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…






​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…






To Kabul and Tehran for dinner

This article is also published by the Financial Times. As the South African-born osteopath was about to apply painful pressure to my lower back in an ultimately successful endeavour to reunite it with the rest of my body, I explained why I had arrived late. It wasn’t cowardice, I assured her, rather that I was caught up in what is now a major weekly event in London, albeit one I had not witnessed before. My bus skirted Regent’s Park at lunchtime just as crowds were streaming out of the lunchtime…






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…






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…