Eating out in Sydney’s CBD

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   The Bridge Room, which opened in August 2011, and Cafe Nice, which is only a month old, are no more than 500 metres from one another in Sydney’s Central Business District. Although their menus are very different – the former is a model of modern Australian cooking while the latter focuses on the equally colourful cooking of the French Riviera – they have a great deal in common. The first and most obvious factor to anyone visiting from Europe is…






Eating in and around Essaouira

Two equally excellent meals, in equally unlikely locations, on New Year’s Day prompted me to wonder why I don’t keep the one resolution that I make every year – to write even more about what and where I have the good fortune to eat so well. I am, however, fully aware of why I have not fulfilled this resolution in the past. Firstly, I have to concentrate on my day job, writing for the Financial Times. Secondly, other things get in the way. And, finally, I am not always presented…






Happy New Year of the Snake

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Singapore recently provided even more contrasts and surprises than usual. There was the humid heat interspersed with downpours that even my home town of Manchester would have been proud of. But as a result of all the rain, I was to meet a taxi driver whose 60 years living there had meant learning three different national anthems – British, then Malay and finally Singapore’s own. There was the obligatory early morning trip to Tiong Bahru with its wet market and, above,…






At home in Hong Kong

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Hong Kong presents a particular professional challenge: it is the city in the world where I am least likely to see a menu and, as a consequence, least likely to order a single dish. And all this happens because I try to do the very best for my readers. The dates fixed, emails wing their way. My Chinese friends know that they are my conduit to insider restaurant knowledge and soon every meal is arranged. At this stage I still seem…






Sydney’s well-named restaurants

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Australia has made a series of significant contributions to the world’s restaurants. The first has been the export of raw talent in the shape of young chefs and waiters. John Torode, Michael Benyan and Brett Graham decided to stay and Smiths of Smithfield, the Zetter Townhouse and The Ledbury are their respective contributions to London’s reputation. This wave was accompanied by the export of some really excellent-value Australian wine that brightened up many a restaurant wine list. This has been…






Eating out in Melbourne

This article was also published in the Financial Times. I learnt six years ago on my first visit to Melbourne that its citizens are as obsessed with food, wine and coffee as those in Singapore, New York and San Sebastian, north-west Spain. On a recent trip I was stunned by the even greater concentration of cafes, bars and restaurants around the centre. When I mentioned this to a friend who lives there, she countered by saying, ‘I suppose so. But there are several good galleries in between.’ We both laughed….






Eating out in Hong Kong

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As we climbed the stairs to the first floor of the Lei Garden restaurant in Mongkok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, a branch of this business that has been famous for its dim sum for over 20 years, all the sights and sounds of this distinctive style of lunchtime eating seemed to coalesce. There was the noise generated by the numerous happy customers as they ate. There were the commands the waitresses were passing to the kitchen and their…






Eating out in Singapore

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Of all the many informants around the world who have kindly helped me seek out the most fascinating food, no-one has fulfilled this role more assiduously than wine importer Alan Wong in Singapore. He not only offered to meet us at Changi airport, but en route to our hotel explained how he had spent the previous week trying out different hawker stalls in search of the most authentic bak chor mee, pork noodle soup, to show me. Three hours later, in…






Sydney’s competitive chefs

This article was also published in the Financial Times. I arrived in Sydney feeling ‘crook’, or sick in Australian. This led, most unexpectedly, to a ten-minute lecture on the state of this city’s restaurants as compared with those of Melbourne, its main rival, at 9.45 on a Monday morning from the doctor I had been sent to. Having noted my profession, he promptly set out the reasons why he preferred the restaurants of Melbourne to those of his home town. Only then did he turn to me.These firmly held opinions…






Eating out in and around Hobart

This article was also published in the Financial Times. On the waterfront at Hobart, the capital of Tasmania and the home to what I was reliably informed is the best-preserved collection of Georgian buildings outside the UK, is a large noticeboard. On it is a plethora of useful civic information such as the times of the church services and local taxi numbers as well as a number of business cards from local restaurants that gives the mistaken impression that the local cuisine is predominantly Indian. In true understated Australian fashion,…