Here Are 50 Reasons Not to Eat Out on April 20: Gourmet London

Here Are 50 Reasons Not to Eat Out on April 20: Gourmet London
2009-04-14 23:00:01.3 GMT
By Richard Vines

April 15 (Bloomberg) — Here’s a tip: April 20 is the night of the year to avoid dining out in London. It’s the date of the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards and you’re more likely to see a top chef there than in a restaurant.

Joel Robuchon will head to Freemasons’ Hall from Paris, Daniel Boulud from New York, Ferran Adria from Barcelona and Tetsuya Wakuda from Sydney. They will join U.K. counterparts who include Heston Blumenthal, Marcus Wareing, Rick Stein, Fergus Henderson and possibly Jamie Oliver — he’s filming. In case you wondered, Gordon Ramsay won’t be there. He’s out of the country.

It promises to be quite a gathering — there are 500 people on the guest list — for awards that are greeted in the food world with a mixture of both amusement and annoyance, as well as a touch of boredom.

The top three places have gone to El Bulli, the Fat Duck and Pierre Gagnaire — in that order — for three straight years. China and Japan don’t feature in the Top 50 and the Asian winner is usually Bukhara, an unexceptional eatery in New Delhi.

This year, new panelists have been named in an attempt to freshen things up. I am one for the first time. I have no idea who everyone else voted for, but I can tell you who will win the Lifetime Achievement award. It goes to Robuchon, Michelin’s favorite chef, the organizers said in an e-mailed release.

Red Eaters

There’s good news for steak lovers in London who can’t get enough even now that Goodman has joined Maze Grill, Hawksmoor and other restaurants that cater to those who like their meat red. Palm Restaurants plans to open a London branch on May 25 on the former site of Drones, on Pont Street. The look will be similar to that employed in the U.S., with banquette seating, hardwood floors and caricatures of famous customers. The menu will feature favorites such as lobster, creamed spinach, New York cheesecake and, of course, USDA prime-aged steak.

Blumenthal was one of the judges last week in the finals of the Roux Scholarship, which seeks to recognize and support the U.K.’s most promising young chefs. (The age limit is 30.) He’s busy after the Fat Duck, which won the Best Restaurant award in 2005, was closed for more than two weeks following a breakout of the norovirus. Blumenthal is popular in the industry and received plenty of sympathy from fellow judges who included four members of the Roux family — Michel, Albert, Michel Jr. and Alain — and chefs Gary Rhodes, Andrew Fairlie and Brian Turner. I was a judge, too, so I know. The winner, Hrishikesh Desai, of Lucknam Park, near Bath, stood out at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel on April 6 when finalists had to cook Brill Cherubin, an Escoffier recipe.

Miami Fab

Hakkasan, the Chinese restaurant known for being fabulous, is to open its first U.S. branch on April 19. Hakkasan Miami, in the Fontainebleau hotel, Miami Beach, will replicate the venue’s formula of fashionable food and cool cocktails. It’s more than a year since the restaurateur Alan Yau sold majority control of Hakkasan and its sister Yauatcha for $60 million to Tasameem, the property arm of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. There’s already a Hakkasan in Istanbul and Yau last month opened a second London branch of his budget Chinese eatery Cha Cha Moon at the Whiteleys shopping center in Bayswater.

Yorkshire Portions

David Moore, co-owner of Pied a Terre and L’Autre Pied in London, has opened an eatery in Harrogate, in northern England. Van Zeller — the chef is Tom van Zeller — uses local Yorkshire ingredients in its modern British cuisine. I’ve yet to make it there but I did finally try the cooking of another Yorkshire chef, Anthony Flinn, at Piazza by Anthony in the Corn Exchange, Leeds. Portions are large for dishes such as warm salad of Bury black pudding with a soft-poached egg, and fish pie with creamy mash. My family is from Yorkshire and I can’t say how welcome such good cooking is. In my home town of Doncaster, I’ve given up trying to find a restaurant serving food I would want to eat.

(Richard Vines is chief food critic for Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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