Mallorca

Mallorca – 2009 Mallorca rarely seems to get the coverage it deserves. Far too many column inches tend to be devoted to what happens in the relatively small area given over to the tourist resorts, neglecting the rest of the island that is far wilder and far more beautiful. Its food, too, tends to have a reputation for being reasonably good but not too varied. But this judgment overlooks one particularly distinctive quality that was only too obvious from just a few days at the turn of the year around…






Dublin

Dublin – 2007 The animated streets of Dublin have been so evocatively brought to life by authors, song writers and Dubliners themselves that when the taxi dropped us in the area known as the North Quays it seemed thoroughly familiar. The rain was falling, gently of course. The Halfpenny Bridge was straddling the river Liffey as elegantly as it has done since it was first built in 1816 when it cost a half penny to cross and there was the sound of someone singing in the distance. The only modern…






Eating near Cork

Eating near Cork – 2010 The O’Brien Chop House, which opened last summer, must now be added to the list of the charms of Lismore in County Waterford, Ireland, two hours’ drive south of Dublin. This historic town is home to several long established attractions. The tiny St Carthage’s Cathedral. An imposing castle that once housed the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh and the dancer Adele Astaire and now belongs to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Lismore was also the birthplace of Richard Boyle, the father of modern chemistry. Main…






St Moritz, Switzerland

Suvretta House, St Moritz, Switzerland – 2009 The lounge at the Suvretta House hotel provided three reasons why St Moritz, high in the Swiss Alps, is such a magnet for holidaymakers in both winter and summer. The first two were visual. There was the view straight ahead – high above the ski jump that was a focus for the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics rise majestic snow-dusted peaks. The second was the view down the valley towards Italy with two lakes gleaming turquoise in the late afternoon sunshine. The third…






Fäviken

Fäviken – 2011 I left home at 5.30 am for the dinner I had been eagerly anticipating. By noon I was standing outside Trondheim airport, the interchange for the Norwegian oil industry, looking out for a yellow taxi from Björn Olssons, as instructed. There wasn’t one, and when a local taxi driver responded to my question by asking whether I was expecting a driver from New York, I decided to head back into the terminal. As I did so, someone stopped me and asked ‘Are you Nick?’ Behind the long…






Pollen Street Social

Pollen Street Social – 2011 At 3.15 pm an elegant, silver-haired woman was walking past the bar of Jason Atherton’s recently opened Pollen Street Social in Mayfair with her husband firmly in tow. She spotted Atherton talking to his manager, came over, kissed him, congratulated him on the lunch they had just enjoyed and added, ‘It’s good to have you back, Jason.’ The return of customers like these is one of the principal reasons Atherton, his Filipina wife, Irha, and Mavis Oei, a family friend, have invested £3 million, alongside…






Make the place fit the space

Make the place fit the space – 2011 The Gilbert Scott restaurant, named after the original architect of the magnificent 1873 building that now houses the St Pancras Renaissance hotel, opened its own doors on 5 May 2011. Several days later, Eleven Madison Park in New York won the coveted ‘Outstanding Restaurant in the US Award’ at the important annual James Beard ceremony held in New York. Both restaurants share several common features. Each occupies magnificent spaces with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. Both buildings exude civic pride…






Eating in Barcelona 2011

Eating in Barcelona – 2011 When I met an old Catalan friend in the lobby of the Ohla Hotel in Barcelona, we promptly made a pact: with our respective teams due to meet shortly in the final of the Champions League, there would be no mention of football at all. The next few hours would be devoted to researching the most recent developments in the city’s vibrant restaurant scene. This was to include lunch in Ohla’s relaxed ‘non-stop kitchen’, a term currently in vogue here to describe anywhere open from…






Last Supper at El Bulli

Last Supper at El Bulli – 2011 Our excitement at being invited by chef-patron Ferran Adrià to enjoy a final dinner at El Bulli before it closes for ever as a restaurant later this year mounted even further when we saw the taxi driver who was going to drive us along the tortuous coastal road from nearby Roses to the restaurant. Neither of his arms was in plaster. On the last occasion we had made this journey, our taxi driver had one arm in plaster and she had insisted on…






Noma

Noma – 2011 At 11.30 pm, Mads Kleppe, the Norwegian sommelier at Noma, Copenhagen, currently the world’s most talked about restaurant, clinked one of the many empty wine bottles he had expertly served and eventually silenced our party of 14 in their private dining room. Before dessert, he wanted to take us on a kitchen tour. But as with so much at Noma, what we subsequently experienced was deeply unusual. The initial kitchen we walked through was relatively quiet but in the spacious second room, once used for events but…