Food & Drink

Restaurant with a twist

1,775 metres above sea level in the Valsana hotel is not where you expect to find an English library, but that’s where I found myself. Sat in the ski resort of Arosa, surrounded by books, in front of a log fire, enjoying a glass of Roederer. Although the books in this recreation are a little modern, it’s the thought that counts. It’s a nice homage to the UK by the owner of the hotel, who dictated its form as he was a fan of all things English. All I need now is my smoking jacket and slippers, and I could be ensconced in a modernised 221b Baker Street with Watson…

Half Moon – Kirdford

For this foray into the countryside, there could be only one choice of dining partner: our illustrious publishing director, Gatsby himself, Peter Robinson. This ensured four of the most critical eyes present, and both some great observation and conversation. Arriving in the village of Kirdford, we find ourselves in some disbelief of what we are seeing. We seem to have been transported to a place that bears a startling resemblance to a 70’s episode of The Avengers or Doctor Who. At any moment you expect to hear the whine of John Steed’s 6.5 litre Bentley, as they trundle past the manicured telephone box and Saxon church, on their way to…

VERMEER, AMSTERDAM

As we strolled around the Gallery of Honour, the heart of the Rijksmuseum, it was not without amusement that my mother listened to my thoughts, or rather criticisms, of the revere in which Vermeer is held by the Dutch people. Boring was my general complaint. She asked, not unreasonably, why if I held Vermeer in so little esteem had I decided to reserve a table at a restaurant whose namesake was that very artist. I raised my eyebrows in responseand my mother replied by informing me that I was ‘completely wrong about Vermeer, by the way’. But then she would say that. She is, after all, Dutch. The interior of…

Champagne Heroes – Piper Heidsick

When the telephone call came from Simon Stockton, ambassador for Piper Heidsieck, to say one of champagne’s greatest cellar masters was heading my way to showcase his new vintage, it was an invitation I couldn’t resist. I was incredibly flattered that a bottle was being brought into the UK for me in complete secrecy. When I found out later that it was to taste their vintage prestige cuvée Rare (pronounced ‘Rarr’), I became more intrigued. Rare itself is something of a phenomenon; very much an educated quaff. It quietly stepped onto the champagne scene in 1985, delivering the 1976 vintage, and is produced in relatively small quantities. So, to drink…

The Calima

As the Saharan winds whip up a dehydrating frenzy, the Calima blocks out the sunrise across the ocean to the east. That’s right, I’m in Tenerife doing my best Attenborough. British holidaymaker staple since the 1940s, banana plantation extraordinaire and proud to boast of 362 days of sunshine a year. Don’t be fooled by the fruit machines in the airport or the football-shirt-wearing Luddites on the promenade though, there is something changing in the night sky. I landed on the island on a humid Thursday afternoon in July. For some ungodly reason, I had chosen to travel out in the first week of the school holidays, so the airport was a seething…

Passavant & Lee

Jon Passavant and Benj Lee are hardly strangers to the layer cake of the fashion industry. This duo have fronted campaigns for Dunhill, Armani, Ralph Lauren and Levi’s to name a mere handful. Whilst on set in New York the two models met having spotted each other at the usual castings and calls and after three years of product development launched accessories brand, Passavant & Lee. Some years ago, we remember being huddled in the office around a No 25. Attache. It was arguable one of the most beautiful briefcases we had ever seen. The outer shell is crafted from aircraft grade aluminium and covered in a full-grain Horween leather finish, while…

Corvara – Dolomites

As the temperature plummets and the frost sits longer, I often stare out my window in the morning, coffee in hand, and think about all the times I’ve woken up surrounded by freshly fallen snow in Alpine escapes. Winter is a calling for some of us; a return to the pistes of Europe and beyond; a time to get back to nature, to reconnect with the mountains in a way only those who chase the snow will understand. I still have many things to tick off on my alpine bucket list – the Cresta Run, Japanese powder, and the unbound wilds of Canada – but one trip remains at the…

Suntory Whisky

For The Review, an audience with Mike Miyamoto, Ambassador for Suntory whisky, is to gain a portal to over thirty-nine years’ experience in the industry. Having undertaken everything from running a cooperage business to blending, and eventually running Japan’s most important whisky distilleries, Mike can be seen as an sensei of grain-based spirits in his own right. During the eighteenth century, the Japanese began to discover a taste for whisky, with small-scale production beginning in Japan around 1870. But Mike is keen to point out that the first commercial production was in 1924, with the opening of the country’s first distillery, Yamazaki, near Kyoto. Food and whisky are inextricably linked…

Tokimeite, W1S

The chance to dine with a globally-celebrated chef who holds seven Michelin stars was certainly not one that The Review could turn down. On learning the evening would be partnered by Suntory whiskey, we were even more intrigued. A whole meal accompanied by spirits? Could it be achieved, and how so? Having previously eaten fugu, the famed poisoned blowfish, there is always trepidation when approaching a Japanese cuisine. The best chefs can prepare the delicacy with just enough poison retained to numb or tingle the lips. I needn’t have worried, as my destination lay in Mayfair – and besides, Fugu isn’t allowed to be served in the EU. It was…

Casa Munich, Ibiza

There are few places in the world that I have resisted going to, even with my insatiable travel appetite. One of those places, I’m embarrassed to admit, is Ibiza. Yes, I know the Ibiza groupies will be shaking in their itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny beachwear. But the all-night rave culture, combined with its rebellious Peter Pan spirit has not drawn me into the annual pilgrimage of beautiful people, who religiously pay homage to the White Isle’s shrine of eternal youth. I can party with the best of them, and who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle, glitz and glamour, but its reputation as the frenetic clubbing capital of the world and the most…

