Nick’s best meals of 2015

A version of this article is published by the Financial Times. Experience counts, scores of years of it, in fact. Cooking, looking after your customers and then collapsing, but only after cleaning up, most thoroughly in the case of those places that are open for breakfast the following morning. Hospitality takes its toll but it is one that is, fortunately, increasingly fashionable. That is the conclusion I have come to having cast my mind back over the most memorable meals I have enjoyed over the past 12 months. Chefs’ careers…






A year of eating colourfully

Towards the end of lunch with Jesus Adorno, the genial face of Mayfair’s Le Caprice for over 30 years, he lent across the table and said in a voice even softer than usual, ‘Nick, you know, I’ve come to the conclusion that in the restaurant business today, it has never been more challenging for the restaurateur and nor has there ever been a better time to be a customer.’ The factors behind the first part of Adorno’s analysis are many: rising rents and food costs; a mounting array of red…






The food lover’s magic carpet

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   At the end of a radio discussion that focused on what 2014 will hold for restaurant goers, we panelists repaired to a nearby watering hole. Not surprisingly, the discussion about restaurants continued. The first topic was quite general: where would we most like to travel to in the coming year to broaden our knowledge of food and restaurants? My response, greedily perhaps, consisted of four distinct road trips. The first would be to repeat a trip we went on for…






2013’s greatest hits

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Gerald Diffey, the dapper Englishman behind Brooks, the highly successful restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, was back in London, principally, I gleaned, to take his friends and family to discover the capital’s latest restaurants. He had just approved of the pour from the bottle of Verget 2009 Chablis the waiter had offered him at The Quality Chop House in Farringdon Road, EC1, and a smile crept across his face. ‘You know, Nick’, he said, ‘I love this business and I hope I…






Great food, fun, wine and history in London

This article was also published in the Financial Times. June brings a smile to the faces of London’s restaurateurs for a variety of reasons. It is a full trading month without the public holidays that have disrupted their customers’ diaries during April and May. There is a fair chance that those with outside seating will finally benefit from the warmer weather. And although there may be no empirical evidence to prove this, I am sure that people spend more when they can see the sun or feel it on the…






2012 great. 2013 greater?

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   I can still recite the entire menu from my most memorable meal of the year even though it took place six months ago. It began with a cool cherry gazpacho that was followed by a creamy, dark-green asparagus mousse. Two very different fish courses followed: delicate brochettes of squid with tarragon vinaigrette that were in sharp contrast to two large sea bass cooked in the oven ‘fisherman style’ and carried to our tables by several hefty chefs in their whites….






Look back in hunger – 2008

This article was also published in the Financial Times. It has been a year of eating excitingly, of memorable introductions interspersed with the odd, sad, farewell. Over the course of a fortnight, I managed to experience my first meal at Noma, Copenhagen, to taste René Redzepi’s extraordinary approach to nature’s bounty as well as my first glass of Danish wine. This was promptly followed by my final dinner at El Bulli in Spain, the memories of which haunted me six months later when I cooked dinner for Ferran Adrià, its…






Favourite moments of 2004

Favourite moments of 2004 I have to confess that over the past 12 months I have, most gratefully, enjoyed more memorable meals than anyone is entitled to and, as a result, come across more, and not necessarily young, individuals passionate about their profession and determined to improve what and how they serve to their customers. But it was a year that got off to a slow and painful start. A shattered disc in my neck that was finally removed in early February meant that my initial outings were limited to…






Best meals of 2005

Best meals of 2005 Despite more New Year resolutions than I care to remember, I have never been able to keep a diary. Initially, I blamed my lack of self-discipline although now it is probably more pertinent to point the finger at too much good food and wine over dinner. Instead, over the past few years I have tried to keep a physical, professional memory bank of my own. It is not very attractive, a black, see-through plastic box about 2ft x 1ft that sits at the foot of my…






Best courses of 2006

Best courses of 2006 If 2006 has left this restaurant correspondent feeling more than replete and grateful for the job he fell into by chance 17 years ago it is also a year which has left more restaurateurs and chefs happy with their lot. There is no doubt that this year has seen stronger demand, greater interest and, most importantly, a higher spend than any other. A combination of strong economies on either side of the Atlantic; greater global interest in chefs and what they get up to (often excessive,…