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…






​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,…






LA animal

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. There were palm trees to our immediate right while snow was clearly visible dusting the top of the canyons in the far distance off to our left. And all around us there were lines of traffic, most of it stationary. Welcome to Los Angeles. But on this occasion we were to experience this exciting city through very different eyes. We were there for less than 24 hours with our 24-year-old daughter, into whose hands we had consigned…






Manresa and Kin Khao

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. When I asked a friend whose years in San Francisco have brought him extensive knowledge of the Bay Area’s restaurants, how much time restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit spends with her live-in partner, chef David Kinch, his response was, ‘Well, certainly not much over the past 15 months.’ This is not surprising because although they share the same profession, a distance of sixty miles separates their two restaurants. Kinch is the chef/patron of the long-established, highly regarded Manresa in Los…






Portland, city of food

The chef sitting opposite me in his restaurant in downtown Portland, Oregon, looked the epitome of the young American chef. He was bearded and wearing a baseball cap. He spoke enthusiastically of his passion for cycling. He spoke even more rapturously of the suppliers, farmers and food purveyors in this bountiful state in the Pacific Northwest. And his face really lit up when he talked about how, thanks to Franklin Jones, who created B-Line, two of these passions have been brought together in a sustainable delivery service that collects from…






Disappointment in Meadowood, California

A version of this article is also published by the Financial Times. Chefs shoulder a heavy responsibility, one that is unique among all professionals. They, and only they, are trusted to select, prepare and cook ingredients for our digestive system, everyone’s most personal and most vulnerable eco-system. We put our trust in those who cook for us on a daily basis in a way we trust no one else. In a restaurant the balance in this relationship can be restored by the presence of a menu that allows us to…






Lunch at Big Sur

Of all the restaurants in all the world, Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn on Highway 1 at Big Sur in California starts with the greatest natural advantage of them all. It has unquestionably the best view. There are other restaurants with great views: across rivers; across the skylines of our cities; and even, most peacefully but sadly increasingly rarely, across just a few beach shacks and the sea. But none in my experience can compare with the view from a corner table on the terrace of Sierra Mar…






From the concert hall to the kitchen

This article is also published in the Financial Times. The men around the table had had a hugely beneficial impact on how we eat and enjoy food. There was Johnny Grey, the highly respected kitchen designer; Simon Hopkinson, whose book Roast Chicken and Other Stories has inspired so many; and William Sitwell, food writer and Masterchef judge. But these collective achievements paled in comparison with those of the women sitting between them. At one end was Sally Clarke, whose restaurant has just celebrated its 30th birthday and who employs 40…