Park Chinois – Alan Yau’s most extravagant venture

For the first time in all the years I have known him – and I was a fan of Alan Yau’s first wagamama restaurant that opened close to the British Museum back in 1992 – I feel he may have made a mistake. Not an irredeemable one – and he has been known to readjust his approach and, more importantly, the style of cooking, in several other of the restaurants he has inspired over what has proved to be a highly successful 30 years for him in London. But this is…






Greeks bearing fish

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. At the end of my first meal at Estiatorio Milos, the Greek fish restaurant that originated in Montreal in 1979 and has subsequently opened outposts in New York, Athens, Miami, Las Vegas and, in mid August, in London’s Regent Street, I spotted a Frenchman who specialises in restaurant franchising lunching with a Russian. In contrast to my rather mundane dishes from the £29 set lunch menu (octopus that should have been more tender and an overcooked tuna…






​Dinings for danger

A version of this article is also published by the Financial Times. The most memorable Japanese restaurants, whether serving a formal kaiseki set menu or an informal izakaya, principally a bar with food attached, or a sushi counter, invariably leave me with two sensations very different from those experienced at other restaurants. The first is a sense of danger. This comes from eating more raw food than I usually do, as well as having the opportunity to watch chefs wielding extremely sharp knives to such beneficial effect at close quarters….






Chutney of St James

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. I ought to have known better than to stop right in the middle of the dining room at Chutney Mary, the long-established Indian restaurant that has just moved from Chelsea into a new home at the bottom of St James’s Street in central London. Within seconds, a human traffic jam comprising a mâitre d’, several hungry customers and numerous waiters carrying trays of food had backed up behind me. But this was not entirely my fault. On…






Harwood Arms – from roof to table

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. Just after we finished coffee at the Harwood Arms in Fulham, where the exemplary British food under chefs Alex Harper and Brett Graham has gained a Michelin star, Charles Dowson turned to the barman and said, ‘I’ll be back later to water the garden.’ Dowson then drove me in his worn Mercedes estate – with bags of compost in the boot – to the second garden he takes care of, at The Imperial pub on Kings Road….






​Spring: good food, shame about the uniforms

This article is also published in the Financial Times. Restaurants now flourish in many buildings that were once far less joyful environments: former banks, station ticketing halls, post offices and even the odd supermarket. But upstanding British citizens will be delighted to know that the opening of Spring restaurant in the newly refurbished New Wing of Somerset House by the Hungerford Bridge marks not just the re-emergence of Australian-born chef Skye Gyngell, for nine years the culinary inspiration of Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, but also the closure of a room…






The sushi supremo

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As with the very best one-man shows, the one just opened by Mitsuhiro Araki in London’s West End began and ended with memorable lines. Araki walked through the noren, the green three-quarter-length curtains that divide his small kitchen from the back of his sushi counter, bowed to the nine customers that constitute, other than a small private dining room for six, a full house, smiled, and said ‘I’m so happy to be here.’ Two hours later, after he had prepared and…






The jewels in the Gordon Ramsay crown

This article is also published in the Financial Times. The name on the outside of the restaurant is male as is that on the menu, the business card and the bill. The dessert menu even carries a photo of Gordon Ramsay hard at work at the stoves, although I was told he had been at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London SW3, only a couple of times this year and then to eat. But the stars on the night we ate there, despite the fact that the vast majority of…






Scott’s with a blonde

Three very different conversations led to me a corner table in Scott’s in Mayfair with a negroni in my hand, awaiting a blonde 30 years my junior. The first had been with my wife, who was happy to have her place taken by our non-meat-eating daughter on this dinner date just before her birthday. The second had been over a drink with an American friend now a hedge-fund manager based in Berkeley Square. He had already confessed that he eats out on business at least eight times a week over…






Chiltern Firehouse – on fire

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   My first and last sightings over dinner in the restaurant of the Chiltern Firehouse, the reincarnation of the former fire station on Chiltern Street, Marylebone, whose 26 suites will open in late May, probably constituted the most unlikely combination I have ever seen in such a setting. But both go a long way to explaining the individuals behind this exciting addition to London as well as the level of detail required to make the restaurant of a hotel independently successful….