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….






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…






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…






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…






France – culinary hero sought

My article last Saturday on the particular charms of our holiday spent not eating out in restaurants led me to thinking about the particular state of how the French appreciate, and talk about, food and wine as I drove through the pouring rain en route to Carcassonne market at 7.45 one morning last week. Once at the market, all the stall holders were blaming this weather on le marin, the warm, moist wind from the south that brings rain and humid air with it and is the sworn enemy of anyone…






Eating in the Languedoc

Later, on 8 Aug I have just substituted this great collection of images assembled by our daughter Rose, who managed to get out of bed early enough to accompany her father to Carcassonne market this morning. Isn’t she clever? (And when she was doing all this, I told her off for not helping get breakfast ready…) – JR I am not reviewing restaurants this weekend for two reasons, one far more obvious than the other. The first is that we are on holiday. The second is that while this break…






​Disappointment at Hotel Ecclestone

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. There were several years when my wife did not enjoy going out to eat in restaurants with me, with considerable justification. This was during the 1980s and coincided with my life as a restaurateur. If, when we were in another restaurant, I saw some aspect of the food or service being executed better than we were then doing, I could not stop talking about it and how quickly I could borrow the idea or the dish. If, on…






The best views in Bordeaux?

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. We had just been seated at a table right by the pool in Le Rest(O!, the restaurant of La Co(O)rniche in Arcachon (sic), Bordeaux’s Atlantic playground 30 km to the south west, in full view of the most wonderful, uninterrupted sunset over the ocean when two unexpected occurrences took place. The first was the arrival of several brazen small birds that hopped on to our side plates in search of their dinner. The second was my wife…