Restaurants with art galleries

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   This month sees the art world and the restaurant world merge even closer than ever. As Frieze opens its doors in London, numerous chefs are planning their various temporary outposts. Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson from Rochelle’s Canteen will run the VIP side of the art fair alongside brigades from Mark Hix, Caravan, Pitt Cue the barbecue specialists, Gail’s the bakers, and Moshi, Moshi Sushi. Those at Frieze Masters will be able to choose from the Italian cooking of Giorgio…






London, now beer capital of the world?

This article was also published in the Financial Times. London’s restaurants have never been so attractive for the enthusiastic or curious beer drinker. Chefs are busy writing special menus that match food and beer. Sommeliers are compiling an ever-growing number of increasingly large beer lists. And the sheer choice of which beer to try next grows as the growing number of imported beers meets the growing number of independent breweries of which there are now over 50 in London alone. Kernel Beer brewed under a railway arch in Bermondsey, south…






The discreet charm of a French market

Nick writes a JR.com exclusive to remind us of a lovely summer now that we are back at our desks in London. Not strictly about restaurants but I love it. He returns to the FT next Saturday. Over the past 24 summers I have made the trip to the fruit and vegetable market in the Place Carnot in the centre of Carcassonne, a 25-minute drive from our Languedoc house, three times a week. These sorties have yielded lots of wonderful ingredients, a string of unforgettable faces and numerous bargains. And…






The menu is the message

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   ZUNI CAFÉ, SAN FRANCISCO  This menu excites me visually on several fronts. Firstly, I can immediately spot those dishes that I would only want to eat sitting here in the California sunshine: the house-cured anchovies with celery; the bowl of polenta with mascarpone; and Zuni’s longest-running dishes, their Caesar salad and the roast chicken for two cooked in the brick oven. Then this menu effortlessly takes me on a tour of those farms which, if they have passed the scrutiny…






Lunch with Ferran, dinner with Danny

Lunch and dinner last Thursday on the Fourth of July will go down as professionally the most memorable in my career, even if not necessarily for the food. The former consisted of a grilled cheese sandwich with leeks and a glass of lemonade at Fernandez & Wells café in Somerset House; the latter was a series of first courses, a bottle of Fleurie, and strawberries and shortbread at Quo Vadis, Soho. But my lunch guest was Ferran Adrià from elBulli on the eve of the opening of his exhibition, The…






2013 – a great white truffle vintage?

This article was also published in the Financial Times. I was standing on the terrace of Palas Cerequio, once a series of farm buildings, today a small, elegant hotel on the outskirts of La Morra in the province of Barolo in Piedmont, northern Italy. My view in every direction was of one of the crops that make this region so appealing. Vines spread out on all sides as alongside me, Pio Boffa, who makes the renowned Pio Cesare wines, explained various particular sites. As he did so, he confessed that…






Mayfair – where keys cost £9m

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Alan Yau and his backers have just agreed to pay over £9 million for nothing more substantial than a set of keys to what was the ill-fated Automat restaurant on Dover Street, London. So far, Alan Yau is known for having maximized the vital ratio between rent and sales more successfully than any other restaurateur. Twenty years ago he backed his hunch that we were about to fall in love with slurping bowls of noodles by opening the first wagamama in…






How to serve 678 in a day

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Just after our plates had been cleared away, and what felt like only minutes after they had respectively sported slip soles with hedgerow garlic and caper butter and smoked haddock with a poached egg, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning round, I faced Tim Hughes, who had just come up from the basement kitchen of J Sheekey, the long-established fish restaurant off St Martin’s Lane in central London. Although Hughes carries the title of chef director of Caprice…






The Hawksmoor service primer

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Ten days before Will Beckett (pictured left by Fred McGregor) and his partner Huw Gott, both 35, officially opened their fourth and largest Hawksmoor restaurant on Regent Street, Beckett sent an email to his wife, Maria. It read, ‘I love you very much but sadly I won’t be seeing you for the next fortnight.’ I know this because I was standing beside Beckett as he sent it, an hour before the restaurant’s soft opening when they were offering 50% discount to…






East End bread

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   I had just sat down to dinner, having cooked a marinated duck breast from Paula Wolfert’s ever-reliable The Cooking of South West France and my Romanian grandmother’s pureed aubergines, when I gleaned a significant insight into the economic impact of a new restaurant from Ed Wilson. Wilson is the talented chef who, alongside his partner Eric Narioo of wine merchants Les Caves de Pyrène, opened the highly successful Terroirs near Trafalgar Square, then Brawn in east London followed by Soif…