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…






A taste of the Var in St Tropez

This article was also published in the Financial Times. The natural beauty of St Tropez on the French Riviera has long attracted the international jetsetters. Now in Arnaud Donckele it has a chef who wants to make its local produce the principal attraction. I was escorted to meet Donckele by Thierry Di Tullio, the general manager of La Vague d’Or restaurant in St Tropez that gained its third Michelin star last year. Tullio was standing by the entrance to the kitchen. He took a step back to let a waitress…






Goujon of Fontjoncouse – one happy chef

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As we drove the final four kilometres up the steep road that leads to the Auberge du Vieux Puits in the small village of Fontjoncouse in the rugged Corbières mountains of south-west France, little seemed to have changed since our first visit 15 years ago. La garrigue, the local name for the scrub in this part of the Mediterranean that is so redolent of rosemary and thyme, stretched out on either side; the sun played hide and seek behind the mountains;…






Off-piste dining in Savoie

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Over a beer and a dish of tartiflette, one of the many delicious combinations of potato, bacon and melted cheese that are the specialities of the Savoie, south-east France, Ewan Hill described how his professional career has evolved over the past decade. Hill, a Scot, has spent the past 20 years as a ski instructor across the Trois Vallées and had just demonstrated how he could ski backwards far more elegantly than any of us could ski normally. But nowadays apparently…






Beaugravière – paradise for wine (and truffle) lovers

This article was also published in the Financial Times. See also What Guy Jullien thinks of Châteauneuf. We drove down the main street of Mondragon, an unremarkable town just north of Orange in France’s Rhône Valley, in greedy anticipation of the combination of black truffles and extraordinary wine list that has enticed so many along this road over the past three decades. As we emerged from the avenue of plane trees and turned into the car park of La Beaugravière, memories of our last dinner here over 25 years ago…