Le Du, Bangkok – 2016

ThiTid Tassanakajohn, more easily known as Chef Ton, is the creative force behind two of the most exciting restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand. Two and half years ago he opened Le Du, which translates from the Thai as ‘season’, in the Bang Rak suburb of the capital. And then only a few months ago he oversaw the transformation of a building that used to house an advertising agency in the residential suburb of Sukhumvit into the ultra-modern BaaGaDin, which translates as ‘selling food from a picnic blanket’ (photo courtesy of Exgave). Ton’s diversification…






Mainz, Germany – 2016

As our taxi turned into the small village of Selzen, a half hour drive south west of Mainz in southern Germany, having passed fields of ‘pick your own’ tulips en route, there were several conspicuous signs to our destination, Kaupers restaurant. But when we faced a three-way junction we were all at a loss as to which one to choose.   An elderly gentleman emerged from an adjacent house, slightly wearily enquired whether we were looking for Kaupers restaurant and directed us down the least likely path to the right….






Brawn and 6 Portland Road – 2016

Their menus are quite similar. Two single sheets of paper, both typed in black ink, with the word Dinner on the top of one, under the restaurant’s logo of a bottle in the shape of a pig (or is it vice versa?), and both carry that evening’s date. Both also carry the same wording at the bottom that ‘some of our egg and dairy products are unpasteurised.’   They both start in a similar fashion, too. Half a dozen snacks ranging from salted almonds to a plate of Corsican ham…






Park Chinois – Alan Yau’s most extravagant venture

For the first time in all the years I have known him – and I was a fan of Alan Yau’s first wagamama restaurant that opened close to the British Museum back in 1992 – I feel he may have made a mistake. Not an irredeemable one – and he has been known to readjust his approach and, more importantly, the style of cooking, in several other of the restaurants he has inspired over what has proved to be a highly successful 30 years for him in London. But this is…






Fun and good food in Athens

Ari Vezené’s business card says a great deal about this restaurateur who was born in New York and arrived in his first professional kitchen via Burger King while a student in Chicago. His eponymous restaurant ought to be at the top of the list for anyone planning to visit Athens. Under the restaurant’s name on the card is ‘Greek Inspired Bistro’, and then under his name is his role, described as ‘Chef/Butcher’. On the opposite side of the card is a chicken’s wishbone, the symbol of good luck. Vezené has…






Small, unbookable and very busy

On the Monday before Christmas I walked from Covent Garden and into Soho and past several well-known London landmarks. The crowds around Leicester Square tube station; the relative quiet at 11.45 am outside Maison Bertaux on Greek Street; and then, turning on to Old Compton Street, I caught a glimpse of three Japanese chefs scurrying out of Dozo restaurant for a quick cigarette before their lunch service got under way. I then turned into the bottom of Frith Street and was immediately made aware of one of the biggest changes…






Paris – pray, love, eat

Chefs and restaurateurs tend to address their customers at the end of the meal, revelling in a few minutes’ glory and the appreciation of those who have enjoyed their hard work. But these are not normal times in Paris at the moment and nor is Robert Vifian a normal restaurateur or chef (nor is he a normal wine buyer, either, but more of that later). So when our party of 15 had arrived at the Vifian family’s restaurant, Tan Dinh, on Paris’s Left Bank, had handed in our coats to…






Eating copiously in Athens

Dinos, short for Constantine, Stergides and Panos Deligiannis are the Little and Large of wine and food in Greece today. For any reader who is unaware of any of these four characters, let me explain a little. Syd Little and Ed Large were, as their names suggest, an unlikely comic duo on British television in the 1970s comprising one small fellow and one considerably larger who, I remember vividly, were favourites of my late grandfather. Dinos and Panos share the same physical attributes, as I trust my photo of them…






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…






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…