidedly positive effect on how these subjects are practised across this enormous and fascinating country. However, the most significant change in the social status of these subjects will never be noticed by Americans. It can be appreciated…






Happy 25th birthday, Tribeca Grill

A quarter-century is a long time in any relationship, whether amorous or business. For a restaurant to survive this long is most unusual. Tastes change. Partners, initially the best of friends, fall out or want to go in different directions, and leases come to an end, even if some restaurateurs manage to fend off the threat of redevelopment from landlords keen to maximise the value of their freehold properties. So the fact that Tribeca Grill, opened in 1990 by restaurateur Drew Nieporent in partnership with Robert De Niro in what…






​The art of the bar chef

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. Although the style and service of food have changed fundamentally since restaurants first emerged in Paris in the second half of the 18th century, the names and titles of those who work in restaurants have barely altered. The words chef, commis waiter, sommelier, maître d’ and restaurateur are as recognisable today as they were then. But recently a new role, and with it a new title, has emerged. The name is perforce a hybrid – bar chef…






​Camino, Oakland – a revolution in tipping

14 October 2015 Yesterday Danny Meyer, head of Union Square Hospitality and the most respected restaurateur in New York, perhaps the US, made a seminal announcement; that his many revered restaurants would successively stop optional service charges and, to benefit all members of the team, would be applying a standard service charge. I feel that being in New York when this was announced was the equivalent for restaurant correspondent Nick of my being in Hong Kong when it was announced in 2008 that wine duties were being abandoned. For that reason,…






Greeks bearing fish

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. At the end of my first meal at Estiatorio Milos, the Greek fish restaurant that originated in Montreal in 1979 and has subsequently opened outposts in New York, Athens, Miami, Las Vegas and, in mid August, in London’s Regent Street, I spotted a Frenchman who specialises in restaurant franchising lunching with a Russian. In contrast to my rather mundane dishes from the £29 set lunch menu (octopus that should have been more tender and an overcooked tuna…