​Little Barwick House – ace restaurant with rooms

This is a version of an article published by the Financial Times. While the phrase ‘a restaurant with rooms’ conjures up a certain degree of romance, it also requires that those who choose to operate one fulfil certain criteria. The first is that no such establishment can be too large, otherwise it becomes a hotel. This criterion in turn means that such an establishment has inevitably to be family-run and that it is run for love as a way of life, as much as, if not more than, for the…






​Vimto truffles – only in Manchester

A version of this article is also published by the Financial Times. My arrival at Manchester Piccadilly station at 10.30 pm was timely on several counts. Most immediately, it meant that I was soon sitting down to a plate of English cheeses and a glass of Palacios’ Pétalos 2012 Bierzo as the dinner in the recently opened Hawksmoor steak restaurant in aid of Action Against Hunger was coming to an end. This was followed by the announcement that this event, organised by my FT colleague Tim Hayward among others, had…






Eating out, and family strife, in the Welsh borders

This article is also published in the Financial Times. To my right on the panel discussing the charms of family-run restaurants at the recent Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales were Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, the husband and wife team from London’s Honey & Co. To my left was Sam Clark, who with his wife Sam runs Moro and Morito in London, while alongside him sat Rory O’Connell who with his sister, Darina Allen, is part of the four generations of the family that run the restaurant, hotel and cookery…






Scotland’s restaurant fireball

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Monica Brown will leave London later this month en route for her new home in Melbourne, Australia, at the end of a decade during which she has represented some of the world’s most respected chefs. In the UK her company, Lotus PR, represents Heston Blumenthal, Sat Bains in Nottingham and Clare Smyth within the Gordon Ramsay Group. She looks after Rainer Becker and the Zuma restaurants worldwide and will handle their next opening in New York in late November. Other chefs…






Eating out in and around Glasgow

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As we left Glasgow, where several hoardings in its city centre proclaim the imminent arrival of yet more restaurants, I began to think of those chefs and restaurateurs who had provided three excellent but very different meals during our stay in very Scottish terms. ‘Clan chieftains’ was the phrase that sprang to mind. This is not so much because Seumas MacInnes, chef/proprietor of Café Gandolfi, John Macleod, the architect who created Crabshakk on Argyle Road, and Tom Lewis, who has converted…






Wining and dining in and around Oxford

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   For such a visitor magnet, Oxford has long been relatively short of seriously attractive places to stay and eat. We set off to explore a new possibility in the countryside south of the city, via lunch overlooking it. The modern, glass extension to the Ashmolean Museum, conceived by the architect Rick Mather, now provides a bright, sunny location for its top-floor restaurant. A colourful salad of herring, beetroot and sour cream; cannelloni stuffed with leeks; and a bottle of Riesling…






Edinburgh, UK’s second best city for diners?

This article was also published in the Financial Times. It was the sheer quality of the ingredients in our first courses – a rabbit ballotine, two diver scallops and a smoking ‘cannelloni’ of crab – at Mark Greenaway’s restaurant overlooking the Queen Victoria Gardens in Edinburgh that first impressed me. But as our meal progressed, three other estimable qualities emerged, one of which one was evident wherever I ate across this historic city. The first was Greenaway’s well-considered and dramatic style of presentation. The crab (right), which regrettably I had…






My most dangerous review – ever!

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Writing this column has often involved a certain element of risk, most notably early morning meals in Asian food markets, but I had never before thought of requesting danger money before I even set off. We recently headed off into an area that radio bulletins were regularly warning us not to visit. Our plan was to spend the night within a ten-minute drive of the Somerset Levels, scene of the worst flooding in the UK for over 200 years, and…






Obsessing in north Lancs

There was probably not a more cosmopolitan table anywhere. Of the 22 gathered around us there were two sous chefs from the kitchen of Taiwanese chef Lansu Chen from Le Moût restaurant in Taichung. There was Diego Hernāndez, the talented chef from Corazón de Tierra restaurant in the Guadalupe Valley of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, plus his two culinary assistants. Opposite us were two Persian sisters (the adjective is theirs) who run LuxePrivé, the upmarket travel agency based, not surprisingly, in London’s Kensington. And at the other end of…






It’s fun up North

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   At the age of 66, and three years into his second career as the chairman of Notes, a company that specialises in coffee, food, wine and the appreciation of classical music and film, Alan Goulden has had to face a new challenge: what to put on his first-ever breakfast menu. This breakfast menu is now on offer at the fourth branch of Notes in the heart of Leeds, Yorkshire, following the success of their three London cafes. And it is meeting…