Food & Drink

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…

Interview: 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….

Top Dishes of the Year

I’ve never given anything ten out of ten. Not food, not sex, not a book, not a film, not an album, and certainly not a restaurant. Imagine the existential impasse, the cultural cul-de-sac of grading things immaculately.  What would be left, except to die the perfect death? To me, nine out of ten is the highest possible accolade. If you get a nine, that’s an idiot’s ten. But don’t be fooled – it’s still not perfect. Perfection can only be judged once you’ve tried everything else. When I’m on my deathbed, only then will I go back and revise all the eights and nines, because only then will I have…

Coq D’Argent

Some years ago, when I was a mere slip of a lad, I met up with an old friend outside the city-slicker terminal that is Bank Station. Pinstripe suit and Hermes tie-clad financial aficionados shuffled past me in neat rows, no doubt heading for a lazy lunch at one of the usual suspects. When my friend Darren arrived, he was sporting his usual trader attire and informed me that there was a great restaurant nearby with London’s best view. It was a massive understatement. In the internal columns of the No.1 Poultry building is a small and unassuming glass elevator that takes you up the seven floors to Coq d’Argent,…

The Back bar

The history of whisky production in Japan is pretty short, and can be attributed to two men: Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Torii was a pharmaceutical merchant who embarked on a mission to create Japan’s first whisky distillery, which was to become his life’s work. He hired Taketsuru in the 1920s. Taketsuru had studied organic chemistry in Glasgow, and learned the secrets of scotch production whilst working in a number of distilleries. He was instrumental in helping Torii set up the Yamazaki distillery for his company, which would later become Nikka, establishing the Yoichi distillery. As you’d expect, the style of Japanese whisky follows that of the Scottish, as does…

Weinsinn Restaurant

Weinsinn, with its Michelin star and quaint, impossibly French setting amongst the concrete and cash of Frankfurt is a restaurant doing dining so perfectly well, this might make for quite a boring piece…. if Paul was writing it, but it won’t be, as lucky for you, I drew the long straw. And fortunately so, as that very evening we were meant to be flying to the Dolomites for a weekends skiing, but as Paul’s recompense I was instead ushered into Weinsinn, one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Frankfurt. Perhaps explaining its wine list 4 times the thickness of the food menu, Weinsinn initially opened as a wine bar…

Gillrays Steakhouse, London, SE1

It’s a paradox that, during a recession, high-end restaurants thrive and less expensive restaurants fail. And, in moments of hardship, there’s one plate of food that out-eats any other. Steak is a sign of the times – very us, very double-dip. It’s the most a man can get for his money without feeling shafted by the system. Hard times should theoretically be punctuated by frugality and abstinence – soup, vegetables, grain and off-cuts. Yet, in practice, there’s nothing better than chowing down on the perfectly-pink pomposity of a steak. It’s adversity with bone marrow and mustard. Gillray’s, the new offering at London’s Marriot County Hall, epitomises everything about recessional appetite…

Le Jardin

There are few settings more beautiful than the banks of Lake Geneva, a place where time stands still. So, there could be no better view to gaze over from than the terrace at Le Jardin. Dining out at the Dorchester Collection’s, Le Richemond is, of course, an experience. Head Chef Sylvain Bailly has a certain culinary finesse. He trained for six years with Alain Ducasse and his collaborators. Le Jardin is a Gault et Milau winning restaurant and is listed in the Swiss guide. The menu is local and uses seasonal produce with a focus on fine Italian fare. The dining room was beautiful: crimson and crystal detailed. But with…

The Back Bar

This issue, we look under the carpet at the Tomatin Distillery, located in the Monadhliath Mountains, just south of Inverness. Established in 1897, the distillery is one of the highest in Scotland, at 315 meters above sea level. We get it: you look down on us. Tomatin 14 year old port wood finish single malt. Described as ‘soft and smooth’, the 14-year-old whisky has spent 13 years aging in Bourbon casks and a further one year finishing in Portuguese port pipes, which held Tawny port for between 30 and 40 years. “In recent years we have really started to make our mark in the single malt market with recognition for…

The Back Bar

In the first of a four-part series, the team at the fabled Rummer Hotel in Bristol will be reviewing a selection of whiskys from The Whisky Exchange. This issue, Chelsie Bailey leads Dan Vidowsky and Borbala Csorvasi in a tasting of the historic Glenfarclas 15 and 20 year old. “I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis”. Bogie was only 57 when he died. When he was sick, he was frequently visited by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy who heard him speak the immortal words the night before his death. Obviously smoking killed him, not the sauce. Livers were issued during the 1900s, made only from carbon fibre, so…

Healthy Spirits

So now, did you see it? Huh? Did you? I hope you threw yourself underneath it, limbs outstretched. I did. I was cautious at first. I mean, it’s been a while, you know. This weekend, however, my pasty flesh remembered what’s like to feel it. When delicious and delicate butterfly kisses of warmth flickered over my skin for the first time in months, my brainbox became awash with thoughts of beer gardens. Many a summer afternoon is whiled away slumped on wicker furniture, pint in hand. The scent of charred meat wafts across a courtyard of punters, tickles my nostrils and, before I know it, I’m wolfing down a burger….