JW Marriott Venice

One of the challenges of our era is to find a balance of using precious downtime to travel and discover new places whilst recharging for the frenetic pace of normal life. This is even more testing when it’s a city break but I might have found a balance amongst the digital haze. I love Venice, but if there is one quibble with this magnificent city, it’s that its popularity combined with its architectural nature can make the overall experience feel quite intense, compact and busy. The recently-opened JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of this rich destination. A place that is far from…

Sexy Fish, W1J

It’s a warm and sunny Wednesday evening, and my first experience of Sexy Fish restaurant in Mayfair, one of Richard Caring’s newest business ventures. I had heard a great deal about it from various friends and colleagues, and my intrigue began to pique as I approached Berkeley Square and saw the now-infamous red-roofed terrace in Mayfair. I arrive 10 minutes early and decide to wait for my friend and fellow diner inside. When you first walk into Sexy Fish, it’s hard not to notice the decadence in the decor. There’s a school of crystal-looking fish sculptures hanging above the bar, what I assume was coral reefs and seaweed painted on…

Roomers Hotel and Cocktail Bar

There are a lot of sequined items in my wardrobe. One morning, after a night trying to smoke Viagra in a shisha, one particularly brilliant male friend of mine came downstairs to breakfast wearing them all at once, like some sort of bejeweled butterfly from a grey chrysalis amongst last night’s fag ash. Roomers was a place for some sequins I thought, albeit one item’s worth, with more cocktails and less Viagra. Roomers in Frankfurt, Deutschland, is a ‘lifestyle’ hotel (exchange lifestyle for sexy, or even just sex). It’s in the ‘Design Hotel’ league, having been created by Grübel (BMW on the résumé) and the Romanian designer Oana Rosen, and…

Quattro Passi

I remember watching the restaurant scene in the opening of American Psycho in my late teens thinking, ‘I wonder if the Upper East Side is actually like that?’ ‘Are the plates really the size of a platter?’ ‘Is the food symmetrical?’ ‘Do the waiters still serve the dishes with silver service perfection and in unison, like well-rehearsed Russian synchronised swimmers?’ When I perused the menu for Quattro Passi, I decided that it would play host to 2015’s fabled editorial meeting between myself and The Review’s Editor-in-Chief. One useless piece of information: rarely do you meet an individual with such a diehard appreciation of only one cinematic genre (horror). Laith Al-Kaisy…

Oblix

There’s an equal measure of pros and cons to not living in London. For instance, I’m always last to know about a new launch in the city: con. I can travel at leisure through Bristol without having to delouse: pro. What it does mean, though, is that our London-based editorial team get the pick of the litter when it comes to new London eateries. Before I could even pick up the phone, our voracious editor and his digital girlfriend had already explored and reviewed every restaurant that The Shard has crammed into its lofty 72 floors. Arguably, this doesn’t happen often. There are indeed enough comestibles in London for us…

Celeste, SW1

I haven’t been eating out much lately. I’ve been hiding, avoiding terrorism on public transport, and preparing for global economic meltdown and the third world war. You think I’m pulling your bratwurst, but I’ve never penned a more unsmiling opening paragraph to a food review. Except that one about the maître d’, the chambermaid, and the hair in my soup. Actually, that’s not the reason I haven’t been eating out – but it’s more believable than the truth. You see, I took my brother to Pollen Street Social for his birthday, and it fundamentally changed me. It’s frayed the fabric of my being. It’s left me ashamed, victimised, confused, unsure…

Chef Profile: Pierre Koffmann

Pierre Koffmann was born in Tarbes, France, in 1948. After working the kitchens in Strasbourg and Toulon, he relocated to London in 1970, working with Michel Roux and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche. He soon took the role of head chef at the Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray, in 1972, before finally opening his own restaurant, La Tante Claire, in 1977. Koffmann won much acclaim and many accolades during this time, not least three Michelin stars. After a brief hiatus, Koffmann returned to cooking in 2010, opening the eponymous Koffmann’s at The Berkeley – a far more informal affair, focusing less on Michelin stars and more on the chef’s culinary…

Up amongst the stars at Kozue, Park Hyatt

Amy McNichol My knowledge of Japanese cuisine was only a smidgen above zero when I touched down in Tokyo in October. Despite the popularity of machine-rolled sushi flogged in supermarkets and the flurry of ramen houses that have popped up in recent years, the mass market (me included) is only familiar with a narrow cross section of Japanese cuisine in the UK. With this in mind, I tried to widen my horizons and see what the heck else I could trough during my time there. On my first night in the capital I washed barbecued beef, onions and bean sprouts down with Asahi. That was at a street stall with…

Hawksmoor – SW3

As someone that spent almost a year living in central London, I don’t consider myself an insider or an outsider. I sort of declare guerrilla warfare on London once a month, opting for a skirmish campaign of fast cars, drinking and debauchery all crammed into one night. Then, having enacted my raucous campaign of lavish and salacious behaviour, I retreat with the spoils of war, back to sleepy and secluded Somerset. Usually with a weighty hangover in tow and a dent in the Dunhill wallet. London, for me, is a good time girl, a fille de joie, enjoyed that much more due to my fleeting relationship in her gin-soaked bosom….