Las Vegas

Las Vegas – 2008 Las Vegas hotels have been opening outposts run by some of the world’s top chefs with such consistency that I felt the time had come to eat in them rather than just read about them. But I am grateful to three Americans, one from the east coast, one from the west coast and one from Detroit, Michigan as well as a Frenchman and a Scot for insights into why this has been happening It was a lugubrious waiter at Bartolotta, the excellent Italian seafood restaurant in…






The role of the restaurant critic in the US

The role of the restaurant critic in the US – 2005 The Atlantic Ocean divides the profession of restaurant reviewing perhaps even more fundamentally than the pronunciation of potato and tomato or whether arugala and cilantro are in fact rocket and coriander respectively. Many British restaurant and food writers are deeply envious of their American counterparts. This may be partly because the grass tends to look greener on the other side of the ocean, but there is no doubting the seemingly bottomless expense accounts which our American equivalents must enjoy…






San Francisco

San Francisco – 2004 San Francisco brings out one of my worst professional bad habits. Any overseas visit involves me in contacting those I know there, professionally or socially, to discover either new restaurants or those where the kitchens are cooking particularly well. I do this whenever I visit the foggy city but I then seem subconsciously either to forget or ignore any up to the minute advice for the opportunity to return very happily to the Fog City Diner, the Hayes Street Grill, Rubicon or a trip across the…






Seattle

Seattle – 2004 Seattle has bequeathed the world more than its fair share of modern icons: Boeing; Microsoft; Starbucks; Amazon and Costco are the most obvious. But as in so many other regions, money and expertise in one field have led inevitably and probably less profitably to the fields of food and wine. The wine club at Boeing was one of the first to lead the way when several of its leading members decided to put pastime into practice – Cadence, Nota Bene, Austin Robaire and Willis Hall wineries were…






Washington DC

Washington DC – 2006 Every journalist heading off for Washington DC hopes to find their own ‘Deep Throat’, the informant who played such an influential role in the Watergate affair. And although I had one lined-up, it was initially difficult to get him off the topic of politics, which he continually referred to as ‘the only game in town’, and on to restaurants. Eventually, however, he opened up. “Eating out here isn’t quite as exciting as in New York, San Francisco or LA,” he began, “but it is pretty good…






Vancouver

Eating in Vancouver – 2009 The 2010 Winter Olympics in nearby Whistler bring a sense of optimism to Vancouver’s restaurateurs, reports Nicholas Lander. Around the table at Gyoza King, a great-value Japanese restaurant in Vancouver, Canada that is a well-known late night rendezvous for the city’s restaurateurs, were three chefs. Each exuded a sense of optimism that I have not encountered anywhere for the past few months. And each too represented this stunningly attractive city’s broad racial influences. There was the ebullient Vikram Vij who for the last 14 years…






Eating in Napa

Eating in Napa – 2009 Twenty years ago on our first family holiday to a wine-producing region we visited Limoux in the south west of France, where they make sparkling, and increasingly good quality still, wine. La Maison de la Blanquette on the main street was then run by the wives of the winemakers, but during the harvest it remained firmly closed. This was no time for feeding visitors as the women then had to devote themselves to the more immediate and physical demands of helping out in the vineyards…






Nick’s Italian Café, McMinville, Oregon

Nick’s Italian Café, McMinville, Oregon – 2009 The first mouthful of my order of Grandpa Ray’s Pizza (US$11) with extra anchovies (US$2) in Nick’s Italian Café in downtown McMinnville, Oregon brought back happy memories of our initial meal there 21 years ago. Memory and taste buds were undoubtedly helped by the fact that physically, at least, so little had changed in the interim. The dining room is still laid out in the same formation with comfortable banquette seating for two’s and four’s along the walls and several larger tables in…






RN74, San Francisco

RN74, San Francisco – 2009 RN74, which opened on the ground floor of the Millennium Tower just south of San Francisco’s financial district in April, is the culmination of a food and wine adventure that its driving force, Rajat Parr, 36, first set out on from his home town of Calcutta, India. It then took him to Paris and Burgundy in France and, perhaps most significantly, Tunbridge Wells in Kent, south east England in 1993. This last town may be a surprising inclusion but Parr is keen not to underplay…






Boston

Boston – 2008 Banking provided the unusual connection between an extraordinary restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts, that was built in the late 19th century and the current price of lobster, now at its lowest for a decade. Shortly after we had sat down for dinner at Locke-Ober, close to the city’s financial district, an old friend and a former banker with State Street explained his first visit there as a trainee 30 years ago. “It was part of an initiation process conducted by a senior banker at the time. Those of…