Brawn and 6 Portland Road – 2016

Their menus are quite similar. Two single sheets of paper, both typed in black ink, with the word Dinner on the top of one, under the restaurant’s logo of a bottle in the shape of a pig (or is it vice versa?), and both carry that evening’s date. Both also carry the same wording at the bottom that ‘some of our egg and dairy products are unpasteurised.’   They both start in a similar fashion, too. Half a dozen snacks ranging from salted almonds to a plate of Corsican ham…






Algerian cooking in Notting Hill

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. Over the course of our evening at Wormwood in Notting Hill Gate, West London, a restaurant that draws its principal culinary inspiration from North Africa, the broad appeal of what lay on the restaurant’s shelves was matched by the dexterity evident in what emerged from the basement kitchen. There was a mound of sweet seffa couscous surrounded by four large pieces of lobster tail around which was poured a thick lobster bisque, a combination I had never enjoyed…






Barrafina – like the 73 bus

Sam and Eddie Hart seem unlikely contenders for the title of the ‘bus drivers of the London restaurant scene’ with their posh accents, their extensive knowledge of food and wine as well as a great sense of hospitality inherited from their hotelier father (Hambleton Hall). But in one respect they most certainly deserve this title. Having kept their customers waiting for four years since the opening of their first Barrafina, their classy tapas bar on Frith Street, Soho – where demand is such that the 30 seats serve over 1,000…






Mendes as Portuguese food ambassador

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. London has obviously had a profound impact on Theodore Kyriakou and Nuno Mendes, respectively the Greek and Portuguese chefs who for more than a decade have done so much to raise the standard of cooking here. It has made them go native. By this I do not mean that they are now cooking British food but that each has now opened an informal restaurant with a retail element attached that hark back to the places they remember from…






​Jago E1 – restaurant with an office attached

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. There were at least three different reasons why, on the basis of my first visit, I could choose not to return to Jago, a restaurant that opened six months ago on the ground floor of Second Home, a collective for new creative businesses just off Brick Lane in east London. The first was that on that Tuesday evening only four other tables were occupied. More memorably, we were at a table where my guest sat at an…






​To Shikumen for dim sum, Peking duck and Riesling!

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. I visited Shikumen, the Chinese restaurant which opened six months ago as part of the Dorsett Hotel on Shepherd’s Bush Green, west London, on three different occasions. But it was the number two that kept recurring throughout. This is most obviously because, as with so many restaurants that serve Cantonese food, it does so via two completely different menus. The first, available principally during the day, is their dim sum menu. In the evening a much more expansive…






Forever Soho

A version of this article is also published by the Financial Times. When I opened my restaurant in London’s Soho in 1981 I was warned by several people that I might have to pay some form of protection money to the local gangs that it was believed then ran the area. Nothing materialised. Today, the pendulum seems to have swung the other way. Many who believe they know Soho feel that it has become too sanitised, that it has lost its raunchy edge and that the area’s good old days…






The Chancery – now on my radar

‘On my radar’ is a stock response I have developed for any PR who emails me with the details of a restaurant that they believe I must review. The phrase is polite, accurate and flexible. But radar itself would have been useful as we walked south from Chancery Lane tube station to have dinner at The Chancery, a restaurant I had been informed was 10 years old but I had never heard of before, and which recently appointed the highly enthusiastic, talented Graham Long as head chef. The restaurant is…






Ham Yard, London, mmmm, interesting…

This article is also published in the Financial Times. Two meals at the restaurant in the recently opened Ham Yard Hotel in London left me contemplating the phrase ‘mmm, interesting’, words that takes on certain connotations among those writing about food and wine. I most commonly hear this phrase from my wife, the FT‘s wine correspondent, when early evening she selflessly tastes some of the many samples sent to her. She describes a wine thus that may have piqued her professional interest but isn’t quite good enough to travel the…






Down Marylebone High Street

This article is also published in the Financial Times. A fascinating aspect of restaurants is how certain of them develop a patina with age, a series of attractions over and above the food, wine and hospitality they provide. I had two chances recently to appreciate that of Orrery, now in its 17th year at the northern end of Marylebone High Street, London W1. Sunlight poured in through the arched windows across the dining room during my first visit for a late-summer dinner. The sun’s rays picked up the silhouette of